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Wednesday April 2, 2008 - 17:23:02 GMT
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U.S. Market Update

U.S. Market Update

- For the second straight session Treasury markets are unwinding the "steepner" trades that were so prevalent last month. The Benchmark spread narrowed back below 170 basis points as the two-year yield climbs back towards 1.90%. A stronger than expected ADP Jobs reading combined with Bernanke's testimony on the Hill has induced some chatter that the Fed would like to keep the Fed Funds rate at or above 2% if at all possible. The May Fed fund future contact has seen the odds of a 50 basis point cut slip back towards 15%.

- Fed Chairman Bernanke once again attempted to reassure markets in testimony before Congress this morning, indicating he does not foresee another Bear Stearns situation and emphasizing that the Fed was ready to act if another were to occur under similar market conditions. These latest remarks seem to have attracted some bids into the financials leading the major indices back into positive territory. C +4.5% WM +6.6% LEH +3.4% Bernanke offered a bleak assessment the economy, however, warning legislators that economic growth was likely to stagnate and that "recession is possible." He emphasized that while the Fed's actions had “helped stabilize” credit markets, banks remained hesitant to lend, causing problems for the broader economy. “Financial markets remain under considerable stress,” said Bernanke.

- Solar stocks continue to reflect strong industry fundamentals after several names announced more supply agreements ahead of the open. SPIR +5.5% FSLR +4% LDK +3.6% JASO +6. 5% STP +7% Healthcare stocks are lagging noticeably today with drug, PBM and HMO stocks all losing ground. Energy futures initially ticked higher following weekly inventory data, but since have reversed course. May crude is moving back towards overnight highs near $1.02 while gasoline is adding 1.5% after larger-than-expected drawing down in inventories.

- Shares of POT rose in pre-market trading after a CIBC analyst raised his price target by to $240 from $200 on strong demand and high prices for the fertilizer and the company guided its gross margins would rise 250% y/y. POT CEO Doyle told CIBC he thinks the potash market is so tight that it doesn't require demand from China in the first half of 2008, given strong demand from India, Brazil and Southeast Asia (China is a main importer of potash). "Potash markets remain tight, as global suppliers are sold out to the second half of 2008," Bout wrote in a client note.

- MON doubled its Q2 earnings on increasingly strong sales of corn seed and herbicide in the
US, earning $2.02 per share, up from $0.98 per share y/y. Its revenue jumped 45% to $3.8 billion y/y, but the stock fell more than 5% in early trading on disappointment it did not raise its full-year earnings forecast. BBY beat its quarterly earnings estimates and guided rising earnings over the coming year, pushing its shares up 8% in pre-market trading. Q4 EPS came in at $1.71 v $1.55 y/y.

- The USD entered a consolidation phase after exhibiting initial strength at the beginning of Q2 trading and softening throughout the European morning. The EUR/USD pair is dealing around the 1.5620 level, some 80 pips higher from its late Asian price action. Dealers cited that the trading was more technical rather than reacting to any particular news. Bernanke's comments that the
US economy could contract slightly in the first half of 2008 also provided some headwinds for the dollar. However, dealers focused on Fed comments that the weaker USD has boosted some non-commodity import prices, contributed to inflation. Vague chatter was heard circulating that the Fed is not seeking a funds rate below 2%. The odds of a 50bp rate cut at the April FOMC has dwindled to around 12% from 28% seen just prior to the ADP employment report release. USD/CAD hit 1.0185 after failing to sustain momentum above the 1.03 level on Tuesday. BOC's Jenkins noted that there was no specific target for CAD and that the range is consistent with longer-term fundamentals

- The Euro was also weighed down by continued verbal intervention. EU's Almunia noted that FX will be discussed with central banks and finance ministers ahead of April 11th G7 meeting in Washington DC. He again repeated that
Europe continues to bear the burden of global imbalances and reiterated European concerns on inflation. The Russian Central Bank stated that it would be extremely careful in allowing Rouble to appreciate.

- The JPY continues its soft tone as global equity markets maintain the initial new quarter enthusiasm. EUR/JPY pushed back above the 160 handle and USD/JPY hit 102.60. The yen also ignored comments from the BoJ stating that Japanese interest rates have to rise for a sustainable economy. The BoJ report also noted that a tightening cycle should be in-line with economic developments. June Bunds -10 ticks at 115. 25 and June Gilts +7 ticks at 110.58 Euro-Stoxx 50 index +1.4% at 3,807, FTSE 100 Index +0.9% at 5,902, CAC 40 Index +1.2% at 4,920 and DAX +1.2% at 6,800


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