Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Markets drop on possible early elections in Greece

Dow sank 147, decliners over advcancers 5-2 & NAZ dropped 44.  The MLP index rebounded all of 1+ to the 455s (still off 100 from its recent peak) & the REIT index lost 1+ to the 223s.  Junk bond funds were weak & Treasuries rallied as stocks fell.  Oil rose for the first time in 6 days amid speculation about the price level that will force some producers to curb investment & limit future supply growth.  Gold is rising with all the intl turmoil over lower oil prices.

AMJ (Alerian MLP Index tracking fund)

CLF15.NYM...Crude Oil Jan 15...63.54 Up .....0.49  (0.8%)

GCF15.CMX...Gold Jan 15.....1,218.00 Up ...23.30  (2.0%)

Greek stocks & bonds slumped after Prime Minister Samaras opted to bring forward the process of choosing a new head of state, risking parliamentary elections in Europe’s most indebted state as early as Jan.  He nominated Stavros Dimas for the post.  Voting will begin Dec 17 with 2 further rounds possible.  Samaras will have to rely on opposition votes to push thru his pick for the mainly ceremonial post; without them, his gov will fall.  The news triggered a sell off in the Greek stock & bond markets.  Under the constitution, a supermajority of at least 180 lawmakers in the 300-seat chamber is needed to elect a successor to the incumbent, pres Karolos Papoulias.  The gov has just 155 lawmakers at its disposal.  Failure to install a candidate after 3 attempts would prompt the collapse of Samaras’s coalition & the dissolution of parliament.  “Political uncertainty must end now,” a gov spokeswoman said.  The coming months are “crucial” for an agreement on a credit line to replace Greece’s bailout program & negotiations over the country’s debt, she said.  Only some of the 24 lawmakers not currently caucusing with any of the country’s political parties have said they may support the gov candidate for the presidency.  All opposition party leaders have said they’ll block any pick made by Samaras, meaning the gov will have to count on a revolt from opposition lawmakers against their official party lines to secure the election of a new pres.

Greek Markets Tumble as Samaras Risks Early Elections

Iraq will sell its Basrah Light crude next month to customers in Asia at the steepest discount in at least 11 years, following Saudi Arabia’s lead as Middle Eastern producers seek to defend market share.  Basrah Light, a high-sulfur oil used by refiners including China Petroleum & Chemical., was set at $4 a barrel below the average of Middle East benchmark Oman & Dubai grades, the lowest since at least Aug 2003.  The official selling price to US buyers was cut by 30¢ compared with Dec, while shipments to Europe were marked up by 10¢.  Iraq is reducing export prices to Asia after a similar move by Saudi Arabia last week.  The 2 nations are the biggest producers in OPEC, which decided against cutting its production quota last month.  Middle East producers form half of OPEC’s 12 members, which collectively supply about 40% of the world’s oil.  Iraq ships Basrah Light from its oil terminal in the Persian Gulf & also exports Kirkuk crude to US & European markets mainly via the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

Iraq Follows Saudi Arabia With Deeper Crude Discounts for Asia

Michael Jeffries
Photo:   Bloomberg

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries, who turned the retail chain into a hot teen-apparel company in the 1990s before it lost its cachet in recent years, is stepping down.  He will retire immediately as CEO & a member of the board.  The board is now seeking a replacement for Jeffries from internal and external candidates.  Jeffries has come under fire as the Abercrombie & Hollister clothing lines lost their relevance with teenage shoppers, leading to declining same-store sales & tumbling profit . ANF had already stripped Jeffries of his chairman role earlier this year.  It created a new COO job & named 4 new independent directors to its board as part of a deal with an activist investor who sought changes at the company.  The retailer has also named 2 new executives to head up the Abercrombie & Hollister brands.  As part of the changes, ANF nonexecutive chairman, Arthur Martinez, will become executive chairman.  The stock shot up 1.60 (6%) on the news.  If you would like to learn more about ANF, click on this link:

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries to Step Down Immediately

Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF)

Unsettled conditions around the globe are getting traders nervous.  Of course, Dow remains close to its record highs.  But in a market priced to perfection, there is no room for uncertainty.  Low priced oil has added a lot of doubts about extending stock market gains.

Dow Jones Industrials

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