Barton Biggs, known for his independent thinking, calling the technology bubble
during the late 1990's and calling the recession that followed, passed away at
the age of 79, after a short illness. Biggs spent nearly four decades at Morgan
Stanley, holding title of 'chief global strategist' and founded the bank's
Morgan Stanley Investment Management unit in 1975. Biggs was most recently with
the hedge-fund operator that he co-founded, Traxis Partners - a multi-billion
dollar hedge fund based in Greenwich, CT. Biggs became one of the best-known
prognosticators of market trends around the world.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank said Monday that the Empire State
manufacturing index rebounded slightly to 7.4 in July. In June, the index fell
sharply to 2.3 from 17.1 during May. Many economists said the June decline
probably overstated the weakness in the factory sector in New York. A key
sub-index for new orders fell below zero in July, for the first time since last
November 2011. Prices paid index declined to its lowest level since mid-2009.
The Commerce Department reported Monday that U.S. retail sales fell by a
seasonally adjusted 0.5% during June to mark the third straight decline. The
decline is the first time it has happened since midway through the last
recession in 2008. Retail sales fell 0.4% excluding autos. Gasoline stations
reported the biggest drop, down 1.8%. Over the past 12 months, retail sales have
risen 3.5% however; they have fallen every month of the second quarter. Sales in
May were unchanged at a 0.2% decline. Sales in April were revised down to a 0.5%
drop from -0.2%.
The New York Fed said Monday that equity contribution of $5 billion as well as
interest to the Maiden Lane III assets, has been fully repaid by American
International Group (AIG). As part of the Fed bailout of AIG in 2008, Maiden
Lane III was created and consisted of collateralized debt obligations of AIG
counterparties. The New York Fed's $24 billion loan had already been repaid and
from here on in, the New York Fed will get two-thirds of profits generated by
future sales of Maiden Lane III assets
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke this week is expected to stop short of
giving markets a timetable of further easing, he will 'express a degree of
concern' about the economy and a 'level of commitment' to bring down the
unemployment rate that will suggest the Fed is likely to start a new asset
purchase program sometime this year. A potential message from Bernanke will be
that the Fed is “prepared to take further easing action as appropriate, but will
give no indication that such action is imminent.” Fed boss can clarify that the
Federal Open Market Committee issued 'an almost explicit easing bias' in June.
On Tuesday Bernanke will testify before the Senate Banking Committee at 10:00am
ET followed by appearing before the House Financial Services panel on Wednesday.
Bernanke will be speaking for the full FOMC so he will have to stay true to the
discussions of June 19-20. Fed officials have expressed concern that fiscal
restraint is a headwind that will hold back the pace of economic expansion over
the next 18 months. The Fed said in minutes from the June 19-20 FOMC meeting
that the outlook for fiscal policy is one of the major factors underlying
elevated uncertainty about economic outcomes. Unless Congress acts, substantial
spending cuts and tax increases are scheduled to go into effect at the beginning
of 2013, referred to as the “fiscal cliff.”
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALNY) shares ended the trading session higher by
53% after announcing the drug showed promise in an early clinical trial. The
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pharmaceutical firm said that its experimental
drug for TTR-mediated amyloidosis reduced levels of the protein that causes the
disease by as much as 94% in 17 healthy volunteers. The treatment targets the
mutated gene, TTR, which causes a harmful accumulation of the protein in the
heart, nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. Alnylam has started the second
of three phases of clinical trials usually needed for regulatory approval and
will treat 20 patients. The Pharmaceutical firm plans to start the third and
final stage of trials in 2013, with about 120 patients, Chief Executive Officer
John Maraganore said in a telephone interview. Alnylam easily blew by 52 week
high to end the session shy of the $20 per share mark.
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July 16, 2012