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17Aug2016 Market Close: US Markets Close Fractionally Higher After Fed FOMC Minutes Show Division In Membership, WTI Closes Higher, Next Stop The 50 Handle

Written by Gary

Wall Street closed fractionally higher after melting up from the session lows (DOW +22 points) after minutes from the Fed's policy meeting showed voting members divided over whether to raise interest rates soon. Members of the rate-setting FOMC were generally upbeat about the U.S. economic outlook and labor market. Crude settled higher today (WTI $46.87) after an unexpected drawdown in U.S. crude and gasoline inventory.

Todays S&P 500 Chart

The Market in Perspective

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Wall St. ticks up as Fed seen split on rate hike

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve's July policy meeting showed voting members divided over whether to raise interest rates soon.

Fed policymakers divided over whether to raise rates soon: minutes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve policymakers agree that more economic data is needed before raising interest rates, although some see a need to tighten policy soon, according to the minutes from the U.S. central bank's July 26-27 policy meeting.

Ex-Wall Street banker convicted for giving father insider tips

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An ex-Wall Street investment banker was convicted on Wednesday of engaging in insider trading by tipping his father off to unannounced healthcare mergers, a victory for prosecutors after an appellate ruling made it harder to pursue such cases harder.

Target cuts fiscal-year profit forecast; shares drop

(Reuters) - Retail chain Target Corp cut its fiscal-year profit outlook on Wednesday after quarterly sales fell more than expected due to lower demand for electronics and a weak start to a revamp of its grocery business.

Oil rally under pressure; record Saudi output offsets U.S. drawdown

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil's near week-long rally was under pressure on Wednesday after an unexpected drawdown in U.S. crude and gasoline stocks was offset by worries that Saudi Arabia was cranking output to record highs even as OPEC talked of ways to ease a global glut.

Lowe's sales miss estimates as short spring hurts

(Reuters) - Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its full-year earnings forecast, hurt by a shorter spring in the northern United States and fewer big-ticket purchases at its stores.

Monsanto gives Bayer limited access to its books: sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - U.S. seed company Monsanto has given German suitor Bayer AG limited access to its books after turning down a sweetened $64 billion takeover offer last month, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

U.S. mortgage demand to buy homes hits six-month low: MBA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Weekly applications for U.S. mortgages to buy homes slipped to a six-month low even as interest rates on fixed-rate home loans fell, according to data from an industry group released on Wednesday.

Staples forecasts fifteenth straight quarterly sales decline

(Reuters) - Staples Inc , the biggest U.S. office supplies retailer, forecast its 15th straight quarter of declining sales as it closes stores in the face of intensifying competition.

Stupid Is What Stupid Does - Secular Stagnation Redux

Submitted by Eugen von Bohm-Bawerk via Bawerk.net,

Which country, the United States or Japan, have had the fastest GDP growth rate since the financial crisis? Due to Japan's bad reputation as a stagnant, debt ridden, central bank dependent, demographic basket case the question appears superfluous. The answer seemed so obvious to us that we haven't really bothered looking into it until one day we started thinking about the demographic situation in the two countries. As we all know, Japan has a rapidly ageing population whereby the workforce is getting smaller for every day. Japan has had a demographic growth tax ever since 1997 when population growth overtook potential labour force growth.

Japan Demograpy

The United States on the other hand only started "paying" their demographic tax in 2010 and it was not until very recently it became severe enough to make a large dent in overall growth accounting.

US Demography

If we adjust for the demographic difference between the US and Japan, the Japanese economy has actually performed much better than the US. In other words, given the resources available, Japan has managed to eke out more real growth than the US. That is ...

Trump Explains Why He Doesn't Trust US Intelligence Hours Before First Briefing

Hours before receiving his first security briefing Trump decided to trash the U.S. intelligence community, in an interview with Fox News, while declaring that he "won't use them." Per an article published by The Hill, when asked whether he trusts U.S. intelligence, Trump responded:

"Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country. I mean, look what's happened over the last 10 years. ... It's been catastrophic. Very easy to use them, but I won't use them, because they've made such bad decisions."

