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A volatile month on Wall Street comes to an end today, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq poised to post a winning week for the second time in three weeks and a positive July. (CNBC)

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, reported a 52% slide in second-quarter profit as tumbling crude oil prices weighed on results. Profit in the quarter was $4.2 billion compared with $8.8 billion last year. Oil and gas output rose 3.6% to 4 million barrels per day. (Reuters)

This could be the genesis of the next worry for retail investors. Facing a deadline tomorrow, Puerto Rico may miss a debt payment-starting what could end up becoming one of the largest municipal restructurings, with the potential to spark volatility in bond prices. (Reuters)

American Express has been accused in a lawsuit of blindsiding investors with the loss of a crucial contract with Costco, after allegedly having failed to reveal how significant that business had become. (Reuters)

It’s part of our expanding palate. Four new Lay's potato chip flavors go on sale Monday. They include Greektown Gyro, New York Reuben, Southern Biscuits and Gravy, and Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries.  The chips were part of Lay's "Do Us A Flavor" contest.

Stay inside Saturday morning from 10 to noon and catch a cool new edition of Financial Focus Radio.
 



It's the heaviest day of the busiest week for corporate earnings season for the second quarter. 


Whole Foods is feeling pinched after officials found it was overcharging customers. The grocery chain known for its organic offerings saw sales growth slowing sharply at established locations.  To extend its reach, the company plans to open a new chain of "365" stores that focus on lower prices in a smaller format. Leases have been signed for locations in Bellevue, Washington and Portland, Oregon. For the quarter the company earned $154 million. Total revenue was $3.63 billion. (AP)

Procter & Gamble's sales fell for the sixth straight quarter, as the world's bigger consumer goods company was weighed down by softer sales volume and unfavorable currency exchange rates. The maker of Tide, Pampers and Charmin said higher pricing helped offset a decline in shipment volume in the period. That kept sales flat after stripping out the impact of currency exchange rates. For the quarter the company earned $521 million. Total revenue fell 9% percent to $17.79 billion. (AP)

The downside to cheaper oil! Royal Dutch Shell warned that lower crude prices could continue for several years, as the oil giant announced lower earnings, plans to pull back on capital spending, and 6,500 job cuts. (CNBC)
 



The Federal Open Market Committee ends its two-day meeting this afternoon, and is expected to release a statement largely devoid of clues to when we'll see the first interest rate increase in nine years.  Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen insists every remaining meeting of policymakers this year is a 'live' one in which policymakers could raise interest rates.  In theory, that extends to this week's gathering - though most observers are discounting that possibility - nonetheless, the statement will be closely analyzed for clues on future rate increases. (CNBC)

The homeownership rate continued to decline in the second quarter of 2015, hitting a 48-year low.  The seasonally adjusted homeownership rate declined to 63.5%, down from 64.7% in the second quarter of last year, according to estimates published by the Commerce Department.  While that is a good sign for the rental market, overall, economists said that a lack of home buyers is likely a bad sign that incomes aren't keeping pace with rising home prices, keeping young buyers out of the housing market. (WSJ)

Emerging market currencies are feeling the pain as markets reprice in anticipation of US interest rate increases.  The possible fed rate rise, dollar strengthening, and lower commodity prices have led EM currencies lower across the board.  Currencies are typically a highly sensitive market, and are a great barometer of investor sentiment.  Capital flows into developed economies are accelerating.  (FT)
 



Questionable index or not - the Dow closed yesterday near its 6 month low, as stocks continue to feel the pressure from the Chinese market sell-off, and a continued decline in commodities. The energy sector continues to be the worst performer, and global macroeconomic growth concerns continue to weigh on investors.  The good news: global stock markets steadied today, and 75% of S&P 500 companies beat earnings estimates last week. (CNBC)


Businesses are slowly starting to accelerate their spending, boosting orders for long-lasting manufactured goods and indicating they may be shaking off the rough start to the year.  New orders for durable goods-which encapsulate a diverse range of products ranging from toaster ovens to aircraft carriers (all those designed to last at least three years) rose a seasonally adjusted 3.4% in June, the first rise since March.  One more piece of positive data for the Fed to digest this week.  (WSJ)


General Motors is poised to spend $5bn on development of a new family of vehicles to push into emerging markets, deepening its partnership with China's SAIC Motor.  The cars will be under the Chevrolet brand, and will be manufactured in China, Brazil, India, and Mexico.  GM estimates that almost 90% of the growth in worldwide passenger car sales in the next 15 years is expected to come from emerging markets.  (FT)  Rival Ford reported EPS of $.47 / share this morning on quarterly revenue of $37bn, handily beating estimates.



It's an eventful week in the markets, with all eyes on the Fed - which will be discussing the path to normalizing interest rates during the FOMC's two-day meeting.  Second quarter GDP numbers are expected Thursday, so the market will be looking to glean information about the Fed's intentions from the numbers.  A strengthening economy and gathering momentum in the property market are bolstering arguments for higher interest rates to come.  (CNBC)

The commodity sell-off continues.  Copper has slid to a new six-year low, joining gold in a steady trend downward.  Concerns about weaker growth in China have fueled a sell-off.  Crude continues to trade marginally weaker, and the bearish sentiment has even extended to agricultural commodities, where better than expected forecasts for this year's harvest have pressured prices (FT).

Federal regulators have imposed record penalties on Fiat-Chrysler, slapping the company with a $105m fine for recall lapses covering millions of vehicles.  In some cases, the automaker agreed to repurchase recalled automobiles as part of the deal.  (WSJ)

Six firms- Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Netflix, and Gilead Sciences now account for more than half of the $664 billion in value added this year to the Nasdaq.  The situation is similar for the S&P 500: Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Walt Disney Co. account for more than half of all of the $199 billion in market-capitalization gains. (WSJ)

S&P 500 futures are down 12 and NASDAQ futures are down 34.  The MSCI international index is down .26%.  Chinese stocks plunged 8.5% (the sharpest percentage fall in 8 years, and the biggest one-day fall on record) as frenzied sellers worry that authorities are pulling back on measures to prop up the market.
 
 



Amazon posted another surprise profit yesterday ($92m on sales of over $23bn), and investors have been piling into shares since.  Shares climbed 17% after hours yesterday, and Amazon's market cap has now eclipsed Wal-Mart, as the company's value now exceeds $264bn.  Amazon has now posted a quarterly profit in 8 of the last 14 quarters. (WSJ)

Well if you've ever wanted to own a Ferrari - now's your chance - to buy shares in the company at least.  Ferrari filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC yesterday, and plans to IPO with a value of over $10bn.  Ferrari shipped over 7k cars last year, and 60% of buyers are existing customers.  (WSJ)

Starbucks reported quarterly earnings and revenue that beat analyst's expectations yesterday, posting $.41 a share on $4.86bn in revenue.  The company expects full-year revenue growth of over 16%.  American same-store sales growth reached an impressive 8%.  (CNBC)


The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level in more than 41 1/2 years, suggesting job growth remained solid despite slowing in June.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 255,000.  2.2 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits.  (CNBC)



The S&P 500 was lower yesterday, as a bruising session for Apple set the tone on Wall Street.  But, with about 100 companies in the index reporting so far - results have actually been pretty good - 73% of companies have beat earnings estimates.  Top-line numbers are more of a mixed bag, with only about 55% of companies beating on revenue.  (FT)

Navient, the largest student loan servicing company in the US (spun off from Sallie Mae last year) reported a 40% drop in profits, giving a glimpse into worsening trends in the $1.2tn student loan market.  The student loan market is the largest source of consumer debt (behind mortgages), and 92% of the loans are underwritten by the US government.  Just over 11% of student loan payments are currently delinquent.  (FT)

Anthem is now imminently poised to buy Cigna, in a $48bn tie-up that will shrink the five largest US health insurers to just three.  The deal comes as health insurers continue to seek cost efficiency and scale as the healthcare landscape changes due to the Affordable Care Act.  The combined companies will have a projected revenue of $115bn this year.  (WSJ)
Diesel car and truck owners rejoice.  The world is awash in diesel, and prices have reached near parity with gasoline.  A gallon of diesel is now going for a nationwide average of $2.79, vs $2.75 for unleaded.  Look for prices to keep declining: sagging diesel prices suggest the world's glut of crude oil is now becoming a glut of refined products.  (WSJ)
 



Well, we're in the thick of earnings season, and Apple, the biggest company in the world by market capitalization, failed to meet high investor expectations in its latest quarterly resorts yesterday.  Wall Street wiped as much as $66bn from Apple's value following the report.  The company sold 47.5 million Iphones last quarter, while revenues in China doubled.  Apple didn't disclose sales figures for the newly released Apple Watch, but indicated that sales are outpacing internal projections. (WSJ)

News was bad over at Microsoft, as the Seattle-based company tumbled to a $3.2bn net loss last quarter, the worst in its history.  The results were weighed down by a strong dollar, and a multi-billion dollar write-off related to assets acquired from Nokia.  Microsoft is in the midst of an identity change, and recently announced the layoff of 7800 workers.  (FT)

Boeing beat analyst estimates this morning, with sales rising 11% year on year.  Boeing's results have been buoyed by strong commercial-jet demand.  The company reported a profit of $1.1bn, and an order backlog that totals $431bn.  (WSJ)

Regulators are poised to clear AT&T's $49bn acquisition of DirecTV in a major victory for the companies amid government scrutiny and skepticism over telecoms mergers.  The combination will be the biggest distributor of TV in the US, and one of the country's leading internet service providers. (FT)

S&P 500 futures are down 10 and NASDAQ futures are down 65.  The MSCI international index is down .45%.
 
Oil is up $.44 at $50.59 a barrel.  Prices hit a 4 month low yesterday, touching the lowest level since April as a persistent supply glut continues to weigh on traders.  The US shale boom continues to prove resilient in the face of lower prices.  
 
Gold is down $13 at $1090 a Troy ounce.  Gold hit a 5 year low yesterday, down 9 days in a row, as investors continue to sell the medal in anticipation of higher interest rates.
 
