U.S. Stocks Slip to Start the Week – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 142 points, or 0.4%, after the opening bell.
- The S&P 500 dropped 0.4%, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 0.5%.
- With earnings season drawing to a close, investors remain focused on whether a recent jump in inflation will blow over or become entrenched.
- Those concerns last week led the S&P 500 to post its biggest decline since late February, even after staging a rebound Friday.
- Highflying tech stocks have been particularly vulnerable to worries about inflation: The Nasdaq Composite has fallen for four straight weeks, its longest losing streak since August 2019.
- Discovery’s Class A shares jumped 6.6%. The television company said it would combine its media assets with those of AT&T into a new publicly traded company. AT&T, which would receive $43 billion, rose over 4.3%.
- ViacomCBS rose 2.7%. The media company said late Friday it will reclaim Les Moonves’s $120 million severance package, resolving a more than two-year dispute with the former chief executive over his termination.
- Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 was recently up less than 0.1%. Chinese stocks rose after data showed the nation’s industrial output jumped 9.8% year-over-year in April, beating forecasts, while retail sales rose by a lower-than-expected 17.7%. The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.8%.
Covid-19 Live Updates: Newly Reported U.S. Cases Fall as Indicator Points to Declining Cases – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- As of Saturday, the seven-day average of new cases reported each day in the U.S. was 33,860, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The 14-day average was 37,979. The seven-day average has been lower than the 14-day average since April 17.
- There were more than 16,000 new cases reported in the U.S. for Sunday, and 271 deaths.
- Newly reported U.S. cases continued to drop.
- The Sanofi-GSK vaccine is set for large-scale trials.
- Covid-19 vaccine side effects don’t hit everyone in the same way, and scientists are working to understand why.
- India’s case count fell below 300,000, as the country works to scale up vaccinations.
Sanofi-GSK Covid-19 Vaccine Set for Large-Scale Trials After Positive Results – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- Sanofi-GSK said their Covid-19 vaccine candidate showed positive interim trial results and is expected to move into large-scale human trials soon, putting the long-delayed shot on track for potential regulatory approval later this year.
- France’s Sanofi and GSK, based in the U.K., said Monday the two-dose shot produced strong antibody responses in phase-two trials with 722 volunteers.
- A single dose generated high levels of antibodies in volunteers with evidence of prior Covid-19 infection, the companies said, suggesting the vaccine could be useful as a booster for people already vaccinated with other shots.
- Now the companies plan to begin pivotal phase-three trials, which will involve more than 35,000 people, and use two formulations: one targeting the original Covid-19 strain that circulated last year, and the second aimed at the strain that was originally detected in South Africa.
AT&T Agrees to Merge Media Business With Discovery – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- AT&T and Discovery reached a deal to combine their media assets into a new, publicly traded company, unwinding the telecom company’s big bet on entertainment after less than three years.
- The new business, which isn’t yet named, will be led by current Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav.
- Under the deal, AT&T shareholders will hold a 71% stake in the new entity, while Discovery shareholders own a 29% stake.
- The new media business will hold a little more than $55 billion of debt.
- In exchange, AT&T said it will receive $43 billion of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt.
- AT&T reported $169 billion of net debt at the end of March.
Amazon Makes Push to Reduce Worker Injuries – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- Online retailer rolls out safety videos, on-the-job stretching exercises and staff meditation zones.
- The company said Monday that its new program, called WorkingWell, aims to better educate some of its employees on how to avoid workplace injuries and improve mental health on the job.
- The online retailer began testing parts of the program two years ago and plans to expand it to 1,000 facilities by the end of the year.
- Amazon recorded 5.6 injuries per 100 workers in 2019, the last full year of data, compared with the 4.8 rate nationally for the warehousing and storage sector, according to company and federal workplace data.
Apple Set to Call Tim Cook Soon to Witness Stand to Fight Monopoly Claims – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- Apple gets its turn this week to mount a courtroom defense against Epic Games’ antitrust claims, preparing to bring in its most powerful spokesman: Tim Cook.
