DAILY MARKET REPORTS
- U.S. stocks maintained gains early Friday following a slightly better-than-expected jobs report.
- Trade hopes and a dovish Fed have helped push the S&P 500 to its highest since Oct. 9, putting the index 1.8% away from an all-time high of 2,940.91 points.
- Nonfarm payrolls increased a seasonally adjusted 196,000 in March, the Labor Department said.
- The unemployment rate held steady at 3.8% last month, just above a 49-year low of 3.7% touched last fall.
- Average hourly wages for private-sector workers grew 3.2% from a year earlier.
- U.S. stocks had already been set to open higher early Friday after President Trump struck an upbeat tone about the U.S.-China trade talks but failed to set a date for a final summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
- Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said that total industrial output rose 0.7% in February from the previous month, after data Thursday showed a slump in orders for the nation’s manufacturing sector, offering a mixed picture of the country’s economy.
US FINANCIAL MARKET
Samsung Expects 60% Decline in First-Quarter Operating Profit
- Samsung said it expects to post a 60% decline in first-quarter operating profit as memory-chip demand has faded, the latest fallout from a global pullback in spending.
- Samsung said it expected an operating profit of 6.2 trillion South Korean won ($5.5 billion), down from 15.64 trillion won a year earlier and below expected operating profit of 6.8 trillion won.
- The company expects revenue to decrease 14% to 52 trillion won, also below consensus of 53 trillion won for the quarter.
- SK Hynix, Micron and Samsung – which dominate the global market for dynamic random-access memory, or DRAM, chips – recently have issued upbeat assessments of the prospects for a recovery in chip prices.
- One bright spot for Samsung is bigger-than-expected demand for its new flagship device, the Galaxy S10, which hit shelves on March 8. Preorders for the flagship phone were the highest in company history, Samsung said.
Boeing Identifies Second Software Issue on 737 MAX
- Boeing said it has identified a second software issue it needs to fix on the 737 MAX airliner which is unrelated to the flight-control flaw implicated in the crash of two of the planes in recent months.
- Last week, Boeing presented a proposed fix to MCAS, which stands for maneuvering characteristics augmentation system, to some of its 737 MAX operators. The Federal Aviation Administration this week said the upgrade needed more work “to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues.”
- Boeing said that as part of that software upgrade it would also address a newly discovered software issue, without identifying what part of the plane’s operations it impacted.
- It said the upgraded software would be completed “over the coming weeks” for approval by the FAA, the plane’s principal regulator.
Amazon’s Rise in Ad Searches Dents Google’s Dominance
- Advertisers are starting to shift spending on search ads from Google toward Amazon, a sign of how the online retailer is capitalizing on becoming the top destination for consumers’ product searches.
- WPP, the world’s largest ad buyer, spent about $300 million on behalf of its clients on Amazon search ads last year, and about 75% of that money came from Google search budgets, according to people familiar with the matter.
- WPP spent north of $3 billion globally on Google search advertising last year, one of the people said.
- Omnicom Group, another Madison Avenue giant, said between 20% and 30% of the dollars its clients spent on search advertising last year went to Amazon search ads, with the majority of the cash shifted from Google search budgets.
- The New York ad company spent about $1.2 billion on U.S. search ads last year, according to people familiar with its ad spending.
Judge Gives Elon Musk, SEC Two Weeks to Strike Deal on Contempt Claims
- A federal judge told Elon Musk and the U.S. government to craft a compromise that would avoid the need to determine whether the Tesla chief executive violated a court order governing his communications on social media.
- U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, showing some disappointment with the SEC’s rush to court to have Mr. Musk held in contempt, told the two sides to “put their reasonableness pants on” and report back to her after two weeks.
- The SEC in its request to the court asked the judge to spell out a “series of escalating fines” that would result if Mr. Musk is found in contempt and later again violates a 2018 settlement deal, which required him to seek approval for his tweets.
Drug company founder, execs exploited patients to sell opioid: U.S. prosecutor
- The founder of Insys Therapeutics put profits over patient safety by bribing doctors to prescribe an addictive fentanyl spray, fueling the U.S. opioid epidemic, a federal prosecutor said on Thursday at the end of a landmark trial.
- John Kapoor, the drugmaker’s former chairman, and four colleagues are the first executives of a painkiller manufacturer to face trial for conduct that authorities say was tied to a drug abuse epidemic that kills tens of thousands of Americans each year.
- Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Yeager told a federal jury in his closing argument that Kapoor sought to eliminate the risk of Insys failing after investing millions of dollars in founding it by bribing doctors to prescribe the company’s pain drug Subsys.
