***Economic Data*** - (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Mar 12th: -1.9% v 0.5% prior - (US) Feb Producer Price Index M/M: -0.6% v -0.2%e; PPI Ex Food&Energy M/M: 0.1% v 0.1%e - (CA) Canada Jan Wholesale Sales M/M: 3.0% v 0.5%e - (PD) Poland Feb Producer Prices M/M: -0.1% v 0.3%e; Y/Y: -2.4% v -2.1%e - (PD) Poland Feb Industrial Output M/M: 3.1% v 3.2%e; Y/Y: 9.2% v 9.0%e - (US) DOE weekly energy inventories: Crude:+1.1M v +500Ke (7th straight week of build); Gasoline: -1.5M v +200Ke; Distillate: -1.7M v -1Me; Utilization: 80.6% v 80.7%e - (BR) Brazil Feb CAGED Formal Job Creation: 209.4K v 200ke
- Yesterday's soothing decisions from both the FOMC and the BoJ plus risk appetite in both Asia and European trading are sending US equity indices higher this morning. OPEC has left output unchanged, as expected, with member states still wrangling over quotas and what to do about Iraq's imminent return to much higher levels of production. In Washington, the Senate passed the jobs bill, which President Obama has promised to sign. The bill would provide tax breaks for firms that hire unemployed workers and also includes a round of highway and transit spending. Front-month crude is little changed by the OPEC decision, with the contract trading just above the $82 handle.
- WellPoint reiterated its FY10 earnings guidance and offered a first look at its revenue forecast for the year. The firm's target is a hair above expectations, and it also expects year-end 2010 enrollment to be lower y/y. Shares of WLP and other major health insurers are down somewhat this morning, as media handicapping of the chances of healthcare reform passage continue. Note that left-wing Rep. Kucinich (D) said he would vote for the package this morning; reversing his earlier stance. A handful of other small cap firms have offered near-term guidance as well. Chinese jeweler FUQI cut its Q4 earnings forecast in half, putting it way below Street estimates. FUQI is down 35%. Computer networking and storage name LSI Corp offered preliminary Q1 guidance that beat expectations and also authorized a large stock buyback program. LSI is up 10%. Medical testing firm Meridian Biosciences cut its 2010 outlook and guided its Q1 well below par due to a less active flu season this year. Shares of VIVO are down 16%.
- In earnings, Discover Financial surprised investors with a sizable quarterly loss, versus expectations of solid profitability. Discover's delinquency rates are improving, however its provision for loan losses continues to grow. In addition, Discover said the Treasury has approved its request to pay back TARP funds. DFS opened down 3%, and then spiked to +3% immediately after the bell. DFS is around even mid morning. Fresh out of bankruptcy, CIT Group reported a Q4 loss of $1B. The lender said it would not return to profitability in 2010 under regular accounting rules, although under special "fresh start" accounting measures would put it back into the black this year. Shares of CIT are up 4% or so.
- New York session FX trading saw a retracement in price action as technical exhaustion wore down the upward momentum of European pairs. EUR/USD is little changed from its opening level in Asia of 1.3760 while GBP/USD moved some 505 pips off its best level of 1.5380 after better jobless claims and inflationary concerns from the BoE earlier today. EUR/CHF tested below the 1.45 handle to hit fresh 17 month lows.
***Looking ahead**** - Fed's Bernanke - (BR) Brazil Central Bank (COPOM) Interest rate decision: Analyst expectations are for the SELIC Target rate to be raised by 50bps to 9.25%
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