SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Feeling the heat. It was the
worst day of the year for stocks, as turbulence builds in Washington and
spreads to Wall Street.
TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: New peak. Why Americans
are taking on more debt than ever. And is that creating a new risk for the
HERERA: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) ambitions? Can the world`s largest online
retailer shake up the multibillion dollar pharmacy business?
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Wednesday,
MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone. And welcome.
We haven`t had a day like this for a while. A thunderbolt hit the market
today. Jolting it awake from weeks of calm. Stock slid, so did treasury
yields, and the dollar. Volatility meantime spiked. Why? Well, for
weeks, Wall Street mostly shrugged off any D.C. drama. Instead, focusing
on corporate and economic fundamentals.
Today, the shrugging stopped and the selling started. It came fast and
furious after last night`s reports that President Trump asked then-FBI
Director James Comey to back off the investigation into fired national
security adviser Michael Flynn.
The allegations contained in an as-yet unseen Comey memo may mean
absolutely nothing to the economy, not now, maybe not ever. But the
concern on Wall Street is that the Trump/GOP agenda of tax cuts,
deregulation and infrastructure spending could founder or fail amid a hail
storm of investigations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 372 points to 20,606, NASDAQ off
158, the S&P 500 fell 43. Though it was the worst day of the year for the
indexes, we should point out that they all remain near record levels.
HERERA: So, what was the response in Washington that the markets were so
Eamon Javers is covering the story for us tonight.
Good to see you, Eamon, as always.
What was the response from Capitol Hill —
EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Sue.
HERERA: — and especially Republican lawmakers?
JAVERS: Well, for the most part, Republicans held firm today in support of
the president. We saw the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan come out and say
that he wants Congress to investigate, to get to the bottom of it, but Paul
Ryan also said that he simply doesn`t worry about things he can`t control.
The concern for this White House, though, is that Republicans are taking
steps to continue their investigations, particularly the Senate
Intelligence Committee under Senator Richard Burr, Republican. They`re
asking for James Comey to come up and testify both publicly and privately
on Capitol Hill.
They`re also asking the FBI today for copies of that Comey memo. They want
to see it for themselves, Sue.
MATHISEN: Did the president, Eamon, make any public statements today?
Answer any questions?
JAVERS: Well, the president was out of town. He went up to Connecticut to
go to the Coast Guard Academy graduation where he made a speech. But he
did give us some insight into his state of mind, talking about his sense of
grievance here and how unfair he`s been treated.
Here is what the president had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look at the way I`ve been
treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history, and I
say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You
can`t let them get you down. You can`t let the critics and the naysayers
get in the way of your dreams.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAVERS: So, now, Sue, the White House says they`re pushing forward on the
FBI director search. They`ve interviewed four candidates — the president
has here at the White House this afternoon.
Officials here also tell me they`re pressing ahead on their legislative
agenda. They want to keep their eyes on the legislative business was the
reason they say the president was elected in the first place.
HERERA: On that note, Eamon Javers in Washington — thank you, Eamon.
JAVERS: You got it.
MATHISEN: Well, today`s selloff was broad, with bank stocks particularly
Bob Pisani watched it all from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The markets have been
rising because earnings guidance, the main driver of stock prices, have
been strong. The global economy is improving, though there has been
weakness in China recently, and geopolitical risk in Europe is now lower.
Investors believe in the Trump agenda of lower taxes, less regulation,
infrastructure spending. And they believe that the markets can withstand a
certain amount of political drama from Donald Trump as long as his agenda
keeps advancing, even if slowly.
But what`s happening now is different. Most of Trump`s tweets in the past,
while maybe odd, were not actionable. This is actionable. Talk about
obstruction of justice or an impeachment fight, that`s another story
altogether. It`s a new level of uncertainty.
So, here we are faced with the prospects of a president that might be
derailed by months of fighting. The risk is even if he survives, he loses
so much political capital that the only thing he can get through is
something that everybody can agree on, maybe infrastructure. But corporate
tax reform might be in trouble.
And this is why the markets are reacting today. So, the potential for a 5
to 10 percent pullback has increased.
Now, it`s about time we had that. We haven`t seen a modest pullback in a
long time. The bottom line, traders finally have a downside story with a
little meat to it.
