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Monday October 20, 2008 - 16:46:29 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:30am
US Market Update

Dow +69 S&P +9 NASDAQ -4

- Markets got off to a good start in New York this morning thanks to further drops in the three-month USD LIBOR fixing and a jolt of confidence after Fed Chairman Bernanke told Congress that it would be appropriate for it to consider another fiscal stimulus package. But this positive trend seems to be decaying mid morning, with money coming out of equities and headed to treasuries and the Nasdaq entering negative territory. Note that cedit markets continue to exhibit small signs on some thawing, with the yield on the three-month T-bill moving back toward 1% while the TED spread is heading back towards 300 basis points. Several bellwether technology names are standouts to the downside, including MSFT -3%, QCOM -3.2%, AAPL -2.7%, EBAY -2.7%, RIMM -8% and GOOG -3%. Oil services major Haliburton reported higher revenue for the quarter, indicating that earnings were inline with expectations after taking into account charges from the impact of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico this fall. The CEO noted that the firm's international business has not been impacted by the economic crisis or drops in commodity prices as of yet, although he expects growth in international markets in 2009. HAL opened up nearly 25% but is well off its best levels mid morning. Investors are not having fun with quarterly earnings from Hasbro and Mattel. HAS-6% beat estimates slightly and MAT-4% missed by a bit, but both had troubling news that could bode ill for the future. HAS reported that its short-term borrowing jumped by 2,300% y/y, while MAT said its margins are lower y/y and that some vendors and customers are having trouble getting the funds they need to buy inventory. Both names said they would re-evaluate prices in 2009 to deal with rising cost pressures and protect profits. Exelon became the latest bargain hunter to snap up a competitor as equity valuations plunge lower across the board. EXE offered to buy NRG for $6.2B in a transaction with a fixed exchange ratio of $26.43/shr. The offer is reminiscent of MidAmerican buying CEG back in mid September for less than half its market value. The credit crisis cuts both ways, however, as several other headlines from this morning indicate. HLTH and subsidiary WebMD terminated their merger agreement, citing unsettled conditions in financial markets. The chairman noted that it is important in this period of crisis to keep HLTH from becoming encumbered with the long-term debt it would need to close the deal. In a related move, HLTH said it would buy back 50M shares of its common stock, representing 27% of its outstanding stock. The Wall Street Journal reported that people close to the GM/Chrysler negotiations are saying that GM may not be able to secure the financing needed for the tie-up, given that several potential lenders remain unconvinced about the prospects for the merged entity.

- In currencies, dealers were a bit perplexed by the FX price action during a session marked by considerable volatility. Some dealers noted that there is too much focus on equity correlation since the falling trend in three-month USD Libor fixing suggests decreasing appetite for dollars and rising risk aversion. However, the USD firmed through the New York morning with the usual suspects of de-leveraging and repatriation cited as the main catalysts for the overall price movement. Also the overall the lack of diversification in petrodollars were suggested as the best explanation for the price action. One of the main areas for currency aftershocks were emerging market commodity types, which could be facing cutbacks in foreign direct investment (FDI). The USD was poised to end the New York morning at or near its best levels for the trading day. EUR/USD is making a run toward the key pivot support of 1.3250. The GBP exhibited some initial strength in early European trading aided by some above expectations regarding the BoE's Sept M4 money. GBP/USD reached an intra-day high of 1.7515 before retreating towards the 1.7150. The JPY was off its worst levels despite the sustained equity market strength worldwide. CAD was softer ahead of the Bank of Canada interest rate decision on Tuesday.

- Dec Bunds -15 ticks at 114.61 and dec Gilts +22 at 110.52. Euro Stoxx 50 index +35 at 2,608; and European bourses look to be closing near session hihgs led by the FTSE which is up more than 4% on the day. The Dax has clawed its way into the green after spending most of the session under water from deep losses in VOW.GE.

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