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Harley-Davidson Just Reported Its Lowest Quarterly Sales Since 2014

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Plus, the Chinese coronavirus has spread to more than 4,600 patients, U.S. consumer confidence grew this month, and the U.K. is allowing vendors to use Huawei hardware in the build-out of the country’s 5G network.

Stocks were on the rise to start Tuesday with the Dow adding 78 points or 0.3%. The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, while the Nasdaq gained 0.7%.

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China’s coronavirus has now caused 106 deaths in China, and there are more than 4,600 confirmed cases worldwide. Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 16 countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised travelers to avoid all non-essential trips to China as the country grapples with trying to contain the spread of the deadly virus, and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said today that he’s concerned that cases of the coronavirus are actually higher than China is reporting. “I think we are dramatically underestimating” the number of cases in China by “tens of thousands,” Gottlieb told CNBC this morning. And in a statement from yesterday, AdMacro Head of Research Patrick Perret-Green said the rapidly-expanding coronavirus outbreak could represent a “Lehman-type moment tipping point” that could “tip the global economy into effective recession.”

Consumer confidence in the U.S. grew more than expected in January, according to data released by The Conference Board this morning. The confidence index rose to 131.6 this month, up from 126.5 in December. “Optimism about the labor market should continue to support confidence in the short-term and, as a result, consumers will continue driving growth and prevent the economy from slowing in early 2020,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. While consumer confidence has been strong, the Commerce Department said this morning that new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods dropped the most in eight months in December as weak shipments suggested business investments contracted further in the fourth quarter and was a drag on economic growth. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.9% last month as demand for machinery, primary metals and electrical equipment appliances and components declined. 

President Donald Trump’s lawyers will wrap up their defense case in the Senate impeachment trial today. Following that, senators may ask questions of both sides over as many as sixteen hours. The revelations in a draft of a book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton have strengthened the case for calling more witnesses. Senator Mitt Romney said he would like to call Bolton to testify in the trial, and Maine Republican Susan Collins also said that she would likely vote to hear additional testimony given the new revelations. 

The U.K. has said it will allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei to play a limited roll in the country’s 5G mobile networks, defying pressure from the U.S. While Huawei will be restricted from being involved in “sensitive functions” in a network of “core” features in Britain, up to 35% of a vendor’s equipment can come from Huawei. “The cap at 35% ensures the U.K. will not become nationally dependent on a high risk vendor while retaining competition in the market and allowing operators to continue to use two Radio Access Network (RAN) vendors,” said the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre on Tuesday. The U.S. claims Huawei poses a security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage and has urged as many market as possible to block the use of Huawei.

In earnings news, Harley-Davidson reported its lowest quarterly sales since 2014 as revenue from its motorcycle unit was 6% worse than Wall Street’s forecasts. Chief executive Matt Levatich attempted to put a positive spin on Harley-Davidson’s disappointing performance saying, “Our performance in Q4 and the full year was in line with our expectations and indicative of increased business stability.” Pfizer also delivered earnings before the bell, reporting Q4 earnings per share of $0.55—falling short of analysts’ expectations of $0.58—on revenues of $12.8 billion, an 8% operational year-over-year decline. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Louise Chen said that “a lot of the sales weakness was anticipated” in reaction to Pfizer’s results. “We think PFE’s 2020 guidance and outlook for 2020+ remains robust with the company delivering on its goal to provide upside to expectations for the New Pfizer (without Upjohn),” Chen wrote, referring to Pfizer’s Upjohn division, which it plans to spin off this year. Coming up, Apple and Starbucks are scheduled to report after the closing bell. 

Stocks We’re Watching

Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACHN): Achillion Pharmaceuticals shares are up more than 10% this morning after the biotech disclosed that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has granted early termination of the waiting period for its acquisition by Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Achillion agreed to be acquired by Alexion in October for $930 million. 

Akari Therapeutics (NASDAQ: AKTX): Akari shares gained nearly 11% yesterday following its announcement that preclinical ophthalmic data showed its drug Nomacopan reduced both vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and retinal inflammation, supporting Nomacopan as a possible treatment option for back-of-the-eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy and wet age-related macular degeneration. “Despite the successful use of VEGF inhibitors, many patients with AMD and other back-of-the-eye diseases remain sub-optimally treated,” said Professor Virginia Calder, University College of London, Institute of Ophthalmology. “This reflects the complex natural history and pathology of these retinal diseases. An agent such as nomacopan that appears to combine anti-inflammatory activity with VEGF and complement inhibition has the potential to improve treatment options, highlighting the importance of these pathways and the degree to which their dysregulation is implicated in different sight-threatening conditions.”

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