Transcript: Nightly Business Report – October 4, 2019

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

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Job engine.  The
unemployment rate hits a 50-year low, and stocks end this volatile week on
a high note

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Renewed optimism.  A new report says Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is ramping up production of its newest iPhone, a potential sign that demand for its flagship product is
rebounding.  

GRIFFETH:  Logged off.  Why the hardwood lumber industry is falling on hard times.  

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Friday, October 4th.  

HERERA:  Good evening, everyone, and welcome.

The labor market remains tight, though it is showing some signs of slowing.  
The unemployment rate sits at a half century low, despite a string of weak
economic reports that raised questions about the health of the economy.  
That offered some relief for investors and stocks took off.  The Dow Jones
Industrial Average rose 372 points to 26,573, the Nasdaq added 110, and the
S&P 500 was up 41.  

But the solid hiring in September came at a slower pace and it was a little
less than what economists had expected.  

Steve Liesman takes a closer look at America`s employment picture.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The U.S. job market continued slowing in September with the fewest jobs created in four months as concerns gather that a slowing economy is taking a toll on employment and possibly the consumer.  Payroll grew by just 136,000 in September, below Wall Street`s consensus of 145,000, and well under the monthly pace of last year.  That was north of 200,000.  

But economists point to two reasons for the slowdown.  The first is slowing
economic growth along with the trade war.  

DIANE SWONK, DS ECONOMICS FOUNDER & CEO:  We have seen a significant slowdown over the last year.  And I think the weakness is more related to trade and also some of the softness we saw in spending on services over the summer.  

LIESMAN:  One piece of evidence for the trade war having effect, the loss
of 2,000 workers in manufacturing, with monthly job growth this year a
quarter of what it was in that sector in 2018.  Elsewhere, the government
added 22,000 workers, highlighting that private sector growth was really
quite weak.  Leisure and hospitality added 21,000 but retailers shed 11,000
workers.  

Economists point a second reason, with the unemployment rate falling in
September to 3.5 percent, a 50-year, it`s just become tough to find
workers.  

DAVID KELLY, JPMORGAN CHIEF GLOBAL STRATEGIST:  Well, I think the important thing to recognize here is limits to growth.  I mean, it`s great to see the unemployment rate at 3.5 percent, lowest since 1969 but everywhere in the report you can see businesses are really finding it hard to find qualified workers.

But I think these job numbers will slow as we head towards the end of the
year.  We`ve got a supply side constraint and we`ve got a demand side
constraint because of the trade war and the impact it`s having on business
psychology.  

LIESMAN:  Many economists share the outlook that job growth will slow
further in coming months.  That would be bad news for the economy.  A
strong consumer buoyed by a plentiful job market has held up U.S. growth so far this year.  

The good news, the current level of job gains, if they stick around, should
be enough to hold on decent U.S. economic growth.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  Let`s turn to Sam Coffin for more analysis of the jobs report.  
He`s senior economists at UBS.

Good to see you.  Thanks for joining us tonight.  

SAMUEL COFFIN, UBS SENIOR U.S. ECONOMIST:  Hi.  Thanks for having me.  

GRIFFETH:  Let me ask you this.  This slowdown in job growth, how much do you attribute to the trade war?  How much of it is just simply the business cycle?  

COFFIN:  We think it`s really an effect of the trade war.  We saw real
slowing in manufacturing late last year as tariffs interrupted the supply
chain that manufacturers rely on.  We think that`s happening again now.  

And while we`ve been expecting is to see the effects of the current round
of tariffs would be to slow growth to near recession early next year.  It
looks like that`s happening a little sooner than we expected, and maybe a
little more severely.  

HERERA:  So, where does that put the Fed?  Are you the camp of one more
rate cut or given what you laid out would it be more than that?  

COFFIN:  We think they`re on their way to cutting to a 1 percent funds
rate.  Today, after the payroll report and after the weak business surveys
from earlier in the week, we cut our Fed funds forecast for October.  We
think they`ll cut in October and continue cutting through the first half of
next year.  

GRIFFETH:  So, if the problem is mainly the trade war, the negotiations
with China begin again next week.  What if we get a trade deal at some
point here in the near future?  

COFFIN:  Yes, it could help a little bit, but a lot of the softening is
already entrained.  The manufacturing sector has been under strain for a
long time.  They`ve been laying people off.  The energy sector is laying
people off, and rig counts are falling.  Retail has been weak a long time,
and just the hitch of confidence from the trade war and the uncertainty and the actual physical effects of restricted imports have had a real effect on the sectors.  

