STOCKS NEWS US-VIX falls below key Fibonacci retracement level

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U.S. stock market report [.N] 1214 ET 18Dec2008-VIX falls below key Fibonacci retracement level ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX fell more than 10.7 percent to as low as 44.50, below a key 61.8-pct Fibonacci retracement level of its surge from late August to late October. Traders could next eye 42.16, the interim high seen shortly after the Lehman collapse.

(Reuters Messaging: 1135 ET 18Dec2008-Volatility expected below recent levels ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Volatility below recent levels is expected in U.S. markets for Thursday’s and Friday’s sessions, as expiration and settlement of December option and futures contracts for both single stocks and stock indexes, an event known as quadruple witching, is in play.

In terms of market volatility for the sessions “I think it’s going to be less volatile than it has been for the last several weeks, but in historic terms it is still very high,” said Michael McCarty, options strategist at Meridian Equity Partners.

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX or VIX fell to a six-week low and the S&P 500 index .SPX was up less than 0.1 percent.

Reuters Messaging: 1106 ET 18Dec2008-Discover Financial rises after earnings ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shares of Discover Financial Services DFS.N rose on Thursday after the company reported a fourth-quarter net profit, which included a $535 million gain from a litigation settlement. [ID: nN18468171]

In addition, the company said that it had applied to the Federal Reserve to be come a bank holding company and the U.S. Treasury to participate in the capital purchase program.

The stock rose nearly 17 percent to $10.02. Fellow credit card companies MasterCard MA.N climbed 4.1 percent to $154.77, American Express AXP.N tacked on 0.5 percent to $19.90 while Visa V.N shed 0.6 percent to $55.02.

Reuters Messaging:rm:// 1103 ET 18Dec2008-Volatility index at a low back to Election Day ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The CBOE Volatility Index .VIX or VIX fell more than 9.5 percent to a session low of 45.08 as U.S. stocks held their ground after weekly jobless claims and regional factory activity data came in less weak than expected. The VIX was not at this level since Nov. 4, the day Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

Reuters Messaging: 1022 ET 18Dec2008-Wall St briefly gains after Philly Fed data ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wall Street stocks briefly gained after a survey showed that factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region contracted in December but at a less severe rate than in the previous month. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank reported its business activity index at minus 32.9 after a reading of minus 39.3 in November. For details, see [ID:nN18375988]

Reuters Messaging: 0946 ET 18Dec2008-Coke Enterprises rises after outlook ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Shares of Coca-Cola Enterprises CCE.N jumped jumped on Thursday after the company boosted its 2008 earnings outlook and revealed a restructuring plan that includes lowering the number of its U.S business units. [ID:nN18543140]

The bottler upped its 2008 earnings view to $1.28 to $1.31 a share from its prior outlook of $1.25 to $1.29, citing stronger than expected sales volume in North America. Shares rose 12.4 percent to $12.01 while fellow bottler Pepsi Bottling Group PBG.N gained 5.6 percent to $20.60.

Reuters Messaging:rm:// 0851 ET 18Dec2008-Weekly jobless claims fall by 21,000 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell more than expected last week, moderating from a 26-year high touched the previous week, Labor Department data showed on Thursday.

Despite the decline, jobless claims remain exceptionally high, and are more than 200,000 higher than a year ago. For details, see [ID:nN17119912]

Reuters Messaging: 0735 ET 18Dec2008-U.S. earnings diary for Dec. 18 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Companies reporting earnings on Thursday include FedEx FDX.N, Carnival Corporation & Plc CCL.N, Oracle ORCL.O, Discover Financial Services DFS.N and Lennar Corporation LEN.N. For details, see [RESF/US]

Reuters Messaging: rm:// 0730 ET 18Dec2008-U.S economic indicators for Dec. 18 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Economic indicators on tap for Thursday include weekly jobless claims data, the Philadelphia Fed business survey and the Conference Board Leading Economic Indicators.

For more details see [ECI/US] Reuters Messaging:rm://