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Aug 22, 2018

Stocks making the biggest moves after hours: JWN, WSM and more I CNBC

cnbc.com

Thomas Franck




Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Check out the companies making headlines after the bell on Wednesday:
Synopsys rallied more than 4 percent after the closing bell after the company reported earnings and revenue that topped Wall Street's expectations. The company, which derives more than half of its revenue from supplying electronic design automation software to chipmakers, posted EPS of 95 cents and revenues of $780 million.
The Mountain View, California-based company also offered strong fourth-quarter EPS guidance, projecting earnings between 76 cents and 80 cents.
Kitchen and cookware company Williams-Sonoma also reported quarterly results ahead of analyst expectations, sending shares of the San Francisco-based retailer up more than 8 percent in after hours trading. The seller of home furnishings said same-store sales increased 4.6 percent versus 4 percent expected.
The parent of Pottery Barn and West Elm also improved its full-year revenue and comparable sales guidance.
Shares of Nordstrom rose more than 2.5 percent after hours after the company's board authorized a $1.5 billion share repurchase program and approved a quarterly dividend. The new program will replace Nordstrom's existing repurchase plan, which had $327 million outstanding as of Aug. 4. and will expire at the end of the month.
The department store chain also approved a quarterly dividend of 37 cents per share.
Zayo Group shares rose more than 1 percent after hours after the company reported financial results. The company posted $657.6 million of consolidated revenue as well as net income of $43.8 million. Basic and diluted net income per share during the quarter was 18 cents. The company's stock later pared its after-hours gains.
On May 7, 2018 the company's board authorized the repurchase of up to $500 million in common stock.

EU FX: Dollar slides as pressure on Trump increases, euro at two-week high I CNBC I Currencies


CNBC


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The U.S. dollar continued its slide on Wednesday morning as political pressure on President Donald Trump increased, and the euro hit a two-week high as investors rushed to cover short positions.
Trump suffered twin setbacks on Tuesday with two former advisers facing possible prison sentences - and one of them saying Trump told him to commit a crime - possibly hurting his Republican Partys November midterm election prospects and widening a criminal investigation that has overshadowed his presidency. This dampened investor appetite for riskier investments across asset classes.
Some analysts said renewed U.S. political uncertainty could keep the dollar under pressure, although the immediate currency impact was modest.
The dollar index, which fell sharply this week after Trump criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate increases, fell 0.3 percent to 95.97.
"Political pressure on Trump is increasing ... reducing the likelihood that he will have the political capital to continue driving fiscal stimulus in the U.S. economy. This suggests to many market participants that the era of U.S. outperformance is likely to end," said Karl Schamotta, director of Foreign Exchange strategy and structured products at Cambridge Global Payments in Toronto.
Easing fears about a currency crisis in Turkey and the Italian budget, as well as short-covering, sent the euro up for the sixth consecutive day.
The euro gained 0.16 percent to $1.1587, close to the two-week high of $1.162 touched earlier in the session.
That marked a nearly three-cent rebound for the single currency from 14-month lows hit last week on fears of contagion from the Turkish currency crisis and renewed worries about Italian political turbulence.
"The euro is helped by a narrowing BTP/Bund spread, slightly lower U.S. real yields and most of all, short-covering," said Kit Juckes, foreign exchange strategist at Societe Generale, referring to the gap between Italian and German government bonds.
Minutes of the Fed's last meeting, due later on Wednesday, were expected to confirm it is on course to raise rates twice more this year.
The Fed released minutes from its July 31-Aug. 1 meeting on Wednesday, with Fed officials saying it will "likely soon be appropriate to take another step in removing policy accommodation."
However, the minutes also showed central bank officials are concerned that the ongoing trade war is the biggest threat to an otherwise "strong" economy.
The U.S.-China trade talks were set to begin later on Wednesday in Washington. Expectations were generally low given they do not involve high-level officials.
The dollar moved sideways against the Japanese yen at 110.44 yen. It had weakened to 109.76 overnight, its lowest since late June.

Bonds &Fixed Income: US Treasury yields slip ahead of Fed minutes release

Alexandra Gibbs, Thomas Franck


The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to multiweek lows on Wednesday while the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes revealed members split over the direction of inflation.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.824 percent at 2:11 p.m. ET, off a low of 2.808 percent earlier in the session. That low marked the 10-year yield's lowest level since July 6.
The 30-year Treasury bond yield was in the red at 2.986 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee gathering showed members fairly confident that "strong" economic growth will persistent at least for the months to come. Officials said it would "likely soon be appropriate to take another step in removing policy accommodation," an indicator for a looming rate hike that is widely expected by markets.
"The topics discussed at the August FOMC meeting signaled that the Fed has made progress in it's rate hiking campaign, but it is starting to see some downside risks," said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rate strategy at BMO Capital Markets. "
From Thursday to Saturday, leading central bankers are gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss the future of monetary policy and the ever-changing market structure. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak to attendees on Friday. The economic symposium and Fed minutes came amid tension between the central bank and the U.S. administration.
On Monday, President Donald Trump told Reuters that he would continue to criticize the Federal Reserve if it persisted with raising interest rates. He added that the Fed should do "what's good for the country."
Trade talks with China are set to kick off in Washington today, with a nine-member delegation from Beijing speaking to U.S. officials in order to find some way of relieving friction between the two nations. If the meeting goes well, this could lead to a future meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. Trump, however, isn't expecting much progress from the talks.

