Taper Is Top of Mind Again
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
Market Surges on Dovish Bernanke
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's comments late Wednesday that the central bank will keep its easy-money policies in place for the foreseeable future sparked a major market rally, with all of the major equity indices closing up by more than one percent. In addition, the dollar sold off, Treasury yields fell and gold reversed its steady decline. Some hailed the moderating words as apt given the Federal Reserve's dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability.
Of course, Bernanke's comments weren't universally hailed; bond traders, who had been aggressively short, were hammered and aren't too happy about it. One economist even said that based on Chairman Bernanke's latest comments, the minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting were "a complete mess."
Bernanke's next public comments will come next week when he's before Congress for his semiannual testimony.
"I think the game is, you know, how do you boil a frog?"
—Robert Barbera of the Johns Hopkins Center for Financial Economics
"He's looking at mortgage rates, what that's going to do to the housing market. He's saying, 'Hold on, guys, I'm not raising rates.' "
—UBS managing director Paul Richards
Microsoft has announced a long-awaited restructuring designed to make the company more nimble in the face of tougher competition from the likes of Apple and Google. The company has been criticized for not having a coherent mobile strategy.
The head of its office division, Kurt DelBene, will retire and the company will refocus on operating systems, applications, cloud computing and devices. The restructuring should last through year-end.
"The idea is for Microsoft to be more 'one Microsoft,' less organized around business units and flattening out the organization. You can read this as Steve Ballmer taking a more direct hand in trying to move this company more quickly in mobile and cloud."
—CNBC's Jon Fortt
Pain at the Pump
Oil hit its highest intraday price since March 2012 on Thursday, meaning prices at the pump should surge by 10 or 20 cents just in time for summer vacation drivers. But what about the added supply from North American oil shale you ask?
After all, non-OPEC oil supply growth is on track to hit a 20-year high in 2014. That should help bring down prices, right? Wrong. The infrastructure just isn't there yet to leverage that resource.
And what about China's slowing economy as a mitigating factor for rising oil prices? Nope, don't bank on that either; China's depreciation of the Renminbi should boost demand for oil.
Meanwhile, supply disruptions in non-OPEC producers such as Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Sudan and Libya keep OPEC in the driver's seat.
"You saw a nine-cent move in gas yesterday which is unprecedented and unwarranted and whether or not these guys buy it or take delivery at that price we all know it's going there."
—David Greenberg, president and founder of Greenberg Capital
"If you look at the statistics, you see very bloated inventories. Granted, we saw a heavy draw over the past couple weeks. But both nationally and the midcontinent around the delivery points, inventories are above their five-year range.
This really reflects a surplus of oil that can't be leveraged until infrastructure can be put in place to deliver that oil where it can be used on the East Coast."
—Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas
On Time … Most of the Time
May's on-time airline performance numbers are out, and they're an improvement over April's sequester-related lag but still not great. If you're a stickler for punctuality, you'll do best flying Hawaiian Airlines (92.4 percent on-time performance), Alaska Airlines (89.6 percent) or Delta Air Lines (86.2 percent).
Overall, about four out of every five flights arrived on time in May. The laggards were American Eagle (69.9 percent), Frontier Airlines (73.2 percent) and Mesa Airlines (73.8 percent).
Those who have waited through a garden-variety flight delay can take solace in knowing that they weren't on one of the five flights that had tarmac delays greater than three hours. That said, there was a greater chance that your bag was lost in May, as complaints were up for mishandled baggage.
"The average, 79.4 percent, is down compared to May of 2012 but an improvement over April when we saw the sequester impact."
—CNBC's Phil LeBeau
Mountain Into Molehill?
The rising market has been good to stocks across the board, right? Wrong again. Green Mountain Coffee has sagged 5 percent in five days while the S&P 500 has surged 3 percent. Founder Robert Stiller and former CEO Larry Blanford both retired from the board recently in what was considered by some to be a premature move.
And on July 2, a company that checked nine coffee buyers representing 7,000 stores reported that Green Mountain's K-Cups were losing ground to private-label makers, a reversal from April.
"It's actually been weak for the past week and a half, two weeks. It's been going down while the market has been going up."
— CNBC's Herb Greenberg
—By Doug Cubberley, Special to CNBC.com