Transcript: Nightly Business Report – July 4, 2019

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

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Good evening, everybody, and welcome to this special edition of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.  Sue is off tonight.

You know, believe it or not, we are halfway through 2019, so we`re going to
spend this evening looking at the outlook for the second half of the year,
for everything from the markets, to the Fed, to housing.

And we begin tonight with stocks and the economy.  This year, performance has been a bit bumpy.  Stock rallies have given way to new highs, but there have been some sharp and severe slumps as well.  And at the center of most of those moves has been the Federal Reserve.

We have two reports on that tonight.  To start with, we have Steve Liesman
who will tell us what is ahead for the central bank, but first, Dominic Chu
has the outlook for stocks.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINIC CHU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  After a blistering run for stocks in the first half of the year, here are three things to watch as the markets head into the back half of 2019.

First, trade.  Deal or no deal?  Despite the fits and starts over trade
negotiations between the U.S. and China, investors have largely been
optimistic that a resolution will come to pass, but what happens if things
drag out?  And we`re not even getting into what happens if America decides to stir things up with other trading partners around the globe.

Second, the Fed.  To cut or not to cut?  That is the question.  At this
point, markets are largely expecting that the economic data will lead the
Federal Reserve to ease financial conditions by cutting benchmark interest
rates.  Will it push the stock market to record highs or signal weakness
ahead?  

And third, mega cap stocks, specifically those in tech, communication
services and retail like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Facebook just to name a few.  They`ve had a lot of influence on the market rally, but will the
threat of increased government scrutiny derail that trait?  

Just three of the big market themes to watch in the second half.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Dominic Chu.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  For the second half of the year, the Federal Reserve will be focused on when to make a move on rates and how big a move to make.

Here is what to watch.  First, gauge the economy ahead of the meeting in
July.  Unless the strength measurably from the 2 percent growth now
forecast, cut interest rates.  

Second, how much to cut?  Perhaps a quarter point, but a few more in the
months ahead or perhaps a more muscular 50 points basis cut.  The Fed could pause for taking stock and for inflation to hit its 2 percent target.

Third, when to stop.  The Fed will be reluctant to do more than a few cuts.  
It holds exactly nine quarter point rate moves in its arsenal before the
powder runs dry and it is back to zero.  The Fed will want to avoid another
long spell at zero rate and won`t want quantitative easing, that is
expanding the balance sheet to drive down rates unless it has to.  

So, look for some near-term rate cuts from the Federal Reserve, but it will
be limited unless the economy gets measurably worse.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  Let`s turn to a couple of guests for their outlooks on the
economy in the second half.  

Kristina Hooper is chief global market strategist at Invesco.  Jim
O`Sullivan is chief U.S. economist with High Frequency Economics.

Good to see you both.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  

JIM O`SULLIVAN, CHIEF U.S. ECONOMIST, HIGH FREQUENCY ECONOMICS:  Thanks, Bill.

KRISTINA HOPPER,L CHIEF GLOBAL MARKET STRATEGIST, INVESCO:  Great.  Thank you.

GRIFFETH:  First, Kristina, on the markets themselves, you expect some more volatility, don`t you?

HOOPER:  Absolutely.  We have the potential for more in the way of trade
disruption in the back half of this year.  It doesn`t look like the U.S. is
going to change or stand-down in terms of its trade aggressiveness.  

GRIFFETH:  And, Jim, you see a lower growth economy.  How much slower?  

O`SULLIVAN:  Well, Bill, that`s the question, and obviously there is a lot
of uncertainty related to the trade battle in particular.  Over the last
four quarters, real GDP is up 3.2 percent, which is a pretty good number in
comparison with the cycle to date.  But certainly, there are reasons to
expect slowing.  So I`ve got it down to basically 2 percent in the second
half of the year and 2 percent into 2020.  

But, again, there`s clearly a lot of uncertainty with the trade
negotiations.  

GRIFFETH:  And with the Fed — and I want to address the fed to both of you
because what the fed does will have an impact on both of your forecasts.  
Kristina — I mean, both of you do expect the Fed to cut rates at some
point.  

Kristina, what are your expectations there?  

HOOPER:  My expectation is that the Fed will cut rates at least once in the
back half of this year, and I do believe that`s a game-changer.  If we
didn`t have the Fed take a more dovish turn, I don`t think we would have
such a rosy outlook for stocks.  But given that the fed has made every
indication that it is willing to get more accommodative, I think that`s
going to provide a put under stocks that should help them counter the kind
of headwinds created by the ongoing trade conflicts.  

