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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Morning Market Report

There's two pieces of breaking economic data. First, housing starts for November just came out and they disappointed a bit.

New U.S. housing starts rose but were lower than expected in November as construction activity for single family dwellings increased only marginally, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department said housing starts increased 8.9 percent to a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 574,000 units.

At the same time, Consumer Price Index was in line increasing .4% in the month of November.
That was in line with estimates.

The 0.4 percent increase in the consumer-price index followed a 0.3 percent gain in October, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. The so-called core index that excludes food and energy was unexpectedly unchanged, the first month without an increase since December 2008 and restrained by a drop in shelter costs and cheaper clothing.

All three indices were down about .5% yesterday. Futures are up about half that in the pre market.

After lunch, the Fed will announce its interest rate policy following its once every six week meeting. No one expects the bottom line rate to change but the market will hang on every word out of the mouth of Ben Bernanke, as always.

Bonds are showing some strength after nearly a week of weakness. The ten year is back below 3.60% to 3.58%. The yield spread between the two and ten year is now down to 2.70% after touching its record of 2.75% yesterday. (it reached that record originally in June) The three month t bill is now at .035%, a bit worse than the .025% it reached yesterday. It hasn't fallen below zero since being there for a day plus about three plus weeks ago.

Meanwhile, oil is back above $70 a barrel. It's currently trading at $71.25 a barrel. Gold is up slightly as well and that's currently at $1131 an ounce.

Markets in the Far East were decidedly mixed while they were up in Europe across the board. The NIKKEI in Japan was up .93%, the HANG Seng in China was down .93%, and the Straits Time Index in Singapore was up .54%. In Europe, the FTSE was up .01%, the DAX in Germany is up 1.03% and the Spanish index is up .85%.

Meanwhile, currencies are relatively quiet. The dollar is about even against both the Euro and the Yen and it's down .57% against the British Pound.

Finally, an Abu Dhabi fund is seeking to end it's joint venture with Citigroup.

Citigroup said on Tuesday the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority filed an arbitration claim against it, accusing the U.S. lender of misrepresentation over a $7.5 billion investment by the sovereign wealth fund.

The sovereign wealth fund, considered by some the largest in the world, bought securities from the U.S. bank in 2007. In the original deal, the Citigroup bonds must be converted into common stock at a price between $31.83 and $37.24 a share between March 2010 and September 2011.

Citigroup recently announced a plan to pay back their tarp debt. The country of Abu Dhabi recently gave a lifeline to Dubai in the form of a $10 billion loan.

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