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Stage One of Two Stage Stress Test

Stage One of Two Stage Stress Test Stage One of Two Stage Stress Test

Federal Reserve released initial results Thursday for the long awaited stage one of the two stage stress test for big banks and all but one bank made the cut for the first stage. The Fed said banks cannot pass or fail Thursday’s test because the regulatory thresholds do not count this time. On March 14, final results will be in and could change significantly for some banks because they are based on each institution’s proposed capital distribution plans, including dividends and share repurchases, for the next 12 months. The Fed gave some private guidance to the banks about whether their capital distribution plans will be approved or rejected. While some banks may publicly disclose their tentatively approved payout plans, institutions that keep quiet may be doing so because they have to resubmit less ambitious plans for potential approval on the deadline of March 14. Ally Financial Inc., with a majority owned by the U.S. government, was the only bank that failed to meet one of the key ratios. The stress test showed that Ally had 1.5% in capital set aside under a measure known as Tier 1 common ratio, which compares the bank’s common equity to its risk-weighted assets. The result for Ally is significantly below the generally accepted standard of 5%. With the the stress test, banks and the Fed considered a hypothetical nine-quarter scenario with an unemployment rate of roughly 12%, up from 7.9% in January and banks evaluated how their capital buffers would withstand real GDP declining by nearly 5% while equity prices fell by more than 50%. These results consider an average of the last four quarters of dividend payments at each bank. Bank of New York Mellon (BK) had the highest tier 1 common ratio at 13.2% and State Street (STT) was the strongest in total risk-based capital category at 16.2%.

Everyone (unless of course you are in Hawaii or Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation) and the territories of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa, which do not partake in the time change) is reminded to turn your clocks ahead one hour Sunday March 10th at 2:00am ET as the country begins Daylight Saving Time. Interestingly enough, there are nearly 70 countries around the world that observe DST. Most countries near the equator do not deviate from standard time. The spring forward will result in a loss of one hour of sleep, ugghh! Like we all can afford to give that up. How did this time change thing come about? The whole idea was initially suggested by Benjamin Franklin in an effort to save on candles. The change was first imposed in 1918 during World War I to conserve energy, but was repealed after the war ended. It became the national time again during World War II with the Uniform Time Act in 1966 and was left up to the states to decide if they wanted to adopt the change, as well as when it would start and end. The decision to initiate the rollover at 2:00am ET was determined as the most practical and minimally disruption for people effected as most were at home, mostly sleeping. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 lengthened daylight saving to eight months instead of six months. Time changes have been found to be a good time to automatically program yourself to change batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors as well as, make sure they are all in good, working order.

Italy's sovereign credit rating was cut by Fitch Ratings on Friday to BBB plus from A minus. February's inconclusive outcome of parliamentary elections and a deeper recession sparked the move. Fitch said the outlook on Italy's rating is negative with data indicating the country's recession may be deeper and more protracted than previously expected, setting the stage for yet another potential downgrade by the rating firm. In a news release, Fitch said "increased political uncertainty and [a] non-conducive backdrop for further structural reform measures constitute a further adverse shock to the real economy amidst the deep recession." Fitch said Italy's debt is expected to peak in 2013 at close to 130% of gross domestic product.

James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank said on Friday that the Federal Reserve is likely to continue with its $85-billion-a-month bond buying program. "I think it's going to be a while on the QE program," Bullard said. On March 19 and 20 at its two-day meeting, the Fed will review its asset purchase program, known as quantitative easing. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his allies have signaled that tapering the purchases too soon could damage the recovery even though some Fed officials are worried that the program is fueling financial instability.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.7% to close at 6,483.58 on Friday, marking the highest closing level since December 2007. The FTSE 100 index gained 1.7% on a weekly basis.

U.S. Labor Department reported Friday 236,000 jobs were added during February, taking the unemployment rate to 7.7% from 7.9%. The move marks the lowest unemployment rate since December 2008 with jobs gains at the highest levels since November and as follows: professional services 73,000, construction 48,000, health care 32,000 and retail 24,000. Average number of jobs created over the past three months - 191,000 with 246,000 jobs added to the business sector and 10,000 jobs cut from government jobs. Average workweek for February rose 0.1 hour to 34.5 and average hourly earnings rose by 4 cents or 0.2%, to $23.82 with a 12 month hourly wage increase at 2.1%. New jobs created in January was revised to 119,000 from 157,000 and new jobs created in December was revised to 219,000 from 196,000.

U.S. Commerce Department reported on Friday that during January, inventories rose 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted $504.4 billion with wholesale inventories at 25% of overall inventories and inventories of autos rising by 0.4%.
 

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Mar 8, 2013


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