Plus, diplomatic tensions are rising between the U.S. and China, Netflix said the real competition in the streaming wars is with “linear TV,” and Morgan Stanley reported earnings.
Stocks traded higher Thursday morning with the Dow rising 89 points, or 0.3%. The S&P 500 gained 0.6%, while the Nasdaq added 0.7%.
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Done deal (almost). The U.K. and European Union have reached a draft Brexit deal, pushing the pound higher on the news. “We have a great new Brexit deal,” U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called it a “fair and balanced agreement.” The deal will now be discussed before EU leaders today and tomorrow, and then the U.K. parliament will take it up on Saturday, and there are already doubts that MPs will pass it. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party said they won’t support the new text, the U.K. Labour party called it an “even worse deal than Theresa May’s,” the leader of the Brexit Party—Nigel Farage—said the new deal shouldn’t be supported, and the Scottish National Party has said it won’t vote for the deal.
Chinese officials continue to work on the text for the “phase one” agreement on trade with U.S. negotiators, even as diplomatic tensions continue to rise between the two countries. U.S. senators said late yesterday that they want to move quickly on the House-passed legislation supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong despite China’s threat of retaliation. “Hong Kong is a high priority for me,” said GOP Senator Jim Risch, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “We’re going to move on it as rapidly as we can.” The U.S. State Department also issued new requirements that China give official notice before its diplomats visit American universities and research institutions or meet with local governments, which the Chinese embassy in the U.S. says violates the Vienna Convention. “According to Article 25 of the Vienna Convention, the receiving State shall accord full facilities for the performances of the functions of the mission,” the Chinese embassy said. “But the U.S. side is doing exactly the opposite.”
Production at U.S. factories tumbled by the most in five months in September, Federal Reserve data released on Thursday showed. The figures show how multiple factors are converging to slow work on factory floors, including the trade war, slowing global demand, and the monthlong UAW strike at General Motors, and also corroborate other recent data including the ISM Purchasing Managers’ index which showed manufacturing activity contracted to its worst level in 10 years last month. The Fed also released a survey this morning showing that businesses are planning to reduce capital spending next year. The survey respondents blamed tariffs and other trade policies for their planned investment cuts.
Netflix shares are up 4% this morning after the streaming pioneer reported earnings after the bell Wednesday. Netflix reported earnings per share of $1.47 compared to estimates of $1.04, on revenue of $5.24 billion. The company added fewer domestic subscribers than expected, but beat on international paid subscriber additions at 6.26 million. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix acknowledged the imminent arrival of new streaming services including Disney+ and Apple TV+, and warned that the new services will be “noisy” and could generate “modest headwinds” in the near term. “Many are focused on the ‘streaming wars,’ but we’ve been competing with streamers (Amazon, YouTube, Hulu) as well as linear TV for over a decade,” Netflix said. “The upcoming arrival of services like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock is increased competition, but we are all small compared to linear TV. While the new competitors have some great titles (especially catalog titles), none have the variety, diversity and quality of new original programming that we are producing around the world.”
In other earnings news, Morgan Stanley reported this morning. The bank beat estimates reporting net income of $2.2 billion, or $1.27 per share. “We delivered strong quarterly earnings despite the typical summer slowdown and volatile markets,” said CEO James P. Gorman, noting that revenues were more than $10 billion for the third consecutive quarter. “Our consistent performance shows the stability of our business model. We remain committed to controlling our expenses and are well positioned to pursue our growth initiatives.” Morgan Stanley shares are currently up 2.4%. While Taiwan Semiconductor shares are down -1.5% this morning even. The company delivered better-than-expected Q3 earnings but significantly raised its capital expenditures for the year. “Our third-quarter business benefited from new product launches both in premium smartphones and high performance computing [HPC] applications using TSMC’s industry-leading 7-nanometer technology,” Wendell Huang, CFO of Taiwan Semiconductor, said in a press release. “We expect the strength of demand for our 7-nanometer technology will continue, driven by high-end smartphones, initial 5G deployment and HPC-related applications.”
Stocks We’re Watching
McKesson Corp (NYSE: MCK): Shares of McKesson are up nearly 10% over the last week and nearly 4% this morning after The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that the drug distributor, along with two others, were in talks to pay $18 billion to settle all outstanding litigation brought by state and local governments blaming the companies for their part in fueling the opioid crisis.
Cubic Corp (NYSE: CUB): Cubic Corp shares jumped as much as 8.8% yesterday on reports that it is teaming up with Google to make it easier for public transit riders to use their Android smartphones to pay fares. “Working with Cubic will help us simplify the commute for Google Pay users in several major transit systems – including support for Clipper cards in the San Fransisco Bay Area,” said Ambarish Kenghe, director of product management for Google Pay. “Ultimately, our goal is to make riding public transit seamless and convenient for as many people as we can.” Cubic has installed open-payment transit fare collation technology in cities including London, New York, and Miami. ‘We are very excited to work with Google to provide travelers with a simple and easy way to pay for transit fares with devices they already rely on and use everyday,” Cubic Transportation Systems’ president Matt Cole said.