Macro Links Feb 2nd – FANG Mixed Bag

Macro Links Feb 2nd – FANG Mixed Bag

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FANG MIXED BAG

Facebook lost daily users for the first time ever in the U.S. and Canada – Recode

Facebook’s daily active user base in the U.S. and Canada fell for the first time ever in the fourth quarter, dropping to 184 million from 185 million in the previous quarter. It’s a very small decline in a market that Facebook already dominates. But it’s also Facebook’s most valuable market, and any decline in usership — even a small one — isn’t a great sign.

18G02 - FACEBOOK USERS

Google Parent Alphabet’s Revenue Rises, but Profit Comes Up Short – WSJ

Alphabet Inc. swung to a loss after taking a $9.9 billion charge related to the new U.S. tax law, though its core advertising business continued its strong run.

Amazon posts largest profit in its history on sales, tax boost – Reuters

Amazon.com Inc on Thursday reported a profit near $2 billion, the largest in its history, as the online retailer drew millions of new customers to its Prime fast-shipping club for the holiday season and as changes to U.S. tax law added to its bottom line.

Amazon’s Quarterly Profit Tops $1 Billion for First Time – WSJ

Amazon.com quarterly profit topped $1 billion for the first time, reflecting the company’s push to exhibit stronger fiscal discipline while simultaneously broadening its ambitions beyond online retailing.

Bezos Fortune Jumps $6.5 Billion After Hours in Tech’s Wild Ride – Bloomberg

Jeff Bezos’s fortune struck an all-time in after-hours trading after Amazon.com Inc. reported the strongest holiday quarter sales growth in eight years. The net worth of the world’s richest man had already risen $17.4 billion in the first month of the year, and he will see his wealth reach a record $123 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index if the gain holds Friday.

Apple Posts Record Results Even With Fewer iPhones Sold – WSJ

Apple Inc.’s move to jack up prices on its flagship iPhone helped deliver record quarterly revenue and profit, but the company projected weaker-than-expected sales for the current quarter that adds to questions about the demand for the technology giant’s most important product.

Apple Forecast Falls Short After iPhone Sales Miss Estimates – Bloomberg

Apple Inc. forecast lower-than-expected revenue for the current quarter and reported iPhone sales from the crucial holiday period that missed analysts’ forecasts, suggesting waning demand for its most-important product.

Apple hits record revenues but misses on iPhone sales – FT

Apple’s iPhone unit sales dropped by 1 per cent in its key holiday quarter, missing Wall Street’s forecasts, as it pointed to lower total revenues than investors had been expecting for the current March quarter. The report will compound some Apple bears’ fears that the tenth anniversary iPhone X has failed to reignite a growth “super cycle” as many bulls had hoped.

Apple earnings Q1 2018: How much money does Apple have? – CNBC

Apple’s cash reserves hit $285.1 billion in the quarter ended in December, a record, reflecting the company’s move to high-priced handsets and new tax regulations. That’s compared with $268.9 billion in the prior quarter. The increase in cash was disclosed Thursday in Apple’s earnings report.

Apple plans to reduce net cash balance to “approximately zero” – FT

Apple plans to reduce its net cash balance to “approximately zero” following a new US law that will allow it to repatriate its overseas profits at a lower tax rate, the iPhone maker’s finance chief told the FT in an interview. The move means shareholders might expect to see a significant increase in dividend payouts or share buybacks as well as a potentially large step-up in Apple’s acquisition plans.

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BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

Worries Grow That the Price of Bitcoin Is Being Propped Up – The New York Times

When the price of Bitcoin goes down, activity on an influential exchange pumps it back up. That has investors and regulators asking questions. A growing number of virtual currency investors are worried that the prices of Bitcoin and other digital tokens have been artificially propped up by a widely used exchange called Bitfinex, which has a checkered history of hacks and opaque business practices.

