Morning Brief: Walmart earnings in focus

Thursday, November 16, 2017

What to watch today

America’s biggest retailer will be the market’s big story on Thursday. Earnings from Walmart (WMT), due out before the market opens, have investors looking for same-store sales growth of 1.7% in the third quarter, matching the pace of growth seen in the second quarter. Walmart shares were trading just below a record high on Wednesday ahead of results and the stock has gained 30% year-to-date. Other notable earnings set for release on Thursday are expected to include, Best Buy (BBY), Viacom (VIAB), JM Smucker (SJM), and The Gap (GPS).

On the economics side, the calendar is a bit busy with the weekly report on initial jobless claims due out, as well as October readings on import prices, industrial production, and the November reading on homebuilder sentiment.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on the stock market more broadly, as this week has seen some notable weakness in equities amid concerns that recent declines in junk bonds yields could signal trouble for the broader economy.

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Top news

Vanguard’s 2017 prediction:  Vanguard Group quadrupled in size over the last eight years. It is about to get even bigger. The money management giant is on pace to collect a record one-year total of about $350 billion in investor cash by the end of 2017, Chief Executive F. William McNabb III said in an interview Wednesday. [The Wall Street Journal]

Trian’s Peltz claims win in proxy fight:  Activist hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz claimed victory in his fight to win a seat on Procter & Gamble Co’s (PG) board after a preliminary tally of votes was released on Wednesday, but P&G refused to concede and said it wants to see a certified result before declaring a winner. [Reuters]

Fed insiders push for radical policy review:  With Jerome Powell nominated to take over as Fed chairman in February, influential officials including San Francisco Fed chief John Williams and the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans have taken the lead in calling for reconsidering policy maker’s 2% inflation target. [Bloomberg]

Trump to rally House GOP before crucial vote: President Donald Trump is scheduled to head to the House on Thursday, rallying Republican members before their long-awaited vote on tax legislation, which is expected to take place after 1:30 p.m. ET. [Bloomberg]

Meredith, Time Inc restart deal talks:  The new round of negotiations, helped by the surprise entry of the Koch brothers, could lead to a quick deal, The New York Times reported. The Kochs have tentatively agreed to support Meredith’s offer to buy Time by investing more than $500 million. [Reuters]

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