Transcript: Nightly Business Report – December 12, 2018

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

optimism over trade. But in Beijing, there is some doubt, especially among
global business leaders.

bill has a surprising provision and it could be a boon to the cannabis

HERERA: Try before you buy. It`s a rental apartment that`s also a
marketplace for American made goods.

Those stories and much more on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Wednesday,
December 12th.

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

Stocks rebounded today on — you guessed it — optimism over trade talks
between the United States and China. The move higher extended the recent
bout of volatility that this market has been defined by lately. The Dow
was up 458 points at its peak today. But around midday, the major indexes
all came off their highs around the same time that President Trump`s former
attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for his role
in hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

By the close, though, some pretty solid gains were still in place. The Dow
rose by 157 points to 24,527. The Nasdaq was up 66. And the S&P added 14.

Bob Pisani has more on today`s bounce back.


mode most of the day. The Dow surged more than 400 points at one point on
a spate of positive global market and trade-related headlines that would
close well off of those highs. The markets first got a lift pro open on
news of the CFO of Huawei, one of the largest tech companies in China had
been granted bail in Canada, and President Trump said he was willing to
intervene on Huawei`s behalf if it would help with a trade deal.

Then, “The Wall Street Journal” reported that the China was planning to
allow greater access to foreign companies by drafting replacement for its
current made in 2025 plan. That plan had been a framework for increasing
China`s dominance in the manufacturing business.

Meantime, European stocks surged ahead of a major confidence vote tonight
over British Prime Minister Theresa May`s leadership. May had been the
driving force the behind negotiating a Brexit deal. That is the U.K.`s
plan to exit the European Union. She has survived that vote.

Finally, Italy`s prime minister set to meet with the European Union this
week where he says he is willing to pose a reasonable budget deal to tackle
Italy`s deficit problem. A lot of headlines today. You have a symphony of
positive headlines. The question is, will this very modest move that we
saw last?

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


HERERA: And while stocks rose on reports of a warming of trade relations
between the U.S. and China, some skepticism remains on both sides,
especially within the business community.

Eunice Yoon is in Beijing tonight.


weighed in on the Huawei CFO situation in a way that has been unnerving
some American business people here. An interview with “Reuters”, President
Trump said he was willing to intervene in Meng Wanzhou`s situation if it
helped national security or thought it was necessary to close a broader
trade deal. His comments appeared to suggest that the U.S.`s detention of
Meng was a political decision, something that many Chinese had suspected
but that his administration had previously denied.

This came after Canada confirmed that one of its former diplomats, Michael
Kovrig, had been detained by Chinese authorities. The foreign ministry
said the organization Kovrig works for here, International Crisis Group, is
not registered in China according to NGO law. The ministry added that
Chinese law is clear about the visas people must apply for to enter or work
in China.

Kovrig`s detention is being seen here as a response to Meng`s situation.
She`s been released on bail but is being closely monitored. Today, she
posted on the WeChat: I`m in Vancouver and have already returned to my
family. I`m proud of Huawei, proud of my motherland. Thank you to
everyone who has cared about me.

The foreign ministry described her detention as a mistake from the start
and demanded for her release immediately. Some executives in the
international business community say that this is just a reminder of how
vulnerable they are here.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.


GRIFFETH: And China has made its first major purchase of U.S. soybeans
since President Trump and President Xi met at the G20 in Argentina two
weeks ago. Reuters reports that Chinese state-owned companies bought at
least 180 million worth of the crop. As you may know, China is the largest
buyer of U.S. soy. Last year, it imported about 60 percent of all U.S.
overseas shipments valued at $12 billion.

HERERA: And extraordinary three days in London that threw into question
the economic future of the United Kingdom and had global investors on edge.
Late today, British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a threat to her
leadership. A party vote left her in power. But questions remain around
her plan to exit the European Union.

Wilfred Frost is in London tonight for us.

So, Wilf, what`s the timeline? What happens next especially as it pertains
to Brexit?

uncertainty as it pertains to Brexit is the answer, Sue. One of the big
questions we had coming into the vote of confidence for the prime minister
was that if she won, what would those that had tried and failed to oust her
do next? Would they fall in line and go along with the Brexit plan or
would they continue to try to oppose it?

