A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 29, 2013. A team of U.N. experts left their Damascus hotel for a third day of on-site investigations into apparent chemical weapons attacks on the outskirts of the capital. Activists and doctors in rebel-held areas said the six-car U.N. convoy was scheduled to visit the scene of strikes in the eastern Ghouta suburbs.
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- Asian markets were mostly higher. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.84%, while Korea's Kospi gained 0.99%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.12%. The Nikkei fell -0.53%. European markets were lower across the board, with France's CAC 40 trailing most at -0.59%. U.S. futures were pointing higher.
- Personal spending missed expectations, rising just 0.1% against 0.3% expected. Stay tuned for Chicago PMI at 9:45 am (53.0 expected versus 52.3 prior); and at 9:55 am, Michigan consumer sentiment (80.0 expected versus 80.0 prior).
- Eurozone economic confidence climbed to 95.2 in August, beating expectations of a 93.8 print. Eurozone unemployment for July was unchanged MOM at 12.1%.
- The New York Times says the Obama Administration remains committed to striking Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack even after UK Prime Minister David Cameron's plea to join in the attacks was vetoed by Parliament last night. The Times; Mark Lander, David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker write: "...Administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike. Pentagon officials said that the Navy had now moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Each ship carries dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles that would probably be the centerpiece of any attack on Syria." France, of which Syria used to be a colony, remains on board.
- Gold and oil prices came way down in advance of the expected defeat of Cameron's measure, but the latter has since reocvered. This morning the yellow metal is off -1.20% but Brent futures have climbed back to 0.14%.
- India's Rupee recovered a bit Friday after flirting with record lows again, but is still on its way to having its worst month ever. PM Manhoman Singh told parliament the country was not facing a '90-style balance-of-payments crisis and blamed Western central banks for not considering emerging markets when setting monetary policy. "In a more equitable world order, it is only appropriate that the developed countries - in pursuing their fiscal and monetary policies - should take into account the repercussions on the economy of emerging countries," he said. The sovereign was trading around 66.26 against the dollar this morning after starting the day at about 67.
- New Japan inflation data again shows Abenomics — aka loose, inflationary, monetary policy — is struggling to take hold. Ex-energy prices actually fell to -0.1% for 2013 driven by declines in housing, furniture, medical care and culture and recreation, the FT's Ben McLannahan reports. "A broader, demand-driven recovery is yet to take hold," he says. The headline figure climbed to 0.7% on an annual basis, and the dollar declined 0.12% against the Yen.
- Another ugly development in the really ugly situation at Europe's third-largest insurer, Zurich: Reuters' Alice Baghdjian and Caroline Copley report Josef Ackerman, who just stepped down as CEO in the wake of CFO Pierre Wauthier's suicide, was mentioned in Wauthier's note. "A person close to Ackermann said Wauthier's widow had accused him in the days following her husband's death of setting demanding targets that had put huge pressure on the 53-year-old father of two," Reuters says.
- In a statement yesterday, NASDAQ blamed part of its three-hour-long failure earlier this month on "endemic" and "industry-wide" technology issues, pointing to a capacity flaw with the Securities Information Processor. "The SIP's governing committee plans for capacity based on the needs of its member exchanges...The tests are conducted in a controlled environment – performance in real-life scenarios will typically be lower," the group said.
- The NFL settled a class-action suit from former players suffering from concussions for $765 million. Some said the suit could have threatened to wipe out the entire league, so you should read why our Tony Manfred calls the deal "an absolute steal."
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