Plus, the House just voted on the next stage of the impeachment inquiry against President Trump, Kraft Heinz is soaring after earnings, and Fiat Chrysler is merging with Peugeot.
Stocks fell to start Thursday with the Dow dropping 200 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 sank 0.6% after reaching a record high yesterday, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.5% lower.
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Bloomberg’s report that Chinese officials were skeptical about reaching a comprehensive long-term trade deal with the U.S. put pressure on stocks Thursday morning, even as the two sides are getting closer to signing a phase one agreement. Chinese officials have reportedly said that they won’t compromise on some of the thorniest issues between the two countries, and are concerned about President Donald Trump’s impulsive nature and the possibility that he may back out of even a limited deal. “They are quite pessimistic,” Eswar Prasad, who once led the International Monetary Fund’s China team, said of Chinese policy makers. “The fear that any deal that they negotiate with Trump could blow up in their face.” Chilean President Sebastian Pinera threw in another hurdle when he announced yesterday that he had cancelled the APEC summit next month where Trump and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were expected to sign the phase one deal. Trump tweeted this morning that a new location for the signing of the phase one deal—which the U.S. president said is “about 60% of total deal”—is being sought.
The Federal Reserve delivered its third insurance cut of the year yesterday afternoon. In his press conference following the decision, Jerome Powell indicated that this third cut may be it for a while saying, “We believe monetary policy is in a good place.” “There’s plenty of risk left, but I’d have to say that the risks seem to have subsided,” Powell said. Powell also said that that the central bank wouldn’t hike rates again until inflation rises “significantly,” which the market cheered. “This is appropriate strategy and despite the ‘pause’ has created a runaway for risk assets to continue to rally into [year-end],” said Tom Lee, founder and head of research at Fundstrat Global Advisors. “The Fed has done a much better job in 2019 of understanding the market’s risks.” President Trump railed against the Fed this morning tweeting, “People are VERY disappointed in Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve. The Fed has called it wrong from the beginning, too fast, too slow. … Dollar & Rates are hurting our manufacturers. We should have lower interest rates than Germany, Japan and all others. We are now, by far, the biggest and strongest Country, but the Fed puts us at a competitive disadvantage. China is not our problem the Federal Reserve is!”
The House passed a resolution outlining the next phase of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump this morning. The resolution lays out guidelines for public hearings in the inquiry, though it does not establish a deadline for the investigation. Ahead of the resolution vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “it’s a sad day because nobody comes to Congress to impeach the president of the United States. It’s about the truth and it’s about the Constitution and we’re working very hard to defend our democracy. The times have found us.”
Facebook and Apple reported after the bell yesterday. The social media giant reported revenue for the third quarter that was 1.7% higher than the average analyst estimate, while the iPhone maker projected fiscal first-quarter revenue that was also above analysts’ expectations. Kraft Heinz reported this morning and it also delivered a beat even as sales continue to decline. “While our third-quarter results remain below our potential, we showed sequential improvement versus the first half, and I believe we are beginning to operating the business better,” said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio. “We are making good progress in identifying and addressing the root causes of past performance, as well as setting our strategic direction.” KHC is up more than 12% this morning.
There’s about to be a new fourth-largest car maker in the world. Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler confirmed their intention to merge this morning, in what would be a 50-50 share swap. The new combined company’s shares will be listed in New York, Paris, and Milan, and Fiat’s John Elkann will become the group’s chairman while Peugot’s Carlos Tavares will become the CEO. The tie-up will be a behemoth with 8.7 million vehicle sales, $190 billion in turnover, and a combined 400,000 employees. “Discussions have opened a path to the creation of a new group with global scale and resources owned 50% by Groupe PSA shareholders and 50% by FCA shareholders,” the two companies said in a joint statement. “In a rapidly changing environment, with new challenges in connected, electrified, shared and autonomous mobility, the combined entity would leverage its strong global R&D…footprint and ecosystem to foster innovation and meet these challenges with speed and capital efficiency.” Peugeot shares are down nearly -14% this morning, while Fiat Chrysler shares are up more than 4%.
Stocks We’re Watching
MongoDB (NASDAQ: MDB): Shares of this database platform provider are up nearly 15% this week. MongoDB announced a partnership with Alibaba Group under which Alibaba customers in China will get access to a MongoDB database-as-a-service solution. “Not only is China one of the largest markets for database software, but there also has been enormous adoption of MongoDB in this market. In fact, over the past four years the most downloads of MongoDB have been from China, reflecting the global popularity of MongoDB’s next-generation database platform,” said Dev Ittycheria, MongoDB president and CEO.
Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ: BGFV): Shares of this sporting goods chain popped 38% this week after Big 5 reported a blowout third quarter. Big 5 reported Q3 earnings per share of $0.30 on $266.2 million in revenue. CEO Steven Miller said that the results represented Big 5’s best Q3 gross margins since the company went public in 2002, and said that the company’s shift to higher-margin products helped it withstand a difficult retail environment.
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