Sunday, September 13, 2009

Monday Watch

Weekend Headlines

- China announced a probe into the alleged dumping of American auto and chicken products, two days after U.S. President Barack Obama imposed tariffs on imports of tires from the Asian nation. Chinese industries have complained that they’re being hurt by “unfair trade practices,” the nation’s Ministry of Commerce said on its Web site today. The ministry is also looking into subsidies for the products, it said. It didn’t specify the imports’ value. The European Central Bank said last week that rising protectionism may hamper world trade and undermine the global economy’s recovery from recession. The U.S. placed tariffs starting at 35 percent on $1.8 billion of tire imports from China, backing a United Steelworkers union complaint against the second-largest U.S. trading partner. “While there’s friction, I suspect that the two nations will keep any disputes under control,” said David Cohen, an economist at Action Economics in Singapore. “They understand that they’re increasingly dependent as trading partners.” “By taking this unprecedented action, the Obama administration is now at odds with its own public statements about refraining from increasing tariffs,” Vic DeIorio, executive vice president of GITI Tire in the U.S., said in a statement. “This decision will cost many more American jobs than it will create.”

- Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine said there is “no way” a health-care overhaul that includes a public option can pass the Senate. Snowe, one of six negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, said that to gain more Republican support, President Barack Obama should explicitly drop the idea of a federally backed insurance program to compete with private insurers such as Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna Inc.(AET). Obama and Democrats in Congress are trying to extend coverage to the 46.3 million uninsured Americans and curb health-care costs that account for about 18 percent of the U.S. economy. The president began a push this week to win Republican support and ease some Democratic uncertainty about spending $900 billion over a decade to overhaul a health-care system that he says is at a “breaking point.” “I’ve urged the president to take the public option off the table,” Snowe said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “It’s universally opposed by Republicans,” Snowe said. Snowe is a key member of the Senate finance committee, the last of five congressional panels to complete health-care legislation. Committee chairman, Montana Democrat Max Baucus, has led the only effort to reach a bipartisan agreement on health-care legislation and has struggled for months to attract Republican backing. Democratic leaders said today they need Republican support for a bill. “We need their help,” Senator Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and member of the Senate leadership, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

- Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize- winning economist, said the U.S. has failed to fix the underlying problems of its banking system after the credit crunch and the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. “In the U.S. and many other countries, the too-big-to-fail banks have become even bigger,” Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday in Paris. “The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis.” Stiglitz’s views echo those of former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, who has advised President Barack Obama’s administration to curtail the size of banks, and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, who suggested last month that governments may want to discourage financial institutions from growing “excessively.”

- After being infected with swine flu, Brent Robb, a 34-year-old New Zealander with no pre-existing medical conditions, spent 11 days in a coma induced by doctors in a last-ditch effort to save his life. A printer who liked to bike 12 miles a week for exercise, Robb lost two months of work while sick, and a sixth of his body weight. He survives as an example of a mystery hovering over the fast-moving pandemic that has spread to 177 countries in four months, yet causes little more than a fever and a cough in all but a select few. Seasonal flu kills predominantly the frail elderly. Researchers are trying to determine why the H1N1 swine flu virus, much like the Spanish Flu of 1918, is lethal to a portion of young people in good health. The reason may involve a person’s genetics, or simply taking a deep breath just as a nearby infected person sneezes.

- D.E. Shaw & Co., the $29 billion investment firm run by David Shaw, said the Dubai Financial Services Authority granted its Middle East unit a license to operate from the Dubai International Financial Centre. The firm aims to build on its public and private investment through regional unit D.E. Shaw & Co. MENA Ltd., the New York- based hedge fund manager said in an e-mailed statement from Dubai today. This will be D.E. Shaw’s first office in the Middle East and North Africa region and adds to its 13 across North America, Europe and Asia, it added.

- Chile is likely to pass a bill next week unlocking $1 billion in financing for Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, as the company boosts spending to increase output, Mining Minister Santiago Gonzalez said. Codelco, set to spend $11 billion this year to revamp aging mines and boost output, hasn’t delayed any projects as it waits for congressional approval of the funds, he said. Production will increase by “at least” 120,000 metric tons, or about 8 percent more than last year’s 1.55 million tons, as the company produces for a full year at the Gabriela Mistral mine, Gonzalez said.

