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10Apr2017 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street Muted And Quiet Ahead Of This Mornings Opening, Morning Crude Prices Are Rising, US Dollar Steady, Investors Are Starting The Week Cautiously

Written by Gary

Stocks in Europe and U.S. futures are muted this morning (SPY +0.07%) after a mixed session in Asia has heightened geopolitical tensions over Syria and North Korea. US futures pointed to little change at the open ahead of the start of first-quarter earnings season later this week. The dollar is steady at a three-week high and crude prices have risen.

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets are lower today with shares in France off the most. The CAC 40 is down 0.45% while Germany's DAX is off 0.11% and London's FTSE 100 is lower by 0.06%.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Futures flat as first-quarter earnings season approaches

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday as investors awaited earnings from big banks later in the week, kicking off the first-quarter earnings season.

'Best banker in America' blamed for Wells Fargo sales scandal

(Reuters) - An out-of-control sales culture, a defensive boss obsessed with stamping out negative views about her division and a group chief executive who called her the "the best banker in America" were to blame for Wells Fargo & Co's devastating sales scandal, an internal investigation found.

Geopolitics from France to Korea keep investors cautious

LONDON (Reuters) - Muted trading volumes across many financial assets on Monday and the dollar rising to a three-week high underscored investor caution against making big bets in the face of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the Korean peninsula.

Oil surplus or scarcity? Shale makes it even harder to predict

LONDON (Reuters) - The shale oil boom has transformed the U.S. and global energy sector to such an extent that it has upended traditional supply dynamics and made forecasts far more polarized.

Barclays reprimands chief executive for trying to identify whistleblower

LONDON (Reuters) - Barclays has reprimanded Chief Executive Jes Staley and will cut his bonus for attempting to uncover a whistleblower's identity, the British bank said on Monday, dealing a blow to a man who has been in the role little over 15 months.

Volvo Cars concerned about possible U.S. import tax

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Volvo Cars would suffer if the United States enacts taxes on imported goods, even as the company prepares to hire up to 4,000 workers for a new plant in South Carolina, the head of its North American operations said.

Hedge fund wants to unify BHP's corporate structure, split off U.S. oil

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Elliott Advisors said on Monday it had sent a letter to BHP Billiton directors outlining a plan to unlock value by scrapping the mining giant's dual- corporate structure, demerging its oil business and rejigging its capital return policy.

Banks scramble to fix old systems as IT 'cowboys' ride into sunset

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bill Hinshaw is not a typical 75-year-old. He divides his time between his family - he has 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren - and helping U.S. companies avert crippling computer meltdowns.

Toyota makes $1.33 billion investment in Kentucky plant

(Reuters) - Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp said it is spending $1.33 billion in its Kentucky plant as part of a plan to invest $10 billion in the United States over the next five years.

Putin Will Not Meet Tillerson In Russia, As Confusion Grows Over US Policy Toward Syria

While the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seem unable to agree on what the right policy is regarding Syria and specifically Assad, with the former saying a top priority of Trump is to oust Assad, while the latter claimed over the weekend that the Islamic State is the key concern while Assad's fate and that the people of Syria should decide Assad's fate, Russia is not waiting for clarification.

On Monday morning, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was not due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visits Moscow later this week. He will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov however, Peskov said.

Commenting on U.S. missile strikes against Syria last week, Peskov said the action had shown Washington's total unwillingness to cooperate on Syria. He said renewed calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down would not help to resolve the crisis.

"There is no other alternative," to peace talks in Geneva and Astana, Peskov said.

Meanwhile Tillerson, who on Monday was in Italy for a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Tuscany, said the United States will hold responsible anyone who commits crimes against humanity, just days after the U.S. military unexpectedly attacked Syria.

While prior to the April 7 missile strikes President Donald Trump had indicated he would be less interventionist than his predecessors and willing to overlook human rights abuses if it was in U.S. interests, Tillerson said the United States would not let such crimes go unchallenged. "We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world," he told reporters while commemorating a 1944 German Nazi massacre in Sant'Anna di Stazzema.