Bitcoin Hits 2018 Low as Concerns Mount on Regulation, Viability – Bloomberg

After reaching a record high of $19,511 on Dec. 18, Bitcoin has lost more than half its value as the token has been weighed down by expectations of more government oversight globally, fears of price manipulation, the susceptibility of exchanges to hacking and lingering concern that it’s all just an asset bubble. Facebook announced a ban on cryptocurrency ads this week.

Bitcoin drops below key $9,000 level on Coinbase

Bitcoin dropped Thursday to trade below $9,000, a critical level of support that many analysts are watching. The decline followed reports that raised worries about increased regulation in India and potential price manipulation at a major exchange.

CME Takes Cautious Stance Toward Crypto-Futures Besides Bitcoin – Bloomberg

CME Group Inc. doesn’t plan to offer futures based on cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin any time soon, in contrast to rival Cboe Global Markets Inc.’s openness to the idea. The world’s largest exchange owner introduced Bitcoin futures in December, a week after Cboe got into the market. According to CME CEO Terry Duffy, digital currency markets are polarizing and unpredictable enough that his company is going slowly.

A Bitcoin Conference Rented a Miami Strip Club—and Regretted It – Bloomberg

As financial wizards and tech entrepreneurs before them, cryptocurrency’s early enthusiasts are confronting more mainstream expectations for decency and decorum. The chief executive officer of Dash Core Group Inc., the corporate sponsor of the event, said he hadn’t known the venue was a strip club and was “deeply disappointed.” Several women who attended the conference said the party made them uncomfortable; many chose not to go.

The Tax Man is Finally Catching Up On the Crypto Market | Cointelegraph

Regulators are indeed catching up to Bitcoin, as more and more hard-nosed approaches begin to make the news. It now looks as if the taxation authorities of some countries are also starting to get to grips with this fast moving, and mostly anonymous, monetary system/growing asset.

Newly Detected Malware Uses NSA Exploit To Mine Monero, Over 500K PCs Infected | Cointelegraph

Software security researchers from cybersecurity company Proofpoint have detected a new global botnet called Smominru, also known as Ismo, that uses a National Security Agency (NSA) exploit EternalBlue to spread Monero mining malware.

European Utility Giant Says ‘No’ To Crypto Mining, Even With ‘Clean Energy’ | Cointelegraph

Enel, one of Europe’s largest power utility companies, announced today, Feb. 1, that they would not be selling renewable energy to crypto mining company Envion. In a brief statement to Reuters, the Italy-based company said that they had “no interest whatsoever in selling power” to a mining company.

Big Investors Coming: A New Decentralized Exchange Makes Plans to Lure Them All | Cointelegraph

The Legolas project, founded in France in 2017, is going to launch an innovative cryptocurrency and fiat exchange in Q3 2018. Despite its relatively recent emersion on the Blockchain startups map, the Legolas Exchange has definitely made a splash, having raised over 1,500 BTC (about $15 mln) during its private sale that was closed at the beginning of 2018.

Bee Token ICO Stung by $1 Million Phishing Scam – CoinDesk

Investors in the decentralized home sharing network Bee Token’s initial coin offering (ICO) have been swindled of nearly $1 million in just over 25 hours. Bee Token, which recently partnered with San Francisco-based financial services platform WeTrust to create a decentralized competitor to home-sharing service AirBnB, launched its public ICO on Jan. 31.

India Turns Against Bitcoin But Embraces Blockchain – Bloomberg

“The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told lawmakers in New Delhi on Thursday. “The government will explore use of blockchain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy.”

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FOREX, CARRY TRADES, EXCHANGE RATES

UBS: Dollar is still ‘expensive’ – FT

UBS has cut its year-end forecasts for the US dollar, telling investors that the greenback still does not look alluring even as it has tumbled over the past year. The Swiss bank said that the buck is “still expensive” despite the almost 11 per cent drop in the dollar index over the past 12 months.

There’s a sign the US and EU are in a ‘cold currency war’ – Business Insider

Investors in Europe are more optimistic than they have been in years thanks to a strong economy and buoyant markets. There is a fly in the ointment, however: a growing concern that continued U.S. dollar weakness could make the euro too strong, with negative consequences for corporate earnings and economic growth.

