Friday, June 28, 2013

Today's Headlines

  • China Bad-Loan Alarm Sounded by Record Bank Spread Jump. Borrowing costs for Chinese banks have surged the most in at least six years this month as rating companies say a cash crunch threatens to swell bad loans. The yield spread for one-year AAA bank bonds over similar-maturity sovereign notes jumped 56 basis points so far this month to 163 basis points, the most in ChinaBond records going back to 2007. The similar AA gap widened 59 basis points to 188. Even as China Construction Bank Corp. (939) President Zhang Jianguo said yesterday cash conditions have normalized, the benchmark seven-day repurchase rate was fixed at 6.85 percent, almost twice the 3.84 percent average for this year. Money-market rates touched the highest level last week since at least 2003, prompting three of the largest rating agencies to warn banks may run out of cash to pay investors in their wealth management products and to extend new loans, increasing the risk their customers will default. The People’s Bank of China is seeking to wring speculative lending out of the system after total credit approached 200 percent of gross domestic product, according to Fitch Ratings. “There could be unintended consequences from the central bank’s approach,” said Liao Qiang, a Beijing-based director at Standard & Poor’s. “We expect some deleveraging at banks’ interbank and wealth management businesses to unfold. Credit growth would slow. This could pressure banks’ asset quality.”
  • Lula Default Scare Echoed in Brazil’s Worst Bond Sell-Off. Brazilian government bonds are suffering the biggest quarterly losses since the run-up to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s election in 2002 led to speculation that the nation would default. Dollar-denominated bonds from Brazil, Latin America’s biggest nation, plunged 7.55 percent since the end of March, the biggest slide since a 16 percent drop in the third quarter of 2002 before Lula’s October election that year. The loss this quarter exceeds a decline of 6.15 percent for countries with triple-B ratings, according to Bank of America Corp. Investors are becoming concerned that President Dilma Rousseff’s administration is undoing the progress of her mentor and predecessor, who overcame bondholder skepticism to win the nation’s first-ever investment grade in 2008. Brazil is now grappling with inflation above its 6.5 percent target, the prospect of a credit downgrade and the biggest street protests in more than two decades as speculation increases the Federal Reserve will reduce its unprecedented bond buying that had pushed investors into higher-yielding emerging markets.
  • Merkel Says She Blocked Car Carbon Curbs to Shield Auto Jobs. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she blocked a draft European Union law aimed at reducing carbon-dioxide emissions from cars over concerns the measure would cost jobs in the auto industry. A coalition of EU states led by Germany prevented approval of the measure at a meeting of diplomats in Brussels earlier this week. Merkel said that she moved to delay the proposal -- which would cap average carbon discharges by passenger vehicles in the bloc at 95 grams a kilometer in 2020 -- to defend jobs. “This is also about employment,” Merkel told reporters in Brussels today after a European Union summit. “That’s why we need time to review and evaluate and decide what we will do. That’s why the vote didn’t happen.” 
  • European Stocks Drop After U.S. Business Activity Report. European stocks dropped, paring their biggest weekly gain in almost two months, as drugmakers retreated and a measure of business activity in the U.S. fell more than economists had projected. Air France-KLM Group (AF), Europe’s second-biggest airline by sales, retreated 2.8 percent. Mediaset SpA climbed 2.8 percent after Credit Suisse Group AG raised its price target on the Italian broadcaster. Serco Group Plc added 2.7 percent after predicting that its revenue growth in the first half will exceed its previous estimates. The Stoxx 600 declined 0.5 percent to 285.02 at 4:30 p.m. in London, after earlier advancing as much as 0.4 percent. The equity benchmark has increased 1.6 percent this week, halting a five-week decline. The gauge has still dropped 5.3 percent in June, paring its gain this year to 1.9 percent
  • Gold Rebounds From 34-Month Low on Physical Demand. Gold prices rebounded from a 34-month low on signs of increased demand for jewelry, coins and bars after the metal headed for the biggest quarterly drop in at least 93 years. “We did see physical buying come in a bit, and if that continues it will provide some support,” Marc Ground, a commodity strategist at Standard Bank Plc in Johannesburg, said in a telephone interview. Through yesterday, the spot price slid 25 percent this quarter, poised for the largest decline since 1920, when Bloomberg data starts. Standard Chartered Plc advised buying gold around $1,200 an ounce. “There is definitely some increase in the pace of physical purchases,” Matt Zeman, a strategist at Kingsview Financial in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We are also seeing some short covering after prices started rising.” Gold for immediate delivery advanced 1.5 percent to $1,218.81 at 11:56 a.m. New York time. Earlier, the price touched $1,180.50, the lowest since August 2010.
