STOCK MARKET NEWS: IRS spending plan, Disney’s brand master, jobs data and mortgage rates
IRS reveals battle plan for $80B in funding, Disney names first ever brand officer, investors await Friday’s employment report as job cuts surge and mortgage rates fall. FOX Business is providing real-time updates on the markets, commodities and all the most active stocks on the move.
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Today the U.S. Department of the Treasury published the 2023 DeFi Illicit Finance Risk Assessment, the first illicit finance risk assessment conducted on decentralized finance (DeFi) in the world. The assessment considers risks associated with what are commonly called DeFi services.
While there is currently no generally accepted definition of DeFi, the term broadly refers to virtual asset protocols and services that purport to allow some form of automated peer-to-peer transactions, often through use of self-executing code known as “smart contracts” based on blockchain technology.
This term is frequently used loosely by the private sector, often for services that are not functionally decentralized.
Actors like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), cybercriminals, ransomware attackers, thieves, and scammers are using DeFi services to transfer and launder their illicit proceeds. They are able to exploit vulnerabilities, including the fact that many DeFi services that have anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations fail to implement them.
The Biden administration has unveiled what it calls the largest community solar effort in U.S. history, enough to power 140,000 homes and businesses in three states.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the agreement Thursday during a visit to a solar panel factory outside Atlanta. The deal calls for the Qcells solar plant in Dalton, Georgia to build 2.5 million solar panels for Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy to deploy community solar projects in Illinois, Maine and Maryland.
The projects are a way for renters and others without access to rooftop solar panels to receive benefits from clean energy. Qcells is owned by South Korean corporate giant Hanwha Solutions Corp.
Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Bob Iger promoted marketing President Asad Ayaz to a newly created position of chief brand officer, the company said on Thursday.
Ayaz will be responsible for "stewarding and elevating the Disney brand globally" and oversee the campaign to celebrate the company's 100th anniversary this year, Disney said in a statement.
He will also continue to oversee marketing and publicity for all of Disney Studios' films and TV series.
Ayaz is an 18-year Disney veteran who has overseen marketing campaigns for films such as "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Black Panther" and "Avatar: The Way of Water."
U.S. stocks notched modest gains on the final trading day of the shortened week ahead of Friday’s monthly jobs report. In commodities, oil rose over 6% for the week closing at $80.70 per barrel.
Financial markets are closed tomorrow in observance of Good Friday ahead of Easter weekend.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service plans to hire nearly 30,000 new employees and deploy new technology over the next two years as it ramps up an $80 billion investment plan to improve tax enforcement and customer service, it said on Thursday.
The tax agency, in its long-awaited Strategic Operating Plan, said it will obligate about $8.64 billion of the new funding during the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years, and that 8,782 of the new hires during those years will be enforcement staff.
Customer services hiring will total 13,883 full-time-equivalent staff over the two-year period, according to the 148-page plan.
But a significant portion of these new hires will replace the nearly 12,000 IRS employees expected to retire over the next two years - including more than 4,700 enforcement staff, a U.S. Treasury official said.
Sweetgreen Inc said on Thursday it was renaming its newest menu item, the "Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl," two days after Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc sued the salad chain for trademark infringement.
In a statement, Sweetgreen said the dish would now be called the "Chicken + Chipotle Pepper Bowl" so that it can end the lawsuit and serve customers "without distraction," as it continues to "connect more people to real food."
Chipotle said in a separate statement that the new name "protects our trademarks and intellectual property, and therefore, we have both agreed to resolve the pending lawsuit."
Richardson Electronics shares are trading lower despite exceeding Wall Street revenue and profit expectations.
The electronic components and communication products company said cash and investments fell to $24.6 million as at Feb 25 from $40.5 million a year ago. Richardson continues to use cash to support the working capital requirements associated with the significant sales growth over the past ten quarters.
Subsequent to the end of the fiscal third quarter, the company entered into a three-year, $30 million revolving line of credit with PNC Bank for additional liquidity as necessary.
Total net sales rose 27.2% to $70.4 million, which is higher than the estimated $70.2 million.
Net income for the three months ended Feb 25 was $6.3 million, up from $2.9 million.
On a per share basis, profit was 44 cents, topping the analyst estimate of 38 cents.
U.S.-based employers announced 89,703 cuts in March, up 15% from the 77,770 announced in February.
The total is up 319% from the 21,387 cuts announced in the same month in 2022, according to a report released Thursday from global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
March’s total marks the third time this year when cuts were higher than the corresponding month a year earlier.
The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate dipped for the fourth straight week, a good sign for potential home buyers and a real estate market that's been mostly cold since the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates more than a year ago.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate dipped to 6.28% from 6.32% the previous week. The average rate last year at this time was 4.72%.
The average long-term mortgage rate hit 7.08% in the fall — a two-decade high.
Utility firms Dominion Energy and National Grid Plc are separately considering a potential sale of parts of their natural gas pipeline networks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Dominion is mulling a sale of its gas-distribution companies serving North Carolina, Ohio and parts of the Western U.S., which combined could be worth $13 billion, the report said.
National Grid on the other hand is exploring a possible sale of part of its pipeline network serving the Northeastern U.S.
The reported moves come at a time when lawmakers and regulators across the United States are debating the future of natural gas for home heating and cooking as more towns and cities look to phase it out.
Walmart plans to have its own network of electric vehicle charging stations for public use by 2030, to tap into growing adoption of EVs in the United States.
The new fast charging stations will be placed at thousands of Walmart and Sam's Club stores, alongside nearly 1,300 it already operates as part of a deal with Electrify America, one of the country's largest open public EV networks.
Walmart's more than 5,000 stores and Sam's Club warehouses are located within 10 miles of about 90% of Americans.
