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Wall Street Highlights: Sheryl Sandberg Leaves Meta Board, Intel’s EU Dispute Developments, and More

Fernanda T
Latest News
January 18 2024 1:04AM

In the pre-market on Thursday, U.S. index futures are showing slight variations, marking a pause after a three-day streak of continuous losses in the Dow Jones.

At 05:35 AM, the Dow Jones futures (DOWI:DJI) fell 14 points, or 0.04%. S&P 500 futures rose 0.04% and Nasdaq-100 futures advanced 0.26%. The yield on 10-year Treasury bonds stood at 4.081%.

In the commodities market, West Texas Intermediate crude oil for February rose 0.70% to $73.04 per barrel. Brent crude for March rose 0.46%, near $78.24 per barrel. Iron ore with a 62% concentration grade, traded on the Dalian exchange, fell 0.58% to $130.00 per metric ton.

On Thursday’s economic agenda, investors are awaiting December’s new home construction data to be published at 08:30 AM by the Commerce Department. At the same time, unemployment insurance claims for the week ending last Saturday will be released by the Department of Labor. The position of oil stocks until last Friday will be published at 11:00 AM by the Department of Energy (DoE).

The Hong Kong and mainland China stock markets rebounded, with the CSI 300 index gaining 1.41% and the Hang Seng rising 0.89%. This follows China’s economic growth of 5.2% in the last quarter, slightly below expectations. Concurrently, the Minister of Transport of Singapore resigned and faces corruption charges. Meanwhile, the Australian market continued to decline, and Japan and South Korea showed mixed results. The Australian labor market surprisingly underperformed, with the unemployment rate stable, but the number of jobs fell significantly.

European stock markets showed mixed performance, with investors focused on updates from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Stoxx 600 index rose slightly with technology sectors advancing, while utilities fell. European central banks, present in Davos, maintain a cautious stance on interest rate cuts. Shares of Watches of Switzerland (LSE:WOSG), a prominent Swiss watch retailer, plummeted after a revision of projections. French business climate data for December is awaited, with no significant corporate releases.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones falling 0.25% to 37,266.67 points, the S&P 500 retreating 0.56% to 4,739.21 points, and the Nasdaq losing 0.59% to 14,855.62 points. Uncertainty over interest rates and a rise in U.S. retail sales contributed to the negative trend. Shares of airline and gold mining companies also performed poorly.

For Thursday’s quarterly earnings front, scheduled to present financial reports are Texas Capital Bank (NASDAQ:TCBI), Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST), Truist Financial Corp (NYSE:TFC), KeyBank (NYSE:KEY), Northern Trust (NASDAQ:NTRS), and more, before the market opens. After the close, numbers from PPG (NYSE:PPG), J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ:JBHT), First National Bank (NYSE:FNB), OceanFirst Bank (NASDAQ:OCFC), among others, will be awaited.

Wall Street Corporate Highlights for Today

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) – Samsung has launched its latest premium smartphones, featuring AI capabilities such as real-time translation of phone calls in foreign languages, to compete with Apple, which surpassed Samsung in smartphone shipments in 2023. Apple achieved a market share of 20% in 2023, according to IDC. Samsung was second with 19.4%, followed by Xiaomi, Oppo, and Transsion. Apple and Transsion were the only ones to register sales growth last year, in a global market that fell 3.2%. Additionally, Apple will begin selling altered versions of its Series 9 and Ultra 2 watches in the U.S. without the blood oxygen monitoring functionality, following a legal setback in the patent dispute with Masimo Corp (NASDAQ:MASI). The change comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to grant a longer pause in the import ban imposed by the U.S. International Trade Commission. This situation is unique for Apple, which typically does not remove features from devices.

Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) – Sheryl Sandberg, former COO of Meta, plans to leave the company’s board of directors after her term expires in May. She praised the state of the “metabusiness” and will serve as an advisor. Mark Zuckerberg looks forward to a “new chapter together”. Sandberg played a prominent role in the company, defending it during controversies and contributing to its advertising business model.

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) – Google will adjust search results to prioritize comparison sites, in compliance with new EU rules. This may affect revenue and remove features, such as Google Flights. Other changes include making it easier to switch search engines and allowing data movement to third-party apps. Proposals may undergo changes until March 7. Additionally, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced more job cuts at Alphabet this year, focused on simplifying and speeding up certain areas as the company seeks to adopt artificial intelligence and automation technology to improve efficiency. These cuts will not be as extensive as the previous year’s, with ambitious goals maintained.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) – Diamond Sports Group, an affiliate of Sinclair Broadcast, will emerge from bankruptcy with financial support from Amazon. Amazon will invest $115 million and use Prime Video to offer Diamond’s regional channels, broadcasting sports games and pre- and post-game programming. Sinclair also agreed to pay $495 million in cash and provide management services to support Diamond’s reorganization, gradually ending the Bally naming rights contract after the 2024 baseball season.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) – Intel gained an advantage in its legal dispute with European Union regulators, receiving a favorable opinion from Advocate General Laila Medina of the Court of Justice of the EU. The opinion supported Intel against the annulment of a previous decision that invalidated a record antitrust fine of $1.15 billion. Intel was accused of anticompetitive practices, but the block’s highest court often follows such opinions. The commission also imposed a new fine on Intel, which is being contested.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) – Verizon announced a $5.8 billion write-down in the fourth quarter due to the devaluation of its fixed-line business. This unit, serving business and government customers, represents more than a fifth of the company’s revenue. Intense competition, an uncertain economy, and a preference for wireless services have pressured the fixed-line sector. After the charge, the unit’s goodwill balance was $1.7 billion.

