December 27, 2017 Market Outlook

Apple Faces Class-Action Lawsuits

Apple Inc. (AAPL) faces 8 lawsuits in various federal courts that claim iPhone users were defrauded by way of slowing devices without warning to compensate for poor battery performance. The complaints added that because of the tweak, many iPhone owners were misguided in attempting to resolve the issues over the last year.

The lawsuits, all seeking class-action, were filed in U.S. District Courts in California, New York and Illinois. They are representing potentially millions of iPhone owners nationwide.

For the first time, Apple acknowledged last week that the operating system updates released since last year for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone SE and iPhone 7 included a feature “to smooth out” power supply from batteries that are cold, old or low on charge. Phones without the adjustment would shut down abruptly because of a precaution designed to prevent components from getting fried, Apple said.

The admission came following Primate Labs’ analysis last Dec. 18 that a software change had to be the reason why there are blips in the iPhone’s processing speed. Primate Labs is the firm that develops the iPhone performance measuring app.

Amazon Celebrates Biggest Holiday Season Ever

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) is again expected to grab the lion’s share,  or more than 50%, of new holiday online sales in 2017. The e-commerce giant said that customers were shopping on its website at “record levels” throughout the months of November and December. Over the course of one week, more than 4 million customers were added to Amazon’s Prime or started a free trial. This sent the membership count to new highs.

Although no specific membership total was provided, Amazon is already boasting about a successful holiday season, calling this year as the “biggest” ever. Amazon devices, led by Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick, also logged their best holiday.

Retailers’ Stocks Climb

MasterCard Inc. (MA) reported that shoppers spent over $800 billion during this season. As a result, the share prices of U.S. department stores jumped on Tuesday. Sarah Quinlan, head of market insights for Mastercard Advisors, reported the sales figures. The surprising numbers were boosted by growing consumer confidence, rising employment and early discounts.

Most U.S. retail stocks have tumbled this year as they continued to lose sales to online stores, mainly to Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN). On Tuesday, shares in J.C. Penney Co Inc. (JCP) rose by 7.6%, Kohl’s Corp. (KSS) shares were up 5.8%, Macy’s Inc. (M) rose 5.1% and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) increased by 2.8%. There was a late rally in online sales during the holiday season as sales rose by 18.1%.

FedEx and UPS Welcome Returned Gifts

According to Optoro, a firm  specializing in return shipments, gift recipients will return an estimated $90 billion worth of goods this holiday season. For FedEx (FDX) and United Parcel Service (UPS), those returns are pleasant gifts. Both companies stand to gain as consumers send items back to retailers and other vendors in droves.

That sum total of returns is close to a quarter of the total value of goods returned annually and this amount has been growing steadily as consumers shift their shopping online. Both FedEx and UPS have been trying to capture a bigger share of the returns business. However, returns are a major challenge to retailers who are facing costly return rates as e-commerce grows.

Tesla to Build Pick-Up Trucks

Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk disclosed on Tuesday plans to build pick-up trucks after the Model Y, a crossover SUV. Musk took to Twitter to inquire from his 17.1 million followers how the electric car and power company can further improve.

Many talked about the various software upgrades but one Twitter user in particular asked for an electric pickup truck. Musk answered by saying that type of vehicle is on the way. Musk said that he’d been thinking about the design elements for almost five years now.

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