The morning's soft economic data is dragging down markets this morning. The
Labor Department reported that the August unemployment rate rose to 6.1%, its
highest rate in nearly five years and well above the expected 5.7% reading.
August non- farm payrolls decreased by 84,000, slightly more than expected,
while the prior month's number was revised upward (from -51K to -100K) for the
seventh month in a row. In addition, the Q2 mortgage delinquencies reading rose
to 6.41%, the highest level since records began 29 years ago. Front- month
crude is making five-month lows around $105. MER opened down as much as 5%
after being cut at Goldman, although the firm is down barely 2% in mid-morning
trading, while the rest of the major financials are around breakeven as the XLF
is down1%. Various tech and telecom stories are attracting attention this
morning off the back of the surprise Nokia warning. NOK-10% after cutting its
mobile device market share outlook for Q. . The firm noted that factors behind
the move include its decision against matching aggressive pricing at some
competitors and the temporary impact of a slower ramp-up of a mid-range Nokia
device, and said it expects the overall mobile device market to be impacted by
weaker consumer confidence in the rest of the year. Nokia's move is putting
pressure competitors ERIC and MOT, as well as industry suppliers QCOM, TXN and
ASML. Network solution developer SCMR was down 5% after missing earnings
expectations before the open, although the name has recovered nicely in early
trading after positive comments on its conference call. NSM remains under
pressure after coming in a hair under estimates. On the upside, SNDK+26% is
surging after confirming merger talks. Investors are disregarding a significant
earnings miss at telecom ADCT+7% to focus on the firm's better-than-expected
revenue guidance for FY08, although analysts are less impressed; Merrill and
Baird cut the name overnight. Retailer ZQK+9% is strong after beating the
Street on earnings and revenue, although the company did slightly reduce its
FY09 guidance. FBR initiated the major office supply retailers SPLS, ODP and
OMX, although the names are down 3-4% in early trading. In other M&A news,
UST+25% after the New York Times reported that Altria was holding talks to buy
the firm in a deal valued at $10B.
- In currencies, the spike in US unemployment rate has knocked the dollar
off its best levels and into negative territory against the European majors.
Dealers are noting that the Fed was not forecasting a 6.0%+ reading in the
unemployment rate until 2009. Other analysts downplayed the surge in
unemployment as being merely a quirk caused by a combination of the extension
of unemployment benefits, end-of-summer job search resolutions and college
grads entering the market.
- Ahead of the US payroll release the EUR/USD tested and
held its 100-week moving average, a level last violated back in April 2006. The
greenback also took a hit from a jump in gold prices as safe-haven buying sent
the yellow metal back above $800. The USD/JPY recovered from post- payroll lows
of 105.51 and moved into positive territory as widespread JPY selling was cited
in an successful attempt to protect an allege option barrier at the 105.00 level.
Dealers noted that the market seemed to be reversing some of the recent USD
gains ahead of the data, but risk aversion concerns remain on the front burner.
- European fixed-income futures are firm thanks to the US data and dovish comments from Austrian ECB
member Nowotny, who emphasized that that CPI may have peaked. Dec Bunds +80 at
115.49; Dec Gilts +83 at 112.93. European Equities recovered from session lows.
Euro Stoxx 50 -2.0% at 3,205; FTSE 100 Index -1.2% at 5,291; CAC 40 -1.7% at
4,229 and DAX Index -2.0% at 6,154.
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