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This basket consists of stocks that have attracted bad press.
Today we found five stocks, with the help our Zacks Stock Screener, that are currently trading for under $10 per share that also sport a Zacks Rank 2 (Buy) or better that investors might want to buy in December heading into 2020...
The Australian dollar has broken higher during the trading week, as we continue to see moves to the upside. There is a massive amount of support underneath at the 0.67 level as we have formed a bit of a “double bottom” in that area, and as a result now we have to question whether or not a trend change is about happen.
The Australian dollar had rallied a bit during the trading session on Friday, and as the jobs never came out of America much stronger than anticipated, there was more of a “risk on” sentiment out there.
Costco's (COST) better price management and strong membership trends have been playing a crucial role in driving comps. The metric improves 5.3% during the month of November.
As stock market volatility continues, the blue-chip index is showing fluctuation. However, a closer look into the index reveals that not all stocks are erratic.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One consequence of America’s Cyber Monday shopping binge is the imminent arrival of $9.4 billion worth of merchandise on the nation’s doorsteps. And that will cue the annual cries of frustration about porch pirates — along with a raft of local news stories on how to evade them, and a few viral tales of consumers attempting to spook them with booby-trapped packages or glitter bombs.The fixation on thwarting porch pirates is understandable. (I, for one, will confess to being irrationally angry recently when a $27 baby onesie was swiped from my front stoop.) But it is also a flawed way of thinking about a legitimate and persistent problem with e-commerce.The problem is not just theft. It is that shipping giants such as United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., as well as big retailers, are not moving fast enough to make delivery of online orders more flexible and to turn over more control to shoppers.Consumers and neighborhood associations should spend less time trying to answer the question, “How can we create a world where expensive goods can sit on my doorstep for hours and not get stolen?” Instead, they should be asking, “How can we make it so that expensive goods are not left on my doorstep in the first place?”UPS and FedEx, to be fair, have made strides toward giving customers more options. Each has a network of thousands of access points where shoppers can pick up packages, including at ubiquitous stores such as Dollar General or CVS Pharmacy. Both shippers have apps that allow residents to provide delivery instructions for a driver.Retailers, too, are getting more creative. Amazon.com Inc. now offers the option of choosing a single day each week for all of your recent orders to arrive, making it easier to ensure you’ll be home when your haul is delivered. And both Amazon and Walmart Inc. are piloting services that rely on smart-home technology that allows a driver one-time, secure access to your home.Surely such a service, or some variation of it, will become commonplace within a decade. (After all, there was once a time when it was creepy to get in a stranger’s car, but thanks to Uber and Lyft that’s now ordinary.) For now, though, the choices for consumers are underwhelming or confusing — or, in some cases, both.For example, UPS and FedEx both trumpet the convenience of letting you reroute an in-progress shipment to an access point. But online shoppers aren’t able to fully take advantage because retailers can put restrictions on packages preventing the recipient from redirecting them. This is likely a well-intentioned anti-fraud tactic, but it means access points aren’t the reliable solution they’re cracked up to be.And retailers aren’t always great at steering customers toward desirable secure options. Amazon, for example, routinely tries to nudge me at checkout to try a pickup point that is a 30-minute drive from my home, even though there is a Whole Foods Market with Amazon lockers in walking distance.But there are bigger ideas that could do even more to ensure package security. What if UPS or FedEx were to more routinely provide narrower time windows for drop-offs, or to allocate more workers for nighttime deliveries when nine-to-fivers are likely to be at home? What if retailers allowed customers to choose their shipping provider at checkout, which might force shippers to compete for their loyalty?Such changes would further complicate the “last-mile” delivery challenges the industry has been addressing for decades, and would likely add costs. But these are the same logistics experts and retailers that were able to make speedy two-day delivery standard. It’s not unreasonable to expect them to innovate their way to giving shoppers more choice.Even if it’s difficult, improved delivery flexibility is a far better remedy for porch piracy than other headline-grabbing approaches. Police departments have experimented with planting bait packages on doorsteps that are outfitted with GPS trackers, potentially allowing them to catch individual thieves. Texas has a new law on the books that makes package theft punishable by up to 10 years in prison.Never mind that there are already laws against theft. These kinds of punitive measures are not useless, but they are likely to be helpful only in a limited area for a limited period of time.The more productive approach is to focus on reducing the unsecured supply of porch treasures. And no one is better equipped to attack that problem than the retailers and shippers. So shoppers should raise their expectations of these companies and demand that they do more.To contact the author of this story: Sarah Halzack at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sarah Halzack is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She was previously a national retail reporter for the Washington Post.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The NZD/USD has been bullish since Monday’s strong rally was fueled by talk of fiscal stimulus to boost the New Zealand economy. The Kiwi was also boosted after an unexpected rebound in Chinese manufacturing raised hopes of a brighter outlook for the world economy.
