Transcript: Nightly Business Report – January 2, 2018

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Tyler Mathisen and Sue

that fueled the rally in 2017 closes above a key psychological level for
the first time ever.

quirky. But a number of them could impact business and your money.

MATHISEN: Shifting gears. Why the American-made small car is slowly
fading away.

Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Tuesday,
January 2nd.

HERERA: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.

Investors are ringing in the New Year with new records. On the first day
of trading of 2018, the Nasdaq closed above 7,000 for the first time. The
S&P 500 reached a fresh all-time high.

And today`s action was led by a rally in technology stocks, the same sector
that was a big winner last year. Today, the blue chip Dow index added 104
points to 24,824. The Nasdaq advanced 103. And the S&P rose 22 points to
a record.

And after today`s gains, investors are paying close attention to a number
of key psychological levels for The major indexes.

Bob Pisani is at the New York Stock Exchange.


markets. There`s a lot of big round numbers in some of the major indices
coming up. What`s it all mean? Not much from a technical perspective.
But they are attractive targets for traders to use as a sign of the
markets` advance.

So, round number one, Dow 25,000. Only about 200 points away, less than 1
percent. If you think we`ve seem to hit this big round number in the Dow
every two months, you`re right. We had 22,000 on January 17 of last year,
20,000 in March, 22,000 in August, 23,000 in October, 24,000 in November,
but even the skeptics agree that Dow 25,000 would be a big round number.

Round number two, Nasdaq 7,000. Now, you know it`s dominated by the FAANG
names, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL),
Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) parent Alphabet, as well as
semiconductors. But smaller tech companies like Seagate and even a
smattering of industrial names like Tractor Supply and retailers like Ross
Stores (NASDAQ:ROST) and Costco (NASDAQ:COST) have been strong recently. A
lot of this contributing.

Round number three, S&P 3,000. This is a big one. We`re still a couple of
hundred points away. But many analysts had that big round number for an
overall target for 2018, which will be a move up of 8 percent.

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


MATHISEN: New Year, new record. So, what is next?

Brian Levitt is senior investment strategist at Oppenheimer Funds. And he
joins us to share his thoughts.

Brian, happy New Year. Welcome. Good to have you with us.

Happy New Year.

MATHISEN: We`re off to a nice footing today, at the very at least. Give
us your sort of overall view of the global economic landscape in which
investors will have to put their money to work this year.

LEVITT: It`s a nice backdrop for investors. If you take a look around the
world, most of the major economies are growing above trend. And that`s
something different than what we saw in years like 2013, 2014, 2015. So,
that`s a good sign.

You also have inflation generally low across most of the world, even coming
down in the emerging markets. So, you have policymakers which continue to
provide support to this ongoing global expansion.

HERERA: What about the tax reform that we`ve seen passed? A lot of people
think longer term it will provide some stronger economic growth. Other
people do not think it will.

Where do you come down on that debate and its impact on the market?

LEVITT: Well, at the very least, it provides a boon to corporate earnings.
And you`ve seen that recently with improvements in financial stocks,
consumer discretionary names. Those are the sectors that are among the
biggest beneficiaries.

Now, the question is at this point in the cycle, can we see the United
States move up to a new higher sustained level of growth? I am skeptical.

Now, what that means for investors, what you saw today was investors
favoring growth stocks, much as they favored growth stocks in 2017. If
we`re to move to a new higher sustained level of growth, you would want to
value the more value-oriented parts of the market, things like financials,
perhaps energy companies.

So, I would continue to focus on growth, wherever we can find it, and
what`s likely to still be a slow growth world. The other side, there are
investors saying this is the beginning of the value rally. Again, I`m

MATHISEN: Slow growth and low inflation generally is a pretty nice recipe
for equities across the board. But you can — but what really matters
here, Brian, it seems to me, is the level of corporate profit growth, which
could be a lot greater than the level of economic growth. What do you see
for corporate profits this year in the U.S. particularly?

LEVITT: Well, corporate profitability is going to be quite sound. And
there`s going to be a lot of parts of the market and a lot of companies
that are growing significantly faster than the broad GDP. And those are
the companies that are going to be the beneficiaries. Those are the
companies that were the beneficiaries in 2017.

