Hiatus.

The weekly market rounds up is not so weekly anymore. Over a two year period, 600(ish) word summaries of market behaviour, company news and economic information were written by yours truly. Posted online, sent out by private wealth managers and disseminated through an email list,  nearly 1000 people read the MRU regularly.

Unfortunately, regular updates stopped becoming feasible. Below are previous copies, now updated only occasionally. 

Pumped up kicks

January 13-17, 2014

In North America...

Markets: US equities had a topsy turvy week, closing on Monday with the greatest drop in two months and a new high on Wednesday (no doubt buoyed by US retail sales released last Tuesday and the World Bank's bullish forecast for growth) However, the index closed 0.2% down for the week. The TSX, on the other hand, closed on Friday at its highest level since April 2011. Unfortunately, the Loonie is not doing equally well. One analyst even said it the Canadian dollar is "cratering." 

Companies: Google bought Nest, a start up that uses the internet of things to collect information on household behaviour and control temperature in the house, for US $3.2 bn. Nest says its privacy policy limits the information google will have access to. The purchase is also notable because of Nest's history with Apple - there are over 100 ex Apple employees currently on the payroll. Google bought not just the company's tech, but also it's staff.

Goldcorp, a Canadian gold-mining company, looks to buy the Quebecois mining company Osisko Mining,   using the opportunity of falling gold process to expand its operations. 

It seems that Boeing's problems aren't over. The battery on the Dreamliner was found overheated, bringing memories of last year's issues which forced the company to ground the planes. 

Also in companies, Deutsche bank suspended several traders amid an ongoing foreign exchange probe. More about the probe here. Also, Deutsche Bank released its Q4 numbers on Sunday night, several days earlier than expected. The bank is posting a net loss of $1.35 billion.

Lastly, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo dismissed the Operating Chief De Castro after 14 months, amid disappointment with his efforts to boost growth.

Otherwise: The World Bank reported the global economy is at a "turning point". The bank forecasts that global GDP will grow by 3.2% this year, up from 2.4% in 2013, with much of the pick-up coming from developed economies. Developing nations will grow by 5.3% this year, up from 4.8% in 2013.

In Europe...

Mixed economic data from Europe. The German economy grew by only 0.4%. British inflation, on the other hand, has fallen to 2%; making it in line with the BoE's target for the first time since 2009.  

Also in Britain, scandal in sports wear. Sports Direct bought a 4.6 per cent stake in department store Debenhams on Monday, to sell it on Thursday and take out a put options contract instead. The contract means Sports Direct must buy shares equivalent to a 6.6 per cent stake in Debenhams at a predetermined price (with hedging making risk limited to about £64bn).  Read more here

In the coming week...

The World Economic Forum in Davos. An impressive line up of political and thought leaders from around the world. Look at the delegates, broken down by gender, industry company, and age in this interactive.  The title of the forum this year? The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business. For a facetious and pessimistic take on the forum, check out FT Alphaville's @DavosDeville.

Also, read about the influence of the news on market behaviour, and how the convergence of low and high journalism is the disruptive force de jour of the media industry. 

Why don't you get a job?

January 6-10, 2014

In North America...

Markets: In the first full week of trading in 2014, the weakest US job growth in three years was announced. Many analysts are crediting the weather for the weak numbers, and suggesting they are a blip in an otherwise strong trajectory. Just 74,000 new jobs were created in the US last month, well short of the expected increase of 196,000 and the smallest rise since January 2011.Gold prices and bonds yields improved as a result, whilst equity investors seemed less certain. The S&P 500 gained 0.6% for the week. 

Canadian job numbers were even worse, and Stats Can reported that Canadian economy shed 45,900 jobs last month, a major miss as economists had expected that the economy had created about 14,600 jobs. The Canadian dollar continued to fall, now sitting near levels not seen since 2009.

Companies: Remember Madoff? Seems JP Morgan was aware of the ponzi scheme (or rather, had misgivings) for approximately over ten years before the scheme was revealed to the world. The bank, who was Madoff's primary banker, did not address possible problems that were present from the early 90's when Madoff was not arrested until 2008.  The bank will pay a $2.6 bn fine to stop criminal prosecution going forward. 

Maybe the analysts responsible were over worked? An internal memo from Merrill Lynch said analysts and associates — the two lowest-ranking employee levels — should try to spend four weekend days away from the office each month, part of a broader effort to improve working conditions. Also possible this is a move towards culture change.

L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetic company, has decided to pull its Garnier brand out of the Chinese market. It is citing a change in strategy, with plans to promote the L'Oreal Paris and Maybelline lines, and forego Garnier. Interesting to note that Revlon, one of the company's competitors have planned a pull out of Chinese markets completely. 

Otherwise: Final tallies are in. in 2013, US equities markets were up 33%. UK equities gained 19%. 

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show provided a week long look into the future of technology. The primary take-a-away? The internet of things (wearable tech connected through the internet) and shape shifting screens. Read the FT's in depth coverage here

In Europe...

Weak US job numbers also impacted European markets. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 gained just 0.7% over the week.

The Economist reports: Ireland’s first sale of a government bond since exiting its bail-out programme late last year was almost four times oversubscribed. The sale of a ten-year bond raised €3.8 billion ($5.1 billion) with a yield below 3.5%; at the height of its debt crisis Ireland’s borrowing costs approached 14%.

