Asia: Japan +0.4% to 20463. Hong Kong -0.3% to 25056. China -3% to 3806. India +1% to 28198.
Europe: London flat. Paris flat. Frankfurt +0.1%.
Futures: Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -1% to $52.50. Gold +0.1% to $1154.20.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.39%
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Producer Price Index
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
9:15 Industrial Production
9:15 Yellen delivers semi-annual monetary policy
10:00 Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
2:00 PM Fed’s Beige Book
Key earnings before the open
ASML, BAC, BLK, DAL, PNC, USB
Key earnings after the close
CNS, EWBC, INTC, KMI, NFLX, UMPQ, WTFC
It’s again crunch time in Greece as lawmakers gather for a crucial vote on austerity and reform measures that will determine if the country will be eligible for a much-needed third bailout. Although Greece’s parliament is broadly expected to approve the measures, many say that the crisis is far from over. Among the doubters is the IMF, which has questioned Athens’ ability to deliver on promised overhauls and warned in its starkest language yet that the eurozone must commit to debt restructuring to ensure its program will work.
China’s economic growth proved resilient in the second quarter as policy makers stepped up support and a stock market boom – since soured – spurred services. GDP rose 7% in the three months through June, making it more likely the country will hit its 2015 growth target of about 7%. Despite the upbeat economic data, Chinese shares extended their slump. Some 696 mainland firms remained suspended from trading, representing about a quarter of the number of companies listed on Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy unchanged and largely maintained its upbeat inflation forecasts, even as it cut its growth outlook on soft exports and household spending. GDP for the year ending March 2016 is now expected to increase 1.7%, down from the 2% expansion initially forecast in April. Inflation forecasts for the year were also lowered – to 0.7% from 0.8%.
New figures from the White House budget office’s “Mid-Session Review” display U.S. GDP rising by just 2% this year before rebounding to 2.9% in 2016 – down from an earlier forecast of 3% growth for both years. Short-term estimates for inflation were also trimmed. The consumer-price index is now expected to post an annual average increase of just 0.2% this year, down from an earlier forecast of a 1.4% gain.
Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gets underway at 10:00 this morning, with investors closely monitoring the hearing for hints of a U.S. interest rate hike, especially following yesterday’s disappointing U.S. retail sales. The biannual appearances are billed as reports to Congress on monetary policy, but questions tend to range widely. Yellen is also expected to be pressed for details surrounding a 2012 leak of the Fed’s bond-buying plans, now the subject of multiple investigations.
Global oil markets won’t feel the real impact of Iran’s nuclear deal until 2016 as sanctions remain in place while nuclear inspectors go to work, announced banks including Citigroup, UBS and Commerzbank. OPEC’s fourth-largest member won’t be able to achieve a crude-export boost of more than 500K barrels a day until next year, and will probably choose to gradually increase exports once sanctions are lifted (rather than risk low prices by rapidly pushing crude into an oversupplied market). Crude futures still head lower, down 1% to $52.50/bbl.
International Airlines Group’s €1.4B takeover of Aer Lingus (AIRXY) has cleared its final hurdle after getting the green light from the European Commission. To gain the approval, IAG (ICAGY) had to give up five daily take-off and landing slots at London’s Gatwick airport and guarantee that Aer Lingus would maintain connecting flights to competing airlines.
The drama at American Apparel just doesn’t stop. Another lawsuit has surfaced stemming from a deal between ousted Chief Executive Dov Charney and Standard General, in which the former CEO gave up his voting rights in lieu of a loan to increase his stake in the company. The hedge fund alleges that Charney has yet to fulfill promises he made and sought an injunction to stop his “meritless” and “destructive actions” against the firm. American Apparel (APP) shares are down over 60% since the saga erupted last June.
Celgene has agreed to acquire Receptos (RCPT) for $7.2B in cash, representing a 12% premium to yesterday’s closing price. The $232/share deal will give the biotech company a potential multibillion-dollar drug in late stage development for inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. Celgene’s (CELG) other recent moves: A $1B investment in Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) and collaborations with Agios Pharmaceuticals (AGIO) and AstraZeneca (AZN).
BHP Billiton is once again feeling the sting from its investments in U.S. shale gas and oil, the latest in a series of hiccups since it boosted its exposure to energy assets in 2011. BHP (BHP) said today it would take a $2.8B writedown – most of it on the Hawkville field in Texas – bringing its pretax charges on its U.S. shale unit to about $5.9B over the past three years.
Honda’s U.S. financing division has agreed to pay $25M to settle allegations the company overcharged minority buyers with higher interest rates on vehicle loans. According to the complaint, the company charged thousands of African-American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Island auto loan borrowers higher interest rates solely because of their race. Honda (HMC) said it disagreed with how regulators determined discrimination but “we nonetheless share a fundamental agreement in the importance of fair lending.”
Many analysts are now arguing a Micron (MU) takeover faces far too many hurdles to become a reality, after reports yesterday suggested Tsinghua Unigroup was prepping a $23B ($21/share) offer. A much higher bid would be needed to win over management and the deal’s approval would have to be secured from American national security officials and aggressive regulators.
Toshiba President Hisao Tanaka will likely step down in September along with other board members to take responsibility for the company’s escalating accounting scandal, Japan’s Nikkei reports. Speculation Tanaka would step down was already running high, after investigators learned he was among the executives who told subordinates to delay booking infrastructure division losses. The resignations are likely to come at Toshiba’s (TOSYY) September shareholders meeting.
Wells Fargo is looking at more financial assets being unloaded by GE Capital after it bought $9B of real estate loans from the conglomerate in the second quarter. Portions of GE’s commercial loans portfolio “fit nicely with the businesses at Wells Fargo (WFC),” CFO John Shrewsberry said in an interview. He also singled out GE’s railcar leasing business, saying it might complement Wells Fargo’s First Union Rail.