And it`s clear from comments we have had in the last hour that it`s the
latter they wish to do to continue to oppose her plan for Brexit. And when
you consider the math overall, it looks difficult for Theresa May`s Brexit
plan. Tonight, she got 200 votes from her 317 MPs in her party. But there
are 650 seats in total in parliament. So, she seems a long way from
getting her sort of middle ground plan for Brexit through parliament.

The British pound rose today because she won the leadership vote.


FROST: But it down week to date, month to date and year to date because of
Brexit uncertainty.

GRIFFETH: And investors are watching closely companies involved in this
are watching closely. The odds of either a soft Brexit which is what
Theresa May is pushing which still has economic ties to the European Union
or a no-deal Brexit where there would be no ties at all, what would happen
to businesses in the — that are in the U.K., U.S. businesses in the U.K.
if we get a no deal Brexit, do you think?

FROST: Yes, Bill, that is certainly the worst-case scenario for equity
markets and economies tied to the United Kingdom, a Brexit with no plan for
how we transition.

I think U.S. companies with the biggest exposure tend to be those large
investment banks, like Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS),
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). They say they are more prepared for that
eventuality than perhaps they would have been a year or two ago. But the
uncertainty would cause the European economies certainly could weigh on
global and U.S. growth next year if that did happen.

HERERA: Indeed. Wilfred Frost — Wilf, thank you so much for joining us
from London this evening.

GRIFFETH: Otherwise, overseas events like Brexit and trade could affect
the global economy which is why investors are watching developments so
closely. And in fact, today, the chairman of the Council of Economic
Advisers said that there are signs the global economy is slowing.


is clearly slowing. I think the European economy is slowing because
capital spending is on hold as people wait to see what happens for Brexit.
There is a lot of financial distress in Italy.

And, of course, Europe exports to China which is suffering a severe
slowdown right now. And so, the global economic outlook is a little bit
lower than we had last year. But for the U.S., we`re really humming along.


GRIFFETH: Mr. Hassett went on to say that he believes that the U.S.
economy will grow by 3 percent or more next year. He credited an increase
in business investment and the White House`s trade strategy.

HERERA: Inflation remains muted, thanks to decline in energy prices. The
latest report on consumer prices was flat even as unemployment sits near a
50-year low which in theory puts upward pressure on prices. For the year,
the inflation index is up more than 2 percent and that`s just about where
the Federal Reserve wants it. The Central Banks meets on interest rate
policy next week.

GRIFFETH: In Washington, the House easily passed the $860 billion farm
bill following the Senate`s approval last night. The legislation now goes
on to the president for his signature. The bill expanded farm subsidies
and funded national food stamp programs which we knew about. But a little
known provision also handed a big win to part of the cannabis industry by
legalizing hemp production.

Aditi Roy is in San Francisco for us tonight.


Sagely Naturals in 2015. The company makes beauty and wellness products,
including topicals and dietary supplements, which contain cannabidiol, or
CBD. Products are marketed to treat pain and ease anxiety.

collections. We have a relief recovery collection as well as tranquility.

ROY: CBD is an active ingredient in hemp, which is a close cousin of
marijuana plant. But unlike THC, the active ingredient in weed, CBD can`t
make you high.

CBD is federally illegal, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. The
2014 Farm Bill legalized hemp farming for research and while it didn`t
legalize it across the board, the relaxing of laws around the compound
sparked CBD-based companies to sprout. The current farm bill would close
some of those loopholes, paving the way for CBD-based products to land on
store shelves near you.

If hemp is legalized, one research group estimates the market could reach
$22 billion by 2022. Sources say mass retailers looking into carrying the
products once they`re legalized include Walmart, Target (NYSE:TGT), Costco
(NASDAQ:COST) and Kroger (NYSE:KR). As well as pharmacies like CVS
(NYSE:CVS) and Walgreens and department stories like Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN),
Saks (NYSE:SKS), Bloomingdales and Macy`s.

JOSEPH DOWLING, CV SCEINCES CEO: Those are the categories that the
consumer package goods industry defines. And I think we all know the names
for each of them. You can assume that we`re in the process of talking to
all of them — if not right now, shortly.

