FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
April 18, 2019
(Reuters) – Following are five big themes likely to dominate thinking of investors and traders in the coming week and the Reuters stories related to them.
The 100 years since the Fed’s creation in 1913 is said to be the century of central banking. Well, since the 2008-2009 crisis, we’ve certainly lived through a decade of central banking. But with monetary policy taken to the limit to lift growth and inflation, can central banks do any more?
Of late, some of the economic and business confidence data is giving rise to hopes rate-setters might just be able to hold fire on further action for now. German and Japanese PMIs ticked modestly higher from March, and from China to the United States, the hope is that spring will bring some green shoots on the economic front. Central banks in Japan, Canada and Sweden hold meetings in coming days so we may get some clues on what they are thinking.
ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos and Olli Rehn, widely tipped to succeed ECB Governor Mario Draghi, will also be quizzed on the subject at upcoming speeches, especially since sources tell Reuters “a significant minority” of ECB rate-setters doubt any recovery is underway. Central bankers in Australia and New Zealand have sounded similarly gloomy. A decade of central banking and planning is not over yet
(GRAPHIC: ECB balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Hz4sUC)
(GRAPHIC: The Federal Reserve’s balance sheet – https://tmsnrt.rs/2ULcay0)
The working thesis through the early months of 2019 was that U.S. economic growth would continue to tail off as tailwinds faded from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax cut and headwinds picked up from a weaker global economy, partial federal government shutdown and trade wars. Indeed, that looked to be the case as most economic data through the first quarter fell short of forecasts. As a result, Citigroup’s U.S. economic surprise index came to near the most negative in around two years.
But one closely tracked gauge of quarterly gross domestic product, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow model, has rebounded sharply in recent weeks and may be signaling that the advance reading of first quarter GDP may not be quite so grim.
A month ago, GDPNow estimated an annualized 0.2 percent growth, which would have been the lowest since a one-off GDP contraction in the first 2014 quarter. Now the model forecasts quarterly growth will come in at 2.4 percent. That would not only top current estimates of 1.8 percent but would mean growth actually accelerated from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent.
One factor behind the turnaround was a surprise narrowing in the U.S. trade deficit as Chinese imports plunged in the face of President Donald Trump’s tariffs. By some estimates, trade could now contribute as much as one percentage point to first quarter GDP after being a washout in the fourth quarter.
(GRAPHIC: U.S. GDP – in for a surprise? – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VPQsJN)
As we said above, central banks don’t have much ammunition left in their arsenal. The toolbox is probably lightest at the Bank of Japan.
At the G20 meeting in Washington, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said he was ready to expand monetary stimulus if needed. But he also said he had no plans to change the central bank’s forward guidance, or the message it sends to signal policy intentions to financial markets. To many, that sounded like a man backed into a corner.
Kuroda has a chance to prove otherwise at the upcoming BOJ meeting. Expectations are thin though, given the BOJ’s balance sheet is already bigger than the country’s economy and Japanese financial institutions are suffering immense pain from the prolonged monetary easing.
The world’s No. 3 economy may have contracted in the first quarter, and whether it recovers depends much on first, whether China recovers too and second, on whether the trade conflict between the other two powers sharing the podium reaches a resolution.
(GRAPHIC: BOJ’s bloated balance sheet limits further easing – https://tmsnrt.rs/2DjVE16)
3/TAKING A DIP IN EUROPE
The United States is widely seen as heading into an earnings recession (defined as two straight quarters of negative year-on-year earnings growth) but Europe might, at least for now, escape one.
European firms are expected to deliver their first quarter of negative earnings growth since 2016 – the latest I/B/E/S Refinitiv analysis predicts Q1 earnings to fall 3.4 percent year-on-year. But it expects results to pick up again in Q2.
So despite this quarter’s poor outcome, hopes for a bounce-back could keep equities buoyant. After all, sentiment is already rock bottom – investors surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch named “short European equities” the most crowded trade for the second month running.
The auto sector will be in focus in coming days with a flurry of earnings from Michelin, Continental, Daimler, Peugeot, and Renault. These stocks are particularly sensitive to growth in China and will be watched as the stirrings of a recovery were felt in recent Chinese GDP data .
