TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Summit by the sea. The
heads of the world`s two largest economies meet for the first time ever.
They`ve got a lot to discuss and both have a lot at stake.
Military options. The White House vows a response to Syria over a chemical
weapons attack. But what will that response be? And how will markets
Stuck in the middle. They`re not baby boomers or millennials, but if Gen
X-ers have a lot of spending power, why are they being ignored?
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday,
Good evening, everyone, and welcome. I`m Tyler Mathisen. Sue Herera is
Well, the talks are likely to be tense, in diplomatic parlance, blunt or
frank. The stakes for consumers, investors, ordinary citizens are high.
Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived today in Florida for a summit by the
sea with President Trump. On the agenda: trade, jobs and North Korea.
Kayla reports tonight from Palm Beach.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The leaders of the
world`s two economic superpowers meeting for the first time. President
Trump on home turf at his resort in Florida as the 24-hour summit begins.
China`s President Xi Jinping greeted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The two met last month, and Tillerson echoed Beijing`s call for mutual
respect and a win-win relationship, but drew a harder line on Thursday.
REX TILERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Even as we share and desire to work
together, the United States does recognize the challenges China can present
to American interests.
TAUSCHE: The meeting is the toughest diplomatic test for Trump and a young
administration just 77 days in, with several key posts still unfilled and a
diverse set of views on China, some of which fueled Trump`s campaign ire.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can`t continue to allow
China to rape our country, and that`s what they`re doing. It`s the
greatest theft in the history of the world.
TAUSCHE: That since been met with sharp rebukes from China`s second in
LI KEQIANG, CHINESE PREMIER (through translator): We don`t wish to see a
trade war breaking up between the two countries. That wouldn`t make our
trade fairer and that hurts both economies.
TAUSCHE: But urgency came from North Korea`s continued test launches of
missiles, two days before Xi and Trump were to meet, before that, during
Trump`s meetings with Japan`s prime minister. White House officials say
China still has economic influence over North Korea, where political
influence has faded. China is its neighbor`s only trading partner and
source of currency, propping up an economy just $1,200 in gross income per
The focus on North Korea means economic issues will take a back seat. But
White House officials say a framework will be discussed for dealing with
trade, tariffs and currencies and setting deadlines for the near future.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche, Palm Beach, Florida.
MATHISEN: While the Trump administration had its goals, but there are also
things the Chinese leader wants to accomplish at the meeting with President
Eunice Yoon has that part of the story from Beijing.
EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: For President Xi`s
visit to Mar-a-Lago, China has a message for President Donald Trump: Don`t
blame us for America`s problems.
The foreign ministry has been telegraphing what President Xi and his
delegation are likely to emphasize at the summit, that China has
contributed greatly to the American economy. The foreign ministry rattled
off a list of statistics to back China`s architect, saying 40 percent of
China`s trades are generated by China`s companies here, 2.6 million
American jobs are created because of bilateral trade and investment and
each American family saves $850 per year because of cheap Chinese goods.
The message has been reiterated in the state press, but the communist
party`s “Global Times” newspaper running a editorial with the headline that
reads, “U.S. job losses are not China`s fault.” In driving home this
message, the Chinese are hoping to deflect what they expect to be heavy
criticism by Trump over the trade deficit and job losses in manufacturing.
The message also provides a window into what Beijing is most worried about
— the meeting could lead to finger-pointing that could destabilize the
From Beijing`s perspective, what`s most important is for President Xi to
project strength at this summit. China is facing a leadership reshuffle in
the fall. So, for domestic reasons, President Xi needs to appear tough.
So, the worse case scenario for China is if there are any developments that
can be perceived as an embarrassment for President Xi, any sign of open
hostility, awkward moments, or a disrespectful tweet. The best case
scenario for the Chinese is if they manage to avoid a full on disagreement
on trade, market access, North Korea and other issues, and if the two sides
establish a path to constructive dialogue. Also if they get reassurances
that the China-U.S. relationship is on a stable course.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon, in Beijing.
MATHISEN: On Wall Street today, stocks rose despite the president
indicating he is considering a wide range of options following the chemical
weapons attack in Syria. Investors took notice, got a little bit jittery
and stocks lost some of their luster. By the close, the DJIA rose 14
points to finish at 20,662. At one point, it was higher by 96 points.
NASDAQ was up 14 at the close, and the S&P 500 higher by about 4 1/2.
