Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thursday October 23 Housing and Economic stories

Endeavour Files Bankruptcy, Creditor Agreement in Hand - ( Endeavour International Corp. (END), a U.S.-based oil and gas exploration firm with operations in the North Sea, sought bankruptcy protection yesterday, saying it has a restructuring agreement with some creditors. The company’s debt totals about $1.2 billion, according to Chapter 11 papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. More than $500 million of that resulted from “unexpected events” in the past three years, according to the filing. More than two-thirds of holders of some notes have approved a restructuring support agreement that would reduce debt by $568 million, Houston-based Endeavour said in a statement. The common stock will be canceled, while new debt and shares will be issued to the note-holders. The company blamed “natural disasters, adverse and unforeseen operating issues, delays in new production coming online and operating difficulties particular to the North Sea” for a sudden rise in costs.

GT to cut jobs, wind down sapphire plant; takes aim at Apple - ( GT Advanced Technologies Inc said it will cut 890 jobs, close an Arizona plant expected to make scratch-resistant screens for Apple Inc, and suggested it could pursue legal claims against the iPhone maker while revamping under bankruptcy. "Only if GT winds down these operations will it be able to stop its mounting losses and re-focus its resources on the operation of its core business of selling sapphire furnaces and other products," the company said in a court filing on Friday. GT Advanced said it was burning through $1 million a day at the operations it intended to close. "GT believes that it has many claims against Apple arising out of its business relationship with Apple," the company said in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Dubai Stock Plunge Leads Middle East Rout After Global Selloff - ( Dubai shares dropped the most in almost four months, leading Middle East equity declines, after investor concern global growth will slow sparked a selloff worldwide. Saudi Arabia’s stocks fell the most since March 2011. The Dubai Financial Market General Index (DFMGI) slid 6.5 percent to 4,619.60 at the close, the lowest level since July 20. Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX) retreated 6.5 percent to the lowest since July 22. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index slipped 3.5 percent, the most in almost four years, and Qatar’s QE Index closed 3 percent down. “Global markets are all selling off and it’s that weakness we’re tracking,” Hisham Khairy, the Dubai-based head of institutional trade at Mena Corp. Financial Services LLC, said by phone. “There’s still more blood to come.” Equities worldwide have lost about $4.4 trillion in value since reaching a record last month. Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September policy meeting last week showed officials are concerned the U.S. economy may be at risk in a global slowdown. The International Monetary Fund last week reduced its forecast for global growth next year to 3.8 percent, from a July prediction of 4 percent.

McCain calls for Ebola 'czar' | TheHill - ( What is with our government and all our Russian czar titles?? ;-)  Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Sunday called for President Obama to nominate an Ebola "czar" to coordinate the administration’s response to the deadly virus. “I’d like to know who’s in charge,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The senator’s appearance followed news from Dallas early Sunday that a second Ebola patient had been identified – a healthcare worker who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first U.S. Ebola patient who died last week. McCain said his constituents in Arizona are “not comforted” and “need more reassurance.” The senator said the administration should also “look at” airports in West Africa as well as those in the United States. “Americans have to be assured here,” McCain added. In the past, McCain had been critical of Obama's use of so-called "czars" to name lead officials on particular matters. In 2009, McCain tweeted that Obama had "more czars than the Romanovs — who ruled Russia for 3 centuries." Enhanced screening at five major U.S. airports began on Saturday as part of the administration’s effort to prevent the virus from again entering the country undetected. Duncan contracted the disease in Liberia.

'Nobody cares, nobody stopped me': Miami doctor hits out at TSA efforts to contain Ebola after returning from Nigeria with ease despite highlighting her work with sufferers - (  A World Health Organization doctor who spent 31 days in Nigeria says it's no surprise that someone has finally been diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, and that more cases will follow if drastic changes aren't made. Dr. Aileen Marty was worried specifically about the lax standards for checking people on entry to the U.S., illustrating the point with a story about her return to the country through Miami International Airport. 'I get to the kiosk...mark the fact that I've been to Nigeria and nobody cares, nobody stopped me,' she said. Marty recounted her experiences in an interview with Fusion's Jorge Ramos. 'Not a single test?' Ramos asked. 'Nothing,' she said. Ramos could get her wish soon. The White House has announced additional screening measures would be put in place to check passengers entering the U.S. from countries hit by Ebola.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wednesday October 22 Housing and Economic stories

As Fracking Enters A Bear Market, A Question Emerges: Is The Shale Boom Built On A Sea Of Lies? - ( "The audience in the ballroom of the Hotel Derek included engineers for shale drillers such as Marathon, Continental and Rice. Pamela Allen, a senior reserves coordinator for Marathon, raised her hand and told Lee that she was worried that using outsized forecasts in public presentations would run afoul of the SEC and “come back to haunt us.” Singhania, the Marathon spokeswoman, said she was unable to comment on Allen’s remarks without seeing a transcript. “If a lot of people get burned -- and I think a lot of people can and will be burned -- by these numbers in the investor presentations, there may be a push by investors to get the SEC to do something about it,” Lee said during the workshop."

