Before the Open (Feb 13-17)

Good morning. Happy Friday.

The Asian/Pacific markets were weak across-the-board. China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, India, Malaysia and the Philippines posted the biggest losses. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are mostly down. Russia and Greece are up, but Germany, France, South Africa, Finland, Norway, Hungary, the Netherlands and Italy are down. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap down open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: The Best Weekly Charts Right Now —————

The dollar is up. Oil and copper are down. Gold and silver are down. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…


Lawsuits are piling up against freight rail operator Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC), which has faced a public backlash and investor scrutiny over a series of train derailments. One led to a chemical disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, while another said to be carrying hazardous materials overturned yesterday outside of Detroit, Michigan. NSC shares have gone off the tracks over the past two weeks, falling 10% to $230, though some like Cowen analyst Jason Seidl are looking at historical precedent, believing the unfortunate events may not have much of a long-term impact.

SA commentary: “While I expect more weakness than the average analyst, I’m eagerly looking to buy NSC as soon as it drops to $210 again,” contributor Leo Nelissen wrote in an eerily entitled article, just a week before trouble struck for Norfolk Southern (NSC). He explores a steep cost surge and high operating ratios in the company’s latest earnings, but counters that pricing and improved operations have helped bolster record revenues. For investors looking for other players in the freight railroad sector, check out recent SA analysis on CSX Corp. (NASDAQ:CSX), Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) and Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE:CP) (which is expected to close its acquisition of Kansas City Southern by the end of Q1).

Facing a public backlash over the chemical spill in East Palestine, Norfolk Southern (NSC) CEO Alan Shaw just penned a letter to address concerns about the contamination of air, water and soil. “Crews are cleaning the site thoroughly… together with local health officials, we have implemented a comprehensive testing program and established a $1M community support fund as a down payment on our commitment to help rebuild.” Worries remain in the community of about 4,800, especially following the release of carcinogen vinyl chloride, and reports of headaches, rashes and nausea, as well as dead fish in local waterways.

Is there anything to do about it? Around 1,000 derailments occur in the U.S. each year caused by collisions, conductor errors, mechanical failures, broken rails and defective wheels. While it may be hard to prevent the incidents (the latest was said to be triggered by a mechanical axle issue), there have been pushes to regulate and de-regulate new costly safety standards in recent U.S. administrations. Others have blamed the mishaps on precision-focused railroading, heavier train capacities, staff cuts and the rushing of essential safety checks. (7 comments)

Changing of the guard

One of the most prominent women in tech, YouTube (GOOG, GOOGL) CEO Susan Wojcicki, is stepping down from her position to focus on “family, health, and personal projects.” Wojcicki was one of Google’s earliest employees, having rented out her garage to co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, and later shepherding YouTube to a premier position in online video. Her departure comes at a time when YouTube is under pressure from falling advertising revenue, as well as intense competition from TikTok (BDNCE), Facebook Reels (META) and streamers like Netflix (NFLX). Wojcicki will be replaced by her longtime lieutenant Neal Mohan, a senior ad and product executive who joined Google in 2008. (32 comments)

Worries return

Market volatility is making a comeback as traders eye any mention of the word “inflation” like a deer in the headlights. Stocks fell on Thursday following the release of January’s producer price index, with wholesale costs coming in hotter than expected. It wasn’t the only thing causing jitters. “My overall judgment is it will be a long battle against inflation,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told reporters, while the Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester even saw a “compelling case” for a 50-basis-point increase at the central bank’s meeting two weeks ago. Elsewhere, initial jobless claims continued to point to a tight labor market, further evidence that higher interest rates have yet to significantly dent the economy. Taking all of the developments together, stocks aren’t pointing to a better open this morning, with further losses expected on Wall Street. (49 comments)

Consumer debt

The sum of money owed by U.S. households climbed considerably during the fourth quarter, rising by $394B to $16.9T. That’s the largest Q/Q increase in household debt in two decades, taking balances $2.75T higher than before the pandemic at the end of 2019, according to the New York Fed’s Household Debt and Credit Report. Not helping the situation was the U.S. central bank’s rate hiking cycle, which has raised the borrowing costs on everything from credit cards to mortgages and auto loans. Serious delinquency rates of 90 days or more are creeping up too, and while the metric is not near dangerous levels yet, it will be an item to watch as the year progresses. (42 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Fed’s Barkin Speech
8:30 Import/Export Prices
8:45 Fed’s Bowman Speech
10:00 E-Commerce Retail Sales
10:00 Leading Indicators
10:00 Quarterly Services Report
1:00 PM Baker-Hughes Rig Count

What else is happening…

Another tech cut: DocuSign (DOCU) to lay off 10% of its workforce.

