US FINANCIAL MARKET
Stocks Edge Down as Powell Reiterates Inflation Will Be Fleeting – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- U.S. stocks ticked down Thursday during commentary from the Federal Reserve’s chief on the outlook for the economy and monetary policy.
- The S&P 500 edged 0.2% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2%. The Nasdaq wavered around the flat line on Thursday, suggesting that large technology stocks are treading water in today’s session.
- Concerns over how long higher inflation will linger and its impact on future earnings, as well as worry that the Federal Reserve may reduce its level of support, is also weighing on sentiment.
- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday morning, said inflation will likely remain elevated in the coming months before moderating.
- On Wednesday, Mr. Powell told lawmakers that the central bank wouldn’t be in a hurry to start paring monthly asset purchases and that the economy “is still a ways off” from the Fed’s goals.
- In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 1.346 from 1.356 Wednesday.
- Fresh figures on Thursday showed that the number of Americans who applied for first-time unemployment benefits fell to 360,000 in the week ended July 10, down from 386,000 in the week prior.
- Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.9%.
- China’s Shanghai Composite gained 1% even as Beijing reported slowing economic growth.
- Data released Thursday showed China’s economy grew by 7.9% in the second quarter from a year ago—in line with economists’ expectations, but below the previous quarter’s 18.3% rate, which was distorted by the initial impact of the pandemic a year earlier.
- Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.2%, and Australia’s S&P / ASX 200 fell 0.3%.
Morgan Stanley Profit Rises Amid Wall Street Deal Boom – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- Morgan Stanley said Thursday that second-quarter profit rose 10% from a year earlier, thanks to a boost in fees from deal making and advising wealthy clients.
- The New York-based bank reported profit of $3.51 billion, or $1.85 a share, on revenue of $14.76 billion.
- That exceeded the consensus estimates of analysts polled by FactSet of per-share earnings of $1.66 on revenue of $13.97 billion.
- At Morgan Stanley, investment-banking revenue increased 16% to $2.38 billion, thanks to a 44% rise in fees on advising on mergers and a 22% rise in fees on arranging stock offerings.
- Meanwhile, trading revenue fell 20% to $4.51 billion, thanks to a 45% drop in bond-trading revenue, partially offset by a 8% increase in stock-trading revenue. That caused overall revenue in its institutional securities division to decline by 14%.
- Revenue at Morgan Stanley’s wealth-management division, which includes E*Trade, increased 30% to $6.1 billion.
- At its investment-management division, revenue nearly doubled, helped by the recent acquisition of Eaton Vance Corp.
- Unlike other banks that have reported weak demand for loans among their consumer and commercial clients, Morgan Stanley boosted lending by 21% to $320 billion outstanding.
UnitedHealth’s Profit Declines as Patients Seek Deferred Care – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- More people who deferred medical care during the pandemic are heading back to their doctors, UnitedHealth said Thursday, citing a trend that weighed on the company’s profits in the latest quarter compared with a year ago.
- Revenue climbed to $71.32 billion, from $62.14 billion in the second quarter of 2020.
- For the UnitedHealthcare insurance business, revenue climbed 13% year-over-year, benefiting from growth in people covered in the company’s community and seniors programs.
- The insurer also logged growth in its Optum health-services business, where revenue rose 17% to $38.3 billion.
- The company’s medical-care ratio—a measure of the proportion of premiums paid out for medical care—rose to about 83%, compared with about 70% a year ago. Overall medical costs rose to $46.55 billion, up by more than a third year-over-year.
- The Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer posted a quarterly profit of $4.46 a share, down from $6.91 a share in the prior-year period.
- The company also raised its guidance for the full year, forecasting adjusted earnings of $18.30 to $18.80 a share this year.
- Three months ago, it had said it was expecting adjusted earnings of $18.10 to $18.60 a share.
Oil-Demand Rebound Could Spur Inflation, Pressure Debt-Laden Nations, OPEC Says – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- A strong recovery in global oil demand next year could accelerate the pace of inflation and pressure countries with high debt levels, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said Thursday.
- In a monthly report, OPEC made its first 2022 forecasts for the global oil market, saying it expects the world’s appetite for crude to rise by 3.3 million barrels a day to average 99.9 million barrels a day.
- With wealthy countries’ oil stocks back below their 2015-2019 averages, OPEC warned that a strong economic recovery could lead to rapidly rising inflation, and consequently, higher interest rates.
- That could see high sovereign debt levels become a “considerable burden for the fiscal health of many economies,” the Vienna-based organization said.
- Overall, OPEC’s forecasts suggested a similar outlook to that indicated by Tuesday’s IEA report—that demand growth will outstrip rising supply next year.
- Despite uncertainty regarding aspects of U.S. production, the cartel said it expected American producers to account for 700,000 barrels a day of next year’s 2.1 million-barrel increase from non-OPEC countries, with Brazil, Norway, and Guyana among the other countries ramping up output.
