MarketWatch.com - Pre-Market Indications

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures slip after jobless data

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By Simon Kennedy and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures edged lower after the government reported jobless claims totalled 388,000 last week, leaving investors on the fence ahead of Friday’s payrolls data.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,280, -6.00, -0.05%)  fell 5 points to 12,281, and Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,323, -1.40, -0.11%)  shed 2 points to 1,321.9.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,330, -4.50, -0.19%)  slipped 2.5 points to 2,332.

Search for clarity in Libya goes on

In his address to the nation Monday night, President Obama didn’t fully explain the U.S. military involvement against Libya. But WSJ's Nathan Hodge says until Col. Gadhafi is deposed, it's hard for anyone to outline exactly what might happen.

U.S. stocks rose Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,337, -13.96, -0.11%)  closing up about 72 points at an almost six-week high after an encouraging report on private-sector employment.

Later in the session, investors will get the Chicago purchasing managers index for March and factory orders for February.

But the highlight will come Friday with the release of nonfarm payrolls and the unemployment rate for March. Analysts polled by MarketWatch expect the addition of 185,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate is seen ticking up to 9% from 8.9%.

Mike Lenhoff, chief strategist at Brewin Dolphin, said investors may decide just to wait on the sidelines until Friday’s payrolls figures, but added that Wall Street could also see a little bit of weakness due to events in Europe.

“There might be some degree of apprehension there over the Irish stress tests,” Lenhoff said. The stress-test results will be released later in the European day and could be viewed as giving a hint over the outcome of broader stress tests for Europe that will be released in June. Read more on Ireland's stress tests.

In addition, higher-than-expected euro-zone inflation could spur some jitters on Wall Street, he added.

The dollar was lower after the euro-zone inflation data, with the euro rising 0.6% to $1.4205, while the dollar slipped 0.4% against the yen to ¥82.847.

Oil prices advanced as the dollar weakened. Light crude for May delivery rose $1.91 to $106.18 a barrel in electronic trading on Globex.

On the corporate front, Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.51, -0.11, -0.41%)  said in a blog post late Wednesday that it is filing a formal complaint against Google Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog (GOOG 585.18, +3.34, +0.57%)  with the European Commission as part of the commission’s investigation into Google’s dominance in online search. Read more about Microsoft and Google.

Among its concerns, Microsoft said Google is restricting rival search engines from properly accessing YouTube for their search results.

Also late Wednesday, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.a/quotes/nls/brk.a (BRK.A 126,299, -1,804, -1.41%)   /quotes/comstock/13*!brk.b/quotes/nls/brk.b (BRK.B 84.17, -1.29, -1.51%)  said David Sokol resigned from the firm after it came to light that he had bought millions of dollars of Lubrizol Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!lz/quotes/nls/lz (LZ 134.01, 0.00, 0.00%)  shares before urging Warren Buffett to buy the company.

Sokol had been considered a possible successor to Buffett. Read more on Sokol's resignation.

Shares of Mosaic Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!mos/quotes/nls/mos (MOS 79.83, -0.62, -0.77%)  will also be in focus after the fertilizer company said its fiscal third-quarter profit more than doubled, but revenue fell short of market expectations.

CarMax Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!kmx/quotes/nls/kmx (KMX 32.22, -2.38, -6.87%)  reported a fourth-quarter profit of 39 cents a share, topping the analyst consensus forecast compiled by FactSet Research by a penny.

Among international markets, European indexes were mostly lower after the euro-zone inflation data, with the French CAC 40 /quotes/comstock/30t!i:px1 (FR:PX1 3,989, -35.26, -0.88%)  falling 0.6% in afternoon trading. Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed up 0.5%.

Simon Kennedy is the City correspondent for MarketWatch in London. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Thursday, Mar 31, 2011 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Wednesday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
AMIE $2.30 $3.70 60.9% 9,635
SYMX $2.04 $3.00 47.1% 18,390
CELM $2.89 $1.83 (36.7%) 5,202
ABAT $2.01 $1.68 (16.4%) 99,008


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
SPY $91,018,027 $132.66 ( 0.1%) | C 1,012,827 $4.44 ( 0.4%)
BHP $20,159,082 $95.54 1.2% | SPY 685,702 $132.66 ( 0.1%)
NXPI $19,117,108 $30.75 ( 2.2%) | NXPI 623,291 $30.75 ( 2.2%)
BRK.B $16,557,493 $83.93 ( 1.8%) | LVS 268,627 $41.49 ( 4.5%)
BBL $12,766,053 $79.35 0.3% | CTIC 249,550 $0.39 2.1%
LVS $11,142,724 $41.49 ( 4.5%) | BHP 210,866 $95.54 1.2%
GLD $8,384,112 $139.60 0.7% | EWT 201,200 $14.87 0.8%
AAPL $7,141,808 $347.04 ( 0.5%) | BRK.B 197,469 $83.93 ( 1.8%)
QIHU $5,192,170 $35.01 2.8% | SDS 164,560 $20.88 0.2%
IWM $5,074,436 $83.78 ( 0.1%) | BBL 160,464 $79.35 0.3%


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Japan Rebuilds While The Fed Tears Down

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

In today’s world there is always plenty to write about and today is no exception.

As far as we are concerned QE3 is on the way accompanied by almost zero official interest rates. QE1 was to bail out the financial sectors in the US and Europe and QE2 was to bail out US government debt. That is why the Fed has purchased 70% to 80% of Treasuries. Previous debt and the $1.6 trillion of new debt created this year means someone has to buy that debt and there are very few buyers. That means the Fed has to buy most of paper with funds created out of thin air in this monetization process. Those tremendous amounts of funds will most certainly increase inflation. This policy is never ending unless default becomes inevitable. That is why money and credit has to be created indefinitely until hyperinflation occurs and the system eventually collapses. It is no surprise then along with economic, financial, social and political instability that there has been a steady movement into gold and silver related assets and commodities. As long as stimulus of one form or anothe r continues to be used the problems won’t be solved and these investment vehicles will move higher and higher. Every time money and credit are created with no collateralized backing, such as gold and silver, the value of these aggregates in circulation falls, and such an endless cycle guarantees the demise of the currency and the rising value of gold and silver.

Recent tragic events in Japan has brought some unexpected developments, which for the time being could lift the economy from depression at least on a temporary basis. Funds committed aggregate just under $1 trillion not the official $309 billion. We believe the funds could be raised initially in the following way: $300 billion from the postal savings plan; $300 billion from yen bonds sold in the international market and $300 billion from the liquidation of US government and other US dollar denominated securities. That is for cleanup and infrastructure. Then Japanese insurance companies, as well as foreign insurers, have to raise billions more to pay off the insured.

In Japan’s quest to reconstruct the region affected demand for commodities will increase putting added upward pressure on commodity markets. Not only for base metals and materials, but for food stuffs as well, due to contamination and the disruption in material and food distribution. Needless to say, these problems will create inflation, something not seen in Japan for almost 20 years. Trade surplus will become trade deficit and result in a balance of payments deficit. This tragedy could cost Japan its converted position in the top 5 industrial nations of the world. These events will probably as well lead to the end of the yen carry trade, which has funded speculation worldwide for many years. It will affect exports, but also the purchase of US Treasuries. The recent effort, illegal and unprecedented, by G-7 countries to rescue the yen was in reality a move to purchase US Treasuries being sold by Japan. Yes, the yen fell from $.76 to $.81, but that is a transitory move. Central banks and governments didn’t want upward pressure on real interest rates, the Fed having to buy all that paper, or the possibility of default by the US. Short term the bailout worked, but now the Fed has to buy the bonds from G-7 members over a period of time putting further pressure on the Fed balance sheet and create more monetization. What you saw was a cleanup operation akin to QE2 that might be termed a QE3 for the Fed. Insiders and others in bond markets in the G-7 know what went on but the public doesn’t. It is not surprising that the dollar has been under downward pressure recently. Such currency dilution and depreciation can only lead to further upward pressure on gold and silver in the coming months. You might call the situation global monetization caused by the G-7. This as well will be a catalyst for global price inflation in the coming months, something most people are currently unaware of. This outpouring of money creation will probably take six mon ths to a year and one-half to show up in the form of inflation. It will enlarge the inflation problem of QE2 and stimulus 2. The operation to devalue the yen in the marketplace and mop up Japanese sales of treasuries will go on until Japan has enough fluid cash to get reconstruction underway. Japan’s unfortunate plight might be a diversion, but it will prove to be an expensive one for all the countries involved. What is going on in this area will probably only be recognized by a handful of professionals. Most investors and the public will never know what transpired. This procedure could well have set the scene for hyperinflation in 2013. If QE3 becomes reality it can only be worse. Of course, this sets the stage for hard times for citizens of G-7 countries and others and it will send gold and silver considerably higher.

