Dow -31 S&P -2.2 NASDAQ -11 - The reduction of US Q3 GDP (to +2.8% from +3.5) in the second reading of the figure was widely expected, but US stock markets remain under some pressure after the NY open nevertheless. Weakness in Asia led to a lower open for European equities, and it has been an uphill battle for stocks ever since. The November Consumer Confidence number was better than expected, with the data adding a positive note to an otherwise dreary session. Front-month crude is down at the bottom of its recent range yet again, trading just above $76. Gold, however, remains in positive territory, trading below recent highs around $1,166. Treasury prices are little changed ahead of the 5-year note auction.
- Commentators are dwelling on a report from S&P on global banks this morning. S&P analysts believe capital remains a negative to neutral factor for majority of global banks, and that every bank in Japan, US, Germany, Spain and Italy included in its list of 45 global lenders fails the 8% safety level under the agency's risk-adjusted capital (RAC) ratio; average estimated RAC ratio for large international banks was 6.7% as of June 2009. The S&P report believes the safest banks include HSBC, Dexia, ING, Nordea, Standard Chartered and Barclays, while Japanese banks scored the worst because of their reliance on hybrids and exposures to the stock market. US banks look healthy in terms of leverage, but look less sound when this is adjusted for risk. The FDIC was also out with its Q3 troubled bank list, noting that 552 institutions are on the list, the highest amount since 1993. The FDIC said the balance in its deposit insurance fund turned negative for the first time since 1992.
- Hewlett-Packard reported Q4 results that were firmly in line with consensus estimates and reaffirmed its 2010 outlook. Executives talked about the 3Com acquisition on the conference call, noting that the buy would help sustain growth in the critical Chinese market. Brocade beat earnings expectations slightly and reaffirmed its 2010 view, and spent the conference call reassuring analysts that the firm would be able to survive and thrive in the face of intensifying competition in the network space from HP's and Oracle's recent acquisitions. HPQ is down 2% or so while BRCD is down 8%.
- A broad selection of retailers has reported third quarter results since the close yesterday. In the apparel space, American Eagle managed to exceed much diminished bottom-line expectations, while shoe retailer DSW crushed expectations, reported very strong comp sales and guided higher for 2009. AEO is up 6% and DSW is up 5%. Losses at Barnes & Noble were in line with expectations, while Borders' loss was significantly steeper than estimates and revenue missed. BKS is -5% and BGP is -9%. Discounter Dollar Tree had strong earnings, while competitor Fred's was in line and cut its full-year view. DLTR is up nearly 5% while FRED is down 3%.
- In currency trading, different centers seemed to be operating on different agendas as the focus and price action varied throughout the day. The dollar was softer against the majors compared to levels just prior to the New York morning as better European data and BoE speak prompted some risk appetite ahead of the Preliminary GDP data from the US. However, the expected 2.8% annual rate in Q3 did reflect some cracks in the consumer spending component, reigniting some risk aversion. The USD and JPY maintained a firmer tone against the European and commodity-related pairs as the New York session progressed. The USD direction appeared to be driven by the European crosses as EUR/JPY cross became the market focus and the 200-day mvg avg at 132.25. EUR/USD was around 1.4940 in mid morning trade, while EUR/JPY tested 132.25. USD/JPY held above the pivotal support geared at 88.00.
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