More not so good news for the economic outlook this morning. The National Federation of Independent Business index fell. "It looks like everyone became more pessimistic in March, consumers (The university of Michigan Confidence Index took a dive, tenth largest monthly decline in survey history) and business owners. The Index of Small Business Optimism gave up 2.6 points in March, falling to 91.9, definitely a recession-level reading if history is any guide.".... "The bad news for the Fed (although not for the business owners who need to improve their bottom lines after the recession laid waste to their profits) is that price pressures continue to mount. The decline in the Index was driven by weaker expectations for real sales gains and business conditions and a marked deterioration in profit trends. Job creation plans weakened but remained in positive territory and plans to make capital outlays posted another gain (although reports of actual outlays over the past 6 months were unchanged). Basically, the Index and its components are at recession levels from an historical perspective."
The Feb international trade deficit was about in line; -$45.76B. March import prices increased 2.7%, higher than 2.2% expected; export prices +1.5% higher than +0.8% expected. Food prices up 4.2% the largest increase since July 1994; yr/yr import prices up 9.7%. Yr/yr on export price +9.7%.
The DJIA opened -88, at 9:30 the 10 yr +19/32 at 3.52% -6 bp and mortgages +12/32 (.27 bp). Equity markets were not happy over the Alcoa earnings reported at 4:00 yesterday, the beginning of earnings season. Cisco also not helping equities with news of the company about to cut jobs.
The reactions to weaker earnings, a decline in small business confidence, Japan increasing the nuke emergency level from 5 to the highest 7 level, a sizeable decline in oil prices in the last 24 hours (about $7.00), and lower inflation stats from the UK have momentarily shaken markets. Not a big deal in the larger perspective but enough to pressure stocks for the moment and push interest rates slightly lower this morning.
At 1:00 Treasury will auction $32B of 3 yr notes. At 2:00 this afternoon Treasury will report the March balance, expected a deficit of $189B.
A nice start to the day but we are not swayed, the bond and mortgage markets if we look at it from the technicals are both near term oversold as we noted yesterday; the equity markets equally overbought. Both markets overdue for consolidation. The larger picture remains optimistic fore economic recovery, inflation concerns haven't evaporated as most countries are on a path of rate hikes. Then the much wider perspective; the US budget deficit that will play a huge role in the markets starting again tomorrow after Obama's speech. None of the driving issues justify optimism in the bond markets.