Private Payrolls Dropped In November As Trade War Weighs On Job Market

Plus, the U.S. and China are reportedly moving closer to a trade agreement despite recent harsh rhetoric, Carl Icahn is urging HP to consider Xerox’s takeover bid, and Expedia shares are rising after a management shakeup.

Stocks rebounded from their three-day losing streak to start Wednesday with the Dow rising 204 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 added 0.8%, while the Nasdaq gained 0.7%.

The U.S. and China are moving closer to a phase one trade deal despite recent harsh rhetoric, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. According to the report, the two countries are moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs to be rolled back as part of the trade agreement, and U.S. negotiators expect to have a deal ready to sign before tariffs rise on December 15. The sources also said that President Donald Trump’s statements from yesterday downplaying the urgency of a deal were not indicative of how the talks between the two countries were going. When asked if the trade talks could be finished before the end of this year, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “it depends. China’s stance is very clear. There is hope, as long as it is based on mutual respect and equal consultations.”

Private payrolls increased by just 67,000 in November, according to payroll processor ADP in a report issued with Moody’s Analytics. The figure was far below the 135,000 payrolls expected by economists polled by Bloomberg. “The job market is losing its shine,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, said in a statement. “Manufacturers, commodity producers, and retailers are shedding jobs. Job openings are declining, and if job growth slows any further unemployment will increase.” Zandi also added that impacts from the trade war are being felt in employment, especially in manufacturing, resources, and commodities industries which have seen the exchange of hundreds of billions in tariffs. “The slowdown is more significant than I would have thought, and I do think that goes to the trade war,” Zandi said. “The trade war is doing damage to the economy and the jobs market.”

The House Judiciary Committee holds its first hearing today on whether to draw up articles of impeachment agains President Trump. The panel will hear testimony from law professors Noah Feldman from Harvard, Pamela Karlan from Stanford, Michael Gerhardt from the University of North Carolina, and Johnathan Turley from George Washington University. In opening up the hearing, Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said that Trump displayed a “clear” pattern of misbehavior and the facts of the Ukraine scandal that sparked the impeachment inquiry are “undisputed.” “President Trump did not merely seek to benefit from foreign interference in our elections,” Nadler continued. “He directly and explicitly invited foreign interference in our elections. He used the powers of his office to try to make it happen. He sent his agents to make clear that this was what he wanted.” Meanwhile, the top Republican on the committee, Doug Collins of Georgia, said that Democrats are only pursuing impeachment because they “have a deep-seated hatred of a man who came to the White House and did what he said he was going to do.”

Activist investor Carl Icahn is urging HP Inc to move forward with takeover talks with Xerox. “I cannot believe that the recalcitrance of HP’s board is driven by any real confidence in its standalone restructuring plan, which the market, shareholders and analysts met with extreme indifference and which seems to amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Icahn said. “It is absurd for the HP board and management team, with such a history of underperformance and missteps, to claim to have had a sudden epiphany and now expect shareholders to trust them to execute a standalone restructuring plan.” HP rejected Xerox’s roughly $33 billion cash and stock offer last month, which Xerox responded to by saying it plans to go directly to HP shareholders with the matter. Icahn, who owns stakes in both companies, added that he is perplexed over HP’s board and management refusing the Xerox offer before mutual due diligence to explore a takeover. “I can say without exaggeration that the combination of HP and Xerox is one of the most obvious no-brainers I have ever encountered in y career – one where activism should not even be necessary at all because the merits of the combination are so obvious to everybody involved,” Icahn said.

Expedia shares are up more than 6% this morning after the travel-booking company announced a management shakeup. Its CEO and CFO are leaving following its recent earnings miss that led to disagreements with the board on strategy. The company said CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill have resigned, effective immediately, in a news release, and Okerstrom is also leaving his position on Expedia’s board. Expedia Chairman Barry Diller and Vice Chairman Peter Kern “will oversee the company’s executive leadership team, management day-to-day operations, while the Board determines the long-term leadership of the Company,” the release said. “Earlier this year, Expedia embarked on an ambitious reorganization plan with the goal of bringing our brands and technology together in a more effective way,” Diller said in a statement. “This reorganization, while sound in concept, resulted in a material loss of focus on our current operations, leading to disappointing third quarter results and a lackluster near-term outlook. The Board disagreed with that outlook, as well as the departing leadership’s vision for growth, strongly believing the Company can accelerate growth in 2020. That divergence necessitated a change in management.”

Stocks We’re Watching

Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: IOVA): Shares of this late-stage biotech are up nearly 20% over the last month following the company’s release of results from a subgroup analysts of its Phase 2 lifileucel metastatic melanoma study C-144-01 in patients with primary refractory prior to anti-PD-1/L1 therapy. “Patients who are primary refectory to prior anti-PD-1/L1 therapy have very limited therapeutic options and yet form a large population of diagnosed metastatic melanoma patients,” said Maria Fardis, PhD, MBA, president and CEO of Iovance. “Tumor infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy developed by Iovance has shown strong efficacy for patients with relapsed or refractory metastatic melanoma. In the subgroup analysis conducted for primary refractory patients in our Cohort 2 of the C-144-01 study, TIL demonstrates excellent efficacy and durability of response thus far. We are very pleased to see that the Iovance TIL may offer a therapeutic option for this patient population.”

DarioHealth Corp (NASDAQ: DRIO): DarioHealth shares rocketed 124% higher yesterday after the company announced that Walmart will be selling its digital diabetes management system online, adding another big name retailer to its roster of companies carrying its system. “We will offer Walmart’s consumers MyDario, our complete digital solution to manage diabetes, hypertension, nutrition and exercise. Our system is affordable and supported by a large body of clinical evidence that we believe demonstrates that Dario significantly and quickly improves the health and wellness of its users,” said DarioHealth’s Chief Commercial Officer Olivier Jarry. “We believe that the positive results seen while using our system reinforces engagement and are part of the reason why users rate Dario as one of the best solutions for managing chronic conditions.”