Stocks Extend Rally as Dow Rises More Than 500 Points – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped more than 500 points Thursday, as stocks broadly rallied across the market, reversing losses from a steep selloff a day earlier.
- The blue-chip index added 571 points in recent trading, rising to 30874, while the S&P 500 rose 1.8%.
- Technology stocks also rose, pushing the Nasdaq Composite up 1.3%.
- At the same time, the wild trading surrounding stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment showed signs of abating.
- GameStop shares fluctuated and were recently down 40%, while AMC fell more than 50%.
- Earnings appeared to contribute to the rebound. Shares of American Airlines Group jumped 10% after the airliner reported a narrower loss than what analysts had predicted. Other travel stocks rallied, including United Airlines, up 4%, and Carnival, which added 6%.
- Shares of Apple, meanwhile, fell nearly 2% after the iPhone maker reported its most profitable three months on record but didn’t provide specific revenue guidance for the current quarter.
- Tesla dropped 2% after the electric-vehicle maker—whose shares have soared in recent months—posted its first full-year profit but missed Wall Street’s expectations.
- Weekly data showed applications for unemployment benefits, tracked as an indicator of the health of the labor market, declined last week but remained elevated at 847,000. Separate figures showed gross-domestic product, a broad gauge of the value of goods and services produced in the economy, grew at a 4% annual rate in the final quarter of 2020, slightly slower than economists had expected.
- Stocks traded mostly lower overseas. The pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 was mostly flat in recent trading. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 2.6%, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.9% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 1.5%. Container-shipping giant Cosco Shipping led losses in mainland China, sliding 10%.
Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Hospitalizations Down for 15th Day in a Row – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- The U.S. saw further declines in the number of people hospitalized because of Covid-19, while newly reported cases hovered around 150,000 for the third day in a row.
- Hospitalizations, which totaled 107,444 as of Wednesday, have been on the decline since Jan. 12, when the figure was at 131,326, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The number of people in intensive-care units also fell slightly to 20,497.
- Newly reported coronavirus cases for Wednesday topped 152,000, up slightly from the previous day’s revised total of more than 146,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
- The nation reported more than 3,900 fatalities due to the disease Wednesday, bringing the total death toll to more than 429,000.
- On Friday, the statewide risk level in North Dakota will be dropped to its lowest level, allowing for increased occupancy limits at bars, restaurants and other food-service establishments. Michigan, meanwhile, will allow indoor dining starting Feb. 1, as cases have dropped to levels last seen in October. Restaurants will be required to operate at below 25% normal capacity, and tables must be set at a minimum distance of six feet apart.
- Indoor dining at restaurants in New York City may also soon return. The state is considering a plan that would permit indoor dining at a capacity of 25%, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. A decision will come by the end of the week, he said, after consultation with local health officials and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
- French officials are considering a third nationwide lockdown as soon as Saturday, in an effort to stop the country’s increase in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.
- Options under consideration include continuing the country’s nationwide 6 p.m. curfew, first put in place nearly two weeks ago, or could expand to a strict lockdown that would include the closure of schools, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
- But the government is worried about the spread of new, more contagious variants, which have led neighboring countries to enter stricter lockdowns. A variant of the virus was detected in 3.2% of positive tests in Britain on Jan. 8, but officials now estimate it accounts for 10% of the infections in the country, Mr. Attal said.
Apple’s iPhone 12 Helped Deliver a Record $111.4 Billion Quarter – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- Apple finished 2020 with its most profitable quarter ever, fueled by an uptick in higher-end iPhone sales and a pandemic-induced surge in demand for its laptops and tablets.
- Altogether, the Cupertino, Calif., company generated $111.4 billion in quarterly sales, an all-time high and the first time it has topped $100 billion in quarterly revenue.
- iPhone revenue rose 17% to $65.6 billion in the December quarter.
- The new iPhone also helped sales rise 57% in China, which has a more developed 5G network.
- Elsewhere, Apple said sales increased 21% for the Mac lineup and 41% for iPads.
- Laptop sales were helped by the arrival of the company’s new in-house chip, dubbed, the M1, according to Mr. Cook.
- Another closely watched metric, Apple’s service business, which has taken on increased importance in recent years, rose 24%.
- Profit rose 29% to $28.76 billion in the three months ended in December, its fiscal first quarter.
- Apple didn’t provide specific revenue guidance for the current quarter, but Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri provided a rough indication of how it was trending. He said revenue should be better than last year, when the company posted $58.3 billion in revenue for its second fiscal quarter.
Facebook scores earnings beat on holiday retail advertising; Apple privacy changes loom – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Facebook soundly beat quarterly revenue estimates on Wednesday after heavy holiday advertising by e-commerce retailers, but it warned Apple’s impending privacy changes could hurt revenue by interfering with ad targeting.
- Total revenue, which consists almost entirely of advertising sales, rose 33% to $28.07 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $21.08 billion a year earlier.
- Monthly active users rose 12% to 2.80 billion, above the 2.75 billion expected by analysts.
- Net income came in at $11.22 billion, or $3.88 per share, compared with $7.35 billion, or $2.56 per share, a year earlier.
- The world’s biggest social media company said it expected to face “significant ad targeting headwinds in 2021.” Facebook forecast that Apple’s update of its iPhone operating system to iOS 14 could start biting into revenues as early as the end of the first quarter.
Tesla Posts First Full Year of Profitability – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- Tesla posted its first full-year profit and laid out plans for a sharp increase in production over the coming years after meeting rising demand for electric vehicles with record deliveries.
- Sales rose about 46% to roughly $10.7 billion.
- The car maker generated a profit of $270 million in the fourth quarter, up from $105 million a year earlier.
- The Silicon Valley car maker expects to increase deliveries by about 50% annually and, Chief Executive Elon Musk Wednesday said, will likely top that rate this year and next.
- Mr. Musk last year suggested a delivery target of about 840,000 to one million vehicles in 2021. Wall Street’s projection is for about 796,000 vehicles.
- Tesla said it now has the capacity to produce more than one million cars a year. It said its Shanghai plant could make 450,000 combined Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, or 200,000 more than it reported in the prior quarter.
Mastercard beats profit estimates as customers spending improves – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Mastercard beat Wall Street estimates for fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, as a recovery in customer spending partially offset the decline in cross-border volumes due to limited travel demand since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
- Net revenue fell 7% to $4.1 billion, but still came in slightly ahead of estimates of roughly $4 billion.
- Mastercard, in a recent presentation for investors, said transactions in the U.S. were up 7%, and down 2% outside the United States in the third week of January.
- Gross dollar volume – the dollar value of transactions processed – rose 1% from a year earlier to $1.7 trillion.
- Cross-border volume, a measure for spending outside the country where the card was issued, fell 29% on a local currency basis.
- Excluding items, Mastercard reported net income of $1.6 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, or $1.64 per share, compared with $2 billion a year earlier, or $1.96 a share.
ServiceNow subscription revenue up 32% on demand for business workflow needs – Marketwatch, 1/28/2021
- ServiceNow on Wednesday reported subscription and customer growth in the fourth quarter, saying it continued to help companies with their “digital transformations” as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Revenue rose to $1.25 billion from $951.8 million in the year-ago quarter.
- Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of $1.06 a share on revenue of $1.21 billion.
- The maker of workflow software said its subscription revenue rose 32% year over year, and that it now has more than 1,000 customers with more than $1 million in annual contract value, a 23% increase from the year-ago period.
- ServiceNow reported fourth-quarter net income of $16.6 million, or 8 cents a share, a 97% drop from $598.7 million, or 3.03 a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings were $1.17 a share, adjusted for stock-based compensation and other charges.
- For the full year, the company reported $119 million in profit on $4.5 billion in revenue.
Comcast tops revenue expectation despite weakness at NBCUniversal – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Comcast reported better than expected fourth-quarter revenue, as broadband demand continued to offset pandemic-related weakness in its theme park and filmed entertainment businesses.
- It reported fourth-quarter revenue of $27.71 billion.
- Analysts expected revenue of $26.78 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
- The company’s NBCUniversal segment, which includes NBC Entertainment and Universal Pictures, reported revenue of $7.5 billion, down 18.1% from a year earlier.
- Revenue at the filmed entertainment unit fell 8.3% from a year earlier due to shuttered and reduced-capacity movie theaters.
- Broadcast TV revenue fell 12%. Theme parks revenue plummeted 62.9%.
- The media company gained 538,000 broadband subscribers in the quarter, beating analysts’ average estimate of 488,000 net additions, according to research firm FactSet.
- Comcast said it had 33 million sign-ups to its Peacock streaming service, which launched in July.
- The company reported adjusted earnings per share of 56 cents, down 29.1% from the same period a year earlier, and beating the Wall Street consensus estimate of 48 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
American Airlines’ shares surge as shorts squeezed after results – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Shares in American Airlines Group surged more than 20% in opening trading after the carrier was mentioned on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum and it posted a slimmer-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday.
- Total operating revenue fell to $4.03 billion from $11.31 billion but topped analysts’ expectations of $3.88 billion.
- American reported a net loss of $2.18 billion, or $3.81 per share, for the fourth quarter, compared with a profit of $414 million, or 95 cents per share, a year earlier.
- The carrier reported an annual loss of $8.9 billion, its biggest on record.
- American Airlines ended the fourth quarter with about $14.3 billion in available liquidity. It burned through about $30 million a day in the fourth quarter.
McDonald’s earnings miss estimates as Europe lockdowns squash sales – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- McDonald’s missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Thursday as a second round of pandemic lockdowns in parts of Europe hurt its business and countered the hamburger chain’s sales growth in the U.S. market.
- Total revenue fell 2.1% to $5.31 billion, missing the estimate of $5.37 billion.
- Overall, global comparable sales fell 1.3% for the quarter, ended Dec. 31, better than the anticipated 1.46% decline and an improvement over the previous quarter, when global sales dropped 2.2% year over year.
- Comparable sales in the United States, however, rose 5.5%, an improvement over the prior quarter and better than the estimate of a 5.15% increase, as the company leaned on its drive-thrus and celebrity collaboration, including the launch of the crowd-favorite Travis Scott Meal, to drive its business.
- Comparable sales for the restaurant chain’s international operated markets segment fell 7.4% in the fourth quarter, largely due to weakness in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, where the health crisis has been more intense.
- Excluding one-time items, the company earned $1.70 per share, missing the average analyst estimate by 8 cents.
Southwest Airlines posts first annual loss since 1972 on virus woes – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Southwest Airlines reported an annual loss of $3.1 billion on Thursday, its first since 1972, and said it was facing stalled demand in January and February driven by high levels of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
- Total operating revenue plunged 64.9% to $2.01 billion.
- The Dallas-based company reported a net loss of $908 million, or $1.54 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $514 million, or 98 cents per share, a year earlier.
- Southwest ended 2020 with liquidity of $14.3 billion. The airline forecast first-quarter average core cash burn of about $17 million per day, higher than the $12 million per day it recorded in the fourth quarter.
- The U.S. airline plans to return Boeing’s 737 MAX to service on March 11 and expects to receive 35 737 MAX 8 deliveries through 2021, seven of which were delivered in December.
Whirlpool forecasts 2021 profit above estimates as demand up in pandemic – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Whirlpool on Wednesday forecast 2021 profit above expectations and beat quarterly earnings estimates on strong demand for its home appliances from people stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Net earnings jumped 72.6% in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 to $497 million from $288 million.
- Sales in North America, the company’s biggest market, also rose.
- The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company expects free cash flow of $1 billion or more in 2021 and net sales to rise 6%.
- The owner of brands including KitchenAid and Maytag said it expects full-year 2021 adjusted profit to be between $19 per share and $20 per share, the midpoint of which is above analysts’ average estimate of $19.10, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Levi Strauss forecast disappoints as virus resurgence shutters stores – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Levi Strauss & Co on Wednesday forecast first-quarter results below analysts’ estimates as the resurgence of COVID-19 shutters the denim maker’s stores in major markets, sending its shares 9% lower in extended trading.
- Total revenue in the quarter fell about 12% to $1.39 billion but beat expectations of $1.34 billion.
- Levi earned 20 cents per share on an adjusted basis, beating estimates of 15 cents per share.
- Levi said 17% of its stores globally were still closed, with a new wave of lockdowns in Europe shuttering 40% of the company’s footprint there.
- The San Francisco-based company said it expects those stores to remain closed for the rest of the current quarter, resulting in a 10 cents to 12 cents hit to its earnings per share.
- Including that impact, Levi forecast first-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 20 cents to 24 cents, below expectations of 33 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Dow quarterly results beat on higher demand, prices – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Dow reported quarterly results on Thursday that beat analysts’ estimates and forecast better-than-expected sales for the first quarter as demand and prices for its chemicals recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dow also reported sales of $10.71 billion, beating estimates of $10.03 billion.
- For the fourth quarter, Dow’s volumes sold rose 2% sequentially and 1% versus the year-earlier quarter, reaching pre-pandemic levels in all operating segments.
- Prices rose 8%, compared with the third, helped by higher prices for polyethylene, the main ingredient used in making most plastics, and for polyurethanes, used in upholstery, mattresses and car seats.
- Net operating income, which excludes some items, rose to $607 million, or 81 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31, from $376 million, or 50 cents per share, in the third quarter.
Marlboro maker Altria sees 2021 profit below estimates – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Marlboro maker Altria Group forecast 2021 profit below estimates on Thursday, saying it would spend more on developing and marketing noncombustible tobacco products this year, including those that can be heated.
- Net revenue rose 4.9% to $6.30 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
- Altria also said it recorded a non-cash pre-tax unrealized gain of $100 million as a result of an increase in fair value of its investment in Juul, after taking several writedowns on its $12.8 billion investment in the e-cigarette maker.
- The company forecast 2021 adjusted profit between $4.49 and $4.62 per share, lower than the Refinitiv IBES estimate of $4.63, but higher than the $4.36 adjusted per-share profit it posted last year.
- The company, which took a 35% stake in Juul in December 2018, also said its board had authorized a $2 billion share buyback program.
Several Hedge Funds Stung by Market Turmoil – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- Traders say the pain that has afflicted top hedge funds Melvin Capital Management and Maplelane Capital in recent days is spreading, as an increasing number of stocks with significant short interest surge and as funds dealing with losses pull back their exposure to the stock market on both the long and short sides of their portfolios.
- Candlestick Capital Management, a roughly $3 billion Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund started by former Citadel portfolio manager Jack Woodruff, was down in the low-to-mid-teens for the year through Wednesday, said a person familiar with the fund. It was up 26% in 2020, its first year.
- D1 Capital Partners, a top-performing fund in recent years founded by former Viking Global investment chief Dan Sundheim, was down about 20% for the year through Wednesday. Its substantial portfolio of investments in private companies has buffered the fund from a bigger loss. D1 managed $20 billion at the start of the year.
- Steven A. Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, which together with Citadel and its partners injected $2.5 billion in emergency financing into Melvin Monday, was down about 10% for the year through earlier this week and suffered losses Tuesday and Wednesday, said people familiar with the matter.
Pandemic Spending Boosts Global Government Debt to 98% of Economic Output, IMF Says – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- Government debt around the world shot up last year to approach levels last seen in the aftermath of World War II, as nations stepped up spending to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday.
- Public debt as a share of global gross domestic product surged to 98% by the end of December from 84% at the end of 2019, before the pandemic struck, the IMF said in an update to its semiannual Fiscal Monitor report.
- The total dollar value of global debt, which includes central and state government debt, came to $89.6 trillion at year’s end.
- The increase was particularly large among advanced economies, which can easily borrow at low interest rates. The debt-to-GDP ratio among those nations rose to 123% by December from 105% in 2019, and it is expected to grow to 125% this year.
- In the U.S., the debt-to-GDP ratio hit an estimated 129% in 2020 and is projected to rise to 133% this year, up from 108% in 2019, the IMF said. The projection takes into account two major pandemic-related stimulus bills adopted in 2020—the $2.2 trillion Cares Act in March and the $900 billion package in December.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
COVID-19 pummels U.S. economy in 2020; performance weakest in 74 years – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- The U.S. economy contracted at its sharpest pace since World War Two in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic depressed consumer spending and business investment, pushing millions of Americans out of work and into poverty.
- The economy contracted 3.5% in 2020, the worst performance since 1946.
- That followed 2.2% growth in 2019 and was the first annual decline in GDP since the 2007-09 Great Recession.
- Nearly every sector, with the exception of government and the housing market, suffered a decline in output last year.
- The 3.9% drop in consumer spending was the largest since 1932.
- In the fourth quarter, GDP increased at a 4.0% annualized rate as the virus and lack of another spending package curtailed consumer spending, and partially overshadowed robust manufacturing and the housing market.
- Lack of jobs and the expiration of a government weekly jobless subsidy restrained growth in consumer spending to about a 2.5% rate in the fourth quarter.
- Business investment grew at a 13.8% rate, with spending on equipment rising at a 24.9% pace. There were also increases in spending on nonresidential structures and intellectual property.
- Businesses also accumulated inventories last quarter, which contributed to GDP growth. But the inventory accumulation included imports, leading to a larger trade deficit, which subtracted from growth.
- The housing market recorded another quarter of double-digit growth, thanks to historically low mortgage rates. Government spending was weak, hurt by state and local governments, whose finances have been squeezed by the pandemic.
U.S. Unemployment Claims Fell Last Week – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- The number of workers seeking unemployment benefits fell last week, indicating a recent easing in the pace of layoffs though the labor market remains mired in a winter slowdown.
- New jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, dropped to 847,000 in the week ended Jan. 23, down from a revised 914,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
- Continuing claims, a proxy for the number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs, fell to a seasonally adjusted 4.8 million in the week ended Jan. 16, from 5.0 million in the previous week, according to the Labor Department.
- One program provides benefits for the self-employed and others not normally eligible for jobless aid. Continuing claims in that program rose by 1.6 million to 7.3 million in the week ended Jan. 9, according to the Labor Department.
- Claims for the other program, which offers extended benefits for individuals who exhausted other programs, rose by 837,000 to 3.9 million during the same period.
U.S. new home sales miss expectations in December – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- Sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose less than expected in December, likely restricted by a jump in home prices.
- New home sales increased 1.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 842,000 units last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. November’s sales pace was revised down to 829,000 units from the previously reported 841,000 units.
- New home sales jumped 15.2% on a year-on-year basis. Sales totaled 811,000 in 2020, up 18.8% from 2019.
- The median new house price surged 8% to $355,900 in December from a year ago. There were 302,000 new homes on the market last month, up from 290,000 in November.
- At December’s sales pace it would take 4.3 months to clear the supply of houses on the market, up from 4.2 months in November.
White House Not Planning to Split $1.9 Trillion Relief Package in Two – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- The White House said Thursday that it didn’t plan to ask Congress to split its $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief proposal into two pieces amid mounting opposition from Republicans and centrist Democrats who say the plan is too costly.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter that the “needs of the American people are urgent” on issues such as “putting food on the table,” vaccine distribution and reopening schools, and “we aren’t looking to split a package in two.”
- Many Republicans and some Democrats have balked at the cost of the administration’s proposal and suggested there would be bipartisan support for a smaller package focused on vaccine distribution, potentially a third round of direct checks and some other measures.
- Republicans said this week that including certain proposals, such as a $15 minimum wage, would drive off GOP support.
Some Senators Push Censure as Alternative to Trump Trial – Wall Street Journal, 1/28/2021
- Two senators from opposite sides of the aisle were working Wednesday to build support for censuring former President Donald Trump over his rhetoric ahead of the Capitol riot as an alternative to proceeding to an impeachment trial likely to result in his acquittal.
- The push from Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.) comes a day after just five Republicans sided with Democrats in a vote testing lawmakers’ stances on whether the trial was constitutional.
- The trial is set to begin in earnest in February, and Democrats would need support from at least 17 Republicans to convict Mr. Trump.
- Tuesday’s vote showed it is “extremely unlikely that President Trump would be convicted,” Ms. Collins said. “It seems to me that there is some value in looking at an alternative to proceeding with the trial.” Ms. Collins was one of the handful of senators to side with Democrats in the vote.
Investor Palihapitiya says he wants to be governor of California – Reuters, 1/27/2021
- Technology investor Chamath Palihapitiya, the early Facebook executive and minority owner of the Golden State Warriors basketball team, threw his hat in the ring on Tuesday to replace Gavin Newsom as governor of California.
- Opponents of Newsom, a Democrat who has served for two years, are campaigning to gather the 1.5 million signatures required by March 10 to trigger a recall election to remove him from office before his term expires in 2023.
- The recall campaign has said it has gathered more than 1.2 million signatures so far.
- In a tweet, Palihapitiya told his 800,000-plus followers, “It’s on. #RecallGavinNewsom” accompanied by a link to a website titled “Chamath for California Governor.”
- On the site, Palihapitiya argues California is too expensive and its teachers are underpaid, while lamenting the quality of the state’s schools.
- His campaign proposals include a 0% state tax, a guaranteed $70,000 salary for teachers and providing $2,000 for every new child born in California.
EUROPE & WORLD
Exclusive: China likely to avoid setting 2021 GDP target over debt concerns, sources say – Reuters, 1/28/2021
- China will likely avoid setting a 2021 growth target, dropping the closely watched measure for a second straight year on concerns that maintaining one could encourage provincial economies to ramp up debt, policy sources told Reuters.
- The world’s second-biggest economy eked out 2.3% growth last year despite the ravages of the pandemic that emerged in the central city of Wuhan, and will rebound a sharp 8.4% this year thanks to Beijing’s aggressive COVID-19 response and global recovery, according to a Reuters poll of economists.
- The government is expected to target inflation around 3% this year, below last year’s goal of about 3.5% but above the actual 2.5% rise in consumer prices, the sources told Reuters.
- Among the options proposed by advisers, they said: a GDP target around 8%, in line with forecasts, or no forecast.
- Policymakers plan to set an average annual growth target of around 5% for the 14th five-year plan starting this year, Reuters reported in November.
- Congress passed legislation creating the U.S. Coast Guard. (1915)
- U.S. shuttle Challenger exploded 72 seconds after liftoff, killing all seven crew members aboard, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe. (1986)
- In his second State of the Union Address, President Bush presents case for war with Iraq. (2003)