Market reports

  • Daimler faces an investigation of 40,000 diesel Vito vans and 80,000 C-Class model cars for possible illicit software that allowed the vehicles to emit excess pollution without detection, Bild am Sonntag reported, citing no sources. Daimler has submitted a software update for the engines for regulatory approval, the German weekly paper said on Sunday.
  • A return to the oil production levels that were in place in October 2016, baseline for the current deal to cut output, is one of the options for easing curbs, Russia's energy minister said on Saturday.
  • So far, the month of May is turning out to be a solid, if not turbulent, period for stock-market investors, but there's plenty of cause for caution. Indeed, the S&P 500 index is staged for the best May performance in nine years, boasting a month-to-date return of 2.8% thus far, while the Dow Jones Industrial also headed for the best May since 2009, according to FactSet data. Back in 2009, the Dow booked a 4.1% return for May as the S&P 500 returned 5.3% that month.
  • Italy's likely new coalition government is spooking investors with its controversial spending plans and underlying euroskepticism. But prospects for a return of the darkest days of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis seem low, say economists at Commerzbank, and that's thanks in large part to the actions already undertaken by the European Central Bank. But the ECB, led by former Bank of Italy chief Mario Draghi, can't paper over the cracks in the euro indefinitely.
  • Mexican miner and infrastructure firm Grupo Mexico on Friday said in a statement that seven freight train derailments were due to "sabotage" and would cost the company 312 million pesos. The incidents happened since April between the key commercial port of Veracruz and central Mexico.
  • Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said the diesel emissions affair was not over and promised to stay at the helm of the German luxury car maker, a German newspaper reported on Saturday. Stadler also told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that he did not rule out further vehicle recalls.
  • As Japan gears up to host the Rugby World Cup and Olympic Games in consecutive years, many businesses are seizing on the opportunity to capitalize on the influx of tourists, media and athletes for both big events.
  • A South Carolina jury on Friday could not agree on a verdict in a case of a woman whose family said her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder led to her death from asbestos-related cancer, resulting in a mistrial.
  • Home-builder stocks have taken a beating so far this year, but market participants say there could be more near-term pain ahead for the group because benchmark government bond yields have ratcheted higher, lifting borrowing costs for prospective homeowners. "Rising interest rates prompted a lot of investors to sell these stocks, because they believe higher rates will dent demand for housing," said Diane Jaffee, senior portfolio manager at TCW. The S&P 500 home-building index,...
  • - The consumer staples index , the S&P 500's biggest laggard for 2018, could have further to fall and may even look less appealing as a defensive play in the event the economy turns sour.
  • By Mark DeCambre, MarketWatch, Anneken Tappe. ICE dollar index on track for 2.6% monthly gain in May. The U.S. dollar strengthened against most of its main rivals Friday in New York, as a popular gauge of the currency hit a fresh 2018 high, and as traders digested a week in which the Federal Reserve signaled that it may adopt a more measured approach to hiking interest rates even if inflation runs ahead of its 2% annual target.
  • The rules of the game are changing in the oil market. Prices fell to their lowest in three weeks after reports that the agreement to curtail output by 1.8 million barrels a day between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member Russia was likely to end as soon as next month. It wasn't set to expire until the end of this year.
  • Crude-oil prices plunged Friday midday, putting the commodity on the brink of sliding below a closely followed trend line, with oil futures taking a beating on news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia are considering lifting production caps. Most recently, June oil futures were recently down 4.3% at $67.67 a barrel, just above its 50- day moving average at $67.54, according to FactSet data. Market technicians sometimes use moving averages as a...
  • By Myra P. Saefong and Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch. WTI crude logs lowest finish in over three weeks. Oil prices plunged on Friday to finish at their lowest levels in weeks, as reports said OPEC and Russia are considering lifting production by as much as 1 million barrels a day to meet the shortfall in supply from Iran and Venezuela.
  • Actively managed funds remain sharply out of favor in 2018, as investors continue their decadelong move to low-fee passive products, but for the moment, that exodus is occurring against a backdrop of stronger-than-usual performance. According to data from Goldman Sachs, 56% of large-cap mutual funds have outperformed their benchmark so far this year, putting them on track for their best year of relative performance since 2007, and extending a recent period of modest...
  • Dovish Fed minutes and uncertainty over Italy's new government drove demand for Treasurys. Treasury prices rose on Friday, pushing yields lower, as lingering concerns over the composition of the new Italian government helped stoke appetite for U.S. government paper and other haven assets. Overall, Treasurys rallied for the week following a dovish set of minutes from the Federal Reserve that saw investors cut back their expectations for a more aggressive rate increase...
  • The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp back in business, a senior congressional aide said on Friday.
