Daily Data Flow: European Crisis Causes S&P 500 to Slip; Apple’s iPhone 5 Misses First Week Sales Goal of 5 Million Units; Munis Outperform U.S. Treasury Bonds; ATM Fees Hit Record High

Daily Data Flow

S&P 500 Has Longest Slump in Seven Weeks on European Crisis  (Bloomberg)
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell for a third straight day, its longest decline in seven weeks, as European leaders clashed on ways to stem the debt crisis and data from China and Germany signaled the slowdown is deepening. Global stocks slumped after Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande disagreed on a timetable for starting joint oversight of Europe’s banking sector. German business confidence unexpectedly fell in September. China’s manufacturers and retailers are less optimistic about sales than they were three months ago and are cutting jobs, according to a survey by New York-based researcher CBB International LLC.

Apple iPhone 5 Misses Estimates as Five Million Units Sold (Bloomberg)
Apple Inc. (AAPL) reported debut weekend sales for the iPhone 5 that fell short of some analysts’ estimates amid supply constraints. A successful debut for the iPhone, responsible for about two-thirds of the company’s profit, is crucial to fueling the growth that transformed Apple from a niche computer maker into the world’s most valuable company. “The number is lower than what people had expected,” said Brian White, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets. He had estimated debut weekend sales of 6 million to 6.5 million units. The shortfall seems to be driven more by availability than demand, he added.

Pimco’s Bill Gross’s Bet on Munis Paying Off  (Marketwatch)
The asset class has returned 6.08% so far this year, according to an index compiled by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. That is much more than U.S. Treasury bonds, which have returned 1.7%. LearnBonds.com reported that the proportion of the Pimco Total Return Fund PTTRX and ETF BOND +0.22% in municipal holdings has grown to 9-10%. Fund manager Bill Gross tweeted about the sector on Aug. 24. In the last month, the sector has returned 0.7% — after falling in the previous month. The traditional appeal of muni bonds is that most of them are tax-exempt. The expectation is that once any tax changes comes out of Washington, taxes go up, not down, making that exemption more valuable. And with current yields, that’s pretty attractive.

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ATM Fees Hit Record High, Free Checking Accounts Decline (CNNMoney)
Banks are hiking ATM fees to record levels and cutting back on free checking accounts, according to an industry report issued Monday. The financial research firm Bankrate,com said ATM surcharges — the fee charged when you use a machine that’s isn’t your bank’s — rose for the eighth straight year, up 4%, to a record high of $2.50. “Two regulatory changes in particular have cut the legs out from free checking, one putting restrictions on overdraft charges, and the other limiting swipe fees when a consumer uses a debit card,” according to Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.

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