Wednesday Morning Reads
- China Curbs
- New Economic Projections
- Protectionism Backfires
- Lax Data Policies
- Security Evangelist
- We Fear What We Can’t Control
- Google Is Creating Its Own Amazon
- This Year’s Stock Market Losses Are Normal
- EU to unveil tax plan for U.S. tech giants
- EU OKs Bayer's takeover of Monsanto
- Tesla shares slip into bear market
- More details on Spotify's direct listing
- WhatsApp co-founder: Delete Facebook
- Saudi prince meets Lockheed, Boeing
- Arizona comments on self-driving cars
- G20 communique released after summit
Open Interest Changes
The Fed Chairman will host his maiden post-policy statement press conference today following what is expected to be this year's first interest rate hike amid inflation pressure and a strengthening U.S. economy. Investors will also be closely scrutinizing his words about the central bank's thinking, economic growth forecasts and the likely pace of rate increases for the rest of 2018.
Congress has missed another deadline to unveil a $1.3T spending bill as talks continued overnight with just days remaining for House and Senate votes to avert this year's third government shutdown. Lawmakers had hoped to announce a bill by the end of the day Tuesday, but disagreements lingered over immigration, border security, tax breaks and funding for the Hudson rail project.
The suspect believed to be responsible for a series of bombings across Austin is dead following an incident involving officers along I-35 in Round Rock, Texas. Police were closing in on the reported "white male" when he killed himself by detonating some sort of explosive device, according to CBS Austin affiliate KEYE-TV reports.
Although the first day of spring arrived yesterday, the Northeast can't seem to shake off winter. If current forecasts pans out, the fourth nor'easter in recent weeks will hit the region today, dumping more snow on Washington, Philadelphia and New York than the three earlier storms combined. That could spell trouble for airline flights and power for hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.
More misery for Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)? The European Commission is set to unveil proposals today for a digital tax on U.S. tech giants that could further embitter the trade row pitting the EU against President Trump. The tax, expected to be about 3% of sales on companies with worldwide annual turnover above €750M, would come alongside a tightening of rules on data privacy.
Finance ministers and central bankers from the Group of 20 countries failed to reach a shared outlook on trade after two days of talks in Argentina, but the communique released recognized the "need for further dialogue and actions." Attendees also reaffirmed a set of principles that had been adopted last year at the G20 summit in Hamburg by continuing to "fight protectionism, including all unfair trade practices."
Amazon just passed Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) to become the world's second most valuable company. While U.S. tech giants have rallied in the past year, Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) performance has dwarfed them all, with the stock surging 35% YTD and 85% over the past 12 months. Its market value now totals $768B, but the company has some room to catch up to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) $892B.
Amid the turmoil of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton told his Twitter followers - "It is time. #deletefacebook." Facebook (FB) acquired WhatsApp for $19B in 2014, but Acton quit earlier this year to start the Signal Foundation. Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have also remained quiet over the last few days, inviting more criticism from investors amid a social network stock plunge.
According to updated IPO documents, less than a third of Spotify's (Pending:SPOT) 178.1M shares will be available for sale when the stock begins trading on April 3. The move appears to be a way to impose some limits on the company's unusual direct listing - under which the market sets initial share price rather than a bank - and would prevent a deluge of shares from instantly hitting the exchange.
Salesforce has announced an agreement to buy MuleSoft (NYSE:MULE) in an enterprise technology merger that would value the latter at $6.5B. MuleSoft makes a platform that helps Fortune 500 companies stitch together disparate software applications, data, and devices. The merger will help Salesforce (NYSE:CRM) users unite data across different cloud products, according to CEO Marc Benioff.
Arizona officials feel this is not the time to rein in the industry despite UBERand Toyota (NYSE:TM) pausing their self-driving programs after the death of a woman by an autonomous vehicle in the state. "We believe we have enough in our laws right now to regulate automobiles," according to Arizona's DOT. "There will be issues that the legislature will have to address in the future as these become more widespread."
Tesla shares slipped into a bear market on Tuesday as analysts increasingly see the automaker entering a "make-or-break year" and critical phase in its history. Goldman Sachs backed up its Sell rating the day before on forecasts that quarterly deliveries will fall short of estimates amid balance sheet woes. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is also the most shorted stock in the Nasdaq 100 at 22.8% of its float.
The special board committee at Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) has broken off talks with the Nordstrom family over taking the company private. Shares fell 4.8% in after-hours trading on the news. The two parties weren't able to agree on price, ending efforts that had first started last year amid the changing retail landscape.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will meet with officials from Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) today as part of a trip across the U.S. that could see $35B in deals signed. It follows Salman's visit to the U.K., where Riyadh inked a military equipment MOU with the British government for 48 Typhoon jets from BAE Systems (OTCPK:BAESY).
China and Russia are "aggressively pursuing" hypersonic weapons and the U.S. doesn't have any real defenses apart from nuclear retaliation, General John E. Hyten, the Commander of US Strategic Command, told a Senate Armed Services hearing. Vendors competing for hypersonic weapons contracts in the U.S. include Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), Boeing (BA), Raytheon (NYSE:RTN) and Orbital ATK (NYSE:OA).
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In Asia, Japan closed. Hong Kong -0.4%. China -0.3%. India +0.4%.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.4%. Paris -0.1%. Frankfurt +0.2%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow flat. S&P flat. Nasdaq -0.3%. Crude +1.1% to $64.22. Gold +0.3% to $1315.70. Bitcoin +1.8% to $9073.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1 bps to 2.89%Today's Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Current Account
10:00 Existing Home Sales
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
2:00 PM FOMC Announcement
2:00 PM FOMC Forecast
2:00 PM Chairman Press Conference