- US stocks opened higher but have been drifting lower after the expected
Treasury announcement on the banks cleared to repay TARP funds. Investors are
evidently selling the news, after a buying surge late yesterday afternoon.
Other cautious voices on the financial system have been heard, with Fed
Governor Fisher warning again that some banks are still too big to fail and a
Congressional bailout oversight panel stating that the stress tests might have
to be repeated. Yale economist Robert Schiller told Bloomberg TV that "We
may have a recovery, but I suspect it will be a disappointing one."
Front-month crude is strong again this morning, trading up above $69 while gold
is back above $950. The Greenback came under a fresh bout of selling pressure
after Goldman Sachs made a technical call by the Euro against the Dollar.
Yields continue to give back some of the recent gains with some steepening
across the curve. The 2-year has given back more than 10 basis points from the
highs yesterday to dip back below 1.3%. Later today the US Treasury is auctioning
off $35B in 3-year notes.
- After the close last night, the Fed approved the capital raising plans for
the 10 banks that were deemed in need of extra capital in the government's
stress tests. The WSJ later reported that the Treasury would approve $50B worth
of TARP paybacks this morning, while further press speculation about which
institutions would be cleared to repay continued through the US
open. In the end, Tresury Secretary Geithner stated just after the open of
trading that 10 banks holding a total of $68B in TARP had been approved for
repayment (without naming any individual firms); confirmation from the banks
themselves has been hitting the wires since that time. For the record, Geithner
noted that more than 600 banks have taken $199B in TARP funding.
- Since the announcement, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, American Express, Capital
One, Bank of New York, US Bancorp, State Street BB&T Corp and Northern
Trust have confirmed TARP repayments. AXP and COF are about the only names to
make significant gains on the news, with the two credit card companies up as
much as 4% on the news, although AXP is off its best levels. Most of the rest
of these names are trading around even or in negative territory.
- Apple is trading around even in the wake of its big iPhone news yesterday.
Multiple analysts raised price targets and made positive comments on the name
overnight. BoA/Merrill Lynch believes the new iPhone are likely to put some
near-term pressure on Research In Motion to move faster on user interface
innovation, although indicated that RIMM isn't that threatened by the
development. Shares of RIMM are up 2% today, while shares of PALM, which
released its competing Pre smartphone last weekend, are back around even after
rising as much as 5% after the open. Nuance and especially TomTom are riding
Apples coattails on the iPhone news, as software from both firms are integral
to the phone's speech recognition and GPS capabilities. Share of NUAN are up
more than 3% today, while the Netherlands-listed shares of TomTom have shot up
- In other equity news, Texas Instruments offered an upbeat mid-quarter update
yesterday, guiding Q2 results well above expectations and saying that the
semiconductor industry is making incremental improvements. Shares of TXN are up
6%, while the SMH is up 3% on the good news. Truck maker Navistar missed
earnings and revenue targets by quite a bit, and slashed its 2009 forecast
nearly in half. Navistar's CEO was not sunny on the economy, noting that the
recovery will likely take longer than expected, leading to the worst market
conditions for the firm in nearly half a century. NAV opened down 5% but has
risen back into positive territory in early trading. Apparel retailers Men's
Warehouse and Talbots both did markedly better than expected in Q1. MW was
solidly profitable (versus expectations for a small loss), while Talbot's
quarterly loss was half the expected amount. Talbot's CEO said the company saw
a substantial rebound in merchandise margin from the fourth quarter and is
seeing strength in key categories. Shares of MW are up 15%, while TLB is off
opening highs around even.
- The greenback and commodity prices were back in sync during the New
York session, reinforced
by a research note from Goldman Sachs that discussed five reasons for a weak
dollar, including rising risk appetite, the continued climb in commodity prices
and lingering doubts about the reserve currency issue. EUR/USD moved above the
1.3900 handle as New York traders
took the helm and proceeded to test above the 1.420 level before consolidating.
The reserve currency question is likely to have continued momentum as the BRIC
meeting later this month is expected to discuss the issue. There has been more
talk about an SDR as a new synthetic reserve currency, which has in turn
undermined confidence in the currently dominant reserve currency over the last
six weeks. The current IMF SDR basket contains about 40% USD and 37% for the
EUR, compared to the current share of about 60% USD and 30% for the EUR in
central bank reserves globally.
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