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Wednesday February 4, 2009 - 17:11:26 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 10:59am

US Market Update

Dow +60 S&P +11 NASDAQ 30

- 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 spiking 27%. 

- 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 off somewhat.

- The greenback retraced its early morning gains against the European pairs following the Russian sovereign downgrade by Fitch. EUR/USD tested the 1.2813 level, and was broadly softer against the British Pound and Japanese Yen. Canadian Finance Minister Flaherty commented that the upcoming G7 communiqué would likely reflect concerns regarding inflexibility of Asian currencies. A G7 source complemented that view, adding that the Rome meeting would seek to reassure markets that G7 governments stand ready to continue acting against the global economic crisis and would avoid any trade protectionism. GBP is seeing some relative strength late in the NY morning on chatter a large UK Bank needs to buy £4B ahead of the London fix.


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