Bonds & Fixed Income: US Treasury yields slip ahead of Fed minutes release I CNBC

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to multiweek lows on Wednesday while the Federal Reserve's latest meeting minutes revealed members split over the direction of inflation.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.824 percent at 2:11 p.m. ET, off a low of 2.808 percent earlier in the session. That low marked the 10-year yield's lowest level since July 6.
The 30-year Treasury bond yield was in the red at 2.986 percent. Bond yields move inversely to prices.
Minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee gathering showed members fairly confident that "strong" economic growth will persistent at least for the months to come. Officials said it would "likely soon be appropriate to take another step in removing policy accommodation," an indicator for a looming rate hike that is widely expected by markets.
"The topics discussed at the August FOMC meeting signaled that the Fed has made progress in it's rate hiking campaign, but it is starting to see some downside risks," said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rate strategy at BMO Capital Markets. "
From Thursday to Saturday, leading central bankers are gathered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss the future of monetary policy and the ever-changing market structure. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak to attendees on Friday. The economic symposium and Fed minutes came amid tension between the central bank and the U.S. administration.
On Monday, President Donald Trump told Reuters that he would continue to criticize the Federal Reserve if it persisted with raising interest rates. He added that the Fed should do "what's good for the country."
Trade talks with China are set to kick off in Washington today, with a nine-member delegation from Beijing speaking to U.S. officials in order to find some way of relieving friction between the two nations. If the meeting goes well, this could lead to a future meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. Trump, however, isn't expecting much progress from the talks.

Oil Price at Close Report: Oil prices rise after bigger-than-expected drop in US crude stockpiles I CNBC


CNBC


Oil prices rose more than 3 percent on Wednesday after government data showed a larger-than-anticipated drop in U.S. crude inventories as the nation's imports fell and refineries continued to run near full capacity.
U.S. crude ended Wednesday's session at a two-week high, jumping $2.02, or 3.1 percent, to settle at $67.87. Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose $2.15, or 3 percent, to $74.78 a barrel by 2:29 p.m. ET.
U.S. crude inventories fell 5.8 million barrels last week, the Energy Information Administration said, exceeding the 1.5 million-barrel draw forecast by analysts polled by Reuters.
Refinery crude runs slipped 89,000 barrels per day from the previous week's record high to 17.9 million bpd, EIA data showed. Refinery utilization rates remained unchanged last week at 98.1 percent of total capacity, the highest rates since 1999.
"As refinery runs continue to kick around close to a record high - easing just 89,000 bpd last week - and as imports have dropped off on the prior week, crude inventories have shown a solid draw, particularly on the U.S. Gulf Coast," said Matt Smith, director of commodities research at ClipperData.
Oil also found support from a weak dollar, which has slipped this week in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's comment that he was "not thrilled" by the Federal Reserve's interest rate increases.
A weaker dollar makes oil less expensive for buyers using other currencies.
The prospect of a drop in oil exports from Iran, the third-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in response to new U.S. sanctions is also supporting the market.
European oil companies have started to cut back on Iranian purchases, although Chinese buyers are shifting their cargoes to Iranian-owned vessels to keep supplies flowing.
"The Iran issue continues to occupy traders' minds," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader.
OPEC has started to boost supplies following a deal with Russia and other allies in June, although producers have been cautious so far. Saudi Arabia told OPEC it cut supply in July, rather than increasing output as expected.
Signs of tighter supply countered concern about slowing oil demand stemming partly from the trade dispute between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies.
U.S. and Chinese officials were set to resume talks on Wednesday, but Trump has predicted there will be no real progress.
— CNBC's Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

Wall Street at Close Report: Dow falls as Wall Street weighs Trump legal worries vs. strong earnings I CNBC


Michael Sheetz, Fred Imbert, Alexandra Gibbs


Stocks treaded water on Wednesday as Wall Street measured renewed political worries surrounding President Donald Trump against strong corporate earnings.
The S&P 500 closed largely unchanged at 2,861.82 as energy and tech outperformed. Energy stocks were boosted by a 3 percent rally in oil. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, rose 0.4 percent to close at 7.889.10 as Netflix and Amazon gained 1.9 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 89 points, however, closing at 25,733.60.
Wednesday's moves took place as the current bull market was set to become the longest on record. Target shares jumped on strong earnings, helping stocks offset some of the losses. Home-improvement retailer Lowe's also reported better-than-expected earnings, sending its stock up more than 6 percent.
The current bull market turned 3,453 days old on Wednesday. In that time, the S&P 500 has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in that time period. On Tuesday, it tied the one that ran from October 1990 to March 2000.
"Sentiment in the financial markets was so low after the crisis that it appeared we were going to get a bounce," said Jeff Zipper, managing director of investments at U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management. "But I don't think we were expecting one of this magnitude."
Target reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on the back of its best same-store sales growth in 13 years. The report sent Target shares up by more than 3 percent.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight counts related to tax fraud, campaign contributions, making false statements to a financial institution, and unlawful corporate contributions. Cohen also admitted to making payments to two women at the direction of Trump.
Meanwhile, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts in a separate case. Five of those counts pertained to tax fraud, two to bank fraud and one to failing to file foreign bank account reports.
Stock futures fell overnight after the news came out but quickly jumped off their lows.
"I'm not sure investors are going to care," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. "A lot of the conversation this morning is surrounding the fact that what they need to impeach is not there."
"There is going to be a controversy, some uncertainty ... but a present it is a nonevent" compared to the other issues the market is dealing with.
Also helping to boost sentiment was a Politico report that said a "handshake" deal between the U.S. and Mexico on NAFTA could be announced on Thursday. The report, which cites three sources close to the talks, said that time has been cleared on the White House schedule for the announcement.
The report comes as a nine-member delegation from Beijing is set to start talks with U.S. officials in Washington today, with the hope of finding ways to relieve friction between the two nations. The meeting comes as fresh tariffs from the U.S. on $16 billion of Chinese goods are due to come into effect this week, with Beijing having imposed the same amount in retaliatory levies on the States.
"The political disruptions being caused by Trump are creating a lot of noise in the market," said Janet Johnston, a portfolio manager at TrimTabs Asset Management. "But the underlying fundamentals remain strong."
The Federal Reserve released the minutes from its meeting earlier this month. The minutes showed central bank officials are concerned that the ongoing trade war is the biggest threat to an otherwise "strong" economy.
"It's a tricky situation for the Fed," said Anwiti Bahuguna, senior portfolio manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. "The trade war is a known issue for the market" but "the Fed knows it can only react to it; they can't do much about it because it's not their policy realm."
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Gold Price at Close Report:

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Gold clings to one-week high after Fed minutes

CNBC


Gold prices rose to their highest in a over week on Wednesday, as the dollar eased after the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's August policy meeting.
The Fed minutes showed central bank officials are concerned that the ongoing trade war is the biggest threat to an otherwise "strong" economy.
Rising interest rates lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding metal while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
"The Fed was sounding relatively hawkish when it met last month and the outlook is likely to be for another rate rise later this year and that is largely within the gold price," said Mitsubishi analyst John Butler.
He said that in the meantime, the weaker dollar would help gold test the key psychological level of $1,200, helping lift it from currently oversold levels. Gold touched a more than 1-1/2-year low last week.
Spot gold touched $1,200.29, its highest since Aug. 13, before trading 0.1 percent higher at $1,196.51. U.S. gold futures gained 0.3 percent to $1,203.50 an ounce.
The dollar index was weaker, having fallen to a nearly two-week low of 95.08 in the previous session.
U.S. President Donald Trump's reiteration on Monday of his displeasure with rising interest rates had weighed on the dollar, ahead of the Fed's minutes and its annual economic symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyoming that will begin on Friday.
Gold has come under pressure this year, sliding more than 12 percent since hitting a high of $1,365.23 in April amid U.S. interest rate hikes and a soaring dollar.
Markets also looked ahead to trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials expected to begin later on Wednesday in Washington.
Meanwhile, liquidations continued at SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund. Holdings have fallen about 3.4 million ounces from a peak in late April.
Net shorts in COMEX gold contracts rose to a record high in the week ending Aug. 14 at 77,273 contracts, according to data from U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Gold was consolidating between $1,180 and $1,200 an ounce, said ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Casa.
"We could have a first positive impulse if prices jump above $1,200, while a correction below $1,180 would confirm, once again, the bearish trend of the last few weeks," he said.

European Markets at Close Report - European markets mixed amid US-China trade talks; I Continental tanks 10% ICNBC


Ryan Browne, Sam Meredith


European stocks were mixed Wednesday, as investors continued to monitor trade talks between the world's two largest economies.
 
FTSE FTSE 7573.59 7.89 0.10% 379407915
DAX DAX 12373.48 -11.01 -0.09% 52184685
CAC CAC 5419.53 10.93 0.20% 43296913
IBEX 35 --- --- --- --- --- ---
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was flat, with sectors and major bourses pointing in opposite directions.
Europe's autos stocks were the worst performers Wednesday, down 3.47 percent after President Donald Trump said at a campaign rally that the U.S. would slap 25 percent tariffs on "every car that comes into the United States from the European Union."
In a Wall Street Journal interview published Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that a decision regarding autos charges would be delayed because of ongoing negotiations with Mexico, Canada and the European Commission. He declined to set a new timeline.
Shares of Schaeffler, Michelin and Faurecia were all trading lower Wednesday morning, after Germany's Continental issued a profit warning and dragged other auto supplier stocks into negative territory. Continental was trading 13.68 percent lower.
Looking at individual stocks, hearing aid maker GN Store Nord rose to the top of the European benchmark after raising its 2018 sales and profit outlook. The stock was up by 7.44 percent.
Elsewhere, Norway's Marine Harvest was trading lower Wednesday, after the company — one of the world's largest salmon producers — cut its 2018 output forecast. Shares of the firm were down around 1 percent.

Trade war

On Wall Street, equities navigated through choppy trade as traders monitored domestic political uncertainty. Still, the U.S. bull market is set to be the biggest in history.
Market focus is largely attuned to trade discussions between the U.S. and China this week, with investors hopeful they might be able to find a way to resolve an escalating global trade conflict.
President Trump reportedly said Monday that he did not anticipate much progress from the trade negotiations.
On Tuesday, two of Trump's key allies, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, were surrounded in legal troubles. Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, while Manafort, the president's former campaign manager, was convicted on eight counts in a separate case.

