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Wednesday March 25, 2009 - 15:51:35 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:44am EST/03:44pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +151 S&P +14 NASDAQ +22

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 “open" 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 consideration.

- 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 £85.5M bonds (below the £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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