Before the Open (Feb 12-16)

Good morning. Happy Friday.

The Asian/Pacific markets mostly did well. Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore posted solid gains. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing well. The UK, Poland, Finland, Norway, Austria and Sweden are doing great, and France, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Israel are also doing well. Only Russia is down much. Futures in the States point to a down open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: Playing Bitcoin Stocks —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Winning the race

Seeking Alpha wishes our subscribers a great holiday weekend and a Happy Presidents’ Day! Wall Street Breakfast won’t be published with markets closed on Monday, but tune back in Tuesday.

Automakers have been debating the future of the industry for years, with the starting point just as confusing as the finish line. It’s a question as old as the Toyota (TM) Prius and General Motors (GM) EV1, mixed with a large dose of subsidies, practicality, demand and regulations. Rising competition across the globe, especially from China, is also upending many prior presumptions and is even bringing traditional rivals closer together.

Quote: “If there are ways that we can partner with others, especially on technologies that are not consumer-facing, and be more efficient with R&D as well as capital, we’re all in,” GM CEO Mary Barra announced at the Wolfe Research Global Auto and Auto Tech Conference. “If you cannot compete fair and square with the Chinese around the world then 20% to 30% of your revenue is at risk,” Ford (F) CEO Jim Farley added at the same event, noting that the situation might push the company into battery partnerships “with another OEM [automaker].”

The two auto giants, along with Tesla (TSLA) and others, have been feeling some serious heat from China’s top electric vehicle makers. Chief among them is Berkshire Hathaway-backed BYD (OTCPK:BYDDY), which has been completely obliterating rivals on price and even topped Tesla in sales last year. While subsidies have played a part in its path to success, the new EV industry leader also owns the entire supply chain for its batteries and benefits from cheaper manufacturing costs in China. “If there are no trade barriers established,” CEO Elon Musk said on a post-earnings call last month, “they will pretty much demolish most other car companies in the world. They’re extremely good.”

Other worries: High tariffs on China imposed during the Trump administration have helped keep BYD out of the U.S., but the company is eyeing a plant in Mexico that American carmakers fear can be used to make inroads under the USMCA trade agreement. “Last year, 25% of all vehicles sold in Mexico were sourced in China,” Ford’s Farley declared. “The world is changing.” The Detroit automaker also recently pulled back on EV investment after losing $4.7B on its battery-powered car unit in 2023, and it may lead it to adopt more of a plug-in hybrid strategy or diversified approach long-advocated by the likes of Toyota. “The EV growth slowdown is good for Ford,” wrote SA Investing Group Leader JR Research, “allowing it more time to milk its more profitable core business and work on its next-gen products.” (6 comments)

Spending signs

After months of consumer spending surprising to the upside, is the consumer ready to take a break? Retail sales fell 0.8% M/M to $700.3B in January, more than the 0.1% decline expected and a turnaround from December’s 0.4% M/M increase, in a development attributed to seasonal issues and a holiday hangover. U.S. stocks still ended higher on Thursday, with traders shrugging off the new data, as well as the hot CPI report earlier this week. The data “shows that retail sales, not seasonally adjusted, were up 2% Y/Y, and with inflation adjustments, were up by more,” said SA analyst Wolf Richter. “So for now, I’m not worried about our consumers.” (85 comments)

Space weapon

The White House has confirmed reports of Russia developing a space-based “anti-satellite capability,” though it didn’t disclose if it was nuclear in nature. “I am limited by how much I can share about the nature of the threat,” said National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby, but “we’re not talking about a weapon that can be used to attack human beings or cause destruction here on Earth.” He also noted that President Biden directed additional briefings to Congressional leaders, as well as direct diplomatic engagement with Russia and U.S. allies. The White House was forced to make the disclosure earlier than planned after House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner (R-OH) called on Biden to “declassify all information” relating to the “serious security threat.” (3 comments)

Trump Media

Trump SPAC Digital World (DWAC) is in the spotlight again after getting the SEC’s approval for its business combination with Trump Media & Technology, the parent of the former president’s social media platform Truth Social. Digital World expects to announce the date of the special shareholder meeting to vote on the combination within two business days. Shares soared 16% after the news, and have been edgy since the beginning of the presidential primary season. “With a major cash infusion after the merger, Truth Social may finally be able to capitalize on the Trump name and create a powerhouse social media platform,” according to SA analyst WYCO Researcher. (26 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Housing Starts and Permits
8:30 Producer Price Index
9:10 Fed’s Barr Speech
10:00 Consumer Sentiment
12:10 PM Fed’s Daly: “Navigating Geopolitical Turbulence and Domestic Uncertainty”
1:00 PM Baker Hughes Rig Count

What else is happening…

Roku (ROKU) tumbles as traders sell revenue beat, strong guidance.