Follow the money: how Mueller's team made the Manafort case I Reuters News


Nathan Layne, Karen Freifeld6 Min Read


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) - Paul Manafort’s $15,000 ostrich skin jacket and other evidence of the former Trump campaign chairman’s conspicuous consumption grabbed the headlines during his tax and bank fraud trial.
A view of the U.S. District Courthouse as jury deliberations are set to begin in former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
But it was the detailed and methodical testimony of an FBI forensic accountant who traced Manafort’s money that may have sealed his fate.
Manafort, a veteran political operative, was convicted on Tuesday on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. Jurors in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, could not reach a verdict on 10 other counts, resulting in a mistrial on those charges.
Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, said his client was disappointed in the verdict and was evaluating his options.
The trial of Manafort, who chaired Donald Trump’s campaign in mid-2016 when Trump was selected as the Republican presidential nominee, never dealt with possible collusion between the campaign team and Russia or efforts to obstruct justice that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating.
But it was the first courtroom victory for Mueller, and the prosecution reflected his customary thoroughness, according to former subordinates in the FBI and Justice Department.
    On Aug. 8, a week into the trial, FBI accountant Morgan Magionos described document after document showing how Manafort controlled a web of overseas bank accounts that wired $16 million in untaxed income to U.S. businesses ranging from landscapers to the clothier in Manhattan that sold him the ostrich jacket.     
Prosecutors entered 388 exhibits into evidence and offered testimony from 27 witnesses who painted a picture of Manafort as a tax cheat who used offshore accounts to hide a significant portion of the $60 million-plus he earned working for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine and lied to banks for obtain loans when the work dried up in 2014 and he needed cash.
Although vivid examples of his lavish lifestyle were on display throughout the trial, it was the nuts and bolts of the money trail that prosecutors employed to establish his guilt.
Magionos walked the jury through how Manafort used offshore accounts with money on which he had not paid taxes to wire $6.7 million to purchase New York real estate, a half-million dollars to buy antique rugs in Virginia, and $750,000 to landscape his estate in the Hamptons.
Magionos was also the first witness whom prosecutor Greg Andres mentioned in his closing statement, and Andres went on to invoke her testimony 13 more times to the jury.
Daniel Alonso, former chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York, lauded Mueller’s team’s painstaking work stitching together the witnesses and evidence, each corroborating the other.
Andres and Andrew Weissmann, a key architect of the Manafort case, worked together in the Brooklyn federal prosecutor’s office nearly two decades ago.
“The public doesn’t realize how difficult it is to get all that evidence and all those witnesses in court at the same time,” said Alonso. “This is the way we did it in the Eastern District of New York. ... . It’s the way it’s done by good U.S. attorneys around the country.”

‘STAR WITNESS’

Weissmann made a name for himself as a leader on the federal task force that investigated fraud at the energy company Enron, which collapsed in 2001. In 2011, he became Mueller’s general counsel when Mueller was running the FBI.
It was around the same time that Magionos, a cellist and former employee at Deloitte & Touche, joined the FBI as a forensic accounting specialist who makes sense of complex financial transactions and ferrets out fraud.
Her testimony immediately followed that of Rick Gates, ostensibly the prosecution’s “star witness” who testified that he helped Manafort commit various frauds, but whose credibility withered under cross-examination about his own wrongdoing.
Andres used Magionos to introduce nearly 50 exhibits into evidence, including documents opening bank accounts in Cyprus and St. Vincent and the Grenadines that were secured under a legal treaty, some of which had Manafort’s passport on file.
“She was the one who allowed that star witness to testify,” said former federal prosecutor Michael Zeldin, referring to Andres’ memorable comment in summations that the “star witness” of the case was “the documents,” not Gates.
Manafort’s defence team was able to raise doubts about the testimony of some of the witnesses, leading to the jury failing to reach a consensus on 10 of the charges.
But defence lawyers’ effort to undercut Magionos fell short.
Under cross-examination, Magionos acknowledged that a signature of Manafort’s on account documents for Actinet Trading Ltd, one of his Cypriot entities, did not appear to match his signature on a separate document secured in a search of Manafort’s home. But she did not flinch when pressed on how she could be so sure it was Manafort’s money.
“I do see who benefited the most from the disposition of funds from that account,” Magionos replied.
Magionos testified that $3 million was wired in 2012 from Actinet’s bank account to the trust account of Manafort’s longtime real estate lawyer, Bruce Baldinger. Around the same time, a nearly equal amount was transferred to a title company for Manafort’s purchase of a brownstone in Brooklyn, she said.
In the end, jurors heeded a plea made by prosecutor Uzo Asonye in his opening argument three weeks ago.
“He got the bank loans. He got the money. He got to use the untaxed income,” Asonye said. “As the old adage goes: Just follow the money.”
Reporting by Nathan Layne and Karen Freifeld in Alexandria, Va; Editing by Peter Cooney

Stocks making the biggest move premarket: TGT, LOW, URBN, PSTG & more I Market Insider I CNBC


