Wall Street Breakfast: Slack Goes Public Via Direct Listing

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The latest high-profile company to go public in 2019 is Slack Technologies (WORK), which will begin trading this morning on the NYSE through a direct listing. The method allows a firm to simply float its existing stock onto a public exchange without raising money, using underwriters or utilizing a stabilizing agent. Valued at about $15.7B, the NYSE has set a reference price for Slack at $26/share, which will be used by market makers to build an order book to open trading. More firms (like Airbnb) may follow suit if the direct scheme is successful, with the workplace-messaging app being only the second big tech company after Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) to bypass the traditional IPO process.

Bond yields fall, stocks soar

As the Fed spreads its dovish wings, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury dropped below 2% overnight for the first time since November 2016. The FOMC left interest rates unchanged at its monetary policy meeting on Wednesday, dropped the word “patient” from its statement and said it would “act as appropriate” to sustain the economy. The news is also boosting U.S. stock futures premarket, with the DJIA indicating gains of 228 points at the open and the Fed Funds Futures pointing to a 100% chance of monetary policy easing in July.

Oil jumps on latest attack

Reacting to the downing of a U.S. drone over the Strait of Hormuz, oil prices spiked overnight, with WTI crude soaring 3% to over $55/bbl. The U.S. maintains the RQ-4 Global Hawk (NYSE:NOC) was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile in international airspace, though Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it was operating over its jurisdiction. It’s the latest in a series of apparent Iranian-backed skirmishes in the Middle East that have stoked fears of a wider military conflict.

First to ratify USMCA

Just a week after dodging new U.S. tariffs on its exports, Mexico ratified the USMCA trade deal designed to succeed NAFTA, even though the U.S. and Canada have yet to do the same. The new deal is particularly important to the auto industry, since it lifts the proportion of components that have to be made in the region for a vehicle to qualify for duty-free access to 75% from 62.5%. Some inputs must also be made in areas where the average wage is a relatively high $16 an hour.

Powell struggle

While he’s not planning to do so right now, President Trump told confidants as recently as Wednesday that he believes he has the authority to replace Jerome Powell by demoting him to a board governor role, Bloomberg reports. The Fed Chair has a difference of opinion. “The law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” he declared yesterday. Trump has repeatedly accused Powell of not doing enough to bolster the economy, calling for lower interest rates as he seeks to offset the unfair trade practices and currency manipulation of China and Europe.

Who’s replacing Mario Draghi?

Following bombshell remarks on restarting the ECB’s bond-buying scheme, European leaders are gathering in Brussels today – for the second round of talks – on who should lead the European Commission after Oct. 31, when the current term expires. Almost all of the final contenders are members of the ECB’s Governing Council and are likely to follow the largely dovish strategies of Mario Draghi, except for perhaps Jens Weidmann, current governor of the Bundesbank.

Trouble in Italy

Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is making a plea to revamp EU budget rules and economic governance in a bid to avoid disciplinary action over his country’s huge debt. Complicating things further, Italy’s economy probably shrank again this quarter, according to the country’s statistics office. A contraction in the three months through June would be the third in a year, highlighting the perilous state of the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

Latest at Paris Air Show

Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY) sealed deals with big buyers for its latest passenger jet – the A321XLR – at the expo on Wednesday, battling back a day after a surprise 200-plane order by IAG (OTCPK:ICAGY) for rival Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) grounded 737 MAX jet. It’s hard to know the exact tally at this point, but the contract value each planemaker has scored is likely around $35B. Other happenings… Mitsubishi Aircraft (OTCPK:MHVYF) said it was in discussions with an unnamed U.S. airline over the sale of its SpaceJet M100 aircraft, while Israeli startup Eviation launched its 9 passenger all-electric plane.

‘Surveillance as a service’

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Ring may soon have a buddy in the sky. Called “surveillance as a service,” the company wants to use its network of delivery drones to keep watch over customers’ houses by forming a flying Neighborhood Watch scheme, according to a new patented system. Customers could request that Amazon’s drones visit their property hourly, daily, or weekly, while the drones would look for signs of break-ins, such as smashed windows, doors left open, and intruders lurking on people’s property.

Self-driving dreams

Up until now, Waymo (GOOG, GOOGL), a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been testing a small fleet of its own self-driving cars – Chrysler Pacifica (NYSE:FCAU) minivans – just outside of Phoenix. The company is now branching out as a technology and services provider in the industry. In a new deal signed with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance (OTCPK:RNLSY, OTCPK:NSANY, OTC:MMTOY), Waymo and the automakers will study market opportunities related to autonomous transportation systems in France and Japan, hoping to develop profitable driverless services for passengers and deliveries.

What else is happening…

See more on Oracle’s (NYSE:ORCL) strong earnings from the call transcript.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) discussed Libra crypto launch with the Fed.

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) faces U.S. probe into money laundering lapses – NYT.

FTC blesses UnitedHealth’s (NYSE:UNH) $4.3B purchase of DaVita (NYSE:DVA).

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) offers EU concessions to address Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) deal.

Brake performance has Canada open probe into 250K GM (NYSE:GM) pickups, SUVs.

As Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) talks may stall, T-Mobile (NASDAQ:TMUS) prepares for Boost auction.

Wednesday’s Key Earnings

American Outdoor (NASDAQ:AOBC) +8.3% AH as revenues beat high estimates.
Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) -0.6% amid slipping comparable sales.
Oracle (ORCL) +4.5% AH helped by cloud growth.

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