Bob Pisani has more now on the geopolitical rumblings and how they affected
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Stocks were posting
modest gains into the middle of the day and then begun to change course
after President Trump comments on Syria and North Korea. The president
said that something should happen with the Syrian president following the
recent chemical attack.
Then, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Syrian President Bashar
Assad should be removed from power, which appears to be a reversal in the
White House`s position in Syria.
President Trump also said that the United States should be prepared to act
alone when it comes to North Korea. Now, this was a fairly rare moment
when geopolitical events have had an affect on markets. However, it was a
very modest effect. The Dow only dropped about 80 points from its high and
it still ended the day in the green.
Now, contrast this to the 200-point drop in the Dow that happened
yesterday, after the Federal Reserve said they would be moving to reduce
their balance sheet later this year and then House Speaker Paul Ryan said
tax reform could take longer than health care reform. Those comments had a
much bigger impact on the market.
So, here`s the bottom line: geopolitical risk is now surfacing as a risk to
markets. But the big risk factors remain the Federal Reserve and any risk
to the Trump agenda of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
MATHISEN: So, let`s dig a little deeper now on the question of whether
investors are starting to pay more attention to global events. Brad
McMillan is chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network and
joins us now to discuss.
Brad, I don`t mean for you to criticize or contradict what Bob Pisani just
said, but as you look at the panoply of things that the markets and
investors must consider, does he have it right, that it remains, the Fed,
the economy, the Trump agenda that are number one in investor`s eyes a and
these geopolitical things that are a distant second and third maybe?
BRAD MCMILLAN, COMMONWEALTH FINANCIAL NETWORK CIO: I do agree with him,
Tyler, and I think the thing that`s remarkable today, and you kind of said
this, is not what happened but what didn`t happen. In other words, we have
the president of the United States taking one of the nuttiest geopolitical
problems and saying, we may act alone, and essentially nothing much
happened. I think that points out that it is about the fundamentals, it
about the U.S., it is about the economy. Whether that`s a good thing or
not, I don`t know. But I think it`s good that people are starting to pay
attention abroad again.
MATHISEN: Well, it does strike me as events unfolded around mid-afternoon
today with Mr. Tillerson`s press conference and the president flying down,
making some comments on Air Force One, it brings us into the position to
hear the idea that with respect to North Korea, the other effect there is
on China. With respect to Syria, the other country affected there is
Russia. Two of our biggest rivals with stakes in these fights.
MCMILLAN: Well, I think when you look at Syria, for example, first of all,
you have to consider, we had troops there. We have enormous forces
throughout the Middle East. And we have for, you know, since the year 2000
at least. So, you know, whatever we do, the Russians that were there,
we`ve actually worked this well on strikes against ISIS.
So, this is not something that`s going to be too disruptive, and in any
event, we`re not on that good terms with the Russians anyway. So, whatever
we do, modest effects if any.
MCMILLAN: China, of course, is a much bigger relationship. We are still
on reasonably good terms with them. We`ll see how that works out.
So, and North Korea is right in the middle of everything.
MCMILLAN: But you got to remember, too, we have South Korea to consider,
we have Japan to consider.
MCMILLAN: In other words, we`re not going to act on this alone. I mean,
you can make comments, you can issue tweets, but policy, particularly,
military policy, has to go to through the normal process.
MATHISEN: Let`s come back to where we started, which was a discussion more
on U.S. fundamentals and the economy. Tomorrow, the jobs report. Quick
thought on it. How important is it?
MCMILLAN: It`s very important. But it`s only important on the downside.
If we get moderate news to good news, over 180 or something, recovery
continues. If it`s well below that, we have to ask some tough questions.
MATHISEN: Brad, thank you. Thank you vey much. Have a great evening. We
Brad McMillan, Commonwealth Financial Network.
MCMILLAN: Thank you, Tyler.
MATHISEN: The other big story for the market today is tomorrow`s jobs
reports. So far this year, the labor market has seen significant gains.
Nearly a half million people have found jobs so far.
But as Hampton Pearson reports, March may have been a month of pullbacks.
HAMPTON PEARSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: In March, it was
Winter Storm Stella blanketing much of the Northeast and Midwest that most
economists believe slowed the phase of hiring. The consensus forecast sees
investors adding 175,000 workers to payrolls last month, with the
unemployment rate holding steady at 4.7 percent. That`s below the 237,000
per month average in the first two months of the year.
