IMF warns of global slowdown

International Monetary Fund cuts global growth forecast

IMF cuts global growth forecast and warns that the rebound in global financial markets “appears disconnected from shifts in underlying economic prospects”.

The fund now expects global GDP to shrink -4.9% this year, from -3.0% expected in April.

For next year, the IMF sees a rebound of 5.4%, also lower than the 5.8% projected two months ago with downward revisions reflecting the deep scars from a larger than expected supply shock during lockdowns as well as a continued hit to demand from social distancing and other virus measures.

Orange color designates economic downgrades

The IMF warned that for nations struggling to control the spread of the virus a longer lockdown will also take a toll on growth.

“With the relentless spread of the pandemic, prospects of long lasting negative consequences for livelihoods, job security and inequality have grown more daunting”, according to the fund’s update to the World Economic Outlook.

Advanced economies are expected to lead the downdraft with a -8.0% rate, versus -6.1% in the prior forecast.

The outlook on the U.S. was downgraded to -8.0% from -5.9%.

The projection on the Euro Area was knocked down to -10.2% from -7.5%. The UK is also seen posting a -10.2% contraction versus -6.5% previously. Japan was revised to -5.8% from -5.2%.

Emerging market and developing economies are seen falling -3.0% versus -1.0% in the April forecast. China is expected to expand 1.0%, though down from the prior 1.2%.

The largest revision was seen with India where the prior 1.9% growth rate was revised to a -4.5% contraction. World trade volume is projected tumbling at a -11.9% pace this year, a downgrade from -11.0% previously, though is expected to bounce back to an 8.0% growth rate in 2021.

Consumer prices in Advanced economies is seen slowing to 0.3% versus the prior estimate of 0.5%, and is down from a 1.4% pace in 2019.

Several central bank officials have also tried to reign in optimism about the recovery as markets seem to run away with the recovery story.

India’s economy is expected to hit hard with Covid-19

Massive monetary and fiscal support may help to kick-start a rebound, but as ECB chief economist Lane warned today, it will take a long time to reach pre-crisis levels.

The Bank o Japan’s summary of opinion warned that a prolonged negative impact of virus developments on the economic outlook looks unavoidable. And China’s Beige Book expects a contraction for China’s economy this year. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut, announced a joint travel advisory.

All individuals traveling from states with significant community spread of COVID-19 into any of the three states must quarantine for 14 days, the governors announced.

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Fed pumps more money into economy

Fed says SMCCF will begin buying portfolio of corporate bonds

The Federal Reserve Board announced updates to the Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility, or SMCCF, which will begin buying “a broad and diversified portfolio of corporate bonds to support market liquidity and the availability of credit for large employers.”

The Fed added that “the SMCCF will purchase corporate bonds to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds.

This index is made up of all the bonds in the secondary market that have been issued by U.S. companies that satisfy the facility’s minimum rating, maximum maturity, and other criteria.

Feds crank up their printing presses

This indexing approach will complement the facility’s current purchases of exchange-traded funds.

The Primary Market and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities were established with the approval of the Treasury Secretary and with $75 billion in equity provided by the Treasury Department from the CARES Act.”

The SMCCF supports market liquidity by purchasing in the secondary market corporate bonds issued by investment grade U.S. companies or certain U.S. companies that were investment grade as of March 22, 2020, as well as U.S.-listed exchange-traded funds whose investment objective is to provide broad exposure to the market for U.S. corporate bonds.

Feds bailout Wall Street firms

The SMCCF’s purchases of corporate bonds will create a portfolio that tracks a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds.

The Treasury, using funds appropriated to the ESF through the CARES Act, will make an equity investment in an SPV established by the Federal Reserve for the SMCCF and the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility.

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Feds inject more money into the economy

Federal Reserve to provide up to $2.3T in loans to support economy

The Federal Reserve on Thursday took additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy.

“Our country’s highest priority must be to address this public health crisis, providing care for the ill and limiting the further spread of the virus,” said Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell. “

Powell puts more money into the economy. Stockwinners

The Fed’s role is to provide as much relief and stability as we can during this period of constrained economic activity, and our actions today will help ensure that the eventual recovery is as vigorous as possible.”

The actions the Federal Reserve is taking today to support employers of all sizes and communities across the country will: Bolster the effectiveness of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, by supplying liquidity to participating financial institutions through term financing backed by PPP loans to small businesses.

Cash is infused into the economy at a record rate, Stockwinners

The PPP provides loans to small businesses so that they can keep their workers on the payroll.

The Paycheck Protection Program Liquidity Facility, or PPPLF, will extend credit to eligible financial institutions that originate PPP loans, taking the loans as collateral at face value; Ensure credit flows to small and mid-sized businesses with the purchase of up to $600 billion in loans through the Main Street Lending Program.

Feds put more money in PPP

The Department of the Treasury, using funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, will provide $75 billion in equity to the facility; Increase the flow of credit to households and businesses through capital markets, by expanding the size and scope of the Primary and Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facilities, or PMCCF and SMCCF, as well as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF.

These three programs will now support up to $850 billion in credit backed by $85 billion in credit protection provided by the Treasury; and help state and local governments manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic by establishing a Municipal Liquidity Facility that will offer up to $500 billion in lending to states and municipalities.

The Treasury will provide $35 billion of credit protection to the Federal Reserve for the Municipal Liquidity Facility using funds appropriated by the CARES Act.

The Main Street Lending Program will enhance support for small and mid-sized businesses that were in good financial standing before the crisis by offering 4-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenues of less than $2.5 billion.

Principal and interest payments will be deferred for one year.

Eligible banks may originate new Main Street loans or use Main Street loans to increase the size of existing loans to businesses.

Banks will retain a 5 percent share, selling the remaining 95 percent to the Main Street facility, which will purchase up to $600 billion of loans.

Firms seeking Main Street loans must commit to make reasonable efforts to maintain payroll and retain workers. Borrowers must also follow compensation, stock repurchase, and dividend restrictions that apply to direct loan programs under the CARES Act.

Firms that have taken advantage of the PPP may also take out Main Street loans.

“The Federal Reserve and the Treasury recognize that businesses vary widely in their financing needs, particularly at this time, and, as the program is being finalized, will continue to seek input from lenders, borrowers, and other stakeholders to make sure the program supports the economy as effectively and efficiently as possible while also safeguarding taxpayer funds. Comments may be sent to the feedback form until April 16,” the central bank said.

To support further credit flow to households and businesses, the Federal Reserve will broaden the range of assets that are eligible collateral for TALF.

As detailed in an updated term sheet, TALF-eligible collateral will now include the triple-A rated tranches of both outstanding commercial mortgage-backed securities and newly issued collateralized loan obligations.

The size of the facility will remain $100 billion, and TALF will continue to support the issuance of asset-backed securities that fund a wide range of lending, including student loans, auto loans, and credit card loans.

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Coronavirus induced slowdown is coming!

U.S. factory orders undershot estimates in January

U.S. factory orders undershot estimates in January, with declines of -0.5% for the headline and -0.1% ex-transportation, alongside a -0.1% factory inventory drop. Note that this report reflects the period prior to the spread of Covid-19 or Coronavirus.

Covid-19 spreads across the World.

The undershoot reflected declines of -0.8% for nondurable shipments and orders, and -0.2% for nondurable inventories, after downward December revisions, with a headwind for both from energy prices.

Factory Orders Slow in January

The equipment data from the durables report were revised modestly lower, alongside slight downward tweaks in the December levels for orders, shipments, and inventories.

The data still show encouraging January gains for most of the equipment data despite downward bumps, but lean shipments and inventory data, with January pull-backs for transportation and defense after December gains.

Analysts still expect a Q4 GDP growth boost to 2.2% from 2.1% but with -$1 B revisions for both factory inventories and equipment spending.

