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Tuesday May 5, 2009 - 17:08:19 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:13am EST/03:13pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow -32 S&P -7 NASDAQ -23

- Equity markets are giving up a small portion of yesterday's gains as doubt creeps in ahead of Thursday's stress test disclosures. Rhetorical hedging out of Fed Chairman Bernanke also seems to be a factor; Bernanke noted that he sees a recovery coming in late 2009, but warned that even then growth would remain below potential. Spot gold tested above the $915 level for one-week highs, with dealers calling for more upside momentum if gains above the $930/oz level are sustained. Front-month NYMEX crude is struggling to maintain the $54 handle but still well within reach of 2009 highs. Treasury markets are quiet ahead of this afternoon's 3-year not auction, with prices and yields little changed.

- Financial stocks are all over the map this morning in the wake of the Wall Street Journal's front-page assertion that 10 out of 19 banks undergoing government stress tests may need to raise capital. This news comes two days before the results of the testing are due. Topping the WSJ's list of banks in need of a bigger cushion are Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and a handful of regional banks. After the open this morning CNBC reported that banks would have one month to come up with a plan for raising the needed capital (which officials have said needs to come from private sources). Note that yesterday afternoon S&P put BoA, Citi and Wells Fargo on Watch Negative, along with ratings from a raft of other tier-1 and regional banks. S&P also warned that Citi and BoA would likely need more capital. Oppenheimer is damming the torpedoes this morning, choosing to upgrade Wells Fargo to outperform.

- In earnings, consumer-facing names continue to either meet or beat expectations. Retail powerhouse CVS reported Q1 results more or less in line with the Street, and said it was firm quarterly same-store sales growth as well. CVS's 2009 forecast was up a hair over last quarter's outlook. On the conference call, CVS's CEO said its retail business continues to perform at the top of the industry, but warned it is "not entirely recession-proof." Kraft Foods beat earnings estimates and miss a bit on the top line, but reaffirmed its solid full-year outlook. Executives at KFT said they are starting to see some signs of economic recovery but expect to continue seeing weakness in Central and Eastern Europe. Molson Coors destroyed earnings estimates, doubling its quarterly profit y/y, before the JV arrangement with SABMiller.

- Two of the gaming world's biggest names, Wynn Resorts and MGM, are both up substantially despite fairly weak earnings reports. Wynn slipped to a quarterly loss due to softness in its big Macau play. MGM's travails in the quarter are well known, although it chalked its quarterly loss up to double digit declines in slots and table games, with total casino revenue -16%. Occupancy was also "unusually soft" in the quarter. On the conference call, MGM's CEO said the quarter was "quite brutal" in Vegas, noting that he expects the convention business to be down 25% in 2009.

- Unlike its larger brethren last week, mid-cap healthcare are companies are outperforming. Managed-care name Health Net beat analysts' expectations and reaffirmed a 2009 forecast that was well above target. HealthSouth also beat earnings expectations and guided to the high end of its 2009 range. Two big pharma names were mixed, however. Drug distributor McKesson exceeded earnings estimates (ex a $0.22 investment write down) although revenue was a bit behind. Guidance for the full year also fell short of expectations. Generic drug power Teva's earning were in line, while revenues fell short of expectations.

- In currencies, EUR/USD moved back to retest highs from Asia around 1.3420, with risk appetite was behind the support for weaker USD and JPY, not to mention strength in energy and metals. Sterling continued to maintain a firm tone throughout the New York session, initially helped by the better-than-expected PMI contraction data for April. Additional GBP strength was attributed to a rumor circulating that UK consumer confidence would hit 50 (the consensus expectation is for 43); the data is scheduled to be released later today at 7pmET. GBP/USD tested above the 1.5160 level for the first time since early January, while EUR/GBP probed closer towards the key technical level of 0.8800 as it printed 0.8846 in the session. Take note also that the ECB's Nowotny cited "clear signs of improvement" in Eastern Europe, saying that the region would benefit from continued support from the IMF. CAD and AUD-related pairs were firmer on steady to higher energy and metal prices.

- Economic data will really pick steam up as the week progresses, especially with rate decisions on tap from the BoE and ECB on Thursday and key US employment figures coming out in the Wednesday through Friday period. The banking sector stress test results are expected to be made public on Thursday.


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