(GRAPHIC: Earnings chart latest April 17 – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Ip8LCj)
5/ RUSSIAN ROULETTE
The past two years have seen an increasingly bitter rift open up between President Donald Trump’s Republican supporters and his Democrat critics over the alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign in the 2016 U.S. election.
That may not be defused even after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report on the subject is unveiled by Atttorney General William Barr. He has already told lawmakers the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
But that is unlikely to stop U.S. politicians from continuing their clamor for sanctions against Russia. As for investors, their appetite for Russian assets has not so far been dented. After plummeting last year, foreign buying of rouble-denominated government bonds has recovered sharply so it remains to be seen whether that bullishness continues.
Meanwhile, Ukraine — the reason behind the original 2014 sanctions on Russia — looks set to elect comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy as president. Could the election of a new leader bring about some rapprochement between Kiev and Moscow? Watch this space.
(GRAPHIC: Foreign investors dipping their toes back in OFZs – https://tmsnrt.rs/2XiDZyC)
(Reporting by Dan Burns in New York, Marius Zaharia in Hong Kong; Sujata Rao, Helen Reid and Tom Arnold in London; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
FILE PHOTO: The Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
April 17, 2019
By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Labor markets remained tight across the United States as businesses struggled to find skilled workers and wages grew modestly, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in its latest report on the economy.
The U.S. central bank’s “Beige Book” report, a glimpse of the economy based on conversations with business contacts across all 12 of the Fed’s districts, found economic activity grew at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April. A few districts reported some strengthening in economic growth.
Prices have risen modestly since the last Beige Book, with tariffs, freight costs and rising wages often cited as key factors, the Fed said. It added that consumer spending was mixed but suggested sluggish sales for both general retailers and auto dealers.
Wages grew moderately in most districts for both skilled and unskilled workers, with only three reporting slight growth in workers’ pay, the Fed said.
Businesses in most districts reported shortages of skilled workers, mainly in manufacturing and construction, but also in technical and professional roles. Companies have responded to the tight labor market by boosting bonuses and benefits packages, along with raising wages moderately, according to the report.
Employment increases were most highly concentrated in highly-skilled jobs.
In terms of the manufacturing sector, the Fed said contacts in many districts reported that trade-related uncertainty was weighing on activity.
Several Fed districts said flooding and severe weather in the Midwest was affecting agricultural production. The Kansas City Fed reported that recent blizzards and flooding could weigh on the farming sector in the coming months, as it had resulted in damaged infrastructure and losses of cattle and crops.
The impact of the 35-day U.S. government shutdown that began in late December appeared muted. The Richmond Fed reported a few federal contractors saw business starting to return to normal and the San Francisco Fed saw higher-than-expected retail sales once the government reopened.
The Fed held interest rates steady at its last policy meeting in March, sticking with the “patient” approach adopted by policymakers in January, given little sign of rising inflation and the growing concerns about trade tensions and slowing global growth.
The Beige Book gives the Fed a sense of what central bank officials are hearing in their own districts, which in turn could inform their thinking when it comes to the economy and the Fed’s stance on rates.
The latest Beige Book was prepared by the St. Louis Fed based on information collected on or before April 8, 2019.
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder Editing by Paul Simao) ((Pete.Schroeder@thomsonreuters.com; 202-310-5485)
FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc (Citi) logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Oct. 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo
April 17, 2019
By Matt Scuffham
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top U.S. banks must make deeper cost cuts to drive earnings growth, with revenue expected to remain under pressure for the foreseeable future, analysts said.
Cost cutting was already a major driver of bank earnings for the first quarter. With the exception of JPMorgan Chase & Co, revenue fell at the biggest U.S. lenders as lower market volatility weighed on trading and recession fears dulled clients’ appetite for borrowing.
But Bank of America Corp, Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley still managed to beat analyst profit forecasts even as revenue slipped.
JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, stood out from rivals by growing both revenue and profit. Wells Fargo & Co, which is operating under growth restrictions imposed by regulators, missed profit forecasts.
Some of the banks warned that growth in their net interest income, the difference between what they earn on loans and pay on deposits, will slow in 2019 thanks to a flatter yield curve and a moderating economy. The Federal Reserve in March signaled that it unlikely to raise interest rates this year.
