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  • 16 Jan 2018 6:06 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    U.S. Stock Futures Indicate a Strong Market Open

    If it’s any indication, the U.S. stock futures are pointing towards a strong open on Tuesday as investors return from a long weekend. Eyes will be on the Dow Jones as it nears the 26,000 point barrier. The blue-chip index closed above 25,800 last Friday. Meanwhile, this week will feature a stream of earnings reports. Citigroup (C) and United Health (UNH) are reporting on Tuesday.

    World’s Big Bourses on Record-Breaking Run

    Tuesday is a sizzling day for the markets in Asia and Europe as their respective bourses kept on their record-breaking run. However, on the currency side, the steadier dollar halted the blazing start to the year for the euro, yen and yuan and sent metals markets slumping. The euro slipped and snapped its four-day hot-streak.

    MSCI, the all-country world index notched its third consecutive all-time high. The growing confidence about the global economy pushed Japan's heavyweight Nikkei to its best level since 1991 during a lively Asian session. The pan-European crawled 0.1-0.3% higher, aided by technology and insurance stocks.

    AT&T Urged to Cut Commercial Ties with Huawei

    AT&T, the U.S. No.2 wireless carrier has been urged by U.S. lawmakers to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. They were also warned by two congressional aides to oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest mobile phone operator, to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns.

    Senators and House members specifically wants AT&T to cut is its collaboration with Huawei over standards for the high-speed next generation 5G network.  Another commercial cut they want is the use of Huawei handsets by AT&T’s discount subsidiary Cricket. The White House is taking a harder line and U.S. firms dealing with China will run the risk of hampering business ties with the U.S. government.

    Cryptocurrencies Tumble on Fears of Wider Crackdown

    On Tuesday, Bitcoin tumbled 18% to a four week low to of close to $11,000, after reports that the South Korean government is still considering the trading ban of cryptocurrencies and implement a wider regulatory crackdown.

    Bitcoin’s slide triggered a domino effect as rival cryptocurrencies suffered a massive selloff too. According to Coinmarketcap, Ethereum went down by 23% while Ripple plunged by 33%. South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon had told a local radio station that the government would be coming up with a set of measures to clamp down on the “irrational” cryptocurrency investment craze.

    Chinese Consumer Group Seek Answers from Apple

    China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that a Chinese consumer group has called the attention of Apple Inc. (AAPL). They are asking for details and information regarding the slowing of older iPhones after the operating system updates. The said group is demanding a reply from Apple before Friday this week.

  • 16 Jan 2018 4:43 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    Brent Crude Hits $70 Per Barrel

    Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, rose to $70 a barrel on Monday with support from the ongoing output cuts led by OPEC. Also, Brent seems unperturbed by the rise in drilling activities in the U.S. and Canada that could lead to higher future output in North America.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $64.53 a barrel, up 23 cents. Both benchmarks last week reached levels not seen since December 2014, with Brent touching $70.05 a barrel and WTI reaching as high as $64.77. According to ANZ bank, rising oil prices is indicating the market is tightening.

    Airbus Edges Boeing in Jet Orders Anew

    For the fifth time in as many years, Airbus won its annual order contest with Boeing (BA) in the global jet market. Airbus overtook Boeing in the closing weeks of 2017 due to frenetic selling. However, doubts remain over the future of its flagship A380.

    The European plane maker said on Monday net orders after cancellations rose 52% to 1,109 aircraft in 2017 versus Boeing’s 912 net orders. In their head-to-head battle, Airbus posted 1,229 unadjusted orders compared with Boeing’s 1,053.

    Ford Announces New Plan on EVs

    During the Detroit Auto Show on Sunday, Ford CEO Bill Ford followed up last week’s announcements with a new one. The U.S. automaker disclosed that it will significantly increase its planned investments in electric vehicles to $11 billion by 2022 and will have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its model lineup.

    The initial target is an investment of $4.5 billion by 2020. Ford executives said the sharp increase now includes the costs of developing dedicated electric vehicle architectures. Ford’s engineering, research and development expenses for 2016, the last full year available, were $7.3 billion, up from $6.7 billion in 2015.

    Lego Set Sights on Chinese Children

    With the slowdown in sales growth in recent years, privately-owned Lego is now teaming up with Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. to jointly develop online games and potentially a social network aimed at Chinese children.

    The Chinese market their bright spot with sales growing 25% to30% in 2016.  On Monday, Lego said the partnership with China’s biggest social network and gaming company is aimed to create a safe online environment covering content, platforms, and experiences tailored for Chinese children. 

    The Danish toymaker is competing with Barbie maker Mattel Inc. (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS), the firm behind My Little Pony, for a share of the $31 billion toys and games market in China.

    Chip Boom Might Soon End

    After a blistering year-and-a-half long surge, the  falling of memory chip prices are worrying investors. The concerns were amplified following the disappointing profit estimate by Samsung Electronics Co. Investors are betting the chip boom would extend for at least another year.

  • 14 Jan 2018 9:46 PM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)


    Winning Streaks End, New Record Highs Set

    Wall Street witnessed for the first time this year the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite closed lower. On Wednesday, the six-day winning streak of both indices snapped. The newsflash that the United States is likely to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) drove the indices down. It also drove the currencies of Canada and Mexico lower and impacted on their respective stock markets.

    Canada is increasingly getting concerned although nothing is definite has come out from the United States. Still, the Canadian government is preparing for several scenarios for such eventuality. The sixth and penultimate round of negotiations among American, Canadian, and Mexican officials is scheduled in Montreal from Jan. 23-28. Time is running for the three countries to resolve their major differences.

    What added to the decline was the news that China is rethinking its position on purchasing and acquiring U.S. Treasury bonds and debt. The government in Beijing thinks U.S. debt is becoming less attractive compared to other assets. They also cited the increasing trade tensions between the two countries as a justifiable reason to slow down or stop the purchases.

    S&P 500 2,786.24 as of 01/12/2018 (+4.21% YTD)

    Last week’s close: 2,743.15

    Although the S&P 500 edged lower on Wednesday, the index recovered and rose sharply to set record highs anew. It posted new highs in the next two trading sessions and finished the week at an all-time high of 2,786.24.

    Nasdaq Composite Index 7,261.06 as of 01/12/2018 (+5.18% YTD)

    Last week’s close: 7,136.56

    The Nasdaq Composite Index also managed to recover from the mid-week drop, rising to 7,211.78 on then to 7,261.06 to close the week at a fresh high.

    Dow Jones Industrial Average 25,803.19 as of 01/12/2018 (+2.33% YTD)

    Last week’s close: 25,295.87

    The blue-chip index made it a triple whammy as it also closed at a new all-time of 25,803.19 on Friday. Boeing Co. (BA), the single best performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, continued its active rise. The BA stock rose to its highest to finish the week at $336.21. Boeing’s return year-to-date is now at 14.0%.

    All three benchmarks finished at all-time highs on Friday. After the end of the second week of equity trading in 2018, it has been the best start to a year since 2003 for the Dow Jones (+4.4% rise) and the S&P 500 (+4.2% rise). For the Nasdaq, the 5.2% advance so far this January marks the best start to a year since 2004.


    JPMorgan and Wells Fargo Kick-Off Earnings SeasonA

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) $112.67 as of 01/12/2018 (+5.36% YTD)

    JPMorgan is currently the biggest player in the U.S. banking industry. On Friday, the bank reaffirmed its leadership position. JPM reported reasonably good quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street's expectations. The numbers already included the one-time charges and gains related to the tax law.

    The shares of JPMorgan are up 31% in the last 12 months. JPM closed at an all-time high of $112.67 on Friday. The bank disclosed the one-time charge amounted to $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter. On an adjusted basis, JPM’s summary performance came out this way:

    • Adjusted EPS of $1.76 vs. $1.69 expected (Thomson Reuters)
    • Revenue of $25.45 billion vs. $25.15 billion expected (Thomson Reuters)

    CEO Jamie Dimon had favorable comments about the bill despite the one-time charges. "The enactment of tax reform in the fourth quarter is a significant positive outcome for the country. U.S. companies will be more competitive globally, which will ultimately benefit all Americans," Dimon said. "The cumulative effect of retained and reinvested capital in the U.S. will help grow the economy, ultimately growing jobs and wages."

    Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) $62.55 as of 01/12/2018 (+3.10% YTD)

    Several years back, Wells Fargo was the acknowledged leader of the banking sector. JPMorgan now holds that shining reputation. Wells Fargo also reported its quarterly earnings on Friday. Just like JPMorgan, the bank’s report included the one-time charges and gains related to the new tax law. The key takeaways for Wells Fargo are as follows:

    • Adjusted EPS of $1.16 vs. $1.07 expected (Thomson Reuters)
    • Revenue of $22.05 billion vs. $22.38 billion expected (Thomson Reuters)

    The bank’s after-tax benefit amounted to $3.35 or 67 cents per share. With the new tax bill, there’s a $3.89 billion estimated tax benefit from the reduction to net deferred income taxes. Also, WFC reported a tax gain from the sale of Wells Fargo Insurance Services.

    On Friday, WFC also announced that plans to close down 800 more bank branches by 2020 as a cost-cutting measure. However, analysts think the move is related to soaring litigation expenses because of the recent scandal on fictitious accounts. In the last quarter, the bank's litigation expenses more than tripled to $3.3 billion.

    The bank already closed more than 200 branches in 2017 but still ended the year with more than 5,800. That’s the most in the United States. Wells Fargo executives reasoned that the branch closings are also due to the increasing preference of clients for online and mobile banking.

    Wells Fargo plans to cut $2 billion in expenses in 2018 and another $2 billion in 2019.


    GM & Ford in the Headlines

    Two prominent U.S. automakers were in the headlines for the most part of the week. The stocks of both are worth watching in 2018 as they are prepared to introduce new products and innovative vehicle upgrades to perk up sales.

    General Motors Co. (GM) $44.07 as of 01/12/2018 (+7.51% YTD)

    General Motors opened the week with a major announcement. Chief Executive Mary Barra made a bold promise to investors that the company will make money selling electric cars by 2021. However, no details were given as to how the Detroit-based automaker intends to do what no major automaker has done.

    GM shares started the week on a downward trend, falling to a flat $43.00 by mid-week. The stock rose by 2.76% to $44.19 before ending Friday at $44.07.

    The U.S. automaker made another announcement at the end of the week. General Motors is seeking government approval for a fully autonomous car - one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal - to enter the automaker's first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019. If approval is granted, the market will be introduced to the “no pedal to the metal” self-driving Cruise AV car.

    Ford Motor Co. (F) $13.23 as of 01/12/2018 (+5.92% YTD)

    Since last week, shares of Ford were trading heavily, breaching the $13.00 mark last January 5. The uptrend continued as trading volume hit above 56 million on Wednesday and Friday. F finished the week at a fresh high of $13.23. 

    Ford Motor is looking to gain a marketing edge over its main rivals by introducing more efficient pickups this spring. Ford will offer a diesel engine version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck. 

    Company’s executives are confident the F-150 diesel model will be welcomed by customers because of fuel efficiency. It features a 10-speed transmission that is capable of achieving 30 miles per gallon highway fuel efficiency. That is a level comparable to some midsize cars. The price tag will be between $2,400 and $4,000, depending on the specific model.

    In an effort to catch up with industry rivals, Ford announced on Thursday that automatic emergency brakes shall be standard features on two of their key 2019 models. The No. 2 U.S. automaker is offering this new technology designed to help vehicles avoid collisions.

    Ford will install the special brakes on its redesigned 2019 Edge midsize crossover vehicle and its new 2019 Ranger midsize pickup. They intend to compete with the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma later this year.

    Other Auto Headlines

    Fiat Chrysler

    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Thursday that it will shift production of Ram heavy-duty pickup trucks from Mexico to Michigan in 2020. The transfer will include a$1 billion investment in the plant and the creation of about 2,500 jobs.

    The move is intended to lower the risk to the automaker’s profit should President Donald Trump pull the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor

    Japanese automakers Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor are announced on Wednesday plan to set up a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s going to be a huge win for U.S. President Donald Trump who made a campaign promise to add manufacturing jobs in the auto industry. 

    The plant is projected to generate and employ 4,000 workers and build approximately 300,000 vehicles of Toyota Corollas along with other models.


    The Undisputed Star at the 2018 CES

    NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) $222.98 as of 01/12/2018 (+15.24% YTD)

    NVIDIA Corp. stole the thunder from the rest of the presenters at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 10. The company unveiled two pioneering products that would change the landscape of the tech world.

    The world’s leading visual computing company unveiled the NVIDIA DRIVETM, its AI autonomous vehicle platform. Visitors and guests at the annual event were impressed at the functional safety architecture of the ground-breaking platform. NVIDIA uses redundant and diverse functions to enable vehicles to operate safely, even in the event of faults to the operator, environment or systems.

    The architecture of NVIDIA DRIVETM will allow car manufacturers to build and deploy self-driving cars and trucks that are functionally safe. The vehicles can be certified to international safety standards such as ISO 26262.

    According to Jensen Huang, founder, and CEO of Nvidia, safety is the most important feature of a self-driving car. Nvidia believes their investment into the functional safety platform is worth it. They’re adding a critical ingredient for automakers to bring in self-driving cars to the market. The company is now working with more than 320 partners who would use the technology to power their vehicles.

    What also made Nvidia stand out above the rest and become the talk of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show is the launching of a gaming monitor the size of a television, creating a new class of large-screen devices with the refresh speed required for professional gaming.

    These new hardware pieces represent new areas of growth in two of the company’s most important revenue streams, gaming and automotive. While the company was built on gaming hardware, CEO Huang sees automotive chips as a huge area for future growth. In 2019 and beyond, Huang expects that the bulk of chips used for self-driving cars will be put into data centers to simulate how the cars will drive. The sale of in-car chips will follow as the demand for autonomous vehicles will likely increase.

    Nvidia also released the GeForce Now. It’s a new PC beta of its service for streaming games to low-speed computers. The service was previously available only for Mac users, as hardware for Apple typically isn’t used for high-end gaming. While other rivals are also aiming to be the Netflix or Spotify of gaming, Nvidia has the edge. They have access to data center hardware and possess the expertise to optimize that. Other companies would need to put in a large amount of investment to proceed. is Off to a Great Start Inc. (WUBA) $81.98 as of 01/18/2018 (+14.55% YTD)

    Last December 12, 2017, the stock price of Inc. was at $68.93. On Friday, a month later, WUBA closed at $81.98 or a jump of 18.93%., China's largest online marketplace for classifieds, is having a great start in the New Year.

    WUBA traded at a high of $85.04 at one point on Tuesday then closed at an all-time high of $84.91 on the same day. On the first trading day of the year, trading volume reached 1.7 million. The volume was only 276,500 at year-end 2017. Since January 4 this year, average volume is above 1 million.

    Before 2017 ended, Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Yao joined China’s Cheetah Mobile (CMCM) as a member of the board of directors. It was part of CMCM’s shake-up at the top. Cheetah added Microsoft’s (MFST) voice-activated digital assistant to a mobile app too. As a result, Cheetah Mobile is also having a great start in 2018.


    The stellar performance of the U.S. stocks provided Wall Street solid gains for the second week in a row. The returns are now above 4% year-to-date. While the U.S. markets posted weekly gains of more than 1% in about 10 times last year, the markets have achieved twice this number to begin 2018.

    Further, U.S. stocks have not recorded two consecutive weeks of 1% returns since July 2016. The week also signaled the start of the fourth quarter's earnings season. The stream of earnings reports will intensify next week and investors will see the effects of the tax cuts in most of the companies. It can also trigger volatility in individual stocks.

    On the economic front, during the holiday-shortened week, data on industrial production and capacity utilization will be released on Wednesday. The housing data report is expected to be released on Thursday while the consumer sentiment data will be on tap Friday.

  • 12 Jan 2018 6:19 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    Earnings Bonanza from Banks Expected

    Wall Street expects an earnings bonanza from the banking sector on Friday as JPMorgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) prepares to report their respective fourth quarter earnings. Goldman Sachs (GS) was the first major bank to announce a profitable 2017 with the so-called "repatriation tax" as a contributing factor. BlackRock (BLK) is also due to report earnings before the opening bell.

    December Retail Sales on the Spotlight

    The market will find out on Friday if the retail trade sector did better than expected last month. The U.S. Census Bureau is set to report retail sales figures for December 2017. The month is regarded as critical for the industry because most of the holiday shopping in America happens in December.  Retail sales in November grew by 0.8% which is a bit of a break for the struggling retailers.

    China’s Trade Surplus with U.S. Hits $275.81 Billion

    According to data provided by Reuters, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. in 2017 reached $275.81 billion. The figure is a record high, eclipsing the previous record of $260.8 billion established in 2015. The surplus of the world's second-largest economy last December was at $25.55 billion compared to November’s $27.87 billion in the same year.

    The United States’ trade with China given that the latter’s economy runs surpluses against many of its trading partners. President Donald Trump has repetitively called for tougher action on what he calls unfair practices that have led the country to a huge trade deficit with China.

    Oil Prices on Track for Four Straight Weeks of Gain

    Although traders and analysts warned of possible price correction in 2018, the overall market condition is strong that oil prices continue to hold sway. On Friday, oil prices eased from three-year highs but remained on track to end the week higher for a fourth week in a row.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 went down by 35 cents  to $63.45 a barrel. It came from Thursday’s at $64.77 which is the strongest since late 2014. Brent crude futures LCOc1 likewise hit a high on Thursday, breaking above $70 a barrel for the first time since December 2014.  Most investors are still upbeat and positioned to benefit from further price gains.

    GM Plans to Offer Unique Self-Driving Cruise AV Car

    General Motors Co. (GM) is planning to introduce the “no pedal to the metal” self-driving Cruise AV car. The U.S. automaker is seeking government approval for a fully autonomous car - one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal - to enter the automaker's first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019.

  • 11 Jan 2018 6:38 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    S&P 500 and Nasdaq Ends Winning Streak

    For the first time this year, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite closed lower, snapping a six-day winning streak. The news that the United States is likely to pull out of NAFTA drove Wall Street down on Wednesday.  The news also drove the currencies of both Canada and Mexico lower and also hurt their respective stock markets.

    Although nothing is firm yet, Canada is increasingly getting worried and preparing for several scenarios. American, Canadian, and Mexican officials are due to hold a sixth and penultimate round of negotiations in Montreal from Jan. 23-28. The time to bridge the three countries’ major differences are running out.

    DOJ’s Marijuana Directive Cause Confusion

    The U.S. Department of Justice failed to first notify federal officials when it reversed last week the $7 billion marijuana business. The officials were supposed to advise banks in states where marijuana is legal. As a result, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an office within the U.S. Treasury Department, was swamped with phone calls from congressional offices, particularly from lawmakers and constituents.

    AG Jeff Sessions’ announcement caused confusion among banks about how to do business with marijuana growers, processors and distributors without violating federal money laundering laws. However, FinCEN had no ready answers yet because it received no advance warning of the Jan. 4 announcement by the U.S. Attorney General.

    Ford to Install Auto-Emergency Brakes on 2019 Models

    In an effort to catch up with industry rivals, Ford Motor Co. (F) announced on Thursday that automatic emergency brakes shall be standard features on two of their key 2019 models. The No. 2 U.S. automaker is offering this new technology designed to help vehicles avoid collisions.

    Ford will install the special brakes on its redesigned 2019 Edge midsize crossover vehicle and its new 2019 Ranger midsize pickup. They intend to compete with the Chevrolet Colorado and Toyota Tacoma later this year.

    LG’s Factory will soon Operate in Tennessee

    The new washing machine factory of LG Electronics in the U.S. will start operating in the fourth quarter of this year. On Thursday, Jo Seong-Jin, Chief Executive of the South Korean company, announced that their factory in Tennessee is now being built. The initial target is to operate on Feb. 2019 but has been moved to an earlier date.

    The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended tariffs last November to keep LG and domestic rival Samsung Electronics from selling low-priced washers in the U.S. market. That move would benefit American appliance maker Whirlpool Corp.

    South Korea Plans to Ban Crypto Trading

    South Korea is making a bold move that sent bitcoin prices falling and throwing the virtual coin market into chaos. On Thursday, the government said it plans to ban cryptocurrency trading. The country’s police and tax authorities have begun raiding local exchanges on allegations of tax evasion.

  • 10 Jan 2018 4:07 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    Wall Street Set Fresh Record High Again

    As Wall Street heads into corporate earnings season, U.S. equities rose to record highs anew on Tuesday as investor optimism continues to reign. The S&P 500 hit a fresh all-time high to close at 2,751.29 (+0.1%). The index is enjoying its best start to a year since 1987. For 2018, the S&P 500 is up 2.7%, notching its biggest six-day gain to kick off a year since then.

    The Dow Jones jumped 102.80 points to finish the day at 25,385.80. Boeing reached an all-time high, jumping by 2.7% to $318.43. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite stayed above 7,000 as it climbed 0.1% and closed at 7,163.58.

    Oil Prices Remain on Upward Trajectory

    On Tuesday, U.S. crude oil rose to its highest level in more than three years, supported by OPEC-led production cuts and expectations U.S. crude inventories fell for an eighth week. The OPEC, Russia, and other are keeping supply limits in place in 2018. This is the second year of restraint in order to reduce a price-denting glut of oil held in inventories.

