Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona

The Headline Animator

Thursday, March 02, 2017

And Pause

Financial Review

And Pause


DOW – 112 = 21,002
SPX – 14 = 2381
NAS – 42 = 5861
RUT – 17 = 1395
10 Y + .03 = 2.49%
OIL – 1.21 = 52.62
GOLD – 15.00 = 1235.00

Yesterday, the Dow advanced about 300 points to close above 21,000 for the first time, just 24 trading sessions after it first hit 20,000. That matches the fastest-ever move between thousand-point milestones, which last happened in 1999 and took the index above 11,000.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to near a 44-year-low last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 223,000 for the week ended Feb. 25, the lowest level since March 1973.

It was the 104th straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market. That is the longest stretch since 1970.

The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the economy gathered before the central bank makes interest-rate decisions, said “businesses were generally optimistic about the near term but to a somewhat lesser degree than in the prior report.” Overall, the US economy continues to meander along, with all districts reporting “modest to moderate” growth.

Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard has been among the most consistent doves at the Fed, but now, “near-term risks” to the U.S. from abroad appear to have diminished. Brainard the US economy appears to be in transition to a more stable growth path and gradual interest-rate hikes are likely to be appropriate “soon.”

Fed Gov. Jerome Powell became the latest Fed official to hint that a hike is imminent when he said Wednesday that the case for raising interest rates in March “has come together.” Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to speak on the economic outlook in Chicago on Friday in her last speech before the Fed’s March 14-15 meeting.

Emerging-market borrowers are selling bonds at an unprecedented pace before the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. Emerging-market issuance in dollars and euros this year has already exceeded $100 billion. That’s the fastest pace ever and almost 20 percent more than the previous record for the period in 2014. With yields still favorable to borrowers, they may accelerate plans to refinance maturing debt and lock in current yields.

The yield on the two-year US Treasury note rose 3 basis points to 1.32% in recent trade, its highest end-of-day level since June 10, 2009. Bond yields rise as prices fall. The yield also notched its largest four-day increase since Feb. 8, 2011. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has popped about 16 basis points in the past week.

The dollar advanced. Oil closed at the lowest level in more than three weeks. US stockpiles expanded to 520 million barrels, the most in weekly government data going back to 1982, even as Saudi Arabia continued to lead OPEC’s efforts to cut production to end the glut.

Snapchat parent Snap Inc raised $3.4 billion in its IPO last night, valuing the company at $24 billion, more than double the size of Twitter and the richest valuation in a U.S. tech IPO since Facebook five years ago.

The shares priced at $17 each, above the expected range of $14-16. And the IPO was oversubscribed by more than tenfold; and when shares started trading, there was a pop to $25, and shares closed at $24.47.

Snapchat’s founder and early investors cashed out over $1 billion today. This for a company which reported revenues of $404 million with losses of $515 million in 2016. And shareholders don’t have voting rights. Go figure.

About 32 million Yahoo user accounts were accessed by intruders in the last two years using forged cookies. The company said some of the latest intrusions can be connected to the “same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 breach,” in which at least 500 million accounts were affected.

Yahoo also said in December that data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised in August 2013. Yahoo’s board of directors have decided to forgo CEO Marissa Mayer’s 2016 bonus following the results of an internal investigation of how the company’s massive hacks were handled.

Yesterday, Amazon’s cloud service S3 went down for a few hours. Today, Amazon blamed the outage on human error and the movie LaLa Land.

Banks globally have paid $321 billion in fines since 2008 for an abundance of regulatory failings from money laundering to market manipulation and terrorist financing, per data compiled by Boston Consulting Group. That tally is set to increase in the coming years as European and Asian regulators catch up with their US peers, who have levied most charges to date.

The Labor Department has proposed delaying a rule that would require retirement advisers to act in the best interest of their clients. The “fiduciary rule” was set to go into effect on April 10 and would have prohibited retirement advisers from accepting incentives for promoting certain funds over others.

The Labor Department announced a proposed 60-day extension for the rule to go into effect on June 9. During that time, the department said it will collect applicable information on the possible effects of rule, including public comments.