- Yaeger said Chandler, Arizona-based Insys paid doctors to act as speakers at “bogus” events ostensibly meant to educate clinicians about Subsys, which contains fentanyl, a highly potent opioid.
Jeff Bezos keeps Amazon voting power in divorce settlement
- Jeff Bezos will retain voting control of his entire $143 billion stake in the company under a divorce settlement with his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, who will own 25% of those shares, removing uncertainty over control of the online retailer.
- The world’s richest couple had announced their impending divorce in a joint Twitter statement in January, causing some to worry that Jeff Bezos could wind up with less Amazon voting power or that he or MacKenzie would liquidate large positions.
- MacKenzie Bezos will wind up with a stake in Amazon that is worth roughly $36 billion, a 4% stake in Amazon, which will make her the world’s third-richest woman while Jeff Bezos will remain the world’s richest person, according to Forbes.
Americans Hate Social Media but Can’t Give It Up, WSJ/NBC News Poll Finds
- Americans have a paradoxical attachment to the social-media platforms that have transformed communication, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds, saying they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them daily.
- Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.
- More than half of Americans—54%—said they aren’t satisfied with the amount of federal government regulation and oversight of social-media companies such as Facebook and Twitter, while 36% said they were satisfied with the current level of oversight.
- The survey of 1,000 people, conducted March 23-27, showed that a majority of Americans have less trust in Facebook to protect their personal information than the federal government.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
U.S. Jobs Grew by 196,000 in March as Hiring Bounces Back
- Nonfarm payrolls increased a seasonally adjusted 196,000 in March, and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.8% last month, just above a 49-year low of 3.7% touched last fall.
- Economists had expected 175,000 new jobs in March and a 3.8% unemployment rate.
- Average hourly wages for private-sector workers grew 3.2% from a year earlier.
- Revised figures show employers added 312,000 jobs in January and 33,000 jobs in February, a net upward revision of 14,000.
- Through the first three months of the year, employers added an average of 180,000 jobs to payrolls each month, a slowdown from the robust 223,000 jobs added each month, on average, last year, but roughly in line with the 179,000 averaged in 2017.
Trump Says U.S.-China Trade Deal Close, but No Summit Plans Yet
- The U.S. and China are aiming to reach a trade deal in the next four weeks, President Trump said, though he failed to announce a much-anticipated summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
- “This is an epic deal, historic—if it happens,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll see what happens.”
- Mr. Trump and his trade team say negotiations are in their final stages, but caution that issues remain—including when to lift punitive tariffs against Chinese imports, protection of U.S. intellectual property and enforcement of the pact’s provisions.
- There are “major, major issues left,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said. “We’re certainly making more progress than we would have thought when we started.”
Trump Backs Off Threat to Shut Down Border with Mexico
- President Trump backed away Thursday from his recent threats to imminently close the U.S. border with Mexico to stop immigrant crossings, while also raising the possibility of imposing tariffs on cars.
- Trump this week had already appeared to give himself wiggle room on the border closure, telling reporters he was happier with Mexican officials’ response to U.S. requests as they negotiated how to handle families from Central America.
- He repeated that Thursday, while maintaining he could still close the border in the future.
- In recent weeks, federal officials have raised concerns about their capacity to respond to the number of people presenting at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying they are facing a “systemwide meltdown.”
Mexico Struggles to Contain Surge in Central American Migrants
- Mexico is struggling to contain a surge of Central American migrants making their way to the U.S. border that has been fueled by a softening of Mexican migration policies and a severe drought in Guatemala.
- The exodus is causing new frictions between the U.S. and its neighbors, and comes after the administration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador began offering humanitarian visas to asylum seekers making the perilous trek across Mexico.
- In the first three months of Mr. López Obrador’s government, the number of Guatemalan migrants deported by Mexico fell by 32% from the year-earlier period, to nearly 8,000.
- Total deportations of illegal migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador fell 13% during the same period.
- Meanwhile, the number of illegal immigrants detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection more than doubled during the same period, rising to about 165,000. The vast majority are children and migrant families from Central America.
- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her agency estimates that about 100,000 migrants crossed the border illegally or asked for refuge at legal border crossings in March, a level not seen in more than a decade.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan Enters 2020 Presidential Race
- Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is running for president, making the nine-term congressman the 17th Democrat to enter the 2020 race.
- Elected to Congress at 29, Mr. Ryan came to Washington as a conservative Democrat.
- He has become more liberal on key issues in recent years, changing his opposition to abortion rights and gun control.
- Mr. Ryan rose to national prominence as one of Nancy Pelosi’s chief antagonists within the House Democratic caucus.
