- Stocks opened higher this morning after two consecutive sessions marked by
declines. US equity futures rebounded ahead of the open spurred by optimism
from the Pulte/Centex deal and broad strength in the life insurers following a
WSJ article indicating the US Treasury was ready to give certain companies
access to TARP funds. The major indices have came off their best levels after
the Treasury confirmed that it would extend TARP funding to "some"
life insurance companies, but strength has returned after the SEC moved a step
closer to restoring the uptick rule.
- Government bond prices benefited from continued risk aversion trades
throughout much of the overnight session. A well received GILT auction sent
prices higher and yields lower in Europe, while both the
BOE and Fed also continue to buy securities outright keeping a floor under
prices. The US
curve has seen some flattening along the curve as a $35B 3-year note auction is
keeping a lid on prices at the short end despite the Fed's purchases. The
2-year yield is higher on the day at 0.92% while the 10-year is back below 2.9%
- Energy markets continued to head lower ahead of the weekly DOE inventory
data, but have since reversed noticeably. Crude has rallied from $48 to trade
as high as $51 as crude inventory builds were basically in line with
expectations. Traders did pick up on a larger than expected draw down of
distillate stockpiles coupled with a substantial uptick in demand seen in the
latest week, which could point to some much needed balancing in diesel
supply/demand dynamics. Heating oil futures are leading the complex up nearly
4% on the day.
- Pulte Homes' offer for Centex is rocking the home builders this morning, sending
selected names up 5-10% in early trading. The deal would create the nation's
biggest homebuilder, with Pulte picking up a 68% stake in Centex for $1.3
billion in stock (plus $1.8B in net debt). Moody's put the ratings of both
firms on review for downgrade, noting that both firms have considerable land
holdings hanging around their necks, which would be a heavy weight for the
combined entity to carry in the worst market for homes in generations. Shares
of CTX are up 20%, while PHM is down 10%.
- Alcoa kicked off earnings season with its second consecutive quarterly loss,
missing consensus earnings estimates by a hair while beating revenue targets.
The CEO was bullish on stimulus, noting that government stimulus programs
should drive demand for aluminum. But the company still sees a 7% overall
decline in aluminum consumption this year, steeper than its 2% decline estimate
on 1/2. Note that UBS raised its price target on AA this morning. Shares of AA
were up as much as 5% in early trading, but are around even mid morning.
Consumer names Bed Bath and Beyond and Family Dollar both offered another
helping of good news for the retail sector. BBBY beat consensus estimates
(winning multiple PT hikes overnight), while FDO boosted its quarterly SSS
performance and raised its full-year earnings forecast considerably. BBBY+20%
is sustaining robust gains, while FDO+4% is off its best levels. Mosaic missed
on earnings and revenue, while quarterly margins were one third of year-ago
levels. Shares of MOS are down nearly 20% this morning.
- There has been another batch of pre-earnings guidance and profit warnings
overnight. Ryder guided considerably below the consensus view, noting that the
weak economy will hit the company's bottom line, especially the company's full
service lease and contract maintenance product lines, which had remained more
stable until now. Tech names Juniper Networks and F5 Networks both refined
their outlook for upcoming earnings very slightly, sending shares of FFIV and
JNPR up 10-12% early on. Both are off their best levels. Also note that Sharp
[6753.JP] increased its FY08/09 loss estimates overnight.
- The Greenback and JPY showed some relative strength during Asian and European
hours but have given some of that back as stocks rallied into and through the
NY open. EUR/USD is up 125 pips from overnight lows to trade into the green for
the day. EUR/GBP is also at session highs back above 0.90. The Euro rebound is
in the face of fresh downgrades of Eastern European sovereigns Latvia, Lithuania,
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