- Equity markets opened lower but have rallied into positive territory as
markets eagerly await the delayed TARP announcement and the Senate's stimulus
vote. The Senate is expected to pass its stimulus bill tomorrow, while media
reported that initial discussions have already begun to reconcile the House and
Senate versions of the package, including the final size of the package.
Speculation continues to swirl on what form TARP !! might take, with talk this
morning suggesting Geithner's plan will focus on bringing in private capital to
more efficiently price toxic assets. Note that Bank of America, General
Electric and Citi are up considerably. Front-month crude is showing strength,
rising $2 above $42, after comments from OPEC Secretary General El-Badri that
the organization has reached 80% compliance with its latest round of production
cuts. Treasury yields continue to trudge higher with 2-year gaining 1%, 5-year
above 2%, and the benchmark moving above 3%.
- Loews Corp reported posted an unexpected loss of almost $1B or $2.20/shr
compared to the +$0.60 consensus view which management blamed on losses at CNA
Financial, in which it holds a 90% stake. CNA reported a surprise Q4 loss of
$0.15 versus expectations of +$0.30 gain. According to Loews, the continuing
trouble in debt and equity markets resulted in significant realized and
unrealized losses in CNAs investment portfolio and declines in net investment
income during 2008. Shares of Loews have popped into positive territory after
opening -4%, while shares of CAN-3% have been highly volatile. NYSE Euronext is
down 8% or so after missing estimates by a bit, restating the obvious fact that
it sees plenty of negative pressure on trading volumes. Cigarette maker
Lorillard smoked out Q4 consensus estimates and headed up 4% in early trading.
General Electric is up 8% on no specific news, while DryShips is up more than
10% after successfully restructuring one of its troubled debt facilities.
- The greenback maintained a softer tone during the New
York morning as oil prices rose, with EUR/USD
retesting last week's highs around 1.3090. Sterling
was firmer against its trading pairs as continued positive comments from
numerous analysts helped it recover from January lows. The JPY was mixed in the
session as risk aversion concerns coupled with concerns over the Japanese
economy fought for trading-theme dominance. Chatter circulated that Japan's
Q4 GDP could be the worst since the 1974 oil crisis, while BoJ Chief Economist
Momma commented that he expected a large contraction in the data.
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