Friday Morning Market Prepper
Goldman index of 49 companies with the highest tax rates has beaten the S&P 500 since the election and added $79 billion in value pic.twitter.com/CkehNGpDzp
— Mark Constantine (@vexmark) January 20, 2017
— Bloomberg Economics (@economics) January 20, 2017
It's the final countdown... Last minute preparations are underway for Inauguration Day, as Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Executive actions are also in focus as Trump looks to roll back a number of President Obama's policies on his first day in office. But with a lack of exact details and priorities, Wall Street and the dollar have been trading in a tight range in recent sessions.
Boosted by higher government spending and record bank lending, China's economy grew 6.8% in Q4, giving it a solid tailwind heading into what is expected to be a turbulent year. That means GDP expanded 6.7% in 2016, roughly in the middle of the government's 6.5%-7% growth target, but still the slowest pace since 1990. Other full-year data: Retail sales jumped 10.9%, industrial production rose 6%, and fixed asset investment increased 8.1%.
The United States has seen indications that North Korea may be preparing a long-range missile test in the coming days or weeks, with an upgraded prototype of an ICBM. A launch could gauge what kind of reaction Pyongyang would receive from the new Trump administration and South Korea, as the latter tries to contain its political crisis.
Testifying at his confirmation hearing for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin said Trump was talking about the "short-term" when he called the greenback "too strong," and that the "long-term strength of the dollar" is of great importance. Regarding his views on Fannie (OTCQB:FNMA) and Freddie (OTCQB:FMCC), he doesn't favor a simple recapitalization and release of the companies from government control. Mnuchin also voiced his support for the Volcker rule and said he could favor some kind of "21st century Glass-Steagall."
With monetary policy still modestly accommodative, the U.S. central bank plans to continue "raising interest rates slowly" or it risks harming "the recovery the Fed has sought to nurture." "I think that allowing the economy to run markedly and persistently 'hot' would be risky and unwise," Janet Yellen told the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Loving its return to the international credit markets, Argentina has just sold $7B in five-year and 10-year dollar bonds. That will go a long way toward its goal to tap global markets for $10B this year. Argentina was one of several Latin American countries to sell new debt ahead of Trump's inauguration amid concerns that increased financial volatility could raise borrowing costs for emerging markets.
Puerto Rico's newly-elected governor, Ricardo Rossello, wants to take a "philosophical shift" from the prior administration's handling of creditor negotiations and "show there is a willingness to pay." "There will be real fiscal oversight," he said. "It's not a political bumper sticker anymore. What we are asking for is runway to establish these reforms and have Washington recognize that they have a role to play."
Seeking to better align its international banking services, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) is merging its global business with its wholesale corporate banking unit. Although Wells derives just 4% of its revenues from outside the U.S. - a much smaller portion than rivals like JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), BofA (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup (NYSE:C) - the bank's international presence grew considerably last year following acquisitions from General Electric (NYSE:GE).
JPMorgan directors paid CEO Jamie Dimon $28M in total compensation for 2016, a 3.7% increase from the prior year. His package included a base salary of $1.5M, as well as cash and stock-related instruments that were tied to performance. JPMorgan's (JPM) profit rose 1% to nearly $25B in 2016, while return on tangible common equity was 13% for the third consecutive year.
Uber has agreed to a $20M fine to settle claims that it exaggerated prospective earnings in seeking to recruit drivers, the latest in a series of fines and settlements the company has faced around the world. On its website, UBER said drivers made more than $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco when the real earnings were considerably less, the FTC said in a court filing.
Hunter Harrison is stepping down as CEO of Canadian Pacific (NYSE:CP) and partnering with activist investor Paul Hilal in an effort to put himself into CSX's senior management, sources told WSJ. Following the news, CSX soared over 23% yesterday to its highest levels in more than five years. The CSX board will "actively evaluate" the views of Mantle Ridge and discuss its strategy with the investor and other shareholders.
As it awaits approval in several other markets, ChemChina has sought the U.S. antitrust regulator's approval for its planned $43B acquisition of Syngenta (NYSE:SYT). Sources close to the deal expect a green light soon, given the small revenue that ChemChina generates from the U.S. via Adama (OTCPK:ADAC), and its minor overlap with Syngenta products. SYT +2% premarket.
Toshiba has started the process to sell a minority stake in its flash memory chip business worth several billion dollars, and funds Permira and Bain Capital have expressed interest. Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSYY) is expected to sell 20%-30% of the chip business, Kyodo reports. A source familiar with the matter said this week that another potential buyer may be Western Digital (NYSE:WDC).
An investigation into the cause of faulty batteries that led Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF) to pull all of its Galaxy Note 7s last year found that some batteries were irregularly sized, causing overheating, while others had manufacturing problems, WSJ reports. The conclusion, which will be unveiled on Monday, helps to explain the technology giant's product recall that damaged its brand and will end up costing the company at least $5B.
Privately held Kaleo is offering its Auvi-Q emergency allergy auto-injector at no cost to many consumers, but set a list price for the EpiPen (NASDAQ:MYL) rival (that will be used as the benchmark cost to insurance companies) at a whopping $4,500. Auvi-Q will be sold at a cash price of $360 for those who don't qualify for the emergency treatment at no charge. It's yet another example of the complicated economics that govern drug pricing.
Crushing hopes of a recovery for investors, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Barry Schermer has denied a request by Peabody Energy (OTCPK:BTUUQ) shareholders for the appointment of an official equity committee in the company's restructuring. In rejecting the request, the judge asked why more money should be spent on legal fees when other unsecured creditors have accepted that they will not be paid in full.
Paramount Pictures is getting help for its film slate through a new infusion of Chinese cash after the studio signed a three-year deal with Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media. The two will co-finance Paramount's (VIA, VIAB) entire schedule. During a lengthy sale-exploration process last year (before the studio went off the block), Viacom's ex-chief Philippe Dauman pushed to sell a minority stake in Paramount to Dalian Wanda Group for about $4B.
In Asia, Japan +0.3%. Hong Kong -0.7%. China +0.7%. India -1%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.1%. Paris +0.4%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.2%. Nasdaq +0.3%. Crude +1.3% to $52.78. Gold -0.2% to $1199.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +4 bps to 2.5%