Dow +63 S&P +3 NASDAQ -6.5 - US equity indices are veering in and out of the red this morning as economic data and corporate earnings collide. The October Consumer Confidence index slipped unexpectedly below the critical 50 level, for the second sequential decline in the series. The August S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 metropolitan areas rose 1.2% over July levels, although commentators have noted that this data clashes with last week's August house price index, which indicated declining home prices in the month. PIMCOs' Bill Gross published his November investment outlook, warning darkly that GDP needs to stabilize at around +4% for the FOMC to raise rates. "While the U.S. economy will likely approach 4% nominal growth in 2009's second half, the ability to sustain those levels once inventory rebalancing and fiscal pump-priming effects wear off is debatable," said Gross. Treasury markets are seeing some buyers ahead of this afternoon's $44B 2-year auction sending the cash yield back below 1%.
- Asset management firm Franklin Resources roundly beat expectations, on big gains in sequential and y/y gains in assets under management. Brokerage Ameritrade came in ahead of top- and bottom-line expectations, while its initial look at FY10 guidance crushed consensus expectations. AMTD's CEO said the company is looking at share buybacks and dividends in order to return cash to shareholders. Both names traded straight down from the open, with AMTD-3% and BEN-5.5% in early trading, although both names have recouped some of these losses. Note that trading financial names have been very volatile this morning.
- Conglomerate Textron destroyed the consensus earnings forecast for in its Q3 report and guided to the upper end of its prior FY09 earnings range. Revenue was in line. Textron's CEO said the firm is positioned for solid growth once the recovery begins, and tentatively said that FY10 revenue would show growth over FY09 levels. Auto component manufacturer Johnson Controls was largely in line with expectations and reiterated its FY10 guidance. Like Textron, revenue was merely in line. Shares of TXT are up nearly 10% on the firm's positive outlook, while JCI is down 5%.
- Integrated oil names Valero had a mixed Q3: the firm's loss was a bit bigger than expected, while revenue was ahead of expectations. Note that British Petroleum put the analyst community to shame in the European sector, crushing top and bottom line expectations. Shares of VLO traded off in the premarket, popped into positive territory at the open and then sank back to -2.5% or so. Note that XOM and CVX are up 1% a piece, while US-listed ADRs of BP are up 4%. Dec WTI briefly moved below $78 in the wake of early stock weakness along with the Euro, but is now moving back towards $80.
- A substantial chunk of the US steel sector reported this morning. US Steel racked up its third consecutive quarterly loss, although the loss was smaller than expected and revenue was strong. Executives remained cautious about the future, warning in the earnings release that initial order rates for flat-rolled steel are down. AK Steel and Schnitzer Steel did significantly better than expected in Q3, with both firms coming in ahead of top- and bottom-line forecasts. AK Steel guided higher shipments for Q4. Shares of all three names are down 5% or so.
- In other earnings, IAC Interactive reported EPS that was more than twice the expected figure, although revenue was merely in line. IACI is up 5% on the news. Casino operator Wynn also reported earnings and revenue that was miles ahead of the Street, although continuing declines in casino revenue Stateside is spooking investors. WYNN is down 10% in mid morning trading.
- The greenback benefitted from the risk aversion prompted by the unexpected decline in October US consumer confidence in the New York session. Earlier today, some simmering concerns regarding the financial sector had aided the greenback. But during the New York morning dealers faced fresh worries that a return to rising jobless rates might threaten to restrain consumer spending as the year-end holiday shopping season approached. EUR/USD continued its pull back from the 1.50 handle for a second day, testing below the 1.48 level, complemented by the decline in most energy and precious metal prices. USD/CAD re-approached the three-week highs seen earlier in the European session as the pair again tested above the 1.07 level.
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