THOMAS SIMONS, JEFFERIES & ECONOMY: We do see some pulling forward of job
gains in the spring for weather-related industries, such as construction,
because projects that wouldn`t have been started in January and February
under normal circumstances may have been started that way in 2017.
PEARSON: However, for the second straight month, there was bullish private
sector job growth. The closely watched ADP Survey says employers added
263,000 workers and jobless claims fell by 25,000 last week, the biggest
drop in two years.
But there are signs of a slowdown in hiring, as businesses wait for a
better read on the prospects for President Trump`s proposed tax cuts and
SIMONS: It`s certainly possible we see a little of a slowdown on those
fronts because we — I think at the beginning of the year, would have seen
more details on those plans by now.
PEARSON: This week`s Fed minutes showed monetary policymakers remain
concerned about possible wage growth and also a reluctance to gauge the
possible impact of the Trump economic agenda.
MARK HAMRICK, BANKRATE.COM: I would say that the Fed obviously wants to
see the job market continuing to heal. It wants to have further confidence
that inflation is getting closer to its 2 percent target. And what would
really help with that is a true acceleration in wage growth.
PEARSON: If Friday`s job report falls short of expectations, some
economists are already saying, strong underlying economic data is setting
the stage for a strong comeback in April.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Hampton Pearson in Washington.
MATHISEN: Still ahead, the big money behind the big push into the final
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: I`m in a stimulator
for Boeing (NYSE:BA) Starliner capsule, which starts ferrying astronauts to
the International Space Station as soon as next year. The space race is
heating up. And we have that story coming up on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: Aetna (NYSE:AET) plans to pull out of the Iowa`s health care
exchange. The decision comes three days after Wellmark Blue Cross Blue
Shield said it would not sell plans in the state next year. That leaves
least Iowa with just two other insurers. Aetna (NYSE:AET) covers about
30,000 people in the Hawkeye State who buy insurance through the Obamacare
exchanges. The company still evaluating if it will sell plans in three
House Speaker Paul Ryan says Republicans are making progress on health
care, but there`s no bill yet. Today, he indicated that new legislation
will take time as various GOP factions work out their differences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), HOUSE SPEAKER: I actually think that divide is
narrowing quite quickly. What this idea represents is a goal that everyone
from the Freedom Caucus to every other group that`s represented here is
seeking. How do we lower premiums? How do we lower premiums and continue
the protections for people with preexisting conditions? This idea does
that. And so, this is one of those ideas that narrows the differences and
brings people closer toward consensus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: Health care is just one of the many pieces of unfinished
business left in Washington as lawmakers leave for spring break.
Eamon Javers is covering the story from our nation`s capital.
Is there, Eamon, really a health care time line or is it just king of fluid
EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: If fluid and
amorphous is a good way of putting it right now, Tyler. The timeline
remains not right now. Not necessarily any time soon. The problem is, for
Speaker Paul Ryan, he`s trying to wrangle the House Freedom Caucus of
conservatives who want to dismantle Obamacare entirely and he`s got to
balance that against other forces in the Republican conference who don`t
want to dismantle some of the more politically popular aspects of
Obamacare, itself, continues to rise in popularity as more people across
the country confront the prospect of it being taken away. So that
political dynamic hasn`t changed since the failure of the president`s
health care plan a while ago. They are still trying to negotiate up on
Capitol Hill. Paul Ryan is trying to bring Republicans together with the
House of Representatives.
If he is successful in doing that, he still has the challenge, which is the
Senate Republicans, who don`t see eye-to-eye with any of them on all that
MATHISEN: Let`s switch to tax reform. Speaker Ryan rattling the markets
yesterday when he sort of pushed off the time line for tax reform. Today,
though, Freedom Caucus` Mark Meadow said it could come by August. What are
we hearing here?
JAVERS: Well, look, August is an ambitious time line. It`s always been an
ambitious time line. The Trump administration has set that out as their
goal. But this is a very complicated piece of legislation that the Trump
administration is trying to move through. The challenge that they have is
that they wanted to be not a deficit-busting bill. That is if you cut
taxes dramatically, you`re going to raise the deficit.
So, how do they raise revenue at the same time they`re lowering tax rates?
One idea was a border adjustment tax. That`s not necessarily going to fly
in the Trump White House. They floated for about a minute-and-a-half, the
idea of the value-added tax or carbon taxes. After about a minute-and-a-
half trial balloon, that was shot down as well.
