Yen Advances on the Dollar
U.S. dollar was lower against the Japanese yen again on Friday as the yen
advance continued in part by a selloff in Japanese bonds. Year to date, the yen
remained down nearly 17% against the U.S. dollar. On Friday, Japan’s Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe commented on the recent climb in long-term interest rates
and backed his commitment to fiscal reforms. Since his election in December, Abe
has been the force behind aggressive measures to spur Japanese economic growth
and defeat long-running deflation. In April, the Bank of Japan launched a
massive monetary-stimulus program that accelerated the yen’s slide against the
dollar and other currencies. On Friday, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda said
that stability in Japan’s bond market is “extremely desirable” to the central
Thursday evening around 7:00pm Pacific Standard Time, a section of an Interstate
Highway bridge, built in 1955, over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Washington
collapsed, sending vehicles into the water. Per state officials there were no
fatalities reported at the scene. A spokesperson for the Washington State
Department of Transportation - Noel Brady, said that it was “unclear what caused
the bridge to collapse.” Marcus Deyerin, the public affairs officer for the
five-county incident-management team that responded to the collapse said there
was “no indication” that anyone other than the three persons rescued, went into
the water and there was not anyone who was unaccounted for.
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) shares were lower by 16% into mid morning trading
session after reporting Q1 loss. Overall domestic same-store sales were down
3.6% as Sears noted most of the U.S. experienced a cooler spring than last year.
Since the start of 2012, shares are higher by 41%. At the Sears chain,
same-store sales fell 2.4% and fell 4.6% at sister discounter Kmart. Sears
Canada's same-store sales were down 2.6%. Sears reported a loss of $279 million
or $2.63 a share for quarter ended May 4 with a gain of $14 million on sales of
assets. Per-share loss widened to $1.29 a share from a per-share loss when
stripping out one-time items. Due to the effect of having fewer Sears full-line
stores and Kmart stores in operation, revenue was down 8.8% to $8.45 billion.
Drop in revenue also due to separation of the Hometown and Outlet businesses.
Gross margin narrowed to 25.5% from 27.7%. Chief Financial Officer Rob
Schriesheim said Thursday that Sears Holdings is currently in the process of
evaluating strategic alternatives for its protection agreement business,
including a possible sale. In late 2011, Sears rolled out plans to sell a
handful of stores and close an additional 100 in hopes of reversing a years-long
stretch of falling same-store sales. The company has partially spun off Sears
Canada Inc. (SEARF, SCC.T) and also completed the separation of its Hometown and
outlet businesses. Sears is controlled by billionaire hedge-fund investor Edward
Lampert who said, "Our recent financial performance has not been acceptable,
although we have seen some positive momentum as sales per member increased and
our online business grew 20% in the quarter." Sears Holdings said last year it
was considering actions to raise at least $500 million of additional liquidity
U.S. Commerce Department reported on Friday that orders for big-ticket U.S.
goods rose 3.3% in April, led by higher demand for aircraft, autos and military
wares. Stripping out the volatile transportation sector, orders rose a smaller
1.3%. A key barometer of private-sector business investment - orders for core
capital goods - climbed 1.2% marking second straight gain. Shipments of core
capital goods - used to calculate quarterly gross domestic product - fell 1.5%
during April, setting up Q2 to show weaker growth compared to the first three
months of the year. Core orders are up 1.8% on the same basis.
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