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"Seasonal Adjustment" Swings Initial Jobless Claims From 6-Month Highs To Cycle Lows

Yet again the fate of the US economy is left to seasonal adjustments... Non-seasonally-adjusted initial jobless claims surged over 47,000 this week to its worst in 6-months. But by the magic of PhD adjustment, this translated into 3,000 seasonally-adjusted drop from last week, beating expectations and printing near 'recovery' cycle lows. We can only imagine the adjustments needed to cope with Microsoft's layoffs. 2014 has seen the smallest percentage drop in initial claims since the crisis began.



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Microsoft Announces Record 18,000 Layoffs, Three Time More Than Expected

While the news was reported earlier this week, it is perhaps notable that what was once considered the leading US tech company has also succumbed to the great "jobless" US recovery (in which the US economy is somehow adding 200K+ jobs every month even as it is firing millions). Furthermore, what was supposed to be 6,000 layoffs has just tripled to 18,000, which also happens to be the largest round of layoffs in MSFT history, surpassing the previous record of 5,800 set back in 2009.



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Russian Bonds, Stocks, Ruble Tumble On Latest US Sanctions

The Russian Ruble slumped 1.6% today, its biggest drop in over 4 months as investors kneejerk-reacted to the US latest round of restricted-funding-access sanctions. The Ruble is back at 2-month lows against the USD. The bonds of several of the sanctioned companies are also breaking down with Rosneft yields up 89bps at 6.22% and Novatek yields surging to 6.44% as even though Fitch confirms these firms can manage their own cash needs through 2015, as one analyst notes, "the lack of ability to raise long-term dollar funding will become a big economic limitation for all of them." The broad Russian stock market is also tumbling, down to 2-month lows (though still notably above the US markets since sanctions began). We wonder how long before BRICS Bank steps in to provide 'temporary' funding... and just how quickly Putin's "boomerang" will hit if this selling continues.



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Kiev Reports Ukraine Warplane Was Shot Down By A Russian Fighter Jet

While most news coming out of Ukraine regarding the ongoing civil war are merely propaganda designed to make Russia look bad, and hence irrelevant (and vice versa from Russia of course - the only news that matters re: Ukraine is i) what happens with gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine and ii) the fate of the South Stream pipeline; the rest is mostly noise), it is perhaps a testament to how the global media will observe Russia's response to the latest US sanctions, and hardly improve risk appetite, that as Reuters reports a Russian jet shot down a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter plane that was on military operations over the east of Ukraine.



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Frontrunning: July 17

  • Bubble Paranoia Setting in as S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst (BBG)
  • But how will math PhDs determine "fair value" - Wall Street Techs Take Secrets to Next Job at Their Peril (BBG)
  • U.S., EU Escalate Russia Sanctions as Putin Holds Firm (Bloomberg)
  • Australia Becomes First Developed Nation to Repeal Carbon Tax (WSJ)
  • Gaza humanitarian truce goes into force, hours after tunnel clash (Reuters)
  • Barclays, Deutsche Bank Said to Face U.S. Senate Hearing (BBG)
  • ECB Asset Buying Far Off and May Not Come, Hansson Says (BBG)
  • Time Warner win would make Murdoch U.S. media king (Reuters)
  • Costly Vertex Drug Is Denied, and Medicaid Patients Sue (WSJ)
  • China Rallying for All Wrong Reasons to Top-Rated Analyst (BBG)
  • GM recalls some cars with problematic switches; judges others safe (Reuters)


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Obama's Latest Russian Sanctions Send Global Stocks Reeling

Slowly but surely, all those cans that many hoped were kicked indefinitely into the future, are coming back home to roost. The biggest impact on global risk overnight have been undoubtedly the expanded Russian sanctions announced by Obama yesterday, which have sent the Russian Micex index reeling to six week lows (as it does initially after every sanction announcement, only for the BTFDers to appear promptly thereafter), with the biggest hits saved for the named companies such as Rosneft -5.6%, Novatek -5.1%, and others Alrosa -5.7%, VTB Bank -4.3%, Sberbank -3.4% and so on. Then promptly risk off mood spilled over into broader Europe and at last check the Stoxx600 was down 0.8%, with Bund futures soaring to record highs especially following news (from the Ukraine side) that a Russian warplane attacked a Ukrainian fighter jet. Not helping matters is the end of the dead cat bounce in Portugal where after soaring by 20% yesterday on hopes of a fresh capital infusion, Espirito Santo has once again crashed, dropping as much as 11%, driven lower following downgrades by both S&P and Moodys, as well as the realization that someone was pulling everyone's legs with the rumor of an equity stake sale.



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Putin Responds: "US Sanctions Will Boomerang And Cause Very Serious Damage"

"Sanctions have a boomerang effect and without any doubt they will push U.S.-Russian relations into a dead end, and cause very serious damage, and it undermines the long term security interests of the US State and its people."
"This means that U.S. companies willing to work in Russia will lose their competitiveness next to other global energy companies." Putin said the sanctions will hurt Exxon Mobil Corp which has been given the opportunity to operate in Russia. "So, do they not want it to work there? They are causing damage to their major energy companies." Putin said the sanctions will hurt Exxon Mobil Corp which has been given the opportunity to operate in Russia. "So, do they not want it to work there? They are causing damage to their major energy companies."



