Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Kim Strassel, Jason Riley and Dan Henninger. Images: Reuters/AFP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
Journal Editorial Report: The week's best and worst from Kim Strassel, Jason Riley and Dan Henninger. Images: Reuters/AFP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly
Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard speaks on the U.S. economic outlook and monetary policy before virtual Council of Foreign Relations at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) while Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly speaks to a virtual event of the Economic Club of New York at 2 p.m. (1900 GMT). Fed officials in recent days have largely been in sync in their comments that they do not see inflation becoming problematic, after Chair Jerome Powell indicated last week the central bank will remain accommodative until inflation has exceeded 2%. "Back in August they made a major transitional shift in the nature of monetary policy and it wasn’t fully appreciated at the time, and people are slowly coming around to understanding this Fed is really, really focused on this concept of maximum employment because they sense the global deflationary pressures," said Steven Ricchiuto, U.S. chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA LLC in New York.
(Bloomberg) -- Mission Advancement Corp., a company co-sponsored by former NFL quarterback-turned activist Colin Kaepernick, was little changed and thinly traded in its debut after boosting its initial public offering to raise $300 million.Shares of the blank-check firm, which boasts of a board made up entirely of “Black, Indigenous and people of color,” were flat at $10.01 Wednesday in New York. The market’s bland reception of the special purpose acquisition company gave it a market value of less than $400 million.The company, which is in part run by Jahm Najafi, who heads private-equity firm Najafi Companies, sold 30 million units for $10 apiece Tuesday. The pair will focus on diversity issues and racial justice and aim to acquire a consumer company with an enterprise value around $1 billion.A representative for Mission didn’t reply to a request for comment.Wednesday’s debut for Kaepernick’s SPAC, marked the second former-professional athlete-backed blank check company to go public in the last 10 days. Former Yankee all-star Alex Rodriguez’s Slam Corp. rose 5.1% in its first day of trading on Feb. 23, but has since trimmed gains to just 0.9%.For comparison, A-Rod’s SPAC had roughly 24.5 million shares traded in its first session compared to 13.9 million for Kaepernick’s.(Updates share movement throughout, adds trading volume in final paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The main fund from Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management extended its drop from a February peak to 20%, highlighting a swift turnaround for the formerly high-flying stocks favored by the firm.The $24.6 billion Ark Innovation ETF (ARKK) tumbled 6.3% on Wednesday alone as growth stocks such as Pinterest Inc. and Zillow Group Inc. took a beating. The Nasdaq 100 Index lost almost 3% as traders turn away from tech in favor of so-called value stocks that had underperformed during the pandemic, bringing its losses since a peak last month to 8.1%.The rotation, along with higher bond yields that dim the allure of equities, is taking the shine off what had been one of the hottest investments on Wall Street, with ARKK growing 10-fold over the past year, including a whopping $2.37 billion inflow just last month. Since peaking on Feb. 12, ARKK’s price has now dropped by a fifth, the level that commonly defines a bear market.“People are worried the crowded trades will lose their momentum like they did last September” when some of the biggest tech names suffered a bout of selling, said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co.Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes have jumped more than 50 basis points in 2021, on track for the largest quarterly increase since 2016. Consequently, it’s growing more difficult to justify sky-high valuations for highly speculative, expensive areas of the stock market.ARKK’s three largest holdings, Tesla Inc., Square Inc. and Roku Inc., have about tripled over the past year. Tesla is up close to 350%, while Square has surged about 200% and Roku is up more than 240%. On Wednesday, they all slumped.In fact, all but three stocks held by ARKK fell and three suffered losses exceeding 10%, including Stratasys Ltd., a maker of 3D printers, and Veracyte Inc., which develops molecular tests for oncology.The fund’s tilt toward long-term growth means short-term profitability isn’t a key consideration when stocks are picked. In fact, two-thirds of its current holdings didn’t make a profit in the past year. And even after the recent losses, ARKK is still slightly up for the year.Inflows to the fund have faltered in the past week, but there’s yet to be a mass exodus. ARKK took in more than $600 million combined the past two days, after losing more than $690 million last week in its worst five-day period on record.