Where do we go from here? Anything that closes off a path to obstruction
of justice or impeachment talk would be a market positive. But if this
picks up steam and the prospects of a Watergate style hearing, for example,
emerge — oh, it could be a very long summer.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
HERERA: So, is it politics or fundamentals behind today`s stock market
Sarah Hunt is portfolio manager at Alpine Funds and she says Washington has
finally gotten the market`s attention.
Stephen Woods joins us as well. He`s chief market strategist at Russell
Investments. He believes investors are getting back to market
Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
Stephen, I`m going to start with you. You say you can`t hide from
fundamentals. And that`s what the market is now pricing in.
STEPHEN WOOD, RUSSELL INVESTMENTS CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST: I think so.
There`s been a lot of political instability for some time now. But if you
look at the fundamentals in the U.S. economy, the global economy, and
earnings, they`re good. But valuations right now, the price of the market,
is very expensive. So, we think it`s going to take more than good
fundamentals to support these lofty valuations.
And you shouldn`t just look in the U.S. as well. This is why we preach
multi-asset and global diversity. It should be equities, fixed income look
globally. But valuations have been separating from fundamentals for a
while, and I think fundamentals have come back more to the fore of the
MATHISEN: Sarah, a lot of people have been waiting for a bit of a pullback
in the market. I mean, there have been records earlier this week, and as
we pointed out, we`re not far from those records even today.
Do you think this could be the beginning of that long-awaited pullback?
And if so, how low might we go?
SARAH HUNT, ALPINE FUNDS PORTFOLIO MANAGER: Well, I think the question is
really going to depend on how fast and how much, how quickly this moves.
Does it move to real discussions of an actual impeachment? Or is that just
a lot of hyperbole that`s going on, which we`ve heard before, even this
particular series of issues?
If it looks like the issues are going to get resolved, then I think you
might have a couple of days of volatility. But then we have to see whether
or not this is going to impact the timing of any agenda. And I think to
the point about fundamentals, I agree on the sense that there is — the
fundamentals are striving to catch up. But a lot of what`s being built
going forward has a lot to do with some of that agenda on tax reform and
So, if it looks like that`s slowing down, that`s a negative piece of
information for the fundamental picture as well.
HERERA: Stephen, does this matter for the long term investor or is this
actually an opportunity, if you`re paying attention to the fundamentals?
WOOD: I think a long term discipline really washes away a lot of short
term volatility. If you look at political headlines, they have not been
really sticky, historically speaking. So, if an expensive market with
unchanged fundamentals were to provide a discount, that would be something
of an opportunity.
But I think a person should move from their home country bias, take a more
global, more multi-asset, that way you don`t have to make a lot of these
tough decisions. And that could also help wash away some of the short term
volatility. Longer term, that discipline will help.
MATHISEN: Sarah, we hear, don`t believe much in market timing, I assume
you don`t either. But if you are an investor whose time horizon may be
shorter rather than longer and you are a little bit concerned about the
possibility of a prolonged slide in prices, what should you do?
HUNT: Well, I think I mean, generally speaking, you always advise people
to have some cash on hand if they have short term needs. So, obviously,
that`s something that you want to think about. And I think that you`ve had
a big run in the market.
And to the point where we were down today, but it`s the first time you`ve
had a down day more than 1 percent for I don`t know how long, and we`re
just off the highs. So, the question is, if you want to maybe think about
taking some of that off the table just to see where this goes for a little
while, and then looking at where else you might want to put it, again to
the point of being international asset classes as well.
So, I think there are reasons to take a look at your holdings. But you
should be doing that on a fairly regular basis anyway.
HERERA: Right. Stephen, if you had to pick one of those fundamentals that
you talked about, which would be the most important to you as you make
decisions where to allocate cash? What are you watching the most closely?
WOOD: The fundamentals right now, the economy looks OK in the U.S., we
don`t see a recession. But I`m going to be looking at what the Federal
Reserve does and what that means for inflation and what that means for our
portfolio. So, if I had to watch one data stream, it would be what Dr.
Yellen and the Federal Reserve are doing, because that`s critical
MATHISEN: Sarah, let me follow up, that`s an interesting line of thinking
there. A lot of people were thinking there are at least two more interest
rate hikes baked into the cake for the remainder of this year. Do you see
it that way, and what if the market goes through a much more volatile phase
and slides off? Does it call into question two instead of one?
