Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's Headlines

- The US dollar posted the biggest three-day advance against the euro since June 2005 as traders increased bets the Fed will stop cutting interest rates and the European economy showed signs of a slowdown.
- President Bush said the tax rebates Americans will start getting next week will boost the economy and help them pay their bills.
- Deutsche Bank AG and Lloyds TSB Group Plc led a drop in the cost of protecting debt from default to the lowest in three months as the $76 billion of capital banks raised worldwide during April buoys investor confidence they will weather the credit crisis. The benchmark Markit iTraxx European Financial Sector Index dropped 4 basis points to 65, from a peak of 160 last month, JPMorgan Chase reported.
- The risk of US companies defaulting fell, according to traders of credit-default swaps. Contracts on the Markit CDX North America Investment Grade Index of 125 companies in the US and Canada decreased 4 basis points to 102, according to broker Phoenix Partners Group.
- A benchmark of investor confidence in the US leveraged-loan market is headed for its biggest monthly increase since being created last year as banks find ways to offload loans they have been stuck with the past 10 months. The LCDX Series 9, a credit-default swap index tied to loans of 100 companies in the US and Canada, has climbed 3.45 percentage points to 96.85, according to Goldman Sachs. The index is rallying as Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and the rest of Wall Street have whittled down their leveraged-loan liabilities to about $91 billion from a peak of $237 billion in August, according to Bank of America.
- Yields on commercial-mortgage backed securities fell compared with US Treasuries as investors were lured to higher-yielding debt. The average spread above similar Treasuries for 10-year AAA commercial-mortgage bonds fell 27 basis points to 254 basis points this week, according to a Morgan Stanley index. The extra yield over 10-year swap rates, the more commonly used benchmark, fell 30 basis points to 190 basis points.
- Citigroup Inc.(C) and Merrill Lynch(MER) led $43.3 billion of US corporate bond offerings, the busiest week on record, as financial companies sold debt at the highest yields since May 2001.
- Crude oil is rising $3 a barrel as investment funds raised bets on the commodity after Fox News reported that a US-contracted cargo ship fired warning shots at Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf.
- Wheat fell on speculation demand for global supplies will ease after India, the world’s second-biggest consumer, boosted purchases from domestic producers. The price is down 7.1% this week after falling a combined 11% the prior two weeks.
- Sugar fell to the lowest price in almost three weeks as the rising dollar made commodities traded in NY more expensive for buyers holding other currencies. Sugar supplies may top demand by 9.3 million metric tons in the year ending Sept. 30, the Intl. Sugar Organization forecasts. Sugar is down 8.2% for the week and down 18% from a 19-month high reached on March 3.
- Government Bonds Decline Worldwide as Credit Crisis Nears End.
- China’s shares are a “sell” even after the government stepped in to support the world’s fourth-biggest stock market, according to Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group.

Wall Street Journal:
- Clinton Foundation Secrets. Transparency is a popular word in this presidential election, with all three candidates finally having released their tax returns. Yet the public still hasn’t seen the records of an institution with some of the biggest potential for special-interest mischief: The William J. Clinton Foundation.

NY Times:
- James Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and one of the nation’s most influential black politicians, criticized former President Bill Clinton for what he called “bizarre” behavior. Clyburn, who is a superdelegate from South Carolina, said “black people are incensed over all of this,” referring to various comments Clinton has made. “When he was going through his impeachment problems, it was the black community that bellied up to the bar,” Clyburn said.

USA Today:
- A best-selling video game series, Grand Theft Auto, is releasing a new version Tuesday amid a firestorm of concern about the impact of violent games on children. The Parents Television Council is calling on retailers to keep it away from children.
- Greenpeace founder now backs nuclear power.

Les Echos:
- Apple Inc.(AAPL) can do a better job at selling its iPhone in Europe, citing Pascal Cagni, Apple’s general manager of European operations. Cagni said the company wants to expand its distribution of the iPhone to more European countries, without naming them. Apple will start selling television series on its iTunes online download program in France in coming months, he said.

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