***Economic Data*** - (CZ) Czech Apr Budget Balance (CZK): -78.2B v -45.9B prior - (US) Mar Personal Income: 0.3% v 0.3%e; Personal Spending: 0.6% v 0.6%e - (US) Mar PCE Core M/M: 0.1% v 0.0%e; Y/Y: 1.3% v 1.3%e; PCE Deflator Y/Y: 2.0% v 2.0%e - (BR) Brazil Apr PMI Manufacturing: 53.8 v 55.4 prior - (BR) Brazil Apr Trade Balance: $1.3B v $1.0Be - (US) ISM Manufacturing: 60.4 v 60.0e; Prices Paid: 78.0 v 75.0e - (US) Mar Construction Spending M/M: +0.2% v -0.3%e
- US markets gained in early trading this morning even as select European and Asian indices were down on the Chinese reserve ratio requirement increase and concerns about the German parliament's willingness to sign off on the Greek aid package. The April ISM manufacturing index hit its highest level since June 2004. The ISM's Ore said there was no reason gains in the key index should not continue, although he also warned that the inventory correction could end in June. The Commerce Department reported personal spending rose 0.6% in March, the biggest increase in nearly six months (spending grew by nearly twice the amount incomes increased, raising questions about the sustainability of consumer enthusiasm). Treasury prices are marginally lower to begin the week with the US benchmark 10-year yield remaining below 3.70%. Gold prices continue to reach new 5 month highs now just $15 from $1200.
- The boards of United Airlines and Continental have agreed to a merger of equals, creating the world's biggest airline. The new entity to be 55% owned by UAL holders and 45% by Continental holders, with each Continental share exchanged for 1.05 United shares in an at-the-market stock swap. Both boards have approved the deal and shareholder votes are expected by September. Note that some analysts have speculated that the merger could be a negative for Airbus and positive for Boeing as Continental CEO Smisek is a former Boeing exec who seems to favor that firm's aircraft. Executives noted that no fare increases were built into the deal's projected synergies, and said closing does not depend on negotiating new labor deals.
- In other equity news, quarterly results from Lowes, Arrow Electronics, Sysco and CNA Financial beat expectations. Shares of Arrow are up 5% on the outperformance and a strong forecast for Q2. Loews is back around even after an early pop up to +3%, while CNA (90% owned by Lowes) is up nearly 4% on strong outperformance and the announcement of a fresh round of restructuring. SYY is down 1%. Note that the US-listed ADR of BP is off another 8% this morning as criticism of the company in the media and Washington over the Gulf oil spill picks up. BP has pledged to clean up the spill. REIT St. Joe is off around 6%: the company has substantial shorefront real estate holdings in the Florida panhandle that look to be significantly impacted by the growing Gulf oil spill. Dollar Thrifty is up a hefty 14% after Avis said it is ready to "substantially increase" its offer for the rental car name following Hertz's improved $41/shr offer for Dollar last week.
- The FX market remained quiet during the NY morning as traders continued to be fixated on the European peripheral situation. German Chancellor Merkel stated that that her cabinet's approval today of a draft bill to provide aid to Greece shows that Germany was acting to stabilize the euro. Nonetheless EUR/USD is consolidating at the lower end of its recent range, but still holding above the 1.32 handle. USD/JPY was approaching five-week highs at 94.75 on interest rate expectations. March US consumer spending rose by the most in five months which traders took as a possible indication that the US recovery might be sustainable and accelerate . The ISM Manufacturing complemented the sentiment as it exceeded expectations with higher prices paid.
***Looking Ahead*** - (IT) Italy Apr New Car Registrations Y/Y: % v 19.6% prior - April US Auto sales
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