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15Mar2017 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street To Open Higher, Fed Rate Increase Today Is A Foregone Conclusion, Crude Prices Rise To Mid 48 Handle

Written by Gary

US stock index futures pointed to a fractionally higher opening this morning (SPY +0.3%) as investors focused on the Fed's meeting today. 25 basis points hike are already priced in with odds over 90%. Crude prices are trading higher after a surprise drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets are mixed today. The FTSE 100 is up 0.21% while the CAC 40 gains 0.09%. The DAX is off 0.02%.

Looking at the last three columns (below), the first one (Actual), is what was reported this morning. The second column (Forecast) is what analysts had forecast and the third column is the previous report. Full calendar HERE.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Fed expected to raise rates as U.S. economy flexes muscle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates for the second time in three months on Wednesday, encouraged by strong monthly job gains and confidence that inflation is finally rising to its target.

AT&T's $85.4 billion deal for Time Warner wins EU thumbs-up

(Reuters) - AT&T Inc has won approval from the European Commission for its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc, the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier said on Wednesday.

Futures slightly higher as focus shifts to Fed

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were slightly higher on Wednesday as investors focused on a Federal Reserve meeting, where the central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates for the second time in three months.

Toshiba offers memory chip shares as collateral for loans: sources

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's crisis-racked Toshiba Corp has offered shares in its memory chip unit to creditors as collateral to secure debt refinancing, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

German prosecutors searching Audi offices in Germany

INGOLSTADT, Germany (Reuters) - German prosecutors searched Audi's two biggest plants and several other sites on Wednesday in connection with an emissions cheating scandal, adding to pressure on Volkswagen's luxury division and its Chief Executive Rupert Stadler.

CEO of Australia's Atlassian says he'll meet seven-day Tesla batteries deadline

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The co-founder of Australian software firm Atlassian Corp Plc said on Tuesday he was close to meeting a self-imposed one-week deadline of getting political and financial support for a plan to use batteries from Tesla Inc to bridge an electricity supply gap in South Australia.

Wells Fargo, RBS, Deutsche Bank in $165 million NovaStar settlement

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and Deutsche Bank AG have reached a $165 million class-action settlement of investor claims over their underwriting for the now-bankrupt subprime lender NovaStar Mortgage Inc.

U.S. not close to any decision on border tax: Schaeuble

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said on Wednesday he was looking forward to the first meeting with his U.S. counterpart Steven Mnuchin on Thursday, adding he did not expect him to come to Germany with a closed mind on all matters.

Unilever review covers costs, deals, balance sheet: FT

LONDON (Reuters) - Unilever is considering returning cash to shareholders, making medium-sized acquisitions and more aggressive cost cuts as part of its business review, the Financial Times reported.

JPM: "This Is The Bottom Line For Stocks"

While it has been a quiet session so far, today's events have the potential to substantially boost market volatility. Here, courtesy of JPM's Adam Crisafulli, is the "bottom line for domestic equities" and what to watch for among today's information barrage.

Market update - it was another relatively quiet night of news. US futures and Eurozone stocks have a small bid ahead of a busy morning of domestic eco data and the FOMC decision. Oil prices are rebounding thanks to supportive API data and pos. comments from Saudi Arabia and Goldman. Opposition to Ryan's HC bill remains intense w/conservatives in the House still not thrilled (despite the pos. CBO fiscal score) while Senate moderates (as many as 12) are demanding substantive changes (any changes will further undermine House support) and the grassroots Republican press is urging Trump to abandon the legislation.

The healthcare obstacles are ostensibly negative for tax reform although there is more talk about Republicans pivoting away from repeal/replace and focusing their energies on taxes and economic growth (before that time comes though Ryan will still try to drag his bill through the House).

The bottom line for domestic equities remains the same: the SPX is only back to where it stood before Trump spoke in front of Congress on 2/28 (the index is down just ~1.5% from the 3/1 2400 high) and the larger risk remains whether the index retraces the whole "phenomenal" rally (which would move it back to 2300 or lower). Whether that happens will likely come down to Washington - investors still seem willing to give Trump/Ryan/McConnell the benefit of the doubt on HC until at least the end of Mar but tax doubts are rising.

Calendar for Wed 3/15 - the focus will be on the US Mar Empire Manufacturing (8:30amET), the US CPI and retail sales numbers for Feb (8:30amET), the NAHB housing index for Mar (10amET), the FOMC decisio ...

