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Wall Street Breakfast: World Markets Sharply Lower Following Trump's Tariff Announcement

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Wall Street Breakfast

Stocks tumble around the globe in the wake of President Trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminum - 25% and 10%, respectively - which are raising fears of a potential trade war. Japan's stock market was Asia's worst performer in today's trade, with the Nikkei tumbling 2.5% and just three of the index's 225 stocks ending with gains; Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM) fell by a respective 3.8% and 2.3%. All other Asian markets also fell, with declines of more than 1% in South Korea, where steelmaker Posco (PKX) fell 3.6%, and in Hong Kong. Stocks in Europe are trading at two-week lows, as the European Commission said it could take the U.S. decision to the World Trade Organization.


Canada and Brazil - not China - likely would suffer the biggest impact of any U.S. tariffs on steel, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Canadian and Brazilian steel comprised a respective 16% and 13% of U.S. steel imports as of September 2017, while China, frequently criticized politically for dumping cheap steel on trade partners, is not one of the top 10 exporters of steel to the U.S., the report said. Meanwhile, top foreign sources of aluminum during 2013-16 included Canada (56%), Russia (8%) and the United Arab Emirates (7%). Alcoa (AA) says "vital trading partners, including Canada, should be exempt from any tariff on aluminum... We will continue to work on solutions that create a level playing field and address Chinese overcapacity."

The auto industry has warned that the recent pattern of sales declines in the U.S. may continue because of President Trump's planned tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The proposed tariffs "couldn’t come at a worse time,” said American International Automobile Dealers Association president Cody Lusk. “Auto sales have flattened in recent months, and manufacturers are not prepared to absorb a sharp increase in the cost to build cars and trucks in America.” UBS analyst Colin Langan has forecast Ford’s (F) raw material costs, which already were likely to rise by $1 billion this year, would increase by another $300 million due to the tariffs, and General Motors' (GM) raw material costs, already seen climbing $800 million, would rise an additional $200 million.

Russian-sponsored agents used social media to try and disrupt U.S. energy policy, including inciting protests against pipeline projects, according to a new congressional report. The same Russian-backed propaganda groups accused of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election used Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Instagram to suppress research and development of fossil fuels and impede efforts to expand the use of natural gas and fracking in the U.S., said the report from the House Science Committee. The groups targeted Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Dakota Access pipeline and TransCanada's (TRP) Keystone XL pipeline, as well as projects by Enbridge (ENB) and other companies, according to the report.


Qualcomm has secured the backing of a top investor for rejecting Broadcom's $142 billion hostile takeover bid just days days before a crucial shareholder vote, Financial Times reports. Parnassus Endeavor Fund, a top-30 investor in Qualcomm (QCOM), said it will vote in favor of the company's current board and against the slate of directors proposed by Broadcom (AVGO). The public show of support from a major shareholder is a strong vote of confidence for Qualcomm's management and reinforces the decision to fight for a higher takeover offer.

Wells Fargo said four board members will retire next month at the bank's annual meeting, in the latest changes resulting from last year's sales scandal. John Chen, Lloyd Dean and Enrique Hernandez - the three longest-serving members - and Federico Peña will leave the board on April 24. Hernandez and Peña received the least support at last year’s shareholder meeting after heading board committees related to risk, finance or corporate responsibility during the time Wells Fargo (WFC) employees opened as many as 3.5 million accounts in customers’ names without permission. The news of the board changes came on the same day the bank disclosed fresh problems in its wealth and investment management business.

Equifax said the payment card industry may cut off its access to certain data or impose fines if the company cannot prove it has addressed weaknesses, in the latest fallout from its massive 2017 cybersecurity breach. The disclosure came just hours after Equifax (EFX) announced that 2.4M more U.S. consumers were affected by the data breach than previously known, bringing the total number of U.S. consumers whose personal information was compromised to 147.9 million. In better news for the company, adjusted fourth quarter earnings and revenues came in ahead of analyst expectations.

Georgia state legislators have eliminated what would have been a lucrative tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines (DAL), in an attempt to punish the carrier for ending some discounts for National Rifle Association members. The Republican-dominated legislature yesterday passed a tax bill that excludes a jet fuel tax exemption which had been projected to save some $40 million per year for Delta, the state’s largest private employer. Delta was one of several companies to cut ties with the NRA after the mass shooting at a Florida high school two weeks ago that killed 17 students and adults.

General Motors' South Korean unit is planning to cut 5,000 jobs, or about 30% of its workforce, but keep production at current levels if the government agrees to its $2.8 billion proposal for the loss-making operation, according to a Reuters report. General Motors (GM), which owns 77% of the Korea unit, announced last month that it would shut down a factory in Gunsan, southwest of Seoul, and that it was considering the fate of its three other plants in the country. GM’s proposal may put the government in a bind, as South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants to save thousands of jobs but could face a public backlash if he uses taxpayer money as a lifeline for the U.S. company.

Thursday's Key Earnings

OPKO Health (OPK) -16.7% AH on Q4 earnings miss.
VMware (VMW) -2.6% AH on Q4 earnings beat, reverse-merger talks.
Ambarella (AMBA) +5.1% AH on Q4 earnings beat, downside guidance.
Uniti Group (UNIT) +3.3% AH on Q4 earnings beat.
Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) +1.2% AH on Q4 earnings beat and revenue growth.
Synergy Pharmaceuticals (SGYP) +6.3% AH on Q4 earnings.
Splunk (SPLK) +6.2% AH on Q4 earnings beat, upside guidance.
American Outdoor Brands (AOBC) -11.6% AH on plunging revenue, lower guidance.
Intrexon (XON) +6% AH on Q4 revenue growth.
Nordstrom (JWN) -3.6% AH on Q4 earnings miss, increased expenses.
The Gap (GPS) +8.8% AH on jump in Q4 comparable sales.
Nutanix (NTNX) +3% AH on Q2 beats, upside guidance, acquisition announcement.

Today's Markets

In Asia, Japan -2.50%. Hong Kong -1.48%. China -0.59%. India closed.
In Europe, at midday, London -1.02%. Paris -1.83%. Frankfurt -2.22%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.75%. S&P -0.52%. Nasdaq -0.60%. Crude -0.36% to $60.77. Gold +1.1% to $1,319.80.
Ten-year Treasury Yield -7 bps to 2.795%

Today's Economic Calendar

10:00 Consumer Sentiment
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count

Companies reporting earnings today »

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Wall Street Breakfast, Seeking Alpha's flagship daily business news summary, is a one-page summary that gives you a rapid overview of the day's key financial news. It's designed for easy readability on the site or by email (including on mobile devices), and is published before 7:30 AM ET every market day. Wall Street Breakfast readership of over 3.4 million includes many from the investment-banking and fund-management industries. Sign up here to receive the Wall Street Breakfast in your inbox every business day: http://seekingalpha.com/account/email_preferences Podcast RSS feed: https://www.spreaker.com/show/5725002/episodes/feed

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