SUSIE GHARIB, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: The big exit. Did the Federal Reserve offer any hints as to how and when it plans to hike interest rates and exit this historic era of loose monetary policy?
TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Wheeling and dealing, Sun Valley-style. It’s where mega deals get done and this year is turning out to be no different.
GHARIB: And money matters. Do teenagers have the know-how to make sound financial decisions? The results of a first of its kind study.
We have all that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Wednesday, July 9th.
MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
When the Federal Reserve speaks, Wall Street listens, and today’s release minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, along with an encouraging start to earnings season when Alcoa (NYSE:AA) reported profits yesterday. Well, they combined to help send stocks higher for the first time in three sessions.
The nation central bankers seem to agree on when to wrap up their latest bond buying stimulus plans but they differed on when to raise short-term interest rates. Despite that, investors like pretty much what they heard. The Dow closed near the highs of the session, up by 79 points, the NASDAQ up 27 and S&P added nine.
Steve Liesman has more on those minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting and what the central bankers are thinking about how and when they’ll announce the very first rate hike since June of 2006.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Federal Reserve providing details on how it will eventually bring to an end the great monetary policy experiment launched in the wake of a financial crisis. Minutes of this June meeting show the Fed planning to end QE by October if the economy improves as expected. The Fed will hold on to the $4 trillion of bonds it purchased on its balance sheet through QE at least until rate hikes begin. At that point, the Fed could let the balance sheet wind down to normal levels but do so very gradually.
The Fed said little new about when it will hike interest rates or by how much. That leaves intact the general market expectation for gradual and modest rate hikes next year.
The market liked what it heard, particularly about the Fed’s gradual approach to tightening policy over time. There is disagreement on the central bank. Some believe the job market is tight already, risking inflation sooner than expected.
Economist Bob Brusca says there is danger the Fed could make a mistake acting either way, too fast or too slow.
ROBERT BRUSCA, FAO ECONOMICS CHIEF ECONOMIST: If you do it at the wrong speed, you can make any of those mistakes. And right now, we don’t really know because we had a terrible first quarter GDP number. It looks like we’re digging out. Some of the unemployment numbers are starting to look better. But, you know, we’ve seen — we’ve created like a million jobs over five months, several other times in this economic recovery. So you can’t put this job growth in the bag yet.
LIESMAN: Indeed. The Fed said it was surprised by the sharp decline in first quarter growth but continues to expect a second half rebound. The speed of that rebound and potential for it to create inflation could determine how fast and how far the Fed raises rates next year.
(on camera): But that’s the problem Fed Chair Janet Yellen will confront when she has to. The minutes of the June meeting show the Fed making plans to bring the great monetary policy experiment to an end, but in no particularly hurry just yet, to shut down the laboratory.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Steve Liesman.
GHARIB: Let’s turn now to Mohamed El-Erian for his take on all of this. He’s chief economic advisor for Allianz.
Mohamed, great to have you back on the program.
You know, everybody is fixated by rising interest rates and we know at some point they’re going to go up. Is that such a terrible thing for the economy and markets, or could it actually be a good thing?
MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, ALLIANZ CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISOR: It could be a good thing if it comes as part of economic growth and job creation. And let me explain — right now, everybody is hoping for economic lift off. An economic lift off would be not just good for Main Street, it actually would be good for Wall Street because it would validate asset prices.
Once that happens, the Fed will start to move. So, the expectation is the Fed will probably start hiking towards the middle of next year, but it will be a very gradual hike, and it will stop below the levels that have prevailed historically.
MATHISEN: So, Mohamed, what if economic lift off doesn’t happen and you’ve got asset prices, as “The New York Times (NYSE:NYT)” pointed out in the front page story yesterday, elevated in many, many categories, from equities to farm land, to commodities and so forth, what happens if there is no economic lift off?
EL-ERIAN: That’s a big risk, right? The Fed has the following trade off. We’re willing, the Fed says, to underwrite future financial instability as long as we get economic lift off. If that economic lift off doesn’t happen, then not only do we have a sluggish economy, but we also have a high risk of financial instability. Put another way, instead of the fundamentals validating the prices, the prices will have to come down, and that’s one of the big risks.
The other risk is that they overdo it and we get inflation in the system, rate inflation in the system. So, that’s why it’s a very delicate balance and is one that we haven’t seen this delicate for a very long time.
