Morning Report – ADP is forecasting a weak payroll number this Friday 12/3/14

Markets are flattish on no real news. Bonds and MBS are flat as well.

Mortgage Applications fell 7.3% last week, which isn’t a surprise given the holidays. Purchases rose 2.5% while refis fell 13.4%.

ADP is forecasting the payroll number will come in at 208k this Friday. The Street is forecasting 230k.

Productivity rose 2.3% in the third quarter, while unit labor costs fell 1%. Output increased 4.9% and hours worked increased 2.5%. Compensation rose 1.3% while productivity rose 2.3%, which means unit labor costs are -1%. These numbers do not suggest inflation is any sort of immediate or medium-term threat at all, which is bond bullish.

Speaking of bond bullish, Amazon.com just did a $6 billion (!) bond issue, which contained a $1.5 billion tranche of 30 year bonds yielding 4.95%. The funds will be used for general corporate purposes. If you look at their balance sheet, they already have $7 billion in cash vs. $3 billion in debt outstanding, so it isn’t like they need the money. 30 years at under 5%. 7 years ago, the 30 year yielded more than that.

The latest kerfuffle in Washington doesn’t involve immigration – it involves a bunch of expiring tax breaks. Many of them are for individuals – tax breaks for teachers, tuition, mortgage debt forgiveness, mortgage PMI, and mortgage forgiveness. There are a number of business breaks in there as well. The Senate came up with a two year extension, but Obama promised to veto it because it doesn’t address the earned income tax credit and child tax credits that expire in 2017. He wants them to be made permanent. It looks like a 1 year extension bill is in the works. If this doesn’t get resolved, it could make for an interesting start to the tax year.

From the polar vortex making November the coldest in decades to El Nino ushering in a mild December, natural gas investors have been taken for a ride over the past six weeks or so. Fun fact – on the NYSE, they have Bloomberg or CNBC on the big TV monitors. In the commodity pits, they have on the Weather Channel. This is why. Look at the volatility of nat gas over the past month. roughly $3.50 to $4.50 and back to $3.80. Pretty amazing.

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