- Investors have begun the week selling equities, with US stock indices opening
in the red and the DJIA and S&P500 staying there through mid morning. The
Nasdaq has popped into positive territory as buyers step in looking for deals
after three days of relative underperformance. Front-month NYMEX crude has
regained the $1 it lost overnight to trade around $58. US Treasury prices are
rallying with the first of three coupon purchases by the NY Fed scheduled for
this week adding to the upside momentum.
- Capital One, US
Bancorp and BBT Corp launched significant share offerings (COF 13% of market
cap, USB 7% market cap, BBT 10% of market cap) this morning in order to pay
back their TARP borrowing. All three banks had been declared "adequately
capitalized" under the government's stress testing program. Morgan Stanley
arranged another $600M in support via a common equity investment by Mitsubishi
UFJ, after pricing around $3.5B worth of stock on Friday. MUFG is reportedly
swapping some of the preferred stock it acquired earlier for common shares.
This orgy of dilution comes after Richmond Fed President Lacker said over the
weekend that the Federal government should limit its aid to financial
companies, as the aid could prompt excessive risk taking. Warren Buffett's
Berkshire Hathaway reported a $1.5B loss after the close on Friday, thanks to a
write down of its ConocoPhillips investment and unrealized derivative losses.
This was the company's first loss since 2001. Buffett had already acknowledged
the mistake of buying COP stock when oil and gas prices were near their peak.
- Over the weekend the NY Times published a very cautious survey of the US
credit card market. According to the recent stress test results, the 19 largest
US banks could see more than $82B in credit card losses by the end of 2010
under what was classified as a "worst case" scenario. If unemployment
moves above 10%, losses at some banks could far exceed that level. AXP and DFS
were down 5%, while MA and V were down 2% on the news.
- In earnings, satellite TV names Dish Network and close partner Echostar
offered diverging quarterly results. DISH is up 15% this morning after
outperforming analysts' estimates, although it also said it lost 94K
subscribers (with total subscribers of 13.6M at the end of the quarter). SATS
reported a small loss, sending its shares down 4% in early trading. Shares of
Virgin mobile are on fire, rising more than 25% before the bell and sustaining those
gains in the early going, after the firm blew out earnings estimates. In other
news, Agrium raised its offer for CF Industries by 14% to $40/shr, plus stock;
CF said it is considering the offer.
- In currencies, the firmer USD and JPY pairs have maintained strength against
their European counterparts in New York
trading. After testing above the 1.3650 level, EUR/USD hovered below 1.3590 for
the bulk of the New York morning.
Dealers noted that the revised US
deficit projections from the White House Budget Office curbed some of the
dollar's upside momentum. Several factors were cited for the stronger JPY,
including press articles from the weekend insisting that the crisis in
financial markets was not over. In addition, there was continued chatter that Japan's
FSA might amend the FX margin requirement to curb currency speculation. EUR/JPY
tested 132.05 before consolidating its gains, while GBP/JPY lost around 350
pips at one point to test 146.75 area. EUR/GBP moved back above the 0.90 level
in a trend that ensued following last Thursday's BoE and ECB monetary policy
decisions on quantitative easing.
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