- The 45-year-old won support from one-third of House Democrats in a 2016 bid to topple Mrs. Pelosi and organized the failed effort to block her from becoming speaker following the 2018 midterm elections.
Trump Picks Herman Cain for Fed Seat
- President Trump said Thursday he intends to nominate former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain to the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, signaling his desire to remake the nation’s central bank after complaining about it for months.
- The selection of Mr. Cain, following the president’s decision to nominate his former campaign adviser Stephen Moore, marks an effort to install two Fed critics and loyal Trump supporters on the central bank’s powerful seven-seat board.
- While the nominations would be subject to Senate confirmation, they would underscore Mr. Trump’s growing unhappiness with Fed policy under Jerome Powell, whom the president tapped to lead the central bank.
EUROPE & WORLD
Theresa May Seeks Brexit Extension to June 30
- The British government has requested an additional delay to Brexit until June 30 to buy more time to get a divorce deal through parliament, as the EU debated its own timetable for the U.K.’s departure from the bloc.
- Any extension would require unanimous agreement by the 27 leaders of the other EU countries.
- An emergency EU summit on Brexit is scheduled for April 10, where leaders will consider the U.K.’s request.
- One option under consideration involves the EU resisting a short delay, preferring instead to offer London a one-year extension that could be shortened if the British Parliament manages to pass an agreement governing the country’s split from the bloc.
- A key stumbling block is that the EU is set to hold parliamentary elections on May 23.
- Mrs. May said that Britain didn’t wish to participate in the polls and would aim to leave before this date, but if a deal hadn’t been approved by then the U.K. would join in the ballot.
German industrial output rises in February
- German industrial production picked up in February as the mild weather boosted construction, and despite another small monthly drop in manufacturing output.
- Total industrial output–comprised of output in manufacturing, energy and construction-rose 0.7% in February from the month before, beating economists’ forecast of a 0.5% gain.
- Construction output surged 6.8% in February from the month before, while manufacturing output slipped 0.2%.
- Compared with February 2018, total industrial output fell 0.4%, taking account of calendar effects.
LG Electronics sees lower profit as mobile business stays in red, shares slip
- LG Electronics’ operating profit likely fell by a smaller-than-expected 19% in the first quarter, even as losses in its mobile business and rising competition in the television segment pushed its revenue down to below consensus.
- Revenue likely fell 1.4% to 14.9 trillion won, the South Korean firm said, below a 15.3 trillion won consensus.
- The second-biggest TV set maker in the world, estimated an operating profit of 899.6 billion won ($792.77 million) for the January-March period, versus 1.1 trillion won a year earlier but ahead of the average estimate of 808 billion won.
- Analysts said LG’s longtime loss-generating smartphone business, in the red for seven quarters, and intensifying price competition in the global TV market likely weighed on earnings.
Canada Employment Down Slightly in March
- Canada’s jobs market contracted slightly in March, coming in below expectations after two months of strong gains.
- The Canadian economy dropped a net 7,200 jobs in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, Statistics Canada said Friday. Market expectations were for an increase in employment of 10,000.
- Canada’s jobless rate, meanwhile, was unchanged from the previous month at 5.8%, matching expectations.
- In March, wages advanced on a one-year basis by 2.4%, up slightly from the previous month.
India’s Central Bank Cuts Key Lending Rate to 6.0%
- India’s central bank cut its main lending rate for the second time this year as recent low inflation rates gave it the freedom to try to bolster economic growth.
- The Reserve Bank of India’s monetary-policy committee, headed by Gov. Shaktikanta Das, on Thursday lowered the repurchase rate to 6% from 6.25%. All 10 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a quarter-percentage-point rate cut.
- Consumer inflation has remained below the RBI’s 4% target for the past seven months, while GDP growth dipped to a five-quarter low of 6.6% in the three months through December.
China’s Fishing Militia Swarms Philippine Island, Seeking Edge in Sea Dispute
- Chinese fishing vessels have swarmed the waters around a Philippine-controlled island in the South China Sea in recent months—sparking fears in Manila that Beijing is trying to assert greater control in a disputed area.
- Since January, at least 275 Chinese boats functioning as part of a maritime militia have gathered for varying lengths of time near Thitu Island, according to the Philippines’ military.
- Their tactics raise concerns about their “role in support of coercive objectives,” the country’s foreign ministry said Thursday.
- China has long used its fishing fleet as part of what opponents term “gray zone” tactics to assert its territorial claims and pressure countries contesting the Chinese position that is has sovereignty over nearly all of the South China Sea.
TODAY in HISTORY
- George Washington cast the first presidential veto. (1792)
- Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for giving away atomic secrets to the Russians. (1952)
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