- Equity trading is sluggish and downbeat this morning, with the three major US
indices opening in the red and heading lower in the early going. With no major
data releases to set the trend, investors are fretting ahead of the disclosure
of which banks have been cleared to repay TARP funds. In addition, there is
some tension from the Chrysler bankruptcy, as a decision is also expected soon
from the US Supreme Court on whether the body will hear a challenge from a
group of Indiana pension funds over the auto manufacturer's deal with Fiat or
not. Front-month NYMEX crude is back above $68 after dropping as low as $67
overnight. The US Treasury curve continues to flatten with the benchmark spread
moving below 250 basis points. Short term yields are ticking up with the 2-year
approaching 1.38% while long term yields are lower.
- Investors are waiting for official news from federal officials on which banks
will be allowed to repay TARP funds, with an announcement expected as soon as
today. Various reports have indicated Goldman, American Express and JP Morgan
would be among the first banks granted approval to repay government funds,
while Morgan Stanley is also reportedly pressing hard to cleared as well.
Shares of JP Morgan are outperforming this morning, up 1% or so while nearly
all the other big bank names are in the red. Over the weekend Bank of America
Chairman Massey said the board is taking a "fresh look" at the
company's succession plan for CEO Lewis. This comment comes after there were
press reports on Friday that the FDIC was leaning on Citigroup to oust CEO
Pandit. In other financials news, Barclays said it might take a 20% stake in
BlackRock as part of the latter's purchase of Barclays Global Investors.
- Apple is holding its software developers' conference today, where many
analysts expect the company to roll out new, less expensive iPhone models. Any
news is expected after the keynote begins around 1pmEST. Shares of AAPL are
down 10% or so in early trading, while competitors RIMM and PALM are down about
2% or so. Note that Palm's Pre smartphone was launched this weekend,
exclusively with Sprint.
- In other equity news, Cardinal Health fine tuned its 2009 forecast at an investor
presentation this morning, guiding to the low end of its prior $3.50-3.60
range. Talbots said it would sell its J.Jill unit to private capital group
Golden Gate Capital for $75M. Rambus withdrew some patents from the ITC
proceedings against NVIDIA.
- In currencies, the greenback remained steady against the European pairs and
consolidated its earlier gains thanks to rising shorter-term interest rates and
lingering concerns over the health of European government fiscal and commercial
banking sectors. The earlier S&P downgrade of Irish corporate debt is also
a factor. Dealers are noting that German state-controlled bank WestLB AG
reportedly came close to being shut down at crisis talks over the weekend.
EUR/USD was probing the lower end of the 1.38 handle during New
York trading. IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn noted that an
recovery was not possible until banks are cleansed of their toxic assets and
warned that a large portion of losses currently carried on banks balance sheet
have not yet been disclosed. Both the AUD and CAD currency pairs were weaker
and lower third portion of the session range.
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