The British pound has taken a breather on Friday, but is up almost 2 percent on the week. The pound has gained ground as the Conservatives continue to hold a lead in election polls. The Aussie and NZ dollar have also posted sharp gains against the U.S dollar this week.
(Bloomberg) -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was among the many Wall Street banks that missed out on underwriting Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Hong Kong share sale. Now, its analysts are showering China’s largest company with compliments.Goldman stock analysts just initiated coverage of the shares with a buy rating, predicting they can rally another 31% in the city over the next year. Reasons include its “experienced senior” management team and reach in China’s digital economy.Alibaba can capture nearly a third of China’s retail payments this year, analysts led by Piyush Mubayi wrote in the report. It also has the potential to surpass core growth, Goldman added.Shares of the Chinese technology firm rose 2.7% to HK$197.50 on Friday, extending the advance since their Nov. 26 debut to 12%. The company raised about HK$88 billion ($11.2 billion) in its share sale, the biggest equity offering in the financial hub since 2010.Alibaba may see about $5 billion of mainland inflows over the next three years if it’s included in the trading links with Shanghai and Shenzhen, the bank added.Some investors have cautioned against unrealistic expectations on the stock, saying certain restrictions may curtail trading in the Hong Kong shares.Still, Goldman says that around 8% to 10% of Alibaba’s stock should eventually trade in Hong Kong as U.S. investors should be able to convert their American shares into Hong Kong ones and vice versa. The stock could have a free-float market capitalization in the city of about $48 billion.Analysts at Jefferies Group LLC initiated the stock with a buy rating.(Updates prices in fourth paragraph)To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Livia Yap in Shanghai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sofia Horta e Costa at email@example.com, Philip Glamann, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- This Christmas, instead of a free-range turkey, how about a beef-less Wellington washed down with a few glasses of “Nosecco”? And rather than falling asleep watching the Queen, why not tune in to your inner self with a spot of meditation?This might not sound like traditional festive fun, but now that the craze for all things vegan has crossed the Atlantic, it’s what British retailers are betting on to lift sluggish supermarket sales and see off brutal conditions on the high street, at least for a spell.A rough estimate suggests that across the big U.K. supermarket chains, meat-free offerings of traditional Christmas fare are up by between 40% and 400% this year. This underlines how veganism has moved from niche to mainstream over the course of 2019 as more consumers cut out animal products altogether, or reduce their meat intake with a “flexitarian” diet. Just look at the popularity of the vegan sausage roll introduced by baker Greggs Plc. There’s likely to be at least one vegan at any big Christmas gathering, and so being able to cater for them with plant-based canapés is crucial. And while many families won’t ditch the turkey altogether, they may well replace another meat protein, such as beef or gammon, with a fancy nut roast, savory yule log or vegetable wreath. Sales of plant-based substitutes still represent a small share of the overall grocery market, but they can have a significant influence over shopping habits. Being able to buy a good selection of food for a vegan daughter, for example, is likely to determine where shoppers fill up their grocery carts for the whole family. No wonder the category has become a key battleground.There’s another reason why it’s worth supermarkets’ while to go vegan. Plant-based versions of festive favorites such as pigs in blankets tend to be more complex to make and require innovative ingredients. J Sainsbury Plc is this year offering party food made from the blossom of the banana tree, which can be used as a substitute for fish. This builds on the popularity of the jackfruit, a tropical fruit that is a good alternative to pulled pork. All of this added value means supermarkets can charge a premium.QuicktakeThe Vegan EconomyThat won’t last forever though. The U.K. arms of the German discounters Aldi and Lidl are piling into this market too. Lidl has two Christmas-specific vegan lines, while Aldi has nine, including pastry crowns and vegan cocktail sausage rolls. Neither had a plant-based offering last year. Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc recently cut the price of its foods that are free from certain ingredients, such as gluten, while Tesco Plc has launched an affordable plant-based range.In another sign of the times, supermarkets this Christmas season are bulking up on party drinks that are low in alcohol, or contain none at all. Not only do they tend to be premium products, particularly non-alcoholic spirits, but retailers don’t pay duty. So, while they can charge the same or more for a fancy but sober drink, they get to keep a bigger slice of the selling price.It helps that the market is growing rapidly, as many consumers, particularly younger people captivated more by their social media feeds than their real social life, reduce their alcohol intake. Beer led the way, spawning Budweiser’s Prohibition Brew and Brewdog’s Nanny State, with wines and particularly spirits exploding this year. Demand from supermarket shoppers follows the trend in clubs and pubs where “mocktails” are now a staple of the cocktail menu. Going on the wagon is usually associated with January, but the run-up to Christmas can also be a time for restraint as people become more conscious of pacing themselves through rounds of festive events, not to mention all of those designated drivers. Asda, the U.K. arm of Walmart Inc., estimated that December sales of low- and no-alcohol drinks are double those of the average month. It’s all part of the new mood around Christmas, characterized by rising environmental awareness and a focus on health and wellness. Throw in the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and the general election, and there are fewer celebrity blockbuster Christmas advertisements this year, with most retailers returning to traditional themes such as family and nostalgia for the past.Even tree trimmings are falling in with the trend. The Sanctuary range from John Lewis features pastel hued baubles including Buddha heads and an ornament depicting a woman reclining in a luxurious bubble bath. Its focus is on serenity — something that’s often in short supply over the busy festive season.After the decorations come down, consumers may continue to embrace plant-based diets with Veganuary, which has rocketed in popularity over the past five years. Dry January will bolster sales of no- and low-alcohol ranges. But beyond that, it could well be retailers themselves that are in need of some self-care. The months following the holidays are often lean ones, as consumers rein in spending after the excess of Christmas. It can also be tricky for supermarkets to accurately gauge demand and control waste when consumers switch in and out of different food and drink trends so dramatically. This year could be particularly hard if the election is followed by the return of fretting over Brexit. So these swings will be an extra burden to manage.The New Year hangover may still be with us, even if it is an alcohol-free one.To contact the author of this story: Andrea Felsted at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Nonfarm payrolls from the U.S will influence later in the day. The UK election opinion polls and trade news also need a watchful eye.
(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Aramco raised $25.6 billion from the world’s biggest initial public offering, closing a deal that became synonymous with the kingdom’s controversial crown prince and his plans to reshape the nation.The state-owned oil giant set the final price of its shares at 32 riyals ($8.53), valuing the world’s most profitable company at $1.7 trillion. It received total bids of $119 billion.For Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, pulling off the sale could help get his ambitious plan to overhaul the economy back on track. It’s been derailed by problems at home, including the backlash against his purge of the elite, and abroad by the outrage over the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the war in Yemen.But the deal ended up being very different from what the prince had envisaged when he first floated the idea in 2016 with an ambition to raise as much as $100 billion. Aramco offered just 1.5% of its shares and opted for a local listing after global investors balked at its hopes of valuing the company at $2 trillion.Instead, Aramco relied heavily on local investors and funds from neighboring Gulf Arab monarchies. In the offering for individuals, almost 5 million people applied for shares. The institutional tranche closed on Wednesday and attracted bids totaling 397 billion riyals.The kingdom’s richest families, some of whom had members detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel during a so-called corruption crackdown in 2017, are expected to have made significant contributions. Global banks working on the deal were sidelined after Saudi Arabia decided to focus on selling the shares to local and regional investors.Still, Aramco will become the world’s most valuable publicly traded company once it starts trading, overtaking Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc. The pricing was at the top of the marketed range of 30 to 32 riyals. The mean valuation estimate from institutional investors surveyed by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. was for $1.26 trillion, it said in a note Thursday.The deal opens up one of the world’s most secretive companies, whose profits helped bankroll the kingdom and its ruling family for decades, to investors and Saudi individuals. Until this year, Aramco had never published financial statements or borrowed in international debt markets.It will also mean the company now has shareholders other than the Saudi government for the first time since it was nationalized in the late 1970s.Saudi Arabia had been pulling out all the stops to ensure the IPO is a success. It cut the tax rate for Aramco three times, promised the world’s largest dividend and offered bonus shares for retail investors who keep hold of the stock.Goldman Sachs Group Inc., acting as share stabilizing manager, has the right to exercise a so-called greenshoe option of 450 million shares. The purchase option can be executed in whole or in part at any time on or before 30 calendar days after the trading debut. It could raise the IPO proceeds to $29.4 billion.Funds from the sale will be transferred to the Public Investment Fund, which has been making a number of bold investments, plowing $45 billion into SoftBank Corp.’s Vision Fund, taking a $3.5 billion stake in Uber Technologies Inc. and planning a $500 billion futuristic city.The sale is the first major disposal of state assets since Prince Mohammed launched a much-touted plan to reduce the economy’s addiction to oil revenue in 2016.The last major government privatization, the 2014 IPO of National Commercial Bank, received $83 billion in subscriptions from investors.