The Shanghai Composite index rose 1.4% overnight as markets in China reopened after a week-long Lunar New Year break. China’s retailer and catering enterprises earned over 1T yuan ($148.3B) during the holiday, defying an economic slump to rise 8.5% from last year. Domestic tourism over the week further generated total revenues of 513.9B yuan, up 8.2% Y/Y, with the number of trips rising 7.6% to 415M.
With just 47 days to go until Brexit, the British government has asked lawmakers to give Theresa May more time to rework her divorce deal with the EU. The news could mean a vote scheduled for Valentine’s Day – which would decide on Britain’s Brexit options – could be shelved. Data this morning also showed the British economy grew just 0.2% in the final quarter of 2018 against a background of Brexit-related uncertainty.
Italy’s populist government lashed out at the country’s central bank over the weekend, saying its top brass should be replaced because they had failed to supervise the nation’s troubled banking sector. The government can’t impose new management on the independent Bank of Italy – a member of the ECB – but it can withhold approval for the bank’s own senior appointments, creating the potential for an institutional standoff.
Paying more… South Korea will shell out $920M this year for the 28,500 U.S. military personnel stationed in the country, representing an increase of about 8% from what Seoul paid in 2018 and about half of the overall cost. “Most of our contributions for the cost-sharing is returned to the Korean economy by helping create jobs, boost domestic consumption and develop regional economy,” according to the Ministry of Defense.
Looking for alternative payment mechanisms after the latest U.S. sanctions, Venezuela said it is open to barter-like payments from India – like oil for medicine – to boost sales to the world’s third-largest crude consumer. State-run oil company PDVSA is also reportedly telling customers of its joint ventures to deposit oil sales proceeds in an account recently opened at Russia’s Gazprombank.
Netflix’s Roma won Best Film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards on Sunday, scooping up the top prize at the star-studded event in London. The black and white drama, a cinematic love letter to director Alfonso Cuaron’s childhood in Mexico City, is also nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, further propelling Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) into the Hollywood club of elite filmmakers.
There might be some more pain coming to the video game sector, whose top stocks suffered double-digit declines last Wednesday. A report from Bloomberg suggests Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI), the publisher behind blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty, Diablo and Warcraft, plans to announce a round of jobs cuts tomorrow “that could number in the hundreds.” The layoffs would be part of a restructuring effort as the company faces sluggish sales.
As governments around the world try to figure out how to regulate technology from data and privacy to taxation, some big tech giants are making their own recommendations on how to run the internet economy. While a one-size-fits-all approach would “not work,” Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) top policy chief is now calling for “common rules of the road” globally when it comes to the regulation of technology. “It would be extremely helpful if there was some convergence,” Karan Bhatia told the World Government Summit in Dubai.
Looking to become a force in U.S. broadcasting, Apollo Global Management (NYSE:APO) is nearing a roughly $3B deal to acquire Cox Enterprises’ 14 regional TV stations, Reuters reports. Apollo also has an agreement to acquire Northwest Broadcasting and is a bidder for a portfolio of local TV stations worth about $1B that Nexstar (NASDAQ:NXST) plans to shed following its takeover of Tribune Media (NYSE:TRCO). The TV industry has been going through a wave of consolidation amid the rise of online streaming and shift of ad dollars to the internet.
Tesla’s delivery team was gutted during the EV maker’s recent job cuts, according to a Reuters exclusive. Some 150 employees out of a group of about 230 were let go in January at the Las Vegas facility that gets tens of thousands of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model 3s into the hands of U.S. and Canadian buyers, in a sign that the company expects the pace of deliveries to significantly slow in the near term.
The bidding war for Norway’s Oslo Bors (OTC:OSBHF) is heating up. Pan-European stock market operator Euronext (OTCPK:EUXTF) has raised its offer for Norway’s main exchange to €700M, topping the deal the Oslo board has agreed to with New York-based Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ). While both suitors have significant shareholder support for their bids, neither has an overwhelming majority.
Shifting away from variable bonuses, UBS is overhauling its pay policy for 10,000 “corporate center” employees, in a bid to “reduce uncertainty” and cut how much time managers spend on allocating them. The change is not an attempt to “cut costs,” according to UBS, which swung to a $47M loss in Q4 and said it doesn’t have plans to extend the new policy to other parts of the company.
Stringent corporate governance rules will likely see the departure of Imperial Brands (OTCQX:IMBBY) Chairman Mark Williamson, who has led one of the world’s biggest tobacco companies for almost a decade, The Times reports. At last week’s annual meeting, a significant percentage of shareholders voted against his re-election, though much of the opposition is believed to have been due to fears of Williamson taking on too many other boardroom posts.
As products by Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat (BYND) and other startups go mainstream, ranchers, farmers and industry groups are trying to slow the momentum of lab-grown and plant-based meat substitutes, NYT reports. In recent weeks, legislators in more than a dozen states have introduced laws making it clear that only food derived from animal products can use the “meat” label, although it remains to be seen if the efforts will succeed.
In Asia, Japan closed. Hong Kong +0.7%. China +1.4%. India -0.4%.
In Europe, at midday, London +0.7%. Paris +0.3%. Frankfurt +0.8%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow +0.4%. S&P +0.4%. Nasdaq +0.5%. Crude -1% to $52.21. Gold -0.6% to $1311.10. Bitcoin -0.4% to $3589.
Ten-year Treasury Yield +1 bps to 2.64%
Today’s Economic Calendar