MicroStrategy’s (MSTR) $10B bitcoin stash sits on 70% unrealized profit.

Coinbase (COIN) jumps as crypto exchange returns to profitability.

Google (GOOGL) in spotlight as OpenAI works on search product.

More AI: Apple (AAPL) tool to rival Microsoft’s (MSFT) GitHub Copilot.

U.S. regulator ends another Wells Fargo (WFC) consent order.

Up to $6B: Bezos sells more Amazon (AMZN) stock after Miami move.

Deere (DE) slides as cut in full-year profit guidance disappoints.

Shake Shack (SHAK) rallies after comparable sales, margins impress.

NYCB (NYCB) discloses $18.7B in reciprocal deposit capacity.


Good morning. Happy Thursday.

The Asian/Pacific markets mostly did well. South Korea was weak, but Japan, Hong Kong, India, Taiwan, Australia, Indonesia and Singapore did well. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently doing well. The UK, Denmark, Poland, France, Norway, Spain, Italy and Austria are up. Futures in the States point to a positive open for the cash market.

————— VIDEO: Playing Bitcoin Stocks —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

The long haul

Worldwide shipping is undergoing some profound changes in the wake of continuous attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea. A.P. Moller-Maersk (OTCPK:AMKBY), one of the biggest players in the industry, just warned customers of a deteriorating situation in the vital waterway responsible for a sixth of world trade. While Maersk had already stopped sending ships through the Suez Canal in early January, the latest announcement shows growing uncertainty across the region and poses fresh questions for the global supply chain.

Quote: “Unfortunately, we don’t see any change in the Red Sea happening anytime soon,” said Charles van der Steene, who was recently appointed as regional president of Maersk North America. “We’re advising them the longer transit routes could last through Q2 and potentially Q3. Our advice to our customers is specifically about building upon the uncertainty by being agile. Customers need to have the ability to enter the North American market from different endpoints.”

The update highlights that freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce still remain at risk despite airstrikes and the establishment of a U.S.-led protection force, named Operation Prosperity Guardian. The world’s biggest shippers, including Swiss-based MSC and French CMA CGM, as well as German Hapag-Lloyd (OTCPK:HPGLY) and Hong Kong-based OOCL (OTCPK:OROVY), have already rerouted their ships around Africa, and all signs now suggest it will take an extended period of time to restore confidence. Transit times have increased by around 10-12 days, while surcharges have been put in place, but many shippers see no other choice but to keep their crew and cargo safe as the Houthis up their attacks.

Will it be inflationary? Spot and near-term shipping rates have doubled in response to the situation, while extra vessel capacity has led to additional operational costs. It’s important to note, however, that most cargo that is transported to and from multinationals is carried at longer-term contracted rates, and those are the costs that eventually get passed on to the consumer. Many of these economies of scale also make the costs less negligible, especially when compared to the pandemic, and even logistical reshuffling to air and rail hasn’t yet meaningfully hurt the price per mile in the U.S. intermodal freight transport network. That still hasn’t stopped international trade groups from calling for more maritime security around the Red Sea, as Russia and China accuse the U.S. and U.K. of illegally attacking targets in Yemen at the United Nations Security Council.

Taking bronze

Just two days after inking the No. 4 spot, Nvidia (NVDA) has surpassed Google parent Alphabet’s (GOOG, GOOGL) market cap to become the third largest U.S. company. The latest milestone comes ahead of its much-awaited Q4 earnings report next week. The AI chip-making powerhouse has been on an absolute tear, with its stock more than tripling in value over the past 12 months. Nvidia also disclosed stakes yesterday in several AI-related companies, betting on U.K. chip designer Arm Holdings (ARM), voice AI recognition firm SoundHound (SOUN) and Chinese self-driving truckmaker TuSimple (TSPH). (55 comments)

Care to comment

The Biden administration has shortened the waiting period for White House officials to weigh in on economic releases – including GDP, inflation and jobs data – to 30 minutes from one hour, starting Monday. “This change reduces the delay after official release time before commentary from employees of the Executive Branch, while retaining a necessary time delay between policy-neutral release of statistics and subsequent Executive Branch interpretations,” said the Office of Management and Budget. A major reason behind changing the “gag period” is that data can now be widely accessed instantly through the internet, although concerns have been raised over the potential for market confusion and data manipulation.

13F season

Some hedge funds reshuffled their positions in big tech players and chipmakers in the latest quarter amid an AI-fueled rally that pushed stocks to new highs. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) pulled back on its top tech positions, while “Big Short” investor Michael Burry bet on this Chinese e-commerce giant. Meanwhile, 3G Capital and Stan Druckenmiller both dumped Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Tiger Global pared its stakes in several big tech stocks, and Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater scooped up fresh positions in Apple (AAPL) and Oracle (ORCL). Take a look at SA analyst John Vincent’s rundown of major 13F filings.

Today’s Economic Calendar
8:30 Initial Jobless Claims
8:30 Retail Sales
8:30 Philly Fed Business Outlook
8:30 Empire State Mfg Survey
8:30 Import/Export Prices
9:15 Industrial Production
10:00 Business Inventories
10:00 Housing Market Index
10:30 EIA Natural Gas Inventory
1:15 PM Fed’s Waller Speech
4:00 PM Treasury International Capital
4:30 PM Fed Balance Sheet
7:00 PM Fed’s Bostic Speech

What else is happening…

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) soars past $50K, taking market cap to over $1T.

Occidental (OXY) sees flat 2024 production, will idle two Permian rigs.

Cisco (CSCO) tumbles on weak guidance; set to cut 5% of workforce.

Russia said to want nuclear weapon in space to attack satellites.

Lockheed Martin (LMT) in focus amid Biden’s plan for F-35 cuts.

Twilio (TWLO) slides on soft outlook, begins review of Segment unit.

Morgan Stanley (MS) to axe hundreds of staffers in wealth division.

Elon Musk discloses 20.5% stake, worth over $120B, in Tesla (TSLA).

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) urges investors to reject mini-tender offer.

RBC: Solar sentiment set to improve; First Solar (FSLR) is top pick.


Good morning. Happy Wednesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets leaned down. Hong Kong and India did well; Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Australia were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are posting moderate gains. The UK, Denmark, Poland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Austria and Sweden are doing well. Futures in the States point to a moderate gap up open for the cash market.

————— Online Course: Jason Leavitt’s Masterclass in Trading —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Let ’em rip

Big stock swings are in the spotlight as trading exuberance resurfaces, with much excitement returning to the markets over the past few months. Things have been magnified on a broader scale, with the Dow (DJI) tumbling more than 500 points on Tuesday in response to slightly hotter inflation data (see below), while single stock names have also drawn outsized attention for a whole host of reasons. Robinhood (HOOD) was quick to comment on the rebound in trading activity in its latest earnings, referencing a jump in monthly active users and accelerating deposits.

The ARM army? Some are cueing the old meme days of yesteryear as Arm Holdings (ARM) goes on a rollercoaster ride that hasn’t stopped yet. A blockbuster rally following earnings saw the stock skyrocket 100% in the past week alone, giving it a nearly 200% total return since its IPO in September. Trade with caution. After shares hit a new record high of $164, ARM tumbled nearly 20% to $120 on Tuesday before restarting the engines overnight to register a 7% premarket gain at the time of writing.

On a fundamental level, the latest catalysts for the British chip designer were a rosy outlook that boosted the entire semiconductor sector, as well as record revenues and a bottom line that exceeded expectations. AI was another magical word that helped trigger liftoff, with CEO Rene Haas noting, “it’ll drive the need for more compute in a way that we’ve never seen before [and] we’re just at the beginning.” Note that there has also been significant short interest in ARM, creating the potential for squeezes, especially considering that Japan’s SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBY) owns 90% of the company and there are not as many tradable shares outstanding.

Not the only one: Another big mover in extended trading on Tuesday was ride-hailing company Lyft (LYFT). A typo surrounding earnings margins might typically impact shares, but in the current environment, it briefly sent the stock 60% higher. Chief Financial Officer Erin Brewer called out the “clerical error” on a conference call, adding that the firm had quickly corrected its materials, but a set of strong earnings and the first full year of free cash flow positivity were enough to keep LYFT shares up 16% in the after-hours session. (3 comments)

Bumpier road?

U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday after the latest consumer price index report took some steam out of a powerful Wall Street rally that has been in place since the end of October. The Dow (DJI) recorded its worst day in nearly a year and Treasury yields jumped after January’s core CPI accelerated by its biggest margin since May 2023. It might be long overdue, with the selling taking away some market froth, but futures are higher again in premarket action. “We’ve been saying for several months that the disinflationary process has ‘paused,'” Investing Group Leader James Kostohryz declared, adding that the Fed must shelve any rate cut plans for now. (77 comments)

Cashing in

Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos has been cashing in on the e-commerce giant’s rally this year, offloading nearly 24M shares worth more than $4B this month. The stock sales come nearly two weeks after Amazon disclosed Bezos’ trading plan that would let him sell as many as 50M shares, or about $8.6B, before January 31, 2025. Interestingly, Bezos adopted the trading plan on Nov. 8, just days after he announced that he was relocating from Seattle to Miami. While he said the move was to be closer to his parents and his spaceflight company Blue Origin’s operations, it’ll also likely save him hundreds of millions in taxes. (12 comments)


The Internal Revenue Service has sued the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., seeking to determine how much the independent agency should pay to cover around $1.45B in taxes owed by failed regional lender Silicon Valley Bank. The FDIC, which took control of SVB in March 2023 – in the biggest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis – has denied the tax claim. See more on the dispute here. The FDIC is also locked in a battle with SVB Financial (OTC:SIVBQ), SVB’s former parent firm, amid efforts to recoup its costs in rescuing the failed bank. (3 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
7:00 MBA Mortgage Applications
9:30 Fed’s Goolsbee Speech
10:30 EIA Petroleum Inventories
4:00 PM Fed’s Barr Speech

What else is happening…

Paramount (PARA) to lay off about 800 employees to reduce costs.

Vizio (VZIO) surges with Walmart (WMT) in talks to buy for over $2B.

Coca-Cola (KO) sees stronger organic sales growth than PepsiCo.

Results from Molson Coors (TAP) top expectations, but not guidance.

At an inflection point: Volatile trade for Airbnb (ABNB) after earnings.

Venezuela accuses neighboring Guyana of granting illegal oil contracts.

Instacart (CART) shares rise on plan to cut 7% of global workforce.

AI-driven lending: Upstart (UPST) sinks on latest revenue guidance.

Boeing (BA) reports 29% decline in plane deliveries during January.

Not just companies: The Mag 7 are so big, they’re ‘effectively countries.’


Good morning. Happy Tuesday.

The Asian/Pacific markets were either closed or leaned up. Indonesia was weak, but Japan, South Korea, India and Malaysia posted solid gains. Europe, Africa and the Middle East lean down but are little changed. Israel and Saudi Arabia are up; Germany, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden are down. Futures in the States point to an enormous down open for the cash market. This is thanks to the CPI data.

————— Online Course: Jason Leavitt’s Masterclass in Trading —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Trust the data

Responses are still coming in from the latest “Survey Monday” on Wall Street Breakfast, but there appear to be two big takeaways from the poll, with nearly 2,000 participants recorded so far. The first insight is that many subscribers are dealing with inflation just fine, whether it be through budget adjustments or income and asset gains. That sentiment has been reflected in the market’s impressive advance (S&P 500 +20% over the past three months), with investors betting on the end of the Fed’s rate hiking cycle and helping assure the central bank that it can start cutting rates later this year.

Bigger picture: The other takeaway from the WSB survey, and perhaps somewhat more of a surprise, is that nearly half of all respondents don’t trust the figures published in the consumer price index. The headline number, set to be released today at 8:30 AM ET, is forecast to drop below 3% for the first time in three years, helping to confirm disinflation trends in the U.S. It might be a sign of the times, when trust in the government is hovering near all-time lows, but can something deeper be discerned and applied to investing strategies?

The easy answer is that consumers are likely to compare price tags to ones from their recent memory, and it wasn’t long ago that things appeared to be way more manageable. Examples: Prior to the pandemic in 2020, the median price of a single-family home in the U.S. sold for $294K, according to Redfin, versus $404K in the current market. And that’s only across a span of a few years. A box of cereal that also used to cost several dollars has nearly doubled, while the same thing has happened with ground meat, orange juice, and other common items found in grocery aisles.

