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09Aug2016 Market Close: Wall Street Talking A Break Closing Near Record Highs, Crude Prices Fall Off Session Highs

Written by Gary

US equities markets generally closed in the green, but flat (DOW + 4 pts) ($NDX + 0.2%) on low volume. WTI crude settled lower off the session highs in the high 42's while the US dollar slipped and gold remained high. Short-term indicators remain neutral, (but confused).

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

U.S. productivity falls for third consecutive quarter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. nonfarm productivity unexpectedly fell in the second quarter, pointing to sustained weakness that could raise concerns about corporate profits and companies' ability to maintain their recent robust pace of hiring.

U.S. wholesale inventories rise more than expected in June

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. wholesale inventories unexpectedly rose in June on gains in stocks of farm products and other nondurable goods, suggesting an upward revision to the second-quarter economic growth estimate.

Wall Street catches its breath after recent rally

(Reuters) - Wall Street hovered near record highs on Tuesday as weak oil prices offset gains in healthcare and technology stocks.

Lululemon director whose existence was questioned quits

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - One of Lululemon Athletica's longest-serving board members, recently the source of online speculation over her identity and background, has stepped down, according to a company filing posted on Tuesday.

Verizon eyes automotive technology market, could spur other deals

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc's recent purchases of two vehicle tracking firms could spark more deals as the No. 1 wireless provider and rival AT&T see fleet management as a source of growth, analysts said.

Delta cancels more than 500 flights worldwide on Tuesday

(Reuters) - Delta Air Lines Inc said it was canceling more than 500 flights worldwide on Tuesday as the carrier worked to restore operations after a power outage hit its computer systems on Monday.

Valeant looks to sell billions in assets to cut debt, stock jumps

(Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc will sell billions of dollars of non-core assets and could accept offers for its main businesses, its chief executive said on Tuesday, as the drugmaker worked to restore investor trust after a year of bad news.

Valeant CEO receives unsolicited buyer interest for core assets

(Reuters) - Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc has received unsolicited interest for its core assets, although the company is not actively shopping them, Chief Executive Officer Joe Papa said on Tuesday.

Shareholders press Yum for stricter antibiotics policy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Yum Brands Inc investors on Tuesday filed a shareholder proposal requesting that it quickly phase out harmful antibiotic use in its meat supply, taking aim at the practices of the company's KFC fried chicken chain.

Black Pastors Across America Are Breaking The Law To Help Promote Hillary Clinton

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Last night, I came across a very interesting article published in the Atlantic which highlighted the fact that according to a recent Pew Research survey, "28 percent of those who have attended black Protestant churches in the last few months heard their pastor support Hillary Clinton." This is a pretty remarkably statistic considering it is illegal to do so.

Which brings up a related question. To what extent did this phenomenon play a role in Hillary Clinton's sweeping victories across the south versus Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary?

Here are a few excerpts from the Atlantic article:

It is illegal for clergy to support or oppose political candidates from the pulpit. Houses of worship can host candidate forums and voter-registration drives; pastors and rabbis and imams can even bend the rules a little to advocate "as individuals" at conventions or other events. But for more than 60 years, religious groups have been forbidden from electioneering.

Apparently, a lot of pastors don't pay attention to this rule. According to a new survey from Pew Research Center, roughly 9 percent o ...

Saudi Economic Collapse Leaves 16,000 Foreign Workers Abandoned In Labor Camps

Sinking oil prices and a full blown liquidity crisis has brought the Saudi Arabian economy to screeching halt, a topic we've explored on various occasions. The Saudi construction industry has been among the hardest hit as government building contracts have disappeared and bank financing has dried up (something we discussed in a post entitled "Saudi Arabia Admits To A Full-Blown Liquidity Crisis: Will Pay Government Contractors With IOUs, Debt"). We got dramatic confirmation of this for the first time in late April when the BinLadin Group, one of Saudi Arabia's biggest firms and among the Middle East's largest builders, whose total workforce is around 200,000, announced it had just fired a quarter of its total staff amid a major operational restructuring as Saudi government spending cuts slammed the company's primary source of revenue.

