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Thursday October 23, 2008 - 15:52:40 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:36am

US Market Update

Dow +184 S&P +15 NASDAQ +8

- After a rocky start equity markets are posting respectable gains this morning. Credit jitters returned briefly early on after the sequential declines in three-month USD LIBOR hit a wall, the overnight USD LIBOR actually rose and commercial paper outstanding was seen falling for the seventh week in a row. The Saudi Arabian oil minister said that market forces should set prices (OPEC's emergency conference takes place in Vienna tomorrow), helping crude make hit session lows around $66 before rebounding nicely. Various OPEC ministers later weighed in with calls for output cuts at tomorrow's meeting, helping crude rally. Gold briefly tested below the $700/oz level for fresh 13-month lows.

- The return of credit anxiety is hitting selected financial names in a big way, with both Goldman and Morgan Stanley down 8%. Wells Fargo and Citi are down about 2% each. SunTrust has managed to hold things together to a greater degree than most of its regional banking rivals, reporting earnings and revenue well ahead of estimates, but profits at the bank are still down nearly one third y/y. The lender also said it plans to sell $1.6-4.9B of preferred stock to the government and use proceeds to expand, buy assets or make acquisitions. Investors are not impressed, and STI has fallen nearly 10% in early trading.

- Consumer-oriented earnings reports continued to show the ongoing recession fears impacting corporate America. UPS had a good quarter, beating both earnings and revenue estimates, but the package delivery giant sees trouble ahead, noting that it is facing a challenging environment and does not expect the recover to begin until 2010. The company said it would cut capital investment and reaffirmed its full-year outlook at the low end of the range offered back in July. Both UPS and rival FCX are up around 3% in early trading. The New York Times also reported EPS a bit ahead of expectations, but attention is definitely focusing on the firm's 15.9% decline in ad revenue; shares of NYT are trading down 2%. More ominously, NYT's CEO warned that she is seeing slowing online ad revenues in October, mainly because of less display advertising (take note, YHOO and GOOG). US Airways and JetBlue reported smaller EPS losses than expected this morning, although the former also reported $488M of unrecognized losses from fuel hedging instruments. JBLU guided double-digit growth in both revenue and costs per ASM in the coming quarter. Airline industry vendor Goodrich reported EPS ahead of the Street but was very cautious on full-year guidance for 2008 and 2009. Investors are dumping the airlines despite the sharp declines in crude, with LCC-8% and most other names down 6-9%; JBLU is trading around even, however. Starwood Hotels had solid earnings and revenue numbers but cut its guidance for the year. Bucking trends, Altria blew out revenue estimates, helping its stock make modest gains in early trading, although the name up a paltry 2%.

- In other earning news, LLY cut way back on its outlook for the year. POT helped the fertilizer stocks rise around 5% before the open on strong earnings and in-line guidance. But POT, MOS and AGU are all back in negative territory mid morning. Oil and recession worries are not troubling the defense sector: Raytheon beat estimates, hiked its FY08 guidance and offered a positive forecast for 2009 earnings. RTN is up around 8% in early trading.

- Anxiety regarding the impact of the crisis on emerging markets is driving currency trading. Today's concerns are focusing on the Baltic region, specifically on declining credit quality. But the dominant theme remains the slowing global economy, which is weighing on both European and emerging market currencies in New York trading. The GBP/USD cross approached the 1.60 handle, a level it has not breeched since September, 2003. EUR/USD moved back towards its Asian lows of 1.2735. USD/MXN hit all-time highs above the 1.1430 level. Risk aversion firmed up the JPY and CHF as carry-related pairs maintain their heavy tone. A vague rumor that the IMF was mulling a $1.0T aid package for emerging market countries helped to reverse the pre-US market price action, despite questions over where the IMF would get that much funding.

- In fixed income the US curve is a bit flatter as small risk appetite returns. The two and ten-year yields are rising but the long bond yield is holding close to unchanged at 4.05%. Fed fund futures are now nearly fully pricing in a 50 basis point cut next week. European yield curve steepening as equity markets hovered in negative territory. The spread on German 2-10 year bonds was at 103bps while the UK spread was 122 bps. Euro-Stoxx 50 index -2.15 at 2,406; FTSE 100 Index -0.9% at 4,002; CAC 40 Index -1.65 at 3,246 and DAX Index -3.0% at 4,431.


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