- Crude oil fell more than $2 a barrel after not breaking through $72.90, this month’s high, a signal for traders to sell futures. Gasoline inventories climbed for the first time in seven weeks and supplies of distillate fuels, including heating oil and diesel, increased to the highest level in 26 years, a government report showed yesterday. “We may be seeing a delayed reaction to the ongoing accumulation in distillate supplies to the highest level since 1983,” said Tim Evans, an energy analyst with Citi Futures Perspective in New York. “Our tendency recently has been to react for 45 minutes to the data and then trade on other factors for the remainder of the week. This may be changing, which may signal that a correction is about to occur.” “High distillate stock in the OECD economies present a clear downside risk to oil this winter,” Blanch said today in the bank’s Global Energy Weekly. “Would Saudi, Kuwait and U.A.E. cut output again to save Russia and the rest of OPEC? With global oil producers free-riding on these three OPEC members, any additional supply cut wouldn’t come easy.” “OPEC is sitting on a significant amount of spare capacity right now,” said Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis. “The Saudis seem happy with prices at this level right now. If the Saudis decided that they were tired of carrying the main burden, and started to leak production, prices would move significantly lower.”

- Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said more U.S. trainers should be sent to Afghanistan immediately and the U.S. shouldn’t set a timeframe for withdrawing its troops from that country. “If we’re going to make the Afghan army very rapidly an effective force, we have to have more trainers,” the Rhode Island Democrat and former Army Ranger said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. How many more U.S. combat forces could be needed in Afghanistan “in my view is subject to detailed analysis,” he said.

- Venezuela and a group of Russian companies will invest $20 billion to develop the Junin 6 block of heavy crude reserves in the Orinoco Belt, Energy and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said. The Russian companies will pay $1 billion for their participation in the oil block that is expected to produce 400,000 to 450,000 barrels per day.

- Trading of commodity derivatives on global exchanges rose 5.4 percent in the second quarter, driven by agricultural products and industrial metals, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Investors bought and sold 446 million commodity futures and options contracts, compared with 423 million in the prior three months, a report published today on the bank’s Web site shows. That was the most since 2008’s fourth quarter.

- Rubber futures in Shanghai tumbled by the daily trading limit after the US imposed tariffs on automobile tire imports from China. The January-delivery contact dropped 5% from the previous settlement to 17,710 yuan a metric ton.

- The average price of regular gasoline at U.S. filling stations slipped to $2.5911 a gallon as supplies rose and demand fell with the end of the U.S. summer driving season. Gasoline lost 5.06 cents in the three weeks ended Sept. 11, according to a survey of 5,000 filling stations nationwide by Trilby Lundberg, an independent gasoline analyst in Camarillo, California. “Demand is poor,” Lundberg said in an interview today.

- Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said the South American country plans to develop nuclear energy with Russia. Venezuela doesn’t want to develop nuclear weapons, he said.

Wall Street Journal:

- Tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on Capitol Hill Saturday, protesting the expansion of government spending and illustrating the network of conservative activists that has emerged in opposition to President Barack Obama's policies. Organizers said they believed people from all 50 states came for the "Taxpayer March on Washington." Crowds filled nearly every pocket of open space near the west lawn of the Capitol, many standing and listening without a view of the stage. They marched from Freedom Plaza, adjacent to the White House, as shouts of "U.S.A." echoed through downtown Washington and marchers dressed as colonials banged drums. Some people stayed stranded on Constitution Avenue as the program began near the Capitol, unable to find room to watch the speakers. The gathering was largely peaceful. Speakers and demonstrators said they opposed Democratic plans to overhaul health care, as well as the bank bailouts of the past year. "It's not about health care, it's about Obama seizing our freedom," said one sign. Opposition to climate-change bills moving through Congress was also on display, with coal workers in hard-hat helmets lining the front of the stage during a speech about energy.

- The U.S. Census Bureau on Friday dropped Acorn as a partner for the 2010 Census after two separate hidden-camera videos captured four employees of the community organization giving tax advice on running a brothel to a man posing as an aspiring politician and a woman posing as his girlfriend and a prostitute. The Census Bureau earlier this year signed up the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, one of the nation's largest community groups, as a national partner for the decennial census, a role that entails helping to publicize the importance of the count and encouraging people to participate. Acorn's deputy national director, Brian Kettenring, said the organization won't stop promoting the 2010 Census. "We will continue to do what we've said we'll do, which is encourage people in communities to participate fully in the census," he said. In the videos, posted on YouTube, he posed as an aspiring politician and told the Acorn workers that he planned to use his girlfriend's prostitution income to fund future campaigns. One video was filmed at the community organization's Baltimore office, and another, a day later, in Washington, D.C. The workers, who Acorn said were fired after it learned of the videos, instructed the couple to set up a company to prove they had enough income for a house that would serve as a brothel and home for teenage prostitutes. The couple purported to be seeking help to obtain a housing loan.

