Thursday, July 15, 2010

Morning Note...

Futures ~15bps higher on muted Chinese growth (as evidenced by Q2 GDP +10.3% vs. Q1’s +11.9%; this indicates China may “turn off” its attempts to cool off its economy since growth has successfully leveled), lighter-than-expected jobless claims, some M&A activity, a successful Spanish bond auction, and JPM earnings.  However, while JPM reported $1.09/share and beat estimates, it did pull from reserves to knock down non-performing assets.  In M&A news, Carlyle is buying NTY for $55/share or $3.8 billion, which represents a ~50% premium.  In economic news, June Producer Prices (PPI) came in lighter-than-expected, at +2.8% vs. +3.1%/e, and much lighter than the prior +5.3% reading for May.  Initial Jobless Claims were lower – thus bullish – at 429k vs. the 445k expectation and the 458k prior reading.  Empire Manufacturing, however, is putting a lid on the good news for the moment.  It came in at 5.08 vs. the 18 expectation and the 19.57 prior reading.  While the number remains positive (it was negative in 2008-2009), it does represent a potential downturn in the economy.  For those interested in the finer details, “the Empire Manufacturing Survey is a monthly survey of manufacturers in New York State conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Participants from across the state in a variety of industries respond to a questionnaire and report the change in a variety of indicators from the previous month.  Respondents also state the likely direction of these same indicators six months ahead.”  (Bloomberg)  Note GOOG reports tonight; GE, BAC, and C tomorrow.  AAPL is calling a press conference over the potential for an iPhone 4 recall.   Spain placed EU 3 billion of 15-year notes, indicating some stability there.  Credit Card master trust data is also due today and NPD may release June video game stats.  Interesting poll released this morning -- ~75% of Americans oppose the U.S. ban on deepwater drilling stemming from BP’s Gulf spill…this doesn’t bode well for the Obama Administration’s reported “anti-business” attitude, especially as mid-term elections creep closer…

Regarding China, here is the Bloomberg story:

China’s economic expansion eased to 10.3 percent in the second quarter and industrial production cooled more than forecast in June, signaling a deeper second- half slowdown that may add to risks for the global economy. The gain in gross domestic product was less than an 11.9 percent increase in January-March from a year earlier. Inflation cooled to 2.9 percent in June, the statistics bureau also reported in Beijing today. Industrial output rose 13.7 percent, less than all but one of 27 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey. The figures signal a diminishing risk of economic overheating and give Premier Wen Jiabao more room to scale back restrictions on bank lending or property purchases by year-end.

The Shanghai Composite Index of stocks slid the most in two weeks, leading declines across Asia as weaker growth in China added to European budget cuts and limited American job gains in clouding prospects for the world recovery.“There’s no more tightening happening in China” given the slowing expansion, said Stephen Green, head of China research for Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai. Policy makers may loosen some real-estate curbs and approve more infrastructure and investment projects in the fourth quarter as growth slows toward 7 percent before picking up into 2011, he said. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut its full-year growth estimate for China to 10 percent from 10.8 percent and Royal Bank of Scotland also made a reduction.

Regarding Basel and Bank Requirements, here is Susquehanna’s summary of the WSJ article this morning:

The article discusses the issues surrounding the Basel rules and how they could impact world banks. The new rules, thought of as more lenient than the international banking standards initially proposed back in December, “would still be stiffer than existing standards,” however there are hopes that the proposals will help ease fears that any tougher requirements “would diminish the credit needed to revive a sluggish global economy.” One of the key issues that the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is struggling with involves how much to increase the capital that banks need to have in reserve against everything from loans to derivative transactions. Regulators are also disagreeing on how much to limit amounts that banks can borrow. Leaders of the Group of 20 economies want to settle these matters by the time they meet again in November. Stocks mentioned: BAC, JPM, DB.