    The U.S. crude futures jumped to $63.19 a barrel, the highest level since it hit $63.43 on Dec. 10, 2014. The contract ended the day’s session up $1.23 (2.0%) at $62.96. The international benchmark Brent crude touched $69.08, their highest level since May 2015.

    Increase in U.S. Wages Predicted

    Goldman Sachs is betting that there will be "renewed acceleration" in average hourly earnings growth for American workers in 2018. Chief Economist Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs' European headquarters in London outlined an average hourly earnings growth forecast of 3% for 2018 versus the 2.5% in 2017.

    According to Goldman Sachs, as the U.S. moves beyond full employment, wages could be set to finally increase in 2018. Hatzius added that a 3% growth is a reasonable expectation over the next 18 months, with the probability of a 3.5% top end. Their research note also projects the U.S. unemployment rate to fall to 3.5% by the end of 2018.

    Kodak Rides on Bitcoin Mania

    Shares of Kodak (KODK) surged as much as 125% in trading on Tuesday after the announcing their plans to join the bitcoin bandwagon. The century-old camera brand is moving from cameras to crypto currency and is investing in blockchain technology. The company is intending to launch a "photo-centric cryptocurrency" called KODAKCoin.

    Observers say the move is a picture-perfect example of bitcoin mania. Many firms are riding the wave of investor interest in cryptocurrency. Prices of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, and other digital currencies are skyrocketing lately.

    Toyota & Mazda Plant to Rise in Alabama

    Japanese automakers Toyota Motor and Mazda Motor are expected to announce on Wednesday plans to set up a $1.6 billion assembly plant in Huntsville, Alabama. It’s going to be huge win for U.S. President Donald Trump who made a campaign promise to add manufacturing jobs in the auto industry.

    The plant is projected to generate and employ 4,000 workers and build approximately 300,000 vehicles of Toyota Corollas along with other models.

  • 9 Jan 2018 6:42 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    Intel’s Mobileye Tech to be Used in 2 Million Cars

    Intel Corp. (INTC), through its Chief Executive Brian Krzanich, formally announced on Monday that 2 million vehicles from BMW, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., and Volkswagen AG would begin using its unit Mobileye’s autonomous vehicle technology to crowdsource data for building maps that enable autonomous driving.

    The world’s largest chipmaker bought Israeli firm Mobileye in 2017 to compete with rivals Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) and Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) to gain entry into the fast-growing market of driverless cars. Intel will soon tie up with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd. which will use Mobileye technology to develop cars in China.

    General Motors to Sell Electric Cars

    General Motors Co. (GM) made a bold promise to investors that the company will make money selling electric cars by 2021. Chief Executive Mary Barra personally made the promise on behalf of the Detroit automaker. However, no details were given as to how GM intends to do what no major automaker has done.

    Hershey & Ferrero Make Final Bids for Nestle

    Hershey (HSY) is aiming to solidify its dominant hold on the U.S. chocolate market after beefing up its snacking portfolio with the recent purchase of Amplify. Hershey's made a final bid for Nestle’s U.S. business.

    However, Nutella-maker Ferrero also made a final offer for the same confectionary unit of Nestle. The said business is valued between $2 and $2.5 billion. If Hershey succeeds, it would be the largest acquisition for the iconic chocolate company. But sources say Ferrero has the upper hand because of a better offer.

    Celgene Acquiring Impact Biomedicines for Expansion

    Celgene Corp. (CELG) is on the verge of sealing the deal to acquire privately-held Impact Biomedicines Inc. for $7.0 billion. The U.S. biotech firm is looking to expand its presence in oncology. Its interest is mainly in ‘fedratinib’, a kinase inhibitor that is seen to be a promising potential treatment for blood cancer myelofibrosis.

    According to sources, Celgene will pay $1.1 billion in cash with the balance subject to sales and regulatory milestones. Also, Celgene is under pressure to find another source of revenue as copycat drugs might soon eat up into the sales of its top-selling cancer treatment Revlimid.

    Deal Between China’s Huawei and AT&T Collapses

    China’s Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has global ambitions including selling its smartphones in the United States. Sources disclosed that their planned deal with U.S. carrier AT&T Inc. collapsed at the eleventh hour and thus ending the Chinese firm’s desire to penetrate the U.S market.

  • 8 Jan 2018 6:59 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    World Markets’ Best Start in the New Year

    After Wall Street posted its best start to a year in more than a decade last week, world stock markets hovered close to all-time highs on Monday which is the best start to a year in eight years. The combination of strong global growth and low inflation are somehow powering the appetite for risk.

    European stocks opened higher, approximating their highest levels since August 2015. The Asian markets are performing well too as they inched towards all-time highs. The synchronized global recovery has incited central banks across the world to follow the Federal Reserve’s lead and start moving towards tighter monetary policy.

    New Tax Cuts Seen as a Short-Term Economic Boost

    It is the view of U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers that the tax overhaul of U.S. President Donald Trump is a short-term economic boost. The enacted tax law will neither permanently supercharge the economy nor cause an immediate disruption that would require a central bank response.

    The said policymakers interviewed by Reuters shared a common view that the law would provide some short-term benefit without raising any near-term risks. They foresee the combination of corporate and household tax cuts will increase growth by up to half a percentage point annually for the next couple of years. It can help maintain unemployment rate at near record lows and lead to increased wages.

