- Euro Area Seeks Bigger IMF War Chest on Spanish Concerns. European officials travel to Washington this week seeking a bigger global war chest to combat the debt crisis as Spain’s government battles to quell renewed market turmoil over its finances. Three weeks after European leaders unveiled emergency euro- area funding exceeding the symbolic $1 trillion mark, concerns about Spain’s position have ratcheted the nation’s borrowing costs to the highest levels this year. Crisis-fighting resources will dominate talks at the International Monetary Fund’s spring meeting in Washington from April 20-22. While the U.S. insists that Europe can overcome the crisis using its own financial firepower, euro-area officials say they’ve done enough to trigger additional global assistance. The urgency was underscored last week as Spanish and Italian yields jumped, challenging assumptions among the region’s leaders that the worst of the fallout was behind them. “After three months that were calmer than expected, the euro crisis is back,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “The speed of the recent surge in yields has elements of a renewed market panic.” Spain’s 10-year bond yield climbed 19 basis points last week to 5.98 percent, while similar-maturity Italian yields increased seven basis points to 5.52 percent. The euro retreated against the U.S. dollar April 13, falling 0.8 percent to $1.3078, bringing the decline since Feb. 28 to 2.4 percent.
- Galbraith Warns Periphery Euro Nations Will Collapse, FTD Says. James Galbraith sees the current strategy to deal with the euro crisis leading to a dramatic increase in inequality, with growing unemployment and mass migration inside the region, the Financial Times Deutschland reported in a preview of an article to be published tomorrow. The peripheral areas of the region will suffer a rapid and long-lasting decline similar to that experienced in the southern states of the U.S. after the Civil War, the University of Texas in Austin economist told the newspaper in an interview.
- China Must Combat Corruption, Premier Wen Writes After Bo Purge. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged “stronger” measures to combat corruption and to make the government more accountable, in an article published today in a Communist Party magazine a week after a member of the ruling Politburo was suspended. Wen’s commentary comes after Bo Xilai was suspended from his top Party positions on suspicion of committing “serious discipline violations,” according to an April 10 report by the official Xinhua News Agency. His wife, Gu Kailai, and an aide were put in custody for suspicion of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. Bo, 62, was removed as the top official in the southwestern city of Chongqing on March 15.
- China Doubling Yuan Band Signals Drive for Convertibility. China’s decision to widen the yuan’s trading band against the dollar for the first time since 2007 signals a drive toward a convertible currency that also saw overseas investors get bigger investment quotas this month. The band’s increase to 1 percent from 0.5 percent takes effect tomorrow, the People’s Bank of China said on its website yesterday. This month, regulators raised quotas for foreigners buying onshore stocks and bonds to $80 billion from $30 billion and increased the amount of yuan held offshore that can be invested locally.
- Company Bond Sales Sink to Lowest Levels of Year: Credit Markets. Corporate bond sales worldwide are faltering after setting a record in the first quarter as doubts about the strength of the economic recovery and Europe's sovereign-debt crisis resurface. From the U.S. to Europe and Asia, issuance has fallen to the lowest levels of the year in the past two weeks, according to Bloomberg.
- Copper Futures Record Biggest Weekly Drop Since December. Copper fell, capping the biggest weekly decline since mid-December, on concern that demand may falter amid slowing economic growth in China, the world’s top consumer. Copper futures for May delivery dropped 2.5 percent to settle at $3.627 a pound at 1:27 p.m. on the Comex in New York. This week, the metal dropped 4.4 percent, the most since Dec. 16. Orders (NLFCA) to withdraw copper from warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange fell for the ninth straight session, the longest slide since November. Inventories have climbed 3.2 percent this month.
- Hedge Funds Cut Commodity Bets on Slowing China Growth. Speculators cut bullish wagers on commodities by the most in 2012 on mounting concern that the slowest Chinese growth in almost three years will curb gains in demand for everything from copper to cotton. Money managers lowered net-long positions across 18 U.S. futures and options by 9.3 percent to 1.01 million contracts in the week ended April 10, the biggest reduction since Dec. 20, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission show. Copper holdings tumbled 84 percent, the most since November. Hedge funds are now betting on lower cotton prices.
