More Worthwhile Pursuits
Financial Review by Sinclair Noe for 10-12-2015
DOW + 47 = 17,131
SPX + 2 = 2017
NAS + 8 = 4838
10 YR YLD closed
OIL – 2.10 = 47.53
GOLD + 7.50 = 1164.90
SILV – .01 = 15.92
The Dow Industrials posted a gain for the seventh consecutive session, and ninth gain in the past 10 sessions. During the rally, the Dow has gained 1,130 points. Crude oil futures settled 5.1 percent lower after gaining almost 9 percent last week. The dollar was down slightly.
Dell and private-equity firm Silver Lake will buy EMC Corp. for roughly $67 billion in cash and stock, marking one of the largest technology-industry takeovers ever. The $33.15 a share price tag represents a 19% premium over Friday’s closing price. EMC also owns about an 80% stake in VMware, which will remain a publicly traded company. EMC holders will receive $24.05 a share in cash and in addition to tracking stock linked to a portion of EMC’s economic interest in the VMware business. VMware has a market value of about $33 billion. The Dell deal is the largest in tech history, and it may be the biggest tech deal in terms of debt. Dell will add about $50 billion in debt to complete its proposed acquisition, bringing the closely held company’s total debt to about $60 billion.
Budweiser must really like Miller. Anheuser Busch InBev upped the ante again, making its fourth bid in the past few weeks for SABMiller, saying it’s willing to pay $103 billion in cash and stock. Under British takeover rules Anhesuer Busch InBev must make a formal offer by Wednesday or sit on the sidelines for at least 6 months. SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer, has rejected three prior proposals since news first emerged in September that Anheuser-Busch InBev was interested in a merger. The deal, if it were to be completed, would create a combined company with $64 billion in annual revenue that commands 30 percent of global beer sales. Any deal between the brewing giants would most likely face significant regulatory scrutiny.
Separately, the Justice Department is investigating allegations that Anheuser-Busch InBev is trying to cut competition by buying distributors, making it harder for fast-growing craft brewers to get their products on store shelves. In the past few months, A-B InBev has made deals for five distributors in three states. Many states require brewers to use distributors to sell their product, and once AB InBev buys a distributor, craft companies say they find that they can’t distribute their beer as easily and sales growth stalls.
A demonstration in Berlin on Saturday involved hundreds of thousands of protesters against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated between the U.S and EU. The broad trade accord is seen as picking up momentum following last week’s Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, along with some gentle nudging from large multinationals. Groups in Europe are taking issue with TTIP’s lack of transparency and the potential impact on labor and safety.
Standard & Poor’s has cut its ratings on Catalonia by one notch to BB-, saying it expects increasing political tension following last month’s regional elections.
Greece’s new government faces a major test this week when several new economic reforms and austerity measures demanded by international creditors need to be voted on to become law. The Greek parliament will vote this week on an omnibus bill cutting pensions, raising the retirement age and increasing punishments for tax evasion ahead of the country’s first bailout review later this month. The reforms will need to be approved to unlock a fresh -euro loan installment from the country’s €86-billion-euro bailout.
Several dozen Republican congressmen have signed a petition that will force the House to vote on whether to revive the Export-Import Bank that helps American companies sell goods overseas. After the House votes on the Ex-Im Bank bill later this month, the Senate would still have to approve the measure.
The interest rate watch goes on. Here’s the latest twist. U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers are still likely to raise interest rates this year but that is “an expectation, not a commitment,” – so says Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer at a weekend International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Peru. Fischer also said “Considerable uncertainties” still surround the U.S. economic outlook, including the drag on exports from slowing global growth, low investment caused by the decline in oil prices and the recent “disappointing” drop in U.S. jobs.
This morning, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart says the Fed will have plenty of new economic data to make a decision in December. And San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams said that even “a little bit” more economic data could convince him to support a rate hike at the Fed’s next meeting, in October. Over the weekend Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans said the Fed that globally low inflation makes it “challenging” for the U.S. central bank to lift domestic inflation to its 2 percent goal.
