Before the Open (May 15-19)

Good morning. Happy Friday.

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned to the upside. South Korea, Austrailia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Singapore posted gains; China, Hong Kong and Thailand were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mostly up. Poland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Sweden are all posting solid gains. Futures in the States point towards a slight positive open for the cash market.

————— Leavitt Brothers Open Access —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Pulling the plug

Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) is scrapping a near-$1B office campus it planned to build in Florida, as well as related plans to relocate some 2,000 of its California workers to the offices, citing “changing business conditions.” Reading between those lines, though, it’s part of the ongoing feud with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over what Disney has called “targeted retaliation” against the company through crackdowns on its special taxing district.

Go deeper: The planned Lake Nona Town Center was set to bring more than 2,000 jobs to the Orlando region. Many of those employees would’ve come from a Southern California department known as Imagineering, which works with Disney’s moviemakers to develop theme park attractions. Most of them complained harshly about the planned move, set up in 2021 amid what Disney Parks chief Josh D’Amaro called Florida’s “business-friendly climate”. Meanwhile, Bob Iger, who recently returned as CEO, was much less enthusiastic about the Lake Nona development than his predecessor Bob Chapek.

Now D’Amaro says business conditions are changing, and “I hope we’re able to” continue plans for $17B in construction at Orlando’s Disney World. But he’s now looking at moving some 200 employees that already relocated back to California.

SA commentary: Amid all the political drama, SA contributor Brett Ashcroft Green believes the market wants to see Disney dominate the streaming space. “Don’t forget, Disney + didn’t even launch until 2019 and 2018 was very profitable without it. Buy the real estate assets and worry about the DMED later,” he said. Howard Jay Klein, Investing Group Leader of The House Edge, believes Disney’s Parks must remain a key element in its future under any foreseeable or black swan economic conditions. “It may be less price elastic in this insane inflated economy – but that’s no match for parental delight,” he said. (527 comments)

End in sight

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said negotiators could come to an agreement in principle to raise or suspend the debt ceiling as soon as this weekend, allowing the House of Representatives to vote on a bill next week. “I can see now where a deal can come together,” he told reporters at the Capitol. That’s the most positive he has been since Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has estimated that the U.S. government is at risk of default as soon as June 1. Texas Republican Rep. Kay Granger, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said a deal is “close” and Steny Hoyer, a Democratic representative from Maryland and former congressional leader, said: “I think we’re going to get a deal.” (72 comments)

No pause yet?

The chances of a rate hike at the Federal Reserve’s June 13-14 meeting increased yesterday after Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan said she’s not yet in favor of pausing rate increases, based on current data. The probability of a 25-basis point rate hike increased to 37.8% today from 10.7% a week ago, according to the CME FedWatch Tool. That would be the Fed’s 11th straight rate hike. Fed Governor Philip Jefferson said a “considerable amount of data on economic activity” for April and May have yet to come in before a decision is made. He said he’s considering monetary policy’s “long and variable lags”, uncertainty over tighter lending standards, GDP’s slower growth, and the policy’s muted effect on the labor market so far. Note that Fed Chair Jerome Powell, Fed Governor Michelle Bowman and New York Fed President John Williams are all slated to address separate events later today. (11 comments)

Legal shield upheld

The U.S. Supreme Court handed a major win for internet and social media companies by maintaining legal protections for content posted by users in two separate lawsuits that claimed that these firms “aided and abetted” terrorists. In a case involving Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (GOOGL) video-sharing platform YouTube, judges refused to limit the immunity that internet companies have under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The case pertains to Islamic State’s attack in Paris in 2015. In another case, judges dismissed a lawsuit against Twitter that sought to hold the social media app liable under the Anti-Terrorism Act for an Istanbul nightclub shooting in 2017. In the Twitter case, the top court raised doubts if social media firms can be held liable for “agnostic” algorithms that push content to users. The rulings put to rest fears that the tech industry could be subject to a wave of similar lawsuits. (4 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:45 Fed’s Williams Speech
9:00 Fed’s Bowman Speech
10:00 Quarterly Services Report
11:00 Jerome Powell Speech
1:00 PM Baker Hughes Rig Count

What else is happening…

Equity Residential (EQR) founder Sam Zell dies at 81.

PacWest (PACW) debt rating downgraded to junk at Fitch.

Billionaire Carl Icahn says bearish market bets were a mistake.

Tesla (TSLA) bulls remain recharged after annual shareholder meet.

Netflix (NFLX) shares log 10% gain amid positivity from first ad upfront.

ESPN making moves toward streaming its channel direct to consumers.

WHO recommends updating COVID shots to add Omicron XBB.1 variants.

Applied Materials (AMAT) shares slip despite Q2 results topping expectations.

Warren Buffett buys $200M in Occidental (OXY) stock, raises stake to 24.4%.

Exxon (XOM) sees net-zero global emissions scenario by 2050 ‘highly unlikely’.


Good morning. Happy Thursday.

The Asian/Pacific markets closed mostly up. Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan posted solid gains. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing well. Poland, France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Saudi Arabia are up; Turkey, South Africa and the Czech Republic are down. Futures in the States point towards a slight positive open for the cash market.

————— Leavitt Brothers Open Access —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

See you in court

The next big tech battle is in the making after Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill that would ban TikTok, the popular short video app used by 150M Americans. It’s the country’s first bill that outright bans TikTok for private citizens, and is set to go into effect in January 2024 – barring an injunction or defeat in the legal system. Proponents of the measure claim it will protect users against “Chinese Communist Party surveillance” and from pro-Beijing misinformation reaching the public, with TikTok being owned by China-based ByteDance (BDNCE).

How it’ll work: The law will prohibit downloads of TikTok in the state by fining any “entity” – namely the app stores of Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG, GOOGL), or TikTok itself. $10,000 would be leveled per day for each time someone “is offered the ability” to access or download the app, though individual TikTok users would not be punished. It’s unclear what would happen to Montanans who downloaded the app before the start of the statewide ban, or how authorities would outlaw usage through virtual private networks.

“Gianforte signed a bill that infringes on the First Amendment rights of the people of Montana by unlawfully banning TikTok,” a TikTok spokeswoman said in a statement. “The bill’s constitutionality will be decided by the courts.”

Former President Donald Trump already sought to ban TikTok and force a sale of its U.S. business to an American company, and while a transaction with Oracle (ORCL) almost went through in 2020, the lawsuits piled up and an injunction was granted to prevent the app from being outlawed. The Biden administration later revoked the planned ban, ordering a national security review in its place, but Chinese tensions and data privacy concerns eventually swept both sides of the aisle and recently led to a notable House hearing. However, Congress has passed a bill to outlaw the app on federal devices, as well as a probe from CFIUS and even proposed legislation to ban the app in the U.S. (note that all American social media networks are blocked in China).

Go deeper: Many SA analysts have previously commented on how restrictions on TikTok could impact rivals like Instagram Reels (META), YouTube Shorts (GOOG, GOOGL) and Snapchat Spotlight (SNAP). “This ban, if it materializes, is more about tomorrow than today for the likes of Meta Platforms,” wrote Tradevestor, in an article entitled, What A TikTok Ban Could Mean. Others, like Bluesea Research, explore what competition or a ban would mean for Google (see Global Trends Provide A Massive Tailwind), as well as Julian Lin, Investing Group author of Best Of Breed Growth Stocks, on what effects recent developments are having on Snap (read Risks Are Rising But Stock Is Cheap). (8 comments)

Debt ceiling optimism

Stocks are looking to extend gains today following the risk-on move in the previous session. “We didn’t actually get much in the way of concrete developments, but negotiations [on the debt limit] are continuing, and the mood was lifted by the fact that all the major players reiterated they want to avoid a default,” Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid wrote in a note. Elsewhere, the equity team at Jefferies updated its Franchise Picks list: the Buy-rated stocks where its analysts have the most conviction. Amgen (AMGN), Lowe’s (LOW) and Exact Sciences (EXAS) are new entrants in the list of 21 picks, which include price targets and how they’ve done against the S&P 500 (SP500) since their selection. (185 comments)

Fraudulent data

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims numbers will hit before the opening bell. The consensus is for a drop to 254K, but there are big concerns about the reliability of the numbers given a large amount of local fraud. National claims for first-time unemployment benefits rose above 260K last week, rising steadily after coming in below 200K for the last three weeks of March. Today’s consensus is for a drop to 254K, but things are looking shady with bogus figures out of Massachusetts causing total weekly claims to be possibly overstated by as much as 20K. (8 comments)