Factory orders fall in January

Analysts expect GDP growth of 2.0% in Q1, with a -5% (was -4%) Q1 contraction rate for real equipment spending after an estimated -4.8% (was -4.4%) Q4 pace. Analysts expect a -$20 B Q1 inventory subtraction that leaves a $9 B liquidation rate, with a big hit to inventories from reduced imports from China.

Analysts assume a -0.1% (was flat) January business inventory drop after a flat (was 0.1%) figure in December.

Earlier, we had a blog regarding slow down in truck sales was flashing an economic slowdown on the horizon. Read the blog here.

Feds Panic

Fed funds futures have continued to rally as the market prices in another 25 bps of easing at the upcoming March 17, 18 FOMC, on top of this week’s 50 bp reduction.

FOMC emergency 50bp rate cut may have hurt the market.

The market is also supported from flight from risk with declines of over 2% on Wall Street in pre-open action.

The futures are now fully priced for a 25 bps easing in two weeks, to be followed by another 25 bps at the April 28, 29 FOMC with about 75% risk, while June is now seeing about a 50-50 bet for yet one more 25 bp cut at the June 9, 10 FOMC.

Jerome Powell gives in to WH pressure and cuts rates.

That would see the policy band at 0% to 0.50%. Analysts continue believe the Fed and the markets are over-reacting and analysts doubt the economic impact of COVID-19 will be as disastrous as the market’s are pricing in.

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Federal Reserve cuts benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points

Fed Chair Powell says more rate cuts could be needed if economy weakens

The Federal Reserve voted to cut interest rates by a quarter-percentage point for the second time in as many months to cushion the economy against a global slowdown amplified by the U.S.-China trade war. While they left the door open to additional cuts, officials were split over the decision and the outlook for further reductions.

Voting for the today’s 25 basis point cut today were Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, John Williams, Michelle #Bowman, Lael #Brainard, Richard #Clarida, Charles #Evans, and Randal #Quarles. Voting against the action were James #Bullard, who preferred at the meeting to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 1.5% to 1.75%, and Esther George and Eric Rosengren, who preferred to maintain the target range at 2% to 2.25%.

FOMC Chair Powell votes for rate cut., Stockwinners

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in July indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Although household spending has been rising at a strong pace, business fixed investment and exports have weakened. On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed.”

Trade Negotiations

Fed Chair Powell said the Fed has to try to look through near-term volatility due to “complex” trade negotiations to react to the underlying economic situation. Powell said the central bank needs to be careful to not overreact but also to not underreact.

The Fed continues to see a strong labor market and reiterated that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low.

Stockwinners.com

There was still a split between solid household spending, but weakening in business fixed investment and exports. Inflation is still running below 2%, while market-based measures of remain low. The Committee continued to appeal to implications of global developments for the economic outlook and low inflation as rationale for the easing.

More from Powell: this is a time of difficult judgments and disparate perspectives. The bulk of the FOMC is taking it meeting-by-meeting. He continues to believe it’s better to be proactive when adjusting policy, and when trouble is seen approaching on the horizon, you should steer away from it if possible. The Fed has repeatedly shifted policy to support the economy, showing the Fed’s willingness to to move based on an evolving risk picture. There’s real uncertainty around the effects of the trade policy. On the funding issues seen this week, Powell said analysts took appropriate actions to address the pressures. If there are additional pressures, analysts have the tools to address the funding pressures and analysts will not hesitate to use them. The Fed will be returning to the question of when to build the balance sheet. The level remains uncertain, however.

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Feds Cut Rates on All Instruments!

Federal Reserve cuts federal funds target rate by 25 basis points

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement, “Information received since the Federal Open Market Committee met in June indicates that the labor market remains strong and that economic activity has been rising at a moderate rate. Job gains have been solid, on average, in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low.

Powell, FOMC Chair, Stockwinners
Fed Chief Powell. Stockwinners.com

Although growth of household spending has picked up from earlier in the year, growth of business fixed investment has been soft.

On a 12-month basis, overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy are running below 2 percent. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed. Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.

In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the Committee decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate to 2 to 2-1/4 percent. This action supports the Committee’s view that sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective are the most likely outcomes, but uncertainties about this outlook remain.

As the Committee contemplates the future path of the target range for the federal funds rate, it will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2 percent objective.”

Long Term Rates

The Federal Reserve also said in today’s statement, “In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its maximum employment objective and its symmetric 2 percent inflation objective.

This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments. The Committee will conclude the reduction of its aggregate securities holdings in the System Open Market Account in August, two months earlier than previously indicated.”

Bernanke came up with “Quantitative Easing” in 2008, Stockwinners

If you have no idea what the above paragraph means, this may help. Back in 2008, Ben Bernanke, then the Fed Chair, came up with a clever idea! Since the rates at the time where near zero. He needed a way to lower the rates, he started buying long term government bonds. The added demand for bonds caused bond prices to rise thus pushing the rates lower. In the past few quarters, the Feds have been selling these bonds, pushing prices lower, thus higher long term rates. Today’s announcement basically says Feds are ending the bond sales two months earlier, long term rates (mortgage prices) will now go lower.

Powell Comments

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the easing was to ensure against downside risks, as he begins his press conference.

He acknowledged the shift in the policy stance since December’s pivot. Fed has seen both positive and negative developments since the June meeting, including a stronger job market, but weaker manufacturing and disappointing foreign growth, while contacts continue to cite ongoing trade uncertainties are giving companies pause.

The Committee has gradually lowered the assessments of growth and that led to the easing today. On whether a 25 bp cut will prop up inflation, he noted one has to look at the Committee’s actions over the year as it’s moved to a more accommodative stance.

The Committee is thinking of today’s action as a mid-cycle adjustment to policy, designed to provide support for the economy, ensure against downside risks, and support inflation. Chair Powell continued to appeal to downside risks and below target inflation as the main threats to the favorable outlook.

He added, the Fed will monitor the evolution of trade uncertainty, which do seem to be having significant effect on the economy. He thinks trade is a new factor that the FOMC will have to assess “in a new way.”

The chair again said it’s not appropriate to just look at the quarter point easing, but rather the evolution of the Fed’s stance from tightening to easing, with the economy picking up since the end of 2018, which suggests monetary policy is working (though he declined to take full credit for the economy’s gains).

10-year yields fall, Stockwinners
Ten year yields approach 2.00 percent, Stockwinners

Market Action

The Fed repeated it will “monitor” incoming information and will “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” not really suggesting the path ahead. The long end of the Treasury market is leading the way with the benchmark 10-year 4.4 bps lower to test 2.00, versus 2.023% just ahead of the announcement. The 2-year is down 1.4 bps to 1.83% versus 1.81% earlier. Hence, the curve has flattened to 17 bps from around 20 bps previously.

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No more rate hikes in 2019

Majority of Fed members see rates unchanged for rest of 2019

Members see rates to remain unchanged in 2019, Stockwinners

Minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting read, “With regard to the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, a majority of participants expected that the evolution of the economic outlook and risks to the outlook would likely warrant leaving the target range unchanged for the remainder of the year.

Several of these participants noted that the current target range for the federal funds rate was close to their estimates of its longer-run neutral level and foresaw economic growth continuing near its longer-run trend rate over the forecast period.

Participants continued to emphasize that their decisions about the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate at coming meetings would depend on their ongoing assessments of the economic outlook, as informed by a wide range of data, as well as on how the risks to the outlook evolved.

Short term rates should decline as 30-year rates rise, Stockwinners

Several participants noted that their views of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate could shift in either direction based on incoming data and other developments.

Some participants indicated that if the economy evolved as they currently expected, with economic growth above its longer-run trend rate, they would likely judge it appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate modestly later this year.”

Economic growth in 2019 likely lower than previous forecast

“Participants continued to view a sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective as the most likely outcomes over the next few years.

Underlying economic fundamentals continued to support sustained expansion, and most participants indicated that they did not expect the recent weakness in spending to persist beyond the first quarter.

