US FINANCIAL MARKET
Stocks Waver After Jobs Report, Tech Selloff – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- U.S. stocks wavered in choppy trading Friday after the January jobs report beat expectations, putting investors on edge about the path of monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve.
- The S&P 500 recently fell 0.1%. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5%.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 200 points, or 0.6%. All three indexes rose earlier in the session.
- The retreat in U.S. stocks coincided with a sharp move-up in U.S. government bond yields. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note climbed to 1.927%, versus 1.825% Thursday, on track for the largest one-day yield gain in about a month.
- The moves followed the Labor Department’s release of the January jobs report, which showed that U.S. payrolls grew by 467,000 for the month. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a gain of 150,000.
- All three major U.S. stock indexes are still headed for weekly gains, with each on track to notch a gain of 0.5% or more.
- That is even after technology and social-media companies dragged indexes down Thursday. Facebook owner Meta Platforms in particular plunged after a disappointing earnings report. It fell 2.9% Friday.
- Amazon.com shares rallied 12% after the e-commerce giant said profit nearly doubled in the critical holiday period, as the company-controlled labor and supply costs better than expected and saw gains in its cloud-computing and advertising businesses.
- Pinterest rose 4% after it reported its first full-year profit and more than $2 billion in annual revenue.
- However, Clorox shares tumbled 15% after the maker of disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products reported earnings that missed analysts’ expectations and said margins would take a steep hit from continued cost pressures.
- Ford Motor shares declined 11% after the auto maker posted earnings that fell short of Wall Street forecasts.
- Oil prices climbed, with global benchmark Brent crude up 2.5% at $93.35 a barrel, due to supply tightness and a winter storm in the U.S. that may disrupt production.
- International markets have been volatile in recent weeks, and on Friday, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.4%.
- Markets have been rattled by the increasingly hawkish tone from global central banks.
- On Thursday, the Bank of England raised borrowing costs again, while the European Central Bank kept its key interest rates unchanged, but signaled concern about inflation and opened the door to a possible rate rise this year.
- In Asia, stocks in Hong Kong resumed trading Friday following a three-day holiday closure. The Hang Seng Index added 3.2%, led by gains in banking and technology stocks. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 0.7%.
Amazon Shares Jump as Cloud Unit Helps Drive Profit Past Estimates – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- Amazon.com shares surged as much as 12% on Friday morning, the biggest intraday increase in more than four years and, if it holds, one of the biggest single-day gains in U.S. history.
- The market enthusiasm over Amazon was spurred by the tech giant’s earnings report Thursday afternoon, which showed strong performance in its cloud division, a huge boost in profit largely driven from an investment in Rivian Automotive, and a price hike in its flagship Prime membership offering.
- Fourth-quarter sales increased 9.4% to $137.4 billion, the Seattle-based company said Thursday in a statement.
- Profit was $27.75 a share, aided largely by a pretax gain from the company’s investment in Rivian, which went public in November. Analysts, on average, projected revenue of $137.8 billion and earnings of $3.77 a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
- Amazon’s most profitable unit, the Amazon Web Services cloud-computing division, generated sales of $17.8 billion, a 40% year-over-year increase, and operating profit of $5.29 billion, topping estimates.
- Advertising revenue was $9.7 billion, a 32% increase from a year earlier. It was the first time the company disclosed advertising as a separate line item.
- Online store sales declined about 1% to $66.1 billion.
- Revenue from services Amazon offers third-party merchants increased 11% to $30.3 billion.
- In the period ending in March, Amazon projected revenue will be $112 billion to $117 billion. Operating profit will be as much as $6 billion. Analysts, on average, estimated sales of $120.5 billion and earnings of $6.06 billion.
Ford Posts $17.9 Billion in Full-Year Net Income, Gives Upbeat Outlook – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Ford Motor reported a strong profit for 2021 and issued an upbeat forecast for this year, the latest sign that the auto industry could return to a degree of stability after two years of pandemic-related disruptions.
- Still, the auto maker’s shares were down nearly 4% in Thursday aftermarket trading, following fourth-quarter earnings that fell short of Wall Street forecasts.
- Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said analysts likely expected higher output for the quarter, but the company was constrained by the computer-chip shortage and other challenges linked to the Covid-19 crisis.
- For last year’s fourth quarter, Ford’s adjusted pretax profit rose 19% to $2 billion.
- That amounted to 26 cents a share, worse than the average analyst forecast of 45 cents, according to FactSet.
- For this year, Ford said it expects global vehicle deliveries to increase by a range of 10% to 15%.
- Additionally, it forecasts pretax profit to rise 15% to 25% to a range of $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion in 2022.
- The company cited its expectation for continued strong pricing, which it said should offset higher commodity prices, and a gradual easing of supply-chain problems.
Snap Posts First Profit as It Adjusts to Apple Privacy Push – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Snap also reported a 20% year-over-year increase in daily active users for its Snapchat app that is popular with teens and young adults, many abroad.
- Meta lost about a million users globally in the quarter and stagnated in the U.S. and Canada.
- Snap on Thursday posted a net profit of $22.6 million in the most recent quarter after sales advanced 42% to $1.3 billion from the year-ago period, beating Wall Street expectations.
- Snap, in its results, forecast sales of up to $1.08 billion for the current quarter, beating average analyst expectations, according to a survey by FactSet.
- Snap Chief Financial Officer Derek Andersen said elements of the company’s advertising business “began to recover from the impact of the iOS platform changes quicker than we anticipated.”
Activision Earnings Miss Estimates After Microsoft Deal – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- Activision Blizzard reported earnings and revenue that missed analysts’ estimates just weeks after Microsoft announced its $69 billion acquisition of the video game publisher.
- Adjusted revenue fell 18% to $2.49 billion in the fourth quarter, Activision said in a statement Thursday.
- Analysts had expected $2.84 billion, according to an average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
- Revenue in Activision’s mobile games division rose 18% in the quarter, reflecting solid growth in net bookings in Candy Crush and Call of Duty Mobile.
- Net bookings, a measure of sales of virtual goods and licensing fees, in Call of Duty Mobile “grew strongly” in 2021, driven by demand from China.
- Worldwide spending on the title exceeds $1 billion, Activision said.
- Adjusted earnings per share were $1.25, compared with analysts’ forecasts for $1.31.
- The company cited “lower than expected performance” in its Activision division, which produces Call of Duty.
Pinterest results dazzle Wall St as ad business booms – Reuters, 2/4/2022
- Pinterest delivered its first annual net income on Thursday as strong advertising revenue drove its fourth-quarter results past Wall Street expectations and softened the blow from a shrinking user base.
- Pinterest’s revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 20% to $846.7 million, surpassing analysts’ estimate of $827 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
- Pinterest’s monthly active users (MAUs) declined, dropping 6% to the lowest since June 2020 as the pandemic-driven surge in demand cooled off.
- Pinterest’s MAUs – a key metric that shows engagement levels on the website – was 431 million for the quarter, missing estimates of 447.95 million, according to FactSet.
- Pinterest saw a 12% decline in the United States, its home market, following certain changes to Google’s search algorithm, which limited traffic.
- Net income was $175 million, compared with $207.8 million a year earlier.
Bristol Myers posts slightly better-than-expected fourth-quarter results – Reuters, 2/4/2022
- Drugmaker Bristol Myers Squibb on Friday posted slightly better than expected fourth-quarter earnings on strong sales of blood thinner Eliquis and cancer drug Opdivo.
- Revenue in the quarter was $11.99 billion compared with $11.07 billion in 2020.
- Sales of Eliquis rose 18% to $2.7 billion and sales of cancer immunotherapy rose 11% to $1.99 billion in the quarter.
- Sales of the company’s top-selling cancer drug Revlimid rose 1% to $3.33 billion in the quarter.
- That drug will have generic competition in the United States and internationally this year, and sales are expected to decline.
- The company said it earned $4.07 billion in the quarter, or $1.83 a share, up from $3.33 billion or $1.46 a share, a year earlier. Analysts on average expected the company to earn around $1.80 a share, according to Refinitv IBES data.
- Bristol Myers still expects earnings and sales growth this year. The company forecast 2022 earnings per share of $7.65 to $7.95 a share. Analysts, on average, had forecast $7.86 a share for the year.
- It also reiterated its 2022 sales forecast of $47 billion.
Regeneron revenue beats estimates on strong sales of Eylea, COVID therapy – Reuters, 2/4/2022
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals on Friday reported fourth-quarter revenue that beat analysts’ estimates, boosted by demand for blockbuster drugs Dupixent and Eylea, coupled with higher sales of its COVID-19 therapy.
- That helped its quarterly revenue more than double to $4.95 billion, and beat analysts estimates of $4.51 billion, as per Refinitiv IBES data. Excluding revenue from REGEN-COV, the sales growth was 17%.
- Sales of Dupixent, which is used to treat eczema, jumped 51% to $1.77 billion, while that of eye drops Eylea increased 13% to $2.45 billion.
- The company also recorded $2.30 billion in sales of its COVID-19 antibody therapy, REGEN-COV, as it completed final deliveries to the U.S. government under an agreement signed in September.
- The company’s net profit nearly doubled to $2.23 billion, or $19.69 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.
Meta Erases $251 Billion in Value, Biggest Wipeout in History – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- Meta Platforms’ one-day crash now ranks as the worst in stock-market history.
- The Facebook parent plunged 26% Thursday on the back of woeful earnings results, and erased about $251.3 billion in market value. That’s the biggest wipeout in market value for any U.S. company ever.
- The sheer size of Facebook’s collapse illustrates just how tech companies have ballooned in size to become behemoths with unprecedented market power, and the drama that can ensue when they stumble.
Clorox Shares Plummet as Rising Costs Erode Profitability – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- Clorox said its profits will take a bigger hit than previously anticipated as inflation continues unabated, driving the shares down in late trading on Thursday.
- The Oakland, California, manufacturer reported net sales of $1.69 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, slightly higher than the $1.67 billion expected by 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
- Gross margins were 33%, below the 35.4% estimate.
- The company now expects net sales for the year to decrease 1% to 4%, a rosier outlook than its earlier warning of a 2% to 6% decline. Revenue should return to the company’s growth target — a range of 3% to 5% — in the fiscal fourth quarter. Clorox doesn’t foresee a hit to volumes because it still sees high demand for its products.
- The company now expects a steeper drop in gross margins for its current fiscal year, which ends in June, according to its earnings statement.
- Commodity, manufacturing and logistics are to blame, with extra costs now seen at $500 million for the year, Chief Executive Officer Linda Rendle said in an interview, compared to the $350 million the company mentioned three months ago.
From Kisses to Kleenex, consumer-product makers plot additional U.S. price hikes – Reuters, 2/4/2022
- From Hershey to Clorox and Kleenex maker Kimberly-Clark, major consumer-products companies have announced plans to boost U.S. prices further or more broadly than previously proposed this year, signaling that the fastest inflation rate in a generation may not ebb soon.
- Clorox late on Thursday said it plans to raise prices on 85% of its products by the end of June, up from a previously planned 70%, with some of the company’s brands set for multiple rounds of price hikes.
- Chocolate maker Hershey said it would raise prices further in the first half of 2022 in the United States on top of price increases that will go into effect in the first quarter ended March 31, 2022. Its executives didn’t quantify the price hikes.
- Hershey also said it expects its gross profit margins to fall in 2022 despite its new plans to raise prices.
- Kimberly-Clark said last week it would undertake more price increases — following four rounds of price hikes in 2021 — as pulp, labor and transportation costs continue to bite.
- The average adjusted operating margin of the eight biggest publicly traded U.S beverage companies fell to 25.7% in 2021 from 26.4% in 2020, according to Citi. Among the top U.S. household product companies, average pre-tax margins fell to 19.4% in 2021 from 19.6%– with Kimberly Clark, Clorox and Colgate-Palmolive all seeing their margins hit.
- Among food companies, average margins fell to 17.2% from 17.3%, with Kraft Heinz, McCormick and Campbell Soup all seeing margins slide.
Shoppers Are Caught Off Guard as Prices on Everyday Items Change More Often – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Everyday items, from grocery staples to home décor, are being priced more like airline tickets and gasoline, where the sticker prices can move frequently within hours or days.
- Retailers say the price moves are in response to rising production, labor and shipping costs, and continuing product shortages associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The price changes are happening online as well as offline, especially among smaller retailers that have been wary of spending on pricey technology or frustrating customers, according to executives and analysts.
- Quicklizard, a company that sells software to help retailers automate their pricing strategies, said 75% of the roughly 100 retailers on its platform have increased how frequently they update prices in the past year, with nearly a third changing prices several times a day, up from 15% a year ago.
U.S. 30-Year Real Yield Turns Positive as Fed Hike Bets Increase – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- The inflation-adjusted yield on Treasuries maturing in three decades’ time climbed above zero for the first time since June after stronger-than-anticipated U.S. jobs data added fuel to the argument for faster tightening of Federal Reserve policy.
- The so-called 30-year real yield, as measured by Treasury inflation-protected securities, jumped 7 basis points to 0.08%, a level unseen since May. The last time the benchmark was above zero was in June.
- Swaps markets showed around 32 basis points of tightening priced in for the Fed’s March meeting, slightly more than before, suggesting the market sees at least a quarter point of tightening as a done deal and around a one-in-four chance of a super-sized half-point rate increase.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
U.S. Jobs Growth Surged by 467,000 in January as Economy Weathered Omicron – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Employers hired workers at a swift pace in January after bulking up more than previously reported at the end of last year, reflecting an economy that is growing solidly in the face of the Omicron wave of Covid-19 and staffing shortages.
- The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department said Friday.
- Payrolls grew by nearly 1.2 million in November and December, an upward revision to job creation of about 700,000.
- The report underscores just how difficult it is for the government and economists to gauge shifts in the labor market and overall economy during the pandemic.
- The unemployment rate ticked up slightly in January to 4% from 3.9% in December, with more people joining the workforce.
- Historically low joblessness is helping spur wage growth.
- Wages climbed 5.7% in January from a year earlier, nearly double the average of about 3% before the pandemic hit.
- The labor-force participation rate, or the share of the population working or seeking a job, rose to 62.2% last month, the highest level since the pandemic hit in early 2020.
- Employees worked an average of 34.5 hours a week in January, down from 34.7 in December.
- Many were out sick or had to care for ill family members.
- About 3.6 million Americans were employed but absent from work due to illness in January, up from 1.7 million in December when Omicron caseloads began to
- There are roughly 60 unemployed people for every 100 job openings, meaning just about anyone who wants a job can find one.
- Still, that doesn’t mean everyone will have a job. There are about 900,000 fewer Americans working or looking for a job than before the pandemic struck.
Strong Jobs Report Points to Likely Fed Rate Rises in March and May – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- A steady gain in hiring last month keeps the Federal Reserve on track to lift interest rates next month and could prompt increases at meetings in May and June.
- Fed officials had already signaled they were prepared to look past Friday’s report amid fears of a hiring slowdown from the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which surged across the U.S. last month.
- Instead, the report showed surprising strength in hiring, not just last month, but over the past several months.
- Officials have in recent days played down speculation that they might raise interest rates by a half percentage point in March instead of a quarter point, but they have also said that their rate rises will be guided by the data.
- After Friday’s report, investors in interest-rate futures market showed a nearly one-in-five probability of a larger rate increase, up from around one-in-seven the day before.
- Developments in the labor market provided additional urgency in recent weeks for the Fed to accelerate plans to raise rates much faster than officials anticipated last summer.
- A stronger economy is pushing up rents and wages, which could keep inflation elevated even after supply-related disruptions and shortages of items such as cars and trucks abate.
House Expected to Pass $350 Billion Bill to Help U.S. Compete Globally – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- The House is poised Friday to approve a sprawling $350 billion initiative to boost U.S. competitiveness with China and other rivals, but differences with the Senate signal struggles ahead in reaching a compromise.
- The Senate in June passed its $250 billion version of the measure, dubbed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. But House leaders waited until the past few weeks to put together their own package, called the America Competes Act, as Congress wrestled with other spending proposals.
- The House and Senate competitiveness packages share core elements. Both are aimed at increasing federal support for scientific research and particularly new technologies.
- Compared with the Senate, the House also targets more funding and related policy changes toward issues such as climate change, human rights and domestic social inequality. Its version, for example, includes $8 billion to help developing countries convert to cleaner sources of energy.
- Another big difference is the House’s inclusion of a new $45 billion fund to provide grants and loans to strengthen U.S. supply chains and manufacturing.
Biden Administration to Extend Trump’s Solar Tariffs for Four Years – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- The Biden administration will extend tariffs on solar-energy imports for four years, but significantly reduce their scope by doubling the amount of solar cells that can enter the U.S. without facing any levies, according to senior administration officials.
- The decision is a victory for solar installers who had sought to have the tariffs removed or narrowed in scope to help lower the price of solar energy compared with alternatives.
- But it also deals a blow to domestic solar manufacturers who said the duties were necessary to create a level playing field against the Chinese competitors dominating the solar-energy industry’s supply chain.
- In December, the ITC had recommended maintaining both the tariffs and the existing quota level of 2.5 gigawatts of solar cells. The Biden administration instead doubled the quota level to 5 gigawatts, allowing a significant chunk of imports to avoid the tariffs.
- The tariffs apply to all imports of solar cells and modules, most of which come from China.
U.S. Says Russia Is Planning to Fabricate a Pretext to Invade Ukraine – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Russia is planning to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by releasing a staged video depicting attacks by Kyiv military forces, U.S. officials said Thursday, citing newly declassified intelligence.
- U.S. officials said they went public with the information to expose Russian tactics in an attempt to avert a conflict inside Ukraine, the latest in a series of similar moves in recent weeks.
- The intelligence shows a Russian plan to stage a fabricated attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence personnel against Russian sovereign territory, or against Russian-speaking people, to justify an incursion into Ukraine, U.S. officials said.
- The U.S. and U.K. governments, which share virtually all intelligence they collect, haven’t released the underlying intelligence reports regarding the accusations.
EUROPE & WORLD
Putin, Xi Display United Front in China During Standoff With West Over Ukraine – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin challenged the U.S.-led global order amid a tense standoff over the buildup of Russian troops near Ukraine, as they called for a halt to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
- The two leaders showcased a united front as they both face escalating pressure from the West, meeting at a summit Friday shortly before the start of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
- The countries said that the world was undergoing a redistribution of power, while criticizing what they described as an effort by some states to interfere in the affairs of other sovereign nations, according to a joint statement released by the Kremlin.
- China didn’t immediately release the joint statement, although Chinese state media carried remarks by Mr. Xi after the meeting. He said that the two countries support the safeguarding of each other’s core interests and that their strategic decisions would have global influence, according to a separate statement by the official Xinhua News Agency.
- “I am willing to work with President Vladimir Putin to plan a blueprint and guide the direction of Sino-Russian relations under new historical conditions,” Mr. Xi said.
- Mr. Xi added that China and Russia should act like “big countries” as they intensify coordination on fighting the coronavirus pandemic, boosting the global economy and tackling climate change.
BOE’s Bailey Calls for Pay Restraint to Halt Fear of Wage Spiral – Bloomberg, 2/4/2022
- Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey called for workers to hold off on demands for higher pay, saying the nation needs to focus on keeping inflation in check despite the mounting cost of living squeeze.
- With rising prices eating away at the value of people’s incomes, Bailey said his goal is to halt an upward spiral of inflation that would come with expectations for bigger salaries.
- “We do need to see a moderation in wage rises,” Bailey said in an interview with the BBC on Thursday. “That’s painful. I don’t want to in any sense sugar that message.”
- The call risks drawing allegations of insensitivity given it came hours after his central bank raised interest rates and households faced the prospect of even higher energy prices. Bailey is on a salary of almost 500,000 pounds ($680,000).
- The BOE expects underlying pay settlements to peak of close to 5%, a level not seen in 21 years.
- In 2001, inflation was 2% and real incomes were booming.
- This time, though, high inflation will mean real pay is shrinking by 2%, the biggest fall in real incomes over a consecutive four quarter period since 2011.
Ottawa Fears Vaccine Protest Has Morphed Into an Occupation – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Police in the Canadian capital are weighing military help or a court order to bring an end to a weeklong protest against vaccine mandates that has forced businesses to close, frayed residents’ nerves and strangled swaths of the city’s core.
- The protests, led by truckers and their supporters, have clogged Ottawa traffic and disrupted residents’ daily lives. Police said this week their intelligence indicates that more truckers and citizens, perhaps in the tens of thousands, are headed toward Ottawa this weekend. City politicians say the protest, which began Jan. 28, has morphed into an occupation.
- Other trucker protests are bubbling up across the country, in response to a decision last month by Canada and the U.S. to ban unvaccinated truckers from entering their countries.
- Prior to January, truckers were considered essential workers and allowed to cross the border with goods, while borders were closed to nonessential travel.
Boris Johnson Aides Quit Amid Scandal Over Lockdown Parties – Wall Street Journal, 2/4/2022
- Four of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior aides quit on Thursday, as the fallout of a probe into lockdown parties continues to reverberate at the top of the British government.
- Mr. Johnson’s chief of staff, head of communications, personal private secretary and long serving policy chief all quit, the government said, upending the prime minister’s Downing Street operation.
- The resignations come as the police continue to investigate 12 gatherings that took place in government offices during several Covid-19 lockdowns over the past two years.
- A government report into the affair published this week criticized the culture in Downing Street and pointed to failings of leadership.
- It listed 16 gatherings that took place on government property, including in Mr. Johnson’s own residence, at times when normal people were ordered to either reduce or stop socializing.
- England proclaimed the formal end to the hostilities with the United States. (1783)
- Shays’s Rebellion, an uprising of Massachusetts farmers, was defeated. (1787)
- George Washington and John Adams are elected the president and vice president of the United States. (1789)
- Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin met at the Yalta Conference. (1945)
- Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) gained independence from the United Kingdom. (1948)
- The Massachusetts Supreme Court declared that gays had the right to marry. (2004)