GRIFFETH:  So, we`re at the point of no return, in your view?

COFFIN:  Not no return, but it`s un — we`re unlikely to see real
acceleration from here until after some of the current strains are worked
out.  And they don`t just go away with some relentment on the December
tariffs for example.  

HERERA:  Which has led to you cut forecast for GDP growth.  

COFFIN:  Yes, a little bit.  So, we`ve been expecting almost a recession
early next year.  A 1.4 percent growth in the first half of next year.  
Today, we trimmed our fourth quarter numbers a little bit.  The auto
sector, obviously, the strikes are going to have an effect there.  And
because the deceleration is payrolls has been sharper than we expected.  

GRIFFETH:  Sam Coffin with UBS, again, thanks for joining us tonight, Sam.  

COFFIN:  Thank you.  

GRIFFETH:  And later in the program tonight, our market monitor thinks that the consumer will remain strong.  She has three stocks that she`s betting will benefit as a result.  

HERERA:  Today, the chair of the Federal Reserve said the economy is,
quote, in a good place and that it`s the central bank`s job to keep it
there.  Jerome Powell also highlighted some challenges facing the economy,
including low growth, low inflation and low interest rates.  

In his speech today, he did not hint at the likely direction of interest
rates.  

GRIFFETH:  As Steve Liesman reported a few moments ago, the manufacturing sector lost some jobs last month, it`s feeling the effects of the trade wars.  But that`s not the only challenge it`s facing.  There is still the chronic shortage of workers.  

Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) went to Newberry, South Carolina, to find out what`s being done there to address the problem  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE ROGERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  The manufacturing sector is looking for more skilled workers like Rodney Ridley.  

Ridley, an army vet, is a production supervisor at Samsung`s washing
machine facility in Newberry, South Carolina, managing a team of nearly 70 workers.  

RODNEY RIDLEY, SAMSUNG ASSEMBLY LINE SUPERVISOR:  I enjoy very much what I do.  I like teaching.  I like leading.  I like showing individuals what`s important to them and what pays the bills.  

ROGERS:  Samsung`s facility has been over two years employing 800 workers needing an additional 200 to keep up with demand.  Attracting and retaining workers is a challenge for the industry as baby boomers age out and younger workers stay on the sidelines.  

More than half a million job are currently open, and in the next decade, an
estimated 4.5 million manufacturing positions will need to be filled.  But
experts say more than half may remain unfilled due to the skills gap.  

JAY TIMMONS, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS PRESIDENT & CEO:  If we`re not successful in closing the skills gap, it`s bad news for America.  It means we`re not as competitive as we need to be in the global economy.  It means America`s economic might is not as good as it should be.  And it means lost opportunities or lower standards of living for Americans in all areas of the country.  

ROGERS:  In order to get the next generation of potential workers
interested in manufacturing, Samsung participated in something called
Manufacturing Day along with other companies cross-the country to a hope up doors to middle and high school students to let them in and see what it`s
like to actually do this job — the manufacturing job that`s becoming
increasingly cleaner and more high-tech.  

DAVID STEEL, SAMSUNG EVP, AMERICA:  It`s cool.  I mean, manufacturing is really cool.  I think the old stereotypes of manufacturing is sort of a
dirty job, that`s really gone.  Now advanced manufacturing is a really
complex process.  It`s one there are lots of opportunities to learn skills.  

ROGERS:  And students like Trustan Stack agree.  

TRUSTAN STACK, STUDENT:  You can learn a lot from this job, too, and how to build robots.  

ROGERS:  Hoping students like these help bridge the widening skills gap.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) in Newberry, South Carolina.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA:  The trade war with China is also hitting the hardwood lumber
industry particularly hard.  U.S. exports dropped dramatically and now the
industry is cutting American jobs.  

Diana Olick has more.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Workers at this mill in Mount Vernon, Washington, don`t have much time rest on the job, because all 70 jobs will be gone next month, as Northwest Hardwoods is forced to shut down this plant and another in Virginia which will cut up to 30 additional jobs.  

China was their number one export customer.  

China used to account for about half of all U.S. hardwood lumber exports,
about $2 billion annually.  But a 25 percent tariff sawed through the
demand.  In the 12 months since tariffs on U.S. hardwood were announced in July of last year, lumber exports to China were down by $615 million
compared with the previous year.  

In June of this year alone, when the full tariff rate went into effect
trade volume to China was half what it was a year ago.  

