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Vladimir Putin has landed in Beijing for a two-day state visit, where he was greeted by Chinese leader Xi Jinping with a red-carpet welcome and a full military band. The trip will build on their commitment to the "no limits" relationship they signed at the Winter Olympics in 2022, just before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. As Russia becomes isolated from the West on the world stage, it has sought to boost trade in the East and elsewhere, helping prop up its economy in the face of sanctions.

Quote: "Relations between Russia and China are not opportunistic and not directed against anyone," Putin declared. "Our cooperation in international matters is one of the stabilizing factors in the international arena." Xi echoed the sentiment, adding that China will "work together to achieve the development and rejuvenation of our respective countries" and "to uphold equity and justice in the world."

Trade between the two nations has soared to record levels, rising 26% last year to $240B and hitting targets ahead of schedule. Russia has even overtaken Saudi Arabia as China's main oil supplier, while the latter sends back key commodities, vehicles and other consumer goods. Trade has also seen Russia's economy top expectations to expand by 3.6% in 2023, according to the IMF, despite Western efforts aimed at draining the Kremlin's war coffers.

Reaction? Wall Street Breakfast ran a survey last November, and again this week, on how the U.S. should manage its economic relationship with China. The biggest changes over the past six months showed that more subscribers have less faith in rapprochement and trade deals (24% to 15%), while a greater number believe decoupling and sanctions are the way to go (11% to 19%). It's noteworthy as Washington has recently threatened additional sanctions on Chinese banks and entities that handle Russian trade involving dual-use goods that can be used for both civilian and military purposes. How does all of this factor into your investing decisions? Join the discussion in the comments section.

Soft CPI

Thought the Fed was only data dependent? Guess again. Data-centric traders celebrated in style after April's Consumer Price Index increased by 0.3% from March, easing from the +0.4% pace seen in the previous three months. The print, which meant inflation is still running well above the 3% level on an annualized basis, helped push Wall Street indices to new record highs, with the S&P 500 (SP500) crossing 5,300 for the first time ever. Meanwhile, retail sales came in flat, while regional business activity cooled further, suggesting the Fed could ease monetary policy earlier than expected. (119 comments)

Secret stake

It's 13F season, where hedge funds with at least $100M in assets under management reveal their holdings. The flurry of filings sheds light on what they bought and sold during the quarter, but investment managers can also make special requests to regulators to keep some of their stakes confidential. Insurance-focused Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) just revealed one of those positions, disclosing a prior $6.7B stake in Chubb (CB), with market participants sending the stock up 8% AH on Wednesday as some looked to copy the successful picks of Warren Buffett. Other 13F highlights include filings from Bill Ackman's Pershing SquareMichael Burry's Scion and David Tepper's Appaloosa. (33 comments)

Battle of the skies

AT&T (T) is teaming up with AST SpaceMobile (ASTS) to bring satellite internet connectivity to cell phones. The news sent ASTS up 36% in premarket trading this morning, with the space-based broadband network deal set to last until 2030. Other telecom operators have also ventured into the market. T-Mobile has a similar deal with SpaceX (SPACE), while Verizon (VZ) previously partnered with Amazon's (AMZN) Project Kuiper for connectivity solutions. Apple (AAPL) has also been offering satellite-to-cellphone emergency services on its iPhones since 2022. (43 comments)

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan +1.4%. Hong Kong +1.6%. China +0.1%. India +0.9%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -0.4%. Frankfurt -0.3%.
Futures at 7:00, Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -0.2% to $78.49. Gold -0.3% to $2,388.80. Bitcoin +5.4% to $66,165.
Ten-year Treasury Yield unchanged at 4.34%.

Today's Economic Calendar

8:30 Housing Starts and Permits
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Philly Fed Business Outlook
8:30 Import/Export Prices
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Fed’s Barr Speech
10:00 Fed's Barkin Speech
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
10:30 Fed's Harker Speech
12:00 PM Fed's Mester Speech
3:50 PM Fed's Bostic Speech
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet

Companies reporting earnings today »

What else is happening...

GameStop (GME), AMC (AMC)? Meme rally is cooling off big time.

First Solar (FSLR) pops after trade probe into Asian solar imports.

Netflix (NFLX) ad plan tops 40M users; NFL deal in the bag.

Microsoft's (MSFT) emissions rise amid surging AI demand.

BOJ rate hike? Trouble as Japan's economy keeps shrinking.

Disney (DIS) flags spending cuts on marketing, traditional TV.

Networking: Cisco (CSCO) raises guidance after latest results.

Morgan Stanley highlights Dell's (DELL) AI server and storage.

China's NIO changing global strategy as U.S., EU tariffs loom.

Check out the latest hot dividend picks by Seeking Alpha analysts.

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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