- Saudi Shares Drop Most in 8 Months on Global Growth Concern, Oil. Saudi Arabia (SABIC)’s shares slumped the most in almost eight months on investor concern that oil prices may retreat amid signs the global economic recovery is slowing and after first-quarter company earnings missed estimates. Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co. (KAYAN), the company 35 percent-owned by Saudi Basic Industries Corp., lost 6.5 percent after its first-quarter loss widened. Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co. (SAFCO), the company known as Safco also part-owned by Saudi Basic, tumbled to the lowest since February after profit missed analysts’ expectations. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) fell 2.3 percent, the most since Aug. 20, to 7,348.33, at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh.
- Texas Instruments(TXN) Picked for Nasdaq-100 as First Solar(FSLR) Removed.
- BMW Sales in Brazil Slump 30% Because of Tax Increase. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), the world’s largest luxury automaker, posted a 30 percent drop in first-quarter sales in Brazil due to a tax rise for imported cars, said Henning Dornbusch, the company’s country head. In an effort to protect jobs and automakers with factories in Brazil, the government levied a 30 percentage-point increase in its industrial products tax on vehicles with less than 65 percent of their parts produced in the country. The tax increase took effect in January and is on top of the 35 percent import duty already charged in the South American nation. “Car sales fell 30 percent due to the IPI raise,” Dornbusch said in an interview on April 13 in Sao Paulo. “We’ve partly compensated it by raising prices 15.9 percent in average, with BMW and dealerships absorbing the rest.”
- Goldman Sachs(GS) Said to Raise $2.5 Billion in ICBC Sale. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is selling a $2.5 billion stake in Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (601398) Ltd., said two people with knowledge of the matter. Goldman Sachs will sell shares at HK$5.05 each, said the people, who declined to be identified. Temasek Holdings Pte said today it will buy 3.55 billion ICBC shares from Goldman Sachs and hold 5.3 percent of the lender’s Hong Kong-listed stock after the purchase.
- BlackRock(BLK) Bond System Credit Negative for Global Banks, Moody's Says. BlackRock announced plans to create the "Aladdin Trading Network" bond-trading system last week. It is credit negative for banks with global capital market operations as it could reduce their trading revenue. It would be particularly detrimental to Goldman Sachs(GS), Deutsche Bank AG(DB) and Barclays Bank Plc(BCS).
- Carlyle Said to Seek Up to $762.5 Million in Initial Offering. Carlyle Group LP (CG), the Washington- based private-equity firm, is seeking to raise as much as $762.5 million in its initial public offering, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
Wall Street Journal:
- Famed Investor Seeds New Fund. Well-known investor Julian Robertson plans to put tens of millions of dollars into a global macro fund launched by Trient Asset Management, a firm co-founded by a former head of Norway's sovereign wealth fund, in a bet that the global economic rebound will fall short of investors' expectations.
- Biggest Lawyers Grab Fee Bounty. The priciest lawyers in the U.S. are getting even more expensive, but those at the opposite end are getting left behind. Partners in the top 25% of hourly billers boosted their average price to $873 an hour last year, up 4.9% from 2010, according to a report being published Monday. The country's lowest-billing partners struggled to keep pace with inflation, meanwhile. Partners in the bottom 25% charged an average of $204 last year, up just 1.3%.
- Why Your Highway Has Potholes. The Senate's highway-fund bailout will only perpetuate the spending misallocation that has contributed to traffic nightmares. It will also run up the deficit. If Congress really wants to enhance the livability of cities and suburbs, it will pass a highway bill that builds more roads.
- Secret Service Scandal Expands to Military. An embarrassing scandal involving prostitutes and Secret Service agents sent to protect President Barack Obama on his visit to Colombia expanded Saturday, when the U.S. military said five service members may also have participated in the alleged misconduct. The 11 Secret Service agents accused of soliciting prostitutes were put on leave and Obama offered regret over the incident overshadowing his diplomatic mission to Latin America. The military service members were confined to their quarters in Colombia and ordered not to have contact with others. All the alleged activities took place before Obama arrived Friday in this Colombian port city for meetings with 33 other regional leaders. Put together, the allegations were an embarrassment for an American president on foreign soil and threatened to upend White House efforts to keep his trip focused squarely on boosting economic ties with fast-growing Latin America.
- This 'Boomtown Girl' Shows Us What Her Life Is Like In Oil Crazed Williston, ND.
- This Chart Shows What a Complete Disaster Spain Has Become.
- REPORT: Credit Suisse Could Soon Axe 5,000 Investment Bankers.
- NYT: Here Comes 'Taxmageddon'. 'Taxmageddon' is the preferred description of David Leonhardt at The New York Times to describe the unique fiscal situation due to happen at the end of this year. Basically, with no changes to current law, taxes will rise for everyone, and after tax, inflation-adjusted income for the average American will drop to 1998 levels. As Leonhardt puts it: "All in all, the end of 2012 will be unlike any other time in memory for the federal government."
- The War for Spain by John Mauldin.
- George Soros on Europe: Iceberg Dead Ahead. (video)
- Why The Market Is Slowly Dying. (graphs)
- Sheila Bair's Modest Proposal To Fix Everything: Hyperinflation.
- With Europe Broken Again, Sarkozy and Lagarde Are Back to Begging.
- Best Buy(BBY) Plans to Close Another 42 Stores.
- Spanish Monarchy Faces Jumbo Crisis. Public disenchantment with Spain’s rulers deepened at the weekend when it emerged that King Juan Carlos was hunting elephants in Botswana weeks after saying he could not sleep because of youth unemployment in an increasingly grave economic crisis. Support for Mariano Rajoy, the embattled Popular party prime minister, has meanwhile fallen sharply since his government took power in December, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.
- G20 Meets as Global Economy Hits Rough Patch. "It is very important to avoid a vicious cycle of economic contraction and budget cutting," said Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, which represents big global banks.
Wall Street All-Stars:
- Taliban Attack Afghan Capital, 3 Other Cities. The Taliban launched a series of coordinated attacks on at least seven sites across the Afghan capital on Sunday, targeting NATO headquarters, the parliament and diplomatic residences. Militants also launched near-simultaneous assaults in three other eastern cities.
- Netanyahu Accuses World Powers of Giving Iran 'freebie' in Talks. Israel’s prime minister complained Sunday that six big world powers had given Iran "a freebie" in a new agreement that permits Tehran to enter negotiations about its disputed nuclear program May 23 without first halting enrichment of uranium that could be used in a nuclear bomb. Airing the first important public criticism of the deal, reached Saturday in Istanbul, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem that "my initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie. It’s got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition."
- Pakistani Taliban Assault Prison, Freeing Almost 400. In what is being called the biggest jail-break in Pakistani history, Taliban fighters stormed a prison in the northwestern town of Bannu early Sunday, freeing almost 400 prisoners, including a militant commander who tried to assassinate the former president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
- In California, Economic Gap of East vs. West. Communities all along the state’s coastline have largely bounced back from the recession, some even prospering with high-tech and export businesses growing and tourism coming back. At the same time, communities from just an hour’s drive inland and stretching all the way to the Nevada and Arizona borders struggle with stubbornly high unemployment and a persistent housing crisis. And the same pattern holds the length of the state, from Oregon to the Mexican frontier.
- Increasingly in Europe, Suicides 'by Economic Crisis'. The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”
- White House Opens Door to Big Donors, and Lobbyists Slip In. Although Mr. Obama has made a point of not accepting contributions from registered lobbyists, a review of campaign donations and White House visitor logs shows that special interests have had little trouble making themselves heard. Many of the president’s biggest donors, while not lobbyists, took lobbyists with them to the White House, while others performed essentially the same function on their visits.
