Iran Nuclear Talks Extend Another Day As Focus Shifts To Sanctions, Centrifuge Machines


Negotiations between Iran, and six major powers that includes the United States extended through the early hours of Thursday morning after missing a March 31st deadline to reach a preliminary agreement that could pave the way for a more comprehensive final agreement to be reached at the end of June that is aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing Iran from building a nuclear bomb.

If a preliminary agreement is reached by the two sides this week, it will mark the end 12 years of diplomatic negotiations and ease concerns over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

French Foreign Secretary Laurent Fabius recently flew back to Lousanne, Switzerland to re-attend the negotiations after leaving for Paris the previous day due to the lack of progress in the talks.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier plan to stay in Switzerland until at least Thursday to work on  the details of the preliminary framework agreement that places restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, reduces Iran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb, and lifts crippling sanctions that have hurt Iran’s economy, most notably in their financial, gas, and oil sectors.

Abbas Araqchi, a senior Iranian negotiator, announced on Wednesday that any deal between the two sides should remove all Iranian sanctions.

Araqchi said that minor but key problems still remain in front of the two sides, mostly regarding sanctions as well as research and development on Iran’s advanced centrifuge machines.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that it is in the best interests of the United States and its international partners to pursue diplomacy with Iran.

Earnest said that the United States and its international partners are “engaged in this effort because we believe that diplomacy is the best way to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Conservatives in the U.S. Congress are threatening to slap new sanctions on Iran unless an agreement can be reached this week.

-Johnathan Schweitzer







Talks With Iran Continue Over Its Nuclear Program

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry at talks Iran's nuclear program in ViennaTalks between Iran, the United States, and five other world powers are resuming Wednesday after missing a Tuesday deadline to agree on a temporary framework of a deal that will scale back Iran’s nuclear program and lift crippling sanctions on Iran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a breakthrough occurred during the talks which ran through early Wednesday morning in Switzerland and a preliminary agreement was done “on all the key aspects” of the deal that is being worked out between the six world powers (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, United States) and Iran.

Lavrov said the drafting of the text is already underway.

“We can quite certainly say that on all the key aspects of the final settlement of this problem, the ministers have reached principal consent that will be hopefully in the next couple of hours, maybe a day, put on paper” Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

American diplomats denied that a preliminary agreement was reached yet and explained that were still more issues to resolve.

A preliminary agreement would set in motion the necessary framework that is needed before a final agreement can be reached on June 30th.

Although Tehran insists that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, some of Iran’s neighbors such as Israel are skeptical and guarded about six world powers forging a nuclear deal with Tehran.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu remains suspicious of Tehran’s motives and gave a fiery speech before Congress last month, warning U.S. lawmakers to not sign a nuclear deal with Tehran that could last for 10 years.

The U.S. Congress, led by Republicans, has threatened to slap more sanctions on Iran if a preliminary agreement isn’t reached this week but U.S. President Obama has vowed to veto any legislation that places more sanctions on Iran.

Some of the main sticking points that have stalled the talks centers around the scope of Iran’s enriched uranium, where to place Iran’s existing fissile material, the timeline for sanctions to be lifted, and whether the sanctions will be resumed if Iran violates the terms of the deal.

The full agreement in June would enact strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program so that the international community would have up to a year to confront Iran if Tehran gives the approval to build a nuclear bomb.

-Johnathan Schweitzer




Stocks Rebound On Monday Amid Easing Hopes in China, Improving Economic Data

Compass Pointing the Way to Business OpportunityThe dollar is rising against the euro on Monday and the Dow is up over 250 points in early trading following comments from China’s central bank about easing hopes which are being paired with dovish comments last week from Fed Chair Janet Yellen who indicated that interest rates may be warranted not until later in the year and the increase will be gradual.

Today the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales in February jumped 3.1 percent, the highest level since June 2013, and outpacing a forecast of -2.5 percent from

The Commerce Dept. reported on Monday that consumer spending increased only 0.1 percent in February, matching estimates, and outpacing a decline of -0.2 in January.

