***Economic Data*** - (CA) Canada March New Motor Vehicle - (US) March Business Inventories 0.4% v 0.4%e - (US) May Preliminary University of Michigan 73.3 v 73.5e - (US) April Industrial Production 0.8% v 0.7%e; Capacity Utilization 73.7% v 73.8%e - (US) April Advance Retail Sales 0.4% v 0.2%e; Ex Auto 0.4% v 0.4%e
- The focus is entirely on Europe and the euro this morning as the single currency plunges through key levels, driving heavy risk aversion.Just before 04:39ET EUR/USD fell below $1.2500 for the first time since March 2009 has now moved through 1.24 for the first time since October of 2008. Note that the 2008 EUR/USD financial crisis low was 1.2329. European banks are getting slammed, driving losses on European indices and follow-through weakness in US markets, while the 2-yr/10-yr spreads versus the German Bund on European peripheral debt are widening out again. Multiple factors are at work (curiously many involve Spain): Madrid daily El Pais reported that at a conference on Greece last Friday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy threaten to pull France out of the euro if Germany did not help fund the big bailout package (France has naturally denied the reports), Spanish labor unions are gearing up for big strikes to protest government and the core Spanish April CPI turned negative for first time ever. Former IMF Economist Rogoff highlighted the silver lining to the weakening euro story, highlighting that it will greatly help the competitiveness of European exports and could spur growth. Crude is off again this morning, down nearly $1.50 to trade below $73 in the front month contract. Bids are flooding into the safety of US Treasury markets once again. Prices at the long end of the curve are up more than a point pushing the benchmark 10-year yield down to 3.43%. The US 2-year yield has retreated to 0.75% while the Dec fed fund future prices in less than a 40% chance the Fed hikes rates at the end of this year.
- Trouble for European banks is not only coming from share prices this morning. Both Credit Suisse and UBS confirmed that they have been subpoenaed by New York AG Cuomo in his probe of Wall Street's ties to ratings agencies. The New York Times reports that some are suggesting that the banks may seek a global settlement related mortgage securities akin to the 2002 global settlement in the tech bubble stock research scandal. Card issuers Visa and MasterCard are down 7% a piece on the passage last night of the Durban amendment to the financial reform bill requiring "reasonable" debit card interchange fees. Stifel Nicolaus cut Visa to a Hold. Merrill Lynch analysts noted that 57% of Visa's US purchase volume is from debit cards, 41% of MasterCard's revenue is from debit cards.
- JC Penny and Nordstrom are both off a few percent this morning on tepid earnings reports. Both firms also missed targets on forward-looking earnings guidance as well. JC Penny warned that consumer demand remain unpredictable, and also said that May comps would be lower. Elsewhere in the retail sector, Dillard's is up more than 12% on its strong bottom line performance. NVIDIA came in slightly ahead of Q1 expectations, but guided much lower for Q2. NVDA is down 10% in early trading, while INTC is -2% and AMD is -7%.
- The Euro is the story in currencies with all eyes on the 1.2328 low during the US financial crisis. Dealers are also watching the 1.40 level in the EUR/CHF cross as a key market indicator as the SNB is still rumored to be around there. Strength in the Yen also continues to lead moves in stocks and risk aversion. USD/JPY is down 1% on lows with the EUR/JPY cross off 2.25%.
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