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Tesla stock falls as concerns over softer sales increase after NYT report

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Shares of Tesla Inc. dropped 1.2% toward a 5-month low in premarket trade Monday, after a New York Times report indicated a big decline in sales from January to February, after the federal tax credit was reduced. Citing data on new-car registrations, compiled by the Dominion Cross-Sell Report, new Tesla registrations "fell significantly" in the 23 states covered by the report, including California, which accounts for about half of Tesla's sales, and three other big markets for the electric-vehicle maker, Texas, Florida and Washington. The report helps fuel concerns of softer sales and deliveries, which have weighed on the stock this year. The stock has tumbled 20.5% year to date through Friday, while the S&P 500 has climbed 11.7%. Over the weekend, On Friday, Cowen cut its price target, citing "likely softer deliveries" because of recent price changes and margin pressure. Over the weekend, Chief Executive Elon Musk said prices on inventory cars will rise 3% on April 1.

Yield curve may be indicating increased chance for rate cut but not a recession, says former Fed Chair Yellen

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Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Monday that the U.S. Treasury yield curve[s:TMUBMUSD10Y], which inverted on Friday for the first time since 2007, may signal the need to cut interest rates at some point, but it does not signal a recession. Yellen, who led the Fed between 2014 and 2018, was speaking at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment conference in Hong Kong. The curve, which reflects yields, and by default, borrowing rates, from shortest to longest maturity tends to slope upward in a growing economy, with longer-dated maturities paying out more than their short-dated counterparts; it has a debatable role historically in signalling recessions. The slope for global bonds had regained its upward trajectory, slightly, in European trading on Monday after stronger-than-expected German data. The Chicago Fed's Charles Evans, a voting member of the Fed's policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year, told the same Hong Kong conference that it was understandable for markets to be nervous when the yield curve flattens as it has.

Mueller report findings could be released on Sunday: NBC

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Attorney General William Barr won't be sharing conclusions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's now-completed Russia report with Congress on Saturday, according to NBC News. Barr had said in a letter to the House and Senate Intelligence Committee on Friday that he may be able to give Congress a summary "as soon as this weekend." Barr's summary could come Sunday, the report says. Mueller has been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to Donald Trump's campaign. Trump has denied the allegation.

Software maker Zoom files IPO documents

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Zoom Video Communications Inc. filed its initial public offering documents Friday and plans to list under the ticker ZM on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Zoom, which makes video communications software, reported net income of $7.6 million, vs. losses of $8.2 million in the year-prior quarter. Because of a $7.6 million charge for undistributed earnings attributable to participating securities, Zoom reported earnings of zero cents a share in fiscal 2019, vs. losses of 11 cents a share in fiscal 2018. Revenue rose to $330.5 million in fiscal 2019 up from $151.5 million in fiscal 2018. The San Jose, Calif.-based tech company had $66 million in cash and equivalents at the end of fiscal 2019 and free cash flow of $29.2 million. Zoom had a private valuation of $1 billion as of 2017, according to The Wall Street Journal. Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Co. and Credit Suisse are listed as underwriters, among other investment banks. The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission says the company plans to raise $100 million, though that figure is often a placeholder and will increase as Zoom approaches its listing date.

Barr tells lawmakers he may tell them Mueller conclusions this weekend

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In a letter to House and Senate committee chairmen, Attorney General William Barr said he may be able to tell them this weekend Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "principal conclusions." Mueller delivered his report to Barr Friday. He has been investigating whether Donald Trump's presidential campaign aided Russia in interfering with the 2016 election. Trump has denied the allegation.

Mueller has delivered his report to Attorney General Barr: reports

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Special Counsel Robert Mueller has delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, multiple media outlets said Friday. Mueller has investigated whether the Trump campaign aided Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied that allegation.