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TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT

Australia to tighten foreign investment rules amid China concerns- FT

Australia is to tighten rules on foreign investment in electricity infrastructure and agricultural land, amid concerns about growing Chinese influence in business, politics and society. The decision coincided with the release of Australian electoral returns that show companies owned by businesspeople with links to China donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political parties ahead of the 2016 federal election.

Trump administration strips CFPB office of enforcement power in lending discrimination cases – The Washington Post

The CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending has long been one of the agency’s most controversial, accused by Republicans and the financial industry of being too aggressive and unfairly targeting auto lenders and other financial companies for high-dollar penalties.

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HEALTHCARE, BUDGET, INFRASTRUCTURE

Key Republican Pushes Higher Gas Tax for Infrastructure – Bloomberg

The Republican lawmaker central to passing an infrastructure bill said the key may be getting his GOP colleagues to set aside years of opposition and embrace raising the tax on gasoline.

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RUSSIA PROBE

Trump Clears the Way for Release of Secret Republican Memo – The New York Times

The president’s decision came despite a growing chorus of warnings from national security officials who say that releasing the document would jeopardize sensitive government information, including how intelligence is gathered, and from Democrats who say it is politically motivated and distorts the actions of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. by omitting crucial context.

Trump sees Nunes memo as a way to discredit the Russia investigation – CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump, hopeful that a controversial Republican memo about the FBI might undermine the Russia investigation, appeared poised Thursday to allow the document’s release. In recent phone calls, Trump has told friends he believes the memo would expose bias within the FBI’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him, according to two sources.

White House worried FBI director could quit over Nunes memo release – CNNPolitics

Top White House aides are worried FBI Director Christopher Wray could quit if the highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools is released, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN.

FBI Director Must Be Prepared to Resign Over Nunes Memo, Ex-Agents Warn – DailyBeast

As Trump prepares to release a GOP document accusing the FBI of abuses, bureau alums hope Director Chris Wray holds the line—but has to be ready to walk.

Former Trump Aide Carter Page Was on U.S. Counterintelligence Radar Before Russia Dossier – WSJ

Carter Page, who served as a foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign, was known to U.S. counterintelligence officials for years before he became a prominent figure in a dossier of unverified research about the future president’s ties to Russia.

Mueller Zeros In on Story Put Together About Trump Tower Meeting – The New York Times

Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has pressed witnesses about a statement hastily written last summer aboard Air Force One and wants to know more from President Trump.

Manafort Co-Defendant Rick Gates’ Defense Team Stepping Down – Bloomberg

Three lawyers for Paul Manafort’s co-defendant, Rick Gates, have told the court they want to quit in the criminal money-laundering conspiracy case, bolstering the idea that he may be cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Protecting an Olympics Held in North Korea’s Nuclear Shadow – The New York Times

Security is a top concern at every Olympics, where athletes and fans in scattered venues can be difficult to protect. But rarely do they take place in the shadow of a nuclear standoff, as is the case with the Winter Games that open next week here in South Korea.

South Korea Sees Olympics More Secure With North Korea in Than Out – WSJ

After a year of missile tests and nuclear threats from Kim Jong Un, the most important security measure in place at the Pyeongchang Games may be simply having the North Koreans involved.

Japan Raids Pro-North Korea Group for Suspected Illegal Trade—In Language Books – WSJ

Japanese police searched the Tokyo municipal headquarters of a North Korea-affiliated organization on Thursday, after arresting a former official in the group on suspicion of raising money through illegal sales of language study materials.

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RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS

US bond market sell-off deepens- FT

Bond markets have come under rising pressure this year as rising optimism over the strength of the global economy has fuelled expectations that inflationary pressures are building. This comes at a time when central banks are already unwinding some of the post-crisis monetary stimulus, and the US deficit is expected to balloon due to the recent tax cut.

