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Monday’s Vital Data: Canopy Growth Corp, Microsoft and Netflix

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U.S. stock futures are trading higher this morning.

Heading into the open, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average are up 0.24%, and S&P 500 futures are higher by 0.21%. Nasdaq-100 futures have added 0.30%.

In the options pits, call trading carried equities into the weekend, even as overall volume settled at above-average levels. Specifically, about 20.4 million calls and 16.9 million puts changed hands on the day.

The action at the CBOE mirrored the bullishness with the single-session equity put/call volume ratio closing near Thursday’s lows at 0.53. At the same time, the 10-day moving average matched Thursday’s close near 0.62.

Options activity was a mixed bag on Wednesday (options traders zeroed in on analyst actions yesterday). Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) shares fell after a disappointing earnings report. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) finally succumbed to profit-taking after notching three record highs in a row. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) rallied for its fifth day in a row on heavy volume.

Let’s take a closer look:

Monday's Vital Data: Canopy Growth Corp, Microsoft and Netflix options trading

Canopy Growth Corp (CGC)

Last week’s earnings report provided little help to Canopy Growth Corp’s struggling stock price. By day’s end, the Canadian-based Cannabis company slipped 8% to close near a new five-month low. Fellow pot stocks Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) and Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB) both fell in sympathy, though their losses were pared before the closing bell.

For the fiscal 2019 fourth-quarter, Canopy saw revenue of CAD $94.1 million. The number inched past analyst estimates for CAD $93.7 million and reflected a 13% rise over last quarter’s revenue. Despite the slight bump in sales, CGC reported a net loss of CAD $323.4 million or 98 cents per share.

Friday’s plunge landed CGC at the lower end of its multi-month trading range and places it on precarious footing heading into the new week. Until the stock can reclaim the high ground above resistance at $44.40, steer clear of bullish trades.

On the options trading front, traders favored calls over puts on the session despite the thrashing. Total activity swelled to 404% of the average daily volume, with 115,508 contracts traded. Calls claimed 56% of the session’s sum.

Option premiums were pricing in a $2.95 or 7% gap on the news. That makes Friday’s 8.1% drop slightly outside of expectations, marking a small win for volatility buyers ahead of the event.

Microsoft (MSFT)

Record highs continue to stack up for Microsoft. Last week, the software titan notched three all-time highs in a row before sellers finally stopped the advance on Friday. The snap-back from June 3rd’s wrecking of the tech sector on government oversight concerns has been relentless. Since bottoming at $119.01, MSFT stock has powered higher by 15%.

Volume reached a crescendo ahead of the weekend reflecting powerful accumulation beneath the surface. While the overbought conditions certainly warrant some backing and filling, there’s no doubt institutions highly favor Microsoft right now.

On the options trading front, calls ruled the roost. Activity popped to 131% of the average daily volume, with 206,455 total contracts traded; 62% of the trading came from call options alone.

Implied volatility drifted to 23% or the 18th percentile of its one-year range. Premiums are now pricing in daily moves of $1.99 or 1.5%.

Netflix (NFLX)

The news was light on Friday for Netflix, but that didn’t stop buyers from sending the streaming media giant higher for the fifth consecutive day. Last week’s rally returns NFLX stock to within striking distance of an upside breakout. What began as a well-deserved pause after a red-hot rally to kick-off 2019 has morphed into a tight five-month trading range.

Given the utter lack of directional movement, volatility measures like the Bollinger bands have narrowed considerably on the weekly time frame. At some point, the stalemate will end, and if history is any indication, the breakout should bring fireworks. The two levels to watch for resolution are $386 and $340.

On the options trading front, calls were the clear victor in Friday’s popularity contest. Total activity ramped to 156% of the average daily volume, with 214,525 contracts traded; 63% of the trading came from call options alone.

Implied volatility held steady on the session at 45% or the 41st percentile of its one-year range. Premiums are pricing in daily moves of $10.38 or 2.8%.

As of this writing, Tyler Craig didn’t hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Check out his recently released Bear Market Survival Guide to learn how to defend your portfolio against market volatility.

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3 Big Stock Charts for Monday: Medtronic, Paychex and AbbVie

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Traders were willing to buoy the market up to April’s record highs on Thursday of last week, but no more. The S&P 500 lost 0.13% of its value on Friday, leaving most market participants wondering if the surprisingly bullish June to date is nothing more than a mirage.

