***Economic Data*** - (UK) BOE maintained both its interest rate decision: and Asset purchase targets at current levels (0.50% and Â£200B respectively); as expected - (CZ) Czech Central Bank Interest Rate maintained the Repo Rate at 1.00%; as expected - (BR) Brazil Jan Vehicle sales: 213.3K v 293.0K prior; Vehicle Production: 243.4K v 251.5K prior - (EU) ECB maintained its main Refi rate at 1.00%; as expected - (RU) Russia Jan Consumer Prices M/M: 1.6% v 2.0%e; Y/Y: 8.0% v 8.4%e; CPI YTD: 1.6% v 2.0%e - (RU) Russia Jan Core CPI M/M: 0.5% v 0.9%e; Core CPI YTD: 0.5% v 0.9%e - (RU) Russia Gold & Forex Reserves w/e Jan 29th $437.1B v $435.6B prior - (CA) Canada Dec Building Permits M/M: 2.4% v 2.5%e - (US) Q4 Preliminary Nonfarm Productivity: 6.2% v 6.5%e; Unit Labor Costs: -4.4% v -3.5%e - (US) Initial Jobless Claims: 480K v 455Ke; Continuing Claims: 4.602M v 4.581Me - (US) Jan ICSC Chain Store Sales Y/Y: 3.0% v 2.8% prior - (CA) Canada Jan Ivey Purchasing managers Index: 50.8 v 53.0e - (US) Dec Factory Orders: 1.0% v 0.5%e - (MX) Mexico Jan Consumer Confidence: 82.1 v 79.8e - (US) EIA Natural Gas Inventories: -115BCF v -120 TO -125 bcf est range
- Things are falling apart this morning as investors flee all asset classes for safety in Treasuries, the Dollar and Japanese Yen. Shanghai and Tokyo closed in the red, while leading indices in both Europe and US are dropping sharply. Concerns over the weak links in the Euro Zone continue to fuel risk aversion, as investors add jitters over sovereign issues in Spain and Portugal to well-entrenched fears about Greece. In the currency market there has been vague chatter of Europe developing a "Plan B" to reckon with peripheral sovereign issues. Front-month crude is down more than $2.50 to trade around $74.40, gold is down more than 4% to levels not seen since early November, front month copper is now below $2.90 brining the 200-eay EMA back into view for first time since last summer. Unsurprisingly US Treasury markets are bid. The long bond is higher by more than a point pushing the yield back towards 4.55%. The curve is a bit steeper pushing above 280 basis points heading into tomorrow's jobs report.
- Cisco topped earnings and revenue estimates in its Q2, while revenue guidance for its Q3 was ahead of target. CEO Chambers was upbeat, noting that the firm's results clearly indicate that the US is entering "the second phase of the economic recovery." Broadcom disclosed a quarterly profit on a GAAP basis and was largely in line on the top line, and also said it would resume paying dividends. Both CSCO and BRCM are still trading in positive territory. Novellus Systems beat estimates slightly and offered upbeat comments on the semi industry, citing benefits from Windows 7 adoption and strength in China. NVLS is down more than 5%.
- Credit card names Visa and MasterCard both reported quarterly results. Visa did slightly better than expected and reaffirmed its 2010 forecast, while MasterCard was in line with expectations. Visa said it is seeing better than expected international and cross-border volumes, but warned it is not clear if this represents a rebound or simply pent-up demand. Shares of MA are down 7%, while V is up 2%. Moody's beat top- and bottom-line estimates, although its 2010 outlook was soft. MCO is down 4%.
- Steel Dynamics was the last major US steel maker to offer results for the December quarter. STLD missed earnings targets, while also offering upbeat comments, noting that demand remains robust and signs of economic recovery are everywhere. Big ag name Bunge reported a fourth-quarter loss on Thursday as its fertilizer segment continued to lose money and agribusiness results were weaker than expected. Specialty chemicals manufacturer Lubrizol missed on earnings in a big way, although its FY10 forecast was stronger than expected. STLD is down 5%, BG is off 4% and LZ is up 1%.
- In consumer-oriented names, tobacco firm Reynolds American's quarterly results were a bit soft, and warned that 2010 would be a challenging year. Fast-food firms Yum! Brands and Burger King both offered better-than-expected quarterly results, while warning that the full year would remain tough. Burger King warned that next quarter's comps would be soft due to continued adverse macroeconomic conditions and continuing high unemployment levels. YUM is down nearly 4%, while BKC is in the black. Kellogg missed on earnings and full-year guidance was below par. K is down 4%.
- January same-store sales were broadly positive, with most retailers beating consensus estimates. The biggest disappointment was Target, which slipped back into negative comps in January after a strong December. Shares of TGT are down 4%. Both BJ and COST were well ahead of expectations. Apparel names were notably strong. ANF was a big reversal, with a +9% comp versus expectations for -8%. PLCE and AEO also crushed expectations. Shares of ANF and PLCE are both up 4%. HOTT and recently strong name BKE were both in the red. Shares of LTD are down 8% despite beating SSS estimates handily. Top-shelf department stores JWN and SKS continue to outperform.
- The greenback has maintained a firm footing against the European pairs, with USD at fresh 7-months lows against the Euro below the 1.38 handle. The ECB reiterated that interest rates were appropriate and that price pressures were expected to remain subdued, with a bumpy economic recovery could. Trichet pointed out that M3 and credit growth was likely to remain weak for some time to come. When questioned about the Greek situation, Trichet said the ECB approves of the Greek goal of a deficit to GDP ratio below 3% by 2012. Trichet also reaffirmed that he "appreciates" the US stance of support for strong USD ahead of the G7 summit this week.
- Currency market has numerous pairs approaching and or testing key technical levels from 2009. EUR/JPY has busted 124.30 (April lows) and washed out another 100 pips to trade as low as 1.2310, EUR/USD is not far from 1.3740, which provided the upside technical momentum last summer. GBP/USD is approaching the 1.5750 quarterly pivot point. The break in the EUR/JPY cross seems to have attracted the most interest among dealing desks given the substantial follow-through price action, with some mentioning 115 level as a possibility.
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