Transcript: Nightly Business Report – October 18, 2018


slammed as global issues from Europe to China to the Middle East get pushed
to the front burner. We`ll tell what you investors need to know.

(NASDAQ:FB) is calling for all hands on deck to combat any potential
manipulation during the midterm elections.

GRIFFETH: And rising risks. As torrential downpours flood more and more
areas, we`ll show you how and why cities and companies are not looking for
answers on the ground. They are turning to the cloud.

All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Thursday,
October the 18th.

HERERA: And good evening, everybody, and welcome.

October has not been kind so far to stock investors. So stop me if you
have heard this before. Stocks sold off today, again. The usual suspects
were to blame — interest rates, trade war.

But a new wrinkle reared its head, that was overseas concerns. Concerns
about China slowing, Europe and the growing tension over the situation
between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. And they all teamed up to take stocks
down today.

The Dow fell 327 points to 25,379. The Nasdaq plunged 157 points. And the
S&P 500 was off 40.

Bob Pisani has more on the selloff.


down day on Wall Street adding to the steep losses for the month of
October. The markets are dealing with a slough of issues, some old, some

Concerns about a China slowdown are predominant. This comes after report
from Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) warning about slowing auto sales in China,
which led to the firm cutting earnings for GM and Ford and Fiat Chrysler.
Dow component Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is feeling the pressure during trading
today, 25 percent of its sales are in Asia.

But it`s not just Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT). Industrial stocks continue to
take a hit, sealed air for example, they disappointed on the top and bottom
line, joining many industrials that are seeing margin pressures, thanks to
weaker foreign currency, higher raw material, higher labor costs and, of
course, tariffs.

The markets took another dip when headlines came from the European Central
Bank`s Mario Draghi. Draghi says one of the biggest risks to the economy
is countries trying to circumvent the E.U. budget rules. His comments in
Italian bond yields to their highs in the day, and sent major European
stocks to their session lows. Stocks with significant exposure to Europe
like McDonald`s (NYSE:MCD), and Dow DuPont, Coke, they were down as well.

Finally, there continues to be a debate around Treasury Secretary Steve
Mnuchin`s decision to pull out of the Davos in the Desert Conference in
Saudi Arabia. A number of traders pointed out that the Saudis are involved
in tech funds, raising funds for technology companies and it`s not good if
they`re increasingly isolated.

The slide puts the Dow and S&P about 6 percent below their most recent
record highs.

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


GRIFFETH: Now, as Bob mentioned, stocks moved lower late this morning
after that warning from the European Central Bank`s president.

Willem Marx has that part of the story now for us from Brussels.


Draghi, warned European ministers in Brussels today that E.U. budgetary
rules must be followed for the good of all European countries, if they want
to avoid damaging the financial sector and broader growth prospect. This
seemed to be a clear reference to the Italian government, which submitted
its draft budget plan to the European Commission at the start of the week
and almost immediately attracted criticism.

This afternoon, the European commissioner for financial affairs, Pierre
Moscovici, on a visit to Rome told the Italians he had, quote, serious
concerns about their spending proposals. He specifically mentioned the
plan fiscal expansion that`s higher by an unprecedented margin compared to
what the E.U. suggested. The budget`s failure is drawing half at least
debt to GDP ratio, which currently stands at 130 percent, a massive planned
increase in government expenditures that will fund a new universal basic
income and growth assumptions that have not been endorsed by the country`s
independent watchdog, that`s the Italian equivalent of the CBO.

Now, Moscovici did say he`d have a very constructive conversation with
Italy`s technocratic economy minister, Giovanni Tria, who insists it`s
about growing the sluggish economy. But it`s been clear in recent weeks
that Tria is definitely not running the show in Rome. He must answer to
his political masters, the two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini and
Luigi Di Maio, and with Italian bond yields jumping around five-year highs
as we near the end of this week, traders do not seem to be betting on a
budget reconciliation between these two sides any time soon.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Willem Marx in Brussels, Belgium.

HERERA: So, let`s turn now to Brad McMillan to talk more about the global
issues weighing on the market today from Europe to China to the Middle
East, and what you need to know. He is the chief investment officer with
the Commonwealth Financial Network.

Brad, welcome nice to have you here.

Thank you for having me.

HERERA: Now, we have known that Italy has had financial issues for some
time. Was it just this new wrinkle with Mr. Draghi`s comments that
derailed the markets or perhaps the combination of China slowing and the
Middle East tensions as well?

MCMILLAN: I think it`s a couple of things. I think rates are rising which
certainly makes the impact of any Italian overspending a lot more
substantial. It`s the fact that Mario Draghi now saw it fit to call the
Italian government out. And it`s the fact that the government does indeed
have plans for spending that are outside what the E.U. wants.

So, all of these things say that, yes, this is going to be another problem.

GRIFFETH: We`ve always had to take the Chinese growth numbers with grain
of salt. We have known that for years. But the markets seem to be sensing
that there is a real slowdown going on there economically since they`ve
been my grating to a more consumer oriented economy.

What do you think is happening over there in and what impact does it have
on investors here in the United States?

MCMILLAN: The real impact, the real sign there is trouble in China is the
Chinese government is taking repeated efforts over the past couple of weeks
and months to actually strengthen the economy. That`s something they do
when they are actually worried about growth.

So, the fears coming are not from what U.S. banks are saying, they are from
the actual action attention of the Chinese government itself. Now, that
said, you have to remember, China is in fact either the second largest or
the largest economy in the world. So, when China sneezes, the rest of the
world has to take notice.

What that`s going to mean for here in the U.S. is probably actually not all
that much. The direct connections are not all that significant. And many
of them have already been hit by the trade — by the tariffs. So, right
now, it`s something to watch but we don`t need to worry that much.

HERERA: And very quickly. On Saudi Arabia, tensions are being ratcheted
up internationally. And Bob Pisani pointed out that technology got hit
hard because the Saudis are big investors in technology.

How big a problem might that be?

MCMILLAN: The real impact from Saudi Arabia in my opinion is oil. And the
thing is, now that the U.S. is the biggest producer of oil, their ability
to influence us in that way is actually much less. So, there is going to
be more attention paid to this. But again, I think the direct impact on
the U.S. is going to be quite minor over time.

HERERA: Brad, thank you. Brad McMillan with Commonwealth Financial

MCMILLAN: Thank you.

GRIFFETTH: Now, we have earnings after the bell tonight. Dow component
American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP) beat quarterly earnings estimates
and a record $10.1 billion in revenue which was also ahead of estimates.
The company said the gains reflected stronger spending by consumers and
small businesses. And AmEx also raised its full-year earnings and revenue
forecasts. Shares initially spiked following that earnings release, nearly
wiping out a 1.5 percent decline during the regular session where they
closed at $102.84.

HERERA: And there has been a recurring theme among many of the companies
that have reported earnings so far this quarter. Can you guess what it is?
Well, it`s tariffs and trade talk.

Dominic Chu has more.


companies that have reported earnings so far this season have mentioned the
word tariffs explicitly during their conference calls or in their earnings
releases. Now, it`s still early in the season but here is some of the
things that they`re saying about what`s happening with tariffs overall.

Textron (NYSE:TXT) is saying that in its conference call, we don`t see a
lot of tariffs related stuff going on. There is obviously on raw material
pricing. We have contracts across the company mitigating most of that.
So, in this case here, they`re saying they have hedged that in some way.
We`ll see if it`s near medium or longer term for Textron (NYSE:TXT).

Also another one to watch is what`s happening with Grainger. We`re talking
office supplies, workplace solutions. That company saying they are working
with suppliers to minimize the cost impact of tariffs. They`re also going
to try to identify alternative supply chains and then evaluate pricing
actions that could mean perhaps maybe that they pass some of the prices
onto consumers.

And last week, Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST) said we could move some stuff out of
China to another source. So, in an environment where there is political
variability as opposed to economic variability, it makes it very
challenging to plan. Now, as we move through earnings season, it`s
important to pay attention to see if the tariff related do themes continue
to hold.



HERERA: Coming up, an inside look at Facebook`s fight against people
trying to influence the elections.


HERERA: “The Wall Street Journal” is reporting that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)
believes spammers and not a nation state were responsible for the recent
security breach that compromised the personal information of 30 million
users. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is said to believe the hacker portrayed
themselves as a digital marketing company in an attempt to make money
through deceptive advertising.

GRIFFETH: And with the midterm elections just around the corner, Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) has launched its first ever war room to fight election
manipulation as part of its efforts to avoid a repeat of 2016 when
misinformation was spread across its platform. To accomplish this, the
tech giant is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help it
quickly identify and shut down any suspicious activity.

Julia Boorstin got a look for us tonight.


(NASDAQ:FB) has created its first ever war room to fight election
manipulation. Instead of connecting teams virtually to tackle threats as
they arise, now the social platform is bringing them together, with new
strategies to enable the teams here to track trends on Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB), using artificial intelligence and machine learning, to quickly
identify and shut down suspicious activity.

much scenario planning and like war games internally within the war room in
order to plan out different types of problems that we may see and we
practice and we`ve done drills to see how we can detect that, how we can
come to quick decisions and how we can take quick action.

BOORSTIN: Facebook`s head of election integrity, Chakrabarti, explaining
how the teams in this room identified false news that Brazilian Election
Day was delayed and attempt at voter suppression. They quickly pulled down
the post before they could go viral.

Here in Facebook`s war room, there are employees representing nearly every
corner of company, from Instagram and WhatsApp, to data science and public
policy. Right now, they`re working from 4:00 a.m. to midnight, but as we
get closer to the midterms elections, they will be working 24 hours a day.

This is the Facebook`s latest effort to clamp down on election
manipulation. With a combination of new technology and 20,000 employees
focused on safety and security. They are taking down fake accounts, making
political and issue advertising more transparent, reducing the distribution
of fake news and disrupting the financial incentives of those violating
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) policies.

have this war room up and running and all the other teams working with it
from elsewhere in the company is so that as these threats develop, not only
do we respond quickly, but we continue to speed up or response and make our
response more effective and more efficient.

BOORSTIN: Facebook`s head of cybersecurity Gleicher saying the systems
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has in place now would have prevented the Russian
manipulation of the 2016 election. But he says it`s an arms race. And
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will have to continue to improve its defenses.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin, Menlo Park, California.


HERERA: Novartis expects sales for the year to accelerate. And that`s
where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.

The drug maker hiked its revenue outlook for the year after reporting
stronger than expected quarterly earnings. Sales rose during the period
but came up short. Novartis also said it was expanding its reach into
oncology treatments with its $2 billion deal to acquire drug maker
Endocyte. Novartis shares rose 1 percent to $86.24. Meanwhile the shares
of Endocyte surged 50 percent to $23.40.

The aerospace conglomerate Textron (NYSE:TXT) blamed a recent acquisition
on its profit miss. The company said it`s been facing issues integrating
the new all-terrain vehicle business into its industrial units. Textron
(NYSE:TXT) also reported a drop in revenue as it sold fewer turbo prop
engines. Shares plunged 11 percent to $57.49.

GRIFFETH: And Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK) said that strength in the
investment management and wealth management businesses helped deliver
earnings beat. But the focus was on the bank`s total revenue which fell
below expectations. So, shares were off nearly 3 percent to $47.79.

Also out after the bell tonight, Sketchers said that growing demand for its
delights shoe brand and strengthen its domestic and international
businesses led to an earnings beat. The shoemaker also gave revenue
guidance for the current quarter that was ahead of the analyst estimates.
So, shares initially took off in the after-hours tonight. They finished
down 2 percent during the regular session, closing at $26.12.

HERERA: Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch is downgrading three of
the biggest home builders. The firm cut Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL), Pulte
and NVR (NYSE:NVR) from neutral to buy as it also lowered its 2018 and `19
forecast for housing starts and new home sales. Shares at Toll Brothers
(NYSE:TOL) finished higher, while shares of Pulte and NVR (NYSE:NVR) fell.
The U.S. home construction ETF was also lower.

GRIFFETH: Alex Barron joins us right now to talk about his outlook for the
home builders and the overall housing market. He is founder and senior
housing analyst with the Housing Research Center.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

ALEX BARRON, HOUSING RESEARCH CENTER: Thank you, Bill and Sue. Glad to be
here for you.

GRIFFETH: You were also — you put a sell early — you were early on the
call with that. When you started to see home builders reduce provides.
What were you looking at there.

BARRON: We were concerned, you know, that interest rates were rising a
little bit too fast and the builders were a little too aggressive with the
price increases earlier in the year. As you know, buyers weigh their
decision to buy a home based on the payment. We started to see that sales
slowed down and that some builders as they were moving into third quarter
were probably going to miss expectations. So, they started to get more
aggressive with their incentives and some with price cuts.

HERERA: You also think that this is a cycle that could go on for a little
bit, correct?

