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Monday April 21, 2008 - 16:36:20 GMT
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U.S. Market Update

Dow - 56 S&P -6.4 NASDAQ -2.7

- Indices began the morning by giving back some of last week's gains, with notable declines in financials and pharamaceuticals, but equity markets have bounced from their worst levels. Bank of America is off almost 3% after announcing results while NCC has lost more than 25% of its stock price after announcing that profits fell 77% in the first quarter and that it would be raising $7B in fresh capital as well as cutting its dividend. BAC's CEO noted that Q1 was “much worse than expected” and that March was particularly difficult. Jefferies opened down on a big miss in Q1 earnings, but was seen rallying +7% by mid morning, much like last week's action when financial names rallied on hopes these announcements are a signal the worst is behind us. XLF is -2.2% overall. Drug names are also in focus following quarterly reports from MRK, LLY, NVS and AMLN; the sector is working through a spate of bad news and increasing generic competition. Merck came in slightly ahead of earnings estimates, although the CEO cautioned that sales of Vytorin and Zetia will be lower by $700M in the wake of recent negative comments regarding the effectiveness of the medication. Shares of MRK were down sharply after the open, but recovered quickly in morning trading. Lilly reported results in-line with estimates, but the stock was down nearly 5%, while Amylin was down nearly 9% after reporting a larger-than-expected loss. NVS was a notable exception to the negative trend, rising almost 3.5% in morning trading after beating estimates. Most of the other large drug companies will report later this week along with several of the major managed care names. In other news, HAS was up nearly 8% after beating estimates by a wide margin, while PKTR was up more than 12% after Blue Coat Systems announced its intention to acquire the company. Coal names are surging after earnings from ACI+6%.

- In currencies, the dollar is mixed against the majors as commodities continue to be the driving force in the greenback's direction. Overall, the USD's tone was soft except for the GBP. EUR/USD holding above the 1.5930 level after NYMEX front month crude hit fresh all-time highs at 117.50 during the early
US morning. USD/CHF is at 1.0075 and USD/JPY trading at 103.20. Euro strength is also being aided by buying from Eastern European names after Russian CPI came in above expectations for the month of March. In regards to inflationary concerns, the German Bundesbank stated that the ECB must raise rates if price stability is at risk. The IMF stated that the Euro is over-valued and predicted that Euro Zone inflation would drop below 2.0% in 2009, allowing it to cut rates as growth slows. By late NY morning trade the USD was off its worst levels in conjunction with gold dipping into negative territory for the session. Gold soft tone attributed to comments from the Bank de France, who noted that it sold 125 tons of gold in 2007. France added that the sale was not a 'directional bet' but to slightly adjust its FX reserves. Other commodities are also seen losing ground with the firming Greenback. Crude is off nearly 1% while silver and platinum are giving back closer to 3%. Grains futures moved substantially lower after the open off floor trade. Corn, Wheat and Soybeans are each trading lower by more than 3% but off of their worst levels. The German Finance Ministry stated it saw 2008 GDP growth of 1.7% and 2009 growth at 1. 2%, according sources close to officials.

GBP was broadly softer after the BoE confirmed earlier speculation that it would swap assets of mortgage debt. GBP/USD was off 150 pips from its opening levels in
Tokyo, trading at 1.9840 level. GBP/JPY off 270 pips at 205.00. AUD maintaining earlier session gains after firm PPI data for Q1. AUD/USD was up 85 pips at 0.9420. The RBA also announced an extension of its term asset swap. CAD is holding above the parity level ahead of tomorrow's monetary policy decision. Consensus sees a 50bps cut by the BoC to 3.00%.


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