Wednesday, March 8, 2018
What to watch today
The European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy statement, due out at 7:45 a.m. ET and followed by an 8:30 a.m. ET press conference with ECB head Mario Draghi, will be a major market-moving event.
Expectations are the ECB will keep its interest rate policy unchanged, though most of the action will come when Draghi fields questions about the ECB’s plans to end its quantitative easing program later this year. Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note Wednesday that he expects the ECB will end its pledge to continue its asset purchase program beyond September 2018 if necessary.
On the U.S. side, investors will get the weekly reading on initial jobless claims ahead of Friday’s jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as the latest Z.1 Flow of Funds report from the Federal Reserve, which will give us a picture of U.S. household net worth at the end of 2017.
In corporate earnings, Thursday is expected to feature results from Kroger (KR), Verifone (PAY), Navistar (NAV), and American Eagle (AEO). Kroger is likely to be the highlight as the grocery giant deals with new industry dynamics following Amazon’s (AMZN) acquisition of Whole Foods and shares of the grocer fell 6% on Wednesday.
Canada, Mexico to get initial exemption from tariffs: The Trump administration will initially exclude Canada and Mexico from stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, an exemption they would lose if they fail to reach an updated North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S., White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Wednesday. The two nations won’t be subject to tariffs on their steel and aluminum if they sign a new Nafta that meets the satisfaction of the U.S., Navarro said, adding that other American allies could use a similar system to ask for an exemption. [Bloomberg]
Cigna to buy Express Scripts: Health insurer Cigna Corp. (CI) said on Thursday it would buy pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co. (ESRX) in a $67 billion cash-and-stock deal, including debt. Cigna’s offer consists of $48.75 in cash and 0.2434 shares of stock of the combined company for each Express Scripts share, amounting to $96.03 per share. The offer represents a premium of nearly 31% to Express Scripts’ Wednesday closing price of $73.42. [Reuters]
Here are the names circulating to replace Gary Cohn: The White House is weighing contenders to succeed Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, and names circulating include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Jim Donovan, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett, and trade adviser Peter Navarro, people familiar with the matter said. [Bloomberg]
Univision Communications CEO to retire at year end: Spanish language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc. said its Chief Executive Randy Falco has announced he will retire at the end of this year. The announcement comes a day after the company withdrew its IPO plans of up to $100 million, blaming rough market conditions for publicly listed media companies. [Reuters]
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