US FINANCIAL MARKET
U.S. Stocks Open Mixed – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- U.S. stocks traded in a narrow range Wednesday morning, suggesting that the major indexes are likely to close near record highs for the end of the quarter following a June rally powered by technology stocks.
- The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1%, led by energy and industrial services after the broad-market index closed Tuesday at its 33rd all-time high of 2021. The gauge has climbed 2.1% so far in June in its fifth consecutive month of gains.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average wobbled between gains and losses, recently adding 54 points, or about 0.2%.
- The blue-chips index is on pace to end June lower, marking its weakest month since January.
- The nonfarm private sector in the U.S. added 692,000 jobs in June, a drop from the previous month, but still above economists’ estimates, according to the latest ADP National Employment Report.
- Investors are closely scrutinizing any new information on the strength of the labor market, which the Fed has indicated is a priority.
- In bond markets, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged down to 1.456% from 1.479% on Tuesday.
- As of Tuesday, the yield had dropped 0.113 percentage points this month. Bond yields fall when prices rise.
- Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, rose 0.5% to about $74.66 a barrel ahead of a meeting this week of major oil producers to discuss a potential increase in supply.
- The gauge is on course to post its biggest first-half gain since 2009, having risen nearly 44.2% so far in 2021.
- Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 slid 0.5% The index’s travel and leisure subsector is down 5.5% for the week so far, reflecting concern about the rise of Covid-19’s Delta variant in European countries such as the U.K. and Portugal.
- Stock benchmarks in southern European countries that are reliant on tourism were among the worst performers in the region, with Spain’s IBEX index dropping 0.8% and Portugal’s PSI index falling 1.2%.
- In Asia, major benchmarks ended the final day of trading in June on a mixed note.
- The Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.5% Wednesday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.6% by the close of trading.
Intel Delays New Chip in First Setback for CEO Gelsinger’s Turnaround Effort – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Chip maker Intel is delaying production of one of its newest chips to improve performance, the first significant product setback under new Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger as he seeks to rebuild the company’s competitiveness.
- Intel now is planning to start producing the next generation of central processing units for servers—the brains of those machines—in early 2022 after previously saying it would be ready late this year, Lisa Spelman, the company’s corporate vice president, who manages the server-chip business, said in a Tuesday blog post.
- The delay of the new chips is the first under Mr. Gelsinger, who became chief executive in February following major delays in chip-making advances under his predecessor, Bob Swan.
- Intel almost a year ago said the following generation of even more advanced chips with super-small transistors wouldn’t be ready until late next year, about a year later than initially expected.
- AMD’s market share has grown to 8.9% in the first quarter of 2021 from 1.8% in 2018, according to Mercury Research.
- Intel is still the largest vendor in that segment, with a 91.1% share of the market, according to the data.
Robinhood Agrees to Pay $70 Million to Settle Regulatory Investigation – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Robinhood Financial has agreed to pay nearly $70 million to resolve sweeping regulatory allegations that the brokerage misled customers, approved ineligible traders for risky strategies and didn’t supervise technology that failed and locked millions out of trading.
- The enforcement action is a blow to the fast-growing online brokerage, which was launched in 2014 and has won over users with commission-free trades and its sleek mobile app.
- The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the front-line inspector of broker-dealers, unveiled the settlement Wednesday.
- Robinhood neither admitted nor denied the claims.
- Robinhood now has 31 million customers, 18 million of whom have funded accounts, according to a settlement document made public Wednesday.
Big-Tech Critics Regroup in Push to Reshape Facebook – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Critics of big tech firms cheered after prosecutors and lawmakers made moves against Facebook.
- Recent developments have underscored the challenges in using courts and Congress to reshape those businesses.
- U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit was “legally insufficient,” saying the regulator didn’t show enough proof that Facebook was a monopoly and that its practices harmed competition. In another setback, the judge dismissed the case brought against Facebook by 46 states on grounds that, among other things, the attorneys general waited too long to bring their claims.
