Trump, Earnings in Focus as Wall Street Heads for Sluggish Start
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Stocks look poised for a lacklustre start to trading on Tuesday. Investors are contemplating a new batch of earnings reports, including results from Yahoo! (YHOO) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).
Washington DC will continue to get some attention as well. Stocks fell Monday amid renewed concerns about protectionist policies under new President Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, some fresh data on the housing market is due out later this morning.
Wall Street is still trying to predict how economic policy will go under the new Trump Administration. On Monday, the president told a meeting of corporate executives he plans to impose a major border tax, although he also promised a massive tax cut for the middle class and companies.
The president also signed an executive order to renegotiate NAFTA and is expected to sign an order indicating his intention to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Amid worries about protectionism, the S&P 500 fell on Monday, dipping 5 points, or 0.3%, to close at 2,265. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 26 points, or 0.1%, to end at 19,800. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 2 points to close at 5,552.
Stocks in Focus
Earnings news will dominate the corporate headlines for the next several weeks. On Tuesday, Yahoo! and Johnson & Johnson were among the biggest names likely to impact trading.
Yahoo reported a profit for the fourth quarter that trumped Wall Street estimates. The company also said it expects a delay in completion of the deal with Verizon Communications Inc.
On an adjusted basis, earnings rose to $0.25 per share from $0.13 per share last year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimated earnings of $0.21 per share.
Yahoo said now expects to close the sale of its core internet business to Verizon in the second quarter instead of the first quarter as earlier expected. The company cited “given work required to meet closing conditions” as the reason for the delay.
Johnson & Johnson reported solid fourth-quarter results, with adjusted earnings above market estimates. However, sales missed expectations, despite growth from last year.
The company also provided guidance for fiscal 2017. It said it expects higher earnings and sales for the year, but its forecast was below current market estimates.
European stocks held steady Tuesday after three days of losses. As in Asia, a weaker dollar boosted resource stocks. Meanwhile, investors waited for the U.K.’s Supreme Court decision on whether Prime Minister Theresa May needs parliamentary approval to trigger formal Brexit talks.
However, stocks pared early gains to turn flat after Markit’s flash composite PMI figures showed Eurozone business activity eased slightly in January.
The UK and Germany were each up about 0.2% in mid-day trading. France was showing a fractional loss.
Asian stocks closed mostly higher on Tuesday amid higher commodity prices, which were helped by a weaker dollar. Equity markets in the region also benefited from upbeat earnings results from Samsung Electronics.
Chinese shares closed off their day’s highs in thin trading as investors moved to the sidelines ahead of holidays. The Shanghai Composite rose 5.78 points, or 0.18%, to 3,142.55.
Japanese shares extended losses from the previous session, hit by a firmer yen. The Nikkei average dropped 103.04 points, or 0.55%, to 18,787.99.
Currency and Commodities Markets
Gold futures were lower Tuesday morning, trimming strong gains from the previous session.
A murky rate hike outlook and concerns about U.S. trade relations drove gold to the highest in ten weeks Monday, but traders are waiting on a slew of second-tier economic data this morning.
March gold was down $2.30 at $1216 an ounce.
Crude oil futures were little changed Tuesday as traders await further clues about the pace of U.S. production.
The American Petroleum Institute reports weekly inventories this afternoon, followed tomorrow by the Energy Information Administration.
The EIA last week reported a large build in U.S. stockpiles. WTI light sweet crude oil was up 10 cents at $52.85 a barrel.
OPEC+ Likely to Keep Output Cut Levels as Group Meets April 3
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) will likely stick to its existing deal to cut oil output at a meeting on Monday, April 3.
According to Reuters, this was said disclosed by five delegates from the producer group after oil prices recovered following a drop to 15-month lows due to banking fears and demand worries.
Brent crude has recovered towards $80 a barrel after falling to near $70 on March 20 as fears ease about a global banking crisis and as a halt in exports from Iraq’s Kurdistan region curbs supplies.
OPEC+ is due to hold a virtual meeting of its ministerial monitoring panel, which includes Russia and Saudi Arabia, on Monday.
