U.S. and World News
- Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 appears to have been shot down by surface to air missiles over the battle-torn east Ukraine region of Donetsk. U.S. intelligence is pointing to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine as the group behind the attack. There were 298 passengers and crew members on the aircraft, all of which were killed. President Obama called the event an “outrage of unspeakable proportions” and has again warned Vladimir Putin of increased sanctions if Russia does not change its stance of backing the Ukrainian rebels. Putin for his part placed the blame on the Ukrainian government, claiming that the tragedy would not have happened had Ukraine not resumed a military campaign against the pro-Russian separatists in the country.
- Israeli soldiers and tanks have entered Gaza after cease-fire efforts collapsed and 10 days of bombardments from the air failed to stop the rocket attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the campaign is aimed at “destroying the terror tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.” Israel had previously been reluctant to launch a ground assault for fear of endangering its own soldiers and drawing international condemnation over mounting Palestinian civilian deaths. The offensive follows an Egyptian effort earlier this week to halt hostilities in which Israel agreed to the terms, but Hamas refused, demanding that Israel and Egypt first give guarantees to ease the blockade on Gaza.
- The Obama administration is calling for new legislation that will limit the benefits of U.S. companies which reincorporate overseas in order to take advantage of the lower corporate tax rates of other countries. In the last decade, 50 U.S. firms have relocated for these tax inversions, with many of them being announced this year. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has written to congressional tax-writing committees stating that lawmakers “should enact legislation immediately to shut down this abuse of our tax system,” adding that any legislation should be retroactive to May to prevent a rush to do deals before it is potentially enacted.
- The long awaited New Development Bank has been launched after the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) leaders put their finishing touches on the $100 billion bank and currency reserve pool aimed at reshaping the Western-dominated international financial system centered on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The bank is scheduled to start lending in 2016 and is a major accomplishment by the BRICS countries which account for almost half of the world’s population.
- Markets rose this week despite the geopolitical turmoil and a sharply negative Thursday trading session. The S&P 500 gained 0.56% and closed at 1,978. The Dow Jones followed suit by rising 0.97% and closing at 17,100. Year to date, the S&P is up 8.21% and the Dow is up 4.46%.
- Interest rates fell a bit this week and the 5 year and 10 year U.S. Treasury Notes are now yielding 1.67% and 2.49%, respectively.
- The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose by 2.13% this week, closing at $102.98 per barrel. Year to date, Oil prices have risen 7.72%.
- The spot price of Gold decreased by 2.08% this week, closing at $1,310.88 per ounce. Year to date, Gold prices are up 9.09%.
- Initial jobless claims fell 2,000 from last week, coming in at 302,000 vs. consensus estimates of 310,000. The level of claims is approaching the pre-crisis lows. The Labor Department noted no special factors in the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 309,000, the lowest it’s been since June 2007.
- Housing starts unexpectedly fell 9.3% in June vs. expectations of a rise of 1.9%. Both single family and multifamily starts fell much more than expected. The report contrasts with more positive recent news on home sales and the National Association of Home Builders index so it may have been an anomaly this month.
Fact of the Week
- On June 12th, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that funds received via an inherited IRA from a non-spouse are not protected in bankruptcy. The case revolved around Heidi Clark who inherited $450,000 in an IRA from her deceased mother in 2001. She then went on to file bankruptcy along with her husband in 2010. The court ruled that the inherited IRA could be taken by creditors to cover the Clark’s debts.
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