Futures jumped about 6 points as both weekly jobless claims and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE, an indicator of the average increase in prices for domestic consumption), came in a bit below expectations. The dollar rallied on the PCE news (lower inflation is dollar-positive).
Start of a trend? South Korea's National Pension Service says it will no longer buy U.S. Treasurys; they cite falling yields and a desire to broaden their investments. They are the world's fifth largest pension fund, with $220 b in asets; they hold $14 b in U.S. government debt. It's not the size of their holdings (relatively small compared to the nearly $5 trillion in U.S. debt), the concern is that it may be the start of a trend.
The Fed's Term Lending Facility auction debuts today. Wall Street will have a chance to exchange mortgage assets for up to $75 b of government securities.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is raising corn and soybean margins by 50 percent and 30 percent respectively; this should chase out at least some of the speculative interest in these grains, though it will also hurt hedgers as well.
1) Conagrabeat for its third quarter and guided earnings above estimates for the remainder of the year, 2009 guidance of "at least $1.55" is close to analyst estimates of $1.61. up 8 percent pre-open. They are selling their commodity trading operations.
2) Home builder Lennarreported a loss,though it was less than expected. Revenues were more than 60 percent below last year. CEO Stuart Miller said, "the pace of overall housing industry growth is exceeding absorption at the current time."
3) Williams-Sonoma earnings were slightly above expectations, but their guidance was very weak; down 6 percent pre-open. The company says "we are expecting the home furnishings industry to be increasingly challenging in 2008."
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