Thursday, July 07, 2011

Thursday Watch

Evening Headlines


  • Trichet Fights a War on Two Fronts. European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet is fighting a war on two fronts as he seeks to contain price pressures while the Greek crisis threatens to blow the euro area apart. The ECB will raise interest rates for a second time this year, increasing the benchmark by 25 basis points to 1.5 percent, when council members meet in Frankfurt today, according to all 55 economist forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The central bank may increase borrowing costs further in the fourth quarter, according to a separate survey. Trichet is at odds with European leaders over how to contain the debt crisis, saying it’s up to nations to plug budget gaps as policy makers fight price gains.
  • Hedge Funds Move Past Greece With Bets That Sovereign Debt Crisis Expands. Hedge funds that trade bonds and loans are increasing bets that Europe’s sovereign debt crisis will spread to Portugal, Spain and Italy, even after Greece won a temporary reprieve with 12 billion euros in aid. “Nothing you’ve seen so far has dealt with solvency, just liquidity,” said Simon Finch, head of credit trading at CQS UK LLP, a London-based hedge fund that oversees $11 billion. Finch, who has bought and sold corporate bonds and loans for 18 years, has stepped up trading in mobile-phone, utility and toll-road companies in the three countries. He expects their governments will be forced to slash spending to pay off lenders, slowing growth and reducing discretionary consumer outlays. CQS is among the hedge funds that say investors are underestimating the odds of distress or even default not only by Portugal, whose credit rating was downgraded this week to junk status by Moody’s, but also by the bigger Italy and Spain. The funds are moving beyond a direct wager that sovereign debt values will tumble, targeting potential fallout in the corporate-debt market and the banking industry.
  • Greek Default Not 'Worst' Outcome for Banks. Greek creditors may be willing to risk a planned and managed default to help resolve the nation’s debt crisis, said the head of the world’s biggest group of international financial companies. “It may well be that some rating agencies reach judgements that involve a selective default,” Charles Dallara, the managing director of the International Institute of Finance, said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday. “I don’t think that a temporary period of selective default as it has been narrowly framed for sovereigns in the past is necessarily the worst thing that could happen here.” His comments, which contrast with the opposition to default by the European Central Bank, European Union and Greece itself, came as Germany revived a proposal for a bond swap to lengthen Greek debt maturities. The Germans dropped that suggestion two weeks ago after it was rejected by the ECB. Bonds in high-debt European nations tumbled yesterday after Portugal was downgraded to junk status, adding to concern Europe’s debt woes will continue to ripple beyond Greece. The extra yield investors demand to hold Portugal’s 10-year bonds over German bunds surged 148 basis points to a euro-era record 949. The yield on Italy’s 10-year bond reached the highest in almost three years, while Ireland’s two-year yield topped 15 percent for the first time. “The market has thought some debt forebearance was inevitable from day one, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that any restructuring, whether it is called that or not, will not lead to contagion and a global market meltdown,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York. “This is looking increasingly like a true default.” Investors are betting that Trichet will maintain efforts to support Greek banks, no matter the debt rating, said David Owen, managing director at Jefferies International in London. “The ECB can kick and scream but it has to keep pumping in liquidity or the Greek banking sector goes down and we have contagion,” Owen said. “Trichet won’t want to be remembered as contributing to an absolute disaster so it’s not a credible threat and that’s the way the market views it.”
  • Swaps Traders Target Spain, Belgium After Greece: Euro Credit. Credit-default swaps traders are increasing bets that Spain and Belgium will be dragged deeper into Europe's sovereign debt crisis, while reducing trades involving Greece and Portugal. Investors had bought and sold 7,866 contracts insuring a net $18.7 billion of Spanish debt as of July 1, according to the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. That's up 11% from what was at stake at the end of last year, and an increase of almost 35% from a year earlier. Belgian debt insurance contracts have soared 26% to $7.1 billion this year, while those involving Greece tumbled 25% to $4.8 billion and trades on Portugal dropped 23% to $6.1 billion. Traders are speculating the combination of an economic slump that's driven Spanish unemployment to 21% and a political vacuum in Belgium, which has been without a government for more than a year, will hobble efforts by those nations to curb budget deficits. "Spain is the wildcard," said Barnaby Martin, head of European credit strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in London. "With growth data becoming more shaky, the market has become more concerned about contagion to Spain."
