***Economic Data*** - (US) Initial Jobless Claims 444K v 440Ke; Continuing Claims 4.627M v 4.59Me - (US) April Import Price Index m/m 0.9% v 0.8%e; y/y 11.1% v 11.3%e - (US) EIA Natural Gas Inventories +94 bcf v +100 to +105 bcf expected range
- The very gradual downtrend in jobless claims took a break this week, coming in flat with last week's numbers. The major indices slipped before and just after the bell, but all three indices are back in positive territory, led by the Nasdaq. A very weak Greek unemployment report in the European session took a bite out of the euro, sending the pair back below 1.26 but holding above last week's European debt crisis low. Spot gold is off the all-time highs on slightly improved risk appetite, trading around $1,237. Front-month crude is suffering, hitting multi-month lows, down more than a buck to trade around $74. Treasury prices have gained marginal ground ahead of today's final coupon auction. The 30-year yield is slipped below 4.45% ahead of this afternoon's auction results.
- Leading US financial stocks are under pressure this morning as more negative press makes headlines this morning. The New York Times is reporting that NY Attorney General Cuomo is probing eight banks - including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citi, Deutsche Bank, Credit Agricole and Merrill Lynch - over their influence over ratings agencies. The investigation seeks to determine whether the banks provided misleading information to rating agencies in order to inflate the grades of certain mortgage securities. This follows similar stories in the Wall Street Journal, not to mention reports of a Federal probe of Morgan Stanley's mortgage securities business.
- Despite beating consensus estimates and reporting its best quarter ever, Cisco led the Nasdaq lower this morning. Apparently investor expected even better results, and CEO Chambers offered some cautious comments about the industry's supply chain on the conference call, further spooking investors. In any case, the CFO said Cisco's financial position is in many cases stronger than it was before the financial downturn. Shares of CSCO are off nearly 4%. Database firm Sybase is up more than 14% after SAP offered $65/shr to acquire the company yesterday. SAP's move is seen as an attempt to keep up with rival Oracle, allowing it to strengthen its position in mobile data applications, especially in Asia.
- In other equity news, Kohl's met expectations in its Q1 earnings report, although its outlook for Q2 was much weaker than expected. Executives warned that the firm is being slightly conservative as results ran a little hotter than the company's expectations in Q1. Shares of KSS are on their lows, around -3%. Wendy's/Arby's offered a disappointing Q1 result, missing top- and bottom-line expectations, sending shares of WEN down as much as 4%.
***Looking Ahead*** - (US) US Fed's Bernanke to speak at a Fed conference in Philadelphia. - 13:00 (US) US to sell $16B in 30-yr bonds. - 13:15 (US) US Fed's Fisher to speak in Odessa Texas - 13:30 (US) US Fed's Kocherlakota to speak in Wisconsin - 17:00 (CO) Colombia Mar Trade Balance:$231.7Me v $233.3M prior - 18:00 (CL) Chile Central Bank Interest Rate Decision: Consensus expectation for the Nominal Overnight Rate Target to remain unchanged at 0.50%
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