Oil price drop may hurt shale drilling profits - ( A further slump in oil prices may dampen shale drilling's profitable run, according to a report from Goldman Sachs. In the past four weeks, global oil prices plunged eight percent. And a barrel in the U.S. is below $90, the first time in two years. On Thursday, shares of companies centered in North Dakota's Bakken Shale dropped more than 5 percent. If prices drop any further, the Wall Street Journal reports, drilling activity would slow down drastically. The key issue lies in the overabundance of oil, with sluggish global demand to match it. Texas, Colorado and North Dakota shale-drilling has increased U.S. production by nearly three million barrels a day since 2011.

Draghi Policies Blunted in Berlin as German Protests Grow - ( Mario Draghi’s policy tools are being blunted in Berlin. The European Central Bank president has stopped short of large-scale sovereign-bond purchases as efforts to mollify Germany’s political elite do little to silence criticism of his ever-more expansionary measures. Support for anti-euro groups such as Alternative for Germany has risen and the ECB’s latest plan to buy assets sparked an outcry within all major parties. “German public opinion matters an awful lot,” said Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale SA in London. “Draghi wants the ECB to be a central bank like any other, one that can go and buy government debt. But he’s perfectly aware of Germany’s opposition, and the storm now is a clear signal that it’ll be much more difficult.”

Portugal’s ESFG Files for Bankruptcy on Failed Protection - ( Espirito Santo Financial Group SA, part of a Portuguese family empire that unraveled in the wake of soured loans, was forced to file for bankruptcy after a court rejected a request for creditor protection. The board’s decision follows a ruling by a Luxembourg court on Oct. 3, rejecting the July request, ESFG said in a regulatory filing today. While Banco Espirito Santo SA, formerly partly owned by ESFG, received a 4.9 billion-euro ($6.3 billion) rescue by the Bank of Portugal in August, the court ruled a restructuring of ESFG was “impossible.” ESFG was forced to seek creditor protection, joining parent companies Espirito Santo International SA and Rioforte Investments SA, after failing to meet debt obligations following the disclosure of losses on loans across the holding company. Banco Espirito Santo, once Portugal’s biggest bank by market value, was bailed out on Aug. 3, with the central bank moving deposit-taking operations and most assets to a new company called Novo Banco SA.

Russia Spends $1.5 Billion in One Day as Ruble Defense Quickens - ( Russia’s central bank stepped up the pace of currency interventions as sanctions and an oil-price slump spur bets policy makers will raise interest rates. The central bank sold $1.5 billion on Oct. 8, according to data on its website today. That’s almost as much as the previous three days combined and the most for a single day since the $4.41 billion intervention that preceded the Crimea referendum to join Russia in March. Wagers for interest-rate increases soared to a six-year high as Brent oil’s slide to four-year lows sends the ruble falling further past 40 per dollar.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tuesday October 21 Housing and Economic stories

Sears plunges on report suppliers backing away - (  Sears Holdings stock is tanking after reports that three insurance firms for its suppliers are shying away from the company. Shares in Sears fell over 12 percent Wednesday morning, after briefly being halted, following a Bloomberg report that Euler Hermes Group,Coface, and Atradius Credit Insurance are scaling back coverage or cancelling policies related to the embattled retailer. Bloomberg also reported that at least one vendor, which asked not to be named, decided to withhold its products from Sears.

Dick Morris Tells Hannity: Obama Pushing for One-Party Rule - ( Dick Morris, the Democratic strategist credited with reigniting former President Bill Clinton's political hopes in the mid-1990s, is warning that President Barack Obama is implementing an agenda to destroy two-party rule in America. Morris' new book "Power Grab — Obama's Dangerous Plan for a One-Party Nation" … outlines what Morris sees as the president's attempt to turn the United States into a "Banana republic ruled by one party by putting the Republican Party out of business." "What he really wants to do is stack the deck to assure permanent Democratic control over the country – a one-party democracy, like Mexico had and Japan has had," Morris said Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity."  Everything Obama does must be seen through that lens, Morris said, including why Obama wants open borders and stronger labor unions and opposes photo IDs for voting. It also explains why he wants judicial confirmations without a filibuster, he said. "I believe that the entire country, me included, made a mistake in 2008 in not listening to you when you kept pushing the connection between Bill Ayers and Barack Obama," Morris told Hannity. "We all dismissed it as guilt by association. Now it's time to listen."

Five more civilians killed in worst India-Pakistan fighting for years - ( Five civilians were killed and thousands took refuge in camps in the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday after some of the most intense fighting between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India in a decade. A total of nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed since fighting erupted more than week ago in the mostly Muslim Himalayan region. Kashmir is claimed by both countries and has been a major focus of tension in South Asia.