Pinterest files IPO, shows fourth-quarter profit

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Pinterest Inc. filed its initial public offering documents late Friday. The image search company said it plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PINS. Pinterest reported fourth-quarter net income of $47 million, up from $3.4 million in the year-ago quarter. The fourth quarter appears to be the company's most profitable: it posted third-quarter losses of $18.8 million, narrowing from $35.7 million in the year-ago period. Fourth-quarter revenue rose to $273.2 million from $173.4 million in the year-earlier quarter. Pinterest reported full-year net losses of $63 million, or 17 cents a share, vs. $130 million or 34 cents a share in 2017; revenue rose to $755.9 million from $472.9 million, in the year-ago period. At the end of 2018, Pinterest reported $135.3 million in cash and negative cash flow of $157,000. Pinterest was last valued by investors at $12.3 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal. Goldman Sachs & Co. J.P. Morgan and Allen & Company are listed as underwriters, among others. The Securities and Exchange Commission filing says the company plans to raise $100 million, though that figure is often a placeholder and will likely increase as Pinterest approaches its listing date.

Stocks end sharply lower as global growth worries mount

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Stocks fell sharply and ended near session lows Friday as a round of disappointing economic data out of Europe and an inversion of the U.S. Treasury yield curve stoked worries over global growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped around 460 points, or 1.8%, to end near 25,503, according to preliminary data, while the S&P 500 shed 1.9% to close near 2,801. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.5% to end near 7,643. Equities began the session on a weak note after purchasing-managers-index readings across Europe came in weaker than expected. Losses were extended after a measure of the yield curve inverted, with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falling below the yield on the 3-month T-bill. An inversion is seen as a reliable recession indicator, typically preceding such downturns by around a year or more.

Two influential Fed doves shy away from calling for rate cuts

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Two of the Federal Reserve's most dovish officials on Friday both shied away from calling for the central bank to cut interest rates. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Friday, said the central bank may have tightened "a little bit too far" but didn't call for reversing course. Earlier,Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said only that he thinks the Fed is close to a neutral policy stance and he hoped the central bank hadn't pushed its benchmark Fed funds rate up to a level that was causing the economy to contract. Both said they supported the Fed decision this week to hold interest rates steady.

Stephen Moore says he doesn't want to disrupt Fed, says call to fire Powell was written 'in anger'

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Stephen Moore, who President Trump on Friday said he would nominate to the Federal Reserve, said in an interview he will be an "independent voice." Speaking to Bloomberg Television, the campaign adviser to Trump said his previous call to fire Chairman Jerome Powell "was probably written in a time of anger" but that the December rate hike was a mistake that has been reversed. He said he looked forward to working with Powell and that Powell could be a "hero." "I do not want to be disruptive, I want to be somebody that can really help Chairman Powell and the others on that board to construct the best pro-growth, stable price system that we can for this country," Moore said.

Oil prices settle lower, but climb for a third straight week

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Oil futures fell on Friday, with losses fed by worries over a slowdown in global energy demand, but prices climbed for a third straight week on expectations for tighter crude supplies. May West Texas Intermediate oil fell 94 cents, or 1.6%, to finish at $59.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract still rose about 0.4% for the week, according to FactSet data.

Treasury imposes new sanctions on Venezuela after arrest of Guiado aide

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The Treasury Department on Friday announced new sanctions against Venezuela, after what the agency called the illegal arrest of an aide to Juan Guiado, who the U.S. recognizes as the acting president of the country. The sanctions are against the bank Banco de Desarrollo Economico y Social de Venezuela, or BANDES, as well as four institutions it owns or controls. The sanctions come within an hour of President Trump rolling back the sanctions the Treasury announced Thursday against North Korea.

Trump says he's ordered withdrawal of extra North Korea sanctions

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President Donald Trump said Friday he'd ordered the withdrawal of extra "large scale" sanctions put on North Korea by the U.S. Treasury. Trump said those sanctions had been put on Pyongyang in addition to those that already existed. "President Trump likes Chairman Kim and he doesn't think these sanctions will be necessary," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. On Thursday, the U.S. announced the designation of two China-based shipping companies that have helped North Korea evade sanctions.

