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Financial Services Roundup: Market Talk

9 Sep 2017 8:20 am

The latest Market Talks covering Financial Services. Exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

2132 GMT - Beware of websites that look similar to the site Equifax established to help consumers determine if their information has been affected by the company's massive data breach, says Oren Falkowitz, chief executive, Area 1 Security. Scammers are likely to soon create like-sounding sites in order to steal people's information, he says. Also, beware of phishing emails pretending to be from Equifax. (Veronica.Dagher@wsj.com; @VeronicaDagher)

2044 GMT - Three major credit rating agencies on Friday assigned junk status to the debt carried by auto parts supplier Delphi Automotive Plc's (DLPH) soon-to-be spun-off powertrain operations. That lower profit margin, engine-focused departing business, known for now as Delphi Jersey Holdings Plc, earned speculative credit ratings from Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Services and S&P Global Ratings. "The credit profile there is certainly weaker," Stephen Brown, a senior director of corporate ratings at Fitch, told WSJ, noting the spin-off's smaller revenue stream, lack of an independent managerial track record and more traditional product line. Delphi Automotive said in May it would hive off the $4.5B powertrain business by year-end and refocus on the higher profit margin automotive electronics and software business. (chester.dawson@wsj.com; @DecodeTheFirm)

2036 GMT - Net bets on higher copper prices set a sixth straight all-time record in the week ended Tuesday, according to CFTC data going back to 2006. Bullish copper bets by hedge funds and other speculative investors outnumbered bearish bets by 125,376 contracts, eclipsing last week's all-time high of 124,929. Some analysts and investors wondered Friday whether the session's selloff could be the start of a correction. Prices fell 3.2%, their largest one-day decline in four months, to end a streak of eight consecutive weekly gains that pushed prices to their highest level in three years. Flat import data out of China, the world's largest consumer, was the source of Friday's pullback, and some analysts have cautioned that a decline in speculative interest could lead to further price declines. (amrith.ramkumar@wsj.com; @AmrithRamkumar)

2016 GMT - It was a rough day for Equifax (EFX). Shares of the credit-reporting agency fell 13.7%, marking their biggest one-day percentage decline since Aug 20, 1999, when EFX shares fell 14.8%. EFX's recent slide came after the company said Thursday that hackers had gained access to some of its systems, potentially compromising personal information of roughly 143 million US consumers. The stock ends at $123.23, its lowest level since February. (akane.otani@wsj.com; @akaneotani)

1956 GMT - Equifax' data breech raises risks on increased fraud. More attempts at tax fraud may occur in the upcoming tax season, says Matthew Morris, partner at law firm Bowditch & Dewey. Morris, who specializes in part in individual tax, He says middle and low-income wage earners are more likely to be victims because more income tax is withheld from their paychecks throughout the year than is typically owed after deductions and credits have been claimed. Another risk: medical fraud, says Liz Weston, financial planner at NerdWallet. Personal identifying information could be used to impersonate victims to get medical care, falsify claims or fraudulently get government benefits, she says. This could create medical debt, and potentially mix a crook's medical history records with those of the victim, she says. (veronica.dagher@wsj.com; @VeronicaDagher)

1922 GMT - Well before Equifax (EFX) disclosed a data breach affecting as many as 143M US consumers this week, investment research firm MSCI warned that the credit-reporting firm faced a high risk of security breaches and data theft. In August 2016, MSCI noted an earlier breach, compromising tax and salary data for 431,000 employees of a customer, and called the company's data and privacy policies limited, with scant evidence it regularly audited information-security systems. Those findings--plus concerns over CEO pay and marketing practices--helped push MSCI's corporate-governance rating for EFX to the lowest level possible level. (theo.francis@wsj.com; @theofrancis)

