- 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 â€śconservative positionâ€ť regarding demand next quarter, guiding below
par. Semiconductor services firm Lam Research expects a loss and negative
margins next quarter, noting the â€śchallenging environmentâ€ť 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
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