HUNT: I would say that there`s definitely, if the market moves further, I
think that you`re going to start seeing whether the question of interest
rate moves will be asked again. Because certainly when we saw Brexit in
some of the volatility that was around there, you saw the Fed pause. I
don`t think they necessarily want to in June, the odds of a June hike have
come down, but they`re still above 80 percent. So, I don`t think that
unless anything major happens between now and then, or the market gets much
weaker, that June is going to be off the table.
But the question about what they do for the balance of the year is going to
be an issue. And you`re also looking and you`ve seen what`s happened to
interest rates already. So, interest rates have come back down quite
tragically, which is positive for dividend stocks and positive for
companies for a lot of the companies that — for which that`s important.
HERERA: All right. Thank you both so much — Sarah Hunt with Alpine
Funds., Stephen Wood with Russell Investments.
MATHISEN: Well, households are taking on more debt, a lot more. In fact
they know owe a record amount of it. If all that borrowing conjures up
images of 2008, there are differences this time around — as Steve Liesman
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The New York Federal
Reserve reports that household debt across the nation has hit a dubious
milestone. It finally surpassed the peak of 2008 and now stands at $12.7
trillion. So, is there a reason to worry that another financial crisis
would be brewing? It`s impossible to say, but debt is substantially
different now from the debt run-up that led to the financial crisis.
DAVID SCHIEGOLEIT, U.S. BANK PRIVATE CLIENT RESERVE: The debt service cost
right now is at a lower level mostly because interest rates are lower. If
you go back to pre-crisis levels, interest rates were at a higher rate so
the cost of carrying debt for households was higher than it is now.
LIESMAN: Since 2008, the population has also grown. So, while total debt
is higher, debt per capita is now just $48,000. That compares to $53,000
at the peak. And default rates are quite a bit lower as many have taken on
only the debt they can repay.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The confidence of repaying the debt is high at this
point. I`m being very cautious since the 2008 debacle.
LIESMAN: But that`s not true for all types of debt. Auto and student loan
debts have been decreasing. And student loan defaults are in the double
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The debt level is pretty high because I recently
finished college, and I have over $14,000 to pay off.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Me and my husband recently purchased a home. So, my
debt level has increased recently because of that.
LIESMAN: More household debt can be a sign of confidence in the economy.
But it can hold back growth if it gets too high.
SCHIEGOLEIT: Going forward, it can be seen as a headwind, a sign of strain
in the economy that can hold consumers back. We would need to see more
continued job strength, more wage growth going forward, if we wanted to be
able to maintain these levels.
LIESMAN: Compared with 2008, more mortgages are going to those with the
highest credit scores. That means fewer defaults. But it also means big
parts of the population just can`t get credit to buy homes. And that`s bad
for growth and bad for the economy long term.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
HERERA: Still ahead, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) skids. Why the world`s largest
networking gear maker could put more pressure on stocks when the opening
bell rings tomorrow.
HERERA: Dow component Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) warns revenue for the current
quarter will come in below analysts` estimates. The company also said it
will cut additional jobs. In its late day earnings report, Cisco
(NASDAQ:CSCO) earned 60 cents a share, 2 cents better than estimates.
Revenue fell for the sixth straight quarter to nearly $12 billion.
Investors punished the stock in initial after-hours trading.
And Seema Mody has more now on Cisco`s quarter.
SEEMA MODY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO),
the networking giant, issuing weak guidance for the fourth quarter.
Revenue has now fallen for a sixth quarter in a row, although earnings did
beat street expectations. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) also extending its
restructuring plans, which will impact an additional 1,100 jobs. The cuts
come on top of the 5,500 job cuts announced last August, as Cisco
(NASDAQ:CSCO) tries to stay competitive in the fast moving world of
technology and invest in new areas.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Seema Mody.
MATHISEN: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shook up the retail industry and has
forever changed the way Americans shop. And now, according to a CNBC
report, the e-commerce giant could potentially shake things up in the
multibillion dollar pharmacy industry. Shares of potential drugstore rival
CVS (NYSE:CVS) Health and Walgreen`s down 3 percent yesterday on that
Christina Farr, health and technology reporter for CNBC.com, broke the
story and joins us now from San Francisco.
Christina, welcome. Congratulations on the scoop.
What have you heard about Amazon`s intentions and why are they considering
CHRISTINA FARR, HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, CNBC.COM: Well, Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) has been thinking for a long time about breaking into the
pharmacy market. But now, it seems to be getting serious. Our sources are
telling us that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is hiring a GM to lead a business
unit, and they will strategize how exactly Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) can break
into this market.
