Dow +7.7 S&P -1 NASDAQ +2.5 *** ECONOMIC DATA*** - (PD) Poland Dec CPI M/M: 0.0% v 0.1%e; Y/Y: 3.5% v 3.6%e - (US) Dec Import Price Index M/M: 0.0% v 0.0%e; Y/Y: 8.6% v 8.6%e - (US) Dec Advance Retail Sales: -0.3% v 0.5%e; Less Autos: -0.2% v 0.3%e; Ex auto & Gas: -0.3% v 0.2%e - (US) Initial Jobless Claims: 444K v 436Ke; Continuing Claims: 4.596M v 4.750 - (RU) Russia $30.4B prior; Imports: $19.4B v $19.7Be - (MX) Mexico Oct Global Economic Indicator: -5.3% v -4.6%e - (US) Nov Business inventories: 0.4% v 0.3%e
- US equity markets are having a tough time finding a direction after rising into positive territory in early trading. It has been a tepid start thanks to the disappointing December retail sales reading. Note that the final retail sales figure for the year puts 2009 sales -6.2% y/y, for the worst year on record since the data series began. Initial weekly claims were a bit higher than expected as well. Front-month crude is more or less unchanged, just above the $79 handle. Bond prices moved higher following the weak consumer data but the 10-year yield remains pinned near 3.75%.
- After grilling bank CEOs yesterday morning, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is speaking with regulators this morning. FDIC Chairwoman Bair acknowledged the failure of regulators to prevent the excesses that led to the crisis, while also warning that piling on more regulations would only increase the size of the "shadow banking system." Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs remain in the red in early trading after government officials confirmed that the US will apply fees to TARP program participants, targeting firms that are seen as being responsible for reckless lending. The effort looks to raise $90B over ten years, with the top ten financial firms would pay 60% of total fees. The FT writes that the proposed fees might hurt investment banks the most.
- Tech analysts Gartner and IDC have published their Q4 PC market analyses, both of which show strong sales growth for the industry. Gartner saw global PC shipments up more than 22% y/y, IDC said the US PC market grew by 24% y/y in the quarter. Both firms noted the growth was driven by sales of small, low-priced devices including netbooks and small notebooks. According to Gartner, the EMEA region returned to positive growth for the first time in three quarters, and Latin America and Japan also recorded shipment increases.
- In other news, LaBranche is up nearly 50% after selling its NYSE market making business to Barclays for $25M. Forest Oil is up 11% after a very positive update on the firm's second-half 2009 Texas drilling activities. Medifast is down 11% after a law firm announced it would investigate allegations launched by Barry Minkow's Fraud Discovery Institute that the firm had mislead investors in earnings results. Battery maker A123 Systems is up 10% after signing a battery supply deal for Fisker Automotives new Karma plug-in hybrid model.
- In currencies, the greenback faced mixed action as weaker US retail sales data highlighted the continued challenges faced by the budding economic recovery. The ECB maintained its key main refinancing rate at 1.0% (as expected) but continued concerns over the European peripherals eventually weighed upon euro sentiment. ECB's Trichet "tough talk" on Greece has impacted the 10-year Greek/Bund spread, pushing it beyond the 270bps level. Trichet noted that "no government should expect special treatment," specifically mention both the Greek and Irish situations. EUR/USD drifted off its 1.4520 post rate decision high to test a key post US payroll pivot level of 1.4460. USD/JPY reacted sharply to the weak US retail sales data, moving from 92 to test 9.11 before stabilizing. Dealers are noting that a huge 91.25 option that expires later this month could contain the volatility in this pair over the next two weeks. 90.70 continues to be where USD sell-stop orders are said to be lurking.
- 12:00 (TU) Turkey Central Bank Interest rate Decision: No expected in the Base rate from the 6.50% current level - 13:00 (US) 30-year bond reopening - 16:00 (CL) Chile Central Bank interest rate decision: No change expected in the Overnight rate from the 0.50% current level
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