Wednesday Morning Reads

Wednesday Morning Reads








Fed Chair Janet Yellen is getting ready to deliver the first part of her semiannual congressional testimony to the House Financial Services Committee. The action, which begins at 10 a.m. ET, will have investors watching for clues about rising rates, balance sheet timing, fiscal policies and her future at the central bank. Recent reports suggested National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn could replace Yellen next year, instead of her serving a second term.


Ratcheting up the pressure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has set a vote on the GOP healthcare bill for next week and delayed the chamber's August recess to give the party more time to seek other legislative wins. Republican leaders, still working to gather support, are now expected to retain the Affordable Care Act's two taxes on high-income households.

While Illinois squirms in the agony of the unknown, another municipality - that as recently as a month ago was rumored to be looking at a bankruptcy filing - no longer has to dread the future. S&P downgraded Hartford debt to junk status late Tuesday, citing "growing liquidity pressures" and "weaker market access prospects," as well as pursuing "expertise in financial restructuring."

The new chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission is set to give his first major speech since being confirmed by the Senate earlier this year. The speech will be held at the Economics Club of New York, where Jay Clayton is expected to lay out his vision and regulatory plans for the agency.

President Trump will travel to Paris today to meet with Emmanuel Macron. He'll be the guest of honor at Bastille Day events - a celebration of French national pride at a time when, according to Macron, "our world has never been so divided." Far apart on climate change and immigration, the two leaders will look for common ground on terrorism and defense policy.

The world's biggest asset manager is taking some exposure to the pound through options markets for fear of what months of messy Brexit talks may bring. "We believe it [sterling] is fairly valued, though given the headline risks around Brexit negotiations, our positioning is through buying call options," BlackRock's (NYSE:BLK) Scott Thiel told Reuters.

With Islamic State all but ejected from one if its former capitals and surrounded in the other, members of a 72-nation coalition meet in Washington today to try to ensure the victories do not, once again, evaporate amid sectarian strife. "I think everyone has learnt the hard way that unless you stick around and get the job done, we'll be back there again in 10 years' time," one Western diplomat told Reuters.

While they appreciate the "U.S. efforts," sanctions against Qatar will continue until demands of the four Arab states leading the boycott are met, according to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. The statement comes despite the signing of a U.S. pact to strengthen Qatari action against terrorism funding during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Doha.

Oil prices extended gains after the EIA announced that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 8.13M barrels to 495.6M in the week to July 7. It also lowered its expectations for U.S. oil output in 2018. Meanwhile, the market is looking ahead to the latest monthly OPEC report released today, which will provide an outlook for the crude oil market.


"Prime Day" is on course to be Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) biggest on record by sales. Customers ordered more than 3x as many Echo speakers, while third party sellers shipped over 50x more items. The event was also the first major test for the Amazon Prime Air fleet. The company introduced the cargo service last summer and has been spending billions of dollars to build its own logistics network.

June was a tense month for the engineers and designers on Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone team with "a sense of panic in the air," a source told Fast Company. The group is working around the clock to fix software problems related to wireless charging and 3D sensing. While new iPhones are typically released in September, some industry watchers think the next model might appear as late as November.

Apple is also establishing its first data center in China to speed up services such as iCloud for local users and abide by laws that require global companies to store information within the country. The center is part of Apple's (AAPL) planned $1B investment the southern province of Guizhou, and will be established with data management firm Guizhou-Cloud Big Data Industry.

Now trading well below their IPO prices, Snap (NYSE:SNAP) and Blue Apron (NYSE:APRN) have swiftly gone from two of the year's most anticipated IPOs to poster children for companies whose private valuations haven't withstood the scrutiny of public markets. Snap fell 9% to $15.47/share yesterday, while Blue Apron plunged over 12% to $7.14/share. Near-term IPOs now seems less likely for other unicorns, like Airbnb (Private:AIRB), Dropbox (Private:DROPB) and UBER.

