Business News Archives for 2022-11

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All eyes are on minutes of the Federal Reserve’s November meeting, which are expected to show the extent of consensus over the higher peak for interest rates. Earlier this month, Chair Jerome Powell told reporters that rates would probably have to go higher than the central bank’s quarterly projections in September, which showed a peak of  4.5% to 4.75% . Investors see rates topping out at around 5% next year, according to pricing in money markets.  This week last year, Powell’s commentary signaled a massive sea change in monetary policy. 

The trend of layoffs in the tech sector continues. The axe is falling at HP. And while it might be a slow, prolonged cut, it's going to be noticeable nonetheless. HP's announcement that it will shed between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs by the end of its 2025 fiscal year wasn't something that Chief Executive Enrique Lores was happy to disclose after Tuesday's market close.  It’s early days, but this very well may be the White Collar recession: Wage growth data indicates that highest wage earnings saw the largest decline in real wages, whereas lowest earners’ wage growth largely matched inflation.  Monthly new job postings in communication services and tech are down 63% and 47%, respectively.

The shareholders of embattled bank Credit Suisse have approved a 4 billion Swiss franc ($4.2 billion) capital raise aimed at financing the embattled lender’s massive strategic overhaul. The new share offering will see the Saudi National Bank take a 9.9% stake in Credit Suisse, making it the bank’s largest shareholder.  The bank posted a loss of $1.6bn in the 3rd quarter.

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More dominoes are falling in the crypto space: Genesis, the troubled cryptocurrency brokerage that was forced to suspend consumer withdrawals last week in the wake of crypto exchange FTX's implosion, has warned that it may need to file for bankruptcy protection, according to published reports. Genesis said what companies imminently filing for bankruptcy never say: “We have no plans to file bankruptcy imminently, our goal is to resolve the current situation consensually without the need for any bankruptcy filing. Genesis continues to have constructive conversations with creditors.”

In earnings news, Best Buy surpassed Wall Street’s expectations for Q3, as inflation-dented demand for pricey consumer electronics came in significantly better than feared. The consumer electronics retailer, which had cut its forecast this summer, reiterated its outlook for the holiday quarter. It raised its full-year forecast to reflect the beat, saying it expects comparable sales to decline about 10%.

Crude is higher after a rollercoaster move Monday. Oil futures surged more than 5% midday Monday in reaction to a Wall Street Journal report that OPEC+ is considering a production hike of as much as 500K bbl/day for the cartel's meeting next month. Saudi Arabia then denied the report, adding the "current cut of 2M bbl/day by OPEC+ continues until the end of 2023," and the United Arab Emirates also said it has not discussed changing the previous agreement. Prices quickly retreated.
 

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Bob Iger is returning to the CEO position at Walt Disney a shocking development after the surprise exit of Bob Chapek from the top spot. The move is effective immediately, Disney says. Shares are up slightly in premarket trading. Iger will serve as Disney's CEO for two years, Disney says, "with a mandate from the Board to set the strategic direction for renewed growth and to work closely with the Board in developing a successor to lead the Company at the completion of his term." Iger departed Disney as executive chairman 11 months ago, though he delayed a long-planned exit from Disney amid the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two of the largest rail unions diverged on labor deal votes Monday, with SMART-TD rejecting the deal but BLET voting for ratification.  But BLET said it will honor the picket line with other unions that voted against the deal and a strike could begin in early December, though more negotiations with rail management are set.

Grayscale, the asset manager running the world’s largest bitcoin fund, said in a statement that it won’t share its proof of reserves with customers. Following the implosion of FTX and its subsequent bankruptcy proceedings exposing that customer funds were missing, multiple crypto exchanges have jumped to release proof-of-reserve audits in order to assuage investor concerns over the safety of their funds. Others, like Binance, say they soon plan to do so.

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John J. Ray III, the new boss of bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, criticized the "unprecedented" management of ex-CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried that ultimately led to the once-mighty firm's demise, according to a court filing. “Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of trustworthy financial information as occurred here,” said Ray, who has more than 40 years of legal and restructuring experience, including overseeing Enron's high-profile bankruptcy in 2001.

Just as the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, families are finding less slack in their budgets than before. As of October, 60% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent LendingClub report. A year ago, the number of adults who felt stretched too thin was closer to 56%. Real average hourly earnings are down 3% from a year earlier, according to the latest reading from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Fed, said that even with his "generous" assumptions that tend to favor a more dovish policy, "the policy rate is not yet in a zone that may be considered sufficiently restrictive." Meanwhile, the yield curve inversion between  2-year and 10-year Treasury notes deepened to its widest level in four decades. The spread between the 2-year and 10-year extended to a mark of -66 basis points, marking the deepest inversion since 1982. An inverted yield curve is usually a sign of recession.

