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Monday June 1, 2009 - 15:39:29 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:09am EST/03:09pm GMT

US Market Update

DOW +205 S&P 500 +24 Nasdaq +50

- GM's bankruptcy filing, which arrived just before 8amET, is captivating the media this morning, with front pages, home pages and talking heads discussing little else. So far equities are responding well to the long-expected news, with all three leading indices opening higher and pushing out to around 2.5% gains by mid morning, extending Friday's solid gains. The DJIA was adjusted this morning, with CSCO replacing GM, and Travelers replacing Govt capital infused Citigroup; shares of CSCO and TRV are up 4% or so on the move. On the data front, April Construction Spending was much better than expected, posting its biggest monthly gain since last August, coming a hair to the positive side at 0.8% versus expectations of -1.5%. The May ISM Manufacturing reading was in line, although traders are focusing on the much better than expected prices paid and new orders component, with the latter hitting its highest level since November 2007. Commodities continue to rally, with front-month crude pushing out yet again to six-month highs around $67.50, although gold is off earlier highs, at $977.

- Little new has emerged in the flurry of GM news this morning, with most of the details disclosed previously through waves of sources, press releases, and official comments over the course of the last few weeks. To recap, GM is still expected to emerge from Chapter 11 protection (the largest industrial bankruptcy in US history) in 60 to 90 days stripped of most debt, with ownership of 60.8% by the U.S. Treasury, 11.7% by the Canadian and Ontario governments, 17.5% by the New VEBA, and 10% by unsecured bondholders. Over in Europe, Germany brokered a deal to sell GM's Opel unit to a consortium of buyers that includes Russia's state-owned Sberbank (35% stake), Magna International (20% stake) and Opel employees (10% stake). GM will retain a 35% stake in the unit. Germany is extending €1.5B in funding for the deal, although German Chancellor Merkel was keen to mention that the Opel situation is putting US-German relationship under strain. Note that there have also been multiple reports over the weekend that fellow bankrupt automaker Chrysler is expected to emerge from bankruptcy as soon as today. And also note that the CEO of auto retailers AutoNation told CNBC this morning that he believes annual auto sales will be back over 14M units in five years, up from the dismal forecasts for 9M in overall sales in 2009.

- Morgan Stanley and Citigroup have closed early on the launch of their joint venture, which combines Morgan Stanley's wealth management unit with Citi's Smith Barney division in a new unit called Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. The JV was originally scheduled to launch in Q3. Morgan holds a 51% stake in the venture, which generates about $14B in net revenue a year. Goldman Sachs has sold $1.9B worth of shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, representing nearly 20% of Goldman's 4.93% stake in the Chinese bank, which is the world's biggest lender by market value. Regional bank Zions Bancorp popped 7% before the open after announcing debt and stock sales to shore up its balance sheet, although shares were down to +3% by mid morning. SunTrust also launched a $1.4B common stock sale, although shares of the regional bank are down 2% on the dilutive news.

- In currencies, the strong risk appetite sparked by China and India's PMI data continued to build in the New York session, finally weakening JPY against its major pairs. EUR/JPY and GBP/JPY exhibited several hundred pip moves in the session on the returning risk appetite. Commodity currencies held onto most of their earlier gains despite some retrenchment in the energy and metals. Canadian GDP data was a bit better than expectations, but a slight back-month downward revision prompted a modest bout of profit-taking in CAD. There has been a degree of verbal intervention from some G20 central bankers. The South African Reserve Bank's Mboweni noted that the current level in the rand could mitigate inflation, but its strength was unwelcome for balance in the economy. The Russian Central Bank's Ignatiev said there has been excessive strengthening of the ruble from the real economy's point of view. However, he vowed to maintain volatility as the ruble moved toward a free-float regime. EUR/USD ended the NY morning around the 1.42 area. Dealers are pondering whether the "threshold of pain" around the 1.50 area discussed by the German Exporter Association back in the days prior to the global recession remains intact.



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