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Friday May 1, 2009 - 15:41:28 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:23am EST/03:23pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +19 S&P 500 +1 Nasdaq +0.30

- US equity trading was mixed this morning after a notably lower session in the early going. Things picked up more or less where they left off yesterday afternoon, continuing the post-Chrysler bankruptcy slide to the downside. More green shoots seen in data momentarily took things higher, with better-than-expected final University of Michigan Confidence and April ISM Manufacturing numbers. Traders are paying attention to the much improved new orders component of the ISM data. Note that the U of Michigan Confidence index registered its largest one-month increase since October 2006. Then mid morning CNBC announced that the Treasury had pushed the release of the stress tests back to May 7th, noting that the publicly available information will include capital needs for each bank and estimated losses for certain loan categories, which has helped the DJIA nearly recoup its losses for the day. Front-month NYMEX crude is pushing out to its highest level of the week, gaining a $1.50 to test over $52. Yesterday closed out a very strong month of trading, with the DJIA up 685 points (+9%) in April, the Nasdaq up 212 points (+14%) and the S&P500 up 79 points (+9.9%).

- Citigroup has finally chosen a buyer for its Japanese retail brokerage operation, Nikko Cordial Securities, ending its attempts to build a full-service operation in Japan. Sumitomo Mitsui will buy the unit for ¥774.5B ($7.9B) and also tie up with Citi in a wholesale and investment banking alliance. The deal is expected to close at the beginning of October.

- Earnings from insurance giants MetLife and Hartford Financial fell short of expectations, with both names missing estimates on the bottom line as weaker markets cut into their businesses across the board. Hartford has been much harder hit than Met, with the firm reporting its third consecutive quarterly loss and slashing its full-year forecast to a broad range that's just above breakeven at its lower end. The company is severely limiting its overseas activities, suspending writing new business in Japan and the UK, and putting on ice plans to launch sales in Germany. Note that MasterCard's earnings were better than expected, although on the conference call an executive did warn that the firm's 2009 revenue growth would fall short of its annual long-term growth target of 12%.

- Dow component and second-largest US oil company Chevron beat the Street this morning, with revenues well ahead of estimates. Quarterly profit was down 64% y/y, making for an even steeper drop than Exxon's 58% y/y profit drop yesterday. Like the rest of the energy sector, the firms are dealing with what various OPEC officials refer to as the reality of $50 crude. Note that Reliant Energy is down more than 15% after completing the sale of its Texas retail business to NRG.

- In other earnings, consumer names Dean Foods, Fortune Brands and Chiquita offered strong quarterly earnings, with all three firms beating analysts' EPS expectations. Full-year guidance at the three was firm and without surprises. Shares of DryShips are up 14% after the firm exceeded expectations and provided insight into their operations. Shares of Manitowoc have been hoisted up 20% on a very mixed earnings report, with the firm beating on an adjusted basis (and in the red thanks to hefty impairment charges).

- International data is aiding the climate of risk appetite: China's April PMI Manufacturing came in at 53.5, compared to the prior reading of 52.4, for its highest level in a year and the second consecutive month of expansion. European PMI readings in Ireland, UK and Denmark also improved on prior readings. Note that the US PMI manufacturing continued this trend as well, with a 65.1 reading above the 61.9 estimate. But these hopeful figures are being balanced by chatter that the EU Commission will forecast a 6.0% deficit-to-GDP for EU bloc for 2009, with a forecast of 3.9% for Germany and 8.6% for Spain. The Maastricht Treaty binds most EU member states to maintain debt-to-GDP ratios of 3.0%. EUR/USD ending the NY morning at 1.3250 area and little changed from opening levels in Tokyo. USD/CAD is again testing its 200-day moving average at 1.1855, failing to sustain any momentum below that level. That specific moving avg has not been breached since late May 2008.


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