Economists are scaling back their estimates for 1st quarter 2015 GDP which vary between 1 to 1.5 percent.

Last week the third and final GDP reading for the 4th quarter of 2014 showed the U.S. economy grew at a pace of 2.2 percent.

The Department of Commerce reported this morning that February’s reading of Core PCE inflation, which takes out the volatile prices of gas and food, rose 1.4 percent on an annualized basis, below the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.

-Johnathan Schweitzer



Review Of Greece Reform Proposal Delayed; Week Ahead for Markets

dailLast week U.S. equities experienced the worst week since January and investors are hoping to reverse that down trend this week as the first quarter of 2015 is set to end in a shortened trading week that is packed full of economic data.


On Monday a working group of euro area finance ministers was expected to respond to a list of reform proposals that Athens submitted late last week as a condition of Greece qualifying to receive a disbursement of € 7.2 billion in final bailout funds from international creditors, consisting of the EU, ECB, and IMF.

But Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reported on Sunday that “the prospect of a Eurogroup meeting being called in the next few days to approve such a disbursal appear slim.”

Athens handed over 18 proposals that is still in need of final approval from the Euro group before Greece can receive its last bailout disbursement and avoid bankruptcy.

The majority of the proposals Athens submitted center on boosting Greece’s tax collection and cracking down on tax evasion,

During the next two weeks, Athens is in need of receiving €2 billion to pay for pensions and salaries besides another €450 million it owes to the IMF.

Since 2010 Greece has been shut out of international capital markets and has relied on €240 billion in bailout funds from its international creditors.

Late on Friday Greece received yet another credit downgrade and moved to B from CCC from credit agency Fitch, based on “extreme pressure on government funding.”

Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reported today that opposition parties in Greece’s parliament have called on Prime Minister Antonis Tsipras to get a “firmer control” of his Syriza party as some sections of the leftist “anti-austerity” party are seeking confrontation with Greece’s international creditors.

Stay tuned…

United States

The closely watched jobs report for March will be released 8:30 a.m. EST on Friday which is “Good Friday”, with U.S. and European markets closed. The jobs report will still be posted here on this site.

Economists from are forecasting 260,000 non-farm payroll jobs added to the U.S. economy in March and the unemployment rate expected to hold steady at 5.5. percent.

On Monday a key inflation measurement that the Federal Reserve uses, PCE Prices- Core, will be released.

One of the primary reasons the Fed has held off on raising rates in early 2015 is due to weakening inflation prices.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen admitted this month that it is unlikely the Fed will begin to hike rates at its next April meeting

Monday will also see pending home sales data for February. forecasts a -2.5 percent compared to a gain of 1.7 percent.

Monday will also see February data from personal income and personal spending.


Consumer confidence

Chicago PMI

Case-Shiller 20 city index


ADP Employment Report

MBA Mortgage Index

Construction Spending


ISM Index

Crude Inventories


Initial Claims

Factory Orders

Trade Balance

Natural Gas Inventories


Jobs Report-

Markets closed in U.S. and Europe

-Johnathan Schweitzer





Oil Spikes, Global Stocks Face Selling Pressure After Saudi Arabia Strikes Rebels in Yemen

aioGlobal equities are facing selling pressure on Thursday and Brent oil futures spiked over 4 percent following news yesterday that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies launched air strikes against Iranian backed Houthi Shiite military rebels in Yemen after they drove Yemen’s President Hadi away from its capital city.

Although the military strikes haven’t disrupted oil production in the region, they highlight growing geo-political tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran across the region.

May crude Brent rose over $2.00 on Thursday to $59 a barrel, marking the biggest 5 day gain since 2011, due to growing concerns about the passage of oil tankers on the Bab el- Mandeb Strait located on the coastal waters of Yemen.

The region has a large western navy presence with U.S. and French bases in neighboring Djibouti.

Yesterday US equities sold off and the U.S. dollar was under pressure on growth concerns after U.S. durable goods orders sharply missed estimates.