 



It's all about earnings this morning, with no government economic reports on the calendar for the second straight day. The Nasdaq is coming off another all-time closing high, while the S&P 500 is just points away from a record high close. (CNBC)

IBM earnings and sales tumbled in the second quarter. But executives instead tried to focus investors on the ongoing turnaround focused on cloud computing and mobile. Earnings per share were down 13% year-over-year. Sales also fell 13%. Second-quarter revenue would have been down 1%, stripping out the impact of currencies and divestitures. The report marked a 13th consecutive quarter in which the company's revenues fell versus the same quarter a year ago. IBM shares, which had rallied 6% this month, are down 6% in early trading. (USA Today)

Ford, the only domestic auto manufacture not to be bailed out by taxpayers, will launch a luxury version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck today, as lower gas prices along with better fuel economy have boosted demand for feature-rich trucks and large SUVs. (CNBC)

Qualcomm will consider a breakup as well as other options, according to the Wall Street Journal. Activist investor Jana Partners has been pressuring Qualcomm to spin off its semiconductor business
 



The US economy exited deflation in June. The year-over-year percent change in the Consumer Price Index moved from 2.1% in mid-2014 to -0.2% in April 2015. The May reading was flat  and accelerated to +0.1% year over year in June. (LPL Research)

U.S. toymaker Hasbro reported a lower-than-expected decline in quarterly sales, helped by strong demand for its "Jurassic World"- and "Star Wars"-themed toys as traditional toys fell out of favor. Sales in North America rose 1%. International sales, about 45% of total revenue, declined 9%, hurt by a strong dollar. The company's profits fell 4%. (Reuters)

Cal-Maine Foods, the nation’s largest egg producer, reported a quarterly profit of $46.1 million. The egg producer posted revenue of $403 million.

Cal-Maine shares have climbed 38% since the beginning of the year. The stock has risen 49% in the last 12 months. (AP)

The long-anticipated split of eBay and PayPal becomes official today, with both companies set to begin trading separately at the open. (CNBC)
 



Confidence among U.S. homebuilders held in July at the highest level since November 2005, indicating the residential real estate market may be picking up speed. Builder confidence climbed in three of the four U.S. regions, with the Northeast showing the greatest improvement. Sentiment also rose in the West and Midwest. (Bloomberg)

General Electric's sales increased 2% to $32.75 billion in the second quarter, compared last year. GE is actively selling most of the assets contained within its GE Capital unit and those efforts temporarily dented the bottom line. Because of charges associated with that process, the company swung from a $3.5 billion profit a year ago to a $1.3 billion loss for the second quarter. (USA Today)

Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, posted a surprise profit this quarter under a new CEO helped by a rise in demand for its Fisher-Price toys and lower costs. Sales of Fisher-Price toys, aimed at infants and preschoolers, rose 9%.  Fisher-Price sales had fallen 17% last year. The company has renewed its partnership with Walt Disney for the Toy Story films, just in time for the fourth installment of the franchise due in 2017. (Reuters)
 



Stocks are rising in early trading as the euro hit six-week lows against the dollar and the Greek parliament approved austerity measures demanded by creditors for a third bailout. (CNBC)

Oregon’s largest employer, Intel, reported better-than-expected quarterly results as growth in its data centers and Internet-of-Things businesses helped offset weak demand for personal computers that use the company's chips. The company has been expanding its line-up of higher-margin chips used in data centers. Revenue from the data center business, Intel's second-largest, grew 9.7%. Revenue from the PC business, Intel's largest, fell 13.5%. Total profits fell 4.6%.  (Reuters)

Philip Morris International second-quarter profit rose as market share improved. The seller of Marlboro and other cigarette brands outside the United States earned $1.89 billion. Market share increased in several key markets, including Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia and Spain. Cigarette shipment volume fell 1.4%. The company said that this was due to declines in the European Union, mostly Italy. (AP)

The average credit card has six different fees, according to a new CreditCards.com analysis of 100 major cards. The most fee-laden cards have 12, and just one of the cards assessed had no fees  whatsoever.
 



Sales at U.S. retailers unexpectedly dropped in June. Purchases decreased 0.3% after a 1% gain in May. Eight of 13 major retail categories showed declines in demand. An early Memorial Day holiday that may have boosted sales in May at the expense of last month, and a longer school year caused by the harsh winter probably contributed to the more subdued sales performance for the quarter. Consumer spending accounts for almost 70%. (Bloomberg)

Bank of America's profits more than doubled in the second quarter, helped by lower legal costs. The banking giant had profits of  $4.99 billion. BofA's consumer banking division, its largest business by revenue and profits, had net income of $1.7 billion in the quarter. (AP)

Yum Brands,  the owner of Pizza Hut and KFC, reported its fourth straight quarter of falling sales, as the company struggles to regain lost ground in China. Yum's same-store sales in China plunged 10%. Overall, revenues fell 3% to $3.11 billion. Profits fell 30% $235 million.  (Reuters)

China's economy appears to be steadying, with quarterly growth coming in at 7% year-over-year. That beat forecasts, but renewed long-standing concerns over data accuracy. (CNBC)

CSX Corp.'s second-quarter profit improved 5% on lower costs, even though the number of shipments the railroad delivered declined slightly. Total volume at CSX, which operates more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 Eastern states and two Canadian provinces, slipped 1%. Coal revenue fell another 15%. Crude oil shipments increased modestly, but shipments of fracturing sand declined in the quarter, indicating reduced drilling activity. (AP)
 



Stock are in rally mode this morning, after successful all-night bailout talks between Greek and euro zone leaders. The deal includes a $55 billion fund that will be set up using Greek government assets for privatization. European stocks cheered the Greek deal, while the euro lost ground to the dollar. U.S. bond yields and those across Europe are higher. (CNBC)

As we get ready for the next Apocalypse Dejour, investors in Puerto Rican municipal bonds hope to get specific information about how the commonwealth plans to restructure debt when government officials meet with creditors today. (Bloomberg)

On the earnings calendar we have big names like Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase set to release quarterly numbers later in the week. But no major companies are scheduled for today. (Seeking Alpha)

Wal-Mart is launching a rival sale Wednesday in response to Amazon's Prime Day celebration of the e-commerce giant's 20th anniversary. (USA Today)

Oil is down 62 cents at $52.12 a barrel. Oil prices were under pressure this morning as OPEC said its output rose in June, despite volatility. The group warned low prices might not give the boost to the world economy that some expected. (CNBC)
 



Stocks are higher this morning as the Chinese market staged a late session comeback and Europe opened higher on hopes of a meaningful reform proposal from Greece. Ahead of Sunday's deadline for a bailout agreement, Greece is due to present reform proposals to lenders today, which could include tax hikes and pension overhauls. (CNBC)

It is earnings session again. Pepsi had a strong second-quarter despite a stronger dollar that will trim the bottom-line by 11% in 2015. The drink and snack company boosted its full-year profit forecast.  For the quarter Pepsi earned a profit of $1.98 billion the same as last year. Revenues fell to $15.92 billion from $16.89 billion. Sales for Frito-Lay North America climbed 2%, while PepsiCo Americas Beverages sales edged up 1%. (AP)

Alcoa, the aluminum producer, reported second-quarter per-share profit of 19 cents on $5.9 billion in revenue. Profits missed and sales beat expectations. The company's says , they have been able to sign new contracts that bring down costs and say they  will  close its smelter in Brazil, which has a capacity below 100,000 tons per year. (Reuters)

According to this morning's Wall Street Journal IBM will announce a breakthrough this morning in efforts to reduce the size of semiconductors.  This could be the key to the company reinventing itself for future growth.
 



Chinese stocks are still in free-fall, as investors rush to sell what they still can after a fresh wave of share suspensions that have now halted trading in half the stocks on the two main exchanges.  The selloff has worsened as retail investors face margin calls, despite Chinese government attempts to prop up the market.  (FT)

Oil crossed an important symbolic line yesterday – prices are now 20% off their YTD high achieved in May.  When prices fall by 20% or more, this is commonly defined as a “bear” market.  A potential nuclear deal with Iran, the Chinese slowdown, and Greek turmoil are all contributing to the decline.  (WSJ).

Eurozone leaders have set a Sunday deadline for the Greek government to table a new proposal incorporating tougher economic measures if the country wants to avoid defaulting on the ECB and crashing out of the euro.  Any deal would involve the adoption of policy overhauls that were already resoundingly rejected by Greek voters last Sunday.   (WSJ)
 



New reforms-for-bailout aid proposals are expected from Greece today. The euro dropped to a five-week low against the dollar this morning. While equities declined slightly on Monday, they finished well off the early-session lows. Maybe we are putting Greece in the rearview mirror.  Now on to Puerto Rico. (CNBC)

Advance Auto Parts is set to join the S&P 500 after the close of trading tomorrow. The auto parts retailer replaces Family Dollar Stores, which has been acquired by S&P 500 member Dollar Tree. (Bloomberg)

Oregon’s Nike has struck a deal to outfit the University of Michigan's sports teams beginning with the 2016-2017 season, replacing Adidas. The new contract runs through at least 2027, with an option to extend. Nike continues its dramatic growth with this deal. (AP)

Is this the start of inflation? Starbucks is raising prices for some of its coffee drinks by 5 cents to 20 cents in the U.S., but some popular beverages such as the Grande Brewed Coffee and the Frappuccino were left unchanged. (Fox Business News)

The S&P 500 is up 9 and the NASDAQ is up 16.  MSCI International Index is down 0.3%.

Oil is flat at $52.55 a barrel.  U.S. oil prices have stabilized after Monday's 7.7% decline, which pushed crude into correction territory on concerns about global growth, record production, and potentially more Iran supply. (CNBC)
 



Like a crack addict who is given the choice whether or not to attend rehab …. The Greeks voted no on continued austerity measures that will help them pay back the money they owe creditors.  Greece's decision has sent shockwaves across global financial as now investors wonder whether Athens can stay in the European Union. (CNBC)

Foreign exchange markets are reserving judgment on Greece's place in the euro with the euro down less than half a percent. The euro had sunk below $1.10 in initial trading. Greece's banks have been closed for almost a week. (Bloomberg)

Humana has agreed to be bought by rival Aetna for $35 billion in cash and stock. The deal is expected to face rigorous scrutiny from U.S. regulators. (CNBC)

Apple's next iPhone has started entering the production process. Suppliers have begun delivering parts to device manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron. (DigiTimes)

Dollar Tree has received FTC approval to acquire rival Family Dollar Stores after a nearly year-long review. The combined company has to divest more than 300 stores. Dollar Tree expects the deal to be completed today. (AP)
 



US Stocks ended a volatile trading session slightly higher yesterday.  The US Stock market ended the 2nd quarter lower.  It was the first negative performance quarter for US stocks in 9 quarters.  On the year stocks are essentially flat.

