The market jumped on positive news on the trade war front this morning. Plus, Tesla raises prices in China, Johnson & Johnson awaits a verdict, and vegan fried chicken could soon be available at a KFC near you.
Stocks rose Monday morning on good news on the trade front. The Dow traded 120 points higher, or 0.5%, on the open. The S&P gained 0.4% while the Nasdaq added 0.6%.
Last week’s trade fury has fizzled this morning after President Trump said that China is readyto get back to the negotiating table and that the two countries will start talking very seriously about a resolution to the ongoing trade war. “China called last night our top trade people and said ‘let’s get back to the table’ so we will be getting back to the table and I think they want to do something,” Trump said. However, state-run Chinese newspaper Global Times Editor-in-Chief Hu Xijin wrote in a tweet that negotiators from both countries hadn’t talked over the phone in recent days, adding: “The two sides have been keeping contact at technical level, it doesn’t have significance that President Trump suggested. China didn’t change its position. China won’t cave to US pressure.” Earlier on Monday, China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, called for a de-escalation in trade tensions at a public appearance in China. “We are willing to solve the problem through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude,” Liu said. “We firmly oppose the escalation of the trade war,” he continued, adding that it “is not conducive to China, the U.S. and the interests of people all over the world.”
Meanwhile, at the G-7 summit, Trump said on Sunday that he could declare a state of national emergency in reaction to the escalating trade war if he wanted to. “In many ways, this is an emergency,” Trump said of the ongoing conflict. “I could declare a national emergency, I think when they steal and take out an intellectual property theft anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year and when we have a total loss of almost a trillion dollars a year for many years,” Trump said, adding that he doesn’t currently have a plan for calling a national emergency. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also at the G-7 meeting in France, doubled down on the White House’s latest punch in the trade war by calling out Beijing for unfair trade practices saying, “We do not have free trade with them. It’s a one way street: They have free entrance into our markets, our investments, our companies and we do not have the same thing there. That’s the only reason why we are in this situation with China. If China would agree to a fair and balance relationship, we would sign that deal in a second.” In other G-7 news, Trump appears to be backing a French-led initiative to keep the Iranian nuclear accord alive—which would allow Iran to sell some oil in exchange for full compliance with the deal and the reopening of talks—and said that the G-7 has found “great unity” on Iran.
Corporate America is sounding the alarm after Trump’s threats to ban them from doing business in China on Friday. Many U.S. businesses are “poised right on top of the brake” on new spending if the trade war isn’t resolved soon, said Business Roundtable CEO Josh Bolten. “He has a lot of authority through the national security statues to disrupt trade and commerce in a way that would cause huge damage – not just to the Chinese economy, but to the global economy and the U.S. economy,” Bolten said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. Trump responded to China’s latest round of tariffs on Friday by tweeting that U.S. companies are “hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative” to China. Trump also suggested that he was looking at the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 in ordering U.S. companies to dump China. “Case closed!” Trump tweeted in conclusion. “The risk is that everybody’s going to slam on the brake, and that would be a disaster – not just for the Chinese, but for the United States as well,” Bolten said.
Tesla is raising its prices in China this week, rather than in September as originally planned, in reaction to the weakening Chinese currency and is considering raising prices again in December should the Chinese tariffs on U.S.-made cars announced late last week take effect. Tesla currently imports all of the vehicles it sells in China and has had to adjust prices several times over the past year in reaction to tariff changes. “Tesla will also try to ship more cars to China before December, before the tariff hikes,” said a person familiar with the matter. In separate news, the company is also exploring areas in Germany’s state of North Rhine-Westphalia in its search for a possible factory location in Europe.
The judge in the opioid trial against Johnson & Johnson is expected to issues a landmark verdict Monday. The Oklahoma attorney general claims J&J and its pharmaceutical subsidiary Janssen aggressively marketed opioids to doctors and downplayed the risks of the drugs beginning in the 1990s. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is urging Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman to force J&J to pay more than $17 billion in the first civil trial in the U.S. to seek to hold a drugmaker accountable for helping to fuel the opioid epidemic. The $17 billion, which would be used as part of an abatement plan over 30 years, would provide funds for addiction treatment and prevention programs in the state, officials say. J&J has denied any wrongdoing, and suggested it may try to settle the case out of court before the Judge’s decision today. A ruling against J&J could result in more big payouts in similar cases across the nation.
In other news, KFC will soon be serving up plant-based vegan fried chicken from Beyond Meat in a single Atlanta location beginning on Tuesday. KFC’s test makes the Yum Brands subsidiary the first national U.S. fast-food chain to introduce a Beyond chicken product, beating Popeyes and Chick-fil-A to market. Kraft Heinz is bringing back its ex-CFO as the packaged-food company seeks to revive its struggling business. Target announced on Sunday that it is opening dozens of permanent Disney stores within its own stores over the next year as it invests more in unique ways to lure customers. And an analyst at Guggenheim upgraded Lyft, saying the ride hailing company will turn a profit by 2021. “Price increases should stimulate tank-rate, bolster contribution margin and yield narrowing losses, with the potential for upside to consensus across key metrics,” Guggenheim analyst Jake Fuller wrote in a note. Fuller upgraded Lyft to a Buy from Neutral, and lifted their price target to $60, suggesting possible upside of 18% over the next twelve months.
Stocks We’re Watching
Gold Fields Ltd. (NYSE: GFI): Gold Fields returned to a profit of $70.5 million in the first half of this year, after reporting a loss in the year-earlier period. The gold producer maintained its output guidance of 2.13 million ounces to 2.18 million announces for the fuller, and announced its plans to extend the life of operations at its jointly held Asanko Gold mine by 8 to 10 years as it bolsters its position in Ghana. The stock is up 13.17% over the last week and 73.3% year-to-date.
Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU): intuit delivered better-than-expected earnings late last week, sending the stock climbing. The TurboTax parent reported an adjusted loss per share of $0.09 on revenue of $994 million, while analysts had projected a loss per share of $0.15 on revenue of $962 million. “These results were fueled by 15% growth in the Small Business and Self-Employed Group, and 11% group in the Consumer Group,” said Intuit CEO Susan Goodarzi in the company’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release.