ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth.
BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Flare-up. Wall Street seems to believe the trade war will last a lot longer than once thought. That sent stocks sharply lower and bond yields even lower.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Tech cold war. The sector is bearing the brunt of U.S.-China tensions and at stake is the race to dominate the global rollout of 5G technology.
GRIFFETH: Buyer`s strike. A new report points to a disappointing spring for the nation`s homebuilders.
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Thursday, May the 23rd.
HERERA: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
The U.S. and China are hardening their stances in the trade war. No talks are scheduled and China warned the U.S. to change its, quote, wrong actions, end quote. Investors now seem to think that the trade war will last a lot longer and that a prolonged fight could hit economic growth, consumer spending and corporate profits. That sent stocks lower across the board. Oil prices slumped, and the yield on the ten-year treasury fell to an 18-month low.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 286 points to 25,490, but it had been down more than 400 points. The Nasdaq was down 122 and the S&P 500 slid 34.
Bob Pisani starts us off tonight from the New York Stock Exchange.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Trade and tariffs have been the marginal movers of the markets, but reality is setting in and the reality is there`s no set date for trade talks to begin. Oh, yes, there`s hope that President Trump and President Xi are going to meet at the G20 meeting in June, but the underlings have set the groundwork for a meeting and there`s nothing on the books to do that.
The trade situation has gotten worse and the markets are pricing that it will get better. You have a problem. If you`re bullish on the market, you have to be bullish on global growth. And to be bullish on global growth, you have to believe trade gets better and you see, it doesn`t help, by the way, that we keep getting these disappointing manufacturing numbers out of Europe as we did today.
Slowly, but surely the trade is piling up. The big trade related names are including tech giants Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), but the industrial names, 3M (NYSE:MMM), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), DowDuPont and the materials, they`re all down big. Defensive names like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Coke, McDonald`s (NYSE:MCD), all right, they`re still up for the month.
But don`t kid yourself, if the trade talks thaw out, global growth estimates for everything will come down and earnings will come down for all of the global companies including the Coca-Colas of the world. That`s what Nomura said today. They said, I`m quoting: We think domestic pressures and constraints will drive both sides toward further escalation. And they said there was a 65 percent chance that a new round of tariffs will come in during the second half of the year.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: And when it comes to the economy, the outlook keeps shifting and shifting quickly. Even at the highest ranks of the Federal Reserve.
Steve Liesman explains.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It was early May and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell was feeling just a bit better about the ups and downs the U.S. economy had been facing like weak global growth, Brexit and the trade war.
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: While concerns remain in all of these areas, it appears that risks have moderated somewhat.
LIESMAN: A little more than three weeks later, most of those problems are worse and there are new ones to handle. Brexit has flared up again as an ongoing risk that may topple the government. Global economic data especially Europe looks worse than it did, and new tariffs for President Trump have exploded the trade war into key sectors of the economy and raised questions about the outlook for U.S. inflation and growth.
Here`s what Powell said this week about the trade talks.
The outcome of the trade negotiations is not known. It`s highly uncertain. It would be premature to make sense of that. We`re just going to have to see how this plays out. I`m not going to speculate.
The result is a Fed on perma-hold, waiting in neutral until there`s a reason to cut rates in order to speed up the economy or hike them to slow it down. The fear is that businesses remain on hold, too.
RAPHAEL BOSTIC, ATLANTA FED PRESIDENT: You know, when I go around, I talk to business leaders all the time. They tell me, well, I don`t know what the rules are going to be a year from now so I`m just going to wait.
JAMES LOREE, STANLEY BLACK AND DECKER CEO: We`ve had to take pretty significant actions in order to offset that. So, there`s — you know, there have been some price increases and there have been some supply chain moves and there have been some cost management actions taken, as well. But we managed to offset all that.
LIESMAN: Perhaps what`s turned so quickly can once again reverse course. But markets have been on for so long that they might decide that the forecast for continued bumpy and maybe even scary ride.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
HERERA: That bumpy ride is exactly what we`ve been seeing.
Mike Santoli joins us from the New York Stock Exchange.
Good to see you, Mike.
So, is the shift in sentiment in this market due to all of the trade concerns?
MIKE SANTOLI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: I think trade concerns sort of pile on top of the other issues. I think, you know, we always expected there to be some kind of an economic slowdown, a corporate earnings slowdown this year and the trade issue seems like because it got re-escalated has just exacerbated those issues and that`s why the markets have kind of gone into the defensive crouch, pricing in slower growth.
