Tag Archives: New York

World Led by U.S. Poised for Fastest Growth Since 2010

According to Bloomberg,

The world economy is primed for its fastest expansion in four years, with the U.S. propelling the improvement in output.

Global growth will accelerate at least 3.4 percent in 2014 from less than 3 percent this year as the euro area recovers from recession and China and other emerging markets stabilize, according to economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley. The U.K. will be a standout, while Japan risks damping the mood by suffering a mid-year slowdown after an April increase in sales taxes.

“So far it’s been a very bumpy, below-par and brittle expansion,” said Joachim Fels, co-chief global economist at Morgan Stanley in London. “Next year could bring a very important transition: a transition to a sounder, safer and more sustainable recovery.”

The upturn should prove bullish for equities and bearish for bonds. If it boosts corporate confidence in the durability of growth, it could further fuel demand, raising the odds that 2014 will break the pattern of recent years and come in better, rather than worse, than projected.

“An improving global-growth picture is widely forecast but, in our view, also still doubted in the investor community,” said Dominic Wilson, chief markets economist at Goldman Sachs in New York. “We therefore see room for markets to price in a better cyclical story.”

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Jobless Reports Fuel Fed Bets, U.S. Stocks Drop After GDP Jobless Reports Fuel Fed Bets

According to Bloomberg,

(Corrects Dollar General stock price in 17th paragraph.)

U.S. stock-index futures fell, signaling equities will extend a four-day slide, after data showing faster-than-forecast economic growth fueled speculation the Federal Reserve will curb stimulus spending.

Aeropostale Inc. lost 3.8 percent as the retailer’s fourth-quarter loss forecast was wider than estimated. Apple Inc. rose 1.4 percent as China Mobile Ltd. moved closer to offering its 759 million subscribers iPhones. General Growth Properties Inc. added 4.5 percent as Standard & Poor’s said it will add the mall owner to its benchmark index this month.

S&P 500 Index (SPX) futures expiring this month fell 0.3 percent to 1,787.20 at 9:12 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts lost 39 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,847 today.

“The numbers today pave the way for the Fed” to cut stimulus, Matthew Kaufler, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors Inc. in Rochester, New York, said by phone. His firm oversees $363.8 billion. “There’s angst in the short run, but I think it’s only positive in the long run that the Fed begin to taper and extricate itself from being the ultimate market maker.”

The S&P 500 has surged 26 percent this year, challenging 2003 for the biggest annual gain in the last 15 years, as the Fed refrained from reducing its monthly bond purchases and corporate earnings surpassed estimates.

Stimulus Bets

The central bank has said it will start slowing the pace of stimulus if the economy improves in line with its forecasts. Policy makers, who next meet Dec. 17-18, will probably wait until the March 18-19 Federal Open Market Committee session before reducing monthly bond purchases to $70 billion from $85 billion, according to the median estimate in Bloomberg’s latest survey of economists conducted on Nov. 8.

The U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter at a faster pace than initially reported, led by the biggest increase in inventories since early 1998. Consumer spending slowed. Gross domestic product climbed at a 3.6 percent annualized rate, up from an initial estimate of 2.8 percent and the strongest since the first quarter of 2012.

Separate data showed applications for U.S. employment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level in more than two months. Jobless claims decreased 23,000 to 298,000 in the week ended Nov. 30, the Labor Department said.

Data tomorrow may show the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent, matching the lowest level since 2008.

Fed Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart, a backer of record stimulus, said today the central bank when considering tapering should announce a total limit on purchases or a timetable for dialing down the program.

‘Transition Process’

“If and when the FOMC arrives at a decision to wind down asset purchases, it’s my view that it will be helpful to the transition process to provide as much certainty as possible about how this will be done,” Lockhart said in a speech in Florida.

The S&P 500 has retreated 0.8 percent in the past four sessions, dropping to a two-week low after closing at a record on Nov. 27. The index fluctuated yesterday before closing lower by 0.1 percent, as optimism that lawmakers in Washington were close to a budget deal offset better-than-forecast jobs data that fueled stimulus-tapering concerns.

The gauge’s rally this year has pushed valuations higher, with the equity benchmark trading for about 16.1 times its constituents’ projected earnings, up 23 percent from the beginning of 2013 when it traded at 13.1 times projected profit.

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Amazon: Rejected by U.S. High Court on New York Sales Tax

According to Bloomberg,

The U.S. Supreme Court stayed out of the multibillion-dollar fight over Internet sales taxes, leaving intact a New York law that forces Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) to collect money from customers in that state.

Acting on one of the biggest online-shopping days of the year, the justices made no comment in rejecting appeals by Amazon and Overstock.com Inc. (OSTK), another Internet retailer. The companies said the law, upheld by New York’s top court, violates the Constitution by demanding tax collection from businesses that don’t have facilities in the state.

States lose an estimated $23 billion a year in uncollected sales taxes from web retailers. Although Amazon has agreed to collect taxes in some states as it sets up distribution centers, it has resisted efforts by others to impose sales taxes unilaterally. New York’s measure is among a handful that have been dubbed “Amazon laws” because they affect only the largest online sellers.

