Wednesday Morning Reads
- Container Ship Gets Stuck
- Unusual Leap in Gas Prices
- Organizing Gravediggers
- Tesla Can Now Be Bought for Bitcoin
- The End of Tesla’s Dominance
- China’s Didi Leans Towards New York for IPO,
- Disney Delays ‘Black Widow’ Debut
- With Fewer Ads on Streaming
- Corona Crash One Year Later
- Started From the Bottom
- An Affordability Crisis
Asian markets tumbled again overnight, while stocks in Europe dipped into the red, though things are looking more positive in the U.S. after a late selloff on Tuesday. Nasdaq futures are up by 1%, while contacts linked to the S&P 500 and Dow are ahead by 0.4%, as the latest bull market officially enters its second year. As the pandemic set in February 2020, the S&P 500 plunged nearly 34% over 22 days to a March 23 low, and it took only five months to recoup its losses. The index then went on to notch many record highs, though more recently a rotation to value has taken place, while Treasury yields remain on the minds of many traders.
Some fears resurfaced on Tuesday after Chancellor Angela Merkel called the dominant U.K. variant of the coronavirus a "new pandemic" and outlined tighter shutdown measures in Germany. The Netherlands and France also extended lockdowns and imposed new travel and business curbs. While some remain concerned about the strength of the post-pandemic recovery, others are seeing a different picture.
Quotes: "This is still a young bull market; this is still a young economic cycle of growth. It's going to be rocky, it's going to be choppy, it's not going to be easy. While a pickup in volatility would be normal as this stage of a strong bull market, we think suitable investors may want to consider buying the dip," said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial. Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, also expects risk assets to see more upside as the market enters a "reflation" phase of the recovery.
Outlook: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will continue their testimony today on Capitol Hill. In their first joint appearance on Tuesday, the pair acknowledged that "asset prices are high," but said that they are not worried about financial stability and the economic recovery "looks to be strengthening." They also emphasized that the $1.9T stimulus package should not lead to a sizable increase in inflation, though if necessary, the central bank has the tools it needs to deal with rising price pressures.
Next rip or further selloff? Traders chose the latter after digesting GameStop's (NYSE:GME) earnings. Shares of the video game retailer plunged nearly 12% in after-hours trading on Tuesday, bringing the stock back to the $160 level. That followed a rise of as much as 10% in the minutes following earnings and a decline of 6.5% during the regular session.
What happened? While the company achieved its first quarterly sales increase in two years, GameStop missed estimates on both the top and bottom lines. That dose of reality hit sentiment, but the bigger news was a secondary stock offering under consideration. "Since January 2021, we have been evaluating whether to increase the size of the ATM (at-the-market) Program and whether to potentially sell shares of our Class A Common Stock under the increased ATM Program during the course of fiscal 2021, primarily to fund the acceleration of our future transformation initiatives and general working capital needs," GameStop wrote in an SEC filing.
The equity sale was not mentioned by CEO George Sherman during the Q4 conference call, which many criticized as short, abrupt and having failed to address the trading volatility of GameStop shares. The much-anticipated event also went without a Q&A session, not allowing participants to bring it up.
By the numbers: E-commerce sales jumped 175% over the quarter and accounted for more than a third of GameStop's sales during the period. February comparable store sales also increased 23%, thanks to strength in hardware sales worldwide, and GameStop ended the quarter with $635M in cash and restricted cash. While the company is continuing to suspend guidance, it updated fulfillment operations to boost the speed of its delivery and services. The video game retailer also named former Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL) executive Jenna Owens as its new chief operating officer. (29 comments)
The gun control debate is being revived on Capitol Hill following the second U.S. mass shooting in less than a week. President Biden is urging Congress to pass legislation approved by the House earlier this month that would expand background checks, as well as fresh efforts to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki additionally told reporters that Biden is "considering a range" of executive actions that would "address not just gun safety measures but violence in communities." Fear of gun control is sending some firearm shares higher in the premarket session: Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ:SWBI) +1.5%, Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO) +1.5%, Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN) +1.7%.
Backdrop: Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa was identified by authorities as the gunman who opened fire at a King Soopers grocery store in Colorado, killing 10 people, including a Boulder police officer. The 21-year-old had purchased a Ruger AR556 (RGR) only a week prior, was found guilty of assault in 2018, and family said he may have been suffering from mental illness. Last week, a gunman also opened fire at three spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta area, killing eight people. Suspect Robert Aaron Long, another 21-year-old, later said he was motivated by a sexual addiction that was at odds with his religious beliefs.
"I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future, and I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act," Biden said from the White House.
Outlook: Without the support of at least 10 Senate Republicans, gun control bills have no chance of becoming law (as long as the filibuster remains intact). Many in the GOP feel the Democratic proposals would do little to address gun violence, citing Second Amendment rights and many cases where shooters successfully cleared a background check. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a swing vote who holds near-veto power over his party's Senate agenda, also told reporters on Tuesday he does not support the House bills, but instead favors his own legislation, which would allow private sales of firearms without a background check. (16 comments)
Remember the semiconductor shortage? Intel (INTC) is planning a major manufacturing expansion, which will start with a $20B investment in two new chip factories, commonly referred to as fabs (short for fabrication plants). The facilities will be located on the Ocotillo campus in Arizona, while planning and construction will begin this year. Intel also said it will act as a manufacturing partner for chip companies that focus on semiconductor design but can’t make the chips themselves, sending shares up almost 5% premarket.
Thought bubble: The U.S. now accounts for about 12% of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, down from 37% in 1990 as other countries have subsidized growth of their chipmakers. Over the past year, Intel has lost some market share and seen its stock price slip due to competition, the loss of key customers and troubles in producing next-generation chips. "We are back with a vengeance," new CEO Pat Gelsinger declared in an interview.
Gelsinger also revealed that Intel's 7-nanometer chips are on track to hit a milestone in Q2 and that it plans to manufacture the majority of its products itself. However, the company will still increase its use of third-party foundries, including TSMC (TSM) and Samsung (OTC:SSNLF).
Go deeper: Back in February, President Biden signed an executive order mandating a 100-day review of critical product supply chains in the U.S., including semiconductors. "Today's Executive Order, combined with full funding for the CHIPS Act, can help level the playing field in the global competition for semiconductor manufacturing leadership, enabling American companies to compete on equal footing with foreign companies heavily subsidized by their governments," Intel said at the time. (236 comments)
What else is happening...
Oil rebounds after a stuck ship blocks the Suez Canal.
Eurozone business activity grows for first time in 6 months.
Fed forms committees to explore climate risks to financial system.
In Asia, Japan -2%. Hong Kong -2%. China -1.3%. India -1.7%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.2%. Paris -0.2%. Frankfurt -0.4%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.9%. Crude +3.2% to $59.66. Gold +0.2% at $1729.30. Bitcoin +3% to $56430.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -1 bps to 1.62%
Today's Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Durable Goods
8:50 Fed's Barkin Speech
9:45 PMI Composite Flash
10:00 Powell’s Testimony on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
11:00 Survey of Business Uncertainty
11:30 Results of $26B, 2-Year FRN Auction
1:00 PM Results of $61B, 5-Year Note Auction
1:35 PM Fed's Williams Speech
3:00 PM Fed's Daly Speech
7:00 PM Fed's Evans Speech