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Daily Market Report | Mar. 2, 2021

Stocks Edge Lower After Monday’s Rally – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • S. stocks edged lower Tuesday, pausing after Monday’s blockbuster rally as investors continued to digest volatility in both shares and bonds.
  • The S&P 500 lost 0.2% shortly after the opening bell, pulling back after it surged 2.4% Monday to log its best day since June.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded essentially flat. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4%.
  • The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds ticked down to 1.433%, from 1.444% on Monday.
  • Still, that is sharply higher from this year’s closing low on Jan. 4 of 0.915%.
  • Investors will be assessing comments by Federal Reserve Gov. Lael Brainard at an event starting at 1 p.m. ET for fresh cues on how the central bank views the moves in bond markets and prospects for higher inflation.
  • On Monday, she didn’t address the issues when she spoke at another event.
  • Fed officials have so far suggested the climb in yields reflects expectations for an economic recovery.
  • In Asia, most major benchmarks finished the day down.
  • China’s Shanghai Composite Index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng both fell 1.2%. South Korea’s Kospi Index rose 1%, buoyed by the prospect of a new pandemic relief spending package.

Covid-19 Live Updates: Newly Reported U.S. Cases Inch Higher – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • Newly reported Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. rose from a day earlier but remained below January’s highs, as the number of those hospitalized with the disease continued to decline.
  • There were 58,812 new cases reported in the U.S. for Monday, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University published. That was up from 51,204 reported for Sunday and just higher than the 56,044 reported a week earlier.
  • More than 1,500 people in the U.S. were reported to have died Monday, up from a revised 1,097 a day earlier and slightly higher than the 1,329 reported a week earlier.
  • There were 46,738 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in the U.S. as of Monday, according to the Covid Tracking Project, down from 47,352 a day before and the third day in a row the number was below 50,000 after crossing that threshold on Nov. 3.
  • An initial supply of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine is expected to reach states and vaccination sites as early as Tuesday, after the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization over the weekend, the Biden administration said.
  • The rollout of nearly four million shots, and about 20 million doses in total by the end of March, is expected to bolster the U.S. vaccination effort.
  • As of Sunday, more than 49.7 million Americans had received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, representing about 15% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Merck to Help Johnson & Johnson Make Its Covid-19 Vaccine – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • Merck & Co. will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, President Biden plans to announce on Tuesday, as the administration pushes to get the shot to the American public at a faster pace.
  • The president is expected to make the announcement while giving an update on the pandemic, administration officials said. The assistance from Merck, a competitor to Johnson & Johnson, will help speed up production after the one-shot vaccine was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday.
  • The partnership between J&J and Merck would mark the latest example of pharmaceutical rivals working together to make Covid-19 vaccines. Sanofi and Novartis are helping to make the shot from Pfizer and BioNTech.

Zoom Foresees Robust Growth Even as Pandemic Pressures Ease – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • Zoom Video Communications said its growth would continue at a rapid pace amid the vaccine rollout, after pandemic lockdowns turned the company into a household name and an investor darling.
  • Zoom revenue for the January quarter jumped to $882.5 million from $188.3 million a year earlier.
  • Zoom ended the year with about 467,100 customers with more than 10 employees, a nearly sixfold increase from a year earlier.
  • Zoom’s fourth-quarter profit surged to more than $260 million from $15.3 million in the year-prior period.
  • On a per-share basis, profit rose to 87 cents, or $1.22 on an adjusted basis.
  • Zoom ended the year with a profit of $671.5 million on $2.65 billion in revenue, compared with $21.8 million in profit and $622.7 million in revenue a year earlier.
  • In the current fiscal year, it expects $3.59 to $3.65 a share in adjusted profit and $3.76 billion to $3.78 billion in revenue, ahead of analysts’ projections, according to FactSet.

Target sales soar as quick delivery fires up online demand – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • Target holiday season sales jumped as Americans ordered everything from home goods, toys and groceries online, helping the company exceed Wall Street expectations with an 118% surge in digital sales for the quarter.
  • Total fourth-quarter revenue rose 21.1% to $28.34 billion, beating average estimates of $27.48 billion.
  • Full-year sales rose by over $15 billion, larger than the combined growth of the last 11 years.
  • The company’s comparable sales rose 20.5% in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 30, comfortably beating analysts’ estimates for a 16.4% rise, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
  • Sales through its same-day deliveries and store pick-up services surged 212%, as consumers sought quicker ways to get their online purchases and government stimulus helped carry holiday spending momentum into January.
  • On an adjusted basis, Target reported earnings of $2.67 per share, beating estimates of $2.54.
  • Still, Target held back on providing sales and earnings forecast for fiscal 2021, citing continued uncertainty over consumer shopping patterns amid the health crisis.

Kohl’s Restarting Stock Buybacks, Dividend Amid Activist Pressure – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • Kohl’s said it would start paying a dividend and buying back shares again after a group of activist investors pushed to take control of the company’s board.
  • Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based Kohl’s on Tuesday reported sales fell to $5.88 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter ended Jan. 30 from $6.54 billion for the year-earlier period. Sales for the latest period were in line with the consensus estimate from FactSet.
  • Lower costs, including for selling, general and administrative expenses, helped results as did a tax benefit.
  • The company said net income increased to $343 million, from $265 million a year earlier. Earnings per share rose to $2.20 from $1.72.
  • In addition to restarting dividend payment and stock buybacks, Kohl’s said it plans at least $550 million in capital expenditures during its new fiscal year, funds that will help pay for a partnership with Sephora and for the opening its sixth e-commerce fulfillment center.
  • The department-store chain on Tuesday said its board approved a cash payout last month of 25 cents a share.
  • For its new fiscal year, the company said it plans to spend at least $200 million on stock buybacks.

Abercrombie & Fitch profit beats on lower costs, higher holiday pricing – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • Abercrombie & Fitch reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday and said it would resume share buybacks, as the apparel retailer cut costs and sold products at higher average prices during the holidays.
  • Net sales fell 5% to $1.12 billion, in line with analysts’ average estimate, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
  • In a bid to rein in costs, the Ohio-based company closed 137 stores last year, tightened its inventory and reduced payroll expenses.
  • Excluding one-time items, the company reported a profit of $1.50 per share in the fourth quarter, compared with analysts’ average estimate of $1.22, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
  • The company’s shares rose 5% as its recent investments in its digital platforms drove a 34% rise in online sales during the quarter, helping it combat a fall in mall traffic as the coronavirus crisis kept shoppers at home.

Crisis deepens for airlines in January: IATA – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • Global airline body IATA said that the crisis deepened for airlines in January, as international traffic plunged 86% in the month compared to pre-crisis levels, and domestic air traffic was down 47%.
  • New variants of the coronavirus forced governments to tighten travel restrictions across the world, hurting the outlook for airlines, the group warned.
  • “That is what drove the weakness and the low points in January,” said IATA chief economist Brian Pearce. “Airlines are facing a really tough start to the year.”

Exclusive: India woos Tesla with offer of cheaper production costs than China – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • India is ready to offer incentives to ensure Tesla’s cost of production would be less than in China if the carmaker commits to making its electric vehicles in the south Asian country, transport minister Nitin Gadkari told Reuters.
  • Gadkari’s pitch comes weeks after billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla registered a company in India in a step towards entering the country, possibly as soon as mid-2021. Sources familiar with the matter have said Tesla plans to start by importing and selling its Model 3 electric sedan in India.
  • India’s fledgling EV market accounted for just 5,000 out of a total 2.4 million cars sold in the country last year as negligible charging infrastructure and the high cost of EVs deterred buyers.

OPEC demand outlook sees oil stocks falling in 2021: sources – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • OPEC expects oil inventories to drop by about 400 million barrels in 2021 in the latest supply and demand outlook being reviewed by a technical meeting on Tuesday, two OPEC+ sources said.
  • The figure, similar to the implied 2021 stock draw of 406 million barrels seen a month ago by OPEC, is part of what one of the OPEC sources called a “healthy” supply and demand balance for 2021.
  • OPEC+ experts, the Joint Technical Committee, are meeting on Tuesday ahead of a ministerial meeting on Thursday to decide oil output policy.

U.S. to Take Hard Line on Chinese Trade Practices, Administration Says – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • The Biden administration said Monday it will use “all available tools” to respond to alleged unfair trading practices by Beijing as it conducts a comprehensive review of its trade policy with China.
  • Releasing its first trade agenda, the administration said it is committed to using tariffs and other tools to combat alleged unfair trade practices by China, including unfair subsidies to favored industries and use of forced labor that targets Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities.
  • Tariffs remain on about $370 billion in annual imports from China, which the Biden administration is expected to retain as leverage to force Beijing to comply with the terms of the deal.
  • The administration said it would fight alleged currency manipulation by other nations seeking to gain a trade advantage through joint efforts between the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Treasury and Commerce departments.

U.S. Sanctions Russia Over Moves Against Navalny – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • The Biden administration is imposing sanctions against Russia for actions against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained by the Kremlin after surviving a near-fatal poisoning attack last year.
  • The U.S. will join with the European Union in sanctioning Russian officials and entities in connection with the poisoning, saying Mr. Navalny was targeted for uncovering “uncomfortable truths” about the Russian government.
  • S. officials didn’t name those targeted by the sanctions but said more details would be announced soon.
  • Russia’s actions against Mr. Navalny have led to widespread protests in the country focused on the more than 20-year rule of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

California Provides Billions for School Reopenings – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • California officials said Monday they would provide public schools with $6.6 billion in additional incentives to reopen their doors to in-person instruction by April.
  • The spending package agreed upon by Mr. Newsom and the state’s legislative leaders includes $2 billion for safety measures such as personal protective equipment, classroom ventilation upgrades and Covid-19 testing, the governor’s office said.
  • To qualify for that $2 billion, public schools would be required to begin offering in-person learning for kindergarten, and first and second grades for all students, as well as classes for all high-needs students, by the end of March.
  • If they don’t, they begin losing out on their share of the $2 billion at a rate of 1% a day.
  • The remaining $4.6 billion would be used to fund other initiatives such as summer school, tutoring programs and mental-health services.
  • But the framework, like previous proposals from Gov. Gavin Newsom, leaves it to local school districts to bargain with employees over when and how to reopen.
  • And in Los Angeles, the school superintendent said he hadn’t yet reached a deal with the teachers union, despite securing enough vaccines for educators at all the district’s elementary schools.
  • A state official confirmed that California would over the next two weeks allocate the 25,000 vaccine doses that Los Angeles Unified Schools Superintendent Austin Beutner said are necessary to reopen elementary schools that serve about 250,000 students.

Gov. Cuomo’s Accuser Faults Him for Resisting Independent Sexual Harassment Investigation – Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2021

  • A woman who accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment faulted him Monday for resisting calls for an independent investigation as the administration retained a prominent white-collar defense attorney for federal probes into Covid-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
  • The Cuomo administration now faces multiple investigations and restive lawmakers who canceled a series of planned votes at the State Capitol to discuss the unfolding events, legislators said.
  • Elkan Abramowitz, a one-time federal prosecutor, confirmed on Monday that he is representing the Executive Chamber—which comprises the governor and his closest aides—in Justice Department inquiries about the state’s nursing homes.
  • The Justice Department investigation stretches back to the summer, when the Cuomo administration’s reporting of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes began to receive intense scrutiny from lawmakers, journalists and the families of nursing-home residents who died of Covid-19.
  • During a Feb. 10 meeting with state legislators, Melissa DeRosa, Mr. Cuomo’s top aide, said the state sidelined requests for the fuller tally because of the Justice Department probes. She said state officials feared the information would be politicized by the administration of former President Donald Trump, according to a transcript of the meeting.

EUROPE & WORLD

China’s Nio posts bigger-than-expected loss, slowing EV sales growth in first-quarter – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • China’s Nio posted a wider-than-expected loss and flagged a slowing pace of deliveries for its electric vehicles (EV) in the current quarter, sending its U.S.-listed shares down 7% in extended trading.
  • It reported a fourth-quarter net loss of 1.49 billion yuan ($230 million), compared with the average estimate from analysts for a 757 million yuan loss, according to Refinitiv data.
  • The company delivered 7,225 vehicles in January and 5,578 units last month, as China’s factory activity expanded at the slowest pace in nine months on weak overseas demand and coronavirus flare-ups.
  • Nio, which makes the ES8 and ES6 electric sport-utility vehicles, said it expects to deliver 20,000 to 20,500 vehicles in the first quarter – up 15% to 18% from the fourth quarter.
  • The forecast, however, is slower than the 42% growth it reported between the third and the fourth quarter, in line with seasonal slowing in auto sales in China overall.

MercadoLibre to Invest Record $1.8 Billion in Brazil – Bloomberg, 3/2/2021

  • Latin American e-commerce powerhouse MercadoLibre is more than doubling its Brazilian investment this year, planning to deploy in 2021 the same amount it spent in the past four years combined.
  • The firm plans to pour a record 10 billion reais ($1.8 billion) into Brazil in 2021, up from 4 billion reais last year, to be spent mostly on expanding its logistics network.
  • The company’s net revenue totaled $1.3 billion in the fourth quarter, slightly above Bloomberg consensus estimates of $1.2 billion.
  • Gross merchandise volume (GMV) and total payment volume (TPV) also beat consensus estimates.
  • MercadoLibre also posted a loss per share of $1.02.
  • The strong numbers follow a year in which the coronavirus pandemic pushed Latin Americans to buy more online and increasingly turn to digital payment options. In some countries, public policy also aided the boost, as in the case of Brazil, where a government stipend to those who were hardest hit helped maintain strong volumes, President Stelleo Tolda said.

Sea launches investment arm, expects e-commerce sales to double in 2021 – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • Southeast Asian e-commerce and entertainment group Sea said on Tuesday it would launch a unit to manage its investments, as well as its own artificial intelligence labs.
  • The Singapore-headquartered firm announced on Tuesday its income under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) had reached US$1.6 billion for the last quarter of 2020 and US$4.4 billion for the full year, a 101% year-on-year increase.
  • Its net loss widened to $523.6 million from $283.8 million.
  • Shopee reported $842.2 million in e-commerce revenues for the last three months of 2020.
  • The firm said it foresees e-commerce sales doubling in 2021, revenues reaching between US$4.5 billion to US$4.7 billion.
  • The company also expects 38% growth for its entertainment arm, Garena, due to the continued success of its game, Free Fire, which was the most downloaded mobile game globally for 2020, according to App Annie.
  • Sea expects 2021 bookings for digital entertainment to be between $4.3 billion and $4.5 billion.
  • Sea said its mobile wallet total payment volume exceeded $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter and $7.8 billion for the full year of 2020.

Flutter’s bet on booming U.S. market bears fruit, earnings jump – Reuters, 3/2/2021

  • Paddy Power, Betfair and Poker Stars owner Flutter Entertainment posted a 23% rise in like-for-like earnings for 2020 as it maintained its leading position in a booming U.S. market that it said could grow to twice the size previously estimated.
  • Flutter reported full-year 2020 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 1.4 billion pounds ($1.9 billion), ahead of the 1.275 billion to 1.350 billion range it forecast in November.
  • That excluded an investment-heavy EBITDA loss of 170 million pounds in the U.S., where it increased its holding in Fanduel to 95% at the end of last year.
  • Annual revenue grew by 59% in Australia, by 32% in the recently acquired SkyBet brand and by 8% in the mainly Britain and Ireland-based Paddy Power and Betfair online division. Group revenue was up 36% year-on-year in the first 7 weeks of 2021.
  • The world’s largest online betting group on Tuesday said its revenues in the U.S. exceeded those of its two nearest competitors combined, including biggest rival Draftkings.

Factmonster – TODAY in HISTORY

  • Texas declared its independence from Mexico. (1836)
  • King Kong, starring Fay Wray, premiered in New York City. (1933)
  • Dmitri A. Medvedev, a former aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin who has never held elected office, won the Russian presidential election in a landslide. Putin remained in a position of power, serving as Medvedev’s prime minister. (2008)

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