The Eurozone-funded portion of Greece's $272 Billion rescue deal officially expired last night.  Greece is also now in arrears with the International Monetary Fund after missing a $1.5 Billion payment that was due yesterday.  The IMF has now officially suspended any financing to Greece which is going to make it very tough on the Greek people.  It appears that Greece is backing themselves into a corner with few options but to default and leave the European Union.

The Case/Shiller Index which measures house prices in 20 major US cities shows that house price rose 1.1% nationally in April over the same period last year.  Seattle saw the largest monthly increase of any major US city.

US consumer confidence jumped higher in June, much higher than economists had expected.  Over the last 2 months the US consumer has grown more confident about the state of business and employment conditions.

And Nike the world's largest shoe company announced yesterday that their founder and chairman, Phil Knight, will step down as chairman next year.  Knight said he will continue to play an active role in the company after his tenure ends.  Knight still owns 16.26% of the company.
 



U.S. stocks sold off on Monday, with the Dow industrials seeing the biggest drop in more than three months, as investors reacted to the unraveling crisis in Greece by dumping riskier assets like stocks.  US Stocks are now in neagative territory in 2015.

Negotiations between Greece and its creditors essentially collapsed over the weekend after Greece's Prime Minister unexpectedly called for a referendum on whether to accept reform measures demanded by the country's lenders. The country's parliament approved the vote, which will be held July 5.

Puerto Rico's governor said yesterday that the commonwealth cannot pay it's roughly $72 Billion in debts, an admission that will have wide-reaching financial repercussions.  Knowing the US government won't step in to offer debt relief the governor and his staff plan to seek signifigant concessions from all of the countries creditors.  Puerto Rico an island of 3.6 million people has piled on more municipal debt per capita than any other American state.  A broad restructuring of Puerto Rican debt will be an unprecedented test for the American Municipal Bond market.

Pending home sales in May rose to their highest level in over nine years, according to the National Association of Realtors. The pending home sales index rose 0.9% in May after a slight downward revision in April, the NAR said. The index level of 112 is the highest since April 2006 and up 10.4% from May 2014.

Adding insult to injury Standard & Poor's downgraded Greece's credit rating deeper into junk territory, saying the government's decision to hold a referendum on creditor proposals brought it closer to default.  S&P puts the odds of Greece defaulting and leaving the Euro at 50/50.



With three trading days left in the second quarter, the S&P 500 and NASDAQ are tracking positive for the past three months and the year, but they're both negative for June. The Dow transports entered correction territory yesterday. (CNBC)

Nike reported quarterly profit of $865 million. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The athletic apparel maker posted revenue of $7.78 billion. For the last four quarters the company reported profit of $3.27 billion and revenue was $30.6 billion. Nike shares have increased slightly more than 9% since the beginning of the year. (AP)

The Greek crisis has been weighing on stocks all week, as they face a debt default . Tomorrow's meeting of euro zone finance ministers is seen as crucial. Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus Radio when I will tell you what I saw on my trip to Greece. An on the ground report. (CNBC)

Micron Technology said it expects a further decline in prices of chips used in personal computers, and forecast lower. Micron Technology makes both dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, used mostly in personal computers, and NAND memory chips for storing music, pictures and other data on smartphones, cameras and other mobile devices. The company will focus more on DRAM chips for mobile phones and was also planning a new chip that can store 16 times more data than chips available now. (Reuters)
 



Boeing announced Tuesday it would replace CEO Jim McNerney with its current chief operating officer Dennis Muilenburg.  McNerney oversaw a near doubling of revenue to a record $90.8 billion last year, and hailed the change as a “generational shift”.  Next year, the company celebrates its 100- year anniversary (CNBC). 

 

The Obama administration has cleared the last procedural hurdle in its bid to close the biggest trade deal in a generation, after a bill granting fast-track authority passed the Senate.  The Senate will vote to formally pass the legislation today. In the next few weeks, trade negotiators will meet to conclude over 5 years of discussions aimed at creating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which covers 40% of the global economy, and is the biggest trade deal since the creation of the WTO. (FT)

 

International creditors have rejected the Greek government's plan to end its financial crisis, but they have submitted counterproposals.  The International Monetary Fund is believed to be the most skeptical of the three institutions overseeing Greece's bailout. Its creditors have now put forward a new set of counterproposals, but the war of words continues… (CNBC)



The state of Oregon has ordered a number of insurers to raise proposed Obamacare premiums for 2016, after some of those companies asked for rates that were only moderately higher, or lower than this year.  The state's move to force rates higher than those proposed is in response to concerns that Oregon's Obamacare prices were too low for what insurers were paying out to cover customers' health benefits.  Oregon insurers collected $703 million in premiums last year, but paid out $830 million on their plans, according to the Oregonian. (CNBC)

Hostile takeovers are reaching heights not seen since before the financial crisis.  Over $100bn worth of unsolicited offers were rejected this weekend, mainly in the energy and healthcare sectors.  Deal activity has increased 43% from this time last year.  (FT)

Facebook has replaced Wal-Mart as the 10th largest company by market capitalization.  Yesterday's 2.7% gain by Facebook pushed the social media firm's market cap to $238 billion, and past that of the world's largest retailer.  Wal-Mart hasn't finished a year outside the top 10 biggest S&P 500 companies by market cap since 1997. (S&P)
 



According to the Department of Labor, the United States currently has 5.4m job openings, but the number of people getting hired has yet to fully recover from the recession.  The average job is vacant for 27 days before being filled, almost double the length of time in 2009.  The length of the average interview process has also increased dramatically to over three weeks.  (WSJ)

Martha Stewart is nearing a deal to sell her business to Sequential Brands, a retail-licensing company.  Martha Stewart Living had a market capitalization of $370m on Friday, after shares surged on word of a potential deal.  (WSJ)

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a new offer on a reforms package to foreign creditors on Sunday, signaling eleventh-hour concessions to break a deadlock that has pushed Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.   The offer keeps alive some hopes that a last-minute deal may yet be wrangled before Athens runs out of cash.  (CNBC)

It's looking like consolidation in the energy infrastructure space may have begun.  Energy Transfer made an unsolicited $48bn bid for Williams late Sunday.  The bid represented a 25% premium over the current price, valuing the operator of 33,000 miles of natural gas pipelines at almost $50bn.  Williams quickly rejected the offer, but it could be the start of an interesting summer.  (FT)
 



The fed's dovish stance in its latest FOMC meeting propelled stocks to near record highs yesterday, while the dollar plumbed a one month low.  The markets were reflecting a more soothing than expected message from the Fed.  (FT)


U.S. consumers are apparently not "loving it".  This year will be the first year in McDonald's 60 year history that the fast-food chain will close more stores in its home market than it will open.  The company still expects to open 125 restaurants this year, and still has over 14,000 domestic locations. (Reuters)


Fitbit shares soared on their debut yesterday, as the company's valuation skyrocketed to north of $6bn within the first 30 mins of trading yesterday on the NYSE.  The stock finished 48% higher on the day, and the performance ranked Fitbit as the best performing flotation of the year, just outpacing GoDaddy. (FT)


It's not such a wonderful life in Greece these days.  Depositors have pulled over $2bn euros from Greek banks the last 3 days in a rush for the exits in anticipation of a Greek default.  The ECB told a meeting of Eurozone finance officials today that it wasn't sure that Greek banks would be capable of opening on Monday. (CNBC)   
 



In yet another sign of improving underlying economic conditions, the birthrate has finally begun to climb again, in the first increase since 2007.  There were 62.9 births for every 1000 women of childbearing age last year, compared to 62.5 the year before.   (WSJ)

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said yesterday that policy makers are still waiting to see "decisive" evidence of the strength of the economic recovery before beginning interest rate increases.  The fed is treading a precarious line as it attempts to signal the first rate rise since 2006, while damping the risk of a market tantrum that could damage global growth. (FT)

The US Treasury announced yesterday that a woman will grace the cover of the new $10 bill, for the first time in more than a century.  The Treasury is looking to the public for input, and the social media hashtag #thenew10 is where YOU can help decide who should take the starring role.  

Airbnb, the popular home-rental site with its operational headquarters in Portland, is nearing completion of a VC funding round that will see its valuation reach $24bn.  Some might find that rich for a company generating current annual revenues of just $900m.  For comparison, hotel giant Marriot, with 4,000 hotels and $13.8bn in annual revenue, is valued at about $21bn.  
 



US Stocks closed modestly higher yesterday as investors shrugged off worries about unsuccessful Greek debt talks.  Investors are also awaiting the outcome of a two-day Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting which concludes today.

The maker of Marc Jacobs's fragrance and Sally Hansen nail polish, Coty, was the winning bidder yesterday for Proctor & Gamble division that sells make-up, fragrance, and hair products for $12 Billion.  The deal makes Coty the largest player in the personal care business.  Shares of Coty rose 20% on the news.

Fitbit the maker of wearable fitness trackers is set to go public this summer.  Fitbit's business is booming, in the first 3 months of the year the company sold 21 million devices and have turned quarterly losses into big profits.  The company's IPO is set to raise about $4.2 Billion for the company.

The Paris airshow is currently underway and the 2 largest aircraft makers in the world, Boeing and Airbus have booked over $42 Billion in deals on the first day of the weeklong event.  Both companies received most of their orders for their new larger jets.  Boeing now has an order backlog of 5,700 planes worth over $450 Billion.  Shares of both companies rose on the news.
 



US Stocks finished broadly lower yesterday after the collapse of weekend talks over Greece's bailout plan.  There continues to be a lack of progress in Greece's debt talks.

