All News
All News
FX News
Commodity News
Economic News
Equity News
DJ CME Financials Volume and Open Interest
For previous business day. Open Interest subject to revision. 
Source: CME Group 
NOTE: Total volume includes Globex and RTH. 
 
                 Total             Open 
                Volume         Interest         Change 
EURODOLLAR FUTURES 
FEB19            3,030          208,812         -2,148 
MAR19          402,024        1,382,142        -12,585 
APR19           28,185          120,335          8,711 
MAY19           15,871           53,346         -2,720 
JUN19          323,345        1,249,827         13,866 
JUL19                0            8,694              0 
SEP19          329,425        1,120,377          8,791 
DEC19          387,181        1,685,213        -15,609 
MAR20          256,774          967,526        -10,004 
JUN20          219,106          945,056         -6,119 
SEP20          136,956          817,185           -771 
DEC20          180,061          916,794         -4,822 
MAR21          130,125          601,764          4,022 
JUN21          101,247          403,706         -4,377 
SEP21          118,435          353,114         -6,163 
DEC21           65,881          370,702         -2,768 
MAR22           54,344          270,294        -10,119 
JUN22           37,943          240,040         -2,479 
SEP22           26,222          188,608         -2,463 
DEC22           24,729          161,676            472 
MAR23           19,626           85,988            -82 
JUN23           28,951           77,662              0 
SEP23           13,022           80,543             60 
DEC23           12,837           34,460           -886 
MAR24              486            7,697            -85 
JUN24              436            6,487            -15 
SEP24              548            3,731             85 
DEC24              580            2,897             97 
MAR25                6              572             -4 
JUN25                5            1,112             -1 
SEP25                4              442             -2 
DEC25                4              522              0 
MAR26                0              384              0 
JUN26                0              262              0 
SEP26                0               41              0 
DEC26                0              125              0 
MAR27                0               78              0 
JUN27                0               13              0 
SEP27                0              108              0 
DEC27                0               31              0 
DEC28                0                1              0 
TOTAL        2,917,389       12,368,367        -48,118 
 
Write to Linda Rice at csstat@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 10:04 ET (15:04 GMT)

DJ Clients Preparing for No-Deal Brexit Since November: SEB -- Market Talk

1502 GMT - Most clients of Swedish bank SEB have been preparing for a no-deal Brexit since November of last year, says Richard Falkenhall, senior forex strategist. Even though SEB's base case scenario is that a deal will eventually be reached, corporations have to prepare for all outcomes. Mr. Falkenhall says the scenarios they have prepared for are no-deal Brexit, deal Brexit and no Brexit. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 10:02 ET (15:02 GMT)

DJ CME Currencies Volume and Open Interest
For the previous business day. Open Interest subject to revision. 
Source: CME Group 
NOTE: The total volume includes Globex and RTH. 
 
           Total       Open 
          Volume   Interest     Change 
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR FUTURES 
FEB19          0         89          0 
MAR19    133,735    126,608        773 
APR19      3,372        265        172 
MAY19      3,214        181         47 
JUN19      2,657      1,897         46 
SEP19          3        133          0 
DEC19          4        113          2 
MAR20          0         22          0 
JUN20          0          4          0 
TOTAL    142,985    129,312      1,040 
 
BRAZILIAN REAL FUTURES 
MAR19      2,346     14,265        159 
APR19         37        624         15 
JUN19          1          9          1 
TOTAL      2,384     14,898        175 
 
BRITISH POUND FUTURES 
FEB19          0      1,108          0 
MAR19    190,147    197,141      5,404 
APR19      2,012      1,002        195 
MAY19      2,303        650        604 
JUN19      1,851      2,619        319 
SEP19         19        350          1 
DEC19          8        117          1 
MAR20          1         25         -1 
TOTAL    196,341    203,012      6,523 
 
CANADIAN DOLLAR FUTURES 
FEB19        135        410        -75 
MAR19     68,404    135,504        416 
APR19         57        411          7 
MAY19         45         18         -1 
JUN19        295      3,996         82 
SEP19         22      1,183         18 
DEC19         13      1,064         11 
MAR20          0         32          0 
DEC20          2          2          2 
TOTAL     68,973    142,620        460 
 
E-MINI EURO FX FUTURES 
MAR19      6,579     16,098        250 
JUN19         68         89         29 
TOTAL      6,647     16,187        279 
 
EURO FX FUTURES 
FEB19          0      2,009          0 
MAR19    282,210    513,735     -2,987 
APR19        492        999         18 
MAY19        325        537        130 
JUN19      2,781     15,849        643 
SEP19        153      1,564         55 
DEC19        131      4,368        -31 
MAR20         46        339          4 
JUN20          0          3          0 
SEP20          0          2          0 
TOTAL    286,138    539,405     -2,168 
 
JAPANESE YEN FUTURES 
FEB19          0        721          0 
MAR19    116,228    181,002       -617 
APR19      2,246        876        -11 
MAY19      1,998        175        -29 
JUN19      2,237      1,680        195 
SEP19         19        108        -17 
DEC19         44        126         11 
MAR20          0         55          0 
SEP20          0          1          0 
TOTAL    122,772    184,744       -468 
 
MEXICAN PESO FUTURES 
MAR19     63,875    233,594      6,232 
JUN19         23        198         10 
TOTAL     63,898    233,792      6,242 
 
NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR FUTURES 
MAR19     31,101     36,178        -92 
JUN19         23        580          1 
TOTAL     31,124     36,758        -91 
 
RUSSIAN RUBLE FUTURES 
MAR19      1,120     48,596        709 
MAY19          0        500          0 
JUN19         27        272         25 
TOTAL      1,147     49,368        734 
 
SOUTH AFRICAN RAND FUTURES 
MAR19      4,055     23,036     -2,567 
JUN19      2,881      2,851      2,850 
SEP19          0      1,500          0 
DEC19          0      1,500          0 
TOTAL      6,936     28,887        283 
 
SWISS FRANC FUTURES 
MAR19     23,929     74,437        280 
JUN19         55        139         -4 
SEP19          0         21          0 
DEC19          0         13          0 
MAR20          0          1          0 
JUN20          0          1          0 
TOTAL     23,984     74,612        276 
 
 
Write to Rose Ridinger at csstat@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 10:01 ET (15:01 GMT)

DJ Existing Home Sales Expected to Rise -- Data Week Ahead

The following are forecasts for this week's remaining U.S. data from a survey compiled by The Wall Street Journal.

The partial government shutdown ended Jan. 25. The Bureau of Economic Analysis and U.S. Census Bureau have published a revised schedule of some economic releases.

Forecasts were last updated on Tuesday afternoon.

 
DATE      TIME  RELEASE                    PERIOD     CONSENSUS    PREVIOUS 
          (ET) 
Thursday  0830  Jobless Claims              Feb 16    227K   (15)   239K 
          0830  Phila Fed Mfg Svy           Feb       14     (13)   17 
          0830  Durable Goods Orders*       Dec      +1.5%   (24)  +0.7%** 
          0945  Markit Flash Mfg PMI        Feb       54.2   (4)    54.9*** 
          0945  Markit Flash Services PMI   Feb       54.3   (3)    54.2*** 
          1000  Existing Home Sales         Jan       5.02M  (22)   4.99M 
                  -- percent change         Jan      +0.6%         -6.4% 
          1000  Leading Index               Jan      +0.1%   (13)  -0.1% 
 
 
*Originally scheduled to publish Jan. 25, 2019 
**Revised Figure 
***End-Jan Reading 
 
(Figures in parentheses refer to number of economists surveyed.) 
 

Write to Tim Merle at dataweekahead@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 10:00 ET (15:00 GMT)

DJ Acacia Mining's Share Increase on Dispute Resolution is Premature: Shore Capital -- Market Talk

1456 GMT - Acacia Mining shares rise on news that parent Barrick Gold has reached an agreement to resolve its dispute with the government of Tanzania, but Shore Capital's Yuen Low says the reaction is premature. "It looks like capitulation on the part of Barrick," Mr. Low says. "I guess they are thinking is that it's better to have something than nothing." Mr. Low says the rise in shares is probably due to shareholders being relieved rather than happy. "People are speculating that this must mean that value could be increased," he says. The exact terms are still unknown, he says. Shares are up 11% at 249.30 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:56 ET (14:56 GMT)

DJ UK Market Talk Roundup: Shares Gaining
Stocks on the rise in the UK today. Compiled by Dow Jones Newswires Markets Desk, markets.eu@dowjones.com 

1456 GMT - Acacia Mining shares rise on news that parent Barrick Gold has reached an agreement to resolve its dispute with the government of Tanzania, but Shore Capital's Yuen Low says the reaction is premature. "It looks like capitulation on the part of Barrick," Mr. Low says. "I guess they are thinking is that it's better to have something than nothing." Mr. Low says the rise in shares is probably due to shareholders being relieved rather than happy. "People are speculating that this must mean that value could be increased," he says. The exact terms are still unknown, he says. Shares are up 11% at 249.30 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1129 GMT - BHP Group is still undervalued despite the operational issues it faces and the fact it trades at a premium to rivals such as Anglo American and Rio Tinto, Jefferies says. The bank says that despite disappointing first-half earnings results, BHP still has a positive outlook. Jefferies says improvements in its operations and stronger commodities prices should lead to growth in free cash flow and capital returns. The bank maintains its buy rating on BHP. London-listed shares are up 0.4% at 1,803 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1019 GMT - Eland Oil & Gas is sending a strong message to the market with its plans to start paying a dividend this year, Peel Hunt analysts say. The brokerage says Eland Oil & Gas is sending a message not only about its current strength, but also the positive direction for the future, where high-levels of production are planned to support reinvestment in its portfolio and a sustainable cash-returns policy. Peel Hunt has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 160 pence. Shares up 1.2% at 126.50 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

0843 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group looks strong on most underlying measures after its 2018 results and its recent share price drop leaves the stock looking cheap, Interactive Investor says. The investment platform notes Lloyds improved on post-tax profit, net interest margin and costs, despite missing expectations at a pretax profit level. A GBP1.75 billion share buyback and a 5.4% dividend yield signal confidence in the bank's prospects. Interactive notes that shares are down 14% over the last year, compared to just a 0.9% decline for the FTSE 100 overall, and analysts generally rate Lloyds as a strong buy. Shares up 2.8%. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Shares in mining giant Glencore rise 2.4% as a 41% drop in net profit for 2018 is offset by a $2 billion buyback program. The buyback is "supportive" for the stock and is "expected to be topped up by $1 billion from the targeted noncore asset disposals in 2019," Citi says. "This gives 2019 shareholder returns range of $4.75 billion base with a potential top-up implying returns yield of 8.6%-10.4%." Earnings, however, were slightly weaker than expected. "The marketing segment performed weaker than expectations owing to negative impact from alumina and cobalt contracts." Citi expects a "slight downward consensus earnings revision on copper guidance" but expects some of the negative alumina and cobalt marketing earnings to reverse in 2019. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

 
Contact us in London. +44-20-7842-9288 
Markettalk.eu@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:56 ET (14:56 GMT)

DJ ECB Foreign Exchange Reference Rates - Feb 20

Following are European Central Bank foreign exchange reference rates. All currencies are quoted against the euro.

 
 
US Dollar               USD       1.1342 
Japanese Yen            JPY       125.61 
Bulgarian Lev           BGN       1.9558 
Czech Koruna            CZK       25.679 
Danish Krone            DKK       7.4614 
British Pound           GBP       0.86945 
Hungarian Forint        HUF       317.33 
Polish Zloty            PLN       4.3445 
Romanian Leu            RON       4.7567 
Swedish Krona           SEK       10.5703 
Swiss Franc             CHF       1.1342 
Norwegian Kroner        NOK       9.7335 
Croatian Kuna           HRK       7.4135 
Russian Rouble          RUB       74.5774 
Turkish Lira            TRY       6.0190 
Australian Dollar       AUD       1.5844 
Brazilian Real          BRL       4.2019 
Canadian Dollar         CAD       1.4956 
Chinese Yuan Renminbi   CNY       7.6244 
Hong Kong Dollar        HKD       8.9026 
Indonesian Rupiah       IDR       15924.17 
Israeli Shekel          ILS       4.1004 
Indian Rupee            INR       80.7035 
Korean Won              KRW       1273.47 
Mexican Peso            MXN       21.7301 
Malaysian Ringgit       MYR       4.6183 
New Zealand Dollar      NZD       1.6513 
Philippine Peso         PHP       59.003 
Singapore Dollar        SGD       1.5326 
Thai Baht               THB       35.268 
South African Rand      ZAR       16.0354 
 

The reference rates are based on the regular daily procedure between central banks within and outside the European System of Central Banks, which normally takes place at 1415 CET (1215 GMT)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:55 ET (14:55 GMT)

DJ Investors Want Apple to Do a Big Acquisition, JPMorgan Says -- Barrons.com
By Tae Kim 

JPMorgan believes investors are looking for Apple (ticker: AAPL) to use its $130 billion hoard of net cash to acquire a company.

While the firm's analyst Samik Chatterjee noted Apple's impending moves to introduce video-streaming and news subscription services, he added the market likely wants something bigger.

"Apple gearing up for Services push organically; however, we believe investors are looking for inorganic acceleration" in services, he wrote on Wednesday. Investors "are hopeful [recent management changes] will trigger progress towards leveraging the balance sheet for M&A."

Apple stock was 0.5% higher early Wednesday at $171.83. Chatterjee reiterated his Overweight rating and $228 price target for the shares.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Chatterjee said an acquisition could accelerate Apple's transformation to become more a services-focused company, which could help smooth out financial swings from a more slowly growing market for iPhones.

This isn't the first time the analyst has broached the topic. Earlier this month, he suggested Apple should look at the video-streaming content, videogaming, and smart-home-speaker markets for its next big deal.

CEO Tim Cook reminded investors in a letter last month that Apple's goal is to be "net-cash neutral" over time, meaning that the company needs a use for its cash.

Concerning Apple's key smartphone business, the analyst also noted that a JPMorgan index of sales at suppliers of iPhone components showed signs of stabilizing in January. The suppliers' revenue rose 2% year over year last month versus a 4% decline in December.

Write to Tae Kim at tae.kim@barrons.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:55 ET (14:55 GMT)

DJ Update: Stock Market Fights For Flight As Wall Street Awaits Minutes From The Fed's Big Policy Pivot -- MarketWatch

U.S. stocks on Wednesday saw a subdued open as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting last month that led to a major reversal in policy for the central bank. Developments in trade remained on investors' radar as talks between Beijing and Washington continue. President Trump said that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on some $200 billion to 25% from 10% in Chinese goods as scheduled on March 2, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date." The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded up 16 points, or less than 0.1%, at 25,904, the S&P 500 index edged lower by less than a point at 2,779, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced more firmly, compared against its equity benchmark peers, up 0.2% at 7,500. An eighth straight gain for the Nasdaq would match its longest win streak since a period ended Aug. 9. Fears that the Fed, run by Chairman Jerome Powell, was raising interest rates too quickly roiled markets last year 2018, but the Fed changed its tune at the start of 2019, citing crosscurrents exemplified by one of the worst December returns for stocks in years. In corporate news, CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares were lower after its quarterly results disappointed Wall Street (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cvs-health-shares-fall-after-lower-than-expected-revenue-2019-02-20). Shares of Tesla Inc. (TSLA) were in focus after another the electric car maker announced that its general counsel, Dane Butsinkas was leaving the firm (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-replaces-top-lawyer-after-just-two-months-in-the-role-2019-02-20). Looking ahead, the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes will be released at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

-Mark DeCambre

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:53 ET (14:53 GMT)

DJ LVMH to Appoint Insider to Succeed Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi -Bloomberg

-LVMH will, for now, let Silvia Venturini Fendi succeed Karl Lagerfeld as creative director of Fendi following the famous designer's death on Tuesday, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

--Ms. Venturini Fendi--a granddaughter of the brand's founders--is creative director for accessories, menswear, and children at the LVMH-owned Italian label.

Full story: https://bloom.bg/2ElBFQF

Write to Barcelona editors at barcelonaeditors@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:52 ET (14:52 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 09:50 EST / 1450 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.84-85      110.61-62  +0.21   110.95   110.55  +1.15 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1333-36      1.1342-45  -0.08   1.1360   1.1326  -1.18 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3025-27      1.3062-64  -0.28   1.3077   1.3010  +2.09 
USD/CHF Switzerland     1.0003-07      1.0009-13  -0.06   1.0024   0.9997  +1.93 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3181-86      1.3209-14  -0.21   1.3221   1.3172  -3.35 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7156-60      0.7163-67  -0.10   0.7177   0.7141  +1.50 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6867-73      0.6880-86  -0.19   0.6887   0.6850  +2.23 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.60-64      125.41-45  +0.15   125.94   125.36  -0.06 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8701-04      0.8680-83  +0.24   0.8716   0.8677  -3.20 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1338-41      1.1353-56  -0.13   1.1368   1.1336  +0.74 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4938-48      1.4977-87  -0.26   1.4995   1.4932  -4.46 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5830-40      1.5824-34  +0.04   1.5867   1.5816  -2.64 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4610-17      7.4609-16  +0.00   7.4632   7.4602  -0.07 
EUR/NOK Norway         9.7375-425      9.7149-99  +0.23   9.7481   9.7138  -1.70 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5708-808    10.5557-657  +0.14  10.5807  10.5395  +4.17 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.      25.667-97      25.662-92  +0.02   25.711   25.659  -0.11 
EUR/HUF Hungary         317.09-49      317.28-68  -0.06   317.82   317.08  -1.17 
EUR/PLN Poland         4.3383-401     4.3299-317  +0.19   4.3460   4.3297  +1.16 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.34-38       79.24-28  +0.13    79.58    79.13  +2.68 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.35-41      144.47-53  -0.08   145.05   144.12  +3.21 
CAD/JPY Canada           84.07-11       83.70-74  +0.44    84.15    83.60  +4.64 
NZD/JPY New Zealand      76.13-17       76.12-16  +0.01    76.33    75.90  +3.41 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.636-86      22.617-67  +0.08   22.671   22.604  +1.07 
USD/HUF Hungary      279.84-80.24   279.73-80.13  +0.04   280.43   279.32  +0.02 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5827-37      6.5788-98  +0.06   6.5884   6.5693  +1.10 
USD/NOK Norway          8.5907-67      8.5635-95  +0.32   8.5988   8.5575  -0.55 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8277-82      3.8184-89  +0.24   3.8342   3.8149  +2.34 
USD/RUB Russia          65.719-89     65.684-754  +0.05   65.935   65.641  -5.04 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3263-353     9.3069-159  +0.21   9.3366   9.2934  +5.40 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.0365-665    14.0296-596  +0.05  14.3695  14.0079  -2.16 
 
USD/CNY China           6.7206-26      6.7575-95  -0.55   6.7680   6.7155  -2.28 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8490-95      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.23 
USD/MYR Malaysia        4.0720-70     4.0777-827  -0.14   4.0825   4.0639  -1.40 
USD/INR India           71.135-55     71.290-310  -0.22   71.610   71.085  +2.26 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines  51.984-2.004      52.128-48  -0.28   52.155   51.941  -0.96 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3512-22      1.3524-34  -0.09   1.3542   1.3509  -0.82 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1121.43-3.43   1121.92-3.92  -0.04  1124.24  1120.54  +0.73 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.788-818     30.776-806  +0.04   30.820   30.768  +0.73 
USD/THB Thailand       31.080-100      31.120-40  -0.13   31.170   31.040  -3.81 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil          3.7264-94      3.7236-66  +0.08   3.7334   3.6912  -3.95 
USD/MXN Mexico       19.1864-2164    19.1305-605  +0.29  19.2328  19.1337  -2.28 
USD/ARS Argentina     40.1147-247    39.2650-750  +2.16  40.1270  39.2450  +6.57 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:50 ET (14:50 GMT)

DJ Treasury Yields Little Changed Ahead of Fed Minutes
By Akane Otani 

U.S. Treasurys hovered around the flatline ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note last traded at 2.641%, according to Tradeweb, compared with 2.645% Tuesday.

Yields, which fall as bond prices rise, wobbled in a narrow range overnight as global stocks mostly nudged higher. Later Wednesday, traders will be parsing the minutes from the Fed's Jan. 29-30 meeting for clues on how long the Fed intends to pause its rate-increase campaign.

Fed minutes, as well as coming speeches from central bank officials, should help "convince many that the next Fed move is as likely to be a cut in rates as an increase," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, in an email. That should prove to be a "market positive," he added.

Bonds and stocks rallied last month after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell signaled the central bank was done raising interest rates for now, given the uncertainty surrounding the U.S. economic outlook.

Treasury yields have largely drifted along since then, with the yield on the two-year note ticking down to 2.489% Wednesday, just below its 2018 close of 2.496%. Yields on shorter-term debt tend to be sensitive to changes in expectations about the path of Fed policy, falling when traders price in lower short-term rates and rising when traders believe the central bank will tighten monetary policy.

Now, analysts are grappling with uncertainty over which direction the Fed will take with its next rate move. Federal-funds futures, used by traders to place bets on the course of monetary policy, showed Wednesday a 10% chance of the Fed lowering rates by year-end.

That's up from 3% one month ago, according to CME Group.

Write to Akane Otani at akane.otani@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:49 ET (14:49 GMT)

DJ Update: Stock Market Fights For Flight As Wall Street Awaits Minutes From The Fed's Big Policy Pivot -- MarketWatch

U.S. stocks on Wednesday saw a subdued open as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting last month that led to a major reversal in policy for the central bank. Developments in trade remained on investors' radar as talks between Beijing and Washington continues. President Trump said that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on some $200 billion to 25% from 10% in Chinese goods as scheduled on March 2, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date." The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened little changed at 25,898, the S&P 500 index traded at 2,780, while those for the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced more firmly, compared against its equity benchmark peers, up 0.1% at 7,496. An eighth straight gain for the Nasdaq would match its longest win streak since a period ended Aug. 9. All three benchmarks were enjoying razor-thin gains. Fears that the Fed, run by Chairman Jerome Powell, was raising interest rates too quickly roiled markets last year 2018, but the Fed changed its tune at the start of 2019, citing crosscurrents exemplified by one of the worst December returns for stocks in years. In corporate news, CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares were lower after its quarterly results disappointed Wall Street. Shares of Tesla Inc. (TSLA) were in focus after another the electric car maker saw a high-profile executive depart. Looking ahead, the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes will be released at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

-Mark DeCambre

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:49 ET (14:49 GMT)

DJ Pound Vulnerable to May-Juncker Meeting: Rabobank -- Market Talk

1449 GMT - Sterling is "vulnerable" for the rest of the day, says Jane Foley, senior FX strategist at Rabobank. The reason: Prime Minister Theresa May is meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels. The meeting could disappoint investors hoping for the U.K. and EU to make progress towards avoiding a no-deal Brexit on March 29, she says. Recent interaction between the two sides suggest neither is willing to compromise, at least not in public. "The odds in favour of a hard Brexit have grown as the March 29 deadline approaches," Ms. Foley says. (joe.wallace@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:49 ET (14:49 GMT)

DJ U.S. Stocks Open Little Changed as Investors Track Trade Talks
By David Hodari 

U.S. stocks opened little changed Wednesday, pausing a recent rally as investors awaited further details on U.S.-China trade talks and minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 25895 shortly after the opening bell. The S&P 500 also edged up less than 0.1%. Both benchmarks entered the day up about 11% for the year, putting the Dow industrials just 3.5% below last year's record and the S&P about 5% off its all-time high. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.1%.

Cautious signals from the Fed about interest-rate increases and optimism about a U.S.-China trade agreement have lifted the outlook for economic growth and sparked this year's market rebound.

President Trump said Tuesday the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled after March 1, adding that the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date."

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency higher against the U.S. dollar. It has fallen versus the dollar in recent 12 months, sparking concerns that Beijing has allowed its currency to drop to neutralize the impact of U.S. tariffs.

"A lot of market participants have pointed it out in the recent past, and whatever pressures China may have felt from the trade disputes, weakness in the yuan has been a welcome relief," said Abi Oladimeji, chief investment officer at Thomas Miller Investment. "Of course, they've denied any suggestion it was intentional."

The prospect of currency controls being part of a trade deal comes in the context of various remarks from Mr. Trump over the past year in which he has signaled his preference for a weaker dollar and less aggressive interest-rate policy.

Fears that the Federal Reserve was planning on raising rates too quickly roiled markets at the end of 2018, but the central bank has since soothed investors by signaling a pause. Still, some analysts say there are doubts about the Fed's future plans for rates and its balance-sheet runoff program given its rapid policy reversal in the past few months.

The minutes "should shed some light on the Fed's motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we'll see an end to balance sheet normalization," said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note edged up to 2.648%, according to Tradeweb, from 2.645% a session earlier. Yields rise as bond prices fall. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 other currencies, added 0.1%.

Investors were also tracking the latest earnings results, as better-than-expected numbers from large companies this reporting season have also eased fears of a broad growth slowdown.

CVS Health tumbled 8% after it said it swung to a loss in the latest quarter and gave a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

Chip maker Analog Devices added about 1% after posting a 21% increase in quarterly profits from a year earlier.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.4%, buoyed by a rally in auto stocks.

Asian trading was also upbeat, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rising 1% and Japan's Nikkei climbing 0.6%.

-- Amrith Ramkumar contributed to this article.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:46 ET (14:46 GMT)

DJ Anglo American PLC's Net Profit, Underlying Ebitda to Fall, Analysts Say -- Earnings Preview

By Oliver Griffin

Anglo American PLC (AAL.LN) is scheduled to report its on full-year 2018 results on Thursday. Here's what you need to know:

NET PROFIT: A consensus of 18 analysts provided by FactSet forecasts the diversified mining company's net profit in 2018 at $2.8 billion. In 2017, the group made a profit of $3.17 billion.

UNDERLYING EBITDA: A consensus of 14 analysts compiled by Vuma forecasts Anglo American's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, stripping out certain one-off items, of $7.76 billion. Last year the company reported underlying Ebitda of $8.82 billion.

WHAT TO WATCH:

-DIAMONDS: Bernstein's Paul Gait will be keeping an eye on De Beers--Anglo American's majority owned diamond miner--in the company's full-year results. This year, De Beers launched Lightbox Jewelry, its first foray into synthetic-diamond jewelry. With rough diamond prices taking a knock, there will be questions about the Lightbox pricing strategy, he says.

-MINAS RIO: Analysts from UBS and Bernstein say they'll be watching out for updates on Anglo-American's Minas Rio iron mine in Brazil. Following the January disaster in Brazil's Minas Gerais state when a tailings dam owned by Vale SA (VALE) burst, the analysts say they will be looking to see how this affects Anglo-American's operations. In April last year, the company forecast that it would take a $300 million-$400 million hit to underlying Ebitda due to inspections and repairs halting operations at its Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil. It later revised the figure $320 million.

Write to Oliver Griffin at oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:45 ET (14:45 GMT)

DJ Walgreens' Stock Falls To Pace Dow Losers After CVS Revenue, Outlook Disappoint -- MarketWatch

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) sank 1.9% in morning trade Wednesday, enough to pace the Dow Jones Industrial Average's decliners, after rival drugstore chain CVS Health Corp.'s (CVS) disappointing fourth-quarter revenue and full-year profit outlook (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cvs-health-shares-fall-after-lower-than-expected-revenue-2019-02-20). Walgreen's stock price decline of $1.41 was shaving about 10 points off the Dow's price, which was up 8 points. Meanwhile, CVS shares tumbled 8.5% to pace the S&P 500's decliners. Elsewhere, Rite Aid Corp.'s stock (RAD) slipped 0.8%.

-Tomi Kilgore

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:41 ET (14:41 GMT)

DJ Tesla Replaces Top Lawyer After Two Months

Tesla Inc. is losing its general counsel two months after hiring him, replacing the veteran trial lawyer with a longtime insider who helped the electric car company navigate some of its biggest legal issues.

Dane Butswinkas is leaving Tesla to return to his law firm Williams & Connolly, where he had spent almost 30 years before being named as the auto maker’s general counsel in December, the company confirmed on Wednesday.

Mr. Butswinkas said in a statement he looks forward to returning to Washington to continue his work with Tesla in an outside counsel role, as in the past. People familiar with the matter said he found that Tesla wasn’t the right cultural fit.

Jonathan Chang will become Tesla’s new top lawyer, rising from his role as vice president of legal. The 40-year-old has been at Tesla almost eight years, playing an instrumental role in the auto maker’s efforts to raise money, guide the purchase of SolarCity Corp. and battle franchise auto dealers that have tried to block direct sales of Tesla’s vehicles to customers.

Mr. Butswinkas’s exit marks another high-profile executive departure for the company during the past two years, as Tesla has labored to turn the Model 3 into its first mass-market electric car. After struggling last year to boost production of the compact sedan and conserve cash, Tesla is having trouble servicing them while it attempts to become consistently profitable.

More than 50 senior executives have left the Palo Alto, Calif., company in the past two years, including heads of sales, engineering, human resources and communications. Last month, Tesla announced it was replacing its retiring CFO, Deepak Ahuja, with 34-year-old Zach Kirkhorn.

Mr. Butswinkas’s swift departure is reminiscent of another quick exit. In September, Tesla’s accounting chief, Dave Morton, left the company after only a few weeks, citing the intense pressure and scrutiny of the company.

Tesla’s legal department had seen turnover before the arrival in 2013 of Todd Maron, who took over as general counsel in 2014. He had previously worked as Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s divorce lawyer and helped build out the company’s legal department. The company went through three general counsels from 2009 to 2012, including one who stayed for less than four months.

Mr. Maron announced he was leaving the company in December, a few months after Mr. Musk settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over claims he misled investors with the surprise announcement that he had arranged funding for a take-private deal. Mr. Musk’s settlement included agreeing to a fine and stepping down as chairman.

Mr. Chang came to Tesla from Lithium Technologies where he was general counsel, according to his LinkedIn biography. Prior, he worked as a lawyer at Latham & Watkins, where he began advising Tesla in 2006 as outside counsel. He earned a law degree and M.B.A. from the University of Southern California. He grew up in Fremont, Calif., where Tesla’s factory is located.

One of Mr. Chang’s early tests came during the 2012 presidential campaign. Republican nominee Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s loans to renewable energy companies, calling Tesla a loser.

Tesla had received $452 million in federal loans in 2010, one of five car makers to receive money from the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program that was launched under President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama.

The company decided it needed to repay the loans early in an effort to move past the political criticism, said Phil Rothenberg, who was a lawyer at Tesla at the time. Its bankers told the company the market was receptive to raising money, so it rushed to negotiate a deal to repay the government and go to market with the debt and equity offering, he said.

“Jonathan Chang was one of the key people negotiating with the Energy Department because we had no general counsel,” Mr. Rothenberg said. “He worked literally all night.”

Tesla repaid the loans in May 2013.

Phuong Phillips, former deputy general counsel at SolarCity, said she witnessed Mr. Chang’s style up close, as the two companies negotiated the merger in 2016. The merger was controversial among some investors because Mr. Musk was also chairman and majority shareholder at SolarCity.

“What he would do was listen, offer his suggestion, then basically persuade you into believing that his idea was yours,” Ms. Phillips said of Mr. Chang. “So at the end of the day he got what he wanted, but he did it in such a lovely, kind manner that no one thought less of him.”

Write to Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:40 ET (14:40 GMT)

DJ Bristol-Myers Sees EPS, Rev Growth Through 2025 from Celgene Deal >BMY CELG

By Michael Dabaie

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) said Wednesday that the combined company from its proposed acquisition of Celgene Corp. (CELG) is expected to increase revenue and earnings per share every year through 2025.

Bristol-Myers on Wednesday issued an updated presentation on the transaction.

Bristol-Myers said to facilitate continued dialogue with the Federal Trade Commission, it would refile its premerger notification and report Wednesday, which will restart the 30-day time frame for the FTC's initial review of the transaction.

Bristol-Myers last month agreed to buy rival Celgene in a deal valued at about $74 billion, combining two leading sellers of cancer drugs.

The company said it plans to hold special meetings of stockholders on April 12 and the deal remains on track to close in the third quarter.

"Bristol-Myers Squibb is well positioned for 2025 and beyond with continued leadership across oncology and a diversified portfolio of assets. The combined company will have a broad, balanced and earlier life-cycle marketed portfolio with a significantly higher number of opportunities across multiple diseases to drive the growth of Bristol-Myers Squibb in the second half of the decade," the company said.

Write to Michael Dabaie at michael.dabaie@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:37 ET (14:37 GMT)

DJ Stock Market Fights For Flight As Wall Street Awaits Minutes From The Fed's Big Policy Pivot -- MarketWatch

U.S. stocks on Wednesday saw a subdued open as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's rate-setting meeting last month that led to a major reversal in policy for the central bank. Developments in trade remained on investors' radar as talks between Beijing and Washington continues. President Trump said that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on some $200 billion to 25% from 10% in Chinese goods as scheduled on March 2, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date." The Dow Jones Industrial Average opened little changed at 25,898, the S&P 500 index traded at 2,780, while those for the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced more firmly, compared against its equity benchmark peers, up 0.1% at 7,496. An eighth straight gain for the Nasdaq would match its longest win streak since a period ended Aug. 9. All three benchmarks were enjoying razor-thin gains. Fears that the Fed, run by Chairman Jerome Powell, was raising interest rates too quickly roiled markets last year 2018, but the Fed changed its tune at the start of 2019, citing crosscurrents exemplified by one of the worst December returns for stocks in years. In corporate news, CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares were lower after its quarterly results disappointed Wall Street. Shares of Tesla Inc. (TSLA) were in focus after another the electric car maker saw a high-profile executive depart. Looking ahead, the Federal Open Market Committee's minutes will be released at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

-Mark DeCambre

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:35 ET (14:35 GMT)

DJ Brexit Deal May Happen at Last Minute: SEB -- Market Talk

1432 GMT - Most market participants believe that a no-deal Brexit will likely be avoided even with just one month left before the deadline. Richard Falkenhall, senior forex strategist at Nordic bank SEB says the belief comes from the fact that this is how negotiations usually work. An agreement is usually left until the last minute to justify arguing that everything has been done to reach the best agreement, Mr. Falkenhall says. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:32 ET (14:32 GMT)

DJ Global Forex and Fixed Income Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering FX and Fixed Income. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

0932 ET - Most market participants believe that a no-deal Brexit will likely be avoided even with just one month left before the deadline. Richard Falkenhall, senior forex strategist at Nordic bank SEB says the belief comes from the fact that this is how negotiations usually work. An agreement is usually left until the last minute to justify arguing that everything has been done to reach the best agreement, Mr. Falkenhall says. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

0924 ET - The U.K. and the EU will likely agree to a Brexit withdrawal deal eventually because of the economic implications of a no-deal Brexit, says Richard Falkenhall, senior forex strategist at Nordic bank SEB. Prior to 1Q17, the economies of U.K. and Europe were running at the same speed as the U.S. Since then, however, the U.K. gross domestic product has fallen, as has GDP in the eurozone, when compared to the U.S., SEB says. GDP growth would fall slightly after Brexit if there is a deal, to around 2.4% from around 2.6%, the GDP growth rate if U.K. stayed in the EU. But in case of a no-deal U.K. exit from the EU, the U.K. GDP growth rate would fall to 2.2%. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

0915 ET - Research firm Fitch Solutions maintains its outlook for the 2019 average price of gold at $1,300 a troy ounce, but says it's more likely for prices to trend up from that level than down. "A significant shift in policy guidance from the Fed over January indicates that US monetary policy normalization will be slower over the coming quarters than had been previously anticipated," Fitch says. "We had expected the Fed to rein in interest rate hike forecasts over the second half of 2019 and this shift in guidance has occurred sooner than expected." Gold prices surged to their highest level in 10 months yesterday, and are currently up another 0.2% at $1,347.10 per ounce this morning. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

0908 ET - Moody's Investors Service is projecting a higher number of defaults from European companies rated at a speculative-grade this year. The annual default rate for junk-rated companies is set to jump to 3.0% in 2019 from 2.3% in 2018, it says. Aside from a higher number of companies unable to service interest or capital payments to creditors, covenant protection in EMEA higher-yield bonds have continued to weaken since 2012. This leaves debtholders more exposed to losses. (lorena.ruibal@wsj.com; @lorena_rbal)

0856 ET - US Treasurys hovered around the flatline ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting. The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note last traded at 2.641%, compared with 2.645% Tuesday. Yields, which fall as bond prices rise, wobbled in a narrow range overnight as global stocks mostly nudged higher. Later Wednesday, traders will be parsing FOMC minutes for clues on how long the Fed's pause on rate increases will last, and what it will take for the central bank to resume hiking. Dovish signs from the Fed have kept bond yields under pressure this year, with the 2-year Treasury yield trading Wednesday at 2.489%, just below its 2018 close of 2.496%. (akane.otani@wsj.com; @akaneotani)

0854 ET - The risk of a near-term election has risen after three Conservative MPs resigned earlier, says RBC. "An early election would presumably be fought under a different Conservative leader and likely under a more Eurosceptic one," RBC says, adding that this wouldn't be "anything other than negative for sterling." The pound fell on the back of the resignations, but has recovered slightly since. It is last down 0.2% at 1.3040. EUR/GBP is up by 0.2% at 0.8696.(olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

0845 ET - BBVA expects global investment flows to emerging markets to continue to outperform developed markets over the short term but the pace is likely to be less pronounced than in January, says BBVA. This is, however, subject to the U.S. Federal Reserve's future rate actions and progress in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. "Assuming a soft landing in global growth and against the backdrop of a more dovish Fed, the outlook for emerging markets has recently improved," BBVA says. The bank's analysts say the risks around the global outlook remain tilted to the downside, therefore re-emergence of risk-off episodes can't be ruled out in the coming months or quarters. (emese.bartha@wsj.com; @EmeseBartha)

0826 ET - Norwegian Air Shuttle's NOK3 billion rights issue will do little to reduce the carrier's debt pile, says Saxo Bank. Saxo notes that the issue appears large when viewed against the airline's NOK4.1bn market value, but far smaller in the context of its NOK92.6bn debt. "The current crisis for Norwegian is coming at the worst possible time," says Saxo's Peter Garnry. "The global economy is growing below trend and still slowing. Such an environment will reliably see demand soften for airliners while investor risk-aversion rises dramatically. This will make it far more difficult for Norwegian to get the funding necessary to weather the storm." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

0810 ET - Italy's significantly higher bond spread over German Bunds compared with that of Spain is tempting, but Spain's better track record in economic policy makes it a better pick, says Marius Gero Daheim, SEB's chief eurozone strategist. "Although the allure of 270 basis points in extra yield in 10-year [Italian government bonds] BTPs may prove hard to resist for investors in the context of close-to-zero-yielding 10-year Bunds, we prefer Spain with its 110 bps of extra yield [versus Bunds]over Italy," Mr. Daheim says. He refers to Spain's better results of economic policy reform and fiscal adjustment, higher credit rating and more favorable rating outlook and current strong performance as reasons for his view. (emese.bartha@wsj.com; @EmeseBartha)

0754 ET - After tightening for eight consecutive days, the iTraxx Europe Main index opened 1 point wider at 68 basis points compared with the previous day, raising questions about the sustainability of the current risk-on rally. As markets brace for the possibility of another round of disappointing PMI data on Thursday, only a positive development in the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China could keep momentum going, says Commerzbank's Cem Keltek. The ability of Main, a credit default swaps index that only includes European investment grade credits, to tighten further is "purely based on hopes", which could easily shrink at any time given the risk of U.S. tariffs on European car imports "looming large", he says.(lorena.ruibal@wsj.com; @lorena_rbal)

0746 ET - In the absence of firm macroeconomic drivers, hefty new supply of European corporate bonds could cap the recent rally in investment-grade paper, says Commerzbank's Cem Keltek. He expects the primary market to remain active and accelerate toward March, which could eventually result in "indigestion." This would result in weakness in bond prices--and hence higher yields--in the secondary market as new issuance supply outstrips demand. (lorena.ruibal@wsj.com; @lorena_rbal)

0740 ET - "In the short-run it means mess, chaos, and more disorder," says Stephen Gallo, European Head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets on Wednesday's fracture in the U.K. Conservative Party. Three lawmakers opted to leave the governing party--which has only a razor-thin majority--to join eight Labour MPs in the newly formed Independent Group. "If anything it reduces the chances of a way forward" on Brexit negotiations, Mr. Gallo says, and "overall it means parliament will be less united behind the government." The fresh wave of political uncertainty makes a beleaguered pound even less attractive to investors and "no-one wants to touch this thing because there's just 40 days left until March 29." (david.hodari@wsj.com ; @davidhodari)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:32 ET (14:32 GMT)

DJ Glencore's Coal Reversal -- Energy Journal

By Neanda Salvaterra

Good morning. In what experts are calling an extraordinary about-face Glencore PLC is promising to put a ceiling on its coal output because of the fossil fuel's link to climate change. The unexpected move comes as coal is resurgent around the world as a cheap source of electric power and after the Anglo-Swiss mining giant spent billions expanding its coal business in recent years.

In Washington, two foreign policy efforts might require a pivot similar to Glencore's. A high profile North Korean defector warned the U.S. about getting too cozy with Pyongyang. The Trump administration's push to transfer control of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to Venezuela's opposition leaders has hit a speed bump.

Let us know what you think of this newsletter by emailing EnergyJournal@wsj.com.

Did someone forward you this email? Sign Up Here

GLENCORE, ONCE A BIG COAL BACKER, IS CAPPING OUTPUT

Glencore PLC said Wednesday it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The Anglo-Swiss commodity trader said it plans to limit its output to 150 million tons a year, the upper range of this year's guidance.

Thermal coal fires many of the world's power plants, but is widely seen by climate scientists as a major contributor to global warming. Many rich, developed countries that can afford it have tilted toward plants powered by cleaner-burning natural gas.

Meanwhile, oil prices edged down on Wednesday after the U.S. signaled rising shale output.

FORMER NORTH KOREAN DIPLOMAT WARNS OF DECEPTION AT HANOI SUMMIT

The highest-ranking North Korean official to defect in recent years said the U.S. should press Pyongyang to rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and warned that the North would try to deceive Washington by offering hollow concessions when the two sides meet next week, reports Andrew Jeong.

Thae Yong Ho, a senior North Korean diplomat until 2016, said that pledging to rejoin the treaty would help commit Pyongyang to disarmament, as the agreement obliges signatories to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons and mandates inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

North Korea, which withdrew from the treaty in 2003, isn't recognized as a nuclear state by the international community, though it has tested six nuclear weapons.

VENEZUELA OPPOSITION'S CITGO TAKEOVER DISAPPOINTS U.S.

U.S. efforts to transfer control of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to Venezuela's opposition leaders have hit a snag, potentially undermining Washington's appetite to protect the Houston-based company from creditors, report Andrew Scurria, Kejal Vyas and Rebecca Elliott.

U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó named a new board at Citgo last week, laying the groundwork to wrest control of Venezuela's most valuable foreign oil asset from the ruling leftist regime. U.S. officials and high-level Citgo executives pushed for a board of nonpolitical oil experts that would shield Citgo from government interference as the company disentangles itself from authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro, people close to the discussions said.

But Mr. Guaidó's appointments fell short of the independent board the Trump administration expected, these people said. The fissures underscore the diplomatic and logistical challenges in shifting control of Venezuelan state resources away from Mr. Maduro to undermine his support within the military.

Citgo, one of the largest U.S. refiners and a Venezuelan state asset since 1990, has emerged as a key tool in Washington's campaign to oust Mr. Maduro from office and remake Latin America's political landscape.

BIG NUMBER: $1.20

Kinder Morgan Inc., is set to increase the capacity at its Chicago-based ethanol terminal to ward off concerns about its plant being "vulnerable to manipulations," reports Reuters.

The output from the firm's ethanol hub represents a benchmark for global ethanol prices. Recently prices for ethanol, an ingredient in bio-fuel, have dropped under $1.20 a gallon.

