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Tuesday April 21, 2009 - 16:09:50 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 12:05pm EST/04:05pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +73 S&P +9 NASDAQ +24

- Investors seem to have halted yesterday's big slide and are working hard to push US equity indices higher in mid-day trading after opening lower. Mixed earnings from regional banks and plenty of caution in the face of decent Q1 results from the likes of Caterpillar and United Technologies had things lower early on, however. Fed's Kohn offered some hope last night, noting that he expects a modest recovery, with chance of a strong one, and sees GDP stabilizing later this year. Treasury Secretary Geithner is testifying before Congress, defending the TARP and his department's handling of the financial bailout, indicating that the health of individual banks will not be the sole criterion for whether firms can repay TARP funds. This comes the morning after the TARP Watchdog called for better oversight of the program. Meanwhile, Fed Governor Hoenig repeated that firms that are too big to fail must be allowed to fail.

- US Treasury prices have moved lower as stocks have rebounded. The benchmark yield rallied some 8+ basis points from session lows back to 2.88%. Selling only intensified after the NY Fed bought $7B in 2016-19 coupons. In a reversal from yesterday's trade, GILT futures sold off following the latest reverse auction results from the BOE.

- Many of the leading second-tier financial firms and regional banks have reported earnings. State Street and BlackRock reported solid first quarter results, although State Street missed revenue targets by around 10%. Note that assets under management at both firms fell on a q/q basis. State Street's CEO said he would like to pay back TARP funding, and noted that funds are flowing from prime brokers to independent carriers. BlackRock's CEO stated that more firms will be getting involved with the PPIP program than is currently anticipated. US Bankcorp reported a bit ahead of targets, with its ROE and ROA up strongly on a y/y basis, in line with the tier-1 firms. USB's CEO also said he hopes to arrange a TARP repayment deal with the government soon. Zions Bancorp's quarterly loss was much smaller than expected, while KeyCorp's loss was considerably larger than anticipated. KEY also steeply cut its dividend. Regions Financial was in the black (ex items) and revenue was strong, although returns on equity and assets were down sharply. Bank of New York missed earnings and revenue expectations, and cut its dividend. All of these names deep in the red in early trading, with the exception of USB, which is up around 8%. ZION is down 25%.

- Tech titans IBM and Texas Instruments earned more than expected in Q1, although IBM's top line lagged the Street by a bit. TXN's buidance for next quarter is bullish, with earnings seen as much as ten times estimates at the top end of its range, while IBM simply reiterated its 2009 forecast, although Big Blue's CFO did note that the firm is more confident on outlook than it was a quarter ago. Interestingly, TXN's CEO does not believe sales will really grow in 2009 but believes that the firm can expand its market share. IBM is around even, while TXN has plummeted from +5% at the open to -4% mid morning. Healthcare giant UnitedHealth had excellent earnings and reaffirmed its 2009 outlook. Dow component Merck & Co. came in below par, thanks to FX losses and Fosamax going off patent. Merck merger partner Schering-Plough said the tie-up is on track, and reported solid first quarter results. All three of these healthcare/pharma names are down around 3-5%. -

-Several leading industrial names reported, including Dow majors United Technologies and Caterpillar. UTX's Q1 earnings exceeded expectations, while revenue was just a hair short of targets. The conglomerate also narrowed its 2009 EPS forecast. Cat blew out estimates but issue extremely cautious guidance for the year, reducing its outlook and noting that the US "missed an opportunity" with its "disappointing" stimulus plan. Lockheed Martin reported more or less in line with expectations and reiterated its full year guidance. LMT's CFO said the 2010 Pentagon budget would have no affect on its guidance. Dow member DuPont met EPS targets, although it missed on the top line by nearly $1B. Autoparts suppliers Autoliv and Johnson Controls both met their dismal loss expectations and missed revenue expectations somewhat. ALV's guidance was catastrophic, projecting sales next quarter that were up to 45% below expectations, while JCI optimistically projected plenty of earnings accretion from restructuring plans.

- In currencies, dealers continue to see consolidation continuing after some big moves. The greenback remains a softer against the European pairs, with a better-than-expected ZEW survey helping the EUR/USD to move back toward the 1.30 area. But the 1.2950 option expiration point continues to act like a magnet ahead of numerous expirations due this week, while weak Irish bond auction results tempered the euro's upside momentum. Dealers are noting that Ireland's 2018 auction had a bid-to-cover of only 1.1x. Some risk aversion seeping back into the sentiment following US earnings this morning, many of which suggested that stiff headwinds remain when it comes to escaping the recession. Vague chatter circulated of a European retail bank in trouble, helping spot gold move to session highs; dealers were noting that there was a German meeting today about that country's good bank/bad bank program.


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