Market Outlook – October 2, 2018

U.S. Stocks Close Higher on NAFTA Breakthrough


U.S. stocks had a good fourth quarter start on Monday, closing mostly higher due to the unexpected breakthrough in the NAFTA talks.  The U.S. and Canada reached a deal to come up with a reworked North American Free Trade Agreement. This positive development helped lessen some of the concerns surrounding trade that are causing market jitters over the past several months.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose triple digits, advancing 192.90 points (+0.73%) to 26,651.21 while the S&P 500 Index gained 10.61 points (+0.36%) to 2,924.59. But the Nasdaq Composite Index had a reversed direction to shed 9.05 points (-0.11%) and close at 8,037.30.

About four days ago, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress the slim chances of forging a deal in time for the U.S.-imposed deadline. United States President Donald Trump called the deal “truly historic.”

GE Shares Jump with Surprise CEO Change


General Electric Co. (GE) made a surprise move on Monday with a leadership change. The U.S. conglomerate ousted CEO John Flannery and appointed an outsider to take the helm.  Board member Larry Culp was named as the replacement.

The new CEO said that GE would need roughly a $23 billion charge to write off goodwill in its power division, primarily from a large 2015 acquisition. The struggling conglomerate also said it would not meet its forecast for free cash flow and earnings per share for 2018. They cite the weakness in its power business which analysts had already expected.

GE shares jumped +7.09% to finish at $12.09 as investors see Culp as the person who could re-energize the GE brand and quickly transform its portfolio. GE Power’s skidding profits in 2017 forced the company to slash its overall profit outlook. They also cut its dividend for only the second time since the Great Depression.

Facebook Veteran is New Instagram Chief


Facebook Inc. (FB)-owned Instagram announced on Monday that effective immediately, Adam Mosseri will head the company.  The new appointee joined Facebook in 2008 and held various positions. He was News Feed and Design Director for Facebook’s mobile apps. Only recently, Mosseri was Instagram’s VP of product.

Resigned top executives and IG co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger welcomed the news. The two said, “We are thrilled to hand over the reins to a product leader with a strong design background and a focus on craft and simplicity — as well as a deep understanding of the importance of community.”

As Instagram chief, Mosseri will oversee “all functions of the business.” He will also hire a new executive team to head engineering, product and operations.

Partnership with Google Lifts Ubisoft Shares


The shares Ubisoft are sizzling on Tuesday in Paris and outperforming weaker European markets. The announcement that Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) Google will partner with the French video games maker to test its video game streaming service lifted the stock.

Google said late on Monday that it would team up with Ubisoft. The two will test its video game streaming service by offering the latest installment of the Assassin’s Creed series. Ubisoft shares are up by around 50% so far in 2018. The stock hit a record high of 107.90 euros in July versus its current trading price of 98.48 euros.

Netflix is Rushing Interactive TV Project


Bloomberg reported on Monday that Netflix Inc. (NFLX) is pushing further into interactive TV. The streaming giant will allow subscribers and users alike to choose how a TV episode or movie will end

The report said the California-based company is developing specials that will let its users decide the next storyline. Netflix had earlier released the animated program “Puss in Book” where viewers could choose alternate endings of the same show.

The first project of the new lineup is likely to be released by the end of 2018. The “Black Mirror, Netflix’s popular science-fiction show, will feature an episode under this interactive-TV project.

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