Friday Morning Reads

Friday Morning Reads








Coming less than 48 hours after the May meeting of the FOMC and six weeks before the next one, the April jobs report may have little immediate effect on economic policy. Still, a number showing non-farm payrolls growth of under six figures - for the second month in a row - could alter the outlook that economic softness is "transitory." Words from Janet Yellen will also be heard this afternoon, along with several speeches from other Fed officials.


"Make no mistake: This is a repeal and replace of Obamacare," President Trump said in the Rose Garden after the House passed the American Health Care Act by a slim margin of 217 to 213. The legislation now faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where several Republican members have signaled it could see major revisions. Reports also indicate that the chamber could write its own version of a bill.

The U.S. trade deficit with Mexico rose to the highest level in nearly a decade in March, posting a gap of $7B, as a weakened peso made goods produced south of the border cheaper for U.S. companies. Despite rallying more than 9% since the start of the year, the peso still has a long way to go in making up for the 17% collapse it suffered over the course of 2016.

France will elect its next leader this weekend in the wake of a presidential campaign that has effectively torn up the nation's political status quo. Pollsters still show Emmanuel Macron commanding a big lead over his rival Marine Le Pen, but it all boils down to what happens at the voting booth on Sunday. Whoever ends up in Elysee will determine the next steps for the country and its relationship with the EU.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are setting up four safe zones in Syria that the United Nations described as a promising step to wind down the brutal six-year war. Quoting Russian envoy at Syria peace talks Alexander Lavrentyev, Russian news agencies reported that U.S. and coalition warplanes will not be allowed to fly over the "de-escalation areas."

Following a sharp selloff on Thursday amid fears of oversupply, the price of WTI dropped into the $43 handle before finding a floor during Asian trade. U.S. production levels are now not far off top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia. Tumbling prices would likely force OPEC members to extend production cuts later this month, according to analysts, but the prospect of deeper cuts appear slim.


COMAC's C919 made its maiden flight today, capping a decade-long effort to build a jet that Beijing hopes will compete with Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY). China Eastern Airlines (NYSE:CEA) is the launch customer for the plane, which already has 570 orders from 23 customers. It also relies on overseas technology from CFM International (GE, OTCPK:SAFRY), Honeywell (NYSE:HON), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX), Rockwell Collins (NYSE:COL) and Parker-Hannifin (NYSE:PH).

It's Delta Air Lines' turn to take a perp walk as the company apologizes to a family with two infants that was kicked off a flight last month due to overbooking. The latest incident comes nearly a month after United (NYSE:UAL) sparked outrage for dragging a passenger off an overbooked flight. Delta (NYSE:DAL) will refund the passengers and provide additional compensation.

Aimed at lowering supply of medium-duty work trucks hit by softening demand, Ford (NYSE:F) is temporarily laying off 130 workers at a factory near Cleveland. The layoffs take effect next week and are expected to last until a newer version of the company's F-650 and F-750 commercial trucks launches in September.

The Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into UBER's use of software as part of a company program known as "Greyball." Uber used the technology to evade government officials seeking to identify and block drivers in cities where it faced regulatory challenges or hadn't yet been approved. A NYT report exposed the program back in March.

Bad news for fans of VR film: Oculus Story Studio is being shuttered and will instead divert funds to "support more external production." Despite the news, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is still looking to be a "video first" company. The firm just posted a range of positions to create "motion picture content," including a "film producer," "software engineer, film" and a "production lead for media partnerships."

According to data provider CB Insights, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) has applied for a patent to compete with Amazon Dash (NASDAQ:AMZN), the WiFi-connected, one-button ordering device. "While Dash buttons still require users to press a physical button separate from the product, Wal-Mart aims to integrate IoT into the products themselves for automatic re-ordering with no user input at all," the blog post said.

Family members of San Bernardino terror attack victims are suing Facebook (FB), Google (GOOG, GOOGL) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), accusing the companies of providing platforms to aid terrorists. "Without [the] defendants... the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years would not have been possible," the plaintiffs declared. A number of similar lawsuits have been filed in recent years, but none has advanced beyond the preliminary phases.

The U.S. government has requested a 60-day pause in a case involving MetLife (NYSE:MET) and how regulators designate certain companies as "too big to fail," a major reform arising from the 2007-09 financial crisis. MetLife had asked for a delay in the case last month, saying the court should wait until President Trump's administration finishes its financial regulation review.

ChemChina has won more than enough support from Syngenta (NYSE:SYT) shareholders to clinch its $43B takeover of the Swiss pesticide maker, bringing China's largest foreign acquisition over the finish line. Based on preliminary numbers, around 80.7% of Syngenta shares have been tendered, above the minimum threshold of 67% support.

Fox News in the spotlight. Federal authorities have interviewed current and former employees and on-air talent into the nature of sexual harassment settlements and alleged intimidation tactics at the network, WSJ reports. The government's inquiry has widened to examine not only the structure of Fox's (FOX, FOXA) payments but whether intimidation tactics were utilized against employees.

Adding to a string of losses, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has been ordered to pay over $110M to a Virginia woman who said she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using of its talc-based products for feminine hygiene. The Missouri jury verdict was the largest so far to arise out of about 2,400 lawsuits accusing J&J of not adequately warning consumers about cancer risks.

Time to pay for the space race. Jeff Bezos sold 1M shares he owns in Amazon (AMZN) over the past three days, netting a total of $941M. This time around (he usually plans annual divestitures) the money will go toward funding his space exploration company, Blue Origin (Private:BORGN). Even after the sale, Bezos retains about 17% of Amazon's stock, worth some $75B.

Ahead of "Capitalist Woodstock" - Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A, BRK.B) annual meeting in Nebraska - this weekend, Warren Buffett said he's sold about a third of his stake in IBM in 2017. "I don't value IBM the same way that I did 6 years ago," he told CNBC. "I've revalued it somewhat downward... When it got above $180 we actually sold a reasonable amount."

Thursday's Key Earnings
Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) -2.1% AH despite help from mobile.
Apache (NYSE:APA) -1.8% missing earnings estimates.
CBS (NYSE:CBS) +2.6% AH upping fees, streaming growth.
Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) -7.4% on falling production.
Herbalife (NYSE:HLF) +7.1% AH after topping expectations.
Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) -3.6% with disappointing outlook.
Shake Shack (NYSE:SHAK) -2.1% AH on declining same-store sales.
Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA) +7.8% AH growing revenues and user base.
Today's Markets
In Asia, Japan closed. Hong Kong -0.8%. China -0.8%. India -0.9%.
In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris flat. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq flat. Crude flat at $45.52. Gold +0.5% to $1234.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.36%Today's Economic Calendar
8:30 Non-farm payrolls
11:30 Stanley Fischer speech
12:45 PM Fed's Williams Speech
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count
1:30 PM Janet Yellen speech
1:30 PM Fed's Bullard, Evans, Rosengren speech
3:00 PM Consumer Credit

Known to most as Uranium Pinto Beans, Jason has more than 15 years under his belt of trading stocks, options and currencies. His expertise primarily lies in chart analysis, and he has a strong eye for undervalued stock. Because he’s got the ability to identify great risk/reward trades he usually enjoys taking the path less traveled and reaping the benefits from the adventure.

He is a co-founder of Option Millionaires, and he is best known for his weekly webinars with Scott, as well as his high level training webinars and charts found in the forums.

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