- Flood of Foreclosures to Hit The Housing Market. The golden age for foreclosure squatters may soon be coming to an end now that the $26 billion mortgage settlement has been approved. Lenders hit the pause button on foreclosures because they "were afraid that anything they did would be under a microscope," said Eric Higgins, a professor of business at Kansas State University. As a result, borrowers who were seriously delinquent on their loans have been able to stay in their homes for months or even years without making a single payment. Nationwide, the average time it takes to foreclose on a home -- from the first missed payment to the final bank repossession -- stretched to 370 days during the first quarter, almost twice as long as it took five years ago, according to Daren Blomquist, the marketing director at RealtyTrac. In some states, delinquent borrowers have been squatting in their homes much longer. In Florida, the average time was 861 days, and in New York it was 1,056 days -- close to three years. "Perhaps a million foreclosures could have been pursued last year but weren't," said Rick Sharga, executive vice president for real estate investment company, Carrington Holdings. But that's all about to change, he said. "We're going to see an increase in the speed of foreclosures and a higher number of foreclosure starts." In fact, there are indications that the pace of foreclosures are already starting to pick up.
Las Vegas Review-Journal:
- Are Americans Simply Too Dumb To Fully Appreciate ObamaCare? Best case, Blahous says, ObamaCare increases federal spending by $1.16 trillion and ups the deficit by $346 billion between now and 2021. Worst case (some say the most likely case), ObamaCare jacks up spending $1.24 trillion and adds $527 billion to the deficit.
- Daily Presidential Tracking Poll. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 22% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -18 (see trends).
- Latin America Rebels Against Obama Over Cuba. Unprecedented Latin American opposition to U.S. sanctions on Cuba left President Barack Obama isolated at a summit on Sunday and illustrated Washington's declining influence in a region being aggressively courted by China. Unlike the rock-star status he enjoyed at the 2009 Summit of the Americas after taking office, Obama has had a bruising time at the two-day meeting in Colombia of some 30 heads of state.
- Spot Platinum Falls 2% on Global Growth Concerns. Spot platinum fell more than 2 percent on Monday to $1,559 an ounce, its lowest in more than two months, because of concerns about global growth.
- Web Freedom Facing Greatest Threat - Google(GOOG) Founder. "There are very powerful forces that have lined up against the open Internet on all sides and around the world," Brin was quoted as saying. "I am more worried than I have been in the past. It's scary." He said he was concerned by efforts of countries such as China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to censor and restrict use of the Internet.
- Banks Urge Fed Retreat On Credit Exposure. Wall Street banks are resisting a Federal Reserve plan to limit their exposure to individual companies and governments, warning it will cut a combined $1.2tn from credit commitments at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup. David Viniar, chief financial officer of Goldman, Ruth Porat, chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley and their counterparts at six other banks argued that the plan would harm liquidity at a meeting three weeks ago with Daniel Tarullo, Fed governor, according to people familiar with the talks. The banks warned the proposed measures would also send ripples through international markets because their government bond holdings could be snared by the caps.
- Angola Officials Held Hidden Oil Stakes. Three of the most powerful officials in Angola have held concealed interests in an oil venture with Cobalt International Energy, the Goldman Sachs-backed explorer whose operations in one of the world’s most promising energy frontiers are under investigation by US authorities, the Financial Times has learned.
- Eurozone Crisis Roars Back to Savage Spain. 'Today the problem is solved," declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy just five weeks ago. "How happy I am a solution to the Greek crisis, which has weighed on the economic and financial situation in Europe and the world for months, has been found." Like a lingering bad smell, the fundamental contradictions at the heart of monetary union can be blanked out for a while but refuse to go away. The busted banks, the grotesque indebtedness, the inherent contradictions – in recent days they've all burst back into view. Spain is the fourth-largest eurozone economy and the 12th biggest in the world. Spanish GDP last year was almost five times that of Greece. Spain has a vast and less widely recognised stash of private sector debt. Global bond markets, previously sedated by ECB "funny money", now realise that a big slice of those liabilities could land on the government's balance sheet.