ACM to buy Tishman Construction for $245M.  MAR beats by 2c.  WWW beats by 3c.  BERN cuts HSP.  BofAMLCO ups AMTD, OXPS.  BARD ups CGNX.  BofAMLCO cuts AMZN.  OPCO cuts JNPR.  PIPR cuts VECO.  RBCM cuts MFE, SYMC.  BARD cuts MG.  WSJ reports GS reportedly close to SEC settlement.  WSJ Heard on the Street column cautious on CLWR & INTC.  WBLR reits OP on NLC.  FCS higher on earnings.  FT speculates on NOK for MOT deal.  NVS beats by 1c. 

Asia lower overnight on China’s weaker GDP.  Europe mixed.  EUR/USD $1.2869.  Oil +25bps.  Gold +60bps. 

S&P 500 PreMarket 8:30am (last/% change prior close/volume): 
EASTMAN KODAK           4.885    +3.72% 2050
AMERISOURCEBERGE      33.94    +3.51% 100
MOTOROLA INC             7.69      +3.08% 64900
AMAZON.COM INC          120.40  -2.35%  60617
METLIFE INC                  40.69    +1.78% 100
BOEING CO                    65.75    +1.54% 1860

Today’s Trivia:  Stolen from early morning CNBC…name the only man to serve as governor of two different states.  (Hint, Texas and Tennessee
Yesterday's Answer:  Sony’s first product was a rice cooker.   

Best Quotes:  Mother Robbing Bank Shows Why Italy Leads EU Thefts 2010-07-15 04:52:16.832 GMT  By Sonia Sirletti and Flavia Rotondi
July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Italy’s biggest banks rank no higher than ninth in Europe by market value. They come in first by another yardstick: robberies.
     Heists at Italian banks accounted for almost half of all thefts in the European Union last year, according to a June 30 report by banking union FIBA. The report concluded that Italian banks have too much cash on hand at too many branches.
     Italy recorded 1,744 bank robberies last year, more than six times the number in Germany and 20 times the U.K. figure, FIBA reported. Italian banks lost 36.8 million euros ($46.8
million) to thieves last year, according to data compiled by Italian banking association ABI.
     “The less that cash circulates in branches, the fewer robberies we’ll have,” said Pierfrancesco Gaggi, the Rome-based head of infrastructure at ABI, in an interview.
     The abundance of branches in neighborhoods with minimal police presence makes Italian banks easy picking for thieves, said Alessandro Spaggiari, FIBA’s national secretary in Rome.
     Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, Italy’s biggest bank by branches, has
5,921 outlets in its home market, more than twice as many as France’s BNP Paribas SA and about 1,000 more than Banco Santander SA has in its Spanish network.
     Santander is Europe’s second-largest bank by market value after London-based HSBC Holdings Plc and Paris-based BNP Paribas is third, while Milan-based Intesa places 14th, data compiled by Bloomberg show. UniCredit SpA is Italy’s biggest bank with a market value of 39.9 billion euros, ranking ninth in the region after Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG.

                     Surveillance Breakdown

     Italian banks spend more than 700 million euros a year on anti-theft equipment such as closed-circuit cameras and alarms, Spaggiari said. Little of the funds go to smaller branches, since those locations have relatively limited amounts of cash, he said.
     That suits crooks, as most Italian bank robberies are small-time jobs, with two out of three heists bringing in less than 15,000 euros, according to a June 10 report from the ABI.
Many of the perpetrators are amateurs, often armed with little more than knives.
     A 41-year-old mother robbed three banks in the Turin area in one day in May, while her seven-month-old infant waited in the car.
     “I haven’t got a steady job,” the Turin thief told police when she was arrested after her fourth attempted holdup of the day. “I didn’t know how to get by with a small child.” Police have declined to disclose her identity.

                        Poor and Homeless

     With unemployment approaching 9 percent and the economy only now emerging from its worst recession since World War II, robberies by “desperate people” are on the increase, said Mario Furlan, founder of Milan-based CityAngel, a non-profit organization that helps the poor and homeless. In many underprivileged neighborhoods, robbing a bank isn’t even considered a crime, Furlan said.
     The ABI is trying to get Italians, who like using cash, to switch to credit cards and other non-cash instruments to improve security and bring Italy in line with the rest of Europe.
Italians make an average 66 non-cash transactions per person every year, about one third of the euro-zone average and four times less than in the U.K, according to a Bank of Italy report.