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Wednesday December 3, 2008 - 16:47:48 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:42am

US Market Update

Dow +117 S&P +12 NASDAQ +30

- Traders are shrugging off the negative data this morning and pushing up US equity indices higher after opening in the red. In what has become somewhat routine at this point, the ADP employment report was significantly worse than expected and the ISM non-manufacturing composite index yet again hit all-time lows, with the prices paid component showing particular weakness. Deteriorating commodity prices are also in focus, especially front-month copper, which is approaching the key level of $1.50 not seen since May 2005. Front month crude is also weaker also approached $46 before getting a boost from weekly oil inventory data. Treasury yields have ticked bounced slightly with the curve continuing to compress. The 10-year has climbed back to 2.75% while the long bond is approaching 3.25%. Regardless PIMCO's Bill Gross noted that he still sees the 30-year mortgage rates falling another 50 to 100 basis points towards 4.5%. Hopes continue for aggressive central bank action later this week and this month. The ECB and BoE meet tomorrow while the Jan fed fund future is currently pricing in better than a 60% chance of a 75 basis point cut at the FOMC meeting in two weeks.

- Goldman Sachs is back in the headlines this morning, as the Wall Street Journal reports the freshly minted bank holding company may launch an online banking business to expand its sources of funding and bolster its balance sheet. In addition, Goldman may name former New York Fed President Gerald Corrigan as chairman of its bank holding company. Merrill cut its price target and Q4 EPS estimates (to -$2.97 from -$0.36) overnight. JP Morgan also cut its Q4 estimates for Goldman and Morgan Stanley. Morgan was down more than 6% and Goldman fell more than 3.5% just after the bell, but both are well above +2% hand in hand with the overall equity rebound.

- A trio of headlines are roiling commodities-related names, with the economic crisis continuing to wreck havoc in equities. After a day of rumors regarding a Total bid for Nexen, the London Times reported earlier this morning that Total has dropped the potential $15B deal due to the risky overall environment. Oil services leader Schlumberger warned that its FY08 profit would be below estimates (currently at $4.76e), citing the overall economic slowdown. Schlumberger's CEO insisted that the company has been “…consistent in our view that our results would be affected in the event of a severe global economic downturn, which we are now facing.” Fellow oil services firms HAL-7% and APC-5% are down significantly on the news, with the OIH down around 5%. Freeport McMoRan said it would cut copper production and suspend its annual dividend due to the sharp decline in copper and molybdenum prices. FCX's CEO said that the company has “contingency plans in place” if copper drops below $1.50/lb, although the firm sees substantial writedowns ($6B) in goodwill likely if current metals prices continue. Coal name ANR also warned that it sees its 2008 revenue falling below its prior guidance.

- In other equity news, GM fell as much as 6% in the early going before returning to positive territory mid morning while Ford has stayed in the black all morning, as investors barely flinch at the automakers' massive November sales declines. Del Monte Foods is up nearly 18% after reporting quarterly earnings and guiding FY09 EPS ahead of estimates. The firm noted that its key businesses, including consumer and pet products, showed robust growth in the quarter. Proving that death may be a recession-proof business, Hillenbrand offer strong FY09 EPS guidance, comfortably above consensus views. On the other hand, the bad news keeps coming home for semi names, with Taiwan Semi lowing its 2009 CAPEX outlook citing economic weakness, noting that it expects economic hardships to persist for some time. And SpendingPulse officially confirmed that November retail sales declined sharply, below October's big declines, but also noted that all sectors studied saw a 2-5% sales improvement due to the Black Friday weekend.

- In currencies, the greenback was firmer against the European pairs but remained steady during the NY morning. The lows in the ADP employment report and ISM non-manufacturing index are driving home concerns over the global economy, providing the catalyst for safe haven and risk aversion plays into the short end of the Government curve. The EU's Almunia noted that the financial market crisis was having a severe impact on emerging economies, adding that the economic situation was deteriorating rapidly. Meanwhile, the EU's Barroso bluntly stated that this is not simply a regular downturn and that action is required to prevent the recession from slipping into depression. As a measure of stress, the iTraxx crossover index broke above the 1,000bps level for the first time in its history.

- CAD continues to express weakness on the back of the commodity outlook and coupled with political concerns at home. Some displaced merger flows also hurting CAD sentiment after UK press reports that Total had dropped its bid for Nexen. EUR/USD continues a consolidating pattern ahead of Thursday's central bank meetings with the 1.24 to 1.29 range basically intact. Market participants awaiting to see if the BoE and ECB make more aggressive interest rate cuts currently anticipated. The BoE is seen lowering rates by at least 100bps to 2.0% while the ECB is expected to cut by 50bps to 2.75%. The JPY was firmer on the risk aversion theme. USD/JPY tested the 92.55 level where far east names are currently bidding for USD, but dealer chatter noting of significant USD sell stops building below. EUR/JPY is hovering near the 177 area, off 130+ pips from its opening levels in Asia, while GBP/JPY is around 136.65 as it makes fresh 13-year lows in the session.

 

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