Thursday, August 25, 2016

List of stocks that have been upgraded by Merril Lynch
1. Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE: MRO) to a buy from neutral, with a price target of $21, which is higher than the $18 consensus of various analysts. The new target price implies a gain of more than 33% from the current price of $15.7.
2. Noble Corporation PLC (NYSE: NE) from underweight to neutral. However, the target price of the stock is unchanged at $7.5, which is below the consensus target price of $8. The stock closed at $6.39 hitting a new multi-year low.
3. Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: PTEN) to neutral from underperform. The new target price on the stock is $22, whereas the consensus target price is also the same. The stock closed at $19.96.
4. Sasol LTD. (NYSE: SSL) to a buy from an earlier rating of neutral. While the consensus target price of the stock is $32.09, the stock closed the day at $27.71.
5. Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) makes it to the US 1 list of top ideas for Merrill.
Notwithstanding, the valuations of the energy sector at 40 times its forward price-to-earnings (P/E) is more than double to the S&P 500’s forward P/E of 17, according to Yardeni Research.
Though the Merrill Lynch report agrees that “energy looks expensive on depressed earnings,” they believe that “higher oil prices should drive higher earnings estimates. Investors are still underweight the sector and the sector’s weight in the S&P 500 has fallen to historically bullish levels”.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Elderly Germans may have to keep working until the age of 69 if a Bundesbank proposal is adopted.
It says Berlin should consider raising the retirement age to that level by 2060, from around 65 at the moment.  The central bank says that otherwise the country may struggle to honour its pension commitments. It points out that the state pension system is in good financial health at present, but will come under pressure in coming decades. The Bundesbank says that as baby-boomers - those born in the post-World War Two period - retire, there will be fewer younger workers to replace them.. The retirement age for Germans is set to rise gradually to 67 by 2030.  However, the bank believes that from 2050 this increase will not be enough for the German government to keep state pensions at their target level of at least 43% of the average income.  It is therefore proposing pushing the retirement age up to 69.  "Further changes are unavoidable to secure the financial sustainability (of the state pension system)," the Bundesbank said in its monthly report.  But German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said they stood by retirement at 67.  "Retirement at 67 is a sensible and necessary measure given the demographic development in Germany. That's why we will implement it as we agreed - step by step," he added.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You can see the oil industry's woes for yourself, at anchor in the Firth of Forth. Very Large Crude Carriers are parked off the coast of East Lothian until the price rises, full of North Sea oil recently loaded through the Hound Point terminal.  Onshore storage facilities are full. You can see other tankers at rest and laden with the crude stuff off the coasts of Suffolk and Cornwall.   The gamble made by oil traders is that the cost of storing oil in these tankers - two million barrels in each of the larger ones - is less than the gain to be made out of waiting to sell it.  But industry hopes of a rise in the oil price have been dashed time and time again over the past two years.  Other consequences can be seen over the horizon, on Shell platforms, where Wood Group maintenance workers are back on strike this coming week, in protest at the sharp cut to their pay.  Others have protested at the change to rotas, shifting from two-week turnarounds to three-weeks. The consequences were also clear from another grim week for the oil and gas industry, as the majors unloaded their half year results.  The message was consistent, and no reassurance to those offshore workers facing diminished pay and conditions - the cost-cutting goes on.  As the results were published, the oil price fell yet again. Brent crude fell below $43, down 20% from a peak it reached in early June.  With global supply still buoyant, the short-term expectation is for a continued fall, even if those tankers at anchor in the Forth are a sign of expectations that the price will pick up again before too long.  In Britain, it is no compensation for the oil industry that the dollar value appear more attractive in pounds, following the weakening of sterling. The industry thinks, invests, accounts and reports in US dollars. The exchange rate becomes an issue when it reaches the customer.  That rise in the sterling price for a given dollar rate represents the increased cost, for those who earn and invest and buy their fuel in pounds - businesses and households alike.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Investors’ love for bonds continued in July, with intermediate-term bonds seeing an inflow of $15 billion for the month — the largest inflow of any Morningstar category. Intermediate-term bonds, which have gained 4.74% the past 12 months, have led Morningstar’s monthly report for the past five months. At the same time, investors — mainly with advisers at their sides — yanked $27.3 billion from U.S. stock funds and $5.3 billion from international stock funds. For the most part, investors seem to be driven by fear, not greed, said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at S&P Global Market Intelligence. “There’s a nervousness among investors, given that we’re in the 8th year of a bull market,” Mr. Rosenbluth said. Rotating into investment-grade corporates isn’t exactly a daring move. “Verizon, ATT, General Electric are all doing fine.” Investors also seem to be less convinced that passively managed fixed income funds are better than actively managed ones, Mr. Rosenbluth said, despite the fact that any supporting data for active management is “mixed at best.” Investors put $13.5 billion into actively managed bond funds, vs. $20.5 billion for passively managed once. In contrast, investors pulled $32.9 billion from actively managed stock funds and added $33.8 billion to actively managed stock funds. The big worry is whether investors are seeking riskier types of bonds in their search for yield. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be “yes.” High-yield bonds, which have returned an average 13.59% this year, saw a $3.2 billion inflow in July. Emerging-markets bond funds saw a $2.9 billion inflow. Those funds have gained 12.88% this year.  Rising interest rates could short-circuit any bond rally, although that doesn’t seem to be a danger in Europe, where the economy is still stagnant. But both high-yield funds and emerging-markets funds could take significant hits if the U.S. or world economy falls further.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Oil charges into bull market territory on hopes of output freeze Brent crude charged into bull market territory, smashing $50 a-barrel, as the world’s biggest oil producers prepared to discuss a possible output freeze at next month’s Opec meeting in an attempt to curb the global supply glut.Since hitting a low of $41.69 on August 3, oil has rallied almost 22pc, touching an intraday high of $50.87 yesterday - its highest level since July 4 when it touched $51.29. The latest leg up in the black stuff is pinned on the hopes that Opec’s meeting in Algeria on September 26 to 28, which takes place on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum, will revive talks on freezing production levels to help bolster prices. It was also lifted by the weak dollar which makes commodities cheaper for other currency holders. However, the oil price bounce comes less than three weeks after it fell into bear market territory, having fallen by more than 20pc from June 8 to July 29 amid oversupply concerns and pressures about slowing economic growth. Joshua Mahony, of IG, cautioned: “Given that this market turned higher almost instantaneously after confirming a bear market earlier in the month, perhaps this definition should be something to worry about rather than drive enthusiasm.”