- Several House members said the legal developments show the need for their proposed legislation to update antitrust laws for the internet age.
- Measures adopted by the House Judiciary Committee last week aim to block large technology platforms from favoring their own products and services, make it easier for users to migrate their data from one platform to another, prevent dominant platforms from killing off potential rivals through acquisitions, and make it easier for regulators to hive off operations of tech companies.
Driver-Assistance Crashes Attract Closer U.S. Scrutiny – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Federal regulators are tightening their oversight of car crashes that involve advanced driver-assistance or automated-driving features, a shift that follows growing concern over the role that systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot have had in crashes.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a new order on Tuesday that companies must report serious crashes involving driver-assistance and automated-driving systems to authorities within a day of learning about them.
- Manufacturers and operators will also have to issue broader monthly reports about their vehicles’ safety.
- The order applies to simpler driver-assistance features that are already relatively commonplace, as well as more automated systems that are just beginning to gain wider adoption.
- The technology under scrutiny includes lane-keeping assistance and cruise-control systems that keep a fixed distance behind a leading car, as well as higher-tech systems such as features offered by Tesla that can guide a car along highways with minimal driver input.
Commercial Debt Backed by Lone Borrowers and Properties Rebounds – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Commercial real-estate bonds backed by single borrowers or properties are roaring back.
- Banks have sold billions of dollars of debt in recent sessions backed by solitary properties, or pools of properties with the same ownership.
- JPMorgan Chase put together a $4.65 billion bond backed by a portfolio of Extended Stay America hotels.
- Credit Suisse bundled $335 million of debt tied to one operator’s near-dozen office properties.
- Sold as gold-plated debt from trophy properties, such as the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., the bonds have been prized by investors for their relatively high yields in an era of ultralow interest rates.
- Now they are increasingly a way for some to wager on the rebound’s winners, as reopenings test the commercial real-estate market in the second half of the year.
- Bank of America analysts said banks are planning to price two more single-asset deals worth more than $1 billion combined over the next few months. JPMorgan analysts estimate these types of deals will double this year, exceeding pre-Covid-19 levels.
Global watchdogs float remedies to cure money market fund stress – Reuters, 6/30/2021
- Global financial regulators proposed options ranging from capital buffers to charges to avoid a repeat of central banks having to rescue the $8.8 trillion money market funds (MMF) sector as they did during a “dash for cash” last year.
- The Financial Stability Board (FSB), which coordinates financial rules for G20 economies, on Wednesday put forward a selection of measures for regulators to make MMFs more resilient and reduce the temptation for investors to flee for the exits.
- One option was “swing pricing” or allowing fund managers to impose transaction costs on those who redeem shares to reduce the impact on investors who remain in the fund, the FSB said.
- Another option is for a small fraction of each investor’s shares not to be redeemed immediately, and changing how “gates” or temporary bar on investor exits are implemented, it added.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
U.S. private payrolls beat expectations in June – Reuters, 6/30/2021
- U.S. private payrolls increased more than expected in June as companies rushed to boost production and services amid a rapidly reopening economy, though a shortage of willing workers continues to hang over the labor market recovery.
- Private payrolls increased by 692,000 jobs last month.
- Data for May was revised lower to show 886,000 jobs added instead of the initially reported 978,000.
- Leisure and hospitality payrolls increased by 332,000 jobs, adding to the 414,000 positions created in May.
- There were also solid gains in education and health services payrolls.
- Factories added only 19,000 jobs, below the monthly average 43,000 jobs in the past three months. Hiring at construction sites was strong.
Biden Weighs New Executive Order Restraining Big Business – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- The Biden administration is developing an executive order directing agencies to strengthen oversight of industries that they perceive to be dominated by a small number of companies, a wide-ranging attempt to rein in big business power across the economy, according to people familiar with the plans.
