- US equity
indices are making solid gains this morning after the ADP employment and ISM
non-manufacturing data came in less bad than expected and the Baltic index
jumped 15%. Investors were further heartened by the downward revision to last
month's ADP data, although the Challenger index of planned job cuts painted a
darker picture, jumping 45% m/m to its highest level since 2002. Note that the
big rise in the Baltic was its 12th consecutive gain and its largest daily rise
in nearly 24 years, sending shipping stocks up by double digits, with EGLE
- The US Treasury's quarterly refunding announcement came in at an all-time
high of $67B this morning. A Treasury official tried to market fears regarding
the implications of the US
hitting its debt ceiling again in the first half of 2009, noting that the US
debt to GDP ratio would still be relatively low compared to other G7 countries
if this happened. Keep in mind that back on Sept 23, the Treasury Secretary
Paulson had been planning to ask Congress to raise the US
debt ceiling to $11.3T, leading dealers to note that the 2009 deficit could
rise above $1T. Elsewhere in fixed income, an S&P report noted that 936
issuers of global bonds were poised for potential downgrades, compared to 687
issuers a year ago. S&P said this metric was at its highest level in 41
months and that potential downgrades have more than doubled compared to the
number of companies poised for upgrades. On a separate note, S&P also cut
their rating for the state of California's
lease revenue bond SPUR to A-. Treasury yields ticked higher heading into the
funding announcement, but initially the news appears to be price in as prices
are now paring losses. The 10-year note future is still down more than half a
point and the cash yield is testing 2.9%, holding at the highest level in more
than 2 months.
- Leading US bank stocks are making gains in early trading thanks to all the
optimism this morning, with Citigroup notably rising 5%. Bank of America is not
participating, however, with shares of BAC down 4% as reports continue to
circulate that the merger process with Merrill Lynch is not progressing
smoothly. Last night media reported that the US
plans to impose salary limits on companies who take TARP funds, with salaries
limited at $500K and any compensation above this amount limited to restricted
stock that vests only after taxpayers are paid back. In addition, companies
that already received Treasury funds must agree to stricter oversight going
forward. Metlife is off its best levels after trading up more than 6% just
after the bell. The insurance giant beat the street, noting that business
remains strong. Fellow insurance name Aflac missed estimates but has managed to
stay in the black in trading today.
- Dow components Disney and Kraft Foods fell off a cliff before the open,
dropping 6% and 8.5%, respectively, with little sign of recovery in mid morning
trading. Both companies missed consensus estimates, and KFT also guided 2009
earnings below par, noting on its conference call that dollar strength was
presenting a major obstacle. Shares of Eastman Kodak dropped into the red in
early trading before recovering mid morning after the company released dim
revenue guidance for 2009, noting that it sees big declines in digital
revenues. Engineering group ITT beat top and bottom line estimates and
reaffirmed 2009 earnings earlier. It reserved the bad news for the conference
call, when the company said it would miss targets in the first quarter. Time
Warner missed analyst estimates, taking shares of TWX down 4% early on,
although the name has retraced back toward positive territory mid day. Time
Warner Cable beat on earnings (ex items) and indicated it was considering a
reverse stock split, sending TWC from -4% to +6% before 10amET, before trading
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