The return of the bulls prompted oil majors to make gains, BP rose 2.8p at 435.6p, Tullow Oil climbed 5.5p to 239.6p and Amec Foster Wheeler advanced 13.5p to 540.5p.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Britain’s economy will slow down but should not go anywhere close to a recession, according to economists at credit ratings agency Moody’s, while growth in the rest of the world is also “stabilising.” Although markets dived on the referendum result in June, stock prices have recovered and now economists also believe the impact of the vote will be relatively modest, compared with some early fears.  The lower pound should support economic growth in the UK, Moody’s said, while the government is expected to loosen the purse strings to shore up GDP.
Moody’s economists predict growth of 1.5pc this year and 1.2pc in 2017.
SAN FRANCISCO — Cisco Systems, the computer-networking giant that is in the midst of a major technological pivot, on Wednesday said it will eliminate up to 5,500 jobs.
The job reduction is Cisco's second major one in two years. The San Jose, Calif.-based company laid off 6,000 in a restructuring in 2014.  The Silicon Valley company announced the cuts — about 7% of its global workforce — during its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report. Sluggish spending by corporations and telecom carriers on network switches and routers, Cisco's big moneymakers, have prompted it to shake up staff ranks as it turns toward other fields, such as cloud computing.  The news sent Cisco shares (CSCO) down 1%, to $30.36, in after-hours trading.
Cisco slightly beat analysts’ estimates with a quarterly profit of $2.8 billion, or 56 cents a share, on revenue of $12.64 billion, off 1.6% from a year ago. Adjusted profits would have been 63 cents. Analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted adjusted earnings of 60 cents a share on revenue of $12.57 billion.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) of Belgium has issued an announcement to inform that the authority establishes a framework for the distribution of OTC Derivatives (Binary options, CFDs, etc.).According to FSMA’s announcement, the distribution of certain financial derivatives among Belgian retail clients will be restricted as from 18 August 2016. Certain derivatives such as binary options, CFDs with leverage, etc. may not be distributed, and certain distribution practices will also be prohibited. The Regulation drawn up by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) on this matter has been approved by royal decree.  The Royal Decree of 21 July 2016 is published with today’s date in the Belgisch Staatsblad/Moniteur belge (Belgian Official Gazette). The Royal Decree approves the FSMA’s Regulation (published in French and Dutch) on the distribution of OTC derivatives. The Regulation applies to derivative contracts distributed to consumers in Belgium, usually from abroad, via electronic trading platforms. According to the providers, these are products that can generate high yields at a time of historically low interest rates. In reality, however, these are products that are marketed aggressively and are extremely risky, often involving transactions over a very short period and without any connection to the real economy.
The Regulation consists of two elements which apply cumulatively. The first element is a ban on distribution of a few specific types of derivative contracts to consumers via electronic trading platforms. These are:
  • binary options: a binary option is a contract in which one party undertakes to pay the other party a specified amount if the value of a given asset (listed share, currency, commodity, index, precious metal, etc.) changes in a specified direction within a predetermined – sometimes very short – period (a few seconds or minutes);
  • derivative contracts whose maturity is less than one hour;
  • derivative contracts with leverage, such as contracts for difference (CFDs) and rolling spot forex contracts. A CFD is a contract between a buyer and a seller in which the parties agree to exchange the difference between the current price of an underlying asset (listed share, currency, commodity, index, precious metal, etc.) and the price of that asset at the end of the contract. A rolling spot forex contract is a type of contract for a foreign exchange transaction which is renewed indefinitely until one of the parties closes its position; at that point, the transaction is settled in cash on the basis of the changes in the underlying currency since the beginning of the contract.