Building permits for new houses in the US rose 22% over the last 2 months which is the fastest pace since late 2007.  Even with the sharp increases new housing construction remains far below long-term averages with builders trying to navigate an economy that has seen a protracted recovery from the Great Recession.  Slow job and wage growth has made it tough for families, especially first-timers, to buy a new home.

In the wake of a sales slump the GAP said Monday that it plans to close 175 stores or 25% of their total store count to better reflect how their customers shop.  After the closings there will be about 500 GAP stores remaining.  The company also announced they plan to eliminate some home office jobs.  All of that news sent shares of The GAP higher against a weak tape yesterday.

The US Manufacturing sector has slipped into a technical recession.  6 months in a row of decline is the definition of a recession.  A strong dollar, global weakness, and lower oil prices are the contributing factors in the headwinds facing US manufacturers.  The only bright spot has been manufacturing in the US auto sector.
 



Mr. Market is saying OPA as he gets out of bed! US stocks are lower this morning, with investors looking to follow European markets down, as talks between Greece and its creditors collapsed once again this weekend. (CNBC)

The Fed holds its two-day June meeting starting tomorrow, but it's not expected to hike interest rates this time around. Investors will be looking for clues on whether liftoff could come in September. (CNBC)

Wholesale prices in the U.S. rose in May as the biggest jump in fuel costs in at least five years swamped muted advances in other categories. The 0.5% increase in the producer-price index followed a 0.4% decline the prior month.  Costs have dropped 1.1% over the past 12 months. (Bloomberg)

Bigger paychecks are giving American consumers reason to believe again. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index for June rose to 94.6, from a reading of 90.7 last month. Households were the most upbeat about their wage prospects in seven years. (Bloomberg)

Colt Defense, the storied firearms maker, has filed for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization-hoping the process will clear the way for the sale of its business operations in the U.S and Canada. (USA Today)
 



U.S. retail sales surged in May, as consumers step up spending after a cautious start to the year. Sales at retailers and restaurants rose 1.2% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $444.9 billion. (WSJ)

Applications for unemployment benefits remained below 300,000 for a 14th straight week, a sign of labor market strength that will help fuel U.S. growth. The data indicate employers are retaining workers in anticipation of a pickup in demand this quarter after a slow start to the year. (Bloomberg)

Boeing, which together with European rival Airbus dominates the market for commercial airlines, forecast that emerging economies will drive demand for new planes over the next twenty years. Boeing predicts demand for plane orders for the next 20 years to 38,050 - which will have value of about $5.6trillion. (Financial Times)

Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates jumped this week to their highest levels of the year, with the key 30-year loan topping 4% for the first time since late 2014. (CNBC)

Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus Radio when we will tell you what I am looking for when I take my economic investigations to Greece.

 
 



The Federal Reserve has not raised interest rates yet but the free market is headed that way.  The 10-year Treasury yield hit an 8-month high, just shy of 2.50% yesterday. This morning, U.S. bond yields are edging higher as did rates on the German bund, now trading at about 1%. (CNBC)

Men's Wearhouse reported adjusted quarterly profit of 54 cents per share, beating estimates by 2 cents, with revenue also above forecasts. The clothing retailer also signed a deal with Macy's to operate tuxedo rental stores. The deal will last 10 years and it will be the exclusive provider of tuxedo rentals to Macy's. (AP)

Qorvo, the chipmaker created when Hillsboro-based TriQuint Semiconductor combined with RF Micro Devices, will join the S&P 500 today. The merger which closed at the beginning of the year, was the largest deal of its kind in the history of Oregon technology. Qorvo now has a market capitalization of $12 billion. It's replacing cigarette maker Lorillard, that is being sold to Reynolds American. (Oregon Live)

Last week, Medford-based Lithia Motors became the third Oregon Company on the Fortune 500 list. It joined Nike and Precision Castparts as one of the largest 500 companies in the nation based in Oregon.
 



Our local neighborhood is the world, as we live in the era of globalization.  Overseas markets bring in more advertising revenue than the U.S. for Facebook , amounting to 51% of global ad sales in the first quarter, with growth in Asia the fastest in the world. (Reuters)

We are clearly in the era of the nanny state with ever increasing regulation. San Francisco has become the first city to require a health warning label on soda ads. Meanwhile, New York City could become the first city to require a warning label on salty menu items. (AP)

Interest rates' sharp jump to their highest level this year caused a sudden surge in mortgage applications. There's a reason: Fear that rates will move even higher.  Refinance volume increased 7% new purchase jumped 10% last week. New purchase volume is now 15% higher than one year ago, but refinance volume is off nearly 5%. (Mortgage Banker Association)

It may cost more and be harder to travel lean soon. Airlines are considering whether to copy Lufthansa's move to impose a surcharge on tickets booked via third-party systems.  And there is a new push from the international trade group for airlines to shrink the size of the bags allowed as carry-ons. (NBC News/ Reuters)
 



Yesterday the Oregon Senate rejected three more bills that would create jobs and reduce burdens on small businesses across Oregon. The Legislature has now rejected 22 job creation bills this session.  Rejected legislation would have incentivized job creation and reduce barriers to creating family-wage jobs. (NFIB)

You can almost hear the dirge playing. Sears reported a smaller first-quarter loss as it cut advertising, but sales continued to tumble, underscoring the need for a big cash injection. The company plans to spin off 235 Sears and Kmart stores into a real estate investment trust. The retailer, which has lost $7 billion over the past four years, expects to receive about $2.6 billion in proceeds from the sale early in July. (Reuters)

A Taco Bell in Chicago will serve customers beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The restaurant is part of Taco Bell’s rebranding effort, introducing upscale locations, which feature more open kitchens and fancy serving baskets. Boozy drinks will be served only to customers eating inside, and they will come in special cups to distinguish them from regular drinks. (Money)

Asian stocks fell on China inflation concerns, as their consumer price index rose 1.2% last month from the year-earlier, below expectations and down from April. Meanwhile, producer prices remained weak, with a bigger-than-expected fall of 4.6%. (CNBC)

 



The National Association for Business Economists revised down its expectation for U.S. GDP growth to 2.4% from a previously forecast 3.1%. NABE said "sluggish" conditions in the first quarter spilled over into the second and will drag down economic growth for the year. (AP)

McDonald's global same-store sales fell 3% May. It is the last time the fast-food chain will report on monthly sales. Comparable-store sales in the U.S. were down 2.2% in the month, while sales in Europe rose 2.3%.

In the Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) region, sales were down 3.2%. (CNBC)

Japan's long suffering economy revised its economic growth sharply higher in the first quarter. GDP rose an annualized 3.9%, higher than the preliminary reading of a 2.4% increase. (CNBC)

Not only did American Pharaoh break a 37-year drought Saturday, becoming the first horse since 1978 to win racing's elusive Triple Crown, but it was also a financial boon. Forbes estimates the colt could now be worth nearly $50 million in breeding and other monetary rights. (NBC News/Forbes)

Diageo, the world’s largest maker of spirits, is seeing its shares surge on reports Brazilian billionaire Paulo Lemann's buyout firm 3G Capital is considering a bid for the spirits maker. 3G also owns Burger King and Heinz.  (Fox Business News)



U.S. worker productivity fell 3.1% in the opening months of 2015, underscoring an economic soft patch marked by weak business investment and disappointing wage gains.  The US added 280,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate rose slightly to 5.5%    (WSJ)


Up to nine more banks are in line for the next round of billion-dollar payments related to mortgages during the financial crisis.  The Justice Department and state officials, which already have reaped almost $37 billion from the largest U.S. banks, are now targeting additional U.S. and European banks. Settlements with Goldman Sachs  and Morgan Stanley could be finalized as early as later this month.  Fines are expected to reach as high as $3bn each.  (WSJ)

Yet another huge data theft.  The federal government is notifying approximately 4 million employees who have had their personally identifiable information stolen during a massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management.  Early indications are that Chinese hackers are behind the attack.  (CNBC)

 



The trade gap has fallen 19%, the most in six Years.  The trade deficit fell sharply last month as the effects of a West Coast port slowdown faded, easing one of the biggest drags on the economy during the opening months of the year.


Dish Network is reported to be in talks to merge with T-Mobile, in just the latest example of traditional television and communications companies fighting for scale as their market share is increasingly eroded by the internet.   Rival AT&T is close to wrapping up its own $49 billion deal for Dish rival DirecTV, in a deal will create the country's largest pay TV company. Meanwhile, Charter Communications, which recently announced a $66 billion purchase of Bright House Networks and Time Warner, will emerge as the second-largest cable operator.  

All eyes are on Greece and the jobs number today.  Greece's creditors have struck a hard line, but recently made some concessions in the outlines of a final deal presented to Athens yesterday.  Jobless claims fell 8,000 to 276,000 in the week, slightly better than analyst consensus.
 



Private sector job creation swung higher in May after a lackluster April, with companies adding 201,000 positions for the month, according to payroll firm ADP. Job creation was skewed heavily toward small businesses in May.  Trade, transportation and utilities led the way with 56,000 new jobs, professional and business services were next at 28,000 and construction adding 27,000 jobs. The one blight on the report was manufacturing, which lost 5,000 positions. (CNBC)

This could upset markets. Greece will skip a payment due Friday to the International Monetary Fund if its creditors do not offer a clear plan for aid in exchange for reforms. (Reuters)

You say you can’t afford to save for retirement? Smoking costs the average smoker at least $1.1 million over a lifetime. Alaska had the highest total cost per smoker at a little more than $2 million and South Carolina had the lowest per-smoker costs at almost $1.1 million.  Oregon ranked 22nd in cost at about $1.5 million. (USA Today)

Chinese foreign direct investment in the U.S. totaled $12 billion last year, topping $10 billion for the second year in a row. Some Chinese companies are building manufacturing plants, from the ground up, on U.S. soil. They're spending hundreds of millions on new projects and expansions. (Rhodium Group)
 



U.S. construction spending surged in April to the highest level in nearly 6-1/2 years as outlays increased broadly, pointing to some pockets of strength in the economy. Construction spending jumped 2.2% to an annual rate of $1.0 trillion, the highest level since November 2008. The percent increase was the largest since May 2012. (Reuters)

The pace of U.S. manufacturing growth rose in May, rebounding off its slowest pace in almost two years as new orders and employment rebounded. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its index of national factory activity was 52.8 in May. A figure above 50 indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. This was the 30th consecutive reading at or above 50. (Reuters)

The employment index returned to expansionary territory after a month of contraction, rising to 51.7 from 48.3 in April. The new orders index had its best month since December, rising to 55.8 from 53.5 in April, while the prices paid index had its best month since October, surging to 49.5 from 40.5 in April. (Reuters)

Bank of America got a win as the Supreme Court ruled that homeowners cannot erase second mortgages through bankruptcy if the homeowners are “underwater, “or, their first mortgage exceeds the home’s current value. The unanimous decision reversed an 11th Circuit ruling that homeowners in Chapter 7 bankruptcy could “strip off” a second mortgage. (ABC)

 



U.S. stocks come off a positive May that had anything but a positive ending, with the S&P 500 posting losses in six of the last eight sessions. Stocks are moving modestly higher this morning, as investors look ahead to a busy week of economic numbers culminating in Friday's May employment report. (CNBC)

April personal income rose 0.4% and spending is flat, after income was unchanged in March and spending was up 0.5%. (Bloomberg)

A record number of Americans are turning to auto leases as new vehicle prices climb to all-time highs. Experian Automotive found 31.5% of new vehicles financed in the first quarter were leased as consumers try to keep monthly payments as low as possible. (CNBC)

O'Reilly Automotive announced it would add an additional $500 million to its stock buyback program, bringing the auto parts retailer's total authorization to $5.5 billion.

Dollar Tree will sell 330 stores to private equity firm Sycamore partners, in order to smooth the way for regulatory approval of its planned acquisition of Family Dollar. Financial terms were not disclosed.
 



Costco quarterly profits rose to $516 million, from $473 million last year, as the company benefits from low gas prices, strong store sales and membership fees. Costco is the second-largest retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart and one of the largest fuel retailers in the country. Last month, the company paid a special one-time dividend of $5 a share, or $2.2 billion. (The Street)
 
They are on the front lines of the big Avian Flu outbreak but that did not hold them back this quarter. Sanderson Farms, the third-largest U.S. poultry producer, reported an 8.5% rise in quarterly net sales, helped by higher demand for chicken from restaurants. Net sales rose to $716.6 million from $660.7 million. The company's profits rose to $71.2 million, from $51 million a year earlier.  (Reuters)
 
The satellite radio operator, Sirius XM, will have to face a class action lawsuit involving royalties for pre-1972 songs. Members of the 1960s group The Turtles had sought class action status in the case, which claims copyright infringement because no royalties are paid on those songs. (CNBC)


The Internal Revenue Service has admitted that identity thieves obtained prior-year tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. households in a major security breach.  The agency believes fewer than 15,000 refunds were paid as a result of the breach, and the total paid out amounted to less than $50 million. (WSJ)

Restaurant IPO's seem to have stolen the show from tech so far in 2015.  Jimmy John's is preparing for an initial public offering that could value the gourmet sandwich chain at more than $2 billion.  Management is likely hoping to replicate the success of Shake Shack, which went public at $21, and closed Tuesday at $85.76. (CNBC)

The International Monetary Fund has declared that China's currency, the Yuan (or renminbi), is no longer undervalued, marking a significant shift after more than a decade of criticism of Beijing's tight currency management.  The yuan has gained 25 per cent against the US dollar since it was allowed to adjust upwards a decade ago, and has held its value even as the dollar has strengthened against other major currencies over the past year. (FT)

The dollar is showing increasing resiliency again.  The dollar strengthened to an 8 year high against the Japanese yen yesterday, and the dollar index jumped to a one-month high, and its biggest gain in almost a year.  The dollar's rise is a major contributor to falling oil prices.  (FT)
 



The April Durable Goods report was up 1% when you back out defense and auto spending. The March number was revised up to a 4.7% gain. (Fox Business News)

Time Warner Cable is for sale again.  This time it is Charter Communications agreeing to buy Time Warner Cable for $195 a share in cash and stock, or $78.7 billion. Unlike in Comcast's attempt to purchase TWC, there's a $2 billion breakup fee. (CNBC)

Amazon has changed its European tax practices amid regulatory investigations by EU regulators, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company is now booking revenue from retail sales in individual European countries, instead of channeling all sales through low-tax Luxembourg.

The dollar is getting stronger again against a basket of currencies today, extending gains since a round of improved inflation data Friday and driving the euro to around $1.09 for the first time in a month. (Reuters)

Cross marketing is alive and well. Samsung launched Marvel a limited edition Iron Man Galaxy S6 Edge today, in the company's latest push to promote its curved screen smartphone. (CNBC)

Stocks in Asia are largely higher overnight, with markets in China and Japan taking the lead with new multi-year highs. (CNBC)
 



The world's No. 2 personal computer maker, Hewlett-Packard, posted a profit of $1.01 billion.  That was down 11% from last year.  Sales across most of HP's product lines fell, dragging its total revenue down 6.8% to $25.45 billion. Its enterprise services unit, which accounts for about a fifth of total revenue, suffered the most with a 16% drop. (Reuters)

John Deere is the world's leading seller of farming equipment. Deere reported second-quarter profits today that smashed expectations. Earnings per share came in at $2.03. The company reported sales of $8.17 billion. Deere forecast that sales of construction and forestry equipment will increase 2% this year, with sales improvements in the US and Europe offsetting declines elsewhere. Deere, however, has a bleak outlook for the agricultural sector, saying it sees weak demand for tractors and other heavy machinery. (Business Insider)

The worst U.S. avian-flu outbreak ever has resulted in the deaths or extermination of at least 38.9 million birds. That's about 10% of the U.S. egg-laying flock. Egg prices are soaring as a result. Shares of the nation’s largest egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, are up 39% in the last month. (WSJ)

Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus Radio when we will tell you this week’s market events and action you should take in response.
 



The last of the electronic super stores, Best Buy, posted a quarterly profit of $129 million. Large-screen televisions and mobile phones helped push sales to $8.56 billion. Best Buy has been cutting costs and revamping stores to improve results as it faces competition from online retailers and discount stores. (AP)

Dollar Tree reported first-quarter profits of $69.5 million. The discount retailer posted revenue of $2.18 billion in the period. Dollar Tree shares have climbed slightly more than 8% since the beginning of the year, and is up 49% in the last 12 months. (AP)

Hewlett-Packard is unveiling sweeping changes to its business in China, including selling a majority stake in its data-networking business there to Tsinghua for about $2.3 billion. HP reports earnings after-the-bell. (CNBC)

The Oregon Attorney General announced a multistate agreement to protect RadioShack customers from having their personally identifiable information sold to another company. This came on the same day a federal bankruptcy judge cleared the way for RadioShack to sell its brand name and limited customer data to Standard General in a $26.2 million deal. (Oregon Live)
 



Housing starts jumped to their highest level in nearly 7-1/2 years in April and permits soared. Starts surged 20.2% to an annual pace of 1.14 million units, the highest since November 2007. The percent increase was the biggest since February 1991. Permits for future home construction jumped 10.1% to a 1.14 million-unit rate, the highest since June 2008. Permits have been above a 1 million-unit pace since July. (Reuters)

Lowe's saw sales and profit rise in the first quarter to $673 million. Sales climbed to $14.13 billion. Same store sales rose 5.2%. Lowe's maintained its projections for earnings of about $3.29 per share for the year, with sales rising 4.5% to 5%. (AP)

The retailer Target posted first-quarter earnings of $1.10 per share, up from 70 cents a share last year. Revenue rose to $17.12 billion. Target has started a $2 billion cost-savings plan. In March, the retailer outlined plans to lay off 1,700 workers. The company last month closed the last of its 133 Canadian stores. The Company also raised its minimum wage to $9 an hour for all workers starting last month. (CNBC)
 



A busy spring pushed Home Depot's sales at U.S. stores higher by 7.1% in the first quarter. Home Depot earned a profit $1.58 billion for the quarter. Sales climbed to $20.89 billion. Home Depot now sees 2015 earnings rising about 11% to 12%.  (AP)

Wal-Mart reported a 7% decline in first-quarter profits as worker pay raises, spending on e-commerce and currency fluctuations put pressure on the bottom line at the world's largest retailer. The company also reported a 1.1% increase for same store sales, its third consecutive quarter of increases. Wal-Marts profits were $3.34 billion on sales of $114.0 billion. (AP)

Dick's Sporting Goods reported fiscal first-quarter profit of $63.3 million. The sporting goods retailer posted revenue of $1.57 billion in the period. Dick's shares have risen 13% since the beginning of the year is up 9% in the last 12 months. (AP)



US consumer sentiment dropped in May. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary May reading on the index was 88.6. It was down from the previous month's reading of 95.9.  The decline in optimism about the economy was widespread among all age and income groups across the country. (CNBC)

U.S. industrial production fell for a fifth straight month in April, weighed down by declines in mining and utilities output. Industrial output slipped 0.3% after a revised 0.3% in March. Mining production fell 0.8% as oil and gas well drilling plunged 14.5%. It was the fourth straight monthly decline in mining output. Utilities production tumbled 1.3%, likely as warmer weather reduced demand for heating. (Reuters)

Economists cut their forecasts for U.S. economic growth in the second quarter and full year. Third-quarter 2015 growth is forecast at 3.1%, up from an estimate of 2.8% February's survey. The pace of hiring was expected to decelerate, with an average rate of monthly nonfarm job growth seen around 195,300. (Reuters)

Portland’s Precision Castparts reported quarterly profits of $135 million. The maker of components including industrial gas turbines and commercial airplane parts posted revenue of $2.5 billion. Precision Castparts shares have decreased 14% since the beginning of the year. The stock has fallen 19% in the last 12 months. (AP)



Nordstrom, the largest U.S. luxury department-store chain, saw first-quarter sales rise 9.7% to $3.22 billion. Profits fell 8.6% to $128 million, but  the company reaffirmed its 2015 forecast. Nordstrom is using the company’s chain of outlets to attract more price-conscious shoppers, and they are plowing money into e-commerce. Nordstrom operates an online men’s clothing service called Trunk Club and the flash-sale site HauteLook. It also has invested in the Internet retailer Bonobos. (Bloomberg)

Jack In The Box reported a quarterly profit of $23 million.  The burger chain had sales of $358.1 million in the period. Jack In The Box shares have increased 15% year to date and 66% in the last 12 months. (AP)

In an unprecedented move, the parent companies or main banking units of JPMorgan , Citigroup , Royal Bank of Scotland , Barclays , and UBS are likely to plead guilty to rigging foreign exchange rates to benefit their transactions. (Reuters)

McDonald's turns 75 years old today. McDonald's Bar-B-Q restaurant, the precursor to the fast-food giant known today, opened in California on May 15, 1940. (USA Today)

Join us Saturday for Financial Focus radio when we will share our tips for not getting terminated by rising interest rates.
 