A deeper approach centers on how and what inflation data is being measured. WSB subscribers were quick to flag adjustments and revisions, as well as categories where people are feeling inflation the most, such as food and housing. The consumer price index also has controversy surrounding its calculation method, while economists have questioned its use as an inflation indicator and even the Fed doesn’t give it as much attention when determining policy.

CPE vs. CPI: The core personal consumption expenditures price index is the central bank’s preferred inflation gauge as it has a broader scope than the traditional consumer price index. For example, CPI only covers out-of-pocket household expenditures instead of other expenses that are incurred in the broader cost ecosystem, and mostly factors in changes to consumer behavior, which can underestimate price increases (making it more of a cost of living index instead of one focused purely on goods). On the other hand, PCE reflects how consumers substitute their purchases and applies certain calculations to smooth out price swings, making it a better tool for the Fed to size up the macroeconomic environment. (2 comments)

No. 4 spot

Nvidia (NVDA) briefly overtook Amazon’s (AMZN) market capitalization on Monday to become the fourth most valuable U.S. stock. The chipmaker’s valuation now stands at $1.78T, with shares ending 0.2% higher, while Amazon closed 1.3% lower with a market cap of $1.81T. Nvidia has benefited from AI chip demand, with its stock surging about 230% in the past year alone, while Amazon has gained about 77% over the same period. Earlier in the day, BofA strategist Michael Hartnett pointed out that Nvidia’s valuation had grown by $600B in the past two months, or the equivalent of “‘1 Tesla (TSLA)’ (by market cap, not one car).” Nvidia is also rated Hold by Seeking Alpha’s Quant Ratings, which consistently beat the market. (23 comments)

Gig economy

Uber (UBER), Lyft (LYFT) and DoorDash (DASH) drivers are planning to go on strike across 20 major U.S. and Canadian cities on Valentine’s Day to protest declining pay, driver safety, and deactivations. Advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United is also planning a gathering outside Uber’s Greenlight Hub to bring attention to declining fares that have made ride-hailing less profitable for drivers. The industry has recently come under regulatory scrutiny over allegations of low compensation, lack of job security, and opacity in how wages are calculated. The planned strike also comes only a week after Lyft offered more pay guarantees to drivers, while Uber announced improvements to its driver app to enhance safety and offer more incentives. (8 comments)

Breaking $50K

Bitcoin (BTC-USD) has topped the $50K level for the first time since late 2021 as spot BTC ETFs continue to attract investment after their historic approval. Spot BTC ETFs saw net inflows of $1.1B last week, bringing inflows since their Jan. 11 launch to $2.8B. Wall Street firms are now increasingly filing for spot ethereum (ETH-USD) ETFs, the latest being Franklin Templeton. “Bitcoin has upside potential due to the upcoming halving cycle and strong fundamentals,” noted SA Investing Group Leader James Foord. While the top cryptocurrency has gained about 18% this year, it remains well below its $69,000 peak reached in November 2021. (2 comments)

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

What else is happening…

WSB survey results: Not a lot of trust in inflation numbers.

JetBlue (JBLU) takes off after Carl Icahn discloses stake.

Citigroup (C) gets new regulatory notices on counterparty risk.

Arm (ARM) surges as investors continue piling in after results.

More M&A: Gilead (GILD) to buy CymaBay (CBAY) for $4.3B.

Judge dismisses PhRMA challenge to Medicare price negotiations.

SunPower (SPWR) surges again after Enphase’s (ENPH) outlook.

Martin Marietta (MLM) expands building material supply in $2B deal.

With Super Bowl over, here are the best-performing casino stocks.


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

The Asian/Pacific markets were either closed or leaned down. Indonesia did well, but India, New Zealand and the Philippines were weak. Europe, Africa and the Middle East are currently mostly up. France, Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Isreae, Austria and the Czech Republic are doing well; Russia and Greece are down. Futures in the States point to a flat open for the cash market.

