In equity news overnight, Clorox (CLX) boosted its quarterly dividend by 15% overnight to $0.46/share and announced a $750M share repurchase authorization. BNP Paribas [BNP.FR] reported a Q1 Net of €1.98B overnight, above consensus estimates of €1.62B, and a loan loss provision of €546M, down from the €898M in Q4. European Aeronautic Defense [EAD.FR] reported a Q1 Net of €285M, well above the €210M consensus overnight, and revenue of €9.9B, above the €9.2B estimate. The company said that it has not yet determined the financial impact of the A380 delays. ArcelorMittal (MT) reported its Q1 Net at $2.37B overnight, just below the $2.54B consensus. Revenue was in line with expectations at $29.9B. Sainsbury [SBRY.UK] reported FY07 revenue of £19.3B, above the £17.8B consensus. Net income was in line with expectations at £333M. Bradford and Bingley [BB.UK] confirmed a £300M rights issue overnight, noting that it is trading in-line with its mid-April update.
In the newspapers overnight, the Financial Times wrote that JP Morgan (JPM) is expected to take a charge of about $9B to clean up Bear Stearns' balance sheet. The charge will also be for redundancies and litigation costs arising from its buyout of Bear. The Financial Times reported overnight that Lonmin [LMI.UK] plans to sell its pension liabilities to Paternoster. The Wall Street Journal reported overnight that some directors at AIG (AIG) may re-evaluate support of CEO Sullivan if the company posts another big loss The Wall Street Journal wrote overnight that Lloyds [LLOY.UK] does not expect "massive" subprime-related claims for the rest of the year, citing an interview with the company’s chairman. The Times wrote overnight that Credit Agricole [ACA.FR] plans to scale down its investment banking unit.
Things were relatively quiet on the energy front overnight, however, according to wire reports overnight, Nigerian gunmen hijacked an oil services vessel. Follow-up reports indicated that the vessel was carrying oil for Chevron (CVX). According to the Nikkei Press, officials from the US and Japan to meet on Thursday to discuss ways promote Japanese oil exports to the US.
In new supply overnight, Italy sold, €2.0B in 5.00% August 2039 bonds with an average yield of 5.14% and a bid-to-cover of 1.39x, and €4.0B in 4.25% April 2013 bonds with an average yield of 4.29% and a bid-to-cover of 1.43x. In related news the Financial Times wrote overnight that a consortium of investment banks are close to an agreement to sell much of the £9B of debt related to the Alliance Boots buyout. The Financial Times noted overnight that the Fed is reconsidering the way it deals with asset price bubbles, noting that the move could see the central bank using regulation or even interest rates to fight unjustified increases.
In currencies, the USD gained across the board versus the majors. The GBP/USD tested its key support level of 1.9390 throughout the European session. Dealers continued to stress that GBP remains vulnerable to a deteriorating medium-term economic growth outlook, as well as current account and public sector deficits. Chatter circulating of an exotic option exposure at 1.9400 level and added that large 1.9400 option strikes roll off at today's 10am NY cut. The EUR/USD tested the 1.54-handle. Dealers continued to cite the US-Germany 2-year note spread favors a stronger USD for the time being. Dealers noted that the 2-year spread is around -133bps v -150bps a day ago. The JPY was softer across the board as chatter circulated that a hedge funds was ''seen'' exiting its Asian exposures across asset classes (currencies, bonds and stocks). JGB's were broadly lower on inflation concerns.
In central bank speak overnight, non-voting Fed member Evans said overnight that continued weakness in real GDP seen over near term. Evans said that economic conditions are expected to improve in H2 of 2008, adding that core inflation projected to improve over medium term. Former Fed Chairman Greenspan said overnight that the US is showing surprising resilience, adding that high oil prices will continue and US house prices still long way to fall. In the quarterly inflation report released overnight, the BOE said that they see an overshoot in CPI if rates reach 4.50%. The BOE added that CPI may peak at 3.8% by Q4, and will overshoot the 2% target for two years. The BOE said that growth risks are on the downside and inflation risks are on the upside, adding that CPI is expected to exceed 3.0% for several quarters.
Preliminary Spanish GDP for the first-quarter was lower than expected overnight and declined to its lowest q/q level since Q3 of 2000. The y/y reading was the lowest since Q4 of 2002. French CPI data for the month of April was in line with expectations with both the headline and harmonized y/y readings posting declines, but remaining around the 3.0% mark. In the UK jobs data was roughly in line with expectations while the average earnings including bonus for the month of March beat out expectations. Euro-Zone industrial production for March was mixed, but roughly in line with estimates.
Looking ahead, focus in the US this morning is likely to rest upon the April CPI due out ahead of the equity market open. Headline CPI is expected at 0.3% m/m and 4.0% y/y; while the ex-food & energy reading are expected at 0.2% m/m and 2.4% y/y. In Fed, speak the Fed’s Kroszner and Rosengren are both due to speak on Basel II at a conference in Boston. The Fed’s Lockhart is due to speak at a financial markets conference this afternoon, while the Fed’s Yellen is scheduled to speak about what happens “behind the scenes at FOMC meetings”. There are a few notables expected to report earnings in the pre-market today including Deere & Company (DE), Freddie Mac (FRE), and Macy’s (M).