-Johnathan Schweitzer


Durable Goods Decline More Than Expected In February; Shows Decline 3 of Past 4 Months

durNew orders for manufactured durable goods declined more than expected in February as declining business investment, a winter spending chill, and a labor dispute impacting west coast ports all slowed business activity.

The Commerce Department (U.S. Census Bureau) reported this morning that new orders for manufactured durable goods decreased 3.2 billion or 1.4 percent to $231.3 billion, well below the +1.0 percent increase that was forecast from and +0.4 by Factset.

Durable goods orders have declined three of the past four months.

The weaker than expected decline in February follows a revised +2.0 increase for January.

Excluding transportation, new orders in February decreased 0.4 percent.

Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1 percent.

Spending on transportation equipment, which also declined three of the past four months, led the decrease by 3.5 percent.

-Johnathan Schweitzer


Greece To Offer Its Reform Package By Monday

addGreece is planning to present a new reform package to its international creditors and euro  zone partners that could potentially open up the coffers for the cash strapped country to receive bailout funds and avoid the risk of exiting the euro zone.

Greece will present its proposed package of reforms to its euro zone partners by next Monday in hopes they will release much needed cash, Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said on Tuesday.

Yesterday German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held their first bilateral meeting and joint press conference from Berlin where the two leaders sounded conciliatory but offered no clear details about how to work together and prevent Greece from running out of cash.

Last month Greece received a 4 month bailout extension that expires in late June unless Athens can obtain an approved package of fiscal reforms that will unlock some of €7.2 billion bailout tranche for the indebted country that has resisted adopting fiscal reforms containing new austerity measures.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz struck a positive note that Greece and its international creditors could reach a breakthrough deal this week.

Schulz told Italy’s Repubblica that he thinks a deal is within reach.

“I think by the end of this week a new deal will be reached that should be sufficient to release the most urgent financing” Schulz said.

– Johnathan Schweitzer

Greek and German Leaders To Meet after Concerns Grow Over Greek Cash Problems

greece-economyGreek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is meeting on Monday for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin as Athens is racing to come up with more short term cash while struggling to adopt a list of self-imposed austerity measures that Greece must undergo to meet the demands of their international creditors.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned German Chancellor Merkel in a March 15th letter that it will be “impossible” for Greece to service their debt obligations in the approaching weeks if the EU fails to distribute any short-term financial assistance to the country.

Tsipras wrote in his letter that Athens may have to choose between meeting debt obligation and paying pensions and wages for Greeks.

Tsipras was unsuccessful in securing short term funding last week at an EU Summit attended by German Chancellor Merkel and ECB President Mario Draghi.

Last month, Athens received a 4 month bailout extension after Greece’s far left government waited until the 11th hour to request a formal bailout due to their reluctance to adopt austerity reforms.

The request from Athens finally arrived after talk about capital controls on Greece’s fragile banks sparked large cash outflows by Greeks.

Despite receiving their bailout extension, Athens still needs an estimated €1.5 billion to meet its financial obligations for March and €2 billion for April.

German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported on Sunday that Athens is only able to fund salaries for government employees through the second week of April.

Greece’s debts are outsized compared to the debts in other wealthier euro-area member countries.

Greece’s debt to GDP is 175 percent, a level that is unsustainable over the long term.

Since 2010 Greece has received 2 bailouts totaling €240 billion.

-Johnathan Schweitzer




Dollar And Yield On 10 Year Treasury Drop After March Fed Meeting

arrGlobal investors are still digesting the significance of yesterday’s March Federal Reserve meeting that led to massive swings with U.S. equities, U.S. Treasuries, and the U.S. dollar which came after the Federal Reserve removed “patient” from their policy statement about raising interest rates and yet still managed to telegraph a dovish tone by indicating that a rate hike at their next policy meeting in April “remains unlikely” as market expectations now shift to a interest rate hike in late 2015 or 2016.

