Monday, February 25, 2013

Asian Stocks Fall on Italian Election Concern; Yen, Oil Decline

Asian stock indexes fell on concern Italy’s elections will lead to renewed turmoil in European markets. The yen weakened, following its biggest gain since May 2010, and oil declined.
The Nikkei 225 Stock Average (NKY) dropped 1.4 percent from its highest close since September 2008 as of 11:34 a.m. in Tokyo, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.4 percent. The yen slid 0.7 percent to 92.48 per dollar after surging 1.6 percent yesterday. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.2 percent. Crude slid 0.6 percent in New York, while gold rose for a fourth day. Ten-year Treasury yields advanced two basis points to 1.88 percent, after declining 10 basis points yesterday.
Demand for U.S. government bonds strengthened yesterday as early results suggested Italy’s election would result in a hung parliament, leading to another vote. Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani, having campaigned to maintain budget rigor, won control of the lower house but not the Senate and rival Silvio Berlusconi called for a recount. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is due to testify before lawmakers today and tomorrow.
“Uncertainty about the Italian election result has sparked fears that they may abandon their austerity drive, possibly sparking another bout of volatility in Europe,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, which manages about $25 billion. This may “make governing and implementing much-needed economic reforms almost impossible,” he added.
About three stocks dropped for each that rose on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAPJ), with materials producers leading declines. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.5 percent and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.2 percent.

Yen, Oil

The S&P 500 sank 1.8 percent yesterday, after recording its first weekly loss of the year in the period ended Feb. 22. U.S. data scheduled for this week includes the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index as well as official reports on durable goods orders, household spending and fourth-quarter economic growth.
The yen fell 1 percent to 121.13 per euro after gaining 2.8 percent yesterday as investors pared holdings of European assets. The euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.3083 after yesterday touching $1.3048, the weakest since Jan. 10.
Oil futures declined as much as 1.3 percent to $91.92 a barrel, the lowest intraday price since Jan. 4, before trading at $92.43. An Energy Department report tomorrow will probably show crude supplies gained a sixth week, the longest run of increases since May, according to a Bloomberg News survey. Iran resumes international talks on its nuclear program today after an eight-month lull.

U.S. Data

Spot gold advanced 0.3 percent to $1,598.4 an ounce, set for its longest winning streak since the four days ended Jan. 17.

Yahoo Orders Home Workers Back to the Office

Since Marissa Mayer became chief executive of Yahoo, she has been working hard to get the Internet pioneer off its deathbed and make it an innovator once again.

She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook of Google, her employer until last year. Now, though, Yahoo has made a surprise move: abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in the office.

A memo explaining the policy change, from the company’s human resources department, says face-to-face interaction among employees fosters a more collaborative culture — a hallmark of Google’s approach to its business.

In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country’s biggest workplace issues: whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration. Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen Hamilton and are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees.

Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office.


  1. From the Yahoo article
    “A lot of companies are afraid to let their workers work from home some of the time or all of the time because they’re afraid they’ll lose control.”

    It's always about control isn't it? Happy people working from home just won't do. We need to slam them into some cubicle and count how many keystrokes they can generate per hour. This is also a pay decrease as now they will have to pay gas and childcare and all for the psychopaths ultimate goal. CONTROL

  2. Well that was a quick turnaround for gold. Let's see if it holds. I read the Italian election could move it one way or another.

  3. An acquaintence worked as an IT guy for Washington Mutual, and he was allowed to work from home a few days each week.

    Let me mention that he owned a boat, so as you could imagine, he got a LOT of work done when he was 'working from home.'

    When WAMU went under and Chase took over, they interviewed every employee and asked them to rate their peers. You can imagine how well this person was rated, after bragging at the office about all the time he spent on his boat.

    After being laid off and out of work for over a year - he finally managed to land another IT job. But that was after he sold his boat to help pay the bills...

  4. Well that spam only lasted 6 minutes. Hahaha.

    Mammoth that is a good lesson why you don't brag about being lazy or taking advantage. Also don't say stuff that is negative on social networks.

  5. Last Saturday morning one of my cats died. Ink was a great big, gray & black-striped tabby who liked to sit on my lap whenever I sat in front of the computer.

    Click on 'The Dungheap' link on the left side to enjoy some pictures of him.

    RIP Ink!

  6. Hi Queen.. its been a while !! Got busy with life; nothing overly bad or anything-- remodeling the house and other financial potholes along the way.

    Italy-- wow. They go from one clown (Il Duce Berlosconi) to another the M5S guy.

    Time to short the Milan exchange everyone.

  7. OMG you're back Mr K. Do you want me to put up your blog again? If so, post the address as I thought you had disappeared.

    It's like hot potato in the Eurozone. One day Greece, then Italy, then Spain etc etc. I am surprised with all the money printing in the US that we haven't seen more inflation than at the pump and the grocery stores.

  8. Welcome back, Mr. K. I always enjoyed your blog, posts, and insights.

    Mammoth--I left you a message on the "Dung Heap."

    Queen-Hope is all right with your world.

    Hubby is getting the urge for us to buy some silver. I said that I want to wait a bit more for a drop. Besides, we don't have a car at the moment to even go to the bank. It's in the the tune of about $1,700. Thank goodness we have a a mechanic who is trustworthy. Has 78,000 miles on it but we don't give up a car until it has well over 100,000. We do, however, want reliable transportation...especially as we have to upcoming trips to take.

    I was very interested in the 'good' reports. Yes, thanks to Sandy HD and the rest had a good quarter. But there is always a downside, isn't there? Shore areas will NOT be ready (no matter what they say) for the tourists. And it (Hopefully) is a quarter issue. Plus, how many still don't have places to live. And will they build on borrowed money? Of course. And when it happens again?

  9. CL all is well and don't forget you don't need a car for trips. Use a rental. It is cheaper in the long run.

  10. My ex-wife used to work from home, during the five years she lived in Florida and the three we lived in San Francisco. She was a computer code writer and database manager for the University of California employee benefits office. Because she did all of her work at a desktop computer, writing arcane code that would allow new "fields" to be added to existing databases of stuff like which employee had what amount deducted from their paycheque to pay for health insurance, or get put into their pension, it didn't matter so much where in the world she was sitting. Which is why she could work for a California university while sitting in Florida. Making good money, too --over $80,000 year. Those government jobs! (She had gotten the job when she used to live in Cali, before moving to Fla.)

    I gotta say, though, that working from home was a bad thing for the University of California. (Great for my ex, though.) She got up whenever she wanted to, usually started answering e-mails and working on coding problems sometime between 10 a.m. and noon, always had time to cook or shop or play with the cats. She'd get in depressed funks sometimes, be angry at her co-workers or feel ill -- she had lots of intestinal problems -- and just not work for hours. That's not even getting into how she didn't get out of her bathrobe and could smoke pot constantly while working. In her defence, she did often work after 5 p.m., but I calculated the university was not getting 40 hours a week of undivided attention from her.

    I reckon she would have been more productive if forced to come in and sit in a cubicle. Like the article says, there's an added benefit just from being around other workers and realizing you'd better look busy, shooting the breeze, talking about workplace issues, intangible stuff that you get from face-to-face. It might have made her a happier person if she had more other folks to interact with, instead of stewing in her own depressed juices and marijuana smoke. So as much as I detest over-controlling corporate executivocutioners, I'm with Clarissa Mayer on this one.