Northwest Hardwood CEO Nathan Jeppson says the impact was too fierce and fast.  

NATHAN JEPPSON, NORTHWEST HARDWOOD CEO:  Our business, much like the rest of the industry, we are highly dependent and forged a large relationship selling into the Chinese market.  And since the middle of last year, if you just look at year on year, sales are off 43 percent in total exports to China.  

OLICK:  Jeppson is attending the National Hardwood Lumber Association
Conference in New Orleans this week where there is plenty of tariff talk.  

JEPPSON:  This is a pretty depressed group.  This is a pretty challenged
industry.  You know, we have survived a lot of things and a lot of
downturns and shown resilience.  I`m confident that we`ll do so again.  But right now, this is as scary as it`s been.  

OLICK:  Ironically, China actually helped save the American red oak
business as it fell out of fashion in floors like this among U.S.
consumers, the industry market standard hard to China, and now, it`s a
favorite there.  Unfortunately, the Chinese are now finding it elsewhere.  

JEPPSON:  Instead of buying from the U.S. which is the most sustainable
forestry institute in the world, they`re buying from places like Russia and
Central Africa and Southeast Asia, many of which are known bad actors in
terms of illegal harvesting, deforestation and the like.  

OLICK:  Yet another victim in a trade war that continues to drag on taking
U.S. jobs with it.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Diana Olick in Washington.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFETH:  The latest threat of U.S. tariffs against European union now
risks hitting billions of dollars worth of Italian food products, including
a staple of many American kitchens, Italian cheese.  

Willem Marx is in Noceto, Italy, for us tonight.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLEM MARX, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Saverio del Sante is the sixth generation to raise cows here.  That`s one of his cousins clearing out the courtyard.  

SAVERIO DEL SANTE, DAIRY FARMER:  We started with five cows.  Then we
arrive at this size.  And I open next year to — I hope the farm will
improve with the new barn and the new robotic system to make the cow —

MARX:  Today, his family farm has 150 cows and they in turn produce more
than 1,100 gallons of milk each day.  This region of north central Italy
is, of course, farm country.  There are industries but a huge amount of the
local economy, a lot of the work here relies on dairy and more specifically
dairy for the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the cheese Italians call the king.  

Del Sante says business is good, that his milk fetches a high price and
supplying a premium product.  

DEL SANTE:  We have smaller dairy.  We are (INAUDIBLE) industries.  So,
every day, for example, in my dairy, we produce 14 ways of Parmigiano-
Reggiano.  We didn`t produce thousands and thousands of cheese.  

MARX:  Some of the technology may be new.  But at nearby dairies like this
they create cheese the same way they have for around 900 years, slowly and by hand.  

America is the world`s third largest consumer of Parmigiano.  But a recent
World Trade Organization ruling against the European Union, the state
subsidies for the aircraft manufacturers Airbus may have changed that.  

The U.S. government plans to introduce 25 percent of tariffs on
agricultural produce from across Europe, and Italian cheeses are a top
target.  

FABRIZIO RAIMONDI, PARMIGIANO PRODUCTION CONSORTIUM:  We are not surprised at all to read that Parmigiano is on the list.  But we are very surprised about the fact they have chosen some products and some other products are not there.  

MARX:  Fabrizio Raimondi is a spokesperson for the consortium that oversees Parmigiano production.  

RAIMONDI:  We will fight against this kind of a politician problem, because
we think we need the protection of the Italian government and the European Union.  

MARX:  Producers hope they`ll get help from Brussels, which may pay them to store the wheels longer or help them sell to new markets elsewhere around the world.  Meanwhile, Del Sante says he is optimistic, the unique taste of this cheese will ultimately overcome any Trump-driven price shocks.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Willem Marx in Noceto, Italy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA:  Between the trade war and some mixed economic reports, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) says the best way to navigate a possible economic slowdown is with some reasonably priced stocks.  In a note to clients, the firm said the stable growth stocks fare best in environments of slowing economic growth and rising uncertainty.  Over the past two years, those companies with the history of growth stability have returned 22 percent versus 16 percent for the S&P 500.  On the list, Fiserv (NASDAQ:FISV), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), Amdocs, J&J and Walmart.  

GRIFFETH:  Still ahead, why Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be ramping up
production of its latest iPhone.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HERERA:  Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) told the DNC that hackers linked to the Iranian government targeted a U.S. presidential campaign as well as
government officials.  The company did not identify the campaign but said
the attacks occurred during a 30-day period in August and September.  But a separate report from “Reuters” says the hacking operation link to Iran
unsuccessfully targeted President Trump`s re-election campaign.  

