What was it that spooked investors yesterday?!
With Xiaomi Corp on track to launch the largest IPO since 2014 in Hong Kong today, Americans’ fears about globalization seem to be hitting home, first and foremost, from the Trump White House. The company is set to have a market cap of $100 billion and is vying to take on Apple (AAPL), America’s largest company by market cap.
The market seemed on track to score a win yesterday after indexes rose on the heels of the Fed’s rate decision; with the trading session progressing, the market relinquished its gains. And then, Trump – who can’t seem to give the market a break for a single day – stirred the pot again, announcing that he’s contemplating a restriction on telecom equipment sales from certain Chinese companies to the U.S. Playing the sheriff, Trump has day in and day out now, for months, spooked markets. The moment things seem to get back on track, you have to expect anything and everything from the Oval Office, a tweet, a press release, an executive order. All of the above, can suddenly send the market tanking!
A U.S. presidential delegation is expected to convene with Beijing today and tomorrow with top Chinese officials. Obviously, what’s getting the market’s goat is uncertainty. The same way inflation crops up when people expect prices to rise because people rush to buy goods and services before price hikes, likewise, with the market, the uncertainty as to where companies and the market are headed, has stymied any move. And rightfully so! Why shoot into the dark? Why take unneeded risk?!
John Hancock Investments market strategist, Matthew Miskin, summed it up perfectly: “It’s hard to see investors willing to take increasing risk ahead of a couple more weeks of trade discussions and negotiations to come.”
The Fed did offer momentary relief. The FOMC unanimously decided to leave its lending rate’s target range at between 1.50% – 1.75%. The bank noted the moderate rate of expansion in economic activity, inflation nearing 2%, the Fed’s long-stated target. The next hike is anticipated to be in June.
We saw sharp activity in a large swath of stocks. PayPal Holdings (PYPL) toppled 4.1% on the heels of a Bloomberg report that Amazon will be undercutting it by offering discounts to its retailers for adopting a system of its own. Another big loser was Snap Inc. (SNAP), after releasing a forecast for regular users and revenue that was short of the consensus on Wall Street. SNAP tumbled 21.9%.
The whole biotech sector fell after Gilead Sciences (GILD) plunged 7.8%, the company seeing headwinds from declining sales in its hepatitis-C drugs.
On the upside, it was Apple (AAPL) – again – that stole the show! Its stock rose 4.4%, riding the wave of gains in the previous trading session. One of Apple’s suppliers, the optics firm, Lumentum Holdings (LITE), soared 11.1% after releasing its numbers on Wednesday. Another winner was MasterCard (MA), which traded up 3.1%, consumer credit and debit card spending driving its better than expected quarterly profits.
Another interesting stock to watch is Amazon (AMZN). Amazon recently celebrated its 100 millionth Prime user, but now, after releasing stellar earnings numbers, it plans on raising the annual and monthly membership price. The $20 price hike on the annual subscription seems to be scaring some users, recent surveys pointing to almost half of subscribers possibly dropping the service. If fears materialize it could be a double hit, a loss in subscription revenues and a loss in revenues from future sales. Goldman Sachs seems to take the opposite stance: “The strength and stickiness of these businesses (high consumer value proposition) enable Amazon to continue investing to deepen its competitive moat and expanding its addressable market.” One question that Goldman may not have entertained is the extent to which the price change will lead to a cannibalization in sales; clients may opt to sign up for a month or two a year, around the holiday shopping seasons.
Tesla (TSLA) is certainly a stock worth watching today, after its iconoclastic CEO, Elon Musk, no holds barred, refused to answer analyst questions, dismissing them as boring. Musk’s petulance cost the company $2 billion in market value. The temperamental CEO even cut off an analyst, saying, “Next.” Referring to questions as “boring” or “dry,” he certainly broke with the script – if there ever was one – when he said at one point, “You’re killing me.”
He lashed out at the press, his own CFO and anyone else in firing range. “If the press is hounding the regulators, and the public is living under the misapprehension that autonomy is less safe because of misleading press, then this is where I find the challenge predicting it to be very difficult,” adding, “And, yeah, it’s really incredibly irresponsible of any journalists with integrity to write an article that would lead people to believe that autonomy is less safe. Because people might actually turn it off, and then die.”
Watch TSLA today! Be primed for volatility. The question more than anything is whether traders and investors buy Musk’s narrative. He, likewise, took no responsibility for fatal accidents: “When there is a serious accident, almost always — in fact, maybe always — the case is that it is an experienced user, and the issue is more one of complacency. Like, they get too used to it.”
Today’s Economic Calendar: Expect a lot of action today! International trade numbers will be released at 8:30. Jobless Claims will be coming out at 8:30, productivity and cost numbers to be released at the same hour. Then, at 9:45, be primed for the PMI Services Index. At 10:00, factory orders will be released, along with the ISM Non-Mfg Index at the same hour. At 10:30, the EIA Natural Gas report will be released, the Fed Balance Sheet and the Money Supply report coming out at 16:30.
Daily Summary: The Dow Jones and the S&P 500 both fell 0.72%. The NASDAQ slipped 0.42%. Though most sectors on the S&P 500 ended up, telecom shed 0.72% and consumer staples fell 0.69%. IT was up 0.84% and materials stocks edged up 0.53%.
Thursday’s Hot Stocks: AIG, TSLA, ZYGNA, SQ, SPOT
Have a great trading day!