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May 23, 2019

Markets I Europe Markets Closing Report I European stocks slide on trade worries; Royal Mail plunges to record low

Silvia Amaro, Chloe Taylor

European markets traded sharply lower Thursday amid ongoing U.S.-China trade concerns.

European Markets: FTSE, GDAXI, FCHI, IBEX

FTSEFTSE 100FTSE7239.53-94.66-1.29517818198
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down by 1.5% with almost every sector in the red. All major bourses were in the red, with the French CAC and German DAX down 1.8% and 1.6% respectively.
The FTSE 100 in London also fell heavily, lower by around 1.6%.
Auto stocks led the losses among sectors, down by more than 3%. This comes after renewed concerns over the trade relationship between the U.S. and China.
The U.S. has said it will impose trading restrictions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from August 19. Of the $70 billion Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to U.S. firms including Qualcomm, Intel and Micron Technology.
In corporate news, Deutsche Bank shareholders gathered Thursday for its annual general meeting, with questions over the bank’s strategy and leadership. Deutsche has been the source of much negative publicity in recent years — from settlements with the U.S. Department of Justice to weak earnings. Shares fell 3%.
Looking at other individual stocks, Royal Mail tanked to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 and hit a record low. Reuters cited one trader as saying there was a legitimate fear the privatized U.K. postal service could be renationalized, amid turmoil surrounding Prime Minister Theresa May’s government. The stock was down 11%.
Back in Europe, politics is a central focus as voting in the EU elections begins in the U.K. and the Netherlands.
In Britain specifically, Brexit uncertainty continues to weigh, with pressure mounting on the country’s leader to resign. Sterling slumped to $1.2648 Thursday after May unveiled a “new” Brexit deal that is largely expected to be rejected by the U.K.’s Parliament.

Source: CNBC

US Manufacturing | U.S. manufacturing PMI slumps to nine-year low in May

Jeffry Bartash

U.S. companies are growing very slowly in wake of heightened trade tensions with China.
The numbers: Faced with less demand from customers and a flareup in U.S.-China trade tensions, American businesses grew in May at the slowest pace since before President Trump was elected, a pair of new surveys show.
An IHS Markit “flash” survey of U.S. manufacturers fell to a nine-and-a-half year low of 50.6 this month from 52.6 in April. Manufacturing conditions have been soft for months.
Even more ominous, the firm’s survey of U.S. service-oriented companies such as banks and retailers slipped to a 39-month low of 50.8 from 52.7. Service companies employ about four-fifths of all U.S. workers. Until recently they’ve been expanding rapidly.
Any number over 50 signifies that companies are growing, but the sharp decline in the indexes this year suggests the U.S. economy could slow in the months ahead, especially if the dispute with China drags on.
What happened: The growth in new orders from both domestic customers and foreign buyers declined and firms “put the brakes on hiring," IHS said.
Big picture: The ongoing trade war with China and resulting tit-for-tat tariffs has taken a toll on American companies. They’ve lost some sales, had to find new suppliers and are generally hesitant about what to do next because of trade tensions.
What they are saying? “Growth of business activity slowed sharply in May as trade war worries and increased uncertainty dealt a further blow to order book growth and business confidence,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. “The slowdown has been led by manufacturing, but shows increasing signs of spreading to services.”
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.22% and S&P 500 SPX, -1.13% fell in Thursday trades on worries that the U.S.-China impasse could drag on for months. The weak Markit readings added to the pressure on stocks.
Read: Monster clash over trade dwarfs all other issues about the U.S. economy
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -2.11% slipped to 2.36%. The yield has sunk from a seven-year high of 3.23% last October, largely because the Fed junked plans to keep raising interest rates. Trade worries have also pushed yields lower.

Source: MarketWatch

US Jobless | U.S. jobless claims dip to 211,000, hover near half-century low

Jeffry Bartash

Bloomberg News/Landov
Job seekers are finding plenty of opportunities amid a record number of job openind and the lowest rate of layoffs in decades.
The numbers: The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits in Mid-May fell slightly and returned close to a half-century low, signaling that a muscular U.S. jobs market is still going strong.
Initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, dipped by 1,000 to 211,000 in the seven days ended May 18, the government said Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch estimated new claims would total a seasonally adjusted 217,000.