“There is growing unease in the markets and whether higher-risk asset classes can continue to climb,” said Michael Purves, chief executive officer at Tallbacken Capital Advisors. “If sentiment turns, you can see substantial outflows.”(Updates prices throughout)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Rocket Companies Inc (NYSE: RKT) founder Dan Gilbert’s wealth got a $25 billion booster on Tuesday as the holding company gets the attention of retail investors on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets, according to Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index. What Happened: Gilbert, Age 59, has moved up 19 spots to No. 16 on the index that tracks 500 of the world’s richest. A large chunk of Gilbert’s fortune, 93% to be precise, is comprised of his stake in Rocket, reported Bloomberg. See also: How to Buy Rocket Companies (RKT) Stock Why It Matters: The one-day jump in Gilbert’s wealth is the largest so far in the year, noted Bloomberg. As of press time, Detroit-based Rocket Companies with subsidiaries such as Rocket Mortgage and Quicken Loans was the most discussed company on WallStreetBets, according to SwaggyStocks data. WallStreetBets investors previously carried out short squeezes in the stocks of GameStop Corp (NYSE: GME), AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE: AMC), Nokia Oyj (NYSE: NOK), BlackBerry Ltd (NYSE: BB), and others. Rocket reported 162% revenue growth and 350% growth in net income for the fourth quarter, which beat analyst estimates. The company’s shares have shot up since last Friday. S3 Partners data indicates the Rocket has currently $1.2 billion in short interest — making it one of the most shorted stocks in the market. Price Action: Rocket shares traded nearly 8.2% lower at $38.20 in after-hours trading on Tuesday after shooting up almost 71.2% in the regular session. Photo by Steve Jennings on Wikimedia See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaRocket Companies Overtakes GameStop, Palantir As WallStreetBets' Top Interest© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Exxon Mobil Corp is lowering its ambitions for oil and gas output, it said Wednesday, as it focuses on cutting costs and preserving dividends to win back investors that have soured on the company after years of overspending. Exxon last year fell out of the Dow Jones index of top U.S. companies and shares fell to a two-decade low. "The priority right now is to rebuild the balance sheet," Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods said on a media call following a virtual analysts day that emphasized the company's commitment to lower spending and reducing debt, which has ballooned to $67.6 billion from $37.8 billion two years earlier.
Max out your 401(k) each year, and be sure to get your 401(k) employer match, if you have one. And for you super savers, here are other ways to save for retirement.
The oil industry is no stranger to boom-bust cycles, but the pandemic has been its wildest ride to date, and on March 4 it’s due to take another turn when OPEC meets to consider rolling back production cuts. As the world’s cars and airplanes idled, global oil demand bottomed out in April at levels 16.4% below the previous year, dragging the price into negative territory for the first time. White-knuckling through it all has been OPEC, the 13-member cartel that dictates quotas for most of the world’s biggest oil-producing countries (notably excluding the US).
Japanese carmaker Toyota, which has its U.S. headquarters and a factory in Texas, said it was looking into the move by Governor Greg Abbott to roll back the mask mandate, and it doesn't contemplate any immediate changes. "The early read is – no change for us," Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said.
A bill in Congress would give families up to $300 a month per child starting this summer.
Bitcoin's first decade of existence was marked by scandals and wild price swings. Will the next decade be similar or is the cryptocurrency poised for bigger things?
