***Economic Data*** - US April Housing Starts 672K v 650Ke; Building Permits 606K v 680Ke - US April Producer Prices m/m -0.1% v +0.1e; PPI Ex Food & Energy m/m +0.2% v +0.1%e - US Redbook Retail Sales w/e May 15th +2.9% y/y - US ICSC/GS Weekly Chain Store Sales -2.5% w/w; +2.9% y/y
- Yesterday's late rally in the US session buoyed risk appetite in the Asian and European trading sessions. In Asia equity markets closed higher, while European markets made modest gains, helping US equity indices open higher for the first time in four sessions. However, US equities have given back much if not all of those gains in mid morning trading. EUR/USD came off its record low levels starting yesterday afternoon and tested back above the 1.2400 level as European finance ministers met this morning to hammer out more concrete details of the big â‚¬750B debt backstop for the Euro Zone, aiding sentiment, but the euro is off its recent highs to trade around 1.2360. Front-month crude has benefitted from the better sentiment, as the contract gained nearly two bucks to trade just shy of the $72 handle earlier this morning. European ministers finally put a name on the EU rescue package this morning, noting that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would be set up to manage funds already set aside for bailouts. The â‚¬60M taken from already allocated funds would be placed in the SPV, with the further â‚¬440M in EU funding only drawn if the other funding was exhausted. Treasury prices continue to benefit from the overall unease in the markets. The long bond yield has slid back to 4.3% while the 2-year is sub 0.8% again.
- Walmart is up 3% after beating targets very slightly, although some analysts are nervous about the firm's negative Q1 comps. Home Depot modestly exceeded analysts' expectations in its Q1 report and raised its 2010 outlook slightly, driving modest gains in the name just after the open. But both HD and competitor LOW are in the red mid morning. Note that executives at Home Depot said they are seeing no positive comp growth from the construction industry. High-end retailer Saks jumped 6% in early trading after beating earnings expectations and maintaining forward looking forecasts, although the name has returned to even with markets overall. ANF was up 2% on revenue outperformance, but the stock has plunged to -4% mid morning. TJX remains down 2% after the firm offered tepid guidance for next quarter and only brought up the lower end of its prior guidance range for 2010 earnings.
- Cable has been unable to gain above the 1.45 mark despite some hotter than expected CPI and RPI inflation readings in the UK. EUR/CHF cross remains just above the 1.40 and shows little signs of budging in either direction. Gold prices sold off during the European session but prices seem to have stabilized around the $1210 level.
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