Transcript: Nightly Business Report — July 3, 2015

NBR-ThumANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Tyler Mathisen and Sue Herera.

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. And welcome to a special holiday edition of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. I`m Sue Herera.

TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: And welcome from me as well. I`m Tyler Mathisen.

Well, the first half of the year is in the books for investors, wrapping up a rocky six months for stocks. Many are on edge now about what next big event could jolt the market.

So, tonight, as the nation gets ready to celebrate its independence, we look ahead to the second half of the year and what to expect in everything
— from housing to the economy to, yes, stocks.

HERERA: And that is where we begin tonight. There are a number of issues the financial markets are keeping a close eye on that could increase volatility in the second half.

Dominic Chu has the three things investors need to watch.


DOMINIC CHU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for for equities for the second half of the year:

Stock market investors have already had to deal with a few bumps during the first six months and while volatility is relatively low for now, there are a host of reasons why it could pick up.

First, the Greek debt situation, it`s now gotten bad enough to spark global market concerns. Stocks across Europe and Asia have taken big swings ahead of what could become a voter referendum in Greece on whether to stay part of the euro currency. However, many experts believe that the U.S. will remain relatively insulated from the worries there.

The next big wildcard is the Fed. The global market worries are now calling into question whether the Central Bank will look to raise interest rates. Look for that kind of uncertainty to continue.

And then, there`s corporate profits. Growth has already shown signs of slowing. Already, analysts are expecting a profit decline for the current quarter, and U.S. markets haven`t seen a significant stock pull back since 2011.

Those are just a few of the possible sparks to a fresh downside move in the second half of the year.



MATHISEN: Well, as Dominic just said, investors will be watching corporate profits very closely. But what exactly should they be looking for.

Bob Pisani tells us what Wall Street hopes to hear this upcoming earning season.


BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in earnings in the second half of this year:

There`s a significant headwind for those earnings, there`s no revenue growth, a trend we saw on the first half. We have modest, low single digit increases in earnings coming, but revenues continue to go between flat to declining.

It`s a problem because if you really want to kick start a second half stock rally and move the markets to new highs, you`ll need to see sales pick up.
You`ll need to see capital spending pick up. You`ll need to see less emphasis on cost-cutting and share buybacks.

However, it`s not all gloom and doom. There`s a major tailwind for earnings. The U.S. economy is slowing improving. The improving economy is prompting optimism amongst analysts who cover consumer stocks. So, earnings were home builders and autos, for example, are expected to be up double digits in the second half, while financials and health care are also expected to see earnings gains of roughly 10 percent over the same period last year.

Unfortunately, hopes for a turnaround in energy stocks have now faded away with analysts again expecting a roughly 50 percent decline in earnings.

Finally, there`s one wildcard, the dollar. The strong dollar has been a major problem for earnings. But the dollar has been weaker since March.
If it comes down to still more, that could be a major help for stocks in the second half.

And that`s your second half earnings outlook.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.


HERERA: And now to the economy, where the Federal Reserve isn`t just focused on what is happening here but also on what is happening overseas, especially in Greece.

Steve Liesman tells us what central bankers need to see in order to carry on what their eventual plans to hike interest rates.


STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in the economy in the second half of the year:

The outlook for the next six months is reasonably bright with one major
wildcard: Greece. Economists see U.S. growth ranging right at the average of most of the expansion since the recession, somewhere between 2 percent and 3 percent.

Fed officials continue to think that the economy will improve to the point where they can raise interest rates for the first time in more than nine years.

But the possibility of a Greek default and exit from the euro complicates the outlook. It will be key to judge whether robust economic data can trump geopolitical jitters. Economist forecasts generally strong payrolls, and for the unemployment rate to continue edging down. Wages are also seen picking up.

That`s your second half economic outlook.



MATHISEN: So, if all goes as expected and the Fed hikes interest rates in the coming months, how will the bond market react?

As Mary Thompson explains, it`s not only the initial liftoff of rates that`s important to eye, but the volatility that could follow.


MARY THOMPSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch in the bond market in the second half of this year:

The focus is the Fed with an expected rate hike in September or December, though a minority expect no hikes, when the Fed moves, strategist see volatility though not at levels seen during 2013 taper tantrum. Instead, most see short-term rates rising and flattening with the yield curve.