GRIFFETH:  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was one of the best performing stocks in the Dow today.  Its shares rose more than 2.5 percent.  There was a report that demand for its new iPhone is better than many expected.  

Josh Lipton has more.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Investors are feeling more upbeat about the iPhone franchise.  With the Nikkei reporting that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) told suppliers to increase production of the new iPhone 11 lineup by as much as 10 percent or 8 million units, to meet better than expected demand.  

Just this week, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook told reporters that sales of the new iPhone 11 series are off to a very strong start.  Cook said he
couldn`t be happier with the launch though he didn`t disclose specific
sales figures.  

These new iPhones boast a faster processer, longer lasting batteries,
improved camera systems and price is a selling point too.  The iPhone 11,
the successor to the iPhone XR was priced $50 lower at $699.  

But some tech analysts are already looking through this iPhone cycle into
the expected 5G iPhone coming next year.  

STEVEN MILUNOVICH, WOLFE RESEARCH:  So, I think we`re through the worst.  But as you point out, we do think the cycle is flat slightly down in units and you have to wait until next year with 5G.  I don`t think a 5G phone is going to be a terribly different experience, but from the marketing aspect, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and others are going to be pushing it.  So, I think you will see a stronger cycle a year from now.  

LIPTON:  One question to consider is how the expected 5G iPhone impacts
demand in the quarters ahead.  Does increasing chatter and excitement about that device hamper appetite for the current iPhone 11 lineup?  

Investors might have a better idea when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) next reports earnings results on October 30th.  

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA:  PayPal bails on Libra, and that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.  

The payments company will be withdrawing from Facebook`s cryptocurrency payment network, saying it made the decision to forgo further participation.  But PayPal added it still remains supportive of Libra`s mission.  PayPal shares rose about 2 percent to $102.79.  Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) was up a fraction to $180.45.

Smile Direct Club is denying allegations in a class action lawsuit brought
last week by dental trade organizations, accusing the company of putting
customers at risk and false advertising.  Smile Direct says it has
certification and its manufacturers are in compliance with FDA regulations. Shares rose about 7.5 percent to $14.72.  

GRIFFETH:  Amusement park company Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) has reportedly turned down a $4 billion buyout offer from Six Flags.  “Reuters” says that Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) felt that proposal was inadequate.  Six Flags is already the world`s largest theme park operator and with this offer for Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN), it was looking to expand its operations and maybe achieve ticket pricing power.  Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) shares dropped nearly 4 percent today to $58.35.  We had Six Flags rising more than 1 percent to $49.35.  

And Avaya Holdings and Ring Central are partnering to create a cloud-based communication service.  Avaya has, of course, made communication hardware for several years.  It filed for bankruptcy two years ago because of stiff competition from upstart cloud-based providers like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).  Ring Central now gives Avaya its first entree to the cloud.  Both Avaya and Ring Central shares sky rocketed today more than 28 percent.  

HERERA:  It is time now for our weekly market monitor who is betting on the consumer.  The last time she was with us, she recommended Visa (NYSE:V) and PayPal.  Each are up more than 20 percent.  And MasterCard (NYSE:MA), which is 39 percent higher.  

She is Mariann Montagne, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments.

Nice to see you welcome become.  

MARIANN MONTAGNE, GRADIENT INVESTMENTS PORTFOLIO MANAGER:  Nice to see you.  Thank you.  

HERERA:  So, you`re betting on the consumer and you are expecting a good
holiday season but you say value is key, which may be explains the first
pick, which is Dollar General (NYSE:DG).  

MONTAGNE:  Right.  So, Dollar General (NYSE:DG) is just like it sounds — a
dollar type store.  And this is one that currently has about 17,000 stores
out there.  But they`re always beating their quarterly estimates on same
store sales growth.  

And we think they can probably grow 11 percent in earnings over the next 12 months.  But if we get resolution on the U.S. China trade tariffs, that
would provide a tailwind too margins and earnings growth.  So, we think
that`s a good pick right there.  

GRIFFETH:  And here is another one for price conscious families with a
little higher price point, Five Below.  

MONTAGNE:  Right.  So, that`s really addressing the preteen market, the
kids with the $5 and below ticket price on each item.  And there, they only
have about 900 stores at the end of this year.  So, they are growing stores
about 20 percent per year, and then you add on about 3 percent same store
sales growth.  And we think that they can grow earnings going forward at
least 20 percent and probably you would get about a 20 percent return over the next 12 months on that.  

