***Economic Data*** - (GE) German Mar CPI - Baden Wuerttemberg M/M: 0.7% v 0.2% prior; Y/Y: 1.3% v 0.3% prior - (HU) Hungary Central bank cut the base rate by 25bps to 5.50%; as expected - (US) Feb Personal Income: 0.0% v 0.1%e; Personal Spending: 0.3% v 0.3%e - (US) Feb PCE Core M/M: 0.0% v 0.1%e; Y/Y: 1.3% v 1.3%e; PCE Deflator Y/Y: 1.8% v 1.8%e - (GE) Germany Preliminary Mar CPI M/M: 0.5% v 0.3%e; Y/Y: 1.1% v 0.9%e - (GE) Germany Preliminary Mar CPI EU Harmonized M/M: 0.6% v 0.3%e; Y/Y: 1.3% v 0.9%e - (US) Mar Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity: 7.2% v -0.1% prior
- US personal spending data out of the Commerce Department this morning showed that consumer expenditures rose incrementally for the fifth month in a row in February. The data, plus the solid gains seen in mainland China and early European trading, are propelling modest equity gains in New York. Lurking in the background are the highly anticipated results of a critical Greek 7-year note auction, and investors positioning ahead of employment reports on Friday. In addition, the March Dallas Fed manufacturing data was very strong. Front-month oil is up nearly two bucks on the positive economic data, as well as a Goldman Sachs report making the rounds which notes that oil in floating storage has fallen by 24M barrels from its peak in November. Copper is near its best levels of the year back above $3.50 while gold and silver opened above their trading ranges from last week. Natural gas remains a hair below $4. Treasury prices initially traded higher off a lower open but yields have since climbed back to opening levels. The long bond yield is approaching 4.8% once again.
- Shares of Citigroup were slightly after the Treasury confirmed its plans to sell 7.7B shares of its stake in the bank in 2010. The Treasury reiterated that the sales would be made gradually in an orderly fashion to minimize their impact on trading. Rochdale's Dick Bove said that expectations for the government sales are already well baked into current valuation. Shares of Citi dropped into the red as several large blocks were sold after the open. In other equity news, Apollo Group missed earnings targets by a sizable margin due to a big slip in operating margins, although its guidance for next quarter was above par. Investors bought the name, sending shares of APOL up 6% before the open, although they fell off to +3% after the open. Merger Monday is less active than in past weeks this morning. Packaging manufacturer BWAY Holding is being taken out by private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners for $915M, while Avnet plans to acquire computer component manufacturer Bell Microproducts for nearly $600M. BWY is up 15%, while BELM is up nearly 30%. Pacific Ethanol is down 20% after a subsidiary filed for reorganization for nearly $300M in debt.
- EUR/USD was off its best level as the NY morning commenced, with the Greek debt auction haunting sentiment. Greece's PDMA debt agency confirmed that that the initial pricing for the benchmark 7-year bond was in the neighborhood of 310bps over mid-swaps. Analysts have noted that Greece needs to show it can issue substantially the bonds inside of the mid swaps plus 300 bps points and longer the book stays open the worse it would be for the euro. The Hungarian Central Bank cut its base rate by 25bps to 25bps (as expected). The MPC said it had discussed a 50bps cat during the policy meeting.
***Looking Ahead*** - (CA) Bank of Canada Jenkins - (EU) ECB's Orphanides - (UK) BOE's Dale - (AR) Argentina Feb Shop center Sales Y/Y: No est v 18.2% prior
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