- The earnings season rollercoaster is in full effect this morning: US equity indices opened more or less flat and then pushed out to test YTD highs in the first hour of trade before backing off somewhat. Strong results from Morgan Stanley and selected regional banks mean the financials are in the driver's seat, while blowout earnings from SanDisk and Yahoo helping the Nasdaq outperform. The greenback touched the critical $1.50 level versus the euro after the open, in yet another sign that risk appetite is expanding. Front-month NYMEX crude is testing the $80 handle after this morning's DoE inventory figures. Commodities in general continue to get a boost from the declining Greenback with copper nearing $3. It is worth noting that China is set to release its Q3 GDP figures during the Asian session which will likely drive risk appetite trades into tomorrow's EU and US session. Treasury prices are heading lower as money moves away from the relative safety of government paper. The US long bond has given back a full point pushing the yield back towards 4.25%.
- Both Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo both blew out earnings estimates and did significantly better than expected on revenue in Q3 reports this morning. For Morgan, these results are a comforting return to profitability after three quarters of losses, while Wells Fargo continues to rack up more non-performing assets, net charge offs and higher provisions for credit losses. Morgan Stanley's CFO insisted that putting losses behind the bank is not a relief but an affirmation of its strategy. Wells Fargo's CFO hopefully pointed out that the bank has begun to see early indications of consumer credit stability. Shares of MS are up 6% and WFC is barely staying in positive territory. Other regional banks are strong after US Bancorp posted solid results, sending shares of USB up 7%. Even KEY is up 3% after missing top- and bottom-line expectations.
- Dow component Boeing's loss was a bit steeper than anticipated and revenue missed expectations. The aerospace giant also took a hammer to its 2009 guidance, citing problems in its 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 projects. Executives continue to insist that the 787 is "on track." Defense name Northrop Grumman beat the Street and raised its 2009 view somewhat, making it look somewhat better than competitors LMT and UTX yesterday. NOC is up nearly 3%, while UTX is flat and LMT continues to loose ground.
- Yesterday after the close SanDisk and Yahoo blew out consensus earnings estimates and both names are making solid gains in early trading this morning, with YHOO up 4% and SNDK up 10%. Sandisk's CEO cited big gains in the OEM business and gross margins (which nearly doubled over last quarter) for the strong results. Tech names STMicro and Seagate are not doing so well, with shares of STM-2% and STX-4%. The quarterly loss at STMicro, Europe's largest semi manufacturer, was smaller than the last two quarters but still missed expectations.
- In other earnings, Continental Airlines surprised to the upside, reporting a small quarterly profit versus expectations of yet another loss. This is the company's first positive earnings figure since the fall of 2007. Altria's quarterly report was largely in line and no improvement in its full year forecast was forthcoming; investors are selling and MO is down more than 2%. Biotech Genzyme missed top- and bottom-line expectations and cut its 2009 earnings view; GENZ is down in the low single digits in early trading. Investors are dumping staffing name Manpower after the firm offered tepid guidance for Q4 (despite a strong Q3 revenue result).
- In currencies, the greenback felt some selling pressure during the New York morning, helping EUR/USD briefly test 1.50 level for the first time since August 2008 just ahead of the NY option cut. Eastern European names continued buying euros, underpinning dollar sentiment among European and commodity-related pairs. Rising risk appetite aided equity markets despite a sluggish start in the session; lower yielding currencies such as the USD and JPY reflected the sentiment. Dealers were saying that earnings results have topped estimates at almost 80% of the S&P 500 companies that have posted results thus far. Sterling continues its recent surge, aided by technical factors, with 1.6630 tested in the New York session. The loonie rebounded from its worst levels after USD/CAD approached the pivotal 1.06 level during the European morning. Industrial and precious metals reversed earlier losses while Energy component s regrouped from earlier intra-day lows.
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