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Daily Market Report | Mar. 24, 2021

Stocks Climb Despite Tech-Stock Decline – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose Wednesday as investors piled back into economically sensitive sectors on bets that the U.S. economy will continue to recover.
  • Markets have seesawed this week as investors have continued to assess the implications of a recent climb in bond yields, which, despite edging lower this week, surpassed 1.7% this month for the first time in more than a year.
  • Money managers are also assessing the valuations on stocks after the major indexes climbed over 70% since the pandemic-fueled rout last March.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has tried to assuage investors by reiterating that the Fed will continue to support the economy until the recovery is more robust.
  • Still, money managers are betting that inflation will climb sharply, and could spur the central bank to raise interest rates or pare back bond purchases.
  • Mr. Powell on Tuesday told lawmakers that he doesn’t think fiscal stimulus would have a large or persistent effect on inflation.
  • He also stressed that policy makers could act to tamp down rising price pressures if needed.
  • In the bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.641%, from 1.637% Tuesday.
  • Bond yields rise as prices fall. The yield had closed as high as 1.730% last week, prompting investors to reassess their appetite for risky assets like technology stocks.
  • Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.2%. Internationally, investors have mulled signs that the global economic recovery may take longer than anticipated because of rising Covid-19 cases and extended lockdowns in many countries.
  • In Asia, stock benchmarks in Hong Kong and Japan led declines, both falling more than 2% by the close of trading.
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index entered correction territory, with a more than 10% drop from a recent peak in February.

Coronavirus Live Updates: More Than 25% of U.S. Has Received a Vaccine Dose – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • Newly reported coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose slightly, while Covid-19 vaccination campaigns continued to ramp up, with more than a quarter of the country having received at least one dose.
  • The U.S. reported more than 51,000 new cases for Tuesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University that was published early Wednesday Eastern time. The data may update later.
  • Tuesday’s total was slightly higher than Monday’s revised tally of 50,584, but down from the more than 53,000 cases reported a week earlier.
  • The nation reported 844 Covid-19 fatalities for Tuesday, bringing the total death toll to more than 543,800, according to Johns Hopkins data.
  • Around 25.3% of people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and an average of 2.5 million doses a day have been administered over the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Vaccination levels vary by state.

Adobe earnings, sales top estimates – Marketwatch, 3/23/2021

  • Adobe shares were flat in extended trading Tuesday after the software company announced fiscal first-quarter results that beat expectations and strong financial guidance for the year.
  • Revenue climbed 26% to $3.91 billion from $3.1 billion a year ago.
  • Digital-media revenue led the charge with $2.86 billion, up 32% year-over-year.
  • Adobe reported net income of $1.26 billion, or $2.61 a share, compared with net income of $955 million, or $1.98 a share, in the year-ago quarter. The company’s adjusted net income was $3.14 a share.
  • Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected first-quarter net income of $2.79 a share on revenue of $3.75 billion.
  • The Silicon Valley company also offered second-quarter and full-year guidance that exceeded analyst estimates.
  • For the fiscal year, Adobe expects revenue of $15.45 billion and adjusted earnings of $11.85 a share.
  • FactSet analysts have forecast $15.17 billion and $11.27 a share, respectively.

GameStop Shares Slump as Pandemic Forces Changes – Wall Street Journal, 3/23/2021

  • GameStop’s sales fell slightly during the important holiday quarter as coronavirus-related closings weighed on the videogame retailer, whose shares skyrocketed this year in a Wall Street trading frenzy.
  • Sales in the quarter, which ended Jan. 30, fell 3% to $2.12 billion.
  • GameStop noted that it had closed hundreds of stores over the past year and that e-commerce accounted for more than a third of its total business.
  • The company’s fourth-quarter profit nearly quadrupled from a year earlier to $80.5 million, or $1.19 a share, helped by an income-tax benefit.
  • GameStop also said in a securities filing that it may sell shares this year to help fund its transformation, among other needs.
  • The company said the time and amount of shares sold would depend on multiple factors, including market perceptions of the company.

Intel CEO Presses Turnaround Effort With $20 Billion Investment Plan – Wall Street Journal, 3/23/2021

  • Intel’s chief executive is fast-tracking efforts to revive the semiconductor giant with a broad plan that mixes increased outsourcing with a commitment to spend $20 billion on new factories that could help address a chip shortage.
  • New CEO Pat Gelsinger said Tuesday that Intel would rely more heavily on third-party chip-making partners, including for some of its most cutting-edge processors, starting in 2023.
  • But Mr. Gelsinger, on the job a little more than a month, said Intel wasn’t abandoning its historic roots of being both a designer and manufacturer of chips and would retain most production in-house.
  • To underpin those manufacturing ambitions, Intel plans to build two new chip factories, commonly referred to as fabs—short for fabrication—at existing facilities in Arizona, Mr. Gelsinger said, with production from the $20 billion, multiyear investment there due to start in 2024. Intel also said that within the year it would detail further expansion plans in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

