- US equity trading is choppy this morning as investors struggle to decide whether the employment data released before the bell is a net positive or net negative. On the positive side, August non-farm payrolls declined less than expected (manufacturing payrolls were in line), the July loss was revised downward and birth/death adjustment improved the number. But it's hard to ignore the August unemployment rate at 9.7%, its highest level since 1983. Before the decision, some of the usual suspects aired pessimistic views on the US economy. Fed Governor Fisher said the US will likely enter a "lengthy spell" of sluggish growth, with consumer spending facing a "slow crawl out of purgatory." According to Fisher, the major challenge facing the US is to spur growth while stabilizing debt, reviving consumer spending and restarting residential investment. Noriel Roubini warned there is too much optimism in markets and that that US unemployment would peak over 10%. After the data, PIMCO's El-Erian called the job numbers worrying and expressed his concern about growth in the US in 2010 after stimulus and inventory restocking cycles fade. Front-month NYMEX crude has been testing below the $68 handle in the wake of the jobs data, while natural gas has reversed its week-long slide and headed up above the $2.60 level. Dec gold is taking a breather after two outstanding sessions, but many still feel it is poised to break $1000 and are watching this week's close very closely. Bond prices remain moderately lower as they were heading into the jobs figures, but yields are still substantially lower on the week. The 10-year note is down about a quarter of a point yielding 3.37%.
- The equity news has been relatively thin. Yesterday after the close Novellus improved its outlook for Q3 and guided a tidy profit for Q4 on much higher than expected revenue. Executives said improving forecasts for the global electronics market are driving the semi industry. Shares of semi names are up on the good tidings, with NVLS, AMAT, KLAC and ASMI all up 1-2%. Home healthcare name Amedisys reaffirmed its in line guidance for the full year. Array BioPharma reaffirmed its 2009 outlook despite the release of news that a Phase 2 study study on rheumatoid arthritis had missed its primary endpoint and multiple analyst downgrades overnight. Shares of ARRY were up 4% in the premarket, before trading off somewhat.
- Currency trading saw the return of risk appetite in the wake of the US employment data, prompting a bid to the USD and a modestly firmer JPY. All in all, currency dealers are murmuring that employment remains a headwind for consumer spending and the overall economy. To the north, the Canadian payroll data registered a positive headline of +27K (a loss of 15K was expected), but again details showed that a rash of part-time hiring was behind the gains, sending CAD to probe below 1.09 level briefly. In the overall scheme of things the EUR/USD was unable to shake off its two big figure range of roughly 1.42 to 1.44 which dates back to Aug 20th. The New York session also saw a spat of BRIC comments on the reserve currency issue, which still looms over the dollar in the medium term. Russia reiterated its position that global reserve system needs to change, although it admitted the process could take longer than five years. Interestingly, Russian officials also stated they did not support the dollar or the euro specifically. There was vague chatter of the SNB "sniffing" in the USD/CHF, helped to keep the pair above the 1.0570 pivotal support zone. USD/CHf was approaching 1.07 in mid-NY morning trade.
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