Dow -69 S&P -8 NASDAQ -10.7 - Yesterday's GDP-driven gains are a memory this morning: leading US equity indices lost ground in the pre-market and headed lower after the opening bell. Today's data doesn't seem to be helping or hindering; the final October U of Michigan confidence reading was as expected, while the Chicago PMI unexpectedly popped back over the 50 handle (the survey still shows big declines in employment in the Midwest). Note that IMF Chief Strauss- Kahn called yesterday's US GDP figures an encouraging sign but warned that the crisis will continue as long as unemployment continues rising. PIMCO's El-Erian told CNBC that he expects 2010 growth of 2% in US and said the time has come for the Fed to start exiting programs. After opening above the $80 handle, front-month crude is down to around $78.50 in mid-morning trade. Treasury prices are higher with another record week of supply in the rearview mirror. The 10-year yield remains below 3.5%.
- Chevron performed better than its major competitors in Q3, beating bottom-line expectations and returning to profitability in its downstream operations. Nevertheless, the firm missed revenue expectations. Arch Coal crushed earnings expectations and did better than expected on the top line, and offered a bullish forecast for next quarter. Utilities Duke, Dominion and Constellation all beat earnings expectations handily but missed revenue targets.
- Engine manufacturer Cummins bottom-line results were ahead of the consensus view while revenue was merely in line. Cummins CEO reiterated the familiar refrain from this earnings season, saying that while improvement was seen in some markets in the quarter, the company expects the economic climate to remain challenging until late 2010. Electronics manufacturer ITT Industries also beat earnings targets while revenue met expectations. Weyerhaeuser's loss was the smallest seen in four quarters and much better than projected, revenue was more or less in line.
- Estee Lauder's results were strong, with both earnings and revenue ahead of the consensus forecast. The company raised its 2010 earnings guidance, but warned that uncertain consumer spending patterns for the coming year and a sharper competitive environment would hamper growth. Jewelry retailer Zales missed in a big way and reported a double-digit comp sales decline for the quarter. Adding even more weight to the name, there were rumors going around that the SEC was investigating accounting issues at Zales.
- Health insurance giant Coventry beat earnings estimates and was more or less in line with revenue expectations. The firm raised its full-year EPS outlook slightly as well. CVH rose 4% right after the open, but reversed course within the first half hour of trade and is now down 3%.
- There were interesting developments this morning at three basket cases that many have speculated could have a hard time keeping out of bankruptcy. Auto parts maker American Axle trumpeted a quarterly profit in its Q3, but a closer examination of the company's press release suggests that earnings were positive solely due to a big gain on pension accounting issues. Executives were intent on reminding investors that it has resolved its short-term liquidity issues and could achieve sales around $3B in by 2013. AXL rose as much as 10% in early trading, but is around +5% mid morning. Trucking name YRC Worldwide's loss was much worse than the consensus view, and insisted that it would be able to resolve talks with noteholders successfully. The CEO warned, however, that YRCW would not growth at all this year or next. YRCWis down 8% or so. CNBC reported that CIT will likely file pre packaged bankruptcy this weekend, as its extended campaign to get bondholders to take a haircut or offer fresh financing has apparently failed., despite the amended credit facility it squeezed out of Goldman Sachs. Shares of CIT are down 15%.
- Currency trading in the New York session initially focused on the Swiss Franc, as renewed chatter circulated that the SBN was again performing stealth currency intervention. EUR/CHF surged almost a big figure off its 1.5080 recent pivot point but drifter off its best levels as the morning wore on. Dealers were also hearing that the SNB might have been in USD/CHF as well. The SNB reiterated its standard policy that does not comment on market rumors. Some risk aversion developed after the US personal spending data registered its first decline in five months. The IMF commented that the recent growth seen in the Q3 US GDP was welcome news but cautioned against too much optimism. The Canadian monthly GDP data for Aug dipped back into negative territory and sent the loonie sharply lower against its major trading pairs. USD/CAD probed above the 1.08, with the CAD softer by over 100 pips from its opening level in Tokyo.
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