Bernanke signals no early end to QE. Ben Bernanke yesterday indicated that the Fed will keep the money printing presses ramped up for a while to come, saying "that highly accommodative monetary policy for the foreseeable future is what's needed for the U.S. economy." The chairman's comments came after minutes from the last FOMC meeting showed policy makers divided between those who believe that tapering is warranted soon and those who want to see further improvement in the labor market first.
Bernanke sends global markets higher and the dollar scampering. Global equity and commodities markets have rallied following Ben Bernanke's seemingly dovish comments about the Fed's QE program. However, oil has dropped back after earlier gains. The dollar has fallen against a swathe of currencies, with the dollar index -1.1% at the time of writing. Chinese stocks (FXI) led the charge higher in Asia with a rise of 3.2%, also gaining support from speculation about possible government stimulus.
China: GSK executives admit corruption. An unspecified number of GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) executives have admitted to bribery and breaching tax laws in China, the country's Ministry of Public Security said today. Sales staff allegedly rewarded doctors, hospitals, government officials and foundations with money and perks for prescribing medications. GSK (GSK) has continued to maintain its stance that it has found "no evidence" of such bribery or corruption. Shares were flat at midday in London.
Top Stock News
Yum Brands again hit by Chinese problems. Yum Brands' (YUM) earnings dropped in FQ2 following continued woe in China for the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut. Net profit slid 15% to $281M while revenues fell 8.3% to $2.9B and missed forecasts, although EPS of $0.56 beat consensus. Yum's operations in China were hurt by "adverse publicity surrounding Avian flu," with operating profit cratering 63% and same-store sales 20%. However, the latter metric should be back in positive territory by Q4. Shares were +0.9% in AH trading.
Nokia set to unveil PureView Lumia phone. Nokia (NOK) is today due to unveil the latest phone that will supposedly turn around its fortunes and make the company great again - the Lumia 1020. The device's most notable feature is a 41-megapixel camera using the company's PureView technology, which will give it a high-resolution 3x zoom. If the camera is the element Nokia is banking on for success, it might be problematic that Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) has launched the Galaxy S4 Zoom, a camera-phone with a 10x optical zoom.
PC shipments continue to slump - Gartner. Global PC shipments fell 10.9% on year to 76M units in Q2, estimates Gartner, with the drop almost as bad as the 11.2% fall in Q1. "In emerging markets, inexpensive tablets have become the first computing device for many people," Gartner says. One relatively bright spot is the U.S., where shipments fell just 1.4% on year and rose 8.5% on quarter, possibly due to corporate demand. The top three global vendors are Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY), H-P (HPQ) and Dell (DELL).
Insiders sell stock as bankruptcy nears - WSJ. A WSJ analysis of 11,000 insider trades at 550 listed companies has found that those trades veer heavily towards the sale of stock in the year before a firm files for bankruptcy protection. At A123 Systems (OTC:AONEQ), for example, six employees sold a combined 9.1M shares in the 12 months before the battery maker filed for Chapter 11. Other companies mentioned include Patriot Coal (OTCQB:PCXCQ).
Air Force allows Booz Allen to stay in business. The U.S. Air Force has found no evidence that Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) is responsible for Edward Snowden's disclosure of classified documents, with BAH informing the Air Force about the Snowden case as required. The finding enables the defense contractor to continue working for the government, which is pretty crucial given that 98% of the company's $5.76B in revenue in the last fiscal year came from Uncle Sam.
Top Economic & Other News
BOJ holds steady, cuts inflation outlook. The Bank of Japan has kept its monetary policy unchanged, leaving interest rates at minimum levels and maintaining its pledge to increase base money at an annual pace of ¥60-70T ($600-700B). The BOJ said the economy is "starting to recover moderately," but cut its FY 2014 real growth forecast to 2.8% from 2.9% and median inflation outlook to 0.6% from 0.7%.
Chinese banks again risk wrath of PBOC. China's big four state-owned banks reportedly provided an unusually high 170B yuan ($27.7B) of new loans in the first week of July. That compares with 270B yuan for the whole of June. It was lending of 217B yuan in the first 10 days of last month that prompted the People's Bank of China (PBOC) to engineer the credit squeeze that helped cause a bit of a panic in global markets.
Foreclosure activity falls to lowest in seven years. Foreclosure activity dropped in June to the lowest since December 2006, falling 35% on year to 127,790 properties, says RealtyTrac. Foreclosure starts sank 21% on month to the least since the end of 2005, while repossessions dropped 9%, although rates in some states for the latter metric increased as judges plowed their way through backlog, including in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Maryland.
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In Asia, Japan +0.4% to 14473. Hong Kong +2.5% to 21437. China +3.2% to 2073. India +1.9%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.8%. Paris +0.7%. Frankfurt +1.1%.
Futures at 6:10: Dow +0.9%. S&P +1%. Nasdaq +0.9%. Crude -0.5% to $105.95. Gold +2.8% to $1281.90.
Today's economic calendar:
Chain Store Sales
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Import/Export Prices
9:45 Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
1:00 PM Results of $13B, 30-Year Note Auction
2:00 PM Treasury Budget
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
Notable earnings before today's open: PGR
Notable earnings after today's close: PPHM
See full real-time earnings coverage »
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