Plus, Nikola shares are down following reports that the SEC is investigating a short-seller’s fraud claims, and Apple shares are up ahead of its first major product launch event of 2020.
Stocks were higher to start Tuesday with the Dow adding 150 points, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 advanced 0.9%, while the Nasdaq gained 1.4%.
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A long-shot bid to force an end to the stalemate on coronavirus stimulus will come today as a 50-member group of House Democrats and Republicans releases a $1.52 trillion stimulus plan. The Problem Solvers Caucus plan has been under-development for weeks with the knowledge of the White House and leadership from both parties, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted at a House hearing earlier this month that the White House may accept a $1.5 trillion deal. While the proposal offers key compromises on two of the thorniest issues in the stalled talks between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration, with $500 billion in aid for state and local governments and $450 per week supplemental unemployment insurance, the proposal is unlikely to pass. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this morning that she’s still opposed to efforts to pass a smaller stimulus bill despite the looming 2020 election and economic fallout from COVID-19. “We can fiscally spend the appropriate amount of money to meet the needs of the American people,” Pelosi told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. “It’s stimulus. We are a consumer economy and the more we have, whether it’s food stamps or unemployment insurance, that is stimulus to the economy.”
On the coronavirus front, the World Health Organization said global deaths due to the virus rose last week one day after it reported a record one-day increase in new cases, with the coronavirus showing few signs of slowing down. “The Americas has consistently registered the greatest number of reported cases for many weeks,” the WHO said. “It continues to account for nearly half of the global total of cases even as cases have declined in the reporting week.” Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said on a conference call with reporters that the “next big question” his foundation is thinking about is how to manufacture and distribute any approved vaccines to those most in need. “It shouldn’t just be the rick countries winning a bidding war,” Gates said. “Misallocating the vaccine would cause dramatic additional deaths.”
Nikola shares are down more than 6% this morning after Bloomberg reported that the SEC is examining short-seller claims that the company has misled investors, even after the electric truck maker refuted the claims in a detailed response yesterday. According to Bloomberg, the SEC is assessing the merits of Hindenburg Research’s allegations that Nikola deceived investors about its business prospects. Hindenburg founder Nathan Anderson said in a statement that he’s “encouraged that regulators are examining the situation.” Nikola said it “has contacted and briefed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding Nikola’s concerns pertaining to the Hindenburg report. Nikola intends to fully cooperate with the SEC regarding its inquiry into these matters.”
Kraft Heinz shares are higher today after it said it is targeting $2 billion in cost cuts over the next five years as it looks to capitalize on consumers’ rediscovered interest in store-bought mac and cheese and Ore-Ida french fries. The company is also expecting long-term organic sales growth of 1% to 2% and adjusted earnings per share growth of 4% to 6%. The billions of dollars in savings are expected to come from integrated business planning for more efficiency between its manufacturing, procurement, and logistics operations. “We are committed to returning Kraft Heinz to consistent growth on both the top and bottom lines,” said CFO Paulo Basilio.
And Apple will host its first major product launch event of the year today. In a virtual event, Apple is expected to unveil new devices including an Apple Watch that could feature a faster processor and blood oxygen meter, as well as a lower-end Watch model to help it fend off cheaper offerings from rivals such as Fitbit. A new iPad Air is also expected to be unveiled today. The release of the new iPad and Apple Watches will correspond with the rollout of iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and watchOS 7 software updates. What won’t be on display are Apple’s four new iPhone models, which will debut next month. The company is also planning to announce its new Mac computers with its own chips in November, and its first over-ear headphones and an accessory for locating physical items by the end of this year.
Stocks We’re Watching
Zoetis Inc (NYSE: ZTS): Zoetis shares are up today after the company was named one of Working Mother magazine’s “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” for the seventh consecutive year. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to all of our colleagues, but especially our working parents this year. They have been called on like never before to juggle childcare, remote schooling, family needs and work demands all amidst uncertain, stressful and changing times,” Roxanne Lagano, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Global Operations at Zoetis, said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we have had to demonstrate the support, flexibility and empathy that we stand for as an employer. We are committed to providing our colleagues with comprehensive benefits, childcare assistance, advancement programs, and a supportive and flexible culture built on our Core Beliefs. We are honored to once again be named a top company for working mothers.”
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