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Tuesday June 2, 2009 - 15:40:47 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:33am EST/03:33pm GMT

US Market Update

Dow +18 S&P +1 NASDAQ +6

- Some of the most high profile US financial institutions are back in the spotlight this morning with a fresh round of capital raising following the Fed's updated guidelines for repaying TARP. Technical moves are also part of the mix, after the DJIA surged into positive territory for the year around 10amEST, after breaking through the 200-day moving average. All three leading US equity indices popped higher on these developments (the S&P500 broke above its 200-day MA yesterday morning) and then immediately pulled back a bit. The National Association of Realtor's April pending home sales are also a factor, blowing out expectations (6.7% v 0.5%e) for the biggest upwards move since late 2001. The NAR's chief economist noted that buyers are responding to very favorable market conditions and the first-time buyer tax credit, since buyers have to finalize their purchase by November 30 to get the tax chit. Commodity prices were initially consolidating even backing up slightly, but the late NY morning saw a fresh round of weakness the Dollar which in turn supported prices. July crude holding around $68.50 little changed on the day. Spot gold is up $4 just below $980.

- US Treasury prices opened for floor trade on the upside as yields retreated from yesterdays run at the multi-month highs made last week. The US benchmark spread is back towards 170 basis points though, as prices came off and yields rose following the better than expected pending home sales data. The 10-year is hovering around unchanged with a yield of 3.67%.

- Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan are in the market selling shares today in order to pay back TARP funds. Morgan Stanley sold 80.2M shares at $27.44/shr for a total of around $2.2B, while JP Morgan is selling 142M shares at $35.25/shr for a total of around $5B. Bank of America updated investors on its capital raising process, noting that has raised almost all of the $33.9B required by the government in the stress tests. Regional bank KeyCorp also boosted its common stock offering a bit higher, up to $1B from $750M. Deutsche Bank and Moody's have both made bearish comments on the big banks. In a note, DB insisted that banks aren't done raising capital, while Moody's see many banks as continuing to be unprofitiable in 2009 and will need to continue their capital raises. BAC is outperforming its rivals in early trading, keeping in positive territory, while the other leading banks are well into the red. Note also that Fed Governor Plosser told the FT that the Fed should not be involved in financing toxic assets that date from the bubble era, calling the move a "bridge too far."

- In other equity news, shares of Cardinal Health are down 9% after the firm raised its dividend and reaffirmed FY09 guidance at their investor's day. Shares of ABC and MCK fell a hair in sympathy, but are nearly back to even mid morning. PBG is up 3% or so after raising their forecast for Q2, although the company also trimmed its 2009 outlook. LGF is down 10% after reporting a larger-than-expected loss for FY09. UNFI is up 15% after outperforming estimates in its Q3 earnings.

- In currencies, the dollar is continuing to hit multi-month lows against the European pairs thanks to growing concerns about central banks diversifying reserves away from the greenback. Russian President Medvedev brought up the idea of replacing USD as reserve currency with a basket of currencies again, an idea that was floated ahead of the London G20 summit back late March. The comment was evidently preparing the way for the upcoming summit of BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to discuss common issues. Dealers are keenly aware of recent comments from a Brazilian minister in late May, to the effect that BRIC nations would discuss the USD and might take actions to lessen dependence on it (most likely by developing a currency basket).

- EUR/USD hit fresh 2009 highs as it tested the 1.4280 level where there were reports it met some stealth selling by the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). The euro consolidated its gains following some sources comments about the ECB policy meeting on Thursday. The ECB is reportedly planning to consider more asset purchases, while commentary from ECB members indicates the bank remains wary of all the "green shoots" talk. The bank still has room to lower interest rates but the timing of any rate moves has not been specified. The yen weakened following April pending home sales, which helped to bring another shot of risk appetite into the market. EUR/JPY is around 137.10, up 40 pips from its opening level in Asia while GBP/JPY climbed near the 159 handle.


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