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Thursday December 4, 2008 - 17:01:20 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:16am

US Market Update

Dow -8 S&P +1 NASDAQ -1

- US indices are holding up relatively well, vacillating in and out of positive territory in early trade. On the plus side are the deep European rate cuts, ECB's Trichet hinting at a new plan to buy up bad assets and the lower-than-expected initial jobless claims reading, though it did remain above 500K. These factors seem to be outweighing the dreadful November same-store sales numbers, negative corporate news (more layoffs, lowered guidance, and production cuts) and worse-than-expected October factory orders. Executives from the Detroit three drove to Washington to begin testimony this morning after reports overnight indicate that GM or Chrysler might enter bankruptcy in order to finagle their way into a government buyout. Meanwhile, the administration continues to procrastinate over whether or not it will draw the second tranche of TARP funding. Treasury markets are actually seeing some selling at the short end of the curve leading to continued compression. The two-year yield is back above 0.9% while the long bond continues to trend towards 3%.

- Dow components AT&T and Du Pont both announced staff and CAPEX cuts before the open, with Du Pont noting it would report a substantial $500M Q4 loss. AT&T is laying off 12,000 workers (4% of staff) and Du Pont is cutting 2,500 jobs (4% of staff). Du Pont said it expects a global recession to continue well into 2009, noting that it is seeing a global decline in construction and auto markets. Viacom said it would cut 850 jobs (about 7% of workforce) and suspend senior-level management salary increases for 2009, noting that it sees a $0.42-0.48 per diluted share charge in Q4. Nokia lowered its Q4 and 2009 outlook for mobile device volumes. Steel Dynamics said it would not meet its 2008 shipment goals of 6M tonnes noting that they would be closer to 2007 totals of 5.6M tones. AMD said its revenue would be 25% lower than Q3 levles, while mid-cap tech firms Avnet and Amphenol cut their views for the coming quarters. Office hardware manufacturer Steelcase cuts its Q3 forecast and cut 300 manufacturing positions.

- In other equity news, same-store sales came in highly negative, with many retailers reporting double-digit sales declines in November. The standout report came from Costco, which reported its second consecutive monthly sales decline. The only firms keeping things in positive territory were discounters Walmart and BJ's, and several specialty apparel retailers such as APP and BKE. Notably Abercrombie's sales declined 28%, more than expected. Toll Brothers surprised investors with a respectable Q4 profit, versus consensus expectations of another quarter of losses. Sanderson Farms reported a quarterly loss that was twice the expected amount, noting that export customers have experienced difficulty obtaining credit to buy its products. The credit crunch has crushed two more merger deals. i2 Technologies terminated its merger agreement with JDA Software Group, while NWJ Apartment Holdings told Wilshire Enterprises that in the current economic and lending environment, it was not able to secure the financing required to close their merger deal.

- In currencies, the greenback retreated in the aftermath of this morning's European interest rate decisions. The BoE cut as expected by 100bps to 2.0%, its lowest level since 1951, while the ECB cut by the largest amount in its 10-year history by 75bps to 2.50%, citing the waning inflationary outlook. The aggressive ECB decision came on the heels of ECB staff projections forecasting 2009 GDP growth between -1.0% and 0% (compared to a prior range of 0.6%-1.8%). The ECB staff also saw 2009 CPI around 1.1- 1.7%, down from their prior view of 2.3- 2.9%. Despite the large than expected rate cut, traders are really focusing on the Q&A segment of the ECB's press conference, during which ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said it might be possible for the ECB to make asset purchases outright. Trichet went on to reiterate that he remains cautious, warning markets not to confuse deflation with disinflation. He added that he does not believe Europe is facing deflation. Trichet also noted that today's decision was reached by consensus.

- The European currencies recovered from session lows following the early Swedish Central Bank rate cut, while the BoE cut brought a sense of relief to GBP-related pairs given that markets were bracing for the lowest UK interest rates since the BoE was founded in 1694. The GBP/USD tested 6 ½ year lows around at 1.4470 before rebounding to 1.4670, the GBP/EUR hit fresh all-time highs of 0.8694 and GBP/JPY made fresh 13-year lows at 134.07 prior to their respective retracements. European bourses managed to recover from opening level losses and hovered in their mid-session range and onto minor losses into the last hour of trading. Euro Stoxx 50 -0.3% at 2,363; FTSE 100 Index -0.3% at 4,157; CAC 40 Index -0.4% 3,152 and DAX Index +0.1% at 4,570. European yield curve flattened after the BOE and ECB rate decisions. March Bunds at 123.87, down 6 ticks and March Gilts +16 ticks at 119.87.

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