The Fed has for years, and the Treasury as well via the Exchange Stabilization Fund, been intervening in the currency markets. It is part of the legal function of both entities under the Executive Order, signed by President Ronald Reagan, known as “The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.” The ESF is a legal subsidiary of the Treasury Department created in the 1930s to smooth currency markets. It is used frequently and could have as much as $1 trillion and when used with leverage can affect currency markets for several days in a row. It was used illegally in 1995 to assist Mexico when its economy was about to collapse. Two weeks ago for the first time in a long time, the Fed admitted intervening in currency markets, something they and the ESF do every day via JPM, GS and Citi. the last time we saw open Fed currency activity was 10 years ago in behalf of a falling euro. These are the kind of things government and the privately owned Fed get away with and th e public never knows, because the media refuses to expose what they are up too. Another perfect example is the rigging of the gold and silver markets. Overwhelming evidence of such manipulation is presented every day and the media refuses to carry it. The bottom line is once QE 2, intervention and QE3 meet, inflation will go right through the roof.

As a result of Japanese misfortune it will probably take five years or more to sort out the problems of the land of the rising sun. Their export trade and finances will suffer and they’ll experience inflation, something they have not seen since the late 1980s. How many US Treasury bonds they’ll have to sell remains to be seen. We are guessing at $300 billion. Japan and the US and world monetary system has to be saved. Proof of that, at least for now, is the G-7 operation itself. Why bother to do such a rescue if you want the system to collapse? Obviously it is not yet time for something like that to happen. In addition, the Soros group of Illuminists wouldn’t be meeting to form a new world reserve currency, if the intention was to destroy the system, at least at this time. It is also obvious by their actions that Japan’s problems are going to be solved at a great financial price, which will require massive amounts of commodities. That will eventually fuel higher c ommodity prices, which will add to inflation and send gold and silver higher. That will be accompanied by the final phasing out of the yen carry trade, which has to be in its final stages. That incidentally will in part end much speculation that has been the result of that trade over the past ten or more years. Many forces are at play in what could become a currency war. There are no currency controls worldwide, because there is no gold backing to anchor the systems. As a result particularly since 8/15/71 everyone has been rigging their currencies for trade advantage. Some of that self-interest will prevail even though it shouldn’t. It is similar to kicking someone when they are down. On the other hand the G-7 are pushing the yen down to make it look like they want a level playing field, which really is not the case. They do not want the Japanese economy to collapse, nor do they want the dollar to collapse, at least not quite yet. As a result of these machinations the dol lar could become the next carry trade due to its almost zero interest rates. Such a development would in finality destroy the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. A phasing out of the yen carry trade and an unsuccessful attempt to arrest the strength of the yen will bring major losses to players, mainly banks and hedge funds, who get trapped in the trade. There will be liquidation and forced liquidation of yen positions and the sale of bonds and securities worldwide as trades are unwound. That will put great downward pressure on all markets except commodities and gold and silver. There are few bank and hedge fund long positions on gold and silver and their shares, so little to be liquidated. This is not going to be another 2008 de-leveraging.

All commodity costs are moving higher via demand, bad weather and disasters and a flight to quality â€" to something real that can be used or sold, not a piece of paper. The price of everything as a result will go much higher and people in the third and second worlds will die because they cannot afford to buy food, something that fits right in with the illuminist mantra of eliminating 60% to 80% of the world’s population. Food prices have risen more than 30% over the past 1-1/2 years and we expect that exponential rise to continue up another 30% during 2011 and thereafter. Bad growing weather is a factor, but the biggest factor is quantitative easing and stimulus, which create inflation and drive sound money advocates into commodities, gold and silver.

We find it ironic that the G-20 should rail against the US in their employment of QE2. Was it not the Fed that 2-1/2 years ago bailed out UK and European banks? It like the pot calling the kettle black, or is it misdirection and political posturing? Not that the Fed is not taking down the system â€" it is â€" but the other 19 are co-conspirators, especially countries like China that refuse to revalue their currency by 35%. Each in its own way is to blame. It looks more like political theatre as servant of the Rothschilds, French President Nicolas Sarkozy takes China’s side, when China is doing all the same monetary things that the rest are doing. This gang has committees for committees. The bottom line is nothing is supposed to get accomplished. The real agenda comes from behind the scenes. The meetings are a façade. The Black Nobility and other Illuminists call the shots from deep within their inner sanctums. Yes, the big banks are the problem, but they also take order s. If you step out of line you are eliminated. Look at what happened years ago to Deutsch Bank President Alfred Heerhousen. He was cut down in a hail of gunfire, by Red Brigades that were controlled by the Illuminists. Ask Henry Kissinger who had the same group do away with the ex-Italian president. This is a hardball league. If you step out of line you are eliminated or suicided.

In April, the Chairman of the Fed, Mr. Bernanke, will lay down policy laid out for him for the next year as the G-20 takes their orders. In recent Brussels talks we saw German Chancellor Merkel step out of line in the advanced funding for the six-nation bailout due to the humiliating losses politically in her home state in Germany for the CDU. The German people do not want to bail out the PIIGS and they want out of the euro and the EU. Germans do not want to be told to do anything much less how much trade surplus they’ll be allowed to have. That to any thinking person is dumb. Germans are being told to subsidize the rest of the EU, because they cannot compete and refuse to work hard. Then Mr. Trichet, head of the ECB, the European Central Bank, said commodities prices and inflation have to be controlled. Well the answer is simple. Stop creating so much money and credit. If the ECB or the Fed does that the whole system will collapse. The flight to commodities and gold and silver are the natural path to protecting one’s assets that are in danger due to the policies of the Fed and the ECB. Wages will not rise, but unemployment and inflation will due to their unworkable policies. They all are caught in the web of free trade and globalization. The old British mercantilism whereby transnational Illuminist conglomerates get richer via 3rd world slave labor and the manufacturing bases of advanced high wage countries are destroyed, which is meant to force the people in the losing countries to accept world government.

We can go a long way to solving trade imbalance policies by forcing nations to stop rigging their currencies and forcing labor costs down. That is most easily dealt with by erecting tariffs on goods and services. We can also stop transnational American based conglomerates from holding their profits tax-free offshore. Then getting Congress to allow them to return profits to the US at 5-1/4% not 35% costing American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Such policies are in the process of destroying America and elevating China to a premier position among nations. This has happened, because our politicians are bought and paid for.

As we mentioned earlier Germany is no longer playing the Anglo-American game. We earlier cited the refusal to increase bailout aid and the proposal to cut proposed aid. That was followed by an abstention on the UN Security Council vote to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. The cohesion that bound the US, UK, France and Germany may well be breaking apart. The dominance of Deutsch Bank in German affairs could be coming to an end. There were two very paramount moves by Germany. Merkel and the CDU sold out the German people and now the anger of the voters is manifest in the CDU’s losses in Hamburg. German elitists are in serious trouble. Germany’s underwriting of the debts of the inefficient and corrupt welfare states of the south are over and that event signals the end of the euro and perhaps even the EU. In the next election the CDU and Merkel will be out of power and the helm will be handed to the Socialists. After having lived for a long time and having observed it for m ore than 50 years we expect a revolt against elitist rule in Germany. German banks and banks across Europe are in serious trouble and have been for 3-1/2 years, and as we shall see this week, by court order, who was bailed out in Europe and why.

Real estate price declines in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Italy have not as yet seen their bottoms. The resultant fallout should take most of Europe’s banks under, unless the ECB and the Fed provide unlimited extension of funding. It will be interesting what new rabbit will be pulled out of the hat. All over Europe we see higher unemployment as a result and that means more social problems. Spain is the key. House prices will fall further â€" a minimum of another 50%. Its problems are similar to the housing crisis in the US. Banks are stuck with a massive inventory of unsold homes. The banks and the government, just like in the US, will continue to lie as they have about every statistic. National unemployment has been over 20% for some time and about 40% among the youth. The last figure we saw was 38%.

We lived in both Spain and Portugal and at the moment the latter is in very serious trouble. Portugal is a smoking bubbling volcano and could well be close to eruption. When you have roamed Europe as we have for so many years you starkly see the folly of the amalgamation of the European Union. Countries, and whole sections of countries are enormous and can never hope to be melded or reconciled. Based on these assumptions alone the EU will eventually break up. The collapse of six economies will eliminate the euro and then trade tariffs will finish the job off. How can countries in the group of 6 pay 8% to borrow funds, pay back their interest and principal and still have a growing economy? It is impossible and European elitists know that. They are doing anything to buy time, so the collapse does not come on their watch. The struts holding up European banking are broken and all the money and credit in the world are not going to change that. The bankers planned a collapse and that is exactly what they are going to get. It is like the never-ending story that finally is about to end worldwide. The public in many nations have finally discovered that the bankers have been fleecing them for centuries and that is about to end. G. Edward Griffin’s “Creature from Jekyll Island” is being distributed worldwide. Even though it is about the privately owned US Federal Reserve System it applies in every country. All nations have been doing the same thing or something similar. Finally that game is going to be over and the back of the elitist-banking cartel will be broken.

