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Monday April 21, 2008 - 16:44:43 GMT
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Midday Market Update: Soft Bank of America Earnings Spark Risk Aversion

12:24 04/21 (CEP News) – The Bank of America reported a disappointing set of figures leading to a decline in stocks and U.S. dollar weakness. Oil surged to a new high of $117.60 a barrel after exports from Nigeria were halted.

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected Bank of America first-quarter profits of 41 cents per share, but the banking giant earned only 25 cents. The company announced writedowns of $6.01 billion and CEO Kenneth Lewis said second-quarter U.S. GDP growth will be "minimal at best."

Following the earnings report, U.S. equity futures and overseas bourses fell to session lows, the U.S. dollar neared an all-time low against the euro and Treasuries briefly rallied before continuing last week’s sell off.

U.S. two-year yields were up 5.0 bps to 2.18%, five-year yields up 4.9 bps to 2.95%, 10-year yields up 2.9 bps to 3.74% and 30-year yields up 1.8 bps to 4.51%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 57.16 points to 12792.20, the S&P 500 down 6.57 points to 1383.76 and the NASDAQ down 1.95 points to 2401.02.

Toronto's S&P TSX composite index was up 29.45 points to 14266.51. The Canadian dollar was down 0.30 cents to 0.9933 against the USD (1.00674 USD/CAD). Yields on two-year Canadian government bonds were down 1.7 bps to 2.85%, five-year yields down 1.8 bps to 3.17%, 10-year yields down 1.8 bps to 3.67% and 30-year yields down 1.0 bps to 4.13%.

Oil hit an all-time high after Royal Dutch Shell said it will temporarily stop exports from a port in Nigeria following a pipeline attack last week. The UK-based company announced it will interrupt exports beginning April 22 after announcing force majeure. The move halts 169k barrels a day of crude exports.

Futures on WTI crude oil are down $0.73 to $115.96 while gold futures at the Chicago Board of Trade are up $2.30 to $917.50.

Overseas fixed income is outperforming North America.

Yields on UK two-year bonds are down 2.4 bps to 4.34%, five-year yields down 4.0 bps to 4.37%, 10-year yields down 5.1 bps to 4.68% and 30-year yields down 3.0 bps to 4.57%.

The UK rally followed a Bank of England plan to allow UK banks to swap mortgage-backed assets for government bonds, which is in the pipeline. The central bank said the preliminary size of the plan is likely to be around £50 billion, with an asset swap permitted for a period of one year, which may be renewed for a total of three years.

UK government debt was also aided by a Rightmove report on UK housing that showed year-over-year house prices increased by only 1.3% in April following a 5.0% gain in March. The property website noted that the drop indicated sellers were recognizing that a decade of rising UK house prices had come to an end.

In Germany, returns on two-year German Bunds were down 4.5 bps to 3.79%, five-year yields down 5.6 bps to 3.86%, 10-year yields down 2.4 bps to 4.11% and 30-year yields down 1.6 bps to 4.65%.

European Central Bank Governing Council member Klaus Liebscher said record-high oil prices are beginning to push up wages and noted that “second-round effects are appearing in some countries in the euro area.” Liebscher said that even though risks to the euro zone economy were on the “downside,” there is no room to cut rates.

European stock markets closed with the Eurostoxx down 32.63 points to 3165.80, the UK FTSE 100 down 3.50 points to 6053.00 and the German DAX down 56.53 points to 6786.55.

In foreign exchange, the euro strengthened following Liebscher’s comments and continued to gain following the Bank of America earnings report.

“There is a risk we see nothing at all from the European central bank through the next few months,” said Shaun Osborne, chief currency strategist at TD Securities. “They are worried that workers are demanding higher wages on the basis of some living costs that have risen.”

The euro is up 0.70 cents to 1.5885 against the U.S. dollar. The all-time high of 1.5983 was reached on April 17.

“I don’t think there’s very much downside potential in the euro and if anything there’s still more upside from my point of view,” Osborne said.

The U.S. dollar was down 0.39 to 103.28 against the yen. The pound sterling was down 1.70 cents to 1.9812 USD and the Australian dollar was higher by 0.70 cents to 0.9413 USD. The U.S. Dollar Index was down 0.184 points to 71.74.

All data taken at 12:12 p.m. EDT.

By Adam Button,, edited by Cristina Markham,

(END) ©CEP Newswires - ©CEP News Ltd. 2008. All Rights Reserved.


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