A $232 million investment has ballooned into a $5.9 billion stake.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasuries tumbled anew on Wednesday, driving long-maturity yields to their highest levels this week and pushing up inflation expectations as traders continued to price in a quicker economic rebound from the pandemic.Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields surged as much as 10.3 basis points to 1.495%, a move reminiscent of last Thursday’s startling selloff in government debt. Meanwhile, a market proxy for the anticipated annual inflation rate for the next half-decade exceeded 2.5% for the first time since 2008 -- aided by climbing oil prices. At least part of the trigger for the fixed-income losses came from the U.K., which said it will sell more bonds than expected as its economy emerges from a deep recession.Also in the background was Joe Biden’s announcement that enough doses of virus vaccine should be available to every American adult by the end of May, and a report Wednesday that the president would moderate certain stimulus demands to try to win support for his virus-relief bill. Rising yields have started to draw the attention of Federal Reserve officials, leaving all eyes on an appearance Thursday by Chair Jerome Powell.Among other things, “the stimulus package is likely to go through and the economy is reopening,” said Michael Franzese, managing partner at MCAP LLC in New York. “The battle is on between rates going higher super-fast and a Federal Reserve that’s trying to keep the market stable and may try to slow the momentum of the reflation and economic-rebound trade into something more manageable.”Early inklings of inflation were evident in data from the Institute for Supply Management this week: Measures of prices paid jumped to their highest levels since 2008.A large trade on Wednesday in 10-year Treasury options and accompanying futures selling also fueled the leap in yields, as did heavy corporate bond supply.The rates market is not yet done fully pricing in robust U.S. economic growth, which would entail a 10-year yield trading around 1.90%, said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer of Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania. That’s the level last seen in January 2020, two months before pandemic fears started prompting forced shutdowns in the U.S.Beyond rising nominal and breakeven rates, “the dynamic rise in the 10-year real, inflation-adjusted yield we’ve seen is the market partly adjusting to a faster-than-anticipated pace of rate normalization by the Fed,” he said.The likely path of a Fed rate hike still hasn’t yet been factored in, making Treasuries vulnerable to a further selloff in the weeks ahead, according to Heppenstall.(Updates levels throughout, adds quotes in seventh and eighth paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Bond traders have been saying for years that liquidity is there in the world’s biggest bond market, except when you really need it.Last week’s startling gyrations in U.S. Treasury yields may offer fresh backing for that mantra, and prompt another bout of soul-searching in a $21 trillion market that forms the bedrock of global finance. While stocks are prone to sudden swings, such episodes are supposed to be few and far between in a government-debt market that sets the benchmark risk-free rate for much of the world.Yet jarring moves occur periodically in Treasuries, forming a bit of a mystery as no two events have been the same. Some point to heightened bank regulations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Scrutiny over liquidity shortfalls intensified in October 2014 when a 12-minute crash and rebound in yields happened with no apparent trigger. Panic selling during the pandemic-fueled chaos a year ago, exacerbated when hedge funds’ leveraged wagers blew up, brought the issue to the fore again.And then came last week, when the gap between bid and offer prices for 30-year bonds hit the widest since the panic of March 2020.The latest events “are a stark reminder what happens when liquidity suddenly vanishes in the deepest, largest bond market,” said Ben Emons, managing director of global macro strategy at Medley Global Advisors.At issue is whether this vast market is more vulnerable to sudden bouts of turbulence thanks to measures that have made it more difficult for banks to hold Treasuries. Some analysts say the tumult last week was magnified by questions over whether the Federal Reserve will extend an easing of bank capital requirements, which is set to end March 31. Put in place early on in the pandemic, the measure is seen as making it easier for banks to add Treasuries to their balance sheets.The 2014 episode triggered a deep dive into the market structure, and regulators have pushed through some changes -- such as increased transparency -- and speculation has grown that more steps to bolster the market’s structure may be ahead.