- Swimming Naked in Brazil's Bubbly Waters. The Latin Tiger may have overtaken France, Italy, and Britain to become the world’s fifth largest economy on some measures but it has also been relegated to 126th place by the World Bank for 'ease of doing business', behind much of Africa. Cyclical warning signs are flashing amber across the board.
- Why a Visit to the Eurozone Doctor Won't Relieve the Pain in Spain. So much for the idea that the euro crisis is over! Last week it resurfaced again – with Spain now first in the firing line. How serious is the Spanish problem?
- Beyond the Scandal Lies a Crisis at the Heart of China's Legitimacy. A Chinese Spring is inevitable if the party leadership doesn't reform itself.
- The IMF may not decide until June whether to provide more money for the European bailout fund, citing and interview with Paulo Noguiera Batista, who represents Brazil and eight other South American countries at the IMF. Batista said he doesn't expect a decision to be made at IMF's spring meeting, adding he thought the provision of more money is "less than certain."
- Jose Antonio Monago, regional president of Extremadura and member of the governing People's Party, said Spain may need to rewrite its 1978 constitution to stop regional governments hemorrhaging cash. "There have been tremendous errors, such as expanding to infinity their functions and spending has been uncontrolled and irrational," Monago said in an interview. "The constitution shouldn't be untouchable. We shouldn't be afraid."
Journal du Dimanche:Estado de S. Paulo:
- French President Nicolas Sarkozy's 36% approval rating a month before the final round in presidential election is lower than that of any other French president since 1958 at a similar point, citing a poll from Ifop.
- Bank loan delinquency in Brazil is at the highest level since September 2009, citing central bank data. A total of 73 billion reais in loans were delinquent more than 15 days, a number that has risen 44% in the past 12 months.
- We Will Sustain Attacks On Oil Industry, S'Africa's Business Interests. Following its Friday's attack on the Clough Creek facilities of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it would sustain its attacks on the Nigerian oil industry. In a statement sent out on Saturday by its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, MEND also reiterated its resolve to commence attack on South African economic interests in Nigeria, specifically mentioning its intention to attack MTN Nigeria's facilities sited in the Niger Delta region.
Yonhap News Agency:
- Iranian Officials Observed North Korea's Rocket Launch: Source. A dozen Iranian officials, responsible for the country's ballistic missile program, visited North Korea last week to observe its latest rocket launch, which ended in failure, a diplomatic source here said Sunday. "On March 31, 12 Iranians of the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG) arrived in North Korea. The Iranians undoubtedly were there to observe the missile launch and receive test data from North Korea," the source told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity.
China National Radio:
- Procter & Gamble Co.(PG) raised some of its product prices in China by 10% to 20% from April, citing a company official. The Co. plans to raise prices for some other products, according to the report.
- Stabilizing prices in China this year will be an "arduous" task, Peng Sen, a vie chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission said in a commentary.
- Made positive comments on (STX), (GME) and (KSS).
- Made negative comments on (ESI) and (WPRT).
- Asian indices are -1.25% to -.25% on average.
- Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 170.0 +9.0 basis points.
- Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 137.75 unch.
- FTSE-100 futures -.10%.
- S&P 500 futures -.23%.
- NASDAQ 100 futures -.27%.
Earnings of Note
8:30 am EST
- Empire Manufacturing for April is estimated to fall to 18.0 versus 20.21 in March.
- Advance Retail Sales for March are estimated to rise +.3% versus a +1.1% gain in February.
- Retail Sales Less Autos for March are estimated to rise +.6% versus a +.9% gain in February.
- Retail Sales Ex Auto & Gas for march are estimated to rise +.5% versus a +.6% gain in February.
9:00 am EST
- Net Long-Term TIC Flows for February are estimated to fall to $40.0B versus $101.0B in January.
10:00 am EST
- Business Inventories for February are estimated to rise +.6% versus a +.7% gain in January.
- The NAHB Housing Market Index for April is estimated at 28 versus 28 in March.
- None of note
- The Fed's Bullard speaking and the Fed's Pianalto speaking could also impact trading today.