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28Mar2016 Pre-Market Commentary: US Futures Up Fractionally, European Markets Closed, Crude Fractionally Higher, US Dollar Slipping

Written by Gary

US stock future indexes are fractionally higher this morning and are poised to open slightly higher ahead of a data-heavy week. Easter Holiday continues in Europe markets closed across the continent. Oil prices climbed slightly in thin Easter holiday trading today, the us dollar falls slightly, reversing earlier gains, while gold also declines. Investors are buying heavily into ETF's to protect themselves as the 'Fear Gauge' increases.

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets finished sharply lower on Thursday with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is down 2.13% while Germany's DAX is off 1.71% and London's FTSE 100 is lower by 1.49%.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

U.S. consumer spending edges up, inflation retreats

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending rose marginally in February and overall inflation retreated, suggesting the Federal Reserve will continue to gradually raise interest rates this year despite a tightening labor market.

Avon reaches deal with Barington Capital, avoids proxy fight

(Reuters) - Cosmetics maker Avon Products Inc said it had agreed to give activist investor Barington Capital Group LP the right to approve the appointment of an independent director to the company's board, avoiding a proxy fight.

Oil prices edge higher in thin holiday trading

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices climbed slightly in thin Easter holiday trading on Monday, adding to gains in recent weeks as optimism holds that a production freeze among major producers may be implemented.

China bank profits flat-line as bad debts continue to soar

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Big Four state-run banks this week are set to report annual earnings growth that likely flat-lined after around a decade of terrific profitability, as a surge in soured loans continued unabated while economic expansion weakened.

With crisis plans and cuts, British bosses brace for Brexit

HEREFORD, England (Reuters) - Above a factory floor of machines carving metal to within a millionth of a meter, Stephen Cheetham is preparing his company for the unknown: a British exit from the European Union.

Dollar firms, Asia stocks slip as U.S. data, Fed comments awaited

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - The dollar firmed on Monday and most Asian markets surrendered early gains as investors cautiously awaited U.S. economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve officials this week that could signal more interest rate increases than expected.

Loeb says Japan's Seven & I should shut more stores: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Activist investor Daniel Loeb urged Japanese retailer Seven & I Holdings Co Ltd to shut more unprofitable department stores, in an interview with the Nikkei newspaper on Monday.

Japan's negative rates a looming headache for central bank

TOKYO (Reuters) - Driving interest rates below zero, the Bank of Japan has turned a comatose government bond market into an enormous free-for-all, complicating the central bank's own efforts to kick-start growth and end deflation.

23% Of Americans In Their Prime Working Years Are Unemployed

Submitted by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

Did you know that when you take the number of working age Americans that are officially unemployed (8.2 million) and add that number to the number of working age Americans that are considered to be "not in the labor force" (94.3 million), that gives us a grand total of 102.5 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now? I have written about this before, but today I want to focus just on Americans that are in their prime working years. When you look at only Americans that are from age 25 to age 54, 23.2 percent of them are unemployed right now. The following analysis and chart come from the Weekly Standard...

Here's a chart showing those in that age group currently employed (95.6 million) and those who aren't (28.9 million):

These Are The Oil Producers That May (Or May Not) Attend Next Month's "Farcical" OPEC Meeting

The one catalyst most responsible for sending the price of oil from its 13 year lows hit in early February some 50% higher in the following month, has been the recurring rumor about an "imminent" OPEC production freeze meeting which was initially supposed to take place in early March, then on March 20, and now on April 17 (we expect this to be rescheduled shortly as well).

As a reminder, Qatar has invited all OPEC members and major producers from outside the exporting group to attend talks on April 17 on a deal to freeze output at January levels to support the global oil market, Qatar's energy ministry said. "The need has become an urgent matter to bring back balance to the market and recovery to the global economy," the ministry said in the invitation letter.

The ministry had said that around 15 OPEC and non-OPEC producers, accounting for about 73 percent of global oil output, are supporting the initiative. The problem is that all it takes is for one or two member nations to avoid the meeting and thus make any attempt at supply cuts moot.

So here is, according to Reuters, the latest summary of who is, may or won't be attending next month's Doha meeting:

And, as noted previously, should even one oil producing nation snub the meeting it is all for nothing. As Bloomberg explained last week, "The other 11 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have agreed to meet in the Qatari capital on April 17, officials from the respective countries have said ...

