Tuesday Morning Reads
- Inflation Slows More Than Expected
- Heavy China Tariff
- More Than 3 Rate Hikes This Year
- Tech-Stock Tumble May Not Last Long
- Crash Marks 1st Death Involving Fully Autonomous Vehicle
- Alex Stamos, Facebook Data Security Chief, To Leave Amid Outcry
- Facebook’s Data Scandal
- ‘Tailwind’ For Amazon’s Ad Business
- Why Are Money Managers Paid So Much?
Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman will meet President Trump at the White House today and then is expected to travel over the next two weeks to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Boston and Houston, where he will confer with oil and energy executives. The trip comes as the crown prince prepares the kingdom for a post-oil era under his plan called Vision 2030 and amid reports that Aramco (Private:ARMCO) scaled back its IPO to a local listing on the Saudi stock exchange.
The EU is expected to obtain a full exemption from new U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs that are due to kick in on March 23, according to French finance minister Bruno Le Maire. The European Commission has said that, if the bloc is not exempted, it could set duties of 25% on a range of U.S. products, whose annual imports to the EU are worth €2.8B.
China's President Xi has warned self-ruled Taiwan that it will face the "punishment of history" for any attempt at separatism, in a nationalistic speech to mark the start of his second term. More tensions in the region? The U.S. and South Korea have agreed to resume joint military drills early next month despite an expected meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.
Blow to Venezuela... President Trump has signed an executive order barring any U.S.-based financial transactions involving the new Petro cryptocurrency, which is backed by the nation's oil reserves. "Instead of correcting course to avoid further catastrophe, the Maduro regime is attempting to circumvent sanctions through the Petro," declared Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announcing further penalties on government officials.
Proposals for a second part of the Republican tax-reform plan could be released as early as April 15, according to chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. "There's been real talks," declared North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows. Possible tweaks unveiled on Tax Day could include making individual tax cuts permanent or indexing capital gains for inflation.
A package bomb bound for Austin exploded overnight at a FedEx (NYSE:FDX) distribution center in Schertz, Texas, hurting one employee that apparently suffered a non-life threatening injury. It "contained shrapnel," according to sources, stating the FBI and ATF are at the scene. The parcel is likely linked to the string of recent attacks in Austin believed to be the work of a serial bomber.
The self-driving car industry is facing its first critical test after the death of a woman by an UBER autonomous vehicle in Arizona. The pedestrian was walking her bicycle outside a crosswalk when she was struck by the Volvo XC90 SUV, which had an operator behind the wheel. Uber is suspending the program while the NHTSA and NTSB investigate the accident, which is shaping up as the first significant test of how policymakers and the public respond to the new technology.
After spending months looking for a buyer or investor, The Weinstein Company has filed for bankruptcy in Delaware, with a stalking horse offer in hand from private equity firm Lantern Capital. The studio listed $500M-$1B in liabilities and said it would end all non-disclosure agreements that may have silenced some women. More than 70 women have accused the company's co-founder, Harvey Weinstein, of sexual misconduct, including rape.
Most Android phones will have to wait until 2019 to duplicate the 3D sensing feature behind Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Face ID security, three major parts producers told Reuters. That would handicap Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) and others on a technology that is set to be worth billions in revenue over the next few years, and enables facial recognition, biometrics for payments, gesture sensing, and immersive shopping and gaming experiences.
BlackBerry shares jumped 5.1% in after-hours trading on news of a strategic partnership with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The enterprise software deal will provide a secure environment for Microsoft Office apps like Excel, PowerPoint or Word. The "first-of-its-kind solution," BlackBerry Enterprise BRIDGE (NYSE:BB), will also help business users access the apps on Apple and Android devices.
"Despite the rumors, I'm still fully engaged with my work at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). It's true that my role did change. I'm currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security," tweeted Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos. Facebook also said that its auditors were on site at Cambridge Analytica's London office yesterday evening, but stood down at the request of the U.K. Information Commissioner.
Amazon has looked at the possibility of expanding its retail footprint by acquiring some locations from bankrupt Toys "R" Us, according to Bloomberg. A deal would come on the heels of its Whole Foods acquisition and opening its own line of bookstores and a convenience-store concept. In 2015, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) held similar discussions about acquiring some locations from bankrupt RadioShack, but nothing came of the talks.
The board of CalPERS, the largest public pension fund in the U.S. has voted 9-3 against a proposal to move towards divesting its investments in assault rifle retailers and wholesalers, saying the move would do little to reduce gun violence. "If we don't do this, we'll be going against the tide of history," said State Treasurer John Chiang. "I urge you to go further." Related tickers: BGFV, DKS, WMT, KR, SPWH
Despite the decision, Kroger's (NYSE:KR) Fred Meyer unit said it would completely exit its firearms business, two weeks after deciding to stop selling guns and ammunition to buyers under the age of 21. Earlier this month, Kroger joined Walmart (NYSE:WMT) and Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) on the move following the deadly shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The remarks were misinterpreted. In a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg, United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) CEO Greg Hayes was asked about his potential tenure in his current role, leading some to think he had provided a definitive timeline for his retirement. "To be clear, Mr. Hayes intends to continue to remain focused on executing UTC's priorities for years to come," the company said in a statement.
The U.S. Air Force is set to begin testing a laser this summer that will be mounted on an F-15 warplane. With an output of about 50 kilowatts, the system will review abilities to zap drones or cruise missiles. The Pentagon awarded the $26M contract to Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) last year for the laser program called SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator).
In Asia, Japan -0.5%. Hong Kong +0.1%. China +0.4%. India +0.2%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris +0.2%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.1%. S&P flat. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude +1% to $62.75. Gold -0.4% to $1312.20. Bitcoin -1.6% to $8458.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +2 bps to 2.86%Today's Economic Calendar
FOMC meeting begins
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales