US equity indices have regained some upward momentum while volatility in
currency and government bond markets come to the forefront in early US
trade. An underwhelming long GILT auction in the UK
sent government bond yields higher in Europe as well as
the US ahead of
the NY open. The 10-year GILT briefly traded above 3.5%. Yields have since
moved lower following decent results from reverse auctions both here and across
the pond. The 10-year GILT yield has slipped back below 3.3% while the US
benchmark stays close to 3.7% ahead of this afternoons 5-year results. The
Greenback went for a wild wide after Treasury Sec. Geithner's comments
surrounding the idea of a world currency were botched on several fronts. Energy
markets are trading a little lower after weekly DOE inventory data.
- The major banks are solidly back in the saddle, building on gains from
earlier in the week. Bank of America's Ken Lewis told the LA Times overnight
that his bank would begin repaying its TARP funds in April, further refining
his timetable for returning government funding after pledging earlier this
month that BoA would return the money this year or next. Goldman Sachs
responded to press speculation yesterday that it would return its own TARP
funds ASAP, with Goldman's President noting that no final decision has been
made on when to return the government's money. Goldman also squelched talk that
it would sell any of its 80% stake in ICBC Bank to raise money to pay back TARP
funding, concluding a new share lock up agreement with ICBC that prevents it
from selling its stake prior to April 2010. The Japanese press reported that
Mitsubishi UFJ said it was delaying its plan to buy Citi's trust bank in Japan.
In addition, Mitsubishi UFJ denied other press reports that it would take a 60%
stake in the brokerage it plans to create with Morgan Stanley.
- In other equity news, DryShips missed earnings estimates, sending shares of
DRYS down 14% in early trading. Electronics manufacturer Jabil Circuit reported
largely in line with analysts' estimates but guided below par. Investors are
snapping up shares of JBL in the early going, sending the name up more than
30%. Commercial real estate firm CB Richard Ellis is up around 60% after
reaching a significant amendment of its credit arrangements with lenders.
Ailing movie rental giant Blockbuster is doing its best to shake up the online
rental arena, signing a JV deal with Tivo to make its films available right on
Televisions over Tivo hardware. Shares of BBI+15% and TIVO+4% are up on the
news, although rival NFLX have been largely unaffected.
- In currencies, misquoted comments from Treasury Secretary Geithner caused a
bit of a ruckus in the USD this morning. A wire service reported that Geithner
said he was â€œopen" to the idea of a SDR (Special Drawing Right) linked
currency system suggested by China,
quickly sending the dollar into a tailspin. Dealers immediately pointed out
that "damage control" would arrive shortly in the aftermath of the
remarks since the US
needs to remain the reserve currency to fund its huge deficits. EUR/USD surged
almost 200 pips to 1.3650 before a strongly-worded clarification and media
reviews of video of the actual statements from Geithner made it clear he
believes nothing of the sort. Geithner said the USD would remain the dominant
world reserve currency for "a long time" and that the US
would act to preserve the dollar as a key reserve currency, helping USD recover
to test back below the 1.35 level before ending New York
session around 1.3535. So far as the SDR goes, Geithner actually said he did
had not seen the actual Chinese proposal but thought that it likely deserves
- Sterling was in focus following
the UK's dismal
Gilt auction, where the bid-to-cover of 0.93 on the 2049 issue turned out to be
the lowest in recent memory. The UK DMO commented that the risk of an uncovered
auction was a normal part of the gilt sale process and that the 2049 issue was
riskiest part of Gilt curve. Gilts broke below support at 120.44 following the
auction results, with momentum pushing the contract below the psychologically
important 120.00 handle. The contract bounced off support at 119.51, which
corresponded to a 61.8 Fib retracement of the 115.77-125.58 range. The spread
between the UK
and German 10-year bonds widened to +32bps. Separately, BoE purchased Â£85.5M
bonds (below the Â£124M target) in its corporate bond auction.
- In other currency news, the Norwegian Central bank cuts its deposit rate by
50bps to 2.00%, as expected. It saw a gradual reduction in rates and noted that
it had seen a substantial decline in Norwegian exports. The NOK traded broadly
lower against the USD and Euro following the rate decision. The Polish Central
bank cut its base rate by 25bps to 3.75%, as expected.
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