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Friday April 17, 2009 - 16:28:50 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:46am EST/03:46pm GMT
US Market Update

- DOW +6 S&P +1 Nasdaq -10

- 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 “profitable” 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 “D” indicating the institution is unable to stay in business.

- 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 €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.” Sterling was softer following comments from the UK trade minister that he was not concerned over further declines in GBP.

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