- Equity markets seem to be reprising their performance from yesterday, with
all three major US indices relinquishing any early gains before the European
close and heading straight down. The January pending US home sales reading was
-7.7%, twice the expected decline. Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke continues
to testify before Congress, already having said that any economic recovery
depends on the government's ability to stabilize weak financial markets. The
VIX volatility index remains over 50 while gold prices continue to retreat
aggressively inducing speculation of forced liquidation. Treasury prices
continue to rally on the back of weak stock markets erasing early losses. The 10-year
yields is back below 3.9%.
- The Fed and the Obama administration provided more details on the TALF just
before the open of trade. According to a joint Fed/Treasury statement, TALF
lending will begin on March 25th and run through December 2009. The New York
Fed will lend up to $200B secured by certain AAA-rated securities back by newly
and recently originated auto loans, credit card loans, student loans and
SBA-guaranteed small business loans. Just before the announcement, CNBC's
Liseman said the TALF could grow to become the Fed's largest emergency loan
program. The Wall Street Journal reported overnight that the Obama
administration is mulling the creation of multiple investment funds to buy
toxic assets, including separate funds capitalized by both government and
private funds and run by private investment managers. The private managers
would run the funds and have the power to decide what assets to buy and what
prices to pay. Other reports noted that the TALF may be expanded to buy up
- Leading financial stocks started off on the right foot, making considerable
gains on all the qualitative easing news. But deteriorating equity indices and
plenty of pessimism from Bernanke is helping erode these gains. In addition, GE
fell dramatically in early trading, with shares hitting levels last seen in the
early 1990s. Yesterday the WSJ highlighted GE Capital's exposure to Eastern
Europe, noting that could have much more than $26B (as disclosed
in 2008) committed to the region. After the bell Stern Agee said it doesn't
expect GE's dividend cut to help boost liquidity at the company. Elsewhere
among the financials, Russia
offered Bank of New York a $800M settlement deal in exchange for dropping its
$22B suit against the bank over allegations of illegal imports from back in the
- Another round of dreadful monthly sales results are expected from the
automakers later today. But in contrast to all the industry pessimism, two auto
retailing companies reported strikingly positive results before the open. Car
parts retailer AutoZone beat earnings and revenue targets by solid margins, and
reported healthy +6% same-store sales results. Used car seller America's
Car-Mart beat earnings estimates on an ex items basis and reported a big y/y
increase in unit sales. Shares of both AZO and CRMT are up 10% in early
trading. Shares of Trina Solar spiked up nearly 8% in early action before
trading off a bit, after the company beat Q4 revenue targets. TravelCenters of
America reported positive Q4 earnings compared to expectations for a big loss,
but missed revenues in a big way. Trading in shares of TA has been volatile.
- Equity trading continues to drive the currency market in today's session. The
greenback rebounded from earlier lows in European trading to move back toward
opening levels from Asia. Risk aversion was heightened by the January pending
US home sales reading. In his testimony, the Fed's Bernanke said policy makers
might need to expand aid to the banking system and take other aggressive measures
even at the cost of rising fiscal deficits. The IMF commented that all major
advance economies were in recession and that emerging and that developing
countries were slowing abruptly. As noted earlier today, dealer chatter
continues to circulate regarding a 1.2500 to 1.3000 option barrier with
expiration set for next week. Dealers are noting that the inability of EUR/USD
to break below the 1.25 on Sunday during the Wellington open cemented this
- The CAD weakened considerably following the expected 50bps interest rate cut
by the Bank of Canada. USD/CAD was moving back towards the 1.30 area for fresh
3-month highs. The British Pound retested the 1.4000 level for a second
straight session and again found some momentum to hold above the level.
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