Moody's: U.S. Rating Outlook Remains Stable Sep 17, 2014 10:38AM

Numerous credit strengths keep the US government's credit rating positioned at top-tiered Aaa, despite deterioration in its debt position since the financial crisis, says Moody's Investors Service in its annual report. The most likely source of credit pressure, which is growth in the deficit from projected increases in social spending, is a long-term issue unlikely to pose a risk to the Aaa rating for several years. The outlook on the Aaa rating is stable.

Supporting the Aaa rating are the very large and diverse economy, a strong record of GDP and productivity growth, and the status of the dollar and the Treasury bond as global reserve currencyassets, allowing the US government to carry a higher level of debt relative to other countries, says Moody's.

With budget deficits declining steeply in recent years, debt ratios are stabilizing and should remain at or near current levels over the remainder of the decade. The outlooks for near-term economic and fiscal performance are also favorable. Toward the end of the decade, the costs of social programs become a greater credit concern. These are projected to rise, increasing federal spending and adding to debt ratios.

"Adjustments to major social programs such as social security and health care spending may eventually become necessary to avoid pressure on US creditworthiness," says Steven Hess, a Senior Vice President at Moody's.

Moody's says it makes little difference to credit quality whether these adjustments are made on the expenditure side or on the revenue side.

Although debt levels in relation to GDP are likely to remain close to flat, they are also relatively high. After doubling from 35.1% of GDP in 2007 to 72.0% in 2013, the ratio of federal government debt to GDP is projected to peak at the end of 2014 at 74.4% and to stabilize at just below that level for the remainder of the decade.

"These high levels give the US government less flexibility to respond should it face another financial shock," says Hess.

Moody's credit analysis on the United States government is an annual report and does not constitute a rating action. For more information, Moody's research subscribers can access the credit analysis at

https://www.moodys.com/research/United-States-of-America-Government-of-Analysis--PBC_175290.


OPEC Daily Basket Price Stood at $95.35/Barrel (USO) (OIL) Sep 12, 2014 09:16AM

The price of OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at $95.35 a barrel on Thursday, compared with $95.93 the previous day, according to OPEC Secretariat calculations.

The new OPEC Reference Basket of Crudes (ORB) is made up of the following: Saharan Blend (Algeria), Girassol (Angola), Oriente (Ecuador), Iran Heavy (Islamic Republic of Iran), Basra Light (Iraq), Kuwait Export (Kuwait), Es Sider (Libya), Bonny Light (Nigeria), Qatar Marine (Qatar), Arab Light (Saudi Arabia), Murban (UAE) and Merey (Venezuela).


Advance U.S. Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in August, Flat with Expectations (XRT) Sep 12, 2014 08:40AM

(Updated - September 12, 2014 8:40 AM EDT)

August MoM Retail Sales Advance 0.6% vs 0.6% Expected; Ex-Auto 0.3% vs 0.3%

UPDATE - More from the U.S. Census:

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for August, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $444.4 billion, an increase of 0.6 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month, and 5.0 percent (±0.9%) above August 2013. Total sales for the June through August 2014 period were up 4.5 percent (±0.7%) from the same period a year ago. The June to July 2014 percent change was revised from virtually unchanged (±0.5%)* to 0.3 percent (±0.2%).

Retail trade sales were up 0.6 percent (±0.5%) from July 2014, and 4.8 percent (±0.7%) above last year. Auto and other motor vehicle dealers were up 9.5 percent (±3.0%) from August 2013 and health and personal care stores were up 8.1 percent (±1.9%) from last year.


Natural Gas Inventory 92 bcf vs 84 bcf Expected Sep 11, 2014 10:30AM

Natural Gas Inventory 92 bcf vs 84 bcf Expected


Initial Jobless Claims Rose More than Expected to 315K Last Week; California, New York Led Gains Sep 11, 2014 08:39AM

(Updated - September 11, 2014 8:39 AM EDT)

Initial Jobless Claims 315K vs 300K Expected

UPDATE - More color from the U.S. Department of Labor:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending September 6, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 315,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 from 302,000 to 304,000. The 4-week moving average was 304,000, an increase of 750 from the previous week's revised average. The previous week's average was revised up by 500 from 302,750 to 303,250.
There were no special factors impacting this week's initial claims.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.9 percent for the week ending August 30, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending August 30 was 2,487,000, an increase of 9,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up 14,000 from 2,464,000 to 2,478,000. The 4-week moving average was 2,498,750, a decrease of 15,500 from the previous week's revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since June 30, 2007 when it was 2,489,500. The previous week's average was revised up by 3,500 from 2,510,750 to 2,514,250.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 30 were in California (+1,563), New York (+1,254), Iowa (+579), Wisconsin (+412), and Pennsylvania (+362), while the largest decreases were in New Jersey (-901), Illinois (-633), Georgia (-465), Massachusetts (-345), and Kentucky (-324).


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