- The furor over President Obama's trillion-dollar restructuring of American health care has left his other trillion-dollar plan starved for attention. That's how much the federal balance sheet will expand over the next decade if Mr. Obama can convince Congress to approve his pending takeover of the student-loan market. The Obama plan calls for the U.S. Department of Education to move from its current 20% share of the student-loan origination market to 80% on July 1, 2010, when private lenders will be barred from making government-guaranteed loans. The remaining 20% of the market that is now completely private will likely shrink further as lenders try to comply with regulations Congress created last year. Starting next summer, taxpayers will have to put up roughly $100 billion per year to lend to students.

- Medical detective work may have just gotten a lot easier. Just how difficult it is gets highlighted every time an infectious disease sweeps the globe, as the new strain of swine flu did earlier this year. Current methods of testing for disease-causing microbes are pretty effective at discovering whether an infected fluid or tissue sample contains a known virus or bacteria. But trying to detect previously unknown organisms is a whole different story. To address this problem, David Ecker, co-founder of Ibis Biosciences Inc., and a team of researchers developed a sensor able to quickly detect and identify all the pathogens in a given sample. The equipment promises not only to alert health officials to new disease strains, but also to guard against bioterrorism and enable hospitals to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Abbott Laboratories and its Ibis Biosciences unit, which developed the Ibis T5000 sensor, took the Gold in this year's Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards. The Silver award went to Touch Bionics Inc. for its i-Limb artificial hand, which features bendable fingers and a rotating thumb. The hand uses sophisticated motors and computer controls to grip objects and move in ways that traditional prosthetic hands can't. Vihaan Networks Ltd., an Indian telecommunications company known as VNL, won the Bronze award for a solar-powered base station to bring cellphone access to remote rural villages. The inexpensive base station can be quickly assembled and set up by unskilled villagers, and can run entirely on the built-in solar panels and batteries.

- As the recession and bailout have pushed this year's federal budget deficit to an unheard-of $1.6 trillion, an unpleasant reality has dawned: Taxes are going up. The only questions are when, how much, and for whom?

- Fact-Checking the President on Health Insurance. His tales of abuse don’t stand scrutiny. In his speech to Congress last week, President Barack Obama attempted to sell a reform agenda by demonizing the private health-insurance industry. Private health insurance cannot function if people buy insurance only after they become seriously ill, or if they knowingly conceal health conditions that might affect their policy.

- A stream of new players jumping into the business of servicing hedge funds shows how quickly Wall Street adapts and how rarely it allows an opportunity to make money go unexploited. The big Wall Street firms that lend to and provide trading and other services to hedge funds scaled back their exposure last year as their clients posted big losses or closed altogether. Lately, new and lesser-known players in the prime-brokerage business all are seeking a piece of lucrative fees generated by hedge funds that they see as up for grabs.


- Advertising dollars are starting to flow again -- to cable TV and movie media, not traditional formats. What's good for Google(GOOG).

Fox News:

- President Obama earned his union stripes with his decision to level tariffs on Chinese tire imports into the United States. Some big questions remain: will the Chinese retaliate? Will the action actually save American jobs? And perhaps most importantly for the White House, will conceding to the Union – a major campaign supporter – help in the President’s push for health care reform? In a late Friday night announcement, the White said the President would,” remedy the clear disruption to the U.S. tire industry based on the facts and the law in this case,” by imposing a a 35% duty on passenger vehicle and light truck tires. The United Steel Workers Union, which represents US tire workers, won an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling that called for 3 years of tariffs on Chinese made tires, starting at 55% and falling by 10% each of the next two years. While the President is imposing a 35% tariff which reduces to 25% by the third year, the Union is nonetheless pleased.

NY Times:

- Leon Heyward emerged from the subway just as the second plane struck, piercing the south tower. As others fled, he helped evacuate disabled employees from 42 Broadway, where he worked for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, and when the first tower fell, he was caught in the churning plume of contaminated dust and smoke. Within months he started to feel sick. A father of two who prided himself on being fit, Mr. Heyward found himself overcome with fatigue. He had seizures; his memory slipped. Once, while working undercover as an inspector, he forgot where he was. “It was hard seeing him go from being strong and muscular and running around to watching him sit there,” said his ex-wife, Monique Heyward. Last October, after developing lymphoma, Mr. Heyward died at age 45 in the Bronx.

