Wall Street Breakfast: Record Bond And ETF Outflows Continue

by: Wall Street Breakfast
Wall Street Breakfast
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High-yield bond funds and ETFs totaled record outflows of $7.1B in the week ending Wednesday, Lipper reports, which shatters the previous record single-week outflow (set during the June 2013 bond-market swoon) of $4.6B. It’s the fourth straight week of billion-dollar outflows, with an average outflow of $3.15B during the period; the full-year reading is now $5.9B in the red, with 43% of the withdrawal tied to ETFs.

President Obama has authorized the U.S. military to make targeted airstrikes in Iraq, as ISIS, now known as Islamic State, advances further across northern Iraq toward the Kurdish capital Arbil. "I will not allow the U.S. to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq, so even as we support Iraqis, American combat troops will not be returning to fight," says Obama.

Prime Minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Borodai, has resigned, as approaching Ukrainian forces encircle Donetsk. The rebel leader will be replaced by Alexander Zakharchenko, which suggests deepening divisions within the Russian-backed separatist movement. The West this past week has grown increasingly concerned at Russia's buildup along Ukraine's eastern border, and has threatened yet another round of new sanctions if it does not change course in backing the rebels.

Bill Gross has received the support of his management team at parent company Allianz (OTCQX:AZSEY) this morning, despite the 15th straight month of outflows from his Total Return Fund (NYSEARCA:BOND), which recorded an $830M outflow in July. Still, Allianz CFO Dieter Wemmer states that Gross' fund is delivering reasonable returns. Pimco outflows continue to weigh on Allianz's results despite the German firm posting a 10.5% rise today in second-quarter net profit.

Chinese prosecutors have charged British investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng with illegally obtaining more than 200 items of private information connected to their investigation into the bribery allegations of GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) in China. Humphrey is expected to plead guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of three years in jail. China has recently strengthened its privacy laws and substantially increased its anti-trust investigations of foreign companies based in the country.

BMW is now the latest foreign automaker in China to cut its spare parts prices. On Monday, BMW (BAMXY) will lower its prices by 20% on average on more than 2,000 spare parts due to the anti-monopoly probe of China's National Development and Reform Commission. Many foreign automakers have announced price cuts in recent weeks, including Mercedes-Benz (OTCPK:DDAIY), Jaguar Land Rover (NYSE:TTM) and Audi (OTCPK:VLKAY).

Labor leaders at Volkswagen have forced management to remove the McKinsey consultants who were recently hired by the company to generate €5B in annual savings by 2017. The move highlights the increasing tensions between management and workers at Europe's largest automaker, which is struggling to raise profits amid stagnating emerging markets and low growth at home. Together with the State of Lower Saxony, labor leaders have considerable power at VW (OTCPK:VLKAY), where they effectively control the board of directors.

Hyundai has been fined $17.4M for not reporting a brake malfunction in timely fashion to U.S. safety regulators. "Rather than issue a recall, Hyundai instructed dealers to change the brake fluid in affected vehicles without explaining the consequences of failing to change the brake fluid," says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The defect can cause corrosion in Hyundai (OTC:HYMLF) Genesis braking systems and affects 43.5K vehicles.

Post has agreed to buy American Blanching for $128M, in another deal aimed at diversifying its portfolio. Post (NYSE:POST) has been on a buying spree since 2012 when it spun off Ralcorp Holdings (RAH), and most recently acquired Michaels Foods for $2.5B in June. The deal, expected to close in FQ1, is expected to contribute about $135M to net sales annually. The company reported a FQ3 loss yesterday due to the expenses related to its recent acquisitions.

Malaysian Airlines will be delisted after sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, which currently owns 69.4% of the airline, offered to buy out the company's remaining stock to begin Malaysian's (OTC:MLYAF) restructuring. The airline has been hurt by two major tragedies in recent months - the crash of flight MH17 in Ukraine and the disappearance of flight MH370. Khazanah will pay 1.38B ringgit ($429M) for the remaining 30.6% of the company (a 12.5% premium over yesterday's closing price).

Pfizer is facing an increasing amount of lawsuits by women who state that the pharmaceutical giant knew about the serious side effects of its anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor but never adequately warned the public. Lawsuits began to be filed against Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) after the FDA in 2012 warned that Lipitor and other statins had been linked to a "small increased risk" of diabetes. In the last five months, lawsuits have shot up from 56 to almost 1,000.

Plains All American stopped short of saying during yesterday's earnings conference call that it is seeking a ruling from the U.S. government on whether it can export crude condensate, but said it is ready to do so. Plains All American's (NYSE:PAA) output can move to Corpus Christi or Houston via pipelines that are joint ventures with Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), one of the companies that received export approval from the Commerce Department.

Boeing and United Technologies are stockpiling titanium parts in case rising economic tensions disrupt supplies from the Russian producers. The two U.S. companies, as well as Europe's Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY), buy a substantial share of their titanium from Russia-based VSMPO, the world's largest titanium producer. Boeing (NYSE:BA) and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) are said to have been stockpiling as much as six extra months' supply of highly customized titanium forgings.

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Today's Markets:
In Asia, Japan -3% to 14778. Hong Kong -0.2% to 24331. China +0.3% to 2194. India -1% to 25329.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.5%. Paris -0.2%. Frankfurt -0.8%.
Futures at 6:20: Dow -0.3%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude +0.7% to $98.05. Gold +0.5% to $1318.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -4 bps to 2.37%

Today's economic calendar:
8:30 Productivity and Costs
10:00 Wholesale Trade

Notable earnings before today's open: BAM, BECN, BID, BPL, CCC, CHH, EBIX, ERF, HMSY, HRG, LXU, MGA, MHR, PDCE, PGEM, PGNX, RDNT, SIRO, SUSP, SUSS, TTI

Notable earnings after today's close: MDRX

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