Wall Street Breakfast: What Moved Markets

Sizing up bank earnings

Kicking off earnings season in the U.S., JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) said it was confident enough in its financial position to resume share buybacks, while Citigroup’s (NYSE:C) outgoing CEO Mike Corbat came under fire over regulatory penalties. The reports didn’t stop there. Goldman Sachs’ (NYSE:GS) trading business returned to its former glory, Bank of America’s (NYSE:BAC) results slumped on net interest income, Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) cut its guidance, while Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) posted strong wealth management figures.

Coronavirus medical setbacks?

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) paused a government-sponsored trial of its antibody therapy due to safety concerns, less than 24 hours after Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) said research on its experimental vaccine was put on hold after a participant fell ill. While pauses are not uncommon, the news came after AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) halted tests of its vaccine due to a trial participant falling ill (the study has resumed in some countries but remains halted in the U.S.). Shares of maker Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) also slipped after the World Health Organization said Remdesivir had “no substantial effect” on the survival of hospitalized patients.

Apple enters the 5G race

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) launched four versions of the iPhone 12 with faster 5G connectivity on Tuesday, as well as unveiling the HomePod Mini, a $99 smart speaker. Wider product shot… The base model iPhone 12 (6.1-inch) and iPhone 12 Mini (5.4-inch) start at $699 and $799, and are available in five color options (pre-orders start October 16). The iPhone 12 Pro (6.1-inch) and Pro Max (6.7-inch) start at $999 and $1,099 for 128GB of storage, respectively, featuring a more premium design and extra camera power.

The new Black Friday

Big-box retailers battled it out during the week, throwing major sales events including Amazon Prime Day (NASDAQ:AMZN), Target (NYSE:TGT) “Deal Days,” Walmart’s (NYSE:WMT) “Big Save Event” and early Black Friday sales from Best Buy (NYSE:BBY). “There are so many unknown variables this year,” said Tyson Cornell, who leads the U.S. consumer markets group at PwC. “By kicking off sales in October, [retailers] are hoping to spread consumer traffic and demand over the next few months, helping them maintain social distancing in stores, consistently move inventory and adjust their strategies based on early consumer demand.”

Backlash over Twitter’s blocked NY Post story

Alongside withering criticism from conservatives, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) changed up its policy that it applied to block distribution of a New York Post story on Hunter Biden. The company announced that it had blocked the article in part because it had a policy of not sharing what might be hacked material, but its legal chief then said that the policy was too sweeping and could end up with unintended consequences. Twitter will now allow similar content to be shared (along with a source label to provide context), but it is still blocking the Hunter Biden article as it violates privacy policy by “including email addresses and other private info.”
Go Deeper: Go Deeper: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to clarify Section 230 of the Communications Act.

China set to approve its own tech protection law

China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress, is set to adopt a new rule that would restrict sensitive exports vital to national security. The Export Control Law would apply to all companies in China, including foreign-invested ones, and would add to Beijing’s regulatory arsenal, which already includes a tech export restriction catalog and an unreliable entity list. Competition has been growing with the U.S. over access to technology, and big Chinese companies including Huawei, ByteDance’s (BDNCE) TikTok, Tencent’s (OTCPK:TCEHY) WeChat and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (OTC:SMI) have already found themselves in Washington’s crosshairs in recent months.

Self-driving cars out in the wild

General Motors’ (NYSE:GM) Cruise autonomous vehicle unit is pulling the human backup drivers from its vehicles in San Francisco after landing a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. “We’re not the first company to receive this permit, but we’re going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann. The move follows last week’s announcement from Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Waymo that it would open its self-driving ride-hailing service to the public in the Phoenix area in vehicles without human drivers.

Largest ever corporate trade dispute

The World Trade Organization awarded the EU the right to impose tariffs on about $4B in American goods in retaliation for subsidies granted to Boeing (NYSE:BA). The decision followed a similar WTO ruling from last year that allowed the U.S. to impose tariffs on $7.5B in EU goods over state support for Airbus (OTCPK:EADSY). “The EU will immediately re-engage with the U.S. in a positive and constructive manner to decide on next steps. Our strong preference is for a negotiated settlement. Otherwise, we will be forced to defend our interests & respond in a proportionate way,” tweeted Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Commission EVP for Economy.
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