3 Big Stock Charts for Monday: Medtronic, Paychex and AbbVie

Altria Group (NYSE:MO) was arguably the biggest drag, off 4.5% on doubts that its much-lauded Juul e-cigarette brand would be able to secure the needed approval of the Food and Drug Administration when those products have to get the regulatory agency’s green lights. Pot stock Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) was the bigger disappointment though. It fell more than 8% after investors had a chance to parse the details of Thursday afternoon’s quarterly earnings report. Sales of recreational marijuana fell, sequentially, when they’re supposed to continue rising on the wake of recent legalization in Canada.

Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) did more than its part to keep the market in the black, gaining 15% in response to reports that a couple of potential buyers were mulling the purchase of its e-commerce arm, which is being shed so the company can focus on cryptocurrency.

It just wasn’t enough.

Headed into Monday’s trading, however, it’s the stock charts of AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) that merit the closest looks. Here’s why, and what to look for.

AbbVie (ABBV)

AbbVie (ABBV)

AbbVie (ABBV)

In late April it was noted that AbbVie was being squeezed into the tip of a converging wedge pattern, formed by a horizontal support line that had been holding up since October, and a falling resistance line that extended back to last May’s high. Although the odds favored a bullish outcome despite the trajectory, it was clear that anything could happen. Waiting on one side or the other to flinch was the key.

We’re still waiting. Although ABBV shares slipped below that key floor a couple of times in the meantime, the floor mostly remains intact. Some new falling resistance lines have since come into play, though the old one marked with a dashed blue line remains part of the equation. Either way, we’re getting closer to a decision, if only because there’s not much room left to meander between support and resistance.


Click to Enlarge

  • The floor, of course, is still the support area right around $77, marked in yellow on both stock charts, though you could make the case that a slightly declining one has since materialized. It’s plotted in red.
  • It became noteworthy again on Friday just because of the amount of bullish volume that materialized.
  • While the bulls may be pushing again, it’s clear they’re struggling just to break above the gray 100-day moving average line that has quelled a couple of rally efforts since early April.

Medtronic (MDT)

Medtronic (MDT)

Medtronic (MDT)

Back in March we looked at Medtronic as it was toying with the idea of a major break above a resistance line around $94, plotted in blue on the daily chart. That didn’t happen … at least not right away. As it turns out, MDT would have to peel back one more time and then try again. This month’s effort did the job.

The speed and distance of that move, however, has also spurred concerns that this usually volatile name is already due for some profit-taking again. When one takes a step back and looks at the longer-term view, however, it’s clear there’s room for a bit more upside until the upper boundary of a major trading range is encountered again.


Click to Enlarge

  • The upper part of the weekly chart’s bullish trading range is right around $110, but rising.
  • On that same weekly chart we see a relatively new bullish MACD crossover in conjunction with a push up and off the lower edge of the long-term trading channel, suggesting this effort’s got some “oomph.”
  • In the meantime, last week’s high of right around $100, marked with a yellow line, shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s more or less where Medtronic shares peaked a couple of times in the last part of last year.

Paychex (PAYX)

Paychex (PAYX)

Paychex (PAYX)

Finally, with nothing more than a quick glance at the Paychex chart, it appears the stock is still in an uptrend, though a slowing one. And, perhaps that benign outcome is what lies ahead. Only time will tell.

But, given the sheer scope of the rally since late last year, the slowdown is concerning simply because it may point to an outright reversal into a downtrend. The pump for such a pullback is certainly primed. The good news is, we know exactly where the make-or-break lines are, and what they are.


Click to Enlarge

  • It hasn’t come into play yet, but at the current rate of things, it will soon. That is, the purple 50-day moving average line at $84.98 may or may not keep PAYX propped up on its next, impending test as support.
  • Zooming out to the weekly chart we can see just how unusual the past six months have been. Paychex should have rolled over in March somewhere around $79, at the upper boundary of an established trading range.
  • We have not yet seen a bearish MACD crossunder in the weekly timeframe, but we’re getting closer. That will likely coincide with a break below the 50-day average line.

As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about James at his site, jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.