Since then it's only gotten worse. As Bloomberg reports, construction contracts shrank by 65% YoY in 2Q16 according to Jeddah-based National Commercial Bank.

The slowdown in construction has caused two of The Kingdom's largest construction companies, Saudi Oger and the abovementioned Saudi BinLadin Group, to layoff and abandon 1,000s of foreign workers in the middle of the Saudi desert without pay and no way home. In fact, not only are workers left without a job, in many cases they're owed 8-10 months of back pay which their employers aren't paying. To add insult to injury, even if workers wanted to forego back wages and return home they're not allowed to do so as exit visas for foreign ...

Give People A Universal Income To Keep Them Quiet While Global Government Grows

Via The Daily Bell,

Globalization and its New Discontents ... Fifteen years ago, I wrote a little book, entitled Globalization and its Discontents, describing growing opposition in the developing world to globalizing reforms. It seemed a mystery: people in developing countries had been told that globalization would increase overall wellbeing. So why had so many people become so hostile to it? - Project Syndicate, Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph Stiglitz is concerned about why people are hostile to the idea of gigantic, impersonal and rapacious governments stealing from them while telling them what to do.

Governments don't work on any level. But global government is worst of all. It will deliver ruin, mass incarceration and ultimately genocide.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

But Stiglitz is a world famous economist, so he has better ideas. More:

Now, globalization's opponents in the emerging markets and developing countries have been joined by tens of millions in the advanced countries.

... Can the open global economy be saved from populist challengers - and from itself? ... How can something that our political leaders - and many an economist - said would make everyone better off be so reviled?

Maybe because people don't trust politicians and economists and increasingly see ways they cloak their own venal malevolence in the rhetoric of "universal good."

The world is in a ...

The California Paradox: Highest Per Capita Debt, Lowest Default Rate

In the months immediately following the financial crisis, the press was filled with sad stories of countless California defaulters who had gotten burned by having too much debt (most of it invested in housing) and who promptly defaulted after the value of their primary asset, their house, plunged when the housing bubble burst. And then, these stories of financial failure gradually stopped. One reason for this is that overall per capital debt did decline... modestly. After hitting $90,000, it has since dropped to just shy of $70,000, even though it is once again rising.

Nonetheless, the average per capita debt in California remains the highest in the US by a margin of about $10,000 as the latest household credit report released today by the NY Fed showed.

Why does the average Californian carry so much debt? The answer is simple: housing. At over $50,000, or 75% of the total, the biggest component of the total debt pile is mortgage debt. Other states where residents are comparably crippled by mortgage debt include New Jersey, Arizona and so on.

This in itself is not surprising: after all old habits die hard, and with housing still exorbitantly expensive, US consumers have no choice but to take on substantial amounts of mortgage debt if they want to own a house.

What did surprise us, however, was the following chart which shows the relative defaults rates by state (percentage of debt ...

Some Hope, butNo Cure, for Valeant

A healthier outlook for Valeant investors may not leave a lasting impression.

Shake Shack Is Priced for Steak, Not Burgers

The burger shop's second-quarter earnings face tough headwinds, including a possible 'restaurant recession.'

Why Investing in Toothpaste Is an Expensive Proposition

The likes of Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Nestlé have seen their stock market valuations soar even as growth has slowed. This is hard to justify in the digital age.

What does a billionaire look like?

5 things you may not know about the world's financial elite.

Companies defy logic with record bond issuance and tighter spreads: What gives?

Companies have sold $70 billion of debt in the first six days of August, a typically sleepy month for issuance.

Bond Report: Treasury yields drift lower as summer trading cools

U.S. Treasury prices rise slightly, pushing yields lower on Tuesday.

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To contact me with questions, comments or constructive criticism is always encouraged and appreciated:

gary@econintersect.com

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