The more stable monthly average of new claims fell by 4,750 to 220,250.
The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, rose slightly to 1.68 million. One year ago, these claims were about 100,000 higher.
What happened: Jobless claims have settled back near a 50-year low after a spike last month tied to seasonal changes in employment around the Easter holiday and spring break for schools.
Big picture: By most measures the U.S. labor market is the strongest in decades. Indeed, the Federal Reserve used the word “strong” a dozen times to describe the labor market in the minutes of its last meeting in early May.
Wages are rising, job openings are at a record high and layoffs and unemployment are at a 50-year low. The sizzling labor market is keeping the U.S. economy on stable growth path despite increasing headwinds such as a trade tensions with China
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.39% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.28% were set to open sharply lower in Thursday trades on worries that the U.S.-China impasse could drag on for months.
Read: Monster clash over trade dwarfs all other issues about the U.S. economy
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.93% slipped to 2.36%. The yield has sunk from a seven-year high of 3.23% last October, largely because the Fed junked plans to keep raising interest rates. Trade worries have also pushed yields lower.

Source: MarketWatch

Market Insider | Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: Best Buy, Hormel, T-Mobile, Sprint, L Brands & more

Peter Schacknow

Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:

Best Buy — The electronics retailer’s quarterly earnings came in 16 cents a share above estimates at an adjusted $1.02 per share, with revenue beating forecast as well. Comparable-store sales were up 1.1%, beating the 0.9% consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.
Hormel — Hormel reported adjusted quarterly profit of 46 cents per share, beating estimates by a penny a share. Revenue was short of forecasts, however, and the company also cut its full-year outlook as African Swine Fever impacts its beef and pork markets.
T-Mobile US, Sprint — Sources tell CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that Justice Department antitrust division head Makan Delrahim has not made a decision on whether to allow the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint deal, despite reports that staff is recommending the deal be blocked.
Medtronic — The medical device maker beat estimates by 8 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.54 per share, with revenue also beating Wall Street forecasts. Medtronic also issued a full-year earnings outlook range that is largely above current consensus.
L Brands — L Brands reported quarterly profit of 14 cents per share, surprising analysts who had expected a breakeven quarter. The Victoria’s Secret parent also raised its outlook for the full year, on the heels of record results for its Bath & Body Works unit.
Avon Products — Avon agreed to be bought by Brazilian cosmetics maker Natura Cosmeticos in a stock swap deal that values Avon at $2 billion. Avon had confirmed Wednesday that the two sides were in acquisition talks.
Boeing — Acting Federal Aviation Administration Chief Dan Elwell said there is no specific timetable for approving the return of Boeing’s grounded 737 Max jet to service. The FAA is meeting with airline regulators from about 30 countries today to discuss the software fix for the jet as well as new pilot training developed by Boeing.
Harley-Davidson — Harley executive Larry Hund told The Wall Street Journal that expanding its loan operation will be a key part of the company’s strategy to attract new and younger motorcycle buyers, as it plans to introduce 100 new models through 2027.
Spotify — Spotify has notified an unspecified number of users that it has reset their passwords, according to a Tech Crunch report. The music streaming service said the reset was due to “detected suspicious activity” but did not elaborate.
NetApp — NetApp reported fiscal fourth quarter profit of $1.22 per share, missing consensus estimates by 4 cents a share, with the data storage company’s revenue also falling short of Wall Street forecasts. NetApp also gave a weaker-than-expected forecast. The company raised its quarterly dividend, however, to 48 cents per share from 40 cents a share.
Deutsche Bank — Deutsche Bank shares fell to a record low as the bank held its annual meeting in Frankfurt. CEO Christian Sewing said he was ready to make “tough cutbacks” to the company’s investment bank, following several restructuring attempts.
Tyson Foods — The meat and poultry processor is in talks to invest billions in Kazakhstan to avoid Chinese tariffs, according to the Financial Times. The talks are set to center around setting up a beef-processing plant, with an initial investment of $200 million.
Chipotle Mexican Grill — The restaurant chain was downgraded to “underperform” from “market perform” at BMO Capital, which said the impact of African Swine Fever on Chipotle’s operations is underappreciated.