The consensus was that Kurdistan curbs and recent price drops were not sufficiently important to affect the overall OPEC+ policy path for 2023.
Kurdistan’s crude oil exports – around 400,000 barrels per day shipped through an Iraqi-Turkey pipeline to Ceyhan and then on tankers to the international markets – were halted late last week by the federal government of Iraq.
Last week, the International Chamber of Commerce ruled in favour of Iraq against Turkey in a dispute over crude flows from Kurdistan. Iraq had argued that Turkey shouldn’t allow Kurdish oil exports via the Iraq-Turkey pipeline and Ceyhan without approval from the federal government of Iraq.
Talks between officials from Kurdistan and from the Iraq federal government have failed in recent days, but they are set to continue next week.
Three other OPEC+ delegates also told Reuters that any policy changes were unlikely on Monday. After those talks, the next full OPEC+ meeting is not until June.
Last November, OPEC+ reduced its output target by 2 million barrels per day – the largest cut since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The same reduction applies for the whole of 2023.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has said OPEC+ will stick to the reduced target until the end of the year.
Oando to Quit Nigerian, Johannesburg Stock Exchanges
By Dipo Olowookere
The board of Oando Plc has informed the investing community of its intention to leave the Nigerian and Johannesburg stock exchanges in the coming months.
The reason for exiting the stock market, according to the energy firm, is to become a private company and to achieve this, its core investor, Ocean and Oil Development Partners Limited (OODP), has offered to buy all the shares held by minority shareholders in Oando.
OODP is offering to pay N7.07 in cash or its equivalent in South African Rand (ZAR) for each of the stock, which it said represents a 58 per cent premium to the last traded share price of Oando on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, being the day prior to the date it submitted the scheme application to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Oando trades its shares on the floors of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
This news comes hours after the company announced that it had bounced back into profitability after years of dishing out losses to the frustration of shareholders.
In its unaudited financial results for 2021, Oando reported a profit after tax of N34.7 billion, in contrast to the loss after tax of N140.7 billion of the preceding year.
Before now, Oando has had it rough with regulators in Nigeria, leading to its suspension from the market and a court tussle over allegations that it tampered with its financial statements to deceive investors.
In the notice released this week, Oando said after the acquisition of “the shares of all minority shareholders in Oando,” it would “subsequently be delisted from NGX and JSE and re-registered as a private company.”
At the moment, the energy firm said it has “applied for the SEC’s No Objection to the scheme, noting that the deal is “subject to the approval of the shareholders of Oando at the Court-Ordered Meeting of the company, as well as the sanction of the Federal High Court.”
However, it disclosed that, “The terms and conditions of the transaction will be provided in the scheme document, which will be dispatched to all shareholders following the receipt of an order from the Federal High Court to convene a Court-Ordered Meeting,” promising to update the market “upon receipt of requisite approvals from shareholders and regulators.”
Ajay Banga to Become World Bank President Unopposed
By Adedapo Adesanya
The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors has announced Mr Ajay Banga, a US national, as the only nominee for the position of the bank’s next president and may clinch the post if he passes the next hurdle.
This was contained in a statement issued by the World Bank on Friday.
“The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today confirmed that, as announced on February 22, the period for submitting nominations for the position of the next President of the World Bank Group closed on Wednesday at 6:00 pm ET.”
“The board received one nomination and would like to announce that Ajay Banga, a US national, will be considered for the position.
“In accordance with established procedures, the Board of Executive Directors will conduct a formal interview with the candidate in Washington D.C., and expect to conclude the Presidential election in due course,” the board said.
US President Joe Biden in February nominated Mr Banga to lead the World Bank, saying he is “well equipped” to lead the global institution at “this critical moment in history.”
No other country proposed an alternate candidate for the prestigious post.
Mr Banga, 63, was born in India and is a naturalised US citizen. He has led Mastercard Inc and now currently serves as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic.
If confirmed, Mr Banga would become the first-ever Indian-American to head either of the two top international financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Mr Banga is expected to replace the current World Bank president, Mr David Malpass, who will step down in June, nearly a year before his term is scheduled to expire.
Mr Malpass faced strong criticism over the bank’s commitment to climate action and over his personal views on climate change.
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