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Thursday February 19, 2009 - 16:43:02 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Updat

Today 11:25am

US Market Update

Dow -1.5 S&P +2 NASDAQ -2.2

- US equity indices made modest gains before and after the NYSE bell as traders were a bit encouraged that an increase in the Jan PPI reading could alleviate some of the recent deflationary concerns. Traders quickly attributed much of the price increases to energy and seasonal factors and turned their focus to the subsequent weekly jobless claims and February Philly Fed data. The weekly continuing jobless claims came in just shy of 5 million, for yet another all-time record high reading, while the employment component of the Philly Fed Index registered its second consecutive record low. This discouraging data comes after yesterday's FOMC minutes revised the Fed's projected 2009 unemployment rate down to 8.5-8.8% from the prior 7.1-7.6% range. An increase in general risk appetite spurred the early gains in stocks despite continued weakness in some of the largest US Banks, but the indices drifted back into the red after the Philly Fed data. European banks set a positive early tone as several of the largest institutions rallied after their earnings reports failed to spook the markets.

- Treasury prices have declined modestly on continued supply concerns and unwinds of flight to safety trades. The benchmark yield is back above 2.8% and the long bond has regained 3.6%. The US Treasury announced $94B in fresh 2, 5, and 7-year note supply. Energy markets have reversed early losses post weekly inventory data with April WTI inching back towards $40 a barrel. March copper is up better than 3% just below $1.50.

- Dow component Hewlett-Packard's Q1 earnings were in line with the Street, although its revenues lagged estimates by nearly 10%. The computer and IT services giant's forecast for next quarter was also below expectations, while the CFO warned that the company expects more inventory reductions to deal with ever slowing demand. Shares of HPQ are down 8%, off their worst levels. The Wall Street Journal highlighted the continuing slowdown in tech and the overall economy today, reporting that Apple retail unit sales fell by 6% in January. Sprint Nextel reported a slightly smaller loss than expected but missed revenue targets. The company sounded upbeat in the press release on its conference call, noting that it expects total subscriber losses to ease in 2009, although the CEO warned Sprint “hasn't turned the corner yet.” Investors are snapping up shares of Sprint, sending it up more than 25% in early trading before retrenching a bit.

- CVS beat the Street by a hair, reporting strong segment sales data for the quarter. On the conference call, CVS's CEO was blunt, noting that the company is “immune” to the recession. Markets seem to agree, with shares of CVS up nearly 8% before the bell. Speaking of recession-proof, Spam manufacturer Hormel beat earnings estimates and reiterated its 2009 forecast. Shares of HRL are rising, up more than 8% mid morning.

- Mid-cap steel companies Reliance Steel and Gerdau Ameristeel offered varying earnings reports this morning. RS blew out consensus earnings and revenue targets, noting that it has not seen any meaningful change in business activity levels so far in 2009. It also noted that pricing for most of its products appears to be at or near the bottom. GNA surprised investors with a substantial loss versus expectations of a positive earnings gain. The company noted that during the first nine months of the year it delivered EBITDA of $1.5B, while in the last quarter of the year, EBITDA decreased to $19.4M. GNA has bounced in and then out of positive territory, while RS is rocketing up 20% mid morning.

- In currencies, demand for dollars and gold has abated in the session as some pressures recently seen in Eastern European have eased a bit. There is speculation that the EU will devise a plan to help Eastern European countries to stave off the fallout from the global economic crisis. EUR/USD took out buy stops above the 1.2730 level in the aftermath of the weak US data. The EUR/USD pair moved back below the 1.27 level ahead of the European equity close as chatter that German Chancellor Merkel and EU's Barroso were working out an Eastern European bailout strategy. Dealers noted that a lot hope and emphasis was being place into the result of this meeting, potentially setting things up for a big disappointment. USD/JPY hit one-month highs above the 94.40 level as the economic situation in Japan continues to disappoint. EUR/GBP has moved off session lows of 0.8770 to test 0.8870 on chatter of a large FX fix on the London cut.



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