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Friday December 12, 2008 - 17:54:59 GMT -

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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:25am

US Market Update

Dow -82 S&P -7 NASDAQ +5

- US equity indices fell somewhat before the open after political negotiations over the Detroit bailout broke down last night, although commentators noted markets were responding more calmly than expected. Indices were well off their worst levels in mid-morning trading, with the Nasdaq moving into positive territory. Stocks got a boost when White House reports indicated the President would consider tapping the TARP to stave off bankruptcy for the automakers. Crude has given up its gains from recent days, with the front-month contract just under $45 after falling around $3 in early trading, despite plenty of pleading and posturing from OPEC and Russia. Treasury yields have ticked steadily higher following PPI and retail sales data this morning. The yield on the US long bond traded below 3% overnight when equity futures made lows following the no vote from the Senate, but it has since rallied more than 15 basis points to 3.15%. The Jan fed fund has backed off as well, only pricing in a little more than a 70% the FOMC cuts to 0.25% from 1% next week.

- Washington has been a showcase for political brinksmanship par excellence over the last 24 hours, as the Democratic Congressional leadership, the Senate Republicans, the White House and Treasury Sec Paulson pass the buck around and around regarding a bailout of GM, Ford and Chrysler. Last night the Senate Republicans successfully blocked the House's $14B automaker bailout bill, threatening filibuster. Negotiations fell apart late Thursday night over Republican demands that the UAW accept pay and benefit cuts in 2009. Senator Corker, who led the Republican side, wanted to see more concessions in 2009, while the UAW wanted to wait until 2011. After talks ended, Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi called on the White House to come up with short term aide for the automakers, including use of TARP funds. Shares of foreign automakers plunged in Asia and Europe overnight, with Toyota and Honda loosing around 10%, while GM warned it was preparing for bankruptcy. Equity futures plunged before the open, with GM opening down more than 30% and Ford down more than 20%. With catastrophe looming, the White House and then the Treasury relented, offering to dip into the TARP to come up with enough money to keep the automakers afloat until a new Congress convenes and makes a final decision on a comprehensive Detroit bailout. Shares of GM and Ford are around -4% on the day mid morning.

- The fallout from the automakers is far reaching. Fitch has placed seven US auto suppliers on watch negative, including AXL, ARM, HAYZ, JCI, TEN, TRW and VC, based on the anticipated impact of a potential bankruptcy filing by GM, which in Fitch's view would be followed shortly by bankruptcy at Ford. These names fell 10-20% before the open, though most are off their worst levels. There were also some reports that Chrysler's parts suppliers were asking for advanced payments from Chrysler (which denied the request). Borg Warner cut its FY08 EPS guidance significantly to reflect the rapidly deteriorating conditions in the industry, noting that most of its North American operations will shut down for extended holiday periods starting the week of December 15 and re-open at various times in January. BWA's CEO noted that "The crisis is not solely a North American automotive industry issue, nor about perceptions of domestic automakers not having the right products for the market. Rather, this is a situation where consumers in every geographic region of the world have become paralyzed by the global financial and economic crisis."

- Numerous firms cut their forecasts yesterday and this morning, with notable names including Steel Dynamics, which noted it expects a loss in Q4 due to the negative impacted of sharp declines in steel and recycled metal demand. The firm had declined to offer guidance with its Q3 report due to market uncertainty. Dow component United Technologies broadened its 2009 guidance target substantially, both above and below its prior range, noting that its backlog remains strong although it is expecting uncertain conditions throughout 2009.

- The initial wave of risk aversion early in the European session has abated somewhat as market participants ponder whether the auto bailout is dead or not, or whether the whole thing was just all part of a political game. The JPY-related pairs moved from their extreme levels registered ahead of the European morning. The US Treasury commented that it stood ready to prevent failure of US automakers and was prepared to assist industry until Congress reconvened, helping the USD/JPY hold above 90.00, while EUR/JPY is 250 pips off its session lows of 117.55 above the 121 handle.


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