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Watch Dow and EURUSD as G20 Approaches Amid Risk Resurgence

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GBP Eyeing G-20 Summit, UK GDP After BoE Sends Chilling Message

Sterling traders will be nervously eyeing UK GDP and the G-20 summit after the BoE sent a chilling message about their outlook for Brexit and growth risks.

US Dollar Outlook Mired by Bets for Fed Rate Cut in July

Fresh data prints coming out of the US economy may do little to heighten the appeal of the Dollar as the Federal Reserve alters the forward guidance for monetary policy.

Australian Dollar Still Mired But Could Ride Fed’s Risk Wave Higher

The Australian Dollar still lacks interest rate support of its own but a Fed-inspired revival in risk appetite could see it make further gains, albeit within its dominant downtrend.

Gold Weekly Forecast: A Perfect Storm of Rates and Risk

Gold (XAU) bulls have had a storming week with the precious metal up nearly $80 at one stage this week, touching levels last seen in September 2013. And with technical resistance breaking down, higher prices are a distinct possibility.

Dow Jones, DAX 30, FTSE 100, ASX 200 Weekly Forecast

With the central bank extravaganza behind them, the Dow Jones, DAX 30, FTSE 100 and ASX 200 should look to enjoy a short-term tailwind from widespread dovishness.

Crude Oil Prices Cast Worried Eye on G20 Summit, Iran a Wildcard

Crude oil prices are eyeing a critical G20 summit where the US and China are expected to resume trade negotiations. Building tensions with Iran are a wildcard.

SPX

Resources for Traders Whether you’re new to trading or an old hand DailyFX has plenty of resources to help you. There’s our trading sentiment indicator which shows you live how IG clients are positioned right now. We also hold educational and analytical webinars and offer trading guides, with one specifically aimed at those new to foreign exchange markets. There’s also a Bitcoin guide. Be sure to make the most of them all. They were written by our seasoned trading experts and they’re all free



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Where to After a SPX Record, Gold 6-Year High, Dollar Breakdown?

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Gold Price Weekly Outlook: Gold Goes ‘Boom’ – More Room for Rally?

It was a big week for Gold prices as the yellow metal gained almost 6%, extending its four-week-run to as much as 10.7% as global Central Banks pose a passive shift.

Euro Technical Forecast: EURUSD May Break Falling Wedge Pattern

The Euro found a bid last week, and on that it is once again flirting with a breakout of a large falling wedge pattern; a confirmed break could send it considerably higher.

Oil Price Weekly Outlook: Crude Rebound Face First Test of Resistance

Oil prices have rallied more than 9% this week with the advance now testing initial resistance targets. These are the levels that matter on the WTI weekly chart.

Australian Dollar Week Ahead: AUDUSD, AUDJPY Near-Term Reversals?

The Australian Dollar may see near-term gains versus the US Dollar and Japanese Yen, but the AUDUSD weekly chart hints downtrend resumption in the medium-term. AUDJPY eyes resistance.

Sterling Weekly Technical Outlook: GBP/USD, GBP/JPY, EUR/GBP

The British Pound risks swinging in response to the latest Brexit headlines and speculation over the Prime Minister’s successor. What key technical levels should be watched in spot GBP/USD, GBP/JPY and EUR/GBP?

Dollar’s Biggest Weekly Drop in 16 Months Breaks Year-Long Bull Trend

The Dollar dove this past week following a high-profile Fed rate decision with momentum hitting speeds last seen in February 2018. In the process, it seems key support levels have cracked.

SPX

DailyFX forecasts on a variety of currencies such as the US Dollar or the Euro are available from the DailyFX Trading Guides page. If you’re looking to improve your trading approach, check out Traits of Successful Traders. And if you’re looking for an introductory primer to the Forex market, check out our New to FX Guide.



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5 trades, 731% gains

Hits: 7



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2019-06-24 12:39:42



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USD Suffers as Key Support Breaks, EURUSD, AUDUSD Benefit

Hits: 5


MARKET DEVELOPMENT –USD Suffers on Technical Break, EURUSD, AUDUSD Benefit

DailyFX Q2 2019 FX Trading Forecasts

USD: The USD is on the defensive to begin the week, trading with losses across the board as the greenback breaks below key technical support (below 200DMA). In turn, the USD now sits at the psychological 96.00 handle, consequently curbing further losses for now. Little in the way on the economic calendar today, as such, focus will be on Fed Chair Powell tomorrow, who will comment on the economic outlook.

