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Thursday May 21, 2009 - 16:22:18 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:19am EST/03:19pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow -151 S&P -17.4 NASDAQ -3

- The sell-off that got started yesterday afternoon following the release of the April 29th FOMC minutes has carried over to NY morning trade, with US equity indices opening down and heading lower. The downbeat message of the Fed minutes, with its outlook for a steeper GDP decline and greater unemployment in 2009, has been compounded by yet another all-time high in weekly jobless claims. The May Philly Fed Index was slightly lower than expected (although employment and inventory subcomponents were markedly better than in April). The Congressional Budget Office added its two cents, noting that its March economic forecast was too optimistic and would be revised lower. On the brighter side, Radar Logic said in March home prices rose on a m/m basis in 11 of the 25 metropolitan areas it monitors in the RPX 25-MSA, while in six more areas prices decreased less in March than in February, marking at least a less bad if not better trend in home values. Last night, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said things have unquestionably improved globally, with "extraordinary improvement" in the Libor-OIS spread. The US 3-month TED spread drifted below 50 basis points.

- Front-month NYMEX crude is come off the highs of recent days, falling nearly $2 to trade around $60 eyeing the weak stock action. June natural Gas is swooning 7% to trade at $3.66 down almost a full dollar from the May high made a little more than a week ago. Weekly inventories rose by a robust 103 BCF in the latest week. Other commodities are generally lower across the board as the selling the Dollar takes a breather. Copper -4% while Corn and Wheat give back 1.5%.

- US Treasuries were the early beneficiary of weak stocks and continued momentum from yesterday's FOMC minutes. Prices have moved lower though, since the Treasury said they would be selling another $101B in notes next week. The 10-year yield is just below 3.2%.

- In tech, strong earnings reports from Tech Data, Intuit and Brocade are helping these three firms buck the trend this morning, with shares of all three up around 10% in early trading, while shares of Suntech power are getting bogged down by the firm's 20M secondary offering (12.8% of shares outstanding) despite better than expected Q1 results. Suntech managed a $0.01 per share profit and guided moderate revenue growth next quarter, outperforming results from fellow solar names JASO and SOLF earlier this week. STP's CEO said that Europe continued to be the biggest source of solar demand in the first quarter, although it expect further market diversification due to recently introduced stimulus initiatives in high potential markets.

- Another round of retailers released varying first quarter results yesterday and today. Department store retailer Stein Mart is the standout, doubling its profit on a y/y basis and blowing out consensus estimates for the quarter, despite an 8% decline in same-store sales. Note that the firm's gross margins in the quarter doubled on a q/q basis, while its effective tax rate was down significantly thanks to the deployment of various deferred tax assets. Shares of SMRT are up around 50%. On the other hand, GameStop and New York & Co. are both down more than 18% after more or less in line results. GME's guidance for the next quarter was below consensus estimates, while NWY forecasted another big quarterly loss in Q2 (versus expectations of a small profit. Shares of Buckle, Ross Stores and Barnes & Noble are up 5-8% after strong quarterly results. Note that BKS managed to cut it loss to a much smaller figure, and expects to be profitable next quarter.

- In currencies, the economic data weighed on risk appetite with some retracement of earlier sharp moves during the New York session. Sterling managed to claw its way back to only small losses sustained against the major pairs after S&P's big call as UK officials and rating agencies did their best to reassure markets about Britain's budget situation. The euro saw some of its strength whittled away as dealers focused on press speculation that Spanish regional bank Caja Madrid might skip interest payments on two bonds due to rising defaults on mortgages backing the debt, the first halt in such payments by a Spanish bank during the financial crisis. EUR/USD moved off overnight highs of 1.3839 to test the 1.3730 area during the New York morning. EUR/GBP moved off its 0.8870 highs to drift back towards the 0.8865 area. CHF was softer on chatter the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) was "checking prices" in EUR/CHF. Commodity currencies moved off their best levels as oil retreated from its six-month highs on concerns over the 'shape' of any economic recovery. USD/CAD retesting its pivotal hourly level of 1.1480.


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