(Updates with pricing range in seventh paragraph)\--With assistance from Nour Al Ali, Claudia Maedler, Bruce Stanley and Archana Narayanan.To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Martin in Dubai at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Stefania Bianchi at email@example.com, Alaa Shahine, Shaji MathewFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Kroger's (KR) third-quarter sales fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimate. This was the second straight quarter of sales miss. Nonetheless, management forecast identical sales growth of 2-2.25% for fiscal 2019.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It was never going to be easy for Kroger Co., the nation’s largest supermarket chain, to play defense at a moment of colossal change in the grocery business.That was apparent in its Thursday earnings report, in which revenue and adjusted earnings per share revenue came in slightly below analysts’ expectations, sending shares down. (On the bright side, comparable sales growth accelerated, increasing 2.5% from a year earlier.)The patchy results are the latest reason to doubt that this company is going to be able to transform itself for a more digital-centric future before it’s too late.At a presentation for analysts last month, CEO Rodney McMullen acknowledged that, two years into a three-year turnaround plan, the company has come up short. In particular, he said, “we asked our store associates to do too many things at once,” a reference to its efforts to remodel stores and make better use of shelf space while simultaneously ramping up its click-and-collect business.It is concerning that Kroger apparently has found it so difficult to do retailing battle on multiple fronts. After all, that is simply the reality of being a major brick-and-mortar chain these days, and key rivals seem to be managing it just fine.Target Corp. has renovated about 700 stores since 2017 and has also managed to roll out same-day delivery via Shipt and expand curbside pickup. In the latest quarter, 80% of its digital growth came from those and other same-day fulfillment options. Walmart Inc. has had similar success, developing an online grocery operation that is competitive with Amazon.com Inc.’s while also making physical stores cleaner and better-stocked.It’s not just that Kroger needs to be able to multitask. It also needs a better plan to win at online grocery.In a recent press release, Kroger proudly touted that, as a holiday season promotion, it would offer online grocery pickup for free and waive the usual $4.95 fee. Are shoppers seriously supposed to be impressed by that when pickup is always free at Walmart and Target? If Kroger can’t match that offering, it’s hard to see how it is going to fight effectively for digital grocery market share.Kroger’s biggest e-commerce bet is its partnership with Ocado Group Plc to build automated warehouses for grocery delivery. But those efficiencies will only matter if it can build a substantial base of online customers. And the cost of building these one-of-a-kind facilities, executives have said recently, is coming in higher than expected.In the meantime, Kroger continues to make head-scratching moves such as its foray into the world of so-called “dark kitchens,” or delivery-only food preparation facilities. Through a partnership with the cheekily named ClusterTruck, it announced this week, Kroger will experiment with on-demand delivery of prepared meals.This effectively puts the supermarket chain in competition for the diners that Grubhub, Doordash and Uber Eats are after. This category has enormous growth potential, so Kroger’s ambitions are understandable. But it’s also an area in which restaurant and technology companies have a head start and seem destined to outflank Kroger. And the whole venture seems like a distraction from the more pressing mission of shoring up its positioning in its core grocery business.Kroger’s three-year plan was underwhelming when it was unveiled two years ago, and since then the company hasn’t consistently impressed with its execution. Kroger is undoubtedly a busy company, but it’s not clear all the hustle is making it a better one.To contact the author of this story: Sarah Halzack at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Newman at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sarah Halzack is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She was previously a national retail reporter for the Washington Post.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Alan Waxman was just 31 when he made partner on a Goldman Sachs team that bet the firm’s own cash for wild profits. He later co-founded TPG Sixth Street Partners and helped build it into a $33 billion force in credit markets.Now he’s raising alarms about those same markets.In a private conference earlier this week, Waxman, 45, warned investors there’s an epidemic of fake earnings projections that will be exposed in the next economic slump and may even exacerbate it. Too many companies are addicted to making creative accounting adjustments that bump up operating profits known as Ebitda -- and investors are turning a blind eye, he said, according to a person with knowledge of his comments.