Monday, April 29, 2013

Today's Headlines

  • Euro-Area Economic Confidence Falls More Than Forecast. Economic confidence in the euro area decreased more than economists forecast in April as the 17- nation currency bloc struggled to emerge from a recession and the bailout of Cyprus renewed debt-crisis concerns. An index of executive and consumer sentiment dropped to 88.6 from a revised 90.1 in March, the European Commission in Brussels said today. That’s the lowest since December. Economists had forecast a decline to 89.3, according to the median of 26 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. Business confidence and investor sentiment in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, dropped more than expected in April. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on April 19 that the economic situation in the bloc hadn’t improved since the beginning of the month. At the same time, Draghi expects the economy to recover from a recession later this year and economists forecast growth in the second quarter, a separate Bloomberg survey shows. 
  • Europe Stocks Rise on Italy, U.S. Consumer-Spending Data. European stocks rose, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 Index toward its longest streak of monthly gains since 1997, as Italy formed a new government and as U.S. consumer spending unexpectedly increased in March. Aberdeen Asset Management Plc surged to its highest price in 12 years after increasing its dividend. Swedish Match AB jumped the most since January 2009 after posting first-quarter profit that beat estimates. Balfour Beatty Plc dropped to the lowest price in 17 months after lowering its full-year profit forecast. The Stoxx 600 advanced 0.5 percent to 297.39, its highest level since April 2. The benchmark gauge has climbed 1.2 percent in April, its 11th month of gains, as investors bet the region’s central bank will cut rates and as companies reported better- than-expected results.
  • Surveillance Cameras Sought by Cities After Boston Bombs. A pedestrian who strolls through Boston’s Financial District, an area of about 40 city blocks, can be seen by at least 233 private and public cameras. In the aftermath of the terrorist bombing there on April 15, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis wants even more cameras to boost street-level surveillance, said spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca. Other cities, too, now may be spurred to expand their systems, which security specialists said will fuel sales growth in the $3.2 billion video surveillance industry. Such actions increase tensions between law enforcement officials and privacy advocates, who say they worry about Big Brother intrusions into people’s legal activities.
  • Hospital Stocks Rally as Medicare Tempers Budget Cut Blow. HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA), Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC) and other hospital stocks rose the most in at least six months after the U.S. government proposed new Medicare payment rates that would soften the blow of federal budget cuts. HCA, the largest for-profit hospital company in the U.S., rose 5.5 percent to $40.35 at 10:59 a.m. New York time.
  • Gold Futures Rise on Fed Stimulus Bets; Platinum Jumps. Gold futures for June delivery rose 1.1 percent to $1,469.90 an ounce at 11:59 a.m. on the Comex in New York. The price headed for the biggest monthly drop since December 2011 after entering a bear market on April 12.
  • Bayer to Buy Birth-Control Devices Maker for $1.1 Billion. Germany's Bayer AG has agreed to buy U.S. contraceptive devices maker Conceptus for $1.1 billion, aiming to underpin its position as the world's largest women's healthcare provider. Bayer, whose shares were down 2.3 percent by 0823 GMT, will launch a public tender offer to acquire all Conceptus shares for $31.00 each in cash, in an offer agreed with Conceptus's management, Bayer said on Monday.
  • Growth Outlook Leaves Commodity Investors Cold. Investors are staying away from commodities, fearing that the worst is yet to come after prices plunged in April on signs of slower world economic growth. Wealth managers have been pulling money from commodities since the start of the year, culminating in a major sell off in April when investors dumped gold, copper and oil. Poor economic data from China, Europe and the United States has hit global growth forecasts, making investors reassess the demand for raw materials.
  • Pending Home Sales Tick Upward in March. Contracts to buy existing homes rose slightly in March, as a historically low supply of for-sale listings nationwide continues to plague the housing market. The Pending Home Sales Index from the National Association of Realtors increased 1.5 percent month to month. It is 7 percent higher than March 2012.
Zero Hedge:
Business Insider:
  • North Korea holds back seven South Koreans at industrial zone. North Korea held back seven of 50 remaining South Koreans at the suspended jointly run factory zone north of the heavily armed border on Monday, citing last-minute checks on taxes and wages. The North withdrew its 53,000 workers from the complex this month amid spiraling tension between the two Koreas. The North had prevented South Korean workers and supplies from getting in to the zone since April 3.
  • German, UK banks slam US plans to toughen capital rules. German and British banking lobby groups on Monday slammed plans by U.S. regulators to toughen rules on foreign banks, saying they risk fragmenting banking supervision and causing major disruption to U.S. bank operations. Germany's banking association, BdB, said the push by U.S. regulators to tighten oversight of foreign banks would put European banks at a competitive disadvantage internationally.
  • As shale booms, US crude oil exports jump to 13-yr high. U.S. crude oil exports doubled in February to a 13-year high of 124,000 barrels per day (bpd), government data showed on Monday, as shipments of surplus shale crude to Canada gathered pace. Exports jumped from an average of around 60,000 bpd last year, and have soared from less than 10,000 bpd in 2002, as Canada's refineries increase rail or tanker deliveries, monthly figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed.
  • Moody's: High pace of US public finance downgrades continues. Moody's Investors Service continued to downgrade more public finance ratings than it upgraded in the first quarter of 2013, primarily because of cuts to California local governments, the rating agency said on Monday. "We expect rating activity to continue to be skewed toward downgrades over 2013 as local governments continue to struggle with increasing pension and healthcare costs and constraints on key property tax and state aid revenue sources," Moody's Assistant Vice President and Analyst Eileen Hawes said in a statement.

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