Dow +60 S&P +6.5 NASDAQ
+8 - Investors seem to be struggling between the certain buying opportunities
presented by yesterday's stock declines and pessimism over the Obama
administration's thus far lack of details regarding the financial rescue plan.
Equity indices were up sharply early on, briefly dipped into the red thanks to
weakness among tech names, and then popped back into positive territory making
fresh highs. The CEOs of the eight largest US
banks are testifying before Congress this morning about how they have spent the
first round of TARP funding; shares of the major banks are sustaining solid
gains in early trading. Gold broke out of a multi-month trading range pushing
through the $930 level which had been providing substantial resistance going
back to last fall. Treasury yields continue to fall, helped by comments from a
Chinese regulator who noted he does not really see any real alternatives to
USTs. Long yields are declining faster with the long bond now below 3.45% and
the 2-10year spread narrowing to 186 basis points. Front-month crude is
sustaining yesterday's weakness, hovering below the $37 handle as weekly DoE
inventory data showed yet another big jump in inventories.
- Tech stocks have been battered by bad news in corporate earnings reports and
cautious guidance from the likes of smartphone leader Research in Motion.
Before the open RIMM tweaked its earnings forecast, noting that Q4 EPS would
come in at the low end of its prior guidance range of $0.83-0.91. Yesterday
NVIDIA and Applied Materials both offered unexpectedly large quarterly losses,
with AMAT reporting -$0.10 versus break-even expectations while NVIDIA's loss
was twice the expected amount. The latter struck a hopeful tone on its
conference call, insisting that this will be the last quarter of revenue
declines in a while. RIMM-16% and NVDA-14% are down significantly, while AMAT
is around even. Telecom Level 3 Communications surprised investors with
positive earnings instead of an expected loss, and said free cash flows would
turn positive in 2009. LVLT was up as much as +15% in early trading, but is now
back down to +5%.
- Currency trading has taken its cues from turmoil in the financial sector this
morning. The words â€śdeep resessionâ€ť have reverberated among government
officials far and wide as trade data from China, the US and Canada heightened
concerns over contracting domestic and foreign demand. EUR/USD probed toward
the 1.30 level on chatter the Bank of France and BIS had an appetite for euros
at the start of the European morning, although the USD managed to move back
below 1.29 as the New York morning progressed. Note that the surge in spot gold
seems to be decoupling somewhat from its typical relationship with the dollar,
given fairly steady tone in USD. Sterling limped through the New York session
following earlier comments from the BoE's King, who observed that the sharp
drop in the pound would act as a stimulus for demand. GBP/USD was near session
lows at 1.4320, off over 220 pips from its opening levels in Asia. The Loonie
weakened after Canada posted its first trade deficit since early 1976, with
December data falling by C$0.5M. USD/CAD was holding near the 1.25 level
throughout the New York morning. Canadian Finance Minister Flaherty commented
that the current weakness in CAD would boost Canadian trade in the future,
noting that prior currency strength helped create trade deficit in the first
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