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Friday October 10, 2008 - 16:40:21 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:28am
US Market Update Dow -344 S&P -40 NASDAQ -57

- Markets stared into the abyss this morning as the Dow plunged nearly 800 points and then rapidly sliding below 8000 in the first ten minutes of trading in very heavy volume. This dramatic move sparked a buying frenzy that rocketed indices back into positive territory for a short time, and not surprisingly had many market prognosticators discussing the ever fleeting notion of capitulation. Multiple market barometers continue to hit historic levels, including the Vix, which has extended its string of record highs, hitting 70.9 after the open in a sign of extremely elevated levels of stress. The three-month USD LIBOR fixing also hit new record highs, climbing to 4.82%, slightly above yesterday's record high. The overnight fixing has been cut in half, although commentators are disregarding this move due to the Fed's massive liquidity actions. The US three-month TED spread has found a footing above 450 basis points while the yield on the three-month T-bill is hovering below 0.3%. The bottom has seemingly fallen out of crude, with WTI crude down more than $4.50 around $82/bbl; selected oil names are suffering, with XOM and CVX down 8-10%. The major financials opened lower (Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs opened down more than 10% a piece). Major banks and financials outside of Morgan and Goldman immediately saw buyers pounce after the open as the group led the eye popping rebound in equity markets. Traders are focusing on today's Lehman Holding CDS auction, with results due around 2pm ET. The initial value of the securities was set at $0.0975/dollar, and they were reportedly trading around $0.12-0.13/dollar ahead of auction. This initial look at the results has tempered much of the enthusiasm brought about by the equity reversal but indices remain well off of early multi-year lows. Spokesmen from both MS and Mitsubishi UFJ have strenuously insisted that Mitsubishi's planned investment is on track and moving forward, although investors still seem to be betting that the deal will fall apart and turn MS into the next victim of the crisis. The WSJ wrote overnight that if Morgan Stanley survives, it could represent a key milestone for finding a bottom in equities. Yesterday evening Citigroup gave up on attempts to prevent Wells Fargo from acquiring Wachovia; the Fed noted that while there were still some outstanding issues with the deal, it would immediately move to clear the merger. Wachovia said it was "pleased" that Citi walked away from its offer. GE reported third-quarter results in-line with expectations before the bell; the firm also reiterated its full-year guidance and maintained its dividend. CEO Immelt insisted that he believes the dividend is safe, and that if the economy is not as bad as feared full-year earnings could come in at the high end of the predicted range. He also noted that GE plans to continue originating commercial financing. More firms are cutting guidance ahead of earnings, with retailer CHRS-18%, tech firm CPWR-16% and broadline M-6% leading the way down after revising their forecasts. Investors are responding well to LNC+10% preannoucing its third-quarter results. The regional bank said quarterly EPS results would be well below estimates, but also insisted that the firm has plenty of liquidity to back up their commitments. In other news, more efforts are being made to develop a clearinghouse for credit-default swaps, with the Fed meeting with major industry players to discuss creating such an institution. ICE said it has signed an LOI with several players to establish a CDS clearinghouse, although the effort seems to be a very preliminary deal.

- The currency market was reduced to a sideshow during the New York morning as panic gripped markets, driven by the vicious cycle of continuing deleveraging, margin calls and declining fundamentals. The USD/CAD broke above the 1.18 despite a "better" September employment report in which 107K jobs were created. CAD weakened in the aftermath of the data released as dealers noted that almost 97K of those jobs were 'part-timers'. The drop in crude oil prices also weight upon the commodity-currency related pairs. The JPY was softer among the major crosses as the European and US equity markets moved off session lows. EUR/JPY at 135.70, up 167 pips and EUR/CHF at 1.5185, lower by 161 pips from Asian opening levels.

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