Thursday, March 4, 2010

Today’s Top Stories 03.4.10 $BLK

European sovereign debt sales in focus - Greece is in the market w/a debt sale today; according to wire reports, Greece is looking to price EU5B worth of 10yr paper at swaps + 3.00; apparently the book has commitments of ~EU14.5B (CNBC says there are “real money bids” for the Greek auction today).  In addition to the strong book building for the Greek sale, France and Spain sold 12.6 billion euros of bonds on Thursday, also finding solid demand (Reuters)

·         Eco data out of the Eurozone was neutral-to-negative with Eurozone Q4 GDP inline, UK Halifax Home Price index falling more than expected and French Q4 Unemployment rate came in higher than expected.

·         China´s stocks fell the most in five weeks, the steepest decline among global indexes, on concern bank lending may slow as ICBC said lending growth rate is set to fall 50% in ’10 (Blooomberg) and the state-run China Daily reported Wednesday that China's banking regulator has ordered the nation's lenders to restrict credit to local government projects while increasing lending to private businesses (Marketwatch).  Also -China's official purchasing managers' index for non-manufacturing sectors plunged to a one-year low at 46.4 in February from 55.1 a month earlier (China Daily).

·         In Japan, the country is set to raise its borrowing limit for foreign exchange intervention for the first time in six years; signaling to market the country may be more willing to intervene in order to curb yen strength if needed (Reuters) 

·         BLK has ramped up its holdings of TSYs in recent weeks in response to the uncertain outlook for growth, sovereign worries, and contained inflation risks; the firm’s CIO for FI said in an interview that he has recently been "more constructive" on the Treasury market, moving the firm's Treasury holdings toward neutral levels from last year's underweight position; the firm has reduced "meaningfully" its overweight positions in other fixed-income assets, such as corporate bonds and mortgage-backed securities.  – WSJ     

·         Washington worries back as a risk for equities – it had been assumed that DC was off the table as a risk to stocks in the wake of the Brown election, although developments in recent days proves this may not be the case.  Various reports have signaled that Congressional Dem leaders plan on moving forward on HC via reconciliation despite the Brown victory.  Also – the White House sent its “Volcker Rules” proposal officially to Congress Fri and the WSJ says they may be expanded beyond just banks (keep in mind that several members of Congress have expressed reservations about the “Volcker Rules” and their passage is by no means assured, but the intra-day publicity didn’t help financial stocks yesterday)

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