Under the influence

December 30, 2013 - January 3, 2014

In North America...

Markets:  An interesting week with the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014. The S&P closed at a record high on its last trading day of 2013, but was unable to sustain upward momentum on Thursday and Friday, ending the week 0.6% down. Despite a weak start to the new year, people remain bullish on markets for 2014.

Similar pattern for the TSX, which ended the year up 9.55%. Most of the advance was made in the last five months, held down from further gains by mining companies. Approximately 50% of TSX sectors were up double digits or more by the end of 2013. Financials gained 22%, industrials were up 35% and consumer industries gained 40%. Gold, on the other half dropped 28% for the year, with the gold sector falling almost 50%. 

On the economic front, manufacturing data in the US and Eurozone were positive, suggesting sustained growth in 2014. Indeed, manufacturing activity delivered its fastest growth in almost three years, fuelling hopes that the global recovery will accelerate this year, and unemployment will continue to fall. On the upbeat note,  outgoing US Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke, in his last speech before handing reigns over to the incoming Yellen, declared there were “grounds for cautious optimism” for both advanced and emerging economies around the world.

Companies: Fiat gained control over Chrysler last week, a deal was set in motion in 2009 after Fiat helped pull Chrysler out of bankruptcy. Fiat, which previously controlled 58.5% of Chrysler, bought the remaining shares not under its control for $4bn. Analysts suggest that the deal will prove critical to transforming both Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three carmakers, and Fiat, a struggling European company, into a true global powerhouse. Shares of Fiat rose on Thursday by as much as 16% after the announcement. 

Also in M&A, Cyber security firm FireEye is buying Mandiant for $1 billion, a deal that marries FireEye’s threat protection with its target’s capabilities to respond to cyberattacks after they happen. Succinctly, FireEye monitoring company networks for security breaches while Mandiant does a similar service across devices. Of particular note is that FireEye's market value increased after the deal was announced. 

A buyer’s shares typically fall when a deal is announced because paying a premium gives away value and integrating an acquisition brings risks.

Meaning there is something happening in the mergers and acquisitions market in 2014. 

Otherwise: Recent research from Warwick business school in the UK shows a meaningful correlation between financial news and trading volume for stocks on the DJIA. The importance of digital media on stock market returns, and their prediction of market movements, is an increasingly discussed topic. However, the importance of print media on markets had not been carefully considered yet. This is an interesting area, with more room for research among sentiment, different markets (both in the US and globally) as well as the possible expansion into influence of media in politics and culture. Read the research here.  

Also, recreational marijuana sales became legal in Colorado. There are a limited number of outlets where consumers can buy the product. Retailers are expected to clear $400 million in weed sales this year.

In Europe...

Manufacturing data released last week was upbeat most European countries, with France the only one seemingly off kilter. 

While Germany, Italy and Spain showed marked expansion in factory output in December, the manufacturing purchasing managers' index for France showed a decline to a seven-month low.

In the coming week... 

Fourth quarter earnings will begin to be reported. 

Also, read about the Klee exhibit at the Tate Modern. 

From nowhere

December 23 - 27, 2013

In North America...

Markets: Business Insider said it well with its Friday's summary: "Stocks go nowhere, Twitter tanks.".  With only a slight change on Friday, the S&P closed the week up 1.3%. Markets have steadily improved since the Taper was announced. Other than Twitter (more below), the big markets story this week was US Treasury Bills, which finally rose above 3%, a level unattained since September 2011.

This week the TSX also managed to reach levels not seen since 2011, finishing Friday at its highest level since May 2011. Some would take this as a good sign. Others? Not so much:

The S&P/TSX composite index is already struggling. As 2013 ticks down, it has scraped together a mere 8 per cent return, lagging every other developed-market index by a wide margin. It is 11 per cent below its 2008 record high, while the S&P 500 hit a succession of record highs this year.

Companies: Twitter fell 13% during Friday's trading day, closing at US $63.75. The catalyst seemed to be an analyst at Macquarie Capital, who downgraded the stock to underperform. Twitter had increased an exceptional amount since its IPO, with no change to its business plan. Macquarie is not the only research firm concerned about the stock’s future. The average twelve-month target price for the 27 analysts covering Twitter is $44.27 (U.S.) – almost 40 per cent below the current price

RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis sold more of his shares in the company, bringing his personal stake down to 5%. Announced after close on Tuesday, the share price fell just over 5% on Friday. 

Lots of attention paid to Uber lately. The company, which is still venture funded, provides a "mobile application that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services". Read about the company here

Otherwise: I'm obsessed with the song What Does The Fox Say. Seems the song was turned into a Children's book, as well. While it originally became popular ("viral", even) last summer, it has a long tail. And, how could it not when the division between media types continues to disappear?  Also, USA Today quotes Vegard as saying: "We thought it would be funny to have a really well-done book as merchandise for a tanked project. It’s just so stupid. But stupid dollars are the same as smart dollars.”

Truth. Although I don't think this duo is stupid at all. 

In Europe...

The Euro hit a two and a half year high against the dollar last week. It has gained around 7 per cent against the US currency since a low in July and almost 5 per cent since the start of 2012, reflecting the success of the European Central Bank’s efforts to restore confidence in the future of the currency bloc.

In the coming week... 

Its New Year's eve and the start of 2014. Latvia joins the Euro, and the Queen gives her list of honours. Who will be on it?!