Gold futures end at 3-week high

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Gold futures settled at a three-week high on Friday to post a gain of 0.7% for the week, with the haven metal finding support as European and U.S. economic data fed global growth concerns and the stock market tumbled. April gold climbed by $5, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,312.30 an ounce on Comex. That was the highest finish for a most-active contract since Feb. 28, according to FactSet data.

Baker Hughes data show U.S. oil-rig count down for a 5th straight week

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Baker Hughes on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil fell by nine to 824 this week. That followed four consecutive weeks of declines, with last week's figure down by just 1. The total active U.S. rig count also declined by 10 to 1,016, according to Baker Hughes. May West Texas Intermediate crude was down $1.35, or 2.3%, at $58.63 a barrel from Thursday's finish.

Tesla's price target lowered at Cowen on expectation of softer deliveries

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Analysts at Cowen on Friday lowered their price target on Tesla Inc. shares to $180, from $200, on "likely softer deliveries" in the first quarter, the company's recent price changes, and margin pressure, they said. "It is too early to call the sustainable demand rate for the Model 3 in Europe and China, we expect demand in the U.S. to be soft until the release of the low margin ($35,000) model in 2Q," the Cowen analysts, led by Jeffrey Osborne. "Management will likely attribute the likely delivery miss to vehicles in transit to Europe and China, but we believe low demand in the U.S. is also a factor," they said of first-quarter deliveries. Tesla shares fell 1.6% on Friday and are down 20% in the past 12 months, which contrasts with gains around 6% for the S&P 500 index.

Trump says he'll announce Moore's nomination for Fed's board

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President Donald Trump said Friday he'll announce Stephen Moore's nomination to the Federal Reserve's board of governors. Trump reportedly asked Moore to accept the nomination earlier this week, and Moore told The Wall Street Journal he "would do it" if the nomination materialized. Moore is a former Trump campaign adviser. Trump made his comment after getting off Air Force One in Florida.

IRS reduces threshold for imposing penalties on underpayment of taxes

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury Friday announced more leniency towards taxpayers who have underreported their tax payments as a result of miscalculating their withholdings. The Internal Revenue Service will now not impose underpayment penalties on those who pay at least 80% of their owed taxes. Previously taxpayers who reported under 85% of the total amount of taxes owed would be subject to tax penalties. Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the change is an "effort to help those who attempted in good faith to meet their withholding obligations."

Yield curve recession indicator flashes red as 10-year yield falls below 3-month yield

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The yield curve as measured by the spread between the 3-month Treasury bill and the 10-year note inverted for the first time since 2007, following a sharp rally in longer-dated notes. The spread between the two maturities stood at around negative 3 basis points. On Friday, the 10-year note yield fell nearly 10 basis points to 2.434%, while the 3-month bill was down a single basis point to 2.462%, Tradeweb data show. Bond prices move inversely to yields. The last nine times the yield curve has inverted, a recession has followed, according to the San Francisco Fed.

Chinese film producer and advertising company Leaping Group to raise up to $20 million in IPO

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Leaping Group Co. Ltd., a Chinese film production and advertising company, said Friday it is aiming to sell up to 4 million shares in its planned initial public offering, priced at $5 each. The company would raise $20 million and trade if it sells the maximum amount of shares and has applied to trade on Nasdaq, under the ticker symbol "YZCM." Irvine, Calif.-based Boustead Securities is sole underwriter on the deal. Proceeds will be used to expand the company's advertising network, invest in films and movie theaters, recruit senior staff and make deals in the industry, the company says in its prospectus.

