Thursday, February 12, 2015

Higher markets on military truce for Ukraine

Dow climbed 58, advancers over decliners better than 3-1 & NAZ added 36.  The MLP index rose 4 to the 445s & the REIT index went up 1 to the 341s.  Junk bond funds inched higher & Treasuries were even.  Oil is now over 50 & gold is slightly higher.

AMJ  (Alerian MLP Index tracking)

CLH15.NYM...Crude Oil Mar 15...51.31 Up ....2.47 (5.1%)

GCG15.CMX...Gold Feb 15.....1,223.30 Up ...4.30 (0.4%)

3 Stocks You Should Own Right Now - Click Here!

Sales at US retailers fell more than forecast in Jan, reflecting smaller receipts at gasoline stations & declines at clothing & sporting goods stores.  The 0.8% drop followed a 0.9% decrease in the prior month, according to the Commerce Dept.  The forecast called for a 0.4% decline.  Sales excluding gasoline were little changed.  The back-to-back declines indicate consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, may be cooling after the strongest qtr since 2006.  At the same time, faster job growth & cheaper fuel signal household purchases will keep underpinning the US expansion.  6 of 13 major categories showed declines in Jan.  Sales dropped 0.5% at automobile dealers after a 0.8% decrease the prior month.  Industry sales of cars & light trucks cooled to a 16.6M annualized rate in Jan after 16.8M in Dec.  Retail sales excluding autos decreased 0.9% for a 2nd month.  They were projected to fall 0.5%.  Cheaper gasoline depressed filling-station receipts retail sales aren’t adjusted for prices.  Purchases at filling stations slumped 9.3%, the most since Dec 2008.  Sales excluding automobiles & service stations increased 0.2%, less than the projected gain of 0.4%.  The figures used to calculate GDP, which exclude categories such as food services, auto dealers, home-improvement stores & service stations, showed a 0.1% gain after dropping 0.3% in the previous month.  Americans were cautious about spending elsewhere.  Sales decreased 0.8% at clothing chains after a 1.2% slump a month earlier.  Purchases declined 2.6% at sporting goods outlets, 0.7% at furniture stores & 0.7% at department stores.  But sales rose at non-store retailers, building material outlets & electronics stores.

Another Disappointing Retail Sales Report

Euro-area govs left tough decisions on the future of Greece’s bailout for next week, after talks failed to bridge differences over the aid program that the Greek gov blames for economic hardship.  With Greece’s current bailout expiring at the end of Feb, finance ministers met for 6 hours without signing off on any conclusions on the way forward for the region’s most-indebted nation.  That leaves open how Greece can avoid running out of cash & avert a possible exit from the 19-nation EU.  Attention now shifts to a summit of EU leaders on today, a day after German Chancellor Merkel & French pres Hollande traveled to meet Russian pres Putin to negotiate a cease-fire in Ukraine.  Merkel had left bargaining with Greece to the finance ministers.  “We understand each other much, much better now than we did this morning,” Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis told reporters.  “Europe manages to find agreements even if it’s at the last moment.”  Greece needs its next bailout installment of about €7B ($7.9B) or some other financing to keep from defaulting on its intl debt payments.  The new, anti-austerity gov of Prime Minister Tsipras has said it no longer wants to abide by the terms of the bailout program, asking instead for bridge funding while negotiating a new deal.

EU Puts Off Greek Rescue Battle After Brussels Talks Stall

A last-gasp cease-fire to stem the conflict that’s devastated eastern Ukraine & sent ties between Russia & its former Cold War foes to a more than 2-decade low failed to ease skepticism over the prospects for peace.  The accord was struck today after more than 18 hours of non-stop talks between Ukrainian pres Poroshenko, his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Merkel & Hollande.  It envisages a truce from midnight at the start of Feb 15 & reaffirms some commitments from a failed Sep bid to end the conflict.  The collapse of previous cease-fires has stoked doubts as to whether this one will hold.  10 months of fighting have killed more than 5K, crushed Ukraine’s economy & propelled Russia toward a recession thru US & European sanctions.  Raising pressure to deliver a settlement, the run-up to the summit was accompanied by escalating violence & calls for the US to supply weapons to Ukraine’s struggling army.  “What we’ve reached now gives us more hope than if we hadn’t agreed on anything,” Merkel said.  “We don’t have any illusions that a lot of work is still required but there’s a real chance for things to take a turn for the better.”  Highlighting the tensions still gripping eastern Ukraine, a military spokesman said that 50 tanks crossed the border from Russia overnight along with 40 rocket launchers & 40 armored personnel carriers.  2 Ukrainian servicemen were killed in the past day, the army said.  But Putin was more upbeat.  “Despite all the difficulties of the negotiating process, we managed to agree on the main things,” he said.  “I call on both sides in the conflict to stop the bloodshed as quickly as possible and move to a genuine process of long-term political settlement.”  An initial 50-kilometer (30-mile) buffer zone will also be established between the 2 sides, while there will be an amnesty covering all prisoners, including Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who’s being held in Russia.

Ukrainian Truce Sealed But All-Night Summit Fails to Erase Doubts

Intl news is carrying the greatest weight.  Even a shaky truce in the Ukraine is getting some respect by stock buyers.  Unfortunately words are cheap.  The day of reckoning for Greece was postponed until next week, but there is little hope for much to be accomplished in the next few days.  Retail sales data is very disappointing.  Low priced gas is supposed to aid retail sales.  The economic recovery has been inconsistent in the last few months, not an encouraging sign for the stock market.

Dow Jones Industrials

No comments: