February 27, 2018 Market Outlook

Tech Shares Lead Broad Rally as U.S. Stocks Close Higher

For the third straight session, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 rose on Monday in a broad-based rally led by technology shares. The blue-chip index surged 399.28 points, the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 84.07 points, and the S&P 500 went up by 32.30 points.

The day saw 10 of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors advance, led by the strong gains in the tech and telecommunications sectors. The data from the WSJ Market Data Group shows that the Dow is now 3.4% away its all-time high on January 26 while the S&P 500 is just 3.3% shy of their record set on the same day. The Nasdaq Composite is a mere 1.2% short of its late-January peak.

New Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the first of two sessions of questioning by U.S. lawmakers. Investors are eagerly awaiting the number of interest rate hikes the Feds plan to implement in 2018.

U.S. to Become the World’s Biggest Oil Producer

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday that the United States is poised overtake Russia and become the world’s biggest oil producer by 2019 at the latest. The continuing strong pace of shale oil growth is upending global markets.

Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, spoke at an event in Tokyo telling the audience that the U. S. would soon overtake Russia as the biggest crude oil producer. The director added that if it does not happen this year, it will definitely happen in 2019.

U.S. crude oil output C-OUT-T-EIA climbed above 10 million barrels per day (bpd) in late 2017 for the first time since the 1970s. The volume overtook the top oil exporter Saudi Arabia PRODN-SA.

SC to Hear Microsoft & DOJ Arguments on Privacy Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday will weigh in on the privacy rights battle between the Department of Justice and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT). The legal tussle focuses on whether U.S. law allows prosecutors to compel technology companies to hand over data stored overseas.

Nine SC justices will be in attendance to hear arguments in a case that pits the interests of tech companies and privacy advocates in safeguarding customer data versus the law enforcement demands in obtaining information vital to criminal and counter-terrorism investigations.

The case stemmed from a warrant obtained by prosecutors in 2013 for emails of a suspect in a drug trafficking investigation that were stored in Microsoft computer servers in Dublin. The company challenged whether a local warrant covered data stored abroad. The DOJ argued that because Microsoft is a U.S.-based company, , prosecutors were entitled to the data. The promulgation of the ruling is expected by the end of June.

Comcast Makes Cash Offer to Buy UK’s Sky Group

U.S. media giant Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) announced Tuesday their proposed cash offer to buy the U.K.-based broadcasting group Sky for $31billion (22.1 billion pounds). Comcast, owner of NBC and Universal Pictures, is offering 12.50 pounds per share.

Rupert Murdock’s 21st Century Fox (FOX) had already agreed on a deal to buy 61% of Sky although the offer translates to a lower 10.75 pounds per share.

Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation, said  they think Sky is an outstanding company with a strong and capable management team. It has solid support of 23 million customers and holds leading positions in Germany, Italy, and the U.K.

Roberts sees Sky as a consistent innovator in its use of technology to deliver a fantastic viewing experience. The group has a good record of investment in news and programming.

First MJ Stock Begins Trading on U.S. Stock Exchange

The Cronos Group, a major Canadian licensed weed producer, is this first marijuana company to be listed on a U.S. stock exchange. The company has obtained approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to begin trading on the NASDAQ on Tuesday, February 27.

The symbol of the Toronto-based company, which is already listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, will be ‘Cron.’

Marijuana is still federally illegal in the United States but because Cronos is a licensed Canadian business producing weed, the company is technically not prohibited from trading on U.S. stock exchanges. Recreational marijuana will be legalized in Canada this summer.

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