HERERA: You know, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been selling drugs or trying to
sell prescription drugs in Japan. Would that be like a test market for
them before they come to the United States?
FARR: Absolutely. We were able to dig up this page in Japan that shows
that they were starting to sell drugs there, along with things like
cosmetics. So, if it takes off in Japan, it`s possible they could bring
that to the U.S. next. And it`s something we`ve seen Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
do time and time again. They try out an experimental new product somewhere
else, and then bring it here.
MATHISEN: How concerned are they about competition? Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
obviously is no stranger to competition. They compete every day and very
successfully. But there are some big players here like CVS (NYSE:CVS)
Health, like Walgreen`s, and insurance plans that are tied into those
FARR: Absolutely. And certainly they are seeing a lot of threats from the
established players. We saw some stock moves today on the back of the
news, and from some of the biggest pharmacies. So, there are companies
that will try to block Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) if they were to enter this
But Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has huge resources at its disposable. And I can
imagine they could go in guns blazing and shake up this market almost from
HERERA: Yes. What does that mean then for consumers? Because usually,
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) means lower prices. Does that translate to the
prescription drug market?
FARR: Great question, Sue. It`s very possible that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
could some day bring down prices on drugs, especially if they had data at
their disposal and were able to prove that if we could get easier access to
our drugs on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), that people were filling them more
frequently and additionally taking their drugs, if they could show use (ph)
So, I think there are a lot of possibilities there, a lot of folks would
love to see Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shedding some transparency and some light
on this whole murky world of drug prices.
MATHISEN: Fascinating story. Christina Farr, thank you very much, from
San Francisco tonight.
HERERA: Sales fall less than expected at Target (NYSE:TGT). That`s where
we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The retailer, which is in the midst of a turnaround, beat revenue and same
store sales expectations. But had a drop in customer traffic and spending.
Earnings also topped estimates and the company reaffirmed its guidance that
same-store sales will fall in the low single digits this year. Shares rose
almost 1 percent to $55.04.
Sales at American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) beat analysts` expectations
but profit didn`t fare quite as well. The teen retailer said slower mall
traffic and an increase in promotional activity caused earnings to drop and
miss estimates. The company also sees adjusted profit for the current
quarter coming in below street targets. Shares plunged 14 percent to
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) maybe considering a sale. “The New York Post”
says the consumer products company CEO is open to selling the business for
$100 a share. That would value that company at $88 billion. Shares were
up nearly 6 percent to $75.69.
MATHISEN: Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) bet some of its pipeline products
will turn into blockbusters. The company said it has more than ten
treatments for various diseases it plans to launch or file for approval
within the next few years.
The company`s CEO spoke to Meg Tirrell about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX GORSKY, JOHNSON & JOHNSON CHAIRMAN & CEO: If you look over the last
five years, I think we`ve been able to introduce about 12 new compounds, 11
of which were blockbusters, billion dollar plus. But what we`re really
talking about today is how excited we are for the future. I mean, we`ve
got ten, as you just mentioned, between now and 2021. We think we`ve got
50 line extensions, 11 of which have a half billion dollars potential.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: On this down market day, shares fell only fractionally to
The Justice Department is suing UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), alleging the
health insurer received at least $1 billion from false medical claims.
This is the second lawsuit this month the U.S. government has brought
against the company because of Medicare payments. Still, shares up today,
74 cents at $168.86.
And Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) will launch a $2 billion share buyback
plan and also raise its quarterly dividend 25 percent to more than 12 cents
a share. The yield is now just under 1 percent. Southwest`s shares were
off 2 percent at $57.04.
And Athena Retail warned it would miss third quarter sales and earnings
targets as a result of, what else, slower customer traffic and a lot of
promotions. That will do it to you. The owner of Ann Taylor and Dress
Barn also lowered full year earnings outlooks, saying it expects operating
conditions in the specialty retail sector to remain challenging.
Shares of the small cap company finished the regular session down 1 percent
at $2.82. But then following the news, it got crushed in afterhours
trading, initially losing a third of value.
HERERA: The recent global ransomware attack that spread to more than 100
countries has shed light on one of the most pressing challenges facing the
cybersecurity industry. It`s a labor shortage. Some experts say that
shorter fall has reached crisis levels.
Aditi Roy reports tonight from San Francisco.