Peter Schacknow


Check out the companies making headlines before the bell:
Target – The retailer beat estimates by 7 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of $1.47 per share. Revenue beat forecasts, as well. Target also posted a better-than-expected increase in comparable-store sales and raised its full-year outlook.
Lowe's – The home improvement retailer earned an adjusted $2.07 per share for its latest quarter, beating forecasts by 5 cents a share. Revenue also came in above estimates, however Lowe's posted a comparable-store sales increase of 5.2 percent that fell short of the 5.3 percent consensus estimate. Lowe's also cut its full-year forecast.
Urban Outfitters – Urban Outfitters reported quarterly profit of 84 cents per share, beating estimates by 7 cents a share. The apparel retailer's revenue also topped forecasts. Comparable-store sales jumped 13 percent, beating the consensus estimate of an 11.3 percent increase, as the company boosted online sales and sold more merchandise at higher prices.
Pure Storage – Pure Storage earned an adjusted 1 cent per share for its second quarter, compared to an expected loss of 6 cents per share. The provider of data storage technology also announced the acquisition of privately held software provider StorReduce for an undisclosed price.
La-Z-Boy – La-Z-Boy beat estimates by 9 cents a share, with adjusted quarterly profit of 34 cents per share. The furniture retailer's revenue also topped forecasts. La-Z-Boy's results were helped by increased sales of higher-priced furniture.
Exact Sciences – Exact Sciences struck a co-promotion agreement with Pfizer for its Cologuard product, a non-invasive in-home screening test for colorectal cancer.
Red Robin Gourmet Burgers – Red Robin came in 2 cents a share shy of estimates, with adjusted quarterly profit of 46 cents per share. The restaurant chain's revenue also came in shy of Street forecasts. Comparable-restaurant sales were down 2.6 percent, a slightly larger-than-anticipated drop than the 2.3 percent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
Praxair – Praxair's deal to merge with German industrial gas rival Linde has hit another potential roadblock, even after the deal got approval from European regulators. U.S. regulators must still approve the transaction. Linde is now warning that required divestments have reached a level that would allow either party to abandon the deal. Linde noted that constructive talks to save the deal are underway.
Starbucks – Starbucks was downgraded to "neutral" from "overweight" at Piper Jaffray, which said it continues to lack of momentum in U.S. comparable-store sales for the coffee chain.
AT&T – AT&T was downgraded to "market perform" from "outperform" at Wells Fargo, which also cut its price target on the stock to $35 per share from $40 a share. Wells Fargo said it still believes in the longer-term outlook, but thinks the stock will be range-bound for the near to medium term as the company deals with delivering, the Time Warner acquisition, and margin pressures.
Navigators – The specialty insurance underwriter agreed to be acquired by Hartford Financial for $2.1 billion in cash, or $70 per share. The price is 8.9 percent above Tuesday's closing price for Navigators.

Turnbull says he has 'unequivocal' support from ministers I Financial Times (FT) Video.

Manafort lost. Mueller won : Top Opinion I The Washington Post



Two trials have come to a conclusion in Alexandria.
One found former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort guilty of eight charges of tax and bank fraud, which could put him in prison for up to 80 years. The other was a verdict on the credibility and professionalism of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Manafort lost; Mueller won. This was a victory Mueller needed, and one that likely will strengthen his hand going forward in his investigation of how Russia tried to influence this country’s 2016 presidential election and whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with a foreign adversary.
In the court of public opinion, Mueller’s straight-arrow reputation has slipped over the past year, thanks largely to the beating it has gotten from Trump.
When a Quinnipiac University poll last week asked whether Mueller “is conducting a fair investigation,” barely half — 51 percent — of those who responded said yes. That marked a decline of nine percentage points since November.
The president is already spinning this verdict as meaningless, noting that the charges against Manafort had nothing to do with any work he did for Trump. U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III had cautioned both sides not to even mention the Russia probe during the trial. Nor was Mueller’s victory a clean one: Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 additional charges over which the jury had deadlocked.
Yet the implications of the outcome were clear. Had Manafort been acquitted, it would have been a big boost to Trump’s efforts to discredit Mueller’s work and brought more calls by Republicans for the special counsel to wrap up the inquiry soon. It might even have created a pretext for the president to fire Mueller.
As the jury deliberated, Trump was showing signs of a full-on panic. On Monday, he shot off a new barrage of tweets attacking the special counsel and his team directly, calling them “Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs.”
That came the day after Trump tweeted: “Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!”
Manafort’s conviction shows that Mueller’s probe is neither rigged nor a witch hunt.
But Trump is half-right. It is indeed worthwhile to study the infamous Wisconsin senator and his anti-communist crusade during the 1950s — because the enemies-within hysteria it fueled tells us a lot about the tactics of Trump himself.
McCarthy’s chief aide in that shameful endeavor was attorney Roy Cohn, who would later become a mentor to Trump and who remains the president’s ideal of what a lawyer should be. When Trump is exasperated at what he sees as insufficient ruthlessness on the part of his current lawyers, he has been known to demand: “Where’s my Roy Cohn?”
Mueller’s approach has been pretty much the opposite: methodical, focused, thorough and by the book. In Manafort’s case, the weight of the evidence he put together was enough to overcome the evident hostility of Ellis, who repeatedly berated the prosecution from the bench.
This is the point at which the walls have begun closing in.
Trump’s personal lawyers do not have a clear picture of what information White House counsel Donald McGahn has offered in 30 hours of interviews with Mueller’s investigators. Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, has instead taken a plea deal with prosecutors investigating payments he made to women on his then-client’s behalf — hush money, Cohen acknowledged Tuesday in court, that was paid “at the direction” of Trump himself.
And Mueller is not done with Manafort, who will face a second trial in September on charges of money laundering and failing to register as an agent for a foreign government.
Those charges may come closer to touching on his actions during the five months he was involved with Trump’s presidential campaign. The prosecution has compiled more than twice as much evidence as it presented to the jury in his first trial.
Manafort’s conviction will also increase the pressure on others in Trump’s orbit to cooperate with Mueller. And it may encourage Mueller to move sooner rather than later to bring in the president himself to testify, possibly by issuing a subpoena.
Legal experts say the special counsel’s chances of success in that are high, despite the vow of Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s lead lawyer, to fight a subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.
“I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury,” Giuliani said Sunday on “Meet the Press.” But for all their foment, Trump’s team knows they have no more than the illusion of control. With one big victory under his belt, the next move is Mueller’s.
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Target earnings q2 2018 top Wall Street expectations