- Five Americans were killed on Saturday amid a wave of bombings, ambushes and killings that swept across Afghanistan and seemed to emphasize the ability of the Taliban and other insurgents to carry out attacks in most parts of the country.

- The Obama administration soon plans to issue new guidelines aimed at giving the hundreds of prisoners at an American detention center in Afghanistan significantly more ability to challenge their custody, Pentagon officials and detainee advocates say. The new Pentagon guidelines would assign a United States military official to each of the roughly 600 detainees at the American-run prison at the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. These officials would not be lawyers but could for the first time gather witnesses and evidence, including classified material, on behalf of the detainees to challenge their detention in proceedings before a military-appointed review board.

- IN the aftermath of the great meltdown of 2008, Wall Street’s quants have been cast as the financial engineers of profit-driven innovation run amok. They, after all, invented the exotic securities that proved so troublesome. But the real failure, according to finance experts and economists, was in the quants’ mathematical models of risk that suggested the arcane stuff was safe. The risk models proved myopic, they say, because they were too simple-minded. They focused mainly on figures like the expected returns and the default risk of financial instruments. What they didn’t sufficiently take into account was human behavior, specifically the potential for widespread panic. When lots of investors got too scared to buy or sell, markets seized up and the models failed. That failure suggests new frontiers for financial engineering and risk management, including trying to model the mechanics of panic and the patterns of human behavior. “What wasn’t recognized was the importance of a different species of risk — liquidity risk,” said Stephen Figlewski, a professor of finance at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. “When trust in counterparties is lost, and markets freeze up so there are no prices,” he said, it “really showed how different the real world was from our models.” In the future, experts say, models need to be opened up to accommodate more variables and more dimensions of uncertainty.


- China threatens to default on oil derivatives trades.

Business Week:
- As governments around the globe struggle to contain huge deficits, companies and executives are bracing for higher taxes. And increasingly they are turning to Switzerland for relief. This isn't the Switzerland of shadowy private banking, the kind that got Zurich giant UBS (UBS) into trouble when it was forced to reveal details of American account holders suspected of tax evasion. Instead, Swiss cantons are openly and legally urging multinationals to relocate. This fall, U.S. fast-food giant McDonald's (MCD) will move its European headquarters to Geneva from London, joining Kraft Foods (KFT), Yahoo! (YHOO), and Nissan. They've all relocated their main Europe offices to Switzerland in the last two years to take advantage of low corporate taxes.

- Where to Find America’s Most Affordable Real Estate.


- Wall Street may have discovered a way out from under the bad debt and risky mortgages that have clogged the financial markets. The would-be solution probably sounds familiar: It's a lot like what got banks in trouble in the first place. In recent months investment banks have been repackaging old mortgage securities and offering to sell them as new products, a plan that's nearly identical to the complicated investment packages at the heart of the market's collapse. "There is a little bit of deja vu in this," said Arizona State University economics professor Herbert Kaufman. But Kaufman said the strategy could help solve one of the lingering problems of the financial meltdown: What to do about hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgages that are still choking the system and making bankers reluctant to make new loans.

Seeking Alpha:

- Among asset management circles on Wall Street, there’s a persistent rumor that just won’t go away: the world’s most aggressive hedge fund is gearing up to become a full-scale banking institution. Citadel Investment Group, a Chicago-based hedge fund, is on many asset managers’ radars right now to one day become a full-service boutique investment bank. Recently, the fund seems to be doing little to hide that ambition.


- Efforts by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act have suffered a setback with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) -- the most powerful gay pol on the Hill -- expressing opposition to Nadler's tactics. "It's not anything that's achievable in the near term," Frank told the Washington Blade, echoing remarks made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in April. "I think getting [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act], a repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and full domestic partner benefits for federal employees will take up all of what we can do and maybe more in this Congress."

- Democrats are signaling Sunday that language will be added to the health care bill that will make it explicit that taxpayer money won't go toward abortions.


- Shares of some big insurers have clocked triple-digit percentage returns in just six months, but the group is heading higher still.

- NetApp(NTAP) Optimistic On Growth.

