Wall Street Breakfast: Jobs Day

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Today’s non-farm payrolls report is expected to be unusually weak, weighed down by a strike at General Motors (NYSE:GM). Economists expect that only 89,000 jobs were created in October, down from 136,000 in September, with the unemployment rate ticking up slightly to 3.6% from 3.5%. A better gauge of the U.S. economy may, in fact, be this morning’s ISM manufacturing data, which is likely to show a contraction for the third month in a row. Factory activity has been at the heart of recent sluggishness, with a decline in business investment a big reason for the weak 1.9% GDP growth pace seen during Q3.

Equities head higher

Stocks across the globe are back in the green as a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing activity overshadowed doubts raised by a Bloomberg report on whether the U.S. and China can reach a long-term trade deal. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing PMI came in at 51.7 for October, the fastest expansion in more than two years, as export orders and production rose. Shanghai climbed 1% on the news, the Euro Stoxx 50 is up 0.4%, while U.S. stock index futures have pulled ahead by 0.3%.
Go deeper: ‘Trade War Aside, China Will Continue To Grow’ writes Andrew Hecht.

5G goes online in China

China turned on its 5G networks ahead of schedule on Friday – after initially targeting a 2020 launch – amid an ongoing trade war with the U.S. that has turned into a battle over tech supremacy. President Trump said earlier this year that “the race to 5G is on and America must win,” and has been seeking to convince other countries to ban Huawei from their next-generation networks. China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) all unveiled 5G plans that start at around 128 yuan ($18) per month, though experts have warned of challenges to adoption, including price and a lack of 5G capable handsets.
Go deeper: D.M. Martins Research discusses another 5G player: Nokia.

Big Oil earnings

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) this morning will join the more than two-thirds of Dow components that have already posted Q3 results. “If I look at the differentiation between Exxon Mobil and Chevron, Exxon has been in a series of lower lows and lower highs for quite some time. Chevron, though, looks like it’s in a high-level trading range after the stock moved from $70 to $130 and it’s just consolidating,” said Craig Johnson, chief market technician at Piper Jaffray. The two stocks have come under pressure this week as the rest of the energy space sold off, “but, integrated, the big companies have been a safe haven within that sector,” said Michael Binger, president of Gradient Investments.
Go deeper: Chevron has been a cash flow generation machine, says Nikolaos Sismanis.

Keystone pipeline shut after spill

Around 9,120 barrels of oil have spilled from TC Energy’s (NYSE:TRP) Keystone crude pipeline in North Dakota, making it one of the biggest onshore crude spills in the past decade and the largest for Keystone. The leak comes at a time of increased regulatory scrutiny of oil pipeline development. TC Energy has faced many regulatory and environmental hurdles as it seeks to expand its pipelines linking Western Canadian oil fields to U.S. refineries via Keystone XL.
Go deeper: TC Energy continues to move forward, writes Scott Wilkie.

China bans online e-cig sales

The e-cigarette industry’s fortunes have soured quickly over the past few months as a lung disease linked to vaping affected hundreds and killed 37 people. China has become the latest to ban online e-cig sales, while marketing campaigns across the nation will be brought to a halt. Once seen as a useful tool to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, e-cigarette sales are now banned by 27 countries, including India and Australia.

More vaping gloom

Altria (NYSE:MO) wrote down its investment in Juul by more than a third on Thursday, recording a $4.5B pretax charge against its third-quarter earnings. There wasn’t a specific event or factor that led to the write-down, but the company cited the Trump administration’s plans to remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market as well as e-cig bans by cities and states around the U.S. Altria invested $12.8B for a 35% stake in Juul late last year, valuing the e-cigarette maker at $38B.
Go deeper: Greenwood Investments feels Altria’s dividend is not sustainable.

House close to approving USMCA

“We are moving with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, making progress every day,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday. “I’m optimistic that we are still on a path to yes, and that… we will come to conclusion soon on that.” Mexico has already ratified the trade pact, but Canada has not. Pelosi gave no details on what changes Democrats have secured, but said the trade agreement could eventually be a model for future trade deals.

Lagarde takes reins of the ECB

Christine Lagarde begins her new gig atop the European Central Bank today at a time when persistently low inflation and weak growth are showing the limits of monetary policy. Under a 2012 pledge to do “whatever it takes” to save the eurozone from collapse, predecessor Mario Draghi drove interest rates deep into negative territory and pumped trillions of euros into the economy through QE. With an almost exhausted ECB monetary toolkit, unprecedented dissent has broken out between those eurozone members who back this policy and those who are losing faith in further easing.

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