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Friday December 19, 2008 - 16:38:42 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:20am

US Market Update

Dow +108 NASDAQ +29 S&P +13.5

- US equity indices are posting solid gains this morning after President Bush finally got off the pot and announced a temporary bailout of the US auto industry. Quadruple witching, index rebalancing and thin attendance from traders in both Chicago and NYC due to severe winter weather are all likely factors keeping trade thin and volatile. GM has rallied some 15%, making up yesterday's steep losses, while Ford is well of strong early gains. GM and Chrysler are getting $17.4B in loans from the TARP, with conditions looking very much like those in last week's failed House bill. Treasury prices are giving back some ground pushing the 2-year yield up towards 0.75%, and the 10-year back above 2.1%. The January crude contract comes off the board today and the more active Feb has rebounded from pre-floor trade loses to trade up slightly. The petroleum products, specifically distillates and gasoline continue to outperform crude as they have throughout much of the week. With that we have seen the refinery stocks consolidate substantial gains made over the last three sessions.

- The financial sector experienced some selling pressure this morning in the wake of an across-the-board long-term debt ratings downgrade at S&P, although most names are off their worst levels mid morning, with the XLF up 2%. S&P's sweeping slapdown of the banks reflects its view that increasing risk and the deepening economic crisis have been ratcheting up the pressure on funding markets, although it also noted that "significant government intervention" will largely balance this pressure. S&P also singled out Citi for special treatment, also cuting the bank's unsecured and commercial paper ratings due to expectations of further credit deterioration.

- RIMM offered a solid third-quarter report yesterday after the close, matching analysts' estimates and guiding above consensus. The firm seemed to contradict widespread reports that the handset industry will suffer from the slowdown, noting that BlackBerry subscribers were up 14% over last quarter, and guided continued robust growth next quarter, saying that much of its Q4 business was already booked. The analyst community is split over RIMM's results, with price target and ratings cuts at three firms and hikes at two, while investors have been enthusiastic, sending RIMM up more than 8% in early trading. Oracle also met estimates yesterday, reporting a solid Q2. The firm's outlook for next quarter is less sunny although not too bad. ORCL is up 7% mid morning.

- In other equity news, hatches continue to get battened down. Things went from bad to worse at timber giant Weyerhaeuser, which cut its dividend by more than half and said Q4 will be worse than expected, without even offering numbers. Sports apparel maker Quicksilver said it is expecting a significant loss next quarter, with sales falling into the negative double digits. Electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit reported in line with estimates but said it is taking a “conservative position” regarding demand next quarter, guiding below par. Semiconductor services firm Lam Research expects a loss and negative margins next quarter, noting the “challenging environment” will persist into 2009. Healthcare firm Centene guided below consensus estimates for 2009. Equipment manufacturer Gardner Denver slashed the guidance offer with earnings back in October and said it would reduce its workforce. Littelfuse said it would not make a profit next quarter.

- The EUR/USD extended its long-week of parabolic price performance while thin trading conditions are really boosting volatility. The EUR/USD cross began the week at 1.3350 and proceeded to climb above the 1.4700 level to test its 200-day moving average; early in the New York session on Friday it was trending below the 1.39 handle. The dollar is rebounding from multi-month lows against the European pairs after the ECB reduced its deposit rate and increased in marginal lending rates on Thursday. Dealers say the ECB's move would discourage euro-denominated deposits. The yen-related pairs are lower despite the BoJ having cut rates to just above zero. But fear not, there's just enough room for the Fed to limbo under this low, low interest rate bar to move ahead of Japan in the race to ZIRP. Commodity currencies are mixed, despite the volatility and more commodity softness. USD/CAD tested near 1.24 in Europe before moving back towards 1.21 mid-way through the New York morning. Dealers are noting that the US auto bailout is favorable to the CAD. EUR/GBP, which attempted to probe towards 0.9475 in Europe, was below the 0.93 level helped by the weight of broad euro selling during the early US session.



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