This past week the Dow gained 3.1%, S&P rose 2.7%, the Russell 2000 rose 3.7% and the Nasdaq 100 gained 4.3%. Banks fell 0.5%; as broker/dealers rose 1.6%; cyclicals gained 2.9%; transports 3%; consumers 1.8%; utilities 1.7%; high tech 3.6%; semis 4.1%; Internets 3.8% and biotechs 2%. Gold bullion rose $11.09, HUI rallied 5.4% and the USDX rose 0.6% to 76.15.

Two-year T-bills rose 14 bps to 0.71%, the 10-year T-notes rose 8 bps to 3.52%, as the 10-year German bund rose 9 bps to 3.28%.

The Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates rose 5 bps to 4.81%, the 15’s rose 7 bps to 4.05%, one-year ARMs rose 4 bps to 3.21% and the 30-year jumbos rose 7 bps to 5.41%.

Fed credit rose $13.9 billion to a record $2.582 trillion. Year-on-year it is up 12.4%.

Global central bank international reserve assets, excluding gold, were up $1.547 trillion yoy, or 20.3%, to a record $9.381 trillion.

Total money fund assets fell $7.8 billion to $2.732 trillion. They have fallen $78 billion year-to-date.

Commercial paper outstanding rose $4.0 billion to $1.080 trillion; it is up $111 trillion ytd.

Consumer spending in the U.S. rose more than forecast in February as incomes climbed, helping to bolster the expansion in the world’s largest economy.

Purchases increased 0.7 percent, the most since October, after advancing 0.3 percent the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Incomes increased 0.3 percent, less than projected, and the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation accelerated.

The U.S. added jobs for the sixth consecutive month in February and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since April 2009, helping cushion Americans from higher food and fuel prices. Spending is contributing to the recovery, which Fed policy makers say is on a “firmer footing.”

 

U.S. regulators closed Chicago- based Park National Bank in October 2009 when it owed $345 million to one of the lowest-cost lenders in town: the Federal Reserve’s discount window. Park National had been a constant customer at the window for more than 18 months before it failed, records show.

That glimpse into the loan program, gleaned through the Freedom of Information Act, will be expanded this week with an unprecedented view of the secret lifelines the Fed extended to hundreds of banks. Officials plan to release documents that amount to more than 6,000 pages, according to court records. Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, and News Corp.’s Fox News Network LLC requested the records under FOIA, then sued after the central bank refused to release them.

Without identifying them as of yet, Fed officials say all the discount window loans made during the worst financial crisis since the 1930s have been repaid with interest. Cases such as Park National’s show how the lending amounted to a secret public subsidy, with few questions asked.

“Solvency is the big issue,” said Arthur Wilmarth, a professor at George Washington University Law School in Washington. “Was the Fed keeping banks alive when they should have died?”

Banks were able to tap the window for loans at rates below the market after subprime mortgage defaults contributed to record losses for them and credit markets began to seize up.

 

Cummins Inc. and Kohl’s Corp. are accelerating equipment purchases to boost productivity, reinforcing an unprecedented gap between capital spending and employment in the U.S. that’s restraining a labor-market rebound.

Corporate investment will rise 11 percent this year as sales pick up, following a 15 percent gain in 2010, according to “Man vs. Machine,” a Feb. 2 report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Employment will grow just 1.7 percent, after a 0.7 percent increase last year, the study projects.

Inventory rebuilding, low borrowing costs and government policies that include a new tax break on equipment purchases are powerful spurs for capital spending, says Neil Dutta, the Bank of America economist who wrote the report. The job market lacks such drivers and will form a “mediocre” underpinning for household spending, the biggest part of gross domestic product, he said.

“Machines have the upper hand,” Dutta said in a telephone interview from New York. “You see this huge pickup in capital spending, but there isn’t a meaningful increase in employment; it’s being grudgingly pulled along. The consumer is not going to perform the way people expect.”

The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index has risen for seven consecutive months, surging in February to the highest level since May 2004. While the labor market is “improving gradually,” unemployment remains “elevated,” according to the Federal Reserve. The jobless rate may hold at 8.9 percent in March for a second month, the lowest since April 2009, based on the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey ahead of Labor Department figures due April 1.

 

Big Brother really is watching you constantly. According to a new report by The New York Times, cell phone companies often “track your every move” and they do so while keeping their customers entirely in the dark about the intrusive practice.

This disconcerting revelation came to light after German politician Malte Spitz sued his mobile provider, Deutsche Telekom, to find out exactly what information about him they had acquired. What the court revealed is shocking even if it’s not much of a surprise to those suspicious of our ceaseless connectivity.

Between the end of August, 2009 to the end of February, 2010, Deutsche Telekom, current owner of T-Mobile, had recorded and saved his longitude and latitude coordinates more than 35,000 times.

“We are all walking around with little tags, and our tag has a phone number associated with it, who we called and what we do with the phone,” Sarah E. Williams, a graphic information expert at Columbia University tells the Times. “We don’t even know we are giving up that data.”

In the United States, even less is known about what level of surveillance wireless companies are conducting on their customers because these companies are not required to divulge what information they collect. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, however, that information is extensive, and is only getting more so.

One of the reasons telecoms are collecting the data is for market research purposes. Another, perhaps more troubling reason, is for the benefit of law enforcement, like the FBI and CIA.

In contrast to the installation of “cookies” by websites, which are used to gather information about a person’s online browsing habits, it is currently impossible or at least incredibly difficult to opt out of cell phone surveillance in the US. A variety of “do not track” services, from companies like Google and Mozilla, are now available, which prevent websites from automatically installing cookies on users’ computers.

Perhaps that will change if customers start suing their telecoms, as Mr. Spitz did in Germany. But in this age when many of us have already opted out of personal privacy by publishing a wide range of aspects of our lives online, such a fight seems unlikely.

 

“Municipal bond issuance is set for the slowest quarter in at least eight years as states and local governments borrowed 55% less than last year amid rising interest rates and an environment of fiscal conservatism.  About $43.9 billion in fixed-rate debt is estimated to have been sold in the first three months of 2011, down from $97.3 billion in the same period last year… That compares with $129 billion last quarter, the busiest on record.”

“New York City may need to cut spending by $600 million more because the state Legislature is unlikely to approve aid and other measures anticipated in a preliminary financial plan, Budget Director Mark Page said.”

“China is set to import the largest amount of corn in more than 15 years, according to US government analysts in Beijing, injecting new demand into a tight global market.  The analysts project that China will import 2.5m tonnes of corn in the crop year that begins in September, making its third significant international purchase in three years.  If the projection is confirmed, the imports will be hitting the third-highest level in 50 years.”

 

The eight-year criminal prosecution related to failed Enron Corp.’s broadband unit ended yesterday with the final sentencing.

Former executive Rex Shelby was sentenced to two years of probation by a federal judge for insider trading. He will serve three months in a halfway house and three months in home confinement. Shelby had been facing up to 10 years in prison.

“I take full responsibility for my actions, all my decisions at Enron,’’ Shelby told US District Judge Vanessa Gilmore.

As part of a plea deal, Shelby is forfeiting almost $2.6 million.

Shelby was one of seven former executives indicted in 2003, all accused of scheming to exaggerate the capabilities of Enron’s broadband network in order to inflate the company’s stock. Enron was primarily an energy trader; the broadband unit was created as a growth engine.

About a day after Shelby and other Enron executives touted the broadband network to Wall Street analysts at a January 2000 conference in Houston, company shares jumped to $72 from $54.

Authorities said the broadband network never made a profit or surpassed testing stages.

Enron filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001 after years of accounting tricks could no longer hide billions in debt.

The collapse wiped out thousands of jobs and more than $2 billion in pension plans.

Of the six others who were indicted, three got prison sentences ranging from 16 to 27 months. One was given one year’s probation, one was acquitted, and one had charges dismissed.

Americans are earning and spending more, but a lot of the extra money is going down their gas tanks. Gas prices have drained more than half the extra cash Americans are getting this year from a cut in Social Security taxes.

Unlike some other kinds of spending, paying more for gas doesn’t help the economy much. Most of the money goes overseas, and higher prices leave people with less money to buy appliances, computers, plane tickets, and other things that can be postponed.

“When food and gasoline prices are rising, it causes people to hunker down,’’ said Chris G. Christopher Jr., senior economist at IHS Global Insight.

Consumer spending jumped 0.7 percent last month, and personal incomes rose 0.3 percent, the Commerce Department said yesterday. Both gains reflected the cut of two percentage points in the Social Security tax, raising take-home pay.

They also illustrated how higher gas prices are stressing household budgets. After adjusting for inflation, spending rose just 0.3 percent. After-tax incomes actually fell 0.1 percent. The Social Security tax cut will give most households an additional $1,000 to $2,000 this year.

In December, when President Obama signed it into law, economists predicted higher take-home pay would lead to more spending and stronger economic growth.

But gas prices have jumped more than 50 cents a gallon this year. In late December, they hit $3 a gallon for the first time in two years.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, has reduced his forecast for 2011 economic growth from 3.9 percent to 3.5 percent, in part because of gas prices.