Marriott fined for blocking wi-fi at Nashville hotel - ( Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees' own Wi-Fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, forcing them to pay hefty prices to use the hotel's own connection. Frequent travelers often carry personal Wi-Fi hotspots — tiny devices that can connect to the Internet via cell phone towers. For $50 a month, they can connect to the Internet on the move, often avoiding hefty fees charged by hotels, airports and conference facilities. Some people upgrade their wireless data plans to make their smartphones into hotspots. Last year, a conference attendee at the Opryland hotel in Nashville, Tennessee — which is managed by Marriott — found that the hotel was jamming devices in its ballrooms and complained to the Federal Communications Commission. In the complaint, the guest noted that the same thing happened previously at another Gaylord property. The block didn't affect Wi-Fi access in guest rooms.

[Bloomberg] China’s First Bond Defaulter Gets Guarantee From Bad Bank - ( Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co. (002506), the first company to default in China’s onshore bond market, got a guarantee to help make repayments from a state-backed fund that buys bad debt. China Great Wall Asset Management Corp., one of the four so-called bad banks that the government set up in 1999, will guarantee as much as 788 million yuan ($128.4 million) on the solar-panel maker’s 1 billion yuan of defaulted notes, it said in a statement posted to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange website yesterday. Shanghai Jiu Yang Investment Management Center, one of the nine investors to restructure Chaori, will provide 92 million yuan, it said in a separate filing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Monday October 20 Housing and Economic stories

At 78, Former Executive Still Flips Burgers for $7.98 - ( “Inactivity drives me crazy,” said Tom Palome, a 78-year-old former marketing executive who works as a short-order cook and bartender to make ends meet. A year ago, Bloomberg News profiled Palome’s odyssey through the working world of older Americans who haven’t saved enough to retire comfortably. When the story hit, “I had 15 hours of fame” that included paid speaking and consulting gigs, Palome said. Then the thrill wore off and Palome was back to his regular work life and the financial pressure of limited savings. For a time, it looked like Palome was on his way to becoming a guru for the over-70 set on living, working, and financial planning for those without enough to retire, a large and growing segment of aging Americans.

Euro Disney Shares Plunge on $1.25 Billion Refinancing Plan - ( Walt Disney Co. (DIS) is injecting money into Disneyland Paris in a bid to revive the 22-year-old theme park that’s struggling with waning attendance and mounting losses. Euro Disney SCA (EDL), the resort’s operator, said it plans a 1 billion-euro ($1.25 billion) refinancing backed by its U.S. parent. Walt Disney, which owns about 40 percent of the French company, is required to make an offer for all Euro Disney shares as a result of the recapitalization. Disney continues to support Disneyland Paris after years of losses at the theme park, hurt as Europe’s faltering economy weighs on consumer spending. The resort, created in 1992 in a suburb south-east of the French capital, is forecasting attendance to drop by as many as 800,000 visitors this year.

Plunging Ruble Pummels Foreign Company Earnings in Russia - ( Russia’s falling ruble is hitting Western European corporate giants such as PSA Peugeot Citroen (UG), Henkel AG and Carlsberg A/S (CARLB) on its way down, further undermining operations under strain because of the country’s stagnant economy. With the currency now at a record low against the euro and dollar, companies that have bet heavily on Russia are finding that the plunge makes it costlier for local factories to import supplies and parts, increases prices for customers, and reduces the foreign-currency value of any profits they manage to generate. “The weakening of the ruble is a problem,” Peugeot Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said at the Paris Motor Show last week. He blamed his company’s Russia woes on “the lack of visibility for the customer, and the price increase due” to the ruble’s fall.

How Venezuela Got No Dollars From $65 Billion Bond Sales - ( In the past decade, Venezuela and the nation’s oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA have sold $65 billion of dollar-denominated bonds without ever seeing a dime. Sure, they got money, but took in no dollars. To preserve foreign reserves while injecting some much-needed hard currency into the economy, the government, PDVSA and the central bank sold the debt to local investors in return for bolivars. Buyers then sold the notes abroad to obtain U.S. currency, which has become scarce as Venezuela tries to limit capital flight. With $4.5 billion of debt coming due this month and reserves at an 11-year low, Venezuela is realizing the bond sales didn’t actually buy it much time and are instead exacerbating a cash crunch that’s fueling concern the country will default. The nation’s bonds have plummeted 9.5 percent in the past month, the most in emerging markets.

LIBYA: Goldman Took Us For 'A Complete Ride' - ( Libyan Investment Authority, a government-managed sovereign wealth fund, is suing Goldman Sachs for $1 billion and claims that the bank "took them for a complete ride," according to a report by the Financial Times. In the lawsuit, LIA claims that Goldman exploited the fund and "encouraged" it to pursue 9 extremely risky and ultimately unsuccessful investments worth over $1 billion in 2008, according to the FT's report. But by 2011, these trades were "worthless." The LIA claims that Goldman took advantage of the LIA's (allegedly) financially illiterate staff in order to make money, and that Goldman seduced its staff with fancy gifts and — for lack of a more politically correct term — bribes.