FUTURECURVE

Feb. 26 -- 28: The International Petroleum Week takes place in London. Speakers include Bob Dudley the chief executive officer for BP and the chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:29 ET (14:29 GMT)

DJ Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) Ind: 29.50-31.50 Last 28.31

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:28 ET (14:28 GMT)

DJ AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. ADR (AU) Ind: 15.25-16.00 Last 14.98

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:27 ET (14:27 GMT)

DJ Economic Implications of No-Deal Brexit to Push for Agreement: SEB -- Market Talk

1424 GMT - The U.K. and the EU will likely agree to a Brexit withdrawal deal eventually because of the economic implications of a no-deal Brexit, says Richard Falkenhall, senior forex strategist at Nordic bank SEB. Prior to 1Q17, the economies of U.K. and Europe were running at the same speed as the U.S. Since then, however, the U.K. gross domestic product has fallen, as has GDP in the eurozone, when compared to the U.S., SEB says. GDP growth would fall slightly after Brexit if there is a deal, to around 2.4% from around 2.6%, the GDP growth rate if U.K. stayed in the EU. But in case of a no-deal U.K. exit from the EU, the U.K. GDP growth rate would fall to 2.2%. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:24 ET (14:24 GMT)

DJ CVS Reports Loss on Long-Term Care Facilities Charge -- Update
By Aisha Al-Muslim 

CVS Health Corp. said it swung to a loss in the latest quarter as the health-care company recorded a $2.2 billion charge related to its struggling long-term care facilities business and issued a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based company reported Wednesday a fourth-quarter net loss of $419 million, or 37 cents a share, down from a profit of $3.29 billion, or $3.22 a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $2.14 a share, beating the $2.05 a share analysts polled by Refinitiv were looking for.

For 2019, the company guided adjusted earnings per share of $6.68 to $6.88, compared with analysts' estimates of $7.41 a share.

The stock fell 8.8% to $66.75 in premarket trading Wednesday. Shares are down 1.1% in the past year.

The net loss in the quarter was driven by a loss of $1.99 a share due to a goodwill impairment charge related to the long-term-care business. The unit missed its forecast primarily due to operational issues and customer liquidity issues, including one significant customer bankruptcy, the company said. CVS said it expects to see further deterioration in 2019 projected financial results in the unit.

"The LTC business has continued to experience industrywide challenges that have impacted our ability to grow the business at the rate that was originally estimated when the Company acquired Omnicare, Inc. in 2015," CVS said in an earnings release.

Revenue for the quarter rose 12.5% to $54.42 billion, missing the consensus forecast of $54.58 billion from analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Revenue growth was driven by increased pharmacy network claims, increased prescription volume and the addition of Aetna, the company said. The increase was partially offset by continued client pricing pressures in the pharmacy segment and reimbursement pressures in the retail and long-term care segment, as well as increased generic dispensing.

Same-store sales grew 5.7%, ahead of the FactSet estimate of a 4.6% increase.

In November, CVS completed its nearly $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, creating an industry giant that combines a retail pharmacy, pharmacy-benefit management and Aetna's insurance businesses.

CVS's latest financial results are the first since the merger with Aetna. Following the close, CVS created a new health-care-benefits segment equivalent to the former Aetna health-care segment, which includes insured and self-insured medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health products and services. Certain aspects of Aetna's operations are included in the company's corporate and other segment.

From Nov. 28 to Dec. 31, the health-care-benefits segment had revenue of $5.55 billion. Its medical membership as of Dec. 31 was 22.1 million, reflecting decreases in commercial insurance and Medicaid products.

Earlier this month, CVS began to pilot three HealthHUB locations, a store format that focuses more on health and wellness than its traditional stores by offering health-care services, new products and services and space for the company and community groups to offer health-related events.

CVS has said it expects to achieve savings of more than $750 million in the second year of its deal, from a combination of reduced corporate expenses, integration of operations and cuts to medical costs.

Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at aisha.al-muslim@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:22 ET (14:22 GMT)

DJ Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA ADR (FMS) Ind: 38.50-40.50 Last 38.38

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:22 ET (14:22 GMT)

DJ Lloyds Soothes Brexit Fears with GBP4B Payout

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY.LN) looked past concerns over Brexit’s destabilizing effect on the U.K. economy to lay out plans for a 4.0 billion-pound ($5.2 billion) cash return to shareholders as it reported its 2018 results on Wednesday.

The U.K.’s largest domestic bank proposed a larger-than-expected GBP1.75 billion share buyback. Lloyds also proposed a final dividend of 2.14 pence a share, bringing its total dividend for 2018 to 3.21 pence a share. The total capital return to shareholders will be 26% higher than in 2017, Lloyds said.

Lloyds struck a relatively sanguine tone about Brexit, despite Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio saying that the near-term outlook for the British economy remains unclear. The bank didn’t follow peers Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS.LN) and HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.LN) in setting aside further cash for a potential rise in loan losses, while Mr. Horta-Osorio said Lloyds still expects a deal to be struck between the U.K. and the European Union, allowing for an orderly transition.

Pretax profit rose 13% GBP5.96 billion but missed analysts’ expectations of GBP6.4 billion, according to company-compiled consensus. The miss was due to a series of one-off items, including a GBP200 million provision for claims of mis-sold payment protection insurance in the fourth quarter.

Shares rose 5% by early afternoon in London trading, leading the FTSE 100 index, as investors focused on the cash returns as well as improving margins and costs. Lloyds stock remains down around 10% over the last 12 months, significantly underperforming the large-cap index.

Despite concerns that the U.K.’s fiercely competitive mortgage market would pressure Lloyds to cut prices, the bank’s net interest margin, the difference between the money it earns on lending and pays out on deposits, rose to 2.93% from 2.86% the prior year. Lloyds said it expects to maintain the margin at roughly 2.90% this year. Lloyds’ net income of GBP17.77 billion matched analysts’ expectations, rising 2% from the prior year.

Lloyds said its operating costs are now expected to be less than GBP8 billion in 2019, a year ahead of its original target. Lloyds’ falling costs have helped it target returns ahead of European banking peers, and the lender said it continues to expect an increased return on tangible equity of between 14% and 15% this year.

While a reduction in one-off items and costs is likely to boost Lloyds’ profit in the near-term, the bank’s domestic focus could leave it exposed if Brexit causes a economic downturn in the U.K.

Impairments rose 18% to GBP937 million after Lloyds accounted for its 2017 acquisition of the MBNA credit-card book from Bank of America Corp. (BAC). Lloyds said there was no deterioration in credit risk during the year.

Overall loans and advances to customers were stable at GBP444 billion. Analysts at stock brokerage Goodbody said Lloyds is currently following its “optimal strategy” of pursuing higher returns, but may be planning further acquisition activity in the medium term. They flagged last week’s announcement of the appointment of Morgan Stanley (MS) investment banker William Chalmers as Lloyds’ next chief financial officer, potentially putting an experienced deal maker in line to head the bank after Mr. Horta-Osorio.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@dowjones.com; @AdamDowJones

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:20 ET (14:20 GMT)

DJ Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) Ind: 29.00-31.00 Last 28.31

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:20 ET (14:20 GMT)

DJ CVS Health Corp. (CVS) Ind: 63.00-66.00 Last 69.88

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:19 ET (14:19 GMT)

DJ Stocks to Watch: CVS, Gannett, Southwest Airlines, PepsiCo, Tesla, Caesars, Analog Devices
By Francesca Fontana and Jessica Menton 

Here are some of the companies with shares expected to trade actively in Wednesday's session. Stock movements noted by ticker reflect movements during regular trading hours; premarket trading is specified separately.

CVS Health Corp. -- Down 8.7% premarket: CVS swung to a loss in the latest quarter as the health-care company recorded a $2.2 billion charge related to its struggling long-term care facilities business and issued a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

Gannett Co. -- Up 0.8% premarket: Gannett, which is fending off a takeover bid, reported a wider loss in its latest quarter as advertisers continued to turn away from print media and circulation revenue fell.

Southwest Airlines Co. -- Down 4.3% premarket: The airline said it would investigate whether a dispute with its mechanics union was causing maintenance delays that have led to grounded planes and canceled flights.

Tesla Inc. -- Down 1.4% premarket: Tesla is losing its general counsel two months after hiring him, replacing the veteran trial lawyer with a longtime insider who helped the electric car company navigate some of its biggest legal issues.

PepsiCo Inc. -- Unchanged premarket: Hormel Foods said the beverage giant will buy the company's CytoSport business, which makes Muscle Milk, for an undisclosed amount.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. -- Up 0.9% premarket: The company said it has "engaged in discussions" with activist investor Carl Icahn, after it was recently disclosed his affiliates own just under 10% of the company.

Analog Devices Inc. -- Up 2.4% premarket: The chip maker said late Tuesday that its board of directors voted to raise the company's quarterly dividend to 54 cents a share, an increase of 12.5%.

Herbalife Nutrition Ltd. -- Up 0.5% premarket: The company reported a 9% sales increase in the fourth quarter, driven by strong growth in Asia.

La-Z-Boy Inc. -- Up 4% premarket: The furniture maker's profit and sales results for the latest quarter topped analysts' estimates.

LendingClub Corp. -- Down 8% premarket: The peer-to-peer lending company missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter revenue expectations.

Henry Schein Inc. -- Down 6.5% premarket: Henry Schein reported a profit in the fourth quarter despite selling, general and administrative costs increasing more than sales.

Targa Resources Corp. -- Down 3.7% premarket: The Houston energy company swung to a loss in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago as sales fell due to lower commodity prices and sales.

HollyFrontier Corp. -- Down 1.2% premarket: HollyFrontier reported profit fell 73% in the fourth quarter, as commodity prices weakened.

Owens Corning -- Up 1.2% premarket: Owens Corning reported a profit in the fourth quarter, driven by higher net sales and helped by a decline in operating expenses and income tax costs.

This is an expanded version of the "Stocks to Watch" section of our Markets newsletter. To receive it every morning via email, click here.

Write to Francesca Fontana at francesca.fontana@wsj.com and Jessica Menton at Jessica.Menton@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:18 ET (14:18 GMT)

DJ Fresenius's Unsurprising 2018 Results Buoy Shares -- Earnings Review

By Donato Paolo Mancini

Fresenius and its subsidiary Fresenius Medical Care reported results for the fourth quarter of 2018 and the full year on Wednesday. Shares in both companies rallied. Here's what happened:

SALES BEAT: Fresenius was expected to post sales of 33.36 billion euros ($36.69 billion), and Fresenius Medical Care was anticipated to post sales of EUR16.47 billion, according to a consensus estimate compiled by FactSet. Both companies beat the forecasts, reporting sales of EUR33.5 billion and EUR16.55 billion, respectively.

OPERATING PROFIT: The bottom-line picture was more mixed. Fresenius was expected to post an operating profit of EUR4.6 billion but missed by a small margin, posting an operating profit of EUR4.56 billion.

WHAT WE WATCHED:

--Investors focused on years beyond 2019, as guidance for this year had already been published. They were reassured by generous targets through 2023.

--A share buyback program at Fresenius Medical Care buoyed shares in both companies.

--All in all, the fourth-quarter results provided a healthy finish to a rocky year for Fresenius, in which investors got full-on jitters.

--No news was good news, it seems: shares in Fresenius and Fresenius Medical Care had gained as much as 6.7% and 7%, respectively, by Wednesday afternoon.

Write to Donato Paolo Mancini at donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:18 ET (14:18 GMT)

DJ Rio Tinto Reviews Global Standards for Tailings Facilities Following Brazil Disaster
 
   By Oliver Griffin 
 

Rio Tinto PLC (RIO.LN) is reviewing its global standards for tailings facilities in the wake of the January disaster when a dam belonging to Vale SA (VALE) burst in Brazil's Minas Gerais state.

The Anglo-Australian miner said Wednesday that it has 100 tailings facilities--structures made up of dams for storing uneconomical ore--across 32 sites, as well as a further 36 tailings facilities that are closed or under rehabilitation. Of its 100 tailings facilities, 21 are upstream construction facilities, Rio Tinto said.

The upstream design, which refers to the direction in which the dam is raised, is the most widely used method for permanently storing waste from mines. The design, under which the dam is gradually built upon a reservoir of tailings, is also the cheapest one but experts say it is the most prone to failure.

Rio Tinto CEO Jean-Sabastien Jacques said the company is assessing how it can further strengthen the existing external audit of facilities.

"We fully support the need for greater transparency which is why today we disclosed detailed information on our tailing facilities and how they are actively managed," Mr. Jacques said.

Write to Oliver Griffin at oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:16 ET (14:16 GMT)

DJ FTSE Edges Higher; Pound Recovers after Tory Resignations
 
Market News: 
 
FTSE 100          7,200.57 +21.40 +0.30% 
FTSE 250         19,097.82 +28.93 +0.15% 
FTSE AIM All-Share  907.37  +0.38 +0.04% 

Tory Resignations Increase Chances of General Election: RBC

1354 GMT - The risk of a near-term election has risen after three Conservative MPs resigned earlier, says RBC. "An early election would presumably be fought under a different Conservative leader and likely under a more Eurosceptic one," RBC says, adding that this wouldn't be "anything other than negative for sterling." The pound fell on the back of the resignations, but has recovered slightly since. It is last down 0.2% at 1.3040. EUR/GBP is up by 0.2% at 0.8696.

 
Top News: 

Three UK Lawmakers Quit Ruling Conservative Party to Join Independent Group

Three lawmakers quit the U.K.'s ruling Conservative Party on Wednesday, citing Brexit, in a move that further adds to the precariousness of Prime Minister Theresa May's grip on power and underlines how the decision to leave the European Union is reshaping British politics.

Glencore Net Profit Slides After Booking Impairment Costs

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) on Wednesday reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018 after booking impairment costs at two of its mines and launched a new $2 billion buyback program.

Lloyds Bank Missed 2018 Profit Expectations; Plans GBP1.75 Bln Share Buyback

Lloyds Banking Group PLC's (LLOY.LN) 2018 profit missed analyst expectations but the U.K. lender set out plans for a major share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets.

Walmart's Multibilion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Huge Hurdle

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart Inc.'s British grocery unit and rival J Sainsbury PLC, threatening to scuttle one of the retail giant's biggest overseas overhauls.

 
Companies News: 

1 Spatial Wins GBP1 Mln Defense Contract

1Spatial PLC (SPA.LN) said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a 1 million pound ($1.2 million) contract to supply software and services to the No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit, which supplies products and services to UK defense sector.

Bango Appoints Former Nokia Video Executive as COO; Shares Rise

Bango PLC (BGO.LN) shares rose on Wednesday after the mobile-commerce company said that it has appointed ex-Nokia Corp. (NOKIA.HE) executive Paul Larbey as its new chief operating officer.

Eden Research: Cedroz Nears Approval in EU After Malta Authorization

Eden Research PLC (EDEN.LN) said Wednesday that its pesticide formulation Cedroz has received authorization in Malta, which brings the product a step closer to wider approval by European Union member states.

EKF Diagnostics Gets FDA Approval for Quo-Test Analyzer

EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (EKF.LN) has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for professional use in a clinical-laboratory setting of its Quo-Test analyzer, the company said Wednesday.

Eland Oil & Gas to Start Paying Dividend in 2019

Eland Oil & Gas PLC (ELA.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to begin paying a dividend and that it expects to declare its maiden dividend at the end of this year.

Enteq Upstream Shares Rise on Higher Expected Earnings Forecast

Shares in Enteq Upstream PLC (NTQ.LN) rose Wednesday after the company said that revenue and underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in fiscal 2019 are expected to be materially ahead of expectations.

Flybe Confirms Receipt of New Proposal From Investor Group

Flybe Group PLC (FLYB.LN) confirmed Wednesday that it has received a proposal from an investor group led by Bateleur Capital LLC and Mesa Air Group Inc. to provide it with a capital injection and replacement of funding provided by Connect Airways Ltd.

Glencore Begins Turn Away from Coal, to Re-balance Portfolio

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) said Wednesday that it will rebalance its portfolio toward commodities that support the transition to a low-carbon economy, limiting its coal-production capacity broadly at current levels.

Impellam Group to Demerge Carlisle Support Services

Impellam Group PLC (IPEL.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to separate its Carlisle Support Services Group Ltd. subsidiary to reduce costs and focus on its core operations.

Indivior Launches Generic Version of Suboxone in US to Pre-empt Rivals

Indivior PLC (INDV.LN) said Wednesday that it has launched an authorized generic version of its Suboxone treatment for opioid-addiction in the U.S., as rival companies plan their own version of the drug.

Intu Properties Swung to FY Pretax Loss as Revenue Declined

Intu Properties PLC (INTU.LN) on Wednesday said it swung to pretax loss for fiscal 2018 due to a property revaluation deficit in the U.K., and said that the board isn't recommending a final dividend.

Vodafone Group to Launch 5G in European Cities in Second Half of 2019

Vodafone Group PLC (VOD.LN) is preparing to launch next-generation wireless technology, 5G, in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019, the company said Wednesday.

 
Other News: 

UK Regulator Closes Insurance-Brokerage Probe Without Taking Action

The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority on Wednesday closed its investigation into the wholesale insurance-broking market, saying it found no evidence of significant harm to clients.

 
Market Talk: 

Mesa Joins Counterbid For UK Carrier

Mesa Air CEO Jonathan Ornstein spied a place for some of its regional jets in Europe, but UK-based Flybe may not be the sweet spot. Mesa teamed with a group of other investors in an effort to wrestle the carrier from a consortium including Delta partner Virgin Atlantic, but Flybe's board says in a stock market filing that the timescale for the Mesa offer doesn't stack up with its own survival plan.

Morrisons Store Hopes Fade as Sainsbury Merger Falters

1319 GMT - Shares in Wm Morrison Supermarkets fall as regulators' resistance to J. Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc's Asda cast doubt over its hopes of securing more stores. Hargreaves Lansdown says the Competition & Markets Authority has effectively 'kicked into touch' the merger by claiming it would substantially reduce competition. Sainsbury's shares fall 15.2% and Morrisons drops 5.8%. "This suggests the market is concerned Walmart may now seek to sell Asda to another party, and there may not even be the silver lining of some shops being sold off to soften the blow," says HL's Laith Khalaf.

Lloyds Is Compelling Capital-Return Story

1304 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's shareholder returns make it attractive, says investment manager Quilter Cheviot after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback. Quilter notes that, though Lloyds had a mixed fourth quarter, its full-year results were resilient and its GBP1.75 billion share buyback was bigger than expected. "While there are concerns with regard to a slowdown of the U.K. economy and Brexit uncertainty, there are no signs of this in Lloyds's figures with loans losses remaining low supported by record employment figures," says Quilter equity analyst William Howlett. "We believe Lloyds offers a compelling capital-return story."

UK Political Break Saps Pound Attraction: BMO

1240 GMT - "In the short-run it means mess, chaos, and more disorder," says Stephen Gallo, European Head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets on Wednesday's fracture in the U.K. Conservative Party. Three lawmakers opted to leave the governing party--which has only a razor-thin majority--to join eight Labour MPs in the newly formed Independent Group. "If anything it reduces the chances of a way forward" on Brexit negotiations, Mr. Gallo says, and "overall it means parliament will be less united behind the government." The fresh wave of political uncertainty makes a beleaguered pound even less attractive to investors and "no-one wants to touch this thing because there's just 40 days left until March 29."

ConvaTec Is Down But Not Out: Jefferies

1240 GMT - Investors are too negative on ConvaTec, Jefferies says. It believes the FTSE 250-listed wound-care specialist still has what it takes to effect a turnaround. Last week, the company reported increased pretax profit in 2018, but missed its full-year guidance, which sent shares tumbling in the aftermath. The U.S. bank says that while the past year has been lackluster for ConvaTec--plagued by commercial headwinds and execution issues--its turnaround potential is intact, underpinned by increased investment and a restructured management team. "We expect a gradual recovery in organic growth in 2019, and improvement to be 2H-weighted," Jefferies says.

Tory MPs Resignations Dent Pound, But Not Key for Brexit: Nomura

1234 GMT - After three anti-Brexit U.K. Conservative Party members resigned to join a new independent group in parliament, the pound fell further on Wednesday, but Jordan Rochester, Nomura's forex strategist, says these resignations aren't damaging for the currency. Technically, ten Tory MPs would be "the tipping point" for Theresa May if there is a vote of no confidence. Moreover, even if these MPs "are independent does not necessarily mean they want an election and vote against this government," Mr. Rochester says. "From current levels of speculation as to who could block a no-deal Brexit and push the U.K. towards a softer outcome, we would need a lot more MPs to change their minds," he adds. GBP/USD last down 0.2% at 1.3034. EUR/GBP rises 0.3% to 0.8702.

Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9319

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:09 ET (14:09 GMT)

DJ Charles Schwab Stock Falls, Herbalife Rises, and 3 More Wednesday Morning Movers -- Barrons.com
By Teresa Rivas 

Holding Pattern. Stocks weren't doing much on Wednesday morning, with Dow Jones Industrial Average futures and S&P 500 futures off 0.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite was roughly flat ahead of the open. Along with trade concerns and earnings news, investors will be focused on the Federal Reserve, which will make public the minutes from its January policy-setting meeting this afternoon.

Here are five stocks making moves this morning:

Charles Schwab (ticker: SCHW) was down 2.2% to $46.01 after UBS downgraded it to Sell.

Concho Resources (CXO) fell 5.2% to $114.75 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. The exploration and production company earned 94 cents a share from revenue of $1.07 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of $1.12 and revenue of $1.16 billion.

Diamondback Energy (FANG) declined 2.4% to $102.26 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. The energy firm earned $1.21 a share, with revenue of $633.1 million. Analysts had expected EPS of $1.61, with revenue of $644.79 million.

Herbalife Nutrition (HLF) gained 1% to $58 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. The nutritional-products seller earned 63 cents a share from revenue of $1.19 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of 60 cents, with revenue of $1.19 billion. For the full year, Herbalife forecast EPS of $2.70 to $3.10, while the consensus estimate among analysts was for $3.20.

Texas Roadhouse (TXRH) lost 2.7% to $64.10 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings. The restaurant operator earned 42 cents a share after bringing in revenue of $605.91 million. Analysts were looking for EPS of 41 cents and revenue of $599.06 million.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:09 ET (14:09 GMT)

DJ The Morning Download: Top Data Tools Leverage Machine Learning

By Tom Loftus

Good day, CIOs. Rivaling the amount of data available today to the enterprise is the growing number of capabilities designed to extract insight and support decision making. Gartner Inc. captured some of those in its recent list of disruptive data and analytics trends for 2019. CIO Journal's Angus Loten has more.

Not everyone is a data scientist. Two of the top trends, augmented anaytics and augmented data management, automate the complex task of managing data quality or integration, enabling non-data-scientists to be more autonomous with their use of data.

AI, explain thyself. Running parallel with AI's expanding role is a growing awareness of the guardrails needed to guide the technology's implementation. Garter listed explainable AI, which it described as a tool that auto-generates an explanation for how an advanced model reaches a specific recommendation, as another top data trend.

CLOUD COMPUTING

Latest on that $10 billion Pentagon cloud contract. The WSJ reportsthat lawyers representing the Defense Department have asked federal judges to stay a lawsuit that Oracle Corp. filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims alleging the procurement process had been unfairly skewed to favor Amazon.com Inc.

At issue. The suit focuses on an alleged conflict of interest involving former federal employee Deap Ubhi, who led the procurement process for the contract. Mr. Ubhi worked at Amazon both before and after his 2016-2017 stint in the U.S. government.

Google to buy data migration firm. Last week Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian hinted of bigger things from the company, which has lagged behind Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in cloud computing. "You will see us further accelerate the growth, even faster than we had to date," he said. Here's something: CNBC reports that Google plans to buy Alooma, a startup that helps companies consolidate data into one data warehouse. In a release Google Cloud called the aquisition "a natural fit that allows us to offer customers a streamlined, automated migration experience."

AI, ML, ETC.

Facebook is making its own AI chips. Yann LeCun, Facebook Inc.'s chief AI scientist and a pioneer in machine learning, tells the FT that the company is making its own chips to support its AI efforts. The company is also working with chip companies on new designs.

Facebook's AI plans. Beyond monitoring video in real time on the social network and helping human moderators identify questionable content, Mr. LeCun sees Facebook developing smart digital assistants.

Facebook's chip design plans. "The objective is to give it away," Mr. LeCun tells the FT. The company has a history of developing and then open-sourcing its hardware efforts. In 2011, Facebook started the Open Compute Project to share its knowledge on data-center infrastructure with developers from other companies.

Machine learning in science accelerating data crisis. According to BBC News, science is in the middle of a "reproducibility crisis" where research teams can't repeat the results of earlier experiments. And machine learning is making it worse, says one Rice University research scientist, because machine learning algorithms exist to find patterns. "If we had an additional dataset would we see the same scientific discovery or principle on the same dataset? And unfortunately the answer is often probably not," Dr Genevera Allen tells the BBC.

MORE TECHNOLOGY NEWS

Walmart's e-commerce sales rise 43% in fourth quarter. The WSJ reports that growth in this small but key part of its business has been driven by the expansion of online grocery-pickup services to more than 2,100 of Walmart's 4,600 U.S. stores this fiscal year. Walmart also started offering online grocery delivery in about 800 stores.

Ready, set, hack. Crowdstrike in its 2019 threat report finds that when it comes to moving laterally across a compromised system -- a metric the security firm calls "breakout time" -- no one beats the Russians. According to CrowdStrike data, threat actors there were found to move eight times as fast as the second place North Korea-based actors, "who themselves are almost twice as fast as intrusion groups from China."

CIO moves in Fed IT. Both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. International Trade Commission recently named new CIOs, Federal News Network reports. James Gfrerer was confirmed as CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs. As Pacific Standard reports, Mr. Gfrerer, a former cybersecurity executive at Ernst & Young, will bring stability to a department still smarting from computer flubs last year that left vets short of housing benefits.

Qualcomm unveils 5G chip. The chip maker hopes its second generation modem chip will help spark more 5G phones, Reuters reports.

In rebuke to U.S., Germany considers letting Huawei in. The German government is leaning toward letting Huawei Technologies Co.participate in building the nation's high-speed internet infrastructure, the WSJ reports. Huawei already cooperates closely with the German government. Last fall, the company opened a security lab in Bonn, in which government officials can review the company's products and source codes.

Driving the bus, a missed boat. "We missed the boat here in Germany with regards to the broadband internet," one senior government official involved in the case tells the WSJ. "We need fast internet, we need it quickly, and we need it cheap."

FASHION, DIGITAL DISRUPTOR

Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's creative force, dies. Mr. Lagerfeld knew couture, not cloud and he once admitted that " I don't do internet," but in 2016 he debuted one of his collections on a Paris stage designed to look like a data center.

EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW

Former national-security adviser Mike Flynn and others in the White House ignored legal warnings as they pushed a plan to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, according to a House panel report. (WSJ)

Stocks and bonds are rising on bets the Fed has ended its interest-rate increases, worrying investors who believe the central bank could upendthose expectations later this year. (WSJ)

McKinsey agreed to pay $15 million to settle Justice Department allegationsthat the consulting firm failed to make required disclosures of potential conflicts in three chapter 11 cases it had advised on in recent years. (WSJ)

Airbus touted its A380 superjumbo as "the Eighth Wonder of the World" when it was launched in 2000. But the 555-seat plane now offers a textbook case of a company misjudging its market and losing big. (WSJ)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:03 ET (14:03 GMT)

DJ Lloyds Soothes Brexit Fears with GBP4 Bln Payout -- Update

(Adds CEO, analysts' comments, detail throughout, share-price movement.)

--Lloyds shares rose following its 2018 results released Wednesday, as a major share buyback and increased dividend overshadowed pretax profit being below analysts' expectations.

--The bank didn't make any additional provision for Brexit uncertainty, unlike peers RBS and HSBC, and said it still expects a deal to be struck between the U.K. and European Union.

--Falling costs are expected to bolster Lloyds' profit in the near term, but analysts say the bank may turn to acquisitions to drive future growth amid flat lending.

By Adam Clark

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY.LN) looked past concerns over Brexit's destabilizing effect on the U.K. economy to lay out plans for a 4.0 billion-pound ($5.2 billion) cash return to shareholders as it reported its 2018 results on Wednesday.

The U.K.'s largest domestic bank proposed a larger-than-expected GBP1.75 billion share buyback. Lloyds also proposed a final dividend of 2.14 pence a share, bringing its total dividend for 2018 to 3.21 pence a share. The total capital return to shareholders will be 26% higher than in 2017, Lloyds said.

Lloyds struck a relatively sanguine tone about Brexit, despite Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio saying that the near-term outlook for the British economy remains unclear. The bank didn't follow peers Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS.LN) and HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBA.LN) in setting aside further cash for a potential rise in loan losses, while Mr. Horta-Osorio said Lloyds still expects a deal to be struck between the U.K. and the European Union, allowing for an orderly transition.

Pretax profit rose 13% GBP5.96 billion but missed analysts' expectations of GBP6.4 billion, according to company-compiled consensus. The miss was due to a series of one-off items, including a GBP200 million provision for claims of mis-sold payment protection insurance in the fourth quarter.

Shares rose 5% by early afternoon in London trading, leading the FTSE 100 index, as investors focused on the cash returns as well as improving margins and costs. Lloyds stock remains down around 10% over the last 12 months, significantly underperforming the large-cap index.

Despite concerns that the U.K.'s fiercely competitive mortgage market would pressure Lloyds to cut prices, the bank's net interest margin, the difference between the money it earns on lending and pays out on deposits, rose to 2.93% from 2.86% the prior year. Lloyds said it expects to maintain the margin at roughly 2.90% this year. Lloyds' net income of GBP17.77 billion matched analysts' expectations, rising 2% from the prior year.

Lloyds said its operating costs are now expected to be less than GBP8 billion in 2019, a year ahead of its original target. Lloyds' falling costs have helped it target returns ahead of European banking peers, and the lender said it continues to expect an increased return on tangible equity of between 14% and 15% this year.

While a reduction in one-off items and costs is likely to boost Lloyds' profit in the near-term, the bank's domestic focus could leave it exposed if Brexit causes a economic downturn in the U.K.

Impairments rose 18% to GBP937 million after Lloyds accounted for its 2017 acquisition of the MBNA credit-card book from Bank of America Corp. (BAC). Lloyds said there was no deterioration in credit risk during the year.

Overall loans and advances to customers were stable at GBP444 billion. Analysts at stock brokerage Goodbody said Lloyds is currently following its "optimal strategy" of pursuing higher returns, but may be planning further acquisition activity in the medium term. They flagged last week's announcement of the appointment of Morgan Stanley (MS) investment banker William Chalmers as Lloyds' next chief financial officer, potentially putting an experienced deal maker in line to head the bank after Mr. Horta-Osorio.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@dowjones.com; @AdamDowJones

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:01 ET (14:01 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Company News of the Day
 
UBS Is Fined $4.2 Billion in French Tax-Evasion Case 
 

French judges ordered UBS to pay a record $4.2 billion fine for helping wealthy people evade taxes, closing a chapter in the long-running case against the Swiss bank.

 
CVS Reports Loss on Long-Term Care Facilities Charge 
 

CVS said it swung to a loss in the latest quarter as the health-care company recorded a $2.2 billion charge related to its struggling long-term care facilities business and issued a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

 
Gannett's Loss Widens as Ad, Circulation Revenue Fall 
 

Gannett, which is fending off a takeover bid, reported a wider loss in its latest quarter as advertisers continued to turn away from print media and circulation revenue fell.

 
Glencore, Once a Big Coal Backer, Is Capping Output 
 

Commodity trader Glencore said it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity.

 
Mondelez Sugar High May Not Last 
 

Why pay up for a company with no real revenue growth, especially when the company does a lot of its business in the riskiest markets?

 
Dog Days Aren't Over for Pet Store Rivals 
 

Under new private-equity owners, Petco expanded in-stores services while PetSmart spent billions on the online retailer Chewy. About three years since both companies' respective takeovers, neither approach is a clear winner.

 
Ghosn's New Lawyer Criticizes Nissan's Handling of Investigation 
 

Carlos Ghosn's new defense lawyer attacked Nissan Motor's handling of accusations against its former chairman, saying the company should have addressed the issue internally instead of bringing it to prosecutors.

 
Walmart's Multibillion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Big Hurdle 
 

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart's British grocery unit and rival Sainsbury, threatening to scuttle one of the retailing giant's biggest overseas overhauls.

 
Venezuela Opposition's Citgo Takeover Disappoints U.S. 
 

U.S.-backed Venezuela leader Juan Guaidó named a new board at Citgo last week, but the appointments fell short of the independent board the Trump administration expected.

 
Alibaba And the Wasteful Investment Bank Deal 
 

It is weird enough that an e-commerce company would want a stake in an investment bank. Even odder is the fact that Alibaba's largest local tech rival, Tencent, has held a similar stake in CICC for two years.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:00 ET (14:00 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Global Markets News of the Day
 
U.S. Stocks Set to Edge Down as Investors Track Trade Talks 
 

U.S. stocks were poised to weaken despite upbeat trading elsewhere, as investors awaited further information on White House trade talks with China.

 
Fed Minutes May Yield Clues to How Long Rate Pause Will Last 
 

The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its January meeting, providing more detail about discussions before it formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

 
Investors Looking to Escape Volatility Turn to 'Smart' ETFs 
 

Investors hunting for protection after last year's market turbulence are snapping up 'smart' exchange-traded funds in the hopes of sidestepping the next downturn.

 
Markets Warm to the Prospect of an ECB Funding Boost for Banks 
 

Market participants are growing confident that the European Central Bank will soon try to boost the eurozone's ailing economy by rebooting its program of ultracheap long-term loans to the banking system.

 
Stock Investors Look Past Gloomy Trade Data 
 

Japan endured a sharper-than-expected drop in exports last month, the latest indication that global growth is decelerating. Stock investors seem unflustered.

 
Oil Slips as U.S. Shale Output Set to Climb 
 

Crude prices slipped after the U.S. signaled rising shale output and as investors appeared to wait for signs of progress in the continuing U.S.-China trade negotiations.

 
Trump Eases Off Hard Deadline for China Tariffs 
 

President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.

 
Japan's January Trade Deficit Biggest in Five Years 
 

Japan logged its biggest trade deficit in nearly five years in January, as trade tensions and a global economic slowdown weighed on exports and threatened the country's main engine of growth.

 
SEC Wants to Make It Easier for Companies to Explore IPOs 
 

Any company exploring whether to go public would get greater leeway to discuss their plans privately with potential investors before announcing an initial public offering, under a proposal from securities regulators.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 09:00 ET (14:00 GMT)

DJ DowDuPont's Corteva Acquires Clearfield System in Canada, U.S. >DWDP
 
   By Colin Kellaher 
 

DowDuPont Inc. (DWDP) on Wednesday said its Corteva Agriscience unit acquired the Clearfield canola production system in Canada and the U.S. from Germany's BASF SE (BAS.XE) for an undisclosed amount.

DowDuPont said Clearfield is a non-genetically modified herbicide tolerance system, consisting of an herbicide tolerance trait and imidazolinone herbicides sold in Canada primarily under the Ares brand.

DowDuPont said the acquisition enables Corteva, which previously licensed the Clearfield canola trait in both the Pioneer and Brevant seeds brands, to out-license the trait to other seed companies in Canada and the U.S.

DowDuPont is in the process of spinning off Corteva into an independent, publicly traded company as part of its split into three companies.

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:51 ET (13:51 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 08:50 EST / 1350 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.76-77      110.61-62  +0.14   110.95   110.55  +1.08 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1336-39      1.1342-45  -0.05   1.1360   1.1326  -1.15 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3037-39      1.3062-64  -0.19   1.3077   1.3010  +2.19 
USD/CHF Switzerland 0.9999-1.0003      1.0009-13  -0.10   1.0024   0.9997  +1.88 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3179-84      1.3209-14  -0.23   1.3221   1.3177  -3.36 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7156-60      0.7163-67  -0.10   0.7177   0.7141  +1.50 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6868-74      0.6880-86  -0.17   0.6887   0.6850  +2.25 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.57-61      125.41-45  +0.13   125.94   125.36  -0.09 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8693-96      0.8680-83  +0.15   0.8716   0.8677  -3.29 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1338-41      1.1353-56  -0.13   1.1368   1.1340  +0.74 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4939-49      1.4977-87  -0.25   1.4995   1.4932  -4.45 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5833-43      1.5824-34  +0.06   1.5867   1.5816  -2.62 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4612-19      7.4609-16  +0.00   7.4632   7.4602  -0.07 
EUR/NOK Norway         9.7386-436      9.7149-99  +0.24   9.7481   9.7138  -1.69 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5679-779    10.5557-657  +0.12  10.5807  10.5395  +4.14 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.      25.666-96      25.662-92  +0.02   25.711   25.659  -0.11 
EUR/HUF Hungary       316.97-7.37      317.28-68  -0.10   317.82   317.08  -1.21 
EUR/PLN Poland          4.3421-39     4.3299-317  +0.28   4.3460   4.3297  +1.25 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.27-31       79.24-28  +0.04    79.58    79.13  +2.59 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.42-48      144.47-53  -0.03   145.05   144.12  +3.26 
CAD/JPY Canada           84.01-05       83.70-74  +0.37    84.15    83.60  +4.57 
NZD/JPY New Zealand      76.08-12       76.12-16  -0.05    76.33    75.90  +3.34 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.627-77      22.617-67  +0.05   22.671   22.604  +1.03 
USD/HUF Hungary         279.56-96      279.73-80  -0.06   280.43   279.32  -0.08 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5805-15      6.5788-98  +0.03   6.5884   6.5693  +1.07 
USD/NOK Norway         8.5890-950      8.5635-95  +0.30   8.5977   8.5575  -0.57 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8304-09      3.8184-89  +0.31   3.8342   3.8149  +2.41 
USD/RUB Russia         65.737-807     65.684-754  +0.08   65.935   65.641  -5.01 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3210-300     9.3069-159  +0.15   9.3330   9.2934  +5.34 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.0588-888    14.0296-596  +0.21  14.3695  14.0079  -2.00 
 
USD/CNY China           6.7214-34      6.7575-95  -0.53   6.7680   6.7155  -2.27 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8491-96      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.23 
USD/MYR Malaysia       4.0680-730     4.0777-827  -0.24   4.0825   4.0639  -1.50 
USD/INR India           71.140-60     71.290-310  -0.21   71.610   71.085  +2.27 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines     51.975-95      52.128-48  -0.29   52.155   51.941  -0.98 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3506-16      1.3524-34  -0.13   1.3542   1.3509  -0.87 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1121.09-3.09   1121.92-3.92  -0.07  1124.24  1120.54  +0.70 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.778-808     30.776-806  +0.01   30.820   30.768  +0.69 
USD/THB Thailand       31.080-100      31.120-40  -0.13   31.170   31.040  -3.81 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil          3.6966-96      3.7236-66  -0.72   3.7334   3.6912  -4.72 
USD/MXN Mexico        19.1437-737    19.1305-605  +0.07  19.2328  19.1337  -2.50 
USD/ARS Argentina     39.7657-757    39.2650-750  +1.28  39.7803  39.2450  +5.64 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:50 ET (13:50 GMT)

DJ Europe's indexes stay buoyant after buyback announcements from Lloyds and Glencore -- Barrons.com
By Emily Horton 

The majority of Europe's indexes remained buoyant on Wednesday, as buyback announcements from U.K. heavyweights Lloyds Banking Group PLC and Glencore PLC lifted share prices and kept markets mostly positive.

News of the buybacks helped counter lower profits at both firms, and a merger blow handed out by the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority to supermarkets J Sainsbury PLC and Asda Group Ltd, the U.K. subsidiary of Walmart Inc.

How are markets performing?

The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.1% to 369.44 on Wednesday, after finishing 0.2% down on Tuesday.

Spain's IBEX 35 led the region's gainers adding 0.4% to 9,173.50, while the German DAX climbed by 0.2% to 11,331.97 and France's CAC 40 rose by 0.1% to 5,167.62.

The FTSE 100 remained mostly flat at 7,183.67, while Italy's FTSE MIB dropped by 0.1% to 20,206.72.

The euro remained flat on Wednesday, at $1.1346, while the pound fell to $1.3034 from $1.3063 late in New York on Tuesday.

What's driving the markets?

Buyback announcements from two heavyweights lifted the markets on Wednesday.

UK-listed bank Lloyds Banking Group PLC set out plans for a major share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets, leading to an almost 3% rise in the bank's shares. However, the bank also reported lower than expected profits.

Meanwhile, Anglo-Swiss miner Glencore PLC GLEN, -0.56% also launched a new $2 billion buyback program, resulting in a 2% rise in the company's shares, despite reporting a 41% profit loss.

However, U.K. retailer J Sainsbury PLC was the region's biggest faller, down as much as 15% after the U.K's Competition and Markets Authority said it could potentially block its merger with Asda Group Ltd. if the regulator's concerns can't be addressed.

"There is now serious doubt over the deal, enough to send Sainsbury's 14% lower, forcing the orange supermarket to a 10 month low of GBP2.50", Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at Spreadex said.

In Brexit news, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is set to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Wednesday and will try to secure legally-binding changes to the withdrawal agreement they struck last year, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, three pro-European lawmakers from her Conservative Party announced their defection to a new centrist grouping in the U.K. parliament, citing Brexit as a key concern.

What stocks are active?

Airline Air France-KLM added close to 4% on the news it had narrowed losses on Wednesday, while EasyJet PLC added 3%.

Another buyback announcement from German medical supplies company Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. prompted a 4% rise in the stock.

Meanwhile, U.K. supermarket Wm. Morrison Supermarkets PLC also saw a 5% dip in its share price, despite the fact that it "arguably would have been one of the worst hit by a successful tie-up" between J Sainsbury and Asda, according to Campbell.

Laith Khalaf, an analyst at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "It's an ill wind indeed which blows no-one any good, but that seems to be the order of the day with Tesco and Morrison selling off too... this suggests the market is concerned Walmart may now seek to sell off Asda to another party."

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:48 ET (13:48 GMT)

DJ Update: CVS Health Shares Fall After Lower-than-expected Revenue -- MarketWatch

CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares fell 5.2% in Wednesday premarket trading after the pharmacy retailer reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed expectations and gave weak earnings guidance. CVS reported a loss of $419.0 million, or 37 cents per share, after net income of $3.3 billion, or $3.22 per share, the previous year. The loss includes a $2.2 billion goodwill impairment related to the long-term care business, which faced challenges including lower occupancy rates at skilled nursing facilities and the bankruptcies caused by the failing health of customers at these facilities. Adjusted EPS was $2.14, ahead of the $2.09 per share FactSet consensus. Revenue of $54.4 billion was up from $48.4 billion last year but missed the $54.6 billion FactSet expectation. Pharmacy services revenue of $34.9 million also missed FactSet's consensus for $46.4 billion, and the retail and long-term care segment revenue totaling $22.0 billion was below the FactSet expectation for $28.8 billion. For the full-year 2019, CVS expects EPS in the range of $4.88 to $5.08 and adjusted EPS in the range of $6.68 to $6.88, below the $7.35 FactSet consensus. CVS shares have slipped 1.1% over the past year while the S&P 500 index has gained 2.3% for the period.

-Tonya Garcia

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:43 ET (13:43 GMT)

DJ Volkswagen to Grow 2018 Revenue, Earnings in Defiance of Industry Headwinds -- Earnings Preview

By Max Bernhard

Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) is expected to report full-year results on Friday. Analysts forecast that the German car maker will report higher revenue and earnings, despite last year's headwinds that hit competitors' results. Slowing demand in China, tightening emissions rules in Europe, as well as rising trade tensions and high upfront investments into electrification and self-driving cars have hammered the industry, leading to several profit warnings over the past year and muted outlooks for the year ahead. Investors will want to know how Volkswagen has held up in comparison. Here's what you need to know:

REVENUE: Revenue is expected to rise to 236 billion euros ($267.02 billion), from EUR230.7 billion a year earlier, according to a consensus estimate compiled by FactSet.

OPERATING PROFIT: Operating profit is expected to be EUR15.36 billion, compared with EUR13.82 billion a year ago.

WHAT TO WATCH:

-OUTLOOK: Volkswagen has been largely insulated from the U.S.-China tariffs dispute compared to its peers and may therefore surprise positively with its 2019 outlook, say analysts at Citi. Arndt Ellinghorst at London-based brokerage Evercore ISI expects Volkswagen to guide for revenue growth of up to 5%, "clean operating profitability of 6.5% to 7.5%" and industrial cash flow of more than EUR9 billion. "This is effectively the same guidance as for 2018 which we regard as balanced and prudent enough to reflect both industry environment and VW's own ambitions," he said.

-COSTS: When Chief Executive Herbert Diess took the helm last year, he vowed to slash costs at the car maker, in part to offset high investments into electrification and future technologies. Profitability has recovered a little but this "has largely been a matter of improving markets, some product momentum, different accounting and normalized selling, general and administrative expenses," according to Evercore ISI. "Despite Diess's three-year management of the Volkswagen brand, net costs haven't come down in any meaningful or visible manner," it said.

