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Monday March 31, 2008 - 17:28:18 GMT
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Foreign Exchange Research - U.S. Market Update

U.S. Market Update

- The Chicago Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to 48.2 from 44.5 m/m, beating expectations of a reading of 46 or so. Note that a figure below 50 indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity. This moderately less grim snapshot of US manufacturing helped boost the DJIA in early trading.

- The New England Journal of Medicine published a damning editorial on Sunday, stating that lucrative and widely prescribed cholesterol drugs from Merck and Schering-Plough may not work and should only be used “as a last resort.” The drugs, Vytorin and Zetia, are among the best-selling medicines in the world, with combined annual sales of nearly $5B. “The strongest recommendation we can make on this panel is to go back to statins, ” said one cardiologist at a major cardiology conference held in Chicago on Sunday. “They work.” Merck is down 16% and Schering-Plough is down 25% in morning trading.

- Treasury Secretary Paulson began releasing concrete details of the White House's proposals for overhauling regulation of the US banking system. His proposals and others circulating in Congress comprise the broadest and deepest reforms of the financial system since the Great Depression. He indicated that the Fed needs “broad powers” over the entire market, opining that the entire regulatory structure was outmoded. ``We should and can have a structure that is designed for the world we live in,'' Paulson said. Among his proposals was a call to fold the CFTC into the SEC, which drove exchange names NMX ICE CME down 2-3% in the session.

- The morning saw three significant merger announcements. ANSYS signed a deal to take control of Ansoft (ANST), with stockholders of the latter receiving $16.25 in cash and 0.431882 shares of ANSYS common stock for each outstanding Ansoft share. Based on the 10-day trailing average closing price of ANSYS common stock, the implied value is $32.50 per Ansoft share and represents a 29.8% premium to Friday's closing price. Bentley Pharmaceuticals (BNT) said it was being acquired by TEVA for $15.02/shr in cash, for a total value of $360M, representing a 9.3% premium to Friday's closing price. A private equity group including The Gores Group LLC, Mivtach Shamir Holdings Ltd., companies affiliated with Roy Ben-Yami, Ami Lustig and Eytan Stibbe and DGB Investments, announced its intention to take over Gilat Satellite Networks (GILT) for $11.40 /shr cash, in deal valued value at $475M.

- Traders should note that this is the last day of the first quarter, which could see increased market volatility late in the session due to window dressing later in the session.

- In currencies, the USD sentiment turned lower as the US morning wore on. The dollar was retesting its all-time lows against the Euro as it approached the 1.59 level. Follow through buying of Euros in the wake of the Euro Zone CPI data from earlier this morning was cited as one factor in the rise. Euro strength was also being attributed to news of a 5.1% increase in German public sector wages, the largest seen in the last 16 years. ECB members continued to fine-tune their hawkish inflationary tone, while EUR/GBP continued to probe fresh all-time highs as it nears the 0.80 level. Risk aversion remains on the front-burner as FX chatter focused on comments regarding Dutch pension funds reporting reserve shortfalls “due to market developments,” attributed to the strength in US bond futures and Gold from “safe haven” purchases.

April marks the start of the Japanese fiscal year, and the launch of new Toushin funds will initially weight upon the JPY sentiment, but lingering concerns about the health of the global financial sector limiting JPY losses for now. CAD is hovering around the 1. 03 area despite commodity prices moving lower ahead of the European close.. CAD unable to capitalize on its decent Jan GDP data and inital strength in Oil and gold on the US open. Crude off over 3% on quarter-end rebalancing at 102.35 as the NY morning came to a close. Dealer chatter noted USD buy stops building above the 1.0310 area. June Bunds +35 ticks at 116.08; June Gilts +45 ticks at 111.20 Euro Stoxx 50 -0.8% at 3,615; FTSE 100 Index -0. 4% at 5,667; CAC-40 Index -0.35 at 4,685 and DAX -0.7% at 6, 516


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