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Reports US

US stock market, economy and companies update (February 19, 2014)

February 19, 2014, Wednesday, 16:57 GMT | 11:57 EST | 21:27 IST | 23:57 SGT
Contributed by Trade The News

- US equities sliding sideways again this morning after making up some early losses. With the Nasdaq back at YTD highs and the S&P500 a few points away from all-time highs, there do not appear to be many catalysts for the next move higher. As of writing, the DJIA is up 0.38%, the S&P500 is up 0.25% and the Nasdaq is flat.

- Few surprises are expected from the FOMC minutes, out later this afternoon. Yellen's testimony last week indicated no real change in committee's view of the economy since the December meeting. The minutes are expected to confirm the committee's continued support for Q4 tapering, with little chance of a meaningful change in views. Note that the next FOMC meeting is scheduled for March 19th and is followed by a press conference and will also feature updated staff projections.

- As foreshadowed in the February NAHB survey yesterday, the February housing starts and building permits numbers were pretty weak. Both starts and permits missed diminished expectations. Some were puzzled by quirks in the data: starts fell in all regions, except in the Northeast, where they rose 61.9% m/m. After yesterday's declines, there has been little movement among the homebuilders.

- Jewelry retailer Zale Corp has agreed to be acquired by Signet for $21/share in cash, a 41% premium over Zale's closing price yesterday. The transaction values Zale at approximately $1.4 billion. Signet said the transaction would be highly accretive to earnings in the first full fiscal year after the close of the deal. Shares of SIG are up 16.5% on the deal.

- Crude prices remain elevated this morning, with front-month WTI just shy of $103. Yesterday afternoon the contract briefly traded as high as $103.20, and this morning the contract even tipped a little higher, however this level is providing short-term resistance. Natural gas is also surging, climbing more than 7% on the day to just shy of $6, thanks to more freezing weather, supply constraints and the unrest in Ukraine, key conduit for Russian gas supplies.

***Looking Ahead***
- 12:15 (US) Fed's Lockhart speaks on Economy in Macon, Georgia
- 13:00 (US) Fed's Bullard speaks to Exchequer Club in Washington
- 14:00 (US) Fed Minutes from Jan 28-29 FOMC Meeting
- 14:00 (AR) Argentina Q4 Unemployment Rate: 6.7%e v 6.8% prior
- 16:30 (US) Weekly API Crude Inventories
- 18:50 (JP) Japan Jan Trade Balance: -¥2.487Te v -¥1.302T prior; Adj Trade Balance: -¥1.51Te v -¥1.149T prior
- 19:00 (US) Fed's Williams speaks on the Economy in New York
- 20:45 (CN) China Feb HSBC/Markit Flash Manufacturing PMI: 49.5e v 49.5 prior

***Economic Data***
- (BR) Brazil Feb Final IGP-M Inflation: 0.2% v 0.3%e
- (PT) Portugal Jan PPI M/M: -0.1% v 0.3% prior; Y/Y: -1.4% v -0.1% prior
- (US) MBA Mortgage Applications w/e Feb 14th: -4.1% v -2.0% prior
- (RU) Russia Jan Unemployment Rate: 5.6% v 6.1%e
- (RU) Russia Jan Retail Sales Real M/M: -27.4% v -26.0%e; Y/Y: 2.4% v 3.7%e
- (RU) Russia Jan Real Wages Y/Y: 2.5% v 3.0%e
- (US) ICSC Chain Store Sales w/e Feb 15th: w/w +2.5%; y/y: +2.1%
- (PL) Poland Jan Sold Industrial Output M/M: +2.9% v +2.7%e; Y/Y: +4.1% v +3.5%e
- (PL) Poland Jan PPI M/M: +0.1% v +0.1%e; Y/Y: -0.9% v -0.8%e
- (US) Jan Housing Starts: 880K v 950Ke; Building Permits: 937K v 978Ke
- (US) Jan PPI M/M: 0.2% v 0.1%e; Y/Y: 1.2% v 1.2%e
- (US) Jan PPI Ex Food and Energy M/M: 0.2% v 0.1%e; Y/Y: 1.3% v 1.4%e
- (US) Redbook Retail Sales w/e Feb 15th: +3.2% y/y, Feb MTD: -1.2 m/m; Feb MTD: +3.0% Y/Y

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