Source: CNBC

Wealth | Why pessimism on Social Security could come back to bite millennials

Mark Miller

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Why does the word “old” come to mind for so many of us when the topic of Social Security comes up?  
FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen on the entrance to a Social Security office in New York City, U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo
    Retirement benefits are the biggest component of Social Security. But the program also is very important for disabled people of all ages, as well as surviving children and spouses of deceased beneficiaries. And perhaps most important, today’s young people will need Social Security every bit as much as today’s retirees and near-retirees - and probably more so if current economic trends persist.
Yet many young people have been conditioned to think they should not count on Social Security to be there when their time to retire rolls around. That is not surprising, considering the negative, often false propaganda uttered by politicians hostile to Social Security and the financial services industry, and misleading media coverage.
The danger here is that the current high level of worry over Social Security’s viability could become self-fulfilling if it erodes political support. That would be especially damaging for young people when they retire, argues Peter Arno, an economist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a scholar of both Social Security and health policy.
    Arno points to four trends that suggest millennials will need to rely to a much greater extent on Social Security than current retirees and those approaching retirement now. Millennials will be far less likely to receive retirement income from defined benefit pensions, and they have lower rates of home ownership than earlier generations. And, wage stagnation and crippling levels of student debt make it impossible for many to save for retirement.
    “If you add up all these factors, you have a constellation of things that will make it very difficult for young people down the road,” he said. “That’s why Social Security is crucially important for both this generation and younger people. Joining forces between older folks in the boomer generation and the millennial generation offers a tremendous strategic opportunity to bolster the long-term stability of Social Security.”
Politicians routinely claim that Social Security is going bankrupt and that its shortfalls drive the national deficit - neither is true. I often hear so-called experts from the financial services industry advise people to count on receiving only part of their future benefits. Good luck with that - just try running the numbers with only half of your projected Social Security benefits, and you will watch your plan collapse right there on your computer screen.
   Much of the media coverage of the annual report of the Social Security trustees also is atrocious. Just this past April, the report’s release set off the predictable wave of erroneous headlines and broadcast reports stating that Social Security is “running out of money,” describing its “depleted funds” and advising people on how to prepare for a future retirement without their expected benefits.
   Riddle me this: in what way is a program with a cumulative surplus of $2.9 trillion running out of money? The trustee report shows Social Security is fully funded until 2035, and 93 percent funded for the next 25 years. Yes, there is a funding problem: absent other changes, the combined retirement and disability trust funds will be empty in 2035.
At that point, current revenue would be sufficient to pay about 80 percent of schedule benefits. The ensuing across-the-board benefit cut would be very damaging for retirees and workers, but it seems a highly unlikely outcome from a political standpoint, considering the strong public support Social Security enjoys.
The shortfall is due to two factors: the falling ratio of workers paying into the system compared with expected retirees, and rising income inequality, which has pushed an increasing share of wages outside the payroll tax base.
A straightforward, middle-of-the-road solution is available, and making its way through the House of Representatives now. The Social Security 2100 Act puts Social Security back into balance over the next 75 years by raising payroll tax rates so gradually that few would notice - one-tenth of 1 percent per year - and by adding new payroll taxes to wages over $400,000; currently, tax collection stops at $132,900 of annual income. (


Nonetheless, the public continues to worry about Social Security’s future.
According to Gallup survey data (, 73 percent of Americans aged 55 or older worry about the Social Security system "a great deal" or "a fair amount." Among people age 35-54, the figure is 67 percent; among those 18-34, it is 59 percent.
Arno argues we now have a historic opportunity to unite boomers and millennials in support of strengthening Social Security. In a provocative article that he co-authored recently in the American Prospect (, Arno takes on the root causes of the cynicism so many young people have today about Social Security and argues that Social Security should be a centerpiece policy issue for anyone interested in civil rights and social justice.
“Social Security is the most successful anti-poverty policy in the history of the United States,” Arno said. “And this is not true just for seniors, but across the entire life cycle and the entire population. It reduces more poverty for children than any other policy, more poverty for working adults and more poverty for seniors. So it’s an intergenerational antipoverty program.”
The program’s impact is especially profound for people of color and women, he adds, noting that wage disparities create economic disadvantage that persists in retirement. This is an intergenerational justice issue,” he said.  “Intergenerational in the sense that it affects all generations, not just seniors, but everyone that’s working and families and kids. That’s why I want to get folks to not see Social Security exclusively as a senior’s issue.”
You can hear a longer conversation that I had recently with Arno about Social Security on my podcast. (
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters)
Reporting and writing by Mark Miller in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis.

