- Equity indices are making robust gains in early trading as the financials
drive trade on anticipation of good news from the FASB later this morning. The
data has been mixed, with February factory orders a bit stronger than expected
and January orders revised higher, while the weekly jobless claims both making
fresh highs once again. NYMEX crude surged by $3.40/barrel or so, aided by
â€śofficialâ€ť Chinese PMI data for March that registered its first increase in six
months. Note that Chinese officials have made confident statements of late that
the Chinese economy has hit bottom.
- Government bond prices both here and across the pond are moving lower as
stocks rally. The ECB cut only 25 basis points disappointing some, and provided
little clarity regarding unconventional measures. The BOE auctioned off another
batch of long dated GILTS. Though the auction results did improve from last
week's yields prices still ticked higher following the mediocre reception. The
10-year GILT yield is back above 3.3% while the Bund offers 3.12%. The US
benchmark is holding close to 2.7%.
- Banking names made big gains in the pre-market this morning on apparent
optimism that the FASB would provide the sector with regulatory relief by
voting to relax mark-to-market accounting rules later this morning. As of
writing the FASB's board meeting is ongoing, although the body has already
noted today that "orderly transition" does not include forced
liquidations. Note that more executive compensation drama is in the background:
in an interview with CBS last night, Treasury Secretary Geithner said he did
not rule out forcing out CEOs of banks who received government funds, and the
House approved bill allowing the Treasury to set limits on executive
compensation for firms that receive public funds. However, Bank of America's
CEO Ken Lewis said earlier today that he does not see the US
gov dictating management changes in the banking industry, and confirmed that BAC
has paid back a total of $400M of its TARP funds.
- In other equity news, Monsanto reported strong results for Q2, beating
earnings estimates somewhat and once again reaffirming its forecast for 2009.
But later in the morning, the WSJ rained on the company's parade, noting that
the firm may report a loss in Q4, with a single-digit earnings growth in Q3
thanks to falling market share. MON jumped 4% before the open and then dipped
into the red on the WSJ report before recovering somewhat mid morning. Rite Aid
reported a loss in Q4 and guided a larger-than-expected loss for the year,
sending shares of RAD-15% into a tailspin in early trading. Carmax walloped
analysts' estimates in Q4 despite the significant 26% y/y decline in its
same-store sales and significant q/q declines in wholesale vehicle sales.
Shares of KMX are up 10% today. And with earnings season right around the
corner, the profit warnings have begun. Carnival warned that its Q2 earnings
would be a bit lower than expected thanks to higher fuel costs - but shares of
CLL are up 5% in the early going.
- In currencies, the greenback was on the defensive during the New
York session against European pairs after the ECB
â€śsurprisedâ€ť the market with only a 25 basis point cut (consensus expectations
were for a 50 bps cut). At the press conference, Trichet reiterated the
standard ECB position that inflation would remain below the 2% target in
2009/2010 and that risks to the economic outlook remain broadly to the
downside, with disinflation and not deflation stalking Europe.
During the Q&A portion, Trichet noted that the rate decision was made by
consensus, with no discussions on holding rates steady. The ECB confessed that
rates were not at their lowest level, but still low by historical standards.
Looking ahead to the next policy meeting in May, the ECB said it would decide
at that time on whether or not to pursue â€śnon-standard measures,â€ť but declined
to provide further insight on alternative policies.
- Risk appetite resurfaces as equity markets surged higher ahead of the FASB
announcement. The hope for change on the rules keeping the USD soft and the JPY
broadly weaker as well. USD/JPY probed towards the 100 level for 5-month highs
- With the G20 meeting ready to wrap up business, there have been plenty of
comments from participants. Russian President Medvedev reiterated his belief
that an alternative to the USD should be considered. He suggested a basket of
regional currencies could be used instead of USD basket. This reflects similar
sentiments from China,
which stated that would back IMF support currency. A Brazilian official noted
G20 would raise funding for the IMF by $1T G20 and was considering issuing IMF
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