EE Times:

- PC unit shipments grew sequentially during the second quarter for the first time in six months, but it won't be enough to escape unit contraction for the year, according to market research firm iSuppli Corp. Second quarter global PC shipments amounted to 67.2 million units, iSuppli (El Segundo, Calif.) said, up 1 percent from the first quarter but down 4.3 percent compared to the second quarter of 2008. Shipments had declined by 14 percent sequentially in the first quarter of 2009 and by 2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the firm. "PC shipments managed to rise in the second quarter on the back of sequential growth in sales of notebook PCs, despite quarterly declines in desktops," said Matthew Wilkins, iSuppli principal analyst for compute platforms research, in a statement. Wilkins said iSuppli predicts continued sequential growth in the third and fourth quarters, driven by the gradual improvement of the global economy and technology drivers such as the expected introduction of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. For the year, iSuppli continues to expect a 4 percent decline in PC shipments compared to 2008, he said. The launch of Windows 7 will be a positive for the PC industry, prompting a huge advertising and media campaign from Microsoft that will put PCs in high-profile positions in mainstream electronic and print media, Wilkins said.


- The federal deficit surged higher into record territory in August, hitting $1.38 trillion with one month left in the budget year. The soaring deficits have raised worries about the willingness of foreigners to keep purchasing Treasury debt. The Chinese, now the largest foreign owners of U.S. Treasury securities, have expressed concerns about runaway deficits.


- China currently has 20-30 percent excess production capacity of both primary aluminium and alumina, Xiong Weiping, the chairman of China's top aluminum firm Chalco told Reuters on Friday. He said the surplus would not last forever, but its duration would depend on the pace of economic growth.

- Russia's economic recovery is yet far from being sustainable and there could be a rise in unemployment and a plunge in oil and commodities prices this autumn, a top Kremlin aide said on Saturday. "It is not a sustainable recovery yet in Russia or globally because it is based on massive government and central bank intervention," Arkady Dvorkovich told the Valdai discussion group of Russia experts. Officials expect the economy to grow by 3.9-4.5 percent in the second half of 2009 from the first half, when Russia's GDP shrank by a tenth, the worst on record. "We are still very cautious about projections over the next few months. A rise in unemployment and a drop in commodities and oil prices are possible in the fall," he said adding he was ruling out a possibility of big social unrest in the country. "I'm doubtful about the likelihood of any massive social unrest. In most cases there are ways to keep the current production going and ways to create new jobs with even small investments," he said. Many enterprises such as car maker AvtoVAZ are planning new waves of lay-offs amid falling consumer demand in Russia. That makes unemployment alongside bad debts in the banking system the key headaches of the government of Vladimir Putin after a decade of impressive economic growth and social and political stability.

- The global economic crisis will continue and countries must do more to adopt financial market regulations, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a German magazine on Saturday. "The global economic crisis will continue, even if Germany and France had some good figures in the second quarter," Strauss-Kahn was quoted as saying in an advance copy of an article to be published in Der Spiegel on Sunday. Strauss-Kahn said he wanted to see more action from nations to curb bankers' pay and tighten capital requirements in the banking sector. "It is right to say that not enough has happened. I hope the Group of 20 meeting in Pittsburgh will bring new momentum," he said. Leaders of the G20 meet later this month to try to agree on measures to help stop a repeat of the financial crisis. Strauss-Kahn said the lesson of the financial crisis was that the market economy needed rules to function. "Without new rules, there will be a return to the old behavior," he said. Governments needed to develop 'exit strategies' from the stimulus packages introduced to boost economies, said Strauss-Kahn, adding, however, that it was dangerous to think the crisis was already over.

- Central clearing of privately traded derivatives contracts won't be enough to make the $600 trillion sector safe, while clearing of some bespoke trades may not be desirable, the Bank of International Settlements said. The lack of transparency in parts of the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market has alarmed regulators, particularly after U.S. insurer AIG (AIG) nearly failed last September when it faced massive collateral calls on contracts. Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns were also involved in OTC derivatives and when they crashed last year market participants did not know their exact exposures to the two banks.

Financial Times:

- Germany's finance minister has called for a global tax to be imposed on financial transactions in a bid to end what he derided as "binge-drinking" on markets. In one of the more radical steps mooted by a world leader to reform the financial system, Peer Steinbrück said receipts from the tax would be used to repay the cost to governments of tackling the crisis, including fiscal stimuli and bank rescue operations. Mr Steinbrück's call follows a move by Lord Turner, chairman of the UK Financial Services Authority, to float the idea of a global tax on financial transactions. The leaders of the world's 20 largest economies are expected to agree on fresh steps to curb bonus payments at international banks and boost their capital buffers to prevent a repeat of last year's financial crisis. Without an international agreement, Mr Steinbrück said Berlin should adopt a domestic tax on stock exchange transactions, which is part of the SPD manifesto.