  • 90% of Italy's high-grade corporate bonds now earn a lower yield than government debt. After this week's selloff in Italian sovereign debt, 90% of the country's high-grade corporate bonds now earn a lower yield than government paper, according to an analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In other words, investors appear to view Italian corporate bonds as less risky than their government peers.
  • Tesla Inc (TSLA.NaE) has flown six planes full of robots and equipment from Europe to California in an unusual, high-stakes effort to speed up battery production for its Model 3 electric sedan, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week.
  • Analysts and Pershing Square's Bill Ackman are bullish about Lowe's (LOW.NaE) new CEO, Marvin Ellison. Inc. needs to do a better job of showing how it's different from Home Depot Inc. if it wants to move out of its competitor's shadow and grow, analysts say. Lowe's (LOW.NaE) lags behind in the home repair space because it's an "impulse destination" rather than one used for planning home improvement projects like Home Depot, according to GlobalData Retail.
  • By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch, Rachel Koning Beals. Metals finish broadly higher for the week. Gold finished modestly lower Friday, pressured by strength in the U.S. dollar, but prices held just above the key$ 1,300- an-ounce level to score a gain for the week.
  • Rising hash rate gives hope to bitcoin bulls, says analyst. Most major digital coins traded lower Friday in New York, extending what has been a withering stretch that has erased some $60 billion off total market value for cryptocurrencies since Monday morning. Bitcoin, the worlds biggest cryptocurrency, is trading below $8,000 Friday, as the regulatory uncertainty is keeping buyers on the sidelines.
  • The FBI warned on Friday that Russian computer hackers had compromised hundreds of thousands of home and office routers and could collect user information or shut down network traffic. The U.S. law enforcement agency urged the owners of many brands of routers to turn them off and on again and download updates from the manufacturer to protect themselves.
  • French battery maker Saft, a unit of oil and gas major Total said on Friday it plans to invest over 200 million euros in a next generation European battery alliance project. Saft formed the alliance with European partners Siemens, Solvay and Manz in February to research, develop and build a new generation solid-state battery to compete with Asian and U.S. manufacturers.
  • The Trump administration told lawmakers the U.S. government has reached a deal to put Chinese telecommunications company ZTE Corp (ZTCOF.NaE) back in business, a senior congressional aide said on Friday.
  • Both mutual funds and hedge funds increased their exposure in the first quarter. Investors warmed up to a sector of the U.S. stock market that struggled for years before showing signs of life over the past couple of months. Both hedge funds and actively managed mutual funds heavily increased their exposure to energy stocks in the first quarter, according to reports from Goldman Sachs, each of which looked at a different category of investor.
  • Average unleaded price at $2.98 Friday, says GasBuddy. The plunge in oil prices this week won't be enough to save drivers from paying $3 a gallon as soon as this Memorial Day weekend. As of Friday morning, regular unleaded gasoline prices averaged $2.981 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.
  • Spanish stocks tumble after calls for vote of no confidence in PM. European stocks ended a choppy session marginally higher on Friday as traders weighed up a brewing political crisis in Spain against better-than-expected sentiment data from Germany and measured comments from North Korea. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.1% to close at 391.08, trimming its weekly loss to 0.9% The weekly loss breaks the benchmark's eight-week winning run, which marked its longest stretch...
  • GDP data confirm economy is growing at slowest in 5 years. U.K. stocks broke a two-day skid as a selloff in the pound resumed on signs that Brexit discussions between Brussels and London may be harsher than previously expected. A selloff for energy companies, however, capped gains after reports OPEC and Russia are discussing plans to boost production.
  • The FBI warned on Friday that foreign cyber criminals had compromised "hundreds of thousands" of home and small office router devices around the world which direct traffic on the internet by forwarding data packets between computer networks.
  • Food giant Nestle plans to combine its scientific research operations into a single unit in an attempt to speed up development of new products at a time when competition from smaller rivals is intensifying. The world's biggest packaged food maker, with brands including Nescafe coffee and Perrier water, has been struggling with slowing sales growth for years.
  • The currency's downward spiral could lead to a surprise outcome in June: SociA©tA© GA©nA©rale. Turkey is on the verge of a currency crisis that could pose a threat to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's re-election bid, and he may have himself partly to blame. The Turkish lira is down around 24% against the U.S. dollar this year, and has dropped some 16% since the beginning of May, according to FactSet data.
  • Trading is particularly fraught in midterm years. The month of May is set to be a positive one for the U.S. stock market, bucking a seasonal tendency for weakness and potentially giving historically minded investors reason for optimism since June usually isn't a good time for stocks either. According to the Stock Trader's Almanac, June ranks among the worst months of the year for major indexes.
