Opening Bell 6.14.18

ECB rates; Retail revival; Russian smiles and more!
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Euro and bond yields fall as ECB says to keep rates low through next summer [Reuters]

“The hawks had been guiding for a June hike before the meeting and given the clear guidance the ECB gave today on interest rates, it had to be priced out,” said Arne Petimezas, an analyst at AFS Group, an Amsterdam-based brokerage.

The single currency EUR=EBS fell 0.4 percent on the day to $1.1744, reversing moves it made immediately after the ECB statement when it rallied as much as half a percent.

Bond investors, meanwhile, drew comfort from the central bank’s outlook for interest rates.

U.S. Retail Sales Top Forecasts, Bolstering Economic Pickup [Bloomberg]

The value of overall sales advanced 0.8 percent from the prior month, double the median estimate of economists and following an upwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in April, according to Commerce Department figures on Thursday. So-called retail control-group sales -- a key measure that excludes food services, auto dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations -- rose 0.5 percent, also exceeding projections.

The results added to signs that lower taxes, elevated confidence and a strong labor market are helping to cushion the blow to Americans’ wallets from higher fuel expenses. Solid gains in household purchases -- the biggest part of the economy -- and steady business investment are among reasons growth is projected to regain momentum in the second quarter.

Moscow Financier Goes AWOL as Global Clients Hunt for Millions [Bloomberg]

Lillevyali, a serial entrepreneur who’s dabbled in everything from vodka to health care, has left Russia , the money-raising hub of his GL Financial Group, a Swiss- and U.K.-licensed asset manager with affiliates in Moscow, Zurich, Geneva, London, Cyprus and Belize.

The financier, who was managing at least $250 million of assets at the end of last year according to two former subordinates, seems to be in Cyprus. A Facebook message seeking to calm investors was posted under his name on April 20, purportedly from the island nation.

Medicaid Expansion Gains Popularity in Red States [WSJ]

The push to expand Medicaid is gaining traction in some Republican states that previously rejected the idea, thanks to grass-roots efforts to let voters weigh in directly on the issue and recent changes in the program that make it more friendly to conservatives.

States including Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, and North Carolina are weighing expanding their programs, and the debate is also playing a central role in the midterm contests in Florida, Georgia, and Kansas. All were won by President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

Traditional Medicaid typically covers such groups as low-income families who qualify for Social Security and pregnant women and children meeting income requirements. Medicaid expansion, part of the Affordable Care Act, enables states to cover more low-income adults up to age 65.

Russian workers are undergoing training to learn how to smile ahead of the World Cup [Business Insider]

Russians do not smile as much as other Europeans, according to the BBC. An article in The Atlantic attempts to explain why when it loosely translates a Russian proverb: "Laughing for no reason is a sign of stupidity."

However, there's now a reason to smile - 1.5 million reasons to be precise, as Russian news agency Tass claims 1.5 million foreign tourists are expected in Russia during the World Cup.

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