Kapadia said the strategy entails less risk and will allow Walmart to offer an experience and price "in a way that is not possible when a third party is involved in the equation".
BlackRock has disclosed an ownership interest in Bed Bath & Beyond.The investment manager said it owns 6.2 million shares, or 1.5% of the specialty retailer.
Separately Bed Bath & Beyond asked shareholders to approve a reverse stock split in the range of 1-for-10 to 1-for-20, with such ratio to be determined at the discretion of the board.The company plans to hold a special meeting of shareholders at 10:00 a.m., EDT on Tuesday, May 9, 2023.
Shell expects higher liquefied natural gas (LNG) output in the first quarter after outages at its Australian plants last year as well as stable earnings from LNG trading, it said on Thursday.
Shell, which recorded a record $40 billion profit last year, said in an update ahead of results due on May 4 that it expected first-quarter liquefaction volumes of 7 to 7.4 million tonnes, up from 6.8 million tonnes in the previous quarter.
Its oil products division also likely boosted earnings through a "significantly higher" trading performance, the world's biggest fuel retailer said.
“In its usual teaser ahead of quarterly results Shell is flagging a big loss – but there is a reason investors are brushing this news off," said Danni Hewson, head of financial analysis at AJ Bell. “The anticipated loss is a quirk of accounting — reflecting one-off tax charges which could well be the result of booking the impact of future windfall taxes upfront."
Reuters contributed to this report.
A U.S. court on Wednesday denied AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc's request to lift a status quo order on converting its preferred stock into common shares.
Shareholders voted last month in favor of increasing the total number of authorized shares and carrying out a one-for-10 reverse stock split, as part of a plan to convert its preferred shares into common shares.
Following this, AMC announced earlier this week that it entered into a binding settlement with some investors and that it would ask a judge to lift a related status quo order, in order to speed up the stock conversion process.
AMC said that as part of the settlement, it has agreed to pay the plaintiffs one share for every 7.5 shares they own. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had said they expected the shares paid to their clients to be worth over $100 million.
"The parties offer no good cause to lift the status quo order," Delaware Chancery Court judge Morgan Zurn wrote in the ruling.
Constellation Brands Inc forecast full-year profit above Wall Street estimates on Thursday, benefiting from price increases aimed at combating elevated costs and strong demand for its high-end beer brands.
Like other spirit makers, the company has been raising prices of its beer, wine and spirits to shield its margins from soaring costs of packaging, raw materials, logistics and labor.
Constellation said it expected full-year adjusted profit per share between $11.70 and $12.00, compared with analysts' average estimate of $11.68 per share, according to Refinitiv data.
Constellation also posted adjusted earnings of $1.98 per share for the quarter ended Feb. 28, topping analysts' expectations of $1.82 per share.
Known for brands such as Kim Crawford and SVEDKA Vodka, Constellation, however, said revenue fell 5% to about $2.0 billion, missing analysts' average estimate of $2.02 billion.
Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. on Thursday reported fiscal third-quarter earnings of $175.1 million.
The Eagle, Idaho-based company said it had net income of $1.21 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $1.43 per share.
The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of four analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 98 cents per share.
The frozen foods supplier posted revenue of $1.25 billion in the period, also topping Street forecasts. Three analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.18 billion.
Lamb Weston expects full-year earnings in the range of $4.35 to $4.50 per share, with revenue in the range of $5.25 billion to $5.35 billion.
Levi Strauss & Co on Thursday topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue on resilient demand for jeans and non-denim styles, but maintained its annual forecast as the company turns cautious due to macroeconomic uncertainties.
The jeans maker's attempts to get rid of excessive inventory by offering higher discounts and promotions squeezed its profit margins.
Net income attributable to Levi's fell to $114.7 million, or 29 cents per share, in the first quarter ended Feb. 26, from $195.8 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.
However, the company's net revenue rose about 6% to $1.69 billion in the reported quarter compared with analysts' expectations of $1.62 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
The race to dominant Artificial Intelligence is dividing tech titans who have a big stake in the new technology.
The Mega Millions jackpot has surpassed $400 million for the first time in almost three months, and only the 19th time in the 21-year history of the game.
The big prize rolls after no ticket matched all six numbers drawn Tuesday night – the white balls 1, 37, 45, 62 and 64, plus the gold Mega Ball 4. Friday’s drawing will be an estimated $414 million ($221.0 million cash). The jackpot has been rolling since it was last won in Massachusetts on January 3.
Already this year, four Mega Millions jackpots have been awarded, all of them won in January. On January 13, a $1.348 billion prize was won in Maine, the game’s second highest prize ever. It was followed in short order by a $20 million jackpot won in New York on January 17, and then two jackpots won in Massachusetts – $33 million on January 24 and $31 million on January 31.
France's L'Oreal has agreed to buy Australian luxury brand Aesop from Natura & Co for an enterprise value of $2.53 billion, growing its presence in high-end cosmetics with an eye to international expansion, including in China.
For L'Oreal, which owns labels ranging from Maybelline to Lancome, and has been moving upmarket where consumers are less affected by an economic downturn, the deal is its largest brand acquisition to date, according to Dealogic data.
The French cosmetics group is known for buying emerging labels, and scaling them up through its global distribution network, Ian Simpson, analyst with Barclays, said, estimating Aesop will add around 1.2% to L'Oreal's organic sales this year.
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell this week as the labor market continues to hold up in the face of the Federal Reserve aggressive campaign to cool the economy and bring down inflation.
Jobless claims in the U.S. for the week ending April 1 fell by 18,000 to 228,000 from the previous week's revised level, the Labor Department said Thursday.
The four-week moving average of claims, which flattens some of the week-to-week volatility, fell by 4,250 to 237,750.
Chipotle is accusing Sweetgreen of copying one its most popular menu items.
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