Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today's Headlines

  • Ukraine Talks End With Accord on Steps to De-Escalate Conflict. Four-way talks on the crisis in Ukraine ended with an accord aimed at taking the first steps toward de-escalating the conflict after President Vladimir Putin said he hopes he won’t have to send troops. Talks in Geneva today between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his Ukrainian counterpart, Andriy Deshchytsia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign-policy chief, went on for more than six hours, longer than scheduled. Kerry said Russia must start implementing the deal within the next few days.
  • Forcing Russia Out of Markets Seen as Ukraine Leverage. Forcing Russia out of global financial markets is the strongest tool at U.S. President Barack Obama’s disposal if he wants to stop Vladimir Putin’s territorial ambitions, according to former government officials and sanctions specialists.
  • Japan Consumer Confidence Drops to Lowest Since 2011. Japan’s consumer confidence fell to the lowest level since August 2011, and the government cut its economic assessment for the first time in 17 months, as a sales-tax increase on April 1 sapped the public’s spending power. The March confidence reading of 37.5 fell by 1 from the previous month, the Cabinet Office said in Tokyo today.
  • Korean Companies Facing Debt Wall Turn to Dollar Bond Market. Bond investors are readying for a slew of South Korean deals as companies from Asia’s fourth-biggest economy face the most maturing dollar notes since 1999. “South Korean companies have significant refinancing requirements this year,” said Mark Reade, a Hong Kong-based desk analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. “And with low Treasury yields driving inflows into U.S. investment-grade funds, there’s plenty of appetite for high-quality names from Asia.”
  • European Stocks Climb on U.S. Unemployment-Claims Report. European stocks climbed for a second day as a report showed fewer Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week than estimated. Renault SA and Daimler AG each gained more than 1.5 percent as a report showed European car sales rose in March. Remy Cointreau SA and Diageo Plc (DGE) declined more than 3 percent after reporting lower sales. SAP AG lost 1.2 percent as Germany’s biggest technology company said that revenue from new software licenses dropped in the quarter. Akzo Nobel NV (AKZA) slid the most in nine months as its sales missed projections. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.5 percent to 332.43 at the close of trading.
  • Obama Budget Raises Taxes $1.4 Trillion in Decade, CBO Says. President Barack Obama’s proposed 2015 budget would increase taxes by $1.4 trillion over the next decade compared with current law, the budget agency said. In a fresh analysis of the White House budget plan for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal would result in a $446 billion spending increase for the 10 years ending in 2024. The agency projected that under the plan, the U.S. budget deficit would increase over a three-year period.
Wall Street Journal:
NY Times:
  • Russia Economy Worsens Even Before Sanctions Hit. Margarita R. Zobnina, a professor of marketing here, has been watching the Russian economy’s gathering woes with mounting alarm: friends who have moved abroad with no plans to return; others who put off new business ventures because of rising uncertainty. Meanwhile, Ms. Zobnina and her husband, Alexander, also a professor, have rented a safe deposit box to hold foreign cash as a hedge against the declining ruble.
    Most shocking, she says, is that her local grocery is now selling anchovies packed in sunflower oil rather than olive oil, an obvious response to the soaring cost of imports. “That really freaks me out,” she said.
  • Report Confirms Obamacare Restricts Access to Life-Saving Medical Care. A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report now documents that Obamacare exchange plans, while often cheaper, are restricting access to life-saving medical care. According to the CBO’s recently released “Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014,” Obamacare’s insurance provisions will cost $104 billion less than projected over the next decade. However, these savings will come at tremendous cost. The CBO goes on to describe the reality — that while there are savings on insurance premiums, there is solid and growing evidence that these plans restrict access to life-saving medical treatment for ourselves, our family members, and our loved ones. CBO writes,
USA Today:
  • Jews Ordered to Register in East Ukraine. Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Israeli media. Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.

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