That would still be better than last year’s 2.9 percent growth and the biggest expansion since before the recession.

Still, much of the anticipated benefit from the tax cut will be lost. Christopher estimates half to two-thirds of the extra cash will ultimately go toward higher gas prices. Food prices have also risen in recent months, he noted.

Most people don’t have the luxury of deciding to buy less fuel. They have to get to work. So they spend more on gas, and less on other goods and services from household purchases to restaurant meals to vacations that do more to drive US economic growth.

 

The International Monetary Fund is expected to soon activate a supplementary funding pool to boost resources available for lending in Europe and elsewhere, raising the pool by several hundred billion dollars.

Activation of the New Arrangement to Borrow, or NAB, is in anticipation of an expected wave of possible new IMF programs, one person familiar with the matter said.

But IMF spokesman William Murray played down the significance: "This is just a natural consequence of ratification of the [special resource pool] on March 11, which we previously announced.”

The resource pool, the IMF says, is "to forestall or cope with an impairment of the international monetary system or to deal with an exceptional situation that poses a threat to the stability of that system." It's essentially a mechanism for the IMF to borrow from a group of countries if it thinks it may need extra resources beyond its conventional reserves saved up through member dues. For example, the

U.S., Japan and China have promised to lend the several hundred billion dollars to the facility above their required contributions for the kitty.

 

GE CEO Jeff Immelt is one of Obama’s best buddies and Obama’s chief business advisor. Does Obama know that GE has paid no US taxes for at least 5 years and they were saved by taxpayer money?

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.

The company has been cutting the percentage of its American profits paid to the Internal Revenue Service for years, resulting in a far lower rate than at most multinational companies.

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore…

Although the top corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, one of the highest in the world, companies have been increasingly using a maze of shelters, tax credits and subsidies to pay far less.

In a regulatory filing just a week before the Japanese disaster put a spotlight on the company’s nuclear reactor business, G.E. reported that its tax burden was 7.4 percent of its American profits, about a third of the average reported by other American multinationals.

A review of company filings and Congressional records shows that one of the most striking advantages of General Electric is its ability to lobby for, win and take advantage of tax breaks.

Over the last decade, G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law, from more generous depreciation schedules on jet engines to “green energy” credits for its wind turbines.

But the most lucrative of these measures allows G.E. to operate a vast leasing and lending business abroad with profits that face little foreign taxes and no American taxes as long as the money remains overseas. While the financial crisis led G.E. to post a loss in the United States in 2009, regulatory filings show that in the last five years, G.E. has accumulated $26 billion in American profits, and received a net tax benefit from the I.R.S. of $4.1 billion.

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Indications: U.S. stock futures trim gains after ADP

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Barbara Kollmeyer and Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures lightly shaved gains Wednesday after Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported that private-sector companies added 201,000 jobs in March, while February’s job gains were revised downward.

“While the rate of job additions is well below what one would hope for, there is clearly a pickup in job creation,” noted Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

The data came ahead of Friday’s closely watched nonfarm-payrolls report.

Up more than 50 points before the ADP report, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,275, +50.00, +0.41%)  were lately up 44 points to 12,269. Those for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,323, +6.30, +0.48%)  rose 5.9 points to 1,322.4.

Futures for the Nasdaq 100 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,340, +17.00, +0.73%)   gained 15.5 points to 2,338.

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Overnight, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,709, +249.71, +2.64%)  rallied 2.6% as exporters surged on a drop in the yen and news of recovering production after the recent earthquake and tsunami.

In Europe, stocks were mostly higher, led by miners, car makers and utilities.

“The markets have taken a bit of a step today,” said Ben Critchley, sales trader at IG Index. He said momentum in Asian markets seems to be building after initial losses in the wake of the Japanese crisis.

“Markets seem strong, considering what’s going on in the world, and certainly, as far as the U.S. goes, we saw declining consumer sentiment and house prices... that has worried the market before, but it seems to have been pushed to one side,” he said.

Soccer game lifts Japan's spirits

Japan's national soccer team faces off against current and former stars of the country's professional soccer league in a charity match. It was the first event to capture national interest since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11.

On Tuesday, Wall Street closed higher, paced by gains for energy and telecom stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,279, +81.13, +0.67%)  rose 81 points, or 0.7%, to close at 12,279.

Among companies in the news, Family Dollar Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!fdo/quotes/nls/fdo (FDO 52.40, +1.00, +1.95%)  reported a second-quarter profit of 98 cents a share. On average, analysts surveyed by FactSet Research expected a quarterly profit of 97 cents a share.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!vrx/quotes/nls/vrx (VRX 44.39, +0.13, +0.29%)  rose in premarket trade. Late Tuesday, the company said it will bid $73 a share for biopharmaceutical group Cephalon Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!ceph/quotes/nls/ceph (CEPH 58.75, +1.18, +2.05%)  in an offer valued at almost $5.7 billion. Read about Valeant’s bid for Cephalon.

Also in premarket trading, shares of drug maker Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!achn/quotes/nls/achn (ACHN 7.05, +0.26, +3.83%) rose after the company announced positive results for a clinical trial of a treatment for chronic hepatitis C.

Crude oil for May delivery fell 28 cents to $104.51 a barrel in electronic trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Against the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar /quotes/comstock/21o!x:susdjpy (USDYEN 82.9900, +0.5200, +0.6305%)   rose to ¥83.05, after hitting a more than three-week high.

The dollar got a boost Tuesday from speculation that the U.S. Federal Reserve won’t extend its quantitative-easing program past June. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher said he would vote against any further monetary easing by the central bank after the current program ends.

Gains for the dollar continued through Asian and into European trading.

Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid. Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Wednesday, Mar 30, 2011 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Tuesday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
CEPH $58.75 $76.03 29.4% 1,523,766
UTA $5.33 $4.17 (21.8%) 15,250
OXM $25.03 $29.31 17.1% 1,065
VRX $44.39 $51.81 16.7% 531,770


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
CEPH $116656174 $76.03 29.4% | CEPH 1,523,766 $76.03 29.4%
SPY $113716823 $132.63 0.6% | SPY 856,898 $132.63 0.6%
GLD $72,774,098 $139.23 0.7% | VRX 531,770 $51.81 16.7%
VRX $27,423,632 $51.81 16.7% | GLD 524,045 $139.23 0.7%
AAPL $24,186,669 $351.07 0.0% | SLV 314,932 $36.79 1.7%
BHP $11,632,339 $94.73 2.1% | C 300,295 $4.48 0.6%
SLV $11,567,845 $36.79 1.7% | CSCO 277,303 $17.59 0.9%
IWM $10,872,228 $83.25 0.5% | BAC 167,459 $13.42 0.6%
QQQ $7,162,387 $57.42 0.6% | EWJ 135,493 $10.42 1.3%
AMZN $6,006,313 $177.20 1.5% | IWM 130,529 $83.25 0.5%


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

This material is for informational purposes only.
NYSE Euronext and its affiliates ("NYSE Arca") are not soliciting any action based upon it.
This material is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal.
Any opinions expressed in this material are NYSE Arca opinions only.
NYSE Arca undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this material in light of new information or future events.
THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED BY NYSE ARCA "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.
NYSE ARCA DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY, TITLE, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AS TO THIS MATERIAL.
IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE ARCA BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE USE
OF THIS MATERIAL, ANY DELAY OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE OR OMISSIONS OR INACCURACIES IN THE MATERIAL) WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL.

Copyright [2011] by NYSE Euronext. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without prior express consent.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Indications: U.S. stock futures edge higher

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures edged higher Tuesday as Wall Street got a glimpse of the impact of trouble overseas on corporate profits after Halliburton Co. trimmed its first-quarter earnings forecast.

The oilfield-services company /quotes/comstock/13*!hal/quotes/nls/hal (HAL 48.78, +0.88, +1.84%)  said late Monday that turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East would pare its first-quarter profit by as much as 4 cents a share.

Kodak's moment

Rex Crum says that a favorable trade commission ruling against Apple and RIM may just help Kodak from going the way of Kodachrome.

Investors received more upbeat results from Lennar Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!len/quotes/nls/len (LEN 19.14, -0.61, -3.09%) , as the home builder reported a surprise first-quarter profit. Read more about Lennar’s results.

And Dow component and home-improvement retailer Home Depot Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!hd/quotes/nls/hd (HD 37.74, +1.09, +2.96%)  said late Monday that it would buy back $1 billion in shares. Read more about Home Depot.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,215, +101.00, +0.83%)  rose 32 points to 12,146, and Standard & Poor’s 500 index futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,314, +11.30, +0.87%)  added 3.80 points to 1,306.

Another Dow component, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!wmt/quotes/nls/wmt (WMT 52.20, +0.01, +0.02%) ,  will ask the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday to reject the case of female workers who contend the world’s largest retailer paid and promoted them less than their male counterparts.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,319, +22.75, +0.99%)  gained 5.25 points to 2,301.

