- 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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