Epstein ties

Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) has agreed to pay $75M to settle a lawsuit brought by abuse victims of the late financier Jeffrey Epstein. The suit alleged the bank knew it would “earn millions of dollars from facilitating his sex trafficking” and follows a similar $150M fine imposed on the lender in 2020. Deutsche first took on Epstein as a client in August 2013 after JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) dropped him amid concerns about his sexual misconduct. However, the latter still kept Epstein as a client following his guilty plea of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008. As a result, JPMorgan faces two outstanding lawsuits, with CEO Jamie Dimon set to be deposed in the case later this month, though the bank has pinned blame on former executive Jes Staley. (5 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Philly Fed Business Outlook
10:00 Existing Home Sales
10:00 E-Commerce Retail Sales
10:00 Leading Indicators
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet

What else is happening…

Analysts advise that Target (TGT) earnings were better than feared.

Theranos (THERA) founder Elizabeth Holmes prepares for prison sentence.

Cisco (CSCO) slips despite strong Q3 results, guidance boost.

Report: PayPal (PYPL) is looking for buyers for Xoom.

Amazon Web Services (AMZN) details mega investment in India.

Copper producers watch as Chilean lawmakers pass mining royalty reform.

Under downward pressure, Charles Schwab (SCHW) taps credit markets.

Regional bank stocks buck the trend after positive deposit update.

This movie studio could become the next activist target.

Big jump for Take-Two (TTWO) after easy quarterly bookings beat.

M&A? Snowflake (SNOW) may be looking to acquire search startup Neeva.


Good morning. Happy Wednesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets were mixed. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines did well; China, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mixed and little changed. Turkey, the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia are up; Hungary and Portugal are down. Futures in the States point towards a positive open for the cash market.

————— Leavitt Brothers Open Access —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Retail on the radar

Investors are hoping to get a better assessment of the U.S. economy this week amid a flurry of data from the retail sector. Kicking off the festivities was Home Depot (HD), which fell 2% on Tuesday after comparable sales missed estimates and guidance came in light. Shares of Target (TGT) don’t appear to be faring any better this morning, with the stock initially dropping 3% premarket as sales barely grew Y/Y, while a soft forecast was issued due to inventory impacts and retail theft.

Spending habits: The macro data may be just as important as individual earnings, and many have an eye out for the figures as well. Data published yesterday showed U.S. April retail sales on their first upswing since January, but the 0.4% monthly expansion was still below the expected figure of 0.7%. In terms of Y/Y numbers, things have been steadily declining since last July, with the latest print coming in at 1.6% (and below the 4.9% inflation rate for the same period). Consumers have also continued to shift away from goods spending like furniture, home appliances and electronics – which was all the rage during the pandemic – into services spending such as restaurants, health and personal care, etc.

The trends will be on the radar of the Federal Reserve, which is closely monitoring services inflation. “Inflation hawks remain fixated on the slower rate of progress for services inflation, which remains elevated primarily due to shelter and transportation costs, but we saw the lowest level of price increase for this basket in nine months from last week’s report,” counters SA Investing Group Leader Lawrence Fuller in a new article, A Disaster Of Our Own Making. “Furthermore, significantly lower prices are already in the pipeline, which will result in more improvement.”

Coming up: Investors are eyeing more earnings from the consumer sector, with TJX Companies (TJX) reporting Q1 results today and Walmart (WMT) tomorrow. Also keep an eye on smaller players like Bath & Body Works (BBWI), Canada Goose (GOOS), Foot Locker (FL) and Ross Stores (ROST). For a full breakdown of earnings season, check out Seeking Alpha’s earnings calendar, which highlights EPS and revenue estimates, as well as analyst revisions and ratings. (19 comments)

Shotgun wedding

UBS (NYSE:UBS) may be voicing some regrets over its rushed deal to acquire Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) during the height of the banking crisis in March. While many of the disclaimers in a new regulatory filing may be worrisome, UBS shares hardly moved on the developments, seemingly due to some fine print at the bottom of the document. Helping it absorb billions of dollars in losses, the Swiss bank currently expects to record a one-off gain – due to so-called “negative goodwill” of $34.8B – by buying Credit Suisse for a fraction of its longtime rival’s book value. Elsewhere, Jamie Dimon said it was “unlikely” JPMorgan (JPM) would acquire another troubled lender after buying First Republic Bank (OTCPK:FRCB) in a government-orchestrated deal earlier this month. (8 comments)

First hearing on AI

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before Congress yesterday, emphasizing the need for regulatory intervention by governments to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful artificial intelligence models. “As this technology advances, we understand that people are anxious that it could change the way we live,” he declared. “We are too, but we believe that we can and must work together to manage the potential downsides, so that we can all enjoy the tremendous upsides.” While lawmakers didn’t arrive at any specific proposals, several ideas were brought up such as a combination of licensing and testing requirements or other frameworks. During the session on Capitol Hill, AI drama also broke into the open as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella replied to an allegation by Elon Musk that the tech giant “has a very strong say, if not directly controls, OpenAI at this point.” (1 comment)

Free tax filings

Stocks like H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) and TurboTax owner Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) are in focus after the Internal Revenue Service announced plans to roll out a limited pilot program for a free tax filing system in 2024. Reports of a government-run portal that would compete with private preparation companies already surfaced a session earlier, though a research note by Bank of America argued that paid filing services would not be materially impacted. The IRS also released a cost and feasibility study, required by the Inflation Reduction Act, about creating a direct filing system. It found that most U.S. taxpayers would want to use a free government-provided tool to digitally prepare and file taxes. (32 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
8:30 Housing Starts and Permits
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
1:00 PM Results of $15B, 20-Year Bond Auction

What else is happening…

Biden plans to cut Asia trip short to get back to debt ceiling talks.

FTC files suit to block Amgen (AMGN)-Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP) deal.

Pfizer (PFE) bond offering said to be among the largest on record.

Investors pile into Super Micro Computer (SMCI) on heavy volume.

Report: Manchester United (MANU) shares pop on improved Qatari bid.

Biden vetoes legislation that would block solar tariff pause.

Mountain Valley Pipeline (ETRN) wins key federal permit approval.

AT&T (T) calls managers back in, but shrinks office footprint.

Is it a buy? UPS could have a rocky summer with Teamsters showdown.

Tesla’s (TSLA) Musk talks rough economy, advertising and new models.


Good morning. Happy Tuesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets were mixed. Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines did well; China, India and Indonesia were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mixed and little changed. Turkey, Greece and Portugal are up; Denmark, Finland and Austria are down. Futures in the States point towards a down open for the cash market.

————— Leavitt Brothers Open Access —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

13F season

It’s that time of the quarter again, when hedge funds with at least $100M in assets under management disclose their holdings. The flurry of filings gives investors a chance to see what they bought and sold during Q1, like long positions, and call and put options, though shorts aren’t included in the statements. Besides detailing where the “smart money” is being put to work, some may seek out vulnerabilities they can profit from, though hedge funds usually wait until the last minute to publish their holdings so as not to let the public know what they are doing.

Big bets on AI: Stanley Druckenmiller’s Duquesne and David Tepper’s Appaloosa showed sizable positions in stocks benefiting from the artificial intelligence boom, such as AI-focused Microsoft (MSFT), as well as Nvidia (NVDA), which is up over 100% YTD. Other bets centered around Google parent Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), healthcare company IQVIA (IQV) and Cathie Wood’s ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK). Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square and Daniel Loeb’s Third Point also upped their stakes in Alphabet, which hastily released a chatbot called Bard in March after Microsoft poured billions of dollars into ChatGPT maker OpenAI.

Investors additionally eyed the new positions of Warren Buffett, who is well-known for being a value investor. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A, BRK.B) took new stakes in Capital One Financial (COF) and alcoholic beverage maker Diageo (DEO), while divesting four other stocks including Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC (TSM) and furniture retailer RH (RH). The Oracle of Omaha also upped stakes in Apple (AAPL) and Occidental Petroleum (OXY), but reduced holdings in Chevron (CVX) and several others. See more 13F headlines on Seeking Alpha covering Daniel Loeb’s Third Point, Steven Cohen’s Point72, David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital and Paul Singer’s Elliott Management.