You know, the second of this year was supposed to be when we might get a re-acceleration of the economy and corporate profits start to grow again. Well, now, the second half of this year starts in five or six weeks. So, it`s getting a little close to think that in fact, we can have sort of a pickup in that time.
GRIFFETH: I remember the last summer the market became defensive and the strength all of a sudden was today with this sell-off, utilities were higher.
So is the market becoming more defensive and settling into that mode again?
SANTOLI: Without a doubt, though. In fact, that`s been going on for a while even when the market was much closer to its highs and doing seemingly well on the surface, there was a little bit of defensiveness about the leadership. It was healthcare and even big technology stocks like the ones that are these big dominant companies, not necessarily semiconductors that sell into China. They were the ones that were benefitting from this area of doubt about the overall power of the economic expansion.
So I do think it`s been a defensive task. It`s gotten more intense right now especially when you look at what`s going on with the bond yields going down and year and a half lows at this point. So, that`s where we are. I think the market is being held up by the low bond yields of the safer sectors. Question is how long that can last?
HERERA: Now, in simple terms, you look at a lot of different charts during the day, Mike. Are some of the chart patterns in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 mirroring what we`re seeing in terms of market action?
SANTOLI: They are for the most part. For one thing, I think we should maybe emphasize that if you dial back a couple of years, the stock market has really been in a sideways range swinging around for about a year and a half. I mean, since January of 2018.
Yes, we made a new high just last month. The decline has not yet really jeopardized the most recent uptrend from December just yet, but it`s getting to this area, for example, in the S&P 500 where if it fell a few more percent from here, I do have people question whether it`s back into a more sloppy environment that`s going to chop around and no longer really a defined uptrend.
HERERA: Mike Santoli.
HERERA: Mike Santoli from the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: So what could have protracted a standoff between what the U.S. and China mean for both stocks and bonds?
We have two guests with us tonight covering stocks. Sarah Hunt, she`s portfolio manager at Alpine Woods Capital. And on bonds, it`s Mark Grant. He`s chief fixed global income strategist at B. Riley FBR.
Good to see you both. Thanks for joining us tonight.
MARK GRANT, B. RILEY FBR: Thank you.
GRIFFETH: Sarah, what about? As you heard Mike Santoli talking about that. Do you see the market becoming more defensive? Is that where you would be putting money to work right now do you think?
SARAH HUNT, ALPINE WOODS CAPITAL PORTFOLIO MANAGER: I think the market has become more defensive. As you look at multiples on consumer staples, if you look at the defense stocks, which have recovered quite nicely it wasn`t just about the December quarter and the defense stocks were having a hard time all year last year.
So I think that you`re starting to see people position themselves more defensively and people are looking at places where there`s more U.S. exposure.
HERERA: And, you know, Mark, one of the places that they are getting defensive is by moving into the bond market. How much more of this move do you see, and if you`re a longer term investor, would you go out as far, or would you be shorter on the yield curve?
GRANT: So I`ve been saying for quite a while that yields were going down. The 800-pound gorilla in the room is the Fed and the word is an about face and a 180-degree term after the meeting and I think the Fed`s next move will be because of the Chinese, but I call it the “game of thrones” between the two countries. The Fed`s next move is going to be to cut interest rates.
I would like to point out when we`re talking about China, it`s not like China is equivalent to the United States. The Chinese economy is 41 percent smaller than the U.S. economy, and consequently, any kind of protracted trade war, I think, is going to hurt China far more than it`s going to hurt the United States.
GRIFFETH: How much lower could you see yields going? Give us the 10-year. We`re at 230 right now.
GRANT: I think we can get down to somewhere around the 2 percent. It wouldn`t surprise me at all. I think the Fed is very conscious of the — what`s going on with China and I had a great opportunity not long ago to speak with the president of the St. Louis Fed, Jim Bullard, one of the brightest guys on Wall Street, in my opinion and he didn`t, of course, say anything.
GRANT: That was my impression that the Fed was very concerned about the U.S. economy and the trade wars and was ready to go either way depending upon how things worked out.
HERERA: So, Sarah, given the uncertainty and the headline risk, if you`re a longer term investor what areas of the market do you think looked a little bit safer?
