- Equity indices are racking up substantial losses in early trading thanks to negative data for a second consecutive morning. This time around a miss in the ISM manufacturing data (52.6 v 54e) is raising risk aversion, aiding Treasury prices along with the Greenback. ISM Official Ore offered a dim view, noting that ISM ,embers have yet to be convinced that the economy has turned and are still "somewhat negative" overall Note that yesterday's worse than expected Chicago PMI reading also spooked investors, although the leading indices managed to regain losses in midday trading. Today the strong August housing numbers are being ignored. Construction spending returned to growth in August, while the NAR's pending home sales showed their seventh consecutive month of growth, up sharply from July figures. The NAR's Chief Economist warned that not all contracts are turning into closed sales within an expected timeframe, although the rise in pending home sales certainly shows buyers are returning to the market. Fed Chairman Bernanke testified before the House Financial Service Committee, noting that the Fed should not be the only regulator of systemic risk. Also not that the IMF officially raised its 2010 world GDP view to 3.1% from 2.5% prior (in line with earlier speculation). Front month NYMEX crude popped above $70 this morning, but has come off prior highs in mid-morning trading. Government bond yields are testing some key levels to the downside on both sides of the Atlantic. !0-year Gilt yields are now below 3.5% while its US counterpart has seen the benchmark fall below 3.25%. The US long bond rate is now below 4% for the first time since this spring.
- Financials are leading the charge downwards this morning in the wake of news that Ken Lewis will step down as CEO of Bank of America at the end of the year. Speculation has been rife regarding which of the five potential replacements is in the lead. The WSJ's "Heard on the Street" column was cautious on JP Morgan's prospects amid the firm's ongoing management changes, but still predicted that earnings would likely beat expectations. In the longer run, declining volatility will cut JP Morgan's opportunities for outsized gains, according to the WSJ. The tier one banks are all down 1% or 2%, while Citi is down 3%.
- Constellation Brands managed to gain 5% in pre-market trading thanks to strong Q2 results and a reaffirmation of its 2009 forecast. Broader market declines have brought shares of STZ down to +2%. Testing equipment manufacturer Teradyne offered very strong guidance for its Q3 thanks to cost cutting and improving demand. Shares of TER are off their best levels, at +3%. In other equity news, Cisco bought Norweigian video conference technology firm Tandberg for almost $3B, continuing Cisco's big move into online video applications. Cisco Chief Chambers said he will continue to be a "very aggressive" in acquisition. And finally, in another piece of economic crisis fallout, Penske abandoned its quest to run Saturn Motors just as a final deal with GM was expected, as uncertainty deepened over Penske's ability to obtain long-term supplies of vehicles. Bank of America analysts were positive on the news, calling the cancellation a "headache avoided."
- In currencies, the greenback maintained its firm tone against the EUR and CHF pairs following initial comments from EU's Almunia before the European session. As the New York morning commenced, ECB Chief Trichet confirmed that FX was discussed today's EuroFin meeting while other European finance ministers complained about the effect on exports of a stronger euro. Dealers noted hourly support at 1.4530, a level that represented lows made earlier in the week, and chatter of a Far Eastern name previously bidding for euros. A move below 1.4530 opens the door for test of 1.4330, which represents the uptrend line support from the March low.
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