18G02 - 10Y

Deutsche Bank Sees Contagion Risk Growing in Financial Markets – Bloomberg

The concerted selloff that landed on stocks and bonds this week may be a taste of what’s to come for financial markets. That’s the warning in new research from Deutsche Bank AG strategist Binky Chadha, which found everything from equities to bonds, oil and currencies are moving in unison to a degree rarely seen during this market cycle.

18G02 - CONTAGION RISK

New Fiscal Worry: Too Much Short-Term Borrowing as Deficit Climbs – WSJ

The Treasury Department said it will need to issue more debt this quarter to accommodate rising budget deficits, and it also plans to adjust the size of its debt auctions beginning next month in response to the Fed’s moves to shrink the size of its bond portfolio.

Will Repatriation Hurt Bond Sales? We’re About to Find Out – Bloomberg

Investment-grade bond market participants were predicting a drop in issuance this year, and that was before passage of President Donald Trump’s signature piece of legislation made it cheaper for corporations to bring money held overseas back to the U.S.

Economists warn of Trump deficit’s ‘dark trajectory’ – FT

“Now will be a test. We have had a long period where we have had large Treasury supply and it hasn’t impacted the market in part because central bank’s softened the blow,” said Michael Cloherty, an interest rate strategist at RBC Capital Markets. “At some point we start to have strains from that. No one knows when that is but I think we are getting close to where this will start to have a market effect.”

18G02 - DEFICIT TO INCREASE

The most bullish sentiment in decades – Daily Shot – WSJ

51.6% of Americans think that the market will be higher a year from now. It indicates the most bullish sentiment in decades.

18G02 - RECORD BULLISHNESS

Hybrid Stock-Bond Mutual Funds Suffer Worst Week in 17 Months – Bloomberg

The hit is across the board, with other funds that use the strategy taking punches. The BlackRock 60/40 Target Allocation Fund is having its worst week since September 2016 as well, and the Prudential 60/40 Allocation Fund its worse week ever, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

HNA of China, in Need of Money, Raises Funds From Employees – The New York Times

The company, in an email, advertised an “employee treasure” product with an 8.5 percent return if workers handed over $1,500. A similar one dangled 9 percent. A third mentioned a return as high as 40 percent if employees ponied up $15,000. These pitches, more than a dozen of which were reviewed by The New York Times, were not part of an employee stock program. Instead, they appear to be high interest loans, with the company as borrower and its workers as lenders.

Chinese property developers in debt refinance push – FT

Large Chinese property developers are raising funds to refinance their debt, as investors voice concern over borrowing in the sector and authorities clamp down on leverage. About 75 per cent of Chinese developers have bonds maturing in 2018, according to credit rating agency Moody’s.

The U.S. Poses a Bigger Danger than China to Asia’s Markets – Bloomberg

A deeper danger than China for emerging Asian markets is a rapid increase in U.S. interest rates and a surge in the dollar, according to Zhang Zhiming, head of China research at HSBC Holdings Plc. The dollar remains the global financial system’s dominant currency, and record sales of offshore bonds by Asian borrowers have only strengthened its importance for Asia, the argument goes.

18G02 - ASIA STRESS TEST

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MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS

Trump’s Saturday Night Massacre Is Happening Right Before Our Eyes – POLITICO Magazine

Let’s be clear about what’s happening here: This memo is the latest escalation in an eight-month effort to tarnish the Russia investigation that might be the most significant smear campaign against the executive branch since Joe McCarthy—only here, the effort is being led by the head of that branch himself.

As Strongmen Steamroll Their Opponents, U.S. Is Silent – The New York Times

Across the world, autocratic leaders are engaging in increasingly brazen behavior — rigging votes, muzzling the press and persecuting opponents — as they dispense with even a fig leaf of democratic practice once offered to placate the United States or gain international legitimacy. And leaders of countries like Egypt, which had long been sensitive to Washington’s influence, know they run little risk of rebuke from an American president who has largely abandoned the promotion of human rights and democracy in favor of his narrow “America First” agenda.

