- Stock sentiment was clearly weak at the NY open after the July CPI declined at the fastest pace on a year over year basis since 1949. The mood was only dampened by a miss in the University of Michigan's preliminary August confidence data. After July's strong reading of 66 analysts were projecting another leg up in August to 69, but discomfort over the state of the economy relative to the move up in stocks only worsened. Equity rally skeptic Mohammad El Erian told CNBC he believes much of stimulus impact has already been figured into the economy. Other more positive news has been overlooked, with investors disregarding the first positive industrial production reading since last fall and bellwether Genesee & Wyoming's strong carloads data. Treasury prices continue to rally sending the benchmark 10-year yield back to 3.5%. Commodity prices are under some pressure led by declines in oil. A strong Greenback and soft stock market has pushed September crude back below $69 and copper 2.5% off multi-month highs made just yesterday.
- Quarterly reports from mid- to high-end retailers continue to be mixed. Mid-range department store name JC Penney had its worst results in memory, but managed to squeak in just above expectations at breakeven. Revenue was in line with expectations. Guidance for next quarter was much lower than the consensus, although the company raised its full-year forecast considerably. JCP's CEO added color on the conference call, noting that pent-up demand is aiding back-to-school season. High-end apparel names Nordstrom and Elizabeth Arden offered solidly in-line results; JWN raised its full-year guidance and RDEN's initial FY10 EPS outlook was well below expectations. Abercrombie & Fitch's loss was more than four times the expected figure, while comps were down 30% in the quarter. Executives reiterated their commitment to not cutting prices on the conference call. Shares of long-suffering ANF actually gained 5% in early trading and remain in positive territory post-U of Michigan. JCP, JWN and RDEN are all in negative territory, with JCP down nearly 5%.
- In currencies, the yen has managed to cling to its upward momentum from the past few sessions. As noted in the European update, yen strength is being fueled by press reports out of Japan that the major Japanese exporters have lowered internal budget rates for USD/JPY from 95.00 down toward the 90 and 91 handles. This seemed to complement growing speculation that a new Japanese government run by the current opposition might accept the stronger yen seen in recent sessions after its likely victory in the country's August 30th national elections. EUR/USD is floating along above the 1.4300 area despite chatter of recent buying from Middle Eastern names, reportedly on behalf of Volkswagen's financial partner to take care of its tie-up with Porsche.
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