After the Fed moves, the focus turns to the pace and amount of future rate hikes and the performance of the economy.

The fed signal that plan to move at a measured pace but if the U.S. economy grows more quickly, strategists see long rates rising and the yield curve steepening on fears that the Fed will be aggressive enough to keep inflation in check.

On the corporate side, strategies say a continued strong demand from yield hungry foreign investors and a strengthening U.S. economy could limit demand in the very rate sensitive junk bond space. Well, investment grade issuers are seeing getting out ahead of the Fed, creating what could become a supply glut this summer.

That`s your second half outlook for the bond market.



HERERA: And joining us to talk more about the financial markets, earnings and the economy in the second half of the year, Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial, joins us. And Lindsey Piegza, chief economist with Stifel Fixed Income.

Welcome to both of you.

Ladies first — Lindsey, I`ll turn to you, if I could.

What, if overall, is your second half outlook? Is it kind of steady as she goes or are you expecting a lot of volatility?

LINDSEY PIEGZA, STIFEL FIXED INCOME CHIEF ECONOMIST: I don`t think we`re looking for much more than what we saw in the second quarter. Now, certainly, growth has improved from the general malaise that we saw January through March, but momentum remains a far cry from that plus 4 percent GDP pace that we saw this time last year.

So, as we head into the second half — remember, consumer spending is still very moderate, business investment continuing its downward trend, suggesting that overall economic activity will continue at a below trend GDP pace for the remaining six months of the year.

MATHISEN: Burt, you heard what Lindsey just said. Does that imply that corporate profits may face headwinds, some challenges and if — what are you looking for in terms of corporate profit, number one? And are the prices, the P`s, are they too high for the E`s, the earnings?

BURT WHITE, LPL FINANCIAL CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER: Well, certainly there is some headwinds, no doubt about it. But I think we`ve got a lot of those headwinds behind us. The cold weather is behind us, energy prices have stabilized and you`re starting to see the dollar stabilize a little bit as well. Those have all been huge anchors to pull.

And we think that earnings are going to be much, much better in the second half. Look at earnings in the neighbor of high and mid-single digits or so. That`s not bad, and we think that could really drive mid-single digit growths in stock as well.

So, valuations are stretched, no doubt about it, but they`re not massively overvalued. We`ve seen about 35 percent of periods be more expensive than they are today. So, we think that prices can continue to move higher, but they`re not going to move higher without earnings growth.

That is the real catalyst and fuel for the second half.

HERERA: Lindsey, do you agree with that? I mean — because we haven`t really seen a noticeable pull back in stocks for some time now.

PIEGZA: You know, it`s interesting because, eventually, we will have to see the organic growth in the consumer sector. But if we look over the past six months, retail sales have been growing at 0.16 percent.

This is the slowest pace that we`ve seen in years. So, clearly, consumers are not outspending gang busters, certainly not spending those gasoline price savings.

But I want to go back to a stronger dollar. This is something that we do expect to be a lingering theme in this second half of the year, particular with ongoing volatility in Greece.

MATHISEN: What do you expect, Lindsey, in fixed income specifically because that is your area of focus? And, you know, earlier this week, some Fed official were talking as did bill gross, about some concerns about liquidity in the bond market or at least in corners of it. Talk to me broadly about fixed income and also about any liquidity concerns you might have.

PIEGZA: Well, I think the biggest idea is that we do expect rates to remain very low through the end of the year. Now, certainly, the biggest wild card is a Fed rate increase. But we have to remember that the timing for a 2015 rate increase is predicated on the Fed`s own forecast of continued improvement in the overall economy, strong improvement in the labor market as well as the near term reversal of inflation back towards 2 percent.

But we really haven`t seen any of these variables. As I mentioned, growth remains subpar. The labor market is showing positive but a loss of momentum in terms of monthly hiring gains and inflation has continued to retreat from that 2 percent target since 2011. So, I think when cooler heads prevail and we do recognize the still lackluster pace of the economy, that will put even further downward pressure on rates going forward.

HERERA: So, Burt, if we don`t have massively stretched valuations and the bull market continues, what does worry you? What would be a red flag for you that maybe we`re not recognizing right now or that you`re a little concerned about?

WHITE: Well, the first and foremost it`s earnings. I mean, will earnings growth be able to really move higher? You`ve got some headwinds there.
Clearly, corporate America has not been spending, doing a lot of capex and really investing in their own businesses. That certainly is a headwind.

