Daily Market Report | Oct. 15, 2020

US FINANCIAL MARKET

Stocks Slip on Rising Covid-19, Economic Risks – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Stocks opened lower Thursday and investors sheltered in the safety of government bonds as tightening coronavirus lockdowns in Europe and a weakening jobs picture in the U.S. cast a shadow on markets.
  • Uncertainty surrounding the coming elections and the on-again off-again stimulus talks, as well as risks of a second wave of coronavirus infections, the timeline for Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, and questions about how companies are weathering the recession have left many investors sitting on the sidelines.
  • Jobless claims data Thursday showed a further 898,000 applications for unemployment benefits were filed last week.
  • That was more than the 830,000 claims economists had been expecting.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden holds an 11-point lead over President Trump with less than three weeks to go before Election Day, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
  • Despite Mr. Biden’s lead, uncertainty about a surprise on election night is keeping investors cautious.

New U.S. Coronavirus Cases Near 60,000 – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • New coronavirus cases in the U.S. neared 60,000, driven by a continuing resurgence of infections in the Midwest and other areas of the country.
  • The U.S. reported more than 59,000 infections, bringing the nation’s total to more than 7.9 million confirmed cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
  • Nationwide, hospitalizations were at the highest level since Aug. 28 as of Wednesday, reaching 37,046, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
  • The seven-day moving average of new U.S. infections, which smooths out day-to-day fluctuations, was 51,038 as of Tuesday, the highest since mid-August.
  • Ohio reported more than 2,000 new cases for Wednesday, the state’s largest single-day jump since the pandemic began. There are 1,042 patients currently hospitalized in the state, the most since Aug. 2, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
  • France: France declared a state of emergency and announced a nightly curfew for the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas across the country, from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. The measure takes effect Saturday and will extend for four weeks. Authorities reported 22,591 new infections on Wednesday.
  • U.K.: London will be placed on level two of the U.K. government’s three-tier alert system from Saturday, requiring people to stop mixing with other households at home or in any other indoor setting, including pubs.
  • Across the U.K., 19,724 new cases were reported on Wednesday.
  • India: Total coronavirus cases in India surpassed 7.3 million after a jump of 67,708 infections, government data showed Thursday.

Fastly plunges more than 25% on lowered revenue guidance – CNBC, 10/14/20

  • Shares of Fastly plunged as much as 28% in after-hours trading after the company lowered its third quarter guidance.
  • The company, whose core technology helps companies speed the delivery of digital content to consumers, said it now expects revenue of $70 million to $71 million, compared to its previous guidance of $73.5 million to $75.5 million.
  • “Due to the impacts of the uncertain geopolitical environment, usage of Fastly’s platform by its previously disclosed largest customer did not meet expectations, resulting in a corresponding significant reduction in revenue from this customer,” the company said in the release.
  • Fastly did not identify the customer. However, CEO Joshua Bixby said on the company’s most recent earnings call that TikTok is its biggest customer, accounting for about 12% of revenue in the first six months of the year, sending the stock down almost 20% on that announcement.

Morgan Stanley Profit, Revenue Rise – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Morgan Stanley on Thursday said its quarterly profit rose 25% from a year ago, another big U.S. bank to skate unscathed through the rockiest economy in years.
  • The firm reported profit of $2.7 billion, or $1.66 a share, on $11.7 billion in revenue.
  • The results were higher than a year ago and beat the forecasts of analysts, who had predicted $1.28 in per-share earnings and $10.65 billion in revenue.
  • Morgan Stanley followed suit, reporting a 20% rise in trading revenue and a 118% rise in stock underwriting.

Walgreens Profit Falls as U.K. Business Struggles – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance said its overseas business struggled again in its latest quarter as the Covid-19 pandemic cut into customer traffic in the U.K.
  • Overall, sales for its fiscal-fourth quarter that ended Aug. 31 rose to $34.75 billion from $33.95 billion.
  • Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $34.37 billion for the latest period.
  • Walgreens said sales in its retail-pharmacy unit in the U.S. totaled $27 billion in the latest quarter, up 3.6%. Filled prescriptions increased 3.6% on a comparable basis and demand for health, personal-care and personal-protective products rose.
  • Walgreens said profit fell to $373 million, or 43 cents a share, from $677 million, or 75 cents a share, the year earlier.
  • The company said it believes the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to hamper financial results during the first half of its new fiscal year, but it anticipates better conditions after that, with adjusted-profit growth picking up in the second half.