    Fund Managers to Increase Position in Value Stocks

    Going into the second week of trading, some U.S. growth fund managers are moving out of high-flying technology stocks and shifting their sights on stocks value stocks. These stocks are those they believe as having a more upside potential in a market that gained nearly 20% last year.

    The tag refers to stocks with lower price-to-earnings valuations and therefore reasonably priced. The fund managers expect some risk to the technology sector after the big rallies and sectors that have attractive valuations and higher visibility into their revenue streams are better investment choices at this time.


    Nvidia Forming Triumvirate with Uber & Volkswagen

    U.S. chipmaker Nvidia Corp. is charting new territory as it gains entry into self-driving technology. Nvidia will be partnering with hail-riding firm Uber Technologies Inc. and car maker Volkswagen AG and use their artificial intelligence platforms to make further gains in the autonomous vehicle industry.

    Ford Aims to Edge Rivals with Diesel Version of F-150’s

    Ford Motor Co. (F) is looking to gain a marketing edge over its main rivals by introducing more efficient pickups this spring. Ford will offer a diesel engine version of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck.

    The company’s executives are confident the F-150 diesel model will be welcomed by customers because of fuel efficiency. It features a 10-speed transmission that is capable of achieving 30 miles per gallon highway fuel efficiency. That is a level comparable to some midsize cars. The price tag will be between $2,400 and $4,000, depending on the specific model.

  • 8 Jan 2018 6:32 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)


    The first trading week of the year was a ‘big’ week for U.S. stocks. It saw the biggest weekly gain in a year, with the momentum from last year extending to the start of 2018. There’s no indication of fatigue for the entire holiday-shortened week as the three major U.S. market indices posted new record highs anew.

    The bullish sentiment that drove the market to several records in 2017 was very much at play. On Tuesday, the Nasdaq Composite index closed above 7,000 for the first time ever. Then, the S&P 500 Index rolled past 2,700 on Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped over 25,000 on Thursday. The international markets, buoyed by their strong 2017 performances, also had a great start.

    A healthy labor market boosted Wall Street and helped achieve the latest milestones. Job gains in December (148,000) were below expectations but the three-month average exceeded 200,000, with the unemployment rate still at the 17-year low level of 4.1%. Also, the bull market is being supported by corporate earnings growth, which has been solid in the last nine months, as well astwo consecutive quarters of GDP growth above 3 percent.

    S&P 500 2,743.15 as of 01/05/2018 (+2.60% YTD) Last week’s close: 2,673.61

    The week was the best New Year start for the S&P 500 since 1999. The index made history, closing at a record in each of the first four trading sessions. Actually, the S&P 500 has struggled in the past to achieve major milestones. It first touched 1,000 in 1966 but didn’t close above that mark until November 1972.

    The last time stocks rose for at least four consecutive days to start a new year was in 2010. It was during that period when the S&P 500 finished higher for six days in a row.

    UBS, the global financial services company, released its new 2018 target for S&P 500. Based on the index’s closing value of 2017, they are forecasting S&P 500 to surge by 17.8% to 3,150. That would be the highest on Wall Street.

    Nasdaq Composite Index 7,136.56 as of 01/05/2018 (+3.38% YTD) Last week’s close: 6,903.39

    The Nasdaq Composite Index kicked off the week as technology companies pushed major U.S. stock indexes to fresh records. On January 2, the tech heavy index closed above 7,000 for the first time ever.

    Tech stocks climbed for four days in a row, their longest New-Year winning streak in eight years. The stocks of chipmakers started the rally on the first trading day. The Semiconductor Industry Association reported on Tuesday that November chip sales increased by 21.5% to $37.7 billion. Sales in the Americas rose by 40.2% to $8.77 billion but the largest market was China, with $11.9 billion in sales or an 18.5% increase from November 2016.

    Dow Jones Industrial Average 25,295.87 as of 01/05/2018 (+2.33% YTD) Last week’s close: 24,719.22

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average carved out its own history to start the year. On Thursday, the blue-chip index passed the 25,000 then closed above the mark for the first time at 25,075.13. The Dow logged a 220-point gain on Friday to end the stellar week. 


    Based on Wall Street Journal’s Market Data Group, the 120-year old benchmark hit five psychologically important 1,000-point milestones in 2017. It represents the largest number of such milestones within a calendar year in its history.

    The Dow hit 24,000 on November 30, 2017 then 23 sessions after, hit 25,000, on Thursday and closed above the 25,000 level. That is the fastest 1,000-point advance recorded — by one trading session. The Dow notched 71 record closes last year that topped the 69 record closes that happened over 1995.

    March 2017 - rally from 20,000 to 21,000 happened over 24 trading sessions, the second-fastest 1,000-point advance to a milestone level (the first 24-session rally was from 10,000 to 11,000 in early 1999).


    January 2017 - rally from 19,000 to 20,000 happened over 42 trading sessions, the third-fastest such advance (since the 59-session span between 13,000 and 14,000 from late March to early July 2007.

    The first trading week of 2018 saw the best out-of-the-gate performance of the U.S. stock market in more than 50 years. For the week, the Nasdaq is up 3.4%, the S&P 500 gained 2.6%, and the Dow Jones rose 2.3%. To recap, the Dow notched the biggest weekly gain since the period ended Dec. 1, 2017, the S&P 500 recorded its best weekly rise since Nov. 11, 2016, and the Nasdaq logged its best climb over the same period since Dec. 9., 2016.

