- Equity indices opened lower for the second morning in a row, as investors
disregarded Goldman's big quarterly profit and pulled back on the surprising
decline in March advanced retail sales. The latter data came in at -1.1%, well
below the expected +0.3% reading, although the prior figure was revised upward.
But stocks have generally pared losses from the open ahead of President Obama's
speech on the recovery. In a newspaper interview published overnight, Fed
Chairman Bernanke expressed his "fundamental optimism" regarding the US
economy, a view that clashed with comments by Fed Governor Fisher, who told an
audience in Hong Kong the US
economic data remains "quite grim." After spending the European
session above $50, front-month crude ducked back under this level despite the
EIA forecasting a much smaller decline in 2009 world oil consumption over last
month's view in its short-term outlook. Treasury prices ticked slightly higher
following the retail sales figures pushing the 10-year yield back towards
- Goldman Sachs's Q1 earnings surprise is having a mixed impact on the
financials this morning, with many tier-one banks in the red, Bank of America
making very modest gains and Citigroup up around 15% early on. Shares of GS
dropped 5% to meet the firm's $123/shr pricing of its $5B offering this
morning. On the conference call, Goldman's CFO warned that it's "still a
dangerous environment out there" and insisted that returning government
TARP funds is a "duty." In other comments he confirmed that Goldman's
competitive position has improved considerably despite troubles in the
industry, noting that it has cut its leveraged loan exposure from around $52B
in Q3 to around $2.3B in Q1. Next up: JP Morgan, which reports on Thursday
- In other earnings news, Dow component Johnson
& Johnson is up a modest 2% after
reporting earnings just a hair ahead of the consensus views and missing revenue
targets by a bit. The firm also reaffirmed its 2009 forecast. WW Grainger blew
out the consensus earnings forecast, sending shares of GWW up 8% after the
bell. But GWW's CEO warned that the bottom isn't here yet, noting that the
company expects increased pricing pressure throughout the remainder of the
year. And note also that Dendreon is up a whopping 200% thanks to the
pre-release of some positive data from a Phase III study of the company's
Provenge prostate cancer drug. Dendreon said the drug met its primary endpoint
of improving overall survival, but key findings from the study are due to be
discussed at a conference later this month.
- Currency trading has seen growing expectations that the worst may be over for
the global recession, despite plenty of reminders that the road ahead is full
of potholes. Dealers are noting that a certain level of euphoria about the US
economy is starting to surface, although the US
retail sales data brought back some risk aversion (US
job losses are seen adversely impacting consumer spending) ahead of the key
Chinese GDP data due out Thursday morning. There are differing opinions between
the official and analyst positions on China.
European participants returned rather edgy from the long weekend over the
pending data, reacting to comments from Chinese PBoC advisor Fan Gang that it
might take an dditional 2-3 years to complete China's
economic adjustment. But one investment house put out a research note saying
that Premier Wen seemed to indicate that China Industrial Production jumped
8.3% in March, which would be above current consensus of 6.3%.
- EUR/USD tested 1.3230 before consolidating its session losses while USD/JPY
tested its 200-day moving average just below the 99.00 handle. Energy-related
commodities guided the price action of the CAD and AUD currency pairs. The
USD/CAD bounced off the 1.2110 level as continued concerns over the length of
the global recession surfaced ahead of US President Obama's economic speech.
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