- US equity indices are making modest gains this morning in the absence of any significant economic data, while the dollar continues to test new lows on the year. The weak dollar continues to aid oil: front-month crude traded off a bit in the European session, but is back above $72 as it become clear OPEC will leave output levels unchanged later today in their schedule meeting in Vienna, while. Gold is hesitating around $1,000, after former Fed Chairman Greenspan commented that the rising trend in gold prices were strictly a "monetary phenomenon." Greenspan also added that it could take until the end of 2009 before inventories were fully exhausted and expected a "fairly pronounced" recovery in US and globally thereafter. Treasury prices are lower with more pronounced selling seen at the long end of the curve ahead of this afternoon's 10-year reopening. The US benchmark spread has widened out back above 250 basis points.
- Fast food giant McDonalds reported is smallest monthly same-store sales gain since back in March. August comps were up a mere 2.2% (half the expected amount), and only up 1.7% in the US. Shares of MCD are down 2% in the early going, with fellow fast-food name YUM down as much as 3%, while WEN and BKC are in the red. A raft of debt and stock offerings hit markets and are moving names this morning. Barrick Gold increased its big share secondary to $4B from its initial $3.45B proposal, and also said it would take a $5.6B charge to Q3 earning to liquidate gold hedges (in the face of the relentless rise in gold). Shares of ABX were down 4% on the news. AEE, CREE and PAA are all down slightly on share secondaries. Candela is up 35% after announcing it would merge with Syneron Medical in an all-stock deal; ELOS is down 10%. VIVUS is up 70% after two Phase III studies in Qnexa met all primary endpoints.
- Vacation has ended and the lead-up to third-quarter earnings season has begun as companies attempt to manage investor expectations on earnings and revenue performance. Conglomerate Textron reaffirmed its full-year forecast (TXT+3%). Semi manufacturers Microchip Tech and Diodes echoed moves by many other chip makers and modestly raised guidance for the current quarter (MCHP+2%, DIOD flat). Radio hardware manufacturing name Endwave warned that its Q3 revenue would be very sharply lower and would miss estimates by very large margins on weak demand and supply chain issues (ENWV-8%). ISTA Pharma raised its 2009 revenue outlook following FDA approval of its Bepreve drug (ISTA+10%). NuStar Energy slashed its Q3 earnings outlook on falling profit margins (NU flat). Health Care REIT trimmed its 2009 FFO guidance while Sun Healthcare cut its full-year outlook on expectations of lower Medicare reimbursement rates (HCN+1%, SUNH+4%).
- In currencies, the greenback continued its soft tone, testing fresh 2009 lows against EUR and CHF pairs and seven-month lows against the JPY. There has been continued dealer chatter that the dollar has become the new funding currency, while lingering chatter of reserve diversification weighed on the dollar sentiment. In early New York trading euro strength was attributed to Middle Eastern names purchasing for possible reserve diversification purposes. EUR/USD fell just shy of the 1.4600 level, which was the measured move target of the break above the 1.3460 level back in May. USD/JPY tested below summer lows of 91.70 despite dealer chatter of good dollar bids ahead of the level (rumored to be Japan's Kampo). CAD managed to shake off its soft tone in early European morning and managed to end the NY morning little changed from its Asian opening levels of 1.0780.
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