- 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
- 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 BĂ¶rse. According to Der Spiegel, under the proposal Deutsche BĂ¶rse 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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