Inflation at the manufacturing level declined 0.4%. That was more than expected and shows no inflation across the board. (Fox Business News)

Retail sales were flat in April as households cut back on purchases of automobiles and other big-ticket items. March's retail sales were revised higher to show a 1.1% increase. Retail sales have trended weaker despite households getting a massive windfall from lower gasoline prices. Consumers appear to have saved much of the money from the cheaper gasoline. (Reuters)

Are they like Lazarus being raised from the dead?  For the first quarter J.C. Penney reported an increase of 3.4% in sales posting a loss of $75 million from operations, but that was a 70% improvement over last year. Gross margins improved 3.3%. They are still losing money but moving in the right direction. (Forbes)   

Department store operator Kohl's Q1 sales were hurt by colder-than-usual weather in February, but still jumped 1.4%. The company's profits rose to $127 million from $125 million a year earlier. Net sales rose 1.3% to $4.12 billion. (Reuters)

The S&P 500 is up 13 and the NASDAQ is up 33. MSCI International Index is up 0.80%.

Oil is down 31 cents at $60.37 a barrel. Oil inventories fell 2.2 million barrels last week to below 485 million barrels. Gasoline and distillate stockpiles also declined. Inventories are still about 20% higher than a year ago. (Reuters)
 



Can’t believe I missed it yesterday but Yankee great Yogi Berra turned 90.  My favorite Yogi quote speaks to our wealth building efforts. “If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

Posting its best growth in almost two years, euro zone first quarter GDP rose 0.4% beating the U.S. expansion rate of 0.2%. (CNBC)

Nine of 10 components in National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Optimism Index report increased or remained unchanged in April after all ten fell in March. The index rose 1.7 points from March to 96.9.  Small business owners are still wary of the future. Capital spending plans rose 2 points and reports of actual capital outlay are up rising to an expansion high level of 60%.  Plans to increase inventories gained 3 points.  (NFIB)

Dean Foods began 2015 on an improved note posting a profits gain of 24 cents a share vs a loss last year. Results were driven by improvement in the commodity market and lower raw milk costs. However net sales descended 12.4% and volumes declined 3%.  (Zacks)

Macy's delivered quarterly results that fell short of expectations and the retailer raised its share buyback program by $1.5 billion. The retail giant posted profits of 56 cents per share, down from 60 cents a year-earlier. Revenue fell to $6.23 billion from $6.28 billion a year ago. (CNBC)
 



This is what happens when interest rates spike suddenly.   Stocks are sharply lower as European stocks are plunging on the surge in bond yields and concerns about Greece. Debt talks between Greece and its lenders appear to be making slow, but sure, progress as Athens made a multimillion-euro loan repayment to one of its lenders a day early.  (CNBC)

You only thought they were extinct. Telecom giant Verizon is buying AOL for $50 per share, or about $4.4 billion. AOL Chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong will continue to run AOL operations once the deal is finalized. (CNBC)

The weak sisters are starting to get washed out of the oil industry. Morgan Stanley is selling its oil storage and transport business to commodities trading company Castleton. The deal is valued by experts in the field at slightly more than $1 billion. (Reuters)

As part of their turnaround plans,  McDonald's plans to expand its all-day breakfast test. In addition the fast-food chain will also simplify drive-thru menus, add mid-price sandwiches, and sell lemonade this summer. (CNBC)



International happenings could be market movers today.  Greek government official say they will make a major debt payment tomorrow, but there are doubts Greece will be able to honor future obligations.  (CNBC)

China cut interest rates for the third time in six months as stimulus in responding to weaker-than-expected economic activity that could put the government's "around 7%" growth target at risk. (CNBC)

Dish Network saw revenue rise 3.6% in its latest quarter, even though overall subscriber numbers dropped. Dish now makes an average $86.01 per subscriber compared to $82.36 a year ago. (Reuters)

Manufacturing is coming back to the US. Volvo will build a $500 million plant in South Carolina that will eventually employ up to 4,000 people. South Carolina and Georgia had been the two finalists. (AP)

Just five U.S. companies-Apple, Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, and Cisco-are holding nearly half a trillion dollars in cash, as the country's tax code deters businesses from spending their overseas hordes. (FT)



US Stocks sold off yesterday after the Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen spooked investors by warning that stock values are quite high, which is unusual for a sitting head of the Fed.

The payroll processing company ADP came out with their report which showed the private sector added 169,000 jobs in April which was well below forecasts.  The slowing pace of job gains in the US may prompt Federal Reserve officials to delay raising interest rates longer than anyone expects.

US Productivity in the 1st quarter fell by 1.9% resulting in the first back to back drop since 2006.  The decline in productivity stemmed from companies hiring more workers and those workers working more hours.

Shares of Alibaba are 7.6% higher after the company reported earnings that top wall st. estimates.  The Chinese e-commerce giant beat profit and revenue estimates in their fiscal 4th quarter.  The company also announced their Chief Operating Officer will become their CEO on May 10th.

Shares of Tesla Motors are lower this morning after the company reported earnings that was actually better than expected.  The stock is lower because the company is burning through cash at an alarming rate.  At their current cash burn rate the company could survive 3 more quarters before they ran out of cash.

The organic supermarket chain Wholefoods saw their stock fall 10% after the company reported disappointing 2nd quarter sales.  Wholefoods also announced they will begin opening smaller stores targeted at millennial shoppers.
 



The US recorded its biggest monthly trade deficit since the 2008 global financial crisis last month, fuelling concerns that the economy contracted in the first three months of the year. The goods and services deficit rose to $51.4bn in March ($37.8bn of which came from China), up 41 per cent from the $35.9bn recorded in February. Exports rose less than 1 per cent while imports grew 7.7 per cent on the back of increased consumer demand for cars and mobile phones.

Vanguard has now officially taken the title as manager of the world's largest bond fund.  The sudden exit of Bill Gross last September cost the Pimco Total Return Fund its title as the world's largest, after another month of withdrawals in April.  The fund's assets slipped to $110.4bn at the end of last month, compared to $117.3bn in the Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund.  

One in 10 American consumers has no credit history, according to a study released by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The research found that about 26 million American adults have no histories with national credit reporting agencies.  In addition to those so-called credit invisibles, an additional 19 million have credit reports that are so limited or out of date that they are unscorable.

U.S. airlines are earning billions, and they are collecting more in fees on checked bags and reservation changes.  According to the Department of Transportation, airlines collected $3.5 billion in bag fees last year, a 5 percent increase over 2013, and $3 billion in reservation-change fees, a 6 percent hike.  Low cost airlines, such as Spirit, which tout low fares and adds lots of fees, derive only about 60 percent of revenue from the face value of ticket prices. Southwest gets the highest proportion of revenue from ticket sales; 95 percent of the company's revenue comes from the ticket price.



Under the heading the world is not ending with earnings season. Driven by strong energy and healthcare results, S&P 500 profits are now tracking to a 2% year-over-year increase, about 5% above expectations. Revenue is still tracking to a 2.6% year-over-year decline. After this week, when 90 S&P 500 companies report, 90% will have reported Q1 2015 results. (Thomson Reuters)

The Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney, delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that topped expectations. The entertainment giant posted fiscal second quarter earnings of $1.23 per share, up from $1.11 a share in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose to $12.46 billion from $11.65 billion a year ago. Disney's stock has risen 17.8% year to date. (CNBC)

Consumer confidence increased in April to the second-highest level in more than eight years as Americans grew more upbeat about their financial prospects. A stronger sense of job security and building momentum in wage growth are helping to buoy confidence. (Bloomberg)

As drug prices continue to fall under ever-increasing scrutiny, spending on cancer medicines has hit a new milestone: $100 billion in 2014. That's up more than 10% from 2013. (CNBC)

Oil is up $1.04 at $60.00 a barrel. With speculation rife over how long Saudi Arabia is content to see oil prices slump, the country's oil minister told CNBC that "only Allah" knows where prices are heading.



Berkshire Hathaway, owners of Dairy Queen, Fruit-of-the-Loom underwear, railroads and many other businesses posted first-quarter profits up 9.8% as lower fuel prices helped the railroad business, and investment income improved with the companies wager on Burger King. Net income rose to $5.16 billion. (Bloomberg)

 

Comcast posted total profits up 2.6% to $17.9 billion in the quarter. Comcast will now earmark $6.75 billion for its stock buyback 2015. The company added video customers last quarter, but lost 8,000 subscribers  compared to the 24,000 additions last year. (CNBC)

 

McDonald's is set to unveil a turnaround plan today, as the restaurant chain seeks to revive sales. Executives said the menu had gotten too complicated and the company had failed to keep up with changing tastes. (CNBC)

 

The new symbol of America: small SUVs and compact crossover utility vehicles are now the most popular new vehicles in the U.S.. In the first three months this year, 15.6% of the light vehicles sold in the U.S. were compact utility vehicles, surpassing compact cars which made up 15.1% of all sales. (TrueCar)



Today is May Day and we are not going away.  Tomorrow is the Wood Stock of capitalism, the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha Nebraska.

With a big sell off yesterday we ended the month of April with the S&P 500 and NASDAQ flat.  The international index was up 3.65%. (Bloomberg)

Payment processing giant Visa says it earned $1.55 billion, down 3% from the same period a year earlier. Revenue rose almost 8% to $3.41 billion. Like other global companies, Visa's results were impacted by the strong U.S. dollar. Visa said the dollar reduced revenue growth by 2.5%. Visa executives, said lower gas prices trimmed 3% points off U.S. payment growth. (AP)

A federal judge granted much of the U.S. Justice Department's demands for an antitrust injunction against American Express in a lawsuit over steering rules for merchants. The judge ruled the company violated antitrust law by barring merchants from steering consumers to lower-cost credit cards. (CNBC)

Join us Saturday at 10 for Financial Focus – your Smart Money Radio.
 