2017 was the most dangerous year ever for journalists. 2018 might be even worse. – The Washington Post

“There are worrying developments, and they align with what we have seen in the last few years,” Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, told The Washington Post. “The political cost of this sort of behavior has diminished, and that tips the balance in the wrong direction.” He pointed out that President Trump has met with the leaders of all the countries that currently jail journalists in mass numbers, and that there is no indication that press freedom came up in any of them.

Signaling Crackdown, SEC Boss Emerges as Crypto Skeptic-in-Chief – Bloomberg

The Securities and Exchange Commission chairman has elevated digital currencies to the forefront of his agenda, asserting that many of the products fall under the agency’s oversight. During Clayton’s tenure, the SEC has unleashed its enforcement lawyers on companies that are illicitly raising money by selling digital tokens, put the kibosh on attempts to set up cryptocurrency mutual funds and repeatedly urged investors to take more seriously the risk of getting fleeced.

Bored With Banking, This Former Citi Trader Went Full Crypto – Bloomberg

Hayes is just one of many finance pros leaving the world of banking and plunging into a largely lawless industry. They’re putting their expertise into constructing a marketplace for virtual currencies with all the features found in traditional finance, including derivatives, leverage, short-selling, and cryptocurrency price indexes. There’s even a plan to fashion a benchmark interest rate for lending Bitcoin (hello, Bibor, as it’s called).

Amazon Health – Stratechery

What makes sense is that, having first built an interface for its employees, and then a standardized infrastructure for its health care suppliers, Amazon converts the latter into a marketplace where PBMs, insurance administrators, distributors, and pharmacies have to compete to serve employees. And then, once that marketplace is functioning, Amazon will open the floodgates on the demand side, offering that standard interface to every large employer in America.

Amazon Wants to Disrupt Health Care in America. In China, Tech Giants Already Have. – The New York Times

Amazon and two other American titans are trying to shake up health care by experimenting with their own employees’ coverage. By Chinese standards, they’re behind the curve. Technology companies like Alibaba and Tencent have made health care a priority for years, and are using China as their laboratory. After testing online medical advice and drug tracking systems, they are now focused on a more advanced tool: artificial intelligence.

India Wants to Give Half a Billion People Free Health Care – The New York Times

India announced on Thursday a sweeping plan to give half a billion poor Indians free access to health care, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to address rising demands for greater economic and social protections before national elections next year. The move is sure to be popular in a country where most people have no health insurance and the per capita income is a few dollars a day. Although India’s overall economy is growing, Mr. Modi and his governing Bharatiya Janata Party have been trying to find ways to court the population left behind.

How Amazon Rebuilt Itself Around Artificial Intelligence | WIRED

Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

A Wristband to Track Workers’ Hand Movements? (Amazon Has Patents for It) – The New York Times

What if your employer made you wear a wristband that tracked your every move, and that even nudged you via vibrations when it judged that you were doing something wrong? What if your supervisor could identify every time you paused to scratch or fidget, and for how long you took a bathroom break? What may sound like dystopian fiction could become a reality for Amazon warehouse workers around the world. The company has won two patents for such a wristband, though it was unclear if Amazon planned to actually manufacture the tracking device and have employees wear it.

How GE Went From American Icon to Astonishing Mess – Bloomberg

GE’s long, proud run may have come to an end. It happened, as Ernest Hemingway wrote of going bankrupt, “gradually and then suddenly.” GE hasn’t inspired awe for some time now: The company had to be bailed out in 2008 by the federal government and Warren Buffett, and across the 16-year tenure of recently departed Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt its stock was the worst performer in the Dow Jones industrial average. The past year, however, has seen GE enter new territory. Since Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, during a stock market boom in which the Dow is up 41 percent, GE has lost 46 percent of its value, or $120 billion.

Meet the physicists selling time to traders – FT

The laboratory is the UK’s national measurement institute — it keeps the official time — and holds responsibility for making thousands of high-precision calibrations for science, physics and technology. Now, it has found a new commercial market: providing a reference point for the superfast computers that power global trading in the 21st century. More than a dozen institutions have signed up, including Intercontinental Exchange, one of the world’s largest exchanges operators, and UBS, the Swiss bank.

