Friday Morning Reads
- 30-Year Low
- Deeper Problems
- Looming Crisis for Beijing
- The Debate Over Whether to Call It QE Is Over
- Rosy View of U.S. Consumer
- Tesla Overruns German Forest
- I Got Ratio’d On Twitter Big Time & Learned A Ton
- Intel target raised ahead of earnings
- Alphabet raised on positive cloud checks
- Canopy Growth not quite there with market launch of cannabis beverages
- Schlumberger EPS beats by $0.02, beats on revenue
- UnitedHealthcare maintains coverage of Vascepa
- Tailored Brands sells rights to Joseph Abboud
- China's GDP growth slowest since 1990
- Bayer could settle Roundup claims within weeks, mediator says
- Alphabet enters the four comma club
- Eli Lilly targets buying spree in 2020
- Schlumberger tops Q4 estimates, helped by international drilling strength
- Videogame sales wrap down year with 15% December drop
A bruising trade war with the U.S. and sputtering investment saw China's GDP growth expand by 6.1% last year, as a slowdown rippled through many sectors of the economy. While that was the lowest level in nearly three decades, the figure met expectations, falling within the government's target of 6% to 6.5% for 2019. Trade deal help... Beijing is counting on improving consumer confidence and consumption to play a major role in boosting growth this year, according to Ning Jizhe, China's chief statistician.
Go deeper: China's birth rate fell to its lowest level (10.48 per thousand) since 1949, posing a long-term challenge for its government.
Despite heightened regulatory scrutiny, Big Tech is bigger than ever before. Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) became the fourth U.S. technology company to reach the $1T market cap level on Thursday, following Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which has since slipped back to about $930B. FAAAM is replacing FAANG? Adding Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) into the group, the five most valuable U.S. tech companies are now worth a massive $5.2T, accounting for over 17% of the S&P 500.
Go deeper: Michael Wiggins De Oliveira calls Alphabet "one of the best opportunities."
Microsoft (MSFT) has thrown down the climate change gauntlet to its big corporate rivals with plans to launch a $1B fund encouraging the development of new carbon reduction and removal technologies. The company pledges to be carbon negative by 2030, and by 2050 will remove enough carbon to make up for the emissions and electrical consumption since Microsoft's founding in 1975. "If the last decade has taught us anything, it's that technology built without these principles can do more harm than good,” CEO Satya Nadella said at a media event.
Go deeper: Beth Kindig comments on Microsoft's JEDI win.
Coming a bit late to the streaming wars, NBCUniversal's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) new Peacock service will support multiple tiers, including free, ad-supported ($5/month) and advertising-free ($10/month). The Premium tier will have about 15,000 hours of programming including originals, NBC broadcasts series and key reruns, while the lower tier will have about half as much content. By 2024, NBCU expects to reach 30M-35M active accounts for the service, which will launch nationwide on July 15 (and on April 15 for Comcast customers).
Go deeper: 'Comcast: Multi-Year Compounder With Defensive Qualities' by Librarian Capital.
The board concluded that the cost and complexity of splitting into two companies, combined with softer business performance, limited the retailer's ability to create "appropriate value" from the separation plan. Gap (NYSE:GPS) shares are up 5.5% premarket on the news, which also saw the departure of Neil Fiske, president and CEO of the Gap brand. Looking ahead, the board intends to appoint a new CEO to oversee the full portfolio of brands and corporate strategy.
Go deeper: Jefferies was critical of Gap's plans to spin off Old Navy.
Fueled by soaring tech stocks and a solid start to earnings season, the S&P 500 crossed the 3,300 mark for the first time on Thursday, while other main U.S. indexes broke record highs. Sentiment was further lifted by data that showed U.S. retail sales rose 0.3% in December, indicating the U.S. economy maintained a moderate growth pace at the end of 2019. More record highs are in store today as U.S. stock futures point to gains of 0.3% before another round of economic stats that include consumer sentiment figures and the latest JOLTS.
Christopher Waller, director of research at the St. Louis Fed, will probably hold views on the board similar to his current boss Jim Bullard. The latter was a strong proponent last year of an "insurance cut" to help businesses worried by trade uncertainty, and was in favor of even steeper cuts in September. The nomination of Judy Shelton, an adviser to the Trump campaign in 2016 and recent U.S. director of the EBRD, is more controversial. She has a long history of unorthodox economic commentary like questioning the basic role of the Fed and advocated pegging the dollar to the gold standard.
The U.S. government will begin issuing 20-year bonds in the first half of 2020, as budget analysts expect years of continued growth in federal budget deficits. "We seek to finance the government at the least possible cost to taxpayers over time, and we will continue to evaluate other potential new products to meet that goal," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared. Offering a 20-year bond would be a reintroduction of a security last issued in March 1986.
The trade agreement will now head to President Trump's desk - more than 14 months after the three countries agreed to the deal - and will take effect once Canada ratifies the accord. The pact opens Canadian dairy markets to American producers, implements stricter rules for auto part rules of origin, and updates digital trade and copyright rules, among others. Industry groups have hailed the trade deal and said it would provide sorely needed certainty to revive investment flows.
The "Phase One" U.S.-China trade agreement could violate WTO rules, according to EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, whose team will "analyze the document in detail." At issue is whether China's pledge to increase purchases of U.S. goods and services by at least $200B over the next two years is WTO-compatible. "We're not trigger-happy about taking cases to the WTO - we don't want to create that impression. But we'll stand up for our own economic interests."
What else is happening...
McAfee hires new CEO... IPO on tap?
Videogame sales finish year with 15% drop in December.
BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK) -7.8% on expense concerns.
Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) +4% as assets swelled to $4T.
CSX (NASDAQ:CSX) -3.4% AH seeing revenue challenges in 2020.
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) +6.6% topping off a record year.
PPG Industries -2.6% (NYSE:PPG) on Q4 miss, weak guidance.
Taiwan Semiconductor (NYSE:TSM) +0.4% reporting profit growth.
In Asia, Japan +0.5%. Hong Kong +0.6%. China +0.1%. India flat.
In Europe, at midday, London +1%. Paris +0.9%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.3%. S&P +0.3%. Nasdaq +0.4%. Crude +0.6% to $58.90. Gold +0.4% to $1556. Bitcoin +2.3% to $8889.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 1.82%
Today's Economic Calendar
8:30 Housing Starts
9:00 Fed's Harker: Economic Outlook
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Consumer Sentiment
10:00 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey
12:45 PM Fed's Quarles Speech
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count