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Dodd-Frank Credit Rating Regs Complicate Investment Analysis, Cut into Yield

August 20, 2012
Bank Safety & Soundness Advisor

Prior to the recession, too many banks were far too reliant on credit rating agency ratings when making decisions about investments. That, at least, is the idea behind the provision in Dodd-Frank that now prohibits banks from making investment decisions armed with little more than an S&P rating and a hunch. Dodd-Frank requirements for independent analysis will be hard for community bankers to manage on their own, says Richard Berg, CEO of Performance Trust, Chicago. “The standard is very high and fairly arbitrary [to vet investments],” he says.

Stocks Jump; Cisco Soars 10%; Facebook Down 6%

August 16, 2012
CNBC

Weekly jobless claims rose last week to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, according to the Labor Department, in line with expectations. And housing starts unexpectedly fell in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000 units, while gains from June were revised lower, according to the Commerce Department. (Read More: Homebuilders Begin to See Credit Thaw). “It’s been a mixed bag of economic news, but not bad enough for the Fed to move so we’re bumping along,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “Good news is that we’re not getting worse.”

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U.S. Stocks – Wall St. slides on Spain, Greece fears

July 23, 2012
Reuters

Overseas stock and commodity markets fell steeply. European shares lost 2.6 percent, led by euro zone banking stocks, a trend the United States followed as shares of Morgan Stanley fell 2.3 percent to $12.50. "It was a wipeout in the overseas markets," Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago told Reuters. "We are going to echo that as confidence gets sucked out. The problem is bigger and more intractable than what happened in (the financial crisis) in '08…You could lose 40 points on the S&P today."

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Stocks Close Lower Amid Economic Woes

July 16, 2012
CNBC

Stocks ended lower in light, choppy trading Monday, amid ongoing worries over the slowing economy and ahead of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech later this week. “It’s a headline-driven market and we need a headline,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading a Performance Trust Capital Partners, of the quiet trading day. “We’ll be watching Bernanke later on this week and more earnings.”

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Stocks Close Lower After Weak Jobs Report

July 6, 2012
CNBC

Stocks eased off their worst levels in the final hour of trading, but still finished firmly in the red Friday on the heels of a disappointing June government jobs report. “Take this [selloff] with a grain of salt because it’s a holiday week so some of the moves are magnified,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners, referring to the light market volume.

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U.S. Stocks – Wall St. skids lower on jobs gloom

July 6, 2012
Reuters

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday after dismal jobs data heightened the impression the economy is stuck in a rut of slow growth. "You can imagine the employment number isn't very helpful today," said Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "Sub-100,000 is a very bad headline job growth number and the unemployment rate of 8.2, unchanged, isn't very great. All those things conspire to give us very little confidence in recovery."

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Wah! Market wants bond blanky

May 30, 2012
CNNMoney.com

Investors have had enough of this whole Europe mess. Brian Battle, director of trading at Performance Capital Trust Partners in Chicago, said that the 10-year Treasury could probably get to 1.5% pretty quickly if there is more bad news about Europe. All the market would need to justify an even bigger rush into Treasuries is a "screaming headline" he said.

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Stocks End Flat Amid Renewed Greece Woes

May 22, 2012
CNBC

Stocks erased most of their gains to finish flat Tuesday following reports that former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said preparations for Greece's exit from the euro zone are being considered. “We’re swamped by all these headlines,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance trust Capital Partners of the day’s choppiness. “The technical argument is that we’re due for a rally, but fundamentally our stocks are still overvalued…it’s hard to imagine that stocks can really go up in this environment at all.”

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Dow Logs 3-Day Rally, S&P Closes at 1400

April 26, 2012
CNBC

Stocks closed near their best level in thin trading Thursday, with the S&P rallying to 1,400, as hopes for further stimulus from the Federal Reserve seemed to overshadow worries over the jobs market and some tepid earnings reports. “It’s remarkable that we’ve come back to 1,400 on the S&P,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance trust Capital Partners, adding that the index's 11 percent rally so far this year is outperforming the Dow's 8 percent gain. "But 2012 will be a year of moves up and down because of lack of info and volume.”

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Stocks End Mixed; Apple Skids for 5th Session

April 16, 2012
CNBC

Stocks closed mixed Monday, with the Dow edging closer to the psychologically-important 13,000 level and the S&P 500 holding near its key 1,370 level, but gains were limited as the Nasdaq was dragged down by heavyweights such as Apple and Google. “We’re back to headline risk and with less fundamental news, you’re more susceptible to big market swings,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “The focus remains what’s going on in Europe and the yields.”

