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Thursday September 25, 2008 - 15:53:47 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:46am
US Market Update

Dow +220 S&P +24.5 NASDAQ +39

- Investors are looking through the same storm clouds that have hovered over markets for more than a year, and focus is squarely on Washington and the hopeful expeditious passage of a relief package. Reports suggest Congress has nearly settled on the details of a bailout bill, most likely including the full $700B amount discussed over the last several days. Stock markets moved higher in the pre-market as a whiff of a settlement began circulate among trading desks, and indices headed straight up from the open. Crude has fallen below the $105 handle on demand concerns. GE lowered its earnings guidance for the quarter and the year before the open, as well as suspended its buyback program and cut GE Capital's dividend. As one of the largest companies in the US, the move could be seen as another disturbing sign that the financial crisis is contaminating the rest of the economy, although investors should keep in mind that the trouble seems to be coming out of the firm's financial business, GE Capital. In the release, GE insisted that its industrial earnings are expected to continue to be strong in the quarter, led by excellent performance in the infrastructure and media businesses. GE opened down 4%, but has rallied sharply following the CEO's appearance on CNBC. The Commerce Department reported that durable goods orders fell 4.5% in August, more than twice the decline expected. Traders are noting that the transportation component is weighing heavily on the data, thanks to the disastrous performance among auto companies and aircraft manufactures of late. First-time filings for unemployment benefits rose more than expected to, the highest level since September, 2001. NKE+9% has been sprinting ahead of the pack this morning thanks to its earnings slam dunk, beating EPS and revenue estimates on health demand. DFS is making incremental gains mid morning after coming in ahead of the Street on both EPS and revenue, although troubling signs were evident in the company's rising delinquency and charge-off rates. In other news, TMTA+18% after announcing it was looking for a buyer for the company. PPC-30% remains weak after saying yesterday that it expect significant losses in Q4 due to high costs, falling demand and fallout from grain hedges. Related names TSN+6% and SFD+4% are recovering from the sell-off sparked by PPC's sudden decline yesterday mid day.

- Congressional consensus over the final shape of the bailout bill (which has now been christened as the Trouble Asset Relief Program, or TARP) may or may not be on track, depending on who's speaking. One critical point seems settled: the total package will include a $700B lump sum, without too many “extras,” although some sort of limitation on executive compensation for firms engaging in the program will likely stay in. Just before the open CNBC's Liseman said his sources were telling him the total package will be $700B. Rep Barney Frank said House and Senate Democrats have agreed on the details of the bill, and are presently negotiating with the Republicans, while House Majority Leader Hoyer said passage of the bailout package is possible in the near term, "maybe even today." Rep. Bachus, the top republican on the House Financial Services Committee, countered by saying the House is not close to a deal, while White House Advisor Lazear told CNBC he doesn't think the deal is done but progress is being made. Speaker Pelosi noted that the White House has agreed to the broad details of the plan, while House Republicans are the final obsticles to the package. A meeting between Congressional leaders, the Administration and the two presidential candidates is scheduled for this afternoon.

- The USD was softer in early a NY whippy trading environment as rumors circulated regarding the bailout. The rumor mill was in full force, including one story making the rounds that a coordinated central bank rate cut would complement the passage of the bailout package. The fixed income market continues to highlight credit stress as the three-month USD Libor, Libor OIS and the TED spread hit all time highs. The ECB's Weber insisted that Europe must quickly coordinate its policy actions for dealing with the financial crisis. The lending market has ground to a halt as dealers realize that nobody will lend for one or three months when they can get the same returns on overnight funds. Meanwhile, European central bankers are continuing to express concern about the inflation picture. BoE's Barker stated that UK inflation has not peaked and that real dangers are posed by the economic downturn.

- As the morning has progressed the Greenback has rallied back as equities have made new highs on hopes a deal will come out of Washington before this afternoon's powwow at the Whitehouse. The soft housing and durable goods figures are having little effect. USD/JPY is making fresh session highs above 106.50 and cable is near new lows at 1.84. The Euro has also moved back into negative territory after being up more than 130 pips. Gold and Silver moved sharply lower as the Dollar caught a bid.

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