- US equity indices are more or less flat on the day, with conflicting economic data providing a mixed theme for end of the week trading. The final September U of Michigan consumer confidence reading was better than expected and well above the initial reading (final 73.5 v prelim 70.2), with the headline data reaching levels last seen in January, 2008. Both the headline and ex transport August durable goods data came in dramatically lower than expected. Durable goods orders declined 2.4% in August, after increasing around 5% in July, although August totals are still higher that June data. The August new home sales data was a bit below expectations and more or less in line with last month's reading. Commodities continued to give up ground before the open this morning as USD strengthened, although there has been a bit of a reversal in some commodities in mid-morning trading. Front-month NYMEX crude probed the $65 handle before heading back above $66. Gold prices dipped below $990 briefly, on chatter of fund liquidations before paring back losses.
- Treasury prices are flat to slightly higher as markets appear to have digested another $112B in supply without too much trouble. The long bond yield is below 4.15% despite quite a bit of attention being paid to commentary from Fed Governor Warsh. In a WSJ op-ed, Warsh noted the Fed will likely have to be more aggressive in the timing and severity of their exit programs than was indicated in the FOMC statement earlier in the week.
- KB Home's quarterly losses were significantly worse than expected in its Q3 report this morning, although revenue beat expectations. Like Lennar earlier this week, KB did not see any sequential growth in new orders, its cancellation rate increased and its backlog fell, contradicting trends seen out of some other homebuilders. Shares of KBH are down 7%, although the other homebuilders are back around even after some initial weakness. Investors are dumping Research in Motion this morning despite a solidly in line report yesterday afternoon, with earning a bit ahead of consensus and revenue missing by just a hair. The firm's revenue outlook for next quarter was a little weak, prompting multiple analysts to downgrade the name. RIMM is down 15%.
- In other equity news, HP said it would grow faster than the rest of the IT sector, insisting its best days are ahead of it at an analyst meeting. The company's initial 2010 guidance was solidly in line with expectations. Shares of Sara Lee are up 6% after the firm said it would sell its personal care business to Unilever for $1.9B in cash and authorized a sizable share buyback program. Visa and Mastercard are both down sharply (nearly -5%) on reports a draft bill on the Consumer Financial Protection Agency was making the rounds in the House. Goldman Sachs upgraded the refining sector this morning, adding APA HOC and OXY to their America's Buy List. Shares of HOC are up 8%. The DoD released draft requirements for the KC-X tanker program, and in Europe an EADS official said its A400M military transport program has been an "absolute disaster" for Airbus.
- EUR/USD is just below the 1.47 level in mid-New York session trading. USD/JPY has been testing below the 90 handle following comments from former Japanese official Sakakibara (aka Mr. Yen), who said the Obama administration was not likely very concerned about the dollar's downtrend at the moment. USD/CAD is above its former downtrend line around the 1.09 level, but a mid-morning surge in NYMEX oil futures aided the commodity-related pairs. Energy prices are helping CAD offset earlier comments from BoC member Carney in the Asian session that the central bank gets concerned when CAD moves away from underlying fundamentals.
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