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Dow Hits 13,000, But Markets Aren’t in Clear Yet

February 28, 2012
CNBC

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to deliver his semi-annual testimony on monetary policy to Congress (colloquially known as the Humphrey Hawkins speech) on Wednesday, speaking before the House Financial Services committee at 10am ET. “I don’t expect any surprises in the written testimony but the Q&A portion could be interesting,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “This is the new era of transparency and [the Fed] has been trying to be more detailed and descriptive.”

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Stocks Log Weekly Gain, Dow Just Shy of 13,000

February 17, 2012
CNBC

Stocks closed mixed in thin trading Friday ahead of the three-day holiday weekend, but all major averages logged robust gains for the week following some positive economic news and amid optimism that Greece will soon find a solution to its debt crisis. "No one wants to risk staying short if there is really a deal in Greece over the weekend," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. "But the sustainability of the rally is another question."

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Analysis: Smart money points to more gains in U.S. stocks

January 7, 2009
Reuters

While the opening minutes of trading is dominated by retail investors reacting to morning news, it's the close of the session that matters more. That's when institutional investors who have spent the day digesting the data and headlines stake their claim. If avoiding getting blindsided by news from Europe is the reason for the dislocation between the open and the close, it suggests additional caution by traders, who remain concerned about what is called "tail risk" - the unknown surprise factor. "We could have a huge downdraft off the simplest bad news," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

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U.S. Stocks – Wall St. ticks higher after Greece deal

February 9, 2012
Reuters

U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday after Greece reached a deal to secure a financial bailout, but investors took a wait-and-see attitude in a market that has become extended after weeks of gains. There's some optimism that Greece has made it this far, but the reaction is muted because we've seen this before and there's still a lot of caution about Europe," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

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Trading at Noon: Wall Street jumps on overseas optimism

February 1, 2012
Reuters

Optimism over the economy spurred gains in industrials, financials and basic materials, which rose between 1.5 percent and 2 percent. "The numbers aren't horrible, the trend continues that the news is OK," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "I think we're going to grind higher."

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Wall St. Week Ahead: And you thought 2011 was tough?

December 31, 2011
Reuters

Rancor was in view again in December as Congress struggled to pass a two-month extension of U.S. payroll-tax cuts. "There will be less certainty about taxation and regulation so that will inhibit business formation and business growth," said Brian Battle, a trader at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago.

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Santa rally puts S&P up for the year

December 24, 2011
Reuters

Volume was light ahead of the extended Christmas holiday weekend, which could spark exaggerated market swings next week. The New York Stock Exchange observed normal trading hours, but the bond market closed early, at 2:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT). Brian Battle, a trader at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago, warned about reading too much into the market's recent run. He said he was cautious heading into the new year, with Europe's debt crisis unresolved, growth still weak, and a U.S. presidential election looming. Financials, the S&P 500's worst-performing sector this year, could continue to face amplified volatility. "We should all be careful not to deem it as the end," he said. "We might take it all back in January."

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Municipal-Bond Rally Pushes Yields to Lowest in Four Weeks

November 1, 2011
Bloomberg News

Yields touched their lowest in more than two years on Oct. 6. Ten-year Treasuries dropped to 1.98 percent today, from 2.40 percent on Oct. 27. “We’ve had a 40-basis-point rally in the 10-year Treasury,” said Tom Boylen, a trader at Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners. “Munis had some catching up to do.” The ratio of interest rates on top-rated 10-year munis to those on Treasuries rose to 113 percent yesterday. The high ratio is attracting investors to munis who would ordinarily buy other types of debt, Boylen said in a telephone interview.

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Stocks get merger, earnings boost

October 24, 2011
CNN Money.com

Europe's top leaders said Sunday that they were getting closer to finalizing a plan to solve the continent's debt crisis. But with a final agreement not expected before Wednesday, the actual details remained under wraps. "It seems that European leaders are getting down to the brass tack of a resolution, but there's still nothing to write home about," said Brian Battle, vice president at Performance Trust Capital Partners. "Investors will be holding tight until Wednesday."

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Global Markets—Global stocks, euro rise on Greek debt hopes

September 13, 2011
Reuters

Brian Battle, a trader at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago, said stocks were being pulled by those who see them as overvauled given the economy is on the cusp of recession, and those who say stocks are historically cheap. "We're going to wrestle around and remain range-bound until we figure out which theory is true," Battle said.