GM to unveil new electric car, investing $300 million in Michigan plant

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General Motors Co. said Friday it will invest $300 million in one of its Michigan assembly plants to produce a new Chevrolet electric vehicle, bringing 400 new jobs to the plant. The announcement is part of GM's plan to invest $1.8 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations, creating 700 new jobs and supporting 28,000 jobs in six states, it said. The new EV would be in addition to the Chevy Bolt, "further advancing GM's commitment to an all-electric future," the company said. "It will be designed and engineered off an advanced version of the current award-winning Bolt EV architecture. Additional product information and timing for the new Chevrolet EV will be released closer to production," the company said. Shares of GM fell 2% on Friday and are up 0.7% in the past 12 months, compared gains of 7% for the S&P 500 index.

MedMen enters credit agreement with private-equity firm Gotham Green for up to $250 million

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MedMen Enterprises Inc. said Friday it has entered an agreement with funds managed by cannabis investor and private-equity firm Gotham Green Partners for a senior secured convertible credit facility of up to $250 million. MedMen Chief Executive Adam Bierman said the money will be used for general working capital, including making some of its retail licenses operational, with a focus on Florida, integrating other recent or pending transactions, including those related to PharmaCann LlC, expanding geographically through new acquisitions and for other purposes. The notes will be issued in three tranches with the initial tranches expected to be in the amount of $100 million. In the first 12 months, interest may be paid-in-kind by issuing more debt. MedMen shares rose 6.6% in Friday trade, and have gained 17% in 2019, while the S&P 500 has gained 7%.

Treasury announces new sanctions to curtail Iranian nuclear construction

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said Friday it will be imposing sanctions on 14 individuals as well as 17 companies who have been supporting Iranian nuclear efforts. These entities were found to be connected to Iran's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, or SPND, which the Treasury reported contributes directly to these efforts. "The United States will continue applying maximum pressure to the Iranian regime, using all economic tools to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction. Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a statement.

Avon shares jump 6% on report it has discussed sale to Brazil's Natura

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Avon Products Inc. shares climbed 6% in early trade Friday, after the Wall Street Journal said the company has discussed a sale to Brazilian rival Natura & Co., citing a person familiar with the matter. The talks include the possibility that Natura would acquire Avon's North American business, which is a separate company, in addition to the listed company which operates around the world. Avon sold its North America business to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP in 2016. Avon shares have gained 91% in 2019 so far, while the S&P 500 has gained 13%.

Financial stocks in broad selloff again, as Treasury yields fall

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Financial stocks were broadly lower Friday, with the sector headed for a fourth-straight loss, as the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dropped to a 15-month low in the wake of the Federal Reserve's downbeat economic outlook and disappointing eurozone data. The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF shed 1.3%, with 67 of 68 components trading lower, and has not dropped 4.4% over the past four sessions. Among the ETF's most-active components, shares of Bank of America Corp. lost 1.4%, Citigroup Inc. gave up 2.4%, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. slid 0.9% and Regions Financial Corp. slumped 3.1%. Lower long-term interest rates can hurt bank profits, as the spread between what the banks earn on longer-term assets, such as loans, and what they pay to fund the assets with shorter-term liabilities, narrow. The financial ETF has lost 7.1% over the past 12 months, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 7.9%.

Dow opens lower, erases weekly gain as fears of a slowdown in global growth resurface

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U.S. stock indexes opened lower on Friday as signs of weakness in Europe's economy underscored worries about sluggish expansion outside of America. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120 points, or 0.5%, at 25,847, pushing its weekly gain into negative territory, according to FactSet data. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index retreated 0.4% to 2,844, and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4% to reach 7,807. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were holding on to solid weekly gains, with the broad-market S&P up 0.8%, while the tech-heavy index is up 1.5% so far this week. Setting the tone for early action on Wall Street was a report on purchasing managers, which pointed to a further slowdown in activity during March after tentative signs of a rebound earlier in the year. The news comes after the Federal Reserve on Wednesday downgraded its economic outlook for the year in the U.S. to 2.1% from 2.3% and signaled that there would be no further increases to interest rates in 2019, citing weakness abroad. Investors also are watching developments surrounding Brexit, with European Union leaders allowing U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to postpone Britain's deadline for an exit from Europe's trade bloc beyond March 29, but warned that the country could still crash out.

