- Trading remains somewhat volatile this morning as traders jockey for position
ahead of the FOMC rate announcement. Commodities continue to see a notable
bounce across the board as the dollar remains somewhat under pressure. Front
month copper is nearly $0.45 off of the fresh three-year lows made just a few
sessions ago to trade back above $2. Dec crude has climbed more than $6 in
today's session. The US durable goods reading showed orders (ex transport)
falling for a second straight month in September, providing further evidence of
pain stemming from the credit freeze and economic downturn.
- Two Dow components reported today, consumer-oriented firms Proctor &
Gamble and Kraft Foods. Both reported revenue, EPS and guidance more or less in
line with expectations. While KFT is up a bit in early trading, PG is under
water after the CFO said the credit crisis is already impacting volume, warning
investors that the company may not make the top end of its guidance range.
Fellow consumer name Kellogg's beat earnings and revenue expectations and
offered decent guidance. The CEO also assured investors that Kellogg's has
adequate liquidity and normal access to commercial paper, helping its shares
rise 2% or so in early trading. Owens Corning reported a big jump in earnings
and revenue, although the building materials company also reported a major
non-cash accounting charge. OC was up as much as 10% this morning, but is well
off its best levels. Oil companies SU+10% and HES+5% are making big gains in
early trading, helped along by the fresh upswing in crude. HES smashed revenue
expectations while SU offered strong production metrics.
- Healthcare giant AET-10% reported in line with the Street but offered
disappointing guidance for the year due to falling investment income and
metrics showing healthcare and other premiums flat y/y. Note that Merrill cut
numerous managed care names overnight, including Aetna, as well as HUM-2%,
CI-9%, UNH-2% and WLP-3%. Elsewhere in healthcare, CAH-4% is slipping despite
largely positive earnings. The company noted on its conference call that it is
seeing hospitals delay some purchase decisions. General insurer ACE+5% is
bucking the trend among healthcare insurers, making solid gains in early
trading on a strong earnings report and impressive growth in premiums.
- The new realities of a totally changed financial landscape have been weighing
on the major financials all week. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have lost
nearly 10% over the last few days as panicky investors over-react to various
rumors and stories, such as the Goldman short on Volkswagen fairytale
yesterday. Overnight the Wall Street Journal wrote that the two firms are
facing drastic changes, and that the distressed trading patterns in their stock
suggests that everything has changed for the companies. Before the open reports
circulated that Morgan would be bringing a raft of new products onto the
market, looking to expand into savings accounts and asserting that it had
raised $3B in CDs over the last month. In addition, Platts lifted its review of
Goldman, permitting the firm to restart market making in crude trading. In
other finance news, investors are snapping up LM+30% despite the firm's
disclosure of a massive loss in its earnings report this morning.
- In other equity news, Japanese media reported overnight that GM+5% would
delay its earnings release, citing a GM spokesperson. The troubled automaker
reported another big quarterly sales decline, with North American sales down
nearly 19% and Eurpean sales -12.3%. But helping to goose up the name was news
the US Dept of Energy is intensifying efforts to provide the company with
funding. Reports that the Japanese may ask the EU to reject the BHP/Rio Tinto
merger is not hurting either name in New York
trading; stock in both companies is up 4-6%. FSLR+6% is surging after signing a
100MW supply deal for residential units. The five-year deal with SolarCity
represents the company's first entry into the US
residential segment. Other solar names are making big moves, including
SPWRA+14%, ESLR+7% and SOLF+5%, although they are off their best levels in mid
- In currencies, traders are closely watching for coordinated action by central
banks around the globe. The ball got rolling yesterday after a Nikkei report
suggested that the BoJ was considering cutting rates in half. After the Chinese
market closed this morning the Chinese Central Bank (PBoC) cut rates by 27
basis points, while the Norwegian Central Bank followed that up with a 50 basis
point cut of its own. Later in the morning traders attention has shifted firmly
to the expected 50 basis point cut by the FOMC later this afternoon, and hopes
remain high that the Bank of England and the EU will follow through with rates
cuts of their own next week. The greenback remains under pressure ahead of the
Fed's decision with substantial follow though selling across the board. The
euro has climbed more than 260 pips to trade back at 1.2940, while cable has
gained more than 400 pips to trade above 1.63. The dollar has lost more than 3%
against the Loonie to trade below 1.23 while the Aussie has recovered some 185
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