Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Watch

Evening Headlines 
  • Russian Energy Giants’ Outlooks Lowered Amid Sanction Risks. Standard & Poor’s cut the credit outlooks for Russia’s largest energy companies amid concern international sanctions may cripple the central government. The outlooks for OAO Gazprom, OAO Rosneft, OAO Transneft and OAO Lukoil were lowered to negative from stable today, six days after the New York-based credit-rating service downgraded the outlook for the Russian Federation. S&P cited the companies’ “very strong links” with the government and said geopolitical developments may hinder Russia’s ability to support them
  • Chinese Stocks Fall After Industrial Profit Growth Slows. China’s stocks fell, sending the benchmark index to its biggest loss in a week, after industrial profit growth slowed at the start of the year and benchmark money-market rates jumped. Trainmaker China CNR Corp. and China Shipping Container Lines Co. slid more than 1 percent to drag down a sub-index of industrial companies. Industrial profits rose 9.4 percent in the first two months of the year, decelerating from 12.2 percent growth in December. Shenzhen O-film Tech Co. plunged 7 percent as a measure of technology companies slumped the most among industry groups. The seven-day repurchase rate, a gauge of funding availability in the banking system, rose the most in two months. The yuan dropped for a third day, losing 0.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.7 percent to 2,049.67 at 10:12 a.m. local time.
  • Asian Stocks Fall as Bond Risk Rises With Yen on Russia. Asian stocks fell as bond risk in the region climbed and the yen extended gains amid concern President Barack Obama will step up pressure on Russia. Japanese share indexes were dragged lower by dividend payments and platinum rebounded. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.4 percent by 11:03 a.m. in Tokyo with Japan’s Topix index sliding 1.3 percent as most stocks traded without the right to their latest dividend.
  • Facebook(FB) Seen Struggling to Win Developers to Virtual Vision. Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg hailed virtual reality as the “future of computing” when he unveiled an agreement to buy Oculus VR Inc. yesterday. Ubisoft SA isn’t so sure.
Wall Street Journal: 
Fox News:
  • Behind the massive trade that spooked the market. Starting at 11:57 a.m. ET, a major player started buying May 1,995-strike put options on the S&P 500 for $133 per contract. The trade was not executed in a single block, but over many smaller trades between 11:57 and 1:12 p.m. (and the prices of the contract varied, getting as low as $131.70). On the whole, 15,450 contracts were purchased. And since each contract controls 100 shares, this trade cost about $200 million
  • Why stocks could stay under pressure.
Zero Hedge:
  • Grantham Predicts A Bust ‘Unlike Any Other’. After calling the last two market bubbles, GMO chief strategist sees another on the horizon. GMO co-founder and chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham is well known for having predicted both the late 90s tech bubble and the recent housing bubble, and now he sees an equity bubble driven by the Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy and years of qualitative easing.
Business Insider:
  • Chinese developers seek alternative financing as investors grow wary. China's property developers are turning to commercial mortgage-backed securities and looking at other alternative financing as creditors grow more discriminating in the face of rising concerns about the country's real estate and debt markets. Bond buyers are shying away from second-tier developers because property sales have cooled as the economy slows. The expected bankruptcy of a local developer and the country's first domestic bond default this month have heightened scrutiny of borrowers.
  • Amazon follows Google in slashing cloud computing prices. Inc will drop prices on most of its cloud computing services starting April 1, the largest U.S. online retailer said on Wednesday, a day after rival Google Inc outlined a major price cut of its own.
Evening Recommendations
  • None of Note
Night Trading
  • Asian equity indices are -.50% to +.25% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 132.0 +1.0 basis point.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 93.50 -.5 basis point.
  • FTSE-100 futures -.45%.
  • S&P 500 futures +.15%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures  +.11%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note

  • (WOR)/.58
  • (CMC)/.10
  • (WGO)/.30
  • (FRED)/.15
  • (GME)/1.93
  • (RMAX)/.32
  • (RH)/.83
  • (RHT)/.37
Economic Releases
8:30 am EST
  • 4Q GDP is estimated to rise +2.7% versus a prior estimate of a +2.4% gain.
  • 4Q Personal Consumption is estimated to rise +2.7% versus a prior gain of a +2.6% gain.
  • 4Q GDP Price Index is estimated to rise +1.6% versus a prior estimate of a +1.6% gain.
  • 4Q Core PCE is estimated to rise +1.3% versus a prior estimate of a +1.3% gain. 
  • Initial Jobless Claims are estimated to rise to 325K versus 320K the prior week.
  • Continuing Claims are estimated to fall to 2882K versus 2889K prior.
10:00 am EST
  • Pending Home Sales for February are estimated to rise +.2% versus a +.1% gain in January.
Upcoming Splits
  • None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The Fed's Pianalto speaking, Fed's Bullard speaking, Fed's Evans speaking, Japan CPI, $29B 7Y T-Note auction, weekly EIA natural gas inventory report, weekly Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index and the (NDAQ) investor day could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly lower, weighed down by tech and real estate shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to weaken into the afternoon, finishing modestly lower. The Portfolio is 25% net long heading into the day.

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