Europe said to run into delays over how to regulate AI.

Will China shoot down Ford’s (F) CATL EV battery deal? Not likely.

General Motors (GM) is now Lithium Americas’ (LAC) largest investor.

Tesla (TSLA) recalls +360K vehicles to fix self-driving problems.

DoorDash (DASH) tops revenue expectations, posts upbeat guidance.

Strong growth sees DraftKings (DKNG) guide for profitability in 2024.

Goldman Sachs (GS) pauses efforts to acquire new credit card programs.

Multibillion crypto scheme? SEC sues Terraform Labs and Do Kwon.

Manchester United (MANU) on the move as Qataris ready bid of £5B.


Good morning. Happy Thursday.

The Asian/Pacific markets did great. China was weak, but Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand did great. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mixed. France, Turkey, South Africa, Norway and Italy are up; Denmark, Poland, Russia and Israel are down. Futures in the States point towards a moderate gap down open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: The Best Weekly Charts Right Now —————

The dollar is down. Oil is down slightly; copper is up. Gold is flat; silver is down. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Out of stock

China had warned of retaliation over the downing of a balloon earlier this month, but the latest salvo in tension-filled U.S.-Sino relations is coming over arms sales to Taiwan. Beijing has imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) and a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:RTX) by adding them to a so-called “unreliable entity list” that aims to punish firms that jeopardize its national security. It comes on top of fines that are based on the contract value of their arms sales to Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party considers as part of its sovereign territory.

What it means: Lockheed and Raytheon will be barred from importing goods into China, or making new investments in the country, but the measures are likely to be symbolic given that both companies have little direct exposure to the nation. However, it could impact their civilian businesses in aerospace and other markets, as well as cancel and prohibit work permits for corporate managers, which would ban them from entering the country. The bigger part of the equation will be if the U.S. and China are moving farther apart, or maybe even too far, to resolve their differences.

A gauge for that could be a meeting this weekend between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Blinken already canceled a planned trip to Beijing earlier this month following the controversy surrounding the Chinese spy balloon shootdown. Friction between the world’s two largest economies also lingers over areas like trade, but bigger economic risks are at stake with a battle over access to key cutting-edge technologies like the escalating semiconductor war.

Go deeper: The Pentagon is now reviewing its arms stockpiles after seeing how fast ammunition has been drained during the war in Ukraine. General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the analysis could result in an increase in the U.S. military’s $817B annual budget – especially as concerns grow over the security environment should another war break out in the Taiwan Strait – but SA contributor Zoltan Ban doesn’t see that as a reality due to excessive government debt. Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg further announced that “Ukraine is consuming an enormous amount of munitions and depleting allied stockpiles.” This is “many times higher than our current rate of production,” he cautioned, and “puts our defense industries under strain.” (8 comments)

Trip to the brink

The U.S. Treasury Department is set to become unable to fully pay its bills sometime between July and September, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office forecast in its latest economic and budget outlook. That gives lawmakers as little as six months to reach a deal to lift the $31.4T debt limit and ultimately avoid default on its obligations (extraordinary measures are already in place). The public debt-to-GDP ratio, a metric that legendary investor Warren Buffett has repeatedly flagged in recent years, is also expected to reach 118% by 2033, which would be the highest level ever recorded in the U.S. “Debt would continue to grow beyond 2033 if current laws generally remained unchanged,” the CBO warned in the report. (9 comments)

Holding steady

Investors appear to be relegating inflation and recession concerns to the back burner again following the latest dose of data on the U.S. economy (Satori’s Dan Niles thinks otherwise). Yesterday’s retail sales numbers showed that consumers increased their spending in nearly every category the government tracks, while manufacturing and mining figures pointed to further momentum in economic activity. The resilience of the U.S. economy has even overpowered sentiment that might point to higher interest rates, with stocks closing in the green on Wednesday and futures hugging the flatline overnight. More data is on tap for this morning, so keep an eye on housing starts, jobless claims, PPI and the Philly Fed manufacturing index, which will all be published at 8:30 AM ET. (18 comments)

Up, up… and away?

The broad risk-on sentiment is even extending to the riskiest asset classes, with the crypto sector seeing outsized moves to the upside. At the time of writing, Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is trading up 11% to $24,607 despite some new regulatory pressures. A short squeeze has also taken place over the last 24 hours, pushing up the coin’s price, according to data from Coinglass. “Sometimes I call it crypto crappo, sometimes I call it crypto sh-t. It’s just ridiculous that anybody would buy this stuff,” Berkshire (BRK.B) Vice Chairman Charlie Munger said in response. “I’m not proud of my country for allowing this crap,” he added, doubling down on his opinion that the U.S. should ban crypto like China did in 2021. (42 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Housing Starts and Permits
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Philly Fed Business Outlook
8:30 Producer Price Index
8:45 Fed’s Mester Speech
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
1:30 PM Fed’s Bullard Speech
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
6:00 PM Fed’s Mester Speech

What else is happening…

Up and down: Shopify (SHOP) tops revenue and GMV expectations.

Airbnb (ABNB) pops on big profit beat, bullish Q1 forecast.

Tesla’s (TSLA) Model Y is sold out in the U.S. for this quarter.

Lit up: Albemarle’s (ALB) lithium sales soar more than fivefold.

Medicare mulls limiting per month costs for generic drugs at $2.

Apple (AAPL) facing DOJ probe? Mixed-reality headset debut in June?

Big move for The Trade Desk (TTD) against a tough backdrop.

Cisco (CSCO) boosts full-year guidance after topping expectations.

Roblox’s (RBLX) new surge: It’s all about the bookings.

Virgin Galactic (SPCE) conducts first test flight in over a year.


Good morning. Happy Wednesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets were mostly down. Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore posted the biggest losses. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mixed. France, Turkey and South Africa are up; Russia, South Africa, Finland and Hungary are down. Futures in the States point towards a down open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: Trading the Short Side with MACD and Stochastic —————

The dollar is up. Oil and copper are down. Gold and silver are down. Bonds are down slightly.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Fed departure

Central banking is on the radar again as Lael Brainard leaves the No. 2 role at the Federal Reserve to head up the National Economic Council. In her new position, she’ll coordinate economic policymaking across the executive branch amid a battle over the debt ceiling, and could possibly entertain an even bigger role in the near future. While she was passed over once to become Fed Chair following high-stakes interviews at the White House, the new move could put her within reach of the top spot – or becoming a future Treasury Secretary – as she builds rapport within the Biden administration’s inner circle.

Monetary policy going forward: Brainard was known as one of the most “dovish” members of the Federal Open Market Committee, urging a somewhat less aggressive approach in the fight against inflation. She has advocated for slowing the pace and intensity of rate hikes, providing a counterweight to the spectrum of policy, especially when compared to FOMC “hawks” like Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari and Governor Christopher Waller. While President Biden could nominate a new Fed Vice Chair with a similar stance, it may not be as easy for the appointee to forge policy consensus through persuasion compared to the institutional respect Brainard received by serving on the Fed’s board since 2014 (she also chaired four out of the eight subcommittees on the Fed’s Board of Governors).

“Lael has brought formidable talent and superb results to everything she has done at the Federal Reserve,” Chair Jay Powell said in a statement. “That lengthy list includes her thought leadership on monetary policy and economic research, her stewardship of financial stability and the payments system, strengthening the financial system both domestically and globally, and helping to manage the immense operational agency challenges during the pandemic. My colleagues and I will truly miss her.”

Go deeper: Brainard was a big force behind big bank oversight and regulation, and has discussed addressing climate change through the Fed’s financial stability mission. In terms of the economy, SA Marketplace author From Growth to Value has pointed to Brainard’s views in a recent article about market direction for 2023, referencing her outlook that despite a constrained labor supply, wages do not appear to be driving inflation in a 1970s-style wage-price spiral. Brainard will also not be the only one reshaping Biden’s U.S. economic policy, with longtime confidant Jared Bernstein appointed to head the Council of Economic Advisors.