China Beige Book Reveals Employment Plunges To 4-Year Low, Capex Worst In History

Back in December, New York-based China Beige Book International released what they called a œdisturbing set of data that pointed to pronounced weakness in the Chinese economy.

œNational sales revenue, volumes, output, prices, profits, hiring, borrowing, and capital expenditure were all weaker than the prior three months, the firm - whose CBB is modeled on the Fed's survey of US economic conditions and is supposed to provide a more objective assessment of China's economic health than the goalseeked figures that emanate from the NBS - remarked.

In the three months since the CBB's last report, we haven't seen a whole lot in the way of positive data that would have caused us to believe that things are looking up. Exports, for instance, cratered more than 20% in RMB terms last month and 25% in USD terms - the third worst performance in history.

Sure enough, the CBB's latest quarterly read on the Chinese economy betrays more pervasive problems including a persistent lack of hiring and a disheartening dearth of capex. œOnly 33% of firms reported capital expenditure growth in the first quarter, the lowest in the survey's five-year history, Reuters reports, adding that œthe share of firms reporting capex growth has fallen by over 40 percent since the second quarter of 2014.

The CBB's survey, which includes 2,200 companies and 160 bankers, showed that although profits have risen, hiring has collapsed to a four-year low and that pos ...

Frontrunning: March 28

Terror Network's Web Sprawls Beyond Brussels and Paris (WSJ)

Dollar firms, Asia stocks slip as U.S. data, Fed comments awaited (Reuters)

Pakistanis hunt militants behind blast that killed at least 70 (Reuters)

Biden-Clinton Friction Hangs Over Campaign (WSJ)

Japan opens radar station close to disputed isles, drawing angry China response (Reuters)

Google Search Technique Aided N.Y. Dam Hacker in Iran (WSJ)

Brazilians Scrimp and Save in Unwelcome Surprise for Investors (BBG)

Cruz, Trump Trade Blame for Latest Personal Attacks (WSJ)

California lawmakers, unions reach $15 minimum wage deal (Reuters)

Energy Companies Pay Up to Raise Cash (WSJ)

More than 35,000 sign petition to allow guns at RNC (NBC)

Japan's NTT Data agrees to buy Dell's IT services unit for $3 billion (Reuters)

Belgium Ch ...

Fear Amid the Market Rally: Investors Bet on Volatility

Some are so worried U.S. stocks will tumble that they are willing to lose money to protect themselves. Investors poured a record sum over the past month into exchange-traded funds whose value increases along with Wall Street's so-called fear gauge.

Banks Ramp Up Push for Home-Equity Lines

Lenders are trying to offset faltering mortgage originations and a fizzling refinancing wave. For borrowers, the move comes as home values continue to rise.

U.S. Stocks Poised to Open Slightly Higher

U.S. stocks were poised to open slightly higher Monday ahead of a data-heavy week. S&P 500 futures rose 4.2 points, or 0.2%, to 2033.

February 2016 Inflation Adjusted Personal Income and Consumption Growth Mixed.

Written by Steven Hansen

The data this month showed good income growth with spending growth weak (significant downward revision in last month's expenditure data). Still year-over-year consumption is growing faster than income.

How The Fed Smoothed Quarter-End Volatility In The Fed Funds Market

from Liberty Street Economics

-- this post authored by Alex Entz, John McGowan, and Asani Sarkar

The federal funds market is an important source of short-term funding for U.S. banks. In this market, banks borrow reserves on an unsecured basis from other banks and from government-sponsored enterprises, typically overnight. Before the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve implemented monetary policy by targeting the overnight fed funds rate and then adjusting the supply of bank reserves every day to keep the rate close to the target.

The Wall Street Journal: Cal-Maine Foods profit climbs 26% as egg prices remain high

Egg producer again benefited from higher egg prices.

Commodities Corner: 5 reasons oil is on track for biggest monthly gain in nearly a year

Here's why oil prices are set to score their largest monthly gain since April of last year.

Economic Report: Consumers spend a little more, save a little more in February

Consumer spending rose a mild 0.1% in February, as Americans held the line on big-ticket items such as new cars and saved a little more money.

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