  • Corn Leads Grain Plunge as U.S. Acreage Tops Analysts Estimates. Corn, soybean and wheat futures tumbled to the lowest prices in a year after the government said U.S. farmers will plant more grain than forecast and the largest oilseed crop ever. Planting of corn, the biggest domestic crop, jumped to 97.379 million acres, the most since 1936, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey expected 95.431 million. Wheat acreage reached a four-year high of 56.53 million, and soybeans were sown on a record 77.728 million.
  • BlackBerry Falls Most in 12 Years After Touch-Screen Model Flops. BlackBerry’s shares tumbled the most since 2001 after the company reported a surprise loss and weak sales of a new touch-screen model, underscoring its challenges in competing directly with the iPhone and Android devices. The company shipped 6.8 million smartphones last quarter, including about 2.7 million new BlackBerry 10 models -- primarily its flagship Z10 touch-screen phone. Analysts had estimated total shipments of 7.5 million, with about 3.6 million BlackBerry 10 units.
Wall Street Journal: 
  • Euro Zone Set to Keep Shrinking. Continued Slump. Will Likely Be Accompanied by Rise in Unemployment. An indicator that has correctly recorded contractions in the euro zone suggests the currency area's economy shrank for a seventh straight quarter, extending its longest postwar slump. Official figures for second-quarter economic activity won’t be released until Aug. 14, but the monthly Eurocoin measure of euro-zone output released Friday signaled a contraction for June, having earlier signaled declines in activity in April and May.
Fox News:
  • Noodles & Co. shares soar in trading debut. Shares of Noodles & Co. soared in their trading debut on Friday. The shares were last up 95% at $35.11 in midday trade, after surging to an intraday high of $37.69. The casual-restaurant chain had priced its initial public offering at $18, exceeding its revised range of $15 to $17.
  • Home health companies hammered by proposed cuts from Medicare. Home health-care companies took it on the chin Friday after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid recommended what one analyst called the “worst possible outcome” in rate cuts to the facilities over the next four years.
  • U.S. investors stuck in emerging markets crunch. Commentary: Abandoning American stocks was a huge mistake. The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets index ETF EEM +0.43% has lost 16% of its value since its recent high in January — and unlike U.S. indexes, which have made all-time highs this year, it’s still a third below its 2007 peak. That suggests major emerging markets — especially the popular BRIC countries — are in a long-term, secular bear market, leaving little hope for investors counting on outsized returns.
  • New Investors Shouldn't Go to China, Starnes Says. (video) American businessman Chip Starnes—who had been held hostage by his workers in China—told CNBC Friday that he was in a no-win situation and received no help from local officials in resolving the pay dispute that started his ordeal.
Zero Hedge:
Business Insider:
New York Times:
  • Merkel Plays to Germans as She Jousts With Europe. As European leaders from 27 countries once again trudged off to Brussels on Thursday, this time to discuss how to help their millions of unemployed, few could have any illusion about whose wishes carried the most weight: those of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her country, Germany.
Risk Reversal: 
  • Macro Wrap – 3 Reasons to Expect Continued Volatility, $VIX, $SPX. Most of our recent trade strategies have been long volatility structures.  Whether that’s long outright calls or puts, long call spreads or put spreads, or long calendars, our trade structure selection is much different than it was in the spring.  A major reason for that shift is that the underlying volatility regime for the broader market seems to have shifted.
Washington Examiner:
  • Europe exits climate money pit as Obama jumps in. What does America have to show for the billions of taxpayer dollars spent to stop climate change? Is the climate better now because of 20 years of throwing money at it? The issue is the climate, not the loads of exorbitantly expensive subsidy scandals, secretive scientists and bureaucratic claptrap we've generated to allegedly stop climate change. The question is, did the claptrap make the climate better?

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