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Wednesday May 20, 2009 - 16:38:03 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:29am EST/03:29pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +52 S&P +9.5 NASDAQ +22

- US equities made up for yesterday afternoon's sell off in the pre-market this morning, with all three major indices opening stronger and extending gains in the early going. Equities turned over in the wake of a National Association of Realtors report, which indicated Q1 real estate activity was -12.9% y/y and -4.88% q/q, and forecasted a continued reduction in commercial real estate activity for next 6-9 months. Front-month NYMEX crude tested above $62 to hit six-month highs before trading off a bit with equities, while gold breeched $940/oz. Commodities are getting a boost from real weakness in the greenback, with the euro, pound, loonie and Swiss Franc all making fresh multi-month highs against the dollar.

- Treasury Secretary Geithner is testifying before the Senate this morning on the financial sector. This comes after the Treasury said the vaunted Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) would commence within the next six weeks, in line with recent comments on timing out of the White House and the FDIC. Note that yesterday the FDIC had said it might go ahead with plans to float a "pilot sale" of toxic "legacy" assets without any government financing, implying that there could be a part of the program lacking a "public" component, although the Treasury has said nothing regarding this proposal today. Geither has also noted that there is $124B of funding left in TARP. In addition, the Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama Administration is working out plans to give a Federal agency authority to police mortgages and other consumer-oriented financial products as part of the broader overhaul of financial regulation.

- Shares of Bank of America are up 8% in the early going after the company confirmed that it has sold 1.25B shares since May 8th, or just short of 20% of its market cap, worth $13.5B, in its quest to satisfy government capital requirements that emerged from the stress test. The bank also said it is considering a conversion of preferred shares to common equity as the means to raise the rest. Citi has also risen somewhat in the early going, while the rest of the leading banks have dropped into negative territory.

- In earnings, Target outperformed in the first quarter, beating earnings expectations and meeting revenue targets. Executives displayed confidence on the conference call, noting that the credit card business is improving, economic conditions seem to be stabilizing a bit. Warehouse retailer BJ's came in more or less even with expectations and guided in line. TGT is up 6%, while BJ has steadily sunk into the red after making modest gains before the open. Manufacturing giant Deere was a bit ahead of the Street, although its sales guidance for the next quarter and the rest of the year still projects big double-digit declines. HP reported in line yesterday after the close. Shares of the tech giant are headed lower in early trading, down 5% as investors focus on the firm's weaker revenue forecasts. Troubled homebuilder Toll Brothers reported preliminary second-quarter revenue results, noting that revenue was running ahead of expectations. The CFO warned, however, that numerous other aspects of the overall economy are keeping the outlook unclear at this point.

- In currencies, higher commodity prices in both energy and metals fed into broad USD weakness during the New York session. The dollar was lower against its major European, Asian and North American counterparts as several critical levels were breeched. Market participants continue to believe that the worst of the financial and global crisis is over and risk appetite continues to rise. The Portugal Finance Minister shook things up this morning, stating that the EU has no concerns over stronger a euro, also forecasting that the EU economy would hit bottom in current quarter, helping to propel EUR/USD above the 1.3650 level to test just below 1.38, its highest level since the first week of the year. Dealers are now eyeing the 1.3740 as the key short-term pivot point for insight on the directional momentum in the pair.

- The GBP/USD hit fresh 6-months highs and broke above the 200-day moving average of for the first time last July as it tested 1.5625. USD/CHF dipped below the 1.0980 level during the course of the NY morning to also retest its lowest level since Jan 5th. The loony hit fresh seven-month highs against the USD as the USD/CAD pair kissed 1.1400. Looking ahead, the focus will turn towards the BoJ policy meeting later this week and to see whether it decides to accept foreign debt as collateral for its funding operations. The BoJ is expected to upgrade its economic assessment in the upcoming monthly report. USD/JPY was at 95.30 as the New York morning wound down.


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