Write to Max Bernhard at max.bernhard@dowjones.com; @mxbernhard

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:42 ET (13:42 GMT)

DJ Update: CVS Health Shares Fall After Lower-than-expected Revenue -- MarketWatch

CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares fell 5.2% in Wednesday premarket trading after the pharmacy retailer reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed expectations and gave weak earnings guidance. CVS reported a loss of $419.0 million, or 37 cents per share, after net income of $3.3 million, or $3.22 per share, the previous year. The loss includes a $2.2 billion goodwill impairment related to the long-term care business, which faced challenges including lower occupancy rates at skilled nursing facilities and the bankruptcies caused by the failing health of customers at these facilities. Adjusted EPS was $2.14, ahead of the $2.09 per share FactSet consensus. Revenue of $54.4 billion was up from $48.4 billion last year but missed the $54.6 billion FactSet expectation. Pharmacy services revenue of $34.9 million also missed FactSet's consensus for $46.4 billion, and the retail and long-term care segment revenue totaling $22.0 billion was below the FactSet expectation for $28.8 billion. For the full-year 2019, CVS expects EPS in the range of $4.88 to $5.08 and adjusted EPS in the range of $6.68 to $6.88, below the $7.35 FactSet consensus. CVS shares have slipped 1.1% over the past year while the S&P 500 index has gained 2.3% for the period.

-Tonya Garcia

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:41 ET (13:41 GMT)

DJ UBS Is Fined $4.2 Billion in French Tax-Evasion Case

PARIS—French judges ordered UBS Group AG on Wednesday to pay a record €3.7 billion ($4.2 billion) fine for helping wealthy French people evade taxes, closing a chapter in the long-running case against the Swiss bank.

Judges found the bank guilty of illegally recruiting clients in France and helping them launder money that wasn’t declared to French fiscal authorities. They described the lender’s crimes as “extremely serious” in their ruling.

Jean Veil, a lawyer for UBS, said he would appeal the court’s decision.

The ruling is a major setback for the Swiss bank, which has always denied wrongdoing. It comes when the French government is trying to crack down on tax evasion as part of its efforts to quell anger among the public over inequality and the high cost of living.

The French case isn’t UBS’s only legal cloud. In the U.S., UBS is contesting charges from the Justice Department that it misled investors about the quality of billions of dollars in subprime and other mortgage loans that were sold in the runup to the financial crisis more than a decade ago.

UBS’s Swiss peers, including Credit Suisse Group AG, have paid billions of dollars to settle crisis-era claims with the U.S.

Write to Noemie Bisserbe at noemie.bisserbe@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:40 ET (13:40 GMT)

DJ Morrisons Store Hopes Fade as Sainsbury Merger Falters -- Market Talk

1319 GMT - Shares in Wm Morrison Supermarkets fall as regulators' resistance to J. Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc's Asda cast doubt over its hopes of securing more stores. Hargreaves Lansdown says the Competition & Markets Authority has effectively 'kicked into touch' the merger by claiming it would substantially reduce competition. Sainsbury's shares fall 15.2% and Morrisons drops 5.8%. "This suggests the market is concerned Walmart may now seek to sell Asda to another party, and there may not even be the silver lining of some shops being sold off to soften the blow," says HL's Laith Khalaf. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:19 ET (13:19 GMT)

DJ Dog Days Aren’t Over for Pet Store Rivals

Private-equity firms bought America’s two biggest pet-store owners within months of each other. One spent billions to boost its online business by acquiring the top internet pet retailer. The other focused on getting people back in stores.

About three years later, neither strategy is a clear winner.

PetSmart Inc., which acquired Chewy.com for $3.35 billion in 2017, is struggling to pay down debt as growth has slowed at the e-commerce company. Petco Animal Supplies Inc., which is dedicating more of its stores to grooming and other services customers can’t get online, said it returned to growth in late 2018 after a stretch of declines.

The pet business has long been one of retail’s bright spots, thanks to Americans’ seemingly boundless willingness to spend on their dogs, cats, birds, lizards and fish. More than two thirds of U.S. households own a pet, and last year they spent an estimated $70 billion on pet food, supplies, veterinary care and other services, compared with about $40 billion a decade ago, according to the American Pet Products Association.

The two industry giants haven’t reaped all the benefits of pet owners’ largess, especially as the market filled with new competitors in recent years. Makers of high-end pet food like Blue Buffalo, owned by General Mills Inc., have expanded distribution beyond PetSmart and Petco to chains like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. Online players like Amazon.com Inc. and Chewy have peeled away shoppers by offering to ship heavy bags of pet food free.

PetSmart, which a group led by private-equity firm BC Partners bought in 2015 for $8.7 billion, decided it was better off joining the online sellers than trying to fend them off. But PetSmart’s Chewy acquisition, the largest-ever e-commerce deal at the time, has yet to pay off.

Chewy is still unprofitable and sales growth has slowed even as the company has spent considerably on marketing, according to people familiar with its financials. Last year, the online pet retailer spent $137.2 million on television ads, up from $99.4 million in 2017, according to Nielsen data. Sales at PetSmart have also slid in recent quarters, according to people briefed on the company’s financials.

Meanwhile, Chewy has little presence in PetSmart stores or on its website, and vice versa, and the two sites charge different prices for some of the same items.

In an interview, PetSmart CEO J.K. Symancyk said the firm is deliberately keeping the businesses apart because they are at different points in their growth. He said PetSmart is the largest provider of pet services and has a mature customer base, while Chewy is focused on acquiring new customers. The two companies collaborate on product initiatives and sell each other’s products, he added.

“We’re thankful for the investment that we’ve made” in Chewy, said Mr. Symancyk, who joined as CEO in June 2018. He declined to comment on PetSmart’s sales growth or Chewy’s financials.

Former executives and analysts say one problem is that pet food carries relatively small margins. About 60% to 70% of the retail price of a bag of dog food goes to the manufacturer. For online sales, the retailer bears additional costs including marketing and shipping, which leaves little room for profit.

Amazon has an advantage because it can bundle a range of products in the same shipment to offset the high cost of shipping heavy bags of dog food or cat litter. The company generated about $3.3 billion in pet-products sales in 2018, a more than 30% increase over the previous year, according to estimates by Packaged Facts, a market research firm. In May 2018, Amazon also introduced its own premium pet food brand called Wag.

Chewy has sought to improve its margins by selling a wider variety of products, including prescription medication, via an online pet pharmacy it launched last year, and encouraging customers to sign up for regular, automatic refill shipments.

“They bought a black hole that is going to suck their cash,” said Chris Perry, a vice president at retail data and advisory firm Edge by Ascential who formerly led e-commerce at natural pet food brand WellPet, of PetSmart’s Chewy deal.

Now PetSmart is burdened with more than $8 billion of debt from both the acquisition and its original leveraged buyout. As PetSmart sales have fallen, BC Partners has sought to protect investors from potential future losses. In June of last year, the firm said it would spin off a 20% stake in Chewy as a dividend to its investors. It said it would move another 16.5% of Chewy into an unrestricted subsidiary.

Petco, which CVC Capital Partners and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board purchased in a $4.6 billion deal in 2016, struggled for years from declining foot traffic as online competitors grabbed more sales and food manufacturers broadened distribution. The company has recently expanded its veterinary services and improved its training classes and grooming facilities to encourage customers to make more trips to its stores.

Petco said its financial performance has improved after renewing its focus on in-store services. At a new test store in San Marcos, Calif., about one third of the space is dedicated to selling inventory, and the rest houses grooming, veterinary care and other services.

“Our objective is to have a sustainable company,” Ron Coughlin, CEO of Petco, said in an interview. “If we tried to play Amazon’s and Chewy’s game, that would be a losing hand.”

Petco has also been pushing its own brand of pet food called WholeHearted, which generates more profit for the company than food made by outside manufacturers. The company simultaneously culling its selection to focus on selling more premium foods that emphasize nutrition.

Though Petco sells its brands online, including on Amazon, it said it has had more success introducing customers to private-label options in its stores, where workers can sell products face-to-face.

Aaron Stewart, a 49-year-old Dallas resident, said he buys food for his German shorthaired pointer on Amazon because he can get a large-size bag delivered to his doorstep. “I don’t really know the difference between PetSmart and Petco,” he said. “I think of them as the same.”

Write to Khadeeja Safdar at khadeeja.safdar@wsj.com and Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:10 ET (13:10 GMT)

DJ Investors Looking to Escape Volatility Turn to ‘Smart’ ETFs

Investors hunting for protection after last year’s market turbulence are snapping up so-called smart funds in the hopes of sidestepping the next downturn.

The S&P 500 has advanced 11% so far this year, but that hasn’t stopped investors from looking for a safer way to bet on stocks. Two of the biggest exchange-traded funds that try to pick less volatile stocks have been among the most popular so far this year. A surge of new money has pushed assets in both the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF and the Invesco S&P 500 Low Volatility ETF to record heights.

In all, ETFs that try to pick less risky stocks have taken in $11.3 billion since the beginning of November, according to Morningstar. The funds, billed as “smart beta” or “strategic beta,” are pegged to bespoke indexes that target stocks that are less susceptible to violent price swings.

ETF issuers have been trying for years to get cost-conscious passive investors to embrace more sophisticated—and pricier—styles of index investing. Last year’s rocky markets finally did what slick marketing and backtests failed to do: provide a real-world example of how such funds can outperform when markets are topsy-turvy.

“When you look at the different factors and where we are in the cycle, you still need exposure to stocks, but you may want to do it a little more defensively,” said Larry Carroll, chief executive of Carroll Financial, an investment advisory firm in Charlotte, N.C., that manages about $3 billion.

Mr. Carroll’s ETF of choice is the iShares Edge MSCI Min Vol USA ETF, which aims to pick a less volatile mix of U.S. stocks. Its three biggest holdings are Newmont Mining Corp., Waste Management Inc. and Visa Inc., compared with Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. for the iShares plain-vanilla S&P 500 ETF. Mr. Carroll said the fund accounts for 5% to 10% of his clients’ stock portfolios.

In the past year, both Mr. Carroll’s iShares ETF and the competing Invesco ETF have handily beat the iShares ETF that tracks S&P 500. Both ETFs have returned more than 10%, compared with just 3.6% for the S&P 500 fund.

The iShares ETF has been the third-most popular ETF so far this year, based on new money raised, while the competing Invesco ETF ranks seventh, according to FactSet.

“The performance was outstanding, and it came on people’s radar screens in a big way,” said Nick Kalivas, senior equity ETF strategist for Invesco. “We’re on the downside of the cycle, so there’s more of a hunger for risk-mitigation strategies.”

Both ETFs, like other funds in Morningstar’s risk-oriented category, aim to smooth out market upheaval. But they are built quite differently, which can have a meaningful impact on returns.

The iShares ETF draws on the more than 600 stocks in the MSCI USA index of large and midsize companies and aims to invest in those with the lowest volatility and projected “riskiness.” The fund rebalances its holdings twice a year, and imposes “guard rails” to make sure that no one sector accounts for more than 5% from its weight in the underlying benchmark.

By contrast, the competing Invesco fund picks the 100 least volatile stocks from the S&P 500 in the past year, rebalances quarterly and imposes no sector constraints. At the end of January, the Invesco ETF had nearly 43% of its holdings in real estate and utility stocks, while the iShares ETF had about 17% of its assets invested in those two sectors, according to Morningstar.

Those differences can translate into sizable gaps in performance. In the fourth quarter of last year, when the iShares S&P 500 ETF dropped more than 14%, the iShares ETF was down 8.1% and the Invesco fund dropped 5.7%.

“You win by losing less when markets are choppy,” said Holly Framstead, head of U.S. factor ETFs at BlackRock Inc.’s iShares division.

But investors win less when the markets are on the way up. So far this year, both the iShares and Invesco low-volatility ETFs are up more than 9%, trailing the S&P 500’s 11% gain.

To receive our Markets newsletter every morning in your inbox, click here.

Write to Asjylyn Loder at asjylyn.loder@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:10 ET (13:10 GMT)

DJ Swiss Re to Report 'Messy Set of Numbers,' UBS Says -- Market Talk

1309 GMT - "We expect a messy set of numbers" from Swiss Re, UBS says, referring to the company's 2018 results, whose release is scheduled for Thursday. In January, the reinsurer said it expected claims of about $1.3 billion from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters for the final quarter of the year. UBS expects the Swiss company to announce another buyback of CHF1 billion and declare a dividend of CHF5.1 per share. (pietro.lombardi@dowjones.com; @pietrolombard10)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:09 ET (13:09 GMT)

DJ CVS Tanks, Elon Musk Tweets and More to Know for Wednesday -- Barrons.com
By Al Root 

Meeting Minutes: It's a calm morning. European shares were a bit higher and U.S. stock futures were modestly lower. Investors will likely wait for the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's January policy-setting meeting, due at 2 p.m. on the East Coast, before trying anything bold. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were down 0.2%, S&P 500 futures were off by 0.1% and Nasdaq Composite futures dropped 0.1%. In today's Morning Movers, we...

   -- ...await direction from on high (or from the Fed); 
 
   -- ...scan for tweets; 
 
   -- ...and ponder the future of coal mining. 

Barron's Briefs

   -- Don't Fight the Fed: Last year that truism proved, well, true. The Fed 
      kept raising rates and the stock market took a hit in the fourth quarter. 
      Now the Fed appears to be backing off from its more hawkish policy stance 
      and we will find out why when the Fed releases its meeting minutes. If 
      the market is convinced there will be no more rate increases, some of the 
      dollar's recent strength could fade, though another truism could keep the 
      currency high despite a dovish Fed. The U.S. greenback might still be the 
      best of a bad lot, with the European and Chinese economies both slowing 
      faster than America's. 
 
   -- They Said What? Southwest Airlines (ticker: LUV) cut its forecast for 
      first-quarter revenue as a result of the government shutdown. Management 
      estimated the impact from shutdown would be $10-$15 million. Now it says 
      that number is more like $60 million. Southwest shares were down 4% in 
      premarket trading. CVS Health (CVS) said it would earn about $6.78 per 
      share in 2019. That's about 8% less than Wall Street expected, news that 
      sent CVS shares about 6% lower before the open. CVS also said "the [long 
      term care insurance] business has continued to experience industry wide 
      challenges." That's the same business that is roiling General Electric 
      (GE). CVS took at $2.2 billion charge related to insurance in the fourth 
      quarter. Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk tweeted out production goals for 
      2019, but then clarified that Tesla would be making cars at an annualized 
      rate of 500,000 by the end of 2019. 
   -- No More Coal: Glencore (GLEN.London) released results Wednesday. The big 
      news was the company's new commitment to limit its coal production to 
      current levels. Coal is slowly going away. Don't forget that global coal 
      consumption peaked in 2013, according to BP (BP.London). 

Numbers By Barron's is a two-minute financial podcast with three vital numbers to start your morning. Available on iTunes, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts -- as well as on your Amazon Alexa smart speaker

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:05 ET (13:05 GMT)

DJ Lloyds Is Compelling Capital-Return Story -- Market Talk

1304 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's shareholder returns make it attractive, says investment manager Quilter Cheviot after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback. Quilter notes that, though Lloyds had a mixed fourth quarter, its full-year results were resilient and its GBP1.75 billion share buyback was bigger than expected. "While there are concerns with regard to a slowdown of the U.K. economy and Brexit uncertainty, there are no signs of this in Lloyds's figures with loans losses remaining low supported by record employment figures," says Quilter equity analyst William Howlett. "We believe Lloyds offers a compelling capital-return story." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:04 ET (13:04 GMT)

DJ CFO Moves: Citigroup, United Bancshares, Fresenius Medical Care

By Tatyana Shumsky

Citigroup Inc., the New York-based bank, released compensation details for its newly appointed chief financial officer, Mark A.L. Mason, who will take on the role on Feb. 23.

Mr. Mason is set to receive an annual base salary of $500,000, among other compensation, and replaces the company's current CFO, John C. Gerspach, Citi said in a filing. Mr. Gerspach is set to retire from his role on Feb. 23 and will leave the company effective March 1.

United Bancshares Inc., the Columbus Grove, Ohio, bank holding company, named Stacy Cox its chief financial officer. She succeeds Daniel Lucke, who is taking on the position of controller of the bank.

Ms. Cox was most recently chief operations officer and chief risk officer with Croghan Colonial Bank, a role she's held since 2008. Before that she was senior vice president, operations, for Huntington National Bank from 1992.

Ms. Cox's compensation will include an annual base salary of $185,000, a cash signing bonus of $10,000 and eligibility for various cash and equity awards, according to a regulatory filing.

Fresenius Medical Care AG, a Bad Homburg, Germany provider of dialysis products and services, said its chief financial officer, Michael Brosnan, plans to retire from the company.

Mr. Brosnan will stay in his role until a successor has been identified and transitioned into the role, according to the company. He has been CFO at Fresenius Medical Care since Jan. 2010.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:01 ET (13:01 GMT)

DJ Gannett’s Loss Widens as Ad, Circulation Revenue Fall

Gannett Co., which is fending off a takeover bid, reported a wider loss in its latest quarter as advertisers continued to turn away from print media and circulation revenue fell.

Last month, MNG Enterprises Inc., better known as Digital First Media, offered to purchase Gannett for $12 a share after building up a stake in the company.

Gannett rejected the offer, calling it inadequate and setting off a fight over control of the publisher of USA Today and about 100 other publications, including newspapers in Detroit, Louisville and Phoenix.

Digital First has also asked the Gannett board to consider a sale, stop purchasing digital companies and come up with a new strategic plan before hiring a new chief executive.

On Wednesday, Digital First urged shareholders to question Gannett’s recent financial performance and how it has handled the proposals. The company, which is majority controlled by hedge fund Alden Global Capital LLC, owns a 7.5% stake in Gannett.

“Gannett now will likely seek to spin the Company’s quarterly results in the best possible light, despite the reality of Gannett’s continuing underperformance, and is unlikely to allow questions from MNG, its largest active shareholder,” the investment firm said in statement.

A Gannett spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The publisher reported sales of $751.4 million in the fourth quarter, down 12% compared with the year earlier. Circulation revenue dropped 9% and print-ad sales dropped 24%. Sales from digital advertising and market services declined about 3%.

The company reported a loss of $14.2 million, or 13 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with loss of $13.6 million, or 12 cents a share, a year earlier. After excluding certain costs, Gannett said its pretax profit fell to 44 cents a share from 55 cents a share.

Digital First owns about 200 newspapers and publications across the country and has drawn criticism from industry consultants and journalists who worked for its titles for slashing costs and cutting staff.

The company has defended its practices, saying staffing must be in line with revenue. Like other newspaper chains, Gannett’s outlets have also laid off a substantial number of journalists amid falling sales.

Shares of Gannett have risen since mid-January, when The Wall Street Journalreported on the bid, and closed at $11.26 on Tuesday.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:00 ET (13:00 GMT)

DJ CVS Reports Loss on Long-Term Care Facilities Charge

CVS Health Corp. said it swung to a loss in the latest quarter as the health-care company recorded a $2.2 billion charge related to its struggling long-term care facilities business and issued a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based company reported Wednesday a fourth-quarter net loss of $419 million, or 37 cents a share, down from a profit of $3.29 billion, or $3.22 a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $2.14 a share, beating the $2.05 a share analysts polled by Refinitiv were looking for.

For fiscal 2019, the company guided adjusted earnings per share of $6.68 to $6.88, compared with analysts’ estimates of $7.41 a share.

The stock fell 5.2% to $66.25 in premarket trading Wednesday. Shares are down 1.1% in the past year.

The net loss in the quarter was driven by a loss of $1.99 a share due to a goodwill impairment charge related to the long-term-care business. The unit missed its forecast primarily due to operational issues and customer liquidity issues, including one significant customer bankruptcy, the company said. CVS said it expects to see further deterioration in 2019 projected financial results in the unit.

“The LTC business has continued to experience industrywide challenges that have impacted our ability to grow the business at the rate that was originally estimated when the Company acquired Omnicare, Inc. in 2015,” CVS said in an earnings release.

Revenue for the quarter rose 12.5% to $54.42 billion, missing the consensus forecast of $54.58 billion from analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Same-store sales grew 5.7%, ahead of the FactSet estimate of a 4.6% increase.

In November, CVS completed its nearly $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, creating an industry giant that combines a retail pharmacy, pharmacy-benefit management and Aetna’s insurance businesses.

Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at aisha.al-muslim@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 08:00 ET (13:00 GMT)

DJ CVS Reports Loss on Long-Term Care Facilities Charge
By Aisha Al-Muslim 

CVS Health Corp. said it swung to a loss in the latest quarter as the health-care company recorded a $2.2 billion charge related to its struggling long-term care facilities business and issued a lower-than-expected profit forecast for the year.

The Woonsocket, R.I.-based company reported Wednesday a fourth-quarter net loss of $419 million, or 37 cents a share, down from a profit of $3.29 billion, or $3.22 a share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $2.14 a share, beating the $2.05 a share analysts polled by Refinitiv were looking for.

For fiscal 2019, the company guided adjusted earnings per share of $6.68 to $6.88, compared with analysts' estimates of $7.41 a share.

The stock fell 5.2% to $66.25 in premarket trading Wednesday. Shares are down 1.1% in the past year.

The net loss in the quarter was driven by a loss of $1.99 a share due to a goodwill impairment charge related to the long-term-care business. The unit missed its forecast primarily due to operational issues and customer liquidity issues, including one significant customer bankruptcy, the company said. CVS said it expects to see further deterioration in 2019 projected financial results in the unit.

"The LTC business has continued to experience industrywide challenges that have impacted our ability to grow the business at the rate that was originally estimated when the Company acquired Omnicare, Inc. in 2015," CVS said in an earnings release.

Revenue for the quarter rose 12.5% to $54.42 billion, missing the consensus forecast of $54.58 billion from analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Same-store sales grew 5.7%, ahead of the FactSet estimate of a 4.6% increase.

In November, CVS completed its nearly $70 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna, creating an industry giant that combines a retail pharmacy, pharmacy-benefit management and Aetna's insurance businesses.

Write to Aisha Al-Muslim at aisha.al-muslim@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:54 ET (12:54 GMT)

DJ Southern Expects Full-Year Profit to Rise
 
   By Micah Maidenberg 
 

Profit at Southern Co. (SO) fell in the fourth quarter, with the utility reporting Wednesday that earnings dropped to $278 million, or 27 cents a share, from $496 million, or 49 cents a share, the year prior.

Operating revenue fell to $5.34 billion in the quarter from $5.63 billion the year prior. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $4.66 billion.

The company said non-fuel-related sales dropped 11% to $2.3 billion in the quarter. Operating expenses ticked down to $4.76 billion.

Southern's adjusted profit, which includes tax-related expenses and other costs, of 25 cents a share was more than the 23 cents a share that analysts expected, according to FactSet.

This year, Southern expects earnings per share of $2.98 to $3.10, up from $2.18 a share in 2018.

Write to Micah Maidenberg at micah.maidenberg@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:52 ET (12:52 GMT)

DJ Ghosn’s New Lawyer Criticizes Nissan’s Handling of Investigation

TOKYO—Carlos Ghosn’s new defense lawyer attacked Nissan Motor Co.’s handling of accusations against its former chairman, saying the company should have addressed the issue internally instead of bringing it to prosecutors.

“This isn’t a case where Mr. Ghosn snuck in someplace in the middle of the night and did something on his own. These matters proceeded with the full knowledge of various executives in various sections inside Nissan,” said lawyer Junichiro Hironaka on Wednesday in his first public comments since taking the Ghosn case Feb. 13.

Mr. Ghosn replaced his initial Japanese defense lawyer, former prosecutor Motonari Otsuru, after twice failing to win release on bail. He remains in a Tokyo jail three months after his arrest, on Nov. 19, and has lost his executive titles at Nissan and alliance partner Renault SA.

Prosecutors have charged Mr. Ghosn with failing to report more than $80 million in deferred compensation on eight years of Nissan’s financial reports and with causing Nissan to pay a Saudi businessman who helped Mr. Ghosn with a personal financial problem.

Mr. Ghosn laid out the main outlines of his defense in a court hearing Jan. 8, when he said he was innocent. He called discussions about the compensation “hypothetical” and not subject to reporting rules, and he said the Saudi businessman’s company “was appropriately compensated” for “critical services that substantially benefited Nissan.”

At the time, Mr. Ghosn didn’t directly accuse former colleagues at Nissan of mishandling the case, but that was the point stressed by his new lawyer, Mr. Hironaka, who said Mr. Ghosn’s subordinates erred by bringing their suspicions to prosecutors instead of working them out within Nissan.

“The prosecutors have made a criminal case out of an issue that should have been handled inside the company,” Mr. Hironaka said. He said the case “conveyed a shocking impression to the world” because it suggested to foreign executives that “you could be arrested all of a sudden” over intracompany disputes.

A Nissan spokesman said he couldn’t comment specifically on Mr. Hironaka’s statements but repeated the company’s view that its investigation “uncovered substantial and convincing evidence of misconduct” by Mr. Ghosn.

The 73-year-old Mr. Hironaka is known as “the razor” after winning not-guilty verdicts in some of Japan’s most prominent cases in recent decades. He repeatedly harked back to former victories such as his successful defense of a top politician and a senior welfare ministry bureaucrat.

He said he couldn’t yet prove Mr. Ghosn was innocent based on logic because he hasn’t yet received access to evidence collected by prosecutors, but based on a “gut instinct” from his experience, “I am sure he is innocent.”

Asked about the “razor” moniker, he said: “It’s true they used to call me that in the old days. But that nickname isn’t really my cup of tea. Call me, ‘Nice Hironaka-san.’ ”

Write to Peter Landers at peter.landers@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:50 ET (12:50 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 07:50 EST / 1250 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.76-77      110.61-62  +0.14   110.95   110.55  +1.08 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1344-47      1.1342-45  +0.02   1.1360   1.1326  -1.08 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3035-37      1.3062-64  -0.21   1.3077   1.3010  +2.17 
USD/CHF Switzerland     1.0003-07      1.0009-13  -0.06   1.0024   1.0002  +1.93 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3179-84      1.3209-14  -0.23   1.3221   1.3177  -3.36 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7158-62      0.7163-67  -0.07   0.7177   0.7141  +1.53 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6867-73      0.6880-86  -0.19   0.6887   0.6850  +2.23 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.62-66      125.41-45  +0.17   125.94   125.36  -0.05 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8701-04      0.8680-83  +0.24   0.8716   0.8677  -3.20 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1351-54      1.1353-56  -0.02   1.1368   1.1340  +0.85 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4944-54      1.4977-87  -0.22   1.4995   1.4932  -4.42 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5836-46      1.5824-34  +0.08   1.5867   1.5816  -2.60 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4611-18      7.4609-16  +0.00   7.4632   7.4602  -0.07 
EUR/NOK Norway          9.7327-77      9.7149-99  +0.18   9.7481   9.7138  -1.75 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5657-757    10.5557-657  +0.09  10.5711  10.5395  +4.12 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.      25.664-94      25.662-92  +0.01   25.711   25.659  -0.12 
EUR/HUF Hungary         317.10-50      317.28-68  -0.06   317.82   317.23  -1.16 
EUR/PLN Poland          4.3407-25     4.3299-317  +0.25   4.3446   4.3297  +1.21 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.32-36       79.24-28  +0.10    79.58    79.13  +2.65 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.37-43      144.47-53  -0.07   145.05   144.12  +3.22 
CAD/JPY Canada           84.03-07       83.70-74  +0.39    84.15    83.60  +4.59 
NZD/JPY New Zealand      76.08-12       76.12-16  -0.05    76.33    75.90  +3.34 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.613-63      22.617-67  -0.02   22.671   22.604  +0.97 
USD/HUF Hungary         279.44-84      279.73-80  -0.10   280.43   279.32  -0.13 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5768-78      6.5788-98  -0.03   6.5884   6.5693  +1.01 
USD/NOK Norway         8.5789-849      8.5635-95  +0.18   8.5977   8.5575  -0.69 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8265-70      3.8184-89  +0.21   3.8342   3.8149  +2.30 
USD/RUB Russia         65.683-753     65.684-754   0.00   65.935   65.669  -5.09 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3138-228     9.3069-159  +0.07   9.3263   9.2934  +5.26 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.1190-490    14.0296-596  +0.64  14.3695  14.0079  -1.58 
 
USD/CNY China           6.7216-36      6.7575-95  -0.53   6.7680   6.7155  -2.27 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8491-96      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.23 
USD/MYR Malaysia       4.0694-744     4.0777-827  -0.20   4.0825   4.0639  -1.47 
USD/INR India           71.145-65     71.290-310  -0.20   71.610   71.085  +2.28 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines     52.016-36      52.128-48  -0.21   52.155   51.941  -0.90 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3508-18      1.3524-34  -0.12   1.3542   1.3509  -0.85 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1122.01-4.01   1121.92-3.92  +0.01  1124.24  1120.54  +0.78 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.782-812     30.776-806  +0.02   30.820   30.768  +0.71 
USD/THB Thailand       31.080-100      31.120-40  -0.13   31.170   31.040  -3.81 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil         3.7098-128      3.7236-66  -0.37   3.7334   3.7112  -4.38 
USD/MXN Mexico        19.1317-617    19.1305-605  +0.01  19.2328  19.1337  -2.56 
USD/ARS Argentina     39.2640-740    39.2650-750   0.00  39.3250  39.2450  +4.31 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:50 ET (12:50 GMT)

DJ U.S. Stocks Set to Edge Down as Investors Track Trade Talks
By David Hodari 

U.S. stocks were poised to weaken despite upbeat trading elsewhere Wednesday, as investors awaited further information on White House trade talks with China.

Futures put the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq-100 on course to edge down 0.1% at the opening bell, snapping the broad optimism of recent sessions. Healthcare and pharmaceutical stocks slid in premarket trade, with CVS Health Corp. releasing earnings before the market open. Its shares were down 5.6%.

Mining giant Freeport-McMoRan was set to climb 2%, echoing early-day gains for European miners that later reversed. Shares in Glencore were last down 0.4% as investors focused on weaker than expected earnings. Glencore also said it would cap its coal production and confirmed The Wall Street Journal's reports that it plans to curb production at one of its biggest copper and cobalt mining operations in Congo.

U.S. futures contrasted with gentle gains in Europe, where the Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.3%, buoyed by a rally in autos stocks amid softening U.S. rhetoric on trade. The sector was up 1.6%, having faced pressure in recent sessions on fears that the sector could be the next target of Trump administration tariffs.

Asian trading was similarly upbeat, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Taiwan's Taiex, which are both heavily exposed to the trade conflicts of the past year, rising 1% and 1.2% respectively.

President Trump commented Tuesday that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled on March 1, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date."

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency 0.5% higher against the U.S. dollar, to its highest since the end of January.

The yuan has fallen 5.7% versus the dollar in the past 12 months, sparking concerns that Beijing has allowed its currency to devalue to neutralize the impact of U.S. trade tariffs.

"A lot of market participants have pointed it out in the recent past, and whatever pressures China may have felt from the trade disputes, weakness in the yuan has been a welcome relief," said Abi Oladimeji, chief investment officer at Thomas Miller Investment. "Of course, they've denied any suggestion it was intentional."

The prospect of currency controls being part of a trade deal comes in the context of various remarks from Mr. Trump over the past year, in which he has signaled his preference for a weaker dollar and less aggressive Federal Reserve interest-rate policy.

Fears that the Fed was planning on raising interest rates too quickly roiled markets at the tail end of 2018, but the central bank has since soothed investors by signaling a pause. Market participants were awaiting minutes from the most recent Fed meeting, due later in the day.

The minutes "should shed some light on the Fed's motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we'll see an end to balance sheet normalization," said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of others, was up 0.1%, with the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasurys having fallen to 2.635% from 2.645% late Tuesday. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The dollar was also stronger against the British pound, which was last down 0.2% in the wake of the news that three lawmakers had quit the ruling Conservative party, a move which could destabilize a government with an already-razor-thin majority.

In commodities, gold remained broke fresh 10-month highs, ticking up 0.2% to $1,347.50 a troy ounce.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:49 ET (12:49 GMT)

DJ Russian Central Bank Ruble Rate RUB66.2022 To Dollar vs RUB65.7008
 
Russian Central Bank Ruble Rate RUB66.2022 To Dollar vs RUB65.7008 
 
Source: SIX Financial Information 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:46 ET (12:46 GMT)

DJ Russian Central Bank Ruble Rate RUB74.8151 To Euro vs RUB74.5145
 
Russian Central Bank Ruble Rate RUB74.8151 To Euro vs RUB74.5145 
 
Source: SIX Financial Information 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:46 ET (12:46 GMT)

DJ Update: Bausch Health Swings To $344 Million Loss In Latest Quarter -- MarketWatch

Bausch Health Cos. Inc. (BHC.T) said Wednesday it had a net loss of $344 million, or 98 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, after net income of $513 million, or $1.45 a share, in the year-earlier period. The company, formerly called Valeant, said the loss was due to a 2017 tax benefit and more than $2.2 billion in impairment charges recognized as it adopted a new accounting standard. It said adjusted net income was $368 million, but did not provide a per-share number. The FactSet consensus was for adjusted EPS of 84 cents. Revenue fell to $2.121 billion from $2.163 billion, ahead of the FactSet consensus of $2.080 billion. Sales of Salix were flat at $426 million, while sales of ortho dermatologics fell 2% to $165 million. Diversified product sales fell 11% to $325 million. The company said it expects 2019 revenue of $8.30 billion to $8.50 billion, compared with a FactSet consensus of $8.471 billion. Shares rose 1.2% premarket and have gained 35.6% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 2.3%.

-Ciara Linnane

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:42 ET (12:42 GMT)

DJ Bausch Health Reports Loss in Fourth Quarter >BHC
 
   By Kimberly Chin 
 

Bausch Health Cos. (BHC) swung to a loss in the fourth quarter after the company recognized a tax benefit in 2017 and had higher impairment costs in the latest quarter.

The Canadian pharmaceutical company reported a loss of $342 million, or 98 cents a share, compared with a profit of $512 million, or $1.45 a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Refinitiv expected a loss of $1.10 a share.

Sales fell 1.8% to $2.12 billion from the year prior, though that was above the $2.06 billion estimated by analysts.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:41 ET (12:41 GMT)

DJ Compass Sells Hemp-Food Company to Canada’s Tilray in $320 Million Deal

Compass Diversified Holdings has agreed to sell Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods to Canadian cannabis company Tilray Inc. for up to 419 million Canadian dollars ($316.6 million) in cash and stock.

Compass and minority investors in Manitoba will receive C$150 million in cash and C$127.5 million in Tilray stock when the transaction closes, which is expected within 30 days, according to a news release. Six months after the closing, they will receive additional C$50 million in cash and C$42.5 million in stock. Tilray will pay C$49 million in additional stock if Manitoba achieves certain performance targets in 2019.

Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Manitoba Harvest Hemp sells hemp-food products such as snacks, protein blends and oil. The company recorded about $66.2 million in revenue during the 12-month period through September 2018, according to Compass. Compass as of September owned a 68% diluted ownership stake in Manitoba, which includes stock options.

Compass, also known as Codi, is a publicly traded company that operates in many ways like a private-equity firm investing in midmarket businesses from industrial and consumer-related sectors. The Westport, Conn., investor bought an 87% stake in Manitoba for C$130.3 million in July 2015. Five months later, it led an additional C$42 million investment to acquire Hemp Oil Canada Inc. and merged into Manitoba. Members of the Manitoba’s management team, including Chief Executive Mike Fata, and private-equity firm White Road Investments also are investors in the company.

Compass initially was attracted by Manitoba’s popularity in Canada and the potential to expand the company’s brand in the U.S., said Elias Sabo, Compass’s chief executive officer. Manitoba has increased its presence in the U.S. to more than 1% of households from 0.3% in 2015.

More recently, Mr. Sabo added, Manitoba benefited from regulatory changes that allowed the use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes in Canada and some U.S. states. Even though hemp and marijuana are different plants with different applications, they frequently are linked because they both belong to the same Cannabis sativa species.

“It’s created what we like to call ‘hemp curiosity,’” Mr. Sabo said of the legalization of marijuana.

A farm bill in January that legalized hemp cultivation in the U.S. opens up an attractive market for Manitoba’s buyer Tilray, Mr. Sabo said. Besides Manitoba’s hemp-food offerings, he cited the increased interest in other hemp-derived products such as cannabidiol oil.

Tilray, which researches, cultivates and sells cannabis, is among the companies benefiting from heighted investor optimism around the cannabis sector. Tilray’s share price on Nasdaq has almost tripled since the company went public in mid-2018, to $77.03 on Tuesday, after reaching a peak of $148.30 in October. The company has been looking for acquisitions. Tilray on Tuesday said it closed the acquisition of Toronto-based cannabis cultivator Natura Naturals Holdings Inc, which will operate as High Park Gardens, in an up to C$70 million cash-and-stock deal.

Similar to a private-equity fund, Compass is managed by a separate entity that functions as a general partner for the company. The entity charges the company a management fee, and its partners receive a portion of the returns from divestments. Compass, however, distribute returns to its shareholders through dividends like other public companies.

After the sale of Manitoba, its portfolio now counts nine companies from various sectors, including foam packaging, magnetic products, environmental services and baby accessories.

Stikeman Elliott LLP acted as legal counsel to the sellers in the Manitoba deal, while Jefferies LLC acted as financial advisor to Compass.

Write to Luis Garcia at luis.garcia@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:40 ET (12:40 GMT)

DJ UK Political Break Saps Pound Attraction: BMO -- Market Talk

1240 GMT - "In the short-run it means mess, chaos, and more disorder," says Stephen Gallo, European Head of FX strategy at BMO Capital Markets on Wednesday's fracture in the U.K. Conservative Party. Three lawmakers opted to leave the governing party--which has only a razor-thin majority--to join eight Labour MPs in the newly formed Independent Group. "If anything it reduces the chances of a way forward" on Brexit negotiations, Mr. Gallo says, and "overall it means parliament will be less united behind the government." The fresh wave of political uncertainty makes a beleaguered pound even less attractive to investors and "no-one wants to touch this thing because there's just 40 days left until March 29." (david.hodari@wsj.com ; @davidhodari)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:40 ET (12:40 GMT)

DJ Merck Gets FDA Priority Review for Keytruda in Small Cell Lung Cancer >MRK
 
   By Colin Kellaher 
 

Merck & Co. (MRK) on Wednesday said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted priority review to Merck's supplemental biologics license application for Keytruda in advanced small cell lung cancer, or SCLC.

The Kenilworth, N.J., drug maker said the sBLA seeks accelerated approval of the cancer drug as monotherapy for SCLC patients whose disease has progressed after two or more lines of prior therapy.

The FDA grants priority review to medicines that have the potential to provide significant improvements in the treatment of a serious disease, and the designation shortens the review period to six months from 10 months. SCLC has a five-year overall survival rate of 6%, Merck said, adding that the FDA set a target action date of June 17.

Keytruda, a cancer drug that harnesses a patient's immune systems to fight tumors, is marketed to treat lung, skin, bladder and other cancers.

Write to Colin Kellaher at colin.kellaher@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:36 ET (12:36 GMT)

DJ Tory MPs Resignations Dent Pound, But Not Key for Brexit: Nomura -- Market Talk

1234 GMT - After three anti-Brexit U.K. Conservative Party members resigned to join a new independent group in parliament, the pound fell further on Wednesday, but Jordan Rochester, Nomura's forex strategist, says these resignations aren't damaging for the currency. Technically, ten Tory MPs would be "the tipping point" for Theresa May if there is a vote of no confidence. Moreover, even if these MPs "are independent does not necessarily mean they want an election and vote against this government," Mr. Rochester says. "From current levels of speculation as to who could block a no-deal Brexit and push the U.K. towards a softer outcome, we would need a lot more MPs to change their minds," he adds. GBP/USD last down 0.2% at 1.3034. EUR/GBP rises 0.3% to 0.8702. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:34 ET (12:34 GMT)

DJ Maersk Fuel Costs and Guidance in Focus -- Earnings Preview

By Dominic Chopping

Denmark's A.P. Moeller-Maersk AS (MAERSK-B.KO) is scheduled to report results for the fourth quarter on Thursday. Here's what you need to know:

REVENUE FORECAST: Analysts polled by FactSet expect revenue to rise 21% to $9.89 billion from $8.17 billion a year earlier.

NET INCOME FORECAST: Analysts expect a net profit of $449 million in the fourth quarter compared with a $374 million in the same quarter of last year.

WHAT TO WATCH:

FUEL AND RATES: Freight rates fell in the third quarter while fuel prices were sharply higher, but an emergency bunker surcharge, synergies from its Hamburg Sud acquisition and strong collaboration between its units have helped Maersk boost profitability and cash flow. Eyes will be on any clues surrounding cost development. Sydbank expects an average freight rate of $1,969 per FFE--a standard 40 foot container--in 4Q18, which is an increase of 12.5% ​​compared to the level in 4Q17. "Higher freight rates give better earnings conditions in the Ocean division and more than offset rising fuel costs," Sydbank said.

GUIDANCE: Eyes will be on 2019 guidance with Sydbank expecting the company to post an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization forecast of about $5 billion in 2019 before the positive effects from the implementation of IFRS 16. Maersk has guided for 2018 Ebitda of $3.6 billion-$4.0 billion. In its third quarter report, Maersk flagged that global container trade had continued to lose momentum with an increase of 3%-4% expected in 2018 and in the lower part of 2%-4% in 2019. Although the company said the effect of trade restrictions between the U.S. and China on global trade was uncertain, it estimated that the combined effect of all trade restrictions introduced during 2018 could reduce global container trade by 0.5%-2.0% during 2019-20.

MAERSK DRILLING UPDATE: The company has said it will seek a spinoff this year of its offshore drilling unit. Maersk Drilling--which operates a fleet of 23 jackup rigs, drillships and semi-submersibles--was put on the block two years ago when Maersk set out to transform itself from a sprawling conglomerate into a container logistics firm. Any update of the listing process will be eyed.

Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com; @domchopping @WSJNordics

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:32 ET (12:32 GMT)

DJ Bausch Health Swings To $344 Million Loss In Latest Quarter -- MarketWatch

Bausch Health Cos. Inc. (BHC.T) said Wednesday it had a net loss of $344 million, or 98 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, after net income of $513 million, or $1.45 a share, in the year-earlier period. The company, formerly called Valeant, said the loss was due to a 208 tax benefit and more than $2.2 billion in impairment charges recognized as it adopted a new accounting standard. It said adjusted net income was $368 million, but did not provide a per-share number. The FactSet consensus was for adjusted EPS of 84 cents. Revenue fell to $2.121 billion from $2.163 billion, ahead of the FactSet consensus of $2.080 billion. Sales of Salix were flat at $426 million, while sales of ortho dermatologics fell 2% to $165 million. Diversified product sales fell 11% to $325 million. The company said it expects 2019 revenue of $8.30 billion to $8.50 billion, compared with a FactSet consensus of $8.471 billion. Shares rose 1.2% premarket and have gained 35.6% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 2.3%.

-Ciara Linnane

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:27 ET (12:27 GMT)

DJ Barrick Gold Reaches Proposal to Settle Dispute Between Acacia, Tanzania Government

By Oliver Griffin

Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX.T) and the government of Tanzania have reached a proposal to resolve outstanding disputes over Acacia Mining PLC's (ACA.LN) operations in the country.

Acacia Mining has been locked in a series of disputes in Tanzania, which in 2017 banned Acacia's exports and served the company with a $190 billion bill for what the government said were unpaid taxes, penalties and interest accumulated over the past 17 years.

In October last year, Acacia said two current and one former employee were arrested and charged by Tanzanian authorities with counts including tax evasion, forgery and money-laundering.

In December, the company was reported to be under investigation by the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office regarding its dealings in Tanzania.

The Canadian gold miner is the majority owner of Acacia Mining with a 64% stake in the company, on behalf of which it has been negotiating with the Tanzanian government.

Barrick said Wednesday that the framework proposed to Tanzania's government includes the creation of a local operating company to manage Acacia's operations in the country, while economic benefits would be shared evenly between the company and the government.

The Tanzanian government's share of economic benefits would be in the form of royalties, taxes and a 16% free-carry interest in the Tanzanian operations.

Additionally, $300 million would be paid to the government to resolve outstanding tax claims, Barrick Gold said.

Barrick President and Chief Executive Mark Bristow, who took the helm after the Canadian company bought rival Randgold Resources, said the agreement would benefit Acacia Mining's "long-suffering investors."

Mr. Bristow said: "Significant amounts of real value have been destroyed by this dispute and, in Barrick's view, this proposal will allow the business to focus on rebuilding its mining operations in partnership with their respective stakeholders."