“It’s not normal, as a lender, to lend money against fake Ebitda and fake collateral,” he said in the presentation.In theory, lenders focus on Ebitda -- an acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- to get a clear sense of a company’s financial health before it pays down its debts. Yet suspicions have mounted in recent years that some executives are padding their projections for Ebitda. In 2017, one Moody’s analyst coined a new definition for Ebitda: Eventually busted, interesting theory, deeply aspirational.Much of the consternation focuses on adjustments known as “add-backs,” in which companies exclude certain expenses from future earnings. A traditional add-back, for example, could account for the expected savings from a cost-cutting program. But some companies have resorted to creative or aggressive items with descriptions that can be difficult to understand. Last year, a Federal Reserve official called out the use of add-backs as an area of mounting concern.Inflating Ebitda distorts the loan-to-value ratio that guides the $2.9 trillion market for junk bonds and loans in the U.S. and Europe, he said. Part of the problem, Waxman said in his presentation, is that investors have tolerated so much deviant behavior that it has become normalized.Some companies and their private-equity owners are goosing projections and presenting assumptions about returns that are more aggressive than their own internal models, he said. One alarming stat he points to: More than half the companies that were part of a leveraged buyout in 2016 missed their earnings projections by more than 25% last year. And that’s in a growing economy.The result is that in many cases creditors actually have a smaller cushion between the last dollar of risk they take and the real value of the company to which they lend, he said. There’s also a risk investors are committing capital based on an available pool of collateral that could disappear because of the lack of restrictive covenants that have historically protected lenders -- “fake collateral”, as Waxman put it.“The sacred lending principle of loan-to-value integrity is the single most important thing in credit investing,” he said. “When it is severely compromised, as it is now, credit stops being credit. It’s just cheap capital.”Waxman helped start his firm in 2009, a year after leaving Goldman Sachs Group Inc., with $2 billion from buyout fund TPG and much of his old team from Goldman. At the time, it was called TPG Opportunities Partners. Now often referred to as TSSP, the firm has returned 20% annualized, before fees, over the last decade.One prominent example of a company whose figures have confounded investors in recent times was office-sharing firm WeWork, which became known for its reliance on an unconventional accounting metric known as “community-adjusted Ebitda.” The company said it captured the profitability of WeWork locations, excluding general and administrative expenses. But the benchmark was questioned by analysts after it first came up in financial documents tied to a 2018 bond sale. It surfaced again in early drafts of the company’s S-1 filing for a public stock debut, only to be omitted from the final version.“The party will go on in the leverage finance markets until we have a catalyst,” Waxman told investors.The catalyst will most likely come from the BBB-rated credit market, where 43% of debt is levered over 4 times, according to Waxman. About 70% of that universe is at risk of losing its investment grade status, he said. Once that happens, the quantity of debt will overwhelm the high-yield market and create substantial dislocations, he said.A $1 Trillion Powder Keg Threatens the Corporate Bond Market\--With assistance from Davide Scigliuzzo.To contact the reporters on this story: Sridhar Natarajan in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Katia Porzecanski in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Sam Mamudi at email@example.com, David Scheer, Dan ReichlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- About a year ago to the day, the U.S. yield curve inverted for the first time during this business cycle. Sure, it wasn’t the part that has historically predicted future recessions, but it foreshadowed the more consequential inversion — the part of the curve from three months to 10 years — which happened in March and lasted for much of the rest of the year through mid-October.This wasn’t much of a shock to Wall Street. Even in December 2017, many strategists saw an inverted yield curve as largely inevitable, with short- and longer-dated maturities meeting somewhere between 2% and 2.5%. That’s just what happened. It was enough to spur the Federal Reserve into action. The central bank proceeded to slash its benchmark lending rate by 75 basis points in just three months. Now the curve looks positively normal again.