With that major revenue source under pressure and the outlook on other business areas uncertain, expense controls may be the only reliable way for banks to boost profit, analysts said.
“There’s a very close watch on expenses right now and that will probably continue until there’s better visibility on revenue growth,” said Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan.
Shanahan said the potential for credit quality to deteriorate as the United States nears the end of the credit cycle also adds to the pressure for banks to get expenses in line.
“Credit can only really get worse from here,” he said. “That is going to be a headwind at some point and all the more reason for the banks to be trying to control their expenses.”
Banks were caught out by the Fed’s change of tack on rates and will need time to adjust their business models in response to the challenging revenue outlook, said David Hendler, an independent analyst at New York-based Viola Risk Advisors, which specializes in risk management.
“That’s going to be hard for them and you won’t see them adapting for two or three quarters. It’s a major headwind,” he said.
Banks are also juggling the need to support short-term earnings with making investments in the longer-term growth of their businesses.
JPMorgan was the only big U.S. bank that increased expenses as it spent more on technology, hiring bankers and marketing.
“JPMorgan is electing to invest in the business,” said Shanahan. “Its strategy is about leveraging the investments it’s already made in digital initiatives.”
Analysts and bankers said that any uptick in revenue across the sector is likely to come from banks’ trading operations. Equities revenues in particular fell sharply during the first quarter, but could improve if a return of market volatility spurs client activity.
“Going forward it’s going to be a function of markets,” Morgan Stanley’s Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Pruzan said in an interview on Wednesday. “Confidence is reasonably good and stock markets are reasonably stable.”
Another potential source of revenue growth would be an upturn in initial public offerings. Equity underwriting was dampened in the first quarter because of a U.S. government shutdown that held up regulatory approvals, but is expected to pick up as the backlog clears.
“Already in the second quarter we’ve seen a major recovery in U.S. IPO volumes,” JPMorgan’s Chief Financial Officer told analysts on a conference call on Friday.
Most analysts are forecasting banks will achieve earnings growth of 7 percent to 9 percent over the full year, and expect cost cutting to be a major driver since they only see revenue growth of 1 percent to 3 percent.
Banks are also expected to keep buying back shares, which boosts earnings per share.
“The return of capital is a critical driver but one you don’t hear people talking about much,” said Marty Mosby, a bank analyst at Vining Sparks.
Mosby thinks concerns about sluggish revenue growth are overblown.
“There’s a disconnect between valuations and the steady-as-you-go earnings progression we’re seeing,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Neal Templin and Meredith Mazzilli)
FILE PHOTO: Cessna employee works on an engine of a Cessna business jet at the assembly line in their manufacturing plant in Wichita, Kansas March 12, 2013. REUTERS/Jeff Tuttle/File Photo
April 17, 2019
By Divya R and Ankit Ajmera
(Reuters) – Cessna business jet maker Textron Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, benefiting from robust aircraft deliveries, sending its share up 1.6 percent in early trading.
Business jet demand has been growing steadily in the United States, the world’s biggest market, on the back of an expanding economy and rising corporate profits.
Textron said it delivered 44 jets in the first quarter ended March 30, up from 36 last year. Commercial turboprop deliveries rose to 44 aircraft from 29 last year.
“We think this quarter has pretty much ticked all the boxes for Textron. Aviation growth has continued, with a positive book to bill in the quarter,” Vertical Research Partners analyst Robert Stallard said.
Textron has faced delays in final certification of its newest super mid-size Longitude jet, which is expected to contribute a ‘big chunk’ to the company’s revenue growth in 2019.
Analysts have warned that the certification delays from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration due to partial government shutdown followed by the regulator’s intense focus on re-certifying Boeing Co’s 737 MAX aircraft might impact sales growth at the company in the short.
Though the aviation business was among the drivers for a profit beat, Textron’s revenue missed Wall Street estimates, hurt by lower sales in its systems unit, which makes tactical armored patrol vehicles.
Textron re-affirmed its full-year profit outlook range of $3.55 to $3.75 per share.
Sales in the company’s aviation business, its biggest, rose 12.3 percent to $1.13 billion in the first quarter, while sales in the systems unit fell more than 20 percent to $307 million.
The company’s net income fell to $179 million in the quarter ended March 30 from $189 million a year earlier.