United Airlines slashes costs to prepare for eventual COVID-19 rebound – Reuters, 10/14/20

  • United Airlines said on Wednesday it cut operating costs by 59% in the third quarter and had nearly $20 billion of liquidity to position it for an eventual recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that has hammered the travel industry.
  • Revenue fell 78% to $2.49 billion, slowing from a plunge of about 87% in the previous quarter and helped by a 50% jump in revenue from its cargo business.
  • United said its quarterly adjusted loss was $2.37 billion, or $8.16 per share, compared with adjusted net income of $1 billion, or $4.07 per share, a year earlier.
  • Chicago-based United said its daily cash burn slowed to an average $25 million in the quarter ended September from $40 million in the second quarter, and included $4 million per day in severance and debt payments.
  • Including voluntary departures, United said it has cut its workforce by 22,000 employees, leading to roughly $765 million in pretax costs in the third quarter.

Tesla’s back-to-back price cuts bring sticker on U.S. Model S below $70,000 – Reuters, 10/14/20

  • U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla cut the price of its Model S “Long Range” sedan in the United States to $69,420, its website showed, following a tweet flagging the cut earlier on Wednesday from Chief Executive Elon Musk.
  • The cut is Tesla’s second this week for the high-end sedan, following a 4% cut to $71,990 on Tuesday.
  • The company also on Tuesday reduced by 3% the price of its Model S in China, where it had previously cut the starting price of its Model 3 sedan.

Exclusive: Trump administration to consider adding China’s Ant Group to trade blacklist – sources – Reuters, 10/14/20

  • The U.S. State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add China’s Ant Group to a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter, before the financial technology firm is slated to go public.
  • It was not immediately clear when the U.S. government agencies that decide whether to add a company to the so-called Entity List would review the matter.
  • While the Alipay payment app is currently unavailable for American users in the United States, according to a spokesperson for Ant, Trump administration officials fear the Chinese government could access sensitive banking data belonging to future U.S. users.
  • A powerful security panel known as the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) stopped its $1.2 billion bid to buy the money transfer company Moneygram in 2018 over national security risks.

Twitter, Facebook restrict users’ dissemination of New York Post story on Biden – Reuters, 10/14/20

  • Facebook and Twitter cast doubt on a New York Post story that made claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, taking proactive steps to restrict dissemination of the story in the hours after it was published on Wednesday.
  • Twitter prohibited its users from posting links to the Post story, while Facebook reduced how often the story shows up in users’ news feeds and elsewhere on the Facebook platform.
  • The swift actions by the social media companies earned praise from some disinformation researchers, who raised red flags about the provenance and credibility of the Post’s story, but some said it raised questions about their processes for deciding to contain the spread of false information.
  • The story contained alleged details of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company and said that the former vice president had met with an adviser of the company.
  • The story, which Reuters did not independently confirm, sourced details to emails that it said were given to the lawyer of Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney.

US ECONOMY & POLITICS

Rising U.S. weekly jobless claims cast shadow on economic recovery – Reuters, 10/15/20

  • The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly increased last week, heightening fears the COVID-19 pandemic was inflicting lasting damage to the labor market.
  • Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 53,000 to a seasonally adjusted 898,000 for the week ended Oct. 10.
  • Including a government-funded program for the self-employed, gig workers and others who do not qualify for the regular state unemployment programs, 1.3 million people filed claims last week.
  • The claims report also showed the number of people receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 1.165 million to 10.018 million in the week ending Oct. 3. But economists believe the so-called continuing claims are declining in part as people exhaust their eligibility for benefits, which are limited to six months in most states.
  • About 2.8 million workers filed for extended unemployment benefits in the week ending Sept. 26, up 818,054 from the prior week.

U.S. import prices increase in September as dollar weakens – Reuters, 10/15/20

  • U.S. import prices rose in September, with prices outside petroleum products posting strong gains, suggesting a weakening dollar was lifting imported inflation.
  • The Labor Department said on Thursday import prices increased 0.3% last month.
  • Data for August was revised up to show import prices increasing 1.0% instead of 0.9% as previously reported.
  • In the 12 months through September, import prices fell 1.1% after decreasing 1.4% in August.
  • The report also showed export prices rose 0.6% in September, lifted by gain in nonagricultural and agricultural goods.
  • That followed a 0.5% increase in August.
  • Export prices fell 1.8% on a year-on-year basis in September after declining 2.7% in August.

White House Agrees to Democrats’ National Coronavirus-Testing Strategy – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday the administration was prepared to meet Democrats’ demands for a national coronavirus-testing strategy as part of a larger economic relief package.
  • An agreement over a national testing plan would remove the biggest, but not the only, concern Democrats had raised last weekend with the White House’s latest $1.88 trillion proposal.
  • It could raise pressure on Mrs. Pelosi to reach an agreement with President Trump less than three weeks before the presidential election.
  • Still, even if Mr. Mnuchin and Mrs. Pelosi strike a deal, the GOP-controlled Senate has already signaled it may reject it.
  • Mr. Trump, continuing his push for a stimulus deal, said Thursday he would support more than the $1.88 trillion administration offer. “Go big or go home,” he said on Fox Business Network.

