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Author: skywalker   |   Latest post: Fri, 22 Sep 2017, 11:44 AM

 

Wall Street Breakfast: The Tax Reform Debate

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Shooting for a major legislative victory before the year's end, President Trump dives back into the tax debate today with a speech in Missouri. Reports suggest he will elaborate on plans to curb deductions for high-income taxpayers, but will unlikely go into other specifics. Congress already has its hands full when it returns from the August recess, with topics ranging from the federal debt limit to hurricane relief efforts.

Economy

Tropical Storm Harvey is wreaking even more havoc after knocking out a fifth of the nation's refining capacity, sending gasoline prices to their highest since July 2015. After drenching Texas, Harvey regained strength over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and crashed ashore again in southwest Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The Commerce Department is set to release its second gross domestic product estimate for Q2, after initially reporting a 2.6% annual growth rate in the April-to-June period. Since the original release, reports on key ingredients in GDP have signaled positive growth. July retail sales indicated strength in consumer spending, while durable goods pointed toward momentum in business investment.

Sterling has hit eight-year lows of 1.075 against the euro as investors search for relative safety amid worries over the slow progress of Brexit talks. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker blasted the negotiations, stating none of Britain's positions are "satisfactory," while EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the U.K. had to "start negotiating seriously."

Britain is separately looking at ways to replicate the trade deals the European Union has with countries outside the bloc when it exits the EU in March 2019. The announcement from Theresa May comes ahead of her visit to Tokyo and meeting with Shinzo Abe. The EU currently has trade deals with external countries like Switzerland and South Korea, and is finalizing its own deal with Japan.

Mexico sees a serious risk the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA and is preparing a 'Plan B.' "This is not going to be easy," Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told senators in Mexico City. "The start of the talks is like a roller coaster." Responding to the comments, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would continue to work "seriously" to improve the trade agreement.

Domestic boost? Mexico's government has approved a new, second bourse, the Institutional Stock Exchange, which hopes to entice more companies to issue stock. Known by its Spanish acronym BIVA, the new exchange will be backed by technology from Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ). "I am sure this will be very instrumental in fostering savings and generating new investments and jobs," said President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Kim Jong-un has warned that Tuesday's missile launch over Japan was a "meaningful prelude to containing" the U.S. territory of Guam, adding that his regime would conduct more ballistic missile tests. Yesterday's UN Security Council described North Korea's actions as "outrageous" and called for the full implementation of tough sanctions agreed to less than a month ago.

One of the chapters of ISIS's occupation in the Middle East has drawn to a close, with Lebanon reclaiming all the land that the terror group had controlled in the country for the past three years. Lebanon has also begun to repair its fragile economy, signing off last week on public sector pay rises and tax increases to cover their cost. Moody's lifted the country's outlook to stable from negative in response.

Stocks

A consortium led by Bain Capital and including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has offered a revised last-ditch bid for Toshiba's (OTCPK:TOSYY) chip division worth $18B. Under the new proposal, Bain and Toshiba would each hold 46% of the unit, Japanese broadcaster NHK reports, adding that talks between the conglomerate and a Western Digital (NYSE:WDC)-led consortium have stalled.

Target is struggling to compete with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in retail, but it's finding other ways to fight back. The retailer is scaling back its use of Amazon Web Services, according to a CNBC exclusive, as it aims to take greater control over its infrastructure and stop financing its chief rival. The last straw for Target (NYSE:TGT) seemed to be Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods.

Calling the system ARCore, Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) has unveiled tools to make augmented reality apps for mobile devices using the Android operating system. It sets up the tech giant's latest showdown with Apple (AAPL). The iPhone maker in June announced a similar system called ARKit that it plans to release this fall on "hundreds of millions" of devices.

Rupert Murdoch has pulled his Fox News channel from the Sky (OTCQX:SKYAY) platform in Britain, where the government is assessing a bid by the media mogul to buy the broader Sky pay-TV company for $15B. Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX, FOXA) said the decision was based on "commercial interest" as only a few thousand viewers tune into the network across the U.K.

Bitcoin has been on a tear since it split in two on Aug. 1, resulting in the creation of bitcoin cash. The traditional cryptocurrency hit a new record high on Tuesday, trading at $4,703.42, up nearly 70% for the month and up 350% YTD. Institutional interest in bitcoin is also building: A new report from financial research firm Autonomous Next has identified 55 crypto-related funds.

Due to pressure from large investors, who are frustrated by vague explanations, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) will detail plans next month to turn around performance at its core bond-trading unit. The bank reported a stunning 40% decline in bond-trading revenue last quarter, much worse than rivals Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), stating it was having difficulty "navigating" the markets.

Warren Buffett has become the biggest shareholder in Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), with a 6.6% stake, after exercising an option to take hold of 700M shares at a heavy discount. The move was signaled in June to take effect after BofA officially raised its quarterly dividend to $0.12 from $0.075. That translates into annual dividends of $336M for Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B).

Energy news: Native American tribes hoping to persuade a judge to shut the Dakota Access oil pipeline have submitted last-minute court filings declaring that project developer Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP) overstated the potential effects of a shutdown. Separately, Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) said its recent emergence from bankruptcy should shield it from lawsuits brought by coastal California communities over rising sea levels and global warming.

Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant took an unexpected shot at Under Armour (NYSE:UA) yesterday during an interview with The Ringer, causing shares to slip more than 3%. "Nobody wants to play in Under Armours. I'm sorry. The top kids don't because they all play Nike (NYSE:NKE)." Durant's teammate, Stephen Curry, is the inspiration for the UA basketball business.

Uber is cooperating with a preliminary DOJ investigation into whether its managers broke U.S. laws against bribing foreign officials. However, it's still unclear whether the probe is focused on its activities in one or multiple countries. The news came shortly after UBER's board officially appointed Dara Khosrowshahi, the former CEO of Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), as its next leader.

Tim Cook's stewardship of Apple (AAPL) is paying off. The iPhone maker's CEO received company stock worth $89M last week after hitting a key performance target, according to a regulatory filing. Cook received the payout because Apple outperformed more than two-thirds of the companies in the S&P 500 over the past three years, as well as for staying at the helm of the tech giant.

Tuesday's Key Earnings

Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) -11.9% warning about gross margins.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan +0.7%. Hong Kong +1.2%. China -0.1%. India +0.8%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.3%. Paris +0.5%. Frankfurt +0.5%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.1%. S&P +0.1%. Nasdaq +0.2%. Crude -0.6% to $46.17. Gold -0.1% to $1317.60.
Ten-year Treasury Yield flat at 2.13%

Today's Economic Calendar

7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:15 ADP Jobs Report
8:30 GDP Q2
8:30 Corporate profits
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
3:00 PM Farm Prices

 

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