“Inverted Yield Curve’s Recession Flag Already Looks So Last Year,” a recent Bloomberg News article declared. Indeed, the prospect of the curve steepening in 2020 is drawing money from BlackRock Inc. and Aviva Investors, among others, Liz Capo McCormick and John Ainger reported. Praveen Korapaty, chief global rates strategist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., told them the spread between two- and 10-year yields will be wider in most sovereign debt markets. PGIM Fixed Income’s chief economist Nathan Sheets said “the global economy has skirted the recession threat.”Yet beneath that bravado, the fear of another bout of yield-curve inversion remains alive and well on Wall Street.John Briggs at NatWest Markets, for instance, predicts the curve from three months to 10 years (or two to 10 years) will invert again, possibly for a couple of months, because the Fed will resist cutting rates again after its 2019 “mid-cycle adjustment.” “I see the economy slowing to below trend growth, the market seeing it and recognizing the Fed needs to do more, especially with inflation low, but the Fed will be slow to respond,” he said in an email. Then there’s Societe Generale, which is calling for the U.S. economy to fall into a recession and for 10-year Treasury yields to end 2020 at 1.2%, which would be a record low. Even though the curve doesn’t invert in the bank’s quarter-end forecasts, it’s quite possible during a bond rally, according to Subadra Rajappa, SocGen’s head of U.S. rates strategy.“Over time, if the data weakens, the curve will likely bull flatten and possibly invert akin to what we saw in August,” she said. “If the data continue to deteriorate and the economy goes into a recession as per our expectations, then we expect the Fed to act swiftly to provide accommodation.”To be clear, another yield-curve inversion is by no means the consensus. The prevailing expectation is that the economy is in “a good place” (to borrow Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s line) and that Treasury yields will probably drift higher, particularly if the U.S. and China reach any kind of trade agreement. In that scenario, central bankers will be just fine leaving monetary policy where it is.Bank of America Corp.’s Mark Cabana summed up the bond market’s base case at the bank’s year-ahead conference in Manhattan: There will probably be no breakout higher in U.S. economic growth (capping long-term yields) but also no need for the Fed to cut aggressively (propping up short-term yields). That should leave the curve range-bound in 2020.That range, though, is not all that far from zero. Ten-year Treasury yields are now 20 basis points higher than those on two-year notes, and 22 basis points more than three-month bills. At the end of 2018, those spreads were nearly the same — 19 basis points and 31 basis points, respectively. That is to say, it’s not much of a stretch to envision the curve flattening in a hurry if anxious bond traders clash with a patient Fed.For now, traders seem to be pinning their hopes on resilient American consumers powering the global economy, using evidence of strong holiday shopping numbers to back their thesis. My colleague Karl Smith isn’t so sure that’s the best strategy, given that the spending is actually weakening relative to 2018, plus it usually serves as a lagging indicator anyway. Markets are also on alert for any cracks in the U.S. labor market, which has been the bastion of this record-long recovery. November’s jobs numbers will be released Friday.As for the Fed, its interest-rate moves are a clunky way to fine-tune the world’s largest economy. But that’s not the case for addressing angst around the U.S. yield curve. If the central bank doesn’t like its shape, it has the policy tools to directly and immediately bend it back.It comes down to which scenario Fed officials consider a bigger risk in 2020: Allowing the Treasury curve to remain flat or inverted, or moving too quickly toward the lower bound of interest rates? Judging by dissents around the more recent decisions, this is very much an open question.To get another inversion, “you’d need a Fed that wants to hold policy constant through a period of economic weakness: front end remains anchored near current levels due to policy expectations, long end drops due to diminishing growth/inflation forecasts,” said Jon Hill at BMO Capital Markets. “Not impossible by any means.” An inversion would probably come in the first or second quarter of 2020, fellow BMO interest-rate strategist Ian Lyngen said, though that’s not his base case.That sounds about right. Fed officials seem satisfied with dropping rates by the same amount as their predecessors did during other mid-cycle adjustments. Now they want to wait and see how lower interest rates trickle into the economy, perhaps making them more entrenched over the next several months. It’s hard to say for sure, though, given that Treasury yields have behaved since the central bank’s last meeting. The market simply hasn’t tested the Fed’s resolve.Relative calm like that rarely lasts, particularly when one tweet on trade sends investors into a tizzy. The path forward is almost never as linear as year-ahead forecasts make it appear.The same is true for the yield curve. We might very well be past “peak inversion,” but ruling out another push below zero could be a premature wager.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced stimulus measures to support growth in an economy contending with an export slump, natural disasters and the fallout from a recent sales tax increase.The total stimulus package amounts to around 26 trillion yen ($239 billion) spread over the coming years, with fiscal measures around half that figure, according to a government document released after a cabinet meeting Thursday evening. The stimulus will boost growth in the economy by about 1.4 percentage point, the document said.“We shouldn’t miss this chance, this is exactly when we should accelerate Abenomics and overcome our challenges,” Abe said, shortly before the cabinet meeting approving the measures. End of Line for BOJ Leaves Kuroda Talking Up Fiscal FirepowerThe extra spending comes amid a rising awareness around the world that more government help is needed to keep economies growing in the face of a global slowdown that is exposing the limits of relying on central banks to do the heavy lifting of economic management.