***Economic data*** - (BR) Brazil Jan Unemployment Rate: 7.2% v 7.6%e - (RU) Russia Gold & Forex Reserves w/e Feb 19th: $432.4B v $431.5B prior - (UK) Feb CBI Distributive Trades: +23 v -8 prior; highest reading since May 2007 - (BR) Brazil Jan Nominal Budget (BRL): 2.2B v -13.9B prior; Primary Budget: 16.2B v 13.2Be; Net Debt to GDP ratio: 41.7% v 41.8%e - (US) Jan Durable Goods orders: 3.0% v 1.4%e; Durables Ex Transportation: -0.6% v 1.0%e - (US) Initial Jobless Claims: 486K v 460Ke; Continuing Claims: 4.617M v 4.570Me - (US) Dec House Price Index M/M: -1.6 v 0.4%e; HPI Q4: -0.1 v 0.1% prior - (MX) Mexico Jan Unemployment Rate: 5.9% v 5.3%e - (MX) Mexico Dec Current Account Balance: -$690 v -$188Me
- Resurfacing consternation in Europe regarding Greece, and fresh fears about the stamina of the economic recovery in the US forced equity indices down to near two-week lows in what has been an ugly session thus far. In the European session, a German debt official said a Greek sovereign default or departure from the EMU would lead to a collapse of the euro after attention was garnered by particularly inflammatory and derisive comments from the Greece Deputy Prime Minister on BBC radio yesterday. More importantly though, the major debt agencies continue to talk tough on Greece the latest being Moody's. Any possible recalibration of Moody's rating bringing it down inline with both Fitch and S&P would render Greece's sovereign debt ineligible as collateral for ECB repo operations when the criteria returns to normal minimal thresholds at the end of this year. Greek/Bund 10-year spreads widened out above 350 basis points for the first time in 2 weeks. In the US, a trio of data misses has only amplified the risk aversion instincts among investors: weekly claims data were soft once again, December house prices missed expectations and declined again, and the ex-transport durables data missed expectations. WashingtonDC remains a focus, with President Obama corralling Congressional leaders for an unusual televised debate on healthcare reform. Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Bernanke is before the Senate for his annual policy review, reiterating most of his commentary from yesterday's House testimony. Front-month crude is getting hit, down nearly $3 to trade just above the $77 handle. Gold has spiked up in the last half hour of trade on rumors that China could buy a big chunk of the IMF's gold reserves, but the move has been met quickly with supply as traders cast doubt on the likeliness of such a move. Money continues to flow to the safe haven of government bonds. The US long bond yield is below 4.6% while at the short end of the German curve has seen the Shatz yield test all time lows at 0.95%.
- Coca-Cola plans to buy the North American operations of its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises in a complicated cash, stock and debt deal. Coke already owns about 34% of CCE; the deal includes consideration of Coke's current stake, nearly $9B in CCE debt and all its North American assets and liabilities. In addition, the companies agreed CCE would buy Coke's bottling operations in Norway and Sweden for $822M and have the right to acquire the soft-drink maker's 83% stake in its German bottling operations in the three years after closing the deal. Note that late last year Pepsi acquired two of its biggest bottling partners. Shares of CCE are up 35%, while shares of KO are down 5%.
- Pharmacy benefits administrator Express Scripts beat consensus targets and guided above par for the year. Generic drug maker Mylan was slightly ahead of expectations and guidance for 2010 was very strong. King Pharma's quarterly results were a little soft. ESRX is up more than 8%, MYL is up nearly 6% and KG is down 3%. Pre-paid mobile phone firm MetroPCS had strong quarterly results and saw a big increase in net subscriber additions. Executives had no comment in regards to rumors of a merger with competitor Leap Wireless (which reports today after the close). PCS is up 6%, and LEAP is up 2%. Note that cell phone manufacturer Palm slashed its Q3 and FY10 revenue guidance to "well below" its prior range this morning on declining sales. PALM fell more than 20% before the open, but is well off its early lows. Auto parts names TRW and Magna reported contrasting results, with TRW crushing expectations and MGA slipping back into quarterly losses. Dr. Pepper Snapple was in line with expectations, while Heinz was well ahead of earnings targets on very strong margins.
- Early trading in the New York session saw a continuing of the unwinding of USD and JPY carry-related trades that characterized the Asian session, which maintained the dollar's heavy tone against the European currencies. EUR/USD again failed to move below the 1.3442 lows made a week earlier as Far East Sovereign names provided stern support in the pair. Options-related flows picked up, with chatter circulating about deep out-of-the-money option strikes getting good interest. Early European desks noted option barrier exposure being opened up around the 1.25 area while New York desks commented on a 1.10 strike being shopped around a three-month play by a North American prop desk. USD/JPY tested below the 89 handle while the yen made fresh one-year highs against the pound and euro pairs.
***Looking ahead*** - 13:00 (US) Treasury to sell 32B in 7-year notes - 13:00 (UK) BOE's Miles speech - 13:15 (US) Fed's Bullard speaks on US economic outlook - 14:00 (US) Fed's Alvarez - 14:00 (US) Treasury Feinberg - 14:00 (AR) Argentina Jan Supermarket sales Y/Y: No est v 9.3% prior prior
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