05/24/2012 07:55 am ET

At European Summit, Bracing For Breakup: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: Preparing For Divorce: Europe and Greece are at the stage in their stormy marriage where they are consulting with divorce lawyers. And we may all feel the pain of their breakup.

European leaders did little but bicker at an informal dinner summit in Brussels yesterday, The New York Times writes, a predictable development that nonetheless briefly roiled world markets. They all came out mumbling support for the idea of Greece staying in the euro zone, but also said they were developing contingency plans for its eventual exit. Germans, meanwhile, have already said goodbye in their minds, according to Zero Hedge's reading of the German press.

This morning, euro-zone manufacturing data and German confidence numbers came in ugly, Bloomberg writes, highlighting the already sad state of the European economy, which will get even sadder in the event of a breakup. In the Wall Street Journal, David Wessel lays out the very specific ways that a messy Greek divorce will impact the U.S. economy, too. We'd better get ready, writes the Journal's Paul Vigna -- this appears to be the start of the endgame.

Thing Two: China Slowdown: A closely watched Chinese manufacturing index fell in May and showed factory activity shrunk for the seventh straight month, Reuters reports. It's the latest sign of a prolonged slump in the world's second-biggest economy and potentially bad news for the rest of the world. It also means the Chinese government will have to try harder to bring the economy back to life with low rates and other stimulus measures. Economists have pushed back the date that they expect China's economy to recover into the second quarter, Reuters writes.

Thing Three: Facebook Fleecing: One of the big questions about the Facebook IPO is whether any laws were broken when some investors found out that Wall Street banks were slashing their estimates for Facebook and others didn't. The answer may very well turn out to be no. The Wall Street Journal writes that, when it comes to IPOs, this sort of selective information is standard procedure, which is all the more reason for retail investors to stay far away from IPOs. Bloomberg estimates that retail investors might be in the hole by $600 million on this IPO. Meanwhile, Facebook may be flirting with switching its listing from Nasdaq to the New York Stock Exchange, as the botched IPO brings a new intensity to the rivalry between those two exchanges, the WSJ writes.

Thing Four: Packard It In: If you were just watching Hewlett-Packard's share price last night, you might think it's doing great: Its stock jumped 9 percent in late electronic trading after the computer maker reported better-than-expected quarterly results. Ah, but that's the screwy logic of Wall Street: It managed to clear a ridiculously low bar, so it gets a big cheer in the stock market. Meanwhile, 27,000 people are losing their jobs, and both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times write that the company's still-declining results, and the mass layoffs, are evidence that H-P is foundering badly as the industry shifts around it. Apple, meanwhile, has enough cash to buy Hewlett-Packard and Dell combined. Just saying.

Thing Five: Trading In The Slow Lane: If you hate and fear high-frequency trading, which makes up more than half of all U.S. stock trading and causes all sorts of market mischief all the time, then a new company called IEX Group says it has the trading platform for you. The Wall Street Journal writes that IEX is designing a trading platform that will exclude high-frequency traders, which it thinks will be attractive to mutual-fund managers tired of being eaten alive by robots all the time.

Thing Six: Drill, Arctic, Drill: With President Obama's enthusiastic blessing, Shell is scheduled to start drilling test oil wells off the northern Alaska coast this summer, opening up the Arctic for drilling for the first time, The New York Times writes. It promises to help reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, but also "threatens wildlife and pristine shorelines, and perpetuates the nation’s reliance on dirty fossil fuels."

Thing Seven: Environmental Upside Of Shale? Meanwhile, we are fracking like crazy to pull natural gas out of shale in the U.S., which is likely polluting our land and water, but there's an upside, Bloomberg suggests: Some of this excess natural gas is being used in power plants in place of coal, which is actually reducing U.S. carbon emissions a bit. So we maybe won't reach catastrophic global carbon emission levels until 2013 instead of 2012. So there's that.

Thing Seven And A Half: Fitzgerald Spins In Grave: The Great Gatsby, arguably the greatest American novel ever, is getting the Baz Luhrmann treatment, which means it has been pumped full of Leo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jay-Z and Kanye West. In 3-D, no less. I despise it already, and I can't even bring myself to watch the trailer, which you can see here, if you hate literature or your eyes. Also, learn to spell, set designers.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Initial Jobless Claims for 05/19

8:30 a.m. ET: Durable Orders for April

Corporate Earnings:

Before Market Open:



Heard On The Tweets:

@moorehn: Writing something about the Facebook IPO. Trying to avoid the term "smash-and-grab."

@emilybell: It is such sweet and supreme irony that #Facebook seems to have screwed up its IPO through failing to share information correctly.

@ReformedBroker: Jamie Dimon: Thank you, Facebook.

@justinwolfers: Too big to fail lives on: "JPMorgan today has about four times the assets of Lehman Brothers when it failed."

@mattyglesias: In all seriousness, what did EU leaders think they were signing up for when they put Greece in a monetary union?

@terranovajoe: Maybe Greece is exiting the Euro and $AAPL is replacing them

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja