Friday, February 28, 2014

Markets crawl higher after Q4 GDP growth was reduced

Dow went up 49 (but well off the highs), advancers ahead of decliners almost 3-2 & NAZ fell 10.  The MLP index fell 2 to the 459s & the REIT index went up 2+ to the 286s, a 4 month high.  Junk bond funds were mixed while Treasuries pulled back.  Oil & gas just fluctuated.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

Treasury yields:

U.S. 3-month


U.S. 2-year


U.S. 10-year


CLJ14.NYM....Crude Oil Apr 14....102.39 Down ...0.01  (0.0%)

Live 24 hours gold chart [Kitco Inc.]

GDP grew at a 2.4% annualized rate in Q4, compared with the first estimate of 3.2% issued last month, revised figures from the Commerce Dept.  Smaller gains in consumer spending, inventories & exports weighed on an economy already slowed by the partial shutdown of federal agencies in Oct & weaker gov spending.  Less fiscal restraint this year & further progress in the labor market probably may boost GDP after the unusually harsh weather curbed growth early this year.  Business investment was one of the few areas of the economy that looked better in Q4 than previously estimated.  Spending on new equipment climbed at the fastest pace since Q3-2011.  Purchases of intellectual property, including computer software, showed the biggest advance in 6 years.

U.S. Economy Expanded at Slower Pace Than First Estimated

Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych said he’s still the nation’s rightful president & urged Russia to refrain from military intervention in the southern Crimea region as tensions there flared.  Speaking publicly for the first time since leaving Ukraine, Yanukovych said the country should abide by a peace accord sealed a week ago with EU diplomats under which he’d remain leader through Dec.  His temporary replacement, Oleksandr Turchynov, said Russian troops were “directly involved” in the growing crisis in Crimea.  “The whole Ukrainian people were cheated -- I’d like to get an answer from those who signed this agreement,” Yanukovych said today.  He said he’s “categorically against intervention in Ukraine, against the violation of its integrity as a sovereign state.”  This confusing situation goes from bad to worse.

Defiant Yanukovych Urges Russia Restraint in Crimea

Citigroup said it discovered fraud on loans to a Mexican oil-services company, forcing the bank to lower last year’s profit by $235M.  The fraud occurred on loans made to Oceanografia that were backed by payments from state-owned oil producer Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), CFO Michael Corbat said.  Invoices from Oceanografia were falsified to represent that Pemex had approved them and processed by a Citigroup employee, Corbat said.  “As much as $400 million was misappropriated throughout the course of the fraud,” Corbat told employees.  “The financial impact will lower our 2013 net income by approximately $235 million.  The impact to our credibility is harder to calculate.”  Citi, which operates in more than 100 countries & gets about 20% of revenue from Latin Amaerica, has stumbled in the region before.  Mexico’s anti-corruption agency banned Oceanografia on Feb 11 from bidding on gov contracts for 21 months after saying the company violated agreements with Pemex.  That prompted Citi to begin a review of its ties to Oceanografia.  After working with Pemex, Citi determined that only $185M of the collateral backing $585M of loans to Oceanografia could be verified.  Mexico is taking over Oceanografia & its $335M of secured notes due 2015 have plummeted 52-35¢ cents on the dollar since the anti-corruption agency issued its ban.  With the revisions, Citi’s net income dropped to $13.7B for 2013, compared with the $13.9B previously reported.  The stock fell pennies.  If you would like to learn more about Citi, click on this link:

Citigroup Reduces 2013 Earnings Results After Fraud Found at Mexico Unit

Citigroup (C)

Stocks retreated in the PM, closing the month on a negative note after posting substantial gains in Feb.  A growing mess in the Ukraine & a less robust US economy in Q4 may have encouraged sellers in a market that is overbought short term.  Dow still managed to advance 600 this month but remains down 250 YTD.

Dow Jones Industrials

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