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Monday December 8, 2008 - 16:57:28 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:39am

US Market Update

Dow +295 S&P +29 NASDAQ +53

- US equity indices are surging after a weekend brimming with government bailout news and generally few negative headlines. Traders are noting that stocks managed to rally late last week despite the slew of gloomy economic data and disturbing corporate headlines, and that the positive tone has carried over into the week's first session. Chatter circulated on Saturday and Sunday that announcement of a $15B bailout of the US automakers was imminent - although this morning a White House spokesperson noted that a vote on the issue was unlikely early in the week. On Saturday President-elect Obama said he was planning an expansive fiscal stimulus plan, focused on government infrastructure spending. Front-month crude and gold are both posting solid gains, although it's worth noting that natural gas is down slightly. Treasury yields are drifting a little higher especially at the short end of the curve leading to some more compression, but in general successfully digesting last week's historic moves.

- Dow components 3M and Dow Chemical both announced significant restructuring initiatives to help the firms cope with the economic slowdown. 3M cut its full-year 2008 earnings guidance and guided 2009 earnings well below consensus estimates. This comes on the heels of the company's announcement on Saturday that it would lay off 1,800 workers in Q4. 3M said it is undertaking aggressive cost-reduction actions throughout its businesses, including restructuring, deferring pay increases and reducing capital expenditures. Dow said it was accelerating its previously announced restructuring plans, cutting 5,000 jobs, or 11% of its workforce, and closing 20 plants in "high-cost locations." The firm also said it would temporarily idle approximately 180 plants and significantly reduce its contractor workforce worldwide. DOW's CEO noted that restructuring costs in Q4 would amount to $0.50-0.60/shr (consensus estimates for Q4 earnings are only $0.42), but pledged not to cut the dividend. McDonalds reported November same-store sales down a bit y/y, but still well up in positive territory.

- MetLife offered a very rare quarterly earnings forecast before the open, guiding Q4 results far below analysts' estimates, with revenue dramatically below estimates. MET also offered FY08 guidance, with earnings a bit above the Street. MET's CEO admitted that both the equity and credit markets will remain difficult in 2009, emphasizing hower that MET has fewer delinquencies in the sub-prime sector than the overall market. The company expects ROE to return to double digit figures by 2010. Illinois Tool Works slashed its Q4 outlook and guided 2008 earnings well below estimates. Chesapeake Energy is reaping the rewards of its conservative budget moves announced yesterday night, rising more than 30% before the bell, although its off its best levels mid morning. The energy firm said it would cut its CAPEX budget and sell assets in order to build up cash reserves. CHK's CEO reassured investors that the company has plenty of liquidity but is disappointed by its current share price.

- In other equity news, it was reported over the weekend that NYSE Euronext held tentative merger talks with Germany's Deutsche Börse. According to Der Spiegel, under the proposal Deutsche Börse CEO Francioni would become Chairman and NYSE's Duncan Niederauer would be CEO of the combined entity. Trading operations would be based in New York, while Eurex derivatives operations would stay in Frankfurt. Spokespeople for the companies declined to comment on the story. Apple is up a bit after rumors and reports made the rounds this weekend that it was planning to sell a $99 iPhone at Wal-Mart (note that it already sells iPhones at Best Buy). Later reports discounted the $99 figure, but noted the company may sell the popular smart phone at Wal-Mart.

- In currencies, the re-emergence of a greater appetite for risk is the early highlight. Monday's session has been marked by retracement in the USD and JPY related pairs as global equity markets rebound sharply. The ECB's Trichet reiterated his post-rate cut position that inflation would stay below the 2% target in the medium term and that risks to growth remain on the downside, ensuring that the economic outlook remains exceptionally uncertain. Trichet noted that current price stability risks are more balanced than they were earlier in the crisis.

- Eastern Europe was roiled by several moves in the New York morning. The Hungarian Central Bank unexpectedly cut its key rate by 50bps to 10.50%, noting that an improved risk assessment environment justified the move. Then S&P cut Russia's foreign currency sovereign credit rating to BBB from BBB+ on Negative outlook. Russian Finance Minister Kudrin said the downgrade wouldn't impact Russia's ability to borrow.

- Traders are unsure exactly how much of the market price movements have been due to covering of recent USD longs and equity market shorts or rather just year-end market liquidity conditions. Traders are noting that the shocker of a weak US non-farm payroll number likely suggests that bad news has been finally fully-priced into the price action, coupled with the lower guidance issued by several US bellwethers such as 3M.

- Euro Stoxx 50 +7.9% at 2,430; FTSE 100 Index +5.9% at 4,286; CAC 40 Index +7.8% at 3,224 and DAX Index +8.3% at 4,745. European yield curves steepened on the renewed risk appetite. Spreads on 2ye-10 for US Treasuries were 1770 bps; at 91 bps in Germany and 162 in the UK. Mar Gilts -110 tock at 118.62 and mar Bund futures off 98 ticks at 123.42.

 

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