***Economic Data*** - (RU) Russia Mar Official reserve Assets: $444.8Be v $436.2B prior - (US) ICSC/GS weekly chain store sales w/w April 3rd: +2.1% w/w, +4.7% y/y - (US) Redbook weekly chain store sales: - (MX) Mexico Mar Consumer Confidence: 81.8 v 82.0e
- Equity futures traded off in the US premarket this morning after the DJIA came within a hair of the psychologically important 11,000 level. With no data and little corporate news to go on, traders are treading lightly ahead of this afternoon's release of minutes from the FOMC's March 16th rate decision. In the background, continuing drama around the Euro Zone's Greece rescue package re-emerged, sending the dollar higher and blunting risk appetite. Regardless energy commodities are consolidating the recent move higher, with front-month crude approaching the $87 handle and natural gas just below yesterday's highs, at $4.26. Treasury prices are firming after yields too tested some key technical levels. The US 10-year is up more than a quarter of a point with the yield dipping below 3.95% after yesterday's test of 4%.
- The big equity news of the morning has been the explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, with 25 confirmed fatalities from the accident. Shares of Massey fell 10% before the bell, although they have recouped some losses in early trading. Competitors ACI and BTU are up 4% and 2%, respectively. Teekay Tankers is down 7% after increasing and pricing its offering of common equity at $12.25. Shares of TNK are trading at $12.15. Continuing the spate of pre-earnings season guidance out of many firms, Haemonetics offered an initial forecast for its FY10, in line with expectations. Casino name Bally Technologies signed a deal to divest its Rainbow Casino in Mississippi for $80M in cash. The firm trimmed its 2010 earnings guidance and launched a new share buyback, noting that slower customer spending was still impacting revenue. Cedar Fair stated that it has mutually terminated its $11.50/shr cash merger deal with Apollo Global Management and pay Apollo a $6.5M fee.
- European peripheral concerns continued simmer with growing speculation that the EU Summit rescue plan for Greece might unravel. The Spread on the Greek/German 10-year bond widened to test 400bps to be at its highest level since the Euro was launched in 1999. While the CDS hit late Feb levels around the 374bps area. EUR/USD probed below the 1.3380 area as Continental European equity markets saw their early gains erode into the red. A Greece govt spokesperson confirmed press speculation that an IMF delegation was visiting Greece for "regular cooperation." USD/CAD continued to test parity , a level it was saw back in mid 2008 as oil and metals maintained a firm tone .
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