Dow +31 S&P +0.5 NASDAQ +2.5 Data - (US) NOV HOUSE PRICE INDEX (M/M): 0.7% V 0.2%E - (US) JAN CONSUMER CONFIDENCE: 55.9 V 53.5E (highest reading since Aug 2008) - (US) JAN RICHMOND FED MANUFACTURING INDEX: -2 V 0E - (SA) SOUTH AFRICA RESERVE BANK (SARB) LEAVES RATES UNCHANGED AT 7.00% - AS EXPECTED - (PD) POLISH CENTRAL BANK LEAVES BASE RATE UNCHANGED AT 3.50% - AS EXPECTED
- Some encouraging economic data is holding up US equity indices this morning. The November US house price data showed that home prices continue to recovery, although the gains remain very modest. The S&P/Case-Shiller index rose in November for the sixth consecutive month, with 14 of 20 metro areas posting improvements. January consumer confidence beat expectations and racked up its third straight monthly increase. Meanwhile, the day's corporate earnings have been largely positive. Investors have plenty to look forward to tomorrow, including President Obama's initial State of the Union speech and an FOMC rate decision. Ahead of the speech, the Congressional Budget Office released predictions for a $1.35 trillion deficit for this year as the economy continues to slowly recover from the recession. Treasury prices are also higher but the benchmark 10-year yield remains pinned at 3.6%. Today's $44B 2-year note auction kicks of $118B in coupon supply from the US Treasury this week.
- Four Dow components reported results yesterday after the close and this morning. Johnson & Johnson and DuPont beat top- and bottom-line estimates by respectable margins. Travelers crushed earnings estimates thanks to a big jump in RoE. FY10 earnings guidance at all three firms was right in line with expectations. Verizon was largely in line with expectations, although the firm saw a big increase in its wireless net subscriber additions on a q/q basis.
- Apple is the talk of the markets this morning, thanks to impressive results in its first quarter report. Note that the results were not comparable to estimates due to the company's adoption of new accounting procedures in Q1. Executives said that Apple saw "satisfactory" demand for iPhone among corporations and strong iPhone sales in various overseas markets. The focus now shifts to expectations for Apple to announce its new tablet device at an event tomorrow. AAPL is up about 1% in early trading. In other tech news, VMware is up 14% after beating estimates and guiding revenue above consensus for the coming quarter and the full year. Texas Instruments was in line with expectations and also guided above par, although shares of TXN are flat on the day. EMC is up 2% after coming in a hair above estimates.
- Steel names Nucor and US Steel offered strongly contrasting results. Nucor returned to profitability after two quarters of losses, disclosing earnings were more than twice the expected amount. The outlook for next quarter is somewhat murky, however, due to continued weakness in residential markets and looming inventory valuation adjustments. US Steel remains mired in losses, racking up a larger than expected quarterly EPS number. The company also said it would report another loss next quarter. In other earnings, shares of Amgen remains in positive territory despite an EPS miss. McGraw-Hill shares jumped out of negative territory to trade +2% as executives said its education business looked bright this year. Shares of Delta are down 3% on a larger than expected loss and a miss on revenue.
- The US Greenback has again benefited from some overall risk aversion coming out of the Asian and European trading sessions. The Dollar has largely been able consolidate gains from the overnight period against its European counterparts. Cable ticked below 1.61 after reporting a slight uptick in GDP. The Euro tested 1.4050 and though off those lows still trades down 70 pips on the day. The USD/JPY is at NY session lows below 90 once again despite S&P's decision to place Japan on ratings watch negative. Gold prices opened lower with other commodities but have since rebounded nicely into positive territory as desks report some short covering.
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