The US jobless report, although mixed, showed the American economy remains resilient and is recovering amid slowdowns in key markets overseas (China, parts of Europe), providing a “whew” for some but little comfort for the crystal-ball gazers. The overall unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest point since February 2008, while the economy only added some 151,000 jobs; wages increased. For now, the Street seems to be leaning toward a not-so-fast rate hike by the Fed. And then there’s oil.
- Viacom Chairman Redstone resigned;
- The race for presidential nominations got more complicated with Trump, Dems dead heating and now Rubio “choking” in weekend debates, but no worries, only eight months left;
- LinkedIn lost big, shedding some 30-percent in stock value following a quarterly loss and somewhat dim outlook;
- Also losing were stocks, with the Dow down 3.1 percent for the week to close Friday at 16,204;
- Martin Shkreli, the former pill-exec price gouger pleads the Fifth in front of Congress with a well-publicized smirk but lifted his plea for silence on Twitter with the same smirk in 140 characters;
- The New York Times and News Corp reported small profit gains amid announcements that digital is leading (no surprise) and that newsrooms at the Times may shrink (no real surprise) with more and more focus on spending more and more on how we read the news (let’s hope for some real surprises); and
- On the glossy side of publishing, Playboy’s March issue is nudity and airbrushed free but not staple free -- centerfold still included.
- Zika Update: A spike in reported microcephaly cases among babies in areas of Brazil has triggered an international effort to determine whether the Zika virus causes the condition. The rapidly spreading virus is discouraging many Americans from traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean - and two presidential hopefuls, Chris Christie and Ben Carson, said they would implement a quarantine should Zika spread in the U.S.
- Currency: The Brazilian real and Mexican peso fell on Friday after data showed a pickup of U.S. wages in January that supported the view that the Fed could raise rates again this year.
- Economy: According to Mexico's central bank governor Agustin Carstens, Mexico's economy should grow slightly more than 2.5 percent this year. Meanwhile, Brazil's annual inflation rate unexpectedly rose in January after a controversial Central Bank decision to keep interest rates unchanged last month.
- Argentina Debt: Argentina offered a $6.5 billion cash payment to creditors suing the country over defaulted bonds on Friday, seeking to end a festering 14-year legal battle that transformed it into a financial markets pariah.
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has made the decision to keep interest rates down, citing weaker UK growth and an “unforgiving” global environment as justification. The Monetary Policy Committee have said that wages are likely to be subdued for longer as they made the unanimous decision to hold rates.
The Prime Minister has set out his agenda for what he believes the terms of any EU reform should be, but not everyone believes that he has gone far enough.
Can we ask for a do-over? Stocks dropped 5.5-pct in January in a month that saw big volumes and extremely choppy trading, pressured by slow growth in China and volatile oil markets. Crude prices lost about 9 pct so far this year but were well above a one-time 12-year low since the start of 2016. As a result, the Fed fretted a bit after its policy-making meeting, holding rates steady for now as other central banks (BOJ, for example) pushed rates below zero. Analysts seem to think the Fed will probably hike again next month.
- Trump had his bully pulpit all to himself; going solo in protest at the Iowa debates, probably to some success and making the current election more like Trump vs Fox, instead of Trump vs Dems; Viewership for the Republican debate declined quite a bit, showing Trump factor (and the Trump/Megyn show) is for real; Fox bigs, however, seemed scared and never trumped with a journalism card (like we call the shots here) instead of what looked like “pleading” or “stuttering” for The Donald to appear;
- Shots fired at Facebook as it posted quarterly profits of more than $1 billion and then halted private gun sales on its site and Instagram;
- iPhone sales slowed (rare but Apple still makes a ton of money);
- Xerox divides itself into two (instead, I guess, of just copying itself);
- The Zika virus got scary, with WHO saying it is “spreading explosively,” with more below;
- Barbie enters the 20th Century and gets urban and curvy; and
- Leo shaves and meets the Pope.
- Health officials put the world on watch as the number of Zika virus reports has steadily increased throughout the Americas. The issue has revived talks about whether certain nations should rethink current bans on abortion.
- In a movement towards strengthening reserves, Argentina’s central bank this week raised $5 billion from seven international banks. While the names of the banks involved were officially undisclosed, Valor Econômico reports that HSBC, JPMorgan, Santander, Deustche Bank, BBVA, Citi, and UBS were involved.
- Former Salvadoran president Francisco Flores, who ruled from 1999 to 2004, died on Saturday in San Salvador following a brain hemorrhage. Mr. Flores was 56.
Today we raise a glass to a British icon - the Land Rover Defender. This morning, the nation mourned as the last Defender ever to be made rolled out of the Solihull factory after 67 years of production. In true British form, the car, a favourite of agricultural workers and royals alike, was applauded from the production line to Jerusalem and a fireworks display.
Some tennis news from today – both Andy and Jamie Murray are in finals matches of the Australian Open. World number two, Andy Murray, shall face World number one, Novak Djokovic, in the men’s singles on Sunday; whilst his older brother is competing in the men’s doubles final tomorrow.
The Southern English rail service has received a bit of a kicking this week, as London’s commuter trains have been found to be the unhappiest in the country. This follows a number of complaints about British train services with one member of Parliament even arguing that we should thank rail services on the odd occasion that the trains do arrive on time.
This time, the weathermen got it right as the East Coast got buried with near-record snowfall (26-plus inches in New York City—0.1 inch shy of the record), causing the city to completely shut down on Saturday (which was really kinda nice) and allowing headline writers to focus on the blizzard instead of the recent market storm, where volatility continued to dominate even as stocks recorded their first positive week of the year. The Dow edged up 0.7 percent after a Friday rally to end at 16,093.
- The New York Times broke the story that Michael Bloomberg is considering a run for the president, a decision he will likely make as an independent candidate by March;
- At Davos, a new index was launched called the S&P Long-Term Value Creation Global Index that reflects companies that can be role model in part by focusing on the long term;
- Last year was named the world’s hottest, according to climate scientists;
- A ninth planet may exist, at least in theory and clearly up for debate (Pluto 2.0?);
- Flint, Mich., continued to search for safe drinking water after lead was found in its system, with TV coverage making the city look like an emerging-market economy;
- The “academy” that brings us the Oscars has decided to reconsider its membership rules under pressure because of its lack of diversity in nominations;
- Tina Fey crushed it as Sarah Palin on SNL Saturday, a skit on repeat on all channels on snowy weekend; and
- “Cats” is coming back to Broadway proving that its 17-year tag line was right, “it’s now and forever.”
- Brazil President Rousseff said on Friday that the government may consider tapping into the country's foreign reserves at any given moment, further worrying investors about the economy's continued decline.
- The Brazilian real fell to a record low against the dollar and long-term interest rate futures surged a day after the central bank surprised markets by holding its key interest rate steady. Despite promises of reforms this week by Brazil's Finance Minister, Nelson Barbosa, investors say erratic policy signals are raising doubts over the government's ability to end the country's worst recession in decades.
- Finance Minister Barbosa said at Davos this week he expects a revival in a regional trade with Argentina, now that their FX policies are better aligned.
- Mexico's export crude price dropped below $19 on Wednesday, sending the Mexican peso to new lows against the US dollar, raising concern that state oil company Pemex may have to make further cutbacks, while government revenue is protected by oil price hedges.
Written on January 25th, 2016 by Mark Kollar
Categories: From the News
, Media Navel Gaze
, East Coast
, Sarah Palin