EUR: Mixed IFO data had been shrugged off by the Euro, which continues to challenge the 1.14 handle to the upside, as last week’s announcements from the Fed & ECB drive a sizeable shift in sentiment for the currency. EURUSD has been muted throughout the session, thus the $2bln option expiry at 1.14 could hold for now. (full list of option expiry board)

AUD: Shorts continue to feel the squeeze with the Aussie hovering around 0.6950. Topside resistance is situated at 0.7000, which could see gains somewhat limit above the psychological figure. Markets perceived comments from RBA Governor Lowe to be less dovish, having stated that more infrastructure investment would benefit the country’s struggling economy. However, despite this, money markets are pretty certain that another 25bps cut will occur at the July 2nd meeting with interbank futures attaching an 84% likelihood of a cut.

Source: DailyFX, Thomson Reuters

IG Client Sentiment

USD Suffers as Key Support Breaks, EURUSD, AUDUSD Benefit - US Market Open

How to use IG Client Sentiment to Improve Your Trading

WHAT’S DRIVING MARKETS TODAY

  1. Central Banks Are Mostly Dovish But Norges Bank Signalls Further Rate Hikes” by Daniela Sabin Hathorn , Junior Analyst
  2. Crude Oil Analysis: Risks Tilted to Upside, Iran Plans to Break Nuclear Deal Limit” by Justin McQueen, Market Analyst
  3. Gold Price Outlook: Long-term Bullish, but Rally May Stall in the Short-term” by Paul Robinson, Currency Strategist
  4. Using FX To Effectively Trade Global Market Themes at IG” by Tyler Yell, CMT , Forex Trading Instructor

— Written by Justin McQueen, Market Analyst

To contact Justin, email him at Justin.mcqueen@ig.com

Follow Justin on Twitter @JMcQueenFX

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2019-06-24 12:35:00

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MU Stock: Micron Stock Is Cheap as Chips, For a While Yet

Hits: 8


As the chip glut has continued, memory chip maker Micron Technology (NASDAQ:MU) has become the cheapest stock on the market. You could buy it for 3 times the previous-12-months earnings as trade looked ready to open for trading June 24 at about $33 per share.

MU Stock: Micron Technology Is Cheap as Chips, For a While Yet

Source: Shutterstock

But analysts are still not pounding the table for the stock,  and for good reason. The company is due to release results for its May quarter on June 25, and it’s going to be very, very bad.

The latest estimate on revenue is $4.7 billion, down 40% from last May’s $7.8 billion. Earnings are estimated at just 75 cents per share, down from last year’s $3.10 per share.

But if that’s the bottom, you’re still looking at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 8 if you buy today, which is why the average rating on the stock remains overweight.

Victim of the Trade War

Micron is a victim of the U.S.-China trade war. Its memory chips are bought by Chinese companies for products that are re-exported to the U.S. This has been the global tech business model for decades now. America has the intellectual property while China has the low-cost labor and gets the environmental damage.

But this can’t continue, for two reasons. Tariffs are the first reason. But China itself is starting to pay its people more and wake up to its own environmental degradation. The game has a sell-by date.

It’s just ending faster with the tariffs. The launch of a Chinese memory chip pushed Micron shares to new lows. China represented 57% of Micron sales during the good times, last year. It’s not just that China is investing heavily in its own memory chip capacity. The glut lets it supply its needs today through Micron competitors like Samsung Electronics (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) and SK Hynix.

As a result, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) cut their estimates on Micron again last week. But it’s so cheap they still have it at overweight, and their low-end 12-month price target of $50 per share is still a 50% gain from today’s $33.

The Super Cycle for Micron

Further optimism comes from the “super cycle,” which was the talk of the town during the boom.

Low memory prices mean chips are replacing spinning disks in a host of applications. The main memory drive on my own PC is now chips, which have no moving parts and are thus more reliable. Because chips move data faster than hard drives clouds are using them, the premium paid over hard drives is disappearing. Then there are all those new markets, like intelligent speakers and the “Internet of Things,” adding computers to jet engines, refrigerators, and cars.

