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Friday April 24, 2009 - 15:55:02 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

US Market Update

Dow +120 Nasdaq +36 S&P +13

- Investors seem to be shrugging off the indecision seen through most of the week and bidding up equity markets with strength this morning. With more clarity on the bank stress tests due later this afternoon and higher-than-expected March New Home Sales, there are some reasons for optimism. And while home sales returned to a sequential downtrend after February's uptick, investors are focusing on the data showing falling inventory levels in the report. Crude moved through the $51 barrier for the first time all week earlier in the session. Note that overnight OPEC Secretary General El-Badri said he is not expecting new production cuts in May, noting that OPEC needs full compliance with past cuts before new ones are instituted. In addition the Kuwaiti Oil min affirmed preference for oil in the $50-$70/bbl range.

- Ford surprised everybody this morning, reporting higher than expected revenues and a much smaller loss than projected, and nearly cut its cash burn in half in the quarter. Shares of Ford jumped 20% before the bell, trading off to around +15% by mid morning. The company reiterated that it won't need US government aid to get through the year, and said it is on track with its plan to break even in 2011. Ford also optimistically insisted that it does not expect to be hurt by potential GM or Chrysler bankruptcy, but also warned that the health of the supply base is critical. Bankruptcy is looking increasingly unavoidable for Chrysler, whether the company manages a deal with Fiat or not. Overnight the WSJ reported that Chrysler could file for bankruptcy as early as next week, while this morning the Canadian finance minister said liquidation is a possibility. And as GM's negotiations with bondholders and labor drag on, there have been press reports that a new debt-for-equity offer (composed almost entirely of equity) could come on Monday.

- The Treasury is due to disclose its assumptions for stress testing to the 19 banks undergoing testing this afternoon at 2pmEST. FDIC Chairwoman Bair said that some banks will need to encourage preferred shareholders to switch to common shares/equity, and reiterated that the administration won't likely have to ask for more TARP funding. Most of the leading
US banks opened marginally higher this morning. AmEx offered stellar first-quarter results although revenues were light. The company cautioned that while it did see some recent improvement in early delinquency rates, overall credit indicators reflected rising unemployment levels and the broad-scale weakness in the economy with card members across most units reducing spending y/y.

- Mid-cap industrials Honeywell, 3M and Xerox reported at or a bit below expectations and cut full-year forecasts, offering quarterly performance that trailed large-cap competitors. Honeywell noted on the conference call that it is not counting on any big macro improvements in 2009 although it does see the rate of economic decline stabilizing. 3M was a bit light on the top and bottom lines, noting that it expects two more quarters of economic decline and warned it would not return to 2007 levels of business until 2011. Oil services giant Schlumberger exceeded estimates by a hair, noting that the company does not see any significant recovery in North American gas drilling before 2010

- Shares of Microsoft are up 8% after lackluster quarterly results yesterday evening. Note that on the conference call, Microsoft's CFO said that the economy is the most challenging in the company's 30-year history, saying there were no signs of a bottom in the quarter and that next quarter would remain difficult, with shipments of PCs (ex netbooks) expected to be weak. These comments echo the pessimism heard from the likes of TXN and IBM earlier in the week. Consumer-facing Nasdaq components Amazon and Netflix offered positive quarterly results, beating earnings expectations. Both companies offer cautious forecasts for the next quarter, however. AMZN was up 6% and NFLX was off its worst levels around -4% mid day.

- In currencies, the greenback maintained a soft tone ahead of the G7 finance minister meeting this weekend in
Washington DC, with concerns of Chinese FX reserve diversification weighing on the USD sentiment. ECB's Nowotny commented that the US economic measures were starting to take effect, maybe faster than European efforts. EUR/USD rose toward 1.33 in New York trading, while GBP/USD rebounded after Moody's said the UK's AAA sovereign were stable and not under review. Dealers are noting good continental European names (particularly German banks) buying GBP aggressively from 1.4630 to 1.4680. The pair proceeded to test 1.4750 by mid-NY morning. The CAD continued its firm tone that emerged yesterday, with USD/CAD moved towards the 1.2100 after gaining technical momentum below the 1.2230 level seen in the aftermath of the BoC monetary report on Thursday.


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