Acacia Mining said it hasn't received any proposal from Barrick regarding a comprehensive resolution to its disputes with the government of Tanzania.

Acacia Mining shares at 1210 GMT were up 6.6% at 239.80 pence.

Write to Oliver Griffin at oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:26 ET (12:26 GMT)

DJ Bausch Health Offers FY19 Projections >BHC
 
   By Kimberly Chin 
 

Bausch Health Cos. (BHC) offered 2019 guidance that was in line with analysts' estimates.

The health products company said Wednesday it expects full-year revenues between $8.3 billion and $8.5 billion. Analysts polled by Refinitiv estimated sales of $8.43 billion.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is expected to be between $3.35 billion and $3.5 billion, with analysts expecting $3.4 billion.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:25 ET (12:25 GMT)

DJ CVS Health Shares Fall After Lower-than-expected Revenue -- MarketWatch

CVS Health Corp. (CVS) shares fell 5.2% in Thursday premarket trading after the pharmacy retailer reported fourth-quarter revenue that missed expectations and gave weak earnings guidance. CVS reported a loss of $419.0 million, or 37 cents per share, after net income of $3.3 million, or $3.22 per share, the previous year. The loss includes a $2.2 billion goodwill impairment related to the long-term care business, which faced challenges including lower occupancy rates at skilled nursing facilities and the bankruptcies caused by the failing health of customers at these facilities. Adjusted EPS was $2.14, ahead of the $2.09 per share FactSet consensus. Revenue of $54.4 billion was up from $48.4 billion last year but missed the $54.6 billion FactSet expectation. Pharmacy services revenue of $34.9 million also missed FactSet's consensus for $46.4 billion, and the retail and long-term care segment revenue totaling $22.0 billion was below the FactSet expectation for $28.8 billion. For the full-year 2019, CVS expects EPS in the range of $4.88 to $5.08 and adjusted EPS in the range of $6.68 to $6.88, below the $7.35 FactSet consensus. CVS shares have slipped 1.1% over the past year while the S&P 500 index has gained 2.3% for the period.

-Tonya Garcia

 For more from MarketWatch: http://www.marketwatch.com/newsviewer 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:16 ET (12:16 GMT)

DJ National Bank Of Poland Zloty Exchange Rates
 
WARSAW (Dow Jones)--Following are the middle rates for some world currencies 
against the Polish Zloty as quoted by the National Bank of Poland: 
 
  Currency       Today     Previous 
 
  AUD           2.7342       2.7234 
  CZK           0.1688       0.1682 
  DKK           0.5812       0.5803 
  JPY*          3.4501       3.4582 
  CAD           2.8973       2.8897 
  NOK           0.4454       0.4440 
  CHF           3.8190       3.8141 
  SEK           0.4108       0.4088 
  EUR           4.3371       4.3303 
  USD           3.8221       3.8311 
  HUF*          1.3661       1.3611 
  GBP           4.9840       4.9495 
 
 
* per 100 units 
 
 
Source: NBOP via SIX Financial Information 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:15 ET (12:15 GMT)

DJ FTSE Rises as Conservative Split Sends Pound Lower
 
Market News: 
 
FTSE 100          7,198.01 +18.84 +0.26% 
FTSE 250         19,128.67 +59.78 +0.31% 
FTSE AIM All-Share  906.80  -0.19 -0.02% 

Pound Slips on Ruling Party Fracture

1159 GMT - The pound is down 0.3% against the U.S. dollar in the wake of the news that three lawmakers have quit the ruling Conservative party, a move which could destabilize a government with an already-razor-thin majority. Those memebrs of parliament join eight colleagues who left the opposition Labour party to form a new parliamentary group. Brian Hilliard, Chief U.K. Economist at Societe Generale says the pound is "very sensitive to any Brexit news of any kind and [the resignations] are very likely to be the cause" of the currency move. "If many more follow them, then of course the government will lose its working majority and raise questions about an election," he says. Sterling trades at $1.3022, down from around $1.3034 just before the announcement.

 
Top News: 

Three UK Lawmakers Quit Ruling Conservative Party to Join Independent Group

Three lawmakers quit the U.K.'s ruling Conservative Party on Wednesday, citing Brexit, in a move that further adds to the precariousness of Prime Minister Theresa May's grip on power and underlines how the decision to leave the European Union is reshaping British politics.

Glencore Net Profit Slides After Booking Impairment Costs

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) on Wednesday reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018 after booking impairment costs at two of its mines and launched a new $2 billion buyback program.

Lloyds Bank Missed 2018 Profit Expectations; Plans GBP1.75 Bln Share Buyback

Lloyds Banking Group PLC's (LLOY.LN) 2018 profit missed analyst expectations but the U.K. lender set out plans for a major share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets.

Walmart's Multibilion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Huge Hurdle

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart Inc.'s British grocery unit and rival J Sainsbury PLC, threatening to scuttle one of the retail giant's biggest overseas overhauls.

 
Companies News: 

1 Spatial Wins GBP1 Mln Defense Contract

1Spatial PLC (SPA.LN) said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a 1 million pound ($1.2 million) contract to supply software and services to the No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit, which supplies products and services to UK defense sector.

Bango Appoints Former Nokia Video Executive as COO; Shares Rise

Bango PLC (BGO.LN) shares rose on Wednesday after the mobile-commerce company said that it has appointed ex-Nokia Corp. (NOKIA.HE) executive Paul Larbey as its new chief operating officer.

Eden Research: Cedroz Nears Approval in EU After Malta Authorization

Eden Research PLC (EDEN.LN) said Wednesday that its pesticide formulation Cedroz has received authorization in Malta, which brings the product a step closer to wider approval by European Union member states.

EKF Diagnostics Gets FDA Approval for Quo-Test Analyzer

EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (EKF.LN) has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for professional use in a clinical-laboratory setting of its Quo-Test analyzer, the company said Wednesday.

Eland Oil & Gas to Start Paying Dividend in 2019

Eland Oil & Gas PLC (ELA.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to begin paying a dividend and that it expects to declare its maiden dividend at the end of this year.

Enteq Upstream Shares Rise on Higher Expected Earnings Forecast

Shares in Enteq Upstream PLC (NTQ.LN) rose Wednesday after the company said that revenue and underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in fiscal 2019 are expected to be materially ahead of expectations.

Flybe Confirms Receipt of New Proposal From Investor Group

Flybe Group PLC (FLYB.LN) confirmed Wednesday that it has received a proposal from an investor group led by Bateleur Capital LLC and Mesa Air Group Inc. to provide it with a capital injection and replacement of funding provided by Connect Airways Ltd.

Glencore Begins Turn Away from Coal, to Re-balance Portfolio

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) said Wednesday that it will rebalance its portfolio toward commodities that support the transition to a low-carbon economy, limiting its coal-production capacity broadly at current levels.

Gooch & Housego Shares Fall as Company Warns of FY 2019 Slowdown

Shares in Gooch & Housego PLC (GHH.LN) fell sharply Wednesday after the company said the board expects group trading performance for the year to show low-digit growth compared with 2018, as demand in China's industrial-laser market declined in the first four months of fiscal 2019.

Haydale Graphene Considering Discounted Share Placing

Haydale Graphene Industries PLC (HAYD.LN) said Wednesday that it is sounding out potential institutional investors over a share placing at a material discount to its previous closing price.

Hochschild 2018 Net Profit Fell 69% on Higher Costs

Hochschild Mining PLC (HOC.LN) on Wednesday reported a 69% fall in net profit in 2018 after booking higher costs on expenses, including in exploration activities.

IMImobile Names Bruce Bales as New North America CEO

IMImobile PLC (IMO.LN) has appointed Bruce Bales as its new chief executive for North America, part of its efforts to consolidate and grow operations in the U.S. and Canada, the company said Wednesday.

Impellam Group to Demerge Carlisle Support Services

Impellam Group PLC (IPEL.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to separate its Carlisle Support Services Group Ltd. subsidiary to reduce costs and focus on its core operations.

Indivior Launches Generic Version of Suboxone in US to Pre-empt Rivals

Indivior PLC (INDV.LN) said Wednesday that it has launched an authorized generic version of its Suboxone treatment for opioid-addiction in the U.S., as rival companies plan their own version of the drug.

Intu Properties Swung to FY Pretax Loss as Revenue Declined

Intu Properties PLC (INTU.LN) on Wednesday said it swung to pretax loss for fiscal 2018 due to a property revaluation deficit in the U.K., and said that the board isn't recommending a final dividend.

Laura Ashley Swings to 1H 2019 Pretax Loss; Warns on Full Year

Laura Ashley Holdings PLC (ALY.LN) on Wednesday warned that performance for the year will fall short of market expectations, as it reported a swing to pretax loss in the first half of fiscal 2019.

Lidco FY 2019 Revenue to Miss Forecasts Due to Change in Policy

LiDCO Group PLC (LID.LN) said Wednesday that total revenue for fiscal 2019 was down 11%, missing market forecasts, as customers convert to a new business model which defers revenue into next year.

McBride Warns on FY 2019 Profit Due to Rising Costs

McBride PLC (MCB.LN) said Wednesday that it expects its adjusted pretax profit for fiscal 2019 to be between 10% and 15% lower than the prior year due to rising material and distribution costs.

Mobile Tornado to Report Earnings 2018 in Line With Market Expectations

Mobile Tornado Group PLC (MBT.LN) said Wednesday that it expects to report an improvement in revenue and adjusted Ebitda losses for 2018, in line with market expectations.

PCF Group to Raise GBP10.8 Mln to Support Lending Growth; Shares Fall

PCF Group PLC (PCF.LN) shares dropped on Wednesday after the specialist bank said it intends to raise up to 10.8 million pounds ($14.0 million) in a share offer to fund its lending growth.

ReNeuron Shares Rise on Positive Data From Clinical Trial for Eye-Disease Treatment

ReNeuron Group PLC (RENE.LN) shares rose Wednesday after an ongoing clinical trial of its cell-therapy treatment for retinal disease generated positive preliminary data.

San Leon Rises on Proposed $30 Mln Share Buyback

Shares in San Leon Energy PLC (SLE.LN) rose on Wednesday after the company proposed a $30 million share buyback at a premium price.

Science Group Extends Bank Loan to GBP17.5 Million

Science Group PLC (SAG.LN) said Wednesday that it has extended a bank loan to 17.5 million pounds ($22.7 million) from GBP12.8 million, after ending a sale process last month.

Vodafone Group to Launch 5G in European Cities in Second Half of 2019

Vodafone Group PLC (VOD.LN) is preparing to launch next-generation wireless technology, 5G, in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019, the company said Wednesday.

 
Other News: 

UK Regulator Closes Insurance-Brokerage Probe Without Taking Action

The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority on Wednesday closed its investigation into the wholesale insurance-broking market, saying it found no evidence of significant harm to clients.

 
Market Talk: 

Sainsbury's Asda Merger Plan Is All But Dead: Barclays

1117 GMT - J Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc.-owned rival Asda is all but dead in the water, Barclays says after U.K. regulators threatened to block the tie-up if competition concerns can't be addressed. The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal would substantially reduce competition and solutions allowing it to proceed would be difficult to secure. Barclays said it believed the CMA has effectively blocked the merger. "Though the CMA might conceivably be persuaded to think differently by the time of its final report, our central assumption would be that this is unlikely," Barclays analysts say. "We therefore assume the proposed merger will have to be abandoned."

Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9319

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:08 ET (12:08 GMT)

DJ Novatek FY 2018 Pretax Profit Rose 14%; Natural Gas Sales Volumes Increased 11%

By Anthony O. Goriainoff

Novatek (NVTK.MZ) said Wednesday that pretax profit rose 14% and revenue rose 43% in fiscal 2018 due to a favorable macroeconomic environment.

The Russian oil-and-gas company said that for the year ended Dec. 31 pretax profit was 228.53 billion rubles ($3.45 billion) compared with RUB200.83 billion the year before.

Revenue was RUB831.76 billion, compared with RUB583.19 billion in 2017. The company said this was due to the production launch of the first of three liquefaction trains at its Yamal plant and increases in the price of realized liquids and natural gas.

Natural gas sales volumes were 72.1 billion cubic meters, an 11% increase on 2017, due to sales of liquefied natural gas purchased from the Yamal LNG joint venture to international markets and an increase in volumes sold in Russia.

Liquid hydrocarbon sales volumes aggregated 15.8 million tons, a 0.7% decrease compared to the year before.

Write to Anthony O. Goriainoff at anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:03 ET (12:03 GMT)

DJ Global Equities Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Equities. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

1200 GMT - Glencore's plan to cap coal output shows the power of investor pressure on climate change, says ShareAction, though the environmental group remains watchful on the Anglo-Swiss company. "Glencore's South-East Asian coal frenzy will be a true test of [its] commitment to the Paris goals," ShareAction says. The news from Glencore, "the black sheep of the energy world," shows it now supports rather than just acknowledges the Paris Agreement, the advocacy group says. While greeting the announcement, ShareAction says it will continue to watch Glencore closely, given its recent coal acquisitions and its production forecasts. (dieter.holger@dowjones.com)

1153 GMT - Irish nutrition group Glanbia ended 2018 on an accelerating trend that supports its growth prospects for this year, Davy Research says. The company exceeds expectations for revenue, operating profit and adjusted EPS, the brokerage says. "The results attest to the strength of Glanbia's growth algorithm," Davy says. The brokerage upgrades its EPS forecasts for 2019 on the back of the results. The company's nutrition division performed strongly in the fourth quarter, with volume growth estimated to be in the mid-teens, and its nutritionals division should benefit from the acquisition of U.S.'s non-diary ingredients company Watson, Davy says. Shares rise 10%. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

1150 GMT - Swiss watch exports should post development similar to that seen last month, Vontobel analysts say after the Swiss watch federation reports flattish exports in January. The result doesn't come as a surprise given exports had a strong start to the year in 2018, the investment bank says. This tough comparison basis means exports should continue to develop similarly in the coming months, Vontobel warns, noting that the watch business makes up 90% of sales for Swatch, and 37% of sales for Richemont. (cristina.roca@dowjones.com)

1129 GMT - BHP Group is still undervalued despite the operational issues it faces and the fact it trades at a premium to rivals such as Anglo American and Rio Tinto, Jefferies says. The bank says that despite disappointing first-half earnings results, BHP still has a positive outlook. Jefferies says improvements in its operations and stronger commodities prices should lead to growth in free cash flow and capital returns. The bank maintains its buy rating on BHP. London-listed shares are up 0.4% at 1,803 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1117 GMT - J Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc.-owned rival Asda is all but dead in the water, Barclays says after U.K. regulators threatened to block the tie-up if competition concerns can't be addressed. The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal would substantially reduce competition and solutions allowing it to proceed would be difficult to secure. Barclays said it believed the CMA has effectively blocked the merger. "Though the CMA might conceivably be persuaded to think differently by the time of its final report, our central assumption would be that this is unlikely," Barclays analysts say. "We therefore assume the proposed merger will have to be abandoned." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1116 GMT - Tom Tailor stock trades above the price offered by shareholder Fosun for the retailer's remaining shares, as traders shorting the stock were taken by surprise, Berenberg analysts say. Fosun yesterday increased its stake in Tom Tailor. Most investors should have seen this news--and the tender offer that followed--coming, the brokerage says. At the stock's current price, it doesn't make sense for shareholders to accept Fosun's offer, Berenberg says. This would suit the Chinese investor, which is unlikely to return with a higher bid, as it only launched the offer because it is legally required to, Berenberg says. Tom Tailor looks "extraordinarily cheap" to the brokerage, which rates it a buy. Tom Tailor trades 0.3% higher at EUR2.41. (cristina.roca@dowjones.com)

1114 GMT - Roche's sales from new drugs and biosimilar erosion are expected to rise in tandem and offset each other, says Bryan Garnier. Drugs launched in the past five years, buoyed by Ocrevus, Perjeta and Alecensa, represented 24% of the sales in 4Q. Their weight will increase as legacy products phase out. In absolute terms, the three drugs added CHF2.5 billion in sales in 2018, and a similar gain is expected this year, with Hemlibra and Tecentriq added to the mix. Biosimilar impact was CHF1.3 billion in 2018. When the U.S. is included, that number is expected to double at about CHF2.4 billion. The two blocks are expected to offset each other, concludes BG, which has Roche as a top pick. Shares gain 0.2%. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

1105 GMT - Carrefour is still on the road to recovery and a successful 2018 has laid the groundwork for an even better 2019, say analysts at HSBC. "We believe good progress has been made on exiting Dia, realizing cost savings and agreeing to partnerships to address areas of weakness," it says, adding that the French retailer should deliver faster growth this year. "We have always maintained that investors would need to be patient with Carrefour," says HSBC. Carrefour shares trade 0.8% lower at EUR17.93. (anthony.shevlin@dowjones.com; @anthony_shevlin)

1102 GMT - Intu is in a real mess, AJ Bell says, citing the declining valuation of its shopping centers across the U.K. and Spain. "Exposure to the retail sector is a poisoned chalice for property companies at the moment, and Intu is in the thick of it," the brokerage says. The decline is pushing up Intu's loan-to-value ratio and shareholders are being denied a dividend, which means it now has a tax liability, AJ Bell notes. Intu is trying to sell assets, but sales in a weak market are a sign of desperation, the brokerage says, adding that Intu could emerge a leaner business, but for now it should do its best to survive the turmoil. Shares are down 8.4%, at 108.25 pence. (anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com)

1054 GMT - Henkel releases its fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday before markets open and analysts at Bernstein expect more meat on the bones of last month's headline numbers, which included a margin reset from 2019. The German company's 2018 top-line growth was its lowest since 2009 which Bernstein suspects was caused by advertising and promotional cuts, but says "Henkel's frustratingly opaque reporting provides no real insight." Henkel is "far from the reliable compounding story it used to be," Bernstein says. Henkel shares trade 0.9% higher at EUR88.66. (anthony.shevlin@dowjones.com; @anthony_shevlin)

1053 GMT - Zalando's 4Q results should ensure it meets its 2018 targets, Hauck & Aufhauser writes, dismissing concerns the Berlin-based online retailer would fall short of its full-year guidance. The bank expects strong 4Q earnings will "renew confidence" in Zalando's growth ambition. Sales growth should recover in 4Q and reach 24.5% on year, a marked improvement from the more muted 12% growth Zalando recorded in 3Q amid a weak European apparel market, H&A writes. Lowered consensus expectations should also now adequately reflect Zalando's mid-term guidance of no margin expansion until 2020. H&A maintains its buy rating and EUR43 target price. Zalando trades up 0.3% at EUR26.76. (patrick.costello@dowjones.com)

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:01 ET (12:01 GMT)

DJ Mondelez Sugar High May Not Last -- Heard on the Street
By Aaron Back 

Why pay up for a company with no real revenue growth, especially when the company does a lot of its business in the riskiest markets?

That is the investment question right now with Mondelez. Shares of the maker of Oreo cookies, Cadbury chocolates and other snacks are up 20% this year in the belief that emerging markets, where the company makes 40% of its sales, will offer stronger growth.

That may be true over the long term, but with China and other major economies slowing significantly and the company predicting that overseas currencies will be weak, that rally may be short-lived.

Cadbury makes three-quarters of its revenue outside the U.S., which is attractive, especially when major food companies are struggling to grow amid shifts in U.S. consumer tastes.

At the moment, however, the global economy is struggling, with Chinese consumers under pressure and parts of Europe close to or already in recession. In an interview on CNBC on Tuesday, Mondelez Chief Executive Dirk Van de Put said he sees no impact on the company's sales yet, and noted that products like snacks tend to be immune to economic fluctuations.

Even so, other purveyors of small indulgences, such as Coca-Cola, have recently warned that the global slowdown is indeed dragging on sales. What's more, even if Mondelez proves resilient to economic fluctuations in overseas markets, it remains exposed to weakness in their currencies.

In the company's 2019 outlook, which it reiterated at a conference on Tuesday, Mondelez said it sees organic sales growth, which strips out acquisitions and currency movements, of 2% to 3%. That would be similar to what it achieved last year. But sales will actually fall 1% or stay flat after factoring in expected currency declines, the company said. Even that may prove optimistic if currencies like the euro, the yuan and the Indian rupee keep falling against the dollar.

With Mondelez shares already up 20% so far this year, and trading at a relatively pricey 19 times forward earnings, investors may not be fully pricing in the near-term risks. Even those attracted to its long-term growth story could probably wait for a better entry point.

Write to Aaron Back at aaron.back@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ US MBA Mortgage Survey Snapshot
WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Following is data from the Mortgage Bankers 
Association of America's weekly mortgage application survey, 
released Wednesday 
 
                 Seasonally Unadjusted                Seasonally Adjusted 
Week           Market   Purchase       Refi         Market   Purchase       Refi 
Ending          Index      Index      Index          Index      Index      Index 
 
 
02/15/2019      373.6      241.8    1,084.4          365.3      232.7    1,084.4 
02/08/2019      350.3      221.0    1,052.4          364.8      237.7    1,052.4 
02/01/2019      363.4      235.4    1,053.4          378.9      253.1    1,053.4 
01/25/2019      323.2      208.1      944.9          388.7      266.2    1,049.9 
01/18/2019      358.6      221.0    1,110.5          400.6      272.5    1,110.5 
01/11/2019      359.8      212.5    1,172.4          411.8      278.5    1,172.4 
01/04/2019      247.6      148.8      790.3          362.7      255.2      987.9 
12/28/2018      147.2       93.6      438.0          293.8      219.0      729.9 
12/21/2018      268.6      168.1      816.0          321.2      236.9      816.0 
12/14/2018      274.8      172.3      832.2          325.9      238.6      832.2 
12/07/2018      295.0      191.7      851.6          346.0      256.1      851.6 
11/30/2018      297.1      196.4      836.4          340.5      249.9      836.4 
11/23/2018      209.0      144.1      551.4          333.7      247.8      787.7 
11/16/2018      292.2      199.4      783.7          316.4      227.7      783.7 
 

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ US MBA Mortgage Survey Table Of Seasonally Adjusted Data
Seasonally Adjusted data for week ending 02/15/2019 
 
 
Composite Index               Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         365.3       352.6         3.6       400.6       372.9 
  Purchase                      232.7       228.9         1.7       272.5       225.5 
  Refi                        1,084.4     1,019.2         6.4     1,110.5     1,183.1 
  FRM                           354.0       341.7         3.6       385.7       366.3 
  ARM                           599.2       578.6         3.6       711.0       514.1 
 
Conventional Market           Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         463.2       437.2         5.9       502.5       474.0 
  Purchase                      300.5       290.8         3.3       347.8       285.4 
  Refi                        1,082.0       989.4         9.4     1,107.2     1,202.5 
  FRM                           441.6       415.9         6.2       474.9       459.7 
  ARM                           838.9       806.9         4.0       984.1       719.6 
 
Government Market             Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         200.7       209.3        -4.1       229.0       203.3 
  Purchase                      140.4       144.5        -2.8       169.8       143.9 
  Refi                        1,098.9     1,176.4        -6.6     1,129.7     1,084.0 
  FRM                           204.6       213.2        -4.0       233.1       207.3 
  ARM                            15.2        19.8       -23.2        27.8        14.6 
 

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ US MBA Mortgage Survey Table Of Unadjusted Data
Unadjusted data for week ending 02/15/2019 
 
 
Composite Index               Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         373.6       350.3         6.7       358.6       382.3 
  Purchase                      241.8       226.3         6.8       221.0       235.8 
  Refi                        1,084.4     1,019.2         6.4     1,110.5     1,183.1 
  FRM                           362.1       339.5         6.7       345.2       375.5 
  ARM                           612.9       574.8         6.6       636.4       527.1 
 
Conventional Market           Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         473.3       434.4         9.0       452.9       485.1 
  Purchase                      312.2       287.5         8.6       282.1       298.3 
  Refi                        1,082.0       989.4         9.4     1,107.2     1,202.5 
  FRM                           451.2       413.3         9.2       428.0       470.5 
  ARM                           857.1       801.9         6.9       886.9       736.5 
 
Government Market             Current   Prev Week    % Change   4 Wks Ago    Year Ago 
  Index                         206.2       207.7        -0.7       200.0       209.8 
  Purchase                      145.9       142.9         2.1       137.7       150.5 
  Refi                        1,098.9     1,176.4        -6.6     1,129.7     1,084.0 
  FRM                           210.1       211.6        -0.7       203.6       213.8 
  ARM                            15.6        19.6       -20.4        24.3        15.0 
 

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ US MBA Mortgage Survey Table Of Comparisons
                                  Percent Change In                     Percent Change 
                                  No. Of Applications                      In Dollar Value            Avg 
                       Week Ago   4Wks Ago     Yr Ago       Week Ago   4Wks Ago     Yr Ago           Loan 
                                                                                                   ($000) 
 
Total                       6.7        4.2       -2.3            9.9        5.3        6.4          317.8 
  Purchase                  6.8        9.4        2.5            9.9       14.6        5.0          323.1 
  Refi                      6.4       -2.4       -8.3            9.8       -5.8        8.6          310.4 
  FRM                       6.7        4.9       -3.6            9.1        7.9        3.1          287.8 
  ARM                       6.6       -3.7       16.3           13.7       -6.1       26.9          679.4 
 
Conventional                9.0        4.5       -2.4           12.3        5.6        6.8          338.6 
  Purchase                  8.6       10.7        4.7           12.2       17.0        6.5          351.0 
  Refi                      9.4       -2.3      -10.0           12.4       -6.6        7.2          323.3 
  FRM                       9.2        5.4       -4.1           11.9        9.0        2.8          301.5 
  ARM                       6.9       -3.4       16.4           13.7       -6.1       27.0          682.7 
 
Government                 -0.7        3.1       -1.7           -0.8        3.6        4.5          243.1 
  Purchase                  2.1        6.0       -3.1            1.3        5.5       -1.0          242.7 
  Refi                     -6.6       -2.7        1.4           -5.1       -0.6       19.0          243.9 
  FRM                      -0.7        3.2       -1.7           -0.8        3.6        4.5          243.2 
  ARM                     -20.4      -35.8        4.0            9.8      -21.7        2.8          203.5 
 
 

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ US MBA Mortgage Survey Of Current Interest Rates
                              Change In Contract Rate (bps) 
                      Effective      Total   Contract         1 Week    4 Weeks     1 Year 
                           Rate     Points       Rate            Ago        Ago        Ago 
 
30-Year Fixed              4.78       0.42       4.66              1         -9          2 
15-Year Fixed              4.15       0.44       4.04              0         -8          2 
5-Year ARM                 4.09       0.24       4.00              3        -12         28 
30-Year Jumbo              4.62       0.23       4.56              8         -3         -6 
FHA 203 (b)                4.85       0.58       4.68              7        -14         10 
 
All rates except FHA 203(b) are for 80% loan-to-value mortgage. 
 
 

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Global Markets News of the Day
 
U.S. Stocks Set to Edge Down as Investors Track Trade Talk News 
 

U.S. stocks were poised to weaken despite upbeat trading elsewhere, as investors awaited further information on White House trade talks with China.

 
Fed Minutes May Yield Clues to How Long Rate Pause Will Last 
 

The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its January meeting, providing more detail about discussions before it formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

 
Markets Warm to the Prospect of an ECB Funding Boost for Banks 
 

Market participants are growing confident that the European Central Bank will soon try to boost the eurozone's ailing economy by rebooting its program of ultracheap long-term loans to the banking system.

 
Stock Investors Look Past Gloomy Trade Data 
 

Japan endured a sharper-than-expected drop in exports last month, the latest indication that global growth is decelerating. Stock investors seem unflustered.

 
Oil Prices Edge Down as U.S. Shale Output Set to Climb 
 

Oil prices slipped after the U.S. signaled rising shale output and as investors appeared to wait for signs of progress in the continuing U.S.-China trade negotiations.

 
Trump Eases Off Hard Deadline for China Tariffs 
 

President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.

 
Japan's January Trade Deficit Biggest in Five Years 
 

Japan logged its biggest trade deficit in nearly five years in January, as trade tensions and a global economic slowdown weighed on exports and threatened the country's main engine of growth.

 
SEC Wants to Make It Easier for Companies to Explore IPOs 
 

Any company exploring whether to go public would get greater leeway to discuss their plans privately with potential investors before announcing an initial public offering, under a proposal from securities regulators.

 
Customers Hunt for Bankrupt Crypto Exchange's Missing Millions 
 

An unusual cash-pickup system is the latest unusual business practice at Quadriga to emerge since Gerald Cotten, the firm's 30-year-old co-founder and CEO, died in India late last year.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Company News of the Day
 
Glencore, Once a Big Coal Backer, Is Capping Output 
 

Commodity trader Glencore said it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity.

 
Walmart's Multibillion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Huge Hurdle 
 

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart's British grocery unit and rival Sainsbury, threatening to scuttle one of the retailing giant's biggest overseas overhauls.

 
Venezuela Opposition's Citgo Takeover Disappoints U.S. 
 

U.S.-backed Venezuela leader Juan Guaidó named a new board at Citgo last week, but the appointments fell short of the independent board the Trump administration expected.

 
Alibaba And the Wasteful Investment Bank Deal 
 

It is weird enough that an e-commerce company would want a stake in an investment bank. Even odder is the fact that Alibaba's largest local tech rival, Tencent, has held a similar stake in CICC for two years.

 
Indonesia's Indosat Exploring Sale of Telecom Towers 
 

Indonesia's third-largest mobile operator is looking to sell some of its telecommunications towers in a deal that could be valued at more than $1 billion.

 
Ford to Exit Heavy-Truck Business in South America 
 

The auto maker intends to stop making heavy trucks in Latin America and end production at an assembly plant in Brazil this year.

 
Southwest Links Labor Dispute to Grounding of Planes 
 

The airline said it would investigate whether a dispute with its mechanics union was causing maintenance delays that have led to grounded planes and canceled flights.

 
Herbalife Sales Rise 9% in Latest Quarter 
 

Herbalife Nutrition, whose chief executive abruptly resigned last month, reported a 9% sales increase in its latest quarter, driven largely by growth in Asia Pacific.

 
McKinsey Settles With DOJ Over Bankruptcy Disclosures 
 

McKinsey agreed to pay $15 million to settle Justice Department allegations that the consulting firm failed to make required disclosures of potential conflicts in three chapter 11 cases it had advised on in recent years.

 
Charlotte Russe Still Searching For Buyer as Possible Liquidation Looms 
 

The mall-based women's fashion retailer has agreed to bid with liquidators, subject to better offers

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Energy News of the Day
 
Oil Prices Edge Down as U.S. Shale Output Set to Climb 
 

Oil prices slipped after the U.S. signaled rising shale output and as investors appeared to wait for signs of progress in the continuing U.S.-China trade negotiations.

 
Venezuela Opposition's Citgo Takeover Disappoints U.S. 
 

U.S.-backed Venezuela leader Juan Guaidó named a new board at Citgo last week, but the appointments fell short of the independent board the Trump administration expected.

 
Flynn Pushed Saudi Nuclear-Plant Plan Despite Warnings 
 

Former national-security adviser Mike Flynn and others in the White House ignored legal warnings as they pushed a plan to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, according to a House panel report.

 
OPEC Officials Say U.S. Sanctions Against Its Chief Won't Derail Plans 
 

OPEC will continue to operate normally despite U.S. sanctions placed on the oil cartel's head, Venezuelan President Miguel Quevedo, officials said Monday.

 
U.S. Puts Sanctions on More Venezuelan Officials 
 

The U.S. sanctioned the head of Venezuela's state-owned oil giant and five top intelligence and security officials and the Trump administration said it planned to deliver 200 tons of humanitarian aid to a border city in Colombia, intensifying its effort to ratchet up pressure on President Nicolás Maduro.

 
Mexico Unveils Plan to Support State Oil Company Pemex 
 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador unveiled a $5.2 billion rescue package for Petróleos Mexicanos, which the new government hopes would help stem the state oil company's bleeding and reverse falling output.

 
Great Eastern Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy 
 

Great Eastern Energy, which provides natural gas and electricity to about 54,000 customers in four northeastern states, sought bankruptcy protection Thursday after defaulting on its debt and plans to put itself up for sale.

 
U.S. Oil-Rig Count Up by 3 in Latest Week 
 

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the U.S. were up by three this week to 857, Baker Hughes, a GE company, reported. The nation's gas rig count was down one to 194 in the past week.

 
Judge Rules Westmoreland Coal Can Cut Retiree Benefits, Union Contracts 
 

Westmoreland Coal has received permission to end retiree benefits and scrap its union contracts with workers at two of its mines after the company said it needed to make dramatic cuts to its labor costs to survive bankruptcy.

 
Saudi Crown Prince Pivots to Asia After Criticism From West 
 

Mohammed Bin Salman's sweep through Asia comes as the murder of a Saudi dissident and the war in Yemen disrupt the kingdom's ties with Western powers.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ Glencore Coal Plan Positive But Stay Tuned, Says ShareAction -- Market Talk

1200 GMT - Glencore's plan to cap coal output shows the power of investor pressure on climate change, says ShareAction, though the environmental group remains watchful on the Anglo-Swiss company. "Glencore's South-East Asian coal frenzy will be a true test of [its] commitment to the Paris goals," ShareAction says. The news from Glencore, "the black sheep of the energy world," shows it now supports rather than just acknowledges the Paris Agreement, the advocacy group says. While greeting the announcement, ShareAction says it will continue to watch Glencore closely, given its recent coal acquisitions and its production forecasts. (dieter.holger@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ UK Market Talk Roundup: Brokers Comments
Broker comments in the UK today. Compiled by Dow Jones Newswires Markets Desk, markets.eu@dowjones.com 

1200 GMT - Glencore's plan to cap coal output shows the power of investor pressure on climate change, says ShareAction, though the environmental group remains watchful on the Anglo-Swiss company. "Glencore's South-East Asian coal frenzy will be a true test of [its] commitment to the Paris goals," ShareAction says. The news from Glencore, "the black sheep of the energy world," shows it now supports rather than just acknowledges the Paris Agreement, the advocacy group says. While greeting the announcement, ShareAction says it will continue to watch Glencore closely, given its recent coal acquisitions and its production forecasts. (dieter.holger@dowjones.com)

1153 GMT - Irish nutrition group Glanbia ended 2018 on an accelerating trend that supports its growth prospects for this year, Davy Research says. The company exceeds expectations for revenue, operating profit and adjusted EPS, the brokerage says. "The results attest to the strength of Glanbia's growth algorithm," Davy says. The brokerage upgrades its EPS forecasts for 2019 on the back of the results. The company's nutrition division performed strongly in the fourth quarter, with volume growth estimated to be in the mid-teens, and its nutritionals division should benefit from the acquisition of U.S.'s non-diary ingredients company Watson, Davy says. Shares rise 10%. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

1117 GMT - J Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc.-owned rival Asda is all but dead in the water, Barclays says after U.K. regulators threatened to block the tie-up if competition concerns can't be addressed. The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal would substantially reduce competition and solutions allowing it to proceed would be difficult to secure. Barclays said it believed the CMA has effectively blocked the merger. "Though the CMA might conceivably be persuaded to think differently by the time of its final report, our central assumption would be that this is unlikely," Barclays analysts say. "We therefore assume the proposed merger will have to be abandoned." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1102 GMT - Intu is in a real mess, AJ Bell says, citing the declining valuation of its shopping centers across the U.K. and Spain. "Exposure to the retail sector is a poisoned chalice for property companies at the moment, and Intu is in the thick of it," the brokerage says. The decline is pushing up Intu's loan-to-value ratio and shareholders are being denied a dividend, which means it now has a tax liability, AJ Bell notes. Intu is trying to sell assets, but sales in a weak market are a sign of desperation, the brokerage says, adding that Intu could emerge a leaner business, but for now it should do its best to survive the turmoil. Shares are down 8.4%, at 108.25 pence. (anthony.orunagoriainoff@dowjones.com)

1053 GMT - Zalando's 4Q results should ensure it meets its 2018 targets, Hauck & Aufhauser writes, dismissing concerns the Berlin-based online retailer would fall short of its full-year guidance. The bank expects strong 4Q earnings will "renew confidence" in Zalando's growth ambition. Sales growth should recover in 4Q and reach 24.5% on year, a marked improvement from the more muted 12% growth Zalando recorded in 3Q amid a weak European apparel market, H&A writes. Lowered consensus expectations should also now adequately reflect Zalando's mid-term guidance of no margin expansion until 2020. H&A maintains its buy rating and EUR43 target price. Zalando trades up 0.3% at EUR26.76. (patrick.costello@dowjones.com)

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1008 GMT - The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1004 GMT - J Sainsbury should give up the fight for its merger with Walmart's Asda and get back to the day job, AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould says. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority says it could block the deal if its concerns aren't addressed, a view with which Sainsbury says it "fundamentally" disagrees. "The language used in the CMA's announcement implies the merger will be blocked," Mr. Mould says, citing the regulator's concerns including a worse experience for consumers and a reduction in the range and quality of products. Sainsbury shares fall 15%, which would be their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0949 GMT - News that the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority is minded to block the merger between J Sainsbury and Walmart's Asda is also disappointing for rival U.K. grocers Tesco and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets, Jefferies says. The market recognized that Tesco and especially Morrison--which has a significant number of overlaps with Asda--would gain from Walmart's exit from the U.K., which no longer seems assured, the bank says. The CMA says the merger between the U.K.'s second and third-largest grocers could push up prices and reduce quality. Sainsbury shares drop 14% and Morrison's stock falls 4.5%, while Tesco shares are up 0.4% having earlier traded lower. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0930 GMT - A private-equity buyer for Walmart's Asda is now likely to emerge after the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority indicated it is minded to block the merger with J Sainsbury, Jefferies says. "We remain of the opinion that Walmart remains a seller of Asda, and that the business will represent an attractive target for private equity. If we are correct, an alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly," analysts at the bank say. That would represent a structural positive for the U.K. grocery market, Jefferies says. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0837 GMT - The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority deals a major blow to J Sainsbury as the regulator says it could block the grocer's merger with rival Asda if concerns aren't addressed, Shore Capital says. The investment group cuts Sainsbury's to sell from hold as it believes the retailer now lacks the merger premium. With the Asda deal looking increasingly unlikely, Sainsbury's' "laggard status" among British supermarkets is highlighted, Shore says. "For the balance of the sector, we see this broadly encouraging," the investment group says. Sainsbury's shares are the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 13%--their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008.(adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's 2018 results were mixed after weak fourth-quarter profit but investor focus is likely to be on the GBP1.75 billion share buyback and positive outlook, Citi says. Citi says the quarterly profit figure was below consensus after Lloyds took another GBP200 million charge for claims of mis-sold payment protection insurance. However, the share buyback was larger than consensus projections of GBP1.2 billion and Lloyds has improved its cost outlook for 2019. Citi keeps its buy rating and 68 pence target price. Shares up 2.7% at 59.94 pence. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

 
Contact us in London. +44-20-7842-9288 
Markettalk.eu@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 07:00 ET (12:00 GMT)

DJ Al Gore Buys Nvidia, Sells Nike, Mastercard, and Microsoft Stock -- Barrons.com
By Ed Lin 

Former Vice President Al Gore may have given up on running -- the sport, that is.

Generation Investment Management, the London-based investment firm that Gore co-founded and chairs, sold in the fourth quarter all the Nike stock (ticker: NKE) it owned. Generation IM also folded on Mastercard (MA) stock. The firm initiated a position in Nvidia stock (NVDA) in the quarter, bought more Texas Instruments stock (TXN), and cut back on Microsoft stock (MSFT).

Generation IM declined to comment on the transactions.

Some may have an issue with Gore's brand of environmental activism through his Climate Reality Project and other outlets. Generation IM itself may have detractors based on its pledge to invest in "sustainable companies." Yet one would have a hard time making a case that Gore and his team aren't delivering results.

The largest public fund by assets that Generation IM manages, Lombard Odier Funds-Generation Global, continues to beat the market. The class of the fund with the U.S. dollar as the reference currency is beating the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) over one-, three-, five-, and 10-year trailing periods in total returns, according to Morningstar.

Read more: Al Gore Says Climate Change Is 'the Biggest Challenge We've Ever Faced'

Generation IM owned 1.16 million Nike shares at the end of the third quarter, but sold them all before 2018 was over. The stock had a good run in 2018, rising nearly 19%. Nike stock has continued to rally and sports a 14% gain so far in 2019 through Tuesday's close. We've noted that an analyst admires the company's "creative prowess."

Gore's investment firm also sold all of its 865,000 Mastercard shares in the fourth quarter. Barron's has noted that analysts remain bullish on the card giant. Mastercard stock rose nearly 25% in 2018, and now has logged a year-to-date gain of 17%.

Nvidia stock crumbled in 2018, losing a third of its market value. The new year, however, has brought relief. Shares are up 17% so far in 2019. Generation IM is capturing those gains, having bought 1.3 million shares of the chip maker in the fourth quarter. Earlier this month, Nvidia provided strong sales guidance, but that projection looks too rosy, according to some observers, we noted.

Texas Instruments stock slipped nearly 10% in 2018, as the chip maker found itself in a soft market with rising order cancellations, Barron's noted. Earlier this month, however, one analyst said that Texas Instruments stock "could be near the bottom." The shares are up nearly 14% so far in 2019. Generation IM more than quintupled its investment in the stock, ending 2018 with 5.7 million shares, up from 1.0 million at the end of the third quarter.

Microsoft stock had a strong year in 2018, and its 19% gain was good enough to be the strongest performance by a tech stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, we noted. The software giant's shares have continued to gain up this year, but its 6.5% year-to-date return pales next to the S&P 500's 12% rise. Gore's investment firm had lopped off a third of its Microsoft stake in the fourth quarter, ending 2018 with 4.1 million Microsoft shares.

Write to Ed Lin at edward.lin@barrons.com and follow @BarronsEdLin.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:59 ET (11:59 GMT)

DJ Pound Slips on Ruling Party Fracture -- Market Talk

1159 GMT - The pound is down 0.3% against the U.S. dollar in the wake of the news that three lawmakers have quit the ruling Conservative party, a move which could destabilize a government with an already-razor-thin majority. Those memebrs of parliament join eight colleagues who left the opposition Labour party to form a new parliamentary group. Brian Hilliard, Chief U.K. Economist at Societe Generale says the pound is "very sensitive to any Brexit news of any kind and [the resignations] are very likely to be the cause" of the currency move. "If many more follow them, then of course the government will lose its working majority and raise questions about an election," he says. Sterling trades at $1.3022, down from around $1.3034 just before the announcement. (david.hodari@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:59 ET (11:59 GMT)

DJ Real Time Economics: Trump Says China Tariff Deadline Could Slide

This is the web version of the WSJ's newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here.

President Trump says there's no "magical date" for the U.S. and China to resolve their differences on trade, a shift away from a hard March 1 deadline. Good morning. Jeff Sparshott here to take you through the day's top economic news, including the latest on the Fed, Greg Ip's take on financing the Green New Deal, and South Korea's radical economic policies. Send us your questions, comments or suggestions by replying to this email.

TOUGH TALKS, SOFT DEADLINES

President Trump said the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods if a March 1 deadline passes without a comprehensive deal: "The date is not a magical date. A lot of things can happen."

Mr. Trump's remarks have at times put him at odds with his lead negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Absent a deal, Mr. Lighthizer has repeatedly set a firm deadline for tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to increase to 25% from 10% -- significant leverage during negotiations. The trade rep's colleagues describe him as frustrated with the changing direction from the White House, Bob Davis and Alex Leary report.

WHAT'S NEXT

Since mid-January, the two sides have met either in Washington or Beijing to carve out a deal to end a yearlong trade dispute that has rocked global markets and upended corporate investment plans. Midlevel U.S. and Chinese negotiators are meeting in Washington this week, cabinet-level officials will join Thursday. Mr. Trump and his advisers have said they are considering a meeting with Chinese President Xi sometime in the coming weeks. Under that scenario, the Trump-Xi meeting would effectively act as the deadline for a deal.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY

The Dallas Fed's Robert Kaplan speaks in Houston at 1:10 p.m. ET.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its Jan. 29-30 policy meeting at 2 p.m. ET.

TOP STORIES

MINUTE BY MINUTE

Markets rallied last month after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signaled interest rates were on hold indefinitely amid cooling growth in Europe and Asia, and substantial market volatility. Meeting minutes out today may offer clues on what the Fed would need to see in order to return to raising rates. They could also show where the Fed sees the biggest risks to the economy. Any sign that officials talked about scenarios under which they might lower rates would grab attention -- officials haven't talked about that seriously in public. And look to see if officials started talking about a broader policy review, and whether that may entail changes to how they define their 2% inflation target, Nick Timiraos writes.