Facebook to Pay Content Creators More Than $1 Billion Through 2022 – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- Facebook said it would pay more than $1 billion to content creators on its social networks through 2022, a move that reflects the increasing value the company and its competitors see in the recorded videos, live-streams and other kinds of posts their users make.
- In announcing the initiative Wednesday, Facebook joined its social network peers who have made big-dollar commitments over the past year to invest directly in people who are responsible for helping drive engagement among users.
- Facebook said creators can receive payments for hitting certain milestones when using its products.
- The company also plans to provide seed funding to help creators cover content-production costs for its platforms.
- The programs will start on an invitation-only basis, Facebook said, without providing details such as timing or qualifications needed to participate.
NortonLifeLock in Talks to Buy Avast – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- NortonLifeLock is in talks to buy cybersecurity firm Avast in a deal that would expand the U.S. company’s focus on consumer software.
- Avast said late Wednesday that the two were in advanced discussions about a cash-and-stock deal after The Wall Street Journal reported on the talks earlier Wednesday.
- A deal could be completed this month, assuming talks don’t fall apart, according to people familiar with the matter.
- Avast has a market value of around £5.2 billion (around $7.2 billion).
- Assuming a typical deal premium, the deal could value the cybersecurity firm at more than $8 billion.
GM Tells Chevy Bolt Owners to Park It Outside After Two Electric-Car Fires – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- General Motors is advising owners of its previously recalled Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles to once again park outdoors after two cars that had been repaired caught fire.
- The auto maker said on its website that it is also advising the owners “out of an abundance of caution” not to leave their vehicles charging overnight.
- The company didn’t release details about what caused the fires in the two cars but said it was investigating the incidents.
- GM said customers should continue to get the fix under the recall.
Lyft to resume shared rides in U.S. for first time since pandemic – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- Lyft on Thursday said it will return the option for passengers to book shared rides in select U.S. markets for the first time since the pandemic, when shared trips were scrapped to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- Lyft said shared rides, which allow multiple passengers to split a car traveling in the same direction, would become available in Chicago, Philadelphia and Denver as of Monday.
- The company, which prior to the pandemic operated shared rides in 18 markets, said it plans to return the option to all those cities in the next few months.
- Lyft said its mask mandate for drivers and riders remained in effect and that drivers could opt out of offering shared rides. Shared rides would also be limited to two passengers, with the middle and front seats remaining empty.
US ECONOMY & POLITICS
U.S. Jobless Claims, Benefits Payments Fall to Pandemic Lows – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- Applications for unemployment benefits fell to a new pandemic low last week, as the labor market continued to heal from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Jobless claims declined to 360,000 in the week ended July 10 from a seasonally adjusted 386,000 a week earlier. Last week’s applications count marked the lowest level for claims since March 2020, the month the pandemic hit the U.S. economy.
- The four-week moving average, which can smooth out volatility in the weekly figures, fell to 382,500, also a pandemic low.
- Continuing unemployment payments made through regular state programs—which provides an approximation of the number of people receiving benefits—declined by 126,000 to 3.24 million in the week ended July 3, also the lowest level since March 2020.
- In states that ended the $300 enhanced weekly payment by June 19, continuing claims for regular state programs had fallen 12% by late June from May 15, versus a 7% decline in other states, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
U.S. manufacturing output dips as chip shortage weighs on motor vehicles – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- Output at U.S. factories unexpectedly fell in June as motor vehicle production dropped amid an unrelenting global semiconductor shortage.
- Manufacturing output dipped 0.1% last month after accelerating 0.9% in May, the Federal Reserve said on Thursday.
- Output at factories grew at a 3.7% annualized rate in the second quarter after increasing at a 2.3% pace in the January-March period.
- Excluding autos, manufacturing output increased 0.4% in June.
- The dip in overall manufacturing output was offset by a 1.4% jump in mining and a 2.7% rebound in utilities to lift industrial production by 0.4% last month.
- Industrial production grew at a 5.5% rate in the April-June quarter after advancing at a 3.6% pace in the first quarter.
- Capacity utilization for the manufacturing sector, a measure of how fully firms are using their resources, fell 0.1 percentage point to 75.3% in June.
- Overall capacity use for the industrial sector 0.3 percentage point to 75.4%.
- It is 4.2 percentage points below its 1972-2020 average.
U.S. import prices rise solidly in June – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- U.S. import prices increased solidly in June as bottlenecks in the global supply chain persisted, the latest indication that inflation could remain elevated for a while amid strong domestic demand fueled by the economy’s reopening and fiscal stimulus.
- Import prices rose 1.0% last month after surging a 1.4% in May, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
- The eighth straight monthly gain left the year-on-year increase at 11.2% compared with 11.6% in May.
