Friday Morning Reads
- The Noise
- Back Home
- Tax Policy Is No Big Deal
- Unraveling of Toys ‘R’ Us
- Problem With Booming Biotech Funding
- Bear Stearns Lives
- Cheating in Race With Amazon
Stir the brew. It's quadruple witching day, which refers to the simultaneous expiration of stock-index futures, stock-index options, single-stock futures and stock options, which can lead to higher volatility for markets and more trading volume. The event happens four times a year - on the third Friday of March, June, September and December - but this time around the S&P Dow Jones predicts the rebalancing could force $23.1B of trades, up from around $18.6B a year ago.
"Tariffs could lead to a destructive trade war with serious consequences for U.S. economic growth and job creation," according to Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue. "Tariffs of $30B a year would wipe out over a third of the savings American families received from the doubling of the standard deduction in tax reform. If the tariffs reach $60B... the impact would be even more devastating."
President Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster from the administration, according to The Washington Post, marking the second White House national security advisor to leave since Trump took office. "Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster - contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC," tweeted Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in response to the rumor.
The U.S. has accused the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear, water and commercial facilities. The Trump administration also hit targeted Russians with sanctions for alleged election meddling, prompting a swift threat of retaliation from Moscow, which said a response was being prepared ahead of presidential elections on Sunday.
"Saudi Arabia doesn't want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible," Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told 60 Minutes. The kingdom already has plans to build 16 nuclear power reactors within 25 years, and the cost of the projects could reach $80B, a huge opportunity for the companies that build and operate nuclear plants.
Angela Merkel will reportedly push back against Emmanuel Macron's plans to overhaul the EU at a meeting in Paris this afternoon, reaffirming her skepticism over the pooling of fiscal resources and liabilities among eurozone members. The French president's pledge to strengthen the EU and buttress the foundations of its common currency was a core part of the message that led to his election last year.
China and Hong Kong are preparing to launch depository receipts. That would open the door to some of the country's top tech firms issuing a form of shares on the mainland, according to Shanghai Securities News. Further sources suggest that the guidelines for China depositary receipts (CDRs), similar to American depositary receipts, are likely to be finalized in the second half of this year. Related tickers: BABA, BIDU, JD, XI
With reports surfacing about a possible buyout of Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO) following its failed bid for Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich disclosed that it's not in the company's immediate interests. "I can't speak about rumors, but I can tell you we've made two big acquisitions with Altera and Mobileye. We're heads down on making those successful and right, and they're our growth engines for the future."
Another suitor? Former Qualcomm (QCOM) Chairman Paul Jacobs is seeking to partner with other investors to launch a takeover offer for the company, FTreports. While he's held talks with several investment firms, including SoftBank's (OTCPK:SFTBY) Vision Fund, so far he's been unable to secure the necessary financing and may face conflicts due to the latter's ownership of ARM Holdings (NASDAQ:ARMH). QCOM +4.4% premarket.
Steve Wynn may seek to sell some or all of his holdings in Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) now that he and ex-wife Elaine Wynn have scrapped an agreement preventing them from offloading their combined 21% stake. Wynn resigned last month as chairman and CEO of the casino operator following allegations that he had engaged in sexual misconduct against employees.
Citing delays in some business disposals, Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) is warning on costs for this year, even as Germany's largest lender said it expected revenues to rise for the full year. "We currently do not expect the planned €900M of cost savings to materialize in 2018," the bank said in its annual report for 2017. DB -0.5% premarket.
Healthineers started trading at €29.10 in its debut on the Xetra bourse in Frankfurt after shares were priced at the lower end of its guidance range and experienced an opening delay of 45 minutes. Siemens's (OTCPK:SIEGY) medical equipment unit would still be valued at €28B, making it one of Germany's biggest listings in recent years and one of the largest European IPOs this year.
Whistle blown at Walmart... The world's largest retailer has been sued by a former executive, Tri Huynh, who accused the company of issuing misleading e-commerce results and firing him for complaining about it. "Walmart (NYSE:WMT) cut corners and cheated in a race to expand and gain market-share," having been "desperate to gain the ground it had long lost to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)."
Nike's No. 2 executive has resigned, setting off a management shuffle at the sportswear giant. Trevor Edwards, brand president and potential successor to CEO Mark Parker, will stay on as company advisor until his retirement from the company in August. Nike (NYSE:NKE) also disclosed that it recently received reports of "behavior occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values."
In a dramatic statement out of Detroit, Ford (NYSE:F) announced it's going all-in on hybrids. 75% of its lineup will be replaced in the hybrid push, while the automaker will add four new trucks and SUVs. The news comes as UBER discusses the possibility of installing its self-driving systems in Toyota (NYSE:TM) minivan models, expanding its partnerships with outside companies.
Following a ruling by a federal judge, owners of Dodge Ram and Jeep Grand Cherokees across eight U.S. states can now proceed toward trial over allegations that their vehicle software was designed to hide emissions up to 20x the legal limit. The Michigan-based unit of Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) was the first U.S. carmaker to be sued after VW (OTCPK:VLKAY) admitted to malfeasance in September 2015 in a scandal that eventually became known as Dieselgate.
New space race in the making... Vladimir Putin has announced a mission to Mars next year, followed by manned trips in a bid to colonize the Red Planet. NASA is also planning a mission - for the summer of 2020 - when the positions of the two planets relative to each other are optimal for a landing. Private companies are also in the mix, with SpaceX's (Private:SPACE) Mars rocket likely ready for test flights in 2019.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force has awarded rocket launch competitors United Launch Alliance (BA, LMT) and SpaceX (SPACE) over half a billion dollars in new satellite contracts. Not over yet! There is another $10B in further Air Force contracts up for grabs to produce the 22 next-generation GPS III satellites. Lockheed won the first phase of the contract in 2008 but suffered delays due to issues with the navigation payload.
In Asia, Japan -0.6%. Hong Kong -0.1%. China -0.7%. India -1.5%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.2%. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt +0.6%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq -0.1%. Crude +0.4% to $61.41. Gold +0.2% to $1320.30. Bitcoin -1.7% to $8116.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.81%