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Thursday April 23, 2009 - 15:22:02 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:16am EST/03:16pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow -75 S&P -7.75 NASDAQ -18

- Corporate earnings and housing data continue to buoy equity volatility in the early going. The major
US indices are bouncing in and out of negative territory as selling pressures seem to be mounnting. Investors are looking for a theme to hold on to. The NAR's Existing Home Sales index fell 3% over last month's levels, below expectations. NAR's President indicated that first-time buyers are driving the market. Front-month NYMEX crude made a run for $50 earlier this morning, but is a bit off its highs around $49 in mid day trading.

- The
US benchmark 10-year yield continues to bump its head just below 3%, trading at the highest level in more than a month. The US Treasury announced $101B in new 2-, 5-, and 7-year supply to be auctioned of next week, exceeding many analyst forecasts.

- FDIC's Bair hopes to have an initial plan for selling legacy assets in place by June, noting that her agency has the potential to become the "resolution authority" for systemically risky companies. Wells Fargo is strong this morning +8% despite warnings from "Heard on the Street" that it may need more capital than competitors, given the conspicuous absence of any statement of intent to repay $25B in TARP loans in its Q1 report. The article highlighted the bank's lower-grade loan portfolios eroding its "relatively thin capital base." And there has been a flurry of gossipy commentary over BoA's Ken Lewis, who told the WSJ that Ben Bernanke pressured him to "keep quiet" on loan losses at Merril Lynch, a claim that was predictably denied by the Fed.

- Another batch of tier-2 and regional banks have reported earnings yesterday and today. Quarterly losses at major regionals SunTrust Banks and Fifth Third Bancorp were smaller than expected, but neither bank is out of the woods as of yet, with ROE and ROA still weak and non-performing loans still rising. STI was up as much as 6% early on, but has dropped to around even mid morning. Share of FITB are up 10%. PNC Financial did very well, crushing analyst estimates. But like the former two firms, PNC is still facing rising non-performing loans and credit deterioration. PNC is up 8%. The situation at deeply troubled CIT looks to be worsening, with a quarterly loss three times the expected amount. CIT also suspended it dividend, sending shares of CIT down 6%.

- Shares of tech darlings Apple and eBay are up 10% and 4%, respectively, after the firms offered strong quarterly results yesterday evening, with both firms beating Wall Street's targets by healthy margins. Apple's guidance for next quarter fell notably short of expectations, however, and the CFO warned that investors shouldn't count on the high gross margins seen in the past. iPhone shipments were up 123% y/y, but were only just in line with analyst estimates, disappointing some commentators. AAPL benefited from plenty of price target and analyst ratings hikes overnight, with the exception of Collins Stewart, which cut the name to neutral from a buy. EMC reported in line with the Street. EMC's CEO said global IT spending is at or near a bottom and expects things to improve in the second half of the year. Chip maker Xilinx came in ahead of estimates and guided strongly for next quarter.

- Shipping giant UPS offered lots of pessimism this morning after missing expectations and guiding lower for next quarter. Considered a major bellwether, the company believes the recovery in the
US might begin late this year, but more likely not until 2010. Other consumer-facing names have had a better Q1, with fast-food king YUM! Brands ahead on the bottom line and in line on the top, with same-store sales remaining just in positive territory. The company forecasts Q2 to be its most challenging quarter and the low point of its year, but still plans to expand in China with over $1B new capital investment over three years. Hotelier Marriot and cruise line Royal Caribbean did substantially better than expected, and managed to at least not cut guidance.

- Mid-cap steel makers Nucor and Reliance Steel reported weaker-than-expected earnings and revenue in the first quarter. Reliance's CEO said that business remains difficult across all products, with no geographic region that is significantly better or worse than any other. Nucor's mill utilization rate fell to 45%. Steel Dynamics did better, cutting its expected loss in half. The company expects Q2 results to improve, with a "small profit" possible in Q2. 

- In currency trading, EUR/USD has consolidated earlier gains but failed to advance above the 1.3070 pivot point. Note that the Belgium Business Confidence index fell more than expected this morning; the data is usually seen as an good indicator of German IFO data, which is expected to be released on Friday. The Bank of Canada failed to make any specific commitments on quantitative easing (QE) after cutting its interest rates to 0.25% earlier this week. However, the BoE did set up a framework in which QE could be implemented. The CAD was broadly firmer following the remarks, with USD/CAD at 1.2250, down 150 pips in the aftermath of the BoC comments.


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