ADITI ROY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: CloudPassage, a
cybersecurity startup in San Francisco, has 122 employees. When executives
are looking to hire, they have a tough time finding qualified cyber
ROBERT THOMAS, CLOUDPASSAGE CEO: We`re based in San Francisco. But we
find we can`t just hire in San Francisco anymore. Those people are so
scarce that we scour the country for them. And when we find them, we hire
them wherever they are. So, we have people who work in Denver or in
ROY: They`re not the only ones. Experts say the labor shortage in cyber
security is dire. A Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) report estimates there are 1
million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally. Here in the U.S., that
number is about 100,000.
THOMAS: It`s almost a crisis point.
ROY: A crisis that some say directly hurts the ability of companies and
governments to curb hacking. Just this week, executives in more than 100
countries were reeling from a global cyberattack. And Disney`s CEO Bob
Iger reportedly told employees that online criminals are demanding a ransom
for a movie they claim to have stolen through hacking.
One report shows cyber crimes cost U.S. companies an average of more than
$14 million per year. The hardest hit sectors, financial services,
utilities, and energy and technology.
But academics like UC-Berkeley`s Jesse Goldhammer says no one is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re making pet food, you need cyber security.
ROY: Industry watchers say the root of the problem is that traditional
college computer science programs don`t provide the necessary skills to
battle today`s cyber thieves.
THOMAS: They don`t get any training at school. And we have a mentality of
perimeter defense. So, the mentality in security is, if I lock the front
door, no one can get to my assets behind it. But the trouble today is that
people don`t break down the front door anymore. They dig tunnels or steal
the front door key.
ROY: Hackers also have a financial advantage. Experts say, often, all it
takes to break into a major company`s computer system is a laptop and some
hacking tools you can buy online for a couple of hundred dollars. But
companies can spend up to millions of dollars to protect themselves.
THOMAS: Even an amateur hacker can find sophisticated tools that can
bypass protections the companies have.
ROY: And experts are working on a number of solutions. A recent U.C.-
Berkeley white paper suggests that governments start an incubator to build
up the cyber workforce. MIT and IBM are partnering to find ways that
companies watch technology can solve cyber crimes through automated tech.
And the U.S. government sponsors hack-a-thon tournaments for college, even
high school students, to build up the nation`s pipeline of cyber warriors.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Aditi Roy, San Francisco.
MATHISEN: Coming up, going once, going twice. Why the fine art industry
will be put to the test this week.
MATHISEN: It is the biggest week of the year for the fine art market.
More than a billion dollars worth of art pieces expected to be sold. And
the question is, will sellers get the prices they want?
Robert Frank reports from New York.
ROBERT FRANK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The markets may look
ugly. But the big auction houses are hoping wealthy collectors haven`t
lost their attraction to fine art.
This is the biggest sales week of the year auction houses in New York, with
more than a billion dollars worth of art headed to the auction block,
Christie`s kicked off the action Monday night with this impressionist sale,
selling this Brancusi sculpture called “Sleeping Muse” for $57 million or
nearly twice its estimate, and a record for the Romanian artist. Picasso`s
femme Assise went for $45 million, also well above its estimate.
But the biggest lots come up tonight and tomorrow night with the post-war
and contemporary sales which collectors now prefer. It will mark a big
test whether the stock market declines and Washington headlines will derail
an art recovery that began after the election.
GUILLAUME CERUTTI, CHRISTIE`S CEO: The market has proven to be very
resilient. We already experienced this kind of situation and the market
FRANK: The most expensive painting of the week is likely to be this
untitled piece from Jean-Michele Basquiat being sold by Sotheby`s that
could fetch over $60 million.
The other big star is this triptych by Francis Bacon which is expected to
top $50 million at Christie`s. And this famous Cy Twombly called Leda and
the Swan could top $55 million.
Now, those prices are a far cry from the $100 million plus sales we saw in
2014 and 2015. But the next two days will determine whether the art market
is at all colored by the Trump turmoil in Washington.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Robert Frank.
HERERA: And before we go, the drama in D.C. spread to Wall Street. The
Dow drops 372 points, the NASDAQ off 158, the S&P 500 fell 43.
Adding to the intrigue out of D.C., former FBI Director Robert Mueller will
be appointed special counsel in the Russia investigation. We`ll see if
that impacts the markets tomorrow.
And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for
MATHISEN: Thanks from me as well. I`m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great
evening, everybody. And we will see you right back here tomorrow night.
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