cnbc.com

Lauren Thomas



Customers shop at a Target store in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images
Customers shop at a Target store in Chicago, Illinois.
Shares of Target surged in premarket trading Wednesday after the national retailer reported an unprecedented amount of growth in foot traffic at its stores and second-quarter profit and revenue that surpassed analysts' expectations.
The big box retailer said digital sales also jumped more than 40 percent and raised its earnings outlook for the full year.
Its shares were up almost 6 percent in premarket trading on the news.
Here's what the company reported compared with what analysts were expecting, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters:
  • Adjusted earnings per share: $1.47 vs. $1.40 expected
  • Revenue: $17.8 billion vs. $17.28 billion expected
  • Same-store sales: up 6.5 percent vs. an increase of 4 percent expected
Net income was $799 million, or $1.49 per share, compared with $671 million, or $1.21 a share, a year ago. Excluding one-time items, Target earned $1.47 a share, 7 cents ahead of analysts' expectations.
Revenue climbed nearly 7 percent to $17.8 billion from $16.6 billion a year ago, again ahead of an expected $17.28 billion in sales.
Sales at Target stores open for at least 12 months were up 6.5 percent, better than an anticipated increase of 4 percent and the strongest same-store sales growth at Target in 13 years. That consisted of online sales growth of 41 percent, Target said, compared with an increase of 32 percent a year ago.
Looking to the full year, Target now expects to earn between $5.30 and $5.50 per share, adjusted, compared with a prior range of between $5.15 and $5.45 a share in fiscal 2018.
Target has been focused on reinvesting in its business ever since it laid out a strategy at the start of last year to pour $7 billion into expanding its e-commerce platform, bulking up its line-up of in-house brands, opening new small-format stores and remodeling existing locations.
"As we look ahead to 2019, we expect to achieve scale across the full slate of our initiatives — creating efficiencies and cost-savings, further strengthening our guest experience and positioning Target to continue gaining market share," CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement on Wednesday.
The big-box retailer has also been improving its supply chain operations. It acquired Shipt to help speed same-day deliveries, rivaling companies like Kroger, Walmart and Amazon that are looking to do more of the same. Particularly within grocery, however, Target is believed by analysts to have a weaker fresh food offering than its peers. Its revamped and smaller-format stores are starting to include a broader grocery assortment.
Target shares are up about 27 percent so far this year, bringing the retailer's market cap to roughly $44.1 billion. That compares with Walmart, which has a market cap of about $282 billion, while its stock has fallen nearly 3 percent over the same time period.

Before the Bell: US futures pull back as trade talks with China begin: I CNBC


Alexandra Gibbs


U.S. stock index futures fell into the red ahead of Wednesday's open.
Around 5:35 a.m. ET, Dow futures slipped 55 points, indicating a negative open of -66.29 points, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures also pointing to a downbeat start to the day.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Markets around the world pointed in different directions Wednesday, as investors awaited news from trade talks between the U.S. and China. A nine-member delegation from Beijing is set to commence discussions with U.S. officials in Washington today, with the hope of finding ways to relieve friction between the two nations.
If the meeting goes well, this could lead to a future meeting between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping. Trump, however, isn't expecting much progress from the talks, he said in an interview with Reuters.
The meeting comes as fresh tariffs from the U.S. on $16 billion of Chinese goods are due to come into effect this week, with Beijing having imposed the same amount in retaliatory levies on the States.
The minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which took place at the turn of the month, will be published at 2 p.m. ET.
From Thursday to Saturday, leading central bankers will gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to discuss the future of monetary policy and the ever-changing market structure. Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to speak to attendees on Friday.
Elsewhere, mortgage applications are due out at 7 a.m. ET, followed by existing home sales at 10 a.m. ET.
And Lowe's, Royal Bank of Canada, Target, Momo, L Brands, and Williams-Sonoma are scheduled to publish their latest financial 

Michael Cohen says he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump to influence 2016 election: Top Headline I The Washington Post




