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Thursday October 22, 2009 - 15:59:44 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:49:03 AM

 US Market Update

Dow +61 S&P +2 NASDAQ -6.6

- US equity indices are cautiously recouping losses in the wake of yesterday afternoon's big slide and softness in early trading this morning. Weekly jobless claims ticked higher, adding another drag to equities before the open today. The house price index showed prices in August gave up July's slight gain (economists had expected another incremental increase in prices). Front-month NYMEX crude is above the $81 handle, after the contract's wild climb from $78 to as high as $82 yesterday afternoon.

- Consumer-oriented Dow components McDonalds and AT&T are both up 2% or so after narrowly beating bottom-line expectations. The burger big showed solid comp sales growth in all major markets, while Ma Bell grew wireless and broadband adds, iPhone activations and even wireline revenues. UPS was mixed, with earnings a bit above consensus and revenue a hair below, and cryptically commented that its customers have "widely differing views" on their outlook for the holiday season. Dow Chemical crushed earnings estimates, showing steady revenue growth across all its geographies. However, shares of DOW are down 3.5% as investors focus on the firm's warning that it is still not counting on economic improvements anytime soon and remains cautious in its outlook. Conglomerate 3M pulled off a solid revenue outperformance, and earnings beat as well. The firm also guided higher for the year for the second consecutive quarter.

- Big pharma had a solid Q3, as evidenced in reports from Merck, Novartis, Schering-Plough and Bristol-Myers. Earnings at all three firms were more or less in line with expectations, although Bristol-Myers and Novartis were a bit behind on the top line. Shares of MRK fell as much as 4% in the first half-hour of trade as investors soured on full-year guidance that was merely in line, while SGP and BMY fell 2% each. All three names are retracing some losses in mid morning trading. The ADRs for NVS remain in positive territory.

- Regional banks SunTrust and Fifth Third both reported another quarter of substantial losses. Provisions for loan losses and non performing loans were sequentially higher once again at SunTrust, while provisions declined somewhat at Fifth Third, which also said it expects net charge-offs to be lower in the fourth quarter. Shares of FITB are up 4% in the early going, while STI is down 3%. Fellow regional PNC Financial destroyed estimates thanks to much higher ROE and ROA, while its net charge-offs fell noticeably in the quarter. Shares of PNC are up nearly 10%.

- Agribusiness name Bunge is down 7% this morning after it slashed its full-year earnings forecast and warned that its fertilizer business lost money in the quarter thanks to pricing issues. Bunge missed revenue expectations, while competitor Potash Corp was largely in line. For its part, Potash said 2010 demand for potash would be lower than expected. POT is down in the low single digits.

- In currency trading, the greenback remained within striking distance of 14-month lows throughout the NY morning. EUR/USD tried to retest the 1.50 level but more chatter about semi-official names on top in the pair kept things from higher for the time being. Overall dealers say technical trading was reigns supreme.

US equities tried to probe into positive territory but much of the upside momentum seems to be waning following the higher
US weekly jobless claims.

- In other currency news, the South African Central Bank maintained its interest rate at 7.00%, as expected. SARB chief Mboweni commented that there was no preferred exchange rate for the rand and said the MPC was looking for a "competitive" FX rate. USD/CAD moved back toward the mid 1.05 area despite improved Canadian retail data. The BoC's monetary report largely echoed comments from earlier in the week, with inflation risk still skewed slightly downward. The BoC again noted that CAD could act as a significant further drag on recover and growth, with CAD strength seen stemming more from weakness in the dollar than effects from the Canadian side.


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