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Thursday June 5, 2008 - 17:30:36 GMT
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Forex Blog - U.S. Market Update

Dow +141 S&P +16.4 NASDAQ +32.80

- U.S. stock markets are exhibiting some strength today, supported by robust same store sales reports and lower-than-expected initial and continuing jobless claims for the week. Same store sales were largely positive, rising 3.3% in aggregate in May, although department stores and certain other retailers were seen taking a sales hit from the economic slowdown. WMT+3.6% and COST3.4% are big winners this morning after both big-box retailers beat expectations by wide margins. APP+4% reported a striking 25% rise in May sales, while BKE+3. 5% after sales jumped 34% in the month. Luxury names GPS and TGT fell in early trading on their negative sales reports, but both names were back in the black by mid-morning. Department stores suffered sizable sales declines, but KSS, DDS, BONT and SMRT were gaining or holding steady in mid-morning trading. LEH was rising further in morning trade after another steady stream of news regarding the bank's likely efforts to raise more capital: the WSJ reported overnight that the bank may open its books to US institutional investors, Bernstein cut its earnings estimates and rumors circulated that it had secured a large investment from an Asian bank (LEH had no comment on the latter). Airline stocks were dealing well with turbulence as multiple stories affected the industry. Following similar actions from other major carriers, CAL+7% said it was cutting its fleet and laying off workers in the face of rising fuel prices. CEO Larry Kellner was blunt regarding the industry's prospects in his note to
CAL's employees: "The airline industry is in a crisis. Its business model doesn't work with the current price of fuel and the existing level of capacity in the marketplace. NUE+5% is lifting steel names after guiding higher before the open, citing strong demand and higher margins. In other news, VZ+5% after confirming chatter that it would acquire Alltel for $5.9B, consolidating its position as the largest cellular carrier in the US; Verizon also said it would take on $22.2B worth of Alltel debt. The partners hope to close the deal by the end of 2008, although it is likely to face close regulatory scrutiny.

- U.S Treasury yields have pushed back above some key levels following the better than expected weekly jobless claims figures and rumblings from across the pond that the ECB may consider raising rates again to fight inflation. The 10-year is back above 4% while the 2-year is hugging that 2.5% level. The Nov fed fund future has seen the odds of a 25 basis point hike by mid-Fall rise above 50%. Commodity prices rebounded along with the Euro following the hawkish comments from the ECB. Overnight crude traded below $122 on continued demand destruction concerns, but it has recovered towards the $124 level post the Dollar reversal. Front month Gold also pared a good portion of its daily losses but still changes hands below $880. July Corn made another new all-time high up 3% after a USDA official noted concerns that wet weather could affects US corn crops.

- The USD erased earlier gains seen in Europe after the ECB's Trichet raised his level of inflationary concern. The ECB now sees continued upside risks to price pressures, adding that the central bank is in state in "heightened alertness." Trichet noted that today's policy decision to hold rates steady at 4.00% was reached by “consensus” and suggested that interest rates could be raised by 25bps at the bank's July policy meeting, although he reiterated that it does not pre-commit to decisions. Trichet also stated that the ECB is not "behind the curve.” Meanwhile, ECB ultra-hawk Weber said the bank sent a “clear signal” today and that markets should prepare for a policy response. The ECB staff projections reinforced Trichet's hawkish tone as it raised its 2008 and 2009 Inflation projections. Euro strength has been broad based: EUR/USD surged from the 1.5370 level (where sovereign bids seen buying Euros) to 1. 5560 during the NY morning. Resistance was seen at 1.5630, which has been the post April G7 pivot point in the pair and the level where Ben Bernanke mentioned his “attentiveness” of the USD implications earlier this week. EUR/JPY cross was above a significant daily chart resistance line at 164.70 and could provide some upward momentum if a sustained close is achieved on a daily close basis.

- USD/JPY hit fresh three-month highs at 106.43 and a key one-year resistance level is noted at the 106.70 level. Firmer US equity markets are helping carry-related pairs move higher in the session.

- AUD and CAD were initially softer in early NY trading as oil and gold were under pressure. USD/CAD tested the 1.0220 level but drifted lower on better Ivey purchases data.

- The spread between US-German two- year notes widened to over -200bps while Bund futures hit their lowest levels since July 2007 at 111.19. The yield on the two-year Schatz has risen to 4.435%, its highest level since July 2007. Dealers are also taking note of the inversion in the German yield curve between the 2/10 year swaps. June Bund -70 ticks at 111.35, June Gilts -74 ticks at 105.46.

- European bourses recovered from the initial hawkish remarks from the ECB which sent them to session lows. Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5% at 3,680; FTSE +0.3% at 5,990; CAC 40 Index -0.2% at 4,903 and DAX Index -0.4% at 6,935.


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