Nevertheless, participants generally expected the growth rate of real GDP this year to step down from the pace seen over 2018 to a rate at or modestly above their estimates of longer-run growth. Participants cited various factors as likely to contribute to the step-down, including slower foreign growth and waning effects of fiscal stimulus.

A number of participants judged that economic growth in the remaining quarters of 2019 and in the subsequent couple of years would likely be a little lower, on balance, than they had previously forecast. Reasons cited for these downward revisions included disappointing news on global growth and less of a boost from fiscal policy than had previously been anticipated.”


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Fed boosts rates by 25 basis points to 1.5%-1.75%

Fed boosts target for federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 1.5%-1.75%

https://stockwinners.com/blog/
Fed boosts target for federal funds to 1.5%-1.75% 

The Federal Reserve says in today’s statement, “In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent.

The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation…

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were Jerome H. Powell, Chairman; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Thomas I. Barkin; Raphael W. Bostic; Lael Brainard; Loretta J. Mester; Randal K. Quarles; and John C. Williams.”

Jerome H. Powell, Chairman

In its updated economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents under their individual assessments of projected appropriate monetary policy for their March meeting, the Federal Reserve members kept their median expectation for the Federal funds rate at the end of 2018 at 2.1%, consistent with their December projection.

The projections, often referred to as a summary of the Fed’s “dots,” shows that the median expectation for the end of 2019 Federal funds rate is now 2.9%, up from 2.7% in the December projection.

The Federal Reserve says in today’s statement, “Consistent with its statutory mandate, the Committee seeks to foster maximum employment and price stability.

The economic outlook has strengthened in recent months.

The Committee expects that, with further gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace in the medium term and labor market conditions will remain strong. Inflation on a 12-month basis is expected to move up in coming months and to stabilize around the Committee’s 2 percent objective over the medium term.

Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced, but the Committee is monitoring inflation developments closely.”


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Meet the next Fed Chief

Fed Policy: the nomination of Powell as Fed Chairman is all but sealed

Meet the next Fed Chief. See Stockwinners.com for details

Fed Policy: the nomination of Jerome Powell as Fed Chairman is all but sealed. The secret was fairly well kept, but late yesterday newswires largely confirmed it.

The markets have already reacted, by and large, with yields having dropped from last week’s jump when John Taylor was seen as the leading contender.

The dollar did soften a bit further yesterday.

Powell has been a governor on the Federal Reserve Board since 2012, and never dissented. Hence, this is a “continuity” pick and he’s seen following the gradualist approach of Yellen (and Bernanke).

He is also seen as a moderate on regulatory issues too. His confirmation process shouldn’t be problematic since he was already cleared as a Fed governor.

Of interest, he would be the first Fed chairman without a Ph.D. in economics since Volcker.

Along with serving on the Fed Board for the past five years, Powell, 64, has worked inside and outside government.

He was a Treasury undersecretary from 1990 to 1993 under President Bush.

More recently he was a partner and managing director of the Carlyle Group.

Note that newly installed governor Quarles also once worked at the Carlyle Group (CG).

There will be four vacancies on the seven member Fed Board, assuming Yellen retires from her governor position, giving President Trump lots of opportunities to make his mark on the Fed.


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Harvey, August Job Report Delay Another Rate Hike

Fed funds futures rallied on the tepid employment report, Harvey damage

Harvey, August Job Report Delay Another Rate Hike. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

Fed funds futures rallied on the tepid employment report, suggesting reduced risk for a third rate hike this year.

Indeed, implied rates have slipped to about a 25% risk for 25 bp increase, from 30% previously, and it had been hovering in the 33% range for much of August.

Note that September employment data is notoriously volatile, though with the broad-based nature of sluggishness in the report, it could take some time to recover the lost momentum.

Analysts are still bullish on growth into year-end, especially with the amount of rebuilding that will be needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (and with Hurricane Irma on the horizon).

However, it’s not clear there will be enough time between now and the December 13 FOMC decision to get the Committee on board for a tightening, especially if inflation remains tame.

