Pro-Russian protesters, many of whom are armed, have refused to vacate administrative buildings they have occupied in eastern Ukraine despite an agreement between the government, Russia, the U.S. and EU to "de-escalate" the crisis.
Under the deal, the buildings were to be vacated and armed militias disbanded.
Despite the continued standoff, Russia's Micex index is +2.2% in response to the agreement. The USD-RUB is +0.1% at $35.568.
After underperforming yesterday in response to a mixture of in-line and soft outlooks from Intel, ASML, and Linear, chip stocks bounced back strongly following more encouraging numbers from foundry giant TSMC, NAND flash giant SanDisk, and well-diversified Cypress.
TSMC, seen as a bellwether for chip demand due to a client list that includes most of the world's top fabless chipmakers (Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek, Xilinx, etc.), beat Q1 estimates, issued strong Q2 guidance, and reported seeing healthy sales from mobile clients, and for its advanced 28nm process node.
Though pre-IPO demand was muted (leading to conservative pricing) and initial trading wasn't impressive, Weibo (WB +19.1%) and Leju (LEJU +18.6%) closed up strongly. The former is now worth $4.05B (21x sales), and the latter $1.57B (4.7x sales).
Sina (SINA +6.7%) managed to follow Weibo higher, but E-House (EJ -5%) couldn't get a similar lift from Leju.
Chinese Internet companies with upcoming IPOs - the list includes JD.com, Jumei.com (JMEI), and Cheetah Mobile - are likely breathing sighs of relief.
TSMC (TSM +2.8%) has guided for Q2 revenue of NT$180B-NT-$183B ($5.97B-$6.07B), well above a $5.61B consensus. Gross margin is expected to be in a range of 47.5%-49.5%, after coming in at 47.5% in Q1 (+170 bps Y/Y).
TSMC states strong mobile chip demand contributed to its Q1 beat, which follows a March guidance hike, and that it's also benefiting from inventory restocking and "better performance and higher yield and reliability" for advanced process nodes.
28nm wafers made up 34% of Q1 revenue, and 40/45nm wafers 21%.
UBS' William Dong has upgraded shares to Buy, and thinks strong demand for 4G smartphones (have higher chip content than 3G phones) is giving the foundry a lift. He expects 10%-12% Q/Q Q3 revenue growth as orders for Apple's A8 CPU ramp, and 3%-5% growth in Q4.
At the same time, Dong expects TSMC to see a more "balanced pricing environment" in 2015 as smaller foundry rivals such as Samsung try to take share.
Management said it sees strong commodity prices supporting spending by its customers; for Q2, it expects a seasonal drop in its North America business to be more than offset by gains in other segments, leading to earnings growth similar to Q1.
FBR Capital reiterates an Outperform rating on the stock, writing that the quarter demonstrates why the stock has been its top pick in the group.
After initially trading near breakeven following a Baird upgrade to Outperform, SolarCity (SCTY +1.7%) has moved higher.
Baird's Ben Kallo thinks the 35% drop seen since Feb. 27 provides a great buying opportunity for "the stock most levered to the U.S. rooftop market, which will likely undergo a boom over the next several years."
He also argues SolarCity's cost cuts and scale give it a competitive edge, and that solar asset-backed notes provide it with cheap capital to "capitalize on the expansive U.S. greenfield opportunity."
"There is vivid interest already from both hedge funds and institutional investors," says Petros Christodoulou, deputy CEO of National Bank of Greece (NBG +4.4%). The €750M senior unsecured bond will be the first such issue by the bank in nearly 5 years, and it's expected to have a 5-year maturity and be priced to yield around 4.5% (the government just sold 5-year paper last week at 4.95%).
The bond sale comes alongside an expected €2.5B equity offering aimed at filling the large capital hole in the bank.
The moves comes as Piraeus Bank - the largest Greek lender - last month raised €500M in debt, followed by a €1.75B equity sale. Third-ranked lender Alpha Bank has also raised €1.2B in capital and #4 Eurobank has an investor group ready to anchor a €2.9B stock sale later in April.
The major averages are managing to hang in there - S&P 500 (SPY +0.1%), Nasdaq 100 (QQQ) - despite sizable earnings-related declines in a number of high-profile names. IBM -3.4%, Google -4.5%, American Express -2%, and Chipotle Mexican Grill -1.9%. United Health -3.7%, and leading health insurer stocks lower amid dour comments on Medicare rate cuts and high Hepatitis C costs.
Not all the big earnings names are lower though: Morgan Stanley +3.6%, GE +2.3%, and Goldman Sachs about flat.
Also weighing is a big jump in Treasury yields after initial jobless claims remained right around 300K and the Phila Fed Index popped to a 7-month high. The 10-year Treasury is up 8 basis points to 2.71%.
On the surface, Morgan Stanley's (MS +3.5%) Q1 results appear far better than those of Goldman Sachs (GS +0.6%), with FICC revenues up 9% Y/Y vs. a decline at Goldman. But Oppenheimer's Chris Kotowski notes Morgan had an especially easy comparison since 2013 Q1 was particularly weak. "Nonetheless, it is always nice to see year-over-year growth, and Morgan Stanley's is the best we have seen so far."
Kotwoski also takes note of return on tangible common equity - 11.1% at Goldman vs. 10.9% at Morgan. Despite the lower ROE, Morgan trades for 10.3x 2015 estimates vs. 9.4x for Goldman. Investors may want to have to take a harder look at which one to buy.
SandRidge Energy (SD +3.7%) pushes solidly higher following positive comments last night from Jim Cramer.
"Because SandRidge is so hated by Wall Street, the analysts can't see the incredible turnaround happening in front of their faces," Cramer said, noting that SD has delivered three consecutive quarters where the company beat earnings estimates and raised guidance since James Bennett took over as CEO.
Cramer also likes SD's real estate assets, particularly the Mississippian play, where the company owns 1.8M acres; SD has 10 years worth of drilling inventory, and new technology could extend that to 20 years or more, he says.
Microsoft (MSFT -1.4%), whose enterprise software ops compete against both IBM (middleware, databases, developer tools) and SAP (ERP/CRM apps, databases), is trading lower. As is IBM archrival H-P (HPQ -2.6%).
A few enterprise cloud software vendors, some of whom compete against SAP, are also off: JIVE -3.5%. N -2%. VEEV -1.9%. MKTO -2.2%.
Though SAP's (SAP -2.1%) non-IFRS cloud subscription/support revenue rose 32% Y/Y in Q1 (even with Q4's rate) to €221M, its traditional software license revenue fell 5% to €623M after growing 1% in Q4.
Much like archrival Oracle's 2013 license revenue misses, the latter figure is bound to trigger fears about the impact of cloud software competition.
Support revenue (driven by software licenses, relatively steady) rose 5% Y/Y to €2.21B, and all other revenue fell 8% to €643M. Opex rose just 2% Y/Y.
A strong euro took a toll: Whereas revenue and op. profit each rose 2% Y/Y at current exchange rates, they've would've risen 6% and 7% at constant currency. SAP expects a similar forex impact for the whole of 2014.
SAP now has 3.2K+ Hana customers, up from 3K+ at the end of 2013, and nearly 1K customers now run its core Business Suite on Hana (up from 800). But no Hana revenue figure is given; Hana revenue rose 61% in 2013 to €633M.
Cloud billings rose 23% Y/Y to €228M (36% exc. forex), and the cloud deferred revenue balance 20% to €454M (29% exc. forex).
In spite of the Q1 miss, SAP is reiterating its full-year revenue and op. profit forecasts.