Wall Street's Pleasant Surprise

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NEW YORK: It’s Monday. It’s October. But wait -– there’s good news out there. Chrysler opened what promises to be a week of corporate-earnings "Wheel of Fortune" by shocking the Street Monday morning before the bell with third-quarter numbers 15 cents a share above analysts’ expectations. Wow. And Japan’s continued efforts -- however maddeningly tentative -- to clean out its fetid banking system gave the Nikkei a boost in overnight trading. All that added up to a rather sunny Columbus Day in the markets, with the Dow sailing to a 101-point gain and NASDAQ getting an even healthier 53-point boost.

It may be downhill from there. On Tuesday, earnings reports are due from Intel, Kodak, GM and Pepsi, among others, and analysts are cringing. GM is still recovering from its strike, and Kodak and Intel both remain heavily dependent on Asian sales, which are, as you might imagine, not so good these days. And if Intel goes, expect the tech sector, which just found some mercy Friday, to go with it. But hey –- the Street’s big brains have been wrong before. The key, as always, is expectations. If the mood out there is black enough –- and it might well be -– then even earnings crumbs start to look like pumpkin pie. So if you’re hoping to retire soon, cross your fingers and close your eyes, and hope for a lot more Chryslers.