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U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in October, boosted by purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, suggesting that consumer spending could help to underpin the economy in the fourth quarter.  The Commerce Department said that retail sales rose 1.3% last month. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast sales to rise 1.0%, with estimates ranging from as low as a 0.1% drop to as high as a 2.0% jump. Retail sales are mostly goods and are not adjusted for inflation.

Households increased debt during the third quarter at the fastest pace in 15 years due to hefty increases in credit card usage and mortgage balances, according to the Federal Reserve.  Total debt jumped by $351 billion for the July-to-September period, the largest nominal quarterly increase since 2007, bringing the collective household IOU in the U.S. to a fresh record $16.5 trillion, up 2.2% from the previous quarter and 8.3% from a year ago.

Shares of Walmart are higher after the company beat Wall Street earnings and revenue estimates and boosted full-year guidance. Home Depot reported strong results too but kept guidance in place for the full-year. Its shares rose slightly.

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"Explosive," "shock" and "relief" are some of the adjectives being used to describe the rally on Thursday as stocks recorded their best session since the early days of the pandemic in 2020. When all was said and done, the  S&P 500 closed out the session up 5.5%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index skyrocketed 7.4%. U.S. government bond yields also recorded their steepest one-day decline in more than a decade, with the rate on the 10-year Treasury falling 32 basis points to 3.82%.

Embattled vaping company Juul Labs has announced hundreds of layoffs as the company weathers lawsuits, government bans and increasing competition for its electronic cigarettes. Juul said it has obtained new financing to stay in business and continue operations, which includes challenging plans by the Food and Drug Administration to ban its products. The layoffs include 400 staffers and are part of a cost-saving plan to immediately cut Juul's operating budget by at least a third.

Office-share company WeWork is closing sites in a bid to cut costs and has failed to post a profit more than a year after it went public. The group announced it would shut about 40 “underperforming” offices domestically. Taken together, the closures will cut almost 5 per cent of WeWork’s total desk space and hit revenues. But WeWork said that shutting offices would help to reduce costs, as it announced a third-quarter net loss of $629mn, two-thirds of which was restructuring, depreciation and other non-cash expenses. Revenues for the period were up 24 per cent year on year to $817mn.

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The consumer price index, a broad-based measure of goods and services costs, rose just 0.4% for the month and 7.7% from a year ago. That was its lowest annual increase since January. Economists were expecting increases of 0.6% and 7.9%, according to Dow Jones. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, so-called core CPI increased 0.3% for the month and 6.3% on an annual basis, also less than expected.  Stocks are surging higher as yields fall.

Binance is backing out of its plans to acquire FTX, the company said Wednesday, leaving Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire on the verge of bankruptcy. The reversal comes one day after Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao announced that the world’s largest cryptocurrency firm had reached a nonbinding deal to buy FTX’s non-U.S. businesses for an undisclosed amount, rescuing the company from a liquidity crisis. Earlier this year, FTX was valued at $32 billion by private investors.  In a laughable bit of Irony, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried lobbied Congress disparaging the existing banking system having now been revealed as the greatest swindler since Bernie Madoff.
  
On Wednesday reported a wider-than-expected loss for its third quarter as demand for its meat substitutes tumbled. CEO Ethan Brown called the results “disappointing” in the press release. Shoppers are skipping Beyond’s burger, sausage and chicken substitutes. Shares are down 80% YTD.
 

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The digital assets industry has been shaken by the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX, one of the largest crypto exchanges, which was rescued by arch-rival Binance after a surge in customer withdrawals sparked a liquidity crisis. The bailout of one of the biggest and most prominent companies in the global cryptocurrency industry by its chief competitor reverberated across the market leaving most crypto-curriences in free-fall.  FTX hit a valuation of $32bn at the start of this year, with blue-chip investors.  Early indications are that the exchange assets essentially amounted to a ponzi scheme. FTX was widely considered to be one of the better-managed players, with its founder Bankman-Fried becoming one of the largest political donors nationwide.

Shares of Disney are slipping this morning following a fiscal fourth quarter where it missed revenue and profit expectations. Stellar revenue results from its "Parks, Experiences and Products" division (+36% Y/Y to $7.4B) were weighed down by sales on its "Media and Entertainment" side (-3% Y/Y to $12.7B). CFO Christine McCarthy also dented expectations for the new fiscal year, predicting revenue growth of less than 10% (compared to 22% in fiscal 2022).

Facebook parent company Meta on Wednesday said it is laying off 11,000 employees, marking the most significant job cuts in the tech giant’s history. The job cuts come as Meta confronts a range of challenges to its core business and makes an uncertain and costly bet on pivoting to the metaverse. It also comes amid a spate of layoffs at other tech firms in recent months as the high-flying sector reacts to high inflation, rising interest rates and fears of a looming recession.
 

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