Monday 26 July 2010

U.S Market Update

Economic Data

- (CZ) Czech Republic sells CZK7.0B in 91-day Bills; avg yield %; bid-to-cover
- (BR) Brazil Jul FGV Consumer Confidence: 120.0 v 118.5 prior
- (BR) Brazil Jun Unemployment Rate: 7.0% v 7.3%e
- (CA) Canada May Retail Sales M/M: -0.2% v 0.4%e; Retail Sales Less Autos M/M: -0.1% v 0.5%e
- (US) Initial Jobless Claims: 464K v 445Ke; Continuing Claims: 4.487M v 4.590Me
- (SA) South Africa Central Bank (SARB) maintained interest rates at 6.50%; as expected
- (EU) Euro-Zone Jul Advanced Consumer Confidence: -14 v -17e
- (US) Jun Existing Home Sales: 5.37M v 5.10Me
- (US) May House Price Index M/M: 0.5% v -0.3%e

- (US) Jun Leading Indicators: -0.2% v -0.3%e
- EIA Natural Gas Inventories: +51bcf vs. +50 to +55 bcf estimated range

- Very strong corporate earnings reports - including excellent results from several major DJIA components - and some stronger than expected data from both sides of the Atlantic are propelling US equity indices higher. Before the open equities had regained levels seen before last Friday's post-Citibank/BoA slide, and the indices are up even further in mid morning trading. Two modestly positive housing data reports are adding to the positive tone: both the June existing home sales number and the May house price index came in above expectations (although the June home sales data fell below May levels). The NAR warned that June sales are still showing the impact of the tax credit impact. Note also that Chinese President Hu offered supportive rhetoric overnight, saying that China would improve consumption stimulus measures in the back half of the year fueling investors risk appetite. Crude is creeping higher with the front-month contract trading just shy of $79. Copper is hitting two-month highs, while gold is also up, with the August contract within striking distance of $1,200. Fed Chairman Bernanke is testifying before the House this morning, although so far his comments have largely echoed remarks made yesterday before the Senate. Treasury markets have seen some profit taking through both an unwinding of flight to safety trades and profit taking ahead of next week's $104B in scheduled coupon supply. Yields have not backed up all that aggressively though, with the benchmark 10-year still below 2.95%.

- Quarterly results from Dow components UPS, Caterpillar, 3M and AT&T were strong, with outperformance seen on both top- and bottom lines and full-year guidance adjusted higher. UPS's average daily volume was a bit soft, and the CEO warned that the company is not counting on a significant uptick in the economy in the second half of the year. Executives from 3M echoed this comment, and also warned that the period of "easy y/y" comparisons is now over and that it will be more difficult to show improvement in key metrics moving forward. Cat really crushed earnings estimates and boosted its 2010 outlook considerably. Cat also announced plans for two major new facilities in the US and China. AT&T reported one of its lowest postpaid churn numbers ever, although it wireless adds were a bit soft. All four names are driving strength in the DJIA, with UPS up a whopping 7%, CAT up 2% and MMM and T up 3%.

- Rail name United Pacific is up 6% in early trading after beating consensus earnings estimates by a wide margin. Steelmakers Nucor and Reliance Steel are both up more than 3%, although both names were only slightly ahead of the Street on earnings and revenue in their quarterly reports. Note that Reliance missed targets in its guidance for next quarter. Nucor noted that residential and non-residential construction markets continue to show "little, if any, strength."

- Shares of semi major Qualcomm are up 8% in early trading after the firm modestly exceeded earnings and revenue targets. The firm's guidance for next quarter and the full year was also raised somewhat. Note that Qualcomm said the impact of the euro is more than offsetting higher ASPs. Competitor Xilinx also beat expectations modestly, although XLNX is only up 2%. The company said the June quarter marked its third consecutive quarter of record sales. Cypress Semi's shares rose as much as 6% despite the firm's big miss on earnings, although they are well of their best levels. Hard drive maker Western Digital also missed EPS targets, which combined with very weak guidance for next quarter is sending shares of WDC lower, around -5% on the day. Both eBay and Bidu are off their highs. Ebay was in line with expectations and its net payment volumes grew sharply y/y, though its guidance for next quarter was soft.

- Regional banks Fifth Third and SunTrust crushed EPS expectations, with very strong improvements in key metrics. SunTrust was still in the red, but is closer to profitability than any time in the last 18 months. Both banks continue to show big improvements in loan and credit quality. Shares of FITB and STI are up 8% or so. BB&T is lagging after the bank missed earnings expectations by a hair. BB&T's credit quality is not showing the improvements seen among other regionals.

