Equity trading is struggling to latch on to a theme this morning as
equity indices bounce in and out of negative territory. Investors are
mulling over the Q1 results from Citigroup, General Electric and
Google. Similar to other large-cap reports over the last week or so,
the companies offered plenty of positive news laced with darker notes.
With no firm resolution of Detroit's woes in hand, the automakers
continue to weigh on many minds. Comments from NYSE Euronext CEO
Niederauer that trading volumes indicate that the current rally won't
last are not helping either. NYMEX crude regained the $51 handle this
morning but is losing ground in mid-day trading.
General Electric beat Q1 earnings estimates while missing revenue
targets, reporting net income that was down more than 30% over last
quarter's results. In line with quarterly results from other leading
financial firms, GE Capital made a profit in the quarter, and GE
executives affirmed expectation that the division would be profitable
for the full year. Order backlogs held steady, while revenue at most
units fell slightly over last quarter. CEO Immelt estimates that
in-house stress tests indicate GE doesn't need more capital, and also
said he does not see GE Capital being subjected to government stress
testing. After a 4% drop after the bell, shares of GE are around even.
Citigroup's quarterly loss was nearly half the expected amount and the
firm outpaced expectations on the top line by around $3B. The results
certainly color CEO Pandit's rally-sparking comments back in early
March that Citi was ‚Äúprofitable‚ÄĚ in the first two months of the year,
but on the conference call Citi's CFO still insisted that the quarter
was the bank's strongest in over a year, calling the trading
environment "unusually favorable." Citi said its consumer banking unit
saw unusually strong activity driven by increases in volume and demand
but continues to see economic headwinds in the market. In a spot of
good news for markets overall, the CFO also noted that Citi has begun
to see moderations in 30+day delinquencies in North American credit
cards, with losses apparently breaking their prior correlation with
unemployment. Shares of Citi fell as much as 10% early on, before
recovering to -6%.
- Google reported its first q/q
revenue decline in revenue since the company went public five years
ago, coming in a hair below estimates. Earnings were better than
expected. Paid clicks continued to rise, although there was a decline
in advertising revenue on q/q basis on Google-owned web sites. Google's
CEO said that the company is feeling the impact of the tough economic
environment, but optimistically insisted that Google is well-placed to
take advantage of the eventual economic recovery when it comes. Shares
of GOOG are up 2%.
- In other news, two regional banks,
BBT and Regions Financial, followed in the footsteps of the big
financials by offering solid Q1 earnings news. BBT exceeded earnings
and revenue estimates, while RF's CEO said the bank would be profitable
in the quarter (analysts expected a $0.42 loss) and said he wants to
pay back Federal TARP funds ASAP. Takeover rumor favorite BIIB offered
solid earnings and reaffirmed its full-year forecast. Toy maker Mattel
missed targets slightly on slumping sales. Also note that Japanese
newspaper Nikkei reported overnight that the US government is planning
to classify the 19 banks undergoing stress testing into four categories
(A, B, C and D), with ‚ÄúD‚ÄĚ indicating the institution is unable to stay
- The currency market is digesting a slew
of central banker speak from the last 12 hours. Dealers are focusing
their analysis on ECB Governor Trichet's comment that the ECB wants a
weaker euro. One dealer noted that the EUR/USD was around 2% below its
200 week (or four-year) average and noted that the currency could
hardly be seen as weak these days. Fed Governor Fisher commented in
Asia that the challenges faced by the Euro Zone exceeded those in US.
Moody's placing of Ireland's AAA sovereign ratings on review for
possible downgrade also weighed on euro sentiment. Dealers are
suggesting that the market would likely see selling of euros to
continue on any rallies. EUR/USD did manage to break below the 1.3070,
to its lowest level since its March 18th, pre-Fed quantitative easing
position. The EUR/JPY pair retested below 130 as chatter again
circulated regarding ‚ā¨45B in eurobond redemptions today. CHF was softer
after the SNB's Roth reiterated that "currency intervention has become
necessary as the rise in the CHF threatens to offset rate cuts.‚ÄĚ
Sterling was softer following comments from the UK trade minister that
he was not concerned over further declines in GBP.
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