GRIFFETH:  And, Jim, you see two cuts coming, don`t you?  

O`SULLIVAN:  Yes.  I mean, certainly, at the last FOMC meeting that the Fed
pretty much told us that unless the uncertainties as they call them related
to trade developments disappear by the July meeting, at the end of July
meeting, that they`ll be easing.  

Now how much remains to be seen.  It depends on what the data do, what
markets do, what happens on the trade front, et cetera.  But I am assuming
a quarter point in July, another quarter point in September, and then
assuming the economy is not weakening dramatically, the Fed stops there.  
Again, obviously, it will depend on the data and backdrop in general.  

GRIFFETH:  Jim, is this because inflation is not getting up to the target
that the Fed wants, around 2 percent?  Why would they want to cut a couple of times do you think?

O`SULLIVAN:  Well, the immediate trigger recently has been to offset the
potential drag, the downside risks as Fed officials put it from the trade
side, from trade negotiations weighing on business confidence, and the
slowing in global growth in exports that we`ve already seen.  So, that`s
been the big change in the last couple of months, but there`s no question
inflation is part of the story, to the extent inflation numbers have been
weaker than expected, to the extent the Fed is changing its strategy on
inflation, from what used to be called a bygones are bygones approach —  

GRIFFETH:  Right.

O`SULLIVAN:  — where they want to get inflation back to 2 percent, the
goal.  Now, they really want to make up for missed inflation in the past
and go above 2 percent.  So, when you put the two together, it`s really
made the Fed much more dovish here.  

GRIFFETH:  And, briefly, Kristina, on trade the longer it goes the tougher
it gets for companies to deal with the higher tariffs.  What are your
expectations on that?  

HOOPER:  My expectations are that companies are going to pull back in terms of cap spending, in terms of business investment.  I think we have already seen that and certainly the Fed has alluded to that.  And that could
continue and get worse as time goes on.  

That`s what happens with economic policy uncertainty.  When it goes up,
business investment goes down.  And, of course, we have added economic
policy on certainty next year, given we are heading into the 2020
presidential election.  

GRIFFETH:  Right.  

Kristina Hooper with Invesco, Jim O`Sullivan with High Frequency — good to see you both.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

O`SULLIVAN:  Thank you.

HOOPER:  Thank you.  

GRIFFETH:  Meanwhile, movement in the U.S. market can sometimes be driven by what happens overseas.

So, we asked Seema Mody to look at the key issues ahead for the global
market.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEEMA MODY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Elections, geopolitics and trade will keep global investors on edge in the second half of the year.  First, the volatile and drawn-out trade discussion between the U.S.
and China will push even more American companies to shift production out of China, with countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and India becoming bigger destinations for manufacturers, retailers and technology companies.

Second, expect Iran to become a bigger geopolitical risk.  Further conflict
between the U.S. and Iran could raise tensions in the Middle East, which
accounts for 20 percent of the world`s oil output.  Any disruption to oil
shipments could send prices at the pump much higher.  

To lessen the blow, U.S. energy companies will likely continue to build out
infrastructure here to become less dependent on the Middle East for oil.  
Plenty of elections and changes to leadership expected in countries like
the U.K., Canada, and Argentina, but financial markets will focus on the
race for Mario Draghi`s job as president of the European Central Bank,
perhaps the most powerful job in Europe.  Any departure from Draghi`s
whatever it takes approach to save the Europe form recession could
disappoint investors.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Seema Mody.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  Now, the two biggest sectors of the market are technology and
the banks, and the first half was a volatile one for tech.  That group
either led the market higher or dragged it lower, while the financials,
they just continued to struggle along.  

In a moment, Wilfred Frost will give us a break down at the banks, but
first, Josh Lipton takes a look at what`s next for big tech.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Even with the looming threat of a trade war, tech is the top performing sector so far this year. Here is what else to watch for in the rest of 2019.

First, new iPhones.  Tim Cook tells CNBC that the iPhone XR has
consistently been his top seller, which is least expensive of the phones
launched last fall.  That means this fall when cook introduces his new
line-up, he might focus more on mid tier phones with new features,
capabilities and marketing dollars.  

Two, Jedi.  The U.S. Department of Defense is deciding which company will
win a big cloud computing contract known as Jedi, worth up to $10 billion.  
The winner could be announced as soon as August.  Amazon and Microsoft are in the running.  The winner could use the deal as a selling point,
convincing companies and other data-sensitive industries from finance to
health care to entrust it with their information, too.  

