Transcript: Nightly Business Report – November 15, 2018

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Bill Griffeth and Sue

erased a triple-digit loss on a report that the U.S. and China have doubled
down on efforts to reach a trade agreement.

Consumer spending is up. And that could be just what the economy needs to
fend off any headwinds.

HERERA: Big in Texas. That`s what an energy company is doing as it
prepares to dominate natural gas export market.

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for
Thursday, November 15th.

GRIFFETH: And we do bid you good evening, everybody, and welcome.

So, stop me if you heard this before. But the stock market was volatile
and all over the place today. The S&P 500 did snap a five-day losing
streak but that wasn`t easy. Stocks started the day lower with the Dow
down as much as 200 points.

Then things reversed on this headline from “The Financial Times” that the
U.S. and China are working to ease the growing trade war at the upcoming
G20 meeting. That lifted trade sensitive stocks like Caterpillar
(NYSE:CAT) and industrial names like 3M (NYSE:MMM).

And when all was said and done today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
up 208 to 25,289. The Nasdaq was up 122. The S&P added 28.

HERERA: And now to earnings, and Walmart`s results which also gave us some
insight into the consumer. The world`s largest retailer upped the year-end
forecast for profit and sales, despite reporting a shortfall in revenue,
mostly related to currency issues. Analysts say its fight against Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) is picking up steam and that Walmart is now poised to
overtake Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) on the list of biggest ecommerce retailers.

Courtney Reagan digs down into Walmart`s quarter.


spending billions of dollars improving its websites, stores and raising
wages and it`s paying off. The largest retailer grew the comparable sales
for the 16th quarter.

Foot traffic was up. And grocery sales continued to drive shoppers to its
stores. Walmart`s U.S. digital sales grew more than 40 percent, the
highest growth rate so far this year, though still a small fraction of
total sales. While the retailers implied holiday forecast may have been
slightly disappointing, analysts are focusing on the big picture.

MICHAEL LASSER, UBS RETAIL ANALYST: They`re positioning it for future with
what they`re investing in today. And I think we are seeing signs of that
in the financial performance. We probably will continue to see that
independent of how the macro environment is. It positions Walmart well.

OLIVER CHEN, COWEN SENIOR RETAIL ANALYST: We think it`s well positioned in
a consumer environment that`s somewhat mixed but a very strong U.S.
consumer which is underscored by low employment as well as wage growth.

REAGAN: While some economists warn of economic slowdown, Walmart`s chief
financial officer Brett Biggs told me quote: We haven`t seen a change in
the consumer in the third quarter. I think the consumer is pretty strong
overall. Fuel prices are historically in good shape. And unemployment is

Still, there are risks for Walmart and other retailers like rising interest
rates, higher transportation costs and tariffs. Biggs says Walmart
merchants are planning for anything they might encounter next year, adding
the retailer will, quote, manage our way through but warning eventually
that tariffs lead to increases in price for everybody.

CHEN: Walmart will always offer every day low prices. They have a lot of
bargaining leverage in this changing environment. And they won`t be under

REAGAN: But for now, winning the holiday season is the retailer`s main
goal with Black Friday just a week away.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan in New York City.


GRIFFETH: And consumers are not just spending at Walmart. According to
this morning`s monthly retail sales figures, they`re pretty much spending
everywhere right now. And that`s good news for the economy, since as you
know the consumer makes up a very large chunk of economic activity.

Steve Liesman has more.


lot of economists calls for the economy to slowdown. But so far, consumers
haven`t gotten the memo. The government reported today that retail sales
in October grew by 0.8 percent, that was three tenths ahead of estimate as
consumers spend with some abandon.

The report came just after retail behemoth Walmart reported blowout
earnings and upbeat guidance for the coming months. The data confirmed the
upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who
spoke before the data was released.

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We have 3.7 percent unemployment.
The economy is growing at 3.7 percent. Inflation is right on target, and
there is pretty good reason to think that we`re going to continue, you
know, in a positive vein like that. So, very pleased about the state of
the economy right now.

LIESMAN: The government retail report showed strength in autos, department
stores and Internet shopping. Spending also did well if sporting goods and
electronic appliance stores.

Building and garden equipment surged maybe a sign of the effect of recent
hurricanes and gasoline station sales were boosted by higher prices. Now,
that could go away in November because prices have come down. Would it
free up money for consumers to spend elsewhere.

JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) writing after the report, quote: Consumer spending in
the middle two quarters of the year likely benefitted from the sugar rush
from the lower tax payments. But so far, the letdown from that rush looks

Overall, better wages, stronger employment and tax cuts look to be helping
consumers power the U.S. economy to another above trend quarter of growth.
Consumers, if they ever do get around to it, hopefully won`t read that memo
about the slowing U.S. economy until after the holiday shopping season.



HERERA: So, let`s turn now to Scott Brown to talk more about the consumer
and the economy. He is the chief economist at Raymond James.

Nice to have you with us, Scott. Welcome as always.


HERERA: So, in a nutshell, we`ve heard kind of both sides of this. You
make the point that retail sales have been solid. But we have had some
downward revisions in previous months. So, how do you view the consumer
and the health of that sector?

BROWN: Well, I think the consumer is in pretty good shape. Again, the
October numbers were better than anticipated. But we did get downward
revisions to the figures for August and September. The numbers do bounce
around quite a bit from month-to-month. And we had a strong spring and
early summer.

So, some moderation in late summer into the early fall I think is probably
expected. And the numbers we got today when you look at the underlying
trend, it still looks pretty good.

As we focus ahead to the holiday shopping season, we are likely to see the
main themes that we have seen over the last few years, that is buyers
likely to be remain sensitive to pricing. They`re conditioned to buy stuff
on sale. We should see a trend more towards online sales, especially with
Toys “R” Us going out of business. And that`s likely to come at the
expense of department stores.


BROWN: The bigger concern is as you look into the early part of next year.
And there is a lot of uncertainty on tariffs. I mean, if we see a
ratcheting up of trade tensions and you know tariffs that we have on the
$200 billion in Chinese goods, that`s going from 10 percent to 20 percent
early next year. And then we may see that broaden to all Chinese goods,
which will I think have a bigger effect on the consumer getting to the
important spring shopping season.

GRIFFETH: I`m interested in how Wall Street has been responding to
retailer`s earnings and sales figures. Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) down sharply
after the report. Target (NYSE:TGT) down sharply. Walmart down sharply.

Is it possible that even though everybody is expecting a blowout holiday
shopping season, that maybe that will be as good as it gets and it will be
a peak of sorts for retail?

BROWN: I think that`s the fear out there. And it`s kind of odd because
the economic numbers we have been getting — although mixed have been
generally pretty strong, pretty good. No real signs of recession on the

But I`m still getting a lot of emails, a lot of phone calls about when is
the downturn coming? You know, the Fed is raising short term interest
rates. Eventually, the Fed is going to raise rates too much.

Those fears are still with us. And I think we heard from Fed Chair Powell
that, you know, they are well aware of the risk of raising rates too
rapidly. Very sensitive to financial market turmoil.

HERERA: Right.

GRIFFETH: They don`t really see enough to dissuade them from raising rates
in the short-term, but I think it`s going to be an interesting 2019,
probably a challenging environment for investors.

HERERA: On that note, Scott Brown with Raymond James, thank you so much.

GRIFFETH: Elsewhere, Bridgewater`s Ray Dalio, the head of the world`s
largest hedge fund, made some cautious comments today about the stock
market and he`s pointing fingers at the Fed.


RAY DALIO, BRIDGEWATER ASSOCIATES: We`re in the late stages, maybe the
seventh, eighth inning of the business cycle, right? We`re in the part of
the cycle where there has been a lot of monetary easing, potential banks
bought $159 trillion worth of asset, pushed them up a lot. We have the
benefit of a corporate tax cut, all that stimulation.

And as a result we`re in the late part of the cycle, where there is a
tightening of monetary policy. We have raised interest rates to a level
where it`s hurting asset prices.


GRIFFETH: Dalio laughed off the notion that the central bank needs to
raise rates so it would have to make — have room to make cuts if the
economy softened. The Fed, though, is widely expected to hike its rates at
its meeting next month.

HERERA: A dramatic day across the Atlantic. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa
May faces what some call a political crisis after two cabinet ministers
rejected the draft Brexit deal and quit her government. But May insists
she is not worried and that an exit from the European Union will get done.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I believe that this is the deal which
does deliver that which is in the national interest. And that am I going
to see this through? Yes.


HERERA: May says the United Kingdom will be leaching the E.U. on March
29th of next year. But to get there, she must face her critics.

And as Willem Marx reports, there are plenty.


Theresa May may have been begun today in a vaguely confident frame of mind
after her cabinet approved her draft proposal for the Britain`s exit from
the European Union. But as the morning wore on and cabinet ministers and
other members of her government resigned, her future as head of the
Conservative Party looked increasingly under threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prime minister.

MARX: The reason that quite so many members of parliament are unhappy with
the deal is simple. They believe that if a specific set of circumstances
come to pass whereby the U.K. is unable to strike the aid trade deal with
the Europe within the next two years, then the U.K. will be trapped inside
a European customs union indefinitely, subject to its rules and regulations
but with no say in how British trade is regulated across the continent.

One critic called it a Hotel California deal. You can check out any time
you like but you can never leave. And this, of course, is in direct
contradiction to the supposed benefits that Brexit would bring, the idea
that Britain would have greater control over its trade policy in
particular, as an economic upside.

A number of May`s opponents say this deal as it stands is not the good deal
that she insisted it is. But the prime minister makes clear the options
after 18 months of negotiations are limited. She says it`s her deal, no
deal, or no Brexit it. She faced jeers today in the House of Commons, will
no doubt face further opposition in the weeks to follow, even when her
version of Brexit faces a parliamentary vote.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Willem Marx in London, England.


GRIFFETH: And shares of European banks fell following the departure of
those U.K. minorities. Banks like Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays.

And just last month, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said a disorderly Brexit
could have a negative effect on the American economy given U.S. bank`s
exposure to European banks and businesses.

HERERA: Separately, BMW was watching those Brexit negotiations closely.
The automaker said the political situation in Britain is so uncertain that
it continues to prepare for a no deal Brexit which many economists say
would be chaotic and disrupt economies globally.

GRIFFETH: Well, many companies and others like BMW are keeping a close eye
on the Brexit negotiations.

But let`s turn to Scott Wren to talk about why Brexit should matter to you,
our viewers and investors here in America. He is senior global equity
strategist at Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC).

Scott, always good to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.

are you?

GRIFFETH: I`m good. So, Fed Chairman Powell believes that it could have
an impact on the American economy. What about you? How are we exposed to
these Brexit negotiations?

WREN: You know, that`s what our clients are asking us all the time. And,
you know, we would say that two of the biggest risks at least to our stock
market is, one, the Fed makes a mistake but two is that global growth
slows. And certainly, Brexit would play into global growth, whether it`s
the U.K., whether it`s the E.U.

The U.S. sells a lot of goods and services into the E.U. and into the U.K.
And so, if there is any disruption there, any decline in their economic
growth, it`s going to have an affect on our companies.

If you take into account that really 35 percent of the revenues in the S&P
come from overseas, you need help from the foreign economies. You want
them to operate efficiently and be growing and accelerating. And if
they`re not doing that, that`s going to come back to hurt our companies
here which, of course, people have those stocks in their 401(k)s. The S&P
500 is loaded with them.

And so, that would have an effect on the — a negative effect on the U.S.
stock market.

HERERA: We have been talking, though, about chaotic Brexit negotiations
for some time now. There are those who think that some of these big, you
know, multinational companies that export a lot to Europe or get — do
trade with Europe may have already factored in a difficult exit. Do you
agree with that or not?

WREN: Well, Sue, you know, we`ve been — we`ve been talking about — we
believe that there will be some type of withdrawal agreement before this is
it all over and done with. But certainly, companies have to prepare. You
know, they have to handicap what they think is going to happen. They can`t
have all their eggs in one basket.

You could easily make some arguments that the risks of a hard Brexit have
increased. So, it wouldn`t surprise me at all. And certainly, many
companies have talked about trying to make some secondary plans or have a
plan B that in case there is a hard Brexit, they`re just not left out there
hanging without any plan.

GRIFFETH: Story is not over. We`ll keep an eye on it. Scott Wren with
Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), again, thanks for joining us tonight.

WREN: Thanks, guys.

GRIFFETH: You bet.

HERERA: It is time to take a look at some of today`s “Upgrades and

Apple`s overweight rating was maintained at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). This
call follows a number of recent Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) downgrades. The
analyst says shares overreacted to weak supplier guidance. And the price
target is set at $253. Separately, it says Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) plans to
partner with a studio to make feature films and that also helped lift the
stock more than 2 percent to $191.41.

Fellow Dow component Visa (NYSE:V) was given overweight rating at Barclays
in new coverage. The analyst says the company will benefit from the global
shift to electronic payments. The price target is $170. The stock rose
more than 1 percent to $141.84.

GRIFFETH: Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) was upgraded to buy from hold at Argus
Research. The analyst there says that stock is near an inflexion point
after years of underperformance. Price target now $42. The stock rose 2.5
percent today to $35.14.

And natural gas producer Cabot (NYSE:CBT) Oil and Gas was downgraded to
hold from buy at Tudor Pickering Holt. The analyst cites the stock`s
valuation following its recent rally. Price target now at $23. Shares
fell a fraction today to $25.64.

HERERA: And still ahead, the new American export.


NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, we`re going to tell you why that one ship behind
us kicks off an entirely new wave for global energy dominance.

That`s next from Corpus Christi, Texas.



HERERA: The decline in shares of California utility PG&E deepens on track
for its worst week on record. There are mounting concerns about what role
if any the utility`s equipment may have played in northern California`s

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) says investors want clarity on PG&E`s liability
and will be unwilling to own the stock until there is better protection in
place for wildfire liabilities in California. The shares fell more than 30
percent in trading today, its largest percentage drop since April of 2001.
Although they did turn sharply higher in the extended session, they are now
down more than 60 percent in a week.

GRIFFETH: Meantime, U.S. banking regulators are easing some lending and
reporting rules in areas affected by the fires in California. In fact,
late today, regulators were making banks aware that borrowers might not be
able to repay their loans in light of that disaster.

HERERA: Oil prices rose for the second straight day despite a government
report showing a bigger than expected rise in supplies. The price of
domestic crude settled right around $56 a barrel. Separately, natural gas
futures fell sharply, suffering the biggest one-day percentage drop in more
than 15 years. A new report showed a rise in inventories that was nearly
double the five-year average. And the hot commodity cooled off settling
down about 19 percent.

GRIFFETH: Meantime, the global race for energy domination took a new step
today, a big one, and it all begun with one ship.

Brian Sullivan is in Corpus Christi, Texas, for us tonight.


SULLIVAN: The massive Golar Tundra ship sits behind us here in the harbor
in Corpus Christi, Texas. But it kicks off a new wave of American exports.
This is Cheniere Energy`s new $15 billion liquefied natural gas export
facility. It is the first purely export facility in the lower 48 states.
It will not be the last.

Right now, there are plans to build 20 or so LNG export facilities in
America most of them in this area.

We asked Cheniere`s CEO if he thought the industry was moving a little bit
too fast.

JACK FUSCO, CHENIERE ENERGY PRES. & CEO: What I worry about is that we
don`t build fast enough. So our customers have an incredible demand growth
forecast. So, in China`s case, they`re growing demand by 50 percent a
year. So if we`re not there to fill that need, they`re getting it
somewhere else.

SULLIVAN: America is currently the sixth biggest exporter of natural gas
in the world. But experts predict that we could jump to second in just
five years because the United States is kicking off so much natural gas
from the shale oil boom.

This facility is built by Bechtel, the private massive building company,
and we spoke to the Bechtel CEO and asked him if he thought these ambitious
plans with would actually happen.

BRENDAN BECHTEL, BECHTEL GROUP CEO: It`s sort of mathematically improbable
that every single one that`s proposed in the market will happen. Of
course, the permitting process, the EIS process, that will sort out sort of
who gets to go ahead. But at the end of the day, from our perspective, the
biggest constraint is labor.

SULLIVAN: The other question is money. As long as stock markets and
economies around the world are going up, investors are more likely to spend
the billions it takes to build facilities like this. But if either of
those things slows down, America`s big bold bet on gas could go up in

Brian Sullivan, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Corpus Christi, Texas.


HERERA: A house of pain for shares of K.B. Home. That`s where we begin
tonight`s “Market Focus”.

The homebuilder says the home orders are down sharply in the current
quarter, compared to a year ago. The reason is partly due to the wildfires
in California, as well as softer demand for speculative homes. The company
is also projecting revenue below the analyst estimates. The stock fell 15
percent to $17.61.

JCPenney reported a wider loss and lower sales in its most recent quarter.
The retailer cut its revenue guidance for the year, even as consumer
spending remains strong. The new CEO said that JCPenney has a place in
American retailing but that it needs to better manage inventory and connect
better with customers. The stock rose 11 percent to $1.36.

GRIFFETH: Shares of Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) fell in extended trading after
the retailer reported mixed third quarter earnings and tweaked its annual
sales and profit forecast. Earnings came in well below expectations and
the company lowered its guidance as well and that sent shares down sharply
in late trade today.

And it was a similar story late today for Nvidia. That company reported
earnings that fell short of Wall Street estimates, and offered an outlook
that disappointed investors. The Nvidia said it plans to return an
additional $3 billion to shareholders. That wasn`t enough. The stock sold
off in initial after-hours trading tonight.

HERERA: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was under fire today after a “New York Times
(NYSE:NYT)” report criticized its executives for their handling of a number
of cries. The report found the social media company pursued a, quote,
delay, deny and deflect approach when it came to things like Russian
meddling in the election and fake news posts. It also said that top
executives orchestrated a campaign against critics, rivals and proponents
of regulation. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO and founder pushed back, calling
the criticism unfair.


MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: I`ve said many times before that we were
too slow to spot Russian interference, too slow to respond (ph) and too
slow to get on top of it. And we certainly stumbled along the way. But to
suggest that we weren`t interested in knowing the truth or that we wanted
to hide what we knew or that we tried to prevent investigations is simply


HERERA: Shares of Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) were off a fraction today.

GRIFFETH: Coming up, Ford`s new road map.


BUSINESS REPORT, we`re going to give you an inside look at Ford`s
autonomous vehicle project as it tests on the streets of Miami.



GRIFFETH: Ford is taking a road test of sort. The company is putting a
fleet of self-driving cars on the streets of Miami in an effort to make
autonomous driving a part of our everyday life.

Frank Holland explains.


HOLLAND: The traffic and congestion in Miami, a daily test of patience for
drivers here. But it`s a valuable tool for Ford as it tests the autonomous
vehicle tech it plans to launch in 2021.

tougher urban areas with our autonomous technology and businesses.

HOLLAND: Right now, you`re seeing the future in motion. This autonomous
vehicle is driving itself and the ride is pretty smooth. Right now, we`re
at level four. That means you see someone in the driver`s seat. And their
hands have to hover the wheel for safety reasons but the software controls
speed and when we start and when we stop.

These tests are done on a preprogram route but the traffic is real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you see the car saw the light turned yellow and we
made that stop appropriately.

HOLLAND: This AV tech created by Pittsburgh based Argo AI is designed to
react to what happens on the road and will eventually adjust for

BRYAN SALESKY, ARGO AI CEO: If they want a vehicle that pulse up, that
knows its preferences, has the cabin temperature set to what they prefer,
maybe the music is playing what they would prefer. And the idea is to
provide that real seamless customer experience.

MARAKBY: We are building the capabilities to run a business of autonomous
vehicle transportation. What that means is that, you know, when we launch
the cars it`s not just going to be the car. It`s going to be an app. It`s
going to be the cloud.

HOLLAND: Ford calls it transportation as a service. The legacy automaker
is making a $4 billion investment in AV through 2023. At first, Ford will
offer cars to product delivery companies and to ride hailing services.
Pilot partners are Domino`s, Postmates, Lyft and Walmart.

These vehicles in Miami test how consumers react.

MARAKBY: We`re laser-focused on profitability and how we work with the
city and with the businesses. What autonomous vehicles provide is provide
transportation at lower cost than current vehicles.

HOLLAND: Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, will launch an AV
service by the end of year targeting businesses. General Motors (NYSE:GM)
Cruise unit says it will offer AV ride hailing by next year. Ford says
it`s launching later because it`s focusing on safety and scale.

MARAKBY: That is all targeting profitability. It`s targeting maximum
utilization and it`s targeting a very healthy business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Ready for another ride, Frank?

HOLLAND: We are ready.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Engaging. And we are back in auto.

HOLLAND: For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Frank Holland, in Miami,


GRIFFETH: And to read more about Ford`s autonomous vehicle plans, you can
head to our website at

HERERA: Here`s a look at final numbers on Wall Street for you today. The
Dow rose 208 points. The Nasdaq was up 122. S&P 500 added 28.

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

GRIFFETH: Happy birthday, young lady.

HERERA: Oh, I knew you were going to do that. Thank you.

GRIFFETH: People on Twitter are saying it all over the place.

HERERA: Thank you.

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


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
broadcast at The program is transcribed by ASC Services II
Media, 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
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Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice.
(c) 2018 CNBC, Inc.


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