Textron earned 76 cents per share, above analysts’ average estimate of 68 cents, according to Refinitiv data.
Textron’s revenue fell 5.7 percent to $3.11 billion, below analysts’ estimates of $3.17 billion.
(Reporting by Divya R and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)
FILE PHOTO: A United Express Embraer ERJ-175LR airplane is pictured at Vancouver’s international airport in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Ben Nelms/File Photo
April 16, 2019
(Reuters) – United Airlines on Tuesday reported a first quarter profit increase that easily beat Wall Street forecasts as it sold more tickets and cut costs, standing by its 2019 profit target even as its Boeing Co 737 MAX jets remain grounded.
Chicago-based United has removed its 14 MAX aircraft, which were suspended worldwide in March following two fatal crashes, from its flying schedule through early July, eating into U.S. airlines’ peak summer travel season.
Still, the airline’s parent United Continental Holdings Inc reiterated its estimate for adjusted earnings of $10 to $12 per share in 2019, and said its strategy for scheduling more flights out of its hubs was continuing to win customers.
Adjusted earnings per share rose to $1.15 in the first quarter, ending March 31, from 49 cents a year earlier, overcoming a U.S. government shutdown and severe winter weather earlier this year that curtailed flights.
Analysts on average had forecast 95 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Its shares rose 2 percent in after-hours trading.
No. 3 U.S. carrier is the first of three U.S. 737 MAX operators to report first-quarter results. Southwest Airlines Co reports on April 25 and American Airlines Group Inc on April 26.
Rival Delta Air Lines Inc, which does not operate the 737 MAX, lifted its 2019 revenue forecast last week after reporting better-than-expected quarterly profit, boosted by travel demand and a renewed agreement with credit-card issuer American Express Co.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Rigby)
The White House is considering transferring immigrants detained at the southern border to Democrat-controlled “sanctuary cities.”
After reports surfaced that the idea was brought up twice and shot down by attorneys from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), President Trump tweeted on Friday that his administration is “indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” adding “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
….The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
On Friday, the Washington Post and ABC News reported that the Trump administration had twiced pushed for transferring migrants to sanctuary cities, citing anonymous senior government officials familiar with the matter.
The White House believed it could punish Democrats — including Pelosi — by busing ICE detainees into their districts before their release, according to two DHS whistleblowers who independently reported the busing plan to Congress. One of the whistleblowers spoke with The Washington Post, and several DHS officials confirmed the accounts. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. –Washington Post
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” said one White House official who acknowledged the discussions, according to the report. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed the discussions in “a nearly identical statement,” but asserted that the discussion is now over.
The plan was reportedly pushed by senior Trump adviser Stephen Miller, according to two DHS officials; once in November and again three months later during the shutdown talks.
White House officials first broached the plan in a Nov. 16 email, asking officials at several agencies whether members of the caravan could be arrested at the border and then bused “to small- and mid-sized sanctuary cities,” places where local authorities have refused to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
The White House told U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the plan was intended to alleviate a shortage of detention space but also served to send a message to Democrats. The attempt at political retribution raised alarm within ICE, with a top official responding that it was rife with budgetary and liability concerns, and noting that “there are PR risks as well.” –Washington Post
“This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House said in a statement.
Contrary to the report, ICE acting deputy director Matthew Albence acknowledged the discussion but said he was never pressured, saying in a statement: “As the Acting Deputy I was not pressured by anyone at the White House on this issue. I was asked my opinion and provided it and my advice was heeded.”
After the November discussions, Albence brought ICE attorneys into the picture after the topic came up again three months later, who ultimately killed the idea.
Trump has been demanding aggressive action to deal with the surge of migrants, and many of his administration’s proposals have been blocked in federal court or, like the family separation policy last year, have backfired as public relations disasters.
Comedy Central had Avi Yemini deported upon arriving in L.A. as yet another example of conservatives being persecuted has come forth. Paul Joseph Watson joins Alex to go over this attack on free speech that has come to America’s shores.
Homeland Security officials said the sanctuary city request was unnerving, and it underscores the political pressure Trump and Miller have put on ICE and other DHS agencies at a time when the president is furious about the biggest border surge in more than a decade. –Washington Post
“The extent of this administration’s cynicism and cruelty cannot be overstated,” said the San Francisco Democrat in a statement through spokeswoman Ashley Etienne. “Using human beings — including little children — as pawns in their warped game to perpetuate fear and demonize immigrants is despicable.”
