- Whimpering Finish Caps Best Quarter for U.S. Equities Since 2015. Its last day may have been a washout, but the first quarter just took its place among the best of the lengthening bull run for U.S. stocks. Even with a 0.2 percent decline Friday, the S&P 500 Index surged 5.5 percent in the three months ended March 31, the biggest advance since shares jumped 6.5 percent at the end of 2015. More than 350 companies rose in the quarter as gains that began just before Election Day swelled to 14 percent. While equities have lost the momentum of February, when investors anticipating President Donald Trump growth programs pushed the S&P 500 higher for six straight weeks, March’s final five sessions still notched the best return since Valentine’s week. Energy producers led the advance, rallying 2.2 percent for the biggest increase since early December while consumer stocks, commodity companies tech shares each climbed more than 1 percent.
- Sturgeon Sticks With Timing for Scottish Independence Referendum. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the U.K.’s refusal to negotiate a date for an independence referendum is untenable as she vowed to keep pushing for a vote. The Scottish National Party leader last week wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May seeking the power to hold one once the terms are known for Britain’s departure from the European Union, something that Scots opposed. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Sturgeon said the U.K. plan is to wrap up talks by spring 2019 so Scots should have their vote by then.
- Turmoil Deepens in Latin America as Paraguay's Congress Smolders. Paraguay’s President Horacio Cartes proudly watched Friday morning as children handed out gifts to visiting central bankers and finance officials in Asuncion, a rare moment in the spotlight for one of South America’s smallest nations. Twelve hours later, Paraguay was still attracting attention, but for the wrong reasons as violent protests followed the senate’s unexpected approval of a bill allowing Cartes to stand for re-election. One person died as demonstrators stormed the congress building in the nation’s capital, and set it ablaze.
- U.S. Petroleum Exports Climb to Record as Crude Output Grows. The year 2017 started off with a bang for American oil companies as total crude and petroleum products exports rose to a record 5.69 million barrels a day in January, government data show. A surplus of fuels means exports are available all the way down the hydrocarbon chain from crude to propane as resilient U.S. shale producers are learning to grow their output with oil dancing around the $50-a-barrel mark.
Wall Street Journal:
- Trump, Reshaping Syria Policy, Sets Aside Demand for Assad’s Ouster. White House, State Department deliver parallel messages emphasizing U.S. focus in Syria is on fighting Islamic State.
- India and Pakistan Escalate Nuclear Arms Race. Neighbors take rival steps to advance their arsenals and gain strategic advantage.
- Donald Trump Racks Up Few Wins So Far. As president’s poll numbers crater, strategists say White House needs victories to shore up nascent administration.
- The Climate Yawns. Donald Trump is no more a planet wrecker than Barack Obama (as measured to the third decimal).
- Had bullish commentary on (UA), (FDX) and (LOW).
- Had bearish commentary on (KMX).
- Tillerson Blasts Russia For "Ukraine Aggression" As Germany Slams Trump's "Unrealistic" NATO Demands.