***Economic Data*** - (US) Apr NFIB Small Business Optimism: 90.6 v 87.1e - (US) ICSC/GS weekly chain store sales w/e May 8th: +0.1% w/w; +4.3% y/y - (US) Redbook Retail Sales w/e May 8th: +3.3% y/y; MTD +0.8% v April - (US) Mar Wholesale Inventories: 0.4% v 0.5%e - (US) May IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism: 48.7 v 48.4e - (UK) Apr NIESR GDP Estimate: 0.5% v 0.2% prior
- US equity markets opened lower but by the late NY morning had pared nearly all of their losses. Nevertheless, early on skepticism about the viability of the grand European debt plan was widespread, with commentators expressing a great deal of worry about Europe's ability to restore confidence in its shaky finances despite the massive liquidity pledge. Help did come in the form of reports that the UK's Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are near an accord on forming a new government. The VIX remains highly elevated, near 29, while spot gold is just below its all-time highs set last December at $1,226. Treasury markets were bid up on the open as equities pointed to a weak open, but yields have been steadily rising as stocks recovered. The 10-year note is now down on the day and yields 3.55%.
- On the Hill, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on key amendments to the overall financial reform bill, including one to authorize a controversial audit of the Fed, an objective long pursued by Congressmen dissatisfied with the massive industry bailouts pursued by the Treasury and the Fed. Another amendment that would require the government to relinquish control of housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac within two years looked set to fail. In other financial sector news, monocline mortgage insurer MBIA is down 10% after reporting another huge quarterly loss. Broker Legg Mason is up 10% after beating expectations comfortably and authorizing a big $1B share buyback program.
- Solar names LDK Solar and JA Solar both outperformed analysts' Q1 expectations and offered very strong guidance. JASO increased its full year shipment guidance by 10%, and said that demand has only grown stronger in the Q2. LDK and JASO are up a few percent, but well off their highs. Priceline.com is off more than 15% after offering a weak forecast for Q2 due to the impact of multiple geopolitical factors around the world, including the Iceland volcano, the European debt crisis and civil unrest in Thailand. Watchmaker Fossil crushed expectations and offered a very strong outlook for next quarter and the full year. FOSL is up 10%. Shares of Maidenform Brands are firmer than ever, up 15% after beating expectations and raising its full-year view. Crippled jeweler Zales was up as much as 10% after being granted at debt lifeline, although much of these gains are gone in mid morning trading.
- The NY price action in currencies was primarily determined by US equity markets, which recovered a good portion of overnight losses, although aftershocks from the EU stabilization package continued to weigh upon the USD and JPY sentiment. Dealers noted that for the time being the underlying bearishness of the European fiscal and peripheral debt situation would likely to fuel sellers on strength in EUR/USD. The key for the euro would be to regain a foothold above the prior weekly close of 1.2750. Cable has regained a foothold above 1.49 on reports a new UK government coalition has nearly been agreed upon.
***Looking Ahead*** - (US) Treasury to sell $38B in 3-year notes - (US) Fed's Lockhart at financial market conference - (US) Fed's Plosser at financial market conference - (US) API weekly energy inventory - (US) Weekly ABC Consumer Confidence: No est v -47 prior
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