GHARIB: You know, Mohamed, one thing that popped out from those minutes, in terms of what I saw was this, quote, “that the Fed saying that investors are not factoring in sufficient uncertainty about the path of the economy.”
What’s your interpretation of what that means? And what’s the problem with that?
EL-ERIAN: So, they are worried the markets are too complacent. They look how low volatility is. They look at certain element of risk-taking. They look at certain bubblish markets, and they’re worried. They are worried that the markets are too complacent.
Now, they know why. Mrs. Yellen told us last week in his speech to the IMF, which is very low interest rates encourages excessive risk-taking. So, they are worried that hoping that they can signal the market, nudge the market into being a little less complacent. But they’re worried.
But you know what? That’s part of the game right now, which is in order to stimulate economic growth, they have to come to the asset market.
MATHISEN: How worried are you, Mohamed, how worried specifically are you that the eventually that you just described, i.e., that will not be economic lift off might come to pass. And in that case, asset prices will come back down. How worried are you? Handicap it for us.
EL-ERIAN: So, I’m worried for two reasons. The first one is that we really need productivity growth.
We could end up in a situation where not only growth doesn’t come back fast enough to lift off — and lift off is the important concept — but we start getting wage inflation because it turns out that quite a bit of unemployment is structural. So, that’s the first element. We need productivity growth.
The second element is we need “macro prudential” policies, which is a fancy name for saying the ability to control risks. We need them to work. And those two things historically have been very difficult to predict. So, I am worried. I think there is much more risk in the markets than people are reflecting right now.
GHARIB: So, a lot of people listening to you right now, especially individual investors might say, oh, it’s risky, saying that this is a scary time, and even though we hear milestones, maybe I shouldn’t put my money in the markets. Is that what you’re saying?
EL-ERIAN: No, I’m saying put your money in names you understand well and not in the market as a whole. So, look for names that are resilient, that have a disruptive technology or something that captured market share and they still have scope for cost reduction. This is becoming more and more a name-picking, stock-picking market, than a general beta play, as the technicians would say.
GHARIB: All right. Mohammed, always great to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us.
Mohamed El-Erian with Allianz.
MATHISEN: The U.S. and China have begun formal economic talks in Beijing. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is leading the U.S. delegation, pressing for a more fair exchange rate for China’s Yuan currency and overhaul of financial regulations there, better intellectual property protections and much more thorough cybersecurity.
GHARIB: Meanwhile, a top Chinese official says it’s up to the U.S. to drive the global economy. China’s finance minister said he doesn’t plan on creating any new stimulus measures this year and that’s slower than forecasted in China this year means the global recovery will depend on growth in the United States.
MATHISEN: While China’s economy slows, energy production in the U.S. is speeding up. The U.S. Energy (NASDAQ:USEG) Department predicts that U.S. oil production next year should hit its highest level since 1972. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking in shale rock formations is expected to boost domestic production to nearly 9.5 million barrels per day in 2015. Today, crude fell for its ninth straight session, its worst losing streak since 2009. It settled at $102.29.
GHARIB: Well, President Obama heads to oil country later today, attending a Democratic fundraiser in Texas. Now, he won’t be visiting the border, where tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, many of them children, have recently entered the U.S. But the president is urging Congress to provide almost $4 billion to deal with the immigration crisis.
House Speaker John Boehner says that money won’t do enough to solve the real problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If we don’t secure the border, nothing is going to change. If you look at the president’s request, it’s all more about continuing to deal with the problem. We’ve got to do something about sealing the border and ending the problem so that we can begin to move on with the bigger question of immigration reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GHARIB: John Hardwood joins us now from Washington.
So, John, you know there is a lot of political differences on this issue. Given that, can we expect meaningful progress in Congress on immigration reform?
JOHN HARWOOD, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: We cannot expect meaningful progress. This has been an issue that ever since the 2012 election, we’ve been expecting Republicans to move for a combination of the substance, dealing with the big problem, but also their political imperative. They need to do better with Latino voters and Democrats having been pressing.
The Senate passed a bipartisan bill. People like Marco Rubio on board, but the House has consistently said no, and John Boehner, the speaker, told President Obama just recently, the House is not going to act this year. So, the prospects for comprehensive reform are not good at all.
MATHISEN: What is the purpose of the president meeting, as I understand he intends to, with the governor of Texas, Rick Perry. Is there any common ground there?