MARKET EXPECTATIONS

Stocks and bonds are rising on bets that the Fed has ended its nearly four-year campaign of interest-rate increases. The shift is unsettling some investors, Akane Otani reports. "It seems frankly optimistic to expect nothing from the Fed in the next 12 months," said Isabelle Mateos y Lago, managing director and chief multiasset strategist at BlackRock. "When you look at payroll data, this is not an economy that's about to be in recession."

Fed watch: "If the economy performs along the lines that I've outlined as most likely, the fed-funds rate may need to move a bit higher than current levels," said Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester.

GREEN MACHINE

When advocates of a Green New Deal are asked how the country can afford its lavish promises of 100% renewable energy, millions of high-paid jobs and Medicare for all, they have a ready reply: "The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects."

Here's the problem: once you work through the mechanics, it doesn't save any money. At the end of the day, the Green New Deal will face the same constraints all such undertakings do -- they can't spend more than the economy can produce. Ignoring those constraints will either lead to inflation, a politically weakened Fed, or both, Greg Ip writes.

REACH FOR THE MOON

South Korea is home to the one of the world's boldest left-wing economic programs. President Moon Jae-in's flagship economic policy, "income-led growth," has led to dramatic increases in minimum wages -- nearly 30% -- since he took office in 2017, Mike Bird reports. Mr. Moon's aim may be to spread the spoils of Korean growth more fairly. The danger is that companies are avoiding paying higher wages by hiring fewer people. Korea's unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in January from 3.8% the month before, its biggest rise in nine years -- just as the latest increase in minimum wage came into effect.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

I'm a capitalist. I don't see how we're able to meet any of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country without, in part, harnessing the power of the market. -- Former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, speaking to reporters

TWEET OF THE DAY

UK foreign Secretary @Jeremy_Hunt speaking in Berlin at @KASonline : if we are to avoid a collapse of the western order we need to provide for orderly #Brexit and that requires urgent leadership in the critical few weeks ahead pic.twitter.com/R2GykAjsPD

-- Bojan Pancevski (@bopanc) February 20, 2019

WHAT ELSE WE'RE READING

Tax the rich? "A majority of people support Democratic proposals to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, according to a poll conducted this month for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey, though their opinions vary between specific plans. Voters overwhelmingly see income inequality as a problem the government should be trying to address," Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley write at the New York Times.

The 2017 tax law accelerated bonus depreciation. That may not do much for workers. "Bonus depreciation generated one job for every $53,000 spent on the policy with no positive effects on average earnings for workers," Daniel Garrett, Eric Ohrn and Juan Carlos Suárez Serrato write in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. "Overall, our results show incentives for capital accumulation stimulate investment but do not create long-run job or wage growth."

UP NEXT: THURSDAY

The European Central Bank releases minutes from its Jan. 23-24 meeting at 7:30 a.m. ET.

The Atlanta Fed's Raphael Bostic speaks on the economy and monetary policy at 7:50 a.m. ET.

U.S. jobless claims are expected to fall to 227,000 from 239,000 a week earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET)

The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing survey for February is expected to fall to 14 from 17 a month earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET)

U.S. durable goods orders for December are expected to rise 1.5% from a month earlier. (8:30 a.m. ET)

Markit's U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers index for February is expected to tick down to 54.2 from 54.9. (9:45 a.m. ET)

U.S. existing-home sales for January are expected to rise to an annual rate of 5.02 million from 4.99 million a month earlier. (10 a.m. ET)

The Conference Board's leading economic index for January is expected to rise +0.1%. (10 a.m. ET)

U.S.-China trade talks at the principal level resume in Washington, D.C.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz speaks at 12:50 a.m. ET.

Japan's consumer-price index for January is out at 6:30 p.m. ET.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:55 ET (11:55 GMT)

DJ The Daily Shot: The National Debt Is Back in Focus

To receive the Daily Shot newsletter in your inbox, please sign up at our Email Center. Previous issues of the Daily Shot are available online at DailyShotWSJ.com.

Have questions, feedback or comments? Contact author Lev.Borodovsky@DowJones.com.

Twitter: @SoberLook

The Daily Shot: 20-Feb-19 • The United States • The United Kingdom • The Eurozone • Europe • Japan • China • Emerging Markets • Commodities • Energy • Equities • Alternatives • Credit • Rates • Global Developments • Food for Thought

1. US homebuilder sentiment rebounded from the recent lows, boosted in part by lower mortgage rates.

----------------------

2. The February Sales Managers' Index (SMI) showed further moderation in US business growth. Business confidence and hiring indices slumped.

Source: World Economics

3. Here is the Cass Freight Index (shipments). The 2018 logistics bottlenecks are gone.

4. This chart shows the latest divergence between "soft" and "hard" data.

Source: Arbor Research & Trading; Read full article

5. Here is Goldman's Current Activity Indicator (CAI). The US economic expansion has slowed significantly.

Source: Goldman Sachs

6. Business investment is expected to ease further.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

7. Despite certain areas of stress, US household balance sheets remain healthy (on average). Of course, this metric is somewhat skewed by the upper-middle-class households.

Source: Deutsche Bank Research

8. This chart shows the relationship between wage growth and the fed funds target rate. Wage pressures tend to be the key driver of monetary policy.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

And the NY Fed's regional survey found that wage growth in the service sector is at multi-year highs.

Further reading

----------------------

9. There has been a flurry of online activity this month showing interest in the US national debt.

Source: Predata

We will see more focus on the topic in the months to come as the debt ceiling issue returns.

Source: Scotiabank Economics

----------------------

10. Increased net capital outflows from the US should put some downward pressure on the dollar.

Source: The Daily Feather

1. The latest payrolls increase was higher than expected (vs. consensus estimate).

Here is the attribution.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

However, business surveys point to slower employment growth ahead.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

----------------------

2. Online search data shows increased interest in "visa & immigration" while tourism activity has slowed.

Source: Arbor Research & Trading

Net migration is expected to decline over the next couple of years.

Source: BOE

1. Germany's ZEW index of current economic conditions continues to deteriorate while expectations appear to have stabilized.

Here is the ZEW index at the Eurozone level.

----------------------

2. Italian industrial orders and sales slumped at the end of last year.

Separately, there has been a burst of online activity this month related to Italy's political right wing.

Source: Predata

----------------------

3. The Eurozone's current account surplus has been shrinking as exports slow.

4. Portfolio outflows have worsened at the end of 2018. Will we see a reversal this year?

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

1. Elsewhere in Europe, Sweden's CPI was lower than expected (vs. consensus forecasts).

Inflation is now running below Riksbank's latest projections.

Source: Nordea Markets

The Swedish krona tumbled (shown vs. the euro below).

----------------------

2. What percentage of the EU's foreign workers are millennials?

Source: @GerardBrady100

1. The BoJ hasn't been able to halt the curve flattening.

Here is the 30yr JGB yield.

----------------------

2. Japan's exports tumbled, and the trade deficit worsened (economists were expecting to see a surplus in the latest report).

1. China's stock market turnover accelerates.

Source: @markets; Read full article

2. Baidu search data shows a sharp increase in job searches.

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

3. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been increasing in recent months.

Source: Fitch Solutions Macro Research

However, often these are "public-public" partnerships.

Source: Fitch Solutions Macro Research

----------------------

4. The Hong Kong dollar is approaching its HKMA boundary again.

1. The Argentine peso is nearing the psychologically important level of 40 pesos per dollar.

2. So far, Ghana has been unable to halt the cedi's slide. The central bank has been cautious in using its limited FX reserves to meet the rising demand for dollars.

3. The Thai baht hit the highest level since late 2013 (high current account surplus helps).

4. This chart shows the correlation between export growth and equity returns.

Source: TS Lombard

5. Below are the changes in private-sector debt since 2013.

Source: Oxford Economics

1. Copper is up 6% over the past month.

2. The gold rally continues.

Shares of gold miners are up 12% over the past month.

----------------------

3. US wheat futures are tumbling amid ample global supplies. Egypt, the largest wheat buyer, is playing the US against Europe to get a better deal. Lower shipment costs added to the downward pressure on prices.

Here is Bloomberg's grains index.

----------------------

4. Speaking of falling shipping costs, here is the Baltic Capesize Index (large-size tankers).

5. Coffee prices continue to drift lower.

6. Cattle futures keep climbing amid stronger demand for beef. The expected snowstorm in the Midwest may delay shipments of cattle to processing plants. Also, cattle have trouble gaining weight in cold weather.

On the other hand, the CME lean hog futures hit a limit down, tumbling 5% on the day. The market remains oversupplied.

1. Energy CapEx is expected to slow this year but not nearly as much as it did in 2015.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

2. Global energy shares' relative performance has been lagging oil over the past couple of years.

Source: @jsblokland

3. US pipeline firms (MLPs) continue to rally.

1. The S&P 500 has been outperforming global markets this month.

2. Here is the percentage of the S&P 500 stocks that are above the 50-day moving average.

Source: SunTrust Private Wealth

3. Below is the percentage of companies reporting earnings compression vs. expansion.

Source: Market Ethos, Richardson GMP

4. Next, we have some sector performance charts.

• Walmart kept the market in positive territory on Tuesday.

• Transportation stocks continue to outperform.

• The tech-heavy NASDAQ 100 has been lagging over the past couple of trading days.

1. Let's begin with some updates on private equity/VC.

• Private equity and private credit strategies:

Source: Credit Suisse

• Private equity dry powder:

Source: Credit Suisse

• Private equity performance:

Source: Credit Suisse

• The premium relative to public markets:

Source: Credit Suisse

• Seed capital deals:

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

• Senior-level female employees:

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

----------------------

2. Next, we have some data on hedge funds.

• AUM by investor type and geography:

Source: Barclays, Skënderbeg Investment Management

• Hedge funds' assets over time:

Source: Barclays, Skënderbeg Investment Management

• Fee distribution:

Source: Barclays, Skënderbeg Investment Management

• Correlations across strategies:

Source: Credit Suisse, Skënderbeg Investment Management

----------------------

3. What proportion of endowments' portfolios is invested in illiquid assets?

Source: Moody's Investors Service

1. The Fed's latest stress scenarios for banks are brutal.

• The GDP and the unemployment rate:

Source: Moody's Analytics; Read full article

• Mortgage spreads:

Source: Moody's Analytics; Read full article

• The dollar:

Source: Moody's Analytics; Read full article

• The stock market and corporate bond spreads:

Source: Moody's Analytics; Read full article

----------------------

2. Next, we have some data on P2P loans.

• Volume:

Source: Moody's Investors Service

• Quality:

Source: Moody's Investors Service

----------------------

3. Here are the retail fund flows showing the divergence between bonds and leveraged loans.

Source: Credit Suisse

4. The next chart shows the net interest paid by corporations as a percentage of the GDP vs. the fed funds rate.

Source: Pantheon Macroeconomics

5. US business loan growth on banks' balance sheets hit 11%.

6. High-yield debt defaults and credit spreads appear to be inconsistent with the corporate debt-to-GDP ratio.

Source: Moody's Analytics; Read full article

7. Norinchukin is becoming the "whale" of the CLO market.

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

8. Below is the distribution of US auto loans.

Source: Liberty Street Economics; Read full article

1. The 5yr - 2yr Treasury spread is pushing deeper into negative territory.

Here is the yield curve.

----------------------

2. The market says that the Fed is done with rate hikes. Below is the futures-implied fed funds rate trajectory.

Some Fed officials support that view.

Source: Reuters; Read full article

----------------------

3. Real rates in the US continue to fall. Here is the 5-year inflation-linked Treasury (TIPS) yield.

4. Treasury volatility (measured by the MOVE index) remains extremely low relative to VIX.

Source: @TheTerminal

1. The G7 GDP volatility continues to trend lower.

Source: Oxford Economics

2. This chart shows the 2019 currency performance vs. the yield differential.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:50 ET (11:50 GMT)

DJ The Daily Shot: The National Debt Is Back in Focus -2-

Source: @blackrock_news

----------------------

3. Central banks are turning dovish.

Source: @AndrewThrasher

4. Negative bond yields persist.

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

5. Many stock markets are still below the pre-crisis peak.

Source: Gavekal ; Read full article

----------------------

1. The number of realtors as a percentage of the pre-recession peak:

Source: John Burns Real Estate Consulting

2. Coup attempts over time:

Source: @axios; Read full article

3. A flurry of Israeli online activity focused on Iran/Hezbollah:

Source: Predata Research; Read full article

4. Biggest weapons exporters:

Source: @howmuch_net; Read full article

5. Modern slavery:

Source: @howmuch_net; Read full article

6. The use of cannabis for medical purposes:

Source: Brightfield Group Survey, NisonCo

7. Prescription drug price inflation:

Source: WSJ.com, h/t Paul Menestrier; Read full article

8. The immigrant share of the population by country:

Source: @conradhackett; Read full article

9. The betting markets' odds for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination (cents = % probability):

Source: @PredictIt

10. Technical analysis:

Source: @xkcdComic

----------------------

The Daily Shot provides objective and disinterested analysis and commentary regarding macroeconomic and market trends. Other than indirectly through country or sector specific exchange-traded or mutual funds, the author of the Daily Shot does not have any interest in or own any of the individual securities which may be mentioned. The Daily Shot does not provide investment advice or any recommendations regarding particular securities. Nothing in the Daily Shot should be relied upon in making an investment decision, nor considered to be a solicitation to offer or buy any securities.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:50 ET (11:50 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 06:50 EST / 1150 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.82-83      110.61-62  +0.19   110.95   110.55  +1.12 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1334-37      1.1342-45  -0.07   1.1360   1.1331  -1.17 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3017-19      1.3062-64  -0.34   1.3077   1.3010  +2.03 
USD/CHF Switzerland     1.0009-13      1.0009-13   0.00   1.0024   1.0002  +1.99 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3185-90      1.3209-14  -0.18   1.3221   1.3177  -3.32 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7150-54      0.7163-67  -0.18   0.7177   0.7149  +1.42 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6854-60      0.6880-86  -0.38   0.6887   0.6856  +2.04 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.57-61      125.41-45  +0.13   125.94   125.36  -0.09 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8703-06      0.8680-83  +0.26   0.8716   0.8677  -3.18 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1343-46      1.1353-56  -0.09   1.1368   1.1344  +0.78 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4939-49      1.4977-87  -0.25   1.4995   1.4932  -4.45 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5843-53      1.5824-34  +0.12   1.5867   1.5816  -2.56 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4613-20      7.4609-16  +0.01   7.4632   7.4602  -0.06 
EUR/NOK Norway          9.7305-55      9.7149-99  +0.16   9.7481   9.7138  -1.77 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5423-523    10.5557-657  -0.13  10.5708  10.5395  +3.89 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.      25.660-90      25.662-92  -0.01   25.711   25.665  -0.14 
EUR/HUF Hungary         317.31-71      317.28-68  +0.01   317.82   317.23  -1.10 
EUR/PLN Poland          4.3411-29     4.3299-317  +0.26   4.3446   4.3297  +1.22 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.25-29       79.24-28  +0.01    79.58    79.14  +2.56 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.26-32      144.47-53  -0.15   145.05   144.12  +3.15 
CAD/JPY Canada           84.03-07       83.70-74  +0.39    84.15    83.60  +4.59 
NZD/JPY New Zealand    75.99-6.03       76.12-16  -0.17    76.33    75.97  +3.22 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.631-81      22.617-67  +0.06   22.662   22.604  +1.05 
USD/HUF Hungary      279.88-80.28   279.73-80.13  +0.05   280.32   279.32  +0.03 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5833-43      6.5788-98  +0.07   6.5852   6.5693  +1.11 
USD/NOK Norway         8.5849-909      8.5635-95  +0.25   8.5922   8.5575  -0.62 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8304-09      3.8184-89  +0.31   3.8321   3.8149  +2.41 
USD/RUB Russia          65.718-88     65.684-754  +0.05   65.935   65.693  -5.04 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3021-111     9.3069-159  -0.05   9.3244   9.2934  +5.13 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.1468-768    14.0296-596  +0.83  14.1690  14.0079  -1.39 
 
USD/CNY China           6.7213-33      6.7575-95  -0.54   6.7680   6.7155  -2.27 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8488-93      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.22 
USD/MYR Malaysia       4.0688-738     4.0777-827  -0.22   4.0825   4.0639  -1.48 
USD/INR India           71.150-70     71.290-310  -0.20   71.610   71.085  +2.29 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines     51.977-97      52.128-48  -0.29   52.155   51.941  -0.98 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3515-25      1.3524-34  -0.07   1.3542   1.3509  -0.80 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1122.01-4.01   1121.92-3.92  +0.01  1124.24  1120.54  +0.78 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.789-819     30.776-806  +0.04   30.820   30.768  +0.73 
USD/THB Thailand       31.090-110      31.120-40  -0.10   31.170   31.040  -3.77 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil          3.7226-56      3.7236-66  -0.03   3.7273   3.7223  -4.05 
USD/MXN Mexico        19.1696-996    19.1305-605  +0.20  19.1943  19.1337  -2.36 
USD/ARS Argentina     39.2640-740    39.2650-750   0.00  39.3250  39.2450  +4.31 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:50 ET (11:50 GMT)

DJ Stocks to Watch: Herbalife, PepsiCo, Analog Devices, La-Z-Boy, LendingClub
By Jessica Menton 

Here are some of the companies with shares expected to trade actively in Wednesday's session. Check back closer to the market open for an updated list.

Herbalife Nutrition: The company reported a 9% sales increase in the fourth quarter, driven by strong growth in Asia.

PepsiCo: Hormel Foods said the beverage giant will buy the company's CytoSport business, which makes Muscle Milk, for an undisclosed amount.

Analog Devices: The chip maker said late Tuesday that its board of directors voted to raise the company's quarterly dividend to 54 cents a share, an increase of 12.5%.

La-Z-Boy: The furniture maker's profit and sales results for the latest quarter topped analysts' estimates.

LendingClub: The peer-to-peer lending company missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter revenue expectations.

This is a version of the "Stocks to Watch" section of our Markets newsletter. To receive it every morning via email, click here.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:48 ET (11:48 GMT)

DJ In Mining, Can Bad Boys Still Be Good? -- Heard on the Street
By Nathaniel Taplin 

If Glencore looks cheap, should investors care that a lot of its earnings come from the dirtiest of fossil fuels?

The Swiss mining and trading giant on Wednesday reported a solid 5% rise in net income for 2018--excluding significant items--despite copper's drop of more than 10% since mid-June. Coal was its biggest earner, good for more $5 billion of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. As recently as the first half of 2018, copper was king at Glencore, but recent Australian coal acquisitions and high coal prices have changed that.

Investors are raking in the cash too: Glencore, already paying a healthy dividend, announced an additional $2 billion to $3 billion of share buybacks.

Still, its share price is down 15% since June. The main factor is probably a U.S. subpoena related to Glencore's African and Venezuelan businesses--and the potential for a big fine should that develop into charges of bribery or money laundering.

Management has obviously concluded it needs to do more to assuage environmentally conscious investors: With its earnings announcement, the company rolled out a greenhouse-gas plan, and said it intends to limit coal-production capacity to current levels, broadly. Glencore also indicated it would gear future capital investment toward commodities related to clean energy and electric vehicles.

All of this is shaping up as a test case of how far companies need to go to satisfy so-called ESG investors--the environmental-, social- and governance-conscious. Glencore has an environmentally friendly long-run franchise in battery metals like cobalt and nickel. But in the nearer term, strong Asian demand and a lack of investment in new mine capacity mean bumper profits from coal. Since 2015, the benchmark Asian coal price has roughly doubled, while aggregate Australian capital expenditure in coal mining has actually fallen, according to estimates from Bernstein.

The question is whether investors will see enough in Glencore's efforts to cut carbon emissions and its promises of a greener investment future to look past its current reliance on coal profits.

Initial market signals suggest they may. Glencore's shares were up 1% in early trade. Keeping coal output at current levels while investing in clean-energy metals for the future is a good business strategy for the company, if ESG mavens give it a pass--especially if coal prices rise even higher as global production flatlines.

It does, however, look a lot like having one's cake and eating it too.

Write to Nathaniel Taplin at nathaniel.taplin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:48 ET (11:48 GMT)

DJ U.S. Stocks Set to Edge Down as Investors Track Trade Talk News
By David Hodari 

U.S. stocks were poised to weaken despite upbeat trading elsewhere Wednesday, as investors awaited further information on White House trade talks with China.

Futures put the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq-100 on course to edge down 0.1% at the opening bell, snapping the broad optimism of recent sessions.

That contrasted with gentle gains in Europe, where the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.2% in midday trading, buoyed by a rally in autos stocks amid softening U.S. rhetoric on trade. The sector was up 1.6%, having faced pressure in recent sessions on fears that the sector could be the next target of Trump administration tariffs.

European basic-resources stocks and shares in Glencore shed their early-day gains, with the mining giant last down 0.5% as investors focused on weaker than expected earnings. Glencore also said it would cap its coal production and confirmed The Wall Street Journal's reports that it plans to curb production at one of its biggest copper and cobalt mining operations in Congo.

Elsewhere, European retailers slid after a U.K. competition regulator said it may block the planned $9.5 billion merger between J Sainsbury and Asda. Sainsbury shares plunged 14%, while shares in Asda-parent Walmart were flat in premarket trading after the U.S. retailer released better-than-expected results Tuesday.

Advances in Europe followed similar moves in Asia, where Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Taiwan's Taiex, which are both heavily exposed to the trade conflicts of the past year, rose 1% and 1.2% respectively, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continued to ease.

President Trump commented Tuesday that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled on March 1, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date."

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency 0.6% higher against the U.S. dollar, to its highest since the end of January.

The yuan has fallen 5.6% versus the dollar in the past 12 months, sparking concerns that Beijing has allowed its currency to devalue to neutralize the impact of U.S. trade tariffs.

"A lot of market participants have pointed it out in the recent past, and whatever pressures China may have felt from the trade disputes, weakness in the yuan has been a welcome relief," said Abi Oladimeji, chief investment officer at Thomas Miller Investment. "Of course, they've denied any suggestion it was intentional."

The prospect of currency controls being part of a trade deal comes in the context of various remarks from Mr. Trump over the past year, in which he signaled his preference for a weaker dollar and less aggressive Federal Reserve interest-rate policy.

While market participants awaited results from CVS Health Corp. and Gannett Co., due before the market open, minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting were also due out later in the day.

The minutes "should shed some light on the Fed's motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we'll see an end to balance sheet normalization," said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against a basket of others, was up 0.1%, with the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasurys having fallen to 2.629% from 2.645% late Tuesday. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

The dollar was also stronger against the British pound, which was last down 0.4% in the wake of the news that three lawmakers had quit the ruling Conservative party, a move which could destabilize a government with an already-razor-thin majority.

In commodities, gold remained broke fresh 10-month highs, ticking up 0.2% to $1,347.50 a troy ounce.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:43 ET (11:43 GMT)

DJ BHP Group Is Undervalued in Spite of Pressures: Jefferies -- Market Talk

1129 GMT - BHP Group is still undervalued despite the operational issues it faces and the fact it trades at a premium to rivals such as Anglo American and Rio Tinto, Jefferies says. The bank says that despite disappointing first-half earnings results, BHP still has a positive outlook. Jefferies says improvements in its operations and stronger commodities prices should lead to growth in free cash flow and capital returns. The bank maintains its buy rating on BHP. London-listed shares are up 0.4% at 1,803 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:30 ET (11:30 GMT)

DJ UK Market Talk Roundup: Shares Gaining
Stocks on the rise in the UK today. Compiled by Dow Jones Newswires Markets Desk, markets.eu@dowjones.com 

1129 GMT - BHP Group is still undervalued despite the operational issues it faces and the fact it trades at a premium to rivals such as Anglo American and Rio Tinto, Jefferies says. The bank says that despite disappointing first-half earnings results, BHP still has a positive outlook. Jefferies says improvements in its operations and stronger commodities prices should lead to growth in free cash flow and capital returns. The bank maintains its buy rating on BHP. London-listed shares are up 0.4% at 1,803 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1019 GMT - Eland Oil & Gas is sending a strong message to the market with its plans to start paying a dividend this year, Peel Hunt analysts say. The brokerage says Eland Oil & Gas is sending a message not only about its current strength, but also the positive direction for the future, where high-levels of production are planned to support reinvestment in its portfolio and a sustainable cash-returns policy. Peel Hunt has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 160 pence. Shares up 1.2% at 126.50 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

0843 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group looks strong on most underlying measures after its 2018 results and its recent share price drop leaves the stock looking cheap, Interactive Investor says. The investment platform notes Lloyds improved on post-tax profit, net interest margin and costs, despite missing expectations at a pretax profit level. A GBP1.75 billion share buyback and a 5.4% dividend yield signal confidence in the bank's prospects. Interactive notes that shares are down 14% over the last year, compared to just a 0.9% decline for the FTSE 100 overall, and analysts generally rate Lloyds as a strong buy. Shares up 2.8%. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Shares in mining giant Glencore rise 2.4% as a 41% drop in net profit for 2018 is offset by a $2 billion buyback program. The buyback is "supportive" for the stock and is "expected to be topped up by $1 billion from the targeted noncore asset disposals in 2019," Citi says. "This gives 2019 shareholder returns range of $4.75 billion base with a potential top-up implying returns yield of 8.6%-10.4%." Earnings, however, were slightly weaker than expected. "The marketing segment performed weaker than expectations owing to negative impact from alumina and cobalt contracts." Citi expects a "slight downward consensus earnings revision on copper guidance" but expects some of the negative alumina and cobalt marketing earnings to reverse in 2019. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

 
Contact us in London. +44-20-7842-9288 
Markettalk.eu@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:30 ET (11:30 GMT)

DJ Walmart's UK Deal Faces Regulatory Pushback
By Philip Georgiadis of WSJ City 

British competition regulators said they could block the proposed merger between Asda, Walmart's UK arm, and rival J Sainsbury after finding "extensive competition concerns."The deal between the two supermarket giants would create the country's largest grocer at a time of intense pressure on the UK high street.

KEY FACTS

   -- The UK's Competition and Markets Authority said it has concerns the 
      merger could lead to a substantial reduction in competition. 
 
   -- It flagged possible higher prices, a poorer shopping experience, and 
      reductions in the range and quality of products offered. 
 
   -- The companies said the findings "misunderstand how people shop in the UK 
      today and the intensity of competition in the grocery market." 
 
   -- The CMA laid out possible remedies, including blocking the merger. 
 
   -- It also said the firms could sell off a significant number of stores and 
      other assets, including one of the Sainsbury or Asda brands. 
 
   -- However it warned: "it is likely to be difficult for the companies to 
      address the concerns it has identified." 

WHY THIS MATTERS

The combined firm would have revenues of around $70bn, and help both companies compete against a resurgent Tesco and increasingly popular discounters. However a regulatory intervention had always been flagged as a danger to the high-profile deal. Shares in Sainsbury dropped more than 13% after the CMA statement.

The companies will have the chance to respond, with a final report issued in April.

A fuller story is available on WSJ.com

WSJ City: The news, the key facts and why it matters. Be deeply informed in less than five minutes. You can find more concise stories like this on the WSJ City app. Download now from the App Store or Google Play, or sign up to newsletters here http://www.wsj.com/newsletters?sub=356&mod=djemwsjcity

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:28 ET (11:28 GMT)

DJ Weakening Demand Could Dent Oil's Rally -- Market Talk

1120 GMT - A recent oil rally may not last, as "there are already signs that growth in demand will be weaker this year, which will remove much of the pressure on supply and take the heat out of prices," according to Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at Capital Economics. Oil prices have reached around three-month highs over the past week, largely helped by signs of shrinking global supply as a result of OPEC-led crude-production curbs. Supply outages in Venezuela and Iran as a result of U.S. sanctions on those two OPEC members' oil industries have also helped Brent and WTI benchmarks to rise by more than 20% since the start of the year. "But our forecast of more subdued growth in demand in the coming months, coupled with persistently strong U.S. output, suggests that prices will fall back," Ms. Bain says in a note. Brent, the global benchmark, is trading down 0.6% at $66.08 a barrel. (christopher.alessi@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:20 ET (11:20 GMT)

DJ Vodafone Group to Launch 5G in European Cities in Second Half of 2019

By Adria Calatayud

Vodafone Group PLC (VOD.LN) is preparing to launch next-generation wireless technology, 5G, in a number of European cities during the second half of 2019, the company said Wednesday.

The British telecommunications company said it has completed four-week trials with 5G-ready smartphones that will enter the market this year, and is conducting further trials in some European cities.

Vodafone, which plans to build its 5G network on top of its existing 4G infrastructure, said more than two thirds of its radio-access-network sites within major European cities have sufficient backhaul to support 5G speeds.

Write to Adria Calatayud at adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:17 ET (11:17 GMT)

DJ Sainsbury's Asda Merger Plan Is All But Dead: Barclays -- Market Talk

1117 GMT - J Sainsbury's plan to merge with Walmart Inc.-owned rival Asda is all but dead in the water, Barclays says after U.K. regulators threatened to block the tie-up if competition concerns can't be addressed. The Competition and Markets Authority said the deal would substantially reduce competition and solutions allowing it to proceed would be difficult to secure. Barclays said it believed the CMA has effectively blocked the merger. "Though the CMA might conceivably be persuaded to think differently by the time of its final report, our central assumption would be that this is unlikely," Barclays analysts say. "We therefore assume the proposed merger will have to be abandoned." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:17 ET (11:17 GMT)

DJ European Midday Briefing: Stocks Rise on Positive Signs on Trade
 
European Markets: 

Stocks rose on Wednesday as the White House continued to soften its position on trade with China.

In Europe, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.2% in the opening minutes of trading, buoyed by its basic-resources sector after Glencore released its corporate earnings for 2018.

Shares in the mining giant were up 2.4% after the company said it would cap its coal production and confirmed The Wall Street Journal's reports that it plans to curb production at one of its biggest copper and cobalt mining operations in Congo. Other big miners also rose, with Antofagasta and Anglo American both up 1.6%.

The DAX advanced 0.3% and the CAC-40 climbed 0.1% after all major Asian indices close in positive territory. Tire-maker Continental is the auto sector's top riser, up 3.1%.

"The EU made it clear it will hit back if President Trump decides to start a trade war with the bloc," David Madden at CMC Markets said. "Trump reportedly has no immediate plans to slap tariffs on European vehicles or auto parts, but that's not to say he won't threaten to down the line."

Elsewhere, the Stoxx's retail sector slid 0.5%, after the U.K. competition regulator said it may block the planned $9.5 billion merger between J Sainsbury and Asda. Sainsbury shares plunged 14%, while investors were also keeping an eye on shares in Asda-parent Walmart after the U.S. retailer released better-than-expected results Tuesday.

Advances in Europe followed similar moves in Asia, where Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Taiwan's Taiex, both heavily exposed to the trade conflicts of the past year, were up 1% and 1.2%, respectively, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continued to ease.

President Trump commented Tuesday that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled on March 1, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date."

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks on Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency 0.5% higher against the U.S. dollar to its highest since the end of January.

Potential supply tightness on the back of OPEC output cuts, as well as U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, will keep oil prices supported the rest of this quarter, said Phillip Futures. But it added that won't be without volatility amid worries about global economic growth. Prices are at or near multimonth highs, and futures were slightly lower in early European trading.

In commodities, gold remained close to its 10-month high, ticking up 0.1% to $1,346.20 a troy ounce, while copper broke fresh seven-month highs, edging up 0.1% to $6,339.50 a metric ton.

 
American Markets Outlook: 

U.S. stock futures were largely flat Wednesday as investors await minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting later in the day.

The Fed releases the minutes of its Jan. 29-30 meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST, providing more detail about officials' discussions before they formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

At a press conference last month Fed Chairman Jerome Powell explained the pause, citing the growing risks of a sharper U.S. economic slowdown because of cooling growth in Europe and Asia and substantial market volatility in late December. Fed officials in December had raised rates and penciled in two increases for 2019.

Last month, officials also underscored their more-flexible posture by providing important updates about their policy of shrinking the Fed's $4 trillion asset portfolio.

The minutes "should shed some light on the Fed's motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we'll see an end to balance sheet normalization," said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

 
Forex: 

The U.S. dollar was largely flat in early European trade.

It's still "business as usual" among currency majors, said UniCredit, which means "no major trends at all."

EUR/USD was still driven by two weaknesses--bleak economic indicators in the U.S., dovish remarks by U.S. Federal Reserve members but even softer data releases across the eurozone. And GBP/USD was still trading on firmer, with investors believing that a Brexit withdrawal deal will be reached by March 29.

"Sterling finally managed to regain the 1.30 area against the dollar for the first time in two weeks on hopes that the meeting today between Mrs. May and Mr. Juncker might ease the ongoing impasse," UniCredit said.

 
=========================== 
Top Stories: 

Markets Warm to the Prospect of an ECB Funding Boost for Banks

Market participants are growing confident that the European Central Bank will soon try to boost the eurozone's ailing economy by rebooting its program of ultracheap long-term loans to the banking system.

---

Investors Dive Back Into Italy Even as Recession Bites

Italy has been one the biggest beneficiaries of this year's global market resurgence, a surprise given the unease swirling around the southern European nation and its battered banks.

---

May In Brussels For Last Ditch Brexit Talks

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was due to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Wednesday as she fights to save her Brexit deal.

---

Microsoft Says Russian Hackers Targeted European Non-Profits

Microsoft said it had detected Russia-linked cyberattacks on a range of European non-profit organizations and that it was expanding the availability of one of its political cybersecurity tools as a result.

---

French Jewish Graves Vandalized Before Marches Against Anti-Semitism

Dozens of Jewish graves in eastern France were vandalized amid a recent rise in anti-Semitic acts and days after yellow-vest protesters were filmed accosting a prominent Jewish academic.

 
Analysis: 

How Airbus's A380 Went From Wonder to Blunder

When Airbus SE EADSY 0.61% launched the A380 superjumbo in 2000, it touted the two-deck plane as "the Eighth Wonder of the World." Instead, the world's largest passenger plane exposed dysfunction inside the European aerospace company and now offers a textbook case of a company misjudging its market and los

 
Other News: 

Glencore, Once a Big Coal Backer, Is Capping Output

Anglo-Swiss commodity trader Glencore said it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity.

---

Lloyds Misses Profit Views

Lloyds posted a full-year profit that missed analyst expectations but the lender set out plans for a share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets.

---

Fresenius Shares Rise on Strong Earnings

Shares in Fresenius and Fresenius Medical Care jumped Wednesday after the former backed its 2019 outlook, and the latter saw a sales beat and announced a share-buyback program.

---

Air France Loss Narrows

Air France posted a narrowed net loss for the fourth quarter, as its 2018 results were hit by strikes and an increased fuel bill.

---

Iberdrola Earnings Rise

Iberdrola said that net profit rose 7.5% in 2018, in line with the company's guidance.

---

German Supplier ElringKlinger's Shares Fall on Muted Outlook, 2018 Results

Shares in ElringKlinger AG (ZIL2.XE) fell Wednesday after the automotive supplier reported lower-than-expected results and a muted outlook, citing tariffs on steel and cars as key headwinds.

 
Global News: 

Trump Eases Off Hard Deadline for China Tariffs

President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.

---

How Long Will Fed's Rate Pause Last? Minutes Could Yield Clues

The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its January meeting, providing more detail about officials' discussions before they formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

---

Fed's Mester Sees Rates Slightly Higher This Year

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she expects interest rates to rise slightly this year if the economy lives up to her expectation of solid performance.

---

Investors Sound Warning About Markets' Complacency on Rates

Stocks and bonds are rising on bets the Fed has ended its interest-rate increases, worrying investors who believe the central bank could upend those expectations later this year.

---

Japan's January Trade Deficit Biggest in Five Years

Japan logged its biggest trade deficit in nearly five years in January, as trade tensions and a global economic slowdown weighed on exports and threatened the country's main engine of growth.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:08 ET (11:08 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Asset Acquisition Or Disposition >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Acquisition or Disposition of Assets - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

As a result of the Merger, each outstanding share of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, of Newfield was converted into the right to receive 2.6719 common shares, no par value, of Encana (the "Encana Shares"), as well as cash in lieu of any fractional shares of Encana that otherwise would have been issued (collectively, the "Merger Consideration").

The issuance of Encana Shares in connection with the Merger was registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), pursuant to Encana's registration statement on Form S-4 (File No. 333-228666). The joint proxy statement/prospectus (the "Joint Proxy Statement/Prospectus") filed by Encana pursuant to Rule 424(b)(3) under the Securities Act contains additional information about the Merger.

The foregoing description of the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby does not purport to be complete and is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to the Merger Agreement, a copy of which was included as Annex A to the Joint Proxy Statement/Prospectus, and is incorporated by reference in this Current Report on Form 8-K.

The information set forth under the Introductory Note, the Joint Proxy Statement/Prospectus and Item 5.01 of this Current Report on Form 8-K is incorporated by reference into this Item 2.01.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/d710595d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/0001193125-19-044446-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Changes To Hldr Rights >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Modification to Shareholders Rights - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

The information set forth in Items 2.01, 3.01, 5.01 and 5.03 of this Current Report on Form 8-K is incorporated by reference into this Item 3.03.

In addition, (i) all outstanding Newfield restricted stock awards were cancelled and converted into the right to receive the Merger Consideration; (ii) all outstanding Newfield restricted share units were cancelled and (a) each holder of Newfield restricted stock units that had a cash settlement feature became entitled to receive, on a fully vested basis, a cash payment of equivalent value to the Merger Consideration, based on the recent trading price of Encana common shares and (b) each holder of Newfield restricted stock units that had a share settlement feature became entitled to receive, on a fully vested basis, the Merger Consideration; (iii) all outstanding Newfield performance share units were cancelled and converted into the right to receive the Merger Consideration, with the performance-based vesting conditions applicable to such Newfield performance stock units deemed achieved based on the determination of the compensation and management committee of the Newfield board of directors (the "Board"), not to exceed 200% per Newfield performance share unit; and (iv) any shares of Newfield notional stock that were held in connection with Newfield's Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan were converted into the right to receive a cash payment of equivalent value to the Merger Consideration, based on the recent trading price of Encana common shares.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/d710595d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/0001193125-19-044446-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Changes In Control >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Changes in Company Control - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

As a result of the Merger, a change in control of Newfield occurred, and Newfield is now an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Encana.

The information set forth in Items 2.01, 3.03 and 5.02 of this Current Report on Form 8-K is incorporated by reference into this Item 5.01.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/d710595d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/0001193125-19-044446-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Director, Officer or Compensation Filing >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Director, Officer or Compensation Filing - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

Departure and Election of Directors

In accordance with the terms of the Merger Agreement, and as a result of the Merger, the existing directors of the Company resigned from the Board and from any and all committees of the Board on which they served, effective as of the Effective Time. Such resignations were not related to any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's operations, policies or practices.

Effective as of the Effective Time, each of Sherri A. Brillon, David G. Hill, Michael G. McAllister, Andrew L. Rogers and Renee E. Zemljak became directors of the Company.

There are no arrangements or understandings between any director of the Company and any other person pursuant to which the director was selected as a director of the Company, other than the provisions of the Merger Agreement. There are no transactions involving any director of the Company that require disclosure under Item 404(a) of Regulation S-K.

Departure and Appointment of Certain Officers

As a result of the Merger and effective as of the Effective Time, the existing officers of the Company ceased serving in their respective corporate officer capacities with the Company, including Lee K. Boothby

(President and Chief Executive Officer), Lawrence S. Massaro (Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer), Gary D. Packer (Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer), and John H. Jasek (Senior Vice President Operations). Such removals were not related to any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's operations, policies or practices.

Effective as of the Effective Time, the Board appointed certain officers of the Company, including Michael G. McAllister as President of the Company and Sherri A. Brillon as Chief Financial Officer of the Company. Mr. McAllister, 60, has been the Executive Vice-President & Chief Operating Officer of Encana since November 2013. Ms. Brillon, 59, has been the Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer of Encana since November 2009.

There are no arrangements or understandings between either Mr. McAllister or Ms. Brillon and any other person pursuant to which either Mr. McAllister or Ms. Brillon was appointed as an officer of the Company. There are no transactions involving Mr. McAllister or Ms. Brillon that require disclosure under Item 404(a) of Regulation S-K.

There are no family relationships among any of the Company's directors and executive officers. All directors and executive officers of the Company will hold their respective positions with the Company until their resignation, death or removal from office or until their respective successors are duly elected or appointed.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/d710595d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/912750/000119312519044446/0001193125-19-044446-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Asset Acquisition Or Disposition >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Acquisition or Disposition of Assets - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

On February 13, 2019, Encana Corporation ("Encana"), completed its previously announced strategic combination with Newfield Exploration Company, a Delaware corporation ("Newfield"), pursuant to an Agreement and Plan of Merger (the "Merger Agreement"), dated as of October 31, 2018, by and among Encana, Neapolitan Merger Corp., a Delaware corporation and an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Encana ("Merger Sub"), and Newfield. Pursuant to the Merger Agreement, Merger Sub merged with and into Newfield, with Newfield surviving the merger as an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Encana (the "Merger").

As a result of the Merger, each share of common stock, par value $0.01 per share, of Newfield issued and outstanding immediately prior to the effective time (the "Effective Time") of the Merger (other than shares of Newfield common stock owned or held in treasury by Newfield or any of its wholly-owned subsidiaries or owned by Encana or any of its wholly-owned subsidiaries) was converted into the right to receive 2.6719 common shares of Encana, without par value ("Encana common shares"), with cash paid in lieu of the issuance of fractional Encana common shares (the "Merger Consideration"). At the Effective Time: (i) all outstanding Newfield restricted stock awards were cancelled and each holder of Newfield restricted stock became entitled to receive, on a fully vested basis, for each share of restricted stock subject to any such award, the Merger Consideration; (ii) all outstanding Newfield time-based restricted stock units with a cash settlement feature were cancelled and each holder of such restricted stock units became entitled to receive, on a fully vested basis, for each such restricted stock unit, a cash payment of equivalent value to the Merger Consideration, based on the volume weighted averages of the trading price of Encana common shares on each of the five consecutive trading days ending on the trading day that is three trading days prior to the Effective Time; (iii) all outstanding Newfield time-based restricted stock units with a stock settlement feature were cancelled and each holder of such restricted stock units became entitled to receive, on a fully vested basis, for each such restricted stock unit, the Merger Consideration; (iv) all outstanding Newfield performance-based restricted stock units were cancelled and converted into the right to receive the Merger Consideration, with the performance-based vesting conditions applicable to such Newfield performance-based restricted stock units deemed achieved based on the determination of the compensation and management development committee of the Newfield board of directors, not to exceed 200% per Newfield performance-based restricted stock unit; and (v) any shares of Newfield notional stock held in connection with Newfield's Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plan was converted into the right to receive a cash payment of equivalent value to the Merger Consideration, based on the volume weighted averages of the trading price of Encana common shares on each of the five consecutive trading days ending on the trading day that is three trading days prior to the Effective Time. As a result of the Merger, Encana issued approximately 543.4 million Encana common shares and paid approximately $5.2 million in cash in respect of Newfield time-based restricted stock units with a cash settlement feature and shares of Newfield notional stock.

The issuance of Encana common shares in connection with the Merger was registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), pursuant to Encana's registration statement on Form S-4 (File No. 333-228666), declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") on December 26, 2018. The definitive joint proxy statement/prospectus (the "Joint Proxy Statement/Prospectus"), filed with the SEC pursuant to Rule 424(b)(3) under the Securities Act on January 8, 2019, contains additional information about the Merger.

The foregoing description of the Merger and the Merger Agreement and the transactions contemplated thereby is not complete and is subject to and qualified in its entirety by reference to the Merger Agreement, a copy of which was included as Annex A to the Joint Proxy Statement/Prospectus and is incorporated by reference in this Current Report on Form 8-K.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1157806/000119312519044440/d701379d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1157806/000119312519044440/0001193125-19-044440-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Encana Files 8K - Director, Officer or Compensation Filing >ECA

Encana Corp. (ECA) filed a Form 8K - Director, Officer or Compensation Filing - with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on February 13, 2019.

As previously disclosed, and as required by the terms of the Merger Agreement, effective as of February 13, 2019, the Board of Directors of Encana (the "Board") increased the size of the Board by two members and appointed Steven W. Nance and Thomas G. Ricks as directors pursuant to the terms of the Merger Agreement.

The Board determined that Mr. Nance and Mr. Ricks met the independence requirements under the rules of the New York Stock Exchange. Subject to and following election at Encana's 2019 annual meeting of shareholders, Mr. Nance is expected to serve on the Reserves Committee and Corporate Responsibility, Environment, Health and Safety Committee of the Board and Mr. Ricks is expected to serve on the Audit Committee and Human Resources and Compensation Committee of the Board.

