China's trade growth slows significantly. China's customs bureau warns of "severe" challenges as export growth slows to 17.1% Y/Y in September from 24.5% in August. Europe was particularly weak, with growth cooling to 9.8% Y/Y vs. August's 22%. Imports - much of which are components or raw materials that then get re-exported as finished goods - also decelerated, recording a 20.9% gain from August's 30.2%. The trade surplus declined for the 3rd consecutive month, hitting $14.5B against July's $31.5B. "It was only a matter of time before the turmoil in the U.S. and eurozone fed into China's trade data," comments IHS Global (for more, see below).
Holiday peak in shipping volumes disappears. Instead of the typical July-September rise in shipments ahead of the holiday season, the Port of Long Beach reports 2 months of declines (and #3 expected soon) as retailers take a conservative stance on orders. The Port of Los Angeles as well as the rail companies are seeing similar action. Any peak in air transport will obviously come closer to the holidays, but FedEx (NYSE:FDX) CEO Fred Smith isn't expecting a repeat of last year's strong season.
Deutsche Bank CEO attacks recapitalization plan. Josef Ackerman says it's sovereign debt that is the issue, and forcing banks to recapitalize with public funds will only put states deeper in the hole. "The key to the problem, therefore lies with governments to restore trust in the solidity of state finances," he says, adding DB would "do everything" in its power to avoid a forced recap.
Tussle over QE3 at the Fed. Minutes from the FOMC's mid-September meeting show 2 members argued for more aggressive action than Operation Twist. They did not dissent, placated by the committee statement leaving large-scale bond purchases an open option at future meetings. The 3 dissenters - Fisher, Plosser, and Kocherlakota - felt no additional Fed action was necessary at the time, especially as inflation had yet to fall as far as QE's champions had predicted it would.
Sources downplay Akamai takeover speculation. Bloomberg reports 2 people familiar with the matter characterizing a rumor Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) is to be acquired by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) as baseless. Akamai leads American industry in buyout chatter, being named as a target 21 times since 2005! Shares jumped 17% at one point in after-hours trading, now +3.7% premarket.
Long-delayed trade pacts pass. The House and Senate last night passed a trio of trade agreements - with South Korea, Colombia and Panama - that are expected to generate $13 billion in new exports, $11 billion to South Korea (a pact the government says could support 70,000 jobs). The deals had been held up for four years, but come just in time for South Korea's president to visit for Thursday's state dinner.
MetLife continues retreat from banking. Continuing to unload banking assets in tough market conditions and to limit federal oversight, MetLife (NYSE:MET) is exploring a sale of its mortgage operation. Assets at the insurer's banking operation have tripled to $16.5B over the last 3 years, but profits have disappointed. "Today's uncertain marketplace and regulatory environment (divert) a tremendous amount of resources .. from MetLife's primary focus," says a company statement.
The horror: Blackberry users resort to phone calls and faxes. The email, IM, and Internet outages for Research in Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry spread to North America, but the company reports "significant" improvement in service in Europe, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
Europe's largest retailer tips weakening economy. Carrefour (CRERY.PK) warns Q4 profit will miss expectations, as a slowing economy adds to the company's self-inflicted wounds. In the firm's home country of France, same store sales fell 4.6% in Q3, including a 9.6% dive in discretionary non-food goods as customers stick to essential purchases. Shares -5% in Paris.
New lines to AIG. Bailed-out American International Group (NYSE:AIG) improves its credit terms with $4.5 billion in new facilities - a $3 billion four-year deal, and a $1.5 billion 365-day arrangement - to replace $3.18 billion in lines under less favorable terms.
Slovakia set to approve enhanced bailout fund. Domestic political issues taken care of, the votes are there for Slovakia to ratify an expansion of the EFSF. Approval could come as early as today, but almost certainly before week's end.
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. A WSJ analysis finds that those found guilty of insider trading are facing significantly longer sentences than in the past - in 2010/11, an average of 2.5 years behind bars vs. just 11.5 months in the late 90s.
In Asia, Japan +1.0% to 8823. Hong Kong +2.3% to 18758. China +0.8% to 2555. India flat to 16951.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.9%. Paris -0.9%. Frankfurt -1.2%.
Futures at 7:00: Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq flat. Crude -1.6% to $84.22. Gold -0.6% to $1673..
Thursday's economic calendar:
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Trade Balance
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
11:00 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $13B, 30-Year Bond Auction
2:00 PM Treasury Budget
4:30 PM Money Supply
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
Earnings Results: Companies that beat EPS expectations today include JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM). Full real-time earnings coverage here.
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