DAILY MARKET REPORTS
- China forcefully responded to President Donald Trump’s announcement late Thursday that the U.S. is considering an additional $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, saying Beijing would “resolutely counterattack and take new comprehensive measures in response.”
- Weaker-than-expected March jobs report unable to reverse losses.
US FINANCIAL MARKET
Walmart completes due diligence for buying into India’s Flipkart
- Walmart completed a thorough due diligence process on e-commerce firm Flipkart this week, two sources said, as the U.S. retail giant looks to take a controlling stake of 51% or more in the Indian company.
- Walmart has already floated a shareholder agreement, or offer proposal, and is looking to shell out about $10 billion to $12 billion for the stake that would value Flipkart at roughly $20 billion.
- A deal is far from finalized, however, and talks between the two parties and investors in Flipkart are ongoing.
- Flipkart, started by two former Amazon employees, is fighting Amazon to grab a bigger piece of India’s massive online retail market which, according to Morgan Stanley, could be worth $200 billion in a decade.
Netflix offering more than $300 million for billboard company
- Netflix is attempting its largest acquisition, offering more than $300 million to acquire a company that owns billboards across Los Angeles, including West Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip.
- Netflix is just one of the bidders for the Los Angeles-based company, called Regency Outdoor Advertising, and there is no certainty that its offer will prevail, the sources said this week.
- Regency Outdoor also owns billboards at Los Angeles International Airport, on major freeways, near the UCLA campus, and close to the Los Angeles Angels baseball stadium.
GE Urged to Dump Auditor KPMG After 109 Years by Proxy Advisers
- The two largest proxy-advisory firms are recommending that General Electric fire KPMG as its auditor after 109 years, in light of accounting issues at the industrial giant.
- Institutional Shareholder Services made the unusual move on Thursday, saying shareholders should vote against keeping KPMG because of “the apparent extent of GE’s previously-undisclosed liabilities and accounting issues.”
- KMPG and its predecessor firms have audited GE’s books since 1909, one of the longest auditor-client relationships.
- KPMG has hundreds of staffers that work on the account, which generated $142.9 million in fees last year.
- Earlier this year, GE disclosed massive charges related to insurance operations, including a need to put $15 billion into reserves over seven years, and said the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating some of its accounting practices.
- GE planned to provide restated results for 2016 and 2017 to reflect a new accounting standard by April 13.
Retailers Worry Food-Stamp Overhaul Will Hit Them Hard
- The Trump administration is pushing to rein in food-stamp spending by nearly $130 billion over a decade, or a 20% reduction of current annual budget of $63 billion.
- The move could constitute one of the biggest reductions in program-sponsored purchases for retailers in yearly terms since the recession.
- House Republicans say their plan is aimed at creating opportunities for low-income Americans to help them acquire the skills needed to take part in the growing U.S. economy.
- They argue people will leave the program as incomes rise and that lower costs would reflect beneficiaries improved economic status.
- More than 52% of SNAP dollars, or $33 billion, were redeemed at big-box stores such as Walmart and Target last year, up from 47% in 2015, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.
- Walmart generates roughly $13 billion in annual sales from SNAP transactions, accounting for around 18% of the money spent through the program nationwide.
Ford recalls about 350,000 F-150s and Expeditions for faulty transmission gears
- Ford is recalling 350,000 vehicles for a transmission issue that could result in the car moving after the driver has placed it in park and removed the keys.
- There is reported accident and injury related to the issue.
- The recall applies to some 2018 Ford F-150 trucks and 2018 Expedition SUVs with a 10-speed automatic transmission, and some 2018 Ford F-650 and F-750 vehicles with 6-speed automatic transmissions.
Trump claims the post office is losing billions because of Amazon, but it’s a lot more complicated
- President Donald Trump is clearly not a fan of Amazon. He attacked the company via Twitter five times in the last week.
- One of his main contentions is that Amazon is ripping off the U.S. Postal Service, but it’s not clear whether it is getting the short end of the stick from the Jeff Bezos-led retailing juggernaut.
- In fact, Amazon may be saving the post office from financial ruin.
- It’s true that the post office is losing money. It reported a $2.7 billion net loss in 2017.
- But the post office is not funded by U.S. tax dollars.
- One of the post office’s biggest revenue drainers has nothing to do with shipments, or the Internet. It’s all about employee benefits.
US ECONOMY & POLITIC
U.S. Job Growth Slowed in March; Unemployment Rate Held at 4.1%
- The pace of hiring slowed in March and the unemployment rate held at a 17-year low, hinting that a tight labor market is making it more difficult for some businesses to find workers.
- U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 103,000 in March, a sharp slowdown from the prior month’s gain.
- The unemployment rate, a seasonally adjusted 4.1%, remained at the lowest level since December 2000 for the sixth straight month.
- Economists had expected 178,000 new jobs and a 4.0% unemployment rate.
- Through the first three months of the year, employers have added an average of 202,000 workers to payrolls a month, outpacing 2017’s average monthly growth of 182,000.
- U.S. employers have added to payrolls for 90 straight months, extending the longest continuous jobs expansion on record.
- Average hourly earnings for all private-sector workers increased 8 cents last month to $26.82.
- Wages rose 2.7% from a year earlier in March.
- Revised figures show employers added 326,000 jobs in February and 176,000 in January, a net downward revision of 50,000.
The manufacturing sector has been on fire since Trump was elected — March was another strong month for the industry
- The manufacturing sector added 22,000 jobs in March bringing its 12-month gain to 232,000 jobs, the Labor Department said on Friday. Much of last month’s gains — as well as the yearly uptick — came from durable goods manufacturing, the Labor Department said.
Trump Weighs Tariffs on $100 Billion More of Chinese Goods
- President Donald Trump threatened a major escalation in trade tensions with Beijing on Thursday, saying he was considering imposing tariffs on an additional $100 billion in imports from China.