- If commercial banks have been finding it tough to make money on lending to companies, investment banks have not. The sharp shrinkage in bank lending across Europe – as depleted capital bases force banks to rein in anything but top-notch credit – has proved a boon for investment banks since the start of the year: the rush by companies to raise funds on the bond markets instead has generated an avalanche of investment banking fees.

- GLG Partners, the London-based New York-listed hedge fund group, has seen the value of its hedge fund assets under management more than halve over the past six months. The company’s hedge fund portfolio is worth $10.4bn (£6.2bn) but its long-only business, bolstered by the acquisition of Société Générale Asset Management UK in April, has doubled in size, to $11.1bn.


- Venezuela bought Russian missiles with a range of 186 miles and plans to also buy Russian tanks, citing President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela had bought $4 billion of Russian weapons since 2005 including fighter jets, helicopters and Kalashnikov rifles.


- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has a “definite” right to peaceful nuclear technology and won’t negotiate about that with any nation. “Having peaceful nuclear technology is Iran’s lawful and definite right, and Iranians will not negotiate with anyone over their undeniable rights,” Ahmadinejad told British Ambassador Simon Gass.

- The financial markets are showing signs of normalising, with interbank money markets recovering to levels not seen since early 2008, the world's biggest central bank body said Sunday. "Despite uncertainty about the pace of economic recovery, investors remained cautiously optimistic in the period between end-May and early September 2009," said the Bank for International Settlements. In particular, "in interbank money markets, key spreads narrowed to levels not seen since the beginning of 2008", added the bank for central banks. The spread of United States rates even fell to the lowest level since the outbreak of the financial crisis in mid-2007, noted the BIS. The LIBOR/OIS spread or the premium that the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR) trades over the Overnight Swap Rate (OIS) is often taken as an indicator of the level of stress in the money market.

The Age:

- Australia’s total coal production is set to increase by 30% to a record 450 million tons over the next five years, citing energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie Consultants Ltd. Analysis of the 120 mines in operation and 13 set to come online by 2015 shows $19.8 billion will be invested in the sector over this period.


- A senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Saturday urged concrete measures to maintain stability, which he described as an "arduous" task. Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks at a meeting after hearing reports on the preparation for the security during the National Day holiday and the situations in the country's far western Xinjiang and Tibet. "While on the whole the social situation is stable, the country now faces grave challenges in maintaining stability, and the task is arduous," Zhou said. Currently, the overwhelming political task is to maintain the stability of the capital, said Zhou.

Weekend Recommendations
- Made positive comments on (GOOG), (YHOO), (EIX), (AEP), (PCG), (SHOO), (DENN), (WEL), (NLC), (CVC) and (TWX).

- Made negative comments on (WGO).


- Reiterated Buy on (OI), boosted estimates, raised target to $42.

Night Trading
Asian indices are -1.50% to unch. on avg.

Asia Ex-Japan Inv Grade CDS Index 125.50 +4.0 basis points.
S&P 500 futures -.96%.
NASDAQ 100 futures -.89%.

Morning Preview
BNO Breaking Global News of Note

Google Top Stories

Bloomberg Breaking News

Yahoo Most Popular Biz Stories

MarketWatch News Viewer

Asian Financial News

European Financial News

Latin American Financial News

MarketWatch Pre-market Commentary

U.S. Equity Preview

TradeTheNews Morning Report In Play

SeekingAlpha Market Currents Bond Ticker

US AM Market Call
NASDAQ 100 Pre-Market Indicator/Heat Map
Pre-market Stock Quote/Chart
WSJ Intl Markets Performance
Commodity Futures
IBD New America
Economic Preview/Calendar
Earnings Calendar

Conference Calendar

Who’s Speaking?

Politico Headlines
Rasmussen Reports Polling

Earnings of Note
- (PLL)/.52

Upcoming Splits

- None of note

Economic Releases

- None of note

Other Potential Market Movers
- President Obama speaking on the financial crisis, the Fed’s Duke speaking, the Fed’s Lacker speaking, the Fed’s Yellen speaking, Deutsche Bank Tech Conference and the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Conference
could also impact trading today.

BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly lower, weighed down by automaker and commodity stocks in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly lower and to rally into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 100% net long heading into the week.

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