  • Bank of America(BAC) Loses Bid to Dismiss Homeowner Mortgage Modification Suit. Bank of America Corp. (BAC) must face claims from homeowners who accuse the biggest U.S. bank of failing to honor agreements for modifying their mortgage loans, a federal judge ruled. Homeowners who say they met requirements for permanent modifications can proceed with their cases, according a decision filed today by U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel in Boston. Zobel dismissed some claims against the bank. “The complaint meticulously details each plaintiff’s initial and ongoing compliance with all conditions,” Zobel wrote. The complaint consolidates 26 cases originating in 19 states that were transferred to federal court in Boston, according to Zobel’s decision. Plaintiffs accused the bank of failing to comply with a U.S. government program for modifying loans and violating contracts with borrowers in temporary modifications.
  • Zillow Seeks to Raise $48.5 Million in IPO. Zillow Inc., an online real-estate information service, is seeking to raise as much as $48.5 million in its initial public offering. The Seattle-based company is offering 3.46 million shares for $12 to $14 each, according to a filing today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The IPO will price on July 19, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
  • Containers Flood Shipping Routes as Rates Fall: Freight Markets. Container lines are ignoring a drop in freight rates and bringing the highest proportion of the shipping fleet out of mothballs since 2008, when the global slump resulted in the industry's biggest losses.
  • Samsung Second-Quarter Profit Drops. Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest maker of televisions, posted a 26 percent drop in second-quarter profit after a slump in sales of flat screens masked a surge in demand for smartphones and tablet computers. Operating profit in the three months ended June fell to about 3.7 trillion won ($3.5 billion), compared with 5.01 trillion won a year earlier, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said in a statement today, without giving an explanation. That compared with the 3.8 trillion won average of 25 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
  • U.S. Consumer Bureau Plans to Write Rules for Mortgage Servicers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is preparing to impose rules on U.S. mortgage servicing firms, said Raj Date, the bureau’s associate director. When the bureau begins formal operation July 21, “mortgage servicing will be one of CFPB’s priorities,” Date said in testimony prepared for delivery to members of the House Financial Services Committee today.
  • Airlines Prepare to Take Off on Fuel Made From Algae, Wood Chips. After decades of waiting, commercial airlines have been given the go-ahead to use fuel made from algae, wood chips and other plants with obscure names. Test flights in recent years by United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), Japan Airlines Co. and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have shown that planes can fly on everything from coconut oil to jatropha, a plant that grows in the tropics. On July 1, ASTM International, an American organization that sets worldwide technical standards for the airline and other industries, gave approval for carriers to mix fuel made from organic waste and nonfood plants with kerosene, which is conventionally used to power planes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its July 11 edition.
Wall Street Journal:
  • German Move Roils Talks on Greece. European governments' plan for private-sector creditors to help Greece's next bailout without triggering a default were thrown into doubt Wednesday, as senior German officials resurrected a once-rejected proposal that would cost investors more. The German proposal—calling for investors to be encouraged to swap Greek government bonds for new bonds—had been ditched a month ago after strong opposition from the European Central Bank and governments including France, because it would lead to Greece being called in default by rating agencies.
  • Storage Wars: Web Growth Sparks Data-Center Boom. For years, as Internet use boomed, builders of the giant, air-conditioned computer warehouses known as data centers couldn't keep up with demand. Now, though many investors continue to pile into the data-center business, one of the few hot spots in real estate, others fear the peak may be past.
  • The Satellite: Extra Storage for Tablets on the Go. Two companies are coming out with small, portable, companion hard disks that massively increase the storage capacity of tablets. And because most tablets lack USB connectors, these external hard disks stream their content to the tablets over a special, local Wi-Fi network they create. No Internet access is required.
  • Zillow 'Zestimate' Shifts, Prompting Howls. On June 14th, Bill Trumbo, a 68-year-old retired financial analyst in Phoenix, Ariz., logged onto his bank’s online personal financial management account and found that his house in Phoenix had lost nearly $100,000 in value overnight. Huh? The explanation came that same day, when the real-estate website sent out a press release saying it had modified the formula it uses to estimate the value of some 97.3 million American homes, known as the Zestimate, to expand the coverage of its database of homes and improve accuracy. The company had added 25 million new Zestimates, incorporated user-submitted data about improvements and gave greater weight to more recent sales data. For some, the value of their home went up. Others saw dramatic decreases.