Fine print: While the transactions can be helpful, it’s important to remember that 13Fs don’t tell the whole story about what funds are doing. As noted above, bearish bets like short-selling are not included in the statement, so visible long-core holdings could actually be hedges against those positions. In some instances, the reports can also reflect investment decisions made several months ago since they are only filed up to 45 days after the quarter is complete. (94 comments)

Relief rally

Regional bank stocks got some rare love on Monday as traders gave some confidence to a sector that has been under pressure since March. PacWest (NASDAQ:PACW) rose 18% after falling 21% last week, while other regionals like Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ:ZION) and Comerica (NYSE:CMA) were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 (here are the other banks that rode the rally). Some pressure may be dissipating as market participants shift their focus towards the debt ceiling debate, while a new 13F filing showed that Michael Burry took stakes in bank stocks like PacWest (PACW) and First Republic (OTCPK:FRCB). Former Silicon Valley Bank (OTC:SIVBQ) CEO Greg Becker will also apologize before the Senate Banking Committee later today, but will reiterate that any bank could not have “survived a run of that velocity and magnitude.” (1 comment)

Reality Pro

Anticipation is building for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mixed reality headset, which is highly likely to be announced at the company’s developer conference next month. Pricing for the device, which is expected to incorporate both virtual and augmented reality, has not yet been revealed, but industry watchers expect the headset to cost around $3,000. It will reportedly be released in experimental mode and comes with an external battery pack, concessions that Apple had to make as the market is already full of competitors and it would take too much time to release a production version. Back in February, Apple was said to have delayed the announcement of the long-awaited device from April to June because of “lingering issues” with the development of the product. (20 comments)

$17T and counting

With inflation continuing to outpace consumers’ wage increases, it’s no surprise that their levels of debt are rising. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total U.S. household debt rose by 0.9% to $17.05T, with balances standing $2.9T higher than at the end of 2019 (before the pandemic recession). See the full breakdown covering categories like mortgage balances, credit cards, auto loans and student debt. The report comes on the heels of last week’s Consumer Sentiment Index that showed people are feeling less optimistic both about their current situation and their expectations, while SA analyst Wolf Richter writes that despite Fed tightening and bank collapses, it’s still “an astoundingly loose financial situation.” (3 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:15 Fed’s Mester Speech
8:30 Retail Sales
8:55 Fed’s Bostic Speech
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Business Inventories
10:00 NAHB Housing Market Index
12:15 PM Fed’s Williams Speech
7:00 PM Fed’s Bostic Speech

What else is happening…

Survey: Results on whether the SEC should ban short-selling bank stocks.

Wells Fargo (WFC) reaches $1B settlement over scandal recovery.

Ford (F) rethinks strategy in China with job cuts and leaner operations.

Microsoft’s (MSFT) $69B purchase of Activision (ATVI) gets EU approval.

Vodafone (VOD) to slash 11K jobs as new CEO plans turnaround.

Report: Western Digital (WDC) gains as talks with Kioxia speed up.

Airline bookings in U.S. show signs of cracking in latest data read

Elon Musk still needs a ‘Twitter sitter’ for Tesla-related (TSLA) tweets.

Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP) sinks on fears of blocked Amgen (AMGN) deal.

Debt ceiling crisis has already increased Treasury’s borrowing costs substantially.


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

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned up. Japan, China and Hong Kong did great; Thailand and the Philippines were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East lean down but overall are little changed. Portugal is up; Turkey, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic are down. Futures in the States point towards a positive open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: Weekly Bar Charts Smooth Everything Out —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…


Renewed concerns over regional banks have been pushing regulators into uncomfortable areas, like facilitating and allowing the largest U.S. banks to get even bigger. Other things that have been invoked are “systemic risk exceptions,” which allowed the FDIC to guarantee banks’ uninsured deposits, and there are now even proposals for blanket deposit guarantees. The fear here is that the situation could spiral if left unchecked and traditional policies may be overlooked to stamp out the crisis.

Snapshot: Another hot topic of discussion has been centering around the short-selling of bank stocks. Under the strategy, investors borrow shares with the expectation that prices will drop, and if all goes well, they buy back the shares for a profit. In September 2008, the SEC temporally banned short sales, primarily in financial stocks, in an attempt to protect companies and stabilize the market, but this time around regulatory intervention might be even more controversial.