So, they are still stuck with this idea of how they raise revenues in all
this? They don`t have a good answer for that.
MATHISEN: Let`s switch to the confirmation here, a vote on the Supreme
Court justice, Mr. Gorsuch. Where does it stand?
JAVERS: Well, as of right now, Republicans in the Senate are clearing the
way for that, they`re doing that in relatively dramatic fashion by Senate
standards. They call at this time nuclear option. It`s not as fiery as
all that. But what it means in the Senate is it ultimately they`re going
to lower the threshold needed to pass the Supreme Court nomination from a
60-vote margin to a 50-plus-1 vote margin.
So, when they change the Senate rules, that is a dramatic step by Senate
standards, they will be able to get Mr. Gorsuch confirmed. And probably by
late tomorrow, he will be confirmed with the Supreme Court. The White
House is already planning a swearing in ceremony for him.
MATHISEN: Eamon, thanks very much. Eamon Javers in Washington.
JAVERS: You bet.
MATHISEN: Well, Unilever (NYSE:UN) unveils restructuring plans, big ones,
and that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The consumer products giant which we recently told you spurned a $143
billion takeover offer from Kraft (NYSE:KFT) Heinz, said it was selling its
spread division and merging its two food businesses in an effort to drive
growth. The maker of Dove soap, don`t try to eat that, folks, and Ben and
Jerry`s ice cream, which is delicious, also said it plans to raise its
dividend and launch a more than $5 billion share buyback program. Shares
rose a fraction to $50 even.
Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) will sell a majority of its convenience stores to 7-
Eleven`s Japanese parent company for more than $3 billion. The latest move
represents Sunoco`s desire to narrow its focus to its fuel business.
Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) shares up 20 percent on that news to $28.69.
Subprime online lender Elevate Credit made its market debut today on the
New York Stock Exchange. In its second attempt to go public, the company
increased its share offering while cutting the offering price. Despite
cutting the price, the Elevate CEO says he`s still happy with the results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN REES, ELEVATE CREDIT CEO: We raised just a little under the amount we
were originally intended to raise. So, we`ll be able to pay down the debt
we wanted to pay down and really fuel that ongoing growth we see serving
such a massive market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: Shares rose 19 percent to $7.76.
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) slapped a sale rating on the semiconductor maker
Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) saying it`s not confident the company
will be able to compete against Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Nvidia. The firm
also questioned the company`s ability to meet financial analyst`s targets
and gave the stock an $11 price target. Rare sale rating sent shares of
AMD down 6 percent to $13.27.
Well, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans to hire 30,000 workers over the next year.
The positions will be in the U.S., but part time. The jobs will be in its
virtual customer service unit and in its warehouses. It`s a part of a
larger hiring spree by the company, which said in January that it would add
100,000 full time jobs.
And speaking of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Jeff Bezos, its CEO, is taking the
space race to a whole new level. The Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) founder says
he`s going to sell a billion in Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock every year to
help fund his space rocket venture Blue Origin. His goal: space
colonization, and he`s not the only one.
Morgan Brennan joins us from a space symposium in Colorado Springs where
entrepreneurs are gathered to share their sky high ambitions.
BRENNAN: It`s much harder than it looks.
At the 33rd Annual Space Symposium —
The mission is clear. It takes not just a small step but a giant leap for
all mankind towards the final frontier.
JANE POYNTER, WORLD VIEW CO-FOUNDER & CEO: We are in the future going to
take people up to the stratosphere.
BRENNAN: Jane Poynter is the co-founder and CEO of World View, a company
which hopes to in the near future take passengers for the ride of their
POYNTER: We take off on these large high altitude balloons which is an
incredibly gentle way to get people up to the edge of space. We can also
hang out there, looking out these incredibly large windows at this
beautiful view for hours at a time. And, of course, we have a bar onboard
BRENNAN: Taking people to space is something Amazon`s Jeff Bezos has
dreamed of since high school.
At the symposium, the billionaire showed off his space startup Blue
Origin`s New Shepard rocket and a model of the crew capsule, which carry
six paying customers at a time to the edge of space. Bezos hopes the first
passengers will take flight late next year.
JEFF BEZOS, BLUE ORIGIN FOUNDER & CEO: We`re not going to take any
shortcuts. So, we`ll put humans on this vehicle when we`re ready and not a
BRENNAN: Bezos like other space-preneurs know the biggest challenge is
BEZOS: Most of the things you want to do in space that are truly
interesting right now have a very high price of admission. If we can
reduce the cost of launch by a factor of ten and then by a factor of a
hundred, you will be living in a completely new world. It will be a golden
age of space exploration.