HARWOOD: Not much. But there is common ground on the narrow question of dealing with this humanitarian crisis. That’s something that goes across party lines. You’ve got tens of thousands of children who cross the border unaccompanied from Central America. This is something that is not directly or not comprehensibly involved in the larger immigration issue but it is a problem immediately. That’s why the president asked for this money and suspect he’ll get some, at least some of it from Congress, and he’s got a meeting with stakeholders on all sides of that issue in Texas today, and Governor Perry is going to attend.
GHARIB: You know, John, one thing we hear from a lot of CEOs who come on the program and talk to us about various issues, they all think that immigration reform is really important for their businesses. But what are you hearing about how they think the problem should be solved?
HARWOOD: Well, today, we just heard from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which had what it called a day of action to press Congress to act. This is an issue on which the Chamber is at odds with the House Republicans. The House Republicans don’t want to take it up.
The Chamber said we must take it up. Businesses want certainty. They are dealing with a lot of people whose citizenship or legal status is uncertain to them. And so, the combination of insuring a steady flow of labor, both high skilled and not high skilled, and also eliminating the legal vulnerability for them is very important. It hasn’t been enough to break through in the House, though.
MATHISEN: All right. John, thank you very much. John Harwood reporting for us tonight from the nation’s capital.
Still ahead, why the intensifying battle between Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and the publisher Hachette could reshape the future of publishing and the e-books industry.
MATHISEN: The town of Sun Valley, a beautiful place in Idaho, is known for two things, exclusive black diamond ski runs in the winter and the parade of media moguls looking to strike deals at an exclusive annual summer conference.
Kayla Tausche is in Sun Valley, along with all those movers and shakers and she has more.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For three decades, media moguls and money managers have flocked to a secretive summer retreat deep within the mountains of Idaho, one thing has remained true. What happens in Sun Valley, never stays in Sun Valley.
That’s because the conference hosted by reclusive family bank Alan and Company has long been the breeding ground for industry megamergers from Disney’s purchase of ABC Capital Cities in the mid-1990s, to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of “The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO)” last year.
(on camera): Despite hot current events in tech and media like government surveillance, the Supreme Court’s ruling on Aereo, and who ultimately foots the bill for data streaming, the talk of the town here in Sun Valley is all deals. Conference goers often mingling late into the night at the bar inside Sun Valley’s namesake lounge.
(voice-over): Discovery Communications (NASDAQ:DISCA) CEO David Zaslav says recently proposed megamergers between AT&T (NYSE:T) and DirecTV, as well as Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Cable, will have broad implications on the market.
DAVID ZASLAV, DISCOVERY COMMUNICATIONS PRES. & CEO: Right now, we have more people buying content, because we’re not selling to just distributors, we’re also selling our content in the SVOD market, to Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), to Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), to number of other players. When there is less distributors buying your content in the traditional way, it presents some real challenge.
TAUSCHE: As cable deals move forward, content deals could come next. Univision deals are on the lookout for buyers and film magnate Harvey Weinstein wants to upload his TV unit, too.
Others are keeping their musing closer to the vest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We’re going to buy some coffee.
TAUSCHE: All the while, Allen is trying to win their business.
The conference is a boon to the businesses in Sun Valley, a town of a thousand people, of nearby Ketchum and Hailey. Airport teaming with private jets all week, the resort at full capacity. How fruitful it was for attendees won’t be clear until months later.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Kayla Tausche, Sun Valley, Idaho.
GHARIB: A deal at Sun Valley may not be — may be reached a lot quicker than one between Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).com and book publisher Hachette. They are locked in a bitter battle that could determine the future of not only the e-book business but even the publishing industry.
Julia Boorstin has more.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) wants to pay Hachette less for e-books and the whole industry is watching, because whatever deal they strike could set the standard for all other publishers. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Hachette have been locked in a battle for the past six months. And in the meantime, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been delaying shipments, reducing discounts, and removing the preorder button on some Hachette books.
ANDREW ALBANESE: Because Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) controls a significant portion of the sales of the major houses right now, they are in a stronger position on this negotiation right now. The publishers have a much harder time walking away from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) than Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) would have from walking away from publishers.
BOORSTIN: Now, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has made a bold offer to get authors and public opinion on its side, proposing that both it and Hachette give 100 percent of all e-book revenue to authors during negotiations.
Hachette said, no, quote, “We invite Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith.”
Amazon’s response to Hachette turning down its offer, quote, “We call baloney. Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate. They can afford it.”
