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Market Morning: Chinese Army in Hong Kong, Boeing Walks Back Comments, Kraft Heinz Cheese Problems

ME Staff

China Edges Into Hong Kong to “Clean Up Streets”

The Chinese have invaded Hong Kong. So far it’s just to clean up the streets, but their presence on the island is raising some eyebrows as to what Beijing’s real intentions are in bringing Chinese soldiers in to participate in the situation. The soldiers, part of the People’s Liberation Army, were in shorts and t-shirts rather than fully uniformed, which was probably a calculated move by Beijing. According to a Hong Kong spokesman, no request was made by Hong Kong for Chinese help in cleaning up the debris from the riots, but that the military became involved on its own initiative as a “voluntary community activity”. It will be interesting to see how Congress and the Trump Administration react to this, especially insofar as a “phase I” trade deal has yet to be signed and sealed. The soldiers left by the late afternoon. They have only appeared in Hong Kong once since the 1997 handover by the British, and that was to actually help clean up after a typhoon hit last year.

Boeing Walks Back 737 MAX Comments

Boeing (NYSE:BA) last week announced that FAA regulators would allow the 737 MAX series of airplanes back in the air by 2020, but now the company is walking back those comments somewhat, not pinning down the bureaucrats to any specific timeline. Reportedly, this is to ease tensions with the FAA, which does not want to be publicly committed to any sort of timetable. Boeing is now saying that the timing is up to the FAA. “We put some targets out that still line up to December … type certification,” said Stan Deal, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The FAA has said they are not going to put a time frame on it and we are going to track behind them on this.” Unnamed “US officials”  have hinted that Boeing initial timeline was aggressive and unrealistic and not cleared in advanced by the regulators actually reviewing the planes in the case.

Kraft Heinz Has Cottage Cheese Problems

Kraft Heinz (NYSE:KHC) is having some relatively abnormal cottage cheese issues. Breakstone’s cottage cheese is being recalled by the company for fear that certain varieties may have pieces of metal and plastic that the think was accidentally mixed in to the product during packaging. “Consumption of hard or sharp foreign material could cause injury…” came a warning, just to people know not to eat metal shards. 9,500 cases are being recalled. Shipments were sent to retailers in the US and also exported to retailers in Latin America. Kraft Heinz had previously mulled selling off Breakstone’s cottage cheese in order to help pay down some of its debt. The stock has been one of the worst big cap performers since 2017.

Stocks at Record Highs

The Dow Jones hit 28,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 is on its longest weekly winning streak in 2 years. Nobody knows exactly why stock market indices are performing so well, but the Federal Reserve expanding its balance sheet in what looks to be permanent open market operations may be a reason. The Fed has been printing about $100 billion a day to gain control back over the overnight repo markets, which they can keep doing indefinitely until it starts showing up in the CPI too obviously. However, not everything is firing on all cylinders, as US industrial output fell by the most in 17 months in October in a decline that was almost twice as worse as expected by economists.

Amazon, Meet Big Pharma(cy)

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) bought PillPack last year, and now the company is adding the branding “Amazon Pharmacy” to its PillPack products. With licenses in all 50 states it is ready to start supplying drugs. Amazon will be competing with the usual suspects at Walmart (NYSE:WMT) Costco (NASDAQ:COST) and Target (NASDAQ:TGT). Amazon bought PillPack for $753 million, but has yet to open any in-store pharmacies at any of its brick and mortar locations or in Whole Foods stores.

 

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