***Economic Data*** - (UK) BOE Maintained both Interest Rates Asset Purchase target at current levels of 0.50% and Â£200B respectively - (BR) Brazil Mar FGV Inflation: 0.6% v 0.8%e - (SA) South Africa Feb Manufacturing Production M/M: -1.5% v 0.5%e; Y/Y: 2.7% v 4.9%e - (EU) ECB maintained its Main Refi rate at 1.0%; as expected - (BR) Brazil Mar IBGE Inflation M/M: % v 0.5%e; Y/Y: % v 5.2%e - (CL) Chile Mar CPI M/M: 0.1% v 0.6%e; Y/Y: 0.3% v 0.9%e; CPI Ex Perishables & Fuel M/M: 0.1% v 0.5%e - (US) Initial Jobless Claims: 460K v 435Ke; Continuing Claims: 4.550M v 4.630Me - (MX) Mexico Mar Consumer Prices M/M: 0.7% v 0.7%e; Y/Y: 5.0% v 5.0%e; Core CPI M/M: 0.4% v 0.4%e - (UK) Mar NIESR GDP estimate: 0.4% v 0.3% prior - (US) Mar ICSC Chain Store Sales: 9.1% v 3.7% prior - (US) Weekly EIA Natural Gas Inventories: +31 bcf v. +25 to +30 bcf estimate range
- Markets headed lower in the premarket this morning on follow-through weakness from Europe and Asia. Traders continued to test European resolve on Greece ahead of the ECB rate decision and press conference. Spreads between the German and Greek 10-year bonds continue to widen above 425 bps, as the Greek government warned that they are trying very hard not be forced to borrow at "barbaric rates." Note that the spread was off its earlier record highs of almost 450bps. In the US, the initial weekly claims data came in a bit higher than expected, further stoking some minimal risk aversion. Note that some of the consumer-oriented names are doing well after very strong March comps. There has also been some interest in reports that Treasury Secretary Geithner paid an unscheduled visit to Beijing overnight, for a brief consultation with Chinese Vice Premier Wang. Yesterday the New York Times reported that China was nearly ready to revise its currency policies. After front month crude spent the last three session testing $87, the contract is down $0.75 or so, just above $85. Gold has leveled off near $1150. Natural gas has dipped back below $4 following a build in inventories. Treasury markets continue to find buyers, adding to yesterday's strong move up into and after the 10-year opening. The benchmark yield is back below 3.85% ahead of this afternoon's 30-year bond reopening.
- Two mid-cap manufactures adjusted guidance in the premarket this morning, continuing the steady drumbeat of forecasts and profit warnings ahead of earnings season. Heavy vehicle maker Navistar raised its 2010 earnings view significantly, to $2.75-3.25 from $1.75-2.25 the firm reiterated just a month ago. Aerospace and defense manufacturer Alliant Techsystems said its earnings would be at the upper end of its prior range, and dialed back its revenue forecast slightly. ATK also warned it would record a $0.71/shr non-cash charge in its Q4 results. Schnitzer Steel is down 2.5% despite beating Street estimates in its Q2 earnings report.
- Consumer-oriented names are having a good morning. Bed, Bath and Beyond is up 3% after beating top- and bottom-line expectations and offering robust guidance for next quarter and the full year. Selected casino names are heading higher after Nevada disclosed robust sequential and y/y growth in casino spending, including 33% y/y growth on the Vegas strip. MGM is up 6%, while WYNN and LVS are up 3% a piece. Major US airline stocks gained altitude in the premarket on news in the New York Times that US Airways and United are deep in merger talks, although no announcement is expected soon. Shares of UAUA are up 8% and LCC is up 12%, although both are off their best levels.
- March same-store sales data have come in even stronger than the positive figures seen in the past three months, although analysts are pointing out that comparisons with last year are difficult due to the earlier Easter holiday plus last Spring's dismal economic conditions. The preponderance of comps were in the positive double-digit range, and only two major reports came in below estimates. Among the standouts were value apparel name Cato, with +24% comps (v 4% estimates), and department store name Kohl's, with 22.5% comps. Abercrombie and Fitch remains the laggard among major retailers, as the apparel name's comps were flat with last month's performance, missing expectations. Note that industry analysts at ICSC predict overall April same-store sales to decline 3%, and multiple retailers have noted that the early Easter will negatively impact April comps.
- The NY morning saw the European currencies continued to be affected by the Greek situation as the market continue to force clarity on the agreement form the Mar 25th EU Summit. The BOE and ECB maintained their policy at existing levels (as expected). The ECB press conference centered on the peripheral situation. Trichet commented that a Greek default was not an issue under the current information. The EUR/USD maintained a foothold above the 1.33 area. S&P echoed earlier comments from Fitch that a risk of Greek default was low at current sovereign rating of "BBB+" but rating action was dependent upon full implementation of austerity measures. S&P stated that it could lower the Greek sovereign ratings if borrowing costs persist and Gov't deviated from austerity measures. On a positive note, the Greece finance ministry stated that its Q1 budget deficit was down 40% y/y at â‚¬4.3B and the country was on track to meet its 2010 deficit target of 8.7%. He added that the target was achieved before the most recent govt austerity measures were implemented. **The CNY currency will move towards the focus following speculation that China could soon revalue the Yuan after US Tsy Geithner popped into Beijing for discussions on global economic issues.
***Looking Ahead*** - (US) Fed's Kocherlakota - (US) Fed's Kohn - (US) Fed's Bernanke on US Economic Outlook
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