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27Jan2017 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street To Open Flat And Is Expected To Set New Highs Again, WTI Crude Back In The 53 Handle And The US Dollar Stronger Above 100

Written by Gary

U.S. stock market index futures are flat (SPY +0.03%), but looked to rise again, with the Dow trading above the 20,000-level again. The U.S. economy grew at a slower annualized pace of 1.9% and the final reading on third-quarter growth was 3.5%.

Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets are mixed. The FTSE 100 is higher by 0.07%, while the CAC 40 is leading the DAX lower. They are down 0.45% and 0.16% respectively.

Looking at the last three columns, the first one (Actual), is what was reported this morning. The second column (Forecast) is what analysts had forecast and the third column is the previous report. Full calendar HERE.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Weak exports may crimp U.S. fourth-quarter economic growth

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. economic growth likely slowed in the fourth quarter as a plunge in shipments of soybeans weighed on exports, but a healthy increase in consumer spending and rising business investment should underscore the economy's underlying momentum.

Futures flat as investors pause after Dow's recent rally

(Reuters) - U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Friday as investors paused after driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average to three straight days of gains and ahead of a host of economic data and corporate results.

Volkswagen ex-CEO may have known of cheating sooner: prosecutors

BERLIN (Reuters) - Former Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn may have known sooner than he has admitted that the carmaker was cheating on emissions tests, German prosecutors said on Friday, as they widened an investigation into the scandal.

Apple strategy in 'smart home' race threatened by Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO - In less than a year, Amazon's combination of the Echo speaker system and the Alexa voice-controlled digital assistant has come close to delivering on the elusive promise of easy-to-use technology that can control gadgets in the home with a few spoken words.

Alphabet posts strong revenue growth, higher taxes hit earnings

(Reuters) - Google parent Alphabet Inc posted fourth-quarter profit below analysts' estimates on Thursday, hurt by a higher tax rate, but analysts cheered the company's progress in diversifying its business beyond advertising.

American Airlines profit plunges

(Reuters) - American Airlines Group Inc , the No. 1 U.S. airline by passenger traffic, reported a fall in profit from a year earlier, when it recorded a $3 billion tax benefit.

Drugmaker AbbVie's quarterly revenue misses estimates

(Reuters) - AbbVie Inc's quarterly adjusted revenue missed analysts' estimate, in part due to lower-than-expected sales of its hepatitis C drug and cancer treatment.

Bonds and reflation fans enjoy Trump's arrival: BAML

LONDON (Reuters) - Donald Trump's first week in charge in the United States was the best for bond funds in four months, a good one for reflation enthusiasts and for emerging markets, fund flow data shows.

Restaurant Brands to launch Tim Hortons in Mexico

(Reuters) - Restaurant Brands International Inc said it would launch its coffee and doughnut chain, Tim Hortons, in Mexico as a part of its expansion plans.

"We Need To Prepare Umbrellas For A Rainy Day": Japan Gears Up For Trade War

While so far Trump's trade focus was fallen mostly on Nafta countries, and to a lesser extent China, one country that is taking precautionary steps is the one which recently suffered a major loss when Trump signed an executive order to exit the TPP, effectively killing the trade deal: Japan. The TPP, which took years to negotiate among 12 countries, has often been described as being, at its core, a deal between the United States and Japan, the world's largest and third-largest economies respectively. Abe has touted TPP as an engine of economic reform and a counterweight to a rising China but said on Thursday it was possible Tokyo and Washington could hold bilateral free trade talks

According to Reuters, Japan is "preparing for all possible contingencies regarding trade talks with the United States", the top government spokesman said on Friday, after U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal this week. PM Shinzo Abe is preparing for a visit Washington next month, and in a sequel of what Trump is expected to unveil with Theresa May today, an official in Trump's administration said Trump would seek quick progress toward a bilateral trade agreement with Japan in place of the broader Asia-Pacific deal.

"It is true that we are preparing to be able to respond to any possible situation," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. He refrained from commenting on U.S. trade policy until it becomes clear.

Trying to keep the tone cordial and not to attract too much attention to Japan's mounting concerns it will be called out next, he added that "the alliance and the economy between Japan and the U.S. is very important, so we would like to have talks with various levels with the U.S. (about) how we can develop."

Meanwhile, Japanese officials said Abe's government should still try to conv ...

