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Hurricane Sandy the Perfect Storm

Hurricane Sandy the Perfect Storm

Hurricane Sandy, currently a category 2 hurricane, is headed for the U.S. East Coast and could end up slamming into New England on Halloween, potentially causing billions of dollars in damage as the 'Perfect Storm' makes land fall, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday. The storm is currently recorded as packing winds of up to 110 miles per hour and struck Cuba Wednesday night after making landfall in Jamaica that afternoon. The hurricane is expected to reach the Bahamas on Thursday afternoon. Tropical storm conditions are expected to begin in the Florida Keys region Friday morning. Reports also note that the storm will likely strike New England on the 21st anniversary of the notorious "Perfect Storm," which took the lives of six fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Ahead of Fridays impact on Central Florida, schools are scheduled to be closed as far north as Brevard County, as of 2:00pm ET. Depending on the storms path into the next few hours, more school closing higher north on the Eastern Coast of Florida, is expected. Barrier islands on the East Coast of Florida could potentially face evacuation orders should wind speeds increase, as the storm nears the coast.

On Thursday it was announced that McKesson Corp. (MCK) agreed to acquire PSS World Medical Inc. (PSSI) for roughly $1.46 billion in cash as the medical-products distributor looks to broaden its products and services. McKesson reportedly will pay $29 per PSS World share which is a 34% premium to the medical-products supplier's Wednesday close. The deal is worth $2.1 billion, including the assumption of PSS World's debt. Citing a rapidly changing health-care environment that has challenged its results for the past year, in May, PSS unveiled plans to sell its businesses that serve skilled nursing facilities and specialty dental practices. McKesson has seen increased revenue for over a year on the strong performance of its U.S. pharmaceutical distribution business. As an increasing number of blockbuster drugs lose market exclusivity, McKesson has also benefited from introductions of generic versions, which typically carry higher profit margins than higher-priced branded drugs. McKesson said it will combine PSS World with its medical surgical business and the combined business will be reported as part of McKesson's distribution solutions segment.

The U.S. Commerce Department reported Thursday that durable goods orders soared 9.9% in September, mainly because of a rebound in aircraft bookings. Excluding transportation, new orders rose a much smaller 2.0%. Core durable-goods orders which consists of demand for capital goods excluding defense and aircraft remained unchanged for September after rising a scant 0.2% in August. Shipments of core capital goods which is a number used to help calculate quarterly gross domestic product, fell 0.3% in September and declined during all three months of Q3. The drop in durable-goods orders in August was revised to 13.1% from 13.2%.

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 369,000 in the week of October 14-20 which was in line with market expectations. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 392,000 from original reading of 388,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level. Because of seasonal quirks as well as technical problems with the government's weekly data, new jobless claims have jumped up and down over the past three weeks, mainly involving the state of California. The four-week moving average, which smoothes out volatility in the weekly reports for jobless claims, was little changed, rising 1,500 to 368,000. After smoothing out the gyrations, the level of jobless claims has generally been flat since the end of the summer. Continuing jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 3.25 million in the week ended October 13. Continuing jobless claims reflect the number of people already receiving benefits. Nearly 4.92 million people received some type of state or federal benefit in the week ended October 6, down 84,525 from previous week. Total claims are reported with a two-week lag.

The Chicago Fed national activity index three-month average improved to -0.37 in September from -0.53 in August for the seventh consecutive reading below zero indicating growth below trend and suggesting subdued inflationary pressure. Indicating trend growth, the more volatile one-month index climbed to zero from a downwardly revised -1.17. The indexes, which are weighted averages of 85 economic indicators, were constructed using 51 pieces of data and 34 estimates of data. When the three-month average is below -0.7 following an expansion, there's an increasing likelihood a recession has begun, while when the three-month average is above +0.7 more than two years into an expansion, there's an increasing likelihood of sustained increasing inflation.

The National Association of Realtors reported on Thursday that pending home sales edged up 0.3% during September, after a sharp drop during August. The pending-home-sales index from NAR rose to 99.5 from 99.2 in August which remains below the 101.9 level reached in July. "Home contract activity...currently appears to be bouncing around in a narrow range," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR. "This means only minor movements are likely in near-term existing-home sales, but with positive underlying market fundamentals they should continue on an uptrend in 2013," he added. Compared to the same period in 2011, pending home sales were up 14.5%, marking the 17th straight month of year-on-year gains. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed.


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Oct 25, 2012


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