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Outrage Follows Report Government To Spend $50 Million On Resort For "Young Illegal Immigrants"

While we understand that there are many nuances in the ongoing illegal immigrant debate, and there are certainly two sides to every story, we can't help but wonder if the US government granting a $50 million award to BCFS Health and Human Services to house "young illegal immigrants at the site of the current Palm Aire Hotel and Suites" in Weslaco, Texas is the best use of government funding. As KRGV reported, " A center for unaccompanied minors set to open in Weslaco later this year will be the first of its kind in the nation, officials with a network of non-profits said.  A center for unaccompanied minors set to open in Weslaco later this year will be the first of its kind in the nation, officials with a network of non-profits said... Representatives with BCFS said the Palm Aire will undergo a multi-million dollar transformation."



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Israeli Military "Denies Targeting Children" Slammed For "Not Having The Courage To Talk To Hamas"

In one of the most uncomfortable (and must-see) interviews, UK Channel 4's John Snow 'discusses' Israel's bombing raids and policies towards Hamas with Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. The interview starts with a punch, "How does killing children on a beach contribute to your purpose of protecting Israeli civilians?" Regev ducks and weaves from question to question, flummoxed when Snow jabs, "if you couldn't tell these were 4 young Palestinian children playing football on a Gaza beach, you need better equipment," only to be slammed towards the end with, "why not be brave and talk directly to Hamas? You haven't got the courage." Not the kind of interview one is likely to see on US TV.



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Peak Animal Spirits

It appears, unlike in the mid 2000s, that the low level of volatility and high level of stocks has not had the desired effect on ramping animal spirits among the general population. Judging by the number of "optimistic" stories, peak animal spirits passed at the start of 2012... as optimism is now back at crisis lows...



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20 Signs The Terrible Drought In The Western US Is Starting To Become Catastrophic

When scientists start using phrases such as "the worst drought" and "as bad as you can imagine" to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age. The following are 20 signs that the stunning drought is starting to become apocalyptic...



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If You Own A Kalashnikov Rifle, Obama Just Sanctioned You

If you thought the latest round of US sanctions against some largely unknown Russians and a few new companies listed here, most notably Rosneft and Gazprombank - but not Gazprom, never Gazprom - that would cut off Russian gas to Europe and Merkel doesn't want that - would be largely a non-event, you are right. Unless you own a Kalashnikov, aka AK-47 rifle. In which case read on.



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"Good News Is Bad News", BofA Says "Reduce Risky Assets" Because Jobs Are Improving So Fast

This week’s market reaction to Fed chair Janet Yellen’s Humphrey Hawkins testimony – which was initially perceived as hawkish – provided another highlight of just how nervous investors have become about the risk of tighter monetary policy, post the very strong June payrolls report. As BofA warns, the current pace of jobs creation mirrors what forced the Fed’s hand in the 1994 rate hiking cycle, which led to lower stocks and wider credit spreads. Simply put, as the indicator of just how insane "markets" have becomes, rapidly improving job growth (as fallacious as it is under the surface) means BOFA thinks that hedges should be set and long positions in risky assets reduced.



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With Two Weeks Left, Argentina Starts Taking (Bondholder) Names

The Argentina default battle is in its final fortnight, with a July 30 grace period expiration looming, one which would result in a second bankruptcy in 13 years to formally be written down in the history books, and which could spoil the serene glow all global capital markets have found themselves in thanks to the central bankers' soothing words. As a result, Argentina has resorted to a last ditch strategy to ferret out the full list of holdout creditors (the hedge funds led by Elliott, Aurelius and various other known and unknown bondholders) as well as get a full list of the restructured bondholders (those who are perfectly happy to clip whatever coupon Argentina will pay them instead of seeing their payment stop altogether if and when CFK announces an official default). The logic behind the ruse: to circumvent the court and pay the restructured debtholders in the 11th hour.



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Carl Icahn "Very Nervous" About Stocks Due To Fed's "Excessive Money Printing"

Ironically, Carl Icahn - poster-child of the leveraged financial engineering that has overtaken US equity markets on the back of Central Bank largesse - told CNBC that he was "very nervous" about US equity markets. Refelecting on Yellen's apparent cluelessness of the consequences of her actions, and fearful of the build of derivative positions, Icahn says he's "worried" because if Yellen does not understand the end-game then "there's no argument - you have to worry about the excesssive printing of money!" So in 12 hours, we have been told: some sectors are stretched (Yellen), there is a bubble but we don't want to pop it (Fisher), when the Fed ends QE, there'll be abear market (Druckenmiller), and now Icahn is "worried about markets." Cue, Cramer explaining how none of these buffoons know anything about stocks...



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