Trump has previously railed against sanctuary cities – while a January 2018 Executive Order to pull funding from the illegal-friendly cities was slapped with an immediate injunction that was upheld by the 9th circuit. The city of San Francisco argued that the executive order violated the Constitution by “effectively trying to commandeer state and local officials to enforce federal immigration law,” wrote the New York Times. The city estimated that it stood to lose over $1 billion in federal funding as a result of the EO, while nearby Santa Clara said it would lose around $1.7 billion – or more than a third of its revenue.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries Friday said that despite divided opinions among his party’s members strides have been made during Democrats’ first 100 days as the majority party in the House this year, adding that lawmakers are united on healthcare reform.
“We were elected in part to be a check-and-balance on an out-of-control executive branch, and we’re going to continue to take that oversight responsibility seriously,” the New York Democrat told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Primarily, we’ve been focused on kitchen-table pocketbook issues trying to get things done on behalf of the American people and to bring our democracy to life.”
The first 35 days as a majority party, Democrats faced a “reckless” government shutdown, said Jeffries, but were able to end that successfully without giving President Donald Trump “a dime of taxpayer dollars to do it.”
In addition, Democrats were able to enact a bipartisan border security agreement, and also to increase pay for federal employees, said Jeffries.
There are differences of opinion, said Jeffries, but “we embrace that diversity.”
“We’ve consistently come together to get 218 votes to move legislation onto the floor of the House of Representatives,” said Jeffries. “We’ll continue to do that, and we’ll continue to focus on the two primary things over the next 100 days that we said we wanted to get done for the American people, lowering healthcare costs, with an emphasis on driving down the high cost of life-saving prescription drugs, and moving closer toward and enacting a real infrastructure plan.”
He also said he believes the Democratic caucus is united under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.
“There’s a singular principle on health care that brings us all together,” said Jeffries. “In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, every single American should have access to high-quality affordable healthcare.”
Source: NewsMax Politics
FILE PHOTO: A Jet Airways plane is parked as another moves to the runway at Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport in Mumbai, India, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo
April 12, 2019
By Abhirup Roy and Tanvi Mehta
MUMBAI (Reuters) – The Indian prime minister’s office has called for an urgent meeting to discuss a crisis at debt-laden airline Jet Airways on Friday, television news channels reported.
The carrier, saddled with more than $1.2 billion of debt, has had to ground more than 80 percent of its fleet over unpaid dues to leasing companies, pushing it to the brink of shutdown and jeopardizing hopes of attracting a new investor.
A Jet Airways spokesman said the airline had suspended all west-bound international flights until Monday.
Government officials have previously expressed concern about the loss of jobs at the airline and on the prospect of higher Indian air fares if Jet Airways collapses.
Jet’s lenders, led by State Bank of India, are still trying to seek expressions of interest in the carrier from potential investors.
The banks have received initial bids from five to six companies, television channels reported, citing sources.
Nripendra Mishra, the principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will chair the meeting at 6pm India time (1230 GMT), the TV channels said, adding that the aviation regulator and civil aviation secretary were also expected to attend.
Television news channel ET Now reported late on Friday that India’s aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola said the company had money to operate only 6-7 aircraft over the weekend and after that the lenders would have to decide how many aircraft the airline could operate beyond Monday afternoon.
Kharola said the company will meet bankers on Monday for infusion of funds in the interim, the TV channel said.
Earlier on Friday, hundreds of Jet’s employees marched from the airport to the airline’s headquarters in Mumbai to seek clarity on whether they will get paid soon and if their jobs will be secure over the coming months.
The All India Jet Airway’s Officers & Staff Association, which represents ground handlers, ground crew, loaders and guest service executives working at Mumbai airport, has filed a police complaint against the airline’s former chairman Naresh Goyal, CEO Vinay Dube and representatives of its lead lender SBI.
“The company has not paid salaries to its employees (to date) which is in gross violation of the law of the land,” Kiran Pawaskar, president of the association said in the complaint.
(Additional reporting by Aditi Shah and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Martin Howell and Jane Merriman)