AUGUST JOB REPORT

The U.S. jobs report undershot estimates with a 156k August payroll rise after 41k in downward revisions, though nearly all of the disappoint was concentrated in government, where analysts saw a 9k drop after 51k in downward bumps, and August payrolls historically underperform before upward revisions.

Analysts saw a 0.2% hours-worked decline with a workweek downtick to 34.4, and a 0.1% hourly earnings gain that left a fifth consecutive 2.5% y/y rise. The goods sector showed a 0.1% hours-worked drop despite a 70k payroll gain.

Analysts saw a 74k civilian job drop despite a 77k labor force increase that boosted the jobless rate to 4.44%, while the participation rate remained at 62.9%. Hurricane Harvey occurred after the BLS survey week and had no August payroll impact.

The disruptive effect of the hurricane may be fully offset by a rebuilding effect before the BLS survey week ending September 16, which lies a full three weeks from when the storm first struck.

HURRICANE  DAMAGE

Hurricane Harvey could be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history with a potential price tag of $190 billion, according to a preliminary estimate from private weather firm AccuWeather.

This is equal to the combined cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and represents a 1% economic hit to the gross national product, AccuWeather said. This is equal to a 25 bp rate hike by the Feds according to some estimates while others see that more like a 50 bp rate hike.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZKo-159lvY?rel=0&controls=0&w=560&h=315]


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Wells Fargo’s Legal Expenses Soar

Wells Fargo raises view of possible legal losses above reserves to $3.3B

Wells Fargo to close 450 branches. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for the story.

In a regulatory filing, Wells Fargo (WFC) noted that the company establishes accruals for legal actions when potential losses associated with the actions become probable and the costs can be reasonably estimated.

The high end of the range of reasonably possible potential losses in excess of the company’s accrual for probable and estimable losses was approximately $3.3B as of June 30.

“The increase in the high end of the range from March 31, 2017 was due to a variety of matters, including the company’s existing mortgage related regulatory investigations…

We expanded the time periods of this review to cover the entire consent order period of January 2011 through September 2016, and to perform a voluntary review of accounts from 2009 to 2010. We expect to complete this expanded review process and commence remaining remediation for these additional periods by the end of third quarter 2017.

As part of this expanded review process, we also expect to complete the review and validation of the number of potentially unauthorized accounts previously identified by the third-party consulting firm, including refinements to the practices and methodologies previously used to determine such number and to remediate sales practices related matters.

We expect that our review of the expanded time periods, which adds over three years to the initial review period of approximately four years, May 2011 to mid-2015, and our review and validation efforts for the initial review period, may lead to a significant increase in the identified number of potentially unauthorized accounts.

However, we do not expect any incremental customer remediation costs as a result of these efforts to have a significant financial impact on the company,” the company stated in it filing.

WFC closed at $52.84. Stock has a 52-week trading range of $43.55 – $59.99.

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U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose 209k in July

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose 209k in July with earnings rising 0.3%

U.S. ADP reported private payrolls increased 178k in July. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose 209k in July with earnings rising 0.3%.

The June 222k job gain was revised up to 231k, but May’s 152k increase was bumped down to 145 (for a net +2k).

There was no revision to June’s 0.2% earnings rise.

The unemployment rate was dipped to 4.3% versus 4.4%. The labor force jumped 349k following the prior 361k gain, while household employment increased 345k from 245k.

The labor force participation rate rose to 62.9% from 62.8%. The workweek was steady at 34.5. Total private payrolls increased 205k (beating ADP’s 178k).

The goods producing sector added 22k workers, with construction up 6k, and manufacturing up 16k.

Jobs in the services sector increased 183k, with the 62k gain in leisure/hospitality leading the way. Education/healthcare gains were up 54k, while business services added 49k. Government jobs rose 4k, with the Federal sector unchanged.

This is another solid report and keeps the Fed on its normalization path, but doesn’t necessarily imply a September rate hike.