Hollande: "There Are Challenges From The New US Administration"

While France has so far managed to avoid falling into Trump's attention span, that may change after French President Francois Hollande said the Trump administration was proving a "challenge" for Europe, according to AFP.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is expected to speak by phone with Donald Trump tomorrow, Hollande said "to be honest, there are challenges from the new US administration; challenges regarding rules of commerce, regarding the way we think conflicts across the world should be solved."

"Of course, we need to speak to Donald Trump, because he was elected by the US [citizens] to be their president, but we should speak to him from the European point of view, promoting our interests and values."

Hollande also warned that Europe is under internal threat of populism: "Let's speak honestly, what threatens Europe doesn't come from outside," he said. "It's the rise of extremism, which uses outside [forces] to create internal division. And facing the internal threat of populism, one should address the people, and tell them that their interests, values, their future are connected with what we decide here, in Europe and for Europe."

Merkel echoed the statement by her French colleague, saying that "Europe faces big internal and external challenges which we ... can only master by working together."

"We need a clear, common commitment to the European Union, to what we have accomplished, and to the values of our liberal democracies," she added.

It is certain that the rise of "populist" forces in her own Germany will be one of the topics touched upon when Merkel speaks to Tr ...

Frontrunning: January 27

Mexico Dispute Could Overshadow May's Free-Trade Message (BBG)

NATO, Russia and trade top the agenda for Trump talks with Britain's May (Reuters)

Trump's plan for import tax worsens crisis with Mexico (Reuters)

Nafta's U.S. Impact is Modest (WSJ)

Republicans Are Making Little Progress on Their Obamacare Repeal Strategy (BBG)

Ghost of 1990s Is Haunting Dollar and Slowing Further Gains (BBG)

Trump's hopes for Syria safe zones may force decision on Assad (Reuters)

Trump's Gamble: Luring Countries Into Deals (WSJ)

Trump tells Republican lawmakers: Enough talk. Time to deliver (Reuters)

UBS Clients Pull $15 Billion in Quarter as Margins Decline (BBG)

GDP Growth Is Forecast to Have Slowed to 2.2% in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)

Wi ...

Bill Ackman Reveals Two New "Undisclosed" Positions Taking up 13% Of Capital

With returns such as these...

... it is hardly a surprise that Bill Ackman would be leery of disclosing any new positions or stakes he may have taken recently. And indeed, while in recent years Ackman is far better known for the "publicity" with his multibillion-dollar stock investments than their positive returns, usually creating massive, 300+ slide presentations to convince the investing world in his accuracy, on Thursday the billionaire hedge fund manager took a new approach when he kept his two most recent bets in mystery.

Ackman's $10.9 billion hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management made two bets in recent months where the firm committed 13% of its capital, but has not revealed the names of those investments.

As Reuters reports, hours before welcoming clients to the firm's annual dinner in New York on Thursday evening, Ackman sent a 95-page update to shareholders giving limited information on the new investments. The first new investment, where Pershing Square put 4 percent of its capital to work, presented itself late last year and has already earned the firm a roughly 22 percent return on its average cost, the update said. "We believe the investment is still attractive at current prices," Ackman said, adding it was a "high quality business" with a "best-in-class management team."

The second investment was even more circumspect, with Ackman only noting that it was made in early 2017 and that the Pershing Square committed 9 percent of its capital.

Weak Yen Is Only Slight Reprieve for Bank of Japan

While a weaker currency gives the Bank of Japan a much-needed reprieve, it still isn't reason to celebrate.

Verizon Needs to Bet Big But Shouldn't Overpay for Charter

A deal with Charter Communications could help Verizon offset its struggling wireless business, but it would only make sense at the right price.

India's Growth Doesn't Have a Story

At 7%, India's headline growth rate is one of the world's fastest—but the underlying drivers aren't so solid.

Rail Week Ending 21 January 2017: A More Positive Week

Week 3 of 2017 shows same week total rail traffic (from same week one year ago) improved according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR) traffic data.

Called to Account: Earnings releases are still a confusing mess, and it's investors who pay the price

Just two weeks into the fourth-quarter earnings season, and companies, including some big blue-chips, are producing some unusual and confusing releases that are certainly making life difficult for investors.

Capitol Report: Trump pressured Park Service over inauguration crowd size | Trump, Putin to talk Saturday

President Trump pressured the Park Service over inauguration crowd size; Trump and Putin to talk Saturday; what's on the agenda for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May's White House visit; and more.

The Tell: Does Trump rally face 'one last meltup' after Dow 20,000?

The latest stock market rally that began in February 2016 may have room for "one last meltup" before succumbing to gravity, and potentially marking the top of an eight-year-old bull market, say analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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