Disney delays ‘Black Widow’ debut, adds streaming option in summer movie shuffle – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • Walt Disney on Tuesday delayed the worldwide release of Marvel Studios film “Black Widow” by two months until July and said it would offer the movie simultaneously in theaters and for a fee on the Disney+ streaming service.
  • Disney also said it would offer live-action movie “Cruella” for a fee to Disney+ customers on the same day it hits cinemas, which is scheduled for May 28, and that Pixar animated movie “Luca” would skip most theaters and debut to all Disney+ subscribers on June 18.
  • AT&T’s Warner Bros. is offering all of its 2021 theatrical films on the HBO Max streaming service on the same day.

Suez Canal Is Blocked by Container Ship Causing Huge Traffic Jam – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • Egyptian authorities worked to dislodge a giant container ship that remained stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking all traffic on one of the world’s busiest shipping arteries.
  • Authorities hope to dislodge the ship within hours, according to an Egyptian official, as a flotilla of ships waited to resume voyages in both directions. Even if the ship is dislodged quickly, many idled vessels could still be delayed for days, threatening a new pressure point in a global supply chain already under intense strain.
  • The ship, operated by Taiwan-based Evergreen Group, is one of the world’s biggest ocean vessels. It can move more than 20,000 containers and is taller than the Empire State Building if turned upright.
  • Ship trackers and brokers said there were more than 100 ships waiting to transit the canal, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. The traffic jam comes at a particularly bad time for global supply lines.

Exclusive: GM further cuts production in North America due to global chip shortage – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • General Motors extended production cuts in North America on Wednesday due to a worldwide semiconductor chip shortage that has impacted the auto sector.
  • The U.S. automaker said its Wentzville, Missouri, assembly plant would be idled during the weeks beginning March 29 and April 5. It will extend down time at its plant in Lansing, Michigan, which has been idled since March 15, by two weeks.
  • Vehicles affected by the GM production cuts include the mid-sized pickup trucks, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in Missouri, and the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 and Chevy Camaro cars in Michigan.
  • Last week, GM said it was building certain 2021 light-duty full-size pickups without a fuel management module, hurting their fuel economy performance by one mile per gallon.

Unusual Leap in Gas Prices Puts $3 a Gallon in Sight – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • The prospect of summer drivers crowding U.S. highways is powering steep gains in the price of gasoline, a sign of economic recovery and a boon for the pandemic-ravaged energy industry.
  • Lifted by oil’s recovery and growing consumer demand, gasoline prices at pumps in the U.S. hit an average of $2.88 a gallon over the past week, according to the AAA.
  • That marks a 30% increase over this time last year, when the pandemic’s lockdowns slammed fuel usage.
  • Supporting gasoline’s climb is a rebound in crude-oil prices and a big drop in the amount in storage.
  • The price of West Texas Intermediate crude has advanced by more than 60% since the end of October to $57.76 a barrel Tuesday, even after a recent tumble.
  • Crude accounts for 56 cents of every dollar consumers spend on gasoline, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Amazon Faces Growing Worker Pressure in Shadow of Alabama Union Vote – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • Amazon.com warehouse workers in Alabama are voting on whether to unionize this month.
  • Whatever the result, the e-commerce giant faces pressure from staff world-wide to make changes to its working conditions.
  • So far those actions stop short of a formal unionization push, but they involve hundreds of employees and show how work conditions at Amazon warehouses are increasingly in the spotlight.
  • None of Amazon’s 800,000 U.S. employees are unionized.
  • A vote to form a union in Alabama would give workers more power to negotiate with the company on matters such as pay and benefits.

U.S. factory activity picks up in March; cost pressures building – IHS Markit – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • U.S. factory activity picked up in early March amid strong growth in new orders, but supply chain disruptions because of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to exert cost pressures for manufacturers, which could keep inflation fears in focus.
  • Data firm IHS Markit said on Wednesday its flash U.S. manufacturing PMI increased to 59 in the first half of this month from a final reading 58.6 in February, when activity took a step back after a cold snap hit large parts of the country.
  • The IHS Markit survey’s measure of prices paid by manufacturers raced to a 10-year high early this month, amid what the data firm said was the “most severe supply chain disruption on record.”
  • The IHS survey’s new orders measure jumped early this month to the highest since June 2014.
  • The IHS Markit’s flash services sector PMI climbed to 60 this month, the highest since July 2014, from a final reading of 59.8 in February.
  • The survey’s flash composite PMI output Index, which tracks the manufacturing and services sectors, dipped 59.1 from a final a reading of 59.5 in February.

