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Trump Just Said Iran Is “Standing Down,” But There Are Signs Its Retaliation Isn’t Over Yet

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Plus, businesses added 202,000 jobs in December, a Boeing plan crashed in Iran killing 176, and Macy’s is reportedly closing 29 stores. 

Stocks traded higher to start Wednesday with the Dow gaining 36 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 added 0.2%, while the Nasdaq surged 0.3% to a new all-time high.

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Iran launched more than a dozen missiles at two bases that house U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. No casualties have been reported, and President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday night that “All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!” Trump said in a statement this morning that Iran “appears to be standing down.” According to U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter, Iran appears to have intentionally intended to avoid any U.S. casualties in the attack. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have claimed responsibility for the attack, which the Pentagon says was launched from Iran, and the group warned that the attack was just the beginning of their “fierce revenge.” Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech that the U.S. was “slapped last night, but such military actions are not enough,” suggesting there may be more acts of revenge against the U.S. for the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani last week.

Private payroll growth ended strong in 2019 with ADP and Moody’s Analytics reporting companies added 202,000 jobs in December, beating economists’ consensus estimate of 150,000. However, despite the strong jobs number, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi warned that the jobs market continues to “moderate.” “Manufacturers, energy producers and small companies have been shedding jobs,” Zandi said in a statement. “Unemployment is low, but will begin to rise if job growth slows much further.” The Labor Department’s jobs report will be released this Friday. 

A Boeing jet bound for Kyiv crashed shortly after takeoff outside of Tehran, Iran today, killing all 176 people on board. The Boeing 737-800, an older model of the beleaguered Boeing 737 Max, is suspected to have been taken down by an engine fire and not by a missile. “Given the crew’s experience, error probability is minimal,” said Ihor Sosnovsky, Ukraine International Airlines vice president of operations. “We do not even consider such a chance.” The airline said the plane was carrying passengers from Canada, Iran, Sweden, and Ukraine. Boeing said in a statement, “This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed.” Boeing shares are down 1.36% as of this writing.

The world’s most famous fugitive, Carlos Ghosn, held a press conference in Beirut today, the former Nissan executive’s first public appearance since fleeing Japan, where he accused the country’s prosecutors of trying to force a flawed confession. Ghosn said that after he was first arrested, he was questioned for up to eight hours a day without access to his lawyers, and was told “‘ Not only will we go after you… we will go after your family.” Ghosn also accused Japanese prosecutors of leaking false information to the media and concealing evidence that would have helped his case, adding that he had “zero chance” of getting a fair trial in the country. “The feeling of hopelessness was profound,” Ghosn said. “I left Japan because I wanted justice. It is the only way to reestablish my reputation. If I don’t get it in Japan, I will get it somewhere else.”

Macy’s announced this morning that its holiday sales dropped, though not quite as much as analysts anticipated. The retailer’s stock is currently up 1.58% on the news. Macy’s reported that its same-store sales dropped 0.6%, while analysts had been expecting a decline of 1.75%. “Macy’s performance during the holiday season reflected a strong trend improvement from the third quarter,” said CEO Jeff Gennette in a statement. “Customers responded to our gifting assortment and marketing strategy, particularly in the 10 days before Christmas.” The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the company is planning to close 28 Macy’s stores and one Bloomingdale’s location as part of its annual review. 

Stocks We’re Watching

Genetic Tech Limited (NASDAQ: GENE): Genetic Tech shares jumped as much as 151% yesterday following the company’s announcement that its GeneType breast cancer test was on track for commercial release in the U.S. in the first quarter of this year. The GeneType breast cancer test provides a polygenic risk score, a number that counts the cumulative effects of several genes compared to the popular BRCA gene test. According to Genetic Tech, “Only 1 in 500 women carry a BRCA mutation, representing 0.2% of the population. GeneType for BC will help classify the other 99.8% of women into risk categories. Women identified as high risk will, together with their practitioners, now have the opportunity to choose supplemental screening and prevention options to meet their breast health needs.”

Microchip Technology (NASDAQ: MCHP): Shares of this chipmaker gained nearly 7% yesterday after an upgrade from KeyBanc. The firm reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its price target from $110 to $120 – 9% higher than the current price. KeyBanc said Microchip’s Q3 marked the bottom of its current downturn and said that it sees strength across the company’s data center, industrial, and auto segments.

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