Three, regulation.  State, federal and international regulators all have
tech in their sights, including Alphabet`s Google, and Apple, Amazon and
Facebook.  And that means there`s little likelihood of approval for any big
acquisitions.  That could be a challenge as these companies hunt for
growth, and one their Chinese rivals don`t face.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILFRED FROST, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Interest rates, credit quality and whether the IPO bonanza can continue are the key things to watch for banks in the second half of the year.

First up, yields.  Banks typically like high rates and a steeply-rising
yield curve.  That lets them borrow money at lower rates and lend at higher rates.  They`ve got neither of those things at the moment.  That means even if a Fed rate cut does come, it might not be so bad as it will at least steepen the curve even as it lower rates and it should boost the economy which will help the banks.

Second, credit quality.  Banks` own credit quality has remained robust
despite fears of a slowing economy.  There are also growing fears out there
though about the huge rise in leverage loans and direct lending, but this
is not so much an issue specifically for the banks as Federal Reserve Chair
Jerome Powell recently stated, the Fed feels banks are in a good place and
are concerned about the nonbanks that made those sorts of loans.  

Third, the IPO bonanza.  Q2 was very strong for IPOs, which boosted the
investment banks.  M&A also picked up towards the end of the quarter.  Can that continue and help the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley?

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Wilfred Frost, New York.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  The health care sector as it happens was the best performing
group in the stock market in 2018, but things reversed in first half of
2019.  So, now, investors want to know if the sector is ready to rebound.  

Bertha Coombs takes a look.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BERTHA COOMBS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Regulatory pressure from Washington will continue to loom large with the health care sector with the Trump administration now taking up transparency on hospital prices.  In the next few months, analysts say watch for the administration to finalize its drug price blueprint policies, including a ban on pharmacy benefit rebates from Medicare drug plans and potentially pegging drug prices to international rates.

The policies proposed in the last year just after drugmakers raised list
prices.  

CHRIS MEEKINS, RAYMOND JAMES HEALTHCARE POLICY RESEARCH ANALYST:  If you assume that drug companies are going to raise list prices again the beginning of July this year, then we can assume the administration is going to do what it did last two times which is issue additional regulations immediately thereafter.

COOMBS:  Outrage over drug prices hit pharmaceutical stock hard in the last presidential cycle in 2015.  This time around, health insurers have been
hit hard following Senator Bernie Sanders campaign launch in February and again in April after the senator reintroduced his Medicare-for-All bill
which was endorsed by presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and others.

Analysts at Nephron Research say stocks found their footing after Joe Biden
entered the race.  The front-runner is not seen endorsing single-payer
health care.  

MEEKINS:  If you were to see one of the candidates like Bernie who believes in Medicare-for-All and believes in getting aggressive on drug pricing take the lead, at that point I think you would see negative impact on health care stocks going forward.

COOMBS:  On the fundamental side, the major insurers have all forecast
stronger earnings in the second half, which also helped stabilize their
stocks over the last month, but it may be tougher for them to move higher
amid the regulatory and political pressure they will face this election
cycle.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bertha Coombs.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And still ahead, will the second half be a turning point for the
housing, retail and airline industries?  

(MUSIC)

GRIFFETH:  Now, to a few consumer-related sectors.  

First, retail.  It is not secret the industry has been struggling to keep
shoppers happy and compete with online competition.  While some achieved the right combination of brick and mortar and online, many others have not. As a result, the outlook overall is still a rocky one.

Here is Courtney Reagan.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The first half of 2019 has been rough for retail, but with back to school and the holidays, the second half matters more and the unknowns are piling up.

First, tariffs and trade.  Many retailers have been working for years to
move manufacturing out of China, but it still is the number one sourcing
location for U.S.-bound clothing and shoes.  If a new round of tariffs hits
shows categories, shoppers may face higher prices at places like Macy`s,
American Eagle, and Steve Madden, just in time for Christmas.  

Second, shipping wars.  Walmart, Amazon and Target are all racing to
deliver faster.  Amazon is spending $800 million in just one quarter to get
closer to one-day shipping for prime members.  Walmart is expanding one-day free shipping without a membership to more city as the year goes on, and Target is offering same-day shipping for $10.

Third, store closure.  Around 7,000 store closures have already been
announced this year, outpacing all of 2018.  Core site research projects
total closures could hit 12,000 by end of the year, opening up opportunity
for those left.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  For many, buying a home is the largest financial transaction
they will make in their lifetime, and that`s why so much attention is paid
to the health of the housing market.  But this year, the typically hot
spring market was cool and homeowners want to know if that will be the case for the rest of the year.