Social Security recipients shouldn’t expect an increase in benefits next year. Adjustments are based on increases in inflation, however falling gasoline prices over much of the last year mean the cost-of-living adjustment, set to be announced Thursday, will likely be zero. The COLA adjustment affects payments to around 70 million Americans. This is just the third time in the past 40 years that Social Security would get no increase in next year’s benefits.
Much of the stock market is sensitive to the economic ramifications of Fed decisions, of course. But perhaps the sector with the most near-term sensitivity is the financial sector. The big banks are scheduled to report earnings this week, including: GS, BAC, WFC, C, JPM, and MS. While the broader market has recovered from losses sustained in the latter half of August, banks are still struggling. Other major earnings reports on the calendar this week include, Intel, GE, and Alphabet (formerly known as Google).
General Electric is in advanced talks to sell a specialty finance portfolio, worth more than $30 billion, to Wells Fargo. Reuters reports Wells Fargo has so far outbid other parties for General Electric’s vendor financing, commercial distribution finance and direct lending assets. A deal could be announced by the time Wells Fargo publishes its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday.
Glencore halted trading of its Hong Kong-listed shares overnight pending the announcement of an asset sale. The embattled mining giant then confirmed the sales process for its wholly-owned Cobar copper mine in Australia and Lomas Bayas copper mine in Chile. The deals are part of a broader plan Glencore has outlined to cut $30 billion in net debt, weather a slump in commodity prices and revive its shares (which have dropped 57% this year). Copper rose 0.4 percent following a near 4 percent gain last week after production cuts by Glencore boosted base metals. Glencore plans to cut zinc production by a third. Zinc capped the biggest one-day gain in at least 26 years on Friday and copper jumped 3.1 percent. The shift in output may not be enough to offset weak demand growth in China. Demand has been disappointing, but supply has also been worse than expected.
Fiat Chrysler has disclosed the price range of Ferrari’s initial public offering that could value the luxury unit at close to $10 billion. The company will sell up to 10% of Ferrari in the IPO at a price of between $48-$52 per share and use the proceeds of the offering to help pay for its own turnaround plan.
Looking to secure a larger slice of the world’s biggest auto market, Ford is investing $1.8 billion over the next five years to expand research and development in China. The company also expects to introduce the C-MAX Energi, a plug-in hybrid, to the Chinese market next year. Beijing has been trying to encourage more electric vehicles to combat pollution, but progress has been slow due to the lack of infrastructure.
Angus Deaton, a Princeton economist, was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. The award committee said Deaton’s research has “shown other researchers and international organizations like the World Bank how to go about understanding poverty at the very basic level.” Deaton has criticized the widening income gap between rich and poor in the U.S.
In his 2013 book, “The Great Escape,” Deaton wrote that “inequality can sometimes be helpful” in promoting prosperity by giving people incentives to work harder and more efficiently. But last year Deaton wrote that he worried that high-paying jobs in finance and other fields were diverting talented young people from “more worthwhile pursuits.” He also warned that the very rich might be using their disproportionate influence to “write the rules in their favor, and they may work against the public provision of health care or education, for which they pay a large share but have little personal need.”
In a 2003 essay, Deaton wrote about the difficulty in determining how we define poverty. He wrote: Even if you have enough goods, they are worth little if you are not healthy enough to enjoy them. Children who live in an unsanitary environment will obtain little nutritional benefit from the food that they eat if they continually suffer from diarrhea. More broadly, girls who are denied the opportunity to go to school experience yet another type of poverty, the poverty of not being able to read and to participate in activities that are only open to the literate. People are also poor in another sense if they lack the resources to participate fully in the society in which they live, who in Adam Smith’s term “are afraid to appear in public,” even if their incomes would be sufficient in some other society.