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Thursday’s Wall Street Highlights: Orchard Therapeutics, Exxon Mobil, Alphabet, Ford, and more

Fernanda T
Latest News
October 05 2023 03:19AM

US index futures are down in Thursday’s pre-market trading, with Wall Street struggling to sustain the positive momentum from the previous session, as investors await crucial labor market data.

At 06:47 AM, Dow Jones futures (DOWI:DJI) were down by 78 points, or 0.23%. S&P 500 futures fell 0.20% and Nasdaq-100 futures were down 0.12%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond was at 4.723%. In a note, analysts from Barclays Plc stated that the downward trend in global bonds is likely to persist, unless there is a sustained drop in stocks that revives interest in fixed-income assets.

In the commodities market, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for November fell 1.61%, to $82.86 per barrel. Brent crude oil for December dropped 1.50% to around $84.52 per barrel. OPEC+ maintained production cuts, but economic concerns and a drop in fuel demand are pressuring prices. The Eurozone’s economy also contracted, and U.S. gasoline demand decreased. Uncertain demand and weaker economic data may limit the rise in oil prices.

On Thursday’s U.S. economic calendar, investors are awaiting, at 08:30, the release of August’s trade balance. Also, at 08:30, the weekly unemployment claims data up to September 30 will be announced. At 09:00, Loretta Mester, president of the Federal Reserve of Cleveland, will give a speech at a symposium in Chicago. At 11:30, Thomas Barkin, president of the Federal Reserve of Richmond, will speak about economic projections at a conference. At 12:00, Mary Daly, president of the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, will attend an event at the Economic Club. Lastly, at 12:15, Michael Barr, Vice Chairman of Supervision at the Federal Reserve, will discuss cyber risks in the banking sector.

European stocks posted small gains. The Stoxx 600 index was up 0.1%, with travel shares up 1.6% and oil and gas down 1%. However, there was volatility, with Alstom dropping 36% due to cash flow concerns, and Metro Bank falling 29% in its bid to raise £600 million in debt and equity. Pandora rose 10% upon increasing its growth targets.

Asian stocks rebounded from 11-month lows. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index, excluding Japan, rose 0.9%. Japan’s Nikkei was up 1.8%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.4%, while mainland China’s markets remained closed due to holidays. South Korea saw its consumer inflation accelerate, and comments from the central bank governor suggested a continued tight policy.

At Wednesday’s close, the Dow Jones rose 127.17 points or 0.39% to 33,129.55 points. The S&P 500 advanced 34.30 points or 0.81% to 4,263.75 points. The Nasdaq Composite jumped 176.54 points or 1.35% to 13,236.01.

The drop in stocks and rising yields received temporary relief due to new employment data, which revealed weakness and raised the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will not need to raise interest rates. Private payrolls increased by 89,000 last month, compared to 180,000 in August. Big Tech stocks led the market, boosting Nasdaq.

Additionally, the ISM services index was also released, showing a slight decline in September, reaching 53.6, the lowest level this year, although readings above 50 still indicate expansion. However, the number was within expectations.

On the corporate earnings front Thursday, investors will be watching reports from Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), LambWeston (NYSE:LW), Conagra Brands (NYSE:CAG), AEHR Test Systems (NASDAQ:AEHR), Levi’s (NYSE:LEVI) and CalAmp (NASDAQ:CAMP).

Wall Street Corporate Highlights for Today

Apple  (NASDAQ:AAPL) – Apple has negotiated with DuckDuckGo to replace Google as the default search engine in the private mode of the Safari browser. Details of the negotiations are expected to be released soon, following the federal antitrust lawsuit against Google. In other Apple-related news, CEO Tim Cook sold 511,000 shares of the company, resulting in a gain of $41.5 million after taxes. With the sale, he retains approximately 3.3 million shares, valued at approximately $565 million. The company’s shares are down 13% from their all-time high. Analysts also downgraded the stock due to concerns about U.S. sales growth. Apple also released an update to its iOS 17 software on Wednesday to resolve an overheating issue related to the latest iPhones in the iPhone 15 series, launched last month. The update addresses battery life and overheating issues following consumer complaints.

