- US equity indices are basically treading water this morning. Investors continue to digest yesterday's Beige Book report, which indicated that all but one of the Fed's 12 regions were seeing economic activity that is "stable," showing "signs of stabilization" or "firming." The one exception was the St. Louis region, which reported the economic decline is "moderating." The US posted a wider-than-expected trade deficit in July. Initial and continuing jobs claims fell somewhat from last week's levels. Dismal housing data came from RealtyTrac, which reported that US foreclosure activity in August was 18% y/y and down less than 1% m/m. Financial names were in the red on the news, in addition to more doom and gloom from Meredith Whitney, who said fundamentals at the banks have not improved and Q3 results at banks should be broadly similar to Q2 results. Note that Goldman Sachs is up somewhat after Meredith Whitney reiterated her bullish view on the bank. Bond prices are rallying ahead of this afternoon's 30-year bond reopening. The long bond has added nearly a full point and its yield has slipped back towards 4.25%.
- Two more semi names followed in the footsteps of competitors and raised near-term earnings forecasts. Pn its mid-quarter update yesterday after the close, Texas Instruments raised both top- and bottom-line guidance over levels offered back in late July, citing improving chip demand in China and India. Dutch semi name ASML raised its Q3 and Q4 revenue targets on higher orders. Shares of both companies are up in the low single digits. Skyworks Solutions increased its Q4 guidance on higher guidance.
- More pre-earnings guidance was seen out of a broad spectrum of companies. Monsanto offered an initial look at its FY10, guiding well below expectations for the coming year, citing lower expected sales of glyphosate-based herbicides. Monsanto also reaffirmed its 2009 guidance for at least the sixth time. Procter & Gamble adjusted its FY10 outlook, trimming its EPS and revenue ranges slightly. Natural gas name Williams Companies slightly raised the end of its 2010 view.
- Vehicle manufacturer Navistar missed earnings and revenue estimates in its Q3 report, and said margins fell by nearly one third. The company also slashed its 2009 guidance. Men's Warehouse crushed earnings estimates and came in ahead on revenue as well, although its outlook for next quarter was tepid. In other equity news, German Chancellor Merkel confirmed rumors that circulated in the European session that GM's board supports Magna's bid for OPEL. Also note that Fortress Investment Group is up nearly 20% on a pre-market upgrade at Barclays.
- In currencies, early in the New York session the greenback encountered some initial selling pressure and pushed out to fresh 2009 lows against the euro and Swiss Franc pairs and seven-month lows against the yen in choppy and erratic trading. The US posted a wider than expected trade deficit in July prompted by an uptick in imports, which helped sooth some of the risk aversion raised by Chinese PM Wen's warnings that the impact from stimulus programs was waning.
- The BoE left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.5% (as expected) and maintained its asset purchase facility at Â£175B. Sterling moved higher after the decision, on chatter that the central bank might also cut its deposit rate to negative territory (like Sweden did back in July), but the move never materialized. GBP/USD moved from 1.6520 to test above 1.66 in the aftermath of the rate decision. The BoC also left its key rate unchanged at 0.25% (as expected) and reiterated that it would maintain a steady monetary policy through mid-2010 period.
- The dollar staged a moderate comeback just as US equity markets opened, which prompted the usual Swiss National Bank (SNB) rumors. USD/CHF moved from its historical pivot point of 1.0350 area to test above the 1.0460 in a flash while EUR/USD slumped from 1.4600 to test 1.4505. In the end, dealer surmised that the catalyst for the central bank rumors was a Far Eastern name selling around â‚¬500. Note also that the ECB's Weber said Germany may need 20 years to return to 2008 debt-to-GDP levels, noting it was unclear if German's 2009 budget deficit was over the 3% Maastricht limit.
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