And then you have to look at the consumer and whether or no the consumer is going to open up their pocketbooks and go to the malls and begin to spend money. We`re starting see some of that. Retail sales has improved a little bit here, housing has improved a little bit here, ISM was pretty good, and we think payrolls are going to continue to move higher, you know, north of the 200,000 range.

So, based on all of that, we think that you`re going to start to see spending both at corporate America as well as the consumer and that`s going to end up driving top-line revenue growth.

It`s going to sloppy, you know, probably in the 2 percent range. But it`s better than zero. That`s where we`ve been. And we think that that`s going to ultimately drive some success.

MATHISEN: All right. Let me ask you both very quickly — if we get together on the first of January 2016, Burt, will stock prices be higher than they are today? If so, by how much or lower? The same for you, Lindsey.

Real quick.

WHITE: We think stocks are going to be higher. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 to 7 percent from where we stand today.

MATHISEN: And, Lindsey?

PIEGZA: And I think if the Fed can properly communicate that they`re going to remain on the sidelines through 2016, I think we could continue to see upward momentum in equities.

HERERA: All right. On that note, Burt, thank you very much. Lindsey, thank you as well. Appreciate it.

MATHISEN: And the technology sector and banking sectors, two groups that matter maybe the most to the markets because they are the two biggest sectors in the S&P 500. Tech outperformed in the first half while financials were basically flat.

So, what happens next for these two groups?

Kayla Tausche has our outlook for the banks, but first, Josh Lipton talks tech.


JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to look for in the techs in the second half of the year:

Tech giants will keep doing their very best to sell us new devices, and no product will get more attention than Apple`s new iPhone which Tim Cook is expected unveil this fall.

But it won`t be just hardware. Later this month, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) launches Windows 10, the new version of it is operating system.

Another theme to watch, tech companies splitting in two. EBay`s spinoff of PayPal is scheduled to be completed on July 17th and Hewlett-Packard
(NYSE:HPQ) is on track to split on November 1st, with one company focused on business software and services and the other on personal computers and printers.

And, finally, how will recent C-suite changes play out? And Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Twitter and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) with a new CFO will be in the spotlight as investors wait and whether the company returns some of it is $64 billion in cash to shareholders.

That`s your second half tech outlook for.




KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in the banking sector in the second half this year:

Investors in financial names will want to pay close attention to the Fed.
A rate hike will make bank business models more profitably, but it may be baked in already. The sector rose 8 percent in the second quarter and some of the most rate sensitive names up more than 10 percent.

Payday for investment banks after a record first half for mergers and acquisition, big banks will reap some $5 billion in fees as more than $800 billion in deals come to a close.

Small banks will await the fate of Senator Richard Shelby`s banking reform bill. Its passage, even with changes, could eliminate some costly regulation for midsize banks with slightly more than $50 billion in assets currently deemed systemically important.

And watch for more pruning of bank branches. For the fifth year, banks are closing more stores than opening them. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Fifth Third are among banks aiming to shutter more this year.

That`s your second half banking outlook.



HERERA: So, coming up, we`ve taken a look at expectations for the economy and the markets. But which sectors will shine?


MATHISEN: The first half of this year was not as strong for home sales as expected. Instead, it was a banner half for renting. Will that dynamic change in the second half?

Here`s Diana Olick with some answers.


DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in the housing sector in the second half of this year:

It is all about prices, for both buying and renting. Home prices are still rising but at a slower pace than this time last year. Not the case for rent, which is at record highs in some markets as demands far outpace the supply.

Yes, we are seeing more new multifamily construction and deliveries of those units. But occupancy is at an all-time high, despite predictions last year that more renters would turn into buyers.

The key for buyers, though, is two-fold. First, the mortgage market.
Rates are expected to rise slightly and new rules for lenders going into effect in the second half of this year could stem access to credit.

Second, supply. Housing starts are rising but at a far slower pace than demand. Builders are trying to hold on to their pricing power by keeping the markets slim but some are finally starting to give, putting up lower priced homes, which could help sales.

That your second half housing outlook.



HERERA: On to another leg of the economy, retail and the consumer. In the beginning of the half, Americans had a tight grasp on their wallet but that`s eased up a bit.

So, what lies ahead for consumers and retailers in the next six months?

Courtney Reagan takes a look.


COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for for retail in the second half of the year:

As the all-important back-to-school and holiday season gets under way, investors will be taking note of names like Ralph Lauren, Tiffany
(NYSE:TIF) and Michael Kors, to see if they can shake off first half headwinds, like port congestion, the strong dollar, and subsequent dwindling flows.

Key retailers, Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN), American Eagle and Abercrombie will be banking on back-to-school spend to lift sales, but apparent sales are likely to shift later into the third quarter as more and more students wait to buy until after they see what their friends are wearing.

And Marvin Ellison, JCPenney`s incoming CEO, officially takes over the reins from Mike Ullman on August 1st. Watch for possible strategy shifts at the department store. And because most of the holiday merchandise has been ordered months in advance, Gap (NYSE:GPS) has warned investors not to expect much improvement at its Gap (NYSE:GPS) and Banana Republic stores until the spring.

That`s your second half retail outlook.



MATHISEN: Innovation and expansion are on the agenda for autos and airlines in the second half.

Phil LeBeau tells us what is in the works for the two industries and how the price of fuel will play a big role.


PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for from the auto and airline industries in the second half of this year:

In autos, watch Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. He`s promised an IPO of Ferrari perhaps by late fall, while continuing to push a merger of Fiat Chrysler with another automaker.

And the new model to look for will be Tesla`s first crossover, the Model X, expected to come out around late September.

In airlines, the battle over expanding Middle East carriers will be front and center. U.S. airlines say they are losing business to Gulf carriers getting subsidies — a charge Middle East airlines deny.

Meanwhile, high demand and relative low fuel prices should keep airline profits soaring.

That`s your second half outlook for the auto and airline industries.



HERERA: And one sector that`s really on a roll so far this year is health care. A lot has changed in that industry and it will be under scrutiny over the next six months.

Bertha Coombs tells us why and what`s next.


BERTHA COOMBS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in health care in the second half — in a word, consolidation.

Acquisition move also come to a head as the big insurers look to get more efficient by gaining scale and breadth through mergers. If Anthem succeeds in buying Cigna and Aetna (NYSE:AET) in acquiring Humana (NYSE:HUM), each of the combined firms would have more than $100 billion in annual revenues, less than giant UnitedHealth but almost twice as much as their next biggest rival. That could put the deals under tough anti-trust scrutiny.

Analysts say we could see more acquisition by health systems. This fall, the switch to a new electronic billing system could cause problems for hospitals and doctors who are bracing for payment and billing glitches.

That could weigh on the help IT firms that provide systems like Cerner (NASDAQ:CERN), Allscripts, and Athena Help, which has vowed to compensate doctors for delays.

That`s your outlook for health care in the second half.



MATHISEN: Washington has a lot on its plate over the next few months — from hearings to gearing up for the 2016 presidential race.

John Harwood joins us to discuss what`s on the agenda in the nation`s capital.

John, President Obama has had a good couple of weeks. He`s picked up some political momentum, the economy is doing well. What`s he going to do with whatever political capital he has in the second half of the year?

JOHN HARWOOD, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, he`s got two big initiatives, Tyler, that he needs congressional support on.

One is this potential nuclear deal with Iran. They`ve just extended the deadline. We don`t know if they are going to get a deal. But I think the odds are likely better than 50/50 that they will. He`s got to push that through.

Economically, the number one initiative is getting the Trans Pacific Partnership. What he wants from Congress so far is simply the authority to negotiate that deal without making it subject to amendment when it goes before Congress but he doesn`t have the agreement and he doesn`t have Congress approval.

So, those are the two biggest things the president is going to be pushing for.

HERERA: Which brings us to Congress. What about the Republicans in Congress? What`s the agenda for them?

HARWOOD: Sue, I think the number one agenda for Republicans in Congress is to get through the end of the fiscal year and start the new fiscal year without having a government shutdown, without having a debt crisis. That is a challenge because of the views of some of the Republican members.
We`ve seen Democrats threaten to hold up spending bills if Republicans don`t match the increases that they plan for a defense, with increases for some domestic programs.

So, we have the makings of a confrontation. I do think Republican leaders have been burned by past shutdowns and by past debt crises, so they are going to work very hard to avoid them, and so will the White House.

MATHISEN: At what point, John, does the presidential race start to make Washington and policymaking seem irrelevant?

