Stocks Edge Higher After Hitting Fresh Records – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- U.S. stocks crept higher after major indexes hit records a day earlier and investors readied for a slew of blue-chip earnings.
- This week marks the height of earnings season, with shares of General Electric rallying 9.5% after the industrial conglomerate reported forecast-beating fourth-quarter revenue and free cash flow.
- Johnson & Johnson rose 4% after it recorded stronger sales in its latest quarter, as revenue gains from its pharmaceutical division boosted its top-line results.
- Raytheon Technologies jumped 5.2% after the aerospace and defense company reported fourth-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations.
- Starbucks, Microsoft and Texas Instruments will release results after markets close.
- Major tech firms, including Apple, Tesla and Facebook, will update investors Wednesday.
- Shares of GameStop rose 19% as individual traders, propelled by social media, piled into the stock. Shares swung wildly Monday and have gained more than 300% this year, in the latest sign that frenetic trading by retail traders is leading to outsize market swings.
- Indexes in Asia handed back some of the robust gains registered in the first few weeks of this year.
- The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong dropped 2.6%, as heavyweight Tencent Holdings fell 6.3%, retreating from a record high reached in the previous session.
- The Shanghai Composite shed 1.5%, the Nikkei 225 retreated 1% and South Korea’s Kospi Composite lost 2.1%.
- In a surprise move, the People’s Bank of China withdrew 78 billion yuan, or the equivalent of $12 billion, from the Chinese financial system through open-market operations Tuesday.
- The move runs counter to expectations in the run-up to the Lunar New Year holidays, when China’s banking system usually needs more, not less, liquidity.
Coronavirus Live Updates: New U.S. Cases Stay Below 200,000 for Ninth Straight Day – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Hospitalizations in the U.S. due to Covid-19 fell below 110,000 for the first time since Dec. 13, as the country reported fewer than 200,000 new coronavirus cases for the ninth day in a row.
- The U.S. reported more than 151,000 new coronavirus cases for Monday, and uptick from the previous day, but still down from levels reached earlier in the month, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
- The nation’s death toll rose by more than 1,900 Monday, bringing the overall tally to more than 421,000, according to Johns Hopkins.
- A total of 109,936 people across the country were hospitalized due to the disease as of Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of patients requiring treatment in intensive care units also fell slightly to 20,875.
- In California, the daily total of new coronavirus cases has remained under 30,000 for six days, according to Johns Hopkins data.
- Saying the curve appears to be flattening, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state on Monday, but warned, “We are not out of the woods yet.”
- Several countries in Europe, including the U.K., are considering tougher border controls and quarantine requirements to ward off the threat posed by new, more contagious variants of the virus that causes Covid-19.
- The new strains raise the prospect of a longer fight against the virus than anticipated, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
- Mr. Johnson said the U.K. government is looking at whether to set up quarantine hotels, where in-bound travelers are isolated on arrival at their own expense, much as travelers to Australia do.
- Germany and other EU countries have also raised the prospect of restricting internal borders to slow the spread of the virus and its new variants.
- The U.K. recorded more than 22,000 new infections on Monday, down a third from the day before, with 592 deaths, also down from the previous day.
- Germany saw its new infections fall to 6,800 on Monday from 10,000 the day before, with 838 deaths, up from around 400 the day before.
- The Netherlands, meanwhile, saw a third night of rioting in some parts of the country after the government introduced a curfew to slow the spread of the virus. Around 150 people were arrested in Monday night’s clashes.
U.K. Coronavirus Variant Probed for Increased Risk to Younger People – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Doctors began noticing the change last month as the U.K.’s new coronavirus variant spread. In hospital critical-care units, they were seeing more younger people and women with serious cases of Covid-19, a disease that has inflicted its worst symptoms largely on older patients and men.
- The shift—backed up now by statistical studies—is part of an urgent puzzle preoccupying British public-health officials as they race to understand a strain of the virus that is more transmissible and, some studies indicate, could be deadlier than earlier versions.
- One early hypothesis, scientists say, is that one of the virus’s genetic mutations makes it better at invading a greater number of cells inside the body, leading to serious sickness in people who with previous Covid-19 variants would only have had mild or no symptoms.
- In London, the southeast and east of England, where the new variant was first identified in a test sample from Sept. 20, the mean age of patients admitted to intensive-care units fell from 61.4 years between September and the end of November to 58.9 years from Dec. 1 to Jan. 21.
- The proportion of women admitted into ICUs rose from 30.1% to 35.1% in the same period. Data from the rest of the country show a similar pattern.