“In any country, the positive impact of extra monetary stimulus is limited, which is especially true in Japan and Europe where rates have turned negative. You have no effective choice but to execute fiscal measures to support growth,” said Harumi Taguchi, Tokyo-based principal economist at IHS Markit.Earlier in the day, Abe described the stimulus as a three-pillared package designed to aid disaster relief, protect against downside economic risks and prepare the country for longer-term growth after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.He said the stimulus would be funded by a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending in March, and special measures in the following year. The package outlines 4.3 trillion yen in funding for the measures in an extra budget this fiscal year.While the package was slightly larger than expected, the fresh spending measures of under 10 trillion yen left markets largely unimpressed. The officially released figures at the end of the day all matched the numbers contained in a draft seen by Bloomberg News earlier Thursday.Economists, meanwhile, cast doubt on whether the extra spending really packed the punch claimed in the draft. They said the government could have timed the tax increase better, but also asked if a perfect time for a tax hike exists.Bond Traders Shrug Off Japan’s $239 Billion Bid to Boost EconomyWith the package, Abe looks intent on minimizing the risk of a recession that would tarnish the record of his Abenomics growth program, while shoring up his own political support after recent scandals. To that end, an array of measures with a large price tag that can be paid for with the bare minimum of extra borrowing would fit the bill for a country with the developed world’s largest debt load.The package earmarks spending to improve the country’s resilience to extreme weather, to extend a rebate system for cashless payments and to put a tablet or device on every school child’s desk through the end of junior high school.“The size of the package is pretty big considering the official government assessment of the economy is that it remains on a recovery trend,” said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co. in Tokyo. “We’ve heard a lot about preventive interest rate cuts, but these are preventive fiscal measures.”Extra government spending gives the Bank of Japan welcome breathing space to keep its monetary easing policy on hold as fiscal policy takes the driving seat in propping up growth.Barclays Changes BOJ Call, Expects No Easing Through FY2021Ahead of the announcement of the plan, some economists had already switched their forecasts on the BOJ’s policy stance toward a holding pattern rather than additional action, taking into account the likelihood of the stimulus package and the central bank’s lack of extra ammunition.The BOJ has already piled up assets worth more than the size of Japan’s entire economy in its bid to support growth and inflation. But the mounting side effects of its easing program on the banking sector and a perceived lack of effectiveness of taking yet more action are keeping the bank on hold unless absolutely necessary.Japan’s economy kept growing in the first three quarters of 2019 despite an export slump exacerbated by the U.S.-China trade war, but it is forecast to shrink 2.7% in annualized terms this quarter. The sales tax hike and typhoon damage, combined with weak exports are the factors set to push the economy into reverse.The package aims to get Japan’s economy up and running again to avoid any further deterioration in global demand triggering a recession early next year.Punching PowerStill, economists were skeptical that the measures would boost growth by the 1.4 percentage point set out by the government.Based on rough calculations following the news, Masaki Kuwahara, senior economist at Nomura Securities Co., saw a boost of around 1 percentage point over time from the package. More specifically, he said the economy would get a 0.6 percentage point gain over the next two fiscal years.Takashi Shiono, economist at Credit Suisse Group AG, said the kick from the spending would be up to 0.2 percentage point in the coming year.“That’s probably smaller than the consensus view, but we think the budget for public spending can’t be spent so quickly because of labor shortages and already solid demand for construction companies,” Shiono said.What Bloomberg’s Economist Says“Japan’s fiscal stimulus package appears to be a marginally larger than expected, going by the size of the planned extra budget and actual spending in the draft reported by Bloomberg News. This is clearly positive for growth -- likely helping avert a recession -- but it won’t be sufficient to prevent a significant slowdown in 2020.”\--Yuki Masujima, economistClick here to read more.(Updates with official confirmation of figures, comment from Prime Minister Abe)\--With assistance from Emi Urabe and Emi Nobuhiro.To contact the reporters on this story: Toru Fujioka in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org;Yoshiaki Nohara in Tokyo at email@example.com;Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Malcolm Scott at email@example.com, Paul Jackson, Jason ClenfieldFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The pound continues to gain ground, as the markets are pleased that Prime Minister Johnson remains ahead in the polls, with just one week to Election Day. In the Pacific region, the Aussie, NZ Dollar and Chinese yuan are trading quietly.
