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A Senate report blasts Credit Suisse for helping to assist tax evasion. The new report details how, in 2006, Credit Suisse maintained 22,000 accounts for U.S. customers worth $US13.5 billion. More than 1,800 bankers “advised wealthy clients to travel to Switzerland to avoid creating a paper trail that would undermine their accounts’ secrecy,” the Wall Street Journal reports. In one of the more unconventional banking tactics, a Credit Suisse banker handed a client statements concealed in an issue of Sports Illustrated, the report said.
Natural gas collapses.Nat gas is down 18.5% in two sessions. “As the more medium-to-long term picture of an oversupplied market is still intact, it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that a sharp and volatile giveback has manifested out of a near doubling of prices since early November 2013,” TD Securities’ Mark Dragosits wrote in a note.
More trouble for MtGox. The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher M. Matthews reports that prosecutors in the U.S. sent the
subpoena this month. After weeks of issues, MtGox shut trading operations over “recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox’s operations and the market, the company said. Reuters reported that Japanese investigators are also looking into the Tokyo-based exchange.
But MtGox had to die for Bitcoin to live. There’s actually a sense of relief in the Bitcoin community about the fall of MtGox, our Rob Wile reports: “MtGox has been regarded for nearly a year as something of a basket case in the Bitcoin community, with complaints from customers about lengthy delays in taking money and bitcoin out of their wallets, and a general lack of responsiveness.” Bitcoin supporter and investor Marc Andreessen compared MtGox’s troubles to MF Global’s collapse — bad for customers but not a systemic to the Bitcoin system at large. And Bitcoin is actually back on the rise after the MtGox dust-up.
The Chinese yuan gets crushed. The currency continued its losing streak yesterday, hitting 6.1259 yuan for a dollar. UBS’ Tao Wang said that “the era of steady CNY appreciation may be drawing to a close,” and that this “is likely government-guided and may signal a change in China’s exchange rate policy.”
New home sales data out at 10:00 a.m. Economists estimate that new home sales dropped 3.4% to an annualized rate of 400,000 in January. “Mortgage applications for purchase have declined in four of the past five weeks and builder sentiment plunged to its lowest level since mid-2013,” Wells Fargo’s John Silvia wrote clients. “Although the weakness was broad-based, current sales saw the steepest decline, plummeting 11 points to 51. Builders noted the drop was due to unusually severe weather conditions, but also cited a shortage in skilled labour and lots. Although weather conditions are expected to be a temporary drag on construction activity, rising construction costs, including a dearth of skilled workers could slow the pace of the housing market recovery.”
First Solar plummets after earnings. Shares were down 14% after the company reported a Q4 earnings and revenue miss and warned of lower profits in Q1. Earnings came in at $US0.89 per share, lower than the $US1.03 expected, while revenue was $US768 million versus the $US969.4 million consensus estimate.
Markets were quiet in overnight trading. Japan’s Nikkei dropped 0.54% while Shanghai gained 0.35%. European markets were lower and U.S. futures pointed to a positive open.
J.Crew eyes an IPO. The retailer is interviewing banks as it considers an IPO for later this year, Bloomberg’s Jodi Xu, Leslie Picker and David Welch report. The chain has 451 stores and $US2.4 billion in annual sales, which may land it a value of as much as $US5 billion, a source told Bloomberg.
The U.S. Treasury warns about ousted Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovich. U.S. financial institutions “should be aware of the possible impact that public reports of high-level corruption by senior members of the Yanukovich administration and other illicit activity by members of the administration may have on patterns of financial activity,” an advisory from the Treasury said. Yanukovich is on the run. His reign was toppled by violent demonstrations in Kiev, where police snipers killed protestors.
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