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Friday May 22, 2009 - 15:49:30 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 10:57am EST/02:57pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +54 S&P +5.5 NASDAQ +7

- US equity indices have see-sawed this morning as skittish investors continue talk about S&P's shot across the bow of Britain's AAA sovereign rating. In the premarket investors kept up the buying seen late in yesterday's session, with trade yo-yoing into and then out of negative territory in the first hour. PIMCO's El-Erian summed up the mood on CNBC, noting that market participants are concerned about the long-term sustainability of the Federal government's balance sheet, in the light of the government's short term goals. Front-month NYMEX crude is hovering around even for the session, at $61. Front month natural gas tested $3.50, off more than $1 from the multi-month highs made less than two weeks ago.

- The downside momentum in Treasury prices resumed following the open of pit trade in Chicago. The sell off that started yesterday just before noon sent the 10-year yield above 3.4% for the first time since last November. The benchmark spread continues to trade at the widest levels in more than 7 months moving above 250 basis points.

- Investors have been eying the credit card reform bill working it way through Congress over the last few weeks. Last night the Senate passed the legislation, with its associated credit card "Bill of Rights"; the next step is a conference committee to reconcile the bills, followed by the president's virtually guaranteed signature. The WSJ's Heard on the Street wrote today that the days of easy profits for credit card names are over, thanks to the legislation and accounting rule changes that will force companies to bring large amounts of off balance sheet loans back on the books. BofA/Merrill Lynch are not so downbeat, as analysts at the firm raised their price targets on AXP, COF and DFS (although they left the Underperform ratings on all three untouched). In a related story, JP Morgan shifted a portion of its debt card users to Visa from MasterCard, affecting more than half of MA's $59B portfolio of debit card users. A MasterCard spokesperson insisted the move would not have any material impact on revenue.

- Florida bank BankUnited was shut down by the OTS and handed over to the FDIC last night, making for the largest bank failure of 2009 and the biggest hit to the FDIC since IndyMac collapsed last fall. It has reopened as a newly chartered savings bank, owned by an investor group including the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group, Centerbridge Partners and WL Ross & Co.

- In earnings, apparel retailers Gap and Aeropostale reported in line with estimates. Guidance from Aeropostale, which continues to dramatically outperform other mall chains with positive double-digit same-store sales, was well ahead of estimates for next quarter. Foot Locker had an impressive first quarter, beating analyst estimates by a wide margin. FL and ARO rose 5% before the open and rapidly gave up their gains after the bell, with FL plunging as much as -10% before cutting its losses. Solar names LDK and Yingli both reported much larger than expected losses, and Yingli missed revenue targets significantly. Both firms have been hit hard by the crisis and the withdrawal of various government subsidies for buying solar panels. Shares of YGE were up 5% at the open but rapidly sunk to -5% early on. LDK opened down 5% and is presently around -15%. Shares of are 10% despite a strong quarterly performance, with investors evidently unhappy about weak guidance for the coming quarter.

- In currencies, concern about the implications of a potential US sovereign rating downgrade continued to weigh on dollar sentiment. Dealers are saying that the size of next week's Treasury auction as well as the ratings fears are putting any prospect of a near-term dollar recovery on ice. One dealer noted that the recent equity-dollar correlation trend might drift toward a stronger bond/dollar correlation. EUR/USD tested above 1.4000 level during the session, a level last tested back on Jan 2nd.


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