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Wednesday November 12, 2008 - 17:43:35 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:50am

US Market Update

Dow -307 S&P -32 NASDAQ -46

- Equity indices around the world remain under pressure as uncertainty abounds. Risk aversion continues to rear its head as showing by the rallying greenback and yen. The yield on the three-month T-bill has fallen back to 0.15% while yield curves around the globe continue to steepen. Much focus has turned to the Treasury's $20B 10-year note auction results due out just after 1PM ET. Commodity markets continue to head lower. Front-month crude is making fresh 20-month lows below $57 while natural gas is off more than 4.5% at $6.40. Treasury Sec. Paulson attempted to reassure markets by providing an update on the progress of the TARP program, but it appears he left investors with more questions than answers. European bourses went out near session lows down 1.5% to 3% while the Dow remains down close to 300 points heading into the afternoon.

- The earnings news has been mixed this morning. Broadline retailer Macy's reported a smaller than expected loss and reaffirmed its FY08 earnings outlook. However, the company refrained from offering any guidance for the coming year, noting that it is cutting planned investments for 2009 and sees next quarter's sales in negative territory. Electronics retailer Best Buy cut its view for FY09 considerably, noting that it is seeing a sharp decline in consumer spending as well as more pain from a stronger dollar. It also said it sees sales in the November to February periord declining by 5-15%. Diana Shipping had a good third quarter, noting that its fleet utilization remains over 99%; the extended declines in shipping rates should show up in next quarter's results. DSX exceeded analysts' expectations and said it would buy back $100M in shares, although in a sign of things to come the company suspended future dividends. Thomson Reuters stomped earnings estimates and confirmed its full-year revenue outlook. While JA Solar reported in line with the Street, its metrics for the coming year were sobering. JASO-24% cut its earnings and revenue view for the year, noting that its gross margins would fall to around 16% in 2009 from levels above 20% in 2008. Global solar ETF TAN-12% is down sharply mid morning.

- American Express was cleared to become a bank holding company last night, giving it access to the Treasury's TARP program; AXP is trading down more than 8%. The Wall Street Journal wrote that AXP could request up to $3.5B in assistance, or 13.5% of its market cap. The article notes a capital injection would give the company more flexibility in its funding situation, but will not likely help it deal with the inexorable slowdown in consumer spending. Note that earlier this year, AXP competitor Capital One was granted around $3.55B in TARP funding. Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are down more than 6% in early trading. Goldman's CEO addressed a banking conference yesterday evening, noting that its bank holding company status will not change its strategy, optimistically claiming that bank deposits could lower its cost of funding. He insisted that the firm is maintaining its 20% return on equity target. Ladenburg Thalmann's Dick Bove cut Goldman's price target to $70 from $80 overnight, reiterating his sell rating. Meanwhile Morgan Stanley said it would resize and reshape its FX, commercial real estate, prime brokerage and property trading operations, noting that its total assests fell below $800B on October 31.

- Volatility has roiled currency markets this morning as heavy selling hit the pound in the wake of the BoE's quarterly inflation report, which put its Q109 GDP rate at -1.8%. Later in the morning, BoE Governor King reiterated that the central bank stands ready to cut interest rates again. GBP/USD has been breaking through six-years lows under 1.5040. Cable initially recovered toward the 1.5200 neighborhood after intra-day shorts took profits, but the Fed's comment that it is looking at ways to assist the ABS market accelerated risk aversion mid morning. With that the pound probed alleged option barriers lurking around 1.5000. Dealers are noting that sellers continue to take advantage of rallies for a move on the 1.5000 level, which was last breeched back in June 2002. EUR/GBP has also pushed ahead, with a rally extending to fresh all time highs around 0.8245.

- The greenback has displayed mixed price action during the New York morning among the major pairs. USD/CAD remains bid on the back of the lower trend in oil prices as front-month NYMEX crude posts fresh 20-month lows. In addition, the Bank of Canada announced plans for a CAD term loan facility. In the meantime, the risk aversion theme helped the JPY and CHF firm up. EUR/JPY is off by 220 pips from opening levels in Asia to test around 119.00, while GBP/JPY is lower by 600 pips at 143.30. EUR/CHF is down 70 pips around 1.4785. The USD/JPY is near its historical pivot point of 95.

- Dealers continue to watch Russia wrestle with financial woes. Russian Finance Minister Kudrin is forecasting crude at an average of $50/bbl in 2009 while dealers are saying that Russia's budget is based on oil at $95, meaning that Russia will likely tap its wealth fund to pay for the difference, impacting the country's FX reserves.



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