Amazon  (NASDAQ:AMZN)Microsoft  (NASDAQ:MSFT) – UK media regulator Ofcom has requested an investigation by the antitrust authority, CMA, into the dominance of tech giants Amazon and Microsoft in the British cloud market. Ofcom claims that the combined share of AWS and Microsoft was 70-80% in 2022, making it difficult to compete. Amazon disagrees with the findings, while Microsoft is committed to keeping the cloud industry innovative and competitive. The CMA will complete the investigation by April 2025.

Amazon  (NASDAQ:AMZN) – Amazon is set to launch two test satellites for Project Kuiper, aiming to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink. The initiative aims to cover the globe with low Earth orbit satellites and provide Internet via satellite. Amazon seeks to comply with its Federal Communications Commission license and overcome challenges in the spatial Internet market. Additionally, Amazon is shutting down its live audio platform, Amp, as part of its efforts to reduce costs and increase profits. The company learned from the experience and plans to apply that knowledge to new experiences on Amazon Music. This follows recent layoffs and changes to Amazon’s delivery and streaming services.

Meta Platforms  (NASDAQ:META) – Meta Platforms announced the launch of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools for all advertisers. After testing began in May, these tools, capable of creating content such as background images and text variations, will be available in Meta’s Ads Manager by next year. This marks the company’s first foray into generative AI technology to create new content from vast stores of past data.

Alphabet  (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – Alphabet’s Google has launched Pixel 8 smartphones and a new smartwatch integrating AI technology more deeply. The Pixel 8 offers advanced AI processing, especially in photography and spam blocking. Starting prices are $699 for the Pixel 8 and $999 for the Pixel 8 Pro, both with the new Tensor G3 mobile processor. Google also launched the Google Watch 2 for $349 with advanced AI-powered health features. Additionally, the company also revealed its plans to incorporate generative artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities into its virtual assistant during an event in New York. This AI, called Bard, will allow the assistant to assist users with tasks such as travel planning and email follow-up.

Walt Disney  (NYSE:DIS) – Walt Disney announced temporary discounts on children’s ticket prices at its theme parks, seeking to stimulate traffic following the post-pandemic recovery. Although its park business has been affected, it is now an important source of profit. Discounts aim to maintain business growth.

Ford Motor  (NYSE:F) – Negotiators from the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Ford Motor narrowed their differences over wage increases following a new offer from the automaker, amid active negotiations. UAW President Shawn Fain plans to update members on Friday, but it is unclear whether there will be further strikes. In addition to Ford, active negotiations with Stellantis  (NYSE:STLA) and other automakers continue. General  Motors  (NYSE:GM) secured a $6 billion credit line in preparation for a prolonged strike. The situation is on the 20th day of strike since September 15th. Additionally, Ford on Wednesday announced a nearly 8% increase in U.S. auto sales during the third quarter, driven by continued demand for SUVs and pickup trucks. The automaker sold 500,504 vehicles in the quarter, surpassing the previous year’s 464,674, in line with the overall increase in U.S. vehicle sales.

Rivian Automotive  (NASDAQ:RIVN) – Rivian plans to sell $1.5 billion in convertible green bonds. The bonds will mature in October 2030, offering the option of converting into cash or shares. Rivian seeks financing to expand its operations.

O’Reilly Automotive   (NASDAQ:ORLY) – Shares of O’Reilly Automotive were upgraded to “Buy” from “Neutral” by Citi and the price target was raised to $1,040 from $983.

Citigroup  (NYSE:C) – Citigroup is undergoing a significant reorganization, reviewing employee rosters to determine transfers and layoffs through November. CEO, Jane Fraser, seeks to simplify the bank’s structure, focusing on profitable areas. The company will offer severance pay and advance notice to affected employees.

Goldman Sachs  (NYSE:GS) – Goldman Sachs advises a cautious approach towards Indian equities due to global headwinds and valuable equity valuations. Foreign investors are also selling Indian stocks, making conservative positioning necessary over the next three to six months. While India is seen as an alternative to China, stretched valuations and implied volatility call for caution. Goldman recommends focusing on large-cap stocks and puts on the Nifty index as a hedge against risk.

