Global stocks and U.S. futures are under pressure this morning. Take your pick of the COVID-based factors that are souring sentiment. The most recent red headline on traders’ terminals was about Germany slashing its 2021 GDP growth forecast to 3 per cent from 4.4 per cent. Beyond that, the world is getting used to a new U.S. president’s blunt talk on the pandemic; U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is warning his country’s lockdown measures could drag into the summer; and European nations spit out a host of weak purchasing managers’ indices this morning. Something to keep on our radar today: U.S. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese will address reporters this afternoon, at which time we should get some insight into the state of play for the new administration’s US$1.9-trillion relief strategy.
TRUDEAU TALKS WITH PFIZER CEO
There was no mention of “firecrackers” or “yin-yangs” (sorry, Doug Ford), but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally got some time with Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla yesterday. “He assured me that that we’ll receive 4 million doses by the end of March,” Trudeau said in a tweet. No doubt this country’s COVID vaccine-rollout woes will factor into Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland’s discussion with provincial finance ministers today. Canada is not alone in dealing with delivery problems: Italy is in a similar situation, prompting its government to mull legal action against Pfizer.
BITCOIN TAKEN FOR A RIDE
…Or maybe that should read “Bitcoin holders taken for a ride.” The cryptocurrency traded as low as US$28,817.90 per coin last night; it later flipped into positive territory, but is down about 22 per cent from the peak early this month. Our Bloomberg Television partners asked Steve Eisman of The Big Short fame about this hot topic today. His response: “Steve Eisman does nothing with Bitcoin. I stay out of it. I don’t understand it.”
RETAIL SALES MIXED BAG
The most fulsome retail sales data today from Statistics Canada is encouraging: a gain of 1.3 per cent in November -- that's way more than the previous month and what economists anticipated. But the flash estimate for last month is another story: StatsCan estimates sales in December fell 2.6 per cent. While that might make sense considering COVID’s trajectory and lockdown measures, it’s still a blow to the economy. TD Securities Chief Canada Strategist Andrew Kelvin told us in his immediate reaction Canada is “very likely to see a double-dip in this recession.”
OTHER NOTABLE STORIES
- Aurora Cannabis shares are slumping in pre-market trading after the pot producer announced it’s raising US$125 million in a bought deal financing. Proceeds are earmarked for debt reduction among other corporate purposes.
- Intel shares are also under pressure even though the embattled chipmaker beat fourth-quarter profit and revenue estimates. Investors may be rattled by incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger’s clear commitment to in-house chip manufacturing. And the revenue breakdown for the latest quarter is messy, with double-digit drops in several key categories only partially mitigated by growth in its PC-focused business, thanks to work-from-home trends, and the Mobileye division.
\- And IBM is getting punished by investors after the company reported yet another quarter of revenue erosion (down 6 per cent to US$20.4 billion).
- Notable data: Canadian retail sales, U.S. existing home sales
- Notable earnings: Schlumberger
- 11 a.m. ET: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland hosts virtual meeting with provincial counterparts. Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem participates.
- 11:30 a.m. ET: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians from Rideau Cottage.
- 12:30 p.m. ET: White House press briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese.
- 2:45 p.m. ET: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a statement on his administration’s response to the economic crisis and signs executive orders.