ROY: Executives at some of the biggest CBD companies including CV Sciences
and Charlotte`s Web or CW Hemp say they are talking to big retailers in
anticipation of hemp legalization. They add this year`s farm bill could be
a game changing moment for the industry and national retailers.

DOWLING: We believe that this will be the catalyst or maybe the tipping
point for certainly one or two to enter the space. And I believe that once
one or two enter the space, you`re going to see at some point all enter the
space and participate in what is going to be a very, very big product

ROY: Farmers could also benefit. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell
spearheaded hemp legal station. He says in his home state of Kentucky,
farmers grew in excess of 2,300 acres of hemp in 2017. This year, the
number of acres more than doubled.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Aditi Roy, San Francisco.


HERERA: It is time to look at some of today`s upgrades and downgrades.

Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) were downgraded to
market perform from outperform at Keefe, Bruyette and Woods. The analyst
cites a lack of catalyst to push those stocks higher. The price target on
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is $45 and $29 for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC).
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) rose a fraction to $40.81. Bank of America
(NYSE:BAC) fell to $24.52.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) was downgraded to equal weight from overweight at Morgan
Stanley (NYSE:MS). The analyst there says any good news is already priced
into the stock. The price target is $58. The stock fell more than 2.5
percent to $57.25.

GRIFFETH: Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) also downgraded eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) to
equal weight from overweight. The analyst cited concerns over the e-
commerce Website U.S. business. Price target $33. Stocks below that
slightly down to $29.04.

And Lululemon was upgraded to buy from neutral at Citi. The analyst cited
improving fundamentals and the company`s growth prospects. That price
target now $152. Shares rose abou8t 5 percent to $122.65.

HERERA: Still ahead, is the rocky stock market holding back spending this
holiday season?


HERERA: “The New York Times (NYSE:NYT)” is reporting that Chinese hackers
were behind the massive cyber attack on Marriott. The hackers are
suspected of working on behalf of a Chinese intelligence gathering effort.
Information including emails, names and passport numbers were stolen as
part of a slow-moving attack that is believed to have lasted four years.
As we have reported, the breach affected 500 million Marriott guests.

GRIFFETH: Well, it`s certainly no secret that cyber thieves are becoming
more sophisticated, some, in fact, are now using cryptocurrency mining
software which is often associated with bitcoin. But instead of creating
alternative currencies, the software may be concealing an attack on
corporate networks.

Andrea Day has our special report.


time what someone could be stealing with this miner.

attack that could leave sensitive files wide open, but so stealth even
security pros might not notice.

KENT: They are going to assume very likely that it`s a miner and nothing

DAY: Troy Kent is a threat researcher for Awake Security. We tracked him
down at a cybersecurity conference where he demoed the attack he just
created and says it only took a few hours to pull off.

KENT: If I can do it, then absolutely an attacker could do it, whether
they are sophisticated or not sophisticated at all.

DAY: Here is how it works. Kent stays attacker install software on the
network usually by tricking someone inside the company to click on a link.
It`s called phishing, and once the software is in place.

KENT: They can come in and they can steal files. They can steal
intellectual property. They can steal credentials and then log in as maybe
the CEO or they can download more software. They can bring down services.

DAY: You might think security would just sound the alarm take down the
software and stop the attack. But here`s the scary part, according to
Kent, this attack uses crypto mining software, which most security apps are
used to seeing on the network and might just ignore.

So could security at a business totally miss this attack?

KENT: Depending on the type of detection that they are using, it`s very
possible that they would miss this attack, or at least de-prioritize or
dismiss it as only a minor.

DAY: And he says most business networks have loads of alerts.

KENT: There are too many alerts to respond to. And so, alerts like these
for crypto mining would be deprioritized compared to others.

DAY: And he says that`s why he wanted to show how this could work. His
advice, start using more advanced detection systems not just a basic
systems that a lot of companies rely on right now.



HERERA: Tencent music shares open on a high note, and that`s where we
begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.

The music arm of the Chinese tech company Tencent raised about $1 billion
after pricing its shares at $13 each. The highly anticipated initial
public offering is one of the largest U.S. IPOs by a Chinese company since
Alibaba. The shares 7.5 percent to $14 even.

