***Economic Data*** - (RU) Russia Apr Consumer prices M/M: 0.3% v 0.4%e; Y/Y: 6.0% v 6.2%e; CPI Core: 0.2% v 0.4%e - (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Apr 30th: +4.0% v -2.9% prior - (US) Challenger Job Cuts: 38.3K v 67.6K prior; Y/Y: -71.1% v -55.0% prior - (NO) Norway Central Bank (Norges) Interest Rate Decision: raised Deposit Rate by 25bps to 2.00%; as expected - (US) Apr ADP Employment Change: +32K v +30Ke - (CL) Chile Mar Economic Activity Y/Y: -2.8%-1.6%e - (BR) Mar CNI Capacity Utilization: 82.6% v 81.1% prior - 10:00 (US) Apr ISM Non-Manufacturing: 56.0e v 55.4 prior - 10:30 (US) DOE energy inventories: Crude: +2.75M v +750Ke; Gasoline: +1.26M v +500Ke; Distillate: +573K v +1.5me; Capacity: 89.6% v 89.0%e
- Equity markets are suffering from yet another round of European debt turmoil this morning. The focus is turning sharply towards Portugal, after Moody's put the nation's AA2 sovereign rating on review, warning that it sees a very strong likelihood of a downgrade after the three-month review. Meanwhile, Athens is burning as general strikes paralyze the entire country. EUR/USD tested 13-month just before the NYSE opening bell, although the cross has recovered a bit since that time. The Portuguese 5-year CDS hit a record 426bps, up almost 100bps from late yesterday, while Greece 5-year CDS tested 850bps. Front-month crude has given up another two bucks after weekly DoE data showed a larger than expected build in inventories. Gold has rallied into positive territory despite weakness in commodities in general. Bond prices in both German and the US have surged in the continued risk adverse environment. The Bund yield moved below 2.85% making fresh all time lows while the US 10-year yield briefly traded below 3.5%.
- Major financial stocks are suffering along with markets overall. Note that Meredith Whitney has made several comments on the sector this morning, noting that weakness in consumer credit market will weigh on large financial names. Whitney sees the migration toward debit cards helping companies like Visa. She also highlighted the fact that Q2 comps for banks will be tough due to weak revenue growth. In earnings, reinsurance firm XL Capital missed bottom-line estimates by a wide margin, although it continues to cut its investment losses over last year. Shares of XL are up 4%.
- Media names Time Warner and News Corp both turned in strong earnings performances, with both firms outperforming expectations. Time Warner reaffirmed its 2010 view, while News Corp raised its profit forecast. Smaller tech names Garmin and WebMD are down sharply after missing earnings targets. WBMD is down 4%, while GRMN fell as much as 15% before the open, before recovering to around -10%. Internet phone provider Vonage crushed expectations on strong earnings and higher fees, sending VG up 10%.
- Mid-cap energy names Chesapeake Energy and Devon are muddling through despite strong quarterly results. Chesapeake's profits were helped by a higher average realized natural gas prices. Devon's results beat expectations soundly, thanks mostly to hefty non-cash gains from derivatives, although sales were up 50% over 2009 levels. Big ag name Agrium offered solid results, beating expectations slightly. At a conference this morning, Monsanto said it sees no appreciable change in world corn acres planted over the next ten years and believes yields need to grow steadily each year just to meet demand.
- Risk aversion sentiment from the European peripheral situation is throwing a spanner in the FX price action again this morning. German yields fell sharply on safe-haven flow with the 2-year Schatz approaching 0.5% and the 10-year Bund at record low of 2.86%. The JPY also registered gains from the risk aversion play. USD/JPY continued to fail to bust through the 95 handle and approached 94 as the NY morning wore on. Tomorrow's ECB rate decision and press conference, which are being held in Portugal, as well as a scheduled 5-year Spanish bond auction, are both potential watershed events in containing the situation.
***Looking Ahead*** - No events seen
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