***Economic Data** - (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Feb 12th: -2.1% v -1.2% prior - (US) ICSC weekly Chain Store sales w/e Feb 13th: -1.6% w/w, -1.7% y/y - (CA) Canada Dec Wholesale Sales M/M: 0.7% v 0.8%e - (US) Jan Import Price index M/M: 1.4% v 1.0%e; Y/Y: 11.5% v 10.8%e - (US) Jan Housing Starts: 591K v 580Ke; Building Permit: 621K v 620Ke - Redbook Retail Sales for the week ending Feb 13th: +1.8% y/y; MTD +1.6% v Jan - (BE) Belgium Q4 Preliminary GDP Q/Q: 0.3% v 0.7% prior; Y/Y: -0.8% v -3.2% prior - (US) Jan Industrial Production: 0.9% v 0.7%e; Capacity Utilization: 72.6% v 72.6%e
- The positive January housing starts and industrial production data plus follow-on strength from Asian and European markets helped US equities to some early gains. Deere's very strong results and strength in selected bank stocks are also a factor this morning. But a general uptick in risk aversion most notably seen in an underlying bid in the US Dollar is serving as a headwind heading towards the second half of the NY session. Indices have given back nearly all their gains from the strong open. Commodities are generally near their lows of the session but declines are modest. Treasury prices have been lower through much of the session, but declines there are modest as well holding the benchmark yield below 3.7%.
- Citi and Bank of America are both up nearly 3% in early trading thanks to increased stakes among various hedge funds. Shares of Deere and Company are up nearly 8% following the company's stunning quarterly results. The firm also offered very strong revenue guidance for the coming quarter and the full year. Profitability in the unit that makes Deere's green tractors and harvesters was especially impressive, reporting margins of nearly 10 percent -- three times what investors had expected. Quarterly results from biotech giant Genzyme were in line, although its full-year forecast missed expectations; GENZ is down slightly. Whole Foods Market is up 10% on stronger-than-expected earnings and a big increase in the firm's 2010 outlook. XTO Energy beat expectations.
- In other earnings, Office Max is up 5% after reporting a smaller loss than expected plus revenue above par. Dollar Thrifty's earnings were a big positive surprise, and the company said further improvements in the economy would improve results further. PF Chang's crushed expectations and launched a dividend. La-Z-Boy crushed expectations. Talbot's improved its Q4 revenue outlook.
- The greenback appears to have decoupled from precious metal prices, as the currency strengthened throughout the European session and into the New York morning. Dealers discussed the ECB overnight lending facility and the recent spike in borrowings. The take-up in the overnight facility has been sizable but markets are assuming that Thursday's report should paint a different picture, with the one-week week auction binding up the gap. However, some dealers warn that if the large overnight borrowings remain in the system then it suggests the European peripheral situation may be a larger problem than recent rhetoric heard from EU figures might suggest. There has been some speculation that the recent surge was a failed Greek repo trade which has now been bridged. EUR/USD has re-penetrated the 1.3690 level, which provided the catalyst for the price action on Tuesday and brought about broad based US Dollar bids. The yen maintained a softer tone early but prices action is picking up as what appear to be risk aversion flows into the Dollar.
- Note that the dollar's recent decoupling from gold seemed to be complemented by a Far East analyst's take on the recent US TIC data. Although China's holdings of US Treasuries declined by $34B in Dec, the funds have likely stayed within the US borders for the time being as China purchases real goods like land, farms or shares in certain firms on the US mainland.
***Looking Ahead*** - 11:00 (IT) Italy Fin Min Tremonti in Parliament - 12:00 (GE) Chancellor Merkel policy speech - 12:00 (CA) Canada to sell 30-year bonds - 12:20 (CA) Bank of Canada Dep Gov Longworth - 12:30 (MX) Mexico bond auction - 12:45 Fed's Plosser - 14:00 (US) FOMC minutes from Jan 26th-27th policy meeting - 14:00 (US) Jan Monthly Budget Statement: -$46.0Be v -$63.5B prior - 16:30 (US) Crude Oil/Gasoline/Distillate Inventories
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