Wall Street Breakfast: Stocks Advance As Trade Talks Resume

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are set to resume trade talks today with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He as global equities rally in response to positive statements surrounding the discussions. The Shanghai Composite closed up 1.2%, Europe is ahead 1% at midday and the DJIA is pointing to triple-digit gains. American and Chinese officials are said to have negotiated 90% of the deal, but are still haggling over how to implement and enforce such an agreement.

Limiting economic damage if border closed

The White House is looking for ways to limit the economic damage that will result if President Trump closes the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council. “Particularly if you can keep those freight lanes, truck lanes, open, that’s probably the nub of it,” he said. “There are ways you can do that which would ameliorate the breakdown in supply chains.” U.S. trade with Mexico exceeds $1.7B daily, and nearly half a million people legally cross the southern border every day as workers, students, shoppers, and tourists.

Oil continues advance above $60

Crude futures are on track for a fourth consecutive positive trading session, adding 0.3% to trade at $62.70 per barrel and pushing gains for this year to 38%. Brent crude is just under $70 per barrel, with output falling for a fourth month amid continued OPEC production cuts and sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release a report on crude inventories at 10:30 a.m. ET.

IEA under fire over fossil-fuel friendly models

Leading investors and scientists are criticizing the IEA for climate change forecasts they consider “too friendly” to fossil fuels. In a letter to the world’s top energy body – whose benchmark annual outlook is considered the definitive assessment of the energy sector – businesses including Hermes Investment Management and Allianz Group (OTCPK:ALIZF) asked the agency to develop a new forecasting model with lower emissions. IEA responded to the criticism, saying its models simply mirror the decisions made by policymakers.

Pound advances as May weighs next move

Theresa May emerged from a seven-hour cabinet meeting on Tuesday announcing she wants to reach across the aisle and talk with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about a softer Brexit deal. That could include British membership in a customs union with the EU, but also rip her Conservative Party apart as half her lawmakers want a decisive split with the bloc. “Let us be patient,” declared European Council President Donald Tusk in response to May’s change of course, while EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, “as things stand now, the no-deal option looks likely.” Sterling +0.5% to $1.3196.

Ethiopian Air pilots followed procedures before crash

Pilots at the controls of the 737 MAX that crashed in March in Ethiopia initially followed emergency procedures laid out by Boeing (NYSE:BA) but still failed to recover control of the jet, according to a WSJ report that quoted people briefed on the probe’s preliminary findings. After turning off the MCAS flight-control system that was automatically pushing down the plane’s nose, pilots then cranked a manual wheel in an attempt to stabilize the plane, but the crew couldn’t get the aircraft to climb and ended up turning it back on before the final plunge that killed all 157 people on board.

U.S. drug prices continue to soar

Pharmaceutical companies are continuing to defy political pressure from both Democrats and Republicans by raising the prices of almost 3,000 drugs in the U.S. in the first three months of this year. Generic versions of the antidepressant Prozac and the painkiller Vicodin were among the medicines with triple-digit percentage increases. Drug costs continue to increase at four times the rate of inflation, causing concern for employers, health insurers and consumers, said RX Savings Solutions CEO Michael Rea.

Facebook cannot promise interference-free EU elections

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is much better than it was in 2016 at tackling election interference but cannot guarantee the website will not be used to undermine European Parliament elections in May, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “We’ve certainly made a lot of progress… but this is an ongoing arms race.” Facebook has already toughened its rules on political advertising in Europe and ramped up efforts to fight misinformation by partnering with German news agency DPA to boost fact checking.

Should Netflix films be eligible for the Oscars?

The U.S. Department of Justice has sent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a letter expressing concern about potential changes to requirements for the awards. Limiting the eligibility of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and other streamers could spark antitrust concerns, Variety reports. Director Steven Spielberg is said to be pushing for Oscar changes, perhaps by creating a requirement that movies play exclusively in theaters for four weeks in order to be eligible.

Tuesday’s Key Earnings

GameStop (NYSE:GME) -8.7% AH on disappointing Q4, weak outlook.
Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA) -12.8% lowering its 2019 forecast.

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