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31Mar2016 Market Close: Blah Session, Volume Down, Markets Closed Mixed, WTI Crude And US Dollar Unchanged

Written by Gary

Markets closed mixed. The DOW closed down 32 points, the $RUT closed up 0.3% and WTI crude settled mostly unchanged along with the US dollar. $SPX closes just above S2 (2057) which could be viewed as bullish, but short-term indicators remain directionless, but some emphasis on the downside.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Exclusive: Uber will use Progressive Insurance to cover Texas drivers

(Reuters) - Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] will use Progressive Insurance to provide coverage for drivers in Texas beginning on Friday, in a pilot that could lead the ride-hailing market leader to diversify its U.S. insurance purchasing from its current sole provider, Uber and Progressive executives told Reuters.

Wall Street on track for feeble end to tempestuous quarter

(Reuters) - Wall Street was set to end the first quarter with a whimper on Thursday after a month-long rally that rescued the S&P 500 from its worst start to a year since 2009.

GE Capital asks U.S. government to lift 'too big to fail' designation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lender GE Capital asked the U.S. government on Thursday to stop designating it as "too big to fail," saying it had shrunk to the point where it would not pose a major threat to the nation's financial stability if it experiences distress.

McDonald's to add more than 1,000 outlets in China

(Reuters) - McDonald's Corp plans to add more than 1,000 restaurants in China over the next five years, which would make it the company's second-largest market after the United States.

U.S. judge rejects Lehman workers' claims on stock awards

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former senior employees of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc [LEHLO.UL] who once commanded seven-figure pay packages failed to persuade a federal judge to restore hundreds of millions of dollars of stock awards that become worthless after the Wall Street bank's collapse.

Regulator orders drugmaker Valeant management to cease trading

(Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc's directors and key officers have received a cease-trade order by the securities regulator in the Canadian province of Quebec, on the company's request, Valeant said on Thursday.

U.S. jobs market firming, manufacturing regaining footing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but a sharp drop in layoffs in March suggested the labor market momentum remained intact.

Ford issues three recalls, including one that led to two fires

DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it will conduct three separate safety recalls including one of sport-utility vehicles with a defective engine heater that led to two fires in Canada, in which no one was injured.

Swiss watchdog's concerns remain over $1.4 billion Kuoni bid terms

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland's takeover regulator still has concerns about some terms of Swedish private equity firm EQT's takeover of travel group Kuoni and rejected an appeal by a major shareholder over a planned share swap associated with the deal.

"There Are No More Hotel Beds At All": Sweden's Tourism Industry Collapses As Resorts Become Refugee Centers

œWhichever way we slice the data, the growth in working age population stands out as a key driver of economic growth for most countries. A healthy dependency ratio, a skilled workforce, together with strong institutions and an absence of major resource imbalances is usually the formula for country-level success. But with most DMs weighed down by ageing populations, a key question is this - can people inflows counter challenging demographics? The short answer is yes.

That's what Goldman said last autumn as Europe's refugee crisis began to spiral out of control. We're not sure if it had occurred to the bank just how large the people flows into Western Europe would end up being because the implication in the excerpted passage above is that the influx of people may actually be a good thing economically speaking if it ameliorates negative demographic shifts.

Of course Goldman may be proven right in the long-run, but in the short-term the mass migration is straining Western Europe's resources and now looks set to drive up the unemployment rate in Germany.

œGerman joblessness was unchanged in March, snapping a run of five consecutive declines, in a sign that Europe's largest economy may be struggling to absorb a wave of refugees, Bloomberg wrote, earlier today, adding that œGermany admitted more than 1 million migrants in 2015 alone [which] increased the pool of potential workers.

A new report from Berlin's labor agency suggests that it will likely be years before the country experiences any benefit from the migration wave. œIt can be expected that the labo ...

Something Did Break After All: Repo Rate Soars Most Since September 2008

Back on December 31, the day which was the first quarter and year-end after the Fed's first rate hike cycle in nearly a decade, we pointed out something unexpected - the Fed's rate hike corridor had just been broken when the Fed Funds rate traded as low as 0.12%, far below the mandated minimum of 0.25%.

SMRA confirmed as much, and added that "the fed funds rate has dropped to 0.12% this morning, down from 0.47% yesterday. The fed funds rate has dropped at month-end for all of 2015, with some of the larger of these moves occurring at quarter end, like today. It appears that these drops will still occur even after the fed rate hike, and possibly that the will be even more extreme, since today's drop was about 23 basis points, as opposed to previous declines this year, which were usually between 5 and 10 basis points."

It was unclear what had caused this dramatic breach of the Fed's corridor, but we had some ideas:

the fact that there is this kind of major discontinuity in the Fed's rate hike process, throws a huge wrench in the credibilty of the Fed tightening effort.

After all, if banks can steamroll with impunity the Reverse Repo 0.25% floor to park hundreds of billions, or trillions, in liquidity, then the Fed's enti ...

Europe Continues To Court "Prince In Brussels" Erdogan

Submitted by Judith Bergman via The Gatestone Institute,

Erdogan has boasted that he is proud of boldly blackmailing EU leaders into paying him protection money.

Erdogan's threats were almost criminally sinister: "... the EU will be confronted with more than a dead boy on the shores of Turkey. There will be 10,000 or 15,000. How will you deal with that?"

According to the agreement, 80 million Turkish citizens will have visa-free access to the European Union.

The nightmare scenario for a desperate EU is that no matter how much it bows to extortionist demands from Turkey, the migrant crisis will continue to grow. Even if Turkey closes down all migrant routes from Turkey into Europe, refugees could take new routes through North Africa or the Caucasus.

Meanwhile, 800,000 migrants are currently on Libyan territory waiting to cross the Mediterranean, according to French Defense Minister Jean-Yves le Drian.

"We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses ... So how will you deal with refugees if you don't get a deal? Kill the refugees?" This was the question Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in true mafia style, asked European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on November 16, 2015 in a closed meeting in Antalya, Turkey, where the three met after the G20 summit.

While Tusk and Juncker have both declined to comment on whether the meeting took plac ...

Why Oil and Gas Companies Are Bracing for Bad News From Banks

The onset of redetermination season in the oil patch will bring bad news for dozens of energy companies as low prices lead to pared credit.

Jobs Report: Higher Participation Takes Heat Off Fed

Small moves in the labor-force-participation rate could have a big impact on the unemployment rate and future monetary policy.

Why Midsize Biotechs Have Scarcity Value

Interest in a deal for Medivation reflects the relative shortage of quality biotech assets.

February 2016 Median Household Income Not Significantly Changed

from Sentier Research

According to new data derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), median annual household income in February 2016 was $57,129, not significantly different from the January 2016 median of $57,192. The Sentier Household Income Index for February 2016 was 99.7 (January 2000 = 100), 0.1 percentage point lower than last month. Median income remains slightly lower than the January 2000 level after adjusting for changes in prices.

Deep Dive: 10 companies bucking the depressing profit-margin trend

There are some alarming signs for corporate profits, but these companies are improving their margins while growing sales.

Deep Dive: Most stocks rose during the first quarter - surprised?

Despite all the panic in January and February, the first quarter was a decent one for the market, writes Phil van Doorn.

Market Extra: Investors should avoid these momentum stocks 'at any price'

So far this year, with the exception of Facebook, momentum stocks are failing to live up to expectations, prompting a J.P. Morgan strategist on Thursday to recommend that investors avoid them at œany price.

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