    The gains over the week may be attributed to the recently passed corporate tax-cut package, rising commodity prices, and robust corporate earnings. Other contributing factors that analysts cited are the solid economic data and low bond yields.

    On the matter of interest rates, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker on Friday said he thinks there will only be two interest rate hikes this year. However, Loretta Mester, Fed President of Cleveland, foresees three or four rate increases in 2018 due to the strong jobs report which is basically at maximum employment from the view of monetary policy.

    Retail Trade Sector - Closing Shops in 2018

    The rise of e-commerce outlets, particularly Inc. (AMZN) has greatly impacted on the retail trade sector. Last year was the worst for the industry as it was struck by an unprecedented wave of store closures and bankruptcies. 

    In 2017, a record setting 9,000 store locations across multiple national chains closed down. The wave could intensify in 2018 and some of the United States’ most prominent names would be included in the list due to sagging sales.

    More brick-and-mortar retailers face bankruptcies and store closures in the distressed sector. A prominent commercial real estate firm, Cushman & Wakefield, estimated that the number could increase by 33% in 2018.

    Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD)

    On Thursday, Sears Holdings Corp., the parent company of Sears and Kmart, formally announced that that they will be closing 64 Kmart stores and 39 Sears due to weaker in-store sales.

    According to the company’s statement, they will continue to right size their footprint in number and size. Sears will continue to shut down unprofitable stores. On January 12, liquidation sales at the affected locations will begin and a total of 103 stores will be out of business by May.

    Most of the stores are on the East Coast and Midwest. Areas such as Indiana, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia will be losing Kmart stores. Sears stores in Boca Raton, Houston, San Jose and other cities are slated for closing too.

    Macy’s Inc. (M)

    Earlier on Wednesday, Macy's announced that it is closing 11 more stores this year as part of a 2016 downsizing plan. The target is to close 100 stores over several years. The total number of closed stores would reach 81 with the remaining 19 having no definite schedule yet.

    Macy’s expects annual expense savings in fiscal 2018 of $300 million from the store closures and workforce reductions. Mall-based stores and “big box” stores were hardest hit by the retail apocalypse. According to real estate firm CoStar, Macy’s and Sears accounted for 43% of closed down retail space in 2017.

    Cushman & Wakefield estimates that about 25 major retailers could declare bankruptcy. Gap Inc., Gymboree, Rue21, and Walgreens are some of the few major companies closing stores in 2018. Based on the projections by the S&P Global Market Intelligence, the more prominent retailers that might file for bankruptcy are Bebe, Bon-Ton Stores, and Stein Mart.

    Retail bankruptcies reached a six-year high in 2017 due to declining foot traffic at stores and the consumer shift to e-commerce. Some 50 retailers filed for bankruptcy, including Toys R Us, RadioShack and Payless. That was the highest total since 2011, near the end of the Great Recession.

    Biotech Sector - Mergers & Partnership 

    The biotech sector had an auspicious start for the New Year with a couple of mergers and partnership announcements. More are forthcoming including ‘fresh’ discoveries and FDA approvals. Here are just three icebreakers for the first trading week of 2018.

    Denali Therapeutics Inc. (DNLI) 

    Denali Therapeutics Inc. got a boost on Friday on news that the company has struck a $150 million partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. on up to three therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. 

    With the agreement, Denali becomes eligible for up to $90 million in other payments, and the companies will split global profits equally. Denali will be responsible for development activities and related costs. Takeda will have the option to co-develop and co-commercialize the three therapies. The two companies will work together on clinical development and split the costs.

    The agreement also calls for Denali and Takeda to jointly commercialize the therapies in the U.S. and China. Takeda will be taking on the commercial activities exclusively in all other markets. Denali is a biotech company that is focused on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

    Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (RCKT)

    Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was listed on the Nasdaq Global Market and began trading on January 5 under the ticker symbol RCKT. Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Ltd., a leading U.S.-based multi-platform gene therapy company addressing challenging rare diseases, announced the completion of its merger with Inotek Pharmaceuticals Corporation on Tuesday. 

    After the merger, the combined company was named Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. or “Rocket.” The firm will focus on advancing a pipeline of gene therapy programs targeting rare and undertreated diseases. The New York-based biotech company is headed by President and Chief Executive Officer Gaurav Shah, M.D., who previously was a Global Program Head in the Cell & Gene Therapies Unit at Novartis.

    Monster Digital Inc. (MSDI)

    On January 4, Monster Digital Inc. announced the extension of Outside Closing Date for its ‘reverse’ merger with Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. The transaction was originally set on January 3 but the preparations are taking longer.  The two companies agreed to amend the merger agreement to provide the outside termination date and move the merger schedule to January 26, 2018. 

    Once the merger is completed, Innovate will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Monster Digital, Inc. The parent of the surviving company will be renamed "Innovate Biopharmaceuticals, Inc." Stockholders of Innovate will own substantial majority shares of the combined company after the transaction. The common stock shares of the combined company will trade under the symbol INNT.

    Marijuana-Affiliated Sector - Good Start, Chilling Ending

    Weed Stocks Soar After California Legalizes Marijuana 

    According to Marijuana International Corporation, the largest marijuana-associated firms by market capitalization added about $1.7 billion in value on Tuesday, bringing the total to over $19 billion. Effective January 1, 2018, selling pot for recreational purposes for people 21 or older is now legal in California. They are also allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

    Canadian firm MedReleaf (MEDFF) climbed 27%, Vancouver-based Aurora Cannabis Inc. (ACBFF) jumped 24%, Canada-based Canopy Growth Corp. (TWMJF) rose 9%, Ontario-based Aphria Inc. (APHQF) grew 8%, and another Canadian company Canntrust Holdings Corp. (CNTTF) increased 5%.