Bumpy disinflation

A mixed inflation report resulted in a mixed day for the market indices. Following the release of the latest Consumer Price Index report, the Dow and S&P 500 finished the choppy session on Tuesday marginally in the red, while the Nasdaq posted a modest advance. It comes as investors debate the direction of the Fed after the upcoming meeting in March and the probability of changes to U.S. monetary policy. On display is a headline CPI figure that inched down to 6.4% Y/Y in January – marking the seventh straight month of easing inflation – though the cooling is moderating, with the CPI rising 0.5% M/M, compared with a previous 0.1% increase in December. (318 comments)

Filing takeaways

It’s 13F season, where hedge funds with at least $100M in assets under management reveal their holdings. The flurry of filings gives investors a chance to see what they bought and sold during the quarter, including long positions, and call and put options, though shorts aren’t disclosed in the statements. Check out some of the latest headlines on Seeking Alpha to see where the “smart money” is being put to work: Berkshire Hathaway adds to Apple stake, pares US Bancorp, BNY Mellon stakes, Druckenmiller’s Duquesne adds Nvidia, AMD, exits Amazon, Microsoft and Michael Burry bought Alibaba, SkyWest and MGM in Q4 before he tweeted ‘Sell’ in Q1. (132 comments)

Reality bites

Morgan Stanley strategist Mike Wilson, who nailed the 2022 bear market calls, says that stocks are “about as disconnected from reality as it’s been during this bear market” and that the lows of the market won’t come until late spring. But instead of sell-it-all strategy, Wilson screened for stocks “unfairly punished by the market” recently. They include Amazon (AMZN), Southwest (LUV) and Schwab (SCHW). See the rest of the names here. (124 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Retail Sales
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Business Inventories
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
10:00 Atlanta Fed’s Business Inflation Expectations
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $15B, 20-Year Bond Auction
4:00 PM Treasury International Capital

What else is happening…

FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson plans to resign due to Lina Khan.

Solid travel demand leads to Tripadvisor (TRIP) earnings topper.

Boeing (BA), Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY) receive record order from Air India.

What’s going on? CSX (CSX) derailment follows Norfolk Southern (NSC).

Momentum for Tesla (TSLA) despite price flip-flopping and union push.

… will make 7,500 chargers in the U.S. available to all.

Ford (F) halts electric F-150 production due to battery issue.

Coca-Cola (KO) talks up coffee and alcohol potential on earnings call.

Plunge protection team? Turkey to support stocks amid market tremors.

FanDuel parent Flutter (OTCPK:PDYPY) weighs U.S. listing after record Super Bowl.


Good morning. Happy Tuesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned to the upside. Japan, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia did well; Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing well. Russia is down, but France, Greece, Switzerland, Hungary, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic are doing well. Futures in the States point towards a down open for the cash market, but this can change, as the market is still digesting the CPI data.

————— VIDEO: Trading the Short Side with MACD and Stochastic —————

The dollar is down. Oil is down; copper is up. Gold is up; silver is down. Bonds are up.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Central bank Valentine

Economics professor Kazuo Ueda has been nominated as the Bank of Japan’s next governor, ending weeks of speculation among global investors. He’s set to succeed Haruhiko Kuroda, who will step down in April after overseeing a decade of policies that aimed to shake off a deflationary environment by keeping interest rates at ultra-low levels. Ueda is known as a soft-spoken pragmatic academic, but was also a former member of the central bank’s policy board and kept close ties to the BOJ since leaving the position in 2005.

Why it’s important: The BOJ is the last major central bank on the globe to maintain an ultra-loose monetary policy stance. However, questions have swirled over how long that could last in the wake of inflationary pressures, especially with regards to the Bank of Japan’s signature yield curve control – which has become increasingly difficult to defend in the current environment. Many previously thought that the top spot at the BOJ would go to a seasoned central banker like Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya, but the surprise nomination of Ueda could mean that things may be changing in terms of direction (Amamiya was one of the key architects of monetary policy over the past decade).