————— Online Course: Jason Leavitt’s Masterclass in Trading —————

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

Stories/News from Seeking Alpha…

Permian pursuit

Further consolidation is coming to the energy sector as Diamondback Energy (FANG) and Endeavor Energy Resources finalized a merger to create an oil-and-gas behemoth worth more than $50B. The deal, announced early this morning, will combine two rivals in the Permian Basin, where M&A activity has been on fire. Many have been scrambling to scoop up top-tier drilling acreage in the area that extends from West Texas to New Mexico, which has helped propel American oil production to record levels.

Drill, baby, drill: The U.S. is currently producing around 13.3M barrels of crude per day, which is way more than any country on the globe, including Saudi Arabia. The output growth has helped tame gas prices and, perhaps more importantly, undermined the influence of OPEC and Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. At times, this has clashed with the Biden administration’s clean energy agenda, though for the time being, inflation concerns and energy independence seem to be the top priorities, especially if they can be paired with climate spending towards the green transition.

Producers also know that while times are good, demand can come down or eventually plateau, especially with the U.S. currently exporting more oil than nearly every member of OPEC. One doesn’t have to look too far to the 2014-16 downturn, which hammered the industry and was largely driven by a supply glut. Boom-bust cycles are normal for the oil sector, but many are preparing in advance this time around, turning to mergers and consolidation to squeeze more profits from their production and raise their competitiveness as the cheapest barrels on the market.

Economies of scale: Jumpstarting M&A in the Permian Basin, Exxon Mobil (XOM) agreed to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) in a deal valued at $60B last October. It was followed by Chevron’s (CVX) $53B all-stock deal for Hess (HES), while Occidental Petroleum later announced a $12B agreement to buy West Texas producer CrownRock. Last month, APA (APA) also agreed to purchase smaller rival Callon Petroleum (CPE) in an all-stock deal valued at $4.5B, boosting its presence in the Permian. (2 comments)

Robotaxi ablaze

As safety concerns over driverless vehicles continue to mount, a Waymo robotaxi was vandalized and set on fire in San Francisco’s Chinatown district Saturday night, in one of the biggest attacks on a self-driving car to date. “Waymo Vehicle surrounded and then graffiti’d, windows were broken, and firework lit inside the vehicle, which ultimately caught the entire vehicle on fire,” the San Francisco Fire Department said on X. The cause of the attack remains unknown but happened as people were celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year with fireworks. Waymo, a unit of Alphabet (GOOG) (GOOGL), said the vehicle was not transporting anyone at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported. (13 comments)

Love is sweet

It’s the time of year when swooning sentimental souls overspend on flowers and candy, while cynics roll their eyes at the silly waste of money. Wherever one falls on the romance spectrum, they are going to be paying a lot more for chocolate this Valentine’s Day. Fueled by hostile weather conditions in western Africa, cocoa futures (CC1:COM) have more than doubled since March 2023 to their present rate of around $5,800/metric ton. Top U.S. candy makers Hershey’s (HSY) and Mondelez (MDLZ) have also warned of significantly high cocoa prices eating into their profits this year. (11 comments)

NATO watch

Nearly three weeks after Ankara ratified Sweden’s entry into NATO, the U.S. Congress has cleared the $23B military sale of Lockheed Martin (LMT) F-16 jets, as well as missiles and bombs, to Turkey. Jeff Flake, U.S. ambassador to the country, lauded the approval, saying it was “critical to NATO’s strength,” but tensions were mounting elsewhere over the weekend. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg slammed Donald Trump’s threat of encouraging Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” if it attacked a NATO member who didn’t contribute enough to the alliance. “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security,” he warned, “and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.” (5 comments)

Today’s Economic Calendar
1:00 PM Fed’s Kashkari Speech
2:00 PM Treasury Statement

Companies reporting earnings today »

What else is happening…

BetMGM (MGM) inks deal with X before Chiefs win Super Bowl LVIII.

Amazon’s (AMZN) Jeff Bezos sold more than $2B in stock last week.

Younger adults see wealth rise the most since the pandemic – NY Fed.

Tower Semiconductor (TSEM) files proposal for $8B chip plant in India.

Goldman Sachs sees continued improvement for U.S. IPO activity.

Joby (JOBY) stock rises on plans to launch air taxi services by 2026.

Tesla (TSLA) temporarily lowers prices for some Model Ys in U.S.

Despite BTC rip, most institutional traders don’t want crypto exposure.

Stronger standards for soot pollution finalized in latest EPA action.

Jefferies lists ‘pick-and-shovel’ plays in booming weight-loss drug market.


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