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Tuesday February 3, 2009 - 16:36:28 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:28am

US Market Update

Dow +55 S&P +6 NASDAQ +9

- 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 earnings estimates.

- 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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