The glut has produced bargains. I bought a 512 GB chip-based hard drive last year for about $150. You can now buy a 1 TB chip drive for under $100.

We’re in a golden age of memory, one that is going to continue. Bulls insist the present glut will ease. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) analysts say buy now.

The Bottom Line on MU Stock

If Micron had initiated a dividend before the glut, even a small one, it would be easy to recommend here. But you’re betting entirely on capital gains for profit, and those can be hard to predict.

How long will the glut persist? How long will the trade war go on? How much Chinese production will come into the market, and when?

It’s foolish to give a precise prediction, but my guess is that we’re talking months instead of years. An investor in their 40s, with a five-year time horizon, will probably be very happy with a Micron investment made today.

Just keep an eye on it. Prices and market conditions fluctuate.

Dana Blankenhorn is a financial and technology journalist. He is the author of a new environmental story, Bridget O’Flynn and the Bear, available now at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @danablankenhorn. As of this writing he owned shares in JPM.

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Insider Activity: Associated Capital Group (AC)

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Billionaire owner adds to beaten-down research firm.

Billionaire investor Mario Gabelli bought 3,544 shares of Associated Capital Group (AC) on June 20th. This doubles his personal share stake, but Gabelli is also Executive Chairman and owns more of the company through his Gabelli funds.

The New-York based company was founded in 1976 by Gabelli as an institutional research firm based on bottom-up research and generating market-beating returns.

Shares of the firm have traded between $32 and $46 in the past year, and currently trade around $35. Although the company has had negative earnings in recent quarters, it currently trades below book value.

The company also has no debt, and has nearly $400 million in cash, or nearly half the market cap at current prices. That makes it attractive as a deep value play, or for investors concerned about heavily-indebted companies right now.

Action to take: While many investors have concerns about financial companies late in the economic cycle, the strong balance sheet and relative valuation make this an interesting play in the broader financial sector.

Investors should consider following the billionaire investor Gabelli into shares of his own company at or near $35 per share. Shares pay about a 0.5 percent dividend yield here, and there are no options trades available on the niche company.


2019-06-24 10:00:54



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GOOGL Stock: Maybe a Self-Imposed Breakup of Google Isn’t a Bad Idea

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Chatter from regulators about breaking up Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) is nothing new. And fresh encouragement from activists to do the same isn’t exactly surprising: splitting the company up would “unlock value” in the shares of Google stock they own. It would also mean it takes shape on the company’s terms rather than regulators’ terms.

GOOGL Stock: Maybe a Self-Imposed Breakup of Google Stock Isn't a Bad Idea After All

Source: Shutterstock

So far, though, Larry Page and Sergey Brin — who collectively hold more than half of all shareholder voting power — have resisted.

The prospect resurfaced on Wednesday during the annual meeting of Google stock owners, with a proposal for a break-up being put up for a vote. Shareholder efforts to tear the company apart into its basic components failed miserably, of course. Page and Brin simply don’t want to split the company up, at least not yet. Most of the remaining minority doesn’t want to either.

However, a break-up may actually be the inevitable even if not immediate outcome. It might also be for the best. If you look closely, the underpinnings of GOOGL stock have changed.

A Baby Step Is Still a Step

Alphabet breadwinner Google has been a juicy political target for years. Politicians and an increasingly concerned public have called out the company for its size, pervasiveness and importance. However, Washington’s threats have largely amounted to grandstanding to drive home a point rather than to make actual regulatory changes.

If you repeat the narrative often enough, though, it becomes more palatable and more likely.

Pushing for a breakup of Alphabet stock realistically was unthinkable as recently as a year ago. But with influential critics hammering home the idea, it has finally prompted serious discussion about tech’s overreaching tentacles.

The evidence? Earlier this month, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission officially determined which would investigate particular companies. The Justice Department will scrutinize Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet for potential antitrust actions. On the other end, the FTC will examine Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and their practices.

The divvying up of those duties offers a glimmer of insight as to which direction the legal arguments are heading. Antitrust laws are primarily meant to quell unfair pricing schemes. And in this particular context, the FTC’s responsibility is ensuring business competition is allowed to thrive. In other words, the FTC’s probing of Facebook and Amazon suggests the concern is that both may be quelling competition unfairly. The DOJ’s interest in Alphabet and Apple implies consumers have been financially harmed.