Last trading day of April and the S&P is up 2.2% for the month and the NASDAQ is up 2.7%.  The international index is up 4.7% in April. (Yahoo Finance)
 
March personal income rose 0.0% and consumer spending was up 0.4%.  Both were a little lighter than expectations. (CNBC)
 
Exxon Mobil announced first quarter profits of $4.9 billion, compared with $9.1 billion last year. During the quarter, ExxonMobil produced 4.2 million barrels per day; an increase of 97,000 barrels per day over the first quarter of 2014.The oil giant also increased its dividend by 6% to 73 cents a share. Exxon's stock has dropped 13% in the past 12 months. (Business Wire)
 
Oil company Royal Dutch Shell reported better-than-expected profits, though sales were hammered by the drop in global energy prices. First-quarter profits rose 7%, thanks to a good performance in the refining division. Revenue plunged to $65.71 billion from $109.67 billion a year earlier. (AP)
 
Wal-Mart (WMT) plans to open 115 new stores in China by 2017-expanding its store count there by more than 30%. But the retailer will also close some under-performing locations in China. (Reuters)



The first estimate of first quarter Gross Domestic Product says the US economy grew at a 0.2% rate. Personal consumption was up 1.9% during the quarter. That was a tough winter. (Bloomberg)

Kraft Foods, which is merging with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz, reported its fourth straight decline in quarterly profits, hurt in part by low demand for its meals and desserts. Kraft’s sales growth has been hit by the need to raise prices to offset the higher cost of dairy products and meat. Kraft’s net income fell 16% and revenue fell slightly to $4.35 billion. (Fortune)

Cadbury chocolate and Oreo cookies maker Mondelez International reported a 10.2% drop in quarterly profits as net revenue in Europe, its biggest market, fell for the third straight quarter. Total revenue fell to $7.76 billion, falling for the sixth straight quarter.

The consumer confidence index dropped to a four-month low of 95.2 in April. Americans said jobs were less plentiful, and the higher cost of filling up at service stations meant extra cash was harder to come by. Plans to take a vacation or buy automobiles and appliances also took a step back this month. (Bloomberg)

Samsung has regained its crown as the world's top smartphone vendor after losing serious ground to Apple last year. But the South Korean tech giant posted a sixth consecutive quarterly decline. (CNBC)
 



BP reported a fall in profits, as the plunging price of oil continues to hit revenues for the sector. The Company posted a quarterly profit of $2.1 billion from $3.48 billion a year earlier. (Zacks)

French oil major Total reported a profit decline as its strongest production in a decade partially offset the impact of the oil-price collapse. Profit for the first three months of the year totaled $2.66 billion as compared with $3.34 billion a year earlier. Total increased production by 10%. (Energy Journal)

The big brown truck, United Parcel Service reported a higher quarterly net profit, which rose thanks to price increases and productivity improvements. The world's largest package delivery company posted a first-quarter profit of $1.03 billion, up 10% from $911 million last year. (Reuters)

The only domestic auto manufacture not to be bailed out by tax payers, Ford,  earned $924 million in the first quarter, down almost 7% from a year ago with greater losses than anticipated in South America and tight inventories of the profitable F-150 pickup. The automaker reported revenue of $33.9 billion, down $2 billion from a year ago. North American operations earned $1.3 billion, below last year's $1.5 billion. (USA Today)
 



This could be a market moving event this week. Tomorrow, Fed policymakers kick off their two-day monetary meeting as the guessing-game on when they might increase interest rates continues. (CNBC)

 

On Wednesday we will get the first read of how much the US economy grew during the first quarter.  Economists are expecting gross domestic product to grow by just above 1%.  It is projected about a full percentage point of growth in Q1 is related to bad winter weather. (Reuters)

 

The average price of regular-grade gasoline in the United States rose about 5% in the past two weeks to $2.58 per gallon. The 13 cent per gallon increase brought U.S. gasoline prices to their highest point so far in 2015. Still, prices are substantially lower than one year ago, when gasoline cost around $3.69 per gallon. (Reuters)

 

US regulators have scuttled another merger. Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron have given up plans to merge in a deal that would have been worth more than $10 billion, citing problems getting approval from U.S. antitrust regulators. (CNBC)



Amazon first-quarter revenue grew more than expected as rising sales in North America and its burgeoning cloud-computing services unit offset new business investments. Amazon reported a loss of $57 million. Amazon's sales from North America rose 24% to $13.4 billion and the international unit, which accounts for about 35% of total sales, remained a drag, with sales slipping 1.77% to $7.75 billion. (Reuters)

Google posted first-quarter profits of $3.59 billion. The Internet search leader posted revenue of $17.26 billion. Google shares have increased slightly more than 5% since the beginning of the year. (AP)

Microsoft beat Wall Street's expectations for quarterly sales and earnings by a wide margin. But it was still the company's second straight quarter of declining earnings and single-digit sales growth as sluggish PC sales continue to drag on the software leader. For the quarter, Microsoft earned 61 cents, down 10% year over year, on sales of $21.73 billion, up 6%. (Investor's Business Daily)

The icon of women entering the US workforce was “Rosie the Riveter”.  The model for that Norman Rockwell painting – Mary Doyle Keefe - has died at age 92. (AP)

Join us Saturday at 10am for Financial Focus when we will dissect this big week of earnings season.



Sales of previously owned homes jumped in March by the most in four years. Purchases increased 6.1% to a 5.19 million annualized rate. Houses were snapped up in 52 days on average, the fastest since July. Realtors say that 40% of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month. (Bloomberg)

Caterpillar reported a higher quarterly profit despite a dip in revenue, citing a boost from the strong U.S. dollar on imported goods, especially from Japan, and a gain from the sale of a business. The world's largest construction and mining equipment maker reported profits of $1.11 billion, up 20% from a year earlier. (Reuters)

3M reported first-quarter profits of $1.2 billion. The maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics posted revenue of $7.58 billion. The stock has risen 19% in the last 12 months. (AP)

Procter & Gamble reported a quarterly profit of $2.15 billion. The world's largest consumer products maker posted revenue of $18.14 billion in the period. P&G shares have dropped nearly 9% since the beginning of the year. (AP)

Ten years ago today, YouTube was born, when co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded and starred in the site's first ever video, titled: "Me at the Zoo." (ibtimes.co.uk)
 



Coca-Cola posted better-than-expected profit and revenue in its first quarter, despite stiff foreign-exchange headwinds and a 6% decline in Diet Coke volumes. Coke said its world-wide soda and noncarbonated beverage volumes both grew 1%. Sprite volume grew 4% and Coke Zero 5%. Shares of Coke, down 6.9% over the past three months, added 2.5% in premarket trading. (WSJ)

Boeing reported first-quarter profits of $1.34 billion. The airplane builder posted revenue of $22.15 billion. Boeing expects full-year earnings in the range of $8.20 to $8.40 per share. (AP)

The Golden Arches are very tarnished this morning. McDonald’s reported profits, excluding charges of $1.01 per share. Same-store sales fell 2.3% which the company said reflected "negative guest traffic in all major segments." In the US, same-store sales fell 2.6%, while same-store sales declined by 0.6% in Europe. Same-store sales were down by 8.3% in its APMEA (Asia Pacific/Middle East/Africa) region in the first quarter.

McDonald's revenue in the first quarter totaled $5.96 billion. (Business Insider)

Buyers are returning to the housing market in ever growing numbers. Total mortgage application volume rose 2.3% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. (CNBC)


 



DuPont delivered quarterly profits higher than anticipated, but revenue, hurt by a stronger dollar, was lighter than expected. The chemical company posted profits of $1.34 per share, down from $1.58 a share a year ago. Revenue fell to $9.2 billion. DuPont also boosted its quarterly dividend to 49 cents a share. (CNBC)

IBM reported first-quarter profits of $2.33 billion on sales of $19.59 billion. Sales declined for the 12th straight quarter. New initiatives such as cloud computing and data analytics accounted for 27% of the business last year. That’s not enough to make up for revenue lost through divestitures and falling sales for older software and services. (AP)

Kimberly-Clark had profits of $468 million in the first quarter, compared with $538 million last year. The consumer goods giant said sales fell 4% to $4.7 billion.  Performance benefited from organic sales growth, cost savings and a lower share count. Negative impacts included unfavorable foreign currency exchange rate effects and a higher adjusted effective tax rate. (Market Watch)

That turkey could cost more come Thanksgiving. Hormel says its turkey supply chain has been significantly disrupted due to avian flu outbreaks in Minnesota and Wisconsin, expecting results for fiscal 2015 toward the lower end of its previously projected range. (AP)



Consumer confidence improved in April to the second-highest level in more than eight years as Americans held more favorable views of the economic outlook and inflation. The University of Michigan index of sentiment climbed to 95.9 this month from 93 in March. (Bloomberg)

Hasbro turned in very strong quarter led by Transformers sales and other toys for boys. The toymaker, weighed down by the strong U.S. currency and battling a shift toward video games and other non-traditional toys reported a 17% percent drop in profits compared to a year earlier. But that included an income tax expense of almost $8.5 million. Revenue rose 5%. (AP)

Morgan Stanley says its quarterly profit surged 60% as revenue from trading stocks and bonds lifted the investment bank's results. Profits rose to $2.3 billion. Revenue for the quarter rose to $9.9 billion. (AP)

Costco increased its quarterly dividend 12% to 40 cents per share, and also announced a new stock repurchase program of up to $4 billion, replacing an existing $4 billion authorization with about $2.5 billion left. (CNBC)

We still can’t imagine why he is not in jail, but Jon Corzine, the former boss of bankrupt MF Global, is considering starting his own hedge fund, with cash from the ex-governor's personal funds and some outside investors. (WSJ)
 



Inflation at the consumer level rose 0.2% in March, lower than expected.  For the last 12 months we have deflation of 0.1%. (Bloomberg)

General Electric posted an enormous overall loss resulting from its recently-announced sale of its finance subsidiary. Costs associated with the sale pushed the company to an overall loss of $13.57 billion in the quarter, down from a profit of $3 billion during last year's first quarter. (Associated Press)

American Express, the world's largest credit card issuer, reported a 6.3% rise in quarterly profit, helped by higher spending by card holders and an increase in net interest income. Profits rose to $1.51 billion for the first quarter. (Reuters)

Oil technology and equipment provider Schlumberger cut an additional 11,000 jobs, which brings the total number of cuts to 20,000. The company reported first-quarter revenue of $10.25 billion, down 9% percent year-over-year. (CNBC)

Mattel reported its sixth straight fall in quarterly worldwide sales as it focuses on turning around its business and launching toys to make up for plunging demand for its Barbie dolls. The toymaker's net sales fell about 2.5% to $922.7 million. Their net loss widened to $58.2 million (Reuters)
 



Tax day has passed but it is interesting to note in grim coincidence of Abraham Lincoln having both created the income tax and perishing from his fatal wounds on April 15, 1865. Americans paid a record $1.4 trillion in income tax in 2014.