So, the backdrop for U.S. companies, the backdrop for global companies, is
quite good. Investors have been fighting this bull market. It`s a long
secular bull market, almost every step along the way. In our minds this
cycle is not going to end anytime soon. It`s a good backdrop for
companies. Investors should be participating.

HERERA: Do interest rates matter? Does the Fed matter to this market?

LEVITT: Absolutely. And, you know, in this still relatively slow growth
world, the Federal Reserve does have to proceed with some caution. We`ve
seen the yield curve flatten in 2017 as expectations have Fed interest rate
hikes, in 2018 came on board, and the 10-year treasury did not move up
significantly. So, if the Fed is going to continue to raise interest
rates, you would need to see long rates back up amid expectations or real
economic activity or inflation. Without that, the Fed is going to have to
be cautious.

So, I don`t expect long rates to go up significantly. I think you might
see some inflation. But the Fed is going to have to proceed with caution.
If the Fed gets too tight, they may curtail this cycle.

MATHISEN: All right. Brian, thank you very much for your help tonight.

LEVITT: Thank you.

MATHISEN: Brian Levitt with Oppenheimer Funds.

HERERA: A number of geopolitical events are also rumbling beneath market`s
surface. There is the threat from North Korea and there is Iran, where
tensions are rising, protests are spreading, and the death toll is growing.
Violent demonstrations have erupted against the country`s leadership. U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.N. cannot remain
silent and must speak on the issue. She is calling for an emergency
session in the coming days.

And as Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports, at the center of it all is Iranian


ongoing protests in Iran are the most violent since 2009 when students rose
up in response to what they believed was a rigged election. Political
observers say the current uprising which started last Thursday is
significantly different.

based. It`s occurring in many, many more cities, previously really
centered in Tehran, more a youth intellectual movement. This one, there`s
dissatisfaction in the Iranian population with a lack of growth in the
economy, which they were promised.

CARUSO-CABRERA: Initial reports last week said protesters were angry about
a sharp rise in the price of food. Inflation currently around 12 percent
is a long running problem. It reached as high as 32 percent back in 2013.
Unemployment also a problem in Iran, 12.4 percent, according to Iran`s
statistical office. For men, it`s only 10.7 percent but for women, almost
21 percent.

Youth unemployment even worse, 29 percent. For young men, 25 percent. For
young women, 44 percent.

The economy did improve after some sanctions were removed by the Obama
administration as part of the nuclear deal. It allowed Iran to sell oil
again. And according to the IMF, GDP growth from 2016 to 2017 was nearly
7.5 percent. However, growth in the non-oil sector was less than 1

There is still extensive government intervention into the economy in terms
of price controls and subsidies. And the revolutionary guard control large
swaths of the economy. Experts are divided on whether or n these protests
will lead to regime change.

CLIFF KUPCHAN, EURASIA GROUP CHAIRMAN: The supreme leader Ali Khamenei can
and will use ruthless force to put them down if he has to. That could be
around the corner.

CARUSO-CABRERA: But the death of so many protesters could have a ripple

funerals, we could get into a 40-day cycle of mourning and protest, which
is ultimately what brought the regime down in 1979.

CARUSO-CABRERA: How the government reacts could determine whether these
protests escalate or fizzle out.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera.


MATHISEN: Iran could potentially be a wildcard for the price of oil this
year because the country is, after all, OPEC`s third biggest oil producer.
Uncertainty surrounding output from that country caused prices to rise
earlier today, but then those gains fizzled away. Domestic crude finished
the session down slightly to about $60 a barrel.

HERERA: Meantime, natural gas prices were pushed higher, now up 15 percent
over the past week, thanks to temperatures that are well below normal
across large parts of the country. Along with the cold snap came increased
demand for heating oil. According to data from Point Logic Energy, the
U.S. burned the most natural gas ever yesterday, breaking a record set
during the so-called polar vortex in 2014. The deep freeze also lifted
shares of the auto parts retailers because cold weather can weaken
batteries and thicken engine oil, leading to greater wear and tear.

MATHISEN: The commodity sector in 2017 was helped by a pickup in economic
growth across the globe. So, what`s in store for key commodities this

Jackie DeAngelis takes a look.


fluctuations continued to surprise investors this year. Gold lost some of
its luster. Oil never rebalanced. And gasoline prices remained relatively
high, even with more supply coming online.

