Asia stocks decline after China reports weak trade data; Japan and Australia fall more than 2 percent

Image result for Asia stocks decline after China reports weak trade data; Japan and Australia fall more than 2 percentStocks in Asia traded lower Monday afternoon following significantly weaker-than-expected Chinese trade data released over the weekend.

The mainland Chinese markets, closely watched as a result of the trade war between Beijing and Washington, slipped by the end of the morning session. The Shanghai composite declined by 0.84 percent while the Shenzhen composite shed 1.146 percent.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 1.41 percent as Hong Kong-listed shares of China Construction Bank slipped 2 percent and Chinese tech juggernaut Tencent lost 1.35 percent.

Chinese November trade data dwindles

China reported notably weaker than expected November exports and imports, which pointed to slower global and domestic demand and raised the possibility that Beijing may undertake more measures to boost growth.

November exports rose 5.4 percent from a year earlier, according to Chinese customs data on Saturday, which was below the 10 percent jump predicted by a Reuters poll. That number was also the weakest performance since a 3 percent contraction in March. The customs data showed that annual growth for exports to all of China’s major partners slowed significantly.

Import growth was 3 percent, the slowest since October 2016, and a fraction of the 14.5 percent expected in the Reuters poll. Imports of iron ore fell for a second time, reflecting waning restocking demand at steel-mills as profit margins narrow.

“China’s November trade data missed expectations by a hefty margin,” said analysts from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in a morning note.

“Softer export growth reflects slower global growth and the fading effect of US importers’ front‑loading shipments to avoid increases in tariffs. Falling import growth points to softening domestic demand. But we expect Chinese fiscal stimulus to support imports in 2019,” they said.

Rest of Asia mostly declines

Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 2.23 percent in afternoon trade while the Topix index dropped 1.95 percent.

Shares of Japan Display plunged more than 9 percent in the afternoon after the company earlier said it had no plans to cut production of its smartphone panels in December, following reports that it was planning to do so. Electronics firm Pioneer plummeted 28.41 percent on the back of its acquisition by Baring Private Equity Asia.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi also slipped around 1.3 percent, with shares of chipmaker SK Hynix dropping 2.4 percent.

Over in Australia, the ASX 200 fell 2.25 percent in afternoon trade, with almost all sectors seeing losses.

The financial subindex Down Under fell 3.05 percent as shares of Australia’s so-called Big Four Banks declined. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group dropped more than 3.7 percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 2.87 percent. Westpac slipped 3.3 percent and National Australia Bank was down 2.79 percent.

“Geo-Political issues once again look set to influence markets this week when traditionally traders expect a slow down as we head into Christmas market trading conditions,” said Rakuten Securities Australia in a note.

“Sentiment is once again expected to dominate direction as we move through today’s trading sessions and traders will be keeping a close eye on news wires for any changes in the current situation on a variety of issues,” they said.


Aggressive new in-store iPhone marketing clouds Apple’s retail message

Following its four-day Black Friday shopping event last month, Apple has continued to incentivize customers to purchase a new iPhone with limited time discounts through the Apple GiveBack program. The trade-in offer, which was initially promoted with increasingly pervasive online marketing, has also made its way to Apple’s physical stores in an unprecedented way.

Starting this week throughout U.S. stores, Apple co-opted its Genius Bar Displays in classic locations, Apple TV demos, and Today at Apple Forum Displays to promote iPhone XS and XR deals. Rolling out Wednesday, animated video demo loops play on the displays, followed by text similar to Apple’s online copy: “Limited Time. iPhone XR from $449. Trade in your current iPhone and upgrade to a new one.” While Apple has used similar wording for in-store promotion of its Back to School offer, the advertising has traditionally been limited to desktop wallpapers on display Macs.

Until recently, Genius Bar Displays were used to showcase product tips and Apple Support videos. Last month, Apple began highlighting upcoming Today at Apple sessions on the displays. The change brought consistency to Apple’s message at every location. In updated stores, the Video Wall serves a similar role and runs playlists of curated artwork when not in use. Forum Displays, when idle between sessions, also highlight each store’s Today at Apple schedule. Marketing of limited-time offers is outside the scope of their original intended use.


LIC, GIC show interest in buying Air India building in Mumbai

Even as the government is yet to take a call on putting the 23-storeyed Air India Building in the tony Nariman Point business hub of south Mumbai on the block, many PSUs such as LIC and GIC have evinced interest in the prime property, a senior airline official said on December 7.

It can be noted that LIC and GIC have their headquarters in the proximity to the Air India building, which also happens to be the erstwhile headquarters of the national carrier.

“No decision has been taken so far on selling the Air India building. But some companies, majorly the public sector undertakings such as LIC and GIC have shown considerable interest in it. This is apart from JNPT,” the official said.

The national carrier had collected Rs 291 crore as lease rentals from the property between FY13 and January 2018.


US is well on its way to Trump’s goal of ‘energy dominance,’ says Marathon Petroleum CEO

US on its way to Trump's goal of 'energy dominance,' says Marathon CEO

US on its way to Trump’s goal of ‘energy dominance,’ says Marathon CEO   11 Hours Ago | 01:26

President Donald Trump’s goal of making the United States a global superpower in energy is starting to come true, Marathon Petroleum Corp. Chairman and CEO Gary Heminger told CNBC on Tuesday.

“When I look at the president’s theme to begin with and the beginning of his administration, he wanted to have energy dominance in the U.S. and I believe that we are well on our way,” Heminger told Jim Cramer in an exclusive “Mad Money” interview. “We’re the largest producer in the world today.”

Recent declines in oil prices haven’t stopped U.S. producers from pumping more oil ahead of OPEC’s meetings later this week, at which the group of oil-exporting countries are expected to cut production.

That puts the United States in a league above its competitors, said the Marathon chief, whose Ohio-based company specializes in petroleum refining, marketing and transportation.

“The U.S. refining system [is] second to none of anyone in the industry, so I believe we’re well on our way now” to global energy dominance, Heminger said.

The CEO added that he expected OPEC’s meetings in Vienna, Austria this Thursday and Friday to result in “a pullback in OPEC production,” in which case “we’ll see crude prices inch up” from their current levels.

And although oil’s recent pummeling has benefited business at Marathon — where oil is part of Marathon’s cost of goods sold, so price declines translate into higher margins — Heminger said the company sees prices for the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude rising significantly in 2019.

“We really believe the price is probably going to end up being … $65 to [$]70 in 2019, on an average,” he said. “I believe we’ve averaged almost $65 — about [$]64.50 — year to date in 2018, so we think we’re being conservative looking at that number for next year.”

WTI crude futures fell 0.64 percent on Tuesday to $52.61. Year to date, the commodity has lost 8.77 percent.

Shares of Marathon Petroleum shed 2 percent amid Tuesday’s marketwide meltdown, settling at $63.3


Lenovo Z5s arriving on December 6

The Lenovo Z5s appeared on TENAA and 3C last month, giving us a sneak peek of its appearance. It will have three cameras on the back with a fingerprint scanner to keep it company, while the front has one shooter in the center.

Later we heard that this might not be a waterdrop notch, but an in-display camera, and today Lenovo confirmed we’ll know for sure on December 6, when the official announcement will take place.

The company VP Chang Cheng posted the image on Weibo, to save the date for a new announcement. The Lenovo Z5s will have ZUI and is expected to be “powerful and strong”. We know little about the phone’s internals, but some previous info suggested 6.3” display, a new Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset and a 3,210 mAh battery


Juul said it wasn’t Big Tobacco. Now it’s considering money from the maker of Marlboro

A JUUL vape 

Brianna Soukup | Portland Press Herald | Getty Images
A JUUL vape

Juul has prided itself on its independence from Big Tobacco. It may not be able to much longer.

The e-cigarette maker is in talks to sell a stake of the company to Altria, a person familiar with the matter tells CNBC. Earlier this fall, Juul paused efforts to raise money from private investors because of regulatory uncertainty, people familiar with the matter say. The fundraise would have valued Juul at more than $20 billion, these people said.

The change of course highlights the existential crisis in which Juul finds itself. Its fruity flavors, questionable past marketing and explosive popularity among teenagers have invited critics to compare it to Big Tobacco and the days of the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel.

Altria rallies on report the company is looking to acquire minority stake in Juul   2:49 PM ET Thu, 29 Nov 2018 | 03:42

Juul designed its devices to look completely different from cigarettes. The company has used its autonomy — and its purported purpose of eliminating conventional cigarettes — to brush off those comments. That wasn’t enough to prevent attention from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Today, Juul is able to market itself as an enemy of Big Tobacco, simply trying “to improve the lives of the world’s 1 billion adult smokers.” That will become much harder to do if it sells part of itself to Altria, the maker of top-selling cigarette Marlboro. However, in teaming up with Altria, Juul would gain regulatory expertise to help it manage the tricky waters that are becoming even choppier as the agency cracks down on rising rates of teen vaping.

Surging sales, growing scrutiny

Over the summer, Juul closed a $1.25 billion round that valued the company at $16 billion after a year of explosive growth for the company. At that point, Juul’s dollar sales had skyrocketed 783 percent in the 52 weeks ended June 16, reaching $942.6 million, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen data. The e-cigarette category as a whole grew 97 percent to $1.96 billion in the same period.

Juul now represents more than 75 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to the Nielsen numbers. But Juul faced a growing and glaring problem: Anecdotal reports suggested many of its customers were teens. Federal data later proved a surge in teen e-cigarette use was underway.

All the while, Juul maintained its argument it was a health-focused company that wanted to help adults switch. And it wasn’t associated with any tobacco companies.

“We’re the No. 1 e-cigarette in the United States,” Juul’s Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould told The New York Times in April. “And we’re not a big tobacco company. We’re an independent company.”

Weeks after the story, in a rare move, the FDA issued a 904(b) letter requesting a slew of company materials, including marketing documents and research on whether certain products’ design features, ingredients or specifications appeal to different age groups.

In September, the FDA went even further, declaring teen e-cigarette use an epidemic and placing the blame on Juul and four other brands, including Altria’s MarkTen. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb ordered the companies to come up with a plan to reverse these trends.

The same month, federal authorities showed up at Juul’s San Francisco headquarters unannounced, seeking more information on the company’s sales marketing practices. They seized more than a thousand pages of documents. Juul CEO Kevin Burns in a statement said the company walked regulators through “every part” of its business, including its marketing practices and age-verification tools used on its online shop.

As the FDA scrutinized Juul and debated its next steps, the outcry grew even louder. Federal data proved parents and teachers weren’t wrong. In just one year, the number of high school students who used e-cigarettes increased 78 percent, equating to 20.8 percent of high school students.

It could not be determined how much of Juul’s business is teens, but some estimate it is significant. The FDA regulation could therefore represent pressure to Juul’s business. Meantime, Juul is spending millions of dollars to combat underage use and conduct clinical studies in order to prepare for an application it will eventually need to file with the FDA.

Weeks before the FDA announced how it would try to curb youth use, Altria in October said it would remove its MarkTen pod-based products and will stop selling all flavors except for menthol or tobacco in its cig-a-like products until the FDA reviews and approves them.

Juul said it suspended sales of fruity flavors in retail stores while continuing to sell these flavors on its age-verified website. Two days later, the FDA said it would restrict where these flavors can be sold, limiting them to age-verified stores such as tobacco and vape shops.

A fresh batch of skepticism

On its own, Juul has made a number of missteps. It tried to roll out a Juul-sponsored e-cigarette lesson plan in schools that critics have said is right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. In this instance, Juul’s Gould told The New York Times the company wasn’t aware tobacco companies had also tried this tactic because Juul didn’t build its management around former tobacco employees.

Altria has decades of experience in handling regulatory and legal issues. Similar to Juul today, Altria faced enormous public pressure in the 1990s. It helped craft a deal between manufacturers and state attorneys general, known as the Master Settlement agreement, which established fixed amounts tobacco companies would pay annually and limited marketing in exchange for ending a wave of ongoing lawsuits.

But partnering with a cigarette maker exposes Juul to skepticism from those who have questioned the company’s mission to end cigarette smoking from the beginning. Each Juul pod contains as much nicotine as one pack of cigarettes.

“If Juul really wants to eliminate cigarettes, why would they even consider partnering with a company that not only makes the best-selling cigarette brand among kids, but has repeatedly fought efforts to reduce smoking?” Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.

Selling a portion of itself to a tobacco company could also spark internal backlash among people who joined Juul to execute its stated mission: “eliminate cigarettes by offering existing adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes.”

Juul co-founder James Monsees told CNBC in an August interview that one of the biggest pride points at the company is having already converted more than 1 million smokers from combustible cigarettes. He said Juul is trying to attract people who could also work at tech companies like Tesla, Facebook, Google and Apple.

“And what that meant was for someone to come here instead, especially in the early days, they’d have to truly believe in our mission and want to be here to end smoking and to have one of the biggest impacts on public health in the history of the world,” he said.

Since spinning off from vaporizer maker Pax Labs last year, Juul has raised money from just a handful of investors, including Tiger Global, Fidelity Investments and Tao Capital markets. Despite being in the backyard of Silicon Valley investors, Juul has struggled to raise money from them.


Cramer on how to play the possible outcomes of Trump-Xi meeting at G-20

Playing possible outcomes of Trump-Xi meeting at G-20

Playing possible outcomes of Trump-Xi meeting at G-20   6:28 PM ET Fri, 30 Nov 2018 | 00:46

President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at this weekend’s G-20 summit will be a defining moment for the U.S. economy and the stock market, so investors have to be prepared, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Friday.

Leaders of the world’s top 20 economically developed nations, known collectively as the Group of 20 or G-20, are meeting at the Buenos Aires, Argentina gathering to discuss topics of global significance such as the future of work.

Trump is expected to sit down with Xi to address U.S.-China trade relations, which have soured this year as the Trump administration took a hard line on China’s trading practices and the nations exchanged tariffs on each others’ goods.

Many on Wall Street expect a positive result from the meeting. On Thursday, Trump told reporters he was “very close” to striking a deal, but remained unsure if he would follow through.

Cramer, host of “Mad Money,” saw five possible outcomes:

  1. Weakness in the Chinese economy and stock market brings Xi to the table and leads to a deal. Cramer gave this possibility a 10 percent chance of occurring and said it would cause a 10 percent rally in the U.S. stock market.
  2. Trump extends the existing 10 percent tariffs on Chinese imports instead of raising them to 25 percent at year-end as planned. Cramer said there was a 10 percent chance of this happening and forecast a 5 percent rally if it does.
  3. Trump keeps the tariff hike to 25 percent in place, but says the administration will wait to impose another round of duties. Cramer pegged this as the most likely option, giving it a 50 percent chance of occurring.
  4. Trump not only keeps the tariff hike to 25 percent in place, but slaps 10 percent tariffs on the Chinese imports he hasn’t yet sanctioned, which equate to roughly $280 billion worth of merchandise. Cramer pegged the odds of this happening at 25 percent, and said it would cause a 4 percent decline in U.S. stocks.
  5. There’s a 5 percent chance the “unthinkable” could happen, the “Mad Money” host said: the meeting goes south, Trump puts 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese imports and the U.S. stock market tanks 10 percent.

Assuming the Trump-Xi meeting results in the third option — the tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods still go to 25 percent at year-end, but no additional tariffs are announced — Cramer had a plan in place for stock-pickers.

If it happens, “the recession stocks with little exposure to China will roar higher,” he said, telling investors to buy PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s and Clorox “right into the opening sell-off” on Monday.

“At the same time, … hedge funds will dump any industrial or tech company that’s perceived as having too much reliance on the Chinese market, and here, you’ve got to think 3M, Emerson, United Technologies and, sadly, Apple, which has become the ultimate political football given its mastery … in both countries,” he continued.

Above all, the “Mad Money” host preached caution, especially with the stock of Apple, in which his charitable trust owns shares.

“For most investors, this game may not be worth playing,” Cramer said. “If you’re a trader, you might want to scoop up some Apple if it really goes down and gets hit with heavy selling, as I expect, although I still believe that Apple is a stock you should own, not trade.”

“In the end,” he said, “I just want you to be ready for the most likely outcome here, which means the recessionistas rally on Monday and the industrials get absolutely slammed.”


Market close to hitting ‘all-clear’ signal that could mean upside ahead: Wall Street bull Tony Dwyer

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

Tariffs could impact corporate earnings in early 2019, says Sand Hill Global CIO   15 Hours Ago | 02:55

The market is close to hitting an “all-clear” signal that could mean there is more upside ahead, one of Wall Street’s biggest bulls told CNBC on Friday.

Tony Dwyer, chief market strategist at Canaccord Genuity, is looking at the S&P 500’s 10-week rate-of-change indicator, which measures the percent change in the index.

When it drops to minus 9 and then recovers to minus 5, “that’s your all-clear signal throughout the current cycle that the correction is over.” We’re not too far from that now, at around minus 6, he said on “Fast Money Halftime Report.”

Friday was the last trading day of November. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ended a volatile month higher by 1.8 percent and 1.7, respectively, while the Nasdaq eked out a 0.3 percent gain.

The action followed a rough October that saw the Dow end down 5.1 percent for the month, its biggest one-month fall since January 2016. The S&P 500 had its worst October since September 2011.

“As long as the yield curve stays positive, investors should stay generally bullish, and you tactically move based on ridiculous levels of euphoria, when you have an environment ripe for volatility, versus recently where you have environments ripe for opportunity because you had that kind of I call it a whoosh … and then a retest.”

He has said he plans to stay bullish until the yield curve inverts, which means long-term rates are lower than short-term ones. Historically when that happens it has signaled a recession in the foreseeable future.

Four sectors to drive new highs

Dwyer sees four sectors that can lead the market to new highs.

“When the Fed pauses raising interest rates and you haven’t inverted the curve and shut down credit, the … four sectors that do the best are banks, industrials, tech and health care,” he said.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he considers the central bank’s benchmark interest rate to be near a neutral level, an apparent turn from his earlier remarks that it was a long way from neutral. He also said there is no preset policy path. The stock market soared on his change of tone.

The Fed is expected to hike rates in December. While the central bank’s most recent projection is for three increases in 2019, traders now see only one more hike fully priced in for next year.

However, Dwyer said he would wait for confirmation that the market is going to hit new highs.

“If you don’t make a new high … you are going to roll and you are going to roll hard,” he said.