"Jail Time!" Trump Slams Snoop Dogg Assassination Video, Mocks MSNBC's Tax Leak

After a several day self-imposed silence, Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning, slamming both Snoop Dogg's recent controversial music clip and last night's MSNBC leak of his 2005 tax return.

Two days after rapper Snoop Dogg released a music video in which he shoots a "f--king clown" dressed as Trump with a toy gun, an angry Trump tweeted "Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!"

Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017

As reported before, in the video Snoop Dogg says "this is the final call," before pointing a gun at the head of a cigarette-puffing clown dressed as Trump and pulling the trigger, at which point a "bang" flag shoots out from the music star's gun.

Others criticized Snoop's "artistic" vision previously: "We've had presidents assassinated before in this country, so anything like that, people should really be careful about that kind of thing," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told TMZ after news of the music video broke. "He should think about that a little bit. If the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea, you could have a real problem. I think people can disagree on policy, but we've got to be very careful about that kind of thing."

In a sec ...

Frontrunning: March 15

What to watch at the Fed meeting (FT)

Dutch vote in test of anti-elite sentiment in Europe (Reuters)

Where Are the Battlegrounds in the Dutch Election? (BBG)

Erdogan says Dutch have 'rotten character' as row escalates (FT)

How the Fed Convinced Markets It'll Raise Rates This Week (BBG)

GOP Senators Say Health Bill Won't Pass Unless Changed (WSJ)

Merkel, Trump Face Host of Troubling Differences (WSJ)

Oil Gains as IEA Says Time Needed to Drain Glut (BBG)

Trump to nominate Chris Giancarlo to head CFTC (FT)

Saudi deputy crown prince, Trump meeting a 'turning point': Saudi adviser (Reuters)

How to Lose $4 Billion: Bill Ackman's Long Ride Down on Valeant (BBG)

Conservative news site sole media outlet on Tillerson Asia trip (

Numerous High-Profile Twitter Account Hacked, Post Swastikas, Pro-Erdogan, "NaziHolland" Messages

The diplomatic spat between Turkey and the Netherlands spilled into the internet on Wednesday after a large number of Twitter accounts including news agencies, and political entities were hacked by a pro-Turkish group and posted content supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his feud with Europe, with hashtags in Turkish reading "NaziGermany" and "NaziHolland."

As Bloomberg reports, the messages and swastikas appeared on the verified Twitter accounts of German newspaper Die Welt, Forbes Magazine, Duke University, BBC North America, UNICEF, and Reuters Japan. Also targeted were the Twitter accounts of the European Parliament, French politicians like Alain Juppé, Sprint's CEO Marcelo Claure, among others. The attacks, which appeared to be simply a form of political vandalism, used the hashtags #Nazialmanya or #Nazihollanda.

The tweets included a swastika and described the attack as a "little Ottoman slap." "See you on April 16," they read, referring to the date of Turkey's referendum to grant more powers to Erdogan, and finish with: "What did I write? Learn Turkish." A four-minute video attached to the tweets begins with an Erdogan speech in which he says: "If we're going to die, let's die like men." It then features scenes from various Erdogan speeches, starting with his showdown with then-Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009, as a campaign song chanting his name, "Recep Tayyip Erdogan," plays in the background.

Following the hijacking, BBC North America tweeted that it "temporarily lost ...

The Cost of Tough Immigration Rules

Little attention is being paid to the threat to food prices from a drop in immigrant labor, but recent history shows that labor shortages could drive up prices and labor costs and hurt profits.

Tech Suppliers Who Could Win From Apple iPhone 'Supercycle'

Lumentum, STMicroelectronics and Himax, a Taiwanese chip designer listed on the Nasdaq, could benefit if more advanced 3-D sensors are included in the next iPhone.

How Did Retail Sales Fare in February? Watch Tax Refunds

Retail sales are expected to have taken a short-term hit last month due to a delay in tax refunds.

The Wall Street Journal: Elon Musk's SpaceX scores another win in push for military satellite launches

The U.S. Air Force picked Elon Musk's SpaceX to blast a second Global Positioning System satellite into orbit, part of a broader drive to open up various other launch contracts for competitive bidding through late 2019.

Economic Report: Empire State index stays strong in March

A gauge of New York-area manufacturing remained in healthy territory in March, slipping to 16.4 from a two-year high of 18.7 in the previous month, the New York Fed said Wednesday.

Metals Stocks: Gold is back in the red as probable Fed rate hike looms

Gold futures prices were in the red Wednesday, down for the 11th day in the last 12 sessions, ahead of a widely expected Federal Reserve interest-rate hike later in the day.

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