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Wednesday January 21, 2009 - 16:21:50 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:17am

US Market Update

Dow +9 S&P +1 NASDAQ +7

US equity markets looked to rebound nicely from yesterday's rout ahead of the NY open, but by mid morning the DJIA, Nasdaq and S&P500 gave back most if not all of their gains. Optimism gave way to fresh jitters thanks to declines among selected Dow components like Wal-Mart, and a gigantic rally in the Japanese Yen following a large options expiration in NY. US Treasury prices opened lower but have pared losses as equity markets have given back gains. The 10-year yield is back above 2.4% and the long bond has regained 3%.

- Several financial names have taken a hard u-turn this morning, with investors snapping up the major US banks after yesterday's steep declines. Bank of New York is leading the pack, rising as much as 24% in early trading before trading off a bit following its strong fourth-quarter earnings performance (ex certain write downs and restructuring expenses). The bank also blew out revenue expectations, beating consensus estimates by a wide margin. Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan are all up 10-15. Northern Trust has rallied 20% post results. US Bank is bucking the uptrend, falling from a +6% pre-open gain to -14% by mid morning, after missing top and bottom line estimates and reporting steep year/year declines in returns on equity and assets. Traders are focusing on a lack of clarity regarding the dividend coming from USB's earnings conference call. Progressive also reported Q4 results this morning; shares of PGR are up 2% after missing earnings estimates on more-or-less unchanged net premiums.

- Dow components IBM and United Technologies are making moves after their fourth-quarter results. IBM is strong this morning, up 8%, after beating analysts' EPS estimates yesterday after the close. IBM's CEO noted that the company is confident about 2009 and ahead of schedule on plans for $10-11/shr in 2010. Shares of UTX, on the other hand, have fallen 2% in early trading after the conglomerate missed earnings and revenue targets by a hair. UTX's CEO said the difficult economic conditions were impacting order rates, and that he sees more restructuring costs in early 2009. Note that shares of GE are also trading off this morning, dropping nearly 5% to hit levels not seen since 1996 before bouncing back in the wake of cautious comments out of UBS. Wal-Mart also lost 2% or so after Credit Suisse cut the retailer to a neutral. In other earnings news, ABT+4% after reporting Q4 in line with expectations and offering strong 2009 guidance. Airlines AMR-18% and UAUA-5% are down sharply after reporting sizable Q4 losses, as expected, with big declines in key metrics; other leading airline stocks are falling in sympathy.

- The greenback has consolidated its recent gains against the European pairs throughout most of the morning. Most dealers seemed perplexed and unable to determine just what news was driving markets. EUR/USD was holding below the 1.30 handle and former pivot zone of 1.3030 and 1.3070, while GBP/USD rebounded from fresh 7+ year lows at 1.3716 to move back above the 1.38 neighborhood. The ECB's Hurley stated that the central bank would be poised to act if the inflation outlook changed. USD/JPY has been magnetically attracted to the 90.00 level as big option expirations took effect at the New York cut at 10am. Volatility in JPY-related pairs picked up dramatically following the expiry. USD/JPY tested and broke the former Dec pivot of 88.20, EUR/JPY moved out to new multi-year lows approaching 112, and GBP/JPY made fresh all-time lows below 120. The sharp rise in the Yen aided only added to the pressure on stocks mid morning. 



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