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12Jan2018 Pre-Market Commentary: Wall Street Pointing To A Flat Opening After Investors Digested Fourth-quarter Earnings Reports From Big U.S. Lenders, Gold Slips Modestly From Session Highs

Written by Gary

US stock futures trim modest gains after retail sales, CPI data (SPY +0.02%) and are pointing to a flat opening. The unofficial start of earnings season kicks off today as crude prices and the US dollar slip fractionally.


Here is the current market situation from CNN Money

European markets are mixed today. The CAC 40 is up 0.19% while the FTSE 100 gains 0.17%. The DAX is off 0.08%.

What Is Moving the Markets

Here are the headlines moving the markets.

Futures rise as investors assess big bank earnings

(Reuters) - U.S. stock futures rose and pointed to a positive open for Wall Street on Friday as investors digested fourth-quarter earnings reports from big U.S. lenders.

Explainer: Investors to scour outlooks for U.S. companies' tax cut plans

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Corporate results for 2017's final quarter will start pouring in next week and are expected to be laden with one-time charges as U.S. companies begin to cope with tax code changes, including a one-time tax on trillions of dollars in profits held overseas.

JPMorgan profit beats on higher interest rates; debt trading down

(Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co , the biggest U.S. bank by assets, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday as gains in net interest income offset a slowdown in trading revenue.

Wells Fargo profit boosted by one-time tax benefit

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co posted an 18 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Friday, driven by a one-time tax benefit related to President Donald Trump's new tax laws.

China cracks down on foreign companies calling Taiwan, other regions countries

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's aviation authority on Friday demanded an apology from Delta Air Lines for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website, while another government agency took aim at Inditex-owned fashion brand Zara and medical device maker Medtronic Plc for similar issues.

BlackRock profit beats as ETFs attract more investment

(Reuters) - BlackRock Inc on Friday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit, as investors flooded into the world's biggest asset manager's exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Chinese bitcoin miners eye sites in energy-rich Canada

MONTREAL/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's Bitmain Technologies is eyeing bitcoin mining sites in Quebec, a company spokesman told Reuters, as expectations of a potential Chinese crackdown on cryptocurrency mining make the energy-rich Canadian province an attractive alternative.

China's COFCO makes painful cuts in drive to lead global food trade

LONDON/PARIS/BEIJING (Reuters) - China's COFCO International is in the throes of a staffing upheaval as the group pursues its professed ambition of sitting at the top table of global agricultural traders.

Some Chinese Apple users warned by firm on dodging new data law

BEIJING (Reuters) - Some Chinese users of Apple Inc's products who have created Apple IDs overseas to circumvent a new law that requires their personal data to be stored within China say they have been warned by the tech giant that they risk losing the data.

SpaceX Customer Says Company's Latest Launch Failure Isn't Elon Musk's Fault

Of course it wasn't Elon's fault - nothing ever is.

Less than a week after SpaceX's failure to launch the mysterious Zuma satellite into orbit - the payload, which presumably cost hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars to develop, failed to separate properly from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that was carrying it - a major customer of SpaceX, Musk's space-oriented venture that has essentially become a successor to NASA, defended the company, speculated that the blame for the failure lay not with Musk, but with the hacks over at longtime defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

Here's Bloomberg:

A major SpaceX customer spoke up for Elon Musk's rocket company, pinning the blame for a secret military satellite's disappearance on defense company Northrop Grumman Corp.

Matt Desch, chief executive officer of satellite operator Iridium Communications Inc., said that as the launch contractor, Northrop Grumman deserves the blame for the loss last weekend of the satellite, which is presumed to have crashed into the ocean in the secretive mission code-named Zuma.

"This is a typical industry smear job on the 'upstart' trying to disrupt the launch industry," Desch said on Twitter Thursday in response to a news article. "SpaceX didn't have a failure, Northrop Grumman did. Notice that no one in the media is interested in that story. SpaceX will pay the price as the one some will try to bring low."

As we reported ahead of the launch, which was repeatedly delayed with only a vague explanation, many of the details about Zuma's provenance and purpose remain a mystery. The job the satellite was intended t ...