Here is what to expect in 2018. Gold prices stall. In 2017, gold lost its
safe haven status as stocks rallied. The precious metal traded more on
Fed-related moves and will continue to do so next year. With expectations
of rate hikes on the horizon, expect gold to continue to stall in 2018.

Oil is range-bound. Crude moved from the low 40s to around $60 a barrel
this year. Oversupply pushed prices lower. OPEC moved prices higher.

That push and pull will continue next year. Shale producers will pump.
OPEC will hold its cut. But those two opposing forces will jostle the

Gasoline prices remain high. Gas prices always rise faster than they fall.
Even if crude prices stay in the $40 to $60 range, the average price for a
gallon of regular gasoline won`t fall under $2. for that to happen, crude
will have to see its 2016 low of near $25 a barrel and that`s not in the



HERERA: So, as Jackie detailed, commodity markets ended 2017 on a high
note. But will that momentum carry over into this year?

Here to talk about that is John Kilduff, Again Capital founding partner.

Good to see you again, John. Welcome back. Happy New Year.


HERERA: What does it look like for the energy sector this year?

KILDUFF: Well, I think there`s maybe a general theme in commodities, Sue.
Particularly in the price action that we saw towards the end of the year as
the tax reform package crystallized, as some of the measures that many
companies are taking in terms of higher wages, special bonuses, investments
in different things. I think the prospect for inflation generally may be
greatly underestimated at this point.

I think it`s why you`re seeing gold potentially now break out to its recent
high, $1,350 an ounce. And part of the inflation will be for a good
reason, it`s because there is so much economic growth and activity going on
around the world. Manufacturing PMIs are through the roof, for example.
This is a survey of factories and how much they`re operating, what their
order flow is looking like.

So, there`s a chase on for goods and services around the globe for
everything, all kinds of stuff. And so, that is pushing prices.

MATHISEN: So, that helps commodities, separating from oil and gas, which
we`ll talk more about, I`m sure.

But if you look at some of the industrial commodities, copper, lumber,
things used in building trades around the world, I would think if there`s a
drive to inflation and strong demand, that`s going to push up the prices.

KILDUFF: And I think you`re seeing it first here in the commodity sector.
I know we`re not seeing it in terms of wage inflation yet, and other areas
that most economists focus on. But for us commodity folks, we`re a little
simpler. We see stuff being drawn down in terms of inventories.

MATHISEN: Stuff, that`s a technical term, right, John?


KILDUFF: It`s a commodity view of this thing.

HERERA: What role will China play, either in the boom in commodities or,
you know, when China slows down, a lot of times, we see pressure in
commodity markets.

KILDUFF: That`s right, they`ll continue to play a big one. Also, too,
they can remain active in trying to support and further their economy. But
they do sort of lurching or halting things, if you will. For example, in
an effort to fight their pollution problem, they`ve cut back drastically on
their own mining of things like copper and other production of other heavy
metals or things like cement. So, they`ve gone to the —

HERERA: They have to get it somewhere else.

KILDUFF: They`re importing a lot more of it. So, they`re making less
themselves, importing more from abroad.

MATHISEN: When is it going to get warmer, John? I`m worried about my
heating bill. Oil or natural gas, as we said, highest demand ever
yesterday for natural gas, a lot of people watching that Rose Bowl game at
home, I guess. Do you see prices sustaining for the next few months in
natural gas and oil?

KILDUFF: Yes, natural gas. First of all, it`s going to be heliacal in the
Northeast come Saturday.


KILDUFF: You mentioned a record amount of gas burned on Wednesday. I
would imagine that record will be broken on Saturday. It`s up for the fact
that it`s a weekend, less industry involved. But what we`re seeing is a
shift from coal over the past several years to natural gas, sees us burning
a lot more of it whenever there`s heat or cold.

That`s what we`re seeing right now. I think the price of natural gas,
which is just at $2.56 a unit at the low point, two weeks ago, it will be
north of four potentially by the end of January.

HERERA: Oh, wow.


KILDUFF: We`ll pull out about a quarter of our natural gas supplies just
over the course of January if things keep up.

MATHISEN: So, get ready for higher bills.

HERERA: Right.

KILDUFF: Great ready for higher bills.

There`s a little bit of a buffer and a time lag because utilities have to
take it and process it and hit you with an increase down the road. Yes,
get ready for higher prices.

The one downward pressure potentially is for oil, because as much as there
is demand there for it and refined products, there is a ton of supply. You
don`t have that with the other commodities.