HUNT: Well, I think if you go back to some of the areas that have seen some pretty good appreciation in prices, so I`m not sure you want to jump into consumer staples here. But I think over the longer term, I think you still have some really good opportunities in some of the defense stocks. I also think some of the consumer stocks — I mean, there are issues in terms of pricing with home depot and things along those lines where you have to worry about tariffs, but longer term, those are stories that have really had very nice growth over long periods of time and I think that that ultimately is going to continue.
GRIFFETH: Let me just say I had lunch with an investment banker friend today, Sarah, and his opinion was and it`s one man`s opinion, oh, they`ll figure things out and he`ll be stepping into buying things that will be selling off like the semiconductor stocks and some of the other companies that have been suffering because of the trade war. Is that risky thinking or what are you thinking about? I mean, this has been a market that`s been buying dips for years now.
HUNT: Well, I think that it depends on your timeframe. If you have a long enough timeframe, it`s absolutely a great idea, because in the end, they will figure it out. The question on the technology side is which stocks are going to be specifically impacted. And I think if you can get comfort that the places have at least an exposure to the issues that are going on, then it`s not such a difficult thing.
And I think longer term, I mean, we`re all going to be using more semiconductors. We`re all looking at more data. All of these things, these trends are not going to stop just because we get into a trade war.
GRIFFETH: Sarah Hunt with Alpine Woods Capital, and Mark Grant with B. Riley FBR, thank you both tonight.
GRANT: Thank you.
HUNT: Thank you.
HERERA: 5G technology is at the heart of the trade dispute between the U.S. and China as both countries race to be the first to build out high- speed 5G networks. But why is this such a big deal? And why is it the centerpiece of the trade dispute?
Joining us to discuss that is Ian Sherr, executive editor at CNET.
Welcome back, Ian. Nice to have you here.
IAN SHERR, CNET EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Thanks for having me.
HERERA: The basic question is why is everybody focusing on 5G? Yes, it`s the next big thing, but what are the implications of whether China wins or the U.S. wins?
SHERR: Well, a lot of this is bragging rights, right? That`s a very important part of this. But what`s interesting as well is that China produces a lot of the network equipment that makes 5G possible.
So, what`s really interesting here is that there`s this extra layer in all of this going on where the United States government which has been raising alarms about Chinese hacking and all sorts of other things in addition to this trade dispute going on is trying to actually keep other countries and ourselves from using 5G networking equipment from China. And this causes quite a bit of consternation, and a lot of confusion in the market particularly because there hasn`t been that much proof where things are coming from yet.
GRIFFETH: Implicit in the FCC`s approval in the deal between Sprint and T- Mobile was, they said that this would allow for a faster rollout of 5G. So, there it is again and can we roll out 5G with those two merging and with Huawei out of the picture?
SHERR: You know, I know it`s going to be kind of a crazy thing to hear, but I don`t think it actually matters much. Like this whole race to 5G thing on some level it`s just about the bragging rights and at the end of the day in the next few years we`ll have it hopefully if it lives up to the marketing hype, and it`s not going to be an issue. But what it`s turned into is it`s become a political fight partially because we`re in the middle of this trade war.
HERERA: And along those lines there was an analyst quoted on “Reuters” today this is going to extend beyond tariffs to force a rebuilding of the global technology industry, splitting it into Chinese and U.S. fears of influence. Do you think it will get that far?
SHERR: It would be really interesting to see. So much of the global supply chain specifically through the tech industry flows through Asia, and the idea that suddenly we`re just going to put our foot on the break and start producing chips and phones and everything else in China is hard for me to get my head around, and not to mention that there are estimates already that these trade disputes will have to raise the prices for a lot of consumer technology. It`s just hard to believe that we could actually pull that off. But we`re talking about years down the line and I guess anything could be possible.
HERERA: All right. Ian, thank you. I`m sure we`ll be speaking again. Ian Sherr with CNET.
GRIFFETH: Meantime, the Trump administration will give farmers $16 billion to help offset losses from the trade war with China. That payment rates will depend on where they farm and the crops that they grow. Farmers, as you know, have been among the hardest hit. Some are sitting on record volumes of soybeans as they pulled back on purchases of the crop last year.
HERERA: It is time to take a look at some of today`s “Upgrades and Downgrades”.
Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) was downgraded to neutral from buy at Mizuho. The analyst cites uncertainty around the legal ruling that the company violated antitrust law with its patent royalty, something that we told you about yesterday. The price target is $65. The shares fell 1.5 percent to $68.20.
Chipotle was downgraded to underperform from market perform at BMO Capital. The analyst cites concerns over the spread of African swine flu and the potential impact on margins. The price target is $620 and the stock dropped 5.5 percent to $667.12.
GRIFFETH: Target (NYSE:TGT) was upgraded to overweight from neutral at J.P. Morgan with the analyst cited the retailer had expanded operating income and he calls the shares undervalued right now. Price target is $100. That stock has been a bright spot in today`s market. It was up more than 2 percent at $79.40.
And Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) cut its price target on Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) to $50 a share. That`s the lowest on Wall Street. The analyst says the retailer`s second-half strategy appears risky. As we reported, Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) cut its full-year profit forecast earlier this week and the firm is also concerned about an increase in promotions. The stock dropped more than 4 percent today to $51.15.
HERERA: Still ahead, Best Buy`s turnaround has been called striking, but the impact of tariffs looms large.
GRIFFETH: Consumer electronics giant Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) reported better than expected earnings today, but shares did tumble after the retailer issued a warning that higher tariffs will likely result in higher prices for consumers. But despite today`s pullback, this stock is up 25 percent so far this year.
R.J. Hottovy is the consumer equity strategist at Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN), joining us to talk about the outlook for a company, R.J., that for years the people assumed it was going to go out of business because Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) was eating its lunch.
What did they do to turn things around?
R.J. HOTTOVY, MORNINGSTAR CONSUMER EQUITY STRATEGIST: It really was a three-prong strategy. It started first clearing out unnecessary costs. I think they did a great job managing the income statement and getting rid of a lot of unnecessary costs and if you look at the start of Hubert Joly`s tenure. I mean, they cut off close to $1.6 billion out of their cost structure which I think was a great way to start.
Secondly, they became a partner to a lot of the competitors, particularly the Amazons, you know, Sonys, Apples of the world, you know, give them actual floor space, store from stores, the retail store, and that keep some people coming back traffic wise. And then, beyond that, they moved more to the service side of the business now, too, as we become more of a — you know, smart home and kind of integrated households. They`ve done a good job managing that and using services in the way to extend their customer base.
HERERA: So how do you feel about the stock? There are a number of companies this week who warned that the tariffs could be an issue to the bottom line if they don`t feel they have the pricing power to pass those tariff costs on to the consumers. Would you buy the stock on a pullback like we saw today?
HOTTOVY: I think I`d wait for a bigger pullback and to your point and I think the tariffs will have an impact on the business particularly some of the ticket items like appliances. I think that`s where Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is most exposed. You`ll see a pullback because of the slowing sales and that, and they`re a lot more constructive and that would have to wait a couple of quarters before we see the impact of tariffs though.
I do think this is an interesting business model. I do think that over time, they are going to face a lot of more competition. Even on their services side, I think Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is going to move directly to the service side, but if we do see a big pullback because of tariffs, it might be worth a look.
GRIFFETH: I was just going to say, isn`t Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) still a threat to this company?
HOTTOVY: Yes. Yes, they are still lurking, and I think a lot of the people look at things that Best Buy`s done well in terms of partnering with vendors and services. Both of those are exposed longer term and a lot of the vendors they deal with whether it be Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) selling the hardware, all those companies are going to be taking the products directly to consumers and services is an interesting business, it`s a higher margin business, and it`s a way to expand the target audience and at the same time these things are being replicated.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) home services through Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) which it hasn`t got the publicity I think it deserves. I think that`s a looming threat. I think you look elsewhere, it`s very hard to differentiate yourself on service. A lot of those things are going to see price competition on that front, as well.
GRIFFETH: R.J. Hottovy with Morningstar (NASDAQ:MORN), always good to see you. Thanks for joining us.
HOTTOVY: Yes. Thanks, Bill.
HERERA: The FAA is meeting with global air regulators about Boeing`s 737 MAX airplane. The group is trying to determine what is needed to get the grounded plane back in service. Some carriers have estimated that the fleet will be flying again by August, but the FAA says there is no timetable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL ELWELL, ACTING FAA ADMINISTRATOR: They don`t need to make any changes to their plans. They just need to know that there isn`t a timetable for bringing the 737 MAX back to flight. There is only one criteria when we`re done with our analysis, and it`s safe to let the 737 MAX fly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: According to “Reuters”, airlines expect the each 737 MAX jet to require 100 to 150 hours before flying once regulators approve Boeing`s plan. That time includes everything from taking the plane out of storage to engine checks to uploading the new software.
