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Tuesday August 5, 2008 - 17:06:36 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Dow +205 S&P +21 NASDAQ +36

- Equity futures posted solid gains in the pre-market and a better than expected July ISM non-manufacturing reading, accompanied by a decline in the prices paid component only added to the strength in stocks. A further decline in crude and expectations that the Fed will leave rates unchanged at this afternoon's FOMC rate announcement have clearly encouraged markets as well. The major investment banks are up as traders anticipate the FOMC will continue to indicate rates are on hold for the time being. The XLF and IAI are up more than 2%. The new mortgage lending watchdog, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said last night that will likely implement new capital standards for mortgage finance companies, helping FRE and FNM to rise 5%, while WB+8% and WM+4%. Airlines are trading higher on falling oil and July load factor reports, with multiple carriers trading up more than 5% on the day. Fertilizer names have been volatile thanks to the drop-off in commodities and reports that the Egyptian government has cancelled an AGU's fertilizer project in the country; fertilizer stocks POT, MOS and AGU dropped as much as 4% in early trading before returning to positive territory. Dow component PG+2.5% is up moderately on solid earnings and in-line guidance, noting that while price increases have helped the firm keep up with increasing costs, it is risky to be offsetting all higher commodity prices with price hikes, which drive customers to “trade down.” Agribusiness titan ADM-5% missed on earnings despite surging revenues from higher commodity prices. HEW is a big earnings winner, rising 10% on a strong quarterly report and raised guidance for the year. Tech firm RACK-18% has been raked over the coals after a sizable earnings loss. SNE+3% said it was buying out Bertelsmann's 50% stake in Sony BMG. Following the acquisition, Sony BMG will be renamed Sony Music Entertainment Inc. and be a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Corporation of
America. Sony and Bertelsmann AG originally created the Sony BMG joint venture in August 2004. In other M&A news, News Corp and a private equity firm Permira are taking NNDS+6% private at $63/shr in cash, representing a 9.75% premium to yesterday's closing price. If the deal goes down, News Corp would hold 49% of the pay TV provider while Permira would have a 51% stake. CPHL is being acquired by Tower Group for $12.68/shr in cash and stock, in a deal worth a total of $490M; the offer represents a 42. 7% premium to yesterday's closing price.

- Treasury markets have been pinned near the unchanged mark throughout much of the session with only fractional declines despite the big move in stocks. The 10-year yields remains just below 4%. With the FOMC expected to keep rates on hold this afternoon, the Oct fed fund future contract still prices in less than a 40 chance the Fed hikes at the September meeting.

- Lower commodity prices aided the dollar throughout the European morning as oil continues to consolidate around the $120 level and spot Gold hovers below its 200-day moving average of $890.66. It seems that the catalyst for this most recent commodity plunge is commentary from the Australian Central Bank that it believes it has scope to lower interest rates. So ahead of several key central bank decisions this week, the technical picture appears to be slowly changing in favor of a stronger USD. Dealer chatter that
Germany's Q2 GDP may come in at -1.0% has weighed upon the euro in the latter portion of the US morning. Interestingly, dealers are noting that this number may have been leaked by the German Finance Ministry to send a message about the ECB rate decision scheduled on Thursday. The EUR/USD continues to probe below its one-year uptrend line at the 1.5520.

- USD/CAD is firmly above its prior pivot resistance of 1.0330, testing the 1.0450 level. The AUD/USD cross is lower by 100 pips after the dovish RBA comments prior to the European open. The EUR/JPY cross retested the 167 support level during the
New York morning (which corresponded to Friday's post US payroll lows).

- Oil has rebounded from its spike lower in the European morning, but remains in negative territory just above the $120 level. The IEA Chief said he was satisfied with current OPEC output levels in the wake of the organization's most recent increase, but called prices of $119-120/bbl "still very high." Geopolitical concerns have not completely subsided as the US State Department said that the major powers would hold a conference call on Wednesday regarding
Iran. Earlier today the last remaining member of the Axis of Evil provided a written response to the Western powers' latest negotiating offer; one Iranian source stated that the reply did not include an offer to halt nuclear work.


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