- US equity trade is volatile with a definite upward bias as investors wrestle
with yet another dismal dose of corporate earnings announcements which was
followed by better-than expected pending home sales data. Senate members
continue their heated exchanges regarding stimulus with reports now putting the
package close to $900B, while political wrangling remains over how best to
utilize the second tranche of TARP funding. US Treasury yields are drifting
higher once again helped by the better than expected pending home sales figure
and continue concerns regarding supply ahead of tomorrow's quarterly funding
announcement. The curve continues to see a steepening bias with the 2-10 year
spread rising above 190 basis points. The long bond is down 3 full points
pushing its yield back above 3.6%. March crude again tested the $40 mark early
in the session but continues to hold despite continued weakness in gasoline
futures. Oil prices have made fresh session highs above $41 late in the NY
morning after a report indicated OPEC is considering and additional 1M bpd cut
at it March meeting if prices stay low.
- With both Congress and the administration breathing down the neck of the
financial industry over the use of government funding, Citigroup confirmed this
morning that it has committed more than $36B for consumer-oriented lending
backed by TARP money, including mortgages and credit cards and mortgage-backed
securities. Just last night, the House Financial Services Committee summoned
nine bank CEOs to testify how they have spent TARP funds. But not all
government relations with US
finance are so bad, as the Fed has selected JP Morgan as custodian for its
$500B mortgage-backed securities purchase program which was originally
announced back in November 2009. Morgan Stanley and Japanese partner Mitsubishi
UFJ may merge some units into joint ventures. Small cap bank PNC Financial is
down more than 15% after missing earnings targets by half, due to various costs
stemming from the NCC takeover.
- Motorola and Dow Chemical offered weak quarterly reports this morning,
watering down the effect of the much better than expected pending home sales
data. Dow Chemical shocked investors with a big $0.62/shr loss, whereas analysts
had expected a $0.06/shr profit from the firm. Dow said volumes had declined
17% y/y, with falling demand seen in all segments and all geographies,
indicating a stark process of demand destruction. Dow was coy about their
dividend plans, refusing to commit to either sustaining or cutting
distributions, noting only that their AAA ratings were the main priority.
Motorola reported a small $0.01 loss and only missed on the top line by a bit,
but with mobile devices sales down 51% y/y and next quarter's guidance
predicting an even deeper loss, the future is not bright for the firm. In
addition, UPS also missed by a bit in its Q4 earnings. On the positive side,
Dow component and pharma giant Merck beat the Street on earnings and revenue,
although its 2009 guidance was less than stellar. Ag giant ADM blew out
- In currencies, the greenback took on a softer tone in early New
York trading as Far Eastern names found an appetite
for Euros beginning at the mid-1.28 area. The EUR/USD cross probed its 38%
Fibonacci retracement area of 1.2930 before the US pending home sales data
inspired more bearish sentiment, with the EUR/USD racing up to the 1.30 level
as dealers focused on the fact that the housing data still indicates home
ownership is at its the lowest level since 2001 coupled with historic highs in
vacancy rates. The GBP, CHF and JPY also exhibited gains against the greenback
in the New York morning. Traders
were also focusing on the Fed's extension of its five emergency lending
programs, including the money market liquidity facility, commercial paper
funding program, the money market investor facility, the primary dealer credit
fund and the term securities lending facility. It also extended its currency
swaps with numerous central banks until the end of October. The move suggests
continued strains are being seen in many markets.
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