Source: Reuters

Analysis | The Finance 202: Wall Street may need to worry about Trump impeachment talk

By Tory Newmyer


Trader Ryan Falvey works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
It may be time for Wall Street to start sweating impeachment talk out of Washington again. 
Investors have largely ignored special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe into President Trump’s 2016 campaign — and subsequent moves by Trump to stymie the investigation, and the fallout over Mueller’s report — for the past year and a half.
But that wasn’t always the case. And the president Wednesday renewed the argument for markets to focus on the matter, amid gathering momentum among congressional Democrats to push for a formal impeachment inquiry. In a huffy Rose Garden performance, Trump declared legislative negotiations will grind to a halt until Democrats drops their investigations of him. 
That would imperil top White House priorities that could also prompt markets to shudder, or worse. Namely, the administration is eager to forge congressional consensus on its reworked trade pact with Canada and Mexico. And as soon as late summer, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the federal government will exhaust its borrowing authority unless Trump and Congress can agree to lift the debt ceiling. Failing to do so could have cataclysmic results for markets and the wider economy.
“You certainly want to start thinking about debt ceiling risk,” says GeoQuant CEO Mark Rosenberg, whose firm uses artificial intelligence-powered indexes to measure various types of political risk. One of his tools — the “Mueller Risk Index,” which measures the likelihood of Trump’s early removal from office — has been trending down since the release of the special counsel’s report.
But his measure of institutional support for the president shows Trump is at one of his weakest points in his ability to bend the branches of government to his will. And, significantly, it shows Trump’s grip weakening further as the summer wears on:

The index, Rosenberg explains, is “an aggregate of projections for a number of issues relative to institutional support — investigations of the president, legislative debates, legal battles, appointments and confirmations" and more, including the fight over the debt ceiling itself. He isn’t, however, ready to predict a debt default yet. “To the extent there’s an upcoming calendared event where the elevated institutional risk could have a market impact, that is it… But the pattern is pretty clear: So long as economic data supports the bull market, it’s unlikely that politics will derail it,” he says, adding the administration and lawmakers probably will forge a deal to head off a default.
A senior Trump official appeared determined to communicate that message to markets on Wednesday, telling CNBC’s Eamon Javers that Trump’s ultimatum to Democrats wouldn’t hold up progress toward deals on the debt ceiling and government funding, which is primed to run out Sept. 30. “Debt ceiling is must-pass, as is Govt funding,” the official texted Javers. “So no, that isn’t precluded by what happened today.”
It wasn’t long ago that investors drew a direct link between the investigations dogging the president and policy outcomes critical to economic performance.
In May 2017, the revelation that Trump pressured former FBI director James Comey to drop a probe of Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, set off one of the steepest stock dives of the year. The fear at the time was that Trump’s presidency would unravel before he could deliver major corporate tax cuts and deregulation.
Financiers flooded Washington analysts with questions about impeachment procedures and stopped in their tracks when Trump-related alerts popped up on their Bloomberg terminals. In June, when Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, both CNBC and Bloomberg TV carried the hearing live.