Shares making significant moves ahead of the bell included Apollo Group Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!apol/quotes/nls/apol (APOL 40.29, -2.07, -4.88%) , its shares falling 9.5% after the for-profit educator said new enrollment declined 45% in the second quarter. Read more about Apollo.

Economic indicators Tuesday included the Case-Shiller home-price index, which showed home prices falling a non-seasonally adjusted 1% in January.

Data on March consumer confidence are scheduled for later in the day.

“Beginning today, economic data will start to reflect the late-February spike in oil prices and the human and economic reverberations of the March 11 Japanese earthquake, so we can thus start the process of better quantifying the impacts,” wrote Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, in an emailed note.

In electronic trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude futures fell 79 cents to $103.19 a barrel. Read about oil prices.

On Monday, a late turn halted a three-day advance for U.S. equities after mixed corporate and economic news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,283, +84.92, +0.70%)  lost 22.71 points, or 0.2%, to end at 12,197.88.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Tuesday, Mar 29, 2011 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Monday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
CORT $4.20 $5.19 23.6% 536
CHGS $2.96 $3.44 16.2% 20,962


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
SPY $95,765,345 $130.99 0.0% | CXS 1,210,959 $11.63 ( 4.6%)
BP $20,359,807 $44.87 ( 2.5%) | SPY 731,728 $130.99 0.0%
CXS $14,131,886 $11.63 ( 4.6%) | HTZ 701,650 $15.30 ( 5.9%)
ETP $10,782,619 $50.41 ( 2.8%) | BP 453,691 $44.87 ( 2.5%)
HTZ $10,744,973 $15.30 ( 5.9%) | NOK 217,310 $8.68 ( 0.7%)
AAPL $6,230,465 $350.07 ( 0.1%) | ETP 213,990 $50.41 ( 2.8%)
BHP $4,919,852 $91.75 1.3% | CTIC 112,800 $0.33 ( 7.0%)
IWM $4,601,128 $82.15 0.1% | SLV 111,756 $35.88 ( 0.8%)
GLD $4,538,707 $138.01 ( 0.4%) | SDS 89,484 $21.44 0.0%
SLV $4,003,734 $35.88 ( 0.8%) | APOL 88,913 $38.74 ( 8.6%)


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

This material is for informational purposes only.
NYSE Euronext and its affiliates ("NYSE Arca") are not soliciting any action based upon it.
This material is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal.
Any opinions expressed in this material are NYSE Arca opinions only.
NYSE Arca undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this material in light of new information or future events.
THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED BY NYSE ARCA "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.
NYSE ARCA DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY, TITLE, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AS TO THIS MATERIAL.
IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE ARCA BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE USE
OF THIS MATERIAL, ANY DELAY OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE OR OMISSIONS OR INACCURACIES IN THE MATERIAL) WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL.

Copyright [2011] by NYSE Euronext. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without prior express consent.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Indications: U.S. futures edge up along with spending

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

By Kate Gibson and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) â€" U.S. stock futures were pointing to a slightly higher start for Wall Street Monday, as investors turned their attention to a heavy week of economic data and to crude prices after Libyan rebels took control of key oil towns over the weekend.

Stock-index futures added a sliver to already light gains after economic data showed a rise in consumer spending and incomes in February, with purchases up 0.7% and income up 0.3%.

“Today’s data specifically did not capture much of the energy-price spike in late February,” noted Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/21b!f:dj\m11 (DJM11 12,187, +17.00, +0.14%)  rose 12 points to 12,182, while futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index /quotes/comstock/21m!f:sp\m11 (SPM11 1,310, 0.00, 0.00%)  gained 1.3 points to 1,311.3.

Nasdaq 100 futures /quotes/comstock/21m!f:nd\m11 (NDM11 2,309, -8.00, -0.35%)  added 6.75 points to 2,323.75.

Global Dow

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On Friday, U.S. stocks climbed for a third session, helped by the technology sector and upbeat economic-growth data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /quotes/comstock/10w!i:dji/delayed (DJIA 12,242, +21.23, +0.17%)  gained 3.1% last week.

Observers said geopolitical news is taking a back seat to a heavy slate of U.S. economic data this week. Still ahead for Monday, pending home sales for February are due at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Later in the day, Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will speak at the University of South Carolina.

The week will finish with nonfarm payrolls and the ISM manufacturing index, both due for release on Friday.

“For the moment, the market is focusing on the economy,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners Inc. “The market continues to defy the geopolitical concerns and the European debt crisis along with the situation in Japan.”

“I think part of that probably comes at the expense of the bond market. A lot of the money coming out of bonds is flowing into equities now,” said Cardillo.

Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ek/quotes/nls/ek (EK 3.77, +0.37, +10.85%)  jumped 14% in premarket trading. On Friday, the U.S. International Trade Commission said it will review a patent decision that ruled Apple Inc. /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl (AAPL 352.62, +1.08, +0.31%)  and Research In Motion Ltd. /quotes/comstock/15*!rimm/quotes/nls/rimm (RIMM 56.38, -0.51, -0.90%)  didn’t infringe Kodak’s digital-camera patents.

Alcatel-Lucent SA’s /quotes/comstock/13*!alu/quotes/nls/alu (ALU 5.77, +0.43, +7.96%)   /quotes/comstock/24s!e:alu (FR:ALU 4.09, +0.30, +7.92%)  shares rose 7.1% before the bell. Goldman Sachs upgraded the telecom-equipment maker to buy from neutral.

Radioactive water troubles Japan

Radiation levels in the water around Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant spiked over the weekend, setting back plans to get the plant under control. WSJ's Mariko Sanchanta and Yumiko Ono discuss.

Goldman also lifted its rating on mobile-phone maker Nokia Corp. /quotes/comstock/13*!nok/quotes/nls/nok (NOK 8.70, +0.35, +4.19%)   /quotes/comstock/64h!e3:o-nok1v-eur (FI:NOK1V 6.19, +0.22, +3.60%)  to buy from neutral, saying the company is now in a period of “maximum uncertainty, creating a long-term opportunity for value investors.” The analysts also said the market was being too pessimistic over Nokia’s recent joint venture with Microsoft Corp. /quotes/comstock/15*!msft/quotes/nls/msft (MSFT 25.62, 0.00, 0.00%) . Shares of Nokia rose 3.8% in premarket trading.

U.S.-listed shares of AstraZeneca PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 46.05, -0.09, -0.20%)   /quotes/comstock/23s!a:azn (UK:AZN 2,873, -1.50, -0.05%)  could be active after the company lifted its earnings-per-share guidance for 2011 due to a lower effective tax rate as a result of a tax arrangement reached by U.S. and U.K. authorities. The company said core earnings are now seen in the range of $6.90 to $7.20 a share, up from the previously projected $6.45 to $6.75 a share.

European stocks traded mostly higher, though shares of Philips Electronics NV /quotes/comstock/24s!e:phia (NL:PHIA 22.18, -0.40, -1.77%)   /quotes/comstock/13*!phg/quotes/nls/phg (PHG 31.21, -0.61, -1.91%)  stumbled after the company warned of losses for its television unit.

Asian markets were broadly weaker. In Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average /quotes/comstock/64e!i:ni225 (JP:NI225 9,479, -57.60, -0.60%)  pared losses and closed slightly lower as efforts to stabilize the struggling Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were hampered by high levels of radiation.

Crude oil for May delivery /quotes/comstock/21n!f:cl\k11 (CLK11 104.65, -0.75, -0.71%)  fell $1.31 to $104.09 a barrel in Globex electronic trading. Over the weekend, rebel forces in Libya regained control of key oil towns, helping to reassure markets that crude exports could see a fast restart if Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime collapses.

Gold for May delivery (GCK11 1,431, -0.10, -0.0070%)  dropped $13.20 to $1,413 an ounce.

The U.S. dollar was higher against the Japanese yen at ¥81.71 but down slightly against the euro at $1.4048.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for MarketWatch, based in New York. Barbara Kollmeyer is an editor for MarketWatch in Madrid.

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NYSE Arca Morning Update - 08:30:00 ET

NYSE Arca Morning Update for Monday, Mar 28, 2011 :

STOCKS TRADING ON NYSE Arca AT A PRICE 15% OR MORE AWAY FROM
THE PREVIOUS TRADE DAY'S CONSOLIDATED CLOSE PRICE (AS OF 08:30:00 ET)

Stock Friday's Close Current Price Pct Change Current NYSE ARCA Vol
OBCI $2.15 $2.72 26.7% 8,221
EK $3.40 $3.93 15.6% 353,795


10 MOST ACTIVE STOCKS ON NYSE ARCA AS OF 08:30:00 ET

BASED ON DOLLARS TRADED: | BASED ON SHARES TRADED:
Stock $ Volume Price PctChg | Stock Share Vol Price PctChg
SPY $51,478,868 $131.56 0.2% | VRGY 1,104,550 $14.40 1.6%
VRGY $15,910,577 $14.40 1.6% | ALU 685,784 $5.69 6.8%
GLD $13,885,120 $137.70 ( 1.1%) | SPY 391,229 $131.56 0.2%
QQQ $12,506,375 $57.02 0.3% | EK 353,795 $3.93 15.6%
AAPL $11,061,343 $353.28 0.5% | NOK 320,670 $8.66 3.8%
RDS.B $9,327,397 $72.13 ( 1.2%) | SLV 242,688 $35.61 ( 2.1%)
BHP $9,309,814 $90.53 ( 0.1%) | C 222,197 $4.46 ( 0.2%)
SLV $8,675,820 $35.61 ( 2.1%) | QQQ 219,068 $57.02 0.3%
USO $7,171,241 $41.56 ( 1.4%) | USO 171,935 $41.56 ( 1.4%)
EWY $5,668,377 $62.24 0.1% | BAC 157,701 $13.38 0.4%


Price changes may be affected by symbol splits and dividends.

