- Markets are attempting to show some stabilization as traders focus on the
ongoing testimony of Fed Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson
before the Senate. Stock markets are trying to recoup some of yesterday's heavy
losses, and are experiencing greatly reduced volatility in the early going. Oil
has dropped to around the $108 levels now that yesterday's short squeeze is a
memory and "fundamentals" are back in the driver's seat. Note that
natural gas is up 4%, at least in part prompted by comments from the CEO of
Chesapeake Energy, who told a Merrill Lynch energy conference that he expects
producers to idle 200-400 rigs over the next six months due to declining
prices. Newswires reported excerpts from Paulson and Bernanke's prepared
remarks early this morning. Paulson has noted that the government must move
beyond a case-by-case approach in calming market turmoil, while Bernanke has
urged Congress to prompt action that is needed to avert "very serious
consequences" from the financial crisis. Among the financials, AIG+17% and
WM+4% are making big moves this morning. Last night reports circulated that a
group of AIG shareholders will ask the company not to sign any deal with the US
government. WaMu has shot up 14% after the open as investors digest reports
that Toronto Dominion is mulling its own bid for the firm and news that the Fed
has loosened rules that had limited the ability of buyout firms and private
investors from taking large stakes in banks. JPM, C, WFC and BAC are in
positive territory despite the fact that Oppenheimer's influential analyst
Meredith Whitney was out with a note lowering her view of quarterly and
full-year EPS performance at the banks. Whitney also widened her estimates for
WB-10%, which is also down sharply due to news sinking in that talks on a deal
with Morgan Stanley are clearly dead. Elsewhere tech names are showing
strength, with sector leaders MSFT, AAPL, CSCO, ORCL, GOOG and DELL up around
2-3%. Retailer CACH-26% slashed its guidance outlook for the coming quarters
yesterday after the close, earning itself multiple downgrades and price target
- Treasury prices are once again seeing better buying in the shorter maturities
as a flight-to-safety bid lingers. The curve is steeper but in late morning
trading yields are pushing higher across the curve. In a sign the functioning
in credit markets is far from normal, the three-month T-bill yield has fallen
back below 1% while the LIBOR/OIS spread is moving up once again.
- The greenback exhibited choppy price action during the US
morning, but maintained its overall price range from the Asian and early
European sessions. The USD encountered a bit of turbulence in early trading
after extended previews of Bernanke's testimony came out early, especially his
"financial stresses are high and have intensified significantly"
comment. The EUR/USD retested the 1.4700 level after a German CDU official said
that the ECB's Weber expected 2009 growth in Germany
may be slightly lower than 1%, mirroring recent press speculation. Over the
weekend, Der Spiegel reported that the German government would lower its 2009
GDP forecast to 0.5% from current 1.2% view. Central banks are continuing
liquidity operations, helping to staunch the bleeding in the credit markets.
The overnight dollar LIBOR fixing came in at 2.95% compared to yesterday's
2.97% fixing, while the three-month USD fixing held relatively steady at 3.21%
versus Monday's fixing of 3.20%. The TED spread and three-month OIL/LIBOR has
exhibited some degree of steadiness with 235bps and 133bps levels,
respectively, late morning in New York.
- Concerns regarding the global economic slowdown are being reflected in
numerous data releases, with the Italian Government confirming a reduction of
its GDP growth forecast as exhibit A. However, ECB members are continuing to
tout the bank's standard inflation view: the ECB's Weber noted that he remains
concerned over the Euro Zone inflation outlook.
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