- The weak April retail sales data is weighing down US
equity trading this morning as the rally continues to flatten out in the wake
of earnings season and the stress tests. The Commerce Department reported that
April retail sales declined 0.4%, while economists had been expecting them to
be flat. Also note that the March figure was revised downward slightly.
Front-month crude has been below yesterday's highs, around $59 after OPEC noted
in its monthly report that members' compliance with output cuts has slipped to
the 77% from above 82%. Energy products briefly rallied following weekly
inventory data from both the API and DOE which showed surprising draw downs in
both crude and gasoline inventories, but any gains have been muted thus far by
the weakness in stocks.
- Treasury prices are rallying for the second straight session as traders
unwind a portion of the recent rotation we have seen from bonds to stocks. With
no Treasury auctions scheduled this week and a third Fed coupon purchase on tap
for tomorrow yields have moved decidedly lower over the past two sessions. The
benchmark yield is nearing 3.1% while the long bond is sub 4.1%. Corporate debt
issuance continues to explode. JPM and AXP announced non FDIC backed offerings
this morning in hopes that the door to pay back TARP money will be opening up
soon. We have also seen a slew of lower quality higher yielding offerings come
to market over the past few sessions.
- Shares of the tier-1 US banks slipped before the open this morning as the
realities of the current market have begun sinking in on investors, now that
earnings and stress tests are behind us. RealtyTrac offered a dose of dismal
April data, noting that US foreclosures were +32% y/y and up one percent from
the prior month, hitting their highest level since the data series began in
2005. More ominously, the organization said foreclosures should only grow given
that temporary freezes on the practice ended in March. Citi expanded its
program to convert preferred stock to common equity, adding another 1.6B shares
to the effort. Citi now plans to exchange $33B in preferred shares, up from
$27.5B. The WSJ reported that the US
government is looking at ways to alter compensation across the financial
industry, including legislation, SEC regulation or moral persuasion. And last
but not least, Freddie Mac reported a $9.8B loss and said it will need another
$6B in capital from the Treasury.
- The flood of secondary offerings continues, prompting many commentators to
see in the offers more evidence of some kind of temporary top in equities.
BB&T priced 75M shares at $20 last night; shares of BBT opened about -10%,
right above the offering price, and have gained a little ground in mid morning
trading. Ford's 300M secondary priced at $4.75, with shares opening -4%,
dropping briefly below $4.75 before heading up toward the $5 handle.
- Chip maker Applied Materials met analysts' diminished earning expectations,
and managed to outperform revenue targets. But the company's Q2 results were
weak, with gross margin retreating to 15% versus 44% y/y and its forecast for
next quarter's earnings well below expectations. Intel confirmed that it is
being fined $1.5B by the EU Commission. Representatives of the company took
strong exception to the move, noting that the ruling ignores the reality of a
highly competitive industry. Clearwire formed an alliance with Cisco to develop
4G mobile internet services. And Verizon reached a deal to sell wireline phone
service areas outside its main Northeastern and Californian territories to
Frontier Communications for $5.3B in Frontier stock and $3.3B in other payouts.
Shares of DPS and ANN are up 5%, while M is down 5%. LIZ is down -20%.
- In earnings, Doctor Pepper Snapple beat the Street and raised its full-year
forecast. Macy's quarterly loss was smaller than expected, and the company said
it could beat its fairly weak 2009 forecast if the economy picks up in the
second half. Ann Taylor also offered some upbeat news, guiding its Q1 loss as
smaller than analysts are predicting. Liz Claiborne is not doing so well,
missing across the board as sales among all its major brands continue to decline
at a double-digit pace.
- The news flow from both Europe and North American
popped into high gear on Wednesday, with the USD recovering some of its recent
losses against the European pairs aided by a renewed sense of risk aversion.
Mixed Chinese economic data, soft Euro Zone Industrial Production data and weak
US retail sales
data help the USD and JPY firm up in early New York
trading. Dealers said the shortfall in April retail sales coupled with the
downward revision in prior month was a factor, noting that the data suggested
rising unemployment was prompting consumers to save more.
- EUR/USD tested the 1.3570 level but was unable to garner enough strength to
make fresh weekly lows. The 1.3550 level is proving to be formidable support in
the pair. JPY was broadly firmer among the majors with USD/JPY hugging the
96.00 level for the bulk of the morning. The JPY's advance against its European
counterparts was even more impressive, with EUR/JPY off 80 pips at 130.80 while
GBP/JPY tested below 145 level before retracing. Sterling
recovered from its losses earlier in the trading day after the BoE said any
economic recovery would be weaker and slower than previously suggested. GBP/USD
re-approached the 1.51 area after testing the 1.5090 level. Like the euro, GBP
did not make any fresh weekly low in today's sell off against the USD.
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