- Equity indices opened a bit higher this morning despite the absence of
improvement in weekly jobless claims. Analysts estimate that auto layoffs (some
temporary) were a big factor in higher-than-expected initial claims number,
accounting for 27K of the 637K initial claims figure, which was in line when
auto-related dismissals were factored out. Note that the continuing claims data
hit their highest level on record once again. The Labor Department's PPI
reading said prices rose at a brisk pace in April after March's decline, driven
by a surge in food costs. Front-month NYMEX crude is well below $58 after the
IEA cut its world oil demand forecast for the ninth consecutive month in its
monthly report today.
- Treasury prices were higher again ahead of the open of pit trade in Chicago, but have since slipped into the
red. Yields are only marginally higher ahead of the third and final NY Fed
coupon purchase of the week. The benchmark yield is back above 3.1% while the
long bond is approaching 4.1%. There was a noticeable jump in interbank lending
rates overnight with the US 3-month LIBOR surging 5 basis
points to 0.85% to match the yield of the 2-year Treasury note. It is worth noting
though, that it did not translate into an upward move in the TED spread.
- Yesterday afternoon the Treasury and CFTC outlined their plan to regulate
over-the-counter derivative trading. The plan would set capital, reporting and
margin requirements, as well as position limits on certain instruments, with
the Treasury handing most oversight to the CFTC. Under the plan, the CFTC would
establish an "audit trail" for the derivatives and have "clear
unimpeded authority to police fraud, market manipulation and other market
abuses" involving derivatives. Shares of CME have run up 20% over recent
days on speculation the company would be a direct beneficiary of the move, with
CME+5% after the bell today, while ICE is up 4%.
- Wal-Mart's first-quarter results are apparently not having a big impact
today, with shares of WMT down a hair in early trading. The worlds biggest
retailer met earnings expectations and came in a bit under revenue estimates,
and guided in line for next quarter. The company noted that the stronger USD
reduced reported revenue by a considerable amount. Same-store sales grew by a healthy
3%. On the conference call, WMT's CEO said he is optimistic about the long term
and realistic about the short term. Kohl's reported more or less in line with
expectations and upped its full-year forecast a touch. Whole Foods' earnings
outperformed analysts expectations, but same-store sales are still falling.
- Power transmission engineering name URS is up 8% after beating earnings
expectations by a wide margin. Oil and gas services firm WSP jumped 20% before
the bell before losing ground in early trading, to around +14%, after the firm
significantly outperformed Wall Street's expectations. Shares of autoparts
giant Lear have been all over the map, dropping 14% before the open, climbing
quickly to +10% after the bell and then diving back deep into negative
territory. The company's loss was much bigger than expected, thanks to
restructuring costs and big sales declines. The tone of the conference call was
grim, with the CEO insisting that Lear wants to restructure outside of
- In currency trading, risk appetite reappeared following the weekly claims
data. The USD saw its earlier gains against the European pairs erode, but
maintained its recent overall weekly range for the most part. EUR/USD was
holding around the 1.36 area and GBP/USD hugging the 1.51 neighborhood. The
USD/JPY pair continues to gather some technical momentum below the 96.30/50
head & shoulders neckline on the charts that has developed since early Feb.
Currently the 100-day moving average providing support at the 95.10 level. The
Japanese press reported that the government would likely upgrade its economic
assessment in May. If true, this would be the first upgrade in three years.
Dealers are noting that any upgrade would be attributed to signs exports and
production are bottoming out. Overall trading has been quiet, but some rumors
of bank defaults did circulate. Dealers noting that a small Russian bank did in
fact default but it had few repercussions on price action.
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