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US Stocks—Wall St. seeks direction, industrials higher

September 13, 2011
Reuters

Large-cap stocks that pay dividends are viewed by some as relatively safe from market risk. "There are two theories: the idea that stocks are overvalued, given global issues that could signal another recession, and the idea that stocks are cheap by historical standards," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "We're going to wrestle around and remain range-bound until we figure out which theory is true."

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Stocks End Higher on Italy/China Bond Report

September 12, 2011
CNBC.com

Stocks rallied in the final hour to finish near session highs Monday, erasing their earlier losses in choppy trading, following an FT report that China was in talks with Italy to purchase its bonds. “[Italy’s move] seems logical—when you need money, you go to the guys that have it," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “It’s good news that Italy’s seeking a solution, but it’s bad that they need a solution.”

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Stocks surge after three-day rout

September 7, 2011
CNN Money.com

Stocks rallied right out of the gate and picked up steam through the day to end sharply higher Wednesday. The renewed optimism came on the back of solid gains in stock markets around the world, after a German court ruling rejected lawsuits intended to block Germany's involvement in providing other eurozone members with bailout packages. "The court ruling confirms [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel's ability to help bail out Europe's troubled areas, and that provides a great amount of confidence that we will see some sort of solution in Europe soon enough," said Brian Battle, director with Performance Trust Capital Partners.

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Wall St. Week Ahead: QE3 no silver bullet for markets

September 3, 2011
Reuters

Wall Street tumbled over 2 percent on Friday as investors fretted more about the economic outlook rather than looking ahead to another round of Fed bond buying. "This downdraft is based on sentiment and that has to be turned around," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago. "I think we're in for a longer trend of either malaise or just a down channel."

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Stocks Log 3-Day Rally in Choppy Session

August 30, 2011
CNBC.com

On the economic front, consumer confidence plunged to in July to its lowest level since Apr. 2009. “Headline risk is still the biggest risk we have now,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “All the economic numbers this week should confirm the economy is either slowing or at a standstill…everyone’s still looking ahead to the big jobs number on Friday.”

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Stocks Snap 3-Day Rally Ahead of Fed Speech

August 25, 2011
CNBC.com

BBank of America soared almost 10 percent after Berkshire Hathaway said it will invest $5 billion in the bank. “There are two sides to this story—Despite BofA’s protest that they don’t need capital, they’re taking $5 billion in capital,” explained Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “And they’re also getting the seal of approval from Warren Buffett…but in the end, the stamp of approval isn’t cheap and you know [Buffett] will benefit from it.” Battle said Buffett’s move is a net positive for Bank of America and also implies a bottom for financials.

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Dow, S&P Finish Near Flat, NASDAQ Slides

August 17, 2011
CNBC.com

Despite the day's anemic movement, all three major indexes are poised for their best week in almost a month. “There’s no news today,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “It’s been a headline driven market and has been for months. There are no headlines today, so we’re enjoying a nice day in the summer doldrums.”

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Indiana Sewer Bond Leads Utility Debt Sales as Yields Plummet: Muni Credit

August 16, 2011
Bloomberg.com

Since the CWA Authority is borrowing in the municipal market for the first time, the transaction will require additional yield to help attract investors, Tom Boylen, a trader at Performance Trust Capital Partners in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “It’s an essential-service revenue and that should carry it through the market in terms of clearing the deal,” Boylen said. “And right now it’s tough to find yield. So if you can go down the credit spectrum a little bit and pick up some yield with an essential-service revenue, I think people are going to look at it.”

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Debt-rating deluge could trickle down to cities and states

August 9, 2011
Chicago Tribune

Some downgrades came Monday to some bond issuers that rely on federal support, such as home-mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but S&P also is expected to cut credit ratings of some states, cities and local government agencies. Most likely to be affected are bonds that are paid back, in part, with federal funds, said Brian Battle, director at Performance Trust Capital Partners. Often those finance pollution control, housing or transportation projects, such as the O'Hare International Airport expansion

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Market Does the Safety Dance

June 2, 2011
CNNMoney.com

Brian Battle talks to CNN’s Paul R. LaMonica about the economic slowdown. "There doesn't seem to be a lot of economic growth. Fixed income investors already knew that and the stock market is just starting to figure that out," said Brian Battle, director with Performance Trust Capital Partners, a fixed-income trading firm in Chicago. As for QE2, Battle said Ben Bernanke isn't the only one that's attracted to bonds. "The bond market is not worried at all about the debt ceiling debate or the U.S. defaulting. The adults eventually have to take charge," he said. "And there are still willing buyers of Treasuries beyond the Fed."

