***Looking Ahead*** - (PD) Poland Avg Gross Wages M/M: 6.2% v 3.9%e; Y/Y: 4.8% v 2.8%e - (PD) Poland Mar Employment M/M: 0.0% v -0.1%e; Y/Y: -0.6% v -0.7%e - (CA) Canada Feb Int'l Securities Transactions: C$6.7B v C$9.0Be - (BE) Belgium Jan Trade Balance: -â‚¬1.5B v -â‚¬1.3B prior - US Mar Leading Indicators: 1.4% v 1.1%e v 0.1% prior
- Leading US equity indices made a run into positive territory after the open this morning, propelled by Citibank reporting its first profit in eight quarters and the strong March leading indicators survey. However, the Goldman hangover is keeping trading subdued, with a whiff of uncertainty in the background as Greece creeps closer to activating its emergency loan backstop and analysts ponder China's attempts to cool down its property market. Front-month crude is off this morning, down nearly two bucks to trade below the $83 handle.
- Citigroup's surprisingly robust profit and revenues are having less effect on the shares of the leading US banks this morning than might be expected, thanks to continuing fallout from Goldman Sachs. Also note that CEO Pandit offered very cautious remarks in Citi's earnings release, noting that he remains cautious about the environment and does not expect the bank's performance "to follow an invariable trend-line upward." But nevertheless Citi earned $4.4B in its Q1, compared with a loss of $696M a year ago. There has been little new information emerging on the Goldman situation this morning, except that German government officials have been in contact with the SEC about the allegations disclosed on Friday. Vague rumors made the rounds after the bell that Warren Buffett might step in as Goldman's board chairman, although nothing has come of the fairytale. Shares of Citi are up nearly 8% in early trading, while shares of Goldman are around even.
- In other earnings, profits at leading pharmaceutical name Eli Lilly topped expectations while revenue was entirely in line with the Street. Lilly also trimmed its 2010 earnings outlook, citing the impact of the healthcare reform. Oil services leader Halliburton was more or less in line with the estimates. Executives at the firm warned that a sustainable recovery would only occur with an increase in natural gas demand. Midcap miner Arch Coal plummeted nearly 3% after the open on weak bottom line performance, although the name popped right back into positive territory as traders focused on much improved 2010 guidance. In the only significant M&A deal of the day, GEO Group is acquiring Cornell Companies in a cash and stock deal valued at $685M. Shares of CRN have risen more than $30 to meet the deal terms.
- The risk aversion seen during the European morning subsided in early NY trading, thanks to a light economic calendar and robust corporate earnings. European peripheral concerns are still lingering since loan package talks for Greece have been delayed due to flight disruptions caused by volcanic ash from Iceland. Greek CDS are widening, pushing the HellenicRepublic closer to activating its bailout package.The question posed by dealers' centers on how the market would react to that eventuality and whether the focus would shift to Portugal. ECB's Wellink commented that the euro was still considered strong compared to other currencies on a historical basis. EU's Junker said that the EMU/IMF division on Greece was not as dramatic as it might appear but he remained concerned that markets were still not convinced about the sincerity of EMU support. EUR/USD is off its worst levels at 1.3450
***Looking Ahead*** - (EU) ECB's Tumpel-Gugerell - (US) Fed's Duke - (AR) Argentina Apr Consumer Confidence
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Mon 18 Dec
10:00 EZ- final HICP Tue 19 Dec
09:00 DE- IFO Survey
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POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: Medium Mon--10:00 GMT-- EZ- final November HICP. flash data are rarely changed.
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH- Medium Tue --09:00 GMT-- DE- IFO Survey. Key report but usually not a market-mover
POTENTIAL PRICE RISK: HIGH- Medium- Tue --13:30 GMT-- US- Housing Starts and Permits. Leading indicators of activity
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