  • Affymetrix(AFFX) Expecgts Lower 2Q Revenue; Shares Down. Affymetrix Inc. (AFFX) said its second-quarter revenue declined due to lower academic and consumables sales, sending shares down after-hours Wednesday. Shares were down 17% to $6.65 after-hours Wednesday as results sharply missed Wall Street expectations for top-line growth. The company, whose products are used by pharmaceutical, diagnostic and biotechnology companies, said preliminary data show $64 million to $65 million in revenue for the second quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently expected a top line of $74 million. Sales to academic customers declined across all regions, particularly in North America, while consumables revenue dropped about 10%, the company said.
Fox Business:
  • Dick Fuld to Street: I'm Here for You. It’s been nearly three years since the fall of Lehman Brothers and the firm’s former CEO, Dick Fuld, has a message for people on Wall Street looking for financial advice: I’m here to help you. The FOX Business Network has learned that Fuld is looking to jump start the consulting business he started after Lehman’s bankruptcy three years ago by pitching himself as a financial handy man, willing to help private equity players run businesses they’ve acquired based on his many years running Lehman Brothers.
  • China Government Advisers Predict More Rate Hikes. A number of Chinese government scholars told local media on Thursday that China may not be done tightening after Wednesday's rate increase, Beijing's fifth hike in eight months.
  • China's Market-Oriented Reforms in Retreat. China’s “market forces have regressed” as government agencies have started to play a more obstructive role in resource allocation, Wu Jinglian, one of China’s foremost economists, said on July 4.
  • Visa(V) Sees Lower Revenue Growth After Debit Crackdown. Visa, the world's largest card processing network, said revenue growth will slow next year after U.S. regulators finalized their crackdown on debit card processing fees.
  • Lagarde to Give China Senior IMF Job. China is close to clinching a top-level post at the International Monetary Fund, IMF sources said on Wednesday after the Fund's new chief pledged to give more power to emerging economies.
  • Dennis Gartman: PIIGS Will Go Bankrupt Within 18 Months. Italy and Spain CDS blew out on Wednesday with investors growing ever more worried that these two nations will be the next hotspots in Europe, with leaders doing little more than chasing the EU's financials woes from one nation to the next. Will the EU ever corner the problem? According to strategic investor Dennis Gartman the short answer is 'No.' He tells Fast Money it ain't gonna' happen.
Business Insider:
Zero Hedge:
  • Bidders for 30 Million Barrels of Strategic Petroleum Reserve Disclosed; JP Morgan(JPM) Requests $158 Million in Crude. We wonder just what JPM plans on doing with this crude, which as predicted, will be transported by vessel, and offloaded at such time as JPM sees fit, probably well after the product is trading at a substantial premium to the purchase price. Ironically, JPM wants more crude than Sunoco and Tesoro: so next time one tries to gas up their car, we suggest looking for the JP Morgan gas station. But by far the most important news is that 80% of the bid are based on a vessel-based distribution, meaning it will be weeks if not months before the SPR disposed crude finally makes it into circulation, if at all, and has an actual supply-side benefit.
NY Times:
  • Building Boom in China Stirs Fears of Debt Overload. In the seven years it will take New York City to build a two-mile leg of its long-awaited Second Avenue subway line, this city of nine million people in central China plans to complete an entirely new subway system, with nearly 140 miles of track. And the Wuhan Metro is only one piece of a $120 billion municipal master plan that includes two new airport terminals, a new financial district, a cultural district and a riverfront promenade with an office tower half again as high as the Empire State Building. The construction frenzy cloaks Wuhan, China’s ninth-largest city, in a continual dust cloud, despite fleets of water trucks constantly spraying the streets. No wonder the local Communist party secretary, recently promoted from mayor, is known as “Mr. Digging Around the City.” The plans for Wuhan, a provincial capital about 425 miles west of Shanghai, might seem extravagant. But they are not unusual. Dozens of other Chinese cities are racing to complete infrastructure projects just as expensive and ambitious, or more so, as they play their roles in this nation’s celebrated economic miracle. In the last few years, cities’ efforts have helped government infrastructure and real estate spending surpass foreign trade as the biggest contributor to China’s growth. Subways and skyscrapers, in other words, are replacing exports of furniture and iPhones as the symbols of this nation’s prowess. But there are growing signs that China’s long-running economic boom could be undermined by these building binges, which are financed through heavy borrowing by local governments and clever accounting that masks the true size of the debt. The danger, experts say, is that China’s municipal governments could already be sitting on huge mountains of hidden debt — a lurking liability that threatens to stunt the nation’s economic growth for years or even decades to come.
