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Monday December 15, 2008 - 16:59:08 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update Dow -89 S&P -13 NASDAQ -34

Today 11:37am
US Market Update Dow -89 S&P -13 NASDAQ -34

- Rising crude prices and dollar weakness is putting pressure on equity trading this morning, with all three major US indices making fresh lows. OPEC meets in Algeria on Wednesday, and the organization's big players have been on the wires all weekend talking up crude. OPEC Secretary General El-Badri noted there is “no doubt” about oversupply in oil markets, demanding a “sizable” output cut. OPEC President Khelil said he believed non-OPEC producers would cut output by 300-500K bbl/per day; remember that Russia has repeatedly emphasized that it is attending the conference. For its part, Lukoil said it expects Russia to cut output by up to 300K BPD.

- Going into the weekend, the White House had made some noises indicating that President Bush could make a final decision in regards to a Treasury-funded bailout of the Big Three in the short term. No announcements have been forthcoming, with Bush noting he's "not quite ready" to announce a decision on auto bailout while also confirming that using TARP funds is still a possibility. According to this morning's Wall Street Journal, the administration is trying to determine how much money it will take to help the automakers, with a total figure somewhere between $10-40B or eveb more. The WSJ article noted that the administration spent the weekend poring over the automakers' books to assess their financial needs. On Sunday, a senior administration official said "the one thing that concerns us is a disorderly bankruptcy and every other option is open." The UK is expected to launch its own limited financial assistance package for the auto industry later today, including loan guarantees for domestic units doing business in the UK. France also announced that it would be spending up to €1.0B to aid it auto manufacturers. Ford and GM were both up about 5% in mid-morning trading

- Weekend news from Hexion and General Growth Properties showed the credit crisis bull is still very much loose in the china shop. Late on Sunday evening Huntsman terminated its bid for Hexion and settled with the firm and Apollo for $1.0B, as the credit crisis finishes off one more gargantuan merger deal. Huntsman has filed a suit against Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank claiming they conspired with Apollo to interfere with Huntsman's prior merger agreement with Basell, as well as with the later deal with Hexion. A jury trial on those claims currently is set to begin on May 11, 2009. General Growth Properties is still holding talks with its lenders regarding debt extensions, but Citigroup seems disinclined to really work things out with the real estate firm. The Journal reported overnight that GGP has once again found its efforts to win an extension on its $900M loan stymied by Citigroup. Two weeks ago, Citigroup prevented GGP's bid for a long-term extension by demanding changes to terms on an unrelated $2.6B credit line and term loan.

- Stock trading is generally mixed with some sectors like energy and mining benefiting from higher commodity prices, while others like technology and financials continue to struggle under the dismal economic environment. OIH +3.5% XAU +5.5% SMH -4% MGM Mirage signed a deal to sell its Treasure Island property to Phil Ruffin for $775M, noting it expects a substantial gain on the sale, taking its stock up more than 20% in early trading. Honeywell reaffirmed its 2008 guidance from back in mid-October and offered a broad potential range for its 2009 earnings and revenue forecast. Aetna also reaffirmed its 2008 earnings outlook, last provided back on Oct 29. On the downside, Progressive confirmed that it would not pay an annual dividend in 2008, while pre-market downgrades for AT&T and Apple took shares of the two firms down about 4% a piece.

- In currency trading, the greenback was weaker throughout the New York morning thanks to the higher commodity prices. EUR/USD tested the 1.36 level as technical factors fueled a weaker USD against the majors, with GBP/USD testing the 1.53 area while USD/CHF moved toward the 1.1630 area. Euro strength was also seen among numerous non-dollar pairs, with EUR hitting all-time highs against the SEK, NOK and GBP pairs. The higher energy and metal prices are also helping the commodity related pairs, with USD/CAD lower by 150+ pips testing 1.2270 and AUD/USD above the 0.67 level.

- US Treasury prices are inching higher once again but the curve has seen bit of flattening. The long bond yield remains pinned just above the 3% level while the 10-year continues to gravitate towards 2.5%. Market pundits and fed fund futures contracts continue to point to a 50 basis point cut at tomorrow's FOMC announcement with a move of 75 basis points still a real possibility. European yield curves steepened as the day wore on, with March bunds rising 83 ticks at 122.39 and March gilts up 110 ticks at 119.38. European equities saw opening gains erode, with indices probing negative territory ahead of their respective closes. Euro Stoxx 50 -0.35 at 2,412; FTSE 100 Index unchaged at 4,280; CAC 40 Index -0.45 at 3,200 and Dax +0.3% at 4,680.

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