Morning in Arizona

Morning in Arizona
Rainbows over Canyonlands - Dave Stoker

The Headline Animator

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Number 9

Financial Review

Number 9

DOW + 36 = 18,595
SPX + 9 = 2173
NAS + .53 = 5089
10 Y + .03 = 1.59%
OIL + .29 = 44.94
GOLD – 16.40 = 1316.30

The Dow Industrial Average is on a 9-day winning streak; its longest winning streak since March 2013. The Dow and S&P 500 have set multiple record closing highs in recent days. But the Nasdaq remains 3.5 percent away from its record close.

A 9-day winning streak for the Dow has only happened 7 times since 1980. In each of the other six instances, the index has been up the following six months with an average gain of 10.41%. Going back to 1900, a 9-day streak has happened 30 times and the average gain in the following six months has been 5.96%.

The dollar is at a four-month high against a basket of currencies, bolstered by strong economic data and growing expectations the Fed may raise rates before the end of the year. The dollar index is trading above 97, its highest level since March 10. Fed funds futures rates now suggest a 40% chance of a rate hike in December, compared with less than 20% a few weeks ago. Treasuries declined, with the 10-year yield rising three basis points to 1.59 percent. The yield has risen from an all-time low of 1.318 percent

According to Thomson Reuters, 64 percent of S&P 500 companies have topped earnings estimates. That compares to a long-term average of 63 percent over the past 22 years. Even though earnings are expected to be down 5.4% when compared with year ago levels, they are beating diminished expectations and that is apparently good enough to fuel the rally that’s added more than $4.5 trillion to the value of equities worldwide in three weeks.

Morgan Stanley this morning reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue, aided by the financial giant’s fixed income and investment banking businesses.

After the closing bell yesterday, Microsoft reported adjusted quarterly earnings of 69 cents per share, 11 cents above estimates, with revenue also beating forecasts. The software giant’s key cloud product, Azure, saw revenue grow 102 percent for its fiscal fourth-quarter.

Intel reported quarterly earnings that beat expectations, but revenues for the quarter came in slightly lower than expected. In particular, the company reported revenue from its data center and “Internet of Things” segments that slightly missed expectations. Intel has previously cast these businesses as the primary profit-growth engines for the company.

American Express, the biggest U.S credit-card issuer by purchases, said second-quarter profit rose 37 percent as customers increased spending and the company booked a $1 billion gain from the sale of its Costco portfolio. Revenue declined but still beat estimates.

Volkswagen’s operating profit came to €7.5-billion-euro in the first half of 2016, beating market expectations and pushing its shares higher. Adjusted for one-off costs of €2.2-billion-euro, operating profit still came to €5.3-billion-euro.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is being sued by a handful of statesAttorneys general from Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York have filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi, alleging a “cover up” that was “orchestrated and approved at the highest levels of the company.” The lawsuit accuses Volkswagen of skirting emissions standards by installing “defeat devices” since the mid-2000s. Additionally, the suit says that the group “made a knowing decision to violate the law” and that Volkswagen “allegedly destroyed incriminating documents” upon hearing about the investigation.

The Bank of England says Brexit isn’t killing the economy“As yet, there was no clear evidence of a sharp general slowing in activity,” said the BOE’s July “Agents’ summary of business conditions.” The central bank did suggest, however, that there was still a high degree of uncertainty as businesses are just now attempting to formulate their strategies for a British exit from the European Union. The European Central Bank hold a major policy meeting tomorrow.

The purge led by Turkey’s President Erdogan following Friday’s failed coup continues to widen, with, at last count, nearly 60,000 people detained, fired or dismissed. The Turkish lira is rebounding somewhat this morning after trading within 1 percent of an all-time low overnight. Turkey’s central bank cut its overnight lending rate by a quarter point to 8.75%. Today, Erdogan imposed a three-month state of emergency.

Federal agents in New York have arrested Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange cash trading. Johnson is being charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud involving front-running client orders, according to the complaint. Stuart Scott, HSBC’s head of foreign-exchange cash trading for Europe, was also accused in the complaint, which was unsealed Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court.

HSBC is under criminal investigation in the currency case. More than two-dozen traders have been suspended by their banks in the course of the investigation.  The arrest comes more than a year after five global banks pleaded guilty to charges related to the rigging of currency benchmarks. Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve banned former UBS Group AG trader Matthew Gardiner from the banking industry for life for his role rigging currency benchmarks.

U.S. prosecutors have detailed an alleged scheme of international money laundering and misappropriation from 2009 to 2015. The Justice Department is seeking to seize more than $1 billion worth of assets it says went through U.S. banks from Malaysian development fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, known as 1MDB, and was ultimately used to illegally acquire assets. More than $3.5 billion traveled a trail of fraud from Malaysia through a web of shell companies, fueling a spending binge on paintings and luxury real estate and even funding a movie (ironically the movie was The Wolf of Wall Street), with at least $700 million flowing back into accounts controlled by Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak.

Along the way, some of the money was handled by international banks including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered and Deutsche Bank. Money was pilfered from the government fund based on false representations made by 1MDB officials and shell companies. Even when bank officials raised questions about the beneficiaries of various accounts, compliance departments were unable to detect or halt the alleged fraud. The Malaysia fund is at the center of several international investigations into alleged corruption and money laundering by public officials. Prosecutors in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the U.S. are looking into money flows from the investment vehicle, which was established for national development.

Anheuser-Busch InBev won U.S. antitrust approval for its takeover of SABMiller, after the maker of Budweiser agreed to give up ownership of the Miller brand and open the door to greater competition from craft beers. AB InBev will sell SABMiller’s stake in MillerCoors, separating the two brands. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have recently killed proposed tie-ups in the cable, office supplies and oil drilling industries, among others. In this case, the companies proposed asset sales from the start that helped resolve antitrust officials’ concerns.

Aetna says it is ready to go to court if necessary to proceed with its $37 billion takeover of Humana. By taking over Humana, Aetna would become the largest player in Medicare Advantage, with about 4.5 million customers. The U.S. has been said to be preparing to sue to block the deal because it would limit options for consumers.

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