Friday, March 21, 2014

Today's Headlines

  • Putin Clears Crimea Annexation as Ukraine Signs EU Pact. Russia completed its annexation of Crimea as the European Union signed an accord with Ukraine and expanded sanctions, escalating the worst standoff between Russia and the West since the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin put his signature in Moscow to legislation to absorb the Black Sea peninsula and its port of Sevastopol from Ukraine. In Brussels, the EU and Ukraine put the seal on the political part of an association agreement, whose rejection last year by ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych triggered the dispute between Russia and its former Soviet-era enemies. The 28-nation bloc also blacklisted 12 Russian and Crimean political and military figures. 
  • Europe Stocks Are Little Changed After Confidence Report. European stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index posting its biggest weekly gain in five weeks, as consumer confidence increased more than forecast, while derivatives contracts expired. Rio Tinto Group rose 1.6 percent as copper rebounded. Commerzbank AG climbed 2.5 percent as Morgan Stanley upgraded its rating on the German lender. Havas SA lost 1.8 percent after posting 2013 profit that fell short of analysts’ estimates. Remy Cointreau SA retreated the most since November as UBS predicted China’s anti-extravagance measures will continue to cut into the cognac-maker’s profit. The Stoxx 600 gained 0.1 percent to 327.91 at the close of trading.
  • Oil-Tanker Glut Deja Vu Souring Ross, Ardmore Investments. Here we go again. Six years after shipowners ordered too many vessels before the global recession, driving down rates and leaving new ships anchored for lack of cargoes, investors are souring again on oil-product tankers in the face of a new glut
  • Sell Signal for Stocks Seen as Bears Roar in Executive Offices. Bears are prowling in corner offices even as the stock market climbs to an all-time high. Executives are dumping shares of their own companies at a rate suggesting the market may be near a short-term peak, according to Argus Research. The firm tracked an index of insider transactions from Vickers Stock Research. While the measure considers numerous factors, the bottom line is clear: at negative 19.88, the index is approaching a record low of negative 21.44. “Insiders as a group do not see compelling near-term value in stocks,” Argus wrote in a report today. “Insiders have a habit of being bullish at market bottoms and bearish when markets are top-heavy.”  
Wall Street Journal: 
Fox News:
Business Insider:
  • Subprime mortgages making a comeback. Once synonymous with toxic, adjustable-rate mortgages -- like the "exploding ARMs" that led many homeowners to lose their homes to foreclosure during the housing bust -- subprime mortgages are once again being offered to borrowers who pose a higher credit risk, typically those with credit scores that fall below 640.
CBS News:
  • Shanghai rebar falls for 6th week, HRC slips on debut. Shanghai rebar futures fell 1 percent on Friday and dropped for a sixth consecutive week amid lean steel demand that has led to an uneventful debut of China's hot-rolled coil contracts. A seasonal pickup in construction demand in China may not be strong enough to support steel prices as the overall economy faces headwinds from weak external demand that has hit its manufacturing sector, and a reform-minded Beijing. The most-traded rebar for October delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange gave up 34 yuan to close at 3,220 yuan ($520) a tonne, after falling as low as 3,211 yuan. Rebar, a construction steel product, was down 0.6 percent for the week, its sixth weekly fall since Chinese markets reopened after the Lunar New Year break in early February.
  • Fed's Fisher asks, is rate guidance just a fad? A top U.S. Federal Reserve official critical of the U.S. central bank's super-easy monetary policy on Friday questioned the very core of the Fed's current approach, which rests on giving markets a better sense of the future path of interest rates. He wants the Fed to wind down its bond-buying stimulus as quickly as possible.

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