- Mr. Cook, a guarded chief executive who is used to carefully orchestrated public appearances, is set to testify in a trial that, regardless of the verdict, could prove to be one of the most consequential for the iPhone maker as it faces accusations it denies of abusing its market power.
- Approaching the 10th anniversary of taking over as chief executive, Mr. Cook is no stranger to high-profile, make-or-break moments for Apple. A polished public speaker, he has twice testified before Congress but never appeared on a witness stand in a trial where his words could sway a judge for or against the company.
- His testimony is likely to be the most detailed public discussion he will give on a subject that is likely to loom over Apple for years to come.
U.S. Homebuilder Confidence Steady as Low Rates Buck High Costs – Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- Confidence among U.S. homebuilders stabilized in May despite rising costs and shrinking availability of most construction materials.
- A gauge of builder sentiment held at 83, National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo data showed Monday.
- The reading matched the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
- Since the start of the year, the measure has held within a two-point range.
- Historically low mortgage rates are helping offset soaring property prices and lumber and materials costs that have skyrocketed as housing demand and renovations strengthened during the pandemic. In a sign that the market remains strong, a gauge of sales expectations in the next six months rose slightly, according to the report.
New York Factories Expand at Solid Pace, Price Gauges at Record– Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- New York state manufacturing continues to grow at another solid pace in May, reflecting the strongest orders in 15 years, while record shares of factories reported paying more for materials and charging higher prices.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general business conditions index cooled to 24.3 from 26.3 a month earlier, a report showed Monday. Figures above zero indicate expansion, and the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 23.9.
- Prices paid for materials increased 8.8 points to 83.5, the highest in data back to 2001.
- The Fed bank’s gauge of prices received climbed 2.2 points to 37.1, also a series high.
U.S. Tax Day Arrives Late With IRS Behind on Millions of Returns – Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- With IRS staff also having to operate under the strictures of the pandemic over the past year, more than 8 million individual returns were awaiting manual review as of early April. Some 5.3 million 2019 and 2020 paper returns are also awaiting processing.
- The May 17 deadline only applied to individual tax returns — Form 1040 — and didn’t include other types, such as estates. Quarterly taxes due from many small business owners and self-employed individuals were also unchanged. At the state level, there were wildly varying approaches in extending due dates.
- More Americans turned to professional preparers this tax year, amid the changes. The number of electronically submitted returns completed by professionals is up nearly 11%, while self-prepared returns fell nearly 6%, according to IRS data.
- They also faced difficulties getting IRS advice. Agency staff had answered only about 2% of the roughly 75 million taxpayer calls to the IRS’s 1040 telephone line during the filing season as of mid-April, according to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That May Slash Abortion Rights – Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- The U.S. Supreme Court will consider gutting the constitutional right to abortion, agreeing to hear Mississippi’s bid to ban the procedure in almost all cases after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
- The move suggests the court’s strengthened conservative wing may be ready to roll back, if not overturn, the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.
- The clash, which the court will hear in the nine-month term that starts in October, will be its first abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed.
Biden Infrastructure Plan’s Chances Gain as GOP Preps Offer – Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- President Joe Biden’s prospects for passing a major infrastructure bill through Congress with bipartisan support — seen unlikely in the wake of his Democrat-only pandemic-relief package in March — are now rising, though disagreements over funding could still scupper a deal.
- Senate Republicans are set to deliver a revised offer of a package that includes roads, public transportation and airports to the White House as early as Monday.
- Biden’s plan had $2.25 trillion of spending over eight years, with much more for rail and water, along with money for electric vehicles, housing and elder care the GOP left out.
Child Tax Credit Expansion Kicks In July 15 With Monthly Payments to Families – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- The Internal Revenue Service will make its first batch of monthly payments to about 39 million families with children on July 15, delivering the child tax credit that Congress expanded in March.