Former FBI Director James Comey appears before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 08, 2017. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Interest cooled as summer turned to fall that year and it became clearer the tax cuts were more or less on a glide path to passage.
Lately, investors have appeared less spooked by the specter of Washington dysfunction: The S&P 500 actually gained about 11 percent during the month-long government shutdown that ended in January. And with deadlines for the debt ceiling and a budget deal still months away, it’s unlikely market participants will start to fixate on those negotiations soon.
“Obviously this is a concerning headline, but there is a meaningful difference between fiscal brinkmanship today versus fiscal brinkmanship weeks away from the debt ceiling deadline,” Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Compass Point, said in an email.
“There is a confluence of political risk in the fall with the debt ceiling and spending deadline, but I think the market still expects a resolution on these fiscal fights. Instead, these comments reinforce our bearishness on the prospects for other efforts such as infrastructure spending or prescription drug pricing.”
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Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell speaks at a news conference earlier this month. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Fed looks to hold steady. WSJ's Nick Timiraos: "Federal Reserve officials were broadly comfortable with their make-no-moves posture on interest rates at their April 30-May 1 policy meeting. Many officials at the meeting said they expected a recent soft patch in inflation would be temporary, according to minutes released Wednesday. But several raised concerns about the implications for the economy if price pressures continued to defy expectations by holding at lower levels. Officials didn’t specifically raise the prospect of an interest-rate cut, according to the minutes. Investor speculation over a rate cut had increased in the run-up to the meeting."
New York Fed President John Williams to reporters on Wednesday: "I don’t see any strong move interest rates one way or the other.”
Trade tensions rock global stocks. Bloomberg's Yakob Peterseil: "Stocks slumped globally on Thursday as the simmering trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies took a greater toll on markets. Safe assets were in demand, with gold and the yen gaining alongside the dollar and Treasuries. S&P 500 futures pointed to a big drop at the New York open after the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper published two commentaries assailing American moves to curb Chinese companies. Tesla sunk to below $185 in premarket trading, setting it up for a seventh day of losses. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index headed for its worst day in two weeks as automakers tumbled after an EU official said the U.S. was unlikely to start trade talks with the bloc soon while it’s preoccupied with China."
One early trade war winner: Active managers. MarketWatch's Chris Matthews: "Active stock pickers are having one of their best years since the financial crisis, and these money managers can thank rising U.S.-China trade tensions for their better fortunes, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs. The analysts, led by Arjun Menon, wrote in a Wednesday research note that 42% of large-cap active mutual funds are outperforming their benchmarks so far in 2019, well above the 34% rate averaged during the last decade. Menon argued that escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China are one reason for this improved performance, noting that mutual funds have been underweight the 20 S&P 500 companies with the highest sales exposure to China."
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the United States might not be ready to work out a trade deal. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

— E.U. says U.S. not ready for a trade deal: “The U.S., which is embroiled in a tariff war with China while juggling negotiations with nations including Japan, Mexico and Canada, may not be prepared to start talks with the European Union on a proposed trade deal,” Bloomberg News’s William Horobin reports: " 'We are ready from the EU side to start and we have the mandate,’ Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s chief trade negotiator, told reporters in Paris on Wednesday. ‘But I don’t think the U.S. is ready to start on the tariff negotiations.”
“Malmstrom said she met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer earlier on Wednesday, which was the first time the two had seen each other in person since EU member states gave the European Commission the green light to begin negotiations more than a month ago.”
— Mnuchin: Next China tariffs at least a month away: “The United States is at least a month from enacting its proposed tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports as it studies the impact on American consumers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday,” Reuters’s Jason Lange and Michael Martina report: “‘I’m still hopeful we can get back to the table. The two presidents will likely see each other at the end of June,’ Mnuchin said, adding that the impact of tariffs on American consumers was a key consideration in the U.S. trade strategy.”
“Mnuchin said the Trump administration is open to holding new talks with China if the two sides can proceed on the basis of previous negotiations.”
But he's pressing companies for their contingency plans. "Mnuchin said on Wednesday that he was personally questioning some of America’s largest companies about their plans for weathering the Trump administration’s trade war with China, including encouraging firms to reorient their supply chains and source their products elsewhere," NYT's Alan Rappeport writes. "Mnuchin said he spoke to the chief financial officer of Walmart — which recently warned that customers would see higher prices on furniture, clothing and accessories because of the duties on Chinese imports — about how the company plans to proceed."
— Why 5G is at the center of the U.S.-Chinese fight over Huawei: “5G has also played a role in the U.S. trade war with China, because of concerns that Huawei’s equipment and phones can be used to spy over wireless networks,” CNBC’s Todd Haselton reports. “Earlier this month, the Trump administration blacklisted Huawei’s equipment for use in America’s 5G rollout. Huawei wants U.S. business, however, and has argued that our 5G networks won’t roll out quickly if we don’t use its equipment.”
“The ban on working with Huawei also hit chip businesses that work with the company, including Broadcom, Intel, Xilinx and Qualcomm, some of which also have a hand in building out 5G networks and modems. Those companies will be missing out on new business as Huawei works to expand 5G networks outside of the U.S.”
— Steve Bannon wants to drive Huawei out of the U.S. and Europe, no matter the cost: “Driving Huawei out of the United States and Europe is ‘10 times more important’ than a trade deal with China, according to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon,” South China Morning Post’s Jun Mai reports.

