Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Markets waffle on uncertainties over Cyprus bailout

Dow inched up 13, advancers just head of decliners & NAZ lost 3.  The Financial Index did little in the 246s.  The MLP index was flattish at 432 while the REIT index was dipped a little in the 282s.  Junk bond funds were mixed & Treasuries rose.  Oil slipped fractionally & gold found a few buyers.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

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CLK13.NYM...Crude Oil May 13...94.18 ...Up 0.07 (0.1%)

GCH13.CMX...Gold Mar 13......1,605.40 ....Up 0.80 (0.1%)

People are reflected at a glass door of a closed branch of Bank of Cyprus in Nicosia March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Photo:   Yahoo

Cyprus's gov proposed to spare small savers from a divisive levy on bank deposits but said it expects parliament to reject the measure, needed to secure an intl bailout & avoid default & a banking collapse.  Unless parliament accepts the levy on deposits, EU countries say they will withhold a bailout, plunging one of the smallest European states closer to financial oblivion with potentially severe consequences for the rest of the troubled euro zone.  "The feeling I'm having is that the house is going to reject the bill," President Nicos Anastasiades said.  Asked why, he added: "Because they feel and they think that it is unjust and it's against the interests of Cyprus at large."  Asked what he would do next, he said: "We have our own plans."  Europe's demand at the weekend that Cyprus break with previous EU practice & impose a levy on bank accounts as part of a €10B ($13B) bailout sparked outrage among Cypriots & unsettled financial markets.
Anastasiades refused to accept a levy of more than 10% on deposits above €100K, which meant taxing smaller accounts too.  That hurts ordinary savers with deposits that they thought came with a state guarantee.  Stunned by the backlash & fearing rejection by Cypriot lawmakers, euro zone finance ministers urged Cyprus yesterday to avoid hitting accounts below €100K, & instead increase the levy on big accounts, which are unprotected by the state deposit-insurance system.  The EU & IMF are demanding the country raise €5.8B to secure its bailout, needed to rescue its financial sector.  A revised draft bill would exempt savings under €20K from the planned 6.75% levy on deposits of less than €100K.  The gov has not explained it would fill the funding gap this would create.  French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the euro zone could not lend Cyprus any more, since the country's debt would become unmanageable.  "Above 10 billion euros we are entering into a size of debt that is not sustainable," Moscovici said.

Cyprus Bank-Levy Passage in Doubt as EU Shows Flexibility

Housing Starts 03.19

Photo:   Bloomberg

US builders started more houses & apartments in Feb & obtained permits for future construction at the fastest pace in 4½ years.  The Commerce Dept said that builders broke ground on homes last month at an annual rate of 917K, up from 910K in Jan.  That's the 2nd-fastest pace since Jun 2008, behind the rate of 982K in Dec.  Single-family home construction increased to an annual rate of 618K, the most in 4½ years & apartment construction also ticked up, to 285K.  The gains may grow even faster in the coming months.  Building permits, a sign of future construction, increased 4.6% to 946K.

Housing Starts in U.S. Climb as Building Permits Pick Up

Walgreen's, a Dividend Aristocrat, fiscal Q2 earnings climbed 11%, helped by contributions from European health & beauty retailer Alliance Boots, a business sale gain, & its new contract with Express Scripts (ESRX).  It's also expanding a supply agreement with AmerisourceBergen (ABC). with a deal that gives it & Alliance Boots an ownership stake in the pharmaceutical wholesaler.  For the fiscal Q2, EPS was 79¢ which compares 78¢ last year (when it had fewer shares outstanding).  Excluding one-time items like acquisition-related costs, adjusted EPS totaled 96¢.  Revenue came in flat at $18.6B.  Analysts forecast, 93¢ on $18.7B in revenue.  Alliance Boots contributed $85M to earnings.  The drugstore chain also booked a $20M gain from an incentive payment related to the 2011 sale of its pharmacy benefit manager, Walgreens Health Initiatives.  The stock shot up $2.64 (6%).

Walgreen fiscal 2Q profit climbs 11 percent AP

Walgreen Co. (WAG)

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Not much going on today as the bulls were not able to reassert command over the markets.  The bailout for Cyprus remains cloudy & the implications for a default can become ugly.  The markets are worried.  Meanwhile DC is coming back to center stage.  The FOMC meeting is expected to produce another announcement about some improvement in the economy but low rates will continue for some time to come.  The politicos in DC still have to extend funding for the gov for the balance of this fiscal year, not a done deal.  Then there's solving the debt mess which continues to drone on.  Meanwhile, Dow is just off a tad from its records & the bears are not ready to take command.

Dow Jones Industrials

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