Wall Street Breakfast: Trump Reveals First Federal Budget
Author: skywalker | Publish date: Thu, 16 Mar 2017, 10:22 AM
The Trump administration is making its first stab at translating the president's campaign promises into hard numbers with a fiscal 2018 budget blueprint. It boosts spending for defense, homeland security and veterans affairs, while making deep cuts in domestic programs, environmental protection and foreign aid. Trump also wants Congress to put a down payment on a border wall, although an infrastructure plan is still in the making.
The U.S. debt ceiling limit expires today, potentially setting up an intense political battle in Congress. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has encouraged Congress to raise the ceiling "at the first opportunity," while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Congress will "obviously" increase the limit. The current U.S. national debt is $19.4T.
Steven Mnuchin will meet with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble in Berlin today to discuss trade and economic issues before hosting a joint news conference. Schauble has been an outspoken critic of President Trump and the Republican plan to introduce a border adjustment tax, suggesting America would not have the power to do so unilaterally.
The Dutch political establishment has managed to maintain its grip on power in one of Europe's most closely watched elections. With 95% of the vote counted, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's VVD party is thought to have taken 33 of the 150 parliamentary seats, 13 more than Geert Wilders' far-right PVV party. Rutte said his victory had stopped the "wrong kind of populism" in its tracks following "Brexit and the American elections."
Markets across the globe rallied overnight as traders eyed a big batch of U.S. data and digested the Fed's decision to raise interest rates by 25 basis points. Yellen signaled more hikes were coming, but didn't flag any plan to accelerate the pace of monetary tightening and emphasized that nothing was set in stone. "The simple message is the economy is doing well," she added.
Central bank week continues... The BOJ has left monetary policy unchanged, while Governor Kuroda said inflation momentum remains in place. The franc is still "significantly overvalued," according to the SNB, which left its deposit rate unchanged at -0.75%. Investors will also hear from the BOE, which will likely keep rates on hold as the U.K. prepares to kick off divorce proceedings with the EU.
Meanwhile, the PBOC raised its short-term interest rates for the third straight month, upping the reverse repo rate by 10 basis points and injecting fresh funds into the country's banking system. Analysts said the move was triggered by the U.S. Federal Reserve's decision to raise rates, and as a bid to tackle capital outflows and keep the yuan stable.
"The diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de-nuclearization have failed," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, outlining the need for a "new approach." The comments come at the start of his first trip to Asia as the top U.S. diplomat. After Japan, he'll make stops in China and South Korea.
The new Galaxy S8 is rumored to employ facial recognition technology for mobile payments, and one would only have to look at the camera to unlock the phone. The fingerprint sensor may also be moved to the back of the device, according to media sources. The S8 should be available for pre-order from April 7, nine days after Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) officially unveils the smartphone at events in New York and London.
Amazon's inventors are taking a page from Inspector Gadget's playbook to design drones with adjustable landing legs and reconfigurable propellers. The two patents have been awarded, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will see the light of day. Still, the concepts sound a lot less far out than some other Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) patents, such as flying warehouses and parachute package drops.
Investors cheered the news that GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) is looking to cut operating expenses by more than $200M in a bid to become profitable. The company also announced that its earnings for the first quarter are on course to come in at the upper end of guidance, and announced an additional 270 job cuts. GoPro shares rose 11% in extended-hours trade on the news.
Tesla said it's on track to launch a more affordable car this year, but it needs to raise $1B to make sure it happens. The electric vehicle maker is offering $250M in common stock and $750M in convertible notes to strengthen a fragile balance sheet amid a risky ramp-up of Model 3 production. Elon Musk will purchase $25M of common stock. TSLA +2.3% premarket.
Other car news... "The assault on the American auto industry, believe me, is over," President Trump announced yesterday in Michigan, teasing that a very big announcement is coming next week. Shortly before he started speaking, the EPA said it would reopen a review of the Obama administration's vehicle emission standards for cars and light duty trucks covering model years 2022-25.
An Indian tycoon is buying up to £2B of Anglo American (OTCPK:AAUKY), but confirmed he has no intention of taking control of the company. The 13% stake would make Anil Agarwal, who is also Chairman of Vedanta Resources (OTCPK:VDNRF), the company's second-largest shareholder. Anglo is up around 10% in London and dragging other miners higher. BHP +2.3% RIO +1.7% in U.S. premarket.
The Starboard Value hedge fund, which has pressured Macy's (NYSE:M) to separate its real estate from its retail business, has sold its stake in the company, sources told Reuters. The move comes after an approach by Canada's Hudson's Bay (OTC:HBAYF), the owner of the Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue retail chains, failed to materialize into a concrete offer.
While he was only CEO for a few months in 2016, Wells Fargo's (NYSE:WFC) Timothy Sloan received $12.8M for his work last year, a 17% increase, despite scrapping executive bonuses in light of an accounts scandal that rocked the bank. Finance chief John Shrewsberry and David Carroll, who heads wealth and investment management, also received bigger pay packages for 2016.
CenturyLink investors will vote on the company's proposed purchase of Level 3 Communications (NASDAQ:LVLT) at a special meeting today. The $34B cash-and-stock deal would create a more formidable competitor to AT&T (NYSE:T) in the market to handle heavy internet traffic for businesses. CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) expects the acquisition to close by the end of Q3 of 2017.
Two Russian intelligence agents and their two co-conspirators, notorious hackers Alexsey Belan and Karim Baratov, have been indicted by the DOJ on charges stemming from last year's mega data breach at Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). Baratov, a Canadian, was arrested on Tuesday. The three others may be in Russia, which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the U.S.
Hours before it was to take effect, President Trump's revised travel ban was put on hold Wednesday by a federal judge in Hawaii. "This ruling makes us look weak," Trump said, vowing to fight the "unprecedented judicial overreach... all the way to the Supreme Court." Following the second version of the ban, almost 70 tech companies backed away from their proposed legal suit, representing more than half of the original 127 signatories. Among them: AAPL, EBAY, FB, GOOG, GOOGL, INTC, MSFT, NFLX, TWTR
In Asia, Japan +0.1%. Hong Kong +2.1%. China +0.9%. India +0.6%.
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