- Much like yesterday's open, equity indices took a tumble this morning and
then popped right into positive territory shortly after the open. Although the
Swine Flu jitters seem to have died down somewhat, there are plenty of other
factors in play, chiefly the initial leaks surrounding the Treasury's stress
tests and the Feb S&P/CS housing data. Commentators are rejoicing that the
latter did not register another record-setting decline, with optimists fixing
on this as yet another sign that the housing market is bottoming. Note that the
decline in the index of home prices in 20 cities was 18.6%, a very slight
improvement over January's 19% decline. Bond prices opening higher but have since
given back any flight to safety bids as stocks recovered. The 5-year note is
down 4 ticks yielding 1.86% ahead of this afternoon's $35B auction. June Gold
is down 1.5% moving back below $900 on speculation central banks will become
more aggressive in selling gold.
- Despite reports last week that US regulators had imposed a harsh gag order on
banks with regards to the stress tests, the inevitable disclosure of the test
results has begun. Citing people familiar with the results, the WSJ reported
overnight that Citi and Bank of America have been told to raise billions of
dollars in fresh capital - apparently regulators want the banks to take on the
extra capital to provide a bigger cushion rather than to stave off insolvency.
Unsurprisingly, executives at both banks are reportedly objecting to the
findings. There were other reports circulating that US regulators are already
holding talks with Citi on the results and the bank's capital position. Note
that last night FDIC Chairwoman Bair reiterated that the stress tests are not
pass/fail "solvency tests." Meanwhile, republican banking point man
Senator Shelby believes many banks are inadequately capitalized, and called for
banks to be closed or merged with others if they fail the stress tests. Shares
of Citi and BoA are both down around 3% early on, while WFC is down about 2%.
- Pharma titans Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer reported largely in line with
expectations this morning, and both firms reaffirmed their 2009 forecasts. Note
that Pfizer reported substantially lower revenues for several of its leading
drugs, including the blockbusters Lipitor (-13% y/y) and Chantix (- 36% y/y).
Mid-cap health insurance name Coventry
came in a bit ahead of the Street and reaffirmed its full-year guidance, noting
that membership growth in medicare business has been even stronger than
expected in 2009. Shares of CVH are up 6% and headed higher mid morning, while
PFE and BMY are underpeforming.
- In the European session BP said its profit fell 64% in Q1 despite its growing
production, improving refinery output and declining costs and the company's
Chairman said BP must adjust operations to $50/bbl world. Before the US
open, Valero beat earnings estimates as net income rose 18% amid higher margins
on gasoline and fuel oil.
- Office Depot made a small profit in Q1 (ex items), beating expectations for a
small loss. Note that ODP recorded a net loss $0.20 from charges related to its
decision to shut 107 underperforming stores. On the conference call, executives
warned that ODP is seeing no "material improvement" in corporate
spending in Q2. Apparel name Under Armour stomped estimates, but warned that Q2
would be much weaker. Fortune Brands guided well above the Street for its
upcoming Q1 results and reaffirmed its 2009 outlook. On the downside, the firm
cut its dividend to preserve cash. ODP is up nearly 20% in early trading, US is
up 14% and FO is up 8%.
- -In currency trading, the risk aversion theme that dominated the early
European session faded away during the New York
morning, aided by the faintly positive housing data. Both the USD and JPY saw
earlier gain evaporate as the S&P500 and DJIA recovered from electronic
sessions lows. The EUR/USD was back testing the pivotal 1.3070 level as the New
York morning drew to a close after testing 1.2965
earlier in the session. USD/JPY rebounded over 100 pips from session lows after
retesting its historical pivot point of 95 handle. Sterling
also firmed from its 1.4520 session low, aided by the best CBI distributive
data out of the UK
since January 2008. GBP/JPY surged almost 300 pips off its 139.00 lows to probe
the 142 neighborhood.
- Dealers have also been watching the session weakness in spot gold, attributed
to long liquidation chatter. Key support remained at $860/oz level. Additional
chatter circulated that an imminent new Central Bank gold pact that might lead
to changes to increase the amount of gold that can be sold. The central banks
are currently in the fifth and final year of a Central Bank Gold Agreement (CBGA).
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Daily Forex Market News Forex news reports can be found on the forex research
headlines page below. Here you will find real-time forex market news reports
provided by respected contributors of currency trading information. Daily forex
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Forex News Real-time forex market news reports and features providing
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Mon 18 Dec
10:00 EZ- final HICP Tue 19 Dec
09:00 DE- IFO Survey
13:30 US- Housing Starts/Permits
13:30 US- Current Account Wed 20 Dec
15:00 US- Existing Homes Sales
15:30 US- EIA Crude Thu 21 Dec
03:00 JP- BOJ Decision
13:30 CA- CPI & Retail Sales
13:30 US Weely Jobless
13:30 US- GDP Fri 22 Dec
09:30 US- GB- GDP
13:30 US- core PCE Deflator & Presonal Income
15:00 US- New Homes Sales
15:00 US- final University of Michigan
17:00 US- early Closes Mon 25 Dec
00:00 Christmas Holidays
Potential Trading Opportunities
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: Medium Mon--10:00 GMT-- EZ- final November HICP. flash data are rarely changed.
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH- Medium Tue --09:00 GMT-- DE- IFO Survey. Key report but usually not a market-mover
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH- Medium- Tue --13:30 GMT-- US- Housing Starts and Permits. Leading indicators of activity
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH-Medium- Wed --15:00-- US- Existing Homes Sales. Top Housing statistic
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