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Friday October 31, 2008 - 16:16:51 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:50am

US Market Update

Dow +73 S&P +0.30 Nasdaq +11.50

- Indices headed marginally higher in early trading this morning as investors digest a slew of mixed economic data. The Commerce Dept reported that personal spending made its biggest monthly decline since June, 2004. The October Chicago Purchasing Manager hit lows not seen since May, 2001, with the prices paid and new orders components coming in very weak. Crude is hovering below $65, while commodities remain weak. The fed fund futures show the probability of another 50bps rate cut by end of 2008 has risen to 92% from 68% yesterday.

- Repeating the pattern widely seen among the major oil companies this quarter, Dow component CVX beat analysts' EPS projections by a wide margin. Mid-level oil company CHK came in a hair under both earnings and revenue targets Note that earlier this week the Wall Street Journal held CHK up as an example of a smaller oil company that may be faring worse in the current crisis compared to the oil majors due to the fact that larger companies are less reliant on credit markets and have bigger cash positions than smaller energy firms. Both CVX and CHK are under water this morning. Investors are dumping ERTS-16% after reporting its second consecutive quarterly loss and guiding below targets yesterday after the close. Citi subsequently cut its price target for the game maker. Weyerhaeuser was down as much as 6% in early trading before spiking up +2% after reporting a small profit versus expectations of a loss in the quarter. The timber company expressed uncertainty about the upcoming quarter due to continued weakness in housing. BKC+4% is making steady gains after reporting more or less in line with expectations and reaffirming its guidance for the full year. CLX+2.5% is holding steady after an unremarkable quarterly report. Auto parts suppliers CMI and AXL are not having an easy time. CMI-10% missed on earnings and revenue by a bit and cut its revenue guidance for the year slightly. AXL-17% fared much worse, reporting a huge loss for the quarter.

- Speaking of the auto industry, overnight the Detroit Free Press reported that the Treasury has ended talks with US automakers to provide them with financial assistance, citing an unnamed Bush administration official. The article notes that the Treasury is concerned about the idea of injecting billions of public funds into a merger that will lead to a large number of job cuts and does not want to participate in any mergers. Commentators question whether any GM/Chrysler tie-up would happen at all without government support. Both Ford and GM are off their worst levels, but still in negative territory. INTC warned about the impact of possible follow-on effects on its business from the credit crisis, noting that key suppliers are facing insolvency. According to the tech giant, tightening credit markets may hurt key suppliers, delay product launches and keep customers getting the credit they need to buy. Sprint cancelled its plan to divest Nextel, noting that it will "rejuvenate" the "important asset." The DoJ approved the Verizon/Alltel deal, but is requiring Verizon to sell assets in 15 more areas than it had previously demanded. VZ earlier had agreed to divest spectrum in 85 markets.

- Among the leading financial names, Morgan Stanley is up 3% after Treasury confirmed it would buy $10B of preferred shares and warrants (58.8% of its market cap) at an initial exercise price of $22.99/shr. JPM and WFC are even stronger, up 4.5%. AXP-3% formally stated it is facing difficult conditions in global capital markets that may hurt business and operations and does not expect these conditions to improve in the near future. The New York Fed said it was hopeful that a CDS clearinghouse can be up and working in Nov/Dec period. Note today has been speculated as the end of the fiscal quarter for many funds, making adjustments possible in holdings and allocations.

- In currencies, concerns deepened regarding slowing global growth headlined by weak German Retail Sales, cautious comments from the BoJ and seven-year lows in the Oct Chicago PMI, bringing risk aversion back into the market after several days of confidence. Carry-related pairs are now being particularly affected in light of such recent data. The BoJ disappointed the market with a 20bps rate instead of the suggested 25bps. Dealers are noting that stress in Europe is building, demonstrated by the spread on numerous government bonds. Europe's economic troubles on both the growth and inflation fronts could increase as German union IG Metall is preparing for possible strikes that could begin in the second week of November. ECB members continue to note that a rate cut is possible, while noting the ECB's standing policy on not pre-committing to any policy.



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