It’s action, even if it will prove ultimately irrelevant given current laws that were never written with organization’s like Facebook or Alphabet in mind.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill…

The DOJ’s and FTC’s work will most likely come up with little. Even what sticks could take years to bear the fruit of change. On the surface, that’s great news for GOOGL stock.

Still, the action underscores another shift in politicians’ views of the downside of huge tech organizations. Even without fully understanding their business models, both Republicans and Democrats largely agree that they don’t like the status quo. Specifically, they oppose the one-sided influence that big tech firms leverage.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote earlier this month, “Unwarranted, concentrated economic power in the hands of a few is dangerous to democracy – especially when digital platforms control content. The era of self-regulation is over.”

It’s a message that largely echoes the sentiment of other Democrats.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz commented during a recent Judiciary Committee meeting on the matter, “There are many on this committee, including myself, concerned about potential anticompetitive conduct from Google.”

Conservatives aren’t crazy about impeding the outsized influence of just a few tech firms. Just the same, you won’t find too many Republicans defending their power.

Rare Political Consensus Casts Cloud GOOGL Stock

It’s a scenario that sets the stage, finally, for legislative change that could do what the FTC and the DOJ will likely be unable to meaningfully do. Additionally, it’s an element that could meaningfully affect Google stock.

“If we want relief and we want it in our lifetime, I don’t think antitrust is the way to go,” says Hal Singer, a senior fellow at George Washington University’s Regulatory Studies Center. His suggested remedy is Congressional action that gives the FTC new and more authority. This involves protocols to create and enforce rules that apply specifically to web-based and web-centric players.

And Singer’s far from convinced a breakup would do much good anyway. He commented, “If you had five Baby Facebooks, they would still have an incentive to steal.”

That makes legislative action a faster solution for Washington. More critically, it’s the one that current and prospective Google stock owners should fear the most.

To that end, the public — as in voters — are also increasingly fed up with big tech. A recent poll indicated that more than 40% of consumers don’t trust major technology players with their personal data. If nothing else, clear and high-profile legislative action could prove politically expedient.

Bottom Line for Google Stock

There’s the rub. Action that is fair or unfair is now irrelevant. Change is coming. Even if nobody knows what that change may look like or when it may take shape, the rhetoric has morphed into an irresistible force.

Breaking Alphabet up may not be the most desirable option to be sure. But it may just be enough to appease Washington DC’s lawmakers from imposing more heavy-handed changes later. It may be a split for visual effect only: we might see a situation with all the various pieces still working in unison, even if reporting results separately. It may be enough to prompt Washington to call the dogs off altogether, however.

In that light, the activists who were clamoring for a break-up on Wednesday arguably had the right idea.

As of this writing, James Brumley held no position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about James at his site, jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.

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Central Banks Are Mostly Dovish But Norges Bank Signalls Further Rate Hikes

Hits: 11


Talking Points:

  • Most Central Banks remain dovish as downside risk continues but Norges Bank has become an outlier by hiking rates
  • Trade war disruption could come to an end at G-20 summit, further losses in FX and equity markets can be expected if no deal is reached
  • Fed and ECB signal rate cuts are around the corner if economic conditions do not improve, European banks could see negative rates in place for longer
  • Canada remains resilient as jobs and inflation stay strong

Central Bank activity was at its peak last week with most outcomes in line with expectations where Norges Bank became the outlier amongst a sea of dovish policy makers. Norway’s Central Bank rose its base interest rate for a third time in 12 months from 1.00% to 1.25%, and in its remarks hinted that future hikes can be expected throughout the second half of 2019 as the Scandinavian country enjoys robust growth. Policy makers have now increased the rate by 75 basis points since last August, and it is becoming an increasing possibility that we could finish the year with two further hikes and the rate at 1.75% as Norway’s core inflation remains above the 2% target at 2.25%. But being a petroleum-based economy with a strong reliance on European demand, softening oil prices and a general slowdown in demand could see the Norges Bank remaining cautious of further hikes throughout the rest of the year.