MATHISEN: All right.


John, thank you. John Kilduff —

KILDUFF: Thank you.

MATHISEN: Thanks for the bad news, John.

KILDUFF: I`m here for you every time, Tyler.

MATHISEN: Still ahead, lawmakers have a long to-do list and not a lot of


MATHISEN: Republican Senator Orrin Hatch plans to retire. Hatch is the
longest serving GOP senator and head of the Finance Committee, which of
course played a key role in writing the tax bill that passed last year.
The 83-year-old will retire at the end of year, bringing a decades-long
congressional career to an end. And it could potentially pave the way for
Mitt Romney to run for the seat. Romney has not made any definitive
statement about his plan.

HERERA: Well, it may be a new year, but when lawmakers return to Capitol
Hill tomorrow, they`ll start tackling a familiar issue, the budget. Late
last year, Congress approved a measure to fund the government, but just
through January 19th. And a number of thorny issues will likely be linked
to this battle.

John Harwood is following the story for us tonight from Washington.

Good to see you, John. Happy New Year.


HERERA: Let`s start with the budget battles. What are you expecting and
how contentious or difficult could things really get?

HARWOOD: Well, Sue, I think the watchword for 2018 is going to be low
expectations from Congress. I do think we will have a government shutdown.
I think Republicans and Democrats will get together on a deal that raises
the current spending caps for defense spending and correspondingly raises
them for domestic programs as well. That`s a way to bring the two parties

But that also, because it will result in a higher deficit, is going to
ensure that it is more difficult to get things like infrastructure, which
the president and GOP leaders had hoped to have some action on, because
there isn`t going to be as much money lying around.

MATHISEN: Immigration is also a contentious issue. What can we expect
there and on the program known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood

HARWOOD: Well, that`s going to be difficult to move, although there are
the outlines of a deal if Republicans choose to make it. Democrats are
insisting on some progress or resolution for those DACA, those Dreamer
recipients, in return for their votes to keep the government open. And
they think because of the importance of Latino voters, they`re going to
have leverage to get what they want there.

The challenge for Republicans is that their base, the most conservative
part of their party, is very opposed to a deal on DACA, and there`s the
potential that members of Congress who vote in favor of such a deal might
find primary opposition from fellow Republicans. So, I would marginally
expect that they will have some resolution of the DACA issue. The
president has said he wants one. It`s not going to easy to achieve.
That`s likely to be the most difficult part of this budget fight.

HERERA: John, as always, thank you. John Harwood in Washington tonight.

HARWOOD: You bet.

MATHISEN: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Salesforce reportedly look to move away
from Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL). And that is where we begin tonight`s “Market

According to the news site “The Information”, both tech giants are making
significant progress towards replacing Oracle`s database software. And if
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Salesforce, which are two of Oracle`s biggest
customers, succeed in finding lower cost alternatives, it could be proof
that other big businesses can do the same. Shares of Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL)
off more than 1 percent at $46.63.

The oil giant BP said new tax policy will shave off $1.5 billion from its
fourth quarter earnings. Despite the hit, the company said it expects the
new lower corporate tax rate that takes effect this year will have a
positive impact on its full year results. BP shares were up a fraction to

And Weight Watchers has signed the music producer D.J. Khaled as a social
media ambassador. The company said Khaled will share his own weight loss
journey using the new Weight Watchers program with his millions of
followers on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The
pro — I won`t be watching any of them.

The program launched last month with a campaign featuring Oprah Winfrey,
who is a part-owner of the company. Weight Watcher stock rose 8 percent to

HERERA: Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) is reportedly pulling back from traditional TV
advertising. “The Wall Street Journal” said the struggling retailer hasn`t
run a single TV ad since November, despite it being the crucial holiday
shopping season. The company which has been slashing cost and closing
stores, spent about $15 million on national TV ads last year. Shares of
Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) climbed 5 percent to $3.78.

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) says its CEO Mark Speese has resigned. Speese
will be replaced by the company`s former president, Mitchell Fadel. The
rent-to-own furniture retailer has been under pressure from two activist
hedge funds to sell itself. Shares of Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) closed
down more than 5 percent to $10.48.

MATHISEN: The calendar says it`s 2018. You can`t deny it. And that means
there are a number of new laws across the country that took effect with the
ringing in of the New Year.

Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) reports.


means new laws are kicking in across the country. Some are common sense,
while others are unexpected. In California, marijuana becomes legal for
recreational use. And that means drivers and passengers will not be able
to ingest while on the road, just like with alcohol.

Wages have also been hiked in 18 states and 20 municipalities nationwide so
minimum wage workers are ringing in the New Year with raises. In Illinois,
the wellbeing of pets will now be considered in divorce cases. The court
can allocate joint or sole ownership of pets based in part on their
welfare. Service animals are exempt.

Sticking with the Prairie State, schools can`t expel kids who are in pre-K
anymore. They have to be documented for difficult behavior and can be
transferred to other programs if they are difficult. But parental
permission is needed.

In Pennsylvania, a permit for using consumer fireworks is being removed.
But many don`t bother getting those permits to begin with.

In Tennessee, barbers can now make house calls. Previously, this was only
an option if the client were ill. The barber does need to have a
residential barber certificate in order to operate via home visit.

And good news for people who like to get wild on social media. Vermont
will now prohibit employers from requiring or requesting that employees or
applicants disclose personal social media account info or access their
accounts in front of employers.



HERERA: Coming up, shifting gears. Are we witnessing the demise of
American small car production?


MATHISEN: Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is reportedly making a big
investment in bitcoin. Thiel is one of the really bold faced names in
Silicon Valley. And according to “The Wall Street Journal”, the venture
capital fund he founded has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars` worth
of bitcoin. Thiel is well-known for being an early investor in Facebook

HERERA: Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shipped more than 5 billion items worldwide
with its prime membership last year. That`s the first time the company has
released that information. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) still won`t say how many
consumers across the globe participate in its Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) Prime
membership programs.

MATHISEN: 2017 marked the safest year in commercial aviation history.
According to a Dutch consulting firm, airlines recorded zero accident
deaths in commercial passenger jets last year. That data excludes cargo
flights, military transports and accidents caused by international acts.
The average number of airliner accidents and fatalities has been falling
for the past two decades.

HERERA: Almost a year after Donald Trump became president, promising to
bring auto production back to the U.S., the industry is in transition.
Several automakers have announced plans to expand production in the U.S.
but in almost every case, they are building more trucks and SUVs.

In comparison, fewer cars, especially small ones, are rolling off American
assembly lines.

Phil LeBeau has our story.


for American auto workers. Profits are strong. Wages are rising. And
almost every plant is running at close to capacity.

But look closer at what they`re building and you`ll see the American-made
small car or sedan is slowly fading away. Through November of last year,
cars made in the U.S. by the big three were down at least 14 percent, with
the biggest drop coming from Fiat Chrysler, which said it will stop
building cars in the U.S. and instead expand production of more profitable
trucks and SUVs.

example but they`re a little bit different than most of the industry. When
they initially announced canceling small and mid-sized sedan production,
the plan always was to replace those vehicles with other vehicles. And
then it just never happened.

LEBEAU: What changed? Just five years ago, Fiat Chrysler made a big deal
about adding jobs to build the Dodge Dart at its plant near Rockford,
Illinois. Since then, the combination of relatively cheap gas and a
greater selection of more fuel efficient crossovers and SUVs has convinced
a growing number of Americans to ditch their cars and pay a little more for
something bigger.

SWIECKI: The gap between a small and mid-sized sedan in terms of fuel
economy to those larger vehicles is smaller than ever, and consumers are
jumping on that.

LEBEAU: In fact, sales of SUVs and crossovers were up 6 percent last year,
while overall auto sales declined. There are still some U.S. assembly
lines cranking out small cars. And Toyota (NYSE:TM) plans to add a new
plant to build the Corolla here in the U.S.

But overall, you can expect auto workers to continue building more trucks
and SUVs. Critics worry that the industry could be sitting itself up for
problems if there`s a sudden spike in gas prices.

But for now, prices at the pump remain relatively low as does demand for
small cars and sedans.



MATHISEN: Before we go, here`s another look at how stocks performed on
this first trading day in the New Year. The Dow added 104 points. Nasdaq
advanced 103, closing above 7,000 for the first time. And the S&P 500 rose
22 to another fresh record.

HERERA: Quite a day. That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Sue
Herera. Thanks for joining us.

MATHISEN: I`m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great evening, everybody. And we
will see you right back here on January 3rd.



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