NEW YORK — President Trump’s former longtime attorney and his onetime campaign chairman were separately declared guilty Tuesday of eight crimes each, a dramatic collision of two investigations that intensified the legal and political pressure on the embattled president.
In a guilty plea entered in a Manhattan federal courthouse, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen implicated Trump directly in some of his acts, saying he arranged to pay off two women to keep their stories of alleged affairs with Trump from becoming public before Election Day — in coordination with the then-
candidate.
At nearly the same moment, a jury in Alexandria, Va., convicted former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort on eight of the 18 tax- and bank-fraud charges against him and said it was deadlocked on the 10 others.
The charges in the Manafort trial involved the former campaign manager’s personal finances and were not related to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation ofRussian interference in the 2016 campaign. But Manafort’s conviction on eight counts, in the first trial to emerge from Mueller’s inquiry, was a major victory for the special counsel.
“Paul Manafort’s a good man,” Trump told reporters in West Virginia. The verdict, he said, “doesn’t involve me, but I still feel, you know, it’s a very sad thing that happened.”
Later, speaking to supporters at a rally in Charleston, W.Va., the president repeated his frequent denunciation of the special-counsel investigation as the “Russia witch hunt.”
“Where is the collusion?” he said, his voice rising. “Where is the collusion?”
Tuesday’s dual courtroom dramas played out on cable TV in an extraordinary split screen. Five Trump associates have now pleaded guilty or been charged with criminal wrongdoing since Trump took office, including his former national security adviser, his deputy campaign chairman and a former campaign policy adviser.
In a statement, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said: “There is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen. It is clear that, as the prosecutor noted, Mr. Cohen’s actions reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”
Cohen — long the self-
professed “fixer” for Trump — pleaded guilty after prosecutors warned that he risked more than a dozen years in prison, according to a person familiar with the matter. Although Cohen’s plea deal did not include a promise to cooperate with investigators against any other people, his description of his acts implicated not just himself but also Trump and others.
Lanny Davis, an attorney for Cohen, said in television interviews Tuesday night that Cohen has information that would be of interest to Mueller and is happy to share it with the special counsel.
Davis told MSNBC that those topics include the “computer crime of hacking” and “whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time about that crime and even cheered it on.”
Mueller “will have a great deal of interest in what Michael has to say,” he added.
Earlier Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to five counts of tax evasion, one count of making a false statement to a bank and two campaign finance violations: willfully causing an illegal corporate contribution and making an excessive campaign contribution.
“Guilty, your honor,” Cohen said eight times as Judge William H. Pauley III read the counts.
The longtime attorney for Trump faces a recommended prison sentence of 46 to 63 months, according to court filings.
Cohen told the court that “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” he and the chief executive of a media company worked in the summer of 2016 to keep an individual from publicly disclosing information that could harm the candidate. And he said he worked “in coordination” with the same candidate to make a payment to a second individual.
“I participated in this conduct . . . for the principal purpose of influencing the election,” he said.
The details he described matched payments made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult-film star Stormy Daniels. Both have alleged that they had sexual encounters with Trump, which he has denied.
In August 2016, McDougal was paid $150,000 by AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, for the rights to her story, which the company then shelved. In October 2016, Cohen used a home-equity line of credit to finance a $130,000 payment to Daniels.
Trump had previously denied knowledge of the Daniels payoff, and Giuliani said Trump did not know about it at the time. But Cohen said Tuesday that Trump repaid him the money for the purpose of influencing the campaign.
According to court filings, Cohen used a line of credit for the Daniels payment that he obtained through a fraudulent loan application in 2015.
In January 2017, after Trump’s election, he sought reimbursement for the Daniels payment from Trump. Unnamed executives at the Trump Organization directed that Cohen be paid $420,000, which would reimburse him for his payment, along with additional money for taxes and expenses and a $60,000 bonus, filings said. One executive told another to falsely describe the fees as legal expenses and describe the first two monthly payments as a “retainer,” according to court papers.
A Trump Organization spokesman declined to comment.
Court papers also detailed extensive behind-the-scenes efforts by a person matching the description of AMI Chairman David Pecker to try to stop negative stories about Trump from surfacing.
Pecker and a top National Enquirer official warned Cohen through an encrypted application that Daniels was going to make a deal to sell her story to another outlet, court papers said. Within days, Cohen had used a shell company to wire Daniels’s attorney $130,000.
AMI officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Asked by Pauley, the judge, whether he knew what he did was wrong and illegal, Cohen said yes.
Davis said in a statement that Cohen pleaded guilty “so that his family can move on to the next chapter.” “Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election,” Davis added. “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?”
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.
According to court filings, Cohen failed to report $4 million in income from 2012 to 2016 to avoid paying taxes on money he earned, mostly through interest and taxi rental payments.
He also concealed $100,000 he made selling a piece of property in Ocala, Fla., in 2014, a $30,000 in profit he made for arranging the sale of a couture Birkin handbag and $200,000 in consulting fees he made from an assisted-living company, according to filings.
As part of his plea deal, Cohen agreed to file corrected tax returns and pay $1.5 million to the Internal Revenue Service.
Cohen — who is out on bail until his scheduled sentencing in December — left the courthouse shortly after the hearing ended, entering a black Buick as a protester across the street screamed, “Lock him up.”
Robert Khuzami, the deputy U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that rather than respect the law as an attorney, Cohen “chose to break the law, repeatedly over many years and in a variety of ways. His day of reckoning serves as a reminder that we are a nation of laws, with one set of rules that applies equally to everyone.”
The case against him stems in part from work done by Mueller’s team, which examined Cohen’s role in at least two episodes involving Russian interests, according to people familiar with that probe.
However, special-counsel investigators have indicated to federal law enforcement officials that the office does not require Cohen’s cooperation for its inquiry, according to two people familiar with their work.
The Cohen investigation first burst into public view in April, when FBI agents searched his New York office, home and hotel room. The searches — in which agents collected all of Cohen’s phones and electronic devices — set off panic in the White House that federal investigators were looking into Trump’s business dealings and communications with Cohen.
Since then, the probe has led to revelations about how Cohen sought to squelch negative stories about Trump and then leverage his access to the president.
After the raid, Giuliani acknowledged that the president had made several payments reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 settlement with Daniels.
Meanwhile, leaked documents showed that Cohen was paid millions last year by companies such as AT&T and Novartis to provide advice about the administration.
Cohen had been under scrutiny by federal prosecutors starting in the fall of 2017, when Mueller’s team came across some unusual financial transactions and loans Cohen had obtained. The special counsel referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York.
Barrett and Leonnig reported from Washington. Lynh Bui, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Beth Reinhard, Felicia Sonmez and Shane Harris contributed to this report. 