    While many states, including California, have decriminalized or legalized marijuana use, the drug is still illegal under federal law. That creates a conflict between federal and state law.

    U.S. Attorney General Moves in versus the Industry

    The marijuana industry seems to be headed for an upswing after January 1 but was stifled. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quashed the trio of memos from the previous administration that adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws. 

    With the Attorney General’s action, federal prosecutors can now have a serious hand in how possession and distribution is regulated in states where marijuana is legal. The news sent the weed stocks tumbling and investors are left wondering what might happen to an industry that took in $8 billion in sales last year and is expected to grow to $23 billion nationally by 2020. Job creation is also foreseen to reach 280,000.

    Sessions is known to be against the legalization of marijuana, saying its use is dangerous. His January 4 announcement is a major decision. It essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the Obama administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution, and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal. 

    In a written statement, Sessions called the shift a "return to the rule of law" but stopped short of explicitly directing more prosecutions, resources or other efforts to take down the weed industry as a whole.

    "In deciding which marijuana activities to prosecute under these laws with the department's finite resources, prosecutors should follow the well-established principles that govern all federal prosecutions," Sessions said in a memo to all federal prosecutors. "These principles require federal prosecutors deciding which cases to prosecute to weigh all relevant considerations of the crime, the deterrent effect of criminal prosecution, and the cumulative impact of particular crimes on the community."

    Chris Walsh, vice president and analyst for Marijuana Business Daily criticized Sessions’ action, comparing the move to a "stink bomb." "We'll just see what the fallout is, but I don't think it's going to be a significant impact beyond a chilling effect," said Walsh. "You're not going to dismantle this industry. It's too late for that. You're not going to put that genie back in the bottle."


    The highly-anticipated fourth quarter earnings period will get underway beginning next week. Job openings data will be presented on Tuesday while the December inflation and retail sales reports will be released on Friday.

    The first earnings report will be Lennar (LEN) on Wednesday followed by Delta Airlines (DAL) on Thursday. The pace is expected to pick up on Friday when companies from the financial sector unofficially kicks off the earnings season. JP Morgan (JPM), BlackRock (BLK), PNC Financial (PNC), and Wells Fargo (WFC) will be on tap.

  • 5 Jan 2018 4:58 AM | Jocelyn dela Dingco (Administrator)

    Dow Jones Passes 25,000 for the First Time

    With just three trading sessions into the New Year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average zoomed past the 25,000 milestone for the first time on Thursday. This latest milestone by the blue-chip index highlights the momentum behind equities at the start of 2018. The strong December job gains in the private sector and bullish business data outside the U.S. helped propel the 30-company index to close at 25,075.13.

    It was only last November 30, 2017 that the index first reached 24,000 mark and less than a year ago when the Dow soared above 20,000. The S&P 500 likewise closed at a record high of 2,723.99 while the Nasdaq Composite continued its advance as it posted an all-time high of 7,077.91. Clearly, Wall Street’s hot streak last year is carrying over to the start of this year.

    E-Sports Market is Google’s New Inroad in China

    Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) will be investing $120 million in live-stream mobile game platform Chushou as the U.S. firm eyes new inroads into China’s market where its search engine is blocked. The two companies made the announcement on Friday.

    Chushou is an online e-sports platform where users can live stream their mobile phone games. Currently, the service has an estimated 8 million streamers, 250,000 live streams daily, and the industry is growing. Google’s entry will help the Chinese firm expand its services to reach more overseas viewers. Live stream gaming platforms are popular forms of e-sports in China.

    Toshiba Unloads Westinghouse for $4.6 Billion

    Japanese conglomerate Toshiba is selling its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse for $4.6 billion to Canadian investment firm Brookfield Business Partners. The decision to unload Westinghouse is welcome news for creditors since the collapse of the beleaguered unit cost Toshiba some $6.4 billion, putting its financial future in peril.

    Toshiba has been offloading major assets in order to keep afloat, including selling control of its memory chip business to investor groups that includes Apple Inc. (AAPL). Shares of Toshiba in Tokyo rose by about 2% following the announcement of the Westinghouse deal.

    Beachwear Brand Rivals to Merge

    Two of the world's best known beachwear brands have decided to end their rivalry and instead surf together. Billabong (BLLAF) will be acquired by the owner of its rival brand Quicksilver for $380 million including debt. The companies formally announced the acquisition on Friday.

    The deal brings together two sportswear brands that originated in Australia more than 40 years ago. They were successful in selling clothing worldwide using the surf culture. However, because of sinking sales and profits, banding together is inevitable.

    Oaktree Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, bailed out Quicksilver when it filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Now, the firm is adding Billabong to its list of acquisition.

    LG to Display Robots that could Replace Human Workers

    Tech giant LG Electronics of South Korea said Thursday it will showcase three new "concept robots" next week in Las Vegas at the consumer electronics show. According to a McKinsey report released in November, up to 800 million workers could be affected globally by automation and the rise of artificial intelligence

    Tech companies are already testing robots to carry out various human tasks in the services industry. Based on data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), the said industry employs nearly 50% of the global workforce.

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