- 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
- 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
- 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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