(Bloomberg) -- Playrix Holding Ltd., a mobile-game developer that made billionaires of its Russian founders, has bought into about a dozen studios to take on the likes of Activision Blizzard Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc.Brothers Igor and Dmitry Bukhman said in an interview that by 2025 they want Playrix’s sales to catch up with those of the U.S. gaming giants. Over the past year they’ve spent more than $100 million on acquisitions and are planning to more than quadruple their portfolio of titles from about four that are available now.While the gaming industry is awash in investors from KKR & Co. to Zynga Inc., the Bukhman brothers are determined to go it alone. They told Bloomberg News in April that while Wall Street dealmakers such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had been in touch, they wanted to expand the business themselves.Since then, the brothers haven’t been persuaded of the merits of giving up control over Playrix in favor of a bigger pot of cash to spend. They prefer to leverage their understanding of the industry to act as a consolidator and nurture smaller players.“Many firms are seeking acquisition targets to add to their revenue and show growth to investors,” Igor said. “We don’t have this pressure and are taking a more long-term approach -- we are helping our portfolio companies to grow. We are sharing our experience and playing a role in their growth.”Playrix said 2019 revenue is likely to reach $1.5 billion, as much as 30% more than the previous year’s, from sales of existing games including Gardenscapes. It was the ninth-biggest publisher last year, according to independent gaming data provider App Annie.New TitlesThe Bukhman brothers are betting their new titles, to be released over the next two years, will push sales into the realm of rivals such as Activision, which reported $7.5 billion in revenue for 2018.“Within five years, we are seeking to join the same league as Activision Blizzard or NetEase Inc., but in the European region,” said Igor, without specifying a revenue target.Playrix’s purchases include studios in Ukraine, Serbia, Russia, Croatia and Armenia, and the 600 people added boost its headcount by more than 50%. The investments range from 30% holdings to controlling stakes in companies that will continue to operate independently. These include Nexters, based in Cyprus and one of Europe’s 10 top-grossing game developers, and Vizor Games, based in Belarus.The brothers are valued at about $1.4 billion each by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. They landed in the rankings by creating a new variety of match-3 games, which involve completing rows of at least three elements to progress through an animated storyline. The latest acquisitions will allow expansion into gaming genres such as hidden object and simulation.The mobile gaming business is set to exceed $68 billion in revenue this year, according to researcher Newzoo, and have been attracting attention from investors. Playrix will have to compete against these deep-pocketed players if it’s to achieve its goals.Zynga acquired Finnish developer Small Giant Games for $560 million last year, while Israeli Playtika Ltd bought Germany’s Wooga and Austria’s Supertreat. KKR-backed AppLovin invested in Belarusian developer Belka Games and two other firms in September.“Capturing lightning in a bottle twice is the true challenge for a creative firm,” said Joost van Dreunen, managing director of SuperData, Nielsen’s game research arm. “With the popularity of Gardenscapes, Playrix has finally established itself as a force to be reckoned with. However, to build a legacy it will need to repeat this trick.”(Adds analyst comment in last paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at firstname.lastname@example.org;Alex Sazonov in Moscow at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jennifer Ryan, Thomas PfeifferFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Based on the early price action and the current price at .6842, the direction of the AUD/USD on Thursday is likely to be determined by trader reaction to the short-term 50% level at .6842.