“While the scale and speed of flows associated with the COVID shock are likely pretty far out in the tail of the probability distribution, the crisis highlighted vulnerabilities in the critically important Treasury market that warrant careful analysis,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said Monday in prepared remarks to the Institute of International Bankers.There are plenty of potential culprits in last week’s bond-market tumble -- which has since mostly reversed -- from improving economic readings to more technical drivers. Ultra-loose Fed policy and the prospect of fresh U.S. fiscal stimulus have investors betting on quicker growth and inflation. Add to that a wave of convexity hedgers, and unwinding by big trend-following investors -- such as commodity trading advisers.Based on Bloomberg’s U.S. Government Securities Liquidity Index, a gauge of how far yields are deviating from a fair-value model, liquidity conditions worsened recently, though it was nothing like what was seen in March.For Zoltan Pozsar, a strategist at Credit Suisse, the action began in Asia with bond investors reacting to perceived hawkish signs from the central banks of Australia and New Zealand. That sentiment then carried over into the U.S. as carry trades and other levered positions in the bond market were wiped out. A disastrous auction of seven-year notes on Thursday added fuel to the unraveling.Last week’s drama “brings to mind other notable episodes in recent years in which a deterioration in the Treasury market microstructure was primarily to blame,” JPMorgan & Chase Co. strategist Henry St John wrote in a note with colleagues.One key gauge of Treasury liquidity -- market depth, or the ability to trade without substantially moving prices -- plunged in March 2020 to levels not seen since the 2008 crisis, according to data compiled by JPMorgan. That severe degree of liquidity shortfall didn’t resurface last week.The bond-market rout only briefly took a toll on share prices last week, with equities surging to start this week, following a sharp retreat in Treasury yields amid month-end buying.The Fed cut rates to nearly zero in March 2020, launched a raft of emergency lending facilities and ramped up bond buying to ensure low borrowing costs and smooth market functioning. That breakdown in functioning has sparked calls for change from regulators and market participants alike.GLOBAL INSIGHT: Recovery? Yes. Tantrum? No. Yield Driver ModelFor now, Treasuries have settled down. Pozsar notes that the jump in yields has provided an opportunity for some value investors to swoop in and pick up extra yield, effectively helping offset the impact of the leveraged investors who scrambled for the exits last week.“Some levered players were shaken out of their positions,” Pozsar said in a forthcoming episode of Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast. “It’s not comfortable -- especially if you’re on the wrong side of the trade -- but I don’t think that we should be going down a path where we should redesign the Treasury market.”Why Liquidity Is a Simple Idea But Hard to Nail Down: QuickTake(Updates with details on Bloomberg’s liquidity index in 10th paragraph, and a chart)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Bitcoin passed its tenth anniversary of the release of its whitepaper, first introducing it to the world, in 2018. But assessments of the cryptocurrency's impact in the last decade or so have mostly been negative. Is bitcoin useless?
A former board member of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) said Tuesday that the company is unlikely to remain the “king of the hill” in electric vehicles forever, CNBC reported. What Happened: Steve Westly said on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” that he had been bullish on the Elon Musk-led automaker for the last 10 years and it’s “hard to imagine an auto company executing better than Tesla has.” Westly pointed to the company’s latest earnings release in January where it said it had a “multi-year horizon” and expected to achieve 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries. See also: How to Invest in Tesla Stock “No one else in the auto world is doing that. Having said that, Tesla is not going to be king of the hill in electric forever,” said Westly. Why It Matters: The venture capitalist noted that there have been large-scale commitments on EVs from legacy automakers such as General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) and Volkswagen AG (OTC: VWAGY). “Tesla is not just getting hit from the high end,” said Westly on the availability of EVs from Volkswagen marques such as Audi and Porsche. Tesla also faces increased competition from Chinese EV rivals, which have more affordable offerings. The analyst noted increased competition in Europe where according to him the company was “No. 1, they’re now No. 4.” See Also: Tesla's Share Of European EV Market Reduced To 3.5% “They’re getting competition from all sectors. They’re going to have to double down to compete.” Tesla’s plans to make a more affordable $25,000 vehicle have left Chinese rivals such as Xpeng Inc (NYSE: XPEV), Nio Inc (NYSE: NIO), and others unfazed. In January, a two-door $4,500 EV made by Wuling — a joint venture of GM and state-owned SAIC Motor — outsold Tesla’s Model 3 in China by nearly two-to-one. Price Action: Tesla shares closed 4.45% lower at $686.44 on Tuesday and gained 0.34% in the after-hours session. Click here to check out Benzinga’s EV Hub for the latest electric vehicles news. See more from BenzingaClick here for options trades from BenzingaNio Says Chip Shortage Will Hit EV Production In Q2Such Popularity, Much Wow! Dogecoin Now Available At 1,800 ATMs Across US© 2021 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Commercial electric-vehicle maker Workhorse meets with the USPS Wednesday to discuss its contract bid loss to Oshkosh.
ASML Holding NV has extended a deal to sell chip manufacturing equipment to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, China's largest chipmaker, until the end of this year, the Dutch company said in a statement on Wednesday. ASML made the statement after SMIC on Wednesday disclosed a volume purchase agreement under which it has already spent $1.2 billion with the toolmaker. In a clarifying statement issued several hours later, ASML said the agreement began in 2018 and was slated to expire at the end of 2020, but the two companies agreed in February to extend the deal to the end of this year.