The dollar weakened as the euro climbed 3 percent, the Dow rallied over 200 points, and the 10 year Treasury dropped over 12 basis points (-6.21 percent) to 1.92, marking the largest decline since October 14′, and even more closer to its 52 week low of 1.64 percent.

The drop in the yield with the 10 year Treasury is good news for U.S. homeowners and car buyers looking to secure low interest rates in the spring while the decline in the dollar is good news for U.S. export prices and commodities.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen sounded dovish at the press conference when she explained that “just because we removed the word ‘patient’ from the statement doesn’t mean that we are going to be impatient.”

The Fed has not raised interest rates since 2006 and took highly accommodative actions during the recession in December 2008 to lower the federal funds rate to just above zero percent where they still remain today.

Yellen admitted yesterday that “the timing of the rate increase will depend on the Fed’s assessment of incoming economic data.”

Yellen was ambiguous about spelling out an exact timetable for raising rates and suggested that an interest rate hike could occur “at any later meeting, depending on how the economy evolves.”

Yellen said that U.S. GDP growth appears to have slowed in the first quarter of 2015 and cited a moderation in household spending, a subdued recovery in the housing sector, and weakened export growth.

The Fed’s expectations for GDP growth in 2015 are at a “moderate pace” with robust job gains and lower energy prices supporting household spending.

The Fed lowered its forecast for 2015 GDP growth to 2.3- 2.7 percent from 2.6- 3.0 percent that was projected earlier in December.

Meanwhile, 2016 GDP growth estimates were slightly lowered to 2.3 to 2.7 percent from 2.5 to 3.0 percent that was projected earlier in December.

As for inflation, the Fed’s preferred measurement for inflation remains with personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and core personal consumption expenditures (Core PCE), according to the Fed’s mandate.

Looking at the Fed’s forecast for inflation through the lens of PCE and Core PCE, it is clear that the Fed has established a later timeline for when inflation will reach the Fed’s 2 percent inflation target.

Last December, the Fed projected that inflation would reach 2 percent in 2016, according to their central tendency projection.

But yesterday the Fed provided an updated projection for inflation which shows that inflation will grow more gradually during the next couple of years and not reach its 2 percent inflation goal until 2017.

The Fed expects the unemployment rate to drop more rapidly in 2015 compared to their earlier December projection.

The unemployment rate is expected to reach 5.0 to 5.2 percent in 2015, lower than December’s projection of 5.2 to 5.3 percent.

The median reading on the Fed’s quarterly “dot plot” which measures Fed members’ expectation for raising interest rates with the federal funds also dropped on the plot chart, suggesting a later rate hike.

-Johnathan Schweitzer





U.S. Stocks Push Higher Following Fed’s March Policy Meeting

yellenU.S. stocks are trading close to an intraday high with major indices above 1 percent while the U.S. dollar is sinking against a basket of foreign currencies amid signs that the U.S. Federal Reserve won’t be raising interest rates any time soon.

Although the Federal Reserve removed the word “patient” from their released March policy statement about raising interest rates, Fed members believe that it is “unlikely” a rate increase will occur at the Fed’s next meeting in April, thereby lowering the chances of a rate hike in June as some economists were expecting.

Treasuries rallied on the news, driving down the yield on the 10 year treasury to 1.92 %, down 6.21 percent, dropping ever closer to a 52 week low of 1.64 %.

Perhaps most striking the Federal Reserve re-established and lowered its estimate of what constitutes full employment.

The Fed revised the full employment unemployment rate of 5.0 to 5.2 percent from a previous reading of 5.2 to 5.5 percent.

The Fed’s economic projections have also changed with PCE and Core PCE inflation.

The Fed doesn’t expect PCE and Core PCE to reach the Fed’s target of 2 percent until 2017.

Today crude oil dropped close to 3 percent following a U.S. government report that revealed a 10 week increase in crude supplies, outpacing forecasts.

Oil supplies are at an 80 year high while crude prices have dropped to a 6 year low on storage concerns.

-Johnathan Schweitzer