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Friday November 14, 2008 - 16:50:23 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:35am

US Market Update

Dow -257 S&P -31 NASDAQ -61

- Early stock trading on the NYSE received a boost when the FDIC unveiled a plan to modify 2.2M mortgage loans by offering mortgage servicers incentives to lower monthly payments for homeowners. The FDIC believes the plan is expected to prevent about 1.5M foreclosures in the US. The FDIC's Sheila Bair believes the Treasury has the authority under the TARP to fund the program, with the FDIC managing payouts to banks to support the moves. The announcement helped homebuilders rally briefly, with HOV jumping 12% and DHI up 8% in the first half hour of trade; the names have traded back into negative territory mid-morning. The positive news was shortlived. Stocks quickly turned South once again as focus remains on the overriding fear of a long and protracted global recession. Risk aversion has retuned en masse reversing yesterdays move away from Treasuries and into equities as well has hitting the energy complex. The Long Bond is up more than 2 points while the yield has retreated back towards levels seen before yesterday's 30-year bond auction.

- Insurance names also caught a short-lived bid this morning in the wake of several positive stories. Overnight the Wall Street Journal reported that state insurance regulators may loosen the capital requirements for insurance firms, noting that Moody's believes US insurance operations need more than $10B in added capital to maintain their current risk-based-capital levels. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners could issue recommendations on capital requirements in early December. Then just after the open the US Office of Thrift Supervision announced that it would allow insurers apply for Savings & Loan status. HIG spiked 13% and PRU jumped 8%, while PRU managed to climb into positive territory in early trading; All three names are well off their best levels.

- Freddie Mac unexpectedly released its third-quarter results this morning, disclosing a loss of more than $25B. The government has committed to making regular funding injections into the GSEs, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) said today that it has asked the Treasury for $13B from its TARP program for FRE, and expects to receive the funding before the end of the month. However, the agency also noted this morning that if it rules that FRE's assets are less than its obligations, the firm could enter receivership.

- Boeing is facing turbulence, in the form of more labor turbulence and delays. The Wall Street Journal wrote overnight about escalating tensions between the company and its engineering union, which represents about 21K of the company's white-collar engineers and technical workers. The union plans to ask members to authorize a strike in the event that the two sides are unable to agree on a new labor contract. This morning a Boeing executive noted the company is seeing downward pressure on plane orders in 2009, although it has no plans to cut plane prices. Instead, it will adjusts 747 production, with initial deliveries of the latest 747 model delayed to Q2 of 2011 from late 2010.

- In other news, Nokia offered a pessimistic view of the mobile phone industry, cutting its view on overall 2008 industry volume to 1.24B units from 1.26B, while its preliminary estimate indicates that 2009 volumes will be lower than 2008 numbers thanks to the economic slowdown. Competitors AAPL, RIMM and MOT are down 4-8% in early trading, while NOK is down more than 12%.

- The greenback has sustained its mixed tone during the New York morning as it firmed against the European pairs but trended lower against the JPY from opening levels in Asia. EUR/USD was at 1.2680, firmer by 100 pips from opening levels. The pound remains weak, hitting fresh all-time lows against the euro above 0.8635 and six-year lows against the USD below 1.4760. Note that a JP Morgan analyst amended the firm's ECB interest rate outlook and now sees the ECB's main rate being cut to 1.0% in 2009.

- The G20 meeting in Washington this weekend will probably focus mostly on immediate simulative measures, though should also start to lay out ideas on regulatory reform. Fed Chairman Bernanke reiterated that the world central banks stand ready to take more steps if necessary to combat the financial market crisis. However the current volatility and recent data showed that challenges remain. ECB's Trichet noted that the current circumstances are extraordinarily demanding and that the crisis started in one region and was impacting many others, proving the stronger links between regions . He added that a globally unified policy stance was undesirable, as different regions need different policies. US and European systems require different policy approaches. He added that everyone was convinced that policy must be geared to price stability. Numerous central bankers echoed these comments throughout the morning.



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