Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today's Headlines

  • Tsipras Strikes Defiant Tone With Greek Wall of Dignity. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras struck a defiant tone over Greece’s bailout ahead of a meeting in Brussels with European leaders, a stance broadly supported by the cash-strapped country’s citizens. “People have asked us to put an end to austerity and bailout agreements, to begin the process of reclaiming the dignity of the nation,” Tsipras said in a speech Wednesday in Athens. “We respond today, tomorrow and on Friday in parliament by building a wall of sovereignty and dignity.” 
  • IMF Considers Greece Its Most Unhelpful Client Ever. International Monetary Fund officials told their euro-area colleagues that Greece is the most unhelpful country the organization has dealt with in its 70-year history, according to two people familiar with the talks. In a short and bad-tempered conference call on Tuesday, officials from the IMF, the European Central Bank and the European Commission complained that Greek officials aren’t adhering to a bailout extension deal reached in February or cooperating with creditors, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the call was private. The IMF’s press office had no immediate comment on the discussions.  
  • Putin Says Russian People Showed ‘Amazing Patriotism’ on Crimea. Russians and Ukrainians are “one people,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told a rally in Moscow marking the anniversary of the takeover of Crimea. The Russian people showed “amazing discipline, amazing patriotism” in supporting the return of Crimea to its homeland a year ago, Putin told the rally on Wednesday near the Kremlin attended by 110,000 people, according to police. “When it comes to Crimea it is not just about some territory, even a strategic one,” Putin said to cheers from the crowd. “It is about millions of Russian people, millions of our compatriots, who need our help and support. It is about something which makes us a united people and nation.” 
  • Russia Accuses Ukraine of Breaching Truce Deal Amid Clashes. Russia accused Ukraine of breaching a cease-fire agreement by assigning a special status to its easternmost regions as skirmishes continued in conflict areas. Ukrainian lawmakers approved motions on Tuesday that envisage self-governance for the rebel-held territories, while appealing to the United Nations and the European Union to send peacekeepers. They also passed a separate decree declaring some Donbas areas an “occupied” territory. That move may undermine the peace process and lead to destabilization, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
  • Frankfurt Flares as Anti-Austerity Protesters Rage Against ECB. Police vehicles burning in the streets, helicopters circling above, cobblestones ripped from pavements and used as missiles, tossed garbage containers, and the smell of smoke and burning rubber pervading the air. In scenes resembling a war zone, commuters in Frankfurt were greeted with a trail of destruction running through the euro area’s financial capital on Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators descended on the city to protest against austerity measures and monetary policy actions by the European Central Bank.  
  • Easy Money Drives Investors Into Stocks, Company Debt, BIS Says. Monetary stimulus around the world is increasing the amount of government bonds with yields below zero, and that’s pushing investors into stocks and corporate debt, the Bank for International Settlements said. European equity funds registered a cumulative inflow of almost $19 billion in the four weeks following the European Central Bank’s announcement in January that it would start buying government bonds, the BIS said in a report published today. That’s the most ever recorded for a similar period, it said. Flows into European high-yield corporate bond funds over the four weeks were the highest in a year, the BIS said. 
  • European Stocks Rise as U.K. Shares Climb After Osborne’s Budget. European stocks climbed as U.K. shares rallied after a budget presentation and Swedish equities jumped after a rate cut. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.3 percent to 398.65 at the close of trading, erasing earlier losses of as much as 0.4 percent.
  • Brazilian Real Leads Global Decline on Concern Rating May Be Cut. Brazil’s currency led global declines as a meeting between government officials and Fitch Ratings fed concern the nation’s investment-grade credit grade could be cut. Fitch cited challenges the government faces to rein in spending and shore up fiscal accounts when it said earlier this week that it’s reviewing the country’s rating. Finance Minister Joaquim Levy will stress his commitment to meeting budget targets and sparking growth in the meeting Wednesday, according to a person close to the government’s economic team who isn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.
  • Here's a Look at How the Dollar Is Clobbering Other Currencies Around the World. (graph) A great look at the losers.  
  • Oklahoma Hiring Freeze Shows No Letup in Oil States’ Fiscal Pain. Oklahoma, the fifth-largest oil-producing state, froze hiring and salaries and is considering tapping reserves with crude prices down almost 60 percent since June. Revenue projections dwindled by more than $300 million from December to February, more than doubling to $611 million the budget deficit that Republican Governor Mary Fallin and lawmakers have to plug for the year starting July 1, state documents show.
  • Surprising Natural Gas Output Has BofA Bracing for Sub-$2 Prices. Relentless U.S. production gains that caught many natural gas traders by surprise have triggered a 30 percent plunge in prices since November. Bank of America Corp. says the selloff isn’t over and is telling clients to brace for the possibility of sub-$2 prices for the first time in three years. Gas output will climb to an all-time high of 78.39 billion cubic feet a day this year, an increase of 50 percent over 2005, led by shale reservoirs in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas, government data show.
  • FedEx(FDX) Falls After Profit Forecast Narrowed on Currency, Bonuses. FedEx Corp. fell the most in almost two months after the world’s largest cargo airline trimmed the top range of its full-year profit forecast and pared its projection for global economic growth. Earnings will be $8.80 to $8.95 a share in the fiscal year ending May 31, the Memphis, Tennessee-based company said in a statement Wednesday. FedEx had reiterated a forecast of $8.50 to $9 a share on Jan. 23. Analysts estimated $8.98 on average
Wall Street Journal:
  • US rate-storm brews, get set for another 'tantrum'. (video) Emerging markets have every right to feel nervous before Wednesday's U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy decision, with the central bank widely tipped to pave the way for a rate hike this year.
Business Insider: 
Manager Magazin:
  • ECB Ran Models on Debt Impact of Greek Exit. ECB staff calculated Greek government debt would fall to 5% of nominal value in case of disorderly exit from euro. If Greece manages to negotiate a debt reduction without leaving the euro, debt would retain a quarter of its nominal value.

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