IMF Raises Global Economic Growth Forecast but Says Outlook Remains Uncertain – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- The world economy is gearing up for a strong recovery from the pandemic in 2021 after shrinking considerably less than initially feared last year, the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday, though it warned that the outlook is subject to exceptional uncertainty.
- Global output is projected to grow 5.5% this year, up from the IMF’s October forecast of a 5.2% increase.
- Last year’s estimated contraction of 3.5% was smaller than October’s forecast for a 4.4% contraction.
- The IMF expects the U.S. economy to grow 5.1% this year and Japan’s to expand by 3.1%.
- However, it lowered its forecast for the euro area to 4.2% growth from 5.2%.
- U.S. gross domestic product by the end of 2022 is expected to be less than 1.5% below its projected level before the pandemic, the IMF said. That gap is expected to be 8% in Asia’s developing economies—excluding China—and nearly 7% in Latin America and the Caribbean.
- The lender noted that some 90 million people globally are expected to fall into extreme poverty in 2020-21, wiping out “progress made in poverty reduction across the past two decades.”
Raytheon posts better-than-expected profit and sales, shares jump – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- U.S. aerospace manufacturer Raytheon Technologies reported better than expected quarterly profit and sales Tuesday but forecast lower than expected 2021 revenue amid a slow global economic environment triggered by disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Net sales in the quarter were $16.4 billion, just below analysts’ expectation of $16.92 billion.
- Raytheon’s backlog at the end of the fourth quarter was $150.1 billion and comprised of $82.8 billion from commercial aerospace and $67.3 billion from defense.
- On an adjusted basis, Raytheon earned $0.74 per share in the quarter, beating analysts’ estimate of $0.70 per share.
- Raytheon also beat its 2020 cash flow guidance of about $2 billion by posting $2.3 billion, thanks to stability in its defense unit that contributes to more than half of the company’s overall sales.
- However, the company provided a full-year revenue outlook of about $63.4 billion to $65.4 billion which was below analysts’ estimate for revenue of about $67.28 billion.
- Still, the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company said it now expects 2021 full-year earnings per share to be in the range of $3.40 per share to $3.70 per share, beating analysts’ average expectation of $3.47 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
- Shares of the company rose as much as 6% in early trading after the company said its free cash flow could almost double to $4.5 billion in 2021.
Lockheed Martin posts rare profit miss as pandemic hits F-35 deliveries – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- Lockheed Martin on Tuesday missed profit estimates for the first time in the last eight quarters as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted deliveries of the U.S. weapons maker’s F-35 jets and caused supplier delays.
- Net sales rose 7.3% to $17.03 billion, above estimates of $16.92 billion.
- Shares of the company fell about 1.9%, after the company said fourth-quarter deliveries of its F-35 jets fell to 42 from 51 a year earlier.
- Net earnings rose to $1.79 billion, or $6.38 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $1.5 billion, or $5.29 per share, a year earlier.
- Lockheed now expects 2021 revenue between $67.10 billion to $68.50 billion, in line with analysts’ expectation of revenue of about $68.04 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
- Full-year earnings for 2021 are expected to be in the range of $26.00 to $26.30 per share, above analysts’ average expectation of $26.13 per share.
- Lockheed raising its full-year cash from operations outlook to at least $8.30 billion from a prior $8.1 billion, along with a robust backlog, shows the defense sector remains a very resilient business, an analyst from Vertical Research Partners said.
Verizon Slow to Cash In on iPhone 12 – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Verizon Communications’ fourth-quarter profit slipped due to higher costs and a tepid pool of new customers, though the company issued an upbeat preview of earnings in 2021.
- Revenue slipped 0.2% to $34.7 billion.
- The largest U.S. cellphone carrier said it expects wireless-service revenue growth to hit at least 3% this year while it continues to invest in upgrades to support fifth-generation wireless technology, also known as 5G.
- The growth forecast followed a relatively slim gain of 279,000 postpaid phone connections in the last three months of 2020.
- That compared with a 790,000 increase over the same period a year ago.
- Overall, quarterly net income attributed to Verizon reached $4.6 billion, down from $5.1 billion a year earlier.
- The company said this year’s capital spending would fall between $17.5 billion and $18.5 billion, roughly in line with last year’s budget.
GE Reports Surge in Year-End Cash Flow – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- General Electric $4.4 billion in fourth-quarter cash flow, beating its own projection and ending 2020 without burning cash, a year ahead of schedule.
- Quarterly revenue fell 16% from a year before to $21.9 billion.