Consolidated close price is the last print (excluding prints with trade
conditions) prior to 4PM ET.

This information is also updated on our web page every morning at 8:35ET:
http://www.tradearca.com/data/volume/daily_update.asp

This material is for informational purposes only.
NYSE Euronext and its affiliates ("NYSE Arca") are not soliciting any action based upon it.
This material is not to be construed as an offer to buy or sell any security in any jurisdiction where such an offer or solicitation would be illegal.
Any opinions expressed in this material are NYSE Arca opinions only.
NYSE Arca undertakes no obligation to update any of the information contained in this material in light of new information or future events.
THIS MATERIAL IS PROVIDED BY NYSE ARCA "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES EXPRESS OR IMPLIED.
NYSE ARCA DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES INCLUDING THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY, TITLE, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AS TO THIS MATERIAL.
IN NO EVENT SHALL NYSE ARCA BE LIABLE FOR DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST PROFITS, TRADING LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT MAY RESULT FROM THE USE
OF THIS MATERIAL, ANY DELAY OR INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE OR OMISSIONS OR INACCURACIES IN THE MATERIAL) WITH RESPECT TO THIS MATERIAL.

Copyright [2011] by NYSE Euronext. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution prohibited without prior express consent.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fed Ponders Actions While Global Economy Reels

Stock Assault 2.0 - Artificial Intelligence Stock Market Software

The US dollar continues under acute pressure, as the world seeks an alternative reserve currency. The days and years of manipulation, fraud and criminal behavior are fast coming to an end. New alliances are evolving, as are outspoken advocates of a new world reserve currency. As a result more and more foreigners are bypassing Treasury and Agency bonds, as well as other US dollar denominated investments. We watch as other major nations accumulate gold and cannot help but think that the new world reserve currency will be gold backed.

Over the past 11 years the Fed and other central banks have increased money and credit by several devices and in the last three years more aggressively by purchasing bonds and via using swaps. QE1’s monetary creation has now begun to affect costs and the entire price structure. As wages lay stagnant the resultant inflation will eventually destroy the middle class, the structure that holds American society together. As the taxpayer saves the financial institutions the middle class is being destroyed. They are funding their own demise. We believe inflation is currently 8% and should be 14% by yearend. That is the result of QE1 and stimulus 1. Next year the US economy will be impacted by QE2 and stimulus 2. If we get QE3 and stimulus 3, 2013 will be impacted. Inflation could range from 25% to 50%, or more, dependent upon what the elitists have in store for us. While this transpires unemployment will rise and government revenues will fall increasing the already colossal debt . That means consumption will fall as a percentage of GDP from 70% to perhaps 64.5%, the long term mean, by the end of 2013 if we get QE3 and stimulus 3. People will only be able to spend on basics. That also means corporate profits will fall, as well as share prices. That, of course, will depend on whether the “Working Group on Financial Markets” is able to hold the markets up and keep them from falling. Deficits will spiral completely out of control, as will personal and corporate insolvencies. That means education will be cut to the bare bones. Instead of 18 to 21 children in a class you will see 36 to 42. Social services and welfare will be cut in half. Extended unemployment will be phased out and no new projects will be funded. It is not surprising that the Fed has to buy 80% of US debt. Few others are willing to purchase it. Most of the foreign buyers are from England and the Cayman Islands. Is this the Fed buying, which we have suspected for years, or is this rea l buying? We don’t know, but if rep. Ron Paul is successful we could find out, along with all kinds of other law breaking. Don’t forget the result of all the things the Fed has been doing translates into a tax increase on every American. This is another effort to bring the consumer to his knees, so he will be softened up to accept world government. In addition, the dollar is about to approach new depths and a chance exists that it could soon break 71.18, the old all time low and fall to 40 to 55 on the USDX. Many of the items purchased by consumers, that presently represent 70% of GDP, could rise more than 100% in costs, which will cut deeply into consumption. This at this juncture could be in the elitist plan for the destruction of America, as we have known it. Can Weimar or Zimbabwe be far away?

We have seen a rally in bonds due to a recent fall in the stock market from a high yield of 3.74% to 3.23% on the 10-year T-note. If you consider the uproar with Middle East and problems in Japan there are not going to be many foreigners in the market for Treasuries â€" in fact, they may be sellers. These events will put unbearable pressure on the Fed and force it into QE3. If QE3 does not happen real interest rates will rise, first to 4% to 4-1/2% and then to 5-1/2%. While this transpires in 2011 the municipal bond market will be under tremendous pressure. At the same time the events in Japan and in the Middle East could collapse both bond markets. Even now it is almost impossible to find a decent bid in the muni market, if any bid at all. We would call this a fine kettle of fish.

The budget deficit will run 10% of GDP or $1.6 trillion. This is the third successive year of these horrible deficits, as the President, House and Senate refuse to cut spending. Eventually the result of such profligacy will be an end to the US as world leader. China and Germany in this process are vying for that leadership yet both have serious problems. China has almost hyperinflation, massive unemployment, a weakening stock market, a real estate bubble and yes, $1.17 trillion in US dollar denominated securities. We’ll get into Germany and Europe a little later and the problems in the Eurozone. Japan is out of the running having 20 years of depression, debt to GDP that is enormous, although domestically held, like everyone else, they will have fading exports and they now have to deal with a natural disaster.

We would expect the next natural step would be for the US to erect trade barriers and impose tariffs on goods and services. That would be interpreted as isolationism, as America’s commitments internationally, such as wars, would no longer be affordable or acceptable due to its debt burden. When that will take place remains to be seen, but it is a major possibility. Adversaries will call it protectionism, but the US has allowed the world for years total access to its economy and deliberate currency manipulation and the employment of virtual slave labor, which has undercut the US economy. Over the last 11 years it has lost 8.7 million good paying jobs and 42,500 businesses. The longer America waits to institute tariffs the worse it will be. The same goes for budget cuts.

The answer politically has been the same thus far from both parties. You saw the $862 billion stimulus package passed in December. Another defiance of reality. We have seen two years of boondoggles and ever increasing military spending for the military industrial complex and dreadful domestic policies.

That leads us to Germany and Europe. Germany has changed over the last 50 years. One of the cities we lived in for quite some time had changed so much we actually got lost and had to ask for directions. Germany paid a terrible price to reunify and has finally overcome those difficulties, but at a great price. Again, Germany is about to reassert itself as Europe’s leader and perhaps the world’s leader. In recent years with middle of the road policies they are in part abandoning Keynesianism and probably in the nick of time.

That leads us to the problems of Southern Europe, which are nowhere near solved. They are being covered by the Middle East smokescreen, as are US financial and economic problems; the elitists received a bonus when disaster struck Japan. They all have rolling debt crises and with the exception of Greece and Ireland the rest of the nations say they have no problems, or at least none that would justify intervention. They all will have to be bailed out or they’ll all go under taking the euro with them. Economically the rest, in this order, are on the list to receive aid or fail: Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Belgium, Spain and Italy. Their problems are similar to those in the US. A preponderance of public employees, a semi-or-uncompetitive economy, outrageously low interest rates, low savings, low productivity, perpetually large budget deficits and banks that are virtually bankrupt due to poor real estate loans. In the case of banking, interest rates must eventually rise and wh en they do the cost of loan servicing become unbearable.