Diana Olick takes a look.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Mortgage rates, home prices and supply could all make for a meaningful change in the pace of home sales in second half.  Mortgage rates have been falling steadily since the start of the year.  The 30-year fixed was just about 5 percent last fall, now it is below 4 percent.

Lower rates are already bringing out buyers and increasing competition.  If
rates stay this low or lower, we could see a big sales boost in the second
half.  But that will juice prices again.  The big gains in home prices were
shrinking dramatically in the first half but made a U-turn in May, suddenly
gaining again.  That thanks to lower rates that helped buyers afford more.  

At some point though, affordability kicks in and even lower rates won`t
help buyers, especially first timers.  That`s what happened in the spring
of last year.  The only thing that could help would be more supply.  
Housing starts have been very weak so far this year, but builders say they
are starting to pivot to cheaper entry level homes, exactly what the market
needs.  

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  Cheryl Young joins us to talk about her outlook for the housing
market the rest of the year.  She is senior economist at Trulia.  

Cheryl, good to see you again.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  

CHERYL YOUNG, TRULIA SENIOR ECONOMIST:  Thanks for having me.  

GRIFFETH:  Home prices have been going up but you are sensing a slow down in that price increase, yes?

YOUNG:  That`s right.  Since the beginning of the year, and I think what
we`re going to see through the rest of this year, is that continued
slowdown in price appreciation.  We`re not talking about price dropping
yet, but we are seeing a slowdown and possibly a flattening through the
rest of the year.  

GRIFFETH:  Even with interest rates going lower — mortgage rates are,
what, two-year lows at this point.  Is it because demand is going to go
down or what is going on there?  

YOUNG:  No, that`s right.  So, mortgage rates are low and that`s going to
help drive demand.  It is going to bring more people back into the market
as mortgage rates go down and stay down, but what we`re seeing is that
we`ve really hit sort of an affordability ceiling.  Price growth has far
outstripped wage growth over the past several years and that`s simply not
sustainable in the market right now.  

So, people have been very hesitant to come back in, but with the softening
of prices and also low interest rates, hopefully we`ll see more people,
especially those first-time home buyers, coming back into the market.  

GRIFFETH:  And it is well-documented that homebuilders aren`t keeping pace with demand because it is just too expensive.  The supplies surprises are up and labor is tough to find these days, right?

YOUNG:  That`s true.  Labor costs are really high.  There`s a shortage of
labor in the construction field, and right now it is very difficult to
build housing.  

So while demand is there, it doesn`t really make sense for a lot of
builders especially to build that sort of affordable housing, which is what
we`re looking for.  And it is going to be tough to get that supply up for
all of the demand that`s been pent up over the past few years.  

GRIFFETH:  You know, we talk about how tough it is for home buyers even
with these low interest rates, but it is not a picnic either for home
sellers these days, is it?  

YOUNG:  It isn`t quite what it has been for home sellers.  Home sellers
have really had the upper handy would say I would say in the fast few years just because of the low supply and the appreciation.  They`re not quite in the driver`s seat anymore and that`s not necessarily a bad thing because there are still a lot of people out there looking for housing, but they
certainly shouldn`t expect quite the market conditions that they`re used
to.  

GRIFFETH:  Will it take longer to sell a home do you think as a result?  

YOUNG:  Yes, we`ve actually seen that homes have been sitting on the market a little bit longer and that`s going to probably continue as we`ve seen some supply coming back on to the market, and that`s going to be a little tougher for sellers who have really seen homes fly off the shelf.  But,
like I said, I think we still have a lot of pent-up demand, especially
among the first-time home buyers.  It is still a healthy market out there.  
It is just slowing down a little bit.  

GRIFFETH:  Cheryl Young with Trulia — again, thanks for joining us
tonight.  

YOUNG:  Thank you.  

GRIFFETH:  Elsewhere, a record-breaking number of Americans are traveling over the 4th of July holiday.  Nearly 49 million are planning a getaway. According to AAA, the majority will travel by car while many others travel by plane.

Tonight, Phil LeBeau tells us what is in store for both of those sectors.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  In the second half of this year, airlines and investors will be focused on international markets, keeping up with demand, and the return of the MAX.  Boeing 737 MAX is expected to be flying by the end of the summer, but that`s not a sure thing and any further delays could have a ripple effect on the entire industry. With so many MAX planes grounded, airlines are pushing hard to keep up with demand.

