Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Watch

Weekend Headlines 
  • Russia Expands Ukraine Military Presence as Rebels Killed. Ukraine said Russia is expanding its military presence in rebel-held areas as pro-Russian fighters attacked Ukrainian forces with artillery after as many as 200 separatists were killed. “The war is not over yet,” Igor Plotniskiy, the newly-elected head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic said in video statement televised and posted on the LPR website. The LPR wants “maximal integration with Russia,” he said. Ukraine said yesterday its forces killed the rebels at Donetsk Airport in the biggest separatist loss since a Sept. 5 truce. Russia sent tanks and military vehicles across the border into rebel areas, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said yesterday. The U.S. State Department and Pentagon, while saying Russia is massing troops and armor on its side of the border, said they couldn’t confirm a Russian tank incursion
  • Russia’s Military Encounters Risk Clash in Europe: Report. Russia is engaged in “dangerous brinkmanship” toward NATO and Nordic nations in its military moves, with almost 40 incidents of incursions and close encounters since March, according to a European security research group. The European Leadership Network said the incidents present a “highly disturbing picture” of violations of national airspace, emergency air-defense scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions, close encounters at sea and other dangerous actions on a regular basis over a wide area. 
  • Catalan Turnout Reaches 2 Million as Mas Defies Rajoy. More than two million Catalans voted overwhelmingly in favor of leaving Spain yesterday in a ballot ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to open talks on a roadmap to independence. Eighty-one percent of voters, about 1.6 million people, backed independence, regional vice president Joana Ortega said early today, with 88 percent of polling stations counted. The regional government projected overall turnout would be about 2.3 million out of a total electorate of 5.5 million.
  • Reported Islamist Plot Against Queen Underscores Security Threat. A report Queen Elizabeth II was targeted by radical Muslims underscored today the threat facing Britain, the U.S. and their allies as they seek to blunt Islamic State’s advance in the Middle East. Four men arrested yesterday in Britain planned a knife attack on the U.K. monarch, The Sun said today without attribution.
  • China Regions Show Economies Differ as Slowdown Deepens. Of China’s 31 provinces and municipalities, 19 recorded a slowdown, three posted the same pace and nine saw a pickup in the January-September growth rate from the first half, according to Bloomberg calculations of data released by the governments or state media. All are missing their own expansion targets.
  • China Factory-Gate Prices Decline for Record 32nd Month: Economy. China’s factory-gate prices fell for a record 32nd month in October and consumer prices remained subdued, raising pressure on policymakers to bolster the world’s second-largest economy as disinflation spreads. The producer-price index dropped 2.2 percent from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said in Beijing today, compared with the median projection of a 2 percent decline in a survey of analysts by Bloomberg News. Consumer prices (CNCPIYOY) rose 1.6 percent and the rate was unchanged from the prior month and matched economists’ estimates.
  • Mexico Finds Evidence 43 Students Murdered by Drug Gangs. Forty-three college students kidnapped by police under orders of a mayor in southern Mexico were probably killed by a drug gang that tried to destroy all evidence of the crime, according to investigators. Criminal suspects rounded up in the probe said police in Iguala, Guerrero, handed them more than 40 people they had taken into custody, Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillosaid in a news conference in the capital yesterday. The mayor and his wife are accused of asking drug gangs to help police prevent students from disrupting a public event held by the wife, Murillo said.
  • Central Banks Warn of Possible Bumpy Ride for Markets. Global central bankers said financial markets could suffer a bout of turbulence -- again -- when they begin to withdraw monetary stimulus. Janet Yellen and William C. Dudley of the Federal Reserve, Mexico’s Agustin Carstens and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney were among those to use a Paris conference of policy makers yesterday to talk about potential fallout from the eventual shift from record-low interest rates used to revive growth since the global financial crisis in 2008
  • Corn to Soybean Price Forecasts Cut by Morgan Stanley on Supply. Morgan Stanley reduced its price forecasts for corn, soybeans and wheat because global surpluses are larger than expected and said rates will probably fall to a level that may curb supplies in high-cost producers like Brazil. The bank cut its estimate for corn to $3.90 a bushel in 2014-2015 from $4.35 in October and for soybeans to $9 a bushel from $10.10, according to analysts Bennett Meier and Lee Jackson. Wheat was lowered to $5.40 a bushel from $5.75. The latest forecasts were issued in a report dated yesterday.