Trump plans to attend the security briefing with former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency earlier in the Obama administration, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Trump's comments come just days after the Joint Task Force found that CENTCOM leaders "distorted, suppressed, or substantially altered analytic products" to paint U.S. efforts to combat ISIS in a more positive light (see our prior post "Shocking Report Finds U.S. Military Consistently "Distorted, Suppressed, Or Substantially Altered" ISIS-Related Intel").

Expecting War? Russia Conducts Armored Train Drills For First Time In 15 Years

Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,

One could only conclude that Putin is not playing around anymore.

Instead, Russia is out and out prepared for war. It is likely enough that we should expect it, too. Can you feel things heating up?

These drills appear to be very serious training for the mobilization of a major force that intends to bring in vast numbers and superior equipment under cover from fire.

Watch carefully as this force readies to protect Putin's army during transport to the point of conflict:

The Russians have been flaunting their latest equipment for communications jamming, which allows them to literally dominate and control an area; they have been flexing their ICBM mobile trucks and they have been giving every sign that they will not be pushed around by NATO, rightly or wrongly.

They will be rolling out their carefully regulated, exercised and trained 21st century army

Ford Announces Plans To Self-Destruct Starting In 2021

Ford CEO, Mark Fields, sat down with Bloomberg to discuss plans to introduce a completely autonomous car by 2021. The only real problem we see with that plan is that it pretty much ensures their own demise. That said, they're pretty much doomed anyway so might as well go for it.

The company said it plans to have a fully autonomous vehicle -- no steering wheel, no gas or brake pedals -- available by 2021 for ride-hailing services.

"We see the autonomous car changing the way the world moves once again," Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields said today at Ford's research lab in Palo Alto, California. "They address a whole host of safety, social and environmental issues."

Like Alphabet Inc.'s Google, Ford will skip the interim steps of driver-assisted technology as a way to evolve toward full autonomy. Its plan to deploy self-driving cars in ride-hailing and ride-sharing fleets is similar to what General Motors Co. aims to do with Lyft Inc. Ford's 2021 scheduled start matches BMW's ambitious timeframe.

"We believe in our plan that taking the driver out of the loop is really important," Fields said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The automaker couldn't find a sensible way through the "no-man's land" -- determining exactly when a robotic car should to try to re-engage a human driver in an emergency.

So what do we mean when we say an autonomous car pretty much ensures Ford's demise? To be clear, we're not specifically ...

Why Some Banks Are Thankful for Money-Market Strains

In 2008, higher Libor was a thing to fear, now it looks set to bring benefits.

Trend Is Not Your Friend for Long With Teen Retailers

The divergent postearnings stock performance of American Eagle and Urban Outfitters illustrates the fleeting nature of good fortunes in teen retail.

Wal-Mart's Stock Price Needs a Rollback

Wal-Mart's rally this year will be put to the test in Thursday's quarterly results.

27 July 2016 FOMC Meeting Minutes: Worries About Economic Shock

Fed-sealSMALLThe 27 July 2016 meeting statement presented the actions taken. This post covers the economic discussion during this FOMC meeting between the members (minutes were released today). There was a significant amount of discussion about inflation and how it relates to the federal funds rate. There was a sense of division between the FOMC members on when to raise the federal funds rate. The majority opinion:

... concluded that the Committee should wait to take another step in removing accommodation until the data on economic activity provided a greater level of confidence that economic growth was strong enough to withstand a possible downward shock to demand .....

Market Extra: Is Wall Street's 'fear gauge' signaling that investors are too complacent?

Wall Street's so-called fear gauge has some worried that stocks could be on the verge of tumbling lower.

The Wall Street Journal: Intel plans push into artificial-intelligence market

Intel unveiled plans to deliver a new version of the Xeon Phi chips that target the fast-growing artificial-intelligence market.

Planet Fitness CEO says two biggest competitors are Chili's and Uno's

One year after its initial public offering, Planet Fitness's stock has been performing well which the CEO says it due to its targeting of the first-time or casual gym goer.

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