These conditions cut off deposits and bond issuance for banks that are then left with little capital. The temporary solution as we see today are loans by the ECB and the Fed with funds created out of thin air, in order to keep the banking Ponzi scheme in tact. The countries involved are paying bond yields of 5% to 12%. What happens when rates more 2% higher? They cannot service their debt, never mind principal. European banks have lent these six sovereign states more than $2 trillion, which, of course, was in part created out of thin air. That is how we knew log ago it would take $3 to $5 trillion to clean up the mess and that such figures were simply unobtainable without bankrupting the banks and the central banks of these countries. Underwriting part of the debt, as the solvent European countries have thus far chosen to do, just won’t work. They have bought time for a failing system. Eventually the borrowers have to collapse into insolvency, or the lenders will as well . What should have been done was that the lenders should have accepted payment, over time, of 50%, which they were offered, but refused. In the future they’ll at best get 30%, and perhaps nothing at all. The commitment by solvent states in the euro zone has been about $1 trillion, which as we have pointed out, will only impair their own credit. Germans, French, Dutch and Austrian citizens get to pay all the bills. All for the insane dream of one currency for all and eventually world government â€" it simply won’t work. Greece and Ireland are basket cases and if they survive financially, it will take at least 50 years of poverty to pay off bank debt that was created out of thin air. The bailouts of these two countries have restored little confidence. Anyone who understands what is being done knows it won’t work. Sure, these two insolvent sovereigns have sold debt, but it was sold to countries that had to buy it, or the euro would have collapsed. As an aside the euro is now trading in the above $1.41 range with these terrible problems versus the dollar. That shows you the scale of the US dollar’s problems. Remember as well, that for 11 years the US dollar has fallen close to 20% annually versus gold and for 11 years more than 24% versus silver. The euro has fallen close to 17% versus gold annually and 22% versus silver. These figures tell you gold and silver are in strong long-term bull markets versus all these fiat currencies, and you do not want to be in any currency except for operating purposes. All of your investible funds should be in gold and silver related assets. Once one of the countries goes under the game is over. That is when there will be another big meeting of nations to revalue and devalue currencies, have multilateral debt default and to set a world reserve currency based on 25% gold backing.

Europe is going in exactly the wrong direction, as is the US. In Europe they are calling for loan expansion to the crippled nations, greater integration and common fiscal policy, so they can all drown simultaneously. Sensibly Germany does not want to do that and German citizens certainly don’t want to get any closer to the losers in Southern Europe. In fact, more than 2/3rd’s of Germans want out of the euro zone, never mind getting closer. They do not want to commit to lending and guaranteeing the largest part of an additional $1 trillion or a total of $2 trillion. This is a commitment for the furtherance of one-world government not a bailout of insolvent partners. It is the funding of an insane dream of the mega-rich and the powerful to totally control the world and subject the world population to perpetual servitude. The whole exercise is perverse and deceitful.

Failure of a second $1 trillion tranche of funds for the insolvent would lead to the breakup of the euro as these six nations collapsed into default. You should be mindful as well that $2 trillion won’t solve the problem and will eventually destroy the lenders, mainly Germany. Germans do not want world government, so why should they subject themselves to such commitments. In fact, more than 2/3rd’s of German do not want the euro. They just want to be left alone. The European Stability Mechanism, ESM, is an effort by European bureaucrats to override Germany’s rejection of endless support of insolvent sovereigns. The bureaucrats even have made the ESM an amendment to the Lisbon Treaty, or at least it is in the formative process. This is defying Germany, which is being told you will do what we want you to do. That is being accompanied by collective action causes, which forces lenders to out of hand accept losses no matter how steep on bond issues. This is the most insan e financial procedure ever. Lenders are totally at the mercy of debtors and if the debtors do not or cannot repay the debt they just walk away. Policies like this show you how out of their minds the new world order crowd really is.

It is recognition that the debt will never be paid and the lending nations will continue to fool buyers. It buys a couple of years, but lays the plans for future default. There is no way Greece and Ireland will financially survive and they will leave the euro. Portugal and Belgium will probably follow and there won’t be enough funds to bailout Spain and Italy. This could happen by the end of the year. The timing is anyone’s guess. Five of the six of these nations have $500 plus billion debts coming due this year that has to be rolled over plus new debt. Private and corporate debt that has to be replaced is $1.2 trillion. Now we ask you does it look like they’ll all get refunded? We do not believe so, and that means more trouble before the year is over. That also means low to no growth, higher unemployment and perhaps default. Couple these problems with those in the UK and US and you can see why the events in the Middle East had to happen in part as a diversion. We sa id this from the very beginning and we still believe that was the main reason the region is undergoing major changes. Yes, the powers behind government obviously wanted changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and other countries, plus turmoil in the region, as in all probability, as they set up to invade Iran with Israel’s help.

Debt service will deeply affect Europe’s economic performance and that means exports into Europe will be affected, particularly on reference to China and the US. China’s currency is undervalued by 35% and if Europe has problems China will not revalue its currency, as it should. At the same time US dollar denominated exports will be more competitive with a far cheaper dollar. Both are not good for Europe in European markets, as well as foreign markets. China aggressively has bought some bonds from European nations in trouble by selling US Treasuries to do so. These developments, along with new Japanese problems, will severely disrupt economies and financial markets. That will in turn affect debt rollover and service. That means economies will not perform well. It means more quantitative easing in Europe, the UK and US, which are trapped in a plan of their own making. Such situations will renew pressure on all three economies, as they are bombarded by higher inflation or an aside, to show you what trouble the US dollar is in, the euro has traded up to $1.42 and the dollar has fallen to 75.45, while the euro zone pumps out all this bad news.

Problems in the US, UK and particularly Europe, have been deliberately covered up by planned events in the Middle East and thus far by unplanned events in Japan. The present proposals to increase bailout funds haven’t been accepted particularly by Germany. What isn’t talked about by lenders and the media is that the lenders have their own debt problems. Debt ratios are: France 92%; Germany 80%; Spain 72% and Italy 131%. Their balance sheets are not healthy at all. If markets lose faith in the bailout operations even an enlarged $2 trillion bailout wouldn’t work. It is in our viewpoint inevitable that the six nations will default and the euro will become history. That would precipitate a world-banking crisis. All this is the result of the fractional banking system and the unbridled greed of bankers and their lust to control everyone and everything. A massive welfare system financed by debt didn’t help and the euro and the bankers are to blame. One interest rate cann ot fit all. The euro has not promoted prosperity and political unity. Europe is very tribal and can never be amalgamated. Low interest rates for undeserving countries encouraged unsustainable booms and housing bubbles in Greece, Ireland and Spain. There you have it. A road ahead loaded with insolvable problems. That is why you should be out of currencies and in gold and silver related assets.

 

New single-family home sales unexpectedly fell in February to hit a record low and prices were the lowest since December 2003, showing the housing market slide was deepening. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday sales dropped 16.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted 250,000 unit annual rate, the lowest since records began in 1963, after an upwardly revised 301,000-unit pace in January.

Sales plunged to all-time lows in three of the four regions last month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales edging up to a 290,000-unit pace last month from a previously reported 284,000 unit rate.

U.S. stock indexes fell on the data, while government debt prices rose marginally. The dollar was little changed. Compared to February last year sales were down 28 percent. An oversupply of homes exacerbated by an increasing flood of properties falling into foreclosure is frustrating recovery in the housing market. Data on Monday showed a steep drop in sales of previously owned homes in February, with prices tumbling to a near nine-year low.

The median sales price for a new home plunged 13.9 percent last month to $202,100, the lowest since December 2003. Compared with February last year, the median price fell 8.9 percent. Persistent price declines could dampen hopes of a pick-up in sales during spring.

In the face of stiff competition from foreclosed properties, which typically sell well below market value, builders are holding back on new construction.

At February's sales pace, the supply of new homes on the market rose to 8.9 months' worth, the highest since August, from 7.4 months' worth in January.

There were 186,000 new homes available for sale last month, matching the prior month's inventory. That was still the smallest supply of home since 1967.

Despite lean inventories, new home sales will likely continue to bounce along the bottom for a while until the glut of previously owned homes is whittled down. New home sales account for less than 10 percent of overall sales.

According to the National Association of Realtors, new home prices have been running 45 percent higher than existing home prices, a premium that is historically about 15 percent, indicating previously owned homes are selling well below the cost of construction.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association said applications for home loans rebounded 2.7 percent last week.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a group of executives from smaller banks Wednesday that the financial overhaul will level the playing field for them with the industry's giants.

Bernanke said it would be important for the banks to adapt to the changing regulatory environment, in remarks to the annual convention in San Diego of small- and medium-sized banks. Bernanke acknowledged their concerns about the new law. But he said most of the requirements are aimed the country's biggest banks and not them. [After reading this I hope you have a barf bag.]

 

Only 5 nations are without a Rothschilds Central Bank: Iran; N. Korea; Sudan; Cuba; and Libya.

Since November 2010, the unemployment rate has tumbled from 9.8% to 8.9% in February. That seems to signal a return to healthy job growth. But is it real?

While unemployment has fallen nearly a full percentage point, just 407,000 payroll jobs have been created a mere 0.3% rise.

How can that be? Maybe it's because the real jobless rate which includes those unemployed Americans so discouraged they've stopped looking is higher than 8.9%. Much higher.

"Though the official unemployment rate is improving, according to our poll, we still have at least 20% of able Americans looking for full-time employment," said Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, IBD's polling partner. "Jobs will be the No. 1 issue in the next presidential election."

Americans assume the Bureau of Labor Statistics' unemployment rate is an indicator of the job market's health. But as with other government data, it's notable as much for what it doesn't reveal as for what it does.

At one time, the jobless rate included all people without jobs.

