1. U.S. Yields Slip From One-Year High; Stocks Drop

Treasury yields retreated from their highest in a year on Wednesday, while European stocks edged lower as investors assessed a busy day for earnings.  The Stoxx 600 Index slipped amid a mixed bag of corporate results. S&P 500 futures were flat, while the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries dipped to around 1.28% after touching the highest since February 2020. The three-month implied volatility on 10-year swap rates jumped, signalling that U.S. Treasuries are in for more wild gyrations. The dollar strengthened.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed at 9:06 a.m. London time.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 0.2%.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased by 0.1%.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index advanced 0.4%.

2. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Reveals Three New Secret Buys

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway cut its Apple holding during the last few months of the year. The conglomerate also revealed three new buys that it snapped up in secret. Berkshire bought stock in Verizon Communications, insurance broker Marsh & McLennan and Chevron, bets that were granted confidential status and not revealed in a third-quarter regulatory filing. The news of the investments sent the shares of those three companies up in after-market trading. The Apple stake reduction left Berkshire with a holding valued at about $120 billion at the end of 2020, which remains Berkshire’s biggest single stock holding.

3. 10% Correction in U.S. Stocks Is ‘Very Plausible’: Citi Strategist 

A 10% pullback in U.S. shares seems “very plausible” with markets balanced on a risk-reward basis, according to Citigroup Inc.’s Tobias Levkovich. “Our current caution reflects several factors, including ebullient sentiment readings, stretched valuation levels and slipping earnings revision momentum,” the bank’s chief U.S. equity strategist wrote Tuesday. “With limited upside even to others’ bullish targets, a neutral stance is realistic.” U.S. stocks are not in a bubble and comparisons with the early 2000s don’t stack up as the economy is exiting, not entering, a recession and the Federal Reserve isn’t raising rates, according to Levkovich. That suggests a deep selloff in stocks is unlikely, he said.

4. Penny Stock Craze at Boiling Point: SEC Eyes Social Media

Penny stocks are an area where sentiment remains boiling hot, earning the scrutiny of federal regulators. Way-off-exchange venues, where lightly regulated companies have repeatedly been drawn into social media-fueled trading vortexes, saw more than 1 trillion shares change hands in December for the first time in a decade. The mayhem has caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which last week suspended trading in SpectraScience Inc. — a firm that had surged 633% in 2021 to just over two-tenths of a cent before the halt. The SEC’s order noted that while the company hadn’t filed reports in years and its phone number doesn’t work, “social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence” its share price.

5. Baidu’s Back With an $80 Billion Rally and Electric Car Ambition

For two decades, Baidu has largely been viewed as an online marketing company selling ads within its web search results. Now, the internet company is ready to make the case that it has more to offer. Shares of China’s largest search engine firm have surged nearly threefold since their mid-March lows when the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic forced marketers and brands to tighten their budgets. Since then, advertising has staged a recovery, while Baidu’s years of investments in artificial intelligence is starting to bear fruit as it monetizes the technology in electric vehicles and smart speakers. The rally has emboldened the 21-year-old company to tap capital markets with a slew of financing plans, including a potential second listing in Hong Kong.

6. Saudi Wealth Fund Made $3.3 Billion Bet on Video-Game Makers

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is pursuing investments in an industry long favoured by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: video games. The Riyadh-based Public Investment Fund acquired more than $3 billion worth of stock in three U.S. video-game makers during the fourth quarter. They include Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive. The sovereign wealth fund, also known as PIF, is chaired by Prince Mohammed, credited video games with sparking ingenuity and that his favourite diversion is Call of Duty series, Activision’s best-selling franchise.

7. Cathay Pacific Traffic Numbers Plunged to New Lows in January

Cathay Pacific Airways flew an average of just 981 passengers a day in January, the first time the number dropped below 1,000 since June, and its load factor was the lowest on record at just 13.3%. The Hong Kong-based airline has been reporting huge drops in passenger traffic in the months since the coronavirus emerged in China in early 2020. It flew a total of 30,410 passengers in January, a 99% slump from a year earlier. Revenue passenger kilometres fell 98.7%. 

8. Citi Loses Bid to Recoup Massive Mistake in Surprise Ruling

Citigroup unexpectedly lost a legal battle to recover half a billion dollars it sent Revlon lenders after the embarrassing blunder forced it to answer to regulators and tighten its internal controls. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman on Tuesday ruled that 10 asset managers for the lenders — which include Brigade Capital Management, HPS Investment Partners and Symphony Asset Management — don’t have to return $504 million that Citibank said it mistakenly transferred in August while trying to make an interest payment. He said they shouldn’t have been expected to know that the transfer, which totalled more than $900 million before some lenders returned their share.

9. Ford Going Almost Fully Electric by End of Decade in Europe

Ford will drastically overhaul its business in Europe, where it didn’t sell a single fully electric vehicle last year, vowing to go almost entirely electric by the end of the decade. One of the first steps in the transformation announced Wednesday will be to plow $1 billion into a German assembly plant that will start making an all-electric model in two years. By mid-2026, all passenger cars Ford sells will be plug-in hybrids or fully electric. By 2030, Ford’s passenger-vehicle range will be completely all-electric — one of the more demanding road maps among Europe’s major incumbent carmakers. Only its smaller but strategically important commercial-vehicle business will sell some vans and trucks that lack a plug by then.

10. Sweden Toughens Curbs; New EU Vaccine Deal: Virus Update

Sweden fleshed out tougher new measures to help the country cope with a potential Covid-19 resurgence in response to “a concerning” increase over the past week. The European Union finalized an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech SE for 200 million more doses of their vaccine, locking in a second-quarter supply boost as countries struggle to speed up their immunization drives. New Zealand is ending a three-day lockdown in Auckland after authorities expressed confidence that the latest community outbreak is contained. The U.K. is preparing plans for a testing blitz to lift its lockdown.

Curated from Bloomberg.com