David Ross

What I think I learned last week #33

Merger Monday: Walmart is selling its UK division, Asda, to Sainsbury’s in a 13.3 billion pound merger to create Britain’s biggest supermarket group by market share, surpassing current leader Tesco . Walmart will retain around 40% of the merged company.

Merger Monday: T-Mobile US and Sprint agreed to a $26 billion all-stock merger.

Merger Monday: Marathon Petroleum is buying Andeavor, formerly known as Tesoro, for $20 billion to create America’s largest independent oil refiner.

Merger Monday: Marriott Vacations, the timeshare arm of Marriott Hotels, is buying luxury timeshare operator ILG for $4.7 billion.

April was bad for emerging market currencies: JPMorgan’s emerging market currency index fell 3.2% in April, its worst performance since November 2016 (the Trump election). Russia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey and Argentina were especially hard hit.

The rout in emerging markets continued into May, as they had their worst week in over a year. Notable problems were faced by Turkey, with inflation over 10% and the government injecting fiscal stimulus ahead of June elections, and Argentina, whose central bank raised interest rates three times last week to reach 40%.

More submerging emerging markets: The Mexican peso has lost more than 5% over the last month and Indonesia’s stock market dropped 7% in a week, hitting its lowest level since August 2017.

The US dollar continues to recover, rising above the 200-day moving average for the first time in a year. Meanwhile, the UK pound dropped below its 200-day moving average for the first time in a year.

Somewhat surprisingly, oil prices continued to rally in the face of the stronger dollar, hitting levels last seen in 2014 as Iran deal tensions increase.

The US jobless rate fell to 3.9%, hitting its lowest rate since December 2000, but employment increased by only 164,000 jobs last month, well below the expected 192,000. Wage growth was weak as the annual rate stalled out at 2.6%.

China’s official Purchasing Managers Index ticked down slightly, as expected, but the main sticking point was the slower export orders.

German monthly retail sales unexpectedly fell in March, the fourth consecutive drop.

Eurozone economic growth hit its slowest pace in a year and a half with a 0.4% growth rate in the first quarter.

In April, the Eurozone manufacturing index dropped to a 13 month low.

US Core Personal Consumption Expenditures index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, hit a 17 month high of 1.9% in March while the headline number hit the Fed’s inflation target of 2.0%.

Here’s a first: Pfizer blamed its sales miss on “customer buying patterns.” I guess that is a fancy way of saying people don’t want to buy your stuff.

Privacy is for wimps. Facebook announced plans to include a dating feature on its platform. No more “likes” as Facebook helps you with “love.”

They don’t match; no love here. Match Group, owner of dating app match.com, saw its stock drop 22% in its biggest one-day drop ever on the Facebook news.

And that’s what I think I learned last week…..