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Wednesday September 3, 2008 - 16:22:23 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Dow -28 S&P -5 NASDAQ -8

- Markets have been bouncing in and out of positive territory this morning as nervous investors weigh yesterday's sell-off against further declines in oil and a ray of sunshine from the unexpected strength in July factory orders (not to mention the upward revision of the June reading). Crude has slipped another $2 to around $108 thanks to continued USD strength and further reports indicating an absence of significant damage from Gustav. A flurry of reports emerged after the close yesterday and overnight regarding Lehman's ongoing negotiations with potential investors. South Korean media said that the Korea Development Bank wants to take a 25% stake in Lehman for around $4.4B, in addition to a guarantee that it could boost the stake to 49% in the future. South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that HSBC and an unidentified Chinese bank are also among potential investors, citing a financial industry source. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggested that
South Korea's Woori Finance, Hana Financial and Shinhan were not looking to invest in Lehman. The other major financial names are gaining ground, while FNM and FNM are back in positive territory after opening down more than 4%. Organic food distributor UNFI reported Q4 and guided FY09 mostly in line with estimates, and showed improved gross margins in Q4. Casino operator ISLE halved its y/y loss but still missed estimates, while noting that Gustav had not impacted its operations. SPLS+2% is up a bit after reporting in line with analysts. Despite a solid earnings report, DCI guided well under EPS estimates for FY09. GLW-7.5% cut its EPS and revenue guidance for the coming quarter. The fall off in commodity prices is hitting mining equipment names BUCY-5% and JOYG-5% (which trounced analysts' estimates in its Q3 report this morning). In pharmaceutical news, MDVN+15% signed a deal with Pfizer to co-develop and market Dimebon, receiving a $225M up-front cash payment and making itself eligible to receive milestone payments of up to $500M; MDVN has reported no revenues since going public. FRX-15% reported statistically significant results from its Phase III studies of aclidinium bromide versus a placebo in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study of Elagolix in endometriosis met clinical endpoints, boosting NBIX+8%.

- US Treasury prices are holding near their highs for the session with the 10-year yield testing the 3.70% mark early, levels not seen since April. The 2-year yield is holding at the 2.25% level. Concerns of exacerbated dislocations in the credit markets continue to help provide an underlying bid in Treasuries. Early in session the 2- year swap spread widened to 100 basis points. Fed fund futures have seen nearly all possibility of a rate hike this year priced out, with Jan pricing in just a 16% chance of a 2.25% fed funds rate.

- In currencies, the USD encountered some retracement during the
New York session after exhibiting strength throughout the European morning. The Dutch Central Bank noted that rising inflation is limiting the bank's ability to maneuver and increasing the risk of further slowdowns in growth. The comments reinforced sentiment that the ECB is likely to hold rates steady at tomorrow's policy meeting as governors focus on inflation and the wage settlements that may be too large for comfort. Speaking of which, Germany's union IG Metall said that would demand a pay raise of at least 7%, a move which certainly underlines the recent hawkish sentiment out of the ECB. The euro also helped the two-year US-German interest rate spread move above 180bps. Continued heft in the greenback prompted the President of OPEC to note that crude may keep falling as the USD continues to strengthen.

- The Bank of Canada left its interest rate unchanged at 3.00%, as expected. The USD/CAD moved to session lows following the decision, testing the 1.0580 area. Dealers noted the continued stress in
South Korea as the KRW kept taking steep losses. South Korean Finance Minister Kang to insist that the government has not lost credibility on policy. In addition, investors should note that the Fed did not conduct open market operations this morning.

- Fixed income futures contracts are trading in the lower quarter of today's session range. Sept Bund +12 ticks at 114.33 and Sept Gilts +3 ticks at 109.49.

- European equities rebounded after the Euro Zone retail sales data and better
US factory orders for July but remain in negative territory. Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7% at 3,392; FTSE 100 Index - 1.3% at 5,547; CAC 40 Index -1.2% and DAX Index -0.2% at 6,509.


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