- The move would triple the amount of Chinese goods facing levies when entering the U.S., up from the tariffs on $50 billion in imports from China that the president announced last week.
- Should Beijing choose to match the U.S. tariffs on imports from China with tariffs on U.S. exports to China of $150 billion, that would more than cover all U.S. exports to China.
- In 2017, the U.S. exported $130.4 billion in goods to Beijing. China, on the other hand, exported $505.6 billion of goods to the U.S.
U.S.-China Trade Talks ‘Have Not Really Begun,’ Kudlow Says
- Serious negotiations between the U.S. and China to resolve their brewing trade dispute have “not really begun,” and the Trump administration expects Beijing to take significant steps to open its markets, said a senior White House adviser.
U.S. Targets Russian Oligarchs in New Sanctions
- The Trump administration levied sanctions Friday against more than three-dozen Russian individuals and entities, targeting senior Russian government officials as well as some of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarch allies and the companies they own.
- The action, one of the toughest punitive measures taken by the Trump administration to date, is in response to what senior U.S. officials say are Moscow’s subversion of democracy, hostile cyber activities and its intervention in the Syrian war.
- The steps are likely to ratchet up tensions between Russia and the West, which already are near Cold War levels.
- Friday’s sanctions were based on a confidential report that included a list of Russian oligarchs, corrupt politicians and the ruling elite close to Mr. Putin that was drafted earlier this year by U.S. officials.
- Among those targeted were United Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, responsible for 7% of global aluminum production, the Treasury Department said.
Top 20% of Americans Will Pay 87% of Income Tax
- Households with $150,000 or more in income make up 52% of total income nationally but pay large portion of total taxes.
EUROPE & WORLD
Europe’s Slowing Economy Poses Challenge for ECB
- The $10 trillion eurozone economy entered 2018 on a high, having chalked up its strongest year in a decade in 2017, with growth outpacing the U.S.
- But a series of economic releases in recent weeks from across the 19-country currency area have been weaker than expected, suggesting that while growth will continue in 2018, it won’t be as strong.
- Signs of weaker growth support ECB President Mario Draghi’s view that the central bank needs to move cautiously as its phases out its giant bond-buying program.
- Other ECB officials, notably German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, are eager to start raising interest rates soon.
China Set to Strike Back ‘Forcefully’ at Threatened New U.S. Tariffs
- China vowed to “hit back forcefully” if the U.S. imposes newly threatened additional tariffs on $100 billion worth of Chinese goods, as trade tensions mount between the world’s two largest economies.
- Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng described as “very unreasonable” and “extremely wrong” President Donald Trump’s announcement late Thursday that he was considering penalties on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.
- “China is fully prepared to hit back forcefully and without hesitation,” Mr. Gao said. He said that China has put in place “detailed countermeasures” and those measures “don’t exclude any options.” Mr. Gao didn’t elaborate.
EU says Facebook confirmed data of 2.7 million Europeans ‘improperly shared’
- Facebook has confirmed that the data of 2.7 million EU citizens were among those improperly used by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, the EU executive said on Friday.
South Korea notifies WTO of plans to suspend tariff concessions on U.S. goods
- South Korea said on Friday it has notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that it seeks to suspend tariff concessions on imported U.S. goods worth $480 million, in response to U.S. measures against South Korean imports.
- U.S. President Donald Trump slapped a steep tariff on imported washing machines and solar panels in February to protect American manufacturers, prompting a fierce backlash from South Korea and China.
- South Korea’s trade ministry said in a statement that it has informed the WTO Council for Trade in Goods that its plan to suspend tariff concessions on imported U.S. goods, which are equal in value to the South Korean washing machines and solar panels affected by U.S. tariffs.
- The trade ministry said it plans to produce details on which U.S. products will be subject to the suspension closer to when it takes effect.
Samsung Expects to Extend Its Earnings Hot Streak
- Samsung Electronics said first-quarter operating profit will be its highest ever, topping analyst estimates and continuing the company’s string of record results.
- The world’s largest smartphone and semiconductor maker said on Friday it expected an operating profit of 15.6 trillion South Korean won ($14.7 billion) for the quarter, up 58% from 9.9 trillion won a year earlier.
Grab’s Uber deal still has some obstacles to navigate
- Regulatory scrutiny could complicate ride-hailing company Grab’s takeover of Uber’s Southeast Asian business, but there is little the authorities can do to stop Uber from simply exiting the region, lawyers and analysts said.
- Antitrust lawyers say Singapore-based Grab could try to mollify regulators by offering concessions such as price restrictions and subjecting itself to greater regulations. It could also argue that consumers still have many ride-hailing options to choose from.
- If the deal falls apart, Uber could depart Singapore and leave Grab as the dominant player regardless, experts said.
- Uber is already winding down its regional operations and has asked customers and drivers to transition to Grab’s platform. Five hundred Uber staffers will also move to Grab.
India opens contest for more than 100 fighter jets
- India is seeking to buy around 110 fighter jets, the air force said in a request for information issued on Friday, marking a first step toward a long-delayed deal that could be worth more than $15 billion.
- Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Saab and Dassault Aviation are among the manufacturers expected to compete.
- The planes must be built largely in India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to build a domestic industrial base.
- The tender will be open for makers of both single engine and twin-engine combat jets, in a widening of the field.
- The Eurofighter Typhoon and Russian aircraft are also potential contenders under the new requirements.
TODAY in HISTORY
- Joseph Smith and five others organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fayette, New York. (1830)
- The Battle of Shiloh in the American Civil War began. (1862)
- First modern Olympic Games opened in Athens, Greece. (1896)
- S. declared war on Germany and entered World War I. (1917)
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