  • There are big, allowable differences in how companies report pay for CEOs and employees. The new requirement for companies to report how much more their CEOs made than the typical employee may have produced some "oohs" and "aahs," but that's about it. If there is anything to glean from all the pay ratio disclosures, it's that there needs to be more consistency in how they are calculated and reported before they can be useful to investors.
  • U.S. stocks are not far from record levels, but the resurgence of volatility in 2018-- along with indexes that have been stubbornly range-bound for months-- has pushed investors to cut their holdings of assets seen as riskier. While there are categories of market participants that remain overweighted toward the U.S. stock market, notably hedge funds, the general trend has been a modest paring down of exposure, though in some cases it remains above average levels.
  • Critical information for the U.S. trading day. The Dow just might saunter to a weekly win, as joy over Memorial Day weekend apparently overcomes any jitters over North Korea or Europe's latest regulatory maneuver. Count JonesTrading's Michael O'Rourke among the strategists marveling at the stock market's resilience.
  • Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Friday he saw a 40-percent chance of concluding the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement before Mexico's presidential election on July 1. "I think there's a 40 percent probability of being able to conclude it before," he told Mexican television.
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU.NaE) is recalling more than 5.3 million vehicles in North America over a defect that could prevent drivers from deactivating cruise control, the company said on Friday, warning owners not to use the function until they get software upgrades.
  • The S&P 500 and the Dow eased on Friday after a steep drop in oil prices pressured energy stocks, but losses were limited by gains in chipmakers and retail stocks. U.S. crude tumbled 4 percent to settle at $67.88 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia said they were ready to ease supply curbs that have pushed prices to their highest since 2014.
  • Japanese auto makers continue to fall; energy stocks weigh in Hong Kong. Asian markets were mixed in cautious Friday, after President Donald Trump canceled his upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Japan's Nikkei closed up 0.1% but had declined earlier in the session as the dollar pushed above Yen109.70 at one point from Yen109.30 late Thursday.
  • Debt growth for Chinese companies has slowed to the lowest rate in more than a decade, according to Reuters analysis, which could provide relief for policymakers worried about the fallout from years of loose lending practices across the economy.
  • LafargeHolcim , the world's largest cement maker, will close its head offices in Paris and Zurich, eliminating 200 jobs as part of a cost-cutting drive. Chief Executive Jan Jenisch said the cuts, announced by the Franco-Swiss company on Friday, were part of a plan to simplify the company's structure and improve performance.
  • Spam maker Hormel and chicken producer Sanderson Farms (SAFM.NaE) are the latest to highlight rising prices in their earnings. Shares of Hormel Foods Corp. (HRL.NaE) and Sanderson Farms Inc. (SAFM.NaE) fell more than 4% Thursday after their quarterly earnings came in short of expectations with both highlighting the inflationary pressures that have weighed on many food companies this season. Hormel shares were last down 3% and are down almost 5% in 2018 so far.
  • Saudi Arabia is most likely to hold the initial public offering of oil giant Aramco in 2019, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Friday, confirming a delay from the initial plan to list the company this year.
  • Trading in London also shuttered for bank holiday on Monday. U.S. financial markets will be shut on Monday in observance of Memorial Day, a holiday that honors those who have lost their lives while serving in the military. While U.S. stock markets will see regular trading hours on Friday, but indexes such as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite will all be closed for Monday's holiday.
  • Samsonite (SMSOF.NaE) has met its kryptonite. The suitcase maker's Hong Kong-listed shares have plunged 21% since short seller Blue Orca Capital published a takedown on Thursday. Samsonite (SMSOF.NaE) isn't down for the count--but it does have some explaining to do.
  • Daimler faces a recall order for more than 600,000 diesel-engine vehicles including C-Class and G-Class models because of suspected emissions manipulation, German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.
  • Siemens has become the latest company to contribute to the Northvolt project to build Europe's largest lithium-ion factory in northern Sweden. The German engineering company has offered its digital enterprise technology to help build the factory, which will become Siemens' preferred supplier for lithium ion batteries when production starts in 2020.
  • Someone gave the Geek Squad a noogie. Best Buy (BBY.NaE) reported its highest first-quarter sales growth since 2005 on Thursday. Earnings for the quarter reached 82 cents a share, far outstripping analysts' estimates of 74 cents a share.
  • Investors accustomed to focusing on the domestic causes of Japan's decadeslong funk should look more widely to understand the current slowdown. It's a symptom of global issues, not just the country's struggles with an aging population and stagnant wages. The world's third-largest economy was enjoying its longest growth streak in 28 years until last quarter, when it came to an abrupt end with a 0.6% decline in annualized GDP.
  • Bayer said positive synergy effects from the planned takeover of U.S. seeds maker Monsanto (MON.NaE) would be about $300 million below its previous target because it will sell more businesses than initially expected to get antitrust approval.