- The executive order, which President Biden could sign as soon as next week, would direct regulators of industries from airlines to agriculture to rethink their rule-making process to inject more competition and to give consumers, workers and suppliers more rights to challenge large producers.
- The goal is to broaden the way policy makers approach business concentration in the U.S., going beyond conventional antitrust enforcement focused on blocking big mergers.
- For example, companies in industries controlled by a small number of big firms might face new rules for disclosing fees to consumers or for their relationships with suppliers, the people familiar with the effort said.
Supreme Court Declines to Lift National Eviction Moratorium – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- A divided Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to lift a national moratorium on the eviction of tenants who have fallen behind on their rent during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- The court rejected an emergency request by landlords and real-estate companies to clear the way for evictions after a federal judge in Washington ruled last month that the moratorium was legally unsupportable.
- The judge who issued that ruling stayed the effect of the decision, while litigation continues.
- The issue split the high court on a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining with the court’s three liberal justices to leave the moratorium in place.
- The court’s action came in a brief order. As is typical in emergency appeals, the court didn’t explain its reasoning.
- Justice Kavanaugh issued a one-paragraph concurrence explaining his views, saying he believed the moratorium was unlawful but was willing to leave it in place for July. He said the moratorium would allow for “additional and more orderly distribution” of rental-assistance funds appropriated by Congress.
New York Vote-Counting Fiasco Turns Mayoral Race Upside Down – Bloomberg, 6/30/2021
- New York City election officials thrust the race for the next mayor into turmoil Tuesday after erroneously counting test ballots alongside election night results, producing about 135,000 “dummy ballots” that skewed results of the city’s first major test of a new ranked-choice voting system.
- The major blunder forced the Board of Elections to retract preliminary results it had posted hours earlier.
- The board promised to republish corrected results Wednesday that will show whether Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will maintain his lead over former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia and civil rights lawyer Maya Wiley.
- Before Tuesday, the Board of Elections’ experience with ranked-choice voting was limited to tabulating a handful of special elections by hand. New York State officials approved the software necessary to tabulate hundreds of thousands of votes only last month.
Pending Home Sales in U.S. Increase by Most in Nearly a Year – Bloomberg, 6/30/2021
- U.S. pending home sales unexpectedly rose in May by the most in nearly a year as low borrowing costs paired with increased listings bolstered demand.
- The National Association of Realtors’ index of pending home sales increased 8% from April to a four-month high of 114.7, according to data released Wednesday.
- Compared with a year earlier, contract signings were up almost 14% on an unadjusted basis.
- Pending home sales increased across all U.S. regions last month, with the Northeast and West posting the largest gains.
N.Y. Panel Probing Cuomo Amasses Trove of 100,000 Documents – Bloomberg, 6/30/2021
- New York lawmakers considering whether to begin impeachment proceedings for Governor Andrew Cuomo have collected more than 100,000 pages of documents, including emails, texts, letter documents, photographs, contracts and transcripts.
- A law firm working for the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, which is probing accusations of sexual harassment and abuse of his office, continues to gather “substantive evidence,” Chairman Charles Lavine said in a Wednesday meeting that lasted five minutes before entering executive session.
- Cuomo is facing federal and state investigations into sexual harassment allegations from current and former aides, as well as claims that his administration covered up Covid-19 nursing-home deaths, provided relatives with virus testing before it was widely available, mishandled construction of the Mario Cuomo Bridge across the Hudson River and misused public resources to write a $5 million book on his Covid leadership.
Trump Organization and CFO Allen Weisselberg Expected to Be Charged Thursday – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- The Manhattan district attorney’s office is expected to charge the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer with tax-related crimes on Thursday, people familiar with the matter said, which would mark the first criminal charges against the former president’s company since prosecutors began investigating it three years ago.
- The charges against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer, are a blow to former President Donald Trump, who has fended off multiple criminal and civil probes during and after his presidency.
- Mr. Trump himself isn’t expected to be charged, his lawyer said. Mr. Weisselberg has rejected prosecutors’ attempts at gaining his cooperation, according to people familiar with the matter.
