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Tuesday November 18, 2008 - 17:18:56 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:59am

US Market Update

Dow +173 S&P +13 NASDAQ +11.5

- Indices are making cautious advances in early trading this morning, helped along by a vote of confidence in HP's preliminary Q4 results. The morning's economic data is providing a footnote to trading, with October PPI falling by the most on record as the faltering economy caused demand for commodities to dry up. Meanwhile the US TIC data showed that China has surpassed Japan as largest foreign holder of US Treasuries. Front-month crude made fresh multi-month lows under $55 before stabilizing. Fed Chairman Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Paulson and the FDIC's Bair have been testifying before the House Financial Services Committee all morning. Paulson insisted that the TARP is neither a panacea nor economic stimulus, but merely a means to stabilize financial markets, while Bernanke warned that the economy is "far from normal" and that he doesn't foresee the increase in Fed lending affecting the US sovereign debt rating.

- Dow component Home Depot beat analysts' estimates in its third-quarter report this morning, although the company also noted that its full-year EPS would fall 24% y/y and revenue would drop 8% y/y. HD's CEO said that its customers are finding it more difficult to get credit resulting in previously strong areas showing signs of slowdown - note that HD's November same-store sales thus far are down more than 10% y/y. Hewlett-Packard, another Dow component, reported preliminary fourth-quarter results that were more or less in line with expectations. HP's revenue targets for the coming quarter and FY09 were below consensus views, although its EPS projections were in line with expectations. Medical device manufacturer Medtronic reported solid earnings and revenue for the quarter, although it cut its earnings guidance for the full year. Saks logged a significant loss in the third quarter, with revenue below consensus estimates, noting on the conference call that sales have deteriorated rapidly (SKS reported same-store sales down 11.5% y/y for the quarter). Autoparts manufacturer ArvinMeritor's earnings and revenue held up well versus estimates in its fiscal Q4, but the company slashed its earnings guidance for the full year by one third. Three mid-cap firms operating in diverse sectors withdrew or cut guidance before the bell. Corning withdrew its fourth quarter guidance, noting that it expects results well below expectations. Host Hotels withdrew its full-year guidance due to the worsening economy. The Pepsi Bottling Group cut its full-year outlook and said it was restructuring operations, closing plants and laying off workers, to "adapt to current macroeconomic challenges." In other news, InBev completed its takeover of Anheuser-Busch; in a moment of schadenfreude, currency traders noted that the deal commenced at the EUR/USD's all-time high of 1.6030 back in July.

- Investors are responding enthusiastically to news that Yahoo co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang is finally throwing in the towel and stepping down from the helm; shares in YHOO are up more than 14%. Overnight Merrill Lynch reaffirmed its neutral rating and $16 price target on the firm, noting it expects YHOO shares to move up on the news as investors adjust for the probability that a Microsoft deal is back in play. Rumors of new YHOO tie-ups with GOOG or MSFT have not begun as of yet, but are expected shortly. Just about everyone has had something to say about expectations of fresh trouble, bankruptcy or bailout at GM. Ford's CEO told CNBC this morning that a GM bankruptcy was a major concern, and confirmed that it had applied for DoE financial aid. Senate Republican Kay Bailey Hutchinson took a hawkish tone toward GM and Ford, warning that the $25B already allocated for the auto industry should be redirected unless the companies come up with a plan for putting the aid to work before it is disbursed. EU Commissioner Kroes said it's too early to say whether the EU will approve Germany's move to aid GM unit Opel; GM is looking for German guarantees for a €1B refinancing plan for Opel.

- In currencies, the greenback is following the lead of equity markets: the USD and JPY tend to follow the equity markets inversely, and today was no exception. As noted during the European morning, the question of the day among dealing desks remains whether the "panic period" of the crisis has passed or not. In any case, simply maintaining a stable trading range in equities, commodities and currencies through the end of the year would signal a small victory for central banks.

- Treasury prices are trading higher despite the firmer equity markets. The yield on the 10-year note is testing the 3.6% level once again while the 2-year remains below 1.2%. Jan fed fund futures are fully pricing in another 50 basis points of cuts and even starting to price in a small chance for 75.

- Emerging markets are holding steady. An Indian government official said that India had no need for IMF funding and insisted that the crisis had begun "in the heart of financial system." Traders continue to be on alert when it comes to Russia after the World Bank cut its 2008 Russian GDP growth estimates to 6% from 6.8% and slashed its 2009 GDP growth view to 3% from 6.5%. A World Bank economist said there was no question that the ruble would be devalued. The Finnish Finance Ministry lowered its 2009 GDP estimate to +0.5% from +1.8%. One side note: dealers noted that the InBev/Anheuser-Busch merger commenced at the EUR/USD all-time high of 1.6030 back in July.



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