- Tens of millions of households will receive up to $250 a month per child between age 6 and 17 and up to $300 per child under age 6, based on their ages at the end of 2021. The payments will be made on the 15th of every month, unless that date falls on a holiday or weekend, the Treasury Department said Monday. Unless Congress extends the program, it will expire at the end of December.
- Congress expanded the child tax credit in March, increasing the maximum credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for those age 6 to 17 and to $3,600 under age 6.
- The expanded part of the credit begins shrinking as income rises above $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for heads of household and $150,000 for married couples.
- The $2,000 credit starts phasing out when income reaches $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples.
EUROPE & WORLD
Consumer Sentiment Reaches Record in Canada on Vaccine Progress – Bloomberg, 5/17/2021
- Consumer confidence is picking up in Canada as the accelerating rollout of Covid-19 vaccines fuels optimism about the recovery.
- Almost 45% of Canadians say they think the economy will be stronger in the next six months, according to polling by Nanos Research Group for Bloomberg News.
- That’s the highest reading since 2009, lifting the overall confidence index to a record of 64.6.
China’s Economic Recovery Slowed in April – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- China’s economic activity grew at a slower pace in April as retail sales missed expectations, complicating the picture of a steady and balanced recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.
- China’s industrial production in April was up 9.8% from a year earlier, slower than March’s 14.1% pace, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday.
- Fixed-asset investment decelerated as well, to 19.9% in the January-April period from 25.6% in the first quarter.
- Retail sales, a key gauge of China’s domestic consumption, underwhelmed: April’s figure was up 17.7% from the pandemic-hit level a year earlier, well short of March’s 34.2% pace.
- Economists had largely expected the double-digit year-over-year percentage growth that major indicators delivered, given the low-base of comparison from a year earlier, when China’s economy had just begun to bounce back from the coronavirus shock. In the coming months, however, that “low-base effect” will fade, given the economy’s recovery during the spring and summer last year.
JD Logistics Launches Up to $3.4 Billion Hong Kong IPO – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- The IPO could value JD Logistics Inc. at up to $34 billion, filings showed on Monday.
- It follows share sales in the city by JD.com and another of its subsidiaries last year, which in total raised nearly $8.5 billion, according to Dealogic.
- JD.com relies on the unit to store and deliver groceries, clothes, home appliances and electronic gadgets across China.
- Over the years the parent company has used speedy delivery via JD Logistics as a way to gain an edge in its battle for market share with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
- At the end of 2020, JD Logistics had more than 900 warehouses, more than 190,000 delivery staff and over 190,000 corporate customers. JD.com accounted for nearly 54% of last year’s revenue.
- Overall revenue at JD Logistics jumped 47% last year to 73.4 billion yuan, the equivalent of $11.4 billion, and it made adjusted profit of 1.71 billion yuan.
EU Suspends Plans to Raise Tariffs on U.S. Whiskey, Other Goods – Wall Street Journal, 5/17/2021
- The European Union on Monday agreed to postpone plans to raise tariffs on American whiskeys, motorcycles, boats and other items set to take effect June 1 as it begins talks with the Biden administration aimed at lifting U.S. steel tariffs.
- In a joint statement, the U.S. and EU said they would begin formal discussions to address problems plaguing the global steel and aluminum industry, and “agreed to chart a path” toward resolving the dispute that led to tariffs.
- They said the talks would include discussions on how overproduction in China depresses prices and threatens the viability of domestic metal producers.
- The New York Stock Exchange was established when a group of 24 brokers and merchants met by a tree on what is now Wall Street and signed the Buttonwood Agreement. 1792
- The first Kentucky Derby was held at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky. 1875
- NBC aired the Information Please quiz show on the radio for the first time. 1938
- The Supreme Court ruled unanimously against segregation in schools in Brown v. Board of Education. 1954
- In Massachusetts, same-sex couples exchanged marriage vows for the first time in the United States. 2004