HARWOOD: Very soon. The debate is accelerating among the very large Republican field, much smaller Democratic field. The first televised debate among all of the Republican candidates is going to take place in a couple of months. That will be on FOX. We`ll have the third one on CNBC.
And all of those are winnowing events that command the public attention, the political attention of the country, and pretty soon, President Obama is going to have a hard time being heard.

MATHISEN : John, how many of the 400 presidential candidates in the GOP are going to be less standing at the end of this year or early January?

HARWOOD: Well, I think that the rational voter hopes that it will be maybe half of the current field. We`ve got 14 declared candidates. John Kasich and Scott Walker are talking about getting in.

The problem is candidates need not only attention but they need money to continue to compete. You have winnowing events early in the year in Iowa and New Hampshire, but I think the debates before then may have some of that effect and candidates who aren`t getting traction are going to have it difficult to have the money and attention to keep going on.

MATHISEN: John, thanks very much. Have a great weekend. John Harwood at the White House.

HARWOOD: You too.

MATHISEN: Well, there`s no doubt that oil and gas prices will be in focus for the second half of the year. Are there warning signs heading into that second half? We`ll let you know, coming up.


HERERA: Here`s what to watch next week. A report on international trade, the gauge of the economic trends here and abroad. Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from the Central Bank`s June meeting, and we`ll hear from Fed Chief Janet Yellen on Friday. And that is what to watch next week.

MATHISEN: Of course, the transportation sector is a key gauge of economic activity overall.

Here`s Morgan Brennan with a look at the shippers and the rails.


MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch for in the transportation sector in the second half:

Volume, especially for railroads. This year has been a bumpy track for rail stocks like Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP), Norfolk Southern (NYSE:SO) and CSX (NYSE:CSX), as coal, grain and oil shipments have fallen due to low energy prices and a stronger dollar. Analysts expect those numbers to stay weak over the next few months before stabilizing in the fourth quarter, as volume comparisons to last year become less challenging.

Companies that cart goods for consumers should fare better, as more discretionary income translates into more spending. That should boost trucking, which moves the majority of retail products and, with it, names like Swift Transportation, Knight Transportation (NYSE:KNX), and Warner Enterprises.

Trucking volumes, while growing, have also been softer than anticipated.
But that`s expected to pick up as we head into the holiday season. Lower diesel prices should also bolster profit.

And speaking of the holidays, UPS and FedEx (NYSE:FDX) are already gearing up for their peak seasons. The delivery giants are widely expected to implement new pricing strategies to make the most of their shipping network.

The question now, if they do, will those costs trickle down out to consumers on Cyber Monday?

That your second half transportation outlook.



HERERA: The transports and basically of the industries we`ve discussed benefit if oil prices stayed at the low levels they`re at now. But there are a few factors that could cause volatility.

Jackie DeAngelis tells us what to watch out for.


JACKIE DEANGELIS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what to watch in energy for the second half of the year:

Domestic supply — the market has certainly been off balance, despite the roughly 60 percent in oil rigs, U.S. production is still 9.5 million barrels per day. There could be a pressure that could drive oil down to the 40s or even perhaps the 30s.

Also in focus, geopolitics. How do conflicts in the Middle East play out and will OPEC production be threatened? Speaking of OPEC, the cartel will meet again in December. If there are no issues of violence across the region, will the cartel decide to cut production?

Then there`s Iran. If the nuclear deal is reached and U.S. sanctions were lifted, will the international flooded with oil? And what about demand?
Concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis and slowing Chinese growth are factors that some analysts point to as another sign of lower oil prices to come.

That`s your second half energy outlook.



MATHISEN: And finally tonight, the roads will be the busiest they`ve been in years this holiday weekend, this thanks to a stronger economy and rising consumer confidence. AAA expects the number of American hitting the roads will be the greatest since 2007. That is partly because, of course, of cheaper gas. The national average today, around $2.78 a gallon for regular, and that is nearly 90 cents less than it was last Independence Day weekend.

HERERA: I will not be one of those people on the road.

MATHISEN: I will probably not be either.

HERERA: No. Stay home. Have a party.

MATHISEN: I`ll be local.

HERERA: All right. That does it for this special edition of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for watching.

MATHISEN: And thanks from me as well. I`m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great week, everybody. And we will see you here on Monday.


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post broadcast at 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) 2015 CNBC, Inc.

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