- The report also showed export prices increased 1.2% in June after rising 2.2% in May.
- Prices for agricultural exports advanced 1.5%. Nonagricultural export prices gained 1.1%.
- Export prices increased 16.8% year-on-year in June after surging a 17.5% in May.
Philly Fed factory index falls in July to lowest since December – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- Factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region slowed sharply for the third consecutive month to its lowest growth since December after hitting its highest pace in nearly half a century earlier this spring, a survey showed on Thursday.
- The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its business activity index fell to 21.9 from 30.7 in June.
- That was well below economists’ expectations for a reading of 28.0, according to a Reuters poll.
- The Philly Fed employment index decreased to 29.2 from 30.7 in June.
- Additionally, the price paid index declined to 69.7 in July from 80.7 in the month prior, after reaching a 42-year high in June.
Child Tax Credit Payments Totaling $15 Billion Arrive for Millions of Americans – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- Tens of millions of U.S. households can expect to see their bank balances grow Thursday, thanks to the first monthly payments of the expanded child tax credit.
- The Internal Revenue Service issued families payments of up to $300 per child under a program aimed at combating child poverty and turning lump-sum annual tax refunds into predictable household income.
- The Biden administration said it paid about $15 billion, mostly through direct deposits, to families with nearly 60 million children.
- Those monthly payments will continue through December, and Congress is debating whether to continue them.
- The expanded portion of the payments starts shrinking once income reaches $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a married couple.
- Households above those levels still get the $2,000 credit, which retains the prior income phaseouts starting at $200,000 for individuals and $400,000 for married couples.
U.S. Senate passes bill to ban all products from China’s Xinjiang – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- The U.S. Senate passed legislation on Wednesday to ban the import of products from China’s Xinjiang region, the latest effort in Washington to punish Beijing for what U.S. officials say is an ongoing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim groups.
- The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would create a “rebuttable presumption” assuming goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labor and therefore banned under the 1930 Tariff Act, unless otherwise certified by U.S. authorities.
- Passed by unanimous consent, the bipartisan measure would shift the burden of proof to importers.
- The current rule bans goods if there is reasonable evidence of forced labor.
EUROPE & WORLD
China’s Economic Growth Slows in the Second Quarter – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- China’s economic rebound slowed in the second quarter but continued to show unusual resilience more than a year after the country largely got control of the coronavirus within its borders.
- All told, China’s government said Thursday that gross domestic product grew by 7.9% in the second quarter from a year earlier, in line with economists’ expectations.
- Industrial output rose 8.9% in the second quarter and 8.3% in June compared with a year earlier, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics Thursday, beating expectations.
- Retail sales, a key measure for China’s consumer spending, increased 13.9% in the second quarter and 12.1% in June from a year earlier, also topping forecasts.
- Fixed-asset investment grew 12.6% in the first six months of the year, again beating expectations.
- China’s urban surveyed unemployment rate, its headline measure of joblessness, stood steady at 5.0% in June, the same as in May, the statistics bureau said.
TSMC Expects Auto-Chip Shortage to Abate This Quarter – Wall Street Journal, 7/15/2021
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chip maker, said it expects the chip shortage that has hampered car makers to start easing in the next few months after it ramped up its production of auto chips.
- Revenue increased 20% to US$13.3 billion, and operating margin fell 3.1 percentage points to 39.1% in the second quarter.
- Second-quarter revenue from auto chips increased by 12%, but accounted for just 4% of overall sales.
- Meanwhile, revenue from smartphone chips fell by 3%, accounting for 42% of overall sales.
- The company’s second-quarter net profit rose 11% to the equivalent of US$4.8 billion, or 134.36 billion New Taiwan dollars, from a year earlier.
- The company is on track to increase output of microcontrollers used in cars by about 60% this year compared with last, Chief Executive C.C. Wei said in an earnings call on Thursday.
- However, he said, the broader semiconductor shortage could persist until 2022.
World Bank trims East Asia, Pacific GDP forecast amid COVID-19 concerns – Reuters, 7/15/2021
- Growth in East Asia and the Pacific this year will likely be slower than previously thought, the World Bank said on Thursday, as many countries in the region grapple with spikes in COVID-19 cases, new variants and vaccine supply constraints.
- The East Asia and Pacific region, excluding China, is expected to grow 4% this year, World Bank President David Malpass said, down from a 4.4% forecast in March, with countries like conflict-torn Myanmar facing a deeper-than-expected slump.
- Including China, which the global lender said will likely grow 8.5% in 2021, the region is expected to expand by 7.7% this year, faster than a 7.4% projection made in March, Malpass told a streamed news conference.
- The World Bank chief said he is concerned about developing nations falling behind in what has become a two-speed recovery with advanced economies posting a stronger rebound as more of their people get fully vaccinated.
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