***Economic Data*** - (CL) Chile Jan Economic Activity Y/Y: 4.3% v 3.7%e - (BR) Brazil Feb IBGE Inflation M/M: 0.8% v 0.8%e; Y/Y: 4.8% - (US) Feb Change in Nonfarm Payrolls: -36K v -68Ke; Change in Manufacturing Payrolls: +1K v -15Ke - (US) Feb Unemployment Rate: 9.7% v 9.8%e - (US) Feb Avg Hourly Earnings M/M: 0.1% v 0.2%e; Avg Weekly Hours: 33.8 v 33.7e
- The incremental improvements seen in this morning's US employment reports are sharpening risk appetite and sending US equity markets higher in early trading. Administration officials made the rounds after the data was released, insisting that the numbers would have been even stronger if not for the dire weather in February. White House economic advisor Romer said the storms had a "significant" impact on the data and expects March payrolls to be even better as a result. PIMCO's Bill Gross took the opportunity to comment on the "new normal," warning that unemployment may pop above 10% once again and that much of US joblessness is structural in nature. Front-month crude is testing the $82 handle for the first time since early January, while gold is holding steady near the top of its range from the last three sessions, around $1,140.
- Apple announced the release data for its widely anticipated iPad tablet computer product this morning. The iPad will be available in the US for pre-order on March 12th and in stores April 3. The device will be available in other global locations later in April. Semi name Marvell Tech is off 2% after more than meeting expectations in its Q4 report and offering strong guidance for next quarter. Chinese solar name Solarfun is down 8% after warning that its average selling prices will decline 10% q/q next quarter. Solarfun's quarterly results met expectations. Canadian doughnut master Tim Hortons offered strong earnings guidance for FY10, sending US-listed shares THI up more than 3%.
- Merger news continued to stack up in the premarket. Private equity firm ABRY Partners signed a deal to acquire telecom services firm RCN Corporation for a total of $1.2B in cash and debt, at $15/shr. There were reports that Agrium was potentially mulling a fresh offer for CF Industries, although the reports indicated that Agrium would hold off until CF resolved its hostile bid for Terra Industries. Note that CF has in the past claimed that Agrium's offer of $45 in cash plus one Agrium shr/CF shr was inadequate.
- The greenback initially firmed against the majors in the aftermath of the US payroll report as the data presented better prospects for a US recovery. Rising equity risk appetite exhibited during the New York session eroded the dollar's gains against the European pairs, although the USD/JPY maintained its post-data highs.
***Looking Ahead*** - (US) Jan Consumer Credit: -$4.5Be v -$1.7B prior
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