GRIFFETH: Shares of Bicycle Therapeutics hit the brakes in their trading debut today and that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The biopharmaceutical firm priced its initial public offering at $14 a share. This company is a new class of therapeutics based on chemically synthesized medicines called Bicycles. The company`s stock fell 13 percent on the first day of trading to $12 even.
Elsewhere, Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) reported better-than-expected results despite declining heart device sales, and an abrupt closure of one of its plants. The medical device maker had higher sales made surgical instruments used to treat hernia and kidney ailments. The company also issued an upbeat earnings outlook for the full year, and shares rose more than 3 percent as a result to $91.64.
Hormel reported mixed results but the maker of Spam and other meat products warned the impact of African swine fever affected its quarterly revenues and will continue to impact future sales of its beef and pork products. The company also cut its full-year outlook as a result and Hormel was off a fraction today to $39.13.
HERERA: B.J.`s wholesale topped expectations thanks to strong same-store sales. The company saw growth in membership and confirmed its full-year guidance. Shares today were up nearly 3 percent to $26.15.
After the bell, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) topped expectations as the company saw increases in its PC and its printer unit. HP also raised its full-year forecast. The stock initially rose in after-hours trading and closed the regular session down a fraction to $19.19.
And also after the bell, earnings and revenue at Lionsgate Entertainment missed estimates and this comes as the motion picture producer and distributor reportedly distributes talks to sell its premium network Stars. The stock initially dropped in after-hours trading and also closed the regular session down a fraction to $15.99.
GRIFFETH: Coming up, builders are asking where are the buyers as sales for new homes slump again.
HERERA: The House passed a bipartisan retirement bill aimed at improving the savings of Americans. The measure would make it easier for small businesses to ban together to offer 401(k) plans. It would also eliminate the maximum contribution age on traditional IRAs which currently stands at 70 1/2. The proposal now heads to the Senate where a similar bill has yet to be voted out of committee.
GRIFFETH: Manufacturing activity has slumped to a nine-year low. A new survey points to trade war concerns and a slowdown in demand for American goods and key export markets. New orders fell for the first time since 2009.
And a separate survey showed a decline in service sector growth, as well.
HERERA: A disappointing spring for the nation`s homebuilders. Sales fell more than expected in April as prices for new homes continue to rise.
Diana Olick has more.
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: A decade after the housing crash, the nation`s homebuilders are still recovering in fits and starts. Fewer housing starts than expected and now fewer home sales in April.
GENE MYERS, THRIVE HOME BUILDERS CEO: We have a bit of a buyer`s strike where the pricing has gotten so high and the world on the street among all builders is what are we going to do about affordability and every little bit that prices go up really hurt the consumer.
OLICK: Gene Myers built homes in the Denver area and says the high cost for land, labor and materials make lowering home prices increasingly difficult.
MYERS: Builders just don`t have a big cushion. It`s actually a surprisingly low margin industry and so, we have no choice when costs go up, the customer will end up paying.
OLICK: The median price of a newly built home in April shot up nearly 9 percent to $342,200, the highest April price on record according to the U.S. Census.
Part of that is because while demand is strong for entry-level homes, builders say they can only afford to put up pricier, high-end homes. So, that`s what`s available for sale.
At a recent builder conference in southern California, the high cost of regulation was a major concern.
MARGARET WHELAN, WHELAN ADVISORY CEO: And you have the lack of availability because of tariffs and impact fees and some of that and we don`t have skill labor. So, there are a lot of things working against us.
OLICK: That has builders rethinking every aspect of what they do in order to lower prices.
MYERS: What we`re working on for all of our new product development is smaller, simpler, more constructible, more affordable and beautiful high performance homes. That`s our formula.
OLICK: A formula more builders may have to follow in order to make the math work for more consumers.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.
GRIFFETH: And before we go, one final look at the day on Wall Street. Big selloff today. The Dow had been down 400 points, finished down 286, the Nasdaq was down 122 and the S&P 500 slid by 34, and I guess you blame trade.
HERERA: I think so. That`s the theme.
That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us.
GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. See you tomorrow.
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