Why Companies Spend So Much on Super Bowl Ads – WSJ

Total spending on Super Bowl ad slots is five times larger than it was in 1995, and the average price paid for 30 seconds of airtime is now over $5 million. That doesn’t include production costs, which can be anywhere from $1 million to $5 million. Thanks to the internet, the ads can be seen by more people than ever before. Commercials can rack up millions of views on sites such as YouTube, and the most successful can continue for years.

Curtain Closes Quietly on Yellen Era – Barron’s

The Janet Yellen era at the Federal Reserve has ended with neither a bang nor a whimper, which probably is fine with her. Whether her successor will be as lucky is another question. If anything, Yellen’s main legacy may be her willingness to go slow on rate hikes even as the jobless rate fell through levels economists had deemed “full employment.”

Brexit Britain’s nervous breakdown – FT

With each step back from the melee, the picture becomes all the more incredible. Most MPs in the House of Commons consider Brexit an act of folly. They will vote against their judgment because the referendum, with its narrow majority for leave, has been invested with an absurd, almost mystical status. Let no one dare question “the will of the people”. With the odd, honourable exception, Tory and Labour pro-Europeans seem inclined to let Britain sink rather than make common cause across party lines. A nation that calls itself the mother of parliaments has somehow mislaid the meaning of representative democracy.

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USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

U.S. Business Investment Fuels Factory-Sector Momentum – WSJ

U.S. factories maintained momentum in January, buoyed by rising demand for equipment, in the latest sign companies are stepping up investment spending. One factor driving the latest growth: Higher demand for business equipment. Sales of such long-lasting goods indicates companies are investing to expand their production capacity.

Auto Makers Post Underwhelming U.S. Sales in January – WSJ

Auto makers on Thursday reported underwhelming U.S. sales in January, signaling the car industry is getting off to a relatively muted start to 2018 despite a confluence of positive economic factors that tend to help vehicle sales. Demand for new automobiles will be closely watched in the wake of recent tax cuts and a surge in consumer spending.

U.S. Worker Productivity Slipped in Final Months of 2017 – WSJ

U.S. worker productivity grew below its long-run average for the seventh straight year in 2017. Productivity hasn’t topped its long-run average since 2010, when the economy was first emerging from a deep recession.

Wages on the Rise at Small Firms – WSJ

The percentage of U.S. small businesses planning to raise wages is the highest in more than 28 years. That’s according to the January employment survey of the National Federation of Independent Business, due out later today. Small companies posted solid job increases last month amounting to 0.23 workers per firm. And they would have hired even more workers if they had been able to find them.

Atlanta Fed GDP model forecasts 5.4% growth in the first quarter – Business Insider

The last time the economy grew that much was in the third quarter of 2003. If correct, this would be the first period of more than 5% growth since the third quarter of 2014. Additionally, the forecast is much higher than that of the most bullish economist polled in the Blue Chip forecast.

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GLOBAL ECONOMY, INTERNATIONAL

Euro-Area Manufacturers Start Year With Near-Record Momentum – Bloomberg

Manufacturing in the euro area grew at one of the fastest paces on record in January, with high demand fueling inflationary pressures. Companies raised selling prices by the most in almost seven years, partially due to a steep increase in energy costs.

Goldman’s Most Bullish on Commodities Since Supercycle Ended – Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is more bullish on commodities than any time since the end of the supercycle in 2008. As economies around the world pick up, factories are humming, eating into stockpiles of raw materials and driving demand at miners and oil producers already facing limits on output. Copper, iron ore and crude prices will extend gains this year, Goldman analysts Jeffrey Currie and Michael Hinds said.

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COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS

Shell Is Almost Back to the Profits of the Oil Boom – WSJ

Royal Dutch Shell more than tripled its profit in 2017 on a rebound in crude-oil prices, demonstrating how deep cost cuts are making energy companies almost as profitable as they were during the boom years of $100 a barrel.

