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Wednesday October 28, 2009 - 16:37:28 GMT
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Forex Blog - US Market Update

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:43:13 AM
 US Market Update
Dow -40 S&P -11 NASDAQ -31
- US equity indices headed lower in early trading this morning, with the downward trend established over the last three sessions becoming more firmly entrenched. Equity prices found some support after the S&P 500 cash index briefly tested its 50-day moving average; a key level that has not been sufficiently breeched since early July. Traders need look no further than the EUR/USD to see the old familiar flight to safety trade continuing. The September new home sales data declined somewhat from August levels and missed expectations, although the median sale price ticked up a bit. Growth in September durable goods orders was firmly in line with expectations. Traders await the advance Q3 GDP numbers with trepidation; Goldman Sachs lowered their estimate to 2.7% this morning just before the open. Consensus estimates are for a 3.2% reading. Treasury markets remain firmer on the heels of yesterday's strong 2-year results. The long bond yield has drifted back towards 4.25% while the 2-year remains below 1%. Oil prices are near their lowest levels in more than a week with Dec WTI below $78 after weekly inventory data.

- ConocoPhillips beat earnings estimates this morning, although as is typical it has withheld revenue until later this morning. Production volume and refining utilization remained largely flat in the quarter. Executives said the firm would cut its CAPEX spending next year by 12% and reduce refinery utilization considerably. Hess also beat bottom-line expectations, and revenue was much stronger than expected.

- In other energy sector earnings, earnings from coal name Massey Energy were in line, while revenue missed consensus expectations thanks to declines in coal volumes and pricing. Massey said power generation is down and the shift to natural gas power generation is hurting the firm and warned that continuing economic uncertainty is making long-term forecasting difficult. Shares of MEE are down 7%, while coal sector ETF KOL is down 4%. Utility Southern Company missed revenue goals but noted that it is seeing signs of stabilization and the beginnings of recovery in certain sectors. SO is around even.

- General Dynamic's results were similar to the other defense names last week: earnings better than expected, revenue in line. GD hiked its full-year outlook somewhat. Managed care giant WellPoint crushed earnings expectations (revenue was in line), although the company reported a significant decline in medical enrollment. Executives at the firm do not expect employment levels in the US to improve until late 2010, warning that unemployment would continue to weigh on enrollment levels.

- Two consumer-oriented names reported mixed earnings this morning, echoing the unsettled mood that was clear in yesterday's consumer confidence debacle. Analysts had expected Chiquita Brands to return to quarterly losses, but the firm surprised to the upside with a healthy profit, although it warned next quarter's results would be down sequentially, in part due to seasonality. Newell Rubbermaid's results were more or less in line, but the firm said 2009 revenue would come in well below expectations. Newell sees 2001 revenue flat y/y. Shares of CQB are up 13% and heading higher, while NWL is down 6%. Advertising name Interpublic Group was modestly ahead of the Street. The firm's CEO said client sentiment has stabilized, but remains cautious, which makes it difficult to predict what growth will look like in 2010. Share of IPG are up 5%

- Private education name Apollo Group is down 15% in after yesterday's earnings disaster. The firm discloses it was facing an informal SEC inquiry related to revenue recognition practices, but provided little detail on the issue. Competitor DeVry is up a few percent after beating top and bottom line expectations. Corinthian Colleges is down 5% today.

- The greenback was mixed in the New York session as EUR/USD continued to probe below the 1.48 level. Dealers were saying that reserve managers appeared to be "very active" in the last 48 hours of dollar strength, which is apparently all about risk reduction in the face of renewed fears about the financial sector as well reserve diversification. The new US home sales data continues to suggest that any dollar recovery remains wobbly at best. GBP/USD managed to surge 100 pips from its European session lows of 1.6290 to test above the 1.64 level. Norway's central bank became the first European central bank to begin exiting loose monetary policy, raising its key rate by 25bps to 1.50% from record low levels.

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