- US Equity markets are extending the gains made late in yesterday's session
but the trading remains highly volatile. Final Q4 GDP was not quite as poor as
expected but the number of people claiming unemployment continues to rise in
the US. Stock
markets are likely to remain keyed on what is transpiring in the bond markets.
Indices made a run at unchanged when the yield on the 1-month T-bill dipped
into negative territory for the first time since Dec. Traders are likely to
closely monitor the 7-year Note auction results from the Treasury due out at
1PM. A disappointing 5-year auction yesterday sent stocks lower before the last
hour rebound. NYMEX crude made a quick run over $54 following reassuring
commentary from the PBoC indicating the Chinese economy may have already
bottomed. Copper traded toward fresh multi-month highs as well. Front month
natural gas is sliding back to $4 after weekly inventory data was released.
- Financial names are dipping into the red this morning as investors shrink
from another day of testimony from Treasury Secretary Geithner before Congress.
Last night the WSJ reported on Geithner's proposals to cap leverage and reign
in hedge funds and private equity, and his plans for reckoning with firms that
pose systemic risk. Note that PIMCO said it still likes debt from the big
banks, even after Moody's trimmed its ratings on Wells Fargo and Bank of
America yesterday afternoon on fears the banks will need more government aid.
In other financials news, Mitsubishi UFJ confirmed overnight that it has signed
a formal MOU on establishing a securities JV with Morgan Stanley in Japan,
helping shares of MS stay ahead of the pack this morning. MUFG confirmed it
will own a 60% stake in the JV while Morgan Stanley will hold a 40% stake.
- Various consumer oriented names are having a good morning on strong earnings
reports. Best Buy blew out earnings estimates and guided well above par in its
Q4 report. While same-store sales remained pretty bad in the quarter, the
company noted they may even out to flat y/y in the coming fiscal year. Gamestop
beat estimates, and achieved nearly 10% y/y same-store sales growth in the
quarter. Doctor Pepper Snapple is juiced up after exceeding estimates by a bit
and guiding in line. Shares of all three firms are making gains in early
trading, with BBY+14%, GME+2% and DPS +9%.
- Nasdaq is outperforming the other indices thanks to some good news from chip
makers. Major component Intel told the WSJ that it would formally unveil its
new chip for server systems on Monday, noting that it would be almost an order
of magnitude faster than prior model. The new product will power forthcoming
products from several big tech firms, including Dell's new server line and
Cisco's push into the server space. IBM, HP and Sun Micro could also announce
plans for the new chip early next week. Late last night the CEO of South Korean
chip maker Hynix said that the chip industry bottomed in Q4, noting that he
sees a sigificant reduction in chip supply in 2009. There were notes of caution
as well, with Michael Dell saying his company may cut more workers overall (and
add some employees in strategic growth areas), while Agilent Technologies
suspended its share buyback for 2009, cut 2,700 jobs (about 14.2% of
- The greenback softened somewhat during the New York session thanks to the
firmer commodity prices as comments from China helped increase risk appetite.
But risk aversion set in by mid-morning as New York dealers digested the
overall developments from the last 24 hours, including the inadvertent Geithner
currency debacle and the Moody's downgrades of BAC and Wells Fargo yesterday.
Dealers are also noting that USD gained on the risk aversion theme on the back
of the negative rates on the US 1M T-bill (recall this happened back in
December as well). The SNB made some cautious economic comments regarding the
Swiss economy, the Euro Zone and the US,
noting that the economic downturn in the Euro Zone was becoming increasingly
pronounced while the US
downturn would likely continue for the next few quarters. However the SNB also
suggested that US monetary policy measures appear to be having a positive
effect. Overall the EUR/USD has maintained its recent range of 1.3490-1.3650
over the past 24 hours.
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