Cohen pleads guilty, Manafort Found found guilty on 8 courts I abc NEWS

Asian Markets at Close Report:US-China trade talks, American politics in focus I CNBC


Eustance Huang, Saheli Roy Choudhury


Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors looked to tariff talks between the U.S. and China later this week, with sentiments lifted by Wall Street's strong Tuesday session which saw the S&P 500 touch an all-time high.
Developments in U.S. politics overnight, which saw President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen plead guilty in federal court, also took center stage.
Australia's ASX 200 closed 0.29 percent lower at 6,266, as sectors such as utilities and the heavily-weighted financials subindex traded lower.
The telecommunications sector was one of the few which closed in positive territory Down Under, up by more than 7.54 percent on the back of news that TPG Telecom was looking at a potential merger with its rival Vodafone Hutchison Australia. Hutchison Telecoms, which owns a 50 percent stake in Vodafone Hutchison Australia, confirmed the news in an announcement that "exploratory discussions" were happening between the two.
Following the news, shares of TPG surged and closed up by 21.62 percent.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed higher by 0.64 percent at 22,362.55. South Korea's Kospi closed up by 0.14 percent at 2,273.33.
The Hang Seng index recovered from its earlier losses to trade higher by 0.53 percent at 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN. In the mainland China markets ended the trading day in negative territory, with the Shanghai composite down by 0.7 percent to close at 2,714.61 while the Shenzhen composite was lower by 1.139 percent at 1,454.51.
Nasdaq-listed Chinese biotech firm, Zai Lab, is planning a second listing in Hong Kong, sources told Reuters. If true, it will be the second U.S.-listed biopharmaceutical company in China to return to the Hong Kong markets following new listing rules.
U.S. futures fell on the back of the developments in American politics. The S&P e-mini futures were down 0.25 percent at 2,854.5 at 2:05 p.m. HK/SIN, indicating that Wall Street might potentially open lower in the next trading session.
Trump's former personal lawyer Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts related to tax fraud, excessive campaign contributions, making false statements to a financial institution, and unlawful corporate contributions at a court hearing in New York. He could face more than five years in prison.
Two of the counts that Cohen pleaded guilty to appear to relate to Trump directly. Cohen admitted on Tuesday to making payments to two women at the direction of an unidentified candidate for political office who appears to be the president. Those payments, Cohen said, were made to influence the outcome of the election.
While Cohen didn't name Trump directly during the hearing, it was later confirmed by the Justice Department that the President was the unidentified candidate.
At the same time, Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight criminal counts, including five counts of tax fraud. He was also found guilty of two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to file foreign bank account reports.
Some investors say the news is unlikely to have a long term impact on the U.S. markets.
"I think we've seen in the past since the Trump election, often times these events are white-hot in terms of media coverage but often times the markets seems to, to muddle through these so that may well be the case here as well," Fritz Foltz, chief investment strategist at 3EDGE Asset Management, told CNBC.
Others say more of such revelations could "encourage the president to pick targets that he thinks he can beat up on."
If the president "continues down that road, then it's not going to be good for the stock market because the stock market simply does not like that sort of uncertainty," Scott Nations, president and chief investment officer of NationsShares, said on CNBC's "Squawk Box," citing the example of Trump's criticism of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell earlier this week.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump criticized Powell saying he was "not thrilled" with the latter for raising interest rates.
 
NIKKEI NIKKEI 22362.55 142.82 0.64%
HSI HSI 27927.58 174.79 0.63%
ASX 200 S&P/ASX 200 6266.00 -18.40 -0.29%
SHANGHAI Shanghai 2714.61 -19.22 -0.70%
KOSPI KOSPI Index 2273.33 3.27 0.14%
CNBC 100 CNBC 100 ASIA IDX 8217.83 41.45 0.51%
Also in focus: U.S. and Chinese officials are set to begin a new round of talks in Washington today to find a resolution for the ongoing trade dispute between the two largest economies of the world. Trump is reportedly preparing to add more tariffs this week.
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, traded at 95.246 at 3:16 p.m. HK/SIN. The Japanese yen traded at 110.44 against the dollar. The Australian dollar traded around $0.7341.
Oil prices traded up during the afternoon Asian session with U.S. crude gaining 0.64 percent to $66.26 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent was also up 0.66 percent at $73.11.
U.S. markets ended the day with yet another positive finish. The S&P 500 hit a new all-time high of 2,873.23 before paring some of its gains to close 0.21 percent up at 2,862.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 63.6 points up to close at 25,822.29 while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.49 percent to end the day at 7,859.17.
– CNBC's Tucker Higgins, Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report