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
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