Friday Morning Reads

Friday Morning Reads






Just hours after the government stumbled into another shutdown, Congress passed a budget agreement early Friday that would extend the current level of federal funding until March 23. The bill would also bump limits on defense and non-defense spending by about $300B over the next two years. It will now be sent to President Trump for his signature, which is expected before the market open.


Losses were led by Chinese markets overnight, with Shanghai tanking 4%and Hang Seng down more than 3%, while Europe also posted a sea of red. Stocks took cues from a slump in U.S. equities, which plunged in the previous session and saw the DJIA tumble by over 1,000 points into correction territory. While many are still trying to pin an exact reason to the selloff and wild swings, U.S. futures may be helped by the overnight efforts to avoid a government shutdown. Dow +0.6%; S&P 500 +0.8%; Nasdaq +0.9%.

U.S. stock funds saw a record $23.9B withdrawn by investors during the most recent week, marking their largest withdrawals on record, according to Lipper. Records from the Thomson Reuters unit date back to 1992. Exchange-traded fund outflows constituted the bulk of withdrawals, at $21B, while mutual fund outflows made up about $3B of withdrawals.

China plans to launch its long-awaited crude oil futures contract on March 26, potentially shaking up pricing of the world's largest commodity market. Implications for the petrodollar? The Shanghai International Energy Exchange will allow Chinese buyers to lock in oil prices and pay in local currency, while foreign traders will also be allowed to invest because the exchange is registered in Shanghai's free trade zone.

Following a 48-hour delay blamed on international market turbulence, Greece has wrapped up the sale of a seven-year bond, raising €3B at a yield of 3.5%. The issue marked the first time since 2014 that the country has raised new money. Greece plans two more issues - to help build a cash buffer to support debt repayments - before a planned exit in August from its current bailout.

"The strength of NAFTA comes from its trilateral nature," said Mexico's chief NAFTA negotiator Kenneth Smith Ramos. It follows U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer reportedly floating an idea of America negotiating separate trade deals with its northern and southern neighbors. The next round of NAFTA negotiations is set to begin on Feb. 26 in Mexico City.


China's Ant Financial is planning to raise up to $5B in fresh equity that could value the online payments giant at more than $100B. The move may happen in the next couple of months, sources told Reuters. A fundraising would bring Ant, in which Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is taking a one-third stake, a step closer to a hotly anticipated initial public offering by establishing a more current valuation.

Qualcomm's board has unanimously rejected the revised $121B buyout offer from Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), but proposed meeting its peer to see whether they can address what it called the bid's "serious deficiencies in value and certainty." The response seems to strike a balance between continued resistance and heeding the calls of some Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) shareholders, who urged the company to engage with its rival. QCOM +0.9%; AVGO +0.8% premarket.

Another regulatory setback... India's antitrust watchdog has imposed a 1.36B rupees ($21.2M) fine on Google for abusing its market dominance. "Google was found to be indulging in practices of search bias," the CCI said in a 190-page order. The ruling comes eight months after the U.S. tech giant was fined €2.4B by the European Commission for giving "an illegal advantage" to its comparison shopping service.

Is it the latest move by Mark Zuckerberg to prioritize "meaningful social interactions"? Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is testing a "downvote" feature - for a small set of people in the U.S. - that runs on public posts on Pages and lets users flag and hide comments they deem inappropriate. When the button is hit, a user has the option to report the comment as "offensive," "misleading" or "off topic."

SES is joining a campaign by Intelsat (NYSE:I) to share a chunk of the C-band, a swath of airwaves in the middle of the broader radio spectrum, with other wireless operators. The success of the satellite companies' proposal, also backed by Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), could affect how quickly the U.S. adopts 5G networks, with telecom companies jostling for increasingly scarce spectrum licenses.

While opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics kick off in Pyeongchang, NBC Sports (NASDAQ:CMCSA) announced that U.S. national advertising sales for the games have surpassed a record $900M. Live sporting events remain attractive to advertisers because they keep viewers tuned in during commercials rather than skipping them when they watch on demand.

More Brexit fallout? Ford (NYSE:F) has applied for a banking license in Germany to ensure its car financing business can continue on the continent once Britain leaves the EU, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Ford Credit Europe is currently based in the southeast town of Warley in Britain, and handles leasing, loans and insurance for its customers across Europe.

As part of a shakeup amid investor pressure, SandRidge Energy (NYSE:SD) CEO James Bennett and CFO Julian Bott are leaving the company, with independent director Bill Griffin serving as interim CEO. SandRidge said the changes were needed given the company's "new strategic direction." The announcement comes a day after the oil-and-gas producer said it was reviewing an unsolicited merger bid from Midstates Petroleum (NYSE:MPO).

Newell Brands rose 4.2% in after-hours trading following reports that activist investor Starboard Value will launch a proxy fight that seeks to replace CEO Michael Polk and the entire board. Starboard and its allies, who hold a stake of just under 5% in the company, are aligning with three former executives of Jarden Corp, which Newell (NYSE:NWL) bought in 2016, in a bid to take control of the firm.

One of the biggest U.S. gun manufacturers is taking steps toward filing for bankruptcy, according to Reuters. Remington has "reached out to banks and credit investment funds" in search of "debtor-in-possession financing” that would let the company continue operations once it went bankrupt. Remington's sales plunged 27% in the first nine months of 2017, resulting in a $28M operating loss. Related tickers: AOBCRGR

Thursday's Key Earnings
Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI+0.9% AH boosted by the holidays.
AIG (NYSE:AIG) flat AH stung by tax reform, wildfires.
CVS Health (NYSE:CVS-5.1% despite beating estimates.
Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA+7.5% AH amid big GPU chip demand.
Philip Morris (NYSE:PM+1.6% with cigarette shipments up.
T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS-5.1% expecting slower growth.
Teva Pharma (NYSE:TEVA-6.9% as guidance fell short.
Twitter (NYSE:TWTR+12.1% after turning a profit.

Today's Markets 
In Asia, Japan -2.3%. Hong Kong -3.1%. China -4%. India -1.2%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.6%. Paris -1.2%. Frankfurt -1.3%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.6%. S&P +0.8%. Nasdaq +0.9%. Crude -1.1% to $60.50. Gold +0.2% to $1317.10. Bitcoin +0.4% to $8268.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.85%

Today's Economic Calendar
10:00 Wholesale Trade
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count

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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