- Equities are holding onto modest gains in the early going as investors position themselves ahead of tomorrow's FOMC decision. Commodities are moving higher with equities as the USD continues to make one-year lows against the euro. Data has been light, with a regional industrial production index from the Richmond Fed lower than expected and the July house price index very modestly higher. After trading back below $69 in the Asia and European sessions, November crude has zipped right back to test above $71.50. Treasury prices have firmed from a flat open with the 2-year yield slipping back towards 0.95% ahead of this afternoon's $43B auction. The when issued note is trading at a noticeable discount ahead of the results yielding 1.02%.
- The financials are out in front this morning after Bank of America closed a deal that could end its loss sharing agreement with the Treasury. Back in January, BoA struck a deal with the government for loss protection on $118B of Merrill Lynch assets, but the bank has been trying to get out of the arrangement since May. Rochdale's Dick Bove increased his BoA price target to $25 from $19 on the news. Singapore's sovereign wealth fund (GIC) said it has cut its stake in Citigroup below a 5% threshold though open market sales. As of Sept 11th, GIC had a 9% stake. Shares of BAC are up 2.5%, while Citi is up 4%. Also note that the New York Times is reporting that regulators are mulling a plan to have healthy banks lend billions of dollars to rescue the FDIC's insurance fund. Recall that back in May, the FDIC proposed a one-time special assessment fee on assets held by banks in a plan to raise $5.6B for the fund.
- Three consumer-oriented names reported mostly solid quarterly numbers this morning. Carmax positively crushed profit and revenue targets and its business metrics were up across the board. Executives said traffic has steadily increased from the start of 2009, and said this was only partially due to cash-for clunkers. KMX is up nearly 8%. Carnival Corp beat estimates, although guidance for next quarter was notably lower than estimates. The company's full-year forecast is still beating the Street. Executives said pricing has been lower due to late booking, but said additional deterioration in pricing is not expected. Shares of CCL are up more than 7%. ConAgra was a bit ahead of earnings targets and slightly below revenue targets, and also raised its 2010 earnings forecast. On the conference call, the CEO said 2010 is off to a good start, with better profits across the consumer portfolio. Investors expected more, evidently, as CAG is in the red. In other earnings, railcar manufacturer FreightCar America destroyed estimates, helped by increased orders for new railcars and lower expenses. RAIL is up 18%.
- In pre-earnings guidance, home renovation name Lowe's reiterated its 2009 guidance range and offered a first glimpse at its 2010 forecast. Earnings ranges for both periods were lower than analysts' expectations, although revenue goals were largely in line. Executives at Lowe's continue to point to more DIY projects as a positive sign for the business. LOW is down a few percent, while rival HD is down as well. At the UBS healthcare conference, Biogen Idec guided 2009 largely in line with expectations. PAETEC Holdings said full-year revenue would meet Wall Street's expectations.
- The greenback maintained its soft tone during the early part of the New York session as dealers continued to speculate about the possible implications for the dollar of the G20 summit later this week. The summit, set for Sept 24-25, may address the issue of global currency imbalances, and dealers believe this could prompt more bearish USD momentum. Current speculation has it that a concerted effort to re-balance the global economy might "talk down" the USD. This morning EUR/USD is holding near its recent one-year highs of 1.4822 made earlier in the session but retracing a bit following the softer than expected US housing price data for July. The Loonie moved off its best levels following negative surprise in Canada's July retail sales data for both the headline and the ex-auto component. The South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) maintained its interest rates at 7.00%, as expected. SARB Chief Mboweni noted that there has been some concern about appreciation of the ZAR but added that a firmer currency was helpful to the inflation outlook.
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