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Battle: Best, Worst of Times for Traders, Investors

May 17, 2011
MarketWatch.com

Brian Battle of Performance Trust Capital Partners tells MarketWatch Radio's Larry Kofsky that this is a "very difficult time to be an investor, but it's a great time to be a trader because there's a lot of market movement and a lot of interesting things happening in the headlines."

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European Debt Crisis Weighed US Stocks, DOW Fell More Than 100 Points

May 16, 2011
USA Market News

Stocks fell rapidly at the mid session on Friday as the common currency dropped and the greenback appreciated, stated Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners. The analyst added that stats showed that stocks had climbed more than 6.00% so far this year and were fully valued, meaning stocks had more risk for downside.

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Stocks End Mostly Down for Week; Nasdaq Gains

May 13, 2011
CNBC.com

Stocks began falling fast at mid-afternoon on Friday as the Euro fell and the dollar strengthened. Also, bonds rallied, signaling bond investors have “no fear of growth and inflation,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at the Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners. That combined with the fact stocks have risen more than 6 percent so far this year and are fully valued, means stocks are at more risk for downside, Battle said. “We need more confirming evidence of a recovery and we’re not getting it,” he said.

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US Markets Shaky Start after Easter, NASDAQ Composite Succeeds to Close in Green

April 26, 2011
USA Market News

The stakeholders were expecting to find out more about the Federal Reserve’s plans about the closing stages of its $600.00 billion bond-purchasing program, known as quantitative easing. The vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners, Brian Battle, shared his thoughts that the most important thing for the week would be what the Fed plans to do. Battle said if the Fed ends quantitative relaxation, the investors would find that the economy could support its own operation without any blackening from outside.

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Stocks Gain Slightly As Close Nears; Chips Fall

April 4, 2011
CNBC.com

Stocks could start to move later this week if the European Central Bank raises interest rates on Thursday to stem inflation, as investors consider the implications for U.S. rate policy, according to Brian Battle, vice president of trading at the Performance Trust Capital Partners, who noted voting members of the Fed indicated rates could, in fact, rise later this year. Whether or not the Federal government shuts down Friday amid a budget impasse could also move the markets, Battle said. In the meantime, stocks continued to grind higher.

"We’ve had oil at $107 a barrel, trouble in the Middle East, a nuclear disaster in Japan, and the stock market trades up 50 points everyday," Battle said.

Investors who make bets the market will go down, also known as "shorts," have been "squeezed out of the market the last six months," he added. "You can’t fight it, it keeps grinding higher."

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Stocks Plunge to 2011 Lows on Japan Crisis

March 16, 2011
CNBC.com

The sharp downdraft reflects the fact there is "no depth to the market," said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at the Chicago-based Performance Trust Capital Partners. "Nobody is betting either way, going long or short," Battle said. "We’re going to have to get used to that until we know what’s going on in Japan is clear."

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Experts: Quinn plan to pay Ill. bills might be moral thing to do, not necessarily smart thing

February 20, 2011
Chicago Tribune

CHRISTOPHER WILLS - Associated Press Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois financial experts question the wisdom of Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to borrow billions of dollars to pay a stack of overdue bills, unless it's part of a broader plan to fix the state's financial problems.

That doesn't mean that adopting the measure to pay the state's debts isn't the fair thing for state government to do, some analysts said. The move might even cut some costs.

"There's a business answer and there's a moral answer," said Brian Battle, a director at the Chicago-based investment firm Performance Trust Capital Partners. "The moral answer is yeah. It's morally repugnant for hospitals and nursing homes to provide services and then for the state not to pay."

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Stocks End Higher Ahead of Jobs Report

February 3, 2011
CNNMoney.com

"Ben Bernanke said that it's going to take a long while to get people back to work, but nothing in his comments was a surprise," said Brian Battle, vice president at Performance Trust Capital Partners. "The market's next move will come after the employment number tomorrow."

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Bond Investors Want Illinois to Dig Deeper

January 9, 2011
Chicago Tribune

Illinois is paying about 2 percentage points more on 10-year bonds than states with top-rated credit, said bond expert Brian Battle, director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment firm. "What is killing us are the long-term pension and health care payments, and nothing substantive has been done about that," Battle said. Unless the plan is reworked to cut the state's spending and its liabilities for pension and health care costs, bond investors will continue to insist that the state pay a risk premium, he said.

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Dimon Beset by Bad WaMu Loans as JPMorgan Makes Overseas Pus

November 2, 2010
Bloomberg

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, comments on possible problems facing JPMorgan Chase from issues with foreclosure documentation possibly inherited with the bank’s purchase of Washington Mutual.

"That can be a big long-term problem, very expensive,” he said. “The whole can of worms is wide open.”