EUROPE & WORLD
China’s Economy Flashes Hints of Weakness – Wall Street Journal, 6/30/2021
- Expansion in China’s factory sector slowed in June, as export demand weakened while supply bottlenecks held back production, official data showed Wednesday.
- On Wednesday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said its official manufacturing purchasing managers index fell slightly to 50.9 in June, from 51.0 in May.
- Beneath the headline number, the subindex measuring production declined to 51.9 in June, from 52.7 the previous month, as recent shortages of semiconductors, coal and power held back output at many factories, the statistics bureau said.
- Meantime, the subindex of new export orders fell deeper into contractionary territory to 48.1 in June from 48.3 in May, signaling weakening external demand for Chinese goods.
- Equally worrying, China’s services sector, a persistent laggard in the country’s post-pandemic rebound that Beijing policy makers are eager to see drive more of the economy, softened as recent coronavirus outbreaks again hindered consumer spending.
- China’s official nonmanufacturing PMI, which includes gauges of services and construction activity, fell in June to 53.5 from 55.2 in May, the statistics bureau said Wednesday.
- The subindex measuring service activity fell to 52.3 from the previous month’s 54.3, while new orders received by service providers dropped into contractionary territory, to 49.5 in June from 52.0 in May, reflecting a quick cooling of market demand.
- Subindexes tracking air transportation, catering and accommodation also fell into contractionary territory.
Euro zone inflation eases before expected march higher – Reuters, 6/30/2021
- Euro zone inflation eased this month, levelling off for the summer months before an expected move well above the European Central Bank’s target towards the autumn on higher commodity prices.
- Inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro slipped to 1.9% in June from 2.0% in May, in line with forecasts in a Reuters poll and right on the ECB’s target of “below but close to 2%”.
- Indeed, core inflation, or prices excluding volatile food and energy costs, held steady in June as expected at 0.9% while a more narrow measure excluding alcohol and tobacco slipped to 0.9% from 1.0%.
International tourism not seen rebounding until 2023 – UN report – Reuters, 6/30/2021
- International tourism arrivals are set to stagnate this year, except in some Western markets, causing up to $2.4 trillion in losses, a U.N. study said on Wednesday, adding the sector is not expected to rebound fully until 2023.
- In 2020, international arrivals plunged by 73% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019, causing estimated losses of $2.4 trillion in tourism and related sectors, according to the report by UNCTAD and the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
- The report sets out three scenarios for 2021, showing international tourism arrivals forecast to drop by between 63% and 75% from pre-pandemic levels, resulting in losses of between $1.7 trillion and $2.4 trillion.
- “In international tourism we are at levels of 30 years ago, so basically we are in the ’80s … Many livelihoods are really at threat,” said Zoritsa Urosevic, Geneva representative of the Madrid-based UNWTO.
Haldane Says U.K. at ‘Dangerous Moment’ as Inflation Heads to 4% – Bloomberg, 6/30/2021
- Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane said inflation is likely to finish the year close to 4%, posing the biggest challenge to policy makers since the pound plunged in 1992.
- The forecast would be double the central bank’s target and over the 3% the BOE estimated earlier this month. Haldane, leaving his post on Wednesday, used his last speech to urge his colleagues to shift their attention away from stimulating the economy and toward controlling the pace of price increases. Delaying action, he said, will require bigger action later.
- The remarks were the most strident yet by the BOE’s lone hawk on inflation, who since May has broken twice with his colleagues in voting to pare back the central bank’s bond buying.
- Haldane said data showing a strong recovery in the economy are starting to change minds on the committee.
- President Warren G. Harding appointed former president William H. Taft chief justice of the United States. (1921)
- Adolf Hitler secured his position in the Nazi party by a “blood purge,” ridding the party of other leaders such as Ernst Roehm and Kurt von Schleicher. (1934)
- Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was published. (1936)
- The 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18, was ratified by the states. (1971)