- Follow-through weakness in Asian and European trading forced US equity futures into the red before the open this morning, as risk aversion spiked over fears of the emerging US-China trade conflict. However, the major US indices have recouped losses most of their losses, with the DJIA nearly flat on the day after the first hour of trade. Most of the leading financial stocks are in negative territory after Rep. Frank reiterated that Congress was committed to imposing "very tough" regulations on derivatives, with Citi the laggard. Over the weekend, respected academic economist Joseph Stiglitz warned that the problems of the US financial system have only grown since last fall's crisis, saying that "in the US and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger." Front-month crude remains around where it settled after Friday's slide, just above $69. Treasury prices are marginally lower with the 10-year note off about a quarter of a point. The long bond yield has regained 4.2% ahead of expected speeches from the FOMC's Lacker and Yellen scheduled for later this afternoon.
- The possibility of trade war brewing between the US and China is in the front on many traders' minds this morning. Before the open, the Chinese Commerce Ministry called the US tire tariffs a "mistake," and said China is moving to begin negotiations at the WTO over the tariffs. US tire manufacturers are gaining on the news, with Goodyear up 6% and Cooper up more than 10%. Goodyear noted that less than 2% of its North American sales come from tires made in China.
- Shares of Sprint are up around 12% this morning after the UK Telegraph reported that T-Mobile operator Deutsche Telekom may be mulling a takeover bid for Sprint Nextel. The article noted that DT has discussed a potential bid with its investment bankers; later in the session, sources told CNBC's David Faber that Sprint is not engaged in any talks with DT. Sprint, which has a market cap of nearly $11B, is in the process of taking over Virgin Mobile USA in an all-stock deal valued at $483M.
- Visa reported that its y/y aggregate payment volume growth was -1.0% in August (v -2.0% in July), credit payment volume growth was -10% (v -9% in July) and debit payments volume growth was +7% (v +4% in July). Shares of Visa and the other leading credit card issuers are down 1-2% in the early going. Two major companies announced corporate restructuring plans this morning. Eli Lilly will eliminate around 5,000 jobs and reorganize into five business units to slash costs and speed development of new drugs. Intel plans to consolidate all of its major product divisions into single unit and shuffle its top executives.
- In currencies, initial concerns over the China-US trade developments were not fulfilled in the early part of the NY morning. Dealers pondered whether the situation would derail the euphoric mood of recent weeks as stocks probe recent recovery sugar highs. The yen was the primary focus during the New York session, as the currency saw its best levels from the latter part of the Asian session whittled away. The failure of USD/JPY to break below the 90.00 level prompted some short-term covering of long JPY positions, while the EUR/JPY cross moved off its best level of 131.30 to move towards the upper portion of the 132 neighborhood.
- EUR/USD recovered all of its Asian and European losses, moving back toward fresh 2009 highs around the 1.4630 area. The price action seemed to echo currency advice by USD ahead of the European morning as market participants seemed to take advantage of the USD strength and sold the currency on spats of strength. The dollar's softer tone prompted renewed commentary that the dollar was becoming a "carry-trade" financing currency, which many dealers feel provides a good explanation for why the USD seems unable to recover. Chatter of European names borrowing in USD in the session seemed to re-enforce this emerging theme.
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