HERERA:  T.J.Maxx companies, it has a couple of different lines that it`s
dealing with or stores that it`s dealing with.  Why do you like that stock?  

MONTAGNE:  Well, that`s one where they benefit from the lack of traffic at
the department stores.  And they also have a big online presence which
they`re expanding.  

Now, they did stumble last quarter with their home goods stores.  And I
just saw that was an issue across the board.  It wasn`t just them on the
losing share.  But I think they`re really gaining share from the department
stores and there`s always the treasure hunt sort of feeling as you go into
the store, or now as you go online.  

So, this is one that I do like going forward just because there`s new
interesting things, but at a value price.  And I think that`s what the
customer is looking for this year.  

GRIFFETH:  Quickly, Mariann, you like the consumer but it`s the price-
conscious consumer.  Are you just cautious otherwise and the rest of the
retail world?  

MONTAGNE:  Pretty much.  Pretty much.  I mean, there is some standout, you know, brands but across the board in retail, I think you need to be focused on the value offerings.  

HERERA:  Mariann Montagne with Gradient Investments — Mariann, thanks so much.  

MONTAGNE:  Thank you.  

HERERA:  And coming up, a movie, a controversy and a calculated risk for
the studio behind it.  

(MUSIC)

HERERA:  A new front in the so-called streaming wars.  Disney (NYSE:DIS) is reportedly banning advertising from Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) across its
entertainment TV networks.  This comes ahead of the launch of Disney`s
streaming service called Disney (NYSE:DIS) Plus.  It`s been widely reported
that Disney (NYSE:DIS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) and AT&T (NYSE:T) plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years to attract customers to their new streaming services and away from Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).  

GRIFFETH:  “The Joker” opens in theaters nationwide this weekend.  It tells
the story of how one of Batman`s most popular villains was created.  The
movie has earned praise but it has also courted a great deal of
controversy, making it a risky release for the studio that produced it.  

Julia Boorstin explains.  

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOAQUIN PHOENIX AS JOKER:  When you bring me out, can you introduce me as Joker?

JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Warner Brothers “Joker”, starring Joaquin Phoenix landed in over 4,000 theaters around the country.  The film is a dark and violent tale of a killer, sparking
concerns that the film could incite violence at the theaters.  And the
Aurora, Colorado, theater, where there was a mass shooting Batman movie
seven years ago, is not showing the film.  

Though the studio says there are no credible threats, the NYPD is
stationing cops at theaters around the city.  But that hasn`t hurt demand.  
The film grossed over 13 million in domestic previews last night.  
Oversees, “Joker” already brought in nearly $25 million.  It`s the number
one foreign film in every market where it`s been released.  

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, COMSCORE: I think the controversy is only helping this movie.  I think “Joker” is the kind of film that has some mystique around it, a mystery.  And it`s a very dark movie.  Everybody knows that.  And so, this controversy is only fueling interest in the film.  

BOORSTIN:  Warner Brothers predicts “Joker” will bring in at least $80
million of the domestic box office opening weekend, expected to top the
October record set last year by Sony`s “Venom”, with Fandango and Adam
Tickets both reporting record October presales.  

While “Joker” is a stand-alone origin story, the question for Warner
Brothers and apparent AT&T (NYSE:T) is what the film will do to bolster
interest in its D.C. superhero universe, ahead of “Birds of Prey” and
“Wonder Woman 1984” opening next year.  And Warner Media will feature its studio`s films in its upcoming streaming service called HBO Max, launching next year.  

DERGARABEDIAN:  I think what this movie does, it differentiates D.C. comics as being — it`s been more on the dark side, thematically and point of view than let`s say Marvel, but this movie goes beyond that.  But I think it`s a — it builds a level of prestige.  

BOORSTIN:  Warner Brothers superheroes haven`t performed as well at the box office as Disney`s record breaking “Avengers” from Marvel, which have taken a more light-hearted approach.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I like this one.  

BOORSTIN:  We`ll see how this weekend`s performance plays into the
superheroes and the studios` rivalry.  

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA:  Before we go, here`s a look at the day`s final numbers from Wall
Street.  The Dow rose 372 points, the Nasdaq added 110, S&P 500 was up 41.  
And it was a mixed finish for major averages to close out this volatile
weak.

Which is what we`re going to do right now.

GRIFFETH:  Indeed.  

HERERA:  That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Sue Herera,
thanks for joining us.  

GRIFFETH:  I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.  

END

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