Each of Messrs. Nance and Ricks will enter into a customary indemnification agreement with Encana in connection with his appointment as a director, consistent with those entered into with Encana's other directors. Each of Messrs. Nance and Ricks will receive compensation for his services on the Board in accordance with Encana's non-employee director compensation practices described in Encana's 2018 Proxy Statement filed with the SEC on March 23, 2018.

Other than the Merger Agreement, there are no arrangements or understandings between Messrs. Nance and Ricks and any other person pursuant to which Messrs. Nance and Ricks were selected as directors.

The full text of this SEC filing can be retrieved at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1157806/000119312519044440/d701379d8k.htm

Any exhibits and associated documents for this SEC filing can be retrieved at: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1157806/000119312519044440/0001193125-19-044440-index.htm

Public companies must file a Form 8-K, or current report, with the SEC generally within four days of any event that could materially affect a company's financial position or the value of its shares.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Carrefour's Recovery Continues: HSBC -- Market Talk

1105 GMT - Carrefour is still on the road to recovery and a successful 2018 has laid the groundwork for an even better 2019, say analysts at HSBC. "We believe good progress has been made on exiting Dia, realizing cost savings and agreeing to partnerships to address areas of weakness," it says, adding that the French retailer should deliver faster growth this year. "We have always maintained that investors would need to be patient with Carrefour," says HSBC. Carrefour shares trade 0.8% lower at EUR17.93. (anthony.shevlin@dowjones.com; @anthony_shevlin)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:05 ET (11:05 GMT)

DJ Amazon Is Winning The Digital Ad Game, Too -- Barrons.com
By Jon Swartz 

A fundamental shift in advertising expenditures spells good news for Amazon.com, a softening duopoly for Alphabet's Google and Facebook, and more rough news for traditional media like print and TV.

For the first time, online ad spending in the U.S. will surpass traditional spending this year, by nearly $20 billion. The digital side will increase 19% to $129.3 billion, while non-digital will shrink 5% to $109.5 billion, according to a report from eMarketer published on Wednesday. Digital will account for 54% of total U.S. ad spending this year, with mobile leading the digital surge, at an estimated $87.06 billion.

The gap is expected to widen the next few years as traditional ad spending remains flat and digital grows approximately $20 billion per year.

The clear winners are Amazon.com (ticker: AMZN), which passed Microsoft (MSFT) in digital ad market share last year and is eating away at Facebook and Google. Instagram is winning its own share and driving most of Facebook's overall growth.

The ever-shifting landscape means that for the first time combined share for Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google and Facebook (FB), the Nos. 1-2 market leaders, will drop even as their revenues grow. Google's share will slip in 2019 to 37.2% from 38.2% last year; Facebook's share remains virtually unchanged at 22.1% versus 21.8% last year.

Amazon, third in market share, is forecast to see a 50% jump in business to 8.8% share in 2019 and nearly 10% in 2020. The e-commerce giant reported record profits and revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter, prompting eMarketer to raise its numbers on Amazon.

"Amazon has a major benefit to advertisers, especially consumer-packaged goods and direct-to-consumer brands," eMarketer forecasting director Monica Peart told Barron's in a phone interview. "The platform is rich with shoppers' behavioral data for targeting and provides access to purchase data in real-time. And as Amazon has extended its reach, consumers increasingly trust it when shopping."

Now, the bad news.

Directories like the Yellow Pages face the biggest hit -- down 19% this year -- and traditional print in the form of newspapers and magazines will drop nearly 18%. Even TV is not immune. Television ad spending is expected to decline 2.2% to $70.8 billion this year, largely because there are no elections or big events, such as the Olympics or World Cup.

"We've hit an inflection point," Peart said. "It's been a long time coming. Digital continues to command more and more attention for the consumption of content and shopping. That's where consumers go."

Write to Jon Swartz at jonathan.swartz@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:04 ET (11:04 GMT)

DJ Amazon's Ad Business May Be Growing Faster Than Thought
By Alexandra Bruell 

Amazon.com Inc.'s ad business is again outstripping earlier projections.

Last September, the research firm eMarketer said Amazon would finish 2018 as the third-largest digital ad seller in the U.S., with a larger market share than eMarketer expected just six months earlier, partly due to accounting changes by the e-commerce giant.

EMarketer has again revised upward its estimates for Amazon's U.S. ad revenue for both past and future years. This time the boost is due partly to third-party data indicating that advertising provides more of Amazon's revenue than was thought, said Monica Peart, senior forecasting director at eMarketer.

EMarketer now estimates that Amazon's ad revenue in 2017 totaled $3.3 billion, for example, up from its estimate of $1.9 billion in September.

Amazon generates advertising revenue from various business units, including its e-commerce site, the live-streaming video-gaming site Twitch, film site IMDb and its advertising technology division.

Amazon's ad revenue is expected to increase to $15 billion in 2020, or just under 10% of the digital ad market share in the U.S., from $11.3 billion in 2019 and an 8.8% share, according to the latest forecast.

Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Facebook Inc. will continue to dominate the digital ad pie, with a combined $89 billion in ad revenue in the U.S. in 2020, according to eMarketer's predictions. But Amazon's accelerating rise is giving marketers hope of an alternative to the so-called digital duopoly, although some fear Amazon's growing power.

EMarketer increased its estimate for Facebook's U.S. ad revenue for 2019 by about $1 billion, due to strong growth from Instagram as advertisers increase investments in the platform, said Ms. Peart.

Reports are more consistent for Google and Facebook, where advertising accounts for the bulk of revenue and both companies report their advertising revenues directly. Amazon reports a revenue category that includes advertising, but not the advertising dollars themselves.

As marketers allocate more dollars to digital video and social platforms to reach consumers, digital ad spending is usurping traditional ad spending in mediums like television, radio, print and outdoor, Ms. Peart said.

Digital ad spending in the U.S. is expected to grow 19% to $129.3 billion this year, according to eMarketer, accounting for 54.2% of total U.S. ad spending and surpassing traditional ad spending for the first time.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at alexandra.bruell@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:00 ET (11:00 GMT)

DJ Walmart’s Multibillion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Huge Hurdle

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart Inc.’s British grocery unit and rival J Sainsbury PLC, threatening to scuttle one of the retail giant’s biggest overseas overhauls.

Last April, Walmart agreed to merge British arm Asda Group into Sainsbury in a deal that valued the U.K. business at about £7.3 billion ($9.5 billion). Walmart agreed to keep a 42% stake in the combined company, which would become Britain’s largest grocery chain.

The move was part of a broader shift by Walmart to form joint ventures in competitive overseas markets. Asda has been one of Walmart’s most profitable foreign forays since it bought the chain in 1999. Growth has slowed more recently amid intense competition in the U.K., both from traditional players like Tesco PLC, online players—including Amazon.com Inc., which owns Whole Food outlets in the U.K.—and discounters like German chains Aldi and Lidl.

Regulatory hurdles always posed a threat to the deal. The U.K. grocery market is already highly consolidated, with the top four players commanding over 60%. A combined Asda-Sainbury would operate 2,800 stores and command a 27% market share, according to Kantar. It made about £51 billion in revenue in 2017.

On Wednesday, the Competition and Markets Authority said it has provisionally found that the deal, in its current form, could push up prices and reduce quality. It also said the merger could lead to a rise in prices at a large number of Sainsbury and Asda gas stations across Britain.

The regulator didn’t specifically block the deal, but said that was one of the options it was considering. It said it could also force the companies to sell a significant number of stores or other assets. But the CMA said it didn’t believe divestitures alone would address its concerns. It expects to announce a final report by the end of April.

Sainsbury shares were 15% lower Wednesday. Other U.K. grocery stocks also fell.

In a joint statement, Sainsbury and Asda said they fundamentally disagree with the provisional findings, citing a misunderstanding by the regulator of shopping habits in the U.K. They said the “CMA has moved the goalposts, and its analysis is inconsistent with comparable cases.”

Last week, the CMA extended the timetable of its inquiry into the proposed merger due to the case’s scope and complexity.

The setback comes as Walmart is rejiggering its overseas operations. Last year, it sold its controlling stake in its Brazilian operations and bought a majority stake in Flipkart Group, India’s largest e-commerce company, for $16 billion.

Walmart has struggled with fierce competition in the U.S., where rival Amazon has broadened its branded food and own-label offerings while improving delivery options. Earlier this week, Walmart reported strong holiday sales, attributing part of that to its success attracting online shoppers.

Walmart has options if the deal is blocked, analysts said. James Grzinic at Jefferies said he expects a sale to happen either way. He said a private equity bid for Asda could be a possible option. “An alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly,” he said.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:00 ET (11:00 GMT)

DJ Indonesia’s Indosat Exploring Sale of Telecom Towers

Indonesia’s third-largest mobile operator is looking to sell some of its telecommunications towers in a deal that could be valued at more than $1 billion, people with knowledge of the process said.

PT Indosat, listed on the Indonesian stock exchange, recently invited banks to pitch for an advisory role in the sale, the people said.

The company owns over 8,500 telecom towers in Indonesia. The sale is part of its plan to focus more on the mobile and internet-based communication technologies business, the people said.

A company spokesman said Indosat has no such plan at the moment, but that it is open to all options.

In 2012, Indosat sold about 2,500 tower assets to Indonesian company PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure for $519 million.

A formal sale process would be started once the company decides how many tower assets to put on the block, one of the people said.

Indonesia’s tower sector is expected to grow at a 6%-9% compounded annual rate over the next five to eight years amid increased smartphone adoption and the expansion of the country’s 4G network, DBS said in a November report.

Qatar-based Ooredoo Group, a telecom company that provides fixed and mobile communications services in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia Pacific, owns a 65% stake in Indosat; the Indonesian government owns a 14.3% stake and the remaining 20.7% is held by public shareholders.

Write to P.R. Venkat at venkat.pr@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 06:00 ET (11:00 GMT)

DJ N American Morning Briefing: Stocks to Open Flat Ahead of Fed Minutes
DJIA      25862.00 -22.00 -0.08% 
S&P 500    2777.00  -2.75 -0.07% 
Nasdaq 100 7069.50   1.75  0.01% 
As of 5.55am 
 
FTSE 100   7186.28  7.11 0.10% 
Xetra DAX 11346.51 37.30 0.33% 
CAC40      5166.28  5.76 0.11% 
As of 5.25am 
 
Nikkei    21431.49 128.84 0.60% 
Shanghai   2761.22   5.57 0.20% 
Hang Seng 28514.05 285.92 1.01% 
As of 5.25am 
 
Snapshot: 

-Stock futures flat; EUR/USD 1.1348-51; 10-year Treasury yield 2.633%; Nymex $55.92; gold futures $1346.20

-Watch for: FOMC meeting minutes published; Fed's Daly speaks; earnings from Avis, CVS, Gannett, GoDaddy, Sunoco

 
Opening Call: 

U.S. stock futures were largely flat Wednesday as investors await minutes from the Federal Reserve's January meeting later in the day.

The Fed releases the minutes of its Jan. 29-30 meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST, providing more detail about officials' discussions before they formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

At a press conference last month Fed Chairman Jerome Powell explained the pause, citing the growing risks of a sharper U.S. economic slowdown because of cooling growth in Europe and Asia and substantial market volatility in late December. Fed officials in December had raised rates and penciled in two increases for 2019.

Last month, officials also underscored their more-flexible posture by providing important updates about their policy of shrinking the Fed's $4 trillion asset portfolio.

The minutes "should shed some light on the Fed's motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we'll see an end to balance sheet normalization," said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

Global stocks rose as the White House continued to soften its position on trade with China.

President Trump commented Tuesday that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled on March 1, saying the negotiating deadline is "not a magical date."

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks on Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency 0.5% higher against the U.S. dollar to its highest since the end of January.

The yuan has still fallen 5.7% versus the dollar in the past 12 months, sparking concerns that Beijing has allowing its currency to devalue to neutralize the impact of U.S. trade tariffs.

"A pledge of renminbi stability has been discussed in multiple rounds of talks in recent months, and both sides have tentatively agreed it will be part of the framework of any final deal," said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG in a note.

 
Equities: 

Ford intends to stop making heavy trucks in South America and focus there on the more popular midsize pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, the company said Tuesday.

Michigan-based Ford is under pressure to improve its international operations after incurring losses at all of those units in 2018, including $678 million in South America.

On Tuesday, Ford said it would end production this year at Brazil's São Bernardo do Campo assembly plant, ending sales in South America of F-4000 and F-350 trucks once inventories are cleared.

Sales of the Fiesta small car in South America also will end, according to Ford. It previously said it plans to end U.S. sales of the Fiesta and Focus compact car, amid weaker demand for smaller vehicles.

---

Southwest Airlines said it would investigate whether a dispute with its mechanics union was causing maintenance delays that have led to grounded planes and canceled flights.

The airline said that over 40 of its roughly 750 aircraft have been taken out of service in recent days-twice the number of aircraft typically undergoing maintenance at one time. Southwest, the largest U.S. domestic carrier, scrapped nearly 200 flights Tuesday, about half of them due to the lack of planes. Hundreds more were delayed.

Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven said Tuesday evening in a statement that the surge in out-of-service aircraft followed the latest round of contract negotiations between the airline and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. Those talks have dragged on more than six years and have become increasingly contentious.

---

Herbalife, whose chief executive abruptly resigned last month, reported a 9% sales increase in its latest quarter, driven largely by growth in Asia Pacific.

In its latest quarter, sales at the nutritional supplement maker rose 22% in its Asia Pacific region, while North American sales increased about 11%. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been investigating Herbalife's anticorruption practices in China for roughly two years.

Herbalife sells protein shakes, snacks and other weight-management products through a network of distributors who also can sign up new recruits and get paid based on a portion of their sales.

 
Forex: 

The U.S. dollar was largely flat in early European trade.

It's still "business as usual" among currency majors, said UniCredit, which means "no major trends at all."

EUR/USD was still driven by two weaknesses--bleak economic indicators in the U.S., dovish remarks by U.S. Federal Reserve members but even softer data releases across the eurozone. And GBP/USD was still trading on firmer, with investors believing that a Brexit withdrawal deal will be reached by March 29.

"Sterling finally managed to regain the 1.30 area against the dollar for the first time in two weeks on hopes that the meeting today between Mrs. May and Mr. Juncker might ease the ongoing impasse," UniCredit said.

At 4.50am, USD/JPY was 110.80-81, EUR/USD was 1.1348-51 and GBP/USD was 1.3033-35.

 
Bonds: 

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasurys was broadly flat, and although few market participants were expecting any groundbreaking news on interest-rate policy, the central bank's release will likely be parsed for clues on its plans for its balance sheet.

U.S. government bond prices rose Tuesday as investors are becoming increasingly concerned about signs of a slowdown in global economic growth.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.645%, its lowest level in more than a week.

It is 0.088 percentage point above its low for the year.

 
Commodities: 

Potential supply tightness on the back of OPEC output cuts, as well as U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, will keep oil prices supported the rest of this quarter, said Phillip Futures. But it added that won't be without volatility amid worries about global economic growth. Prices are at or near multimonth highs, and futures were slightly lower in early European trading.

In commodities, gold remained close to its 10-month high, ticking up 0.1% to $1,346.20 a troy ounce, while copper broke fresh seven-month highs, edging up 0.1% to $6,339.50 a metric ton.

 
Top Stories Of The Day: 

Trump Eases Off Hard Deadline for China Tariffs

President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.

---

SEC Wants to Make It Easier for Companies to Explore IPOs

Any company exploring whether to go public would get greater leeway to discuss their plans privately with potential investors before announcing an initial public offering, under a proposal from securities regulators.

---

McKinsey Settles With DOJ Over Bankruptcy Disclosures

McKinsey agreed to pay $15 million to settle Justice Department allegations that the consulting firm failed to make required disclosures of potential conflicts in three chapter 11 cases it had advised on in recent years.

---

Fed's Mester Sees Rates Slightly Higher This Year

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she expects interest rates to rise slightly this year if the economy lives up to her expectation of solid performance.

---

Investors Sound Warning About Markets' Complacency on Rates

Stocks and bonds are rising on bets the Fed has ended its interest-rate increases, worrying investors who believe the central bank could upend those expectations later this year.

---

Japan's January Trade Deficit Biggest in Five Years

Japan logged its biggest trade deficit in nearly five years in January, as trade tensions and a global economic slowdown weighed on exports and threatened the country's main engine of growth.

Write to sarka.halas@wsj.com

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:59 ET (10:59 GMT)

DJ N American Morning Briefing: Canada Outlook

Earnings scheduled:

- Alamos Gold Inc. (AGI.T) 4Q

- Bausch Health Companies Inc. (BHC.T) 4Q

- Exchange Income Corp. (EIF.T) 4Q

- Golden Star Resources Ltd. (GSC.T) 4Q

- Horizon North Logistics Inc. (HNL.T) 4Q

- IAMGOLD Corp. (IMG.T) 4Q

- Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd (OR.T) 4Q

- Pan American Silver Corp. (PAAS.T) 4Q

- Trevali Mining Corp.(TV.T) 4Q

- Trican Well Svc Ltd. (TCW.T) 4Q

- Uni-Select Inc. (UNS.T) 4Q

---

Economic Indicators (ET):

- no major data expected

---

Headlines:

Waste Connections: CEO to Take Temporary Leave of Absence

Waste Connections Inc. (WCN) on Tuesday said Chief Executive Ronald J. Mittelstaedt will take a temporary leave of absence to address health matters affecting him and his family.

---

Other News:

Customers Hunt for Bankrupt Crypto Exchange's Missing Millions

An unusual cash-pickup system is the latest unusual business practice at Quadriga to emerge since Gerald Cotten, the firm's 30-year-old co-founder and CEO, died in India late last year.

---

Markets Talk:

Canada Envoy Believes Congress Will Pass New Nafta

15:00 ET - Canada remains optimistic about the fate of USMCA in Congress. Concern has mounted that the new Nafta could be complicated by efforts by Democrats to insert provisions in the pact that ensures Mexico lives up to promises on environmental protection and labor rights. "I think the enforcement mechanisms can be addressed in side letters," David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to US, says at an Ottawa event hosted by Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He adds that when the revised North American trade deal "comes up for an up or down vote, Congress will pass it." The biggest issue, he says, is when Congress holds a vote on USMCA "because there is so much else going on" in Washington, led by the uproar over President Trump's emergency declaration on a US-Mexico wall.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:59 ET (10:59 GMT)

DJ N American Morning Briefing: Analyst Ratings Changes

Advanced Disposal Svcs Cut to Underperform From Neutral by Bank of America

Chemours Cut to Neutral From Positive by Susquehanna

Consolidated Comm Hldgs Cut to Outperform From Strong Buy by Raymond James

Cross Country Healthcare Cut to Hold From Buy by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

CSX Corp Cut to Sector Perform From Outperform by RBC Capital

EnPro Cut to Sector Weight From Overweight by KeyBanc

Freeport-McMoRan Raised to Buy From Neutral by Citigroup

Hilton Cut to In-Line From Outperform by Evercore ISI Group

iRobot Cut to Hold From Buy by Canaccord Genuity

Matador Resources Raised to Buy From Hold by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey

McDonald's Raised to Overweight From Equal-Weight by Stephens & Co.

NCI Building Systems Cut to Underperform From Neutral by DA Davidson

Occidental Petroleum Cut to Neutral From Buy by Citigroup

Papa John's Cut to Sell From Hold by Stifel Nicolaus

PepsiCo Raised to Outperform From Neutral by Macquarie

PG&E Raised to Buy From Neutral by Citigroup

Taubman Centers Raised to In-Line From Underperform by Evercore ISI Group

TPI Composites Cut to Neutral From Overweight by JP Morgan

Ulta Beauty Cut to Neutral From Buy by Nomura

Uniti Group Cut to Underweight From Neutral by JP Morgan

Weight Watchers Cut to Underweight From Neutral by JP Morgan

XPO Logistics Cut to Equal-Weight From Overweight by Morgan Stanley

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:59 ET (10:59 GMT)

DJ The Number That Shows What Warren Buffett Really Thinks of Berkshire Stock -- Barrons.com
By Andrew Bary 

The highlight of Berkshire Hathaway's (ticker: BRKB) fourth-quarter earnings release, due Saturday, may be the amount of stock that the company repurchased in the fourth quarter.

Berkshire watchers will be scrutinizing the buyback number as an indication of Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett's views on the stock. Buffett also is apt to address the buyback in his eagerly awaited annual shareholder letter, which is also due Saturday.

Wall Street appears to be expecting a modest buyback in the range of about $2 billion. If the repurchases are much higher than that amount, it could lift Berkshire shares because it will indicate that Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger think the stock is cheap.

With Berkshire valued at more than $500 billion, a buyback of $2 billion would translate into an annualized repurchase rate of less than 2%. That's not a lot considering that Berkshire doesn't pay a dividend. Many banks are buying back more than 5% of their stock annually while paying dividends of 2% to 3%.

Read more: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Didn't Buy Much When the Market Crashed Last Quarter

David Rolfe, chief investment officer at Wedgewood Partners in St. Louis, a Berkshire holder, is hoping the company shocks Wall Street with a fourth-quarter buyback in the $7 billion to $8 billion range, or as he puts it, "big single-digit" billions. Morgan Stanley analyst Kai Pan sees $2.5 billion, and Barclays analyst Jay Gelb projects $1.5 billion.

Berkshire began its buyback program in the third quarter and bought back $928 million of stock. The amount was modest, perhaps reflecting that the plan began in August and thus the company didn't have a full quarter to execute it.

Berkshire's class A shares, which are up $650 on Tuesday, or 0.2%, to $308,789, have lagged the S&P 500 both in 2019 and over the past 12 months. Berkshire has risen 1% so far in 2019, behind the S&P 500's 11.3% rise.

Some Berkshire fans are frustrated by the relatively weak showing of the stock and would like to see a vote of confidence from Buffett, especially given the late-year swoon in Berkshire's stock. Berkshire's class B shares, which are up 69 cents at $205.98, dipped below $200 during the market selloff in December.

One sign of a possibly more aggressive buyback was Berkshire's decision to add less than $1 billion of stocks to its huge equity portfolio in the fourth quarter after being a net purchaser of $12 billion of equities in the third quarter. Some Berkshire investors were surprised that Buffett wasn't more aggressive in buying stocks during the late-year decline. It's possible that Berkshire was buying a lot of its own stock instead, using its massive cash hoard, which totaled over $100 billion at the end of the third quarter.

A large fourth-quarter buyback would be taken as a sign that Berkshire will continue to be aggressive in repurchases this year. The 88-year-old Buffett, while often advocating stock buybacks at companies in which Berkshire has a stake, has long been cool to buybacks at Berkshire. But with the company sitting on so much cash and unable to find a major acquisition, Buffett may have determined that repurchases now make more sense.

Berkshire is expected to post strong fourth-quarter operating earnings, with Morgan Stanley's Pan seeing $5.5 billion, up 64% from the year-earlier figure. But Berkshire likely will report a sizable overall fourth-quarter loss, reflecting a large decline in its huge equity portfolio, which totaled $183 billion at year-end.

Write to Andrew Bary at andrew.bary@barrons.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:59 ET (10:59 GMT)

DJ Analyst Estimates for U.S. Earnings Wednesday

Standard & Poor's 500 stock index companies scheduled to report quarterly earnings Wednesday, with per-share earnings estimates provided by FactSet Research Systems Inc.:

Company                                   Symbol     Quarter  Mean  Report Time 
 
Agilent Tech Inc.                         (A)         1Q        .73  4:00 PM 
Albemarle Corp.                           (ALB)       4Q       1.47      AMC 
Analog Devices Inc.                       (ADI)       1Q       1.28  8:00 AM 
Cimarex Energy Co.                        (XEC)       4Q       1.79      AMC 
Copart Inc.                               (CPRT)      2Q        .51      AMC 
CVS Health Corp.                          (CVS)       4Q       2.09  6:55 AM 
Entergy Corp.                             (ETR)       4Q        .30      BMO 
Equifax Inc.                              (EFX)       1Q       1.32      AMC 
Eversource Energy                         (ES)        4Q        .75  4:15 PM 
Flowserve Corp.                           (FLS)       4Q        .58      AMC 
Garmin Ltd.                               (GRMN)      4Q        .80      BMO 
Henry Schein Inc.                         (HSIC)      4Q        .88      BMO 
HollyFrontier Corp.                       (HFC)       4Q       2.02      BMO 
NiSource Inc.                             (NI)        4Q        .36      BMO 
Realty Income Corp.                       (O)         4Q        .31  4:00 PM 
Southern Co.                              (SO)        4Q        .23  7:00 AM 
Synopsys Inc.                             (SNPS)      1Q        .97      AMC 
TechnipFMC PLC                            (FTI)       4Q        .37      AMC 
 

(At least three brokerage analysts must be forecasting EPS for the company to be included in this report. The Factset EPS estimate is the mean. Estimates can reflect GAAP or non-GAAP numbers.)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:55 ET (10:55 GMT)

DJ Henkel's Promotional Cuts May Have Hit Top-Line Growth: Bernstein -- Market Talk

1054 GMT - Henkel releases its fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday before markets open and analysts at Bernstein expect more meat on the bones of last month's headline numbers, which included a margin reset from 2019. The German company's 2018 top-line growth was its lowest since 2009 which Bernstein suspects was caused by advertising and promotional cuts, but says "Henkel's frustratingly opaque reporting provides no real insight." Henkel is "far from the reliable compounding story it used to be," Bernstein says. Henkel shares trade 0.9% higher at EUR88.66. (anthony.shevlin@dowjones.com; @anthony_shevlin)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:54 ET (10:54 GMT)

DJ Walmart's Multibillion-Dollar U.K. Merger Faces Huge Hurdle -- Update
By Ian Walker 

British regulators said they were leaning toward blocking a proposed merger between Walmart Inc.'s British grocery unit and rival J Sainsbury PLC, threatening to scuttle one of the retail giant's biggest overseas overhauls.

Last April, Walmart agreed to merge British arm Asda Group into Sainsbury in a deal that valued the U.K. business at about GBP7.3 billion ($9.5 billion). Walmart agreed to keep a 42% stake in the combined company, which would become Britain's largest grocery chain.

The move was part of a broader shift by Walmart to form joint ventures in competitive overseas markets. Asda has been one of Walmart's most profitable foreign forays since it bought the chain in 1999. Growth has slowed more recently amid intense competition in the U.K., both from traditional players like Tesco PLC, online players -- including Amazon.com Inc., which owns Whole Food outlets in the U.K. -- and discounters like German chains Aldi and Lidl.

Regulatory hurdles always posed a threat to the deal. The U.K. grocery market is already highly consolidated, with the top four players commanding over 60%. A combined Asda-Sainbury would operate 2,800 stores and command a 27% market share, according to Kantar. It made about GBP51 billion in revenue in 2017.

On Wednesday, the Competition and Markets Authority said it has provisionally found that the deal, in its current form, could push up prices and reduce quality. It also said the merger could lead to a rise in prices at a large number of Sainsbury and Asda gas stations across Britain.

The regulator didn't specifically block the deal, but said that was one of the options it was considering. It said it could also force the companies to sell a significant number of stores or other assets. But the CMA said it didn't believe divestitures alone would address its concerns. It expects to announce a final report by the end of April.

Sainsbury shares were 15% lower Wednesday. Other U.K. grocery stocks also fell.

In a joint statement, Sainsbury and Asda said they fundamentally disagree with the provisional findings, citing a misunderstanding by the regulator of shopping habits in the U.K. They said the "CMA has moved the goalposts, and its analysis is inconsistent with comparable cases."

Last week, the CMA extended the timetable of its inquiry into the proposed merger due to the case's scope and complexity.

The setback comes as Walmart is rejiggering its overseas operations. Last year, it sold its controlling stake in its Brazilian operations and bought a majority stake in Flipkart Group, India's largest e-commerce company, for $16 billion.

Walmart has struggled with fierce competition in the U.S., where rival Amazon has broadened its branded food and own-label offerings while improving delivery options. Earlier this week, Walmart reported strong holiday sales, attributing part of that to its success attracting online shoppers.

Walmart has options if the deal is blocked, analysts said. James Grzinic at Jefferies said he expects a sale to happen either way. He said a private equity bid for Asda could be a possible option. "An alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly," he said.

Write to Ian Walker at ian.walker@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:51 ET (10:51 GMT)

DJ Oil Prices Edge Down as U.S. Shale Output Set to Climb

HIGHLIGHTS

U.S.-China Trade: Oil investors are taking a breather as they look to see whether Beijing and Washington are able to make substantive progress in talks over the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies. “Last week’s price rally has given way to torpor…as market players adopt a wait-and-see approach amid ongoing U.S.-China trade talks,” according to Stephen Brennock, analyst at brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd. “Details on progress remain scant, and it goes without saying that the outcome will be a make-or-break for oil and the broader risk asset complex,” he added.

However, global equities rose Wednesday morning, amid signs the White House is continuing to soften its negotiating position on trade with China, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index up 0.2% in early trade.

Oil prices climbed to touch three-month highs in recent days, on the back of growing optimism the U.S. and China could strike a deal, as well as evidence of shrinking global supply as a result of OPEC-led production cuts.

U.S. Production: The U.S. Energy Information Administration released Tuesday its latest monthly oil drilling productivity report. The agency raised its raised its estimate for U.S. shale oil output next month by 84,000 barrels a day, projecting shale production will average 8.4 million barrels a day in March. Relentless U.S. shale output could continue to keep a cap on rising crude prices, analysts say. “It seems that the sharp rise in oil production in the U.S. is having a slowing effect after all,” analysts at Commerzbank wrote in a note Wednesday.

INSIGHT

OPEC: Oil prices since the start of the year have been bolstered by production curbs from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, shouldered in large part by the cartel’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia. OPEC and 10 external partner producers, led by Russia, agreed late last year to collectively hold back crude output by 1.2 million barrels a day for the first half of this year. Monthly oil market reports from both OPEC and the International Energy Agency confirmed last week that OPEC is largely keeping its promise to reduce output, even as Russia has failed to fully follow through on its commitments. U.S. sanctions on the oil industries of Iran and Venezuela—two OPEC members exempt form the production-cut deal—have also helped to bring down total output in the group.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia—the world’s largest exporter of crude—is making good on a pledge to further reduce its exports to global markets. Saudi shipments of crude in the first half of February fell by 1.3 million barrels a day month-on-month, to average 6.2 million barrels a day, according to data published this week by ship tracking firm Kpler.

AHEAD

Write to Christopher Alessi at christopher.alessi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Glencore, Once a Big Coal Backer, Is Capping Output

LONDON—Glencore PLC said Wednesday it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity.

The Anglo-Swiss commodity trader said it plans to limit its total coal production capacity to its current output of 150 million metric tons a year. Thermal coal fires many of the world’s power plants, but is widely seen by climate scientists as a major contributor to global warming. Many rich, developed countries that can afford it have tilted toward plants powered by cleaner-burning natural gas.

Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg has in the past bet big on the prospect of thermal coal’s continued global demand, despite falling prices and tightening regulations around the world.

Glencore said it would prioritize capital investment in assets that are resilient to regulatory, physical and operational risks related to climate change. The company said it would also consider whether its membership in relevant trade associations is consistent with its new position.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a nonprofit that supports ethical investments, said the move represents “peak coal” for Glencore. In the past few years, Glencore bought rival Rio Tinto PLC’s thermal coal businesses. Wednesday’s announcement represents “an extraordinary about-face,” said Dan Gocher, the ACCR’s director of climate and environment said.

Glencore said separately it plans to cut copper production at its operations in Congo to about 100,000 metric tons from its recent average of about 200,000 tons a year as it reviews that operation. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Glencore would cut production at its Mutanda operation on Tuesday. The move will have little effect on cobalt production, the company said.

Glencore also said it would launch new $2 billion buyback program, a move that lifted its shares modestly Wednesday. The miner’s share price has lagged behind its peers, partly because of several probes into its Congo operations. Last year, Glencore said it had received a subpoena from U.S. authorities related to possible violations of American bribery and corruption laws in Congo, Nigeria and Venezuela. It has said it is cooperating with authorities.

Glencore reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018, after booking impairment costs at two of its mines. The company said it made a profit for the year ended Dec. 31 of $3.41 billion, compared with $5.78 billion in 2017.

Revenue rose 6.9% to $219.75 billion, Glencore said. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization—which strips out one-off items—rose to $15.77 billion, from $14.55 billion in 2017.

A consensus estimate from 20 analysts compiled by Vuma forecast adjusted Ebitda of $16.14 billion for the full year.

Write to Scott Patterson at scott.patterson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Markets Warm to the Prospect of an ECB Funding Boost for Banks

Market participants are growing confident that the European Central Bank will soon try to boost the eurozone’s ailing economy by rebooting its program of ultracheap long-term loans to the banking system.

The ECB’s Governing Council meets early next month against a backdrop of slowing growth across the region. The downturn comes at a time when the central bank has already used some of its firepower to boost the economy, having ended its €2.6 trillion ($2.9 trillion) bond-buying program in December—although it is still reinvesting the proceeds from maturing assets. Its key interest rate stands at minus 0.4%, where it is expected to stay into 2020.

Bank stocks leapt Friday when Benoît Cœuré, a member of the ECB’s decision-making council, gave the strongest signal yet that more funding from the central bank was on the way. The most feasible option that the ECB has would be to pump cheap credit into commercial banks at unusually long maturities.

The central bank has deployed this method twice since the start of the sovereign-debt crisis: in 2011 and 2012, when the loans were known as longer-term refinancing operations; and from 2014 to 2017, when they were “targeted” LTROs, which featured incentives for banks to lend the money to companies and consumers. The loans were one part of an extraordinary ECB effort to jump-start the eurozone economy, which relies heavily on financing from banks.

“I can see that there is a big discussion in the market of having a new, as we call it, TLTRO,” Mr. Cœuré said in New York. “It is possible. We are discussing it, but we want to be sure that it serves a monetary purpose.” Some ECB watchers say the bank could announce a renewal on March 7, though others expect it to wait until its meeting in April.

Some investors are of the view that the ECB will act sooner rather than later.

“I don’t really think they have got any choice—they have to do it,” said Andrew Mulliner, who manages global bond portfolios at Janus Henderson Investors in London. “The question is how they do it.”

Mr. Mulliner’s reasoning: banks still owe most of the previous round of ECB loans, which mature between June 2020 and March 2021. If banks aren’t able to roll over this debt at attractive ECB rates, they could have to borrow at higher rates in the bond market. That could feed into higher borrowing costs for firms and households, adding another hurdle for the eurozone economy, while straining finances at weaker lenders.

The monetary sums are huge. The TLTROs hit a total €762.4 billion, excluding loans that were replaced by new ones, of which banks have paid back just €30.6 billion. An additional €9.4 billion matured last September, leaving lenders on the hook for €722.4 billion more. Italian banks, a weak link in the eurozone chain, are particularly exposed. They borrowed the largest share of the second phase of TLTROs with 33%, ahead of Spanish banks at 23%, according to Haver Analytics.

Geoffroy Lenoir, head of euro sovereign rates at Aviva Investors, pointed to another reason why the ECB might resort to additional longer-term refinancing operations. Come June, when the existing TLTROs have less than a year to maturity, they will drag down the so-called net stable funding ratio. That measure, mandated by new global banking regulations, aims to make lenders less reliant on the kind of short-term debt markets that seized up during the financial crisis.

However, Mr. Cœuré hit back at suggestions by banks that the ECB should help them meet their regulatory funding requirements. “Banks should stand on their own feet and they should build their liquidity buffers by themselves,” he said.

Before Mr. Cœuré’s comments, investors were already increasingly confident that the loan program would come back, which contributed to a rally in eurozone bank bonds this year. In November, financial companies in countries like Italy, Spain and Ireland were paying as much as 2.45 percentage points more than benchmark government rates to borrow, as measured by spreads on bonds in the ICE BofAML Euro Periphery Financial Index. This gap, which narrows when investors think the bonds are getting safer, has since contracted to 2.11 points.

Failure to provide more funds could spark a “credit crunch in Italy and possibly Spain,” said Filippo Alloatti, senior credit analyst at Hermes Investment Management, since banks “would have to cut their loan books severely in order to de-lever.” That would be particularly bad news for Italy, which fell into recession in the second half of last year.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ How Long Will Fed’s Rate Pause Last? Minutes Could Yield Clues

The Federal Reserve releases the minutes of its Jan. 29-30 meeting on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST, providing more detail about officials’ discussions before they formally signaled a halt to interest rate rises.

At a press conference last month Fed Chairman Jerome Powell explained the pause, citing the growing risks of a sharper U.S. economic slowdown because of cooling growth in Europe and Asia and substantial market volatility in late December. Fed officials in December had raised rates and penciled in two increases for 2019.

Last month, officials also underscored their more-flexible posture by providing important updates about their policy of shrinking the Fed’s $4 trillion asset portfolio.

Here’s what to watch:

Patient Posture

Markets rallied last month after Mr. Powell signaled the Fed had put rate increases on hold indefinitely. Mr. Powell even said it was too soon to say whether the Fed’s next rate move would be up or down.

Since last month’s meeting, a few Fed officials have said they still expect the central bank will need to raise rates this year. Investors will be looking for clues about what the Fed would need to see from the economy or markets before raising rates further. Meanwhile, any sign that officials talked about scenarios under which they might lower rates would grab attention because they haven’t discussed this seriously in public.

The Balance of Risks

The Fed’s postmeeting statement shed any reference to the so-called balance of risks to the economy—the issue of whether it sees them as balanced or tilted toward strength or weakness. The disappearance of the assessment highlighted officials’ doubts about the economic impact of financial market turbulence, weak growth abroad and uncertainty over trade policy and other political developments.

The minutes could show which of these risks Fed officials see as the biggest threats to the economy or the least likely to resolve themselves soon. That discussion would help clarify how long the Fed might find itself on hold.

Runoff Runway

The central bank began shrinking its asset portfolio in 2017 but never said how long that process would last. Officials agreed last month that they will continue to set rates with a much larger supply of bank deposits, known as reserves, than before the financial crisis. This frees them to end the portfolio runoff sooner than if they were to return to the scarce-reserves framework they employed before the crisis.

Officials are discussing how long they expect the runoff to continue, and the minutes could reveal how they are leaning. They also must decide whether to slow the pace of monthly bond redemptions, as they approach that endpoint.

While officials have said they want to use short-term interest rates as their primary policy tool, they are also refining the relationship of their balance sheet policy with interest rates. Because the Fed is pausing rate rises sooner than many officials had anticipated, it is forcing to the top of the agenda questions over how to toggle between the two policy tools, if the economy slows more than expected.

Composition Questions

The Fed owns around $2.2 trillion in Treasury securities and $1.6 trillion in mortgage bonds. Officials say they plan to move toward holding primarily Treasury securities. This means once they stop shrinking the size of the total balance sheet, they’ll take the proceeds from maturing mortgage bonds and reinvest them in new Treasurys to maintain that size. They’ll have to decide whether to stick with the current composition—primarily long-term securities—or shift toward primarily short-dated assets or some combination of the two.

Fed policy in the past decade operated on the theory that holding long-term securities stimulates financial markets and the economy by holding down long-term rates. Holding short-term securities, the thinking goes, provides little stimulus. One result of the Fed’s crisis-era stimulus efforts is that it holds very few bills and other shorter-maturity holdings.

Some officials have indicated a preference for weighting their holdings toward shorter-maturity holdings because this change would make it easier to shift back into long-term securities to stimulate growth in a downturn.

Inflation Equation

Officials affirmed their long-run monetary policy principles at the January meeting with no changes. They are set to undertake a broader review of this year’s policy strategy that may entertain changes to how they define their 2% inflation target.

The minutes will show whether officials began to discuss what the strategy review should entail. Inflation has over the past year defied some forecasts that it would rise above 2%, which has made it harder for the central bank to demonstrate that it sees 2% as a symmetric target and not a ceiling.

Write to Nick Timiraos at nick.timiraos@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Venezuela Opposition’s Citgo Takeover Disappoints U.S.

U.S. efforts to transfer control of Citgo Petroleum Corp. to Venezuela’s opposition leaders have hit a snag, potentially undermining Washington’s appetite to protect the Houston-based company from creditors, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó named a new board at Citgo last week, laying the groundwork to wrest control of Venezuela’s most valuable foreign oil asset from the ruling leftist regime. U.S. officials and high-level Citgo executives pushed for a board of nonpolitical oil experts that would shield Citgo from government interference as the company disentangles itself from authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro, people close to the discussions said.

But Mr. Guaidó’s appointments fell short of the independent board the Trump administration expected, these people said. The fissures underscore the diplomatic and logistical challenges in shifting control of Venezuelan state resources away from Mr. Maduro to undermine his support within the military.

Citgo, one of the largest U.S. refiners and a Venezuelan state asset since 1990, has emerged as a key tool in Washington’s campaign to oust Mr. Maduro from office and remake Latin America’s political landscape. As one of Venezuela’s most important crude customers, Citgo was a vital source of petrodollars for Mr. Maduro’s regime until the U.S. imposed sanctions last month that block oil revenue from returning to Venezuela.

Now Citgo is all but severed from its owner, state oil giant Petróleos de Venezuela SA, and is enmeshed in a corporate-governance crisis as the power struggle in Caracas drags on. Meanwhile, Mr. Maduro has retained control of public institutions despite intensifying U.S. pressure to resign, raising the odds of a prolonged stalemate that exacerbates Venezuela’s economic meltdown.

Much like the parallel governments in Caracas, there are now two boards laying claim to Citgo. The refiner’s owner, PdVSA, remains under Mr. Maduro’s control and is seeking Asian buyers to make up for losing the U.S. market.

U.S. officials have shifted control of some state assets, including gold reserves at the Bank of England, financial accounts in the U.S. and money seized or frozen by U.S. authorities, to Mr. Guaidó. His fledgling government has been eager to secure Citgo as well, lobbying for Washington’s help getting the keys to the company and protecting it from creditors, according to people familiar with the matter.

Carlos Vecchio, Mr. Guaidó’s ambassador to the U.S., told The Wall Street Journal he expected paperwork to be complete by the end of this week that would give the opposition control of Citgo.

Mr. Guaidó’s board appointments at Citgo marked the next step toward assuming control of state assets from regime loyalists. But U.S. officials and Citgo’s U.S. management expected there would be two Americans installed at the board level and a separate independent director to insulate the company from political interference, according to people familiar with the matter.

Instead Mr. Guaidó named one American—Citgo executive Rick Esser—and installed Venezuelan nationals and PdVSA employees to the remaining director slots. U.S. officials also were disappointed that Mr. Esser, Citgo’s de facto leader since the sanctions went into effect, wasn’t elevated to chief executive, as U.S. officials had requested, people familiar with the matter said. Citgo didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The board appointments are complicating Citgo’s requests for the U.S. to take executive action protecting the company from being dismantled, these people said. Citgo has debt problems that arise not from its in-house management but from mortgages put in place by PdVSA to raise cash. Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft owns half of Citgo as collateral for a $1.5 billion loan, while the remaining stock is pledged to bondholders that include BlackRock Financial Management Inc. and Contrarian Capital Management LLC.

Despite a collapse in oil production and a severe cash crunch, PdVSA has stayed up-to-date on those debts to prevent creditors from foreclosing on Citgo. But without Citgo as a cash-paying crude customer, PdVSA now has less reason to spend scarce dollars on retaining the asset. A default could put Citgo at the mercy of creditors and tip it into chapter 11 bankruptcy, one of several contingency plans it is considering.

The company also is under siege from U.S. and Canadian multinationals that once partnered with Venezuela but now want Citgo auctioned off to pay back their lost investments. The company’s U.S. management has drawn up several ways to cleanse those debts and position Citgo to support a transitional government. An executive order safeguarding Citgo for Mr. Guaidó’s benefit would sidestep pending U.S. legal actions in which various creditors have laid claim to the company.

The sanctions threaten Citgo’s crude supply, as about a quarter of the oil the company processed through the first nine months of last year came from Venezuela, according to estimates from energy consulting firm Baker & O’Brien Inc. Like other American refiners, the company can try to replace those barrels with a combination of heavier oils that are similar to what Venezuela produces and lighter crude found domestically.

“This will be a disruption, and it will be costly,” said Francisco Monaldi, a Venezuela oil expert at Rice University. “But I think, in general, they will adjust relatively quickly.”