The New York law “subjects Internet retailers to significant burdens on pain of serious civil and criminal penalties,” Seattle-based Amazon argued in its appeal. The world’s biggest online retailer now collects taxes in 16 states.

The rebuff leaves it to Congress to craft a nationwide approach to the sales-tax issue. Amazon supports federal legislation that would explicitly let states require tax collections by all online retailers above a certain size.

‘Physical Presence’

Amazon.com Homepage

Amazon.com Homepage

The legal dispute revolved around a 1992 Supreme Court case involving a mail-order company. The court said retailers can be forced to collect a tax only in states where they have a “physical presence.”

The rise of the Internet has increased the stakes since then, putting tens of billions of dollars at issue. New York alone lost $1.8 billion in 2012 on Internet and catalog sales, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Although consumers are supposed to pay the taxes themselves, few do unless the seller collects the money.

New York has a 4 percent statewide sales tax, and local jurisdictions impose additional levies. In New York City, the total tax rate is 8.875 percent.

New York said in court papers that its 2008 tax law “seeks to restore a level playing field between in-state brick-and-mortar stores and their out-of-state Internet-only counterparts.”

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U.S. Retail Holiday: Sales Up 2.3%, Foot Traffic Declines

According to Bloomberg,

U.S. retailers eked out a 2.3 percent sales gain on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, in line with a prediction for the weakest holiday results since 2009.

Sales at brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday rose to $12.3 billion, according to a report yesterday from ShopperTrak. The Chicago-based researcher reiterated its prediction that sales for the entire holiday season will gain 2.4 percent, the smallest increase since the last recession.

Black Friday Shopping (Bloomberg)

Black Friday Shopping (Bloomberg)

Retailers offered more and steeper deals on merchandise from flat-screen televisions to crockpots that, while luring shoppers, may ultimately hurt fourth-quarter earnings. Many consumers showed up prepared to zero in on their favored items while shunning the impulse buys that help retailers’ profits.

“You could get the same deals online as you could get in the store, and yet there were still a ton of people out there,” Charles O’Shea, a senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in New York, said in an interview. Going out to stores, “is part of the experience,” he said.

About 97 million people planned to shop online or in stores on Friday, with about 140 million intending to do so Thanksgiving through Sunday, the National Retail Federation said. That’s down from 147 million last year.

With more stores opening on Thanksgiving, sales were pulled forward from Friday, Bill Martin, ShopperTrak’s founder, said in a telephone interview. Sales on Friday fell 13.2 percent from last year, with foot traffic down 11.4 percent. Foot traffic for  the combined Thanksgiving-Black Friday period rose 2.8 percent to more than 1.07 billion store visits, ShopperTrak said.

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U.S. Stocks Fluctuate Amid Confidence, Housing Reports

According to Bloomberg,

U.S. stocks fluctuated, after the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell from a record yesterday, as investors assessed reports showing higher home prices and an unexpected drop in consumer confidence.

Lennar Corp. and PulteGroup Inc. climbed at least 3.5 percent, leading a rally among homebuilders. Tiffany & Co. jumped 7.9 percent after profit topped analysts’ estimates and the jeweler boosted its forecast. Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. surged 9.2 percent after Men’s Wearhouse Inc. offered to buy the apparel company for about $1.54 billion. Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. fell 3.5 percent as the gaming company said it bought back all 12 million shares held by Icahn Group.

The S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent to 1,804.59 at 11:29 a.m. in New York after falling as much as 0.1 percent earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 22.99 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,095.53. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 18 percent below the 30-day average at this time of the day.

“We’re tending to move in a positive direction,” Kate Warne, a St. Louis-based investment strategist at Edward Jones & Co., said by phone. Her firm oversees $746 billion. “We’re getting data in a sweet spot. It’s positive but not so positive as to raise worries about the Fed moving sooner and yet it continues to show that the economy is gaining some traction.”

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent yesterday after closing Nov. 22 for the first time above 1,800 to cap seven straight weeks of gains.

Fed Stimulus

Home Prices See Highest Gains Since February 2006

Three rounds of Federal Reserve bond purchases have helped push the S&P 500 up 166 percent from a bear-market low in 2009. Four out of five investors expect the Fed to delay a decision to begin reducing the stimulus until March 2014 or later, according to a Bloomberg Global Poll on Nov. 19.

Policy makers have been scrutinizing data to determine whether the economy is strong enough to withstand a reduction in their $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

More applications for home construction were issued in October than at any time in the past five years, figures from the Commerce Department showed today. The agency postponed publishing housing-starts data, due today, to Dec. 18 because of a lapse in funding after a 16-day partial government shutdown last month.