- The GE aviation division’s revenue fell nearly 35% to $5.8 billion in the fourth quarter, while orders fell by half.
- The drop in aviation accounted for much of the decline in the company’s fourth-quarter revenue.
- In the fourth quarter, orders at power rose 26% and renewables jumped 34%.
- Slack demand in the power unit had sapped GE’s profits in prior years.
- Overall, GE reported net income attributable to common shareholders of $2.44 billion for the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $538 million a year before.
- GE said Tuesday it expects the aviation market, which has been sapped by the coronavirus pandemic, to begin recovering in the second half. It expects 2021 revenue in the division flat or higher from 2020.
- GE forecast $2.5 billion to $4.5 billion of cash flow for 2021.
D.R. Horton’s profit beats on low mortgage rates, shift to suburbs – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- U.S. homebuilder D.R. Horton on Tuesday raised its forecast for 2021 home sales and topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit as low mortgage rates and a shift towards suburban living continued to whet buyer appetite.
- Total revenue rose to $5.93 billion, from $4.02 billion on-year.
- The U.S. homebuilder sold 18,739 homes in the reported quarter, up from 12,959 last year.
- The no.1 U.S. homebuilder said orders, an indicator of future sales, jumped 55.6% to 20,418 homes in the first quarter ended Dec. 31, 2020.
- Net income attributable to the company rose to $791.8 million, or $2.14 per share, from $431.3 million, or $1.16 per share, in the year-ago period.
- Horton now expects home sales in fiscal year 2021 to be between 80,000 and 82,000 homes, compared with its previous forecast of between 77,000 and 80,000 homes.
Johnson & Johnson’s Profit Is Boosted by Pharmaceuticals Business – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Strong sales growth from pharmaceuticals lifted Johnson & Johnson’s revenue in the latest quarter, even as the coronavirus pandemic weighed on other parts of the company’s business.
- Johnson & Johnson’s fourth-quarter revenue was $22.48 billion, compared with $20.75 billion in the year-before quarter. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting revenue of $21.66 billion.
- Drugs such as Stelara, for inflammatory diseases, and Darzalex, for multiple myeloma, helped drive sales growth of 16% for the New Brunswick, N.J., company’s pharmaceutical division, to $12.27 billion.
- Revenue from the consumer-health division, ticked up by 1.4% to $3.62 billion.
- Sales from medical devices slipped 0.7% year over year to $6.59 billion as the pandemic cut demand for products used in surgery, orthopedics and vision care.
- The company posted net earnings of $1.74 billion, or 65 cents a share, compared with $4.01 billion, or $1.50 a share, in the same three-month period a year earlier.
- Johnson & Johnson said it expects sales growth in 2021 to boost its full-year revenue to between $90.5 billion and $91.7 billion. Analysts had been forecasting full-year sales of $88.59 billion.
DuPont sees fourth-quarter profit above estimates as global demand recovers – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- DuPont on Tuesday estimated fourth-quarter profit and revenue above Wall Street expectations as the industrial materials maker kept a tight lid on costs and benefited from a recovery in electronic and automotive industries.
- The company also expects to report sales of $5.25 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, also above $5.07 billion estimated by analysts.
- DuPont estimated adjusted profit between 93 cents and 95 cents per share in the fourth quarter. Analysts had on average expected a profit of 80 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
- The company’s full-year estimate for adjusted earnings of between $3.34 and $3.36 on net sales of about $20.40 billion, was also well above its prior forecast.
3M profit beats on higher demand for personal safety, home care products – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- 3M, which makes N95 face masks, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, helped by lower costs and higher demand for its personal safety products and home care items such as Scotch-Brite during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Net sales rose 5.8% to about $8.6 billion, topping expectations of $8.4 billion.
- 3M’s research and development expenses fell 12%, while selling, general and administrative expenses dropped about 3%.
- Net income attributable to 3M rose 43% to $1.40 billion, or $2.38 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, beating analysts’ estimate of $2.15 per share.
- 3M said on Tuesday it expects its 2021 total sales to grow in the range of 5% to 8%, or 6.5% at the midpoint, above analysts’ average estimate of a 5.4% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
- The company forecast full-year earnings per share between $9.20 and $9.70, or $9.45 at the midpoint, below Wall Street’s estimate of $9.52, but above $9.25 reported in 2020.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
Democrats See Path to Biden’s Covid-19 Relief Bill Without GOP Help – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Democrats are weighing aggressive use of existing procedural steps to enact President Biden’s coronavirus relief plan as Republican opposition to the $1.9 trillion proposal hardens.
- Republicans have balked at much of Mr. Biden’s plan, meaning Democrats are likely to eventually move to a process called budget reconciliation to pass at least part of the legislation with a simple majority in the Senate.
- Mr. Schumer said that Democrats would have two chances to use reconciliation procedures, one for the Covid relief package and likely again to advance Mr. Biden’s climate change and infrastructure plan.
- A few Democrats, like Republicans, see Mr. Biden’s plan as too pricey, and some are wary of taking up the relief bill under reconciliation, much less creating new procedural precedents.
- With just 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote in the Senate, Democrats would likely need unanimous support on the policies as well as on special procedural steps.
U.S. Home-Price Growth Accelerated in November – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Home-price growth accelerated in November, as buyers continued to compete for a limited number of homes on the market.
- The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 9.5% in the year that ended in November, up from an 8.4% annual rate the prior month.
- The Case-Shiller 10-city index gained 8.8% over the year ended in November, compared with a 7.6% increase in October.
- The 20-city index rose 9.1%, after an annual gain of 8% in October.
- Phoenix had the fastest home-price growth in the country for the 18th straight month, at 13.8%, followed by Seattle at 12.7%.
- A separate measure of home-price growth by the Federal Housing Finance Agency also released Tuesday found an 11% increase in home prices in November from a year earlier.
U.S. consumer confidence increases slightly in January – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- U.S. consumer confidence rose moderately in January amid lingering concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Conference Board said on Tuesday its consumer confidence index increased to a reading of 89.3 this month from 87.1 in December. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the index little changed at 89 in January.
- The index was at 132.6 last February.
Saved Stimulus Checks Expected to Help Spur Economic Recovery – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Many U.S. consumers are starting 2021 flush with savings likely to help fuel the economic recovery this year.
- Americans saved $1.4 trillion in the first three quarters of 2020, or about twice as much as in the same period of the prior year, according to analysis by Berenberg Economics.
- That amount is equivalent to nearly 10% of 2019 household spending, estimates Berenberg’s chief economist, Holger Schmieding.
- An analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that consumers socked away more than a third of the first stimulus checks, which were sent to households as part of the $2 trillion Cares Act enacted last March.
- Just under a third of the stimulus payment, 29%, got spent, while 36% was saved and 35% used to pay down debt.
- The survey also found that consumers expected to spend an even smaller share of future stimulus payments, and use a higher share to pay down debts.
Parents of Remote Learners Have Smaller Roles in U.S. Workforce – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Parents of school-age children who are spending part or all of their time taking classes from home are less likely to be employed full-time, in the latest indication of how the pandemic-fueled school closures have taken a toll on working parents.
- About 47% of parents with children who are learning entirely remotely or are in hybrid situations because of the coronavirus pandemic are working full-time, compared with 71% of parents whose children are physically back in school buildings, according to results of the Franklin Templeton-Gallup Economics of Recovery Study released Tuesday.
- About 24% of parents whose children are attending school virtually aren’t working at all compared with 15% of parents whose children are attending school in person every day, according to the survey.
- About 73% of the surveyed parents said their child is learning remotely at least part of the time.
- About 41% of women with school-age children said they are working full-time, compared with 69% of men, reinforcing other findings that pandemic-era joblessness is disproportionately affecting women.
- Women account for 55% of the overall net jobs lost since the start of the crisis, with women of color hit especially hard, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Article of Impeachment Sent to Senate for Second Trump Trial – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- The House sent over the article of impeachment of former President Donald Trump to the Senate Monday evening, officially starting the countdown to a trial expected to highlight the rifts within the GOP over Mr. Trump’s legacy and his future influence over the party.
- The House impeachment managers, who will act as the prosecutors in Mr. Trump’s second impeachment trial, walked through the Capitol to deliver the article, which alleges he incited a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
- The proceedings leading up to the trial in the Senate, where a two-thirds supermajority will be needed to convict Mr. Trump, coincide with a moment of intense internal wrestling within the Republican Party.
- Some GOP lawmakers have criticized Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and actions and called on the party to change direction, while loyalists to Mr. Trump have sought to keep Republicans in line behind the former president, who is popular with the party’s base.
- Although most Senate Republicans have yet to officially take a position on Mr. Trump’s impeachment, many GOP aides were skeptical that 17 GOP senators would join with all Democrats and vote to convict him.
Biden to Suspend New Federal Oil and Gas Leasing Pending Review – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- President Biden is planning on Wednesday to halt new oil and gas leasing on federal territory, people familiar with the matter said, setting up a confrontation with the oil industry over the future of U.S. energy.