Smith & Wesson shares soared as the company announced that firearm orders are picking up. The company forecasts sales of about $179 million for the quarter. That's up 8% from its projection just six weeks ago. Smith & Wesson gun sales hit a record of $626.6 million last year. (CNN)

Goldman Sachs posted quarterly profits of $2.75 billion, up 41% from 2014. Revenue rose to $10.62 billion, up 14% from a year ago. Revenue from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities rose 10%. Goldman's stock has risen 30% in the last 12 months. (Reuters)

Philip Morris International reported first-quarter profit of $1.8 billion. The seller of Marlboro and other brands outside the US posted revenue of $6.62 billion. Both numbers were roughly equal to last year.  Cigarette shipment volume climbed 1.4%.  Philip Morris does all of its business overseas, the company has to navigate changes in currency values. A stronger dollar cuts into revenue generated overseas when it's translated back into dollars. (Associated Press)

Japan has overtaken China to become the leading holder of U.S. Treasuries for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. (Bloomberg)



Sales at U.S. retailers increased 0.9%, the first gain in four months, after a 0.5% drop in February, Commerce Department figures showed. Americans remain focused on using the savings at the gas pump to shore up finances even as employment and confidence firm and interest rates remain low. Cars and light trucks sold at a 17.1 million annualized rate in March, matching the strongest pace since August. (Bloomberg)

The producer price index rose 0.2% in March. Over the past 12 months, wholesale costs fell 0.8%. The PPI excluding food and fuel also climbed 0.2% from a month earlier. (Bloomberg)

Being tax day the following is due for individuals:
·       Your returns and/or Extensions, with payments of balances due.

·       2014 Roth or Traditional IRA contributions.

·       2014 Oregon 529 plan contributions.  

·       2015 first quarter Estimated Tax Payments are also due.  

For Businesses:
·       The annual $150 OR Minimum Tax payment for all LLCs & S-Corps.

·       Oregon partnership tax returns must be filed or extended. (Fowler & Co.)



Earnings season begins in earnest this week, with profits in a real decline for the first time in six years. Big players to report include JPMorgan, American Express, Intel, and Johnson & Johnson. (CNBC)

The World Bank trimmed its 2015-2016 growth forecast for developing East Asia, citing a continued slowdown China, where exports surprisingly tumbled in March ahead of first quarter growth figures due on Wednesday. Chinese exports tumbled 14.6% from the year-ago. (CNBC)

Sears has struck a 50/50 joint venture with Simon Property Group designed to unlock the real estate value in the 10 properties the retailer will contribute. This follows a similar deal with another mall operator, General Growth Properties, earlier this month. Sears is struggling to survive after three years of big losses. (WSJ)

In the online world of media piracy can have a big impact. Game of Thrones is already the most pirated television show in 2015, research shows, as new episodes were leaked over the weekend ahead of Sunday's official fifth season debut on Time Warner's HBO. (CNBC)

The S&P 500 is down 2 and the NASDAQ is up 2.

In the oil patch there are tentative signs of demand improving and rig counts fell to the lowest level since 2010. On the other hand U.S. inventories are swelling and Saudi Arabian output marked a record high last month. Oil is up 76 cents at $52.48 a barrel. (Reuters)
 



Let the oil patch consolidation race begin. Royal Dutch Shell is acquiring British oil and gas company BG Group for $70 billion.  The acquisition will be the largest in 15 years. BG Group took a roughly $8.9 billion write down in February on its oil and gas assets to reflect the past year's sharp fall in oil prices. (Wall Street Journal)

McDonald's is trying out premium burgers again-adding third-pound sirloin patties to its U.S. menu for a limited time. It's the latest move by the new CEO to revive sales at the struggling fast-food chain. (WSJ)

Loan applications to purchase a home rose for the third straight week. Purchase applications are now 12% higher than the same week one year ago. (CNBC)

The FTC informed Dollar Tree that it must divest 340 stores before it can complete its $8.5 billion takeover of rival discount retailer Family Dollar. Dollar Tree said it expects almost all of those divested stores to be current Family Dollar locations. (CNBC)

The S&P 500 is up 1 and the NASDAQ is up 4. The MSCI international index is flat.

Oil was up 3.5% yesterday but is down this morning after the API said weekly crude stocks rose 12.2 million barrels. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported record output in March. Oil services company Baker Hughes says the average U.S. rig count for March was 1,110, down 238 from February and down 693 from a year ago. Oil is down $1.27 at $52.75 a barrel. (Reuters)
 



The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector fell in March to its lowest level in three months but exports rose to the highest level in over two years, according to the Institute for Supply Management.  The rise in the exports index came despite the U.S. dollar's surge against a basket of major currencies of more than 20% since last May. A strong dollar typically crimps demand for U.S exports and reduces the value of overseas sales when they are translated back into U.S. dollars. (Reuters)

In March, Americans' daily spending averaged $86, level with the March 2014 average of $87, but below the averages for many months in 2014. Last month's figure, however, is up slightly from February's $82. (Gallup)

Looking to expand globally, FedEx plans to buy Dutch rival TNT Express in an all-cash $4.8 billion deal. Two years ago, UPS tried to buy TNT, but was denied by competition regulators. (CNBC)

Samsung Electronics today reported earnings guidance that beat expectations, in what analysts say could be the "first glimpse of a turnaround" for the struggling tech giant. (CNBC)
 



U.S. stock markets are lower in early trading, with investors getting their first chance to react to Friday's weaker-than-expected March jobs reports. The stock market is set to resume normal hours this morning after the long holiday weekend. (CNBC)

The economy added 126,000 jobs in March.  The unemployment rate stays at 5.5%, but average hourly earnings accelerated to a 2.1% growth rate. About 182,000 people were unable to work due to bad weather during the month.  March follows 14 months of 200,000 per month in job gains.  This report is just a blip in strong job growth and should not cause much long-term concern.  One month does not make a trend. (LPL Research)

The dollar is under some pressure today, after the weak jobs data persuaded many market watchers that the Fed may wait until the second half of 2015 before raising interest rates. (Reuters)

In the online gaming sector Walt Disney is investing $250 million in DraftKings, putting the value of the online fantasy sports business at roughly $900 million. (WSJ)

Toy maker Mattel Inc. has laid off 107 employees at its headquarters, a few months after its chief executive abruptly resigned following a disappointing holiday season. (LA Times)

The S&P 500 is down 14 and the NASDAQ is down 30. The MSCI international index is up 0.87%.

Oil is up $1.01 at $50.14 a barrel. Oil is higher, after Saudi Arabia raised prices for crude sales to Asia for a second month, signaling stronger demand in the region. (Reuters)
 



The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is charging that Kraft Foods and Mondelez manipulated wheat futures and cash wheat prices. Kraft said it did not expect the matter to have a financially material impact and that Mondelez would predominantly bear the costs of the matter. (Reuters)

Big Wall Street paychecks are back in the news. Morgan Stanley Chairman and CEO James Gorman has received a 25% pay increase in 2014-taking home $23.3 million, up from $14.4 million the prior year. (Reuters)

U.S. employers announced 36,594 layoffs last month, up 6.4% from March 2014. Industrial goods manufacturers led reductions in March with 9,383 cuts. The energy patch let go just 1,279 employees, compared with more than 16,000 in February. Target accounted for 6,640 retail sector cuts in March. (CNBC)

U.S. farmers are turning to a little-known grain called sorghum for relief from a two-year slump in agriculture prices. Native to Africa, sorghum has three things going for it right now: it’s cheap to plant; it holds up better in drought-like conditions than other crops; and, demand is soaring in China, where farmers feed the plant to their hog herds, and moonshiners make it into a whiskey. Corn, soybeans and wheat slumped into bear markets last year amid a global supply glut, sorghum prices have held stable. (Bloomberg)
 



US Stocks closed the first quarter with sizeable losses yesterday.  The Dow was down in the 1st quarter, while the S&P 500 and NASDAQ finished the quarter slightly higher.  Investors are eagerly awaiting first quarter earnings season which starts next week.

The Case-Shiller home price index which measures house prices in 20 major US cities rose 4.5% year over year last month.  Charlotte, Miami, and San Diego all saw the largest price increases.  A combination of low interest rates, strong consumer confidence, cheap oil, and low inflation continue to support further increases in home prices.

An index that measures the confidence of the US consumer surged in March because Americans think the economy will continue to improve over the next 6 months.

The US Dollar had its largest quarterly rise in the 1st quarter since 2008.  The dollar rose 9% against the Euro based on diverging monetary policies.  The US Fed is going to start to tighten monetary policy, while the ECB is losing their monetary policy.  The good news is it keeps getting cheaper to travel to Europe.

The payroll company ADP is out this morning with their March employment report showing US employer's added 189,000 jobs last month which is the lowest increase in monthly jobs in 14 months.

Ford and General Motors are out this morning with their March auto sales numbers.  Both companies saw year over year declines in sales of about 3.5% in March.  Both companies pointed to inclement weather in much of the country as reasons for weak sales numbers.
 


 

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