Crude Slides After Kuwait Strikes Ends; China Markets Tumble
Oil prices fell on Wednesday as investor focus returned to worries about oversupply after Kuwaiti workers ended a three-day strike that had halved the nation’s crude output.
Industry data showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose last week, reinforcing concerns about the global surplus. Brent futures LCOc1 were down 77 cents at $43.26 a barrel at 1046 GMT.
Six supertankers have lined up at Kuwait’s crude export terminal to load oil, and the country has raised its output to 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) from 1.1 million on Sunday. The country produced 2.8 million bpd at the end of March.
In Asia, Japan +0.2% to 16907. Hong Kong -0.9% to 21236. China -2.3% to 2976. India +0.1% to 25844.
In Europe, at midday, London -0.5%. Paris flat. Frankfurt -0.1%.
Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.2%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude -2.8% to $39.94. Gold -0.3% to $1250.20.
Ten-year Treasury Yield-1 bps to 1.77%
Tuesday’s Key Earnings
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) +2.3% despite a rough quarter.
Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) -2.6% on falling profits.
Intel (INTC) -1.9% AH on a weak outlook, big job cuts.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) +1.6% following a guidance boost.
Philip Morris (NYSE:PM) -1.3% after earnings took another hit.
UnitedHealth (UNH) +2.1% exiting most Obamacare exchanges.
VMware (NYSE:VMW) +8.8% AH after authorizing a $1.2B buyback.
Yahoo (YHOO) +0.7% AH as it works through its bidding process.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton notched resounding victories in New York Tuesday night, ending losing streaks for both campaigns as they moved significantly closer to their parties’ nominations. Election results showed the front-runners landed about 60% of the Republican and Democratic vote in the delegate-rich state. The next important date is April 26, which will see primary contests in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
U.S. prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation “regarding matters” related to the Panama Papers leak that has revealed thousands of offshore bank accounts linked to the rich and powerful. The bulk of the revelations in the Panama Papers relates to non-U.S. citizens, but the government may be looking into whether Americans used law firm Mossack Fonseca to evade duties the DOJ is unaware of, or investigations that are not necessarily tax cases.
Japanese exports fell for a sixth straight month in March as slowing growth in China, soft global demand and a strengthening yen threatened to hold back the country’s recovery. Exports dropped 6.8% from a year earlier to ¥6.4T, while imports sank 14.9% to ¥5.7T, resulting in the highest trade balance since October 2010. The weak indicators will add pressure on the government and the BOJ to stimulate growth, while a series of earthquakes that struck a southern manufacturing hub last week could hamper supply chain activity ahead.
Looking to counter dwindling oil revenues and reserves, Saudi Arabia is raising $10B from a consortium of international banks as it embarks on its first global debt issuance in 25 years. The landmark five-year loan, a signal of Riyadh’s newfound dependence on foreign capital, comes as the sustained oil slump encourages other Gulf governments, such as Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Oman, to tap world bond markets.
Crude prices have fallen below $40 a barrel after Kuwaiti oil workers ended a three-day strike that had cut the OPEC member’s production by nearly half. Concerns about oversupply were further reinforced by API industry data that showed a 3.1M barrel U.S. inventory build last week, about double that expected by analysts. Bearish sentiment is also taking hold as traders continue to assess the impacts from the output freeze deal failure between major producers on Sunday. Oil futures -2.8% to $39.94/bbl.
European earnings roundup:
- SAP‘s net profit jumped 38% to €572M, indicating that its focus on the cloud is beginning to pay off.
- ARM Holdings’ (NASDAQ:ARMH) pre-tax profits rose 14% to £137.5M, as it expanded licensing growth in a solid first quarter. Hurt by a strong dollar and drop at its Latin American business,
- Syngenta (NYSE:SYT) reported its fifth straight quarterly decline in sales.
- ABB suffered a 7% drop in orders, but the Swiss industrial giant’s profit fell less than expected.
- Cheers! Heineken (OTCQX:HEINY) far exceeded analyst expectations, benefiting from a 23% rise in Asian sales due to the Lunar New Year.
With the Verizon strike going on for more than a week, who’s filling in for the company’s 40,000 wireline employees? A shadow workforce of managers, accountants, programmers and nonunion staffers is said to be substituting for technicians, repairmen and call center workers. Some of these Verizon (NYSE:VZ) temps have flown into the Northeast to work. Most are working 12-hour shifts until the strike ends.
A granddaughter of Sumner Redstone wants to join his ex-girlfriend in a lawsuit challenging Redstone’s mental competency, an indication the media mogul’s family is not united in its view about his condition. Sumner still controls a majority of the voting stock at Viacom (VIA, VIAB) and CBS, and shareholders have been closely following the case. Meanwhile, Viacom’s carriage deal with DISH is scheduled to expire tonight and there is still no agreement in sight.
If you signed up for a UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) plan on an Obamacare exchange for 2016, don’t count on renewing your coverage next year. The nation’s largest insurer is pulling out of the individual exchange business in 2017, in all but a few markets. United first sounded the alarm about its Affordable Care Act participation five months ago, projecting more than $1B in ACA losses for 2015-2016.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan has heard the closing arguments in the government’s antitrust challenge to the planned merger of Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) and Office Depot (NASDAQ:ODP), and must decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction to block the tie-up. Winning the order would likely kill the deal since companies struggle to hold mergers together during lengthy litigation. Sullivan also noted that the legal standards governing the case gave him a somewhat limited role, a fact that could benefit the FTC.
Lexmark leapt 12.5% in extended trading after agreeing to be acquired by a consortium led by Apex Technology of China and PAG Asia Capital. The deal – which pays the company $40.50 a share, a 17% premium to the closing price Tuesday – has an enterprise value of about $3.6B, when factoring in debt. Lexmark (NYSE:LXK) intends to keep its company headquarters in Kentucky, and Paul Rooke as chairman and chief executive.
The Justice Department has told Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY) to refrain from publicly releasing results of an independent investigation into cheating on diesel-emissions tests to keep names and events key to the government’s probes confidential. The request from the DOJ isn’t a formal order, but it puts pressure on VW to comply. Companies viewed as uncooperative by the department can face harsher penalties in resolving any charges.
Mitsubishi Motors fell more than 17% in Tokyo overnight, its biggest intraday loss in more than a decade, after the company said it will hold a briefing about its improper handling of fuel tests. At a press conference later in the day, Mitsubishi (OTC:MMTOY) admitted to manipulating data to improve fuel economy, and said the issue involved 625K vehicles as well as models supplied to Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY). The company has stopped making the cars in question and an independent panel has been set up to investigate the matter.
United Continental has settled a dispute with activists PAR Capital and Altimeter Capital Management, agreeing to name former Air Canada chief Robert Milton its chairman, WSJ reports. He’ll replace Henry Meyer as the board’s leader. PAR and Altimeter will also get two seats of representation on United’s (NYSE:UAL) board, and a mutually agreed-upon third director will also be named in the coming months.
Yahoo didn’t say anything about its sales process during its Q1 earnings webcast, and swore off giving any updates along the way. But speculation about Yahoo’s (NASDAQ:YHOO) shortlist is still swirling. According to the latest from Reuters, Verizon (VZ) is there (with help from Guggenheim, LionTree, Allen & Co.), along with Yellow Pages owner YP – which has backing from AT&T (NYSE:T), and several private equity firms. Japanese online retailer Rakuten (OTCPK:RKUNY) is a new name that’s kicking tires as well.
Intel is cutting up to 12,000 jobs globally, or 11% of its workforce, as it refocuses its business towards making microchips and Internet connected devices and away from the declining personal computer industry. As a result, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) will record a pretax restructuring charge of $1.2B in the second quarter and expects annual savings of $1.4B per year starting mid-2017. The company also said CFO Stacy Smith will move to a new role leading sales, manufacturing and operations.