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Wall Street Breakfast

Author: bmotrader   |   Latest post: Fri, 13 Dec 2019, 9:17 AM

 

Wall Street Breakfast: Whirlwind Trade And Tariff Blitz

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A barrage of trade actions was announced by the Trump administration on Monday, beginning with tariffs on steel and aluminum from Argentina and Brazil due to a "massive devaluation" of those countries' currencies. The U.S. Trade Representative also said it would review hiking tariffs on EU products and adding new ones, because of what it called "lack of progress" in resolving a dispute over aircraft subsidies. After the markets closed, the USTR said it planned to slap punitive duties of up to 100% on $2.4B of French products - like Champagne, handbags and cheese - after concluding that a new French digital services tax (DST) would harm U.S. tech companies.

Action against DST may go global

The USTR also threatened that such tariffs could be enacted in the future against Austria, Italy and Turkey, all of which have digital-services taxes. It added that French officials "repeatedly referred to the French DST as the 'GAFA tax,' which stands for Google (GOOG, GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)." Before moving forward with the levies, the agency will hold public hearings on the proposed tariffs on Jan. 7 and will accept public comments through at least Jan. 14,.

Trade deal may not happen until after 2020

U.S. stock futures are sinking back into the red, now down 0.5%, a day after the DJIA fell 270 points and the S&P 500 posted its worst one-day decline since Oct. 8. "In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right," President Trump told reporters in London. Worsening the mood, The Global Times said China will release an "unreliable entity list" soon - aimed at punishing businesses deemed harmful to Chinese interests - that reportedly includes U.S. entities.
 

Zuckerberg doubles down on ad policy

Challenged on CBS over the policy, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's decision to not take down political advertising that contains false information. "What I believe is that in a democracy, it's really important that people can see for themselves what politicians are saying, so they can make their own judgments," he said. "And, you know, I don't think that a private company should be censoring politicians or news." Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) has banned all political ads, while Google (GOOG, GOOGL) has taken more of a middle-of-the-road approach and is receiving less scrutiny on the subject.
 

Amazon unveils quantum computing service

The fully managed service lets customers explore, evaluate, and experiment quantum hardware from three startups (D-Wave Systems, IonQ, and Rigetti Computing). Rival IBM (NYSE:IBM) has offered cloud service to its own quantum hardware since 2016. Amazon (AMZN) also announced the AWS Center for Quantum Computing - adjacent to the California Institute of Technology and the Amazon Quantum Solutions Lab - which connects AWS customers with quantum computing experts from Amazon and select partners.
 

Auto sales

Monthly vehicle sales numbers will be released today from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as labor deals conclude with the last of the Big Three carmakers in Detroit. Economists are expecting 17M total light vehicles sold in November, up from October’s 16.5M, according to FactSet. A year ago, November sales totaled 17.4M vehicles. Shares of Ford (NYSE:F) are flat over the past month, while General Motors (NYSE:GM) is off by nearly 7% and Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) is down by 9% in the same period.

Chicken sandwich wars

McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) kicked off December by entering into the so-called "Chicken Wars," a food fight Popeyes challenged Chick-fil-A with in August by releasing its now-infamous Chicken Sandwich. The contender from the Golden Arches is reported to feature a fried chicken filet served on a buttery potato roll, with butter and pickles (a deluxe version also includes tomatoes, lettuce and mayo). McDonald's is testing the new sandwich in Houston, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee until January 26.

Flying car reboot

Kitty Hawk, the secretive flying car company that's bankrolled by Google co-founder Larry Page, has been folded into a joint venture company with Boeing (NYSE:BA) named Wisk Aero. Two Boeing executives and Wisk's CEO, who previously worked for Boeing, hold three seats on the five-member board. The news comes after Forbes published a piece saying Kitty Hawk had faced many technical issues, safety problems and unresolved questions about the practical use of its battery-powered aircraft.

Hong Kong retail sales worries

Hong Kong's retail sales in October fell by their steepest on record, sliding 24.3% to HK$30.1B ($3.85B), as ongoing anti-government protests gripped the city. Tourist arrivals also plunged 43.7% from a year ago to 3.31M, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. "It's very hard to imagine that the retail sales numbers and tourist arrival numbers will be any better in November given how much of a step-up in protest and violence that happened during that time," said Martin Rasmussen, China economist at Capital Economics.

Sweden hopes to abandon negative rates

Despite a weakening economy, Sweden's Riksbank this month expects to swim against the tide of global monetary policy by ending its negative rate experiment. Policymakers are worried about some of the effects of a prolonged period of sub-zero rates, such as penalizing good savers, supporting companies that might otherwise collapse and inflating bubbles in the property market. But with a steady stream of gloomy economic data, it's still to be seen if the country can simply kick its unconventional addiction that began in 2015.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -0.6%. Hong Kong -0.2%. China +0.3%. India -0.3%.
In Europe, at midday, London -1%. Paris -0.6%. Frankfurt -0.4%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.5%. S&P -0.5%. Nasdaq -0.5%. Crude +0.3% to $56.12. Gold +0.4% to $1475.20. Bitcoin -0.9% to $7279.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -4 bps to 1.8%

Today's Economic Calendar
Auto Sales
8:55 Redbook Chain Store Sales

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