*** ECONOMIC DATA *** - (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Jan 1st: v -10.7% last release (Data was not released last week due to holiday) - (US) Dec Challenger Job Cuts 45.1K v 50.4K prior; Y/Y: -72.9% v -72.3% prior; - (US) Dec ADP Employment Change: -84K v -75Ke - (US) Dec ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite: 50.1 v 50.5e; Prices Paid: 58.7 v 57.8 prior; Components: Employment: 44 v 41.6 prior, New Orders: 52.1 v 55.1 prior, Inventories: 51.5 v 45.5 prior - (US) DoE weekly inventories: Crude: +1.3M v -500Ke; Gasoline: +3.7M v +500Ke; Distillate: -230K v -2Me; Capacity Utilization: 79.8% v 80.8%e
- Equities are more or less unchanged from the levels seen over the last two days. The December Challenger and ADP job reports held no surprises, giving traders few hints in the lead up to Friday's much anticipated December non-farm payrolls data. Note that the employment component of the ISM non-manufacturing index was up slightly from November. Note that Blackrock's Bob Doll said the US economy would expand 3% or more in 2010; US stocks should outperform the rest of the developed world this year. Goldman is down nearly 1% after another bearish call from Meredith Whitney yesterday afternoon. Front-month crude is off $0.50 or so after an unexpected gain in the DoE's crude inventories. Copper is moving above the $3.50 level, which has not broken since 2008.
- In his January newsletter, PIMCO's Bill Gross warned that exit strategies in the US and the UK in 2010 will curtail the extraordinary amount of liquidity that propped up all asset classes in 2009. "Downdrafts and discipline lie ahead for governments and investor portfolios alike," wrote Gross. "It seems no coincidence that stocks, high yield bonds, and other risk assets have thrived since early March most "carry" trades in credit, duration, and currency space may be at risk in the first half of 2010 as the markets readjust to the absence of their sugar daddy." Gross warns that market returns may not be great in 2010.
- Family Dollar is a big gainer this morning, rising to +12% just after the open, on relatively in line Q1 earnings and slightly better than expected guidance for Q2 and an improved 2010 revenue outlook. Two Big Ag names missed earnings targets in quarterly reports this morning. Monsanto harvested a small quarterly loss in its Q1 and missed on revenue by a wide margin. The firm did reaffirm its 2010 earnings outlook for the fourth time. On the conference call, executives were upbeat, noting that earnings would return to more normal seasonality in 2010 after a bumpy 2009. Fertilizer name Mosaic also missed consensus expectations in its Q2, while revenue was in line. The company noted that although potash orders remained soft, sales activity picked up toward the end of the quarter and it expects this trend to continue in 2010, driven by demand in China. MON was down as much as 2% in the early going but is around even mid morning, while MOS is up around 1%.
- Beazer Homes is down more than 10% after the firm said it would offer 18M shares of common stock plus $50M in debt. The firm attempted to offset the downside by reporting preliminary new home orders and closings for its Q1, with new orders +36.6% y/y and closings up +8% y/y. Note that both metrics were down on a sequential basis. Small cap names Tempur Pedic and Sonosite both reported preliminary results ahead of earnings season. TPX was up as much as 9% before settling to +4.5%, while SONO is up 3%.
- In currencies: Dealers commented that the NY session was characterized by a market trading on multiple agendas without a common theme. The steady stream of economic data begins the lead-up to Friday's non-farm payrolls. The ADP employment report continued to show MoM improvements in its reading but has yet to move into positive job growth. The US interest yields are steady but still off their highest levels seen on the first trading day of the year. The greenback maintained a constructive tone despite a strong performance of metal commodities and steady crude prices, providing more evidence that the dollar is diverging from its 2009 correlations with commodities and equities. Sterling was softer as former UK Labor Ministers Hoon and Hewitt tried to launch a secret ballet on PM Brown's leadership. The yen was off its worst levels against the majors as traders digested Finance Minister Fujii's resignation. Fujii was the architect of the firm JPY policy of the new Japanese govt, and many assume it will be only a matter of time before the new Finance Minister Kan starts to talks down the yen.
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