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Bold targets

Investors today were closely watching the annual gathering of China's National People's Congress, where the nation's rubber-stamp parliament sets economic priorities for the coming year. A GDP growth target of "around 5%" was announced (with a CPI of about 3%), as well as an unemployment rate of 5.5%, as the country aims to create more than 12M new urban jobs. While the bold growth goal was the same level in 2023, there are additional headwinds to consider this time around, including domestic demand and deflation worries, a property crisisdemographic challenges, and a stock market rout.

Quote: "It is not easy for us to realize these targets," Premier Li Qiang told the nearly 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. "We need policy support and joint efforts from all fronts."

So how does the world's second-largest economy plan to make them happen, especially with higher base number comparisons? While the premier's traditional press conference was scrapped this year, there were references to policies supporting childbirth, stabilizing housing projects, and harnessing "new productive forces" for industrial capacity. More importantly, China will lift all foreign investment restrictions in the manufacturing sector and "pool together strategic scientific strength and non-governmental innovation resources to make breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields." Contrary to some expectations, no stimulus bazooka was unveiled at the gathering, but a government work report revealed plans to issue 1T yuan ($139B) in ultra-long special bonds for major projects not included in the budget.

Rising competition: China named some specific industries for innovation including "new energy cars" and "new material," and pointed to development plans for quantum computing, big data and artificial intelligence. It's part of a self-sufficiency drive that saw the central government spend 3.3T yuan ($417B) on research last year, or about 2.6% of total GDP. The U.S. has been playing a similar game with the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, which both pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into key industries in the name of national security and competitive advantage, as well as restricting hi-tech chips to China and imposing serious export controls.

Super Tuesday

The single biggest delegate haul of any day in the U.S. presidential primary is on tap, and will likely mark the last attempt by Nikki Haley to secure traction toward a nomination among Republicans. Fiscal discipline has been a big talking point for Haley and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump as the U.S. began the new year with the national debt surpassing $34T for the first time. The discussion to balance the budget has also roped in tax policy and tax cuts, social security, trade practices with China, how to handle tariffs, and closing the southern border.

World's richest

Elon Musk has been dethroned as the globe's richest person by Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos. It comes after Tesla (TSLA) shares slumped 7.2% on Monday, with shipments from its Shanghai factory dropping to their lowest in over a year, as well as price cuts and discounts. While the Magnificent Seven stocks have helped push U.S. markets to record highs, Tesla has been an outlier by sliding 25% YTD, leading some to rebrand the group as the "Spectacular Six." Musk's wealth could shrink further, as his $55B pay package was recently voided. (6 comments)

Calling it off

Shares of the low-cost airlines are still on the move after JetBlue (JBLUterminated its $3.8B deal to acquire Spirit Airlines (SAVE). The decision comes after a federal judge in January blocked the merger on antitrust grounds, and although the airlines were appealing the ruling, experts believed it would've been an uphill battle to reverse it. "We believed this merger was worth pursuing because it would've unleashed a national low-fare, high-value competitor to the Big Four airlines," said JetBlue CEO Joanna Geraghty, with Spirit leader Ted Christie blaming regulatory obstacles for the failed combination. (18 comments)

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan flat. Hong Kong -2.6%. China +0.3%. India -0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London flat. Paris flat. Frankfurt flat.
Futures at 7:00, Dow -0.1%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.6%. Crude -0.4% to $78.45. Gold +0.3% to $2,133.40. Bitcoin +2.5% to $66,774.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -3 bps to 4.19%.

Today's Economic Calendar

9:45 PMI Composite Final
10:00 Factory Orders
10:00 ISM Service Index

Companies reporting earnings today »

What else is happening...

WSB survey results: Half of respondents are crypto negative - see the others.

FAA finds quality control lapses at Boeing (BA), Spirit AeroSystems (SPR).

Biggest plane order by American Airlines (AAL) in more than a decade.

App Store: EU hits Apple (AAPL) with $2B fine over music streaming.

Gold climbs to record high as market eyes possible June rate cut.

New York Community Bancorp (NYCB) plunges after rating downgrades.

GameStop (GME) shares notch seventh straight session of gains.

Investors pull funds from Cathie Wood’s ARKK as key holdings fall.

Perrigo (PRGO) starts shipments of first OTC birth control pill.

SA Quant: SMCI at strong buy rating upon entry to S&P 500.


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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