- The Biden administration has drafted an order to impose the moratorium while it conducts a review of the federal oil and gas leasing program, the people said, in what is potentially a first step toward his campaign pledge to end future leases.
- The order is expected to be included in a package of measures across government aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and boosting land conservation.
- In addition to the moratorium on oil and gas leasing, Mr. Biden is expected to set a goal of protecting 30% of federal land and water by 2030, the people said.
Biden’s Commerce pick pledges aggressive enforcement to combat ‘unfair’ Chinese trade practices – Reuters, 1/26/2021
- President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday will pledge to take “aggressive” action in response to trade practices from China.
- Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo will tell the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee the United States must “take aggressive trade enforcement actions to combat unfair trade practices from China and other nations that undercut American manufacturing,” according to a copy of her written testimony seen by Reuters.
- If confirmed, Raimondo will inherit the prior Trump administration’s unsuccessful effort to bar U.S. app stores from offering Chinese-owned TikTok or WeChat for download.
- At a press briefing Monday, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not answer when asked about the status of the existing executive order that aims to require Bytedance to divest Tiktok’s U.S. assets but said she would follow up.
EUROPE & WORLD
South Korea Demonstrates Asia’s Economic Resilience During Pandemic – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- In any normal year, a 1% contraction in South Korea’s economy would be disappointing. In 2020, it is a mark of resilience, as strong exports and success in containing Covid-19 buoyed Asian economies against one of the worst global downturns in modern history.
- The drop in gross domestic product, reported by the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, is expected to be one of the smallest among major economies, according to estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
- The relative economic strength is reflected across Asia, where China finished the year with 2.3% growth and Vietnam at 2.9%.
- Taiwan is expected to report a 1.9% expansion for the year Friday, according to Fitch Solutions.
- The World Bank estimates the U.S. and eurozone shrank 3.6% and 7.4%, respectively, last year.
China’s Xi Warns Against Confrontation in Veiled Message to Biden – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a veiled warning against the new Biden administration’s preparations to rally allies to challenge Beijing on a range of issues, urging multilateral coordination to tackle global challenges such as the pandemic.
- “To build small circles or start a new Cold War, to reject, threaten or intimidate others, to willfully impose decoupling, supply disruption or sanctions, to create isolation or estrangement, will only push the world into division and even confrontation,” Mr. Xi told the World Economic Forum, which this year is convening online instead of in the ski town of Davos, Switzerland.
- The Chinese president said Beijing would continue to open its economy and honor its global commitments, but emphasized that each country had a right to blaze its own path.
- In urging multilateral engagement to discuss disagreements, Mr. Xi offered no initiatives to address Western criticisms of Chinese policies in such areas as trade, human rights and the military.
Navalny Protests Threaten to Snowball as Grievances Grow in Russia – Wall Street Journal, 1/26/2021
- Protests in Russia over the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny are threatening to escalate into a larger movement against the Kremlin, driven by frustration over falling living standards and shrinking political freedoms as President Vladimir Putin cements his long-term hold on the country.
- Saturday’s rallies were among the largest nationwide displays of dissent in recent years, with more than 100,000 people attending in all, according to estimates by local media. Police detained some 3,700 people on the day, more than any other time since a wave of anti-Kremlin protests rocked Russia in 2011 and 2012.
- Surveys among protesters in Moscow on Saturday found that over 40% were protesting for the first time. The protests are taking place against a background of rising poverty levels and rising inflation, triggered by a 20% decline in the value of the ruble last year.
- Mr. Putin isn’t in any imminent political danger. Many Russians still view him as irreplaceable and his approval rating stood at 65% in November, according to independent pollster Levada.
Italian Prime Minister Conte Resigns, Triggering Search for New Government to Tackle Covid-19, Recession – WSJ, 1/26/2021
- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday, ushering in a phase of political instability that could lead either a new government or to elections this spring.
- The breakdown of Italy’s left-leaning government comes as the country, like most of the Western world, is struggling to control the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccinate its population and rekindle economic growth.
- Italy’s head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, will start political consultations with parties in Parliament to test whether a new governing majority can be found.
- Possible scenarios include a government under a new prime minister, or another coalition led by Mr. Conte.
- The first European settlers landed in Sydney, Australia. (1788)
- India, three years after gaining its independence from the United Kingdom, formally became a republic. (1950)
- A magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked the Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 20,000 people. (2001)
- President Hamid Karzai signed the new constitution of Afghanistan. (2004)