The Blaze:
  • Why Won't the GOP Agree to a Tax Increase? (graph) If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one should make clear why the GOP is not putting tax increases on the table. The fiscal path the country is on will take us to an unprecedented level of spending and taxation. Why should the Republicans want to facilitate this process any more?
USA Today:
  • Tough New Clean-Air Rules Will Target Drifting Pollution. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to announce tough new regulations Thursday that seek to significantly reduce emissions from many coal-fired power plants. The new measures will cover plants in as many as 28 states whose pollution blows into other states. The new regulations will likely inflame already heated opposition in some quarters to EPA regulations. A policy rider announced Wednesday by House Republicans would prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants for one year. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee's Interior, Environment and Related Agencies panel, said the provision was necessary to rein in out-of-control and job-killing regulation.
  • Solar panels 'save just £70 a year'. The benefits of solar panels have been called into question after the Energy Savings Trust (EST) reduced the estimated saving on electricity bills to just £70 a year. The EST had previously estimated the savings to households at around £120 annually, but after trials carried out by the government-funded Carbon Trust, the energy advice group amended its estimates. The admission will be a blow to the growing number of "rent-a-roof" schemes, where households receive free solar panels in return for savings on their electricity bill. However, as many of these schemes lock households into a 25-year contract, many householders are expected to be reluctant to take part for such paltry savings.
  • US Will Enter Second Recession if Debt Limit is Not Raised, Warns President Barack Obama. Not raising the $14.29 trillion (£9 trillion) debt ceiling would lead to "a whole new spiral into a second recession or worse", Obama said as he answered questions on the short-messaging service during a "Twitter Town Hall" being streamed live from the White House.
Commercial Times:
  • Asustek Computer probably didn't meet its target for 2Q sales to rise as much as 5% from 1Q because of weak demand in China and Europe. 2Q analyst estimates are for a 37% rise q/q in sales.
South China Morning Post:
  • Bad Loan Fears Put Pressure on Chinese Banks. Mainland lenders under pressure from investors and short-sellers amid concern about the health of their balance sheets after huge stimulus loans. Agricultural Bank of China became the most shorted stock in Hong Kong yesterday as investors grew more concerned about the expiration next week of the lock-up period for cornerstone investors in its IPO. The movement followed news that Singapore state investment firm Temasek Holdings had sold down its stakes in the mainland's two other big lenders, China Construction Bank and Bank of China, on Tuesday.
China Business News:
  • Risks related to China's local government financing vehicles are difficult to ascertain because of overly long financing periods, rolling over of loans, optimistic land revenue expectations and implicit government credit guarantees, citing an official from the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
People's Daily:
  • China's consumer prices may rise 6.2% in June, citing Ba Shusong, a researcher at the State Council's Development Research Center. July's consumer prices may rise about 6% from surging pork prices, Ba said. The central bank may raise rates once or twice again to curb inflation, Ba said.
Evening Recommendations
  • Rated (LNKD) Sell, target $45.
Night Trading
  • Asian equity indices are -.25% to +.50% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 113.0 +2.0 basis points.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 118.50 +1.5 basis points.
  • S&P 500 futures +.46%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures +.51%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note
  • (ISCA)/.27
Economic Releases
8:15 am EST
  • The ADP Employment Change for June is estimated at 70K versus 38K in May.
8:30 am EST
  • Initial Jobless Claims for this week are estimated to fall to 420K versus 428K the prior week.
  • Continuing Claims are estimated to fall to 3700K versus 3702K prior.
11:00 am EST
  • Bloomberg consensus estimates call for a weekly crude oil inventory decline of -2,500,000 barrels versus a -4,375,000 barrel decline the prior week. Distillate supplies are expected to rise by +900,000 barrels versus a +258,000 barrel gain the prior week. Gasoline inventories are expected to fall by -150,000 barrels versus a -1,428,000 barrel decline the prior week. Refinery Utilization is estimated to rise by +.25% versus a -1.1% decline the prior week. Finally, natural gas supplies are estimated to rise by 82 bcf versus a 78 bcf injection the prior week.
Upcoming Splits
  • None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The BoE rate announcement, ECB rate announcement, ICSC Chain Store Sales for June, Fed's Hoenig speaking, Fed's balance sheet report, RBC Consumer Outlook Index for July and the weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly higher, boosted by industrial and commodity shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to weaken into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 75% net long heading into the day.


Andy said...

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maharishii said...
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