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— In exchange for relief from sanctions, Iran and six world powers agreed on a nuclear enrichment deal first struck in November. Iran says it will not enrich uranium over 5% for six months beginning January 20 and allow daily UN inspection, freeing up $US7 billion in sanctions while a “comprehensive solution” is reached.
— Three of America’s “big four” banks will report earnings this week, but analysts are expecting to see falling revenue due to decreased loan activity. Fines from regulators could also prove a drag on business, but not to the extent that it will decrease bonus activity.
— Workout apparel giant Lululemon has cut its earnings forecast after store traffic dropped off in December. “We were on track to deliver on our sales and earnings guidance through the month of December; however, since the beginning of January, we have seen traffic and sales trends decelerate meaningfully,” said Lululemon CFO John Currie. “Based on this recent performance and assuming these trends continue through the remainder of January, we are reducing our outlook for the fourth quarter.”
— As the cannabis industry lights up Washington and Colorado, the biggest issue facing budding marijuana businesspeople is banking, according to a New York Times report from Serge F. Kovaleski. Pot merchants “are grappling with a pressing predicament: Their businesses are conducted almost entirely in cash because it is exceedingly difficult for them to open and maintain bank accounts, and thus accept credit cards,” Kovaleski reports. “Banks, including state-chartered ones, are reluctant to provide traditional services to marijuana businesses. They fear that federal regulators and law enforcement authorities might punish them, with measures like large fines, for violating prohibitions on money-laundering, among other federal laws and regulations.” As a result, perfectly legal businesses are hoarding dangerous amounts of cash and stashing suitcases around town.
— Target will make “significant changes” after its high-profile data breach debacle over holiday season, the company’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in an interview with CNBC. The company has installed malware on point of sale registers and is working to figure out who is responsible for the hack that resulted in the stolen personal information of at least 70 million Target customers.
— Asian markets were mixed in overnight trading, with Japan’s Nikkei and Korea’s KOSPI up 0.20% and 0.54% respectively, while Shanghai was down 0.51%. European markets were all trading higher, but U.S. futures were pointing south.
— Thailand continues to inch toward a civil war, as protestors “shut down” the capital Monday in protest of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. “Protesters led by former opposition politician Suthep Thaugsuban started blocking major intersections late on Sunday, aiming to create traffic chaos in a city of an estimated 12 million people where roads are clogged at the best of times,” Reuters reports.
— This afternoon at 2:00 p.m., the Treasury will make its monthly budget statement for December. Economists are expecting a $US44.0 billion surplus. “Underlying improvement continues as payroll and income tax hikes boost receipts and spending remains restrained by sequester caps, but the main contributor to the positive swing from last year in December is GSE dividend payments,” Morgan Stanley’s Ted Wieseman wrote clients. “With regular earnings running near record levels and Freddie Mac making an additional one-off payment for a deferred tax asset accounting reversal (which Fannie Mae did in June), Treasury received a $US39 billion GSE dividend on December 31, up from $US5 billion a year ago. For all of fiscal year 2014, we see the deficit narrowing to $US585 billion, or 3.4% of GDP, from $US680 billion, or 4.1% of GDP, in FY 2013.”
— Bulls beware, the market is getting a little pricey, according to Goldman Sachs’ David Kostin. In a new note to clients, Kostin writes that the “biggest surprise is how many investors expect the forward P/E multiple to expand to 17x or 18x.” The current aggregate forward P/E multiple is at 15.9. While market participants tend to believe a 15x P/E multiple is the long-term average, “The common perception is wrong.” In fact, “Most investors are surprised to learn that since 1976 the S&P 500 P/E multiple has only exceeded 17x during the 1997-2000 Tech Bubble and a brief four-month period in 2003-04. Other than those two episodes, the US stock market has never traded at a P/E of 17x or above.”
— Leonardo DiCaprio took home the Best Actor for Musical or Comedy prize at last night’s Golden Globes for his performance as Jordan Belfort, the drug-addicted 90s-era pump-and-dumper, in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, and Amy Adams were among the other winners.
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