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Plus, China and the U.S. are set to sign the “phase one” trade agreement this week, Iran admitted it mistakenly shot down the Ukraine-bound passenger jet, and two aerospace suppliers just agreed to merge.
Stocks were higher to start Monday with the Dow adding 21 points, or 0.1%. The S&P 500 traded 0.3% higher, while the Nasdaq gained 0.4%.
The market is feeling optimistic about the signing of the “phase one” trade deal between the U.S. and China, which is scheduled to take place on Wednesday. The signing of the long-awaited truce is expected to put an end to new tariffs in the tit-for-tat trade war, at least for a while, and lower existing tariffs on some Chinese goods. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that this is “a very, very extensive agreement,” however, The South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese government has said the trade war is “not over yet,” adding that the signing of the “phase one” agreement is just the “first round of a game.” The Wall Street Journal reported that China and the U.S. have agreed to hold semiannual talks to resolve the remaining disputes and push for reforms, with the talks led by Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premiere Liu He.
Iran admitted that it had mistakenly shot down the Ukrainian International Airlines flight over the weekend sparking protests in the country and calls to rid it of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Videos posted to social media showed clashes between protesters and riot police, with trails of blood shown on a main street. Iran’s announcement is a dramatic reversal from last week when the regime accused Western governments of “psychological warfare” after multiple countries said spy intelligence showed that the passenger plane had been taken down by a missile. The Iranian government said Sunday that it will be forming a working group to probe the crash and compensate victims’ families. President Donald Trump sent a series of tweets in Farsi over the weekend expressing support for the protesters and warned Iran’s leaders not to intervene. “DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS,” Trump tweeted. “Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this weekend that he didn’t see tangible evidence that Iran had planned to strike four U.S. embassies as President Trump had claimed was “imminent” following his order to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. “The president didn’t cite a specific piece of evidence. What he said was he believed,” Esper told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I didn’t see one, with regard to four embassies. …What I’m saying is that I shared the president’s view that probably – my expectation was they were going to go after our embassies. The embassy is the most prominent display of American presence in a country.” Many members of Congress have said that there was incomplete information in White House briefings about Soleimani’s killing, and have questioned whether an attack was imminent as the administration has continued to defend its decision to take out the Iranian General.
In a surprise merger of equals, engine technology maker Woodward and advanced materials supplier Hexcel announced on Sunday that they have agreed to combine in a $16 billion deal. The transaction between the Boeing and Airbus suppliers will create a company called Woodward Hexcel with annual revenue topping $5 billion. Hexcel CEO and Chairman Nick Strange will run the new entity, while Woodward Chairman and CEO Tom Gendron will take on the role of executive chairman for one year form the close of the deal, and will then move to non-executive chairman the following year before handing the reins completely over to Strange. “Overall, there is a consolidation trend in aerospace suppliers,” said Commerzbank AG senior analyst Norbert Kretlow. “This bears risk for airframers, both Boeing and Airbus. They have been able to forward price pressure to suppliers so far but the supplier’s consolidation should be a risk for this strategy.”
Tesla shares surged above $500 for the first time this morning following Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch raising his price target on the stock from $385 to $612, and the Chinese government signaling it won’t continue to cut electric vehicle subsidies at the same rate this year. “While TSLA has stumbled through growing pains, we believe the company has reached critical scale sufficient to support sustainable positive FCF,” Rusch wrote in a note. “At the same time, we believe the company’s risk tolerance, ability to implement learnings from past errors, and larger ambition than peers are beginning to pose an existential threat to transportation companies that are unable or unwilling to innovate at a faster pace.” Shares of the electric car maker are up 8.12% this morning.
Stocks We’re Watching
CounterPath Corp (NASDAQ: CPAH): CounterPath shares are up more than 19% this morning and 363% since last Thursday’s close following the announcement that it was chosen to partner with Honeywell International to develop a new unified communications software solution called Smart Talk. “We’re proud to be powering Honeywell Smart Talk,” said Todd Carothers, Chief Revenue Officer at CounterPath. “In a fast-paced world, customers expect efficient service. In essence – they want to get what they want, when they want it. Honeywell Smart Talk enables retail workers to communicate effectively, addressing customer concerns, satisfying their needs, and bolstering sales.”
Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRNE): Sorrento Therapeutics shares jumped 49% on Friday after the biotech announced that it had received a nonbonding proposal from an unnamed private equity firm to acquire either all or a majority of the shares of the company for $7 per share, valuing the company at more than $1.1 billion. Sorrento had previously rejected offers in November for $3 and $5 per share, offers that board said “seriously undervalued” the company. The $7 per share offer is 62% higher than the current stock price.
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