***Economic Data*** - (MA) Malaysia Sept Trade Balance (MYR): 7.0B V 8.1Be; Exports Y/Y: 6.9% v 10.1%e; Imports Y/Y: 14.6% v 16.3%e - (IR) Ireland Oct Live Register Change M/M: -6.6K v -5.4K prior; Unemployment Rate: 13.6% v 13.7% prior - (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Oct 29th: -5.0% v 3.2% prior - (US) Oct Challenger Job Cuts: 37.9K v 37.2K prior; Y/Y: -31.8% v -44.1% prior - (US) Oct ADP Employment Change: +43K v +20K - (BR) Brazil Oct Trade Balance: $1.8B v $2.0Be - (US) Oct ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite: 54.3 v 53.5e - (US) Sept Factory Orders: 2.1% v 1.6% - (US) Weekly DOE Energy Inventories: Crude: +1.95M v +1Me; Gasoline: -2.7M v -500Ke; Distillate: -3.57M v -1Me; Utilization: 81.8% v 83.9%e
- Investors are hesitant ahead of this afternoon's FOMC rate decision. With a political changing of the guard underway in Washington and QE2 imminent - after two solid months of equity gains and a round of less bad economic data, plus a not-too-shabby earnings season - markets are pausing to digest. Note that this morning's data was relatively strong, with the October ADP employment numbers twice as good as expected and the September figure revised much higher. The service economy-oriented ISM non-manufacturing index was a bit better than expected. September factory orders rose by the most since January of this year. Following the weekly inventory data oil popped over $85 for the first time since June, before trading back below the $84 handle. Gold has fallen sharply along with other metals to $1,332 as traders reposition themselves ahead of the FOMC announcement. Treasury prices are higher and the curve is a bit flatter with the 10-year yield back below 2.55%. The 2-10 year spread is narrowed under 220 basis points as traders place bets that the any QE2 package will likely focus on maturities further out on the curve.
- Shares of insurance giant Aetna spiked as much as 5% at the open this morning, after the firm crushed earnings expectations and raised its 2010 guidance by a very healthy margin. Shares have come off a bit in the early going, but are still up 3%. Health insurance name Wellpoint also beat top- and bottom line targets this morning, and offered an improved outlook for the full year. WLP spiked 3%, but is back around even mid morning. Both insurance firms see 2010 medical cost trends rising around 7-8%. Hartford Financial was right in line with the consensus view and raised its 2010 guidance, and shares of HIG are up nearly 7%. Unum is down 3% after the firm guided 2010 profits to the low end of its prior outlook.
- Profits at media name Time Warner were well above expectations, and the firm's outlook for FY10 was also better than the last time around. Online media name AOL's results were roundly better than the Street's estimates, although the company is still seeing subscribers declining by around 25% a quarter. Note also that an AOL exec warned this morning that the company is seeing domestic ad sales decline in the current quarter. AOL was up as much as 8% after the open, and is presently up 6%. TWXis lagging at -2%.
- CVS met expectations in its third quarter and reported solid +2.5% comps. CVS's guidance for the fourth quarter and the full year was on the soft side, however. Results from rental car company Hertz were right in line with the Street. Casinos Wynn and MGM are headed in opposite directions in early trading on varying Q3 results. Wynn's quarter was in line, although the firm also announced a huge $8/shr special dividend. Wynn said it believes the Vegas market has reached a bottom. MGM's quarterly losses narrowed over the prior quarter. Shares of WYNN (which have nearly doubled this year) fell 2% in early trading, while MGM is up nearly 6%.
- Electronic Arts shocked investors with a substantial quarterly profit, in contrast to expectations for a loss, and had impressive revenue results. Executives cited very good sales of its blockbuster games in the quarter. Investors are not impressed: ERTS is down 5%. Garmin offered disappointing earnings and revenue results, and also reduced its 2010 outlook. Shares of GMRN are down 6%, but off their worst levels. Leap Wireless missed targets and saw its net subscriber losses double over last quarter.
- The dollar rebounded from its worst levels against the European pairs as US economic data came in above forecasts. USD/JPY tested 81.50 as participants sought the path of least resistance, eying potential USD buy-stops above the session highs. The post-election period will look at the task of addressing the fiscal house with a Treasury official noting that the debt ceiling expected to be hit at some point in the H1 of 2011. The Dollar index may also be getting a boost from continued widening in peripheral spreads in Europe. The Irish 10-year traded 500 basis points above bunds ahead of expected key budget announcements in Ireland and Portugal over the next 24 hours.
***Looking Ahead*** - 12:00 (MX) Mexico Oct IMEF Non Manufacturing Index: v 52.3e; Manufacturing Index: v 52.4e v 52.2 prior - 12:15 (SZ) SNB's Jordan speaks in Zurich - 14:15 (US) FOMC Interest Rate Decision: Expected to maintain rates at 0.25% level - 16:30 (CA) Canada expected to announce decision on BHP's bid for Potash [POT] - 17:00 (US) Oct Domestic Vehicle Sales: 8.95Me v 8.82M prior; Total Vehicle Sales: 11.8Me v 11.73M prior
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