$60 Oil Will Not Last Long

Authored by Peter Tertzakian via OilPrice.com,

U.S. oil prices are treading water above $US 60/B (WTI) again, the first time since 2015.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/20180112_WTI.png

Crude oil has a northerly wind in its sails, though everybody on board this fickle ship is cautious about its compass bearing. Since 2013 we've seen the price of a barrel peak to $110, capsize to $26, and roll back to $60.

The gyrations make sense.

Here is what we've learned over the past decade:

Above $80 is too high. Cash flow is ample. Investors gladly fund more drilling rigs. Pump jacks work hard. Too much productive capacity is added. But costs inflate quickly too—competitiveness diminishes within the oil industry, and also encourages alternative energy systems. Consumers become more miserly and demand growth decelerates.

Under $40 is too low. Cash flows dry up and investors jump ship. Rigs head back to their yards with drooping masts. Costs deflate, rapidly decimating employees and equipment in the service industry. Production begins to decline in marginal regions. State-owned enterprises are unable to pay their 'social dividends'. ...

Reason Behind JPM's "Mystery" $143 Million Loss Revealed

Earlier this morning we reported that probably the most interesting tidbit in the just released JPM Q4 earnings release was the bank's disclosure that it had taken a substantial mark-to-market hit on a margin loan to a single client:

Equity Markets revenue was flat compared to a strong prior year and included the impact of a mark-to-market loss of $143 million on a margin loan to a single client.

As we commented, "it is unclear who the client, or what the nature of the loan is." Now, thanks to Bloomberg we at least know what the loss was related to, and it appears that lightning has struck twice, first hitting the ECB and now JPM.

While we still don't know the client (Mario Draghi?) or say what caused the loss, Bloomberg reports that the writedown was tied to Steinhoff, the South African retailer engulfed in an accounting scandal, according to a person briefed on the matter, and which as we previously reported, was quietly dumped by the ECB which had purchased the company's recent bond issuance, only to be "forced" to sell them once Steinhoff was downgraded to deep junk territory.

On December 5, Steinhoff announced it had uncovered accounting irregularities which led to a crash in the share price of the Frankfurt- and Johannesburg-listed company, a plunge in its bonds (at the time held by the ECB among others) along with the resignation of Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste and Chairman Christo Wiese. Steinhoff last week said it's seeking "significant near-term liquidity" for some of its business units.

Trump Denies "Shithole" Comment, Slams "Outrageous" DACA Proposal

After reports that Trump referred to "shithole" African nations in a meeting (that was not denied by The White House), the president has tweeted this morning that "this was not the language used."

The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018

His tweet, denying the "shithole" comment follows an earlier series of tweets that slammed the proposed DACA proposal:

The so-called bipartisan DACA deal presented yesterday to myself and a group of Republican Senators and Congressmen was a big step backwards. Wall was not properly funded, Chain & Lottery were made worse and USA would be forced to take large numbers of people from high crime.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 12, 2018

....countries which are doing badly. I want a merit based system of immigration and people who will help take our country to the next level. I want safety and security for our people. I want to stop the massive inflow of drugs. I want to fund o ...

Will Airlines Blow Their Tax Windfall?

U.S. airlines are among the biggest beneficiaries of the tax plan. But investors worry that they also may be at the greatest danger of competing their tax gains away.

Xerox Should Look to Copy Fujifilm's Success

The venerable U.S. company Xerox could find a tie-up with its longtime joint-venture partner Fujifilm helps it to reinvent itself.

How to Punish Auditors Behaving Badly

A two-year ban in India for PwC makes a good headline, but the impact may be light. Auditors of public companies often fall short of investor expectations—as do their punishments.

Economic Report: Holiday retail sales: A case of haves, havenots

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.4% in December to mark the fourth straight gain.

Key Words: Spotted: Elon Musk on the dance floor at a Silicon Valley 'cuddle puddle' party

Tech entrepreneur Paul Biggar, sounding off in a post on Medium about an after-hours party he attended last year, said he saw one of the most recognizable names in tech on the dance floor.

Need to Know: Markets risk a 'brutal' fall as they ignore the Fed's latest warning shot

President Trump has dug a hole for himself with his latest take on immigration policy. Markets also find themselves in a tough spot, says our call of the day. It's focused on a fresh shot across the bow for investors from the Fed.

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To contact me with questions, comments or constructive criticism is always encouraged and appreciated:

gary@econintersect.com

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