Stocks continue to consolidate after the recent rebound, as Wall Street continues to debate the outlook for Q4 earnings season and future Fed moves. According to the latest data from FactSet, insiders expect the S&P 500 to report a year-over-year decline in Q4 earnings of -3.9%, which if realized would be the first quarterly loss since Q3 2020.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley capped off big bank earnings yesterday with both taking a hit in their investment banking operations, similar to other Wall Street firms that reported last Friday. Goldman, which reported a whopping -69% decline in profits, was further pressured from the roughly $1 billion that the bank set aside in loan-loss provisions and a nearly $2 billion loss in its consumer banking division.

Morgan Stanley saw a similar plunge in investment-banking revenues but did manage to deliver a smaller profit decline (-40%) than analysts had been expecting thanks to a record quarter for its trading desk. While some banks in Q4 fared better than others, bears overall see signs of trouble in the additional +$3 billion that Wall Street banks collectively set aside to cover loans that might go bad amid a potential US recession in 2023.

Bears believe the economy and corporate profits are at risk from both recession and elevated inflation in 2023 and warn that Wall Street is still underestimating the damage such a double-whammy will inflict.

Bulls continue to point to growing signs of decelerating price gains and slower job growth that they believe will pull inflation back toward the Fed's target rate faster than stock bears anticipate. Bulls however are still struggling to justify higher stock prices in the short-term as the Fed's tightening program and elevated inflation look set to continue against a backdrop of weaker consumer and business spending.

Investors are also now facing the possibility of a prolonged fight in Washington over the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned last week that the agency will begin taking “extraordinary measures” after the US reaches its $31.4 trillion debt limit on Thursday. Yellen warned Congress that the debt ceiling will need to be lifted by early June when the Treasury expects to exhaust its cash and the extraordinary measures, though experts say the government can likely make it to August before any type of shutdown. So it's not an immediate crisis but as the deadline approaches, investors will likely start to grow more nervous and see it as yet another unwelcome risk.

Today, investors will be digesting a slew of economic data, including the Producer Price Index, Retail Sales, Industrial Production, Business, the NAHB Housing Market Index, and the Fed's Beige Book. On the earnings front, Alcoa, Charles Schwab, Discover, JB Hunt, Kinder Morgan,

BlackRock, Vanguard Stand Out as U.S. Funds Suffer First Annual Outflows: Passive products from BlackRock Inc, Vanguard Group and others were rare cash recipients last year as U.S. mutual and exchange-traded funds suffered $370 billion in net withdrawals, their first annual outflows on record, researcher Morningstar Inc said. Looking to track indexes, investors withdrew a net $926 billion from actively-managed funds in 2022, their worst year ever, Morningstar said on Tuesday in a year-end report that excluded money-market funds and covered data back to 1993. Source Reuters

GM Reveals New Chevy Corvette E-Ray Hybrid Sports Car: General Motors’ first-ever “electrified” Corvette will be available later this year, starting at more than $104,000, the automaker said and the hybrid will be the quickest production version ever of the American sports car. An all-electric Corvette is expected at some point, but GM has not announced the timing for that version. The vehicle also will be all-wheel drive, another first for the quintessential American sports car. In total, GM said the E-Ray produces a combined 655 horsepower from both the electric motor and small-block V-8. It will be available as a coupe and convertible. Source CNBC

1 18 2023
Investors Seek to Pull $20 Billion From Core Real Estate Funds: Some of the biggest investors in US commercial real estate are looking to cash in before property values slide further. A group of property funds for institutional investors ended last year with $20 billion in withdrawal requests, the biggest waiting line since the Great Recession, according to IDR Investment Management. Institutional investors sought to cut their exposure to some of the biggest funds at managers including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Prudential Financial Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The UBS Trumbull Property Fund had a $7.2 billion queue for withdrawals — 40% of its value — as of the third quarter of 2022. The capital outflows are ratcheting up the pressure on institutional fund managers as higher interest rates batter the commercial real estate market. About 32% of institutional investors with $11 trillion in total assets considered their portfolio overallocated to real estate in 2022, up from 8.7% in 2021. At the same time, managers such as Blackstone Inc. are seeing retail investors — wealthy individuals in particular — pulling money from real estate bets amid volatile markets. Source Bloomberg

EVs Made Up 10% of All New Cars Sold Last Year: Electric-vehicle sales crossed a global milestone last year, achieving around 10% market share for the first time, driven mainly by strong growth in China and Europe, according to fresh data and estimates. While EVs still make up a fraction of car sales in the U.S., their share of the total market is becoming substantial in Europe and China, and they are increasingly influencing the fortunes of the car market there as the technology goes mainstream. The surge in EV sales also contrasted with the broader car market that suffered from economic worries, inflation and production disruptions. Global sales of fully electric vehicles totaled around 7.8 million units, an increase of as much as 68% from the previous year, according to preliminary research. The U.S. lags behind China and Europe in the rollout of EVs, but last year auto makers sold 807,180 fully electric vehicles in the U.S., a rise in the share of all-electric vehicles to 5.8% of all vehicles sold from 3.2% the year before. New-car sales overall fell around 1% to 80.6 million vehicles, according to the LMC data, with nearly 4% growth in China helping to offset a decline of 8% in the U.S. and 7% in Europe. Source WSJ


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Small Retailers Finally Get a Fighting Chance Thanks to a Roosevelt-Era Antitrust Law: When R.F. Buche buys Cheerios to stock his grocery and convenience stores in rural South Dakota, he pays $6.30 for an 18 ounce box. Walmart Inc. pays so much less that it can sell the cereal to customers for just $4.78. That’s just one example where suppliers offer lower prices to big retailers than to the wholesalers who serve small grocers. Now, he and thousands of other small retailers hope to gain some relief in the Biden administration’s embrace of an antitrust law signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. Known as the Robinson-Patman Act, it was designed to counter the growing market dominance of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. — better known as A&P — the largest grocery chain at the time. Under the law, suppliers can give discounts for large orders, but they must extend the same offer to all retailers. The law hasn’t been actively enforced for decades amid debate over whether it would push up prices for consumers. The US Federal Trade Commission thinks its time to bring it back. Source Bloomberg

United Airlines Swings to Profit Despite "Worst" Winter Storm: United Airlines Holdings Inc. late Tuesday reported fourth-quarter earnings that were well above Wall Street expectations, saying it managed well the severe winter-weather disruptions in late December, and offered an optimistic view of the current quarter and guidance for full-year 2023. UUnited earned $843 million, or $2.55 a share, in the fourth quarter, swinging from a loss of $646 million, or $1.99 a share, in the year-ago quarter. United guided for first-quarter adjusted EPS between 50 cents and $1, well above current FactSet consensus of 31 cents a share, and said it expects revenue to grow around 50% in the quarter. For the full year, the airline called for adjusted EPS between $10 and $12, also significantly higher than FactSet consensus of $6.84 a share. Source MarketWatch

Carvana Adopts "Poison Pill" to Ward Off Hostile Takeover: Carvana yesterday announced it is adopting a net-operating-loss poison pill. Net operating losses, or NOLs carryforwards, are a tax provision allowing businesses to carry over losses in one year and deduct them from future years’ profits, therefore lowering future income taxes. The used-car retailer, in an announcement on Tuesday morning, said the plan took effect on Jan. 16 and will continue until Jan. 15, 2026. NOL poison pills are generally adopted preemptively to deter an ownership change. Carvana’s ability to “use these NOLs would be substantially limited if its 5% shareholders increased their ownership,” the company said. The plan, therefore, deters acquisitions of 4.9% or more of the company’s outstanding class A common stock. Source Barrons

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