The case for a ban: The economic outlook is already uncertain, given things like the U.S. debt ceiling and falling commercial real estate values. Stress on U.S. banks could be a defining factor that pushes the economy into recession, especially for those that argue that continued stock plunges have real-world effects like spooking depositors and prompting bank runs. U.S. federal and state officials are looking into whether “market manipulation” has prompted recent volatility, while JPMorgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon has said that regulators should look at banning the short-selling of bank stocks.

Leaving things in place? The short-selling ban in 2008 only lasted three weeks and many have argued that the restrictions were not only unnecessary, but actually harmed market quality and stability. Impacts cited are liquidity and pricing efficiency, while short-sellers can use other instruments like futures, options and swaps to get around the ban. Many also contend that shorts balance the market ecosystem by shining a spotlight on companies that may deserve more scrutiny, while economists from Goldman Sachs have argued that such a drastic move on bank shares looks unlikely in this scenario. (10 comments)

Short ban

Should the Securities and Exchange Commission ban the short-selling of bank stocks given the current crisis?

Take the survey and see the results here

Media struggles

The digital publishing industry has claimed its latest victim, with Vice Media (VICEM) filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and listing both assets and liabilities in the range of $0.5B-$1B. It’s a major turn in fortunes for a media startup that was valued at $5.7B at its peak in 2017, but was battling for a valuation of just $1.5B in December 2022. SPAC 7GC was also once in talks to merge with Vice Media, however, the parties walked away from a potential deal in August 2021, and it may now end up being sold to a lender consortium. In terms of current ownership, private equity firm TPG Inc. (NASDAQ:TPG) owns 44% of Vice Media. Disney (NYSE:DIS) is also a significant shareholder of the company, with a 16% direct stake and another 10% via its holdings in A&E Networks. (3 comments)

Merger Monday

Oneok (OKE) has agreed to acquire Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP) in a cash and stock deal worth $18.8B – including assumed debt – and resulting in a combined company with a total enterprise value of $60B. The merged firm will become one of the largest in the U.S. energy transport and storage business, after last year’s energy boom left companies with a large windfall of cash. That’s not all. Newmont (NEM) has sealed a $19B deal for Australia’s Newcrest (OTCPK:NCMGY), paving the way for the world’s largest gold miner, with nearly double the production of its nearest rival – Barrick Gold (GOLD). Speaking of Down Under, Australian gaming technology developer Aristocrat Leisure agreed to pay $1.2B for NeoGames (NGMS), in a smaller transaction than the other two, but one that sent the latter’s shares up 120% in premarket trading. (261 comments)

Fed’s No. 2

While he has served as a board governor since 2022, Philip Jefferson has been officially nominated as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve. Jefferson, a former Fed economist and vice president for academic affairs at Davidson College, would replace Lael Brainard, who left the No. 2 role at the central bank to head up the National Economic Council. In the Vice Chair role, Jefferson would help shape the agenda for rate-setting meetings, and has been known to ascribe equal importance to the Fed’s dual mandate even in the era of high inflation. Biden also announced that he will renominate Lisa Cook for an additional full term as a Member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, while nominating Adriana Kugler, U.S. Executive Director to the World Bank, to an empty board seat.

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
8:45 Fed’s Bostic Speech
9:15 Fed’s Kashkari Speech
12:30 PM Fed’s Barkin Speech
4:00 PM Treasury International Capital

What else is happening…

Big moves! Argentina to hike rates by 600 bps to stave off inflation.

Activist Engaged Capital to start proxy battle with Shake Shack (SHAK).

Biogen’s (BIIB) Alzheimer’s drug may raise Medicare costs by up to $5B. (AI) says preliminary Q4 revenue exceeds estimates.

Musk names NBCUniversal (CMCSA) executive as new Twitter CEO.

Tesla (TSLA) to issue software fix for more than 1M vehicles in China.

Binance to exit Canada due to rules on stablecoins, crypto exchanges.

Wheat futures in focus after USDA forecasts inventories at 16-year low.

CVS Health (CVS) said to shut down clinical trial business.

AMD’s (AMD) opportunity in AI may be much bigger than first believed.


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