Putting a spotlight on the economy, Japanese inflation hit a multi-decade high of 4% in December, which is double the BOJ’s longstanding 2% target. Earlier today, the country’s Q4 annualized GDP growth expanded only 0.6%, which was much less than expected amid slumping business investment. SA contributor Hunting Alpha still calls the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (EWJ) the sumo wrestler of ETFs in a recent technical analysis (it’s up 6.2% YTD).

Speaking of monetary policy: The U.S. Federal Reserve will be closely watching today’s release of the Consumer Price Index for January, which will gauge how well the central bank is faring in its fight against inflation. Wall Street Breakfast subscribers are also weighing in on what kind of landing is in store for the American economy with over 1,000 responses received in the latest poll. Most expect that a “soft landing” is now in the works, but explore a full breakdown of the results here. (13 comments)

Ways to play Cupid

Valentine’s Day spending by consumers is forecast by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights to rise 8.4% to $25.9B in 2023, to become one of the highest spending years on record. The top gifts expected to be doled out include candy (57% of respondents), greeting cards (40%), flowers (37%), an evening out (32%), jewelry (21%), gift cards (20%) and clothing (19%). Some stocks traditionally associated with getting an extra sales boost from Valentine’s Day include (FLWS), Hershey (HSY), and OpenTable, which is owned by Booking Holdings (BKNG). See the rest of the list here.

Getting physical

Amazon (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy is planning to double down on the company’s struggling brick-and-mortar business, with the retail behemoth ready to “go big” on physical stores in 2023. Blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for ongoing struggles, Amazon has yet to disrupt the grocery sector since scooping up Whole Foods for $13.7B in 2017. The “Just Walk Out” technology of Amazon Fresh grocery stores and Amazon Go convenience shops have also only seen limited traction, while locations have been closed down and a related $720M impairment charge was recorded in Q4 results. Also check out recent SA contributor commentary, like Ironside Research’s Looking Ahead: Why Amazon Must Execute Flawlessly In 2023. (10 comments)

Charged up

Ford (NYSE:F) has confirmed plans to invest $3.5B to build a lithium iron phosphate battery plant in Michigan with the aid of Chinese battery giant CATL. The new facility will employ 2,500 people when production begins in 2026 (though the automaker just announced thousands of layoffs elsewhere overnight). In a call with the media, Vice President of EV Industrialization Lisa Drake addressed the political risk of working with the Chinese battery giant amid elevated Sino-American tensions. Meanwhile, cross-town rival General Motors (GM) reportedly scrapped plans to construct a fourth battery plant alongside LG Energy Solution in January, though it’s unclear if the automaker has selected a new company to replace its South Korean partner. (35 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
6:00 NFIB Small Business Optimism Index
8:30 Consumer Price Index

What else is happening…

First profitable quarter: Palantir (PLTR) blasts off on beat and forecast.

Super Bowl ratings are in at Fox (FOX), with a bump from Rihanna.

Microsoft (MSFT) rolls out ChatGPT functionality for desktop users.

Twilio (TWLO) next tech company to cut 17% of its workforce.

Meta’s (META) chief business officer is leaving after 13 years.

Chevron (CVX) may extend CEO Wirth past mandatory retirement age.

Report: U.S. to sell 26M more barrels from Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Why is Fastly (FSLY) surging? A double upgrade from BofA.

Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard set to head National Economic Council.

Amazon (AMZN) completes robotaxi test with passengers on public roads.


Good morning. Happy Monday. Hope you had a good weekend.

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned to the downside. China did well, but Japan, South Korea, India, New Zealand and Singapore were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing well. Denmark, France, Greece, South Africa, Finland, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic are leading. Futures in the States point towards a positive open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: Trading the Short Side with MACD and Stochastic —————

The dollar is flat. Oil is down; copper is up. Gold and silver are down. Bonds are down.

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Inflation romance

Investors will try to get more clarity on market direction this week following the release of key inflation data on Valentine’s Day. While January consumer prices are forecast to climb 0.5% M/M for the first time in three months, the annual rate is expected to fall again to 6.2% Y/Y, continuing a decline that started in mid-2022. Keep an eye on the “core” rate as well, which strips out volatile energy and food prices, and is closely watched by Fed policymakers for its inputs on housing and other key parts of the economy.

