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Wednesday April 23, 2008 - 17:09:13 GMT
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U.S. Market Update

Dow +65 NASDAQ +28 S&P +6

- A firmer US Dollar and respite in the rise in June crude led to better open for
U.S. stock prices. Strong earnings in the tech sector are lifting the Nasdaq this morning, with chipmaker Broadcom leading the way. BRCM is up sharply after reporting strong Q1 results and providing guidance that surpassed analyst estimates. After opening nearly 10% above yesterday's close, virtualization software maker VMW was trading well in heavy volume this morning after saying it expected strong revenue growth throughout the rest of the year. Software giant EMC was performing well after reporting lower earnings from acquisition charges and a double-digit revenue gain that beat expectations. Healthcare names were doing well in the face of more bad news: shares of WLP have made an impressive reversal, climbing into positive territory after opening down more than 2.5% on lower Q1 earnings and full-year EPS guidance, and while GSK's earnings were down more than 10% y/y on increased generic competition in the US shares in the company were shrugging off the news, trading above yesterday's close. FCX opened up around 5% after more than doubling its earnings q/q and beating expectations by wide margins, but fell into negative territory after markets digested its statements that rising copper prices in the remainder of 2008 would negatively impact its operating cash flows. BA was seen up about 3% this morning after reporting earnings up 30% y/y, and reassuring the market that there recently revised 787 delivery schedule remains on track. DAL reported a large Q1 loss due to a $6.1B one-time charge related to its decline in market cap and the sky- high cost of fuel; revenue exceeded analysts' expectations. Troubled bond insurer ABK fell nearly 30% this morning after a giant miss on earnings, noting that it had booked $1.73B in mark-to-market losses in Q1.

- Oil futures attempted to back off following weekly inventory data but nearly insatiable underlying demand seems to remain. June crude rallied all the way back towards the unchanged mark and now trades marginally lower at $117.60. Natty gas has exhibited relative strength throughout the session and remains near highs at $10.68. Metal futures have given back some ground with a stronger Greenback as June Gold briefly traded below $900 for the first time in more than two weeks. Treasuries have seen some selling across the board with yields rising marginally faster at the long end of the curve. The 30-year yield has climbed back above 4.50%, while the 10-year offers 3.75%.

- The dollar was exhibiting broad-based strength throughout the
New York morning. Verbal intervention near the 1.60 level from various German names provided a pause to the overall trend of dollar weakness. The German BGA chief noted that the speed of the euro's rise is of concern and added that the "the air is getting thinner" for exporters. German Economy Minister Glos added that although German industry is weathering the strong euro, there are limits in coping with the currency's strength. ECB members also sought to clarify recent hawkish interest rate comments during pre-European trading.

- Euro sentiment was also being hit by rumors that the European financial sector remains vulnerable to losses. Dealers noted of chatter of a "large" value adjustment at a European bank. Unicredit's German banking unit stated that it expected “significant” writedowns related to the credit crisis. Unicredit will report earnings on May 8, but its parent company stated it expects a profit of around €1B. Profit taking on the recent lofty levels was seen in the EUR/USD pair after
Belgium's April Business Confidence Index registered its lowest reading since Aug 2005 with a -7.9 against a 0. 5e. This is seen as a precursor to the German IFO Business Climate sentiment, which is scheduled for release on April 24th.

- GBP turned lower in early
New York trading as dealers focused on the BBA loans data for March as it registered its lowest reading ever at 35.4K. GBP/USD was off 150 pips at 1.9805. In pre-US market GBP was firmer on the back of the publication of the BoE's April 10th policy minutes. The market had been expecting a unanimous BOE decision when it lowered rates by 25bps to 5.00%. However, the 6-2-1 split outcome contained concerns about the potential inflationary effects of lower rates and firming commodities.

- The USD/SEK is off its fresh 16-year lows of 5.8171 following the Riksbank interest rate decision to keep rates steady. The Norway Central Bank raised its deposit rates by 25bps to 5.50%, as expected. USD/NOK hold just above the 5.0 level.

- The CAD was softer following the release of its February retail sales data. USD/CAD is holding above the 1.02 level, but continues to consolidate in the 1.00-1.03 range for 2008. Canadian Finance Minister Flaherty noted that the BoC has room to cut rates further after lowering rates by 50bps yesterday to 3.00%. He also noted that the G7 did not discuss intervention on USD at its April 11th summit meeting. Spot Gold was softer in the session and currently testing its 100-day moving average at 898.35.

- - In European fixed-income futures, the June Bund was higher by 15 ticks at 113.91, while June Gilts were up 14 ticks at 108.46. June Bunds largely benefited from sell-offs in equity markets, which prompted some risk aversion from the vague rumors of losses at European financial institutions.

- European equities were moving back towards their best levels after Unicredit commented on credit markets, noting that it would likely see a first-quarter trading loss of €675M coupled with a ABS portfolio writedown of €650M. However, this amount was much below the rumors circulating at the bank's German unit. The CEO of Unicredit added that he saw consolidated profit of €1B when the bank reports earnings on May 8th. Euro Stoxx 50 +0.6% at 3,760; FTSE 10 Index +0. 4% at 4,941; CAC 40 +1.5% at 4,942 and DAX +1% at 6,798.

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