Barclays  (NYSE:BCS) – Barclays has begun layoffs, planning to cut 3% of its global investment banking workforce as part of an annual review covering trading and research. Up to 300 employees could be affected, aiming to simplify the franchise after a tumultuous year. CEO CS Venkatakrishnan is seeking to stabilize the investment banking franchise after leadership changes led to an exodus of bankers.

BlackRock  (NYSE:BLK) – BlackRock plans to launch the Climate Transition Oriented Private Debt Fund, an ESG investment strategy, to tap the U.S. private credit market. Climate transition has been one of the most popular ESG strategies in the US, growing 304% in the last 18 months. The initiative seeks to meet client demand for transition-oriented investment solutions.

Eli Lilly and Co  (NYSE:LLY) – Eli Lilly announced a leadership change at its diabetes and obesity unit ahead of a regulatory decision on its weight-loss drug Mounjaro. Patrik Jonsson will take up the role in January, while Mike Mason will retire. The drug belongs to the GLP-1 class, driving the growing obesity market.

Orchard Therapeutics  (NASDAQ:ORTX) – Shares of Orchard Therapeutics nearly doubled to $15.79 following the agreement to be acquired by Japanese company Kyowa Kirin   (TG:KY4) for a minimum of $16 per share in cash, with a right additional contingent value of US$1 per share. The total value of the acquisition could reach US$478 million. London-based Orchard Therapeutics specializes in therapies based on a patient’s own stem cells.

Viatris  (NASDAQ:VTRS),  Novo Nordisk  (NYSE:NVO) – The US patent appeal board has agreed to review a Novo Nordisk patent covering Ozempic following a challenge filed by Viatris. Viatris is pleased with the decision and awaits a final written decision in October 2024. Novo Nordisk defends its intellectual property in the ongoing dispute.

Rite Aid Corp  (NYSE:RAD) – Rite Aid has received a notice from the New York Stock Exchange that the company is not in compliance with minimum pricing and market valuation standards. The company has six months to regain compliance. Shares are down 84% this year.

Exxon Mobil  (NYSE:XOM) – Exxon Mobil expects to earn between $8.3 billion and $11.4 billion in the third quarter, driven by high oil, gas and fuel prices, a better performance than the second quarter. The rise in oil prices generated an increase of around 30% in profits from oil and gas production. However, these gains are still below the exceptional results from the same period last year, when natural gas prices were rising due to geopolitical events and fuel demand was at its peak.

Chevron  (NYSE:CVX) – Efforts to finalize a deal that would end strikes at Chevron’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Australia face a snag, with unions accusing the U.S. energy company of reneging on commitments, potentially setting up to resume strikes. Chevron and unions have disagreements over issues such as reimbursement for meals or training trips. If there is no agreement, the matter may return to the regulatory commission. Strikes at the Gorgon and Wheatstone facilities have affected LNG markets but have not disrupted shipments.

BHP Group  (NYSE:BHP) – BHP Group is focused on reducing costs to drive growth and takes a patient approach to acquiring assets. The company’s development director, Johan van Jaarsveld, emphasized that cost savings are essential, and BHP is particularly interested in nickel as a growth market. However, they maintain a cautious view on acquisitions due to the need for subsequent asset divestment, which could dilute the synergy value. BHP is also considering the sale of non-core assets such as coal mines and projects acquired in recent acquisitions.

BlackBerry  (NYSE:BB) – BlackBerry plans to separate its IoT and cybersecurity units, targeting an initial public offering for IoT in the next fiscal year. The move follows the trend of companies splitting up their units to create a leaner structure, allowing investors to better value them. CEO John Chen sees market opportunities in both units and believes this new structure will increase operational agility.

Clorox  (NYSE:CLX) – Cleaning product maker Clorox said it expects to post a first-quarter loss due to a cyberattack in August that caused disruptions to its operations. The company is evaluating the ongoing impact of this attack on its financial performance in fiscal 2024 and beyond.

Costco Wholesale  (NASDAQ:COST) – Costco Wholesale announced a 4.5% increase in comparable store sales in September compared to a year ago, an increase from the 4.3% growth recorded in August. Online sales also increased by 3.7%. The retailer partly attributed this increase in comparable-store sales to higher gasoline prices, which contributed approximately 0.5% to this month’s increase.