The RBA is widely expected to reinforce its forward guidance for three more years of near-zero rates, while also addressing the market dislocation.
(Bloomberg) -- Intel Corp. was told to pay VLSI Technology LLC $2.18 billion by a federal jury in Texas after losing a patent-infringement trial over technology related to chip-making, one of the largest patent-damages award in U.S. history. Intel pledged to appeal.Intel infringed two patents owned by closely held VLSI, the jury in Waco, Texas, said Tuesday. The jury found $1.5 billion for infringement of one patent and $675 million for infringement of the second. The jury rejected Intel’s denial of infringing either of the patents and its argument that one patent was invalid because it claimed to cover work done by Intel engineers.The patents had been owned by Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors Inc., which would get a cut of any damage award, Intel lawyer William Lee of WilmerHale told jurors in closing arguments Monday. VLSI, founded four years ago, has no products and its only potential revenue is this lawsuit, he said.VLSI “took two patents off the shelf that hadn’t been used for 10 years and said, ‘We’d like $2 billion,”’ Lee told the jury. The “outrageous” demand by VLSI “would tax the true innovators.”He had argued that VLSI was entitled to no more than $2.2 million.“Intel strongly disagrees with today’s jury verdict,” the company said in a statement. “We intend to appeal and are confident that we will prevail.”Intel fell 2.6% to $61.24 in New York trading. The stock is up 23% since the beginning of the year.One of the patents was originally issued in 2012 to Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and the other in 2010 to SigmaTel Inc. Freescale bought SigmaTel and was in turn bought by NXP in 2015. The two patents in this case were transferred to VLSI in 2019, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Law.VLSI lawyer Morgan Chu of Irell & Manella said the patents cover inventions that increase the power and speed of processors, a key issue for competition.‘Willful Blindness’Federal law doesn’t require someone to know of a patent to be found to have infringed it, and Intel purposely didn’t look to see if it was using someone else’s inventions, he said. He accused the Santa Clara, California-based company of “willful blindness.”The jury said there was no willful infringement. A finding otherwise would have enabled District Court Judge Alan Albright to increase the award even further, to up to three times the amount set by the jury.“We are very pleased that the jury recognized the value of the innovations as reflected in the patents and are extremely happy with the jury verdict,” Michael Stolarski, chief executive of VLSI, said in an e-mailed statement.Officials with NXP couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.The damage request isn’t so high when the billions of chips sold by Intel are taken into account, Chu said. Intel paid MicroUnity Systems Engineering Corp. $300 million 2005 and in 2011 paid Nvidia Corp. $1.5 billion even though a settlement in that case involved a cross license of technology, he said.“Operating companies are going to be disturbed by not only the size of the award but also the damages theory,” said Michael Tomasulo, a Winston Strawn lawyer who attended the trial. “They more or less seemed to have bought the entire VLSI case.”The damage award is about half of Intel’s fourth-quarter profit. The company has dominated the $400 billion chip industry for most of the past 30 years, though it’s struggling to maintain that position.The verdict is smaller than the $2.5 billion verdict won by Merck & Co. over a hepatitis C treatment. It was later thrown out. Last year, Cisco Systems Inc. was told by a federal judge in Virginia to pay $1.9 billion to a small cybersecurity companies that accused it of copying a feature to steal away government contracts. Cisco has asked the judge for a new trial.The case is among the few in-person patent trials in recent months, with many courts pressing pause amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was delayed a week because of the winter storm that wreaked havoc across much of Texas.Intel had sought to postpone the case because of the pandemic, but was rejected by Albright, a former patent litigator and magistrate who was sworn in as a federal judge in 2018 and has quickly turned his courtroom into one of the most popular for patent owners to file suit.The case is VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corp., 21-57, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Waco).(Updates with VLSI comment in 12th paragraph. An earlier version corrected the spelling of law firm name in eighth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
Mortgage applications are in a lull, but this might be the time to make your move.