But during the first Clinton administration, the BLS changed its definition to exclude long-term discouraged workers. As a result, the unemployment rate has looked far lower than it really is.

The labor-force participation rate, now 62.2%, is at a 27-year low. If you're not in the work force, you can't be "unemployed."

Several private-sector measures also paint a bleak picture of what the Washington Post recently referred to as America's "hidden work force."

• Gallup's "broader unemployment" measure combines the unemployed with part-time workers seeking full-time work. It rose to an alarming 19.9% in March, from 17.2% in December.

• The IBD/TIPP poll also suggests far-higher joblessness. Since May 2010, it's asked people about their own situation, but also "how many members of your household are currently unemployed or looking for employment?"

In March, 19.4% were looking for a job equal to 30 million Americans. That's actually an improvement from November, when 35.2 million sought work.

• Economist John Williams at his Shadow Government Statistics website says that using old U.S. government data definitions including both long- and short-term discouraged workers, plus the regular unemployed 22% of Americans don't have meaningful work.

A big reason may be the dearth of startups. New firms account for just 3% of employment but make up 20% of new jobs, according to a new study by John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin and Javier Miranda for the National Bureau of Economics Research.

"The fastest-growing continuing firms are young firms under the age of five," they wrote.

Today, startups are struggling with the uncertainty caused by the $862 billion stimulus, TARP, the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing policy and ObamaCare's looming costly regulations.

 

 

FThe Creature from Jekyll Islandrom G. Edward Griffin

GLENN BECK WILL PLUG

The Creature from Jekyll Island

On Friday 2011 March 25, the entire Glenn Beck show will be devoted to an exposé of the Federal Reserve. I was invited to be a guest on the program and, when it was taped last Tuesday, I was amazed to find that Beck, not only has read the book but praised it highly. In fact, almost his entire opening monologue was based on the information and, in some cases, the very same phrases used in the book and in my lectures. I was delighted to know that someone, either Beck or his researchers, had spent a great deal of time studying The Creature from Jekyll Island. But what is even more encouraging is that several million viewers will be exposed to an hour of economic and monetary truth. This will bring us a giant step closer to actually slaying the Creature.

  The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve

 

 

 

 

 

Mortgage rates marked a slight increase, with the benchmark conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate rising to 4.96 percent, according to Bankrate.com's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.41 discount and origination points.

To see mortgage rates in your area, go to

http://www.bankrate.com/funnel/mortgages/.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage inched to 4.16 percent, and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate retreated to 5.45 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages were mostly higher, with the average 5-year ARM moving up to 3.78 percent and the 7-year ARM moving to 4.11 percent.

Mortgage rates increased, but only slightly, as investors digest world events and assess the potential impact on global economic recovery. The outlook for economic growth, inflation, and a desire to avoid market volatility are the key drivers of bond yields and mortgage rates on a day-to-day basis. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.96 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,068.76, a difference of $173 per month for anyone refinancing now.

SURVEY RESULTS

30-year fixed: 4.96% -- up from 4.91% last week (avg. points: 0.41)

15-year fixed: 4.16% -- up from 4.12% last week (avg. points: 0.38)

5/1 ARM: 3.78% -- up from 3.74% last week (avg. points: 0.37)

Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

Consumer confidence in the U.S. fell last week to the lowest level since August as more Americans became despondent over the economy.

The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index dropped to minus 48.9 in the period to March 20 from minus 48.5 the prior week. The measure of the current state of the economy slumped to a 15- month low.

The highest gasoline prices in more than two years weighed on families already dealing with rising grocery bills. The report showed confidence among households with annual incomes exceeding $50,000 fell to the lowest level since March 2010, representing a risk to consumer spending, the biggest part of the U.S. economy.

 

Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, signaling the labor market is mending.

Jobless claims declined by 5,000 to 382,000 in the week ended March 19, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington, in line with the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The total number of people receiving benefits dropped to the lowest level in almost three years.

Orders for long-lasting goods unexpectedly fell in February, raising concern over the sustainability of the rebound in U.S. business investment.

Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years dropped 0.9 percent after a 3.6 percent gain the prior month that was larger than initially reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Other reports showed fewer Americans filed claims for jobless benefits last week, and consumer comfort dropped to the lowest level in seven months.

The data on orders stands in contrast to other reports this month that showed production picked up in February and factory purchasing managers were more optimistic. While rising exports to China and other emerging economies will benefit manufacturers like Texas Instruments Inc., the need for U.S. companies to replace outdated equipment may not be as pressing as earlier in the recovery.

“There is a risk that capital spending will be flat in the first half of the year,” said Harm Bandholz, chief U.S. economist at UniCredit Global Research in New York. At the same time, he said, “the consumer will pick up the slack, driven by the labor market and also by the tax deal” President Barack Obama reached with Republicans in December.

 

For three years, Jayesh Patel, an attorney, and his wife, Neethi, a pediatrician, were what he called “reverse commuters.” They worked in the suburbs and lived in the city of Detroit. Last July, the Patels moved out.

They joined 237,493 who left Detroit over the last decade, a 25 percent decline that left the city with 713,777, down from a peak of 1.85 million in 1950. The Patels abandoned their neighborhood of Victorian homes in the Corktown district, founded by Irish immigrants at the turn of the 20th Century, and moved to the affluent suburb of Birmingham in search of better schools for their two children.

“I was just shocked,” Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit, which collects demographic information, said about the 2010 Census figures for the city. “Even in my wildest dreams, my most depressed nightmares, I wasn’t expecting this big of a decline.”

Detroit’s population fell from 951,270 in the previous decennial tally a loss of 65 residents per day since 2000 making it the lowest official count since 465,766 in 1910, according to U.S. Census data released yesterday. It joins St. Louis, Cleveland, Cincinnati and other Midwestern cities unable to reverse a six-decade population loss.

Detroit’s decline also likely further eroded the broader metro area. The Detroit-Warren-Livonia area was the 11th-largest metropolitan region in the nation, with a population of 4,403,437, according to 2009 census estimates. That was already a drop from ninth in 2000, when it had 4,452,557 people.

 

Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration adviser assigned to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said lawmakers looking to limit the agency’s authority should focus instead on the Wall Street “behemoths” aiming to undermine its mission.

“If we’re going to go out there and spill ink on accountability, we should also ask about how to hold powerful financial institutions accountable,” Warren said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg News. “The idea that we should be worried that some agency that will speak up for consumers might get a little too loud is looking in the wrong direction.”

Warren was responding to complaints by Republican lawmakers that the agency, created by the Dodd-Frank Act in a Democrat-run Congress, lacks accountability. Republicans, who took control of the House in November elections, have proposed subjecting the bureau’s budget to congressional approval and replacing its yet- to-be-filled director’s post with a five-member commission.

Dodd-Frank, the rules overhaul enacted in response to the 2008 financial crisis, gave the bureau power to regulate consumer financial products sold by companies ranging from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. to payday lenders and mortgage brokers. It is scheduled to begin work on July 21, a year after President Barack Obama signed the legislation.

Obama’s appointment of Warren, 61, to help shape the bureau has been faulted by Republicans, including Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, who say her role as adviser to the Treasury secretary and assistant to the president injects politics into what is supposed to be an impartial regulator.

 

The average American family's household net worth declined 23% between 2007 and 2009, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.

A rare survey of U.S. households, first performed in 2007 but repeated in 2009 in order to gauge the effects of the recession, reveals the median net worth of households fell from $125,000 in 2007 to $96,000 in 2009.

Titled "Surveying the Aftermath of the Storm," the report offers a broad look at how the financial crisis impacted individual households.

It is widely known that the 2008 financial crisis resulted in the vaporization of trillions of dollars in household wealth. But Federal Reserve officials said Thursday the new report offers a look at exactly how hard the recession hit families, and how they reacted.

Families that owned stock saw their portfolios drop by more than a third to $12,000 from $18,500, on average. The value of primary real estate holdings decreased by an average of $18,700.

And families took on more debt, pushing median total debt levels to $75,600 from $70,300. They also made less money. Media household income dropped from to $49,800 from $50,100.Interestingly, families below the median national income in 2007 actually saw their earnings increase by 2009. Meanwhile, families that started above the national average in 2007 saw their incomes decline.

Families in the top 10% of net worth in 2007 saw their incomes decline by 13% on average, a phenomenon the Fed attributed to large declines in capital gains and in business, farm or self-employment income.

The report also reveals that some families are doing quite well.

"Although over 60% of families saw their wealth decline over the two-year period, a sizable fraction of households experienced gains in wealth," the report says.

But it's hard to pin down what made those families successful. "Shifts in wealth do not appear to be correlated in a simple way with families' characteristics," the authors write.

The report's authors also make the point that Americans appear to be reacting to the recession in a counterproductive way.

"[F]amilies' behavior may act in some ways as a brake on reviving the economy in the short run," the report says.

The data shows that Americans have increased their savings rate across the board, regardless of how they are weathering the storm. That means less money is being pumped into the economy.

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