One area where some airlines are seeing softness?  International routes.  
That will be a focus for large, international carriers in the second half
of this year.  

For the auto industry and investors, the second half of the year is about
tariffs, sales and potential merger deals.  On tariffs, the big question is
if the U.S. puts a tax on vehicles imported from Europe.  If that happens,
it could impact sales which slowed slightly in the first half of this year.  

And don`t be surprised if Nissan, Renault, Fiat Chrysler and other
automakers revive the idea of potential merging operations.  That could rev up auto stocks in the second half of the year.

Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And another consumer sector is entertainment.  That industry is undergoing some very big changes.

And as Julia Boorstin reports, there could be more to come.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  As we enter the second half of this year, three things for media investors to watch are consolidation, streaming wars and box office.

First, consolidation.  More media deals are expected ahead with a focus on
Viacom and CBS.  Sources tell us they`re in talks not and Lionsgate`s Starz
is also on the block, as that studio and other smaller players feel
pressure to compete with the recently merged giants.  

Second, the streaming wars will get their biggest new entrance in years.  
Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and a beta version of AT&T`s Warner Media
service, all set to launch before the end of the year, putting pressure on
consumers to choose and putting pressure on the cable giants to find ways
to hold on to their customers.  

Third, the theatrical movie business will be put to the test.  The domestic
box office is down nearly 9 percent from last year.  The question is
whether huge franchises hitting theaters, Spider-Man, Lion King, Frozen 2
and a new “Star Wars” film turns it around, or whether franchise fatigue
and the option to stream at home weighs on results.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  And coming up, now that you have an idea what is ahead in the
second half, what should you do with your money?  Some advice coming up.  

(MUSIC)

GRIFFETH:  Now that the first half of the year is behind us, how should
investors prepare themselves for the remainder of the year?  

Joining us tonight to talk about that, Diahann Lassus.  She`s cofounder of
the wealth management firm Lassus Wherley.  

Always great to see you.  

DIAHANN LASSUS, LASSUS WHERLEY CO-FOUNDER:  Great to be here.  

GRIFFETH:  Thanks for joining us tonight.

Where do we begin?  I mean, I`m thinking of a lot of our viewers want
income from their investments.  

LASSUS:  Right.  

GRIFFETH:  Depending on where rates are going, it gets tougher and tougher to try and find income, isn`t it?

LASSUS:  You really have to look for total return, which means you have to
have that equity exposure in order to get any kind of real long-term return
to generate that income and cash flow.  

GRIFFETH:  And cash flow is one thing you should try and keep tabs on and
see if — make sure it is aligned with your investments as we go into the
second half of the year, right?  

LASSUS:  Absolutely.  You need to look and see what your needs are going to be over the next six to twelve months and make sure you have cash
available, especially for emergency needs.  

GRIFFETH:  The risk level in your portfolio, how do you assess that?  

LASSUS:  You really look at your allocation based on how much exposure you have to the equity markets, because that`s going to drive risk, volatility,
and, obviously, long-term return.  

GRIFFETH:  And then we often talk about rebalancing, you do that
periodically.  You know, trim some of the losses or gains at this point.  
Is this a good time to be doing that?  

LASSUS:  Absolutely.  Rebalancing is very important right now because we
want to stick to that buy low, sell high adage.  Now is a great time to be
taking some profits in that equity market and not leaving that money out on the table.

GRIFFETH:  Does it matter to you as a financial adviser what the Fed is
going to do?  I mean, we just had a couple of analysts on here who see at
least one, maybe two interest rate cuts before the end of this year.  What
does that do to the people looking for that income still?  

LASSUS:  It doesn`t help them an awful lot because that means the bond side of the portfolio is going to have lower flow in terms of interest payments. That also means they need to look at their overall portfolio and figure out what kind of return they need over the long-term in order to meet their cash flow needs.

GRIFFETH:  You know, when I began my career, people were desperate to try and stay ahead of the rate of inflation with their investments.  That`s not so hard to do these days.  Is that still a bogey for you to try to stay
ahead of inflation with your portfolio?  

LASSUS:  Absolutely.  It is still important and we don`t know that
inflation has disappeared for the long term.  We could still see it raise
its ugly head down the road, but for right now, it`s more about risk
management in terms of your overall portfolio.  

GRIFFETH:  Diahann Lassus with Lassus Wherley, thanks for stopping by.  

LASSUS:  Thank you.  

GRIFFETH:  Appreciate it.  

And thank you for stopping by and watching this special edition of NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.  I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great evening.  See you tomorrow night and Happy 4th.

END

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