- The greenback tried to consolidate earlier losses against the European pairs during the NY morning but rising risk appetite proved too much of a force to resiste. North American dealers focused on the comments out of China, savoring the global growth potential. The commodity-related currencies are taking the lead, aided by Caterpillar's results. AUD/USD rallied above the 0.89 handle while USD/CAD was able to shake off the poor Canadian retail data. In a monetary policy report, the Bank of Canada lowered its Q2 GDP view to 3.0% from 3.8% prior. EUR/USD tested the 1.29 level during the mid-NY morning where some technical resistance was curbing upside momentum for the time being. Dealers are preparing for a event filled Friday ahead of the EU banking sector stress test results.

Looking Ahead

- 16:00 (US) May RPX Composite 28-day Y/Y: No est v 2.36% prior
- (CO) Colombia Central Bank Interest rate Decision: Unanimous analyst expectations is for the Overnight Lending Rate to remain steady at 3.00%

Bernanke's downbeat assessment disappears

There are two ways to take the words of the Fed Chairman. You can join the crowd of Chicken Littles running through the streets screaming that the sky really is about to fall. Or you can take his promise to act further on policy at face value and buy with both hands on the promise of more stimulus. Today’s response is a reversal of the initial view. Anyone contrarian who went home long of commodity sensitive dollars is certainly ahead of the crowd with the Australian dollar vaulting to a two-month high versus the dollar overnight.

Fx View

U.S. Dollar – The “unusually uncertain” words from Mr. Bernanke were attached to a threat to deliver more monetary stimulus. The response was an elevation in the general level of panic sending equity prices lower and the dollar higher. But U.S. corporations are delivering strong earnings with around 82% of the S&P 500 index constituents surpassing expectations. Thursday’s risk rebound looks set to punish the dollar on a weaker yield curve outlook in the months ahead. The dollar index has slumped to 82.79 this morning.

Euro – On the day ahead of the release of stress testing results, the euro has rebounded sharply. Investors seem to have concluded that the publication might underscore the health of the financial system, which has concerned them for too long. The euro rebounded from a $1.2732 low inspired by Mr. Bernanke to reach $1.2879 on Thursday after data vilified ECB President Trichet. After a recent monetary policy meeting, the chief warned that outsiders were missing the strength of a rebound within the Eurozone during the second quarter. The release of expansive manufacturing activity today once again helped cast off that gloomy view.

The Eurozone’s composite PMI index reading for July rose to 56.7 with services and manufacturing equally heading further into expansive territory. Each index, however, was expected to decline in line with other readings from leading nations. The news was a surprise and along with the increasingly weaker tone to the dollar, the euro made sustainable gains. Further vilifying Mr. Trichet’s stance was an increase in new orders for industrial and manufacturing goods throughout May, which grew by 3.8% on the month to stand 22.7% higher than one year ago. The euro also rose to ¥111.66.

Japanese yen – Discussion continues to center on the strength of the Japanese yen and whether authorities will intervene to cheapen it. Today the yen reached ¥86.34 before investors took profits. More government and central bank officials warned today that the excessive yen gains of late were the biggest threat to the economic recovery. However, with consumers still responding to government encouragement to spend on electrical items, the recovery continues to head in the right direction.

British pound – A strong retail sales report encouraged belief that the economic recovery is sustainable and will whether the likely forthcoming loss of public sector job cuts. The pound rose to $1.5296 before profit-taking set in. Chief economist at the Bank of England confirmed the complications to the inflation profile as a result of the VAT increase set for next year. Spencer Dale reckons inflation won’t return to the 2% central target until 2011 as a result. The pound will likely win more friends as long as the recovery remains on track.

Aussie dollar – The Aussie flew overnight and reached its highest in nine weeks after investors jumped on the kangaroo having leapt through strong overhead resistance at 88.71 U.S. cents. The Aussie rose to as high as 88.98 at its best point of the day as risk aversion shone through. There was no data to inspire the move, which is likely the capitulation of several frustrated bearish bets on a risk aversion decline in the Aussie.

Canadian dollar – The Canadian dollar was also in demand as a commodity dollar this morning but faced the headwind of worse than expected retail sales during May. Forecasters called for a gain of 0.4% for the month but were disappointed by a decline of 0.2%. Sales excluding autos dipped by 0.1% having been expected to add 0.5%. A climb to 96.16 ran into trouble as the dollar slid to 95.54.

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