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BankMutual Sold for $482 Milion

Associated Banc-Corp to acquire BankMutual for $10.38 per share

Stocks to Buy on Margin

Associated Banc-Corp (ASB) and Bank Mutual (BKMU) (“Bank Mutual”) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Bank Mutual will merge with and into Associated. Bank Mutual’s bank subsidiary will also merge with and into Associated’s bank subsidiary, Associated Bank, N.A.

The all stock transaction is valued at approximately $482M, based on Associated’s July 19 closing stock price of $24.60 per share.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Bank Mutual shareholders will receive 0.422 shares of Associated common stock for each share of Bank Mutual common stock.

The per common share consideration is valued at $10.38 per share based on the closing price of Associated common stock on July 19.

Subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval by the Bank Mutual shareholders, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Associated expects this acquisition to be accretive to earnings per common share in 2019, excluding one-time charges, and expects the transaction to deliver strong returns on capital.

The transaction is expected to produce less than 1% tangible book value per share dilution at closing.

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Wells Fargo to Close 450 Branches

Wells Fargo targeting $2B expense reduction by year-end 2018

Wells Fargo to close 450 branches. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for the story.

Sees FY17 effective tax rate about 29%. Expects efficiency initiatives will reduce expenses by $2B annually by year-end 2018 and that those savings will support investments in the business.

Plans to close ~450 branches in 2017-2018 to eliminate overlap and improve performance of the network; says 93 branches closed YTD 2017 through June.

Anticipates $130M in 2017 savings from gains on building dispositions and workforce optimization with an additional $20M in 2018.

Also reducing non-customer facing travel and expenses with focused efforts on virtual conferences and telepresence, as well as leveraging internal meeting spaces and services.

Wells Fargo sees auto portfolio stabilizing in 1H18 – Says seeing “slow but steady” improvement in retail business.

Expects an additional $2B in annual expense reductions by the end of 2019; these savings are projected to go to the “bottom line.”

Says had digital active customers of 27.9M, stable LQ and up 2% YoY; had 20.4M mobile active customers, up 1% LQ. Notes that mobile active customers surpassed our desktop active customers for the first time in May.

Expects to increase Q3 dividend to 39c per share from 38c per share, subject to board approval.

WFC last traded at $55.17.

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Beige Book Paints a Rosy Picture!

Fed’s Beige Book shows economic expansion across all districts

The-Beige-Book-Report showed expansion across all regions. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar

The Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book reads, “Economic activity expanded across all twelve Federal Reserve Districts in June, with the pace of growth ranging from slight to moderate.

In addition, the majority of Districts expected modest to moderate gains in the months ahead. Consumer spending appears to be rising across a majority of Districts, led by increases in non-auto retail sales and tourism. However, many Districts noted some softening in consumer spending, particularly in auto sales which declined in half of the Districts.

Manufacturing and nonfinancial services activity continued to grow, with most Districts reporting modest to moderate gains since the last report. Loan demand was steady to increasing in most Districts.

Residential and nonresidential construction activity was flat to expanding in most Districts.

Most Districts cited low home inventory levels in certain market segments which were constraining home sales in many areas.

Agricultural conditions were mixed across the nation as moisture conditions varied considerably; several Districts continued to report weakness in dairy and some crop sectors due to low prices.

Energy activity generally improved since the last survey, particularly for oil and natural gas. Coal production remained sluggish although higher than year-ago levels.”

Employment and Wages

Employment across most of the nation maintained a modest to moderate pace of expansion, although the Atlanta and St. Louis Districts noted flat employment levels.

Labor markets tightened further for both low- and high-skilled positions, particularly in the construction and IT sectors.

Contacts across a broad range of industries reported a shortage of qualified workers which had limited hiring. Wages continued to grow at a modest to moderate pace in most Districts, and many firms attributed these wage gains to tighter labor market conditions.

Wage pressures generally trended with employment conditions, and rising wage pressures were noted among both low- and high-skilled positions.

A few Districts also reported rising costs of benefits and variable pay.

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The article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.