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Tuesday August 26, 2008 - 17:10:05 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Dow +10 S&P +3.5 NASDAQ +2.3

- Markets were unsettled in early trading thanks to a pre-market spike in crude prices, but mildly positive housing data helped traders find some footing early on. Markets have returned to even mid-morning, however. The housing numbers seemed to show a slight return to stability: the Commerce Department reported an unexpected 2.4% m/m gain in July new home sales (although it did revise the June sales figures downward by 30K units), while the S&P/CS home price index showed prices falling at a slower pace than expected in June. In addition, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index rose in August, with a slight decline in inflation expectations. But the declining Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index shows that economic weakness isn't going anywhere. After falling as low as $112 before the open, crude has spiked up above $117 in early trading before falling off somewhat as Hurricane Gustav strengthens and trends toward the platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. FRE+25% and FNM+20% are surging for a second day in a row as fears of an imminent bailout evaporate. This is supporting the major finanicals, which are up slightly in positive territory. Today and yesterday's mostly consumer oriented earnings reports have been mostly negative, with the notable exception of CHS+12%, which beat estimates handily and guided higher. Also, digital signage firm DAKT+11% is surging after beating EPS and revenue estimates by wide margins and guiding FY09 revenue growth +20%. WINN-2% and SFD-3% lost less than expected in the quarter.
Smithfield's CEO said the outlook for the rest of FY09 is uncertain for the firm, noting that cost pressures are more severe internationally than in domestic markets. SAFM-4% showed a big loss thanks to charges from a court settlement, while the CEO noted that results were impacted by the difficult market and high costs for corn and soybean meal. Discount retailer BIG-6% beat EPS estimates but offered weak guidance for the coming quarter, while guided up for the full year. DRI-15% offered dismal guidance for the coming quarter, putting pressure on restaurant names EAT, YUM and RT. SAFM and CPY COCO-11% after missing analysts' estimates and guiding under estimates for the coming quarter. The WSJ examined the impact of the credit crunch on the firm, noting that COCO's results would show how well the company is handling the stresses hitting student borrowers. In other news, investors are bullish on big stock repurchase programs at COH+4% ($1.0B or %11.1% of market cap) and APC+6% ($5.0B or 18.5% of market cap). APC is also guiding its Q3 production above its outlook midpoint of 51M-54M BOE. Pharma names CHTP and NVAX are up a bit after the former received fast-track status for a blood pressure drug and the latter reported favorable results from a pandemic flu trial.

- The USD found some support overnight after the soft German IFO data sent the euro below 1.45. The USD/JPY cross was unable to gain the 110 figure but did bounce more than 50 pips before the
New York equity open, while Cable traded as low as 1.8325, another fresh two-year low. The dollar gave back some gains in the early NY session as markets digested a raft of economic data, including figures that suggest the US housing market is continuing to search for some kind of bottom. The dollar is loosing ground to its partner north of the boarder, with the Loonie rallying on higher commodity prices. Hurricane Gustav has sent fears into the energy markets driving natural gas up more than 5% and front month crude up 1.3%. USD/CAD is near session lows down 73 pips at 1.0436. Treasury prices have been marginally lower throughout much of the session with the 10-year yield hanging right around 3.80%. Reminder, later this afternoon the FOMC minutes will be released and following that we expect to see the latest report from the FDIC highlighting "problem institutions".


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