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Thursday December 11, 2008 - 16:33:31 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:24am

US Market Update

Dow -17 S&P -1.4 NASDAQ -7

- Equity markets opened lower and are attempting to stabilize in the wake of more discouraging jobs data. Before the open the initial US jobless claims reading hit its highest level since 1982, also registering its largest weekly increase in three years. The four-week moving average for initial claims came in at 540.5K, its highest level in seven years. And in Washington Congress is struggling toward compromise over an automaker bailout bill. The House passed its version of the bill last night after Republican representatives floated their own alternative version and Republican senators vowed to filibuster the bill out of existence. This morning Senate Majority Leader Reid said the bill meets the demands of the White House, noting that he hopes to prevail over a filibuster on Friday and asserting that he is open to Republican alternatives - shares in GM and Ford remain down 4-7%. Treasury prices are bid up once again as the flight to safety notion continues to hold prevalence. The 2-year yield drifted back toward 0.8% while the 10-year stands at 2.64% ahead of this afternoons auction results.

- The upward momentum in a variety of commodities has found some traction. Feb gold has been trading higher by another $20 throughout much of the session back to $825, helped by weakness in the US Dollar. Oil has been rallying for the second straight session as well, this after the OPEC president called for “severe” production cuts at their upcoming meeting. Prices also received a boost in the overnight session after output data from Saudi Arabia indicated they were aggressively complying with the November output reduction announcement. Jan crude has gained more than $3, working back above $47 while reformulated gasoline has gained close to 10%.

- The clock ran out on the biggest leveraged buyout in history today, leaving the $27.8B takeout of Canadian telecom BCE by a group of private investors officially dead on arrival. This development was more or less a foregone conclusion, as two weeks ago auditor KPMG stated that the deal would not likely meet solvency requirements by the scheduled closing date. BCE plans to file a lawsuit seeking the $1.2B breakup fee it is owed in the wake of the deal meltdown.

- At its analyst meeting this morning, Dow component Proctor & Gamble warned that organic sales would be below expectations for the quarter, but reaffirmed its Q2 and 2009 guidance, noting that the company is "recession resistant" but not "recession proof." PG also noted that it is halting all investments in pharmaceuticals and may divest its healthcare brands. Eli Lilly offered its outlook for 2009, guiding earnings of 4.35-4.55, ex charges for the ImClone acquisition, a figure a bit above consensus estimates. LLY's CFO noted that it expects to launch one new drug annually from 2009 onwards. Boeing has pushed back the first flight and delivery of the 787 Dreamliner once again. Now first flight is scheduled for Q2 of 2009 (Q4 of 2008 prior) and first delivery for Q1 of 2010 (Q3 of 2009 prior), reflecting the impact of the recent machinists' strike and a parts replacement slipup.

- More small- and mid-cap firms are cutting guidance and announcing job cuts. Tool manufacturer Stanley Works reduced its outlook for the year and cut 2,000 jobs (11% of workforce), noting that decline in its construction and industrial segments has been worse than in previous recessions. Engine maker Cummins cut its full-year revenue guidance by 25% and said it would eliminate 500 jobs. Semiconductor firms PMC-Sierra, Diodes and Volterra all cut guidance for the quarter due to falling sales.

- In currencies the greenback continues to face pressure against the major pairs following the ugly US claims data. Both technical and fundamental factors are stoking the more than 250 pip EUR/USD surge toward 1.33. The fun began late on Wednesday, after the ECB's Stark noted that the bank did not have a lot of room left for maneuver after last week's rate cut, helping EUR/USD clear the rumored stops above 1.3050/70 level. Comments from the Saudi Oil Minister that Saudi Arabia was near compliance helped oil bounce out of negative territory to probe toward the neighborhood of $46, refocusing the inverse USD/commodity price relationship. Some dealers noted that there are doubts whether the touted pent-up demand for the dollar would materialize around the end of the year. The US October trade data showed that imports and exports both fell for the third consecutive month, further deepening global recession fears. Dealers are also highlighting the fact that EUR/USD is back above the 55 EMA, a technical level the pair failed to break in September. USD/JPY is approaching the key 90.00 level where option barriers are said to lurk. Dealers noting that a sustain breach of that level could prompt either a single central bank to intervene or even a coordinated G7 effort.

- The EUR/GBP cross is also generating a lot of attention, after Germany criticized Britain ahead of an EU summit for rushing into debt to bail out industries and pump up growth. Dealer chatter is centering on an interview with Newsweek magazine, in which German Finance Minister Steinbrueck urged governments to pause before pledging to spend billions of dollars to try to push their economies out of trouble. The GBP is softer against other crosses such as GBP/JPY, GBP/CHF and GBP/CAD pairs.

- Commodity-related currencies are broadly firmer on the back of higher energy and metal prices. USD/CAD testing below the 1.23 level while AUD/USD probes the 0.67 neighborhood. The Bank of Canada stated that a strong USD could prevent a proper solution to imbalances. The bank also commented that the downside risks to global economy increased significantly.

- In emerging market currencies, South African Central Bank cut its interest rate by 50bps to 11.50%, as expected. USD/ZAR is trading around 10.03, which had the ZAR 9 handle firmer from its opening level of 10.11 in Asia.

- The session saw a steepening in European curve. The spread between the german 2-year and 10-year widened to 103 bps from 92 earlier; The UK 2-year/10-year spread at 183bps. The Mar Bund futures contract at 122.16, down 16 ticks while the mar Gikt futures lower by 28 tick at 118.15.

- European equity bourses were mixed but generally in the upper quarter portion of today's trading range. Euro Stoxx 50 -0.15 at 2,492; FTSE 100 Index +0.9% at 4,403; Cac 30 Index -0.35 at 3,312 and DAX Index -0.6% at 4,777.


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