On the other side of the spectrum we had the Reserve Bank of Australia who at the beginning of June cut rates by 25 basis points to 1.25%, its first rate change since August 2016 when it also cut rates by 25 basis points. Their statement read “the outlook for the global economy remains reasonable, although the downside risks stemming from the trade disputes have increased” supporting that factors that affect China have a knock-on effect on Australia’s economy as China remains as one of the biggest importers of Australia’s commodities, which include coal and iron ore.

CHART OF THE DAY: INTERST RATE DECISIONS IN JUNE

But many central banks decided to leave rates unchanged in the latest round of monetary policy decisions as central bankers wait out to see if economic conditions improve. Recent developments in Sino-American trade wars could see a trade deal being confirmed at the G-20 summit in Osaka later on this week as both the US and Chinese presidents seemed to be open to dialogue in order to move forward. But knowing Donald Trump’s history with giving false hope no one will be holding their breath in hopes for a fruitful deal to be achieved. We can expect to see equity and FX markets taking a hit if this round of talks crumbles like the previous ones have, with a push in safe haven assets like the Japanese Yen, gold and to some extent the US Dollar. Central Banks will have more pressure to turn further dovish if no trade deal is reached this week as market participants will be anticipating further economic disruption which will continue to drag on growth prospects.

Easing Monetary Policy is Likely

Already considering future rate cuts are the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, both of whom signalled last week that they are prepared to induce monetary stimulus if economic conditions worsen. It is surprising to see such a change in forward-guidance from the Fed, who twelve months ago was signalling up to three rate hikes in 2019 and has now done a complete U-turn in their growth estimates and investors expect a possible two or three rate cuts by the end of the year. Some believe that Mr. Trump may have something to do with this as he has been very critical about the Fed’s decision to hike rates last December and keep them unchanged for the first half of 2019. The US President has threatened Mr Powell with the removal of power in many occasions, but the Fed Chairman has been resilient and defied Trump’s threats, pointing out that job growth is still strong, and it wasn’t an appropriate time to cut rates just yet. But given how equity markets reacted after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell turned dovish and admitted that monetary easing could unfold in the following months, we can see that investors are worried about stagnant growth.

And Europe is in a worse shape than the US. Already with negative interest rates in place and a continued fall in inflation below the 2% target, the ECB has had no choice but to explore possible ways to keep interest rates below 0 whilst easing the pressure it causes in commercial banks’ liquidity ratios. Germany, which has for long been the Eurozone’s strongest economy and main driver of growth, is facing tougher conditions, led partly by the effect that trade wars are having on its export-led economy. Manufacturing sentiment has been below the 50 mark for some time indicating that industry is contracting whilst unemployment rose in the month of May for the first time in 5 years.

Close behind is the Bank of Japan, which has left rates unchanged at -0.1% since February 2016. Similar to the ECB and the Fed, Governor Haruhiko Kuroda left rates unchanged but signalled readiness to act as appropriate if economic conditions do not improve. Japan has seen weakness in its exports in 2019 on the back of the trade wars but the Central Bank still expects to see modest growth throughout the year. Despite aggressive monetary stimulus with negative rates and large asset buybacks in the last six years, Japan’s inflation remains well below the 2% target.

Not all data is weak

In Canada, latest economic data showed that the country is keeping strong and inflation is on the upswing. This eases off the pressure on the Canadian Central Bank to follow suit with the Fed, and we might see for the first time in a long time that Canadian and US interest rates converge, not because the BoC increases rates but because the Fed is likely to decrease them. If this happens we can expect the loonie to strengthen against the greenback, possibly reaching levels of 1.2840 last seen in October 2018.

The question now is whether Central Banks are able to stop the inevitable deflation that will come if trade disruption continues much longer, and given how markets have reacted in the previous weeks to Central Bank policies it seems likely that the only person who is able to stop this ongoing economic concern is Donald Trump himself.

Recommended Reading

Eurozone Debt Crisis: How to Trade Future Disasters – Martin Essex, MSTA, Analyst and Editor

KEY TRADING RESOURCES:

— Written by Daniela Sabin Hathorn, Junior Analyst

To contact Daniela, email her at Daniela.Sabin@ig.com

Follow Daniela on Twitter @HathornSabin



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