- Before the bell US
equity futures recouped some of yesterday's losses, but since the NYSE open
stocks have struggled to hold onto gains. Intel's lowered sales guidance is
weighing on the NASDAQ, while rumors surrounding GE's dividend have sent the
stock to $15, levels not seen since the mid 1990's. Pessimism about the global
economy reigns supreme following the worse-than-expected weekly unemployment
claims reading, the OECD's predictions for a 2009 recession in G7 economies and
confirming it is officially in recession. The US
weekly jobless numbers hit their highest level since Sept 2001, the four-week
moving average was the highest since March 1991 and the continuing claims
reading hit its highest level since 1983. The slight uptick in the overnight
and three-month LIBOR is striking a cautious chord as well. Front-month crude
is holding steady around $57 as OPEC begins to sound the alarm over declining
prices by hinting of a late, full November meeting. Other commodities are
firmer. While the Baltic Dry bulk index resumed its extended declines, the
Handysize rate rose 2.4%, its first increase since August.
- Dow component Wal-Mart disclosed Q3 results in line with analysts'
expectations this morning, although the retail giant lowered its full-year
forecast by a hair and guided below targets for the coming quarter. Same-store
sales held up in the quarter, and the firm believes it will maintain positive
SSS in the next quarter as well. WMT's CEO noted that he remains optimistic
about the holidays, making him somewhat of a rarity among retail executives
regarding this critical part of the year. Doctor Pepper Snapple missed earnings
targets, taking a hit from charges stemming from its separation from Cadbury,
while revenue met expectations. But shares of DPS are suffering from weak
guidance for the year, which was well below analysts' estimates. Apparel maker
Perry Ellis slashed its guidance for the full year and the coming quarter
thanks to the economic slowdown.
- Semiconductor names are making gains despite all the bad news overnight.
Yesterday after the close Applied Materials beat the Street on the top and
bottom lines in its fourth-quarter report, but also said it saw falling margins
in the quarter and that it would launch a major restructuring program to help
it deal with an expected 30% drop in orders in Q109. In addition, AMAT halted
its stock buyback program and offered dismal EPS and revenue guidance for Q1.
Intel weighed in with its own grim view, noting that it sees business in the
current quarter below expectations, slashing its revenue guidance and
anticipated R&D spending. According to Intel, revenue is being affected by
significantly weaker than expected demand in all geographies and market
segments. In addition, the PC supply chain is aggressively reducing component
inventories. To cap things off, an industry report noted that global silicon
wafer area shipments contracted about 3% q/q in the third quarter of 2008,
reflecting the increasing conservative mood in the industry.
- In other equity news, Wells Fargo briefly broke the print price ($27/shr) for
its $11B stock offering this morning ahead of its expected closing later today.
Citigroup is under intense pressure after the Wall Street Journal reported that
the firm's directors may replace Chairman Sir Win Bischoff due to
dissatisfaction over his performance. Overnight the New York Times discussed
the possible benefits of bankruptcy for GM, noting that while bankruptcy would
be painful, it may be preferable to a government bailout that may only delay
the steps GM needs to take to become a stronger company. A Goldman analyst
suspends his ratings and price target on GM, noting the automaker needs $22B in
capital to bring operations to positive free cash flow. Google fell below
$300/shr yesterday, and this morning Citibank pulled GOOG from its Top Picks
Live List and Jefferies cut its price target to $420 from $551, citing further
deterioration in e-commerce and online advertising. South
Korea's SK Telecom scrapped a plan to create
a business tie-up with Sprint Nextel due to worsening business environment.
Raymond James cut numerous home builder names. WCG delayed its 10-Q filing and
retained Goldman Sachs to review financing alternatives
- The greenback has been mixed in a trading session wracked by multiple cross
currents as traders try to determine which sector of the global economy has
been least impacted by the slowdown. The consensus view is certainly that the
financial malaise has continued to deepen, exhibiting unprecedented intensity,
scope and complexity. The dollar price action in the session has been more or
less dictated by European crosses, with EUR/GBP hitting fresh all-time highs
near 0.85. Dealers are also noting some repatriation flows back into the euro
Henkel converts USD to EUR following its Ecolab divestiture. The headline US
trade deficit showed a slight improvement, but the data is clearing better for
all the wrong reasons as both imports and exports declined.
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