Under Armour (NYSE:UA) says it planned to cut its financial targets
including in the U.S. where the company has been struggling to regain lost
momentum. The sports apparel retailer narrowed its earnings outlook for
the year and it also said it plans to shift some production away from China
amid the ongoing trade tensions. Shares fell 10 percent to $19.81.

GRIFFETH: Lowe`s plans to buy back $10 billion worth of stock. The new
buyback plan adds to the existing $4.5 billion program already in place.
The home improvement retailer also reaffirmed its 2018 earnings and sales
guidance during today`s investor day. Shares rose about 3 percent on that
news to $92.11 today.

And in a new filing, PG&E has revealed that one of its power lines was
damaged just before the beginning of the massive campfire that happened in
northern California last month. Investigators have yet to determine
whether P&E equipment did cause that deadliest blaze in the state`s
history. The stock rose about 1 percent today, by the way, to $26.39.

HERERA: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) executive and a New York City official were
questioned today by city council members over the billion of dollars in
incentives that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) received as part of its decision to
bring its second headquarters to Queens, New York. And while some small
businesses in the area are welcoming the retailing behemoth, others are

Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) reports from Long Island City, New York.


his restaurant Adda Indian Canteen in Long Island City, Queens, some three
months ago.

Shortly after Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced it was splitting its second
headquarters between two cities, Long Island City, New York, and Crystal
City, Virginia. With a recently signed ten-year lease, Mazumdar is hopeful
he`ll be able to lure in new customers from Amazon`s employee base walking
distance from his door.

RONI MAZUMDAR, ADDA INDIAN CANTEEN OWNER: I think we all find this very
intimidating that there is the big box, kind of a retailer giant that`s
coming in. And I think the way to look at these things is not through
fear, through that lens, but to look at it as a sense of building a more
thriving community.

ROGERS: The Queens Economic Development Corporation is welcoming Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN) with open arms, but acknowledges the decision comes with
challenges for housing and transportation.

think we have to be very careful with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), because we do
have infrastructure issues, housing issues.

ROGERS: This waterfront area is a proposed location for HQ2, but, of
course, not everyone is thrilled that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is coming to

The New York City Council held the first of several meetings today on
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), while lawmakers and residents rallied against the
company`s choice. Meanwhile, some local entrepreneurs are frustrated too.

Lexi Beach opened her Astoria book shop five years ago and just signed
another five-year lease two miles from the proposed Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)
site. She`s concerned about rents going up in the city for both businesses
and residents, and says the community here is supportive of small business
an environment that she says seems unsustainable with the corporation
moving in.

LEXI BEACH, ASTORIA BOOKSTORE OWNER: To have it be so close feels like a
kick in the teeth, from a state and a city that the purport to support
small business.

ROGERS: In a statement, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) told CNBC it`s looking
forward to working with local businesses and in addition to creating tens
of thousands of jobs, both directly and indirectly, the company plans to
donate space for a school, a start-up hub and more.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) in Long Island


GRIFFETH: And Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) certainly like many retailers is hoping
for a merry holiday shopping season but after a pretty strong start, there
are now signs of a possible economic slowdown. You got waning consumer
confidence, a slide in the stock market.

So, with roughly a week and a half left to shop — hint, hint — how are
retailers are faring right now?

Joining us once again with a channel check, Charles O`Shea. He`s lead
retail analyst at Moody`s.

Welcome back.


GRIFFETH: You were with us around Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You know,
a lot of optimism at that time, but a lot has changed since then,
economically and psychologically. Even the Feds said that optimism has
been waning. How are the retailers doing, do you think?

O`SHEA: I think they`re still doing just find. I think this holiday, if
you`re a retailer, and you can`t sell products, you may rethink what you
want to do in the future. Everything is set up well for the retailers
right now.

Yes, there are some soft signs the last several days. But I still think
that this is a perfect setup for retail. We`ve got good weather in the
northeast. Coats should be flying off the shelves, boots, that sort of
thing. And the consumer still feels pretty good.

What we focus more on is the mid-level consumer and then maybe down a
little bit, because that`s — those are the consumers for which and for
whom — Christmas is really important.

GRIFFETH: Yes, yes.

O`SHEA: And they always find a way to pull it off. Even during the
recession. We had a good holiday season you know compared to what we
thought we were getting.