The Commerzbank AG headquarters stand beyond a Deutsche Bank AG bank branch in Frankfurt, Germany. (Alex Kraus/Bloomberg)
Judge refuses to block bank subpoenas in defeat for Trump. The Post's Renae Merle, Michael Kranish and Felicia Sonmez: "A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a request by President Trump to block congressional subpoenas for his banking records, dealing the latest blow to the president in his bid to battle Democratic investigations into his personal finances. The decision in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York could clear the way for Deutsche Bank and Capital One to hand over the president’s financial records to Democrats in the House. Trump’s attorneys could appeal the decision."
Wells Fargo, TD Bank have already handed over documents. NBC News's Leigh Anne Caldwell and Alex Moe: "A key congressional committee has already gained access to [Trump’s] dealings with two major financial institutions, two sources familiar with the House probe tell NBC News... Wells Fargo and TD Bank are the two of nine institutions that have so far complied with subpoenas issued by the House Financial Services Committee demanding information about their dealings with the Trump Organization, according to the sources... Wells Fargo provided the committee with a few thousand documents and TD Bank handed the committee a handful of documents."

Artist's rendering of abolitionist Harriet Tubman on a $20 bill.
Tubman $20 on hold. NYT's Alan Rappeport: "Harriet Tubman — former slave, abolitionist, 'conductor' on the Underground Railroad — will not become the face of the $20 bill until after President Trump leaves office, [Mnuchin] said Wednesday. Plans to unveil the Tubman bill in 2020, an Obama administration initiative, would be postponed until at least 2026, Mr. Mnuchin said, and the bill itself would not likely be in circulation until 2028.
"Until then, bills with former President Andrew Jackson’s face will continue to pour out of A.T.M.s and fill Americans’ wallets. Mr. Mnuchin, concerned that the president might create an uproar by canceling the new bill altogether, was eager to delay its redesign until Mr. Trump was out of office, some senior Treasury Department officials have said. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump criticized the Obama administration’s plans for the bill."

In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019, photo Brooke Pizzetti, left, Grant Frith work at the Amazon Chester Fulfillment Center in Chester, Va. (Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
— Amazon’s shareholder meeting turns testy: “Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting on Thursday turned hostile as shareholders demanded change on a number of issues, ranging from renewable energy use to equal pay,” CNBC’s Eugene Kim and Paayal Zaveri report.
“Dozens of shareholders, including current employees, joined the meeting in Seattle, presenting their case in over 12 different proposals. They included demands that the company take action on climate change through energy use, as well as improving diversity and pay equality in its workforce. Two of the resolutions asked for Amazon to stop the sale of its facial recognition software to government agencies, which the backers say raises concerns of racial bias and discrimination.” (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post)
— E.U. regulator investigates Google over data privacy: “Ireland’s data privacy watchdog on Wednesday announced the launch of an inquiry into Google over the tech giant’s collection of data when it comes to online advertising,” CNBC’s Ryan Browne reports. “The Data Protection Commission, which acts as the lead supervisory authority for Google in the European Union, said its probe would examine whether Google’s processing of data in advertising transactions breaches the bloc’s privacy rules.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services on Capitol Hill on May 22. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
— Mnuchin dismisses draft IRS memo about Trump’s taxes: “Mnuchin said Wednesday that a confidential IRS memo does not undermine the agency’s justification for denying lawmakers’ request for President Trump’s tax returns,” my colleague Jeff Stein reports. “Appearing in front of a House panel, Mnuchin said the Treasury Department and Department of Justice relied on separate legal reasoning for rejecting the House Ways and Means Committee request for six years of the president’s personal and business financial records.”
“Mnuchin has denied the returns by arguing that there is no legislative purpose for demanding them. But, according to the document, ‘the Secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee . . . to state a reason for the request.’”
  • Intuit, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Best Buy, Weibo, Hormel Foods, Lions Gate Entertainment are among the big names reporting their Q1 earnings, per Kiplinger.
  • The Census Bureau and the Department Housing and Urban Development jointly release April numbers on new-home sales.
  • The National Economists Club hosts the Brookings Institution’s Aaron Klein for an event on the marijuana industry and banking.
From The Post's Tom Toles:

Sure, Brexit is still a mess, but Larry is just fine:
If you’be got it, flaunt it...
(Photo @Felicity_Baker)
— Larry the Cat (@Number10cat) May 22, 2019
Another reason to keep your shoes clean:
The shoey is a drinking trend that's thriving — or festering, depending on your stance — in Australia
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) May 22, 2019

Source: The Washington Post