BARRON: Yes, we are concerned that this might be the beginning of a more
serious correction in the housing market.

GRIFFETH: Now, with the sells, the CEO of Lennar (NYSE:LEN) told us
earlier today that he thinks that Wall Street has the story wrong in large
part because as you well know, home builders for the last decade have been
under building in the wake of the Great Recession because demand just
cratered after the Great Recession. But it has built up quite a bit. And
now, home builders have to catch with that demand and he sees growth down
the road as a result.

What do you say to that?

BARRON: Well, based on our analysis, there was about 4 million excess
homes that were built during the bubble. And so, it took until about 2016
to absorb all of that excess inventories. So, in reality, the market has
been back to equilibrium roughly for a year now, but the market wasn`t
counting on interest rates going up so quickly. So, right now, what we
have now is affordability crisis.

He is correct there is not an oversupply issue, but there is an
affordability crisis going on right now.

HERERA: So, if you are a longer term investor, would you watch the stock
market decline in these stocks and add to positions if you have a long-term
time horizon?

BARRON: Not yet. I believe that the stocks have been correcting. But I
believe that we`re going to have to see a few signs before I would
recommend investors get back into the home building shares.

The things I would need to see is, first, the Fed would need to stop
raising interest rates. Second of all, interest rates would need to
stabilize. Third, the builders would have to stop incentivizing consumers.
And they would have to stop dropping prices.

Once I see all of those signs, I think it`s going to be time to buy these
homes — home building shares which are a bargain.

GRIFFETH: Quickly, having said that though, not all home builders are
alike. Are there some you like better than others?

BARRON: Yes. Right now, you know, we believe that the builders that are
going to probably do best are the ones that are focusing on building
affordable houses. As we mentioned, we believe that there is of an
affordability crisis. So, several builders started taking steps earlier in
the year to start building more affordable houses. And those are the one
that we think are going to do better relatively speaking.

GRIFFETH: Give me a for instance, quickly.

BARRON: Well, for example, Meritage (NYSE:MTH), they`ve been spending
about 70 or 75 percent of all incremental lot shares into buying lots for
affordable housing.

GRIFFETH: All right. Very good.

Alex Barron with the Housing Research Center — thanks for your insights
tonight, Alex.

BARRON: Thank you.

HERERA: The Trump administration`s tax changes are beginning to change the
landscape of the luxury housing market. High tax states such as New York
and New Jersey are seeing weaker demand while southern states are seeing a
surge in interest, as more buyers migrate to the lower taxed areas.

Robert Frank reports on the tale of two markets.


migration has begun. Signs that residents of high tax states in the
northeast are moving to Florida and the South are changing the real estate
market, especially at the high end. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut
are all see declines in sales and prices while Florida, is heating up.

Sales in Miami Beach were up a whopping 51 percent in the third quarter
with a 15 percent jump in prices. That`s according to the Douglas Element
and Miller Samuel. In Fort Lauderdale, sales were up 24 percent and Palm
Beach had the strongest sales in five years. Florida brokers saying the
selling season which officially kicks off after Thanksgiving has started
early and strong this year.

But real estate in the higher taxed Northeast states, especially the
suburbs, continues to slide. Prices falling 15 percent in Greenwich,
Connecticut, and in Fairfield County, sales fell for the third straight
quarter. That comes after four straight quarters of declines in New York
and weakness in New Jersey.

Experts say it`s unlikely to get better any time soon.

change, unless you know the tax laws in place for at least a decade
basically. And you are see going now. I don`t want to give the impression
that everybody in the Northeast is going to pack up and move to south
Florida. We`re really talking about the wealthy.

FRANK: Here is a tale of two homes. The Greenwich estate once owned by
Leona Helmsley was purchased in 2010 for $35 million, which put back on the
market for $50 in million in 2016, and now, down to $29 million and still
no buyers.

But in Miami Beach, celebrity D.J. Khalid just bought this home for $22
million just under the asking price. It`s got 13,000 square feet, a home
theater, five bedrooms and an 80-foot guest house. It was sold by Michael
Learner who made his fortune from those baby onboard car signs in the
1980s. What a country.




Coming up, trying to handle floods by controlling what comes out of the
sky. We`ll explain.


GRIFFETH: And still more earnings now. Dow component Travelers beat
quarterly earnings and revenue forecasts as the company saw growth in both
of its personal and business insurance divisions. And despite Hurricane
Florence, the insurers losses from catastrophes narrowed to $264 million
compared to $700 million last year. Shares fell more than 1 percent today
to $125.14.

HERERA: But not the same issue over at AIG which after the bell said it
expects its third quarter catastrophic losses to top $1 billion in the
quarter. These were due to the typhoons in Japan, Hurricane Florence and
the California mudslide. As a result the shares plunged in extended hours,
adding to 2 percent loss during the regular session where they finished at

GRIFFETH: This summer was one of the wettest on record in much of the
Northeast. And just this week in Central Texas, heavy rain is causing
major flooding. Extreme rain events are becoming more common and posing a
new challenge to both cities, large and small.

In our continuing series on the rising risks of extreme weather to real
estate, Diana Olick looks now at high-tech solutions aimed at solving this


rain in Albany, New York, caused this localized flooding. Not exactly a
national headline but it should be because of what increasingly frequent
and heavier rainfalls are doing to the bottom line of local economies
across the nation, hitting both infrastructures and budgets.

Joseph Coffey is Albany`s water commissioner.

events are causing flooding, basements backups and combined sewer overflows
to the Hudson River.

OLICK: From May through July of this year, much of the East Coast saw
rainfall up to three times normal levels, according to the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration. And nine of the top 10 years for one day
extreme precipitation events have occurred since 1990 according to the
Environmental Protection Agency.

The more water, the more expensive the damage. In Albany alone, two
summers ago, a few random rainstorms caused over $3 million in damage to
sewers overwhelmed by unusually heavy water.

So, in Albany`s search for solution, Joseph Coffey turned to tech, the
tech-based cloud and a four-year-old company called Opti which installed
smart systems underground to manage water in urban lakes, ponds and tanks,
draining them in advance so they can hold more water precisely when the
storms hit.

Marcus (NYSE:MCS) Quigley is the CEO.

MARCUS QUIGLEY, OPTI CEO: We are able to take the weather forecast and use
it to predict how much runoff is going to occur and drain the facility down
in advance to create new storage without building new major capital assets.

OLICK: Quigley says nationwide, there are close to a million sites like
this lake that could use Opti`s technology to control local flooding.

QUIGLEY: The lake is held back by a large panel which makes sure that the
level is maintained at a certain elevation. At the bottom, there is a
valve. That valve is connected to cloud infrastructure.

OLICK: The valve is directed by a control box which connects to the cloud,
watching weather every second and changing the water level in the lake, a
far cheaper solution than building more storm drains and reservoirs.

QUIGLEY: Typically, the savings are in the range on the capital side from
50 to 90 percent.

OLICK: Opti now has more than 130 systems deployed in 21 states. New York
City, Pittsburgh and Chicago have bought in. Quigley says Opti`s revenue
has grown tenfold in its four years, doubling last year alone. Its largest
private investors are Sidewalk Labs, Mission Point Partners and Ecosystem
Integrity Fund.

While Opti is using its technology to manage and direct water underground,
another company is setting its sites and its technology higher, literally.

RainBank is a recent startup that turns rooftops into reservoirs like this
in New Orleans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The device closes this water falls up in this area.

OLICK: And it`s not going to leak.


OLICK: RainBank`s technology connects water valves on rooftops to the
cloud, holding water during heavy rain events and then releasing it slowly
once the storm has passed.

KEVIN DUTT, RAINBANK TECHNOLOGY CEO: Our server is running algorithms ands
monitoring the storm and deciding when is going to be the most intense
period of the storm. With that information, it tells these valves when to
close, when to start collecting water.

OLICK: Like Opti, the technology is relatively cheap. Dutt calls is
nothing compared to what increasingly intense storms are doing to local

DUTT: It`s really becoming debilitating to the infrastructure of our
cities. So first of all, it`s the limiting transportation and movement of
commerce, causing damage which is actually costing cities and private
owners money to fix infrastructure damage.

OLICK: So far, RainBank is on roof tops in a dozen cities including
Philadelphia, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

DUTT: The U.S. spends about $5 billion to $10 billion a year on storm
water mitigation. We think we can be a major player in that potential

OLICK: For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in New Orleans.


HERERA: Here is a look at final numbers on Wall Street today. The Dow
Jones Industrial Average fell 327 points, Nasdaq was off about 157, S&P was
down 40.

And that will do it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining

GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. We`ll see you


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
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Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice.
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