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Banks Want to Unload Foreclosures as Fast as Possible

November 1, 2010
Marketplace at American Public Media

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, argues that it’s in a bank’s best interest to sell foreclosed real estate. “Sell it as fast as possible because it seems like housing is in a declining market,” he said. “So you’d rather sell it today than a year from now when prices are generally declining.”

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US STOCKS – Market Tumble on Rethink of Fed Stimulus

October 27, 2010
Reuters

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, comments on bond purchases by the Federal Reserve. “There are a lot of reasons to not like the market right now,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, it looks like the Fed won’t ease as much as we thought, and while earnings are OK, future prospects look iffy.”

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Battle: It Doesn’t Get Easier After Election Day

Oct 26, 2010
MarketWatch Morning Stock Talk

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, tells MarketWatch’s Tracy Johnke that this period of uncertainly requires careful stock picking.

Election Day won't provide all the answers investors need, said Battle. "Just the fact that we get through the midterms might give us some indication of how things are going to go, but it might take two, or three, or four, even six more months to figure out what the regulatory landscape, tax landscape's going to be," he said.

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Chicago finds creative use for Build America Bonds

Oct 24, 2010
Chicago Tribune

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, comments on Chicago’s plan to use a federal subsidy designed to facilitate the issuance of construction revenue bonds as a way to patch a hole in the city’s budget.

“If the city keeps doing one-time gimmicks or assets sales or borrowing from reserve funds to balance its budget, credit-rating agencies will look skeptically at that repetitive behavior,” Battle said.

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US STOCKS—Nasdaq Rallies 1 pct on Google, Banks Weigh on Dow

October 15, 2010
Reuters

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, discussed market concerns arising from documentation issues with foreclosures.

"The real downside potential of this issue is unknowable. It could be a multi-billion dollar problem,” said Battle. “This could end up being a problem with the financial system like we saw in 2008.”

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Stocks: Bracing for a rocky October

October 3, 2010
CNNMoney.com

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, discusses what the month of October may look like for investors.

Midterm elections: The stomach churning ahead of the midterm elections -- which could bring with it new regulation and tax policies -- is likely to keep investors from jumping in, said Brian Battle.

"Everyone takes their bets off the table before an election because of three levels of uncertainty," said Battle. "The first unknown is if conservatives re-take the House or Senate, the second is if they do, what their policies are going to be and whether they get them voted on, and the last thing is whether Obama vetoes it."
Earnings: The uncertain political climate is also causing businesses to exercise caution, said Battle.

"If Republicans do take the House, that will be good for companies and good for the markets because it will be a very pro-business environment," said Battle. "But until we have that clarity, it's really tough for corporations to make business decisions and project future earnings without knowing what tax policies and regulation will look like."

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Factory Activity Growth Slows in September

October 1, 2010
Reuters

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, is one of six market experts interviewed in this story to analyze manufacturing numbers for September released by the Institute for Supply Management.

"The data should take the wind out of the camp thinking there's no inflation to worry about, but the data is going to be unreliable on a month-to-month basis since the recovery is so uneven. It's going to be very volatile and there's a lot of uncertainty about the labor market and government policy,” said Brian Battle.

"The construction spending number is background noise, and while the sentiment number was good, a change of 1 point isn't a trend. If you graph the number over the past few months, it could signal that we have a little downdraft going here. It is very difficult to be an investor right now because signals are being crossed."

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Stocks Stumble at the Close

September 29, 2010
CNNMoney.com

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, evaluates the economy and the stock market performance during September.

After rallying to 4-month highs and gaining for a fourth straight week last week, stocks have been stuck in a rut, swinging between small gains and losses. "The economy still hasn't improved measurably," said Brian Battle. "If there is a recovery taking place, it's very uneven."

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Stocks Retreat, Treasuries Rally on Economy

August 25, 2010
Bloomberg

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, talks about the outlook for U.S. stocks on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.”

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Battle Takes Fun Out of Today’s Gains: Meaningless

August 17, 2010
MarketWatch Morning Stock Talk

Brian Battle, Director at Performance Trust Capital Partners, talks about the U.S. stocks with MarketWatch’s Andrew O’Day.

"Historically, summer has been slow. The past couple of years that hasn't been true because of the depth of the crisis we endured after 2007, 8, and 9. But this might be getting back to normal,” Battle said. "We could be up or down 150 for no reason." He adds volume likely will be low and gains or losses almost meaningless, until we see "actual growth in earnings or projections, and that large U.S. manufacturers and providers see growth or can project growth. And we're not getting that."

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