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Thursday September 11, 2008 - 16:37:37 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Dow -79 S&P -8.6 NASDAQ -8.8

- All eyes remain on the financials and in particular Lehman, the firm's precipitous decline is continuing to drag down markets. Crude is sliding closer to $100 and the dollar is hitting fresh 1-year highs against the euro. After holding steady during most of yesteday's session, traders began dumping Lehman heading into the close, with the name opening down nearly 40% this morning. The WSJ's Heard on the Street has passed judgment on Lehman's restructuring plan, noting that the firm may have trouble executing its plans and that many investors believe an eventual deal for the entire
Co. is the best solution. The article also notes that the plan could reduce the firm's equity by $3.0B, forcing it to sell even more assets. A crowd of analysts downgraded the name overnight: it was cut to neutral at Goldman, cut to hold at Citi and cut to hold at Deutsche Bank (who had added LEH to its short-term buy list just two days ago). JP Morgan, Merrill and Wachovia analysts cut their EPS loss estimates for the firm. Yesterday S&P affirmed that it has LEH's ratings on watch negative, but noted that the firm's near term liquidity is satisfactory. Washington Mutual opened down significantly again, helped down by Ladenberg's Bove saying the firm unlikely to book profits until mid- 2010, but the bank is coming off its worst levels in early trading. Merrill opened -11% and is making fresh lows below -17%. MS-8%, GS-5%, BAC-4% and C- 4% are all trading sideways mid morning. JP Morgan and Wells Fargo opened in the red but are defying the trend, trading up around even mid morning. AIG-17% is feeling the gravity of the other financials, as well as reports that the insurance giant is reporting exposure to FRE and FNM of around $550-600M. The airlines have made an impressive reversal: most of the names in the sector opened around -3% or -4% but the stocks are headed above 4% mid morning as investors contemplate oil under $100. In other news, AGN+14% after releasing positive top-line results from a Phase III study of BOTOX in the treatment of chronic migraine. ALO+3% has jumped up a notch after King Pharma pledged to move forward with its hostile bid for the firm at $37/shr, after the ALO board rejected its earlier $33/shr bid. Investors have jerked LULU around today after the sports apparel maker beat earnings estimates. After loosing a significant amount of value over the last week on the decline in commodities, JOYG+5% is retaking some ground after expanding its buyback by $1.0B. The train has left the station for many of the rail road names, as the group is moving noticeably higher after CSX +9% raised guidance.

- With equity markets opening sharply lower and the JPY showing some real strength, treasury prices are moving higher and the curve is steeper as risk aversion remains the underlying theme. Yields have moved up from their lowest levels but fed fund futures continue to price in better odds of a rate cut late this year. The Dec contract has seen the odds of a 25 basis point cut trade as high as 40%.

- In currencies, dealers continue to see a dual theme of risk aversion and de- leveraging. As the New York markets opened the EUR/USD continued probing fresh one-year lows below the 1.39 handle while carry-related crosses maintained its downside bias, with the EUR/JPY testing below the 148 level, breaking its 200-week moving average for the first time since early 2002 and moving below lows seen in Aug 2007 in the heat of the subprime meltdown. Risk aversion continues to aid the yen on a broad-based basis.

- Various ECB members continued to share their views. ECB's Papademos reiterated that broad-based, second-round effects are surfacing but added that a negative Q3 GDP was unlikely, but still may occur. However, he noted that the Euro Zone could escape a technical recession. The bottom line is that downside risks remain in the Euro Zone. German Finance Minister Steinbrueck welcomed signs of easing in crude oil prices and reaffirmed 2008 GDP growth estimate of 1.7% and 2009 GDP growth of 1.2%.

- The EUR/USD is approaching its six-year uptrend line in the 1.3810 area. The US July trade balance worsened to -$62.2B (versus estimates of -$58.0B); declining imports accounted for the deteriorating headline number as they came in at $203.4B compared to the $221.1B prior reading, which comes from the period before the recent decline in oil prices. Dealers are noting that various macro funds are selling emerging market currencies such as the South African Rand (ZAR), Turkish Lira (TRY), Indian Rupee(INR), Philippine Peso (PHP) and Brazilian Real (BRL) as credit concerns and lower commodity prices continue the deleveraging process.

- Dec Bunds +22 ticks at 115.16; Dec Gilts +33 to 112.48. Euro Stoxx 50 index -1.6% at 3,188; FTSE - 1.9% at 5,266; CAC 40 -1.9% at 4,201 and DAX Index -1.5% to 6,117.


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