***Economic Data**** - (CL) Chile Dec Economic Activity Y/Y: 3.9% v 2.9%e - (CA) Canada Jan Net Change in Employment: 43.0K v 15.0Ke; Unemployment Rate:8.3% v 8.5%e - (US) Jan Change in Nonfarm payrolls: -20K v 15Ke; Change in Manufacturing payrolls: +11K v -20Ke - (US) Jan Unemployment Rate: 9.7% v 10.0%e (10.6% under old calculations) - (US) Jan - Average Hourly Earnings M/M: 0.3% v 0.2%e; Average Weekly Hours: 33.3 v 33.2e
- There has been a palpable amount of consternation and confusion over the January payrolls data this morning, but equity markets appear to be taking it in stride after the dramatic move away from risk seen leading up to the report. The headline non-farm data did not offer the positive number that analysts had hoped for, although manufacturing payrolls crept into growth for their first positive reading since November 2007. Meanwhile, the Labor Department nearly doubled the December non-farm losses by revising it to -150K and made a big downward revision in the birth-death benchmark adjustments. The official January annualized unemployment rate dropped below the key 10% level, although it's worth noting that the Labor Department is using a new house hold survey calculating the number; using the old payroll survey the annualized January unemployment rate would be 10.6%. US equity indices opened at yesterday's closing levels (when the DJIA had closed below 10,000 for the first time since November 4th, 2009) and have treaded in and out of positive territory for much of the early going. The tech heavy NASDAQ continues to outperform the broad market. The VIX shot up yesterday as a certain level of panic crept into markets, and although the key measure of anxiety remains elevated, it is down slightly in early trading at 25.55. Commodity and currency markets are trying to catch their breath after yesterday, but diminished risk appetite continues put boost the Greenback and weigh on metals and energy. Crude is marginally lower after testing $72.50 in the March contract while April gold has traded below 1050 briefly in electronic trade. Treasury yields moved higher initially following the data but prices remain flat to slightly up from yesterday's close. The 10-year benchmark is just below 3.6% while the Dec fed fund future has ticked higher nearly pricing out any chance rate hike to 0.75% in Fed Funds by year end.
- Earnings from health insurance firm Aetna were a bit behind the Street, while its FY10 guidance fell well short of expectations. Echoing comments from other large heath insurance majors, Aetna executives say unemployment, a poor economy and healthcare reform will continue to pressure membership levels in 2010. Tyson apparently crushed earnings estimates and offered upbeat commentary about 2010. Revenue at trucking names Con-Way and YRC Worldwide was in line with analysts' estimates, although Con-Way missed earnings targets and YRC refrained from offering EPS numbers at all. Executives at both firms offered generally positive comments about the macroeconomic situation, noting that recovery was being seen in shipping volumes. Beazer Homes was way ahead of expectations on better margins and a much reduced cancellation rate, although backlog and new orders both shrank in the quarter.
- The fallout from Toyota's break problem continues. Standard & Poor's put the firm's AA ratings on negative watch over the recall. Toyota's president formally apologized for the issues in Tokyo, said it was fully cooperating with the NHTSA's preliminary investigation and confirmed that it may recall Prius models. Auto parts name American Axle was in line with expectations in its Q4 report, although its 2010 revenue forecast was a bit soft. Lear's quarterly loss was its smallest since the auto industry crisis blew up in mid 2008, although it remains unclear whether the provided bottom-line figure was in line with expectations or not.
- In currency trading, EUR/USD failed to regain a foothold above the 1.3740 area and drifted toward the lower end of its session lows near 1.3650. The uncertainty of the economic developments was brushed aside by the worsening condition of the European peripherals, with renewed rumors that the EU might need to invoke emergency treaty powers and issue EU guarantees. Portugal's Parliament did approve a regional finance bill, although the government was against the bill as it would raise the deficit.
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