Friday, April 05, 2013

Today's Headlines

  • Euro-Area Retail Sales Decline, Led by Weakness in France. Euro-area retail sales fell in February as a decline in France offset gains in Germany and Spain. Sales in the 17-nation currency bloc decreased 0.3 percent from January, when they rose a revised 0.9 percent, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. Economists had forecast a decline of 0.4 percent, according to the median of 20 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. From a year earlier, February sales fell 1.4 percent. Retail sales in France, the second-biggest euro-area economy, dropped 2.2 percent in February from the prior month after a 0.2 percent gain in January, today’s report showed. Sales in Finland declined 0.8 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in the previous month. 
  • European Stocks Post Biggest Weekly Decline in 2013. European stocks posted their biggest weekly decline since November as reports signaled that the economic rebound in the U.S. has slowed, while the European Central Bank said risks remain to the euro area’s recovery. Vodafone Group Plc lost 2.1 percent after Verizon Communications Inc. denied that it has considered buying the mobile-phone operator. Kazakhmys Plc and Evraz Plc slumped more than 7 percent this week, leading a gauge of mining stocks to its longest streak of losses in 13 years. Alcatel-Lucent SA advanced 3.9 percent as Deutsche Bank AG recommended that investors buy shares in the telecommunications equipment maker. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) fell 2.3 percent in the four-day week following the Easter holiday, completing its longest stretch of losses in more than 10 months. The slump pared the gauge’s advance so far this year to 2.7 percent.
  • Retail Employment Slumps Most in Year as Stores Cut Back. Employment by retailers slumped the most in more than a year last month, hurting growth in the U.S. job market, as higher payroll taxes and concern fiscal policies will reduce consumer spending prompt companies to trim costs. Retail employment declined by 24,000 in March, the most since February 2012, Labor Department data showed today in Washington. That included a drop of 15,000 in clothing and accessories stores and a decrease of 10,000 in building-material and garden suppliers, according to the report. Retailers have been cautious about hiring because of political paralysis in Washington and concern the 2 percentage-point increase in payroll taxes will slow purchases, said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation.
  • Sequestration Seen as Airline Drag as U.S. Cuts Travel. U.S. government spending on air travel probably fell as much as 30 percent in the past month amid congressionally mandated budget cuts that threaten to keep weighing on the industry, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst said. Demand from federal employees may stay at this level or even lower “in perpetuity,” JPMorgan’s Jamie Baker wrote today in a note to clients in which he estimated that the government accounts for 3 percent to 4 percent of airline revenue. He pared his full-year revenue projections by as much as 3 percent.
  • Gross Says U.S. Growth Won’t Beat 2% in 2013: Tom Keene. Pacific Investment Management Co.’s Bill Gross, manager of the world’s biggest bond fund, said the U.S. economy won’t expand more than 2 percent this year even with one or two quarters of faster growth. “A 2 percent ‘new normal’ economy is the best we can expect,” Gross said in a radio interview with Tom Keene after a report showed employers hired fewer workers than forecast in March and a decline in the size of the labor force pushed the jobless rate down to a four-year low. “The sun isn’t going down, but there’s certainly an element of dusk to it.” 
  • New Bird Flu Seen Having Some Markers of Airborne Killer. The new bird influenza that’s killed six people in eastern China has some of the genetic hallmarks of an easily transmissible virus, according to the scientist who showed how H5N1 avian flu could become airborne. The H7N9 strain, which is a new virus formed as a result of two others merging their genetic material, has features of viruses that are known to jump easily from birds to mammals, and a mutation that may help it attach to cells in the respiratory tract, said Ron Fouchier, a professor of molecular virology at Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, in a telephone interview yesterday. “That’s certainly not good news,” said Fouchier, who reviewed a gene sequencing of H7N9 published by Chinese health authorities. “This virus really doesn’t look like a bird virus anymore; it looks like a mammalian virus.
  • Job and Export Drops Show Canada Hurt by Global Weakness. Canada’s biggest employment loss since the recession four years ago and an unexpected trade deficit underscore how the world’s 11th largest economy is being hobbled by weak global demand. The drop of 54,500 positions reported today by Statistics Canada offset a 50,700 gain in February, and lifted the unemployment rate to 7.2 percent from 7 percent. The merchandise trade deficit for February was the 11th in a row, marking the longest streak in records dating to 1988. 
  • Oil Heads for Biggest Weekly Drop in Six Months on Jobs. West Texas Intermediate crude headed for the biggest weekly drop in six months as U.S. employers hired less than half the number of workers forecast in March, raising concern that economic growth won’t be strong enough to support oil demand. Prices tumbled for the fourth time in five days after the Labor Department said payrolls climbed by 88,000, the smallest gain in nine months. WTI oil for May delivery dropped 63 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $92.63 a barrel at 1:48 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange after falling to $91.91, the lowest intraday level since March 21.
  • Citigroup(C) Blows by Santander as Greenest Bank on Wind Power Push. As developers rushed to build wind- power plants last year before U.S. tax credits were set to run out, California’s Solano Wind Project was racing against a different deadline: getting turbines running for the state’s most blustery months. The Citigroup Inc (C).-backed wind farm succeeded. In May, it began delivering enough new power for 44,000 homes, an effort that helped New York-based Citi bump Banco Santander SA (SAN) from its perch as the world’s greenest bank, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its May issue.
 Fox News:
  • North Korea moves missile launchers, issues safety warning to foreign embassies. As tensions continued to mount on the Korean peninsula, the communist dictatorship in the North deployed mid-range missile launchers to its east coast and reportedly warned foreign embassies Friday it cannot guarantee the safety of diplomats after April 10. Reuters reported early Friday that North Korea deployed two of its intermediate range missiles on mobile launchers and hid them on the east coast of the country, citing a South Korean news agency. South Korea said Thursday North Korea moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast after an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean army warned the U.S. Wednesday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom foreign office confirmed in a statement Friday that North Korea asked a number of foreign embassies in Pyongyang  to consider moving staff out since they could not assure their safety in the event of conflict.
  • Data Leak Shakes Notion of Secret Offshore Havens and, Possibly, Nerves. They are a large and diverse group that includes a Spanish heiress; the daughter of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos; and Denise Rich, the former wife of the disgraced trader Marc Rich, who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. But, according to a trove of secret financial information released Thursday, all have money and share a desire to hide it.
Zero Hedge: 
Business Insider: 
  • Copper slides after weak U.S. jobs report.
  • S&P says Britain's AAA at risk if growth, deficit disappoint. Standard & Poor's warned Britain on Friday that worse-than-expected economic growth or slow progress in fixing its budget deficit could cost the country its top-notch credit rating. S&P affirmed the UK's AAA sovereign credit rating but kept the outlook as negative. "The outlook remains negative, reflecting our view of at least a one-in-three chance that we could lower the ratings if the UK's economic and fiscal performances were to weaken beyond our current expectations," S&P said in a statement.
Yonhap News:
  • N. Korea loads two medium-range missiles on mobile launchers. North Korea has loaded two intermediate-range missiles onto mobile launchers and hidden them in an unidentified facility near the east coast, Seoul military sources said Friday, triggering speculation that the North is ready for an abrupt missile launch.
  • Bank of Japan's quantitative easing won't stimulate domestic demand because it will result in a depreciation of the yen and thereby increase the cost of raw materials, which are mostly imported, citing Yu Yongding, a former academic adviser to the People's Bank of China. Yu said the measures may not help Japan's economy recover and that there is a chance the economy slides into recession, according to the report.

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