Market Outlook – August 29, 2018

S&P 500 and Nasdaq Post Records Anew


With consumer confidence rising, the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index finished at records for a third consecutive session on Tuesday. The broader S&P 500 added 0.78 points (+0.03%) to end at 2,897.52. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy benchmark gained 12.14 points (+0.15%) to register a new high of 8,030.04. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.38 points (+0.06%) to 26,064.02 and is off its record high by only 2.1%.

The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index climbed to 133.4 in August to hit a nearly 18-year high. It’s the highest level since October 2000. A survey of economists conducted by Reuters predicted the reading to be 126.7 which is lower than July’s 127.4 result.

Optimism is increasing among consumers and the index also showed that 24.3% of them are expecting business conditions to be better over the next 6 months.

Morgan Stanley Sees No Major Hit on China


Robin Xing, the chief China economist at Morgan Stanley said, “We are not expecting any major growth correction because we think the potential impact from trade tariffs will be partially cushioned by the policy easing measures taken by the policy makers.”

China will continue to implement measures in order to cushion its economy from the impact of the ongoing trade dispute with the United States. The leading China economist spoke with CNBC on Wednesday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Beijing.

Requests for Tariff Exemption Flood U.S. Commerce Dept.


The U.S. Commerce Department has received more than 37,000 tariff exemption requests which the assigned small staff is finding difficult to handle. Of the total exemption requests, only 2,871 have been acted upon.

But some energy companies are complaining why their requests from steel tariff exemptions were denied. The department has granted a tariff exemption to Chevron for its importation of 4.5-inch Japanese steel tubes for oil exploration.

However, a similar request from Borusan Mannesmann Pipe to exclude 4.5-inch steel pipes imported from Turkey for casing used to line new oil wells was rejected. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, several U.S. steelmakers objected to Borusan’s application. The steelmakers are arguing they could supply the product. The application of Chevron drew no such objections.

Fight to Sell Campbell Soup Looms


The family that controls Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) and activist investor Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC seems to be heading into a collision course this week. New hedge fund investors are pushing for the canned-food giant to sell to a strategic buyer. Industry analysts see a potential proxy fight developing since the board of directors are against the idea.

The company will be reporting the results of a three-month board review of future directions on Thursday. However, there is no indication that the company will be up for sale. If a sale recommendation is not included, Loeb could exert pressure and nominate a set of directors within the next few weeks. Voting could take place later this year during Campbell’s annual meeting.

Lately, Campbell Soup has been struggling with declining profits and is looking for ways to improve its financial performance. Former CEO Denise Morrison resigned last May due to poor quarterly results.

Google Top Executive Joins JPMorgan


JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) just showed how serious they are about artificial intelligence. Apoorv Saxena, a Google executive in charge of cloud-based AI products, will be joining the bank later this week. Saxena will be JPM’s head of artificial intelligence and machine learning services.

According to CNNMoney, an internal memo also tasks the former top executive of Google to be in charge of the asset and wealth management artificial intelligence technology.

Wall Street banks are also in a race to deploy AI. They will eventually use AI for services from fraud detection to loan approval. Another objective is to have more efficient internal operations.

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