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Friday July 17, 2009 - 18:01:07 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Today 11:03am EST/03:03pm GMT
US Market Update

Dow -11.5 S&P -4 NASDAQ -8

- The impetus to buy stocks following the Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan results earlier this week seems to be wearing off today, with US equity indices are headed sideways in early trading. Citi and Bank of America offered uninspiring quarterly results and investors dumping shares of GE, leaving few catalists that would keep things rolling. Nevertheless, investors are consolidating what looks to be the best week for the major indices in months. The June housing starts and building permits totals were both better than expected, and the prior month's housing starts were revised higher. Some are seeing signs of hope in the crisis at CIT, which has started frantic talks with various parties to sell units and managed not to upset markets as much as might have been expected. PIMCO's Crescenzi said markets are taking the situation in stride, and their reaction shows stability returning to the system. Front-month NYMEX crude is up more than a buck this morning, trading above $63.

- Treasury prices have continued to trend lower following yesterday's hiatus, with some acceleration following the better than expected housing data. Yields have moved out to their highest levels in nearly 3 weeks as stocks consolidate gains in what looks to be the best week in months. The long bond yield has regained 4.5% while the 2-year is back at 1%. With the 10-year yield back above 3.6% the benchmark spread widened out to more than 260 basis points.

- Citigroup's Q2 earnings were something of a mirage: on the one hand, the bank racked up a $4.2B profit in the quarter thanks to the sale of Smith Barney to Morgan Stanley. But after backing out these gains, quarterly losses were only slightly better than expected. Bank of America's Q2 earnings were slightly better than expected, but hardly the blowout craved by many investors. The loss provisions, write downs and charge offs continue to rise at both BoA and Citi, with BoA's non-performing assets rising significantly on a sequential basis (the firm put special emphasis on trouble in commercial real estate) and Citi's total write downs rising to $6.57B in the quarter. BoA CEO Lewis did not that the integration of Merrill Lynch is on track and meeting goals, and expects his firm to see "normalized earnings" in 2010. Citi and BoA are making low single-digit gains in early trading, with most other major financial names in positive territory.

- General Electric was the other big earnings story of the morning. GE beat bottom-line expectations but slipped a bit on revenue, thanks to the impact of FX and declines in its industrial segments hit by the recession. Shares of GE are down 4%, but off their worst levels. The company has discontinued giving guidance, but it did talk a lot about its outlook on the conference call, noting that its FY09 outlook for non-finance related profits are "little changed" and warned that equipment revenue would be down 10-15% y/y in 2010. CEO Immelt said GE Capital is profitable, and also said he is seeing big improvements in capital markets. GE's CFO warned consumer lending losses are trending below forecasts and said GE's outlook on commercial real estate remains cautious.

- Tech giants IBM and Google both managed to beat Wall Street's earnings expectations, although revenue results at both companies were lukewarm. IBM's better profits certainly stemmed from its improved margin performance, as revenue declined in all of its major divisions. Big Blue remains positive looking forward, raising its 2009 earnings forecast and offering a glimpse of its FY10 outlook that was above the consensus. Google managed to grow margins, meet revenue expectations and keep top-line growth in positive territory, and on the conference call said that business has stabilized and cheerfully said that that large advertisers have "come back to the table." Investors are not impressed, however, and shares of GOOG are down 3% this morning. Shares of IBM are up 3% in the early going.

- Following a relatively quiet overnight session, the greenback has maintained some strength during the New York session, with EUR/USD holding above 1.4050 and chatter circulating that some decent euro sell stops are lurking below this level. With US housing starts hitting their highest level since last November, dealers are wondering if this might not be too much of a good thing given the ten months' supply of new homes on the market. Nonetheless the USD and JPY will continue to follow the equity price movement as risk appetite maintains its momentum.

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