Morning Brief: Dollar sinks after Mnuchin comments

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What to watch today

After tech stocks soared to a record high on Tuesday, Wednesday saw the sector lag markets while the Dow eked out a record close. The blue chip Dow was the only one of the major indexes to finish in the green on Wednesday, adding 41 points to close at 26,252, while the S&P 500 lost less than 0.1% and the Nasdaq fell 0.6%.

On Thursday, the busy week of earnings will see a number of blue chip companies report, with Starbucks (SBUX), Caterpillar (CAT), 3M (MMM), Intel (INTC), and Biogen (BIIB) all set to report results.

Markets will also keep an eye on the dollar, which sank 0.8% on Wednesday after several White House officials, notably Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, commented on the level of the greenback, which has given up almost half of its advance from 2014-15. Mnuchin said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the dollar is “not a concern of [the Trump administration’s] at all,” adding that, “a weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities.” A weaker dollar is a benefit for U.S. exports, which could help close the trade deficit with China, among other major exporters, which has been a common point of emphasis for President Donald Trump.

In addition to more commentary out of Davos, markets will also have a few bits of economic data to parse, with the weekly report on initial jobless claims expected out as well as the December reading on new home sales.

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Top news

Trump ‘looking forward’ to being questioned by Mueller:  President Donald Trump declared he’s “looking forward” to being questioned — under oath — in the special counsel’s probe of Russian election interference and Trump’s possible obstruction in the firing of the FBI director. Trump said he would be willing to answer questions under oath in the interview, which special counsel Robert Mueller has been seeking but which White House officials had not previously confirmed the president would grant. [AP]

Oil hits $71 for first time since 2014:  Oil hit $71 a barrel on Thursday for the first time since 2014, supported by OPEC-led supply curbs, a record-breaking run of declines in U.S. crude inventories and a weaker U.S. dollar. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia began to curb supplies in 2017. An involuntary drop in Venezuela’s output in recent months has deepened the impact of the curbs. [Reuters]

Apple has 8 years to pay its $38 billion tax bill:  The eye-popping $38 billion tax bill that Apple Inc. (AAPL) said it plans to pay on its mammoth pile of accumulated foreign earnings will probably hit federal coffers in an eight-year trickle. The special, cut-rate “repatriation” tax that Congress imposed on multinationals like Apple gives them as long as eight years to pay the new levy — with no interest or penalties. That drawn-out schedule puts the biggest bills off until later years, meaning Apple’s first repatriation payment would probably be much closer to $3 billion, according to tax experts. [Bloomberg]

Alibaba, U.S. grocer Kroger had early business development talks:  Chinese e-commerce and technology company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA) and U.S. grocer Kroger Co. (KR) have had early discussions on working together, including a meeting in which U.S. executives traveled to China, a source familiar with the matter said. The business development talks are at an initial stage, and it is not clear if they will lead to any cooperation, the person said. [Reuters]

Yahoo Finance on the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos:

For more of the latest news, go to Yahoo Finance

Yahoo Finance is holding a live summit on cryptocurrencies, featuring a range of big-name guest speakers, on Feb. 7 in New York City. Get your ticket here.

Larry Nassar sits with attorney Matt Newburg during his sentencing hearing Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, in Lansing, Mich. The former sports doctor who admitted molesting some of the nation’s top gymnasts for years was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison as the judge declared: “I just signed your death warrant.” The sentence capped a remarkable seven-day hearing in which scores of Nassar’s victims were able to confront him face to face in the Michigan courtroom. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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