Citgo had a roughly $1 billion cash cushion at the end of last year thanks to sanctions that blocked the company from sending dividends to PdVSA, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Vecchio said the opposition had no plans to tap Citgo resources and intends to continue running the company normally while protecting corporate assets from being sent back to Venezuela for use by Mr. Maduro’s regime.

“We want to just preserve the assets, but keeping the operation as it is right now without doing any change in the managerial positions,” he said in an interview. “We won’t do any change and we won’t use any of the resources or revenue of Citgo.”

New PdVSA and Citgo directors were approved quickly last week after Mr. Guaidó sent a list of candidates to the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s oil commission, according to Elias Matta, the top lawmaker on the commission. Mr. Matta said he was unaware of any requests that had been made by the Trump administration for Citgo directors.

“Many of the people came from the old PdVSA and had a good résumé,” said Mr. Matta. “They filled all of the requirements, in both the operational and financial sense, to be in those positions in Citgo.”

A spokesman for Mr. Guaidó in Caracas didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. In a resolution passed last week, opposition lawmakers assigned Citgo’s newly named board to fulfill two main tasks: conduct a complete audit of the company and seek new crude supplies for the short term to keep its refineries active until relations with the PdVSA head office in Caracas are normalized.

“Citgo is in danger,” Mr. Matta said. “The objective here is to protect the assets of the republic.”

Lawmaker Carlos Paparoni, who sits on National Assembly’s finance commission, dismissed that there were any brewing tensions between the administrations of Messrs. Trump and Guaidó.

“Our allies are open to collaborating to rescue democracy and safeguard our assets but they also respect our sovereignty,” Mr. Paparoni said. “Citgo is our company.”

Write to Andrew Scurria at Andrew.Scurria@wsj.com, Kejal Vyas at kejal.vyas@wsj.com and Rebecca Elliott at rebecca.elliott@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 05:50 EST / 1050 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.76-77      110.61-62  +0.13   110.95   110.55  +1.07 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1343-46      1.1342-45  +0.01   1.1360   1.1333  -1.09 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3033-35      1.3062-64  -0.22   1.3077   1.3026  +2.16 
USD/CHF Switzerland     1.0007-11      1.0009-13  -0.02   1.0024   1.0002  +1.97 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3180-85      1.3209-14  -0.22   1.3221   1.3181  -3.36 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7153-57      0.7163-67  -0.14   0.7177   0.7150  +1.46 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6865-71      0.6880-86  -0.22   0.6887   0.6861  +2.20 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.63-67      125.41-45  +0.18   125.94   125.36  -0.04 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8702-05      0.8680-83  +0.25   0.8713   0.8677  -3.19 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1356-59      1.1353-56  +0.03   1.1368   1.1350  +0.90 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4948-58      1.4977-87  -0.19   1.4995   1.4950  -4.39 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5849-59      1.5824-34  +0.16   1.5867   1.5816  -2.52 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4613-20      7.4609-16  +0.01   7.4632   7.4602  -0.06 
EUR/NOK Norway          9.7305-55      9.7149-99  +0.16   9.7481   9.7138  -1.77 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5571-671    10.5557-657  +0.01  10.5708  10.5427  +4.03 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.      25.669-99      25.662-92  +0.03   25.711   25.665  -0.11 
EUR/HUF Hungary         317.49-89      317.28-68  +0.07   317.82   317.23  -1.04 
EUR/PLN Poland          4.3400-18     4.3299-317  +0.23   4.3446   4.3297  +1.20 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.24-28       79.24-28   0.00    79.58    79.14  +2.55 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.34-40      144.47-53  -0.09   145.05   144.31  +3.20 
CAD/JPY Canada           84.03-07       83.70-74  +0.39    84.15    83.60  +4.59 
NZD/JPY New Zealand      76.05-09       76.12-16  -0.09    76.33    76.00  +3.30 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.615-65      22.617-67  -0.01   22.662   22.604  +0.98 
USD/HUF Hungary      279.85-80.25   279.73-80.13  +0.04   280.27   279.32  +0.02 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5768-78      6.5788-98  -0.03   6.5847   6.5693  +1.01 
USD/NOK Norway         8.5765-825      8.5635-95  +0.15   8.5868   8.5575  -0.72 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8264-69      3.8184-89  +0.21   3.8311   3.8149  +2.30 
USD/RUB Russia         65.694-764     65.684-754  +0.01   65.935   65.701  -5.07 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3058-148     9.3069-159  -0.01   9.3195   9.2934  +5.17 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.1117-417    14.0296-596  +0.58  14.1531  14.0079  -1.63 
 
USD/CNY China          6.7186-206      6.7575-95  -0.58   6.7680   6.7155  -2.31 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8489-94      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.22 
USD/MYR Malaysia       4.0656-706     4.0777-827  -0.30   4.0825   4.0639  -1.56 
USD/INR India           71.120-30     71.290-310  -0.25   71.610   71.085  +2.24 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines     51.976-96      52.128-48  -0.29   52.155   51.941  -0.98 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3510-20      1.3524-34  -0.10   1.3542   1.3509  -0.84 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1121.80-3.80   1121.92-3.92  -0.01  1124.24  1120.54  +0.76 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.781-811     30.776-806  +0.02   30.820   30.768  +0.70 
USD/THB Thailand       31.080-100      31.120-40  -0.13   31.170   31.040  -3.81 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil          3.7226-56      3.7236-66  -0.03   3.7273   3.7223  -4.05 
USD/MXN Mexico        19.1644-944    19.1305-605  +0.18  19.1943  19.1337  -2.39 
USD/ARS Argentina     39.2640-740    39.2650-750   0.00  39.3250  39.2450  +4.31 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Share Buyback Lifts Glencore, Consensus to Edge Lower -- Market Talk

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ UK Market Talk Roundup: Shares Gaining
Stocks on the rise in the UK today. Compiled by Dow Jones Newswires Markets Desk, markets.eu@dowjones.com 

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1019 GMT - Eland Oil & Gas is sending a strong message to the market with its plans to start paying a dividend this year, Peel Hunt analysts say. The brokerage says Eland Oil & Gas is sending a message not only about its current strength, but also the positive direction for the future, where high-levels of production are planned to support reinvestment in its portfolio and a sustainable cash-returns policy. Peel Hunt has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 160 pence. Shares up 1.2% at 126.50 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

0843 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group looks strong on most underlying measures after its 2018 results and its recent share price drop leaves the stock looking cheap, Interactive Investor says. The investment platform notes Lloyds improved on post-tax profit, net interest margin and costs, despite missing expectations at a pretax profit level. A GBP1.75 billion share buyback and a 5.4% dividend yield signal confidence in the bank's prospects. Interactive notes that shares are down 14% over the last year, compared to just a 0.9% decline for the FTSE 100 overall, and analysts generally rate Lloyds as a strong buy. Shares up 2.8%. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Shares in mining giant Glencore rise 2.4% as a 41% drop in net profit for 2018 is offset by a $2 billion buyback program. The buyback is "supportive" for the stock and is "expected to be topped up by $1 billion from the targeted noncore asset disposals in 2019," Citi says. "This gives 2019 shareholder returns range of $4.75 billion base with a potential top-up implying returns yield of 8.6%-10.4%." Earnings, however, were slightly weaker than expected. "The marketing segment performed weaker than expectations owing to negative impact from alumina and cobalt contracts." Citi expects a "slight downward consensus earnings revision on copper guidance" but expects some of the negative alumina and cobalt marketing earnings to reverse in 2019. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

 
Contact us in London. +44-20-7842-9288 
Markettalk.eu@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ UK Market Talk Roundup: Brokers Comments
Broker comments in the UK today. Compiled by Dow Jones Newswires Markets Desk, markets.eu@dowjones.com 

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1008 GMT - The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1004 GMT - J Sainsbury should give up the fight for its merger with Walmart's Asda and get back to the day job, AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould says. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority says it could block the deal if its concerns aren't addressed, a view with which Sainsbury says it "fundamentally" disagrees. "The language used in the CMA's announcement implies the merger will be blocked," Mr. Mould says, citing the regulator's concerns including a worse experience for consumers and a reduction in the range and quality of products. Sainsbury shares fall 15%, which would be their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0949 GMT - News that the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority is minded to block the merger between J Sainsbury and Walmart's Asda is also disappointing for rival U.K. grocers Tesco and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets, Jefferies says. The market recognized that Tesco and especially Morrison--which has a significant number of overlaps with Asda--would gain from Walmart's exit from the U.K., which no longer seems assured, the bank says. The CMA says the merger between the U.K.'s second and third-largest grocers could push up prices and reduce quality. Sainsbury shares drop 14% and Morrison's stock falls 4.5%, while Tesco shares are up 0.4% having earlier traded lower. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0930 GMT - A private-equity buyer for Walmart's Asda is now likely to emerge after the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority indicated it is minded to block the merger with J Sainsbury, Jefferies says. "We remain of the opinion that Walmart remains a seller of Asda, and that the business will represent an attractive target for private equity. If we are correct, an alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly," analysts at the bank say. That would represent a structural positive for the U.K. grocery market, Jefferies says. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0837 GMT - The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority deals a major blow to J Sainsbury as the regulator says it could block the grocer's merger with rival Asda if concerns aren't addressed, Shore Capital says. The investment group cuts Sainsbury's to sell from hold as it believes the retailer now lacks the merger premium. With the Asda deal looking increasingly unlikely, Sainsbury's' "laggard status" among British supermarkets is highlighted, Shore says. "For the balance of the sector, we see this broadly encouraging," the investment group says. Sainsbury's shares are the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 13%--their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008.(adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's 2018 results were mixed after weak fourth-quarter profit but investor focus is likely to be on the GBP1.75 billion share buyback and positive outlook, Citi says. Citi says the quarterly profit figure was below consensus after Lloyds took another GBP200 million charge for claims of mis-sold payment protection insurance. However, the share buyback was larger than consensus projections of GBP1.2 billion and Lloyds has improved its cost outlook for 2019. Citi keeps its buy rating and 68 pence target price. Shares up 2.7% at 59.94 pence. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

 
Contact us in London. +44-20-7842-9288 
Markettalk.eu@dowjones.com 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Global Energy Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Energy markets. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

1050 GMT - Shares in Glencore rise 0.5% after the miner launched a new $2 billion buyback program, though it reported a 41% fall in 2018 net profit after booking impairment costs at two mines. RBC Capital Markets notes the dividend of $0.20 is modestly better than its $0.18 forecast, but the buyback of $2bn+$1bn once noncore asset sales are completed is 50% ahead of its $2bn estimate. The brokerage also notes Ebitda at $15.8 billion was a slight miss versus RBC's $16.0bn forecast and consensus at $16.1bn. "All in all, consensus 2019 numbers are likely to fall modestly," says RBC's Tyler Broda.(philip.waller@wsj.com)

1048 GMT - Pan African Resources could gain from further significant cost savings at its Barberton operation in South Africa, Peel Hunt says. The brokerage, already impressed by savings generated by the decision to close the Evander project while Pan African Resources commissioned its Elikhulu project, says savings could come from a stream-lining of logistics at Barberton. Peel Hunt says it expects the cost savings to make their appearance sometime this year. The brokerage has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 15.5 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1019 GMT - Eland Oil & Gas is sending a strong message to the market with its plans to start paying a dividend this year, Peel Hunt analysts say. The brokerage says Eland Oil & Gas is sending a message not only about its current strength, but also the positive direction for the future, where high-levels of production are planned to support reinvestment in its portfolio and a sustainable cash-returns policy. Peel Hunt has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 160 pence. Shares up 1.2% at 126.50 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

1017 GMT - Air France-KLM says it will launch a competition this year to renew its medium-haul airliner fleet, while also phasing out less fuel-efficient planes. In addition to shedding three more A380s in the coming years, Air France plans to retire its Airbus A340 long-haul jets in 2020 and KLM will say goodbye to the Boeing 747 jumbo jets in 2021. (robert.wall@wsj.com)

0944 GMT March Brent, on the 30-minute chart, is consolidating and remains bullish bias above the key support level at $65.85 a barrel, which should limit the downside potential. Currently, it is trading around both its 20-period and 50-period moving averages. As long as the key level at $65.85 holds on the downside, look for a further upside toward $66.85 and even $67.45 in extension. Only a break below $65.85 would turn the outlook to negative with a down target at $65.60. March Brent is trading at $66.17 a barrel. [This piece contains the opinions of Trading Central and does not constitute personalized investment advice or form part of any invitation or inducement to buy or sell any security. The author has been prohibited by Trading Central from purchasing or otherwise directly or indirectly acquiring any direct or indirect beneficial ownership of any instruments or markets for which Trading Central or its affiliates issues recommendations. To read more, visit bit.ly/1MehCU9.] (analysts-europe@tradingcentral.com)

0934 GMT - With oil having ticked down so far in Wednesday's global session, "last week's price rally has given way to a torpor," says Stephen Brennock at PVM Oil. "The latest move higher continued to lose steam yesterday as market players adopt a wait-and-see approach amid ongoing US-China trade talks," which he reminds could be "make-or-break for oil and the broader risk-asset complex." Brent jumped 6.7% last week on the back of OPEC-led production cuts, is off 0.4% at $66.22/barrel. (christopher.alessi@wsj.com)

0715 GMT - A last-hour rebound pushed Chinese stocks back into positive territory and join most in the region in logging gains and setting fresh multimonth closing highs. The Shanghai Composite and startup-heavy ChiNext each rose 0.2%, while the Shenzhen Composite climbed 0.3% and the big-cap CSI 300 by 0.4%. Property and energy were relatively strong and financials continued to hold up well, but tech shares were generally weak. (chester.yung@wsj.com; @chester_yung)

0517 GMT - Australia's stock benchmark lagged much of the rest of Asia Pacific throughout today's trading, hit by large declines in consumer stocks as the market continues to move on fiscal 1H reports. The ASX 200 ended down 0.2% at 6096.5 after 3-straight gains, with the consumer-discretionary sector off 1% and staples sliding 2.5% amid a 5.9% drop for grocer Coles. Also, yield plays fell 1.5% as bond yields declined anew overnight. Such an environment makes the likes of REITs and utilities less attractive for some equity investors. However, BHP rose 2.5% to fresh 7 1/2-year highs after its half-year results, helping the materials sector climb 1.8%. But financials pulled back 0.5% after yesterday's jump. (kevin.kingsbury@wsj.com; @kevinkingsbury)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:50 ET (10:50 GMT)

DJ Pan African Resources to See Cost Savings From Barberton: Peel Hunt -- Market Talk

1048 GMT - Pan African Resources could gain from further significant cost savings at its Barberton operation in South Africa, Peel Hunt says. The brokerage, already impressed by savings generated by the decision to close the Evander project while Pan African Resources commissioned its Elikhulu project, says savings could come from a stream-lining of logistics at Barberton. Peel Hunt says it expects the cost savings to make their appearance sometime this year. The brokerage has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 15.5 pence. (oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:48 ET (10:48 GMT)

DJ FTSE 100 Rises, as Pound Falls; Lloyds Gains on Earnings
 
Market News: 
 
FTSE 100          7,188.32  +9.15 +0.13% 
FTSE 250         19,101.69 +32.80 +0.17% 
FTSE AIM All-Share  906.78  -0.21 -0.02% 

FTSE 100 Rises as Lloyds Banking Gains, GBP Drops

1008 GMT - The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories.

 
Top News: 

Glencore Net Profit Slides After Booking Impairment Costs

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) on Wednesday reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018 after booking impairment costs at two of its mines and launched a new $2 billion buyback program.

Lloyds Bank Missed 2018 Profit Expectations; Plans GBP1.75 Bln Share Buyback

Lloyds Banking Group PLC's (LLOY.LN) 2018 profit missed analyst expectations but the U.K. lender set out plans for a major share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets.

 
Companies News: 

1 Spatial Wins GBP1 Mln Defense Contract

1Spatial PLC (SPA.LN) said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a 1 million pound ($1.2 million) contract to supply software and services to the No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit, which supplies products and services to UK defense sector.

Bango Appoints Former Nokia Video Executive as COO; Shares Rise

Bango PLC (BGO.LN) shares rose on Wednesday after the mobile-commerce company said that it has appointed ex-Nokia Corp. (NOKIA.HE) executive Paul Larbey as its new chief operating officer.

Eden Research: Cedroz Nears Approval in EU After Malta Authorization

Eden Research PLC (EDEN.LN) said Wednesday that its pesticide formulation Cedroz has received authorization in Malta, which brings the product a step closer to wider approval by European Union member states.

EKF Diagnostics Gets FDA Approval for Quo-Test Analyzer

EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (EKF.LN) has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for professional use in a clinical-laboratory setting of its Quo-Test analyzer, the company said Wednesday.

Eland Oil & Gas to Start Paying Dividend in 2019

Eland Oil & Gas PLC (ELA.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to begin paying a dividend and that it expects to declare its maiden dividend at the end of this year.

Enteq Upstream Shares Rise on Higher Expected Earnings Forecast

Shares in Enteq Upstream PLC (NTQ.LN) rose Wednesday after the company said that revenue and underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in fiscal 2019 are expected to be materially ahead of expectations.

Flybe Confirms Receipt of New Proposal From Investor Group

Flybe Group PLC (FLYB.LN) confirmed Wednesday that it has received a proposal from an investor group led by Bateleur Capital LLC and Mesa Air Group Inc. to provide it with a capital injection and replacement of funding provided by Connect Airways Ltd.

Glencore Begins Turn Away from Coal, to Re-balance Portfolio

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) said Wednesday that it will rebalance its portfolio toward commodities that support the transition to a low-carbon economy, limiting its coal-production capacity broadly at current levels.

Gooch & Housego Shares Fall as Company Warns of FY 2019 Slowdown

Shares in Gooch & Housego PLC (GHH.LN) fell sharply Wednesday after the company said the board expects group trading performance for the year to show low-digit growth compared with 2018, as demand in China's industrial-laser market declined in the first four months of fiscal 2019.

Haydale Graphene Considering Discounted Share Placing

Haydale Graphene Industries PLC (HAYD.LN) said Wednesday that it is sounding out potential institutional investors over a share placing at a material discount to its previous closing price.

Hochschild 2018 Net Profit Fell 69% on Higher Costs

Hochschild Mining PLC (HOC.LN) on Wednesday reported a 69% fall in net profit in 2018 after booking higher costs on expenses, including in exploration activities.

IMImobile Names Bruce Bales as New North America CEO

IMImobile PLC (IMO.LN) has appointed Bruce Bales as its new chief executive for North America, part of its efforts to consolidate and grow operations in the U.S. and Canada, the company said Wednesday.

Impellam Group to Demerge Carlisle Support Services

Impellam Group PLC (IPEL.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to separate its Carlisle Support Services Group Ltd. subsidiary to reduce costs and focus on its core operations.

Indivior Launches Generic Version of Suboxone in US to Pre-empt Rivals

Indivior PLC (INDV.LN) said Wednesday that it has launched an authorized generic version of its Suboxone treatment for opioid-addiction in the U.S., as rival companies plan their own version of the drug.

Intu Properties Swung to FY Pretax Loss as Revenue Declined

Intu Properties PLC (INTU.LN) on Wednesday said it swung to pretax loss for fiscal 2018 due to a property revaluation deficit in the U.K., and said that the board isn't recommending a final dividend.

Laura Ashley Swings to 1H 2019 Pretax Loss; Warns on Full Year

Laura Ashley Holdings PLC (ALY.LN) on Wednesday warned that performance for the year will fall short of market expectations, as it reported a swing to pretax loss in the first half of fiscal 2019.

Lidco FY 2019 Revenue to Miss Forecasts Due to Change in Policy

LiDCO Group PLC (LID.LN) said Wednesday that total revenue for fiscal 2019 was down 11%, missing market forecasts, as customers convert to a new business model which defers revenue into next year.

McBride Warns on FY 2019 Profit Due to Rising Costs

McBride PLC (MCB.LN) said Wednesday that it expects its adjusted pretax profit for fiscal 2019 to be between 10% and 15% lower than the prior year due to rising material and distribution costs.

Mobile Tornado to Report Earnings 2018 in Line With Market Expectations

Mobile Tornado Group PLC (MBT.LN) said Wednesday that it expects to report an improvement in revenue and adjusted Ebitda losses for 2018, in line with market expectations.

PCF Group to Raise GBP10.8 Mln to Support Lending Growth; Shares Fall

PCF Group PLC (PCF.LN) shares dropped on Wednesday after the specialist bank said it intends to raise up to 10.8 million pounds ($14.0 million) in a share offer to fund its lending growth.

ReNeuron Shares Rise on Positive Data From Clinical Trial for Eye-Disease Treatment

ReNeuron Group PLC (RENE.LN) shares rose Wednesday after an ongoing clinical trial of its cell-therapy treatment for retinal disease generated positive preliminary data.

CMA Could Block Sainsbury's, Asda Merger

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday that it could block the merger between J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) and Asda Group Ltd. (AGP.YY) if its concerns can't be addressed.

San Leon Rises on Proposed $30 Mln Share Buyback

Shares in San Leon Energy PLC (SLE.LN) rose on Wednesday after the company proposed a $30 million share buyback at a premium price.

Science Group Extends Bank Loan to GBP17.5 Million

Science Group PLC (SAG.LN) said Wednesday that it has extended a bank loan to 17.5 million pounds ($22.7 million) from GBP12.8 million, after ending a sale process last month.

 
Other News: 

UK Regulator Closes Insurance-Brokerage Probe Without Taking Action

The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority on Wednesday closed its investigation into the wholesale insurance-broking market, saying it found no evidence of significant harm to clients.

 
Market Talk: 

Eland Oil & Gas Sends Strong Message With Dividend: Peel Hunt

1019 GMT - Eland Oil & Gas is sending a strong message to the market with its plans to start paying a dividend this year, Peel Hunt analysts say. The brokerage says Eland Oil & Gas is sending a message not only about its current strength, but also the positive direction for the future, where high-levels of production are planned to support reinvestment in its portfolio and a sustainable cash-returns policy. Peel Hunt has a buy rating on the stock and a target price of 160 pence. Shares up 1.2% at 126.50 pence.

J Sainsbury Should Give Up Fight for Asda: AJ Bell

1004 GMT - J Sainsbury should give up the fight for its merger with Walmart's Asda and get back to the day job, AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould says. The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority says it could block the deal if its concerns aren't addressed, a view with which Sainsbury says it "fundamentally" disagrees. "The language used in the CMA's announcement implies the merger will be blocked," Mr. Mould says, citing the regulator's concerns including a worse experience for consumers and a reduction in the range and quality of products. Sainsbury shares fall 15%, which would be their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008.

Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9319

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:24 ET (10:24 GMT)

DJ Lloyds Banking Group Delivers on Share Buyback Hopes -- Earnings Review

By Adam Clark

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LLOY.LN) reported its fourth-quarter and 2018 results Wednesday. Here's what we watched:

REVENUE: Lloyds matched analyst expectations for net income of 17.8 billion pounds ($23.1 billion).

PROFIT: Lloyds' pretax profit of GBP5.96 billion fell short of analyst expectations of GBP6.4 billion, partly due to a further GBP200 million charge for claims of missold payment-protection insurance. Underlying profit of GBP8.1 billion matched expectations.

WHAT WE WATCHED:

-CAPITAL RETURN: Lloyds satisfied investor hopes with a share buyback of GBP1.75 billion, larger than consensus expectations. Added to an annual dividend of 3.21 pence a share, Lloyds is looking to hand up to GBP4 billion back to shareholders, up 26% from 2017.

-NET INTEREST MARGIN: Despite tough competition in the U.K. mortgage market, Lloyds improved its net interest margin to 2.93% for 2018, from 2.86% the prior year, and kept its guidance to broadly maintain the margin in the near-term.

Write to Adam Clark at adam.clark@dowjones.com; @AdamDowJones

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:13 ET (10:13 GMT)

DJ FTSE 100 Rises as Lloyds Banking Gains, GBP Drops -- Market Talk

1008 GMT - The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:09 ET (10:09 GMT)

DJ Market Talk Roundup: Latest on Trump, U.S. Politics

The latest Market Talks covering President Donald Trump and U.S. politics. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

0508 ET - The FTSE 100 edges up 0.13% to 7188.24 after annual results from Lloyds Banking Group and a fall in sterling amid political chaos in the U.K. Shares in Lloyds are among the biggest top-flight risers, up 2.8% after the U.K.-focused bank set out plans for a major share buyback and fast-tracked cost-cutting targets, though it missed profit expectations. Sainsbury's is the biggest faller, down 14% after regulators said the grocer's proposed merger with Walmart Inc-owned rival Asda would substantially reduce competition. The pound drops 0.17% against the dollar to $1.3040 after a Labour lawmaker defected to the newly formed Independent Group and rumors swirled about potential defections to the IG from the Tories. (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1500 ET - Canada remains optimistic about the fate of USMCA in Congress. Concern has mounted that the new Nafta could be complicated by efforts by Democrats to insert provisions in the pact that ensures Mexico lives up to promises on environmental protection and labor rights. "I think the enforcement mechanisms can be addressed in side letters," David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to US, says at an Ottawa event hosted by Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He adds that when the revised North American trade deal "comes up for an up or down vote, Congress will pass it." The biggest issue, he says, is when Congress holds a vote on USMCA "because there is so much else going on" in Washington, led by the uproar over President Trump's emergency declaration on a US-Mexico wall. (paul.vieira@wsj.com; @paulvieira)

1201 ET - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó says several European governments have agreed to provide humanitarian donations amid a political showdown with President Nicolás Maduro over aid. Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK will donate more than $18M, while France agreed to send 70 tons of food and medicine, he says. Backed by the US, Guaidó plans to use aid to create a rift between the military and Maduro by pressuring border officials to disobey his orders and allow donations into Venezuela. They believe that would be key to removing Maduro from power. But if the aid blocked during a push to deliver it this Saturday, analysts say that would also further hurt Maduro's image for denying donations to poor Venezuelans. (ryan.dube@wsj.com; @duberyan)

1148 ET - Venezuela's defense minister and head of the armed forces, Vladimir Padrino, calls President Trump's tough talk yesterday urging soldiers to allow aid into the South American country as "arrogant and crude." He says the armed forces won't take his orders and recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president amid growing US pressure to force President Nicolas Maduro from power. He reiterated the military leadership's support for Maduro. "You're going to have to pass over our cadavers," Padrino says on state TV. "We are going to defend our homeland, we're going to resist," says Padrino. "We're going to be victorious." Venezuela's opposition aims to deliver US aid this coming Saturday that is blocked by Maduro. (ryan.dube@wsj.com; @duberyan)

0916 ET - Walmart benefited from the government shutdown, with comparable food sales helped by the decision from federal officials to release February food-stamp program funds early, a decision that was meant to ensure recipients didn't miss out on benefits had the shutdown dragged on. The retailer flags its overall grocery business as a strong performer in its quarter that ended in January, citing gains due to private brands, lower prices and ecommerce initiatives. Comparable domestic grocery sales rose by the mid-single digits in the quarter. Walmart shares rise 3.2% premarket. (micah.maidenberg@wsj.com; @MicahMaidenberg)

0849 ET - The resumption of talks between US and Chinese delegates in Washington this week all but assure that the grains markets will be closely watching any international trade news. The talks follow a round held in Beijing last week, which did not yield any new results. For both corn and soybeans, this marks another week that traders will be hesitant to quickly offload supplies. "Another round of talks is scheduled in Washington this week and traders just do not want to be caught short should there be an announcement of a US/China Ag package that could include corn," says Tomm Pfitzenmaier of Summit Commodity Brokerage. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:09 ET (10:09 GMT)

DJ Lloyds Focus on Returns, Growth Plans May Await New CEO: Goodbody -- Market Talk

1004 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's 2018 results will satisfy income-focused investors with a GBP1.75 billion share buyback and rising dividend but significant future growth plans may be the job of the next CEO, Goodbody says. The stock brokerage says Lloyds is currently following its "optimal strategy" of higher returns and yields. However, Goodbody says the bank may be planning further acquisition activity in the medium term and flags the recently announced appointment of Morgan Stanley investment banker William Chalmers as Lloyds's next CFO, potentially putting an experienced dealmaker in line to head the bank after current CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:04 ET (10:04 GMT)

DJ Global Equities Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Equities. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

1004 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's 2018 results will satisfy income-focused investors with a GBP1.75 billion share buyback and rising dividend but significant future growth plans may be the job of the next CEO, Goodbody says. The stock brokerage says Lloyds is currently following its "optimal strategy" of higher returns and yields. However, Goodbody says the bank may be planning further acquisition activity in the medium term and flags the recently announced appointment of Morgan Stanley investment banker William Chalmers as Lloyds's next CFO, potentially putting an experienced dealmaker in line to head the bank after current CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

0959 GMT - Air France is taking another step away from the Airbus A380. The carrier, which previously cut the size of its order, now says it will fly fewer of those it has in its fleet. The A380 fleet is due to to decrease from 10 superjumbos to 7 as leases expire in 2020 and 2021. (robert.wall@wsj.com)

0949 GMT - News that the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority is minded to block the merger between J Sainsbury and Walmart's Asda is also disappointing for rival U.K. grocers Tesco and Wm. Morrison Supermarkets, Jefferies says. The market recognized that Tesco and especially Morrison--which has a significant number of overlaps with Asda--would gain from Walmart's exit from the U.K., which no longer seems assured, the bank says. The CMA says the merger between the U.K.'s second and third-largest grocers could push up prices and reduce quality. Sainsbury shares drop 14% and Morrison's stock falls 4.5%, while Tesco shares are up 0.4% having earlier traded lower. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0929 GMT - HSBC's 4Q miss may not be the last disappointment for the bank, says JPMorgan. With a widening gap between interbank lending rates in London and Hong Kong, as well as "receding rate-hike expectations, volatile equity markets, weakening global growth, disappointing cost management and uncertainty on Brexit," the investment bank drops the bull case on the firm's Hong Kong stock. Its target falls 9% to HK$73, and earnings estimates drop 3%-4% through next year as JPMorgan says net-interest margin could stay weak after 4Q's 6-basis-point decline to 1.63%. It adds that a January rebound in overall performance that HSBC executives touted alongside the end-of-year disappointment may not last amid China's economic slowdown. HSBC fell 0.15% today to HK$66.05. (kevin.kingsbury@wsj.com; @kevinkingsbury)

0930 GMT - A private-equity buyer for Walmart's Asda is now likely to emerge after the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority indicated it is minded to block the merger with J Sainsbury, Jefferies says. "We remain of the opinion that Walmart remains a seller of Asda, and that the business will represent an attractive target for private equity. If we are correct, an alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly," analysts at the bank say. That would represent a structural positive for the U.K. grocery market, Jefferies says. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0923 GMT - Teva Pharmaceutical's cost-cutting and deleveraging will take longer than expected, Mizuho says as it downgrades the stock to neutral. "Our investment thesis is broken after disappointing 2019 guidance and cautious longer-term outlook," Mizuho says. It says greater headwinds in the business don't bode well. The stock is already overburdened by market expectations of quarterly beats, and there are fewer growth drivers in the business available. Mizuho says there won't be any key data readouts this year and that the Fasinumab catalyst, an osteoarthritis drug, will be delayed until next year while safety concerns linger. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

0919 GMT - Singapore shares moved back toward session highs at day's end amid broad advances for Asian equities. But the Straits Times Index lagged a number of other benchmarks in the region even while rising 0.6% to 3278.38. Helping was rigbuilder Sembcorp Marine jumping 6.3% following its quarterly report; rival Keppel advanced 3.3%. Parent Sembcorp Industries, which will release its 4Q numbers tomorrow, climbed 3.5%. But DBS ended a touch lower and ThaiBev eased a further 0.6%. (saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com; @journosaurabh)

0910 GMT - A 31-point end-of-session adjustment higher allowed Indonesia's stock benchmark to finish up on the day after seeing strong early gains melt away by the lunch break. The Jakarta Composite Index ended up 0.3% at 6512.78 even as losers edged gainers 204-197. Foreigners bought a net IDR433.6 billion ($30.7 million) of stock, with Bank Central Asia rising 2.2% and cement maker Semen jumping a further 3.4%. (i-made.sentana@wsj.com)

0907 GMT - Malaysian equities steadily rose today amid wide gains for Asian stocks, putting the country's benchmark at 4-month highs. Joining some others in the region at their best level since October, the Kuala Lumpur Composite climbed 1.15% to 1726.18 as gainers thumped losers 724-252. Wireless firm Axiata climbed 4.9% and casino-to-plantations conglomerate Genting advanced 4.3% ahead of their looming 4Q reports. (yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com; @yantoultra)

0855 GMT - Germany's MTU Aero Engines reports full year results that are largely positive. Guidance comes in as expected, which, Citigroup says is already priced into the share price. That leaves little room to lift the shares. MTU said it expects higher revenue in 2019. The shares fall 1.3% early in Frankfurt trade. (robert.wall@wsj.com)

0849 GMT - RHB thinks it's too early for Singapore to roll back July's latest round of property-cooling measures even as the city-state's developers association has sought a review. "Property prices are still holding up well and a premature relaxation could reinvigorate the property market amid [a] dovish interest-rate outlook," the broker posits. But the industry group says steps in recent years have resulted in developers simultaneously exhausting their inventories, leading to heightened demand for new land and pushing up prices. (saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com; @journosaurabh)

0847 GMT - Credit Suisse is fairly valued, Berenberg says as it upgrades the stock to hold from sell. The Swiss bank has outperformed its costs target in 2018, the brokerage says, adding that it still has some doubts over the bank, such as revenue growth. "We also worry that it is building risk in parts of its loan book as evidenced by RWA disclosures," it says. Risk-weighted assets, or RWA, are a bank's assets weighted by how risky they are. The brokerage cuts its target price on the stock to CHF12.50 from CHF14.00. Shares in the Swiss bank trade 0.9% higher at CHF11.96. (pietro.lombardi@dowjones.com; @pietrolombard10)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:04 ET (10:04 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Company News of the Day
 
Alibaba And the Wasteful Investment Bank Deal 
 

It is weird enough that an e-commerce company would want a stake in an investment bank. Even odder is the fact that Alibaba's largest local tech rival, Tencent, has held a similar stake in CICC for two years.

 
Ford to Exit Heavy-Truck Business in South America 
 

The auto maker intends to stop making heavy trucks in Latin America and end production at an assembly plant in Brazil this year.

 
Southwest Links Labor Dispute to Grounding of Planes 
 

The airline said it would investigate whether a dispute with its mechanics union was causing maintenance delays that have led to grounded planes and canceled flights.

 
Herbalife Sales Rise 9% in Latest Quarter 
 

Herbalife Nutrition, whose chief executive abruptly resigned last month, reported a 9% sales increase in its latest quarter, driven largely by growth in Asia Pacific.

 
McKinsey Settles With DOJ Over Bankruptcy Disclosures 
 

McKinsey agreed to pay $15 million to settle Justice Department allegations that the consulting firm failed to make required disclosures of potential conflicts in three chapter 11 cases it had advised on in recent years.

 
Charlotte Russe Still Searching For Buyer as Possible Liquidation Looms 
 

The mall-based women's fashion retailer has agreed to bid with liquidators, subject to better offers

 
Payless Returns to Bankruptcy Less Than Two Years After Exiting Chapter 11 
 

As part of its latest bankruptcy filing, Payless will close all of its North American stores, while keeping its 420 Latin American stores and its international franchise locations open. The shoe retailer began to see its sales decline in 2015 and first landed in bankruptcy in mid-2017.

 
Pentagon Cloud-Computing Contract Sought by Amazon Faces New Hurdle 
 

A federal judge delayed a lawsuit over a massive Pentagon cloud-computing contract Amazon.com was favored to win while the government continues to investigate possible conflicts of interest in the procurement process.

 
FDA Warns on Services Offering Injections of Young Blood Plasma 
 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned older Americans away from services in several states that offer to inject them with younger people's blood plasma as a treatment for dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and other debilitating maladies.

 
Medtronic Swings to Profit Despite Slowdown in Heart-Failure Treatments 
 

Higher sales of medical devices used in the treatment of brain and kidney diseases helped Medtronic offset a slowdown in sales of gear for heart conditions in its latest quarter.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:00 ET (10:00 GMT)

DJ News Highlights: Top Global Markets News of the Day
 
Global Stocks Rise as White House Signals Flexibility on Trade Talks 
 

Global stocks rose on Wednesday, as the White House continued to soften its position on trade with China.

 
Stock Investors Look Past Gloomy Trade Data 
 

Japan endured a sharper-than-expected drop in exports last month, the latest indication that global growth is decelerating. Stock investors seem unflustered.

 
Trump Eases Off Hard Deadline for China Tariffs 
 

President Trump gave his firmest indication yet that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods on March 1, despite statements by his top trade official that the U.S. should stick to a firm deadline.

 
Japan's January Trade Deficit Biggest in Five Years 
 

Japan logged its biggest trade deficit in nearly five years in January, as trade tensions and a global economic slowdown weighed on exports and threatened the country's main engine of growth.

 
SEC Wants to Make It Easier for Companies to Explore IPOs 
 

Any company exploring whether to go public would get greater leeway to discuss their plans privately with potential investors before announcing an initial public offering, under a proposal from securities regulators.

 
Customers Hunt for Bankrupt Crypto Exchange's Missing Millions 
 

An unusual cash-pickup system is the latest unusual business practice at Quadriga to emerge since Gerald Cotten, the firm's 30-year-old co-founder and CEO, died in India late last year.

 
Fed's Mester Sees Rates Slightly Higher This Year 
 

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said she expects interest rates to rise slightly this year if the economy lives up to her expectation of solid performance.

 
Investors Sound Warning About Markets' Complacency on Rates 
 

Stocks and bonds are rising on bets the Fed has ended its interest-rate increases, worrying investors who believe the central bank could upend those expectations later this year.

 
Investors Dive Back Into Italy Even as Recession Bites 
 

Italy has been one the biggest beneficiaries of this year's global market resurgence, a surprise given the unease swirling around the southern European nation and its battered banks.

 
U.S. Home-Builder Confidence Picked Up in February 
 

The National Association of Home Builders said its index of builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes rose to 62 in February from 58 in January. This exceeded expectations of economists surveyed for a February reading of 59.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:00 ET (10:00 GMT)

DJ Podcast: $2 Billion of Expected Buybacks for Berkshire Hathaway, and Two Other Numbers You Need to Know -- Barrons.com

Numbers By Barron's is a two-minute financial podcast with three vital numbers to start your morning. Available on iTunes, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, and wherever you get your podcasts -- as well as on your Amazon Alexa smart speaker

Three numbers to start your day:

2% is how much Walmart's stock popped on Tuesday

-- after it reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings.

Walmart said U.S. online sales jumped 40% for the fiscal year. The company's online grocery pickup service helped, which has been rolled out to nearly half of its U.S. stores.

And it doesn't hurt to have a store a short drive away from 90% of Americans. So much for the Amazon Effect.

$4 billion is what one analyst says the New York Knicks are worth

-- based on a sum-of-the-parts calculation of Madison Square Garden. Only problem is, MSG says the team isn't for sale.

Tell that to speculating sports fans. Podcaster Bill Simmons speculated this past All-Star Weekend that the Knicks could go for $5 billion, not including the arena.

That would value the Knicks at more than $200 per share or about 70% of MSG's stock price, per Barron's calculations. That's not absurd considering the Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2 billion in 2014. A sale could be welcome news for shareholders and Knicks fans rooting for a change in management.

$500 billion is roughly how much Berkshire Hathaway is valued at

-- based on its market capitalization. But it could be much higher if Berkshire has a good weekend, per Barron's calculations.

Warren Buffett's company is expected to release fourth-quarter earnings this Saturday. Berkshire buffs will likely be looking to divine how Buffett feels about Berkshire's stock in buybacks.

Wall Street seems to be expecting a relatively modest $2 billion. If Berkshire shelled out more, shareholders could conclude that Berkshire's stock is cheap. And give it a boost.

Numbers by Barron's is a new daily podcast. Find out more here.

This episode was hosted by Crystal Kim.

Write to Crystal Kim at crystal.kim@barrons.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 05:00 ET (10:00 GMT)

DJ Public Bank Bhd Malaysia 4th-Quarter 2018 Earnings Summary Table >1295.KU
 
      Public Bank Bhd (1295.KU) - Malaysia 
      (4th) quarter ended Dec 31: 
      Figures Are In Ringgit (MYR). 
 
 
                                   2018               2017 
 
Revenue                   5,632,018,000      5,350,550,000 
PreTax Profit             1,789,719,000      1,957,237,000 
Net Profit                1,405,356,000      1,485,468,000 
Earnings Per Share            36.20 Sen          38.47 Sen 
Dividend                      37.00 Sen          34.00 Sen 
 
      12 months ended Dec 31: 
 
Revenue                  22,041,785,000     20,858,174,000 
PreTax Profit             7,101,165,000      7,117,672,000 
Net Profit                5,590,611,000      5,470,035,000 
Earnings Per Share           144.37 Sen         141.66 Sen 
Dividend                      69.00 Sen          61.00 Sen 
 
 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:57 ET (09:57 GMT)

DJ IOI Corp Bhd Malaysia 2nd-Quarter 2018 Earnings Summary Table >1961.KU
 
      IOI Corp Bhd (1961.KU) - Malaysia 
      (2nd) quarter ended Dec 31: 
      Figures Are In Ringgit (MYR). 
 
 
                                   2018               2017 
 
Revenue                   1,880,600,000      2,009,600,000 
PreTax Profit               239,000,000        622,900,000 
Net Profit                  195,500,000        595,900,000 
Earnings Per Share             3.11 Sen           9.48 Sen 
Dividend                       3.50 Sen           4.50 Sen 
 
      6 months ended Dec 31: 
 
Revenue                   3,756,300,000      3,875,200,000 
PreTax Profit               434,200,000      1,073,000,000 
Net Profit                  339,300,000        955,900,000 
Earnings Per Share             5.40 Sen          15.21 Sen 
Dividend                       3.50 Sen           4.50 Sen 
 
 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:57 ET (09:57 GMT)

DJ Credit Agricole Invests in Agri-Tech Startup in France

By Olivia Bugault

Credit Agricole SA (ACA.FR) said Wednesday that it has invested in Thegreendata, a French startup focused on agriculture and technology, as part of its broader goal of helping develop tech companies in the agriculture sector in France.

The French bank said that it participated in Thegreendata's first funding round. The startup, which uses algorithms and big data to develop tools, has raised 2 million euros ($2.3 million) in total, it said.

The bank didn't disclose any further details of its investment.

