Today's business news highlights covers all the day's market moving news, including every U.S. government economic release, other economic reports, global economic activities, commodity market news, corporate earnings, political factors, other news drivers and more.
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Business News Highlights - Economy Stocks Commodities Forex
U.S. China Summit
It’s day two for the U.S. China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Later today these two most important nations will have a news conference to discuss the progress and results of their meetings. Please find here the Treasury Department’s published insight into what the U.S. might like to result from the meetings.
Small Business Optimism
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a small business organization, published its Small Business Optimism Index for April this morning. The latest reading showed a slight slip in April, with the index dropping to 91.2, from 91.9 in March (which was down from 94.5 in February). Small businesses expressed significantly lower interest in hiring in April, and so the NFIB speculates that the Labor Department’s data for the month might better reflect larger firms, and not the driver of the US economy, small business. Bill Dunkelberg, the NFIB’s Chief Economist, pointed to likely suspects in global geopolitical uncertainty, US government debt concerns, inflation and especially gasoline price rise.
Import / Export Prices Index
The latest tally of change in Import and Export Prices showed significant increase for both. The April measurement showed export prices increased 1.1% on a month-over-month basis and 9.6% year-to-year. Import prices also increased, jumping 2.2% month-to-month and 11.1% year-to-year. Increasing fuel prices and creeping inflation, in my view, contributed to April’s increases.
Greece Crisis Part II
Wild happenings around the Greek issue have contributed in reigniting trouble in its fixed income offerings. Last week, the same German rag of a publication that wrongly said Greece would sell the Acropolis, speculated irresponsibly that Greece was considering exiting the euro zone. Meanwhile, S&P cut its ratings for Greece’s many debt instruments. As a result, Greek debt yields have taken to greater heights, raising the nation’s cost of borrowing and its interest payments, and increasing the likelihood of default. The Greek PM has called a cabinet meeting, while the EU/IMF have already been reviewing the Greek fiscal state. Greece denied today that it was discussing a new 60 billion euro bailout with international lenders. Greece is awaiting the next tranche of aid from the EU, but the inspection process must conclude first.
Commodity Round Up (Oil, Gas, Gold, Silver)
At 10:39 this morning, the nearest WTI Crude Futures contract marked $102.78, which is up just fractionally for the day. The American Petroleum Institute published a report earlier, and in anticipation of the report showing expectations for higher crude oil inventory build, oil backtracked from a three-day period gain. Oil has steadied since the capture of Osama Bin Laden started a terror premium unraveling, perhaps just as vengeance is intensifying actual terror risk. The market has been celebrating the cutting off of the snake's head, and the recovery of important organizational data about al-Qaeda. Crude oil is currently above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
Gasoline, which is below the upper limit of the average range, saw RBOB Futures increase 2.8% this morning. It’s likely that a NATO bombing raid on Tripoli is driving renewed gasoline concerns, as a desperate Gaddafi might set his oil assets on fire in a last ditch strike against the west.
Gold and silver were both up this morning, with Gold Futures indicated up about a percentage point to $1516 an ounce. Silver, which had tanked after perhaps being overextended, was up 3.6% this morning on renewed speculation ($38.465 / oz.)
Weekly Same-Store Sales
The latest weekly retail same-store sales data from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and Redbook were published this morning. The data covering the period ending May 7 showed no change on a week-to-week basis. ICSC’s measure of year-to-year change showed 2.7% growth, while Redbook’s measure of the same period showed a 4.7% increase.
Wholesale Trade Data
The latest Wholesale Trade data was reported for the month of March. It showed a 1.1% increase in Wholesale Inventories (in line with 1.0% forecast by economists), while Wholesalers’ Sales rose 2.9%. This perhaps marked an adjustment from a weak sales result in February, which was likely weather hampered. The inventory-to-sales ratio improved to 1.13, from 1.16 in February.
The dollar is giving back ground today, after getting a great lift from the Bin Laden capture. Focus is now returning to US fiscal woes, its budget concerns, debt ceiling deadline, sovereign ratings threat and still vulnerable American economy. The only thing it seems to have going for it today is that the euro is equally threatened.
Fed Speak Two Fed speakers find microphones Tuesday, including Elizabeth Duke in the morning and Jeffrey Lacker during the lunch hour.
SEC Money-Market Fund Systemic Risk The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is holding a talk on money-market funds and systemic risks.
Financial Crisis Final Review The Senate Banking Committee takes a look at the last report of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. I suppose this means to say it’s officially safe to trust people again until the next drubbing?
Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is buying Skype for $8.6 billion. Skype has traded hands several times over the last six years, and the price tag has about doubled since its founders gave it up in 2004. MSFT shares are 1.3% lower at this hour, as Skype let down eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY); investors wonder what value it might add to Microsoft.
News broke that Sears (Nasdaq: SHLD) might leave Chicago, where its iconic tower dominates the skyline. Apparently, Sears is being wooed by tax break opportunities in several other states. The result might lead Illinois to give Sears some sort of incentive to stay, that being besides the cost of moving.
Catch shareholder and analyst meetings at Jack Henry (Nasdaq: JKHY), Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and Progress Software (Nasdaq: PRGS). RLJ Lodging Trust and Kosmos Energy are expected to price their IPOs today.
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