  • Coldest November Since 2000 Turning Gas Traders Bullish. Hedge funds almost tripled bullish bets on natural gas as forecasts for frigid weather east of the Rocky Mountains signaled a surge in demand for the heating fuel. Speculator net-long position across four benchmark contracts rebounded from the lowest level since March 2012, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. Short positions, or bets on falling prices, fell by the most in more than nine months in the report covering the week ended Nov. 4. 
  • Macro Funds That Lamented Boring Market Lose in October. Hedge-fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and Michael Novogratz said in May that calm markets made it hard to make money. In October, investors that bet on macro-economic themes got their desired volatility. By the end of the month, some of the biggest managers, including Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates LP, Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG) and Jones’ Tudor Investment Corp., posted losses. The strategy had its worst performance in more than a year and two smaller firms said they were shutting.
  • Paulson Event-Driven Fund Said to Plunge 14% in October. Billionaire John Paulson posted a 14 percent loss in his firm’s event-driven hedge fund during October, adding to declines this year, two people with knowledge of the matter said. The monthly drop left the Paulson Advantage fund down about 25 percent in 2014, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Paulson Credit Opportunities lost 6.8 percent in October, leaving it down 3.4 percent in 2014.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Revenue Softness Worries Stock Investors. Third-Quarter Earnings Reports Show Solid Profits but Also Possible Warning Signs. While profit gains have generally been solid, many blue-chip companies are posting weak sales growth or outright year-over-year revenue declines, causing worries about their long-term growth prospects. Others are reporting earnings increases driven by factors that don’t reflect sustainable improvements in their business, such as share buybacks and cost-cutting efforts.
Zero Hedge:
Business Insider:
  • China Oct trade data shows signs of manipulation, hot money inflows - state newspaper. China's exports and large trade surplus in October pointed to signs of manipulation and inflows of speculative hot money, the official Shanghai Securities News said on Monday, suggesting that firms continue to over-invoice trade deals to avoid capital controls.
    "There are signs that faked trade deals have raised their head of late," the newspaper said in a report, quoting economists.
Financial Times:
  • European banks’ riskier debt deals nearly double. European financial institutions have nearly doubled volumes of riskier debt deals as yield-starved investors are prepared to snap up racier assets in their struggle to generate a return. Issuance of subordinated debt – which would suffer losses during a default before senior debt in a bank’s capital hierarchy – have risen by 80 per cent year on year to $122.4bn so far in 2014 according to Dealogic, the data provider.
  • German Economist Warns Against More European Integration. Economist Michael Huether of the Cologne Institute for Business Research says Europe doesn't automatically need to become a federal state, citing interview. Such a move would impose excessive demands on the continent. Unrealistic to think that Europe can continually change, he said. Proposals to create a European finance minister or follow the Swiss model have no practical relevance since no one in Europe and no national parliament will accept a financial policy decided on in Brussels. Says terms and conditions of European club agreed on in 1957 aren't immutable.
Night Trading
  • Asian indices are -.25% to +1.25% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 108.0 +1.0 basis point.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 64.5 +1.0 basis point.
  • FTSE-100 futures +.19%.
  • S&P 500 futures +.09%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures +.18%.
Morning Preview Links

Earnings of Note

  • (DF)/-.13
  • (DDD)/.17
  • (BID)/-.34
  • (RAX)/.16
  • (CZR)/-1.47
  • (KWK)/-.09
Economic Releases
  • None of note
Upcoming Splits
  • None of note
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The Fed's Rosengren speaking, Japan trade data, USDA's WASDE report, 3Y $26B T-Note auction, RBC Capital Tech/Internet/Media/Telecom Conference, Labor Market Conditions Index for October, Robert Baird Industrial Conference, CSFB Healthcare Conference, (LUV) investor day, (HES) investor day and the (ICPT) investor meeting could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are mostly higher, boosted by real estate and technology shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly higher and to weaken into the afternoon, finishing mixed. The Portfolio is 50% net long heading into the week.

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