Weather slams U.S. business equipment spending; supply disruptions weigh – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • New orders for key U.S.-made capital goods and shipments unexpectedly fell in February after nine straight monthly increases, but a rebound is likely as factory activity picked up early this month amid warmer temperatures.
  • The weak report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday joined a stream of other data in showing severe disruptions to economic activity wrought by last month’s deep freeze, including in Texas and other parts of the densely populated South region.
  • Bookings for durable goods — or items meant to last at least three years — decreased 1.1% from the prior month, the first drop since April, after an upwardly revised 3.5% gain in January, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday.
  • Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, dropped 0.8% last month. These so-called core capital goods orders gained 0.6% in January.
  • Core capital goods orders surged 8.5% on a year-on-year basis in February.

Democrats Weigh Increases in Corporate, Personal Income-Tax Rates – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • Democrats are weighing a variety of possible tax increases, including boosting the corporate tax rate and the top marginal income-tax rate on individuals, to raise revenue as President Biden prepares to pitch his infrastructure, climate and education agenda.
  • White House officials have crafted a preliminary plan that would cost roughly $3 trillion and split the next legislative push into two groups, with one aimed at infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and water systems and a second focused on education and antipoverty measures.
  • The plan also breaks the tax increases into two pieces, proposing to raise taxes on businesses as part of the infrastructure bill and reserving tax increases on high-income households for the second package, according to people familiar with the discussions.
  • Aides are expected to present the plan to Mr. Biden and his top advisers this week, meaning its details and configuration could change before the White House brings it to leaders on Capitol Hill.

EUROPE & WORLD

Global Factories Pay Higher Prices as Surge Strains Supplies – Wall Street Journal, 3/24/2021

  • Euro zone business activity unexpectedly grew this month, a preliminary survey showed, but with much of Europe suffering a third wave of coronavirus infections and renewed lockdown measures, that may not last through April.
  • IHS Markit’s flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, bounced above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction, to 52.5 in March compared to February’s 48.8, its highest since late 2018.
  • A flash PMI covering the euro zone services industry rose to 48.8 from February’s 45.7, still in contractionary territory but its highest reading since August, and well above the median expectation in a Reuters poll for 46.0.
  • A big jump in input costs led services firms to increase their prices for the first time in just over a year. The output prices index climbed to 50.8 from 48.1.
  • Meanwhile, booming demand for manufactured goods helped the flash factory PMI soar to 62.4 from 57.9, comfortably the highest reading since the survey began in June 1997 and well above all forecasts in a Reuters poll that predicted 57.7.
  • An index measuring output, which feeds into the composite PMI, jumped to a survey high of 63.0 from 57.6.

Tencent’s quarterly revenue jumps as online gaming surges – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • Chinese gaming and social media group Tencent Holdings on Wednesday reported a market-beating 26% jump in quarterly sales, helped in part by a surge in revenue from its online gaming business.
  • Revenue rose to 133.67 billion yuan ($20.5 billion) in the quarter ended December, versus market expectations of 132.19 billion yuan, based on data from Refinitiv.
  • Tencent, which has benefited from a surge in paying users for video games in China and international markets, said online games revenue rose 29% to 39.1 billion yuan.
  • Profit rose 175% in the same period to 59.3 billion yuan, largely thanks to fair-value gains in companies Tencent has invested in, and sales of stakes.

China’s Xiaomi profit surges as it grabs market share after Huawei retreat – Reuters, 3/24/2021

  • Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Wednesday reported a 36.7% rise in fourth-quarter net profit, as its major Android rival Huawei steadily retreats from the global market due to U.S.-led sanctions.
  • Sales jumped 24.8% year-on-year to 70.5 billion yuan.
  • Smartphone sales, which make up the bulk of the company’s revenue, hit 42.6 billion yuan, a 38.4% increase.
  • In the October-December quarter, Xiaomi’s shipments in China surged 52% from a year earlier, and the company cornered 15% of the market share.
  • Overseas sales grew 27.6% to 33.8 billion yuan, accounting for 47.9% of the company’s total revenue.
  • Adjusted net profit for the quarter ending Dec. 31 rose to 3.2 billion yuan ($490.84 million), beating analysts’ expectations of 2.9 billion yuan.
  • Concurrent with Wednesday’s earnings, Xiaomi announced it acquired a 50.09% in Zimi, the maker of Xiaomi’s branded portable phone chargers, in a deal valued at $204.7 million.

Factmonster – TODAY in HISTORY

  • Robert Koch announced the discovery of the tuberculosis bacillus. (1882)
  • In one of worst oil spills in recent history, the tanker, Exxon Valdez, ran aground and released 240,000 barrels of oil into Prince William Sound. (1989)
  • NATO begins launching air strikes in an attempt to force Serbia to cease hostilities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. (1999)

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