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Comcast, Charter Said to Weigh Time Warner Cable Breakup

According to Bloomberg,

Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) and Charter (CHTR) Communications Inc. have discussed a joint bid for Time Warner Cable Inc. that would divide its assets between them, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The talks between Comcast and Charter have been preliminary, and a Time Warner Cable breakup is one option amid several under consideration, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Parts of Time Warner Cable would complement each company’s coverage area, the people said.

Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable company, is emerging as an acquisition target amid renewed attempts to consolidate the industry. Companies are looking to bulk up to get more negotiating leverage with networks such as CBS Corp. and Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN. A joint deal would solve issues Comcast and Charter would face if they were to pursue Time Warner Cable separately, the people said.

Breaking up Time Warner Cable would result in a smaller deal for Comcast than buying it outright, thus muting regulatory concerns. Charter wouldn’t need to raise as much money to complete a purchase, making an acquisition more palatable, the people said.

Joint Opportunity

“Everybody wins, but no one wins big,” Vijay Jayant, an analyst with ISI Group, said. “A joint deal also mitigates the risks.”

Justin Venech, a spokesman for Charter, declined to comment on the joint bid talks, as did John Demming, a Comcast spokesman. Bobby Amirshahi, a spokesman for New York-based Time Warner Cable, declined to comment.

Splitting up Time Warner Cable would let Comcast and Charter add users near markets they already serve, making regional advertising more effective, Jayant said. Charter could take Time Warner Cable’s markets in Los Angeles and North Carolina, while Comcast could absorb its New York and Dallas regions, he said.

Joint purchases have helped cable giants grow larger before. Comcast and Time Warner Cable acquired and broke up Adelphia Communications Corp. in 2006, with Time Warner adding 3.3 million customers and Comcast gaining 1.7 million.

Solo Bid?

Time Warner Cable (Bloomberg)

Time Warner Cable (Bloomberg)

Comcast has also weighed a solo bid for Time Warner Cable, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. Regulatory obstacles wouldn’t necessarily be insurmountable for such a transaction because the companies don’t overlap in many regions, said one of the people. The two companies have held some talks, though the process is in the early stages, the other person said.

Charter, backed by billionaire John Malone, has been in discussions with banks, including Barclays Plc, Bank of America Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG, to borrow funds for an acquisition, two people familiar with those talks said. Without a partner, Charter would be bidding on a much bigger rival: Time Warner Cable has an enterprise value of $61 billion, compared with more than $28 billion for Charter.

“Comcast has an advantage through sheer size, and they could make an offer that would be far less debt-laden than one from Charter,” Craig Moffett, founder of research firm MoffettNathanson LLC, said in an interview.

Mayura Hooper at Deutsche Bank, Kerrie Cohen at Barclays and Bank of America’s John Yiannacopoulos declined to comment.

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S&P 500 Posts for Seventh Weekly Gain as Drugmakers Rally

According to Bloomberg,

U.S. stocks rose, capping a seventh week of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, after the pace of hiring increased and drugmakers rallied on favorable decisions by European regulators.

Stanley Druckenmiller on Strategy, Shorting IBM

Health-care stocks in the S&P 500 jumped 1.2 percent as a group, led by Biogen Idec Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc. Time Warner Cable Inc. surged 10 percent on renewed takeover speculation. United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL) climbed 3.9 percent after billionaire David Tepper said his “big play in the market” is airlines. International Business Machines Corp. slid 1.5 percent after billionaire Stan Druckenmiller said he’s shorting the shares.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.5 percent to a record 1,804.76 at 4 p.m. in New York. The advance pushed the U.S. equity benchmark to a 27 percent gain for the year, poised to be the biggest annual increase since 1998. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) rose 54.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,064.77. About 5.6 billion shares changed hands in the U.S., 8 percent below the three-month average.

“I don’t see any reason why the market shouldn’t go up,” Karyn Cavanaugh, a vice president and market strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management in New York, said in a phone interview. Her firm oversees $196 billion. “There’s not really any bad news. We have a little bit of a pullback and then people jump in and say, ’Hey, I want a piece of this.’”

The Dow advanced 0.6 percent this week, finishing its seventh straight weekly gain, the longest streak since January 2011. The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent during the past five days.

Job Openings

Appaloosa's Tepper Says Stock Markets Not in Bubble

David Tepper, the hedge-fund manager who runs Appaloosa Management LP, said stock markets are not inflated as economies in the U.S., Europe and China are on “firm ground.” He said that while he remains bullish on U.S. stocks, markets may fall 5 percent to 10 percent when the Fed curbs its stimulus program.

“I know there’s talk about bubbles, this is not one,” Tepper said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Stephanie Ruhle at the Robin Hood Investors Conference in New York yesterday.

Job openings in the U.S. climbed to a five-year high in September, indicating employers were confident about demand before the federal government shutdown. The Labor Department report showed the number of people hired increased to 4.59 million in September, the most since August 2008, from 4.56 million. The hiring rate rose to 3.4 percent from 3.3 percent in August.

The S&P 500 rallied yesterday after three days of losses as data showed weekly jobless claims fell to the lowest level since September and a confidence survey indicated American consumers became less pessimistic this month.

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