Dow +26 S&P +1.5 NASDAQ +1 - Sovereign jitters in Europe are kept the greenback strong and US equities are largely in the red in the early NY morning. Note that this is the third day of little significant US economic data, and indices have pared back losses heading toward mid morning. Treasury Secretary Geithner formally asked Congress to extend TARP to Oct 2010, as expected. Note that were Congress to reject the request, TARP would not end, but the ability of the Treasury to freely invest TARP funding in almost any asset class would be constrained. The prospects of Congressional healthcare reform are looking rosier today after Senate Democrats struck a provisional deal to sideline (but not eliminate) the controversial public option. Front month NYMEX crude is up moderately, trading just above $73, following weekly DoE inventory numbers that showed an unexpectedly large decline in crude inventories. Treasury prices paired early losses as the decision by S&P to put Spain on watch negative brought in bids post the open of pit trade in Chicago. The US 10-year benchmark yield sits just below 3.4% ahead of this afternoon's auction results.
- Semi names are in the spotlight this morning following Texas Instruments mid-quarter update yesterday after the close. Shares of TXN are down 3% despite the firm's slightly better outlook for its Q4. Executives said that both October and November were strong. Semi manufacturer Diodes raised its revenue guidance for Q3 this morning. DIOD was up 3% in the premarket, although it has fallen into the red in early trading. Semi component manufacturer Photronics plunged 15% after reporting a loss in its Q4 and unexpectedly guiding another loss for next quarter. Shares of PLAB are recovering, with the name only down 10% in mid morning trading.
- In other tech news, Corning improved its outlook for the LCD glass market in Q4, noting that glass supply remains very tight even as manufacturers run at high utilization rates. Expects global LCD TV sales will exceed 132 million, up from the previous expectation of 129 million sets. IT services firm SAIC fell as much as 3% after a largely in line earnings report. Suntech Power is up a few percent after signing a three-year deal to deliver up to 490MW of solar panels in Europe.
- In other equity news, Sprint is up around 9% on an upgrade at Citigroup. Luxury watch maker Movado is down 15% after giant earnings and revenue misses in its Q3 report. Apparel retailer Men's Warehouse is down nearly 13% after a grim guidance call for next quarter. Tax preparer Jackson Hewitt is up 15% on a mixed earnings report, although it's worth noting executives were bullish on the firm's new deal to open offices at Walmart locations. ChicagoBridge and Iron won a giant LNG engineering contract via its Papua New Guinea JV. CBI is up 3%.
- Sovereign debt worries remain entrenched as the main drivers of price action. The day after Moody's cast a shadow on the UK's Aaa rating, Chancellor Darling presented preliminary budget forecasts for the UK, although there were few surprises. The estimated deficit is Â£611B in the four years through March 2013, a bit more than the Â£606B forecasted back in April. The debt to GDP at 12% would remain the highest within the G20. Darling confirmed there would be no windfall tax on bank profits, but warned the UK would charge a 50% tax rate on bank bonuses over Â£25K. Also, the UK would raise the National Insurance contributions, which are paid by all wage earners to cover health and pensions from 2011. Sterling was initially firmer as the budget details were presented but all gains were eroded as the morning progressed. Elsewhere in Europe, S&P amended its outlook for Spain's sovereign rating to negative from stable adding that the country risked a downgrade of its "AA+" rating within the next two years. Fitch put all Greek structured finance deals on Rating Watch Negative, while a choir of Euro Zone finance officials called on Greece to clean up its act.
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