Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today's Headlines

  • Euro Area Said to Give Greece Five Days to Deliver Plan. (video) Greece has until Monday to show how it will follow through on reform commitments after the euro area ruled out speedy access to aid funds, three officials said following a conference call of finance ministry deputies. The currency bloc left the door open for Greece to access 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) that has been allocated to aid the banking system, if the cash-strapped nation can show how it will move ahead with the changes that its creditors are seeking. At the same time, the euro zone’s other 18 members were adamant that Greece needs to deliver specific plans to see any more bailout cash, the officials said.  
  • Ukraine Bonds Drop as Moody’s Adds to Default Concern Amid Talks. Ukraine’s Eurobond fell for a third day after Moody’s Investors Service warned that the risk the country will default on its debt is almost certain. The bonds dropped to a record 38.03 cents on the dollar on Wednesday after Moody’s lowered the nation’s credit rating by one step to Ca, the second-lowest level and on par with Argentina. Ukrainian debt has handed investors losses of 30 percent this quarter, the worst among 59 emerging-market peers, as investors speculated the former soviet republic’s creditors will be forced to accept steep writedowns. 
  • Estonia Must Counter ‘Hostile’ Russian Propaganda, Adviser Says. Estonia’s plans for a Russian-language television channel will seek to counter propaganda from the regime of President Vladimir Putin amid tensions over the Kremlin’s intentions in the Baltic region, according to a government adviser.
  • Sputtering Emerging Markets Threaten Next Global Deflation Shock. The momentum is fading. The cooling of emerging markets runs the risk of chilling the global economy. The world’s growth engines after the 2008 financial crisis, emerging markets are losing momentum as manufacturing in China contracts and recessions loom in Brazil and Russia. At Credit Suisse Group AG, economists predict the expansion of developing countries will slow to 3.8 percent this year, the weakest since 2009. By contrast, they see a 2.2 percent pace in industrial nations, the strongest in five years.
  • Saudi Stocks Decline Most in World as Rebels in Yemen Advance. Saudi Arabian stocks dropped the most in more than three months, leading regional markets lower, after forces loyal to Yemen’s Shiite Muslim rebels edged closer to the stronghold of Saudi-backed President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi. The Tadawul All Share Index was the world’s worst performer among more than 90 measures tracked by Bloomberg after it fell 5 percent to close at 8,868.12, the steepest loss since Dec. 16. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index, a gauge of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s top 200 equities, also dropped the most in more than three months. Forces loyal to the president collapsed as rebels moved deeper into the south toward the port city of Aden. Violence in the Arabian Peninsula’s poorest country is threatening to turn into a civil war, raising concerns that neighbors including Saudi Arabia may be drawn into the conflict.
  • Brazil Real Drops as Central Bank Plans to Pare Back Support. Brazil’s real dropped after the central bank said it will scale back support for the currency. The real lost 0.4 percent to 3.1521 per dollar at 11:26 a.m. in Sao Paulo, extending its run as the worst performing major currency this year. The real has lost 16 percent against the dollar on concern that weakening fiscal accounts will cause the country to lose its investment-grade credit rating. Officials will stop swap auctions that had bolstered the currency at the end of this month, the central bank said in a statement Tuesday.
  • Emerging-Market Stocks Halt Seven-Day Advance as China Retreats. Emerging-market stocks ended their longest rally in seven months amid concern slowing growth in China is hurting corporate earnings and South Africa may raise interest rates this year. Shares in Shanghai fell for the first time in 11 days, ending the longest winning streak in 23 years. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 percent, after a 10-day, 12 percent rally, the longest winning streak since May 1992.
  • Europe Stocks Post Worst Drop in Two Months After Nearing Record. European stocks posted their worst drop in more than two months, after nearing a record on Tuesday. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 1.1 percent to 397.95 at the close of trading, as all but two of 19 industry groups slid. Technology shares posted the worst performance, extending losses as U.S. peers also fell. ARM Holdings Plc and ASML Holding NV lost more than 5.5 percent. Europe’s benchmark gauge closed 0.7 percent away from its 2000 record on Tuesday, up 18 percent for the year amid European Central Bank stimulus. That pushed the Stoxx 600 to the highest valuation based on projected profits in at least 10 years, relative to its own history and to the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, data show. 
  • Oil Rises After U.S. Crude Output Gain Shrinks, Dollar Slips. Oil rose to a two-week high in New York as the shrinking size of U.S. crude production gains and a falling dollar outweighed rising supply. U.S. crude production rose 3,000 barrels a day to 9.42 million in the seven days ended March 20, the Energy Information Administration said. The smallest increase since January left output at the highest level in more than three decades. Prices retreated initially as the report showed that crude supplies increased 8.17 million barrels to 466.7 million last week, the most in records compiled since August 1982. U.S. oil explorers sidelined 41 drilling rigs last week, the smallest drop in three weeks and down from the average 59-rig weekly decline in February, according to data from Baker Hughes Inc.
  • Strong Dollar Hurting U.S. Steel Mills as Imports Flood Market. The U.S. economic recovery is gaining steam and the dollar has surged. That’s bad news for the $100 billion domestic steel industry. Foreign competitors with weaker currencies pay less to produce the metal. That’s allowing them to undercut U.S. steelmakers in their own backyard as demand wanes in China, Russia and Brazil. The result: the amount of imported steel used in the U.S. has swelled in the first two months of 2015 to 33 percent from 28 percent in 2014, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. At the same time, idled production capacity at U.S. mills has grown to 31 percent, the highest since 2009
  • Gold Heads for Longest Rally Since 2012 on Interest Rate Outlook. Gold headed for its longest rally since August 2012 as signs of sputtering U.S. economic expansion fueled bets that interest rates will stay low for longer. Spot prices climbed for a sixth straight session, rising every day since Federal Reserve policy makers cut their projections for growth and suggested they aren’t in a hurry to raise borrowing costs. Higher rates usually send investors to assets with better yield prospects such as equities and bonds.
Wall Street Journal:
  • Boko Haram Abducts More Than 400 People, Says Nigerian Lawmaker. Islamist extremists fleeing international military offensive aimed at recapturing northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram militants have abducted more than 400 people—most of them women and children—in recent weeks as the Islamist extremists have fled an international military offensive aimed at recapturing northeast Nigeria, a Nigerian lawmaker said Wednesday. The militants have seized residents of the northeastern town of Damasak and its surrounding villages since January, Nigerian Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan said. Mr. Lawan, who represents the region, said more than 70 women were taken from his hometown of Baga alone. 
Business Insider: 
NY Times:
  • Q. and A. With Fed’s Dennis Lockhart: The Year to Raise Rates. Dennis Lockhart just entered his ninth year as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and during that time he has never voted to raise interest rates. He took the job during the very early days of the financial crisis, and he has never really had the chance. But that is about to change. Mr. Lockhart said in an interview Monday that he expected he would vote to start raising rates by September at the latest.

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