Dow +51 S&P +3.25 NASDAQ +10 - US equity indices are off their best levels in light preholiday trading. The housing data has been a positive factor this morning, with the November existing home sales rating up 7.4% on a sequential basis, slightly ahead of expectations, while the October House Price Index was up three times the expected amount. For a second straight session, despite the equity gains, the US Dollar continues to rally. The EUR/USD is approaching 1.42 and a move below that would test the 200 day moving average for the first time since March. With the Dollar index at its best levels since early Sep gold prices are giving back another 1.5% to trade below 1080 in the Feb contract. Front-month crude is down 1% just below $73 after OPEC left production quota unchanged, as expected. US yields continue to rise and the curve remains all time steep. The 2-10 year spread has topped 185 basis points with the 10-year approaching 3.75%.
- S&P lowered ratings on five mortgage insurer firms this morning, noting that despite economic stabilization, the sluggish recovery and lingering high unemployment will keep pressure on the firms. Downgraded companies included PMI, Genworth and Radian, as well as United Guaranty and Republic Mortgage Insurance. In other financial sector news, there were reports that AIG has halted the IPO of its reconstituted and renamed property and casualty unit, which is now called Chartis. CEO Benmosche stated that the arm is a "core unit" of the business. State Street acquired the securities services business of Intesa Sanpaolo in Italy and Luxembourg for â‚¬1.28B, including around â‚¬11B.
- In earnings, Navistar's Q4 results beat top- and bottom-line expectations, sending shares of NAV up 8%. Commercial Metals Company's quarterly loss was much bigger than expected, and warned that next quarter's results would be more or less the same. CMC is down 8% in early trading. Piper Jaffray beat expectations, although revenues are down substantially on a sequential basis. Take-Two offered dismal guidance for its Q1 and 2010 results; shares of TTWO are off 3%. URS Corp cut its 2009 forecast on costs incurred in reorganizing certain divisions, although the stock remains in positive territory in mid morning trading.
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