Hachette will likely have to compromise with a discount on e-books, which could pressure its margin.
ALBANESE: If Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) wins, consumer prices would go down. A win looks like for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), not entirely sure.
BOORSTIN: The big question, whether Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will use this standoff to cut publishers out of the equation and convince more authors to publish directly on its platform.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
MATHISEN: Well, fewer airline flights arrived on time during the month of May. The Department of Transportation out with its monthly rankings of the nation’s 14 largest airlines for their on-time performance. Overall, 77 percent of all flights arrived on time that month, which means it arrived within 14 minutes of schedule.
At the top of the list, as usual, with a 93 percent on-time ranking is Hawaiian (NASDAQ:HA) Airlines. It’s pretty good out there. Followed by Alaska Airlines and then Delta. The bottom three, Southwest, Envoy, a regional carrier owned by American, and in last place, Express (NYSE:EXPR) Jet with just a 70 percent on-time rating.
GHARIB: Shares of American Airlines took off today, and that’s where we begin tonight’s “Market Focus.”
The carrier raised its growth forecast for the second quarter. It also affirmed its capacity outlook for the full year and said its traffic in June was up compared to last year. After the closing bell, United Continental said a key revenue measure rose more than expected in second quarter. So, that sent shares of United up as much as 6 1/2 percent in after-hours trading. It closed the regular session at $40.07. And American rose more than 4 percent to finish the day at just about $42 a share.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) lands a $56 billion order from Dubai’s Emirates Airline. It finalized the order to buy 150 of Boeing (NYSE:BA) 777X jets. It made the commitment to buy the planes last year, just weeks after scrapping an order with Boeing’s rival Airbus. Now, the deal includes purchase rights for an additional 50 planes, which if it’s used, could increase the value of the sale to about $75 billion. Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) were unchanged to $126.79.
A legal victory for Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) today. A long-running shareholder class-action lawsuit was dismissed. The suit, which dates back to the year 2004, accused the drug maker of misleading investors about the safety of its Celebrex and Bextra pain-relieving drugs, alleging that the company had hid test results showing that the drugs caused cardiovascular risks. But despite the good news, shares of fell slightly to $30 and change.
MATHISEN: Shares of Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) were up in today’s session, despite news that its arthritis drug missed its target in the late stage trial. The company did say it will continue the study unchanged based on a recommendation by an independent data monitoring committee. Also, Bernstein analysts — the analyst there, remains positive on the outlook. And Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) rose 2 percent to $87.52.
Allergan (NYSE:AGN) CEO says he’s looking at potential sizable acquisitions, this as he seeks to repeal a $53 billion hostile offer from Valeant Pharmaceuticals. The Botox-maker’s chief says he’s always looking at potential targets and pointed to about $14 billion in the company’s free cash flow. He’s been trying to convince shareholders that the future value of Allergan (NYSE:AGN) will exceed the offer price. Shares there off a fraction today, $165.20 was the close.
And shares of Seventy-Seven Energy popped after-hours on news that activist investor Carl Icahn took a nearly 10 percent stake in the company. The stock was up about 5 percent initially after-hours. During the regular session, shares were down 2 percent to $24.62.
GHARIB: A new battle front at the grocery star, farm to table foods. This is the latest trend to satisfy consumer taste for healthier more natural foods.
So, which companies are winning over shoppers?
Courtney Reagan has that story.
COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Everybody eats but what we eat and when we eat is shifting. And that’s keeping grocers on their toes when it comes to offering the right products at the right price.
RANDY EVINS, S&P SENIOR PRINCIPAL: The consumers moving to one desire after another, in a food retailer has got to be prepared to move very quickly as those demands from that customer happen or change. They’ve got to be able to react quickly and get the products and services necessary to keep up with it.
REAGAN: Organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, less sodium, and protein-packed, consumers craving for healthy has shaken up the snack food aisle and help some companies stand out.
Diamond Foods (NASDAQ:DMND), maker of protein-packed nut mixes, like Emerald Brand and Diamond of California saw its snack revenues grow almost 10 percent last quarter. Diamond’s Kettle Brand chips also land on many top health snack lists.
Hain Celestial, Boulder Brands and Annie’s are other players offering organic, gluten-free foods that RBC Capital Markets analyst David Palmer counts as winner.
DAVID PALMER, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS: The natural organic space is on fire. There’s never a better time to be in business in natural organic from a demand perspective.
