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Fly Intel - End of Day Brief - Friday March 8, 2019

Stocks cut losses in final hours of trading following disappointing U.S. jobs data

Stocks began the day in negative territory and remained there throughout the session. The early weakness was attributed to poor export data out of China and then solidified by the lower than expected jobs data in the U.S. The averages were able to pare their losses dramatically in the last few hours of trading, but stocks still finished with their worst weekly performance of the year. 

ECONOMIC NEWS: In the U.S., nonfarm payrolls increased a mere 20,000 in February, which was much weaker than the roughly 180,000 forecast. However, the unemployment rate fell to 3.8% from 4.0% previously and average hourly earnings rose 0.4%, which marked the best gain in almost 10 years. Housing starts bounced 18.6% to a 1.23M rate in January following a 14.0% drop to a 1.04M rate in December. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is down 11 rigs from last week to 1,027 rigs.

In political news, Bill Shine offered his resignation as Assistant to the President and Communications Director, and President Trump accepted. After leaving the White House, Shine will be joining Trump's re-election efforts. In addition, Fox Business reported that China's president Xi Jinping has just removed a trip to the U.S. to see President Trump at Mar-a-Lago.

In China, exports plunged 20.7% year-over-year in February, which was well off the median forecast for a comparatively moderate drop of 4.8%. In addition, a rare "sell" rating from China's largest brokerage was taken as a sign that the government wants to limit gains on equity markets.

TOP NEWS: Shares of Costco (COST) rose 5% after the retailer reported better than expected earnings for the second quarter, with total comparable sales up 6.7% on an adjusted basis year-over-year. Of note, the company said on its Q2 conference call that it is raising its minimum wage for its employees from $14 and $14.50 to $15 and $15.50 per hour in both the U.S. and Canada.

Tesla (TSLA) shares were in focus amid a series of news stories. According to Business Insider, the car maker offered employees many discounts on buying cars last year, including the ability to cash in paid time off and free Autopilot software. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that a group of Tesla investors is suing the company to permanently block CEO Elon Musk's "unchecked use of Twitter to make inaccurate statements" about the company. Citron Research, however, said in a newly published report on its website that Tesla critics and "vocal shorts" have "gone too far in their demonizing of Elon Musk" and said it sees the stock rebounding to $320.

Meanwhile, Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren announced a petition to support her plan of breaking up the biggest tech companies, saying "it's time to break up our biggest tech companies like Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG), and Facebook (FB)."

MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers were Upland Software (UPLD) and Big Lots (BIG), which gained a respective 18% and 13.5% after reporting quarterly results.

Among the notable losers was Netflix (NFLX), which slid about 1% after Buckingham analyst Matthew Harrigan downgraded the stock to Neutral from Buy, citing the stock's sensitivity to any market pullback, "investor angst" regarding what he refers to as "increasingly credible" competition from the Disney+ (DIS) streaming service and his concerns that his model for Netflix's long-term global membership growth may be optimistic given the mounting competition. Also lower were Eventbrite (EB) and National Beverage (FIZZ), which fell 24% and 15%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.

INDEXES: The Dow fell 22.99, or 0.09%, to 25,450.24 , the Nasdaq lost 13.32, or 0.18%, to 7,408.14 , and the S&P 500 declined 5.86, or 0.21%, to 2,743.07 .


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