SA commentary: “Inflation swaps, bonds, options suggest that CPI could come in hotter than expected,” writes Marketplace author Mott Capital Management, adding that the January CPI report could be a massive shock to the market. Others believe that the market is not living in fantasy land following the big rally in January, like contributor Eric Parnell, CFA. He says that while the Fed is likely to raise rates, and keep them higher for longer than expected, this is in fact positive for the long-term and investors are best served to remain fully allocated to equities.

Pick a side, but whatever you believe, intraday volatility has been significant on CPI days in recent months. Things could get even more complicated when factoring in the new weightings of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which will now base consumer expenditure data on a single calendar year, instead of every two years. In addition, the “new vehicles” category will implement a methodological upgrade to factor in the most recent cyclical trends and short-term fluctuations.

Outlook: In recent weeks, Fed Chair Jerome Powell has stressed that there is still a long road ahead on dealing with inflation, rather than an instant on/off switch that would result in easier investing decisions. “The disinflationary process, the process of getting inflation down, has begun and it’s begun in the goods sector, which is about a quarter of our economy,” he said at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. “But it has a long way to go. These are the very early stages. The reality is we’re going to react to the data, so if we continue to get, for example, strong labor-market reports or higher inflation reports, it may well be the case that we have to do more and raise rates more than is priced in.” (131 comments)

Economy booster

Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs came away as the winners of Super Bowl 57, in a nailbiter that saw them defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in the final minute of play. It was also a big game for K.C. Coach Andy Reid, who couldn’t win the big game during his time in Philly, but ended up beating his former team to earn his second Super Bowl ring. Billions of dollars in commerce flowed through everything associated with Super Bowl LVII despite a challenging economy that had some advertisers rethinking whether they wanted to shell out $7M for a 30-second commercial. Check out the wide variety of companies, including betting names, for which ads might provide an attention bump in the coming days. (12 comments)

Target practice

The U.S. military has shot down another high-altitude object over Lake Huron in Michigan, marking the fourth such operation in eight days over North America. While not many details are available yet, the flying objects have been described as types of airships, and are believed to have had a payload either attached or suspended from them. Part of the reason for the repeated shootdowns could be a state of “heightened alert” as NORAD closely scrutinizes the airspace amid fears about an extensive Chinese military balloon program. Taiwan has already provided new insight about frequent flights, and while Japan and the Philippines have also observed balloon incursions into their airspace, China lashed out overnight saying that American balloons illegally flew over China more than 10 times since the beginning of 2022. Could the whole saga just be aliens? (10 comments)

Green commitments

BP’s (NYSE:BP) surprise announcement that it has scaled back climate targets and now plans to produce more oil and gas for longer has angered climate-focused investors, but the company’s stock price has gained nearly 20% in the four days since the news, reaching its best levels in nearly four years. “If you sat in any meeting in Europe in the 2019 period and talked about energy, there was one conversation: It was about energy emissions,” CEO Bernard Looney declared. “Today, on the back of a pandemic, on the back of a war, on the back of a cost-of-living crisis, on the back of an energy crisis, [it] has shifted to a much more balanced conversation.” RBC Capital’s Biraj Borkhataria also notes that, “it’s better to talk up oil when it’s at $80 a barrel, than $40,” while Shell (SHEL) said earlier this month that it would increase its cash-cow natural gas business and be cautious about ramping up spending on renewables. (71 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
No events scheduled

What else is happening…

Google (GOOGL) fights Microsoft (MSFT) for AI supremacy: These factors are key.

Banks rush to review lending practices amid DOJ crackdown on redlining.

Rate lock volumes snap losing streak as mortgage rates pull back.

Is the worst over for Bitcoin (BTC-USD) miners after solid January?

Gas watch: Freeport LNG exports first cargo since last June’s fire.

M&A for U.S. oil producers expected to pick up in Permian Basin.

Nikola (NKLA) goes to work building out hydrogen fueling network.

COVID-19 emergency is ending: What it means for free vaccines and drugs.

Highly promotional: Are retailers finally wrangling inventory issues?

Ford (F) expected to announce EV battery plant later today.


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