Monday, March 17, 2014

Today's Headlines

  • Obama Says Putin Must Pull Back on Crimea Annexation. President Barack Obama today imposed sanctions on seven top Russian government officials and four others from Ukraine and warned Russia will face more penalties if it doesn’t pull back from Crimea. “Continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia’s diplomatic isolation and exact a greater toll on the Russian economy,” Obama said at the White House. The U.S. can “calibrate our response” based on whether Russia chooses “to escalate or to de-escalate the situation.”
  • Ukraine Bonds Decline as Investors Weigh Aid Outlook After Vote. Ukraine’s Eurobonds maturing in June fell for the first time in three days as investors sought clarity on the progress of International Monetary Fund aid after a referendum moved the Crimea region closer to secession. The government’s dollar notes declined to 91.86 cents on the dollar from 92.16 on March 14, sending the yield up 2.24 percentage points to 50.5 percent by 3:30 p.m. in Kiev. The hryvnia slid 0.5 percent to 9.75 per dollar, set for the weakest close this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 
  • China Developer With $567 Million Debt Said to Collapse. A closely held Chinese real estate developer with 3.5 billion yuan ($566.6 million) of debt has collapsed and its largest shareholder was detained, said government officials familiar with the matter. Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co. doesn’t have enough cash to repay creditors that include more than 15 banks, with China Construction Bank Corp. (939) holding more than 1 billion yuan of its debt, according to the officials, who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter. The company’s majority shareholder and his son, its legal representative, have been detained and face charges of illegal fundraising, the officials said. 
  • Europe Stocks Gain as RWE, Vodafone Rise on M&A Activity. European stocks advanced, following their biggest weekly drop since January, as companies from RWE AG to Vodafone (VOD) Group Plc rose amid renewed merger-and-acquisition activity. RWE increased 1.3 percent after L1 Energy agreed to spend 5.1 billion euros ($7.1 billion) on the utility’s Dea division. Vodafone climbed 1.7 percent as the telecommunications company agreed to buy Spanish cable operator Grupo Corporativo Ono SA. Allianz SE rose the most in two months after the insurer agreed to buy assets from Italy’s Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 1.1 percent to 325.83 at the close of trading
  • WTI, Brent Oils Slip to Five-Week Lows. West Texas Intermediate for April delivery dropped $1.32 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $97.57 a barrel at 12:46 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures touched $97.37, the lowest level since Feb. 7. The volume of all futures traded was 13 percent above the 100-day average.
  • Risks Mount for Retirees in Limited Energy Partnerships. MLPs are more popular than ever. They’re tax-exempt, publicly traded companies that own pipelines, storage tanks and other cash-generating energy infrastructure and give practically all their income to investors. In 2013, there were a record 21 initial public offerings valued at $8.8 billion and an all-time high of more than $11.9 billion flowed into funds investing in MLPs, according to Morningstar Inc. Today, critics are raising warnings about growing dangers even while retirees like Johns are piling in. Almost unanimously bullish commentaries, such as the reports Johns found online, have attracted droves of individuals to a trade even some professionals have said they don’t understand.
Wall Street Journal: 
  • Crisis in Ukraine. Streaming Coverage:
  • Old Bull Shows Its Age. Although it doesn’t look like it on the surface, investors and analysts think some basic things are changing. Many see 2013 as an exceptional year, not a harbinger of things to come. Even if stocks finish 2014 with gains, a growing number expect indexes to endure a pullback of more than 10% at some point.
Fox News:
  • Is it enough? Obama imposes sanctions on Russian officials over Crimea. Almost immediately, some criticized Obama's response as not being enough to change Putin's course. With Crimea voting Sunday to break off from Ukraine, Russia is poised to potentially annex the disputed peninsula -- and freezing U.S. assets of Putin cronies and barring them from traveling to the U.S. may have limited effect. Four Ukrainians were also sanctioned. "It's unlikely that these will really get President Putin's attention," said Michael Singh, with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Maybe the time for this sort of first step was several weeks ago."
Business Insider:
Washington Post:
  • US Lumber Prices Await Signal from Housing Mkt. U.S. lumber prices showed little movement in early 2014 at levels below last year's highs as the construction industry stalled in frigid conditions, and dealers wait for any signs of a sustained increase in the annual rate of housing starts, lumber industry participants told MNI.

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