Friday, March 07, 2014

Today's Headlines

  • U.S. Fighters Circle Baltics as Putin Fans Fear of Russia. Centuries of Soviet and tsarist oppression taught the three Baltic states to bar their doors whenever the Kremlin issues marching orders. Now they also scramble NATO jets. President Vladimir Putin’s decision to hold snap military drills in the Baltic Sea last week just as he was pouring troops into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula sent shock waves through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which demanded, and got, military support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The U.S. deployed six warplanes to Lithuania yesterday to bolster defenses in the Baltics for the first time since they joined the alliance in 2004, expanding the squadron to 10. Another dozen will arrive in Poland on March 10, the country’s Defense Ministry said. About 150,000 soldiers took part in Putin’s drills, including 3,500 from the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad, Russia’s exclave between Poland and Lithuania
  • Russia Invokes $2 Billion Ukraine Gas Debt Amid Crimea Scrap. Russia said Ukraine’s natural gas debt climbed to almost $2 billion and signaled supplies may be cut, ratcheting up pressure on its neighbor as they scrap over the future of the Black Sea Crimea region. Ukraine hasn’t made its February fuel payment and owes Russia $1.89 billion, according to gas export monopoly OAO Gazprom (OGZD), which halted supplies to Ukraine five years ago amid a pricing and debt dispute, curbing flows to Europe. Lawmakers in Moscow said they’d accept the results of a March 16 referendum on Crimea joining Russia as Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s premier, reiterated that his cabinet deems the vote illegal.
  • Europe’s Homeless States Risk EU Rebuff as Putin Digs In. The risk for Yatsenyuk and millions of other Putin opponents in the buffer zone between the EU and Russia is that European leaders will balk at the commitment needed to give them what they really want: full EU membership. To the EU’s critics, the bloc’s leaders are failing to recognize a turning point comparable to the fall of the Berlin Wall. “Putin’s not too afraid of what the EU’s going to do -- Russia holds all the cards and is there to stay in Crimea,” Spyros Economides, senior lecturer in international relations at the London School of Economics, said in a phone interview.
  • Ukraine 2014 Bond Extends Seventh Weekly Drop on Crimea Standoff. Ukraine’s Eurobonds due in June extended a seventh week of declines as the standoff between Russia and the West over the Crimea region remained unresolved. The $1 billion of bonds due in three months fell to 91.79 cents on the dollar from 92.35 yesterday and 94.82 on Feb. 28. The yield jumped to as high as 47.11 percent, within 16 basis points of an all-time high on a closing basis. Stocks had the first weekly drop since January while the currency reversed gains as Interfax-Ukraine news service reported the central bank intervened to cap its appreciation. 
  • China Heralding $1.5 Trillion Emerging Debt Wall: Credit Markets. A surge in interest rates and the worst currency rout since 2008 in developing nations from Russia to Brazil are inflating corporate borrowing costs as $1.5 trillion of obligations come due by the end of 2015. Companies in the MSCI Emerging-Market Index (EEM) are facing the highest debt loads since 2009 as profit margins narrow to the least in four years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. More than 36 percent of bonds and loans by Turkish companies will mature by 2015, while Chinese firms need to pay off $630 billion, or 29 percent, of their borrowings just as the country experiences its first-ever onshore corporate-bond default
  • European Stocks Decline on Threat to Ukraine’s Gas Supply. European stocks slid, completing their first weekly decline since January, as Russia said it may cut off Ukraine’s gas, outweighing a report that showed the U.S. economy created more jobs last month than forecast. Getinge AB (GETIB) plunged the most since its initial public offering in 1993 after the medical-technology company said that production at its cardiovascular division has suffered disruption. Fugro NV (FUR) slid 2.1 percent after the deepwater-oilfield surveyor reported revenue and profit that missed estimates. Air France-KLM Group climbed 4.4 percent after saying that it transported more passengers in February. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 1.3 percent to 333.06 at the close of trading. The benchmark has fallen 1.5 percent this week amid concern that Russia would intervene in Ukraine, resulting in sanctions and disrupted trade.
  • Copper Heads for Biggest Drop Since 2011 on China Demand Concern. Copper futures in New York headed for the biggest loss in more than two years as China’s first onshore default stoked concern that rising debt will curb demand in the Asian nation, the world’s largest consumer. After Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co. failed to pay full interest on its bonds, more defaults may follow, including by makers of nonferrous metals, said Qiu Xinhong, a bond-fund manager in Guangzhou at Golden Eagle Asset Management Co. Copper stockpiles monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange have climbed for eight straight weeks, the longest streak in two years, adding to signs of slowing use. Prices have lost 9 percent this year, the most among 34 commodities tracked by Bloomberg, as signs of faltering growth in China boosted the outlook for a surplus. Global copper production will outpace demand by 81,000 metric tons in 2014, after a deficit of 175,000 tons last year, Barclays Plc said Feb. 12.
  • WTI Crude Rises. WTI for April delivery increased $1.12, or 1.1 percent, to $102.68 a barrel at 1:30 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 9 cents this week. The volume of all futures traded was 1.8 percent above the 100-day average.
  • Dot-Com IPO Insanity Returns With I don't get it. People are saying things like "this time is different" again in news articles about initial public offerings by Internet companies, and they mean it. All I can do is watch, dumbfounded.
Wall Street Journal:    
  • Maybe China’s a Bigger Worry than the Fed. Will Chinese monetary policy be the more likely cause of global market volatility over the coming months than the Federal Reserve’s? The current upheavals in China’s corporate debt marketmight well offer a clue.
Fox News:
  • ObamaCare in peril? Questionable sign-ups, delays mar launch. Three weeks out from the ObamaCare enrollment deadline, the president's signature health care law is facing ever-increasing challenges which go far beyond the program's troubled exchange websites. Raising questions whether it's a crippled law that's near impossible to implement along its mandated timetable, key elements of the act continue to unilaterally be pushed off by the administration. Lawmakers are raising concerns about the security of the ObamaCare websites, even as the many "glitches" that blocked would-be enrollees are fixed.
Business Insider: 
Washington Post:
  • Bank of Italy scrutinises banks' property valuations. The Bank of Italy is hiring up to five real estate consultants to assess whether banks are correctly valuing property used as loan collateral amid depressed market prices, potentially forcing them to set aside more cash against defaults.
  • Kremlin ridicules calls for Russia-Ukraine talks with Western mediation. Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Friday ridiculed calls for talks between Russia and Ukraine with Western mediation, saying Western countries' actions during the crisis in Ukraine had cost them their credibility, Russian news agencies reported. Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, also said Russia feared there would be ethnic persecution in Crimea and eastern Ukraine if "those who stood behind the coup in Kiev" reached those regions, the reports said.

No comments: