1. Tech Shares Rise for Second Day; Oil Extends Drop
Technology shares gained for a second day as investors continued to shift between growth and value stocks while gauging the global economic recovery. Apple and Microsoft led the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined from a record high. The benchmark S&P 500 edged higher for a sixth consecutive trading session. Treasury 10-year yields eased for a second day as the Federal Reserve began its two-day policy meeting. In Europe, traders appeared to shrug off decisions by Germany, France and Italy to suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine. Markets saw modest gains in Japan and China, where investors were watching for a possible broader crackdown on the internet sector. Oil retreated for a third day, while the dollar was little changed.
The S&P 500 Index gained 0.2%.
The Nasdaq 100 Index jumped 1.6%.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.7%.
2. Xi Warns Against Tech Excess in Sign Crackdown Will Widen
China’s top leader warned that Beijing will go after so-called “platform” companies that have amassed data and market power, a sign that the months-long crackdown on the country’s internet sector is only just beginning. President Xi Jinping on Monday chaired a meeting of the communist party’s top financial advisory and coordination committee, ordering regulators to step up oversight of internet companies, a crackdown on monopolies, promote fair competition and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital. Internet companies need to enhance data security and financial activities need to come under regulatory supervision.
3. U.S. Retail Sales Declined in February with Cold Weather
U.S. retail sales declined in February, when inclement winter weather settled over large swaths of the country, representing a temporary setback in demand that’s poised to accelerate in the coming months. The 3% decrease in total retail receipts followed an upwardly revised 7.6% surge in January that was the strongest advance in seven months, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.5% drop in February.
4. Biden’s Tax Hike to Hit People Earning Over $400,000 Hardest
With the Covid-19 relief bill behind him, U.S. President Joe Biden is turning his attention to the next item on his agenda: tax reform. He’s said to be planning the first major federal tax hike since 1993, with the aim of delivering on one of his campaign promises. Biden’s proposal will mostly affect those earning more than $400,000 a year and could prove to be the vehicle with which he’ll pay for some of his long-standing economic and infrastructure plans. The Biden administration is drawing up its plan at a time when at least half a dozen states are also considering raising taxes for the wealthy in response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
5. VW Soars Most Since Famous Short Squeeze to Beat Tesla
Volkswagen shares surged the most since a historic short squeeze a dozen years ago after back-to-back days of briefings on how it plans to supplant Tesla as the global electric vehicle leader. VW’s common stock soared as much as 29% on Tuesday after the company announced plans to standardize key technologies across its sprawling industrial empire and generate scale effects that both Tesla and established automakers are unlikely to match. On Monday, VW said it would build six battery factories in Europe alone.
6. It’s Time to Buy Stuff Amid ‘Stupid’ Bond Economics: Ray Dalio
Ray Dalio has long been known for his disdain of holding cash amid rising money printing and inflation, but the billionaire investor now says bonds may be a bad bet as well — or any-U.S. dollar-denominated asset for that matter. Dalio thinks it may even be a good time to borrow cash to buy higher-returning non-debt investment assets in a new paradigm he said could be characterized by “shocking” tax increases and prohibitions against capital movements. With rising amounts of government debt and “classic bubble dynamics” among many different asset classes, Dalio recommends a “well-diversified” portfolio of non-debt and non-dollar assets.
7. China Warns European ‘Haters’ Over Human Rights Sanctions
China warned the European Union not to interfere in its national security affairs, saying any sanctions over human rights abuses — based on “lies” — could fuel confrontation. “I am deeply concerned about possible sanctions,” China’s ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming, said during a European Policy Centre event on Tuesday. “If some insist on confrontation, we will not back down.” The EU is preparing a slate of measures over alleged human rights abuses that could include sanctions on Chinese officials and entities. The action would be related to Beijing’s alleged treatment of its Muslim minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. China has denied that any personal freedoms have been restricted and has touted the benefits to people living in the region.
8. Huawei to Start Demanding 5G Royalties From Apple, Samsung
Huawei will begin charging mobile giants like Apple a “reasonable” fee for access to its trove of wireless 5G patents, potentially creating a lucrative revenue source by showcasing its global lead in next-generation networking. The owner of the world’s largest portfolio of 5G patents will negotiate rates and potential cross-licensing with the iPhone maker and Samsung. It aims to get paid despite U.S. efforts to block its network gear and shut it out of the supply chain but promised to charge lower rates than rivals like Qualcomm, Ericsson and Nokia. Huawei should rake in about $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion in patent and licensing fees between 2019 and 2021.
9. Warburg Downgrades Ant Valuation After Failed China IPO
Warburg Pincus, an early investor in Ant Group, marked down the value of the Chinese fintech giant after its initial public offering was derailed last year. The company cut Ant’s valuation to a range of $200 billion to $250 billion at year-end, down from a peak of about $280 billion before the IPO was halted amid a regulatory crackdown. Global investors in Ant are grappling with how to assess their investments made in 2018 when the firm was valued at $150 billion. Ant is discussing a “short-term liquidity solution” for employees in April, while Chairman Eric Jing told employees that the company would eventually go public.
10. Saudi Economy Contracted 3.9% in Fourth Quarter as Oil Drags
Saudi Arabia’s economy contracted 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2020 from the same period a year earlier, dragged down by the biggest slump in the oil sector in at least 10 years. Still, the overall data marked an improvement from the previous quarter, when the economy shrank an annual 4.6%, as Covid-19 cases eased and the kingdom gradually returned to business as usual. The economy contracted 4.1% last year, in line with February’s preliminary estimates. The non-oil economy, the engine of job creation, shrank an annual 0.8% in the fourth quarter, with the headline figure pushed down by an 8.5% contraction in the oil sector — which makes up the bulk of the economy of the world’s largest crude exporter.