Write to Olivia Bugault at olivia.bugault@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:55 ET (09:55 GMT)

DJ Interbank Foreign Exchange Rates At 04:50 EST / 0950 GMT
 
                           Latest       Previous   %Chg    Daily    Daily   %Chg 
Dollar Rates                               Close            High      Low  12/31 
 
USD/JPY Japan           110.80-81      110.61-62  +0.17   110.95   110.55  +1.11 
EUR/USD Euro            1.1348-51      1.1342-45  +0.05   1.1360   1.1333  -1.05 
GBP/USD U.K.            1.3033-35      1.3062-64  -0.22   1.3077   1.3026  +2.16 
USD/CHF Switzerland     1.0007-11      1.0009-13  -0.02   1.0024   1.0002  +1.97 
USD/CAD Canada          1.3192-97      1.3209-14  -0.13   1.3221   1.3183  -3.27 
AUD/USD Australia       0.7153-57      0.7163-67  -0.14   0.7177   0.7151  +1.46 
NZD/USD New Zealand     0.6866-72      0.6880-86  -0.20   0.6887   0.6861  +2.22 
 
Euro Rates 
 
EUR/JPY Japan           125.74-78      125.41-45  +0.26   125.94   125.36  +0.05 
EUR/GBP U.K.            0.8707-10      0.8680-83  +0.31   0.8713   0.8677  -3.14 
EUR/CHF Switzerland     1.1360-63      1.1353-56  +0.06   1.1368   1.1350  +0.93 
EUR/CAD Canada          1.4969-79      1.4977-87  -0.05   1.4995   1.4950  -4.26 
EUR/AUD Australia       1.5857-67      1.5824-34  +0.21   1.5867   1.5816  -2.47 
EUR/DKK Denmark         7.4613-20      7.4609-16  +0.01   7.4632   7.4602  -0.06 
EUR/NOK Norway          9.7304-54      9.7149-99  +0.16   9.7481   9.7138  -1.77 
EUR/SEK Sweden        10.5565-665    10.5557-657  +0.01  10.5708  10.5427  +4.03 
EUR/CZK Czech Rep.     25.672-702      25.662-92  +0.04   25.711   25.665  -0.09 
EUR/HUF Hungary         317.36-76      317.28-68  +0.03   317.82   317.23  -1.08 
EUR/PLN Poland          4.3358-76     4.3299-317  +0.14   4.3400   4.3297  +1.10 
 
Yen Rates 
 
AUD/JPY Australia        79.26-30       79.24-28  +0.03    79.58    79.14  +2.57 
GBP/JPY U.K.            144.41-47      144.47-53  -0.04   145.05   144.38  +3.25 
CAD/JPY Canada           83.95-99       83.70-74  +0.30    84.15    83.60  +4.49 
NZD/JPY New Zealand      76.07-11       76.12-16  -0.07    76.33    76.00  +3.33 
 
Other Dollar Rates 
 
USD/CZK Czech Rep.      22.609-59      22.617-67  -0.03   22.662   22.604  +0.96 
USD/HUF Hungary      279.61-80.01   279.73-80.13  -0.04   280.27   279.32  -0.06 
USD/DKK Denmark         6.5743-53      6.5788-98  -0.07   6.5847   6.5693  +0.97 
USD/NOK Norway          8.5731-91      8.5635-95  +0.11   8.5856   8.5575  -0.76 
USD/PLN Poland          3.8208-13      3.8184-89  +0.06   3.8241   3.8149  +2.15 
USD/RUB Russia          65.720-90     65.684-754  +0.05   65.935   65.701  -5.04 
USD/SEK Sweden         9.3016-106     9.3069-159  -0.06   9.3195   9.2934  +5.12 
USD/ZAR S. Africa     14.1058-358    14.0296-596  +0.54  14.1390  14.0079  -1.67 
 
USD/CNY China           6.7171-91      6.7575-95  -0.60   6.7680   6.7155  -2.33 
USD/HKD Hong Kong       7.8491-96      7.8483-88  +0.01   7.8514   7.8466  +0.23 
USD/MYR Malaysia       4.0650-700     4.0777-827  -0.31   4.0825   4.0639  -1.57 
USD/INR India           71.110-20     71.290-310  -0.26   71.610   71.115  +2.22 
USD/IDR Indonesia        14033-47      14095-109  -0.44    14104    14040  -2.36 
USD/PHP Philippines     51.947-67      52.128-48  -0.35   52.155   51.941  -1.03 
USD/SGD Singapore       1.3512-22      1.3524-34  -0.09   1.3542   1.3509  -0.82 
USD/KRW S. Korea     1121.90-3.90   1121.92-3.92   0.00  1124.24  1120.54  +0.77 
USD/TWD Taiwan         30.781-811     30.776-806  +0.02   30.820   30.768  +0.70 
USD/THB Thailand        31.060-80      31.120-40  -0.19   31.170   31.040  -3.87 
USD/VND Vietnam         23164-234      23165-235   0.00    23203    23194  +0.02 
 
USD/BRL Brazil          3.7225-55      3.7236-66  -0.03   3.7273   3.7223  -4.06 
USD/MXN Mexico        19.1696-996    19.1305-605  +0.20  19.1894  19.1337  -2.36 
USD/ARS Argentina     39.2600-700    39.2650-750  -0.01  39.3250  39.2450  +4.30 
 
Source: Tullett Prebon 
 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:50 ET (09:50 GMT)

DJ Singapore Dollar May See Further Gains -- Market Talk

0949 GMT - The greenback hit its lowest intraday level in 2 weeks versus the Singapore dollar in Asian trade, but more could be limited. UOB says a break of strong support at S$1.35 seems unlikely for now, but it adds only a move above S$1.3595 would suggest the greenback is out of the woods and ready to climb anew. It's off 0.1% at S$1.3522. (saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com; @journosaurabh)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:49 ET (09:49 GMT)

DJ Glencore, Once a Big Coal Backer, Is Capping Output -- Update
By Oliver Griffin and Scott Patterson 

LONDON -- Glencore PLC said Wednesday it plans to cap its coal output in line with a global transition away from high-carbon-emitting fuels, a sharp shift for a company that for years has been bullish about the commodity.

The Anglo-Swiss commodity trader said it plans to limit its total coal production capacity to its current output of 150 million metric tons a year. Thermal coal fires many of the world's power plants, but is widely seen by climate scientists as a major contributor to global warming. Many rich, developed countries that can afford it have tilted toward plants powered by cleaner-burning natural gas.

Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg has in the past bet big on the prospect of thermal coal's continued global demand, despite falling prices and tightening regulations around the world.

Glencore said it would prioritize capital investment in assets that are resilient to regulatory, physical and operational risks related to climate change. The company said it would also consider whether its membership in relevant trade associations is consistent with its new position.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a nonprofit that supports ethical investments, said the move represents "peak coal" for Glencore. In the past few years, Glencore bought rival Rio Tinto PLC's thermal coal businesses. Wednesday's announcement represents "an extraordinary about-face," said Dan Gocher, the ACCR's director of climate and environment said.

Glencore said separately it plans to cut copper production at its operations in Congo to about 100,000 metric tons from its recent average of about 200,000 tons a year as it reviews that operation. The Wall Street Journal first reported that Glencore would cut production at its Mutanda operation on Tuesday. The move will have little effect on cobalt production, the company said.

Glencore also said it would launch new $2 billion buyback program, a move that lifted its shares modestly Wednesday. The miner's share price has lagged behind its peers, partly because of several probes into its Congo operations. Last year, Glencore said it had received a subpoena from U.S. authorities related to possible violations of American bribery and corruption laws in Congo, Nigeria and Venezuela. It has said it is cooperating with authorities.

Glencore reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018, after booking impairment costs at two of its mines. The company said it made a profit for the year ended Dec. 31 of $3.41 billion, compared with $5.78 billion in 2017.

Revenue rose 6.9% to $219.75 billion, Glencore said. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization -- which strips out one-off items -- rose to $15.77 billion, from $14.55 billion in 2017.

A consensus estimate from 20 analysts compiled by Vuma forecast adjusted Ebitda of $16.14 billion for the full year.

Write to Scott Patterson at scott.patterson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:43 ET (09:43 GMT)

DJ Trading Central: Further Rise in Gold Expected -- Market Talk

0841 GMT The technical outlook of gold remains positive on the 30-minute chart as the prices have recorded a series of higher tops and higher bottoms since February 14. Currently, both rising 20-period and 50-period moving averages are playing support roles. The MACD stays above the 0-level. The 14-period RSI is above its neutrality level at 50, showing the lack of downward momentum for the yellow metal. To sum up, as long as the key support level at $1,339 holds on the downside, look for a further upside to $1,347.0 and even to $1,354.0 in extension. Alternatively, only a break below $1,339 would turn the outlook to negative and call for a return with $1,335 as a target. Spot gold is trading at $1,344.1 an ounce. [This piece contains the opinions of Trading Central and does not constitute personalized investment advice or form part of any invitation or inducement to buy or sell any security. The author has been prohibited by Trading Central from purchasing or otherwise directly or indirectly acquiring any direct or indirect beneficial ownership of any instruments or markets for which Trading Central or its affiliates issues recommendations. To read more, visit bit.ly/1MehCU9.] (analysts-europe@tradingcentral.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:42 ET (09:42 GMT)

DJ HSBC May Again Miss Expectations Soon -- Market Talk

0929 GMT - HSBC's 4Q miss may not be the last disappointment for the bank, says JPMorgan. With a widening gap between interbank lending rates in London and Hong Kong, as well as "receding rate-hike expectations, volatile equity markets, weakening global growth, disappointing cost management and uncertainty on Brexit," the investment bank drops the bull case on the firm's Hong Kong stock. Its target falls 9% to HK$73, and earnings estimates drop 3%-4% through next year as JPMorgan says net-interest margin could stay weak after 4Q's 6-basis-point decline to 1.63%. It adds that a January rebound in overall performance that HSBC executives touted alongside the end-of-year disappointment may not last amid China's economic slowdown. HSBC fell 0.15% today to HK$66.05. (kevin.kingsbury@wsj.com; @kevinkingsbury)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:41 ET (09:41 GMT)

DJ Fresenius Medical Care CFO to Retire
 
   By Donato Paolo Mancini 
 

Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co.'s (FME.XE) chief financial officer Michael Brosnan is due to retire, the company said Wednesday.

The company expects to name a successor by the end of this year after Mr. Bosnan has retired.

Mr. Brosnan has been CFO at FMC since 2010. He joined the company in 1998.

Write to Donato Paolo Mancini at donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:39 ET (09:39 GMT)

DJ Glencore Misses Earnings Forecast, But Buyback Bigger Than Expected -- Earnings Review

By Oliver Griffin

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) on Wednesday reported its full-year results for 2018. Here's how the results came in:

ADJUSTED EBITDA: Glencore reported adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $15.77 billion--an 8% rise on the adjusted Ebitda figure for 2017, which was $14.55 billion. However, it missed a consensus estimate of 20 analysts compiled by Vuma which forecast adjusted Ebitda $16.14 billion.

NET DEBT: Net debt came in at $14.71 billion, up from $10.22 billion as at Dec. 31, 2017. A consensus estimate of 20 analysts compiled by Vuma forecast net debt of $13.52 billion.

WHAT WE WATCHED:

-BUYBACK: Jefferies analysts said they were looking out for a new buyback of at least $1 billion. In the end, Glencore declared a new buyback program of $2 billion and said it would look at increasing it later in the year.

-COBALT: Glencore said it was hampered by volatility in the cobalt market in the second half of 2018. However, the company also said it would further its commitment to transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Glencore said it plans to grow production of commodities essential to the energy and mobility transition--of which battery metal cobalt is one--and to limit its coal production capacity broadly to current levels.

Shares at 0927 GMT were up 0.8% at 305.25 pence.

Write to Oliver Griffin at oliver.griffin@dowjones.com; @OliGGriffin

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:39 ET (09:39 GMT)

DJ Private-Equity Buyer Is Likely to Emerge for Asda: Jefferies -- Market Talk

0930 GMT - A private-equity buyer for Walmart's Asda is now likely to emerge after the U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority indicated it is minded to block the merger with J Sainsbury, Jefferies says. "We remain of the opinion that Walmart remains a seller of Asda, and that the business will represent an attractive target for private equity. If we are correct, an alternative offer with no obvious regulatory concerns is likely to emerge quickly," analysts at the bank say. That would represent a structural positive for the U.K. grocery market, Jefferies says. (adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:30 ET (09:30 GMT)

DJ Trading Central: USD/JPY to Rise Further -- Market Talk

0928 GMT Currently trading at JPY 110.78, the US Dollar is pushing higher as it remains supported by its rising 50-period moving average on a 30-minute chart at JPY 110.69. Moreover, the intraday RSI remains within its buying area between 50 and 70, and confirms the bullish bias. As a consequence, further advance is expected toward horizontal resistance at JPY 110.95 and toward Feb. 14 top at JPY 111.15 in extension. A third target is set at horizontal resistance at JPY 111.30. Only a downside breakout of the horizontal support at JPY 110.65 would invalidate this bullish view and call for a down move toward strong horizontal support at JPY 110.45 and toward Feb. 15 bottom at JPY 110.25 in extension. [This piece contains the opinions of Trading Central and does not constitute personalized investment advice or form part of any invitation or inducement to buy or sell any security. The author has been prohibited by Trading Central from purchasing or otherwise directly or indirectly acquiring any direct or indirect beneficial ownership of any instruments or markets for which Trading Central or its affiliates issues recommendations. To read more, visit bit.ly/1MehCU9.] (analysts-europe@tradingcentral.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:28 ET (09:28 GMT)

DJ London Shares Rise; Pound Seen Volatile on Brexit Talks
 
Market News: 
 
FTSE 100          7,210.42 +31.25 +0.44% 
FTSE 250         19,119.86 +50.97 +0.27% 
FTSE AIM All-Share  906.37  -0.62 -0.07% 

Expect Pound Volatility on Wednesday

0915 GMT - On Wednesday, expect volatility in the pound on headlines stemming from today's discussion between the U.K and the EU regarding a Brexit deal, says MUFG. "The mood from the EU side appears more subdued," MUFG says, which is in contrast to what U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is looking for: significant progress on a solution to the contentious Irish border backstop. However, "it is becoming increasingly likely for an extension to Article 50 to be requested...which should prove positive for the pound," says MUFG. This is regardless of the outcome of the meaningful vote on Feb. 27, it adds. GBP/USD falls 0.3% to 1.3030, having earlier reached a two-week high of $1.3077, and EUR/GBP rises 0.3% to 0.8709.

 
Top News: 

Glencore Net Profit Slides After Booking Impairment Costs

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) on Wednesday reported a 41% fall in net profit for 2018 after booking impairment costs at two of its mines and launched a new $2 billion buyback program.

Lloyds Bank Missed 2018 Profit Expectations; Plans GBP1.75 Bln Share Buyback

Lloyds Banking Group PLC's (LLOY.LN) 2018 profit missed analyst expectations but the U.K. lender set out plans for a major share buyback and brought forward its cost-cutting targets.

 
Companies News: 

1 Spatial Wins GBP1 Mln Defense Contract

1Spatial PLC (SPA.LN) said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a 1 million pound ($1.2 million) contract to supply software and services to the No1 Aeronautical Information Documents Unit, which supplies products and services to UK defense sector.

Bango Appoints Former Nokia Video Executive as COO; Shares Rise

Bango PLC (BGO.LN) shares rose on Wednesday after the mobile-commerce company said that it has appointed ex-Nokia Corp. (NOKIA.HE) executive Paul Larbey as its new chief operating officer.

Eden Research: Cedroz Nears Approval in EU After Malta Authorization

Eden Research PLC (EDEN.LN) said Wednesday that its pesticide formulation Cedroz has received authorization in Malta, which brings the product a step closer to wider approval by European Union member states.

EKF Diagnostics Gets FDA Approval for Quo-Test Analyzer

EKF Diagnostics Holdings PLC (EKF.LN) has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for professional use in a clinical-laboratory setting of its Quo-Test analyzer, the company said Wednesday.

Eland Oil & Gas to Start Paying Dividend in 2019

Eland Oil & Gas PLC (ELA.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to begin paying a dividend and that it expects to declare its maiden dividend at the end of this year.

Enteq Upstream Shares Rise on Higher Expected Earnings Forecast

Shares in Enteq Upstream PLC (NTQ.LN) rose Wednesday after the company said that revenue and underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in fiscal 2019 are expected to be materially ahead of expectations.

Flybe Confirms Receipt of New Proposal From Investor Group

Flybe Group PLC (FLYB.LN) confirmed Wednesday that it has received a proposal from an investor group led by Bateleur Capital LLC and Mesa Air Group Inc. to provide it with a capital injection and replacement of funding provided by Connect Airways Ltd.

Glencore Begins Turn Away from Coal, to Re-balance Portfolio

Glencore PLC (GLEN.LN) said Wednesday that it will rebalance its portfolio toward commodities that support the transition to a low-carbon economy, limiting its coal-production capacity broadly at current levels.

Gooch & Housego Shares Fall as Company Warns of FY 2019 Slowdown

Shares in Gooch & Housego PLC (GHH.LN) fell sharply Wednesday after the company said the board expects group trading performance for the year to show low-digit growth compared with 2018, as demand in China's industrial-laser market declined in the first four months of fiscal 2019.

Haydale Graphene Considering Discounted Share Placing

Haydale Graphene Industries PLC (HAYD.LN) said Wednesday that it is sounding out potential institutional investors over a share placing at a material discount to its previous closing price.

Hochschild 2018 Net Profit Fell 69% on Higher Costs

Hochschild Mining PLC (HOC.LN) on Wednesday reported a 69% fall in net profit in 2018 after booking higher costs on expenses, including in exploration activities.

IMImobile Names Bruce Bales as New North America CEO

IMImobile PLC (IMO.LN) has appointed Bruce Bales as its new chief executive for North America, part of its efforts to consolidate and grow operations in the U.S. and Canada, the company said Wednesday.

Impellam Group to Demerge Carlisle Support Services

Impellam Group PLC (IPEL.LN) said Wednesday that it plans to separate its Carlisle Support Services Group Ltd. subsidiary to reduce costs and focus on its core operations.

Indivior Launches Generic Version of Suboxone in US to Pre-empt Rivals

Indivior PLC (INDV.LN) said Wednesday that it has launched an authorized generic version of its Suboxone treatment for opioid-addiction in the U.S., as rival companies plan their own version of the drug.

Intu Properties Swung to FY Pretax Loss as Revenue Declined

Intu Properties PLC (INTU.LN) on Wednesday said it swung to pretax loss for fiscal 2018 due to a property revaluation deficit in the U.K., and said that the board isn't recommending a final dividend.

Landore Resources Assessment Demonstrates Economic Potential of BAM Project

Landore Resources Ltd. (LND.LN) said Wednesday that an independent report into its BAM gold project at its Junior Lake property in Ontario, Canada, has demonstrated strong economic potential.

Laura Ashley Swings to 1H 2019 Pretax Loss; Warns on Full Year

Laura Ashley Holdings PLC (ALY.LN) on Wednesday warned that performance for the year will fall short of market expectations, as it reported a swing to pretax loss in the first half of fiscal 2019.

McBride Warns on FY 2019 Profit Due to Rising Costs

McBride PLC (MCB.LN) said Wednesday that it expects its adjusted pretax profit for fiscal 2019 to be between 10% and 15% lower than the prior year due to rising material and distribution costs.

Mobile Tornado to Report Earnings 2018 in Line With Market Expectations

Mobile Tornado Group PLC (MBT.LN) said Wednesday that it expects to report an improvement in revenue and adjusted Ebitda losses for 2018, in line with market expectations.

ReNeuron Shares Rise on Positive Data From Clinical Trial for Eye-Disease Treatment

ReNeuron Group PLC (RENE.LN) shares rose Wednesday after an ongoing clinical trial of its cell-therapy treatment for retinal disease generated positive preliminary data.

CMA Could Block Sainsbury's, Asda Merger

The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday that it could block the merger between J Sainsbury PLC (SBRY.LN) and Asda Group Ltd. (AGP.YY) if its concerns can't be addressed.

San Leon Rises on Proposed $30 Mln Share Buyback

Shares in San Leon Energy PLC (SLE.LN) rose on Wednesday after the company proposed a $30 million share buyback at a premium price.

Science Group Extends Bank Loan to GBP17.5 Million

Science Group PLC (SAG.LN) said Wednesday that it has extended a bank loan to 17.5 million pounds ($22.7 million) from GBP12.8 million, after ending a sale process last month.

Summit Germany Says Israel Authorities Searched Majority Shareholder's Offices

Summit Germany Ltd. (SMTG.LN) on Wednesday said that the offices of its majority shareholder, Summit Real Estate Holdings Ltd. (SMT.TV), were searched by the Israeli Security Agency.

 
Market Talk: 

Lloyds Banking Results Show Underlying Strength: Interactive Investor

0843 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group looks strong on most underlying measures after its 2018 results and its recent share price drop leaves the stock looking cheap, Interactive Investor says. The investment platform notes Lloyds improved on post-tax profit, net interest margin and costs, despite missing expectations at a pretax profit level. A GBP1.75 billion share buyback and a 5.4% dividend yield signal confidence in the bank's prospects. Interactive notes that shares are down 14% over the last year, compared to just a 0.9% decline for the FTSE 100 overall, and analysts generally rate Lloyds as a strong buy. Shares up 2.8%.

Sell Sainsbury's After CMA Blow: Shore Capital

0837 GMT - The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority deals a major blow to J Sainsbury as the regulator says it could block the grocer's merger with rival Asda if concerns aren't addressed, Shore Capital says. The investment group cuts Sainsbury's to sell from hold as it believes the retailer now lacks the merger premium. With the Asda deal looking increasingly unlikely, Sainsbury's' "laggard status" among British supermarkets is highlighted, Shore says. "For the balance of the sector, we see this broadly encouraging," the investment group says. Sainsbury's shares are the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 13%--their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008.

Contact: London NewsPlus, Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9319

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:25 ET (09:25 GMT)

DJ Teva Pharmaceutical Will Take Time to Deleverage: Mizuho -- Market Talk

0923 GMT - Teva Pharmaceutical's cost-cutting and deleveraging will take longer than expected, Mizuho says as it downgrades the stock to neutral. "Our investment thesis is broken after disappointing 2019 guidance and cautious longer-term outlook," Mizuho says. It says greater headwinds in the business don't bode well. The stock is already overburdened by market expectations of quarterly beats, and there are fewer growth drivers in the business available. Mizuho says there won't be any key data readouts this year and that the Fasinumab catalyst, an osteoarthritis drug, will be delayed until next year while safety concerns linger. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:23 ET (09:23 GMT)

DJ Global Equities Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Equities. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

0923 GMT - Teva Pharmaceutical's cost-cutting and deleveraging will take longer than expected, Mizuho says as it downgrades the stock to neutral. "Our investment thesis is broken after disappointing 2019 guidance and cautious longer-term outlook," Mizuho says. It says greater headwinds in the business don't bode well. The stock is already overburdened by market expectations of quarterly beats, and there are fewer growth drivers in the business available. Mizuho says there won't be any key data readouts this year and that the Fasinumab catalyst, an osteoarthritis drug, will be delayed until next year while safety concerns linger. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

0919 GMT - Singapore shares moved back toward session highs at day's end amid broad advances for Asian equities. But the Straits Times Index lagged a number of other benchmarks in the region even while rising 0.6% to 3278.38. Helping was rigbuilder Sembcorp Marine jumping 6.3% following its quarterly report; rival Keppel advanced 3.3%. Parent Sembcorp Industries, which will release its 4Q numbers tomorrow, climbed 3.5%. But DBS ended a touch lower and ThaiBev eased a further 0.6%. (saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com; @journosaurabh)

0910 GMT - A 31-point end-of-session adjustment higher allowed Indonesia's stock benchmark to finish up on the day after seeing strong early gains melt away by the lunch break. The Jakarta Composite Index ended up 0.3% at 6512.78 even as losers edged gainers 204-197. Foreigners bought a net IDR433.6 billion ($30.7 million) of stock, with Bank Central Asia rising 2.2% and cement maker Semen jumping a further 3.4%. (i-made.sentana@wsj.com)

0907 GMT - Malaysian equities steadily rose today amid wide gains for Asian stocks, putting the country's benchmark at 4-month highs. Joining some others in the region at their best level since October, the Kuala Lumpur Composite climbed 1.15% to 1726.18 as gainers thumped losers 724-252. Wireless firm Axiata climbed 4.9% and casino-to-plantations conglomerate Genting advanced 4.3% ahead of their looming 4Q reports. (yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com; @yantoultra)

0855 GMT - Germany's MTU Aero Engines reports full year results that are largely positive. Guidance comes in as expected, which, Citigroup says is already priced into the share price. That leaves little room to lift the shares. MTU said it expects higher revenue in 2019. The shares fall 1.3% early in Frankfurt trade. (robert.wall@wsj.com)

0849 GMT - RHB thinks it's too early for Singapore to roll back July's latest round of property-cooling measures even as the city-state's developers association has sought a review. "Property prices are still holding up well and a premature relaxation could reinvigorate the property market amid [a] dovish interest-rate outlook," the broker posits. But the industry group says steps in recent years have resulted in developers simultaneously exhausting their inventories, leading to heightened demand for new land and pushing up prices. (saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com; @journosaurabh)

0847 GMT - Credit Suisse is fairly valued, Berenberg says as it upgrades the stock to hold from sell. The Swiss bank has outperformed its costs target in 2018, the brokerage says, adding that it still has some doubts over the bank, such as revenue growth. "We also worry that it is building risk in parts of its loan book as evidenced by RWA disclosures," it says. Risk-weighted assets, or RWA, are a bank's assets weighted by how risky they are. The brokerage cuts its target price on the stock to CHF12.50 from CHF14.00. Shares in the Swiss bank trade 0.9% higher at CHF11.96. (pietro.lombardi@dowjones.com; @pietrolombard10)

0845 GMT - Telefonica Deutschland reported positive headline numbers, with revenue and earnings beating expectations, but an underlying trend in mobile-service revenue could raise concerns, Citi says. "The revenue trend seems to suggest strong growth for partners such as Drillisch," which may suggest the company's retail business is under pressure going into 2019, Citi says. Looking ahead, the focus will be on Germany's 5G auction and other catalysts, Citi says. Telefonica Deutschland shares trade 4.3% lower at EUR2.90. (max.bernhard@dowjones.com; @mxbernhard)

0843 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group looks strong on most underlying measures after its 2018 results and its recent share price drop leaves the stock looking cheap, Interactive Investor says. The investment platform notes Lloyds improved on post-tax profit, net interest margin and costs, despite missing expectations at a pretax profit level. A GBP1.75 billion share buyback and a 5.4% dividend yield signal confidence in the bank's prospects. Interactive notes that shares are down 14% over the last year, compared to just a 0.9% decline for the FTSE 100 overall, and analysts generally rate Lloyds as a strong buy. Shares up 2.8%. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

0837 GMT - The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority deals a major blow to J Sainsbury as the regulator says it could block the grocer's merger with rival Asda if concerns aren't addressed, Shore Capital says. The investment group cuts Sainsbury's to sell from hold as it believes the retailer now lacks the merger premium. With the Asda deal looking increasingly unlikely, Sainsbury's' "laggard status" among British supermarkets is highlighted, Shore says. "For the balance of the sector, we see this broadly encouraging," the investment group says. Sainsbury's shares are the biggest faller on the FTSE 100, down 13%--their biggest one-day percentage drop since October 2008.(adria.calatayudvaello@dowjones.com)

0832 GMT - Shares in mining giant Glencore rise 2.4% as a 41% drop in net profit for 2018 is offset by a $2 billion buyback program. The buyback is "supportive" for the stock and is "expected to be topped up by $1 billion from the targeted noncore asset disposals in 2019," Citi says. "This gives 2019 shareholder returns range of $4.75 billion base with a potential top-up implying returns yield of 8.6%-10.4%." Earnings, however, were slightly weaker than expected. "The marketing segment performed weaker than expectations owing to negative impact from alumina and cobalt contracts." Citi expects a "slight downward consensus earnings revision on copper guidance" but expects some of the negative alumina and cobalt marketing earnings to reverse in 2019. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

0832 GMT - Lloyds Banking Group's 2018 results were mixed after weak fourth-quarter profit but investor focus is likely to be on the GBP1.75 billion share buyback and positive outlook, Citi says. Citi says the quarterly profit figure was below consensus after Lloyds took another GBP200 million charge for claims of mis-sold payment protection insurance. However, the share buyback was larger than consensus projections of GBP1.2 billion and Lloyds has improved its cost outlook for 2019. Citi keeps its buy rating and 68 pence target price. Shares up 2.7% at 59.94 pence. (adam.clark@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:23 ET (09:23 GMT)

DJ Shares in Fresenius, Fresenius Medical Care Jump on Share Buyback, Limited Surprises -- Update
 
   By Donato Paolo Mancini 
 

--Buyback at Fresenius Medical Care buoys both shares

--Fresenius's 2018 in line with expectations after revised guidance

--Small sales beat at Fresenius Medical Care

Shares in Fresenius SE (FRE.XE) and Fresenius Medical Care AG (FME.XE) jumped Wednesday after the former backed its 2019 outlook, which it revised late last year, and the latter saw a sales beat and announced a share-buyback program worth up to 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion).

At 0855 GMT, Fresenius traded 5% higher, while its dialysis division was up 5.6%.

Analysts at Jefferies said Fresenius Medical Care saw a sales beat of 2%, but misses in EBIT and EPS. They added that the share buyback would support the share--something which DZ Bank and Bryan Garnier analysts also agreed.

For Fresenius, Jefferies said, there were limited surprises given updated targets disclosed late last year.

Fresenius said 2018 net profit totaled EUR1.87 billion euros, up 7% in constant-currency terms from the year prior, while sales grew 6% to EUR33.5 billion.

The German health-care company backed its 2019 outlook, saying it expects net profit to stay flat and sales to grow between 3% and 6% in constant-currency terms. It had given revised guidance for the medium term last year.

Fresenius will also increase its dividend for 2019, it said. Between 2020 and 2023, sales are projected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of between 4% and 7%, while net income is projected to grow between 5% and 9%.

Fresenius noted its acquisition of NxStage Medical Inc. (NXTM) hasn't yet been completed. It said previously that the U.S. federal government shutdown affected the acquisition, though the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition late Tuesday. On Wednesday, it said this wouldn't affect group metrics.

Bryan Garnier analysts said the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's approval for the acquisition came "just in time."

The company also said its Helios division in Germany was hit by regulatory changes, while in Spain it showed continuous growth.

At Fresenius Medical Care AG--a provider of dialysis products and services--comparable sales for the year increased 4% at constant currency to EUR16.55 billion. Adjusted net profit for the year increased to EUR1.19 billion, up 4%.

For 2019, the company targets net profit growth of between minus 2% and 2%, and for adjusted net sales, excluding an agreement in the U.S., growth of between 3% and 7%. For 2020, it expects the metrics to grow at a mid-to-high single-digit rate.

It said separately that it would undertake a share-buyback program valued at up to EUR1 billion.

Stephan Sturm, chief executive of Fresenius, said that 2018 wasn't an easy year, but that it was still successful. He said 2019 would be a year of investment in growth areas such as home dialysis, biosimilars, and new hospital services and therapies.

Write to Donato Paolo Mancini at donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:21 ET (09:21 GMT)

DJ Global Stocks Rise as White House Signals Flexibility on Trade Talks

Global stocks rose on Wednesday, as the White House continued to soften its position on trade with China.

In Europe, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index climbed 0.2% in the opening minutes of trading, buoyed by its basic-resources sector after Glencore released its corporate earnings for 2018.

Shares in the mining giant were up 2.4% after the company said it would cap its coal production and confirmed The Wall Street Journal’s reports that it plans to curb production at one of its biggest copper and cobalt mining operations in Congo. Other big miners also rose, with Antofagasta and Anglo American both up 1.6%.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx’s retail sector slid 0.5%, after the U.K. competition regulator said it may block the planned $9.5 billion merger between J Sainsbury and Asda. Sainsbury shares plunged 14%, while investors were also keeping an eye on shares in Asda-parent Walmart after the U.S. retailer released better-than-expected results Tuesday.

Advances in Europe followed similar moves in Asia, where Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and Taiwan’s Taiex, both heavily exposed to the trade conflicts of the past year, were up 1% and 1.2%, respectively, as tensions between Washington and Beijing continued to ease.

President Trump commented Tuesday that the U.S. may not increase tariffs on Chinese goods as scheduled on March 1, saying the negotiating deadline is “not a magical date.”

With cabinet-level officials set to join the talks on Thursday, reports that the U.S. wants Chinese assurances of a stable yuan to be part of any agreement sent the Chinese currency 0.5% higher against the U.S. dollar to its highest since the end of January.

The yuan has still fallen 5.7% versus the dollar in the past 12 months, sparking concerns that Beijing has allowing its currency to devalue to neutralize the impact of U.S. trade tariffs.

“A pledge of renminbi stability has been discussed in multiple rounds of talks in recent months, and both sides have tentatively agreed it will be part of the framework of any final deal,” said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG in a note.

European autos stocks also rallied amid softened U.S. rhetoric on trade. The sector was up 1.6%, having faced pressure in recent sessions on fears that the sector could be the next target of Trump administration tariffs.

In the U.S., futures put the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq-100 on course to rise 0.1%. A positive session for the S&P 500 would constitute the index’s seventh positive day out of the last eight.

While the market was watching for results from CVS Health Corp. and Gannett Co., due before the market open, minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting were also due out later in the day.

The U.S. dollar and the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasurys were broadly flat, and although few market participants were expecting any groundbreaking news on interest-rate policy, the central bank’s release will likely be parsed for clues on its plans for its balance sheet.

The minutes “should shed some light on the Fed’s motivation for its shift in rhetoric at the January meeting and tell us how dovish it is. Investors are waiting to see whether we’ll see an end to balance sheet normalization,” said Ann-Katrin Petersen, investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors.

In commodities, gold remained close to its 10-month high, ticking up 0.1% to $1,346.20 a troy ounce, while copper broke fresh seven-month highs, edging up 0.1% to $6,339.50 a metric ton.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:20 ET (09:20 GMT)

DJ Health Care Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering the Health Care sector. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

0828 GMT - Fresenius SE's 2018 results had limited surprises given that it updated its targets in December, Jefferies says. The bank says it is concerned its expectations on some group businesses may be too high. Kabi is affected by regulatory changes in Germany but shows growth in Spain, Jefferies says. One surprise was that Fresenius gave out guidance to 2023, it says. Fresenius trades 5% higher. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

0814 GMT - Fresenius Medical Care reported a 2% sales beat for 4Q but missed on EPS as cost pressures continued to outpace growth, Jefferies says. Lower margins in North America and EMEA also weighed, it says. Jefferies says 2019 will be an investment year, primarily in home dialysis and emerging markets, including China. It says the company announced a share buyback program valued at up to EUR1 billion over 2019 and 2020, which should provide support to the share today. Fresenius Medical Care shares trade 4.3% higher. (donatopaolo.mancini@dowjones.com; @donatopmancini)

0656 GMT - As many Chinese drugmakers listed in Hong Kong see fresh selling today amid government-policy worries, especially related to bulk purchases, Morgan Stanley sees little impact on so-called innovative producers as well as R&D-services firms. CSPC is down 1.55% and Sino Biopharm is off 2.75%, putting their respective declines for this week at 6.3% and 7.7%. Even R&D company Wuxi Biologics, which jumped as much as 13% this morning after releasing an updated 2018 forecast, is now just 2.5% higher. (john.wu@wsj.com)

0532 GMT - Morgan Stanley doesn't see a quick fix to Cochlear's market-share loss, coming as F1H volume missed the investment bank's forecast by 5%, in part on September's debut of Advanced Bionics' Ultra 3D implant. The broker sees Cochlear's volume growth slowing further in 2H as its stock target drops 9.1% to A$160. Shares skidded 8.2% yesterday and a further 2.9% today to A$173.45, erasing the rest of 2019's gain. (david.winning@wsj.com; @dwinningWSJ)

0504 GMT - Following yesterday's record 25% plunge amid its F1H report, shares of Aussie vitamin-and-supplement maker may still be rich. Morgan Stanley is especially concerned about trends in China, where sales went from 30% growth in F1Q to a 14% drop last quarter. To the investment bank, that suggests Blackmores broadened China distribution too quickly, creating near-term earnings risk--but more importantly brand risk which impairs long-term earnings power." Shares lost another 5.4% today and approached 4-year lows. (david.winning@wsj.com; @dwinningWSJ)

0206 GMT - Higher operating costs weighed on 2018 earnings for Malaysian hospital operator KPJ, and BIMB Securities sees that persisting amid the firm's expansion plans. Meanwhile, its Indonesian operations should remain in the red amid a shortage of contract doctors. Shares are flat this morning, keeping the year's gain at 3.85%. (yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com; @yantoultra)

0136 GMT - Cochlear blamed health-budget constraints in Europe and competition from a rival hearing implant for F1H's lackluster volume growth. But UBS adds they may have also been capped by "difficulty growing an ever-increasing base." Get big enough and additional growth requires even-larger aggregate increases. The investment bank now sees Cochlear's unit sales lifting rising 6% in the short-to-medium term, versus 10% before. Shares are off another 1.2% today after yesterday's 8.1% slide, the largest in 5 years. (david.winning@wsj.com; @dwinningWSJ)

1426 GMT - Medtronic shares rise 2.1% after medical-device maker reports improved quarterly results and tweaks fiscal 2019 earnings forecast. Sales of brain-therapy products surged 11%, which CEO Omar Ishrak attributed to sales of capital equipment including robotic-assisted gear. On the downside, cardiac-rhythm and heart-failure devices dropped 4%. Ishrak tells the WSJ that sales of heart-failure devices known as LVAD's dropped due to "market and competitive pressures. Competitive launches caused us to lose share. We're focused on correcting that." Abbott Laboratories launched a new heart-failure device late last year that analysts say has taken market share from Medtronic. (peter.loftus@wsj.com; @Loftus)

1229 GMT - Intercept Pharmaceuticals says its late-stage study of patients with the liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, treated with Ocaliva meets a primary objective of reversing fibrosis. Analyst Michael Yee of Jefferies called the results "essentially a near best case scenario" and for shares of the New York-based company to rise on the news. Ocaliva is currently approved for a rare liver disease, and Intercept says it will file for approval with US regulators later this year, in hopes of its drug being the first approved to treat NASH. More than a dozen companies are developing medicines to treat NASH, which is common in patients who are obese or diabetic, and is expected to become the leading cause for liver transplants by 2020. Intercept Pharmaceuticals shares jump 28% to $141.90 premarket. (jared.hopkins@wsj.com; @jaredshopkins)

1222 GMT - Any future rises in ConvaTec's share price will have to wait for the appointment of a new CEO, as well as for the company to show continued delivery on expectations, Peel Hunt says. The wound-care specialist missed its full-year guidance last week, posting results that it called disappointing. The brokerage cuts its target price on ConvaTec to 150 pence from 170 pence, but says that the appointment of a CEO with a strong track record in driving growth could provide some relief to the stock. However, any sustained recovery in the share price will have to wait for multiple quarters of consistent delivery on expectations, Peel Hunt says. For now, the stock is worth holding "for its dividend and cash yields whilst we wait for the rebound in the shares," it says. (carlo.martuscelli@dowjones.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:20 ET (09:20 GMT)

DJ Basic Materials Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Basic Materials. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

0832 GMT - Shares in mining giant Glencore rise 2.4% as a 41% drop in net profit for 2018 is offset by a $2 billion buyback program. The buyback is "supportive" for the stock and is "expected to be topped up by $1 billion from the targeted noncore asset disposals in 2019," Citi says. "This gives 2019 shareholder returns range of $4.75 billion base with a potential top-up implying returns yield of 8.6%-10.4%." Earnings, however, were slightly weaker than expected. "The marketing segment performed weaker than expectations owing to negative impact from alumina and cobalt contracts." Citi expects a "slight downward consensus earnings revision on copper guidance" but expects some of the negative alumina and cobalt marketing earnings to reverse in 2019. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

0517 GMT - Australia's stock benchmark lagged much of the rest of Asia Pacific throughout today's trading, hit by large declines in consumer stocks as the market continues to move on fiscal 1H reports. The ASX 200 ended down 0.2% at 6096.5 after 3-straight gains, with the consumer-discretionary sector off 1% and staples sliding 2.5% amid a 5.9% drop for grocer Coles. Also, yield plays fell 1.5% as bond yields declined anew overnight. Such an environment makes the likes of REITs and utilities less attractive for some equity investors. However, BHP rose 2.5% to fresh 7 1/2-year highs after its half-year results, helping the materials sector climb 1.8%. But financials pulled back 0.5% after yesterday's jump. (kevin.kingsbury@wsj.com; @kevinkingsbury)

0145 GMT - Chinese equities have started with only muted gains after bigger advances elsewhere in the region. That, of course, with noted strength in mainland stocks since the Lunar New Year holiday. The startup-heavy ChiNext is rebounding 0.5% while other indexes are up about 0.2%. Financials, real estate and precious metals are doing well while tech feels some profit-taking. (chester.yung@wsj.com; @chester_yung)

0003 GMT - Fortescue has jumped following its F1H report, fueled by a surprise special-dividend announcement and better-than-expected earnings. The payout "is a positive step," says Macquarie, and "a clear signal that Fortescue plans to return surplus cash to shareholders." Shares of the Aussie-listed miner are up 6.1%, hitting fresh 2-year highs and putting 2019's surge at 61% amid hopes of higher iron-ore prices following the Vale mine disaster. (rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com; @RhiannonHoyle)

2351 GMT - BHP hitting fresh 7 1/2-year highs in Australia following yesterday's F1H report could be the result of the big miner not changing guidance, says JPMorgan. There were fears headed into the release that floods in Queensland state could lead to increased cost projections for the coal arm, the investment bank notes. Shares are up 1.6%, putting the year's gain at 9.8%. (rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com; @RhiannonHoyle)

2338 GMT - Cost pressures at the corporate level were behind Western Areas' F1H profit miss, says RBC, and it's going to increase scrutiny of business expenses in early 2019 even as FY guidance was maintained. Despite the earnings shortfall, the investment bank thinks Western Areas will keep its appeal for many investors given expectations for buoyant nickel prices. Shares are down 3.3% following its results, similar to yesterday's pre-report decline, and cutting the year's rebound to 17%. (rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com; @RhiannonHoyle)

2013 GMT - Toronto stocks pulled higher by metals and mining companies after gold prices surge to their highest level in 10 months as investors monitor continuing trade negotiations between the US and China and political uncertainty in Europe. The S&P/TSX Composite Index rises 99 points or 0.6% to 15937. The blue-chip S&P/TSX 60 Index is up 5 points or 0.6% to 950. Top gainers of the index include Pretium Resources, up 11%, Bombardier, up 10% and Turquoise Hill Resources, up 9.8%. (francesca.fontana@wsj.com; @francescamarief)

2045 GMT - After years of balance sheet repair, BHP Group is in a position where it could likely absorb a perfect storm of headwinds such as an extended commodity price slump and large M&A costs and still keep its A credit rating, says S&P Global Ratings. The miner's got net debt below its target range and S&P says its "preliminary calculation shows that BHP's adjusted funds from operations to debt was well above 80% as of Dec. 31, 2018, compared with the 60% threshold we consider commensurate with the current rating." That, coupled with continued strong cash flow, means the miner's got material headroom, in S&P's view. (rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com; @RhiannonHoyle)

1537 GMT - Glencore may delay a share buyback, says UBS ahead of the miner and commodity trader's full-year results Wednesday. The Swiss brokerage notes that Glencore is buying back about 9% of its average daily volume and still has $140 million left of $2 billion announced in 2018. "We still expect Glencore to announce a further $1bn buyback, though in our opinion there's now a risk it will be paused," UBS analyst Myles Allsop says. The bank expects Glencore to report 'weak' results, with pretax earnings before interest from its marketing division falling sharply in 2H. "Press reports suggest Glencore is still looking opportunistically at M&A, incl Hellenic Petroleum/Bunge, though we believe cash returns remain a priority." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

1433 GMT - Supply issues for aluminum sheet in the US first reported on Ball Corp.'s 4Q earnings call last month may be due to problems at Constellium NV's Muscle Shoals facility in Alabama, according to Jefferies. The firm says competitor Novelis implied in its own call in early February that it was trying to step in to cover customers impacted by the shortfall--while other chief competitor Arconic has largely stepped away from the packaging market. A spokeswoman for Constellium declined to comment on Jefferies' analysis. However, Constelliums' earnings are due Thursday, and Jefferies isn't concerned. According to the firm, guidance issued by Constellium during its analysts' day in December would have likely encompassed the financial impact of such a supply hiccup. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

1232 GMT - Gold prices edge up 0.19% to $1,329.37 a troy ounce, hitting a ten-month high as persistent political uncertainty supports investor appetite for the haven metal. The prices of other precious metals gain as well, as they are often used as a portfolio diversifier in uncertain periods for markets. A combination of central-bank forecasts, geopolitical developments and economic malaise has driven gold higher in recent weeks, with investors "still pricing in a dovish Federal Reserve and the growing U.S. debt, [which] could be another element supporting the gold price," according to Carlo Alberto De Casa, chief analyst at ActivTrades. ( david.hodari@wsj.com ; @davidhodari)

1230 GMT - BHP's results show it faces operational as well as economic hurdles, says AJ Bell after the miner reported lower-than-expected first-half underlying profit. Bell notes the results missed expectations on multiple fronts after production issues at some of its copper and iron ore mines. Rising costs were also an issue and BHP faces industry-wide pressure to improve safety and environmental standards. "Higher iron-ore prices as a result of Vale cutting production following its Brazilian dam disaster will help BHP's second-half earnings," says AJ Bell's Russ Mould. "However, there's still the big issue of slowing economic growth in China and what that means for commodity demand."(philip.waller@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:20 ET (09:20 GMT)

DJ Expect Pound Volatility on Wednesday -- Market Talk

0915 GMT - On Wednesday, expect volatility in the pound on headlines stemming from today's discussion between the U.K and the EU regarding a Brexit deal, says MUFG. "The mood from the EU side appears more subdued," MUFG says, which is in contrast to what U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is looking for: significant progress on a solution to the contentious Irish border backstop. However, "it is becoming increasingly likely for an extension to Article 50 to be requested...which should prove positive for the pound," says MUFG. This is regardless of the outcome of the meaningful vote on Feb. 27, it adds. GBP/USD falls 0.3% to 1.3030, having earlier reached a two-week high of $1.3077, and EUR/GBP rises 0.3% to 0.8709. (olga.cotaga@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 20, 2019 04:15 ET (09:15 GMT)