- 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
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
- 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
move to aid GM unit Opel; GM is looking for German guarantees for a â‚¬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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