Market Outlook – August 30, 2018

U.S. Benchmarks Keep Posting New Highs

 

For a fourth straight session, the S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq Composite Index closed at a new record high on Wednesday while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at its highest since February.

The Dow Jones climbed 60.55 points (+0.23%) to 26,124.57 and the blue-chip index is just 1.9% off its record close set on January 26. The S&P 500 gained 16.52 points (+0.57%) to 2,914.04 while the Nasdaq advanced 79.65 points (+0.99%) to 8,109.69.

The easing tensions on trade policy between the U.S. and other major countries have been fueling the gains at Wall Street since the start of this week. Another boost to the market is the update to the second-quarter gross domestic product. The GDP growth rate of 4.2% is the fastest pace of expansion in almost 4 years.

New NAFTA Seen This Week

 

Canada rejoined the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks after the United States and Mexico announced a bilateral deal on Monday. The three countries have been negotiating for months to come up with a modernized version of the 24-year-old agreement.

On Wednesday, senior officials from Canada and the U.S. expressed optimism that they could reach a new NAFTA deal to meet Friday’s deadline. But Canada warned that a number of tricky issues remain unresolved.

No Deals with China in U.S. Soy Exporters Conference

 

The U.S. Soybean Export Council’s (USSEC) annual Global Trade Exchange Conference in Kansas City concluded on Wednesday without any known deal sealed with Chinese buyers. A delegation of Chinese soybean importers attended the conference.

In previous years, deals worth billions of dollars of the main U.S. cash crop have been signed over to China. But the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute has affected the bilateral trade of soybeans.

U.S. farmers are concerned that the demand for soy will fall short during their primary shipping season this autumn. They are expecting to harvest a record-large crop this year. Deals with other countries including Mexico were inked but the volumes pales in comparison to the past deals with China.

The top Chinese importer bought more than $12 billion in U.S. soybeans in 2017. That accounts for 60% of U.S. soybean exports. The orders dried up since Beijing imposed a 25% tariff on all U.S. shipments last July 6.

Senate Wants Tech CEOs or COOs to Attend Hearing

 

The Senate Intelligence Committee sent out invitations to Alphabet Inc. (GGOGL), Facebook Inc. (FB), and Twitter Inc. (TWTR) to a hearing next Wednesday. The tech giants will be asked about their roles in “protecting elections from misinformation and disinformation.”

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have agreed to attend. Google parent Alphabet offered to send its senior vice president of Global Affairs Kent Walker.

But a committee spokesperson told CNN that senators say Walker isn’t senior enough. “The purpose of this hearing is to hear from senior leadership making the decisions, not those operationalizing them.”

Senator Mark Warner said last week. “I want to see the equivalent of the CEO or COO. … To me this will be an indication of how important they think this issue is. And if they don’t, we have other tools.” The senators have threatened to place an empty chair in place of Google.

Apple Buys Startup Lens Maker

 

Apple Inc. (AAPL) has confirmed on Wednesday their acquisition of Akonia Holographics. The Longmont, Colorado-based company is a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses.

The purchase is an indication that the tech giant has plans to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world.

But in statement, the iPhone maker said, “Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans.” Akonia was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists.

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