Eagle Eye Opener: Markets Await Direction from United States; BoA Retirement Assets Surged in 2012; Auto Sales Slide Industry-wide in Europe

Rudderless Markets Await U.S. Direction Week (AP)

With the United States sitting out yesterday???s trading session, world indexes looked to be merely killing time. Most burses ended the day within percentage points of where they started. So what???s that mean for today, when the United States wades back in? Not a lot.  At the time of this writing, the Nikkei 225, Hong Kong Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite had all ended lower for the day: .31 percent, 1.02 percent and 1.60 percent, respectively. In Europe, it is green lights across the board right now with STOXX 50 up 1.34 percent, England???s FTSE 100 rising .54 percent and Germany???s DAX reflecting a gain of 1.26 percent. Finally, U.S. futures indexes (DJIA, S&P 500 and Nasdaq) are currently up slightly, as well.

BofA Retirement Assets Rose 28 Percent in 2012 (Bloomberg)

Bank of America???s head of institutional retirement and benefit services, Kevin Crain, reported that the United States??? second-largest lender brought in $24.3 billion in new retirement assets last year — a 28 percent increase over 2011. An enormous chunk of this new money influx came from cross-selling existing BofA customers who were all too happy to oblige, taking funds under management from $5 billion in 2011 to more than $10.6 billion in 2012. Since the financial meltdown in 2008, banks have been scrambling for new revenue sources. And the laser-focused, cross-selling of retirement accounts to existing customers has filled that void nicely, thank you. But who fills in 2013?

Driving Europe into the Ground (Reuters)

The Association of European Automakers (AEA) reported that January auto sales in Europe were down 8.5 percent to just 918,280 vehicles. Yes ???just,??? as this number is the lowest January sales figure since records began in 1990. Sales leaders were Ford, Peugot and Toyota — in that order. But none of those three companies really have anything to crow about: Ford moved 26 percent fewer vehicles than last year, while Peugot and Toyota were both down 16 percent. All of this slippage validates a Credit Suisse analyst???s estimates for Europe???s vehicle industry (and overall economy) in 2013, confirming ?????? a weak start to 2013.??? The real question is: where will it all end up?