Boeing (NYSE:BA) – The FAA concluded inspections on Wednesday of 40 of the 171 grounded Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft after a cabin incident in January 2018. Data analysis and a decision on resuming flights are pending. Alaska (NYSE:ALK) and United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL), operators of the model, canceled flights until Friday.

TuSimple Holdings (NASDAQ:TSP) – TuSimple Holdings announced its voluntary exit from Nasdaq and the discontinuation of its SEC registration, resulting in a 8.2% pre-market drop on Thursday following a significant share price decline on Wednesday. The company cited decreased valuation, share liquidity and volatility, along with the impact of high interest rates. TuSimple intends to end trading on February 7 and seeks to restructure as a private company. Its operating loss for the nine months until September 2023 was $248.6 million, a reduction from 2022.

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) – Tesla reduced the prices of Model Y in Europe, including in Germany, in response to slowing electric vehicle demand and price revisions by brokerages. The company faced challenges in Germany in 2023, losing its position as the top electric vehicle seller to Volkswagen. The price reduction may be an attempt to boost sales and regain market leadership.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (NASDAQ:GT) – Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is planning to appoint Mark Stewart as its new CEO, following pressure from activist investor Elliott Investment Management. The company plans to announce the appointment soon, not directly linking it to the agreement with Elliott.

Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) – Plug Power announced plans to sell up to $1 billion in shares, after a sharp decline of over 80% in share value over a year. Facing mounting losses, supply chain challenges, and production delays, the company seeks additional capital to fund its business plans. Susquehanna downgraded the stock rating, citing concerns over financing and less favorable tax credits.

Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) – Albemarle, the world’s leading lithium producer, announced job cuts and postponement of spending on a U.S. refinery project due to falling lithium prices. Supply exceeded demand, affecting the price of the metal used in electric vehicle batteries. The company plans to reduce capital expenditures in 2024 and delay a major lithium refining project in South Carolina. Albemarle also plans to complete refineries in China and Australia and prioritize licensing to reopen a lithium mine in North Carolina. The cost reduction aims to save $95 million annually. Albemarle will also sell its stake in Australia’s Liontown Resources after a blocked offer last year.

Citigroup (NYSE:C) – Citigroup plans to lay off about 20 equity researchers in Asia-Pacific as part of its global restructuring. Most cuts will occur in Japan, Australia, Korea, and two in Hong Kong. This will have a limited impact on the bank’s regional research workforce. Citigroup is in the process of reorganization that may result in up to 20,000 job eliminations over the next two years. Additionally, three senior executives have left the bank’s equity trading division.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) – Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon expressed optimism about the U.S. economy in 2024 but warned about persistent inflation, especially in sectors like labor, food, and energy. Solomon highlighted the economy’s resilience compared to previous slowdown concerns.

Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) – Charles Schwab’s fourth-quarter profit fell 47% due to higher interest payments on client deposits and debts, impacting earnings. Schwab reported a profit of $1.05 billion, or 51 cents per share, compared to $1.97 billion, or 97 cents per share, in the same period last year. However, asset management fees increased by 18%, boosting revenue.

Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI) – In the fourth quarter of 2023, Kinder Morgan reported an adjusted profit of 28 cents per share, below the average estimate of 30 cents per share. Earnings in the CO2 segment dropped to $170 million, compared to $194 million the previous year. The company raised its adjusted profit guidance for 2024 to $1.22 per share, from the previous forecast of $1.21 per share.

TSMC (NYSE:TSM) – TSMC, the global leader in chip manufacturing, announced global expansion plans and the construction of a factory in Germany. Despite a 19% lower quarterly net profit, it exceeded expectations with $7.6 billion. TSMC forecasts revenue growth above 20% and investments of $28 to $32 billion in 2024, facing a scenario of disputes between the U.S. and China and uncertainties in the industry.

Alcoa (NYSE:AA) – Alcoa exceeded expectations in the fourth quarter with a smaller than expected adjusted loss, but the outlook for 2024 is not positive, with an expected reduction in aluminum sales. Alcoa reported an adjusted loss of 56 cents per share and sales of $2.6 billion in the fourth quarter, surpassing expectations of a loss of 84 cents and sales of $2.6 billion. In the previous year, the loss was 70 cents per share with sales of $2.7 billion. Alumina production fell 13% to 10.9 million tons, and aluminum shipments decreased by 3% to 2.5 million tons. For 2024, Alcoa forecasts to produce about 9.9 million tons of alumina and ship approximately 2.3 million tons of aluminum.

Discover Financial Services (NYSE:DFS) – Shares fell by 11% in pre-market trading on Thursday after Discover Financial Services reported quarterly revenues of $4.20 billion, surpassing analysts’ estimates of $4.10 billion, according to analysts surveyed by LSEG. GAAP earnings of $1.54 per share were not immediately comparable.

H.B. Fuller (NYSE:FUL) – Fuller achieved an adjusted profit of $1.32 per share, surpassing FactSet’s average estimate of $1.27 per share. However, revenue in the last quarter of $902.9 million was lower than the expected $929.9 million.

Diageo (NYSE:DEO) – Diageo and Sean Combs, known as Diddy, resolved a lawsuit in which Combs accused the company of neglecting the Cîroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila beverage brands, alleging racism. With the resolution, Combs withdrew the charges and Diageo will assume full ownership of DeLeón, ending their commercial relationship with Combs. Financial details of the settlement were not disclosed. Diageo faced criticism over its commitment to diversity following the accusations.