As credit card companies compete for customers by offering increasingly better rewards and perks, American Express is giving its Platinum card a facelift and a benefits overhaul. The newly-enhanced card will come with Uber credits, increased travel rewards and more access to special events. But the new benefits don’t come cheap. The card carries a $550 annual fee, an increase from $450, and currently offers no sign-up bonus.

Federal law enforcement officials searched three facilities of heavy machinery manufacturer Caterpillar in Illinois. It was not immediately clear why federal agents raided the three locations, but Caterpillar has been fighting an Internal Revenue Service demand that the company pay $2 billion in taxes and penalties for profits assigned to a Swiss parts distribution subsidiary, Caterpillar SARL, or CSARL, per filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That subsidiary was also the subject of a 2014 Senate committee report that charged Caterpillar “shifted billions of dollars in profits away from the United States.” Caterpillar also disclosed in its report that it had received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois seeking documents and information related to the movement of cash among U.S. and non-U.S. subsidiaries, and the purchase and resale of replacement parts.

Boeing is cutting its Seattle-area workforce by at least 1,800 jobs this year as the company streamlines operations. Boeing approved voluntary layoffs for 1,500 mechanics. Another 305 engineers and technical workers are leaving voluntarily.

Anheuser-Busch InBev  reported worse-than-expected quarterly results. The company said that challenges in Brazil hurt its overall performance.

Shake Shack same-store sales whiffThe burger chain announced adjusted earnings of $0.09 a share, matching estimates, but said same-shack sales, or sales in stores open at least two years, rose 1.6%, well shy of the 2.6% estimated gain.

Barnes & Noble reported third-quarter profit that missed expectations. Same-store sales fell 8.3%, largely due to lower traffic and a decline in coloring books, artist supplies and the best-selling Adele album that was released in 2015. The company now expects full-year 2017 same-store sales to decline about 7%.

Broadcom came in 15 cents above estimates with adjusted quarterly earnings of $3.63 per share, while the chip maker’s revenue was slightly above estimates. The company, which is a major supplier for Apple, said it expects healthy demand for its products to continue.

After the closing bell, Costco reported fiscal second-quarter per-share earnings and sales below expectations and said it plans to raise membership fees in June by $5.

The creepiest thing of the day, and there were multiple candidates – goes to Spiral Toys; a company that sells internet-connected teddy bears that allow kids and their far-away parents to exchange heartfelt messages left more than 800,000 customer credentials, as well as two million message recordings, totally exposed online for anyone to see and listen.

Since Christmas day of last year and at least until the first week of January, Spiral Toys left customer data of its CloudPets brand on a database that wasn’t behind a firewall or password-protected. The exposed data included more than 800,000 emails and passwords.

As we’ve seen time and time again in the last couple of years, so-called “smart” devices connected to the internet—what is popularly known as the Internet of Things or IoT—are often left insecure or are easily hack-able, and often leak sensitive data. There will be a time when IoT developers and manufacturers learn the lesson and make secure by default devices, but that time hasn’t come yet.

So, if you are a parent who doesn’t want your loving messages with your kids leaked online, you might want to buy a good old fashioned teddy bear that doesn’t connect to a remote, insecure server.

Tomorrow is the first Friday in March, but it is not a Jobs Report Friday. The jobs report is a monthly ritual for anyone following markets or the US economy, as it contains some of the main data points measuring the health of the labor market in the world’s largest economy.

The report almost always comes out on the first Friday of the month, but not this month: The February 2017 report is scheduled to be released on March 10, a week later than might be expected. It turns out that this is due to the way the jobs numbers are gathered and how the days of the week fell this year during a short month.

When the 12th is on a Sunday and there are 30 days or less in the month, the release date will wind up being the second Friday of the following month – so March 10, not tomorrow.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he would recuse himself from investigations involving the Trump campaign over his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 election, but stood firm on the answers he gave during his Senate confirmation hearing about his past communications. Sessions denied during his confirmation hearing that he had ever communicated with any Russian officials while he was a top Trump campaign surrogate.

During his press conference, Sessions emphasized that he didn’t meet with Russian operatives about the Trump campaign during the election. So, the story is shifting. Is it too late to change my vote for Creepiest Thing of the Day?

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