BRENNAN: A golden age that will likely include fierce competition. Rival
SpaceX is also focused on costs, having just reused rockets for the first
time ever. That ability to recycle hardware and to eventually do so
efficiently like an airplane could transform the industry. Much of this,
the stuff of sci-fi stories yet many here believe could soon become
reality, especially as NASA, which governs and guides the U.S. civilian
space sector continues its own development, with Boeing (NYSE:BA) and
Aerojet rocket of the most powerful rocket ever built.
JAY LITTLES, AEROJET ADVANCE LAUNCH DIRECTOR: The human element is always,
you know, just so exciting, and so, we`re really, really interested in, you
know, the heavy lift rocket is going to enable us to do all the deep space
exploration that is — you know, it`s the stuff that`s been in movies
recently. And it`s so exciting that we`re going to get humans out there.
We`re going to get beyond the moon, we`re going to get them out to Mars.
And Mars is sort can be the Atlanta airport for the solar system. So, it`s
just a very exciting times.
BRENNAN: For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Morgan Brennan in Colorado
MATHISEN: Still to come, the forgotten generation. Millennial obsessed
companies are leaving one age group in the dust and we`ll tell you why that
trend could be costing big firms.
MATHISEN: Advertisers and big brands are ignoring Generation X for
millennials. According to Entreprenuer.com, today`s brands are so focused
on millennials that they`ve overlooked the 61 million Gen-Xers who make
enough money to be a huge growth opportunity.
So, why they are being ignored and what can be done to engage them?
Dean Crutchfield, a brand expert with his own firm, the Dean Crutchfield
Company, joins us now to discuss.
Dean, good as always to see you.
These poor Gen-Xers, they are being ignored.
DEAN CRUTCHFIELD, BRAND EXPERT: Yes, yes, they are, indeed. They have
been for some years now. Everyone`s in allure of the millennials, and now
the Gen-C, the even younger ones. So, anybody up to 36, 37 years old has
the top priority for most brands. And sometimes you have to ask questions
as to why that is.
MATHISEN: Is it because the millennials are the biggest generation in
terms of numbers or because it is between those ages of 18 and 35 that
people supposedly create their brand identities?
MATHISEN: Affiliate. Once a quest user, always a quest user.
CRUTCHFIELD: Yes, absolutely. You got to get into that younger generation
to get them involved with your brand, build that loyalty, build that
recognition. So, it`s an absolute critical part of the population. It`s a
very important part of a consumer base companies they`re after.
But to your point, Gen X, Gen Y, are huge markets. And guess what, they`ve
got a lot of money.
MATHISEN: And so do we baby boomers, Dean, and don`t you forget it.
MATHISEN: I want to switch very quickly to two things. One is the
advertising exodus from the popular television show “The O`Reilly Factor.”
What do you make of it and do you see any end in sight?
CRUTCHFIELD: I think there is no ends in sight there. This is a serious
situation. I think what it shows was brands, you know, do act themselves.
They are accountable. They are responsible, and they make those people
they partner with just the same.
And this is a case where these brands have basically said, this is not
good, this is not right. And we don`t like how FOX has been behaving in
terms with their response. So, understandably, they are annoyed and
they`re flustered and it could damage their brand reputation, which is
absolutely paramount for them and they must protect it.
MATHISEN: Thirty seconds on the Pepsi ad with one of the Kardashian`s
handing a can of Pepsi to a policeman amidst a demonstration. They pulled
it. Was it just a clumsy ad?
CRUTCHFIELD: It was a clumsy ad. I mean, there`s three things they did
wrong. Number one, you got to know your audience. And in this case, it
was the millennials and the Gen-Cs that they were targeting. Number two,
jumping on the back of a national protest movement with a self-indulge ad
about your product is not going to fly and that clearly didn`t happen.
And then, actually what I think that hasn`t been talked about, which
actually did kill the ad, was it was too politically correct. And I think
that distorted it. It didn`t give it any hope whatsoever.
MATHISEN: Dean, we covered a lot there.
CRUTCHFIELD: Thank you.
Dean Crutchfield of the Dean Crutchfield Company.
That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. For Sue Herera, I`m Tyler
Mathisen. Thanks for watching. Have a great evening, everybody. And
we`ll see you right back here tomorrow night.
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