Stocks Turn Jittery as Bond Yields Jump – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- U.S. stocks slumped Wednesday morning as technology stocks continued falling and government bond yields ticked higher.
- The S&P 500 fell 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite fell 1%, pointing to declines in technology stocks for a second day.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down less than 0.1%.
- The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond ticked up to 1.476%, from 1.413% on Tuesday.
- That is still down from the 1.513% it hit last month. Yields rise when bond prices fall.
- Some money managers have grown concerned that stimulus measures will lead to a spike in inflation and erode the value of bond returns. Worries about inflation have also triggered bets that the Federal Reserve may start to boost interest rates in the next two years.
- The Fed’s beige book report, due at 2 p.m. ET, will offer the latest collection of business anecdotes, offering insights into how companies are gearing up for the reopening of the economy.
- Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.1%.
- Most major Asian indexes gained. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose almost 2%, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng jumped 2.7%. Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged up 0.5%, and South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.3%.
Covid-19 Live Updates: New U.S. Cases Ease, but Deaths Tick Higher – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Newly reported Covid-19 cases in the U.S. were down from a day earlier but deaths ticked higher again, as President Biden said the nation would have enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than he had previously said.
- There were 55,071 new cases reported in the U.S. for Tuesday, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That was down from 58,810 a day earlier, and 71,436 a week earlier.
- Reported U.S. deaths related to Covid-19 increased Tuesday to 1,924, from 1,566 a day earlier, according to the latest Johns Hopkins data.
- States including Delaware, Maine and Virginia have reported backlogs of deaths in the past 10 days, as have Calaveras and Los Angeles counties in California. These could be contributing to the rising averages.
- Mr. Biden said on Tuesday that the U.S. would have enough vaccines for all American adults, two months earlier than he had previously said, after regulators authorized the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and Merck agreed to help produce it.
Texas Governor Lifts Covid-19 Mask Mandate, Business Restrictions – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Texas businesses will be able to operate at full capacity and state residents will no longer be required to wear masks to visit them, Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday.
- The easing of restrictions will take effect on March 10. After about a monthlong shutdown last year, Texas allowed businesses to reopen to varying degrees beginning in May. Mr. Abbott instituted a mask mandate in July, as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations increased.
- Mr. Abbott’s move, affecting some 29 million residents of the second-largest state, comes after some smaller states, such as Iowa, Montana and North Dakota, have removed mask mandates.
- In Chicago, Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that bars, restaurants and indoor events can reopen at 50% capacity.
- The city also reopened schools to elementary-school students on Monday and plans to welcome back middle-school students next week.
- Last weekend, 42% of North American theaters opened for business, up from 38% the week before, according to media measurement company Comscore.
Big-box competition hits Dollar Tree sales, shares fall – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Dollar Tree missed market estimates for holiday-quarter sales on Wednesday as competition from big-box retailers increased, while demand for party supplies came under pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sending its shares down 3%.
- Net sales rose 7.2% to $6.77 billion but missed estimates of $6.79 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
- Same-store sales at its namesake unit increased 2.4% in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, well below Wall Street expectations of a 4.37% rise, even as its Family Dollar segment topped estimates.
- Net income rose over 300% to $502.8 million, or $2.13 per share, as Dollar Tree had taken a $313 million goodwill impairment charge last year. Analysts on average had estimated a profit of $2.11 per share.
- Dollar Tree also announced a $2 billion increase to its stock repurchase plan, leaving it with $2.4 billion to buy back shares.
Micron raises second-quarter revenue forecast – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Chipmaker Micron Technology said on Wednesday it is raising its revenue, gross margin and earnings per share forecast for the second quarter, which ends March 4.
- Micron now expects revenue to be in the range of $6.20 billion to $6.25 billion, from a previous forecast of $5.6 billion to $6 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting revenue to be $5.86 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
- The company also said it expects adjusted earnings to be between 93 cents per share and 98 cents per share, from a previous range of 68 cents per share to 82 cents per share.
- Micron is expected to delve deeper into demand drivers at a Morgan Stanley conference later in the day.
Fidelity’s Retail Investor Accounts Rise 17% to 26 Million – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Fidelity Investments capped 2020 with record annual operating profit, lifted by strong stock-market gains and an unexpected wave of new individual investors.
- Fidelity parent FMR LLC said Tuesday operating income rose 4.6% to $7.2 billion last year.
- Revenue totaled $21 billion, little changed from a year earlier.
- Fidelity had 26 million retail accounts in 2020, up 17% from a year earlier.
- Workplace retirement accounts, including those in 401(k) plans, rose 7.9% to 32.6 million. Daily trading volume doubled.
- Despite that growth, Fidelity’s annual revenue inched just $100 million higher than its 2019 total of $20.9 billion.
- Assets under management jumped 19% to $3.8 trillion. Assets under administration, or what investors held in brokerage and retirement accounts as well the firm’s investment funds, rose 18% to $9.8 trillion. Both 2020 figures were new highs.
Sands to Sell Las Vegas Properties for $6.25 Billion to Apollo Global, REIT – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Las Vegas Sands agreed to sell its Las Vegas properties to Apollo Global Management and a real-estate investment trust for about $6.25 billion as the casino operator exits the gambling hub to focus on its core Asia operations.
- After the death of company founder Sheldon Adelson, executives in January said the company would continue to invest in Sands’ Singapore and Macau casinos, which generate most of the company’s revenue.
- Funds tied to Apollo Global Management will buy subsidiaries that hold the operating assets and liabilities of the Las Vegas business for about $1.05 billion in cash and $1.2 billion in seller financing in the form of a term loan credit and security agreement, Sands said.
- Real-estate investment trust Vici Properties will buy subsidiaries that hold the real estate and real-estate-related assets of the Venetian for about $4 billion in cash.
Google to Stop Selling Ads Based on Your Specific Web Browsing – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry.
- The Alphabet company said Wednesday that it plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet.
- The decision, coming from the world’s biggest digital-advertising company, could help push the industry away from the use of such individualized tracking, which has come under increasing criticism from privacy advocates and faces scrutiny from regulators.
- Google had already announced last year that it would remove the most widely used such tracking technology, called third-party cookies, in 2022. But now the company is saying it won’t build alternative tracking technologies, or use those being developed by other entities, to replace third-party cookies for its own ad-buying tools.
GM extends vehicle production cuts due to semiconductor chip shortage – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- General Motors said on Wednesday it was further extending production cuts at three North American plants and adding a fourth to the list of factories hit by the global semiconductor chip shortage.
- GM said Wednesday it would extend downtime at plants in Fairfax, Kansas, and Ingersoll, Ontario, to at least mid-April, and in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, through the end of March. In addition, it will idle its Gravatai plant in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in April and May.
- Following Wednesday’s cuts, forecasting firm AutoForecast Solutions estimated GM could lose more than 216,000 units globally due to the shortage.
- The extended cuts do not change GM’s forecast last month that the shortage could shave up to $2 billion from this year’s earnings.
Sports Streamer DAZN Taps Disney Veteran Kevin Mayer as Chairman – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Kevin Mayer, a former senior executive of the Walt Disney and architect of its Disney+ streaming service, has been named chairman of DAZN Group, a sports-streaming platform, DAZN said.
- Mr. Mayer succeeds former colleague John Skipper, a one-time head of Disney’s ESPN who had been chairman of DAZN (pronounced Duh Zone) since 2018.
- DAZN, available in 200 markets, has about 9 million subscribers. The bulk of them, according to a person familiar with its operations, are in Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain—where it has marquee soccer rights that include Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga leagues.
Rocket shares soar more than 70% as analysts eye ‘GameStop-esque’ short squeeze – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Heavily shorted mortgage provider Rocket Companies saw its stock surge on Tuesday, in an eye-popping move reminiscent of the rallies that powered GameStop and other so-called meme stocks earlier in the year.
- Shares of Rocket, the parent company of Quicken Loans, closed up 71.2% at $41.60 after being halted several times for volatility.
- More than 367 million shares changed hands in the stock’s busiest trading day ever.
- The value of Rocket shares shorted stood at $1.2 billion as of Monday’s close, accounting for nearly 46% of the float, compared with 35.5% at the beginning of February, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners.
- The position makes Rocket the fifth largest short in the banking sector, behind JPMorgan Chase & Co and Citigroup, S3 data showed.
Robinhood, a go-to for young traders, benefits from short sale demand – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Robinhood, the online brokerage used by many retail traders to pile in to heavily shorted stocks like GameStop Corp, has made an ambitious push into loaning out its clients’ shares to short sellers as it expands its business.
- The broker had $1.9 billion in shares loaned out as of Dec. 31, nearly three times the $674 million a year earlier, and it was permitted to lend out $4.6 billion worth of securities under margin agreements, around five times bigger than the prior year, according to an annual regulatory filing late on Monday.
- The size of the jump highlights Robinhood’s rapid growth over the past year as the number of retail investors has soared in the work-from-home environment during the pandemic and as retail brokers have largely eliminated trading fees, a model Robinhood helped pioneer.
- What makes Robinhood notable is that many of the stocks its users invest in are among the most sought-after by people who want to bet against them, said one senior financial executive involved with hedge funds.
U.S. private payrolls miss expectations in February – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- U.S. private payrolls increased less than expected in February amid job losses in manufacturing and construction, suggesting the labor market was struggling to regain speed despite the nation’s improving public health picture.
- Private payrolls rose by 117,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday.
- Data for January was revised up to show 195,000 jobs added instead of the initially reported 174,000.
- Economists polled by Reuters had forecast private payrolls would increase by 177,000 jobs in February.
- The ADP report is jointly developed with Moody’s Analytics. It has a very poor track record predicting the private payrolls count in the government’s more comprehensive, and closely watched, employment report because of methodology differences.
- The ADP report’s initial 174,000 private payrolls tally for January way overshot the Labor Department’s total of only 6,000.
U.S. service sector slows; businesses facing higher costs: ISM survey – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- U.S. services industry activity unexpectedly slowed in February amid winter storms, while a measure of prices paid by companies for inputs surged to the highest level in nearly 12-1/2 years, bolstering expectations for faster inflation in the near term.
- The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Wednesday its non-manufacturing activity index fell to a reading of 55.3 last month from 58.7 in January, which was the highest since February 2019.
- The survey’s measure of prices paid by services industries jumped to 71.8 last month, the highest reading since September 2008, from 64.2 in January.
- It mirrored findings of the ISM’s manufacturing survey published on Monday and a surge in consumers’ near-term inflation expectations.
- The ISM survey’s measure of new orders for the services industry fell to a nine-month low of 51.9 in February from a reading of 61.8 in January.
- But backlog orders jumped to a 55.2 last month from 50.9 in January. Export orders also rebounded strongly, which bodes well for the sector’s growth.
- The survey’s index of services industry employment fell to 52.7 last month from a reading of 55.2 in January.
Senate Poised to Move Ahead With Covid-19 Aid Bill – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- The Senate could begin its first procedural votes on the sprawling coronavirus relief package Wednesday, if Democrats can resolve their last set of internal disputes over key aid programs included in the bill.
- The bill passed by the House early Saturday morning would provide $400 a week in federal unemployment benefits, send $1,400 direct payments to many Americans, $350 billion to state and local governments, expand a child tax credit and beef up funding for vaccine distribution and schools, among other measures.
- Moderate Democrats have been pushing for alterations that they said would make sure the federal funds are directed to those most in need of them.
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) sought to lower the federal jobless benefits to $300 a week, running into resistance from liberals who had initially pushed for $600 a week. The payments are in addition to state unemployment benefits.
- Some Democrats worked this week to try to adjust the income levels at which the $1,400 payments would shrink to zero for more affluent families, which they have said would make the money better targeted to those in need.
- The House version of the legislation offered $1,400 checks to individuals making less than $75,000 and married couples making less than $150,000 before phasing down the payments.
- Those payments go to zero once an individual’s income reaches $100,000 and married couples’ income hits $200,000.
Rockets Hit Iraq Base Hosting U.S. Troops – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- Ten rockets struck a military base used by U.S. forces in Iraq amid heightened tensions between Washington and Iran-backed militant groups in the country.
- A spokesman for the U.S.-led military coalition confirmed the attack but didn’t comment on whether anyone was hurt.
- There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
- An Iraqi news agency, Sabreen, which supports Iranian-allied militias, published photos and initial reports of the attack.
- The rocket barrage comes less than a week after a U.S. airstrike targeted Iranian-allied Iraqi militias in neighboring Syria. The strike was a response to a deadly rocket attack on a U.S. air base in northern Iraq that was claimed by an Iranian-backed militia.
Neera Tanden’s Nomination as Budget Office Head Is Withdrawn – Wall Street Journal, 3/3/2021
- The White House is withdrawing Neera Tanden’s nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget amid opposition from Senate Republicans and a key Democrat, marking the first failed confirmation push for one of President Biden’s cabinet picks.
- Ms. Tanden asked that her nomination be withdrawn in a letter to Mr. Biden in which she acknowledged she had little chance of being confirmed.
- White House chief of staff Ron Klain said last month that the administration hoped to find a position for Ms. Tanden that didn’t require Senate confirmation if she were unable to win enough support.
- Ms. Tanden, the leader of the center-left think tank the Center for American Progress, had come under criticism from some lawmakers for her past social-media comments, which included jabs at senators.
- She compared Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) to Voldemort, the Harry Potter villain; referred to Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine) as “the worst”; and said “vampires have more heart” than Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas).
- She has also clashed with progressive activists and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)
EUROPE & WORLD
Stellantis sees rebound in 2021, but chip shortage a worry – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Low global car inventories and cost cuts should boost Stellantis’s profit margins this year, though a shortage of semiconductors and investments in electric vehicles could weigh on results, the newly-formed automaker said on Wednesday.
- The forecast came as Stellantis, created by the January merger of Peugeot-maker PSA and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), reported better-than-expected results for 2020 that sent its shares up around 3% in morning trading.
- Combined adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) amounted to 7.1 billion euros ($8.6 billion) last year.
- It said 2021 results should be helped by three new high-margin Jeep vehicles in North America and a strong pricing environment there. The U.S. market has driven profits for years at FCA and starts off as the strongest part of Stellantis.
- Stellantis plans to have fully-electric or hybrid versions of all of its vehicles available in Europe by 2025, broadly in line with plans at top rivals such as Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan, although Stellantis has further to go to meet that goal.
Samsung considers four sites in U.S. for $17 billion chip plant: documents – Reuters, 3/3/2021
- Samsung Electronics is considering two sites in Arizona and another one in New York in addition to Austin, Texas, for a new $17 billion chip plant, according to documents filed with Texas state officials.
- The documents dated Feb. 26 also estimated tax abatements concerning the plant will be about $1.48 billion over 20 years from Travis County in Texas and the city of Austin, up from the $805.5 million previously mentioned.
- Samsung is in talks with the sites at Arizona and New York, with each offering property tax abatement and “significant grants and/or refundable tax credits” to fund infrastructure improvements, the documents said.
- The new plant Samsung plans to build would produce “advanced logic devices” for Samsung’s chip contract manufacturing business, and could create 1,800 jobs, according to previous documents filed with Texas state officials.
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