Wells Fargo Claws Back Additional $72 Million From John Stumpf, Former Retail Banking Head

It's been a bad start to the week for bank CEOs and ex-CEOs.

Hours after Barclays chief executive Jes Staley was slammed with a regulatory probe and learned he would see substantial cuts to his compensation after he tried to "unmask" a whistleblower, the board of Wells Fargo said it has clawed back an additional $72 million of pay from the two former execs it holds responsible for last year's biggest banking scandal, namely the bank's unprecedented cross-selling practices which went on for years, and which, too, resulted in numerous whistleblowers being silenced.

According to a 113-page board committee report released on Monday, directors of the bank decided to hold back more pay than disclosed last year from ex-CEO John Stumpf and former retail bank leader Carrie Tolstedt, who departed the bank shortly before the scandal brke out. Among the reasons, as summarized by the WSJ, "the board felt misled about the extent of sales abuses that went back to 2002 and resulted in a $185 million fine and two congressional inquiries."

In its report, the board said as of last Friday, it decided to claw back from Mr. Stumpf an additional $28 million of incentive compensation paid in March 2016 under an equity grant made in 2013. In September it announced $41 million in clawbacks from Mr. Stumpf.

The board is also clawing back Ms. Tolstedt's outstanding stock options worth about $47.3 million, following $19 million in earlier clawback activity. That brings total clawbacks to $183 million, according to the board report. That is one of the largest company clawbacks in recent history.

The report described Ms. Tolstedt's work on tackling sales practices problems—including allegations of fake accounts being opened for unsuspecting customers—as "insufficient." She and some of her top managers ran the division as "insular and defensive," not lik ...

Pensions Crisis Is Unavoidable and Here

Pension Crisis In U.S. and Globally Is Unavoidable

by Lance Roberts

There is a really big crisis coming.

Think about it this way. After 8 years and a 230% stock market advance the pension funds of Dallas, Chicago, and Houston are in severe trouble.

But it isn't just these municipalities that are in trouble, but also most of the public and private pensions that still operate in the country today.

Currently, many pension funds, like the one in Houston, are scrambling to slightly lower return rates, issue debt, raise taxes or increase contribution limits to fill some of the gaping holes of underfunded liabilities in their plans. The hope is such measures combined with an ongoin ...

Frontrunning: April 10

Euro hovers above one-month low as French election nerves grow (Reuters)

French Election Risk Reawakens as Bonds Drop, Volatility Jumps (BBG)

Hopes fade for U.S. bank earnings despite rally in financial shares (Reuters)

Skepticism Grows About Higher Fed Rates Helping Banks' Margins (BBG)

Record Bond Issuance Signals Doubts About Economy (WSJ)

Price for Tax Overhaul Makes Bipartisan Deal Unlikely (WSJ)

Congress Sinks Into Partisan Morass as Shutdown Threat Looms (BBG)

Trump considers trade order that could lead to duties (Reuters)'s Third-Party Sellers Hit By Hackers (WSJ)

Nothing Normal About America's Freakish Winter Weather (BBG)

Trump, China, and the Art of Easy Promises

Chinese officials have told the Trump administration they are interested in reducing the country's large trade surplus. That's an easy assurance to offer—as long as things are going well back home.

The Blame Game on Drug Prices Is Getting Dangerous

Manufacturers and payers all can lose if their squabbling leads the government to try to cut drug prices.

Nothing to Fear but the Lack of Fear in Markets

Investors have taken recent geopolitical events in stride, but that won't last forever.

: Buying a home still beats renting, even as house prices rise

Owning your house is a smart money decision that really pays off, writes Peter Morici.

The Wall Street Journal: Ski-park operator Intrawest to go private in $944 million deal

Ski-park operator Intrawest Resorts Holdings Inc.(TICKER:SNOW) said Monday it has agreed to be taken private for roughly $944 millio

London Markets: FTSE 100 loses ground as commodity shares, Barclays tilt lower

U.K. stocks are logging small gains Monday, with mining heavyweight BHP Billiton PLC among advancers, but investors dragged down Barclays PLC shares after the bank reprimanded its chief executive over his handling of a whistleblower case.

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