- A theme of a firmer dollar and declining stock and commodities prices took hold yesterday following the FOMC statement and has carried through to today. Weekly unemployment data helped goose US indices a bit higher before the open after initial claims were seen falling for the fourth week in a row (and more than expected). But the decline in August existing home sales spooked investors, as the data came in lower than expected for a 2.7% decline from July totals. Adding to jitters, an NAR official said there was a risk of a "double-dip housing recession" in the US if the first time homebuyer tax credit was not renewed. Debt and equity offers continue to flood the market in what is likely the most active IPO calendar in more than a year. Commodities are under assault, with major reversals seen in oil and gold. Front-month NYMEX crude has moved to levels not seen since early July, with the contract sinking below $67. Gold is off more than $15, testing below $1,000 while Dec copper has made fresh one-month lows below $2.75. Natural gas is a notable exception, with prices trading higher after the EIA inventory data was in line with expectations. Treasury markets continue to find bids pushing the benchmark yield back below 3.4%.
- The Federal Reserve is further scaling back lending in two emergency lending programs as the economy improves. The Fed plans to reduce the amount of money available to banks in short-term loans under the TSLF and TAF, while also noting it may make the latter program permanent. Note that back in June the Fed extended the duration of many of its other emergency loan programs, including the TSLF.
- Bed Bath & Beyond is down 5% despite a better-than-expected Q2 report yesterday after the close. Executives called analysts' consensus estimates for next quarter and the full year "reasonable" on the conference call, but warned the rest of the year would be challenging. Paychex is down more than 6% after a dismal full-year revenue forecast (quarterly results were in line). American Greetings is up more than 20% on blowout Q2 earnings, which crushed estimates thanks to a big insurance payout. Red Hat is up nearly 12% on solid earnings and guidance.
- Today is the biggest day for IPOs in years, with five initial offerings on the docket. Artio Global (ART), Apollo Commercial Real Estate (ARI) and Colony Financial (CLNY) began trading just after the bell this morning. ART, an asset management firm catering to institutional clients and mutual funds, was priced at $26 and opened at $27.30. Commercial real estate REITs ARI and CLNY were both priced at $20 and both opened at $19.50. Over at the NASDAQ, electric car battery manufacturer A123 Systems (AONE) should begin trading later this morning. The offer was priced at $13.50. Online health products retailers VicaCost.com (VITC) opened right at its pricing level of $12.
- In currencies, the greenback has managed to recover losses against European currencies and most of its losses against the yen. Initially the dollar was softer as dealers speculated the Obama administration's dollar policy might mirror BoE Governor King's position (that a weaker currency could aid the economy). EUR/USD retested the 1.48 handle, but then retreated toward the 1.4700 handle. The Federal Reserve and other major central banks extended most USD liquidity operation through Jan 2010. The central banks did note some scaling back on such programs, as improvements in financial markets have reduced demand for this type of credit. Sterling continued its weak tone and sank further against the major pairs. GBP/USD tested below the 1.6070 level while EUR/GBP touched the 0.9150 level.
- The G20 summit begins later today and dealers are noting that EUR/CHF (whose price action has mirrored the global equity rebound from last March) is testing the 200-day moving average at 1.5097 and has been unable to sustain any rallies from SNB verbal/stealth intervention.
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