Twitter has tapped a former close colleague of No. 2 executive Anthony Noto to be its new finance chief, as it addresses a list of vacancies created at the social-messaging company over the past year. Ned Segal will start as Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) CFO in late August. He most recently worked for Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU), where he was senior vice president of finance.

Bankruptcy protection hasn't ended its problems. Takata (OTCPK:TKTDY) is recalling an additional 2.7M airbag inflators in the U.S. after concluding they could explode in a crash despite using a chemical additive to ensure their safety. The inflators were installed in vehicles manufactured by Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY), Mazda (OTCPK:MZDAY) and Ford (NYSE:F), according to a recall notice posted to the NHTSA.

Audi has officially launched its new flagship A8 saloon, a vehicle the industry is calling the most advanced self-driving car with "Level 3" autonomous capabilities. "The driver no longer needs to monitor the car permanently," Audi (OTCPK:AUDVF) declared. "They can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity."

Dow Chemical has agreed to sell part of its Dow AgroSciences corn seed business in Brazil to China's CITIC Agri Fund for $1.1B. The sale should satisfy its commitments to Brazilian regulators for clearance of its proposed merger with DuPont (NYSE:DD). Dow (NYSE:DOW) also reaffirmed its expectation to close the merger in August, with planned spinoffs to occur within 18 months.

News from the World Petroleum Congress... BP CEO Bob Dudley said he's planning the company's budget around $50 oil for the next five years. "I think everyone uses the word balanced and they forget that it means different things to different people. To me it means on a daily basis production and demand is equal. So on a daily basis the market is balanced, it's just the inventory levels in the world that are so high."

Marking its exit from the upstream business in Ireland, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.ARDS.B) is selling its stake in the Corrib gas venture for as much as $1.2B. The buyer is a unit of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, while the deal includes an initial consideration of $947M and additional payments of up to $285M between 2018-2025, subject to gas price and production.

Symantec is considering selling its website certification business, in a deal that could fetch more than $1B and extricate it from a feud with Alphabet (GOOGGOOGL). Google said in March that it was investigating Symantec's (NASDAQ:SYMC) failure to properly validate its certificates, which confirm that websites can be trusted, but Symantec called the claims "exaggerated and misleading."

Ant Financial, the Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) affiliate that agreed to buy MoneyGram (NYSE:MGI) for $1.2B, has resubmitted the deal for U.S. review, Reuters reports. The tie-up is the latest and most high-profile transaction to be refiled this year with CFIUS, after it was unable to secure clearance within the 75 days that is awarded for assessing applications.

Amid nervousness in the cryptocurrency market, bitcoin hit a near one-month low overnight and has seen more than $12B wiped off its value in the last 30 days. According to CoinDesk, the price fell to $2,272.32, its lowest level since June 15, when it slumped to $2,185.96. It's also significantly off the $3,025.47 all-time high reached on June 11. Related: COINOTCPK:BTCSOTCPK:BTSCOTCPK:GAHC

Wells Fargo is scaling back and remodeling its auto lending business in response to growing stress in the market, as well as a bank-wide push for more centralized risk controls. Although it was the No. 2 U.S. provider of auto loans less than a year ago, Wells (NYSE:WFC) has already cut quarterly originations by nearly 30% over the nine months leading into March 31.

The U.S. State Department has approved a possible $3.9B Patriot system sale to Romania, in a move likely to anger Russia. Vladimir Putin has said his country will be forced to enhance its own missile strike capability in response. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the prime contractors under the deal would be Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT).

Tuesday's Key Earnings
PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP-0.5% despite beating Q2 expectations.
Today's Markets 
In Asia, Japan -0.5%. Hong Kong +0.6%. China -0.2%. India +0.2%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.9%. Paris +1%. Frankfurt +0.7%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude +1.4% to $45.75. Gold +0.3% to $1217.70.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -2 bps to 2.34%Today's Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
10:00 Atlanta Fed's Business Inflation Expectations
10:00 Yellen delivers semi-annual monetary policy testimony
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $20B, 10-Year Note Auction
2:00 PM Fed's Beige Book
2:15 PM Fed's George speech

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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