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Friday April 16, 2010 - 16:20:32 GMT
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Stocks Reacting More to Earnings than Economy

U.S. equity markets are expected to open lower following a sell-off in Google stock after the company reported better than expected earnings last night. This morning the markets are expected to be driven by earnings reports from General Electric (GE) and Bank of America (BAC). 


This week, for the most part, traders have ignored the U.S. economic reports and have instead chosen to focus on the slew of earnings reports. The exception to this was Wednesday’s testimony by Fed Chairman Bernanke who green lit the market by reiterating that interest rates will remain low for a prolonged period. The long-term trend is expected to remain up until the Fed begins to hike interest rates. Until then Wall Street will take advantage of the bucket loads of almost free money swirling around the equity markets.


Traders should watch for a potential break late in the session today when Kansas City Fed President Hoenig speaks. His comments broke the market last week when he mentioned hiking interest rates and the potential for a stock asset bubble.


June Treasury Bonds and Treasury Notes are called higher this morning based on a strong overnight trade. Talk of low interest rates earlier in the week and a favorable auction last week has lent strong support to these contracts this week. T-Bond traders should watch for a breakout over the last swing top at 116’22. This move will turn the short-term trend up with the strong possibility of an acceleration to 116’29 to 117’06. Hoenig’s mention of a rate hike in his speech this afternoon could trigger a sell-off.


June Gold is trading slightly lower because of the stronger Dollar, but the sell-off isn’t that bad as bullish traders may be buying the metal as a hedge against a collapse of the Euro. Traders have been showing interest in gold by buying hard assets as a hedge against paper money. The inability to break through $1159.60 could trigger a liquidation break late in the session if an uptrending Gann angle at $1150.10 fails to hold.


The weaker Euro and stronger Dollar is pressuring June Crude Oil overnight. Currently the chart formation has the appearance of a secondary lower top. The bullish inventory report from earlier in the week is helping to limit the break to the downside.  Traders should watch the Dollar and the Euro today for direction.


There are two economic reports today that may move the Dollar. U.S. Housing Starts are expected to show a modest increase to 0.605M following a drop to 0.575M in February. Traders are speculating that weather improvements and the new spring building season may have lead to the increase in the number of new units. The fundamentals remain weak however, based on the supply of new and existing homes available. Foreclosures are also a major problem.  A lower than expected number should weaken the Dollar as it would indicate lower interest rates.


U.S. Consumer Sentiment is expected to show a rise in March. This month’s report is expected to come in at 75.0 versus a February figure of 73.6. The improving jobs picture apparently had a major influence on consumers. Earlier this week it was reported that consumers spoke with their pocketbooks after retail sales rose more than expected. This report is not likely to have that big of an effect on the Dollar unless it is way of line with expectations.


Late in the trading session, Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Thomas Hoenig speaks. In his 12:30 pm EDT speech, Hoenig is expected to discuss the reasoning behind his demand that the Fed begin raising interest rates. At the last two FOMC policy meetings, Hoenig was the lone dissenter. Hoenig is also expected to warn about potential asset bubbles because of the Fed stance to keep interest rates low for an “extended period”. His speech may catch traders off guard late in the trading session. Talk of higher interest rates may spook the equity markets while driving traders into the U.S. Dollar.


The June Euro is trading lower ahead of the New York session. Last night’s low at 1.3513 almost filled the gap left Sunday night at 1.3498. The daily chart indicates that the break may not stop there with 1.3486 to 1.3438 the next potential downside target. With the main trend up on the daily chart, don’t be surprised by a technical bounce following a test of this retracement zone.


Fundamentally, the Euro remains weak and faces a credibility crisis because of the lingering sovereign debt problems in Greece. Although a financial aid package was supposedly agreed upon on April 11th, traders are beginning to realize that this may have been a short-term fix rather than a long-term solution. With fiscal problems still lingering, the International Monetary fund has agreed to meet with Greece on Monday to discuss its current financial issues.


The spread between the Greek Bond and the German Bund continues to be the best indicator that problems exist. Investors have driven up the premium to buy Greek Bonds to over 400 basis points, or its highest level since the rescue plan was announced. The consensus among traders is that the proposed $61 billion aid package may not be enough to help Greece. Furthermore, traders are now looking for the Euro Zone’s sovereign debt issues to begin spreading to Portugal. Without a viable plan to fight the spread of additional fiscal problems, look for hedge funds to continue to press the Euro lower as well as sell rallies.


The June British Pound is trading weaker overnight following an election debate in the U.K. which once again raised concerns about the possibility of a hung parliament. Doubts are being raised by traders as to whether major parties involved in the election have viable plans to contain the country’s growing budget deficit. Many traders are also losing confidence in this current rally as they suspect that long traders will begin liquidating their positions as the May 6th election date draws near.


Technically, this market weakened overnight when an uptrending Gann angle from the 1.4797 bottom at 1.5337 was violated. This move indicates impending weakness with a strong possibility of a break to at least 1.5160 on April 20th.



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