Are Priceline and Expedia Monopolies?

The U.S. hotel Travel-Agent-Cartoonsector intends to ramp up a lobbying and public relations offensive against #Expedia $EXPE and #Priceline Group $PCLN , hoping to convince consumers and Trump administration members that such companies are monopolistic, Bloomberg reports.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association, an industry group whose members include #Marriott $MAR , #Hyatt $H , and #Hilton $HLT , worked up plans for a campaign claiming that the online travel giants engage in unfair practices in their search businesses, the report says, citing board meeting documents.

The industry group plans to lobby FTC officials on the matter and attempt to ensure that new members selected by President Trump are friendly to hotels, the report says. Other companies in the hotel space include Choice Hotels $CHH , #Starwood $HOT , #InterContinental $IHG , and #Wyndham $WYN

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U.S. Rig Count Doubles in One Year!

#Baker-Hughes $BHI reports that the U.S. rig count is up 7 rigs from last week to 877, with oil rigs up 6 to 703, gas rigs up 2 to 173, and oil_rigmiscellaneous rigs down 1 to 1.

The U.S. Rig Count is up 462 rigs from last year’s count of 415, with oil rigs up 375, gas rigs up 87, and miscellaneous rigs unchanged.

The U.S. Offshore Rig Count is up 2 rigs from last week to 19 and down 5 rigs year over year.

The Canadian Rig Count is down 3 rigs from last week to 82, with oil rigs up 3 to 27 and gas rigs down 6 to 55. The Canadian Rig Count is up 46 rigs from last year’s count of 36, with oil rigs up 16, gas rigs up 31, and miscellaneous rigs down 1 to 0.

#Crude oil $CL1 is up 78 cents to $46.30 per barrel after bottoming at $43.77 six-month lows overnight.

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June Rate Hike is a Sure Bet Now!

Today’s solid jobs report should cement a June rate-hikerate hike, unless something untoward happens between now and the June 13, 14 FOMC meeting.

The better than expected bounce in jobs in April, the decline in the unemployment, along with the rise in earnings and hours worked corroborate the Fed’s view that the weakness in March was transitory, and it supports their outlooks for moderate growth ahead and the dot-plot forecast for two more tightenings this year.

Analysts are now projecting a 25 basis point tightening in June, and another at the September meeting (both include press conferences and forecast updates).

This is also becoming the view of many #Fedwatchers.

Of more importance will be when #FOMC decides to address the balance sheet.

More data like today’s, and assuming a strong bounce in growth in Q2 and Q3 — analysts are estimating #GDP growth of 3.2% for both — could see the FOMC make a decision on normalizing the balance sheet by late this year.

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Problem of Too Much Cash!

With over 90% of #Apple’s $AAPL nearly $250B of cash sitting overseas, a one-time 10% repatriation tax would give the company $220B for apple-cashacquisitions or buybacks, Citi analyst Jim Suva tells investors in a research note titled “Addressing the Problem of Too Much Cash.”

The analyst identified seven potential takeover targets for the iPhone market using five filters: strategic fit, global scale, transaction size, few non-strategic assets and the likely impact on Apple’s share price.

The analyst’s potential targets for Apple are #Netflix $NFLX , #Disney $DIS , #Hulu, #Activision Blizzard $ATVI , #Electronic Arts $EA , #Take-Two Interactive $TTWO and #Tesla $TSLA .Nextflixlogo

Each of these names bring some strategic benefit to Apple, Suva argues. The analyst gave Netflix the highest likelihood of being acquired with a 40% probability.

Disney is next at 25%, with the rest at 10% or below. Suva believes a hybrid approach to the large cash position may be Apple’s best path. The iPhone maker, for example, coulddisney acquire Netflix with one-third of the cash and use the remaining two-thirds for buybacks, Suva contends.

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