BlackRock to acquire eFront for $1.3 billion in cash

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BlackRock Inc. said Friday it has agreed to acquire eFront from private-equity firm Bridgepoint and eFront employees for $1.3 billion in cash. eFront is an alternative investment management software company with more than 700 clients in 48 counties. "The combination of eFront with Aladdin, BlackRock's investment operating platform used by more than 225 institutions around the world, will set a new standard in investment and risk management technology," BlackRock said in a statement. The deal will be funded with a mix of existing cash and debt and will be minimally dilute to earnings per share. Separately, BlackRock said it has agreed to buy about 3.1 million of its own shares for $412.84 a share in a private transaction under its existing buyback program. Shares fell 1% in early trade and are down 20% in the last 12 months, while the S&P 500 has gained 8%.

Biogen stock price target cut to $247 from $341 at SVB Leerink

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SVB Leerink analysts cut their price target on shares of Biogen Inc. to $247 from $341 on Friday. "The uncertainties about the outlook for their MS and SMA franchises are significant," wrote analysts led by Geoffrey Porges, who maintained their market perform rating on the stock. Porges said he and his team "assume that the company takes the responsible decision to terminate all further investments in beta amyloid-directed medicines (which has not occurred), and saves their investors the cash and saves patients and investigators from the burden of such studies. If Biogen does not make this decision, then our adjusted expense forecast could be too low, with further negative effects on our valuation even compared to our new PT." However, despite doubts about the efficacy of drugs based on the amyloid hypothesis, Biogen is forging ahead with its next amyloid-based trial; drug development partner Eisai Co. Ltd. announced on Friday the initiation of another Phase 3 trial, this time evaluating BAN2401, a monoclonal antibody that binds to neutralize and eliminate toxic beta amyloid aggregates. Biogen's stock, which fell 1.1% in premarket trade Friday, plunged 29% on Thursday after the company announced it was discontinuing trials for Alzheimer's drug aducanumab. Shares of the drugmaker have fallen 25% in the year to date, while the S&P 500 has gained 13.9%.

Papa John's adds Shaquille O'Neal to the board

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Papa John's International Inc. announced a new addition to its board: Shaquille O'Neal. The former NBA superstar will also be an investor in nine Papa John's locations around Atlanta and, in a marketing agreement, will be an ambassador to the brand. O'Neal is the founder and owner of Big Chicken, a fast-casual restaurant in Las Vegas, a fine dining restaurant in Los Angeles, and nine Krispy Kreme locations in Atlanta. Earlier this month, John Schnatter, Papa John's founder, stepped down from the board earlier this month following a period in which he stepped down as chief executive after using the N-word on a conference call and resigned as chairman. Papa John's shares have rallied 17.8% in 2019 while the S&P 500 index is up nearly 14% for the period.

Tyson Foods recalls about 35 tons of chicken strip products for potential contamination with metal pieces

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Shares of Tyson Foods Inc. were indicated fractionally lower in premarket trade Friday, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the producer of processed meats was recalling about 35 tons of frozen, ready-to-eat chicken strip products, as they may be contaminated with pieces of metal. The chicken strip items were produced on Nov. 30. The 69,093-pounds of products subject to recall include: 25 ounce packages of frozen "Tyson Fully Cooked Buffalo Style Chicken Strips Chicken Breast Strip Fitters With Rib Meat and Buffalo Style Sauce;" 25-ounce bags of frozen "Tyson Fully Cooked Crispy Chicken Strips Chicken Breast Stris Fritters With Rib Meat;" and 20-pound cases of "Spare Time Fully Cooked, Buffalo Style Chicken Strips Chicken Breast Strip Fritters With Rib Meat and Buffalo Style Sauce." The products have a "best if used by" date of Nov. 30, 2019. The USDA said the problem was discovered after two consumer complaints, but there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions. Tyson's stock, which closed Thursday at an 8-month high, has run up 29% over the past three months, while the S&P 500 has climbed 18%.