Monday, July 6, 2009

Quick Notes for the Day - July 6

June ISM Rises - The service sectors contracted at a slower pace in June, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) reported Monday. The ISM nonmanufacturing index rose more than expected to 47.0% from 44.0% in May. Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM services survey, said the report was "encouraging." The business activity index rose to 49.8% in June from 42.4% in the previous month. New orders rose to 48.6% from 44.4%. The employment index rose to 43.4% from 39.0%. Inflation pressures picked up. The price index rose to 53.7% from 46.9% in the previous month.

Crude Oil Falls on Inventories, Rogue Trader, Economic Data - Crude oil dropped more than 3% on Monday to $64.50. The fall has been due to increased inventories, weaker than expected demand, the realization of the "rogue trader," and economic data that has pointed to a slow recovery.

Recently, oil traded as high as $73 when a rogue trader bid up the oil futures more than $3 in one day. Following that news, oil has slid. Oil inventories continue to remain high, demand has not picked back up as quick as expected by some analysts (many believe that consumers continue to drive fewer miles than in years past), and some economic data that points to a slow recovery.

Gold Drops - As the dollar strengthened against other currencies and oil fell, gold futures dropped. Gold as seen as a hedge against inflation, and the declining price of oil takes quite a bit of steam out of the inflation worries. The June ISM data does show some improvement in employment and inflation though, so gold should not be completely discarded as an investment according to most analysts.

Judge Approves Plan to Sell GM's Assets - A U.S. federal judge has approved the sale of General Motors assets to a new government-run company which should help speed the company's exit from bankruptcy proceedings, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The ruling allows the sale to proceed despite the arguments from bondholders and product-liability claimants. One of the main issues was that without the current plan, GM would have faced a liquidation scenario that would had been "a disastrous result for GM's creditors, its employees, the suppliers who depend on GM for their own existence, and the communities in which GM operates. In the event of liquidation, creditors now trying to increase their incremental recoveries would get nothing." The ruling was signed Sunday by Judge Robert E. Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

With the case finished, the government-brokered restructuring of GM can now take place. GM will move Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC to a new company. Ownership of the company has been "sticky" to say the least with the US government owning 61% (loaned the company more than $50 billion), the Canadian government owning 12% (also loaned the company money to stay afloat), the UAW retiree healthcare trust owning 17.5%, and unsecured bondholders owning 10%.

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