- Equity markets are attempting to digest 3 straight days of gains and a much
needed 10% move off of 12 year lows. Early in the session stocks looked to
build on the recent gains, but they drifted back towards the unchanged mark
after the NY Fed said they would need to extend the TALF subscription period by
2 days. The morning's data provided ammunition for both optimists and
pessimists. The preliminary U of Michigan reading came in a little better than
expected, although the US
January trade numbers showed both imports and exports falling, for sixth
consecutive monthly decline. Front-month crude continues to strengthen ahead of
this weekend's OPEC meeting. Note that this morning's OPEC monthly report
showed members improving their compliance with quotas in February to levels
that have been generally anticipated. Treasury markets have rallied from a
lower open as stock prices have come in. Futures are shrugging of comments from
China's PM Wen
who noted he is worried about his countries holdings in US
- The financials fueled early gains once again. Last night President Obama
weighed in on the banks in a speech to the Business Roundtable, noting that
even in worst case scenario, the vast majority of banks will be profitable and
the banking system will be fine. Bank of America's CEO Lewis joined his
colleagues Vikram Pandit and Jamie Dimon, both of whom have talked up the
profitability of Citi and JP Morgan in early 2009. Yesterday afternoon BoA's
Lewis said the bank was also profitable in January and February. Citi Chairman
Parsons said Citigroup does not need more capital injections, insisting that it
is "one of the better capitalized banks in the world." Note that JPM
was initiated at outperform at Baird overnight. Citi and BoA are both up 8% in
early trading, while JPM, MS
and WFC are up 4%. Selected insurance names are also catching up with the
banks, with HIG up 16% and PRU up 10%.
- In currencies, the Swiss Franc has remained a primary focus as the SNB was
again reported to be bidding up the EUR/CHF cross. The pair retested its Asian
session highs of 1.5400 before consolidating, while USD/CHF was unable to break
above Thursday's high of 1.1967. Chatter has been circulating that the SNB
action on Thursday was sanctioned by the EU in order to weaken the CHF and
benefit Central and Eastern Europe, which has significant exposure to
CHF-denominated mortgages. USD/CAD saw choppy price action, with the pair
testing above the 1.2840 level in the aftermath of weaker-than-expected
February Canadian employment data. However, initial strength in commodities
helped CAD to reign in its bearish momentum to test below 1.2700. Note that
traders will be keeping a close eye on this weekend's G20 finance minister
summit in the UK.
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