1842 GMT - The ban by Chinese authorities on issuance of new cryptocurrencies via initial coin offerings may boost ICOs in other countries, according to a blockchain entrepreneur. "They could've invested the money into Chinese ICOs, now they can't," says Volodymyr Panchenko, founder of DMarket, a startup that's planning an ICO in the US. "Money will have to leave the country and they will seek opportunities to invest elsewhere." Panchenko says he expects a greater demand for ICOs in the US and Europe as a result of the ban announced earlier this week. Several Chinese cryptocurrency exchanges started delisting currency pairs as a result of the ban. (yuliya.chernova@wsj.com)

1815 GMT - Equifax (EFX) is on track to record its largest stock swoon since 1999, and options players are taking note. Puts, or bearish options contracts expiring this month are particularly active in trading as options volume on the stock surged past 100 times the average daily volume. The ratio of bearish options to bullish options is currently at 4.22, well above the 22-day average of 2.96, according to Trade Alert. The stock plunged after the credit-reporting company said hackers gained access to some of its systems, potentially compromising personal information of over 140 million US consumers. The stock was the S&P 500's biggest loser on Friday, down 14% to $122.78. (gunjan.banerji@wsj.com; @gunjanjs)

1622 GMT - CoreLogic says an estimated 8,456,455 residential and commercial properties in Florida are at either "Extreme," "Very High" or "High" risk of wind damage from Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, an estimated 3,494,735 residential and commercial properties in Florida are at risk of hurricane-driven storm surge damage. Neither analysis includes potential damage from inland flooding, it said. The properties at risk of storm-surge damage far outpace the number of National Flood Insurance Program policies in place in the state. As of June 30, 1.7M policies were owned by homeowners and small businesses, according to government data. Some homeowners and many bigger businesses get flood insurance from private-sector carriers. (leslie.scism@wsj.com)

1555 GMT - The FTSE 100 index is down 0.26% at 7377.60 in closing trade, pressured as the pound gains 0.7% against the dollar to reach its highest in more than a month at $1.3224, as well as rising against the euro. Miners are the biggest losers, with Antofagasta (ANTO.LN) down 4.1%, while BHP Billiton (BHP.AU), Anglo American (AAL.LN) and Fresnillo (FRES.LN) all lose around 3%. Banking stocks rise, however, with Barclays (BARC.LN) up 2% and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.LN) up 1.4% before a Bank of England meeting on Thursday next week, with some speculating that policymakers may start to consider raising interest rates in order to temper high inflation caused by a weak pound. The National Institute Of Economic and Social Research think tank issued a more upbeat economic outlook Friday and said this would warrant a 25-basis-point rate increase, which boosted the pound. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

1520 GMT - Shares of insurance companies, which slid this week as firms began reckoning with the fallout from Hurricane Harvey, are making a comeback Friday. Bermuda-based XL Group (XL) jumped 3.1%, while Chubb Limited (CB) rose 3.4%, Travelers Companies (TRV) added 3% and Everest Re Group (RE) climbed 2%. Helping push financial stocks higher: a rebound in bond yields. Still, many major insurance stocks are headed toward weekly declines, as analysts warn of escalating damage from another storm, Irma, which is forecasted to possibly hit Florida this weekend. (akane.otani@wsj.com; @akaneotani)

1413 GMT - Equifax (EFX) falls 14%, putting shares on track for their biggest decline since August 1999. The company said late Thursday that hackers gained access to some of its systems, possibly compromising the personal information of about 143M US consumers in one of the biggest data breaches in recent years. The ETFMG Prime Cyber Security (HACK) exchange-traded fund, which holds shares of companies that offer services to defend against cyber crime, climbs 0.5% amid a 0.1% decline in the broad S&P 500 index. The ETF's biggest holding, Palo Alto Networks, was up 1.4%. Symantec (SYMC), the ETF's third-largest holding, was up 3.7%, placing it among the best performers in the S&P 500 Friday morning. (ben.eisen@wsj.com; @beneisen)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 09, 2017 04:20 ET (08:20 GMT)

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