GoPro Misses Already Low Sales Estimates Amid Talks of Sale – Bloomberg

GoPro Inc. reported disappointing sales in the fourth quarter, battered by a dismal holiday season and potentially hastening the likelihood of a sale.

Ralph Lauren Tumbles After Weak Holiday Hampers Comeback Bid – Bloomberg

Ralph Lauren Corp. plunged the most in a year after posting disappointing holiday-season sales, signaling that a comeback under new Chief Executive Officer Patrice Louvet may be tougher than expected.

Guess Plunges After Kate Upton Accuses Co-Founder of Sexual Harassment – Bloomberg

Guess? Inc. shares plummeted after Kate Upton accused co-founder Paul Marciano of sexual harassment, embroiling the fashion brand in the #MeToo movement.

After 15 years, eBay plans to cut off PayPal as its main payments processor – Recode

One of the tech industry’s most storied partnerships is coming to an end. EBay announced today that it will stop working with PayPal as its back-end payments service in 2020 and will start to move a small percentage of its payments volume to a new partner later this year. In PayPal’s place, eBay has signed a long-term deal with Adyen, an Amsterdam-based payments company that was founded in 2006 and has counted global companies like Uber, Netflix and Spotify among its customer base.

Airbnb CFO Departs Amid Tensions, Leaving IPO Timing Unclear – Bloomberg

Airbnb Inc. Chief Financial Officer Laurence Tosi is leaving the home-rental company amid tensions and a shakeup in the senior ranks. His departure raises questions about the timeline for an initial public offering, which now won’t come until next year at the earliest.

Alibaba’s Online Growth Surges, Even as It Looks Offline – The New York Times

The Chinese internet behemoth is investing in brick-and-mortar stores as it seeks to apply its tech smarts to the way customers shop in the real world. Alibaba has snapped up stakes in grocers and in an electronics chain over the last three years, a perhaps counterintuitive series of moves for a company that helps consumers in China buy products with their smartphones. In part, the push is driven by the eventual maturation of its online business.

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DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS

BuzzFeed News in talks with Powell Jobs group – FT

The editor of BuzzFeed has had discussions with the company started by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of the late Steve Jobs, about investing in the digital media company’s news division, according to two people with knowledge of the talks.

CBS and Viacom, After 12 Years Apart, Again Explore Deal to Recombine – WSJ

CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc. said Thursday that their boards have formed special committees to evaluate a potential merger, a deal that would reunite the two big pieces of the Redstone family’s media empire.

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HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital Lost 6% in January – WSJ

David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital lost roughly 6% in January, extending a multi-year period of weakness for the hedge fund. “The underperformance was broad-based with many shorts rising 15% or more and no significant longs performing at that level,” the letter said. Most of the losses came the last week of January.

BlackRock’s Rick Rieder Is ‘Manaical’ About Risk in $32.8B Fund – Bloomberg

The global chief investment officer for fixed income at BlackRock is unusually passionate for Wall Street. How else would you describe someone who won’t accept his doctor’s advice on minimum-required sleep? Who seems to relish spending one Saturday each month from sunrise to sunset doing nothing but market research?

Steve Cohen Needs to Prove Himself to Wall Street All Over Again – Bloomberg

Cohen’s operation no longer exudes the swagger it once had. It may be hobbled by all the changes it made to appease the government and show itself to be squeaky-clean. The senior executives who ran SAC are all gone, as are many of the most successful portfolio managers.

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ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE

Buoyant oil prices withstand near-record US production – FT

A quick glance at the oil price, currently hovering close to three-year highs near $70 a barrel, suggests earlier predictions that the shale era would usher in a period of “lower for longer” prices are starting to look premature. “Dominance” of the 100m barrel a day global oil market is likely to remain elusive.

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DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL

Trump Pressures Democrats to Bargain on Immigration – The New York Times

In a speech and an early morning Twitter post, Mr. Trump faulted the opposition for not compromising to protect younger undocumented immigrants.

