***Economic Data*** - (SA) South Africa Jan Trade Balance (ZAR): -3.3B v -2.5Be v 3.7B prior - (SA) South Africa Jan Budget: -13.1B v 6.3B prior - (CL) Chile Jan Industrial Production Y/Y: -1.1% v 3.0%e; Industrial Sales Y/Y: -0.5% v 0.9%e - (CL) Chile Jan Unemployment Rate: 8.7% v 8.6%e - (CL) Chile Jan Copper Production: 424.0M tons v 502K tons prior - (CA) Canada Q4 Current Account: -$8.5Be v -$13.1B prior - (US) Q4 GDP Q/Q Annualized: 5.9% v 5.7%e; Personal Consumption: 1.7% v 2.0%e - (US) Q4 GDP price Index: 0.4% v 0.6%e; Core PCE Q/Q: 1.7% v 1.4%e - (BE) Belgium Jan Budget balance YTD: -â‚¬2.9B -â‚¬7.8B prior - (US) Feb Chicago Purchasing manager: 62.6 v 59.7e; highest reading since Apr 2005 - (US) Feb Final University of Michigan Confidence: 73.6 v 73.9e - (US) Jan Existing Home Sales: 5.05M v 5.50Me v 5.45M prior; lowest reading since Jun 2009 - (US) Feb NAPM Milwaukee: 56.0 v 56.0 prior
- US equity indices opened at or near yesterday's highs after the second reading of Q4 US GDP came in even higher than the preliminary data. UK GDP figures also bested estimates overnight and that along with the highest Chicago PMI in almost 5 years is overshadowing softer existing homes sales. The weak January Existing Home Sales index, which hit its lowest level since June 2009, briefly sent markets into the red but traders seemed to have at least attributed much of the softness to the poor weather. Greek headlines continue to be picked apart after the highly speculated about 10-year Greek bond auction was officially put off until next week, and separately a German lawmaker provided some detail of what a potential bailout package could look like. The 10-year Greek/Bund spread has narrowed some 25 basis points and CDS prices have declined. Major US indices are back in the black in mid morning trading but gains are marginal and volume is light. Front-month crude is up more than $1.50 on the robust GDP news, to trade just below the key $80 handle while the Euro has retaken the1.36 mark on chatter shorts are getting squeezed.
- AIG reported a quarterly loss of $8.9B this morning, warning once again that it may need additional government support. In a fresh sign of normalcy, the company did note it has adequate liquidity to finance itself for at least the next twelve months." Shares of the crippled insurance giant are down 8%.
- The Gap reported in line with expectations and hiked its 2010 dividend substantially. Executives promised robust 2010 earnings and revenue growth on the conference call. GAP opened in the black, but has fallen off to around -3% in early trading. Wynn came in firmly ahead of expectations. Steve Wynn said his company was conservative regarding the Las Vegas outlook, and that Macau has had a "very good start" to 2010. WYNN fell 2% in early trading but is off its worst levels. Pre-paid mobile firm Leap Wireless is not looking good in comparison to competitor MetroPCS: Leap's quarterly loss was much bigger than expected, although a similar bump in net customer adds to PCS was seen in the quarter. LEAP is down 4%, while PCS is down 2% or so. Dry Ships was largely in line with consensus estimates. On the conference call, DRYS's CEO said 100% of the company's ships would be on long-term time charters in 2010, and EBITDA would be well above current expectations. DRYS is down 4%.
- CKE Restaurants, which owns fast-food chains Hardee's and Carl's Jr., has agreed to sell itself to private equity firm Thomas Lee Partners for $928M in cash and debt. Under the terms of the deal, THL will pay $11.05/shr (a 24% premium to CKE's closing price yesterday). THL will also assume about $309M of CKE's debt. CKE is up 25%, JACK is up 5% and YUM is up flat.
- Currency markets were mixed during the NY morning as conflicting data and commentary limited fresh flows. Sterling maintained its soft tone as dealers mulled over the possibility of an early election for parliament. Dealers also noted that the upward revision in the US Q4 GDP report seemed baked into sentiment. EUR/USD has been unable to sustain any momentum over 1.36 while GBP/USD slumped to 1.5150. USD/JPY is just below the 89 handle. Markets continue to debate the timing of a possible revaluation of China's yuan, with some murmurs that it could come relatively soon.
***Looking Ahead*** - Fed's Dudley and Kocherlakota at NY policy forum - (CO) Colombia Jan Unemployment Rate: 13.5%e v 12.3% prior - Treasury Kruegar at Brookings Institute - Fed's Feinberg - Fed's Tarullo - (AR) Argentina Jan Construction Activity Y/Y: No est v 4.2% prior
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