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In the News, 3-31-15

From Bloomberg

Singapore Home Prices Post Longest Losing Streak Since 2004Singapore's Property

Singapore’s home prices dropped for a sixth consecutive quarter, the longest losing streak in more than a decade, as tighter mortgage curbs cooled demand in Asia’s second-most expensive housing market.

An index tracking private residential prices fell 1.1 percent in the three months ended March 31, matching the longest stretch of declines since March 2004, according to preliminary data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday. The URA changed the method it uses to calculate the property index from last quarter to better reflect the property market, it said in the statement. (More)


China Enters Stock Frenzy as Rookie Traders Open Record AccountsChina's Stock Market

To get a sense of the frenzy in China’s world-beating equity market, consider this: In a two-week span last month, the rally lured 2.8 million rookie stock pickers, almost the equivalent of Chicago’s entire population. (Read here)

Indian Nifty Futures Drop After Worst Benchmark Month in 2 Years

Indian stock-index futures dropped after benchmark gauges capped their biggest monthly loss since February 2013.

SGX CNX Nifty Index futures for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to 8,525.5 at 9:52 a.m. in Singapore. The underlying CNX Nifty Index was little changed at 8,491 on Tuesday. The S&P BSE Sensex lost 0.1 percent to 27,957.49. The Bank of New York Mellon India ADR Index of U.S.-traded shares declined 0.4 percent. Markets in India are closed Thursday and Friday for the Mahavir Jayanti and Good Friday holidays. (Continue)


China’s Big Stock Market Rally Is Being Fueled by High-School DropoutsAsian Stocks Drop as China Rate Concern Lingers

There’s a story that Joseph Kennedy sold his stocks on the cusp of the Great Crash of 1929 after a shoe shine boy shared trading tips with him. If even the shoe polisher is buying stocks, he reasoned, the market must be riding for a fall.

New data from the China Household Finance Survey, a large-scale survey of household income and assets headed by Professor Li Gan of Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, provides fresh insights into who has been driving the recent rally in China’s markets. It is not reassuring. (More)

Dollar Falls Amid Economic Concerns After Biggest Gain in Decade

The dollar retreated, after a gauge of the currency completed its strongest three-quarter gain on record, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will raise rates slowly.

The U.S. currency surged at least 9 percent against all its major developed peers since the end of June as more than two dozen central banks, including those in Australia, Canada and Europe, eased policy this year. The dollar pared gains on Wednesday after a Chinese manufacturing gauge rebounded in March, damping demand for the U.S. currency as a haven. (More here)

Chinese Developer Country Garden Suspends Trading in Hong Kong

Country Garden Holdings Co., China’s third-largest developer by area sold, suspended trading in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The company, based in Foshan in southern China, halted shares pending an announcement of “inside information,” it said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange, without elaborating. The stock last traded at HK$3.13 on March 31 and has gained 1 percent this year. (Read more)


Chinese Manufacturing Gauge Rebounds in March After StimulusChinese Manufacturing

A Chinese manufacturing gauge rebounded in March, suggesting stimulus efforts have started to bolster factories in the world’s second-largest economy.

The government’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index was 50.1 last month, from 49.9 in February, according to the statistics bureau and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing in Beijing. Numbers above 50 signal expansion. (Continue)

Japan Big Manufacturers Are Unconvinced on Economic Recovery

Japan’s large manufacturers see business conditions weakening this quarter and the bulk of companies in the world’s third-largest economy plan to pare investment in the year ahead.

The Bank of Japan’s Tankan large manufacturer index came in below estimates in March, unchanged at 12 from the previous quarter, the central bank said. The index is forecast to drop to 10 in June. Companies plan to reduce capital expenditure by 1.2 percent in the fiscal year through March 2016. (Full Article)

Shale Producer Samson Says Bankruptcy May Be Best Option

Samson Resources Corp., an oil and natural gas producer controlled by private equity giant KKR & Co., warned investors that bankruptcy may be its best option as collapsing crude prices erode its ability to repay debt.

Filing for Chapter 11 protection “may provide the most expeditious manner in which to effect a capital structure solution,” the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company said Tuesday in its annual report. (More here)

No Joke, U.S. Treasuries Tend to Rally in the Month of AprilU.S. Treasury Building

Treasuries tend to rally in the month of April.

U.S. government securities have advanced in the period every year from 2010 to 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

One theory for the gain is that Japanese investors are buying as they begin their fiscal year on April 1. Even though it’s April Fool’s Day, the five-year run is no gimmick. Kei Katayama at Daiwa SB Investments in Tokyo said it’s driven by higher yields than those available in Japan. (More)

Reckoning Arrives for Cash-Strapped Oil Firms Amid Bank Squeeze

Lenders are preparing to cut the credit lines to a group of junk-rated shale oil companies by as much as 30 percent in the coming days, dealing another blow as they struggle with a slump in crude prices, according to people familiar with the matter.  (Read more)

Iran Told to Make Deal by Dawn With Talks Set to Miss Deadline

World powers warned Iran that they’re ready to quit nuclear talks on Wednesday even if there’s no agreement, according to a participant, as the approach of a deadline led to brinkmanship on both sides.

While negotiators have agreed to continue past midnight, breaking with the official timetable, the talks won’t be extended beyond April 1, said a diplomat from one of the six countries negotiating with Iran, speaking on condition of not being identified in line with protocol. The European foreign ministers intend to leave the Swiss city of Lausanne on Wednesday morning regardless of the outcome, the diplomat said. (Here)

Catch of the Day: GOP Retreat on Obamacare<p>Repeal, replace and retreat.</p> Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Catch to the Washington Post's Greg Sargent, who figured out what some Republicans are really saying: that popular provisions of  Obamacare “don’t really count as Obamacare!” 

He was analyzing the Facebook fiasco suffered by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican, who asked her constituents for horror stories about the Affordable Care Act on its fifth anniversary. (Read more)

Oil Extends Drop as Looming Iran Nuclear Deal Seen Swelling Glut

Oil extended losses from a third quarterly drop as negotiators signaled they’ve reached consensus on major points of a nuclear deal with Iran that may allow the OPEC producer to increase crude exports.

Futures fell as much as 1 percent in New York after closing at a one-week low Tuesday. The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran said a statement may be drafted Wednesday, a day after talks were scheduled to have ended with an outline agreement. U.S. crude stockpiles probably expanded from a record last week, a Bloomberg survey showed before a government report. (More here)

The Saudis Are Losing Their Lock on Asian Oil SalesSouth Korea's Oil Imports

Ships carrying oil from Mexico docked in South Korea this year for the first time in more than two decades as the global fight for market share intensifies.

Latin American producers are providing increasing amounts of heavy crude to bargain-hungry Asian refiners in a challenge to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter and the region’s dominant supplier. (More here)

Japan's Newest Export: Deflation<p>Land of the sinking yen.</p> Photographer: KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images

In 2006, seven years before he became Bank of Japan governor, a testy Haruhiko Kuroda told me he thought China was raising its own living standards at the expense of its Asian neighbors.  "The relationship between exchange rates and poverty reduction is not so direct, but a more flexible Chinese exchange rate would benefit Asia," Kuroda, who at the time was head of the Asian Development Bank, told me in his office overlooking the Manila skyline. "It would make a difference." (Continue)


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