Tuesday Morning Reads
- China’s Stifling Bitcoin
- Food Truck Future
- Ether Tops Ripple
- GoPro Flops
- Terrible Strategy
- 10 Things
- CES 2018 kicks off in Las Vegas
- Target lifts profit guidance
- Record quarter for Samsung Electronics
- FERC kills Rick Perry's grid proposal
- Oil heist at Shell's biggest refinery
- Alibaba considers Hong Kong listing
- Oculus, Xiaomi partner on VR headsets
- Goldman sees weak 2018 for the dollar
- Zuma satellite lost after SpaceX launch
The International Consumer Electronics Show, known universally as CES, kicks off today as startups and the biggest names in the industry descend on Las Vegas. The event featuring 4,000 exhibitors stretches over four days, offering its 170K attendees a glimpse into the future. Notable showcases: Augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, tech wearables, 3D printing, self-driving cars and "Internet of Things" products.
Federal energy regulators have killed Rick Perry's power grid proposal, which would have subsidized some coal and nuclear power plants. According to the FERC, the plan failed to show that current electricity markets are not just or reasonable, or may be a threat to grid resilience. The rejection is a major victory for natural gas, wind, solar and other clean industries.
The U.S. federal board managing Puerto Rico's finances will consider fast-tracking four energy projects that would invest a combined $1.47B - almost all of which will be private capital - in the island's decimated power grid. Final decisions will come by early April. Much of the territory still remains without power almost four months after Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20.
Goldman Sachs believes the dollar is set for another "soggy" year despite a hawkish Fed that could hike interest rates up to four times in the next twelve months. We are now in a "fairly synchronized global upswing," according to the firm, where other central banks are also looking to push benchmark rates higher, diminishing the appeal of higher-yielding assets in the U.S.
President Trump is close to making a decision on who to nominate as vice chair of the Federal Reserve after Stanley Fischer stepped down from the No. 2 position in October. The nomination will be part of a wider leadership shakeup at the central bank after Trump picked Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen, when her term ends as chair next month.
It's been more than two years since the last official face-to-face talks between North and South Korea, but the two sides managed to get together today to discuss next month's Winter Olympics. As the meeting progressed, South Korea voiced a desire to discuss the North's nuclear program, but the latter's representatives didn't show a clear response to the request, said Chun Haesung, a member of Seoul's delegation.
China's central bank has made a change to the regime used to manage the yuan, removing the volatility-reducing "counter-cyclical factor" it introduced last year, sources told Bloomberg. The move will increase the role of markets in setting the daily fix for the yuan, which headed for its biggest drop in two months on the news.
Samsung Electronics expects fourth-quarter operating profit to be its highest ever, up 64% Y/Y to 15.1T won ($14.1B), although the figure still fell short of analyst forecasts, pushing shares down 3% in South Korea. The results come amid a leadership vacuum at the top of the company. Its chairman is incapacitated, de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is in prison and Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF) replaced all three of its co-CEOs in late October.
According to founder Jack Ma, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) will "seriously consider" a listing in Hong Kong, responding to an invitation from the financial hub's leader asking the company to do so. Alibaba held its record $25B public float in New York in 2014 after Hong Kong refused to accept its governance structure, but recent changes now allow the territory to permit dual-class shares.
Facebook's Oculus is partnering with Xiaomi (Private:XI) on its new standalone virtual reality headset, the Oculus Go, which is expected to ship early this year. The company further revealed it will launch a version of the product exclusively for the Chinese market called "Mi VR Standalone." Oculus (NASDAQ:FB) also intends to work closely with Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), using Snapdragon 821 chipsets to power the VR headsets.
GoPro would be willing to partner with a larger sector player but is not actively engaged in a sale. The news caused shares to partly rebound from heavy losses on Monday after the company cut 20% of its workforce, exited the drone market and slashed its Q4 revenue forecast. "If the right opportunity presented itself, it's something we would consider," GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) said in a statement.
Eleven men were charged in a Singapore court today in connection with a large-scale oil theft at Shell's biggest refinery (RDS.A, RDS.B), while police said they were investigating six other men arrested in a weekend raid. Millions of dollars in cash have been seized, as well as a small tanker, during the proceedings into the heist at the Pulau Bukom industrial site.
The SEC continues to crack down on cryptocurrency trading, halting shares of UBI Blockchain Internet (OTCPK:UBIA) through Jan. 22. The regulator cited potentially inaccurate disclosures and unusual market activity. The stock spiked to $87 on Dec. 18 from just $9 on Dec. 11 and has since fallen back to $22.
Altice NV has approved plans to separate Altice USA (NYSE:ATUS) from the telecoms and cable group, simplifying a sprawling communications empire that encompassed two distinct markets. Altice NV (OTCPK:ATCEY), which will be renamed as Altice Europe, aims to complete the deal by the end of the second quarter in 2018. ATUS +2% premarket.
On the eve of the big announcement, AT&T (NYSE:T) backed away from a plan to sell phones made by Huawei, which would have been its first partnership with a major U.S. carrier, WSJ reports. While it's not clear why, a 2012 congressional report raised concerns about state-sponsored spying via telecommunications equipment made by the Chinese handset giant.
Alexa gets behind the wheel... Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has introduced Alexa Onboard technology, which lets users access the voice assistant through their car's infotainment system. That means drivers or passengers can play music, ask for directions or get other information simply by speaking aloud.
Former Google engineer, James Damore, fired after he asserted in a memo that biological causes were behind tech industry gender inequality, has sued his ex-employer for being discriminated against as a white male with conservative political views. A separate case filed by three women who used to work at Google (GOOG, GOOGL), alleging it pays women less than men for comparable work, was dismissed last month, but has been refiled in an amended form.
Apple is planning new features to help parents control how kids use its smartphones, looking to "add functionality and make [current] tools even more robust," a spokeswoman said late Monday. It's a response to criticism from two major shareholders - JANA Partners and CalSTRS - that said iPhone overuse could be hurting children's developing brains, an issue that may harm Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) long-term market value.
Following last week's disclosure of massive security vulnerabilities, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) said it will form a new cybersecurity group and expects to issue processor updates by the end of January. The company also showcased its first self-driving test car at CES, announcing a number of automaker tie-ups and stating Mobileye's autonomous tech will be used in 2M vehicles.
A highly classified U.S. spy satellite is presumed to be a total loss after it failed to reach orbit atop a SpaceX (Private:SPACE) rocket on Sunday, WSJreports. The payload, code-named Zuma and built by Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), was estimated to carry a price tag in the billions of dollars. The failure comes as SpaceX competes for more national-security launches against rival United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).
In Asia, Japan +0.6%. Hong Kong +0.4%. China +0.1%. India +0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.4%. Paris +0.6%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq +0.1%. Crude +0.4% to $61.98. Gold -0.4% to $1315.70. Bitcoin -1.2% to $14785.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.49%
Today's Economic Calendar
6:00 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales
10:00 Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey