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[28 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

David Stockman reports:

Just a few companies are driving the gains in major U.S. stock indexes this year, raising fresh concerns about the health of the market’s advance.

Six firms— Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., Netflix Inc. and Gilead Sciences Inc.—now account for more than half of the $664 billion in value added this year to the Nasdaq Composite Index, according to data compiled by brokerage firm JonesTrading.

Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Gilead and Walt Disney Co. account for more than all of the $199 billion in market-capitalization gains in the S&P 500.

The concentrated gains are spurring concerns that soft trading in much of the market could presage a pullback in the indexes. Many investors see echoes of prior market tops—including the 2007 peak and the late 1990s frenzy—when fewer and fewer stocks lifted the broader market. The S&P 500 is up 1% this year while the Nasdaq has gained 7.4%.

Just a reminder.

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[28 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

Crain’s Chicago Business reports:

Fitch Ratings cut the Chicago Board of Education to junk bond status, warning of a possible cash crunch to pay day-to-day-expenses.

The company today lowered the Board of Ed’s rating to BB+, from BBB-, nearly two months after Moody’s Investors Service also stripped the board of its investment grade rating. Today’s downgrade comes after Chicago Public Schools already saw its cost to borrow climb in April amid the uncertainty created by a federal investigation and a looming annual budget deficit of more than $1 billion.

The action adds to the challenges confronting Forrest Claypool, whom Mayor Rahm Emanuel named this month as chief executive of the school system.

“The downgrade reflects the limited progress the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made in addressing a structural budget gap approximating 20% of spending,” the statement says. As a result, “the district is highly dependent on borrowing in the upcoming months to finance on-going operations,” according to the statement.

The great moments of public education.

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[26 Jul 2015 | No Comment | ]

The Hill reports:

One amendment at a time, Democrats are revealing their demands for a year-end budget deal.

Backed by veto threats from President Obama, Senate Democrats are refusing to allow votes on spending bills that do not lift the budget caps under sequestration. Democrats in the House are also refusing to cooperate.

But even as they have criticized the GOP spending bills as a waste of time, Democrats have participated in the committee markups of the legislation.

During each of those sessions, Democrats offered amendments that would provide more money to various programs and agencies — effectively giving the GOP a roadmap of their spending priorities.

Welfare-Warfare state in America.