Dow +43 S&P +2.9 NASDAQ -2.2 ***Economic Data*** - (SA) South Africa Dec Trade Balance (ZAR) 3.7B v 0.3Be - (BE) Belgium Dec Unemployment: 8.2% v 8.1% prior - (CA) Canada Dec Industrial Product Price M/M: -0.1% v 0.5%e; Raw material Price Index M/M: -1.7% v 1.4%e - (US) Q4 Advanced GDP Annualized Q/Q: 5.7% v 4.6%e (highest since Sept 2003); Personal Consumption: 2.0% v 1.8%e - (US) Q4 Advance GDP Price Index: 0.6% v 1.3%e; Core PCE Q/Q: 1.4% v 1.3%e - (US) Q4 Employment Cost Index: 0.5% v 0.4%e - (US) Jan Chicago Purchasing Manager: 61.5 v 57.2e - (US) Jan Final University of Michigan Confidence: 74.4 v 73.0e - (US) Jan NAPM-Milwaukee: 56.0 v 52.0 prior
- The surprisingly strong advance Q4 GDP data and better-than-expected confidence and regional PMI data added to early stock gains that were already being fueled by multiple strong earnings reports in the technology sector. If the final GDP reading comes in at or above the advance reading, annualized Q4 GDP would be higher than at any time since September 2003. Note also that the Chicago Purchasing Manager employment components approached five year highs, providing even more confidence. Despite some initial equity gains trading has been choppy and as the afternoon approaches traders are focusing in on the weak action in tech. Shares of MSFT JNPR VSEA are down noticeably from strong openings while names like KLAC MXIM RMBS CA are all in the red post Q4 results. Commodities have made an attempt at stabilizing after testing some key levels on the downside. Front month copper continues to be heavy making fresh 2 month lows below $3.10 and March crude consolidates right around its 200-day moving around $74. Treasury prices were lower in the early going, weighed down by the strong economic data but have since recovered. The 10-year yield is a basis point below where it was trading late yesterday at 3.65%.
- Tech names Microsoft, Amazon, SanDisk and Juniper Networks all crushed consensus expectations. Microsoft was also way ahead of the Street on top-line revenue, driven by very strong demand for its new Windows 7 operating system, although traders should note that both revenue and EPS were higher due to new deferred revenue recognition rules. While executives said they have not seen a return of enterprise spending, they expect server shipments to improve over the next two quarters. MSFT rose 2% before the bell, but is back around even mid morning. Amazon authorized a new stock buyback and offered strong revenue guidance for next quarter. SanDisk said its results were their best quarterly performance ever in revenue, profit and cash flow. Note that the firm's guidance for next quarter and the full year was conservative. AMZN was up as much as 4% after the open, but is around +2% currently. JNPR is up nearly 5%, SNDK is down 7%.
- Chevron's Q4 results were surprisingly mixed: earnings missed expectations while revenue was way ahead of the consensus view. The firm's upstream revenue was up by nearly 30% on a q/q basis. The downstream operation racked up a substantial loss on one-time items (according to BoA/Merrill Lynch's analysis); Chevron blamed the downstream loss on low margins on the sale of gasoline and other refined products due to weak demand and excess supply worldwide. Shares of CVX are up nearly 1% in early trading.
- In other earnings, Mattel's earnings were well ahead of expectations. Arch Coal offered disappointing results and guided well below expectations, warning that Q1 would be its weakest period of FY10. ACI is down 7%. Fortune Brands did well in its Q4 but offered a very soft FY10 earnings forecast and said Q1 would be especially weak. FO is -3%. Auto components name Autoliv may have missed bottom line estimates, but its forecast for next quarter and the full year was much better than expected. ALV is up 7%. Label supplies maker Avery Dennison missed on earnings and offered a very mixed outlook for the full year. AVY is -12%
- The positive US economic data further strengthened the greenback during the New York session, with EUR/USD approaching fresh six-month lows near 1.3900. Traders continue to focus on European peripherals; Spain presented a roadmap this morning to bring its budget deficit back within the Maastrict Stability Pact criteria of 3.0% by 2013. Early analysis on Spanish budget plans indicates the country's 2009 deficit-to-GDP ratio was much higher than previously indicated and forward growth projections for 2011 and 2012 seem overly optimistic for an economy that was not projected to return to "normal" levels of employment for at least a decade. Yen softness is being attributed to Toshin launches and month-end rebalancing flows. JPY also continued to mirror the volatile price action exhibited in the US 2-year note. USD/JPY is hovering near the 91 area.
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