REAGAN (voice-over): Over the last several years, consumers have shifted from three standard meals per day to smaller, more frequent meals, and that’s fueling sales of snack foods. But the key millennial demographic is particularly interested in fresh, healthy farm-to-table options, and that’s spurred more trips to local supermarket chains like this one, rather than national grocers.
(voice-over): Straight from the farm food options are paramount for grocery store’s profit. Consumers are willing to pay a premium but only to a point. According to a PWC report, 67 percent of consumers say competitive prices are still a factor when it comes where to shop, with 47 percent seeking out farmer’s market options within the store.
Kroger (NYSE:KR) leads the grocery pack when it comes to checking off the requirements on shopper’s list. SAP food consultant Randy Evins says the grocer is leading the charge when it comes to shocking shelves with fresh, healthy, organic choices at competitive prices, leaving rivals playing catch up.
Finding the perfect recipe to fulfill shoppers’ demands isn’t easy when the only thing constant in grocery is changing taste.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Courtney Reagan in San Francisco, California.
GHARIB: Coming up, do American teenagers have basic financial survival skills? We have the results of a new worldwide study. That’s next.
MATHISEN: A little bit of good news, in the uneven recovery in housing. Applications for new mortgages up 2 percent last week, even as rates held steady at about 4 percent on a 30-year conventional fixed rate loan.
GHARIB: And there may be good news coming at the gas pump. Gasoline prices could fall as much as 25 cents a gallon in some parts of the country by the end of July. The reason, oil prices are at one-month low. U.S. gasoline supplies are spiking higher and demand is in check.
MATHISEN: It is in some ways the last taboo: family discussions about money. In a new study by Fidelity found that a majority of parents and children can’t agree on when or how to discuss important later life financial matters, including retirement, estate planning and elder care.
GHARIB: Speaking of financial matters, do you think you’re smarter than a 15-year-old, at least regarding financial matters? Researchers got some surprising answers and results of a financial literacy test given to teenagers all around the world.
Hampton Pearson reports.
HAMPTON PEARSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: At George Washington University, a forum that included top government officials, educators and financial experts was told American teenagers are just in the middle of the pack worldwide when it comes to financial survival skills. That’s the major conclusion from a just released survey of some 30,000 teenagers in 13 countries done by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development. That survey found only about one in six American teenagers able to make even basic decisions about everyday spending, even though finances are already a fact of life for many 15-year-olds.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the results are a call to action.
ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: This is a baseline never had good data before, that’s why it was so important to participate. We have to be transparent. We have to tell each other truth, the good, bad, the ugly.
PEARSON: The survey was more about financial judgment than math skills, so we put some of those questions asked a 15-year-old to adults.
DOUG KERSHNER, AGE 25: Claire and her friends are renting a house. They have all been working for two months. They do not have any savings. They make this “to do” list. B, pay rent.
LESLIE JOYNER, SILVER SPRING, MD: Last year, Steve’s motorcycle — motorbike was insured with the PINSURA insurance company. E would be the final answer.
PEARSON: While the adults in our informal survey answered the question correctly, each had different perspectives on why so many 15-year-olds have financial literacy problems.
KERSHNER: Honestly, I’m not all that surprised because I feel like the education system doesn’t really teach a lot of hands-on practical skills.
CHUKWUDI NWADIBIA, AGE 25: I think having money of your own, in terms of knowing how you need to allocate your money in terms of priorities. If other people are buying things for you — I mean, even if it’s given to you, if that’s all the money you get, I think you’ll value a little bit more.
PEARSON: People are exposed to more financial products and choices at a much earlier age, but when it comes to financial literacy, young people in particular are still playing catch up.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Hampton Pearson in Washington.
GHARIB: A lot of those questions, I saw some of them, were pretty convoluted. So, that’s one factor. But I know what the solution is.
MATHISEN: What is that?
GHARIB: The homework assignment is watch NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT or CNBC every night.
MATHISEN: That sounds like a good idea. Susie, thank you.
GHARIB: That’s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. Thanks for joining us. I’m Susie Gharib.
MATHISEN: And thanks from me as well. I’m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great evening, everybody. And we hope to see you back here tomorrow night.
Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post broadcast at http://nbr.com. The program is transcribed by CQRC Transcriptions, LLC. Updates may be posted at a later date. The views of our guests and commentators are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Nightly Business Report, or CNBC, Inc. Information presented on Nightly Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice. (c) 2014 CNBC, Inc.