Biden Has 11-Point Lead Over Trump Less Than Three Weeks to Election Day – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Joe Biden holds a double-digit lead over President Trump less than three weeks from Election Day, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of registered voters finds.
  • Mr. Biden is ahead by 11 points in the national survey, 53% to 42%, following a tumultuous few weeks that included Mr. Trump’s nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court; the candidates’ contentious, televised debate and the president’s Covid-19 diagnosis and hospitalization.
  • The survey finds Mr. Trump rebounding from a 14-point deficit earlier this month in a poll taken immediately after the debate with Mr. Biden, but still in a weaker position than in September, when he trailed the former vice president by 8 points.
  • Some 50% say they are better off than they were four years ago, compared with 34% who say they are worse off. However, 58% say the country is worse off than four years ago, compared with 38% who say it is better off.
  • Moreover, more than 60% of voters say the country is headed in the wrong direction.
  • A majority of voters are unhappy with the president’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Some 41% approve of his handling of Covid-19 in the latest poll, compared with 57% who disapprove.
  • Pollsters said Mr. Trump’s 88% support among Republicans—compared with Mr. Biden’s 96% support among Democrats—suggested that the president had room to grow his support in the final weeks before the election.

Joe Biden Raised $383 Million in September, Breaking Earlier Record – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden raised $383 million in September, surpassing the record-breaking haul he collected a month earlier in his campaign against President Trump.
  • Mr. Biden brought in a then-monthly record of $364.5 million in August, helped by the party’s summer convention and selection of Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) as Mr. Biden’s running mate.
  • In all, Mr. Biden’s campaign has raised nearly $890 million in the past three months.

Trump, Biden to Hold Dueling TV Town Halls Thursday – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will appear in town hall forums Thursday night at the same time on different television networks, an unusual arrangement after a planned debate was canceled.
  • NBC News said Wednesday it will host Mr. Trump for an 8 p.m. event in Miami, following a report from the president’s physician that he isn’t contagious after being treated for Covid-19.
  • That is the same time Mr. Biden will appear in an ABC News forum in Philadelphia.
  • The rivals were supposed to meet for their second debate on Thursday in Miami, but it was upended after Mr. Trump tested positive for the virus and refused to debate in a virtual setting. That led to Mr. Biden’s participation in the ABC News forum.

College Enrollment Slid This Fall, With First-Year Populations Down 16% – Wall Street Journal, 10/15/20

  • Undergraduate enrollment tumbled this fall at many colleges and universities around the country, dragged down by a sharp drop in first-year students whose school plans were upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Overall, undergraduate populations shrank by 4%, and first-year student counts fell by 16.1%, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
  • By school type, enrollment declines were sharpest at community colleges, off 9.4% overall and 22.7% for first-year students.
  • Enrollment at four-year public colleges and universities fell by 1.4% overall, and 13.7% for first-year undergraduates. At private, nonprofit colleges, those declines were 2% and 11.8%, respectively.

EUROPE & WORLD

ASML held back by stalled sales of big earning tools – Reuters, 10/14/20

  • Semiconductor equipment maker ASML sounded a note of caution over sales of its newest tools worth $200 million apiece on Wednesday, as it delivered better-than-expected earnings and forecast double-digit growth next year.
  • ASML Chief Financial Officer Roger Dassen said the company would likely be “a few systems shy” of selling a targeted 35 of the machines this year, due to customers not being ready.
  • For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the company’s net sales rose to 3.96 billion euros ($4.65 billion) from 3 billion a year ago, ahead of analyst estimates of 3.7 billion euros.
  • Net profit rose to 1.06 billion euros from 627 million euros.

Exclusive: U.S. offers tariff truce if Airbus repays billions in aid, sources say – Reuters, 10/15/20

  • The United States has offered to settle a long-running aircraft subsidy dispute with the European Union and remove tariffs on wine, whisky and other products if Airbus repays billions of dollars in aid to European governments, several sources close to the matter told Reuters.
  • The offer was made by U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer days before the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) release on Tuesday of a report authorising Brussels to slap counter-tariffs on U.S goods over subsidies to planemaker Boeing.
  • Lighthizer’s proposal, however, is unlikely to win support from the EU, which appears set to ask the WTO at an Oct. 26 meeting to endorse $4 billion in EU tariffs on U.S. goods.
  • The imposition of $7.5 billion of U.S. tariffs over Airbus subsidies has already started to hit European goods.

Factmonster – TODAY in HISTORY

  • With the support of President Wilson, the Clayton Antitrust Act, which made it illegal for companies to buy competitors’ stock, was passed. (1914)
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation was created. (1966)
  • Clarence Thomas got a narrow (52–48) Senate confirmation of his nomination to the Supreme Court. (1991)

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