Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
1. Obama Authorizes Iraq Airstrikes, But None Have Occurred Yet. The White House clarified that it is so far running humanitarian sorties to come to the aid of the Yazidi groups trapped on a mountain in the north near the Syrian border. “A senior administration official described the airstrike authorization as ‘narrow,’ but outlined a number of broad contingencies in which they could be launched, including a possible threat to U.S. personnel in Baghdad from possible breaches in a major dam Islamist forces seized Thursday that could flood the Iraqi capital,” the Washington Post reported.
2. Record Junk Bond Outflows. High yield bond funds have posted $US7.1 billion in outflows according to Lipper data, the largest outflows on record. The withdrawals come as investors grow increasingly leery of the “reach for yield” trade amid chatter that the Fed could raise rates sooner than expected. But it also means the value of other assets like stocks could soon also come down.
3. China Exports Crush Expectations. China saw a record trade surplus in July, with exports climbing 14.5% YOY, the fastest pace in 15 months. That’s double the 7.2% rate in June and roundly beating market expectations. “Some analysts attributed the export spurt to delayed shipments caused by recent volatility in the yuan which may not sustain,” Reuters said. Imports fell 1.6%, leaving the country with a record trade surplus of $US47.3 billion for the month, the wire said.
4. Global Market Selloff On International Affairs Worries. U.S. futures are in the red, European markets are down by nearly 1%, and Asia closed sharply lower, with Japan’s Nikkei plunging 2.9%, BI’s Sam Ro notes. “Risk aversion rules: The Ukraine conflict shows no sign of being resolved (rather, there’s far too high a chance of escalation for comfort),” Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes said in a note this morning. “Overnight, the US has approved limited airstrikes in Northern Iraq. The conflict on Gaza too, is in danger of re-escalation. Investors have plenty of reasons to take risk off the table and are doing so across the board.”
5. FICO Tweak Will Open Up Lending. The Wall Street Journal’s Annamaria Andriotis reports credit score gatekeepers Fair Isaac Corp. will no longer include data reflecting failure to pay a bill in its tabulations if the individual paid or settled with a collection agency. It will also give less weight to unpaid medical bills owed to a collection agency. “The changes are expected to boost consumer lending, especially among borrowers shut out of the market or charged high interest rates because of their low scores,” Andriotis writes. ‘It expands banks’ ability to make loans for people who might not have qualified and to offer a lower price [for others],’ said Nessa Feddis, senior vice president of consumer protection and payments at the American Bankers Association, a trade group.”
6. Banks Could Flee Independent Scotland. BI’s Jim Edwards explains why 9% of Scottish GDP would be at risk in the event of a successful referendum: “The immediate problem is that Scottish banks would be cut off from the Bank of England as a ‘lender of last resort,’ the national central bank that props up all other banks and provides a backstop against total collapse (as in the 2007-2008 crisis). Without credible central bank backing, U.K. bank regulators would likely require all banks to register in the U.K. and not Scotland, the report says. This, obviously, could lead to a vast financial exodus from Scotland. About 9% of Scotland’s GDP is financial services, and finance is 15% of the country’s exports — so the economic damage to to Scotland would be severe.
7. Ebola Treatment Stock Up 25% Pre-Market. Tekmira shares are soaring after the company announced the FDA has lifted its “hold” designation on the Canadian drugmaker’s ebola treatment.
8. Malaysia Airlines Delisting. The country’s sovereign wealth fund will buyout the tragically troubled company’s outstanding shares.
9. Data. At 8:30 we get productivity and costs data. Consensus is for productivity growth of 1.4%, compared with a decline of 3.2% prior, while unit labour costs are expected to have increased 1.6% compared with 5.7% prior. At 10 a.m. we get wholesale trade data. Consensus is for an increase in inventories of 0.7% compared with 0.5% prior.
10. No Major Earnings Today. Happy Friday.
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