HERERA: You know, the only thing that I have noticed because I have been –
– you`d be shocked, shopping early which I never get a chance to do. But
I`ve been doing it. And there is a lot of discounting.

What toll does that take on the bottom line? I mean, some of them are
discounting dramatically. I don`t know whether that`s desperation or not,
but even like Macy`s and Kohl`s, there`s a lot of that going on.

O`SHEA: That`s where the rubber meets the road. Anybody can sell you a
product. I`ll sell you a dollar for 99 cents all day long you`re probably
buy it. The question becomes, can you make money?

And there are a lot of retailers out there that are desperate right now.
They`re trying to grow the top line. They`re trying to demonstrate that
they are viable and their concepts are resonating. But we don`t know the

And that`s why at our shop, we are income-focused. So, we`re going to be
late to making calls on the how well the holiday went because we got to see
how much you put in the bank, not how much goes out the door.

GRIFFETH: So, who are the winners? Still the same people you were talking
about last time.

O`SHEA: Yes, it`s hard to see how a Walmart, an Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), a
Target (NYSE:TGT), a Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), even some department stores,
Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) how they don`t do well. At the other end of the spectrum
we have the distress list. And down there is J. Crew and Neiman`s. Sears
(NASDAQ:SHLD) is not there anymore.

And it`s hard to see how they`re going to excel this holiday. It`s just —
it`s become such a barbell in retail, and the big buys are just getting
bigger and better at it.

GRIFFETH: Well, we apologize for interrupting your mall channel chat.
We`ll let you get back to that.


O`SHEA: Thanks a lot, Bill. Thanks, Sue.

GRIFFETH: Charlie O`Shea with Moody`s — thanks for joining us.

Coming up by the way, made in America showrooms that you live in.


GRIFFETH: Have you ever stayed in a hotel or long-term rental that had
decor or furniture that you wanted to buy for your home? Well, one short-
term housing company is making it possible for customers to do just that,
while also helping local small businesses.

Diana Olick is in Boston tonight.


looks like a regular rental apartment building overlooking the Boston
skyline. But inside —

PATRICK FLYNN, NORTHEAST SUITES CEO: So everything we see here is pieced
together made in America.

OLICK: It is a marketplace of American-made products.

FLYNN: This is one of the only vacuums made in America.

OLICK: South Carolina, to be exact. Go Local Suites, an extended stay
brand where tenants can rent this suite for a night or a year is the brain
child of Patrick Flynn. He started Northeast Suites in 2012 but as the
competition for temporary housing heated up, he needed an edge.

FLYNN: Our go local suites, people have the opportunity to demo, review
appear and purchase items during the course of the stay. We have more of a
captive audience.

OLICK: Each item comes with a scanner code, if you like it, buy it. A
coffee maker made in Pennsylvania. A toaster from Milwaukee. Silverware
made in New York.

FLYNN: Over the past few months, we have proven the concept to sell a
little over $10,000 in sales, ranging from items as low as $5 a piece, up
to $100 items.

OLICK: As with any new business, timing is everything. And Flynn admits
he is capitalizing on the Trump administration`s focus on American made.
But while branding experts say most Americans feel good about American made
products, they warn businesses must focus upon the products not the

stay out of the political arena and not to pay attention to what the
political climate might be and what those discussions might be. Focus
solely on who your customer base is, and your target audience.

OLICK: And so far, Flynn is doing that. He is even launched a “Go Local”
magazine, highlighting American products that may not be in each unit,
because the units differ by price.

So, luxury American made and basic American made.

FLYNN: Yes, that`s right. We cover all the different price points.

OLICK: Because that`s just basic business no matter where you are.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Boston.


HERERA: And to read more about how rental suites are doubling as
showrooms, you can head to our website,

GRIFFETH: Before we go, a final look at the day on Wall Street. The Dow
had been up 450 points, closed up 150 points today. The Nasdaq climbed by
66. The S&P 500 added 14.

By the way, we get Costco (NASDAQ:COST) earnings tomorrow. That should be
instructive. That will give us an update on how things are doing in

HERERA: Yes. Right before the Christmas holidays.

OK. That will do it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining

GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. Shop well. See you


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
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