With DACA in Limbo, Teachers Protected by the Program Gird for the Worst – The New York Times

About 9,000 unauthorized immigrants protected under DACA work in the nation’s schools. But as the program’s fate has become uncertain, so has theirs.

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GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

‘They Couldn’t Hide all the Death.’ 5 More Rohingya Mass Graves Found in Myanmar – Yahoo

They are among more than five mass graves, all previously unreported, that have been confirmed by The Associated Press through multiple interviews with more than two dozen survivors in Bangladesh refugee camps and through time-stamped cellphone videos.

Over 1,000 gold miners in South Africa stuck underground – NBC News

Over 1,000 miners were stuck underground at a gold mine in South Africa after a storm knocked out power, the company which runs the mine said Thursday.

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ELECTORAL POLITICS

The new Republican model: strong defenders of President Trump – The Washington Post

Positive vibes cannot mask a much deeper problem for congressional Republicans. Their congressional majorities are in peril heading into the November midterm elections. The political damage from those first nine months — not repealing the Affordable Care Act, a sprawling criminal investigation that has produced several indictments and plea agreements, a pugnacious style that prompted Trump to defend white supremacists and a Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers — may have sown the seeds of a massive defeat.

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BANKS, BROKERS, INSURANCE, EXCHANGES

Big Banks Accused of Stifling Competition in Stock Lending – WSJ

A newly filed lawsuit against six major investment banks contends they worked together to prevent a startup company from competing in the vast and lucrative stock-lending market.

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SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC

Google Weighs Unusual Bid With Giant Oil Firm Aramco to Rev Up the Saudi Tech Sector – WSJ

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant and Google parent Alphabet Inc., two of the world’s biggest companies, are in talks about jointly building a large technology hub inside the kingdom, people familiar with the potential deal said. ​As part of the potential joint venture, Alphabet would help Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known as Aramco, build data centers around Saudi Arabia, the people said. It isn’t clear specifically whose data the centers would house or who would control them.

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MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT

HBO joins Netflix in shattering subscription records – FT

The premium cable network added more than 5m US subscribers, shattering its previous subscription growth record by more than 1m and powering Time Warner’s profits. Time Warner shares rose more than 2 per cent on Thursday, hitting their highest levels since the justice department blocked its takeover by AT&T in November.

The Publisher of Newsweek And The International Business Times Has Been Buying Traffic And Engaging In Ad Fraud

Several of Newsweek Media Group’s business websites are buying and manipulating traffic that originates on pirated video streaming sites. The company acknowledged buying traffic, but denies engaging in ad fraud.

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AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE

SpaceX Launches First Rocket Since Mysterious Satellite Loss – Bloomberg

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a satellite to geostationary transfer orbit as customer missions continue while inquiries into its last mission press on.

Electric Buses Will Take Over Half the World Fleet by 2025 – Bloomberg

Electric buses remain more expensive up front than those fueled by diesel or compressed natural gas, but BNEF found that battery-powered buses can already offer a lower total cost of ownership when fuel and maintenance expenses are considered. Projected declines in battery prices will make the upfront costs of some electric models competitive with a diesel version by 2026, according to the study.

Elon Musk Stops Taking Flamethrower Orders After $10 Million in Sales – Bloomberg

Debate is raging on internet forums over whether the devices are actually flamethrowers, which expel burning streams of liquid fuel under pressure, or souped-up blowtorches, which burn flames without the dramatic projections of a flamethrower. Boring Co. said its product won’t emit flames exceeding 10 feet, meaning customers can legally operate them in practically every U.S. state without a license.

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SCIENCE, NATURE, PSYCHOLOGY

Ghost Cat Gone: Eastern Cougar Officially Declared Extinct – Scientific American Blog Network

Eastern cougars—also known as “ghost cats,” catamounts, panthers and, of course, mountain lions — disappeared after decades of overhunting on multiple fronts. The large predators were seen as threats to livestock, which resulted in the cats being actively hunted and bounties placed on their heads.

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