No more rate hikes in 2019

Majority of Fed members see rates unchanged for rest of 2019

Members see rates to remain unchanged in 2019, Stockwinners

Minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting read, “With regard to the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, a majority of participants expected that the evolution of the economic outlook and risks to the outlook would likely warrant leaving the target range unchanged for the remainder of the year.

Several of these participants noted that the current target range for the federal funds rate was close to their estimates of its longer-run neutral level and foresaw economic growth continuing near its longer-run trend rate over the forecast period.

Participants continued to emphasize that their decisions about the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate at coming meetings would depend on their ongoing assessments of the economic outlook, as informed by a wide range of data, as well as on how the risks to the outlook evolved.

Short term rates should decline as 30-year rates rise, Stockwinners

Several participants noted that their views of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate could shift in either direction based on incoming data and other developments.

Some participants indicated that if the economy evolved as they currently expected, with economic growth above its longer-run trend rate, they would likely judge it appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate modestly later this year.”

Economic growth in 2019 likely lower than previous forecast

“Participants continued to view a sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the Committee’s symmetric 2 percent objective as the most likely outcomes over the next few years.

Underlying economic fundamentals continued to support sustained expansion, and most participants indicated that they did not expect the recent weakness in spending to persist beyond the first quarter.

Nevertheless, participants generally expected the growth rate of real GDP this year to step down from the pace seen over 2018 to a rate at or modestly above their estimates of longer-run growth. Participants cited various factors as likely to contribute to the step-down, including slower foreign growth and waning effects of fiscal stimulus.

A number of participants judged that economic growth in the remaining quarters of 2019 and in the subsequent couple of years would likely be a little lower, on balance, than they had previously forecast. Reasons cited for these downward revisions included disappointing news on global growth and less of a boost from fiscal policy than had previously been anticipated.”


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Merck reports positive results of its renal cell carcinoma drug

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study

Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners
Merck presents results from Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 study, Stockwinners

Merck (MRK) announced presentation of the full results from the pivotal Phase 3 KEYNOTE-426 trial investigating KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, in combination with Pfizer’s (PFE) Inlyta, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, for the first-line treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma at the 2019 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium.

Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy works in combination with Pfizer's (PFE) Inlyta, Stockwinners

Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy works in combination with Pfizer’s (PFE) Inlyta

This is the first combination regimen to significantly improve overall survival, progression-free survival and objective response rate compared to sunitinib.

Results were consistent across all IMDC subgroups, including favorable, intermediate and poor risk groups, and regardless of PD-L1 expression.

As previously announced, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted priority review for a supplemental Biologics License Application for #KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced RCC based on the results of KEYNOTE-426, and has set a Prescription Drug User Fee Act, or target action, date of June 20, 2019.

Findings from the first interim analysis showed KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib reduced the risk of death by 47% – significantly improving OS compared to sunitinib.

For the dual primary endpoint of PFS, the KEYTRUDA combination showed a reduction in the risk of progression of disease or death of 31% compared to sunitinib.

In the study, the ORR was 59.3% for patients who received KEYTRUDA in combination with axitinib and 35.7% for those who received sunitinib, with a complete response rate of 5.8% and 1.9% and a partial response rate of 53.5% and 33.8%, for patients receiving the KEYTRUDA combination or sunitinib, respectively.

Median duration of response was not reached in the KEYTRUDA combination arm and was 15.2 months in the sunitinib arm. The results for OS, PFS and ORR were consistent across all IMDC risk groups and seen regardless of PD-L1 expression.

The observed adverse event profile was as expected based on the known profiles of KEYTRUDA and axitinib.

There was a higher incidence of grade 3 or 4 liver enzyme elevation with KEYTRUDA plus axitinib than previously observed with each agent as monotherapy.

Merck has filed these data with regulatory authorities worldwide.

Merck has an extensive clinical development program in RCC and is advancing multiple potential registration-enabling studies with KEYTRUDA, as monotherapy and in combination with other treatments, including KEYNOTE-564 and KEYNOTE-581.

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Barrick Gold acquires Randgold

Barrick acquires Randgold in all-stock deal, sees ‘industry-leading’ company

Barrick Gold acquires Randgold, Stockwinners
Barrick Gold acquires Randgold, Stockwinners

Barrick Gold (ABX) announced that it has reached agreement on the terms of a recommended share-for-share merger of Barrick and Randgold Resources Limited (GOLD).

The merger is subject to approval by both sets of shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

It is intended that the merger will be implemented by means of a court-sanctioned scheme of arrangement of Randgold Resources and the Randgold shareholders under Article 125 of the companies Law 1991, with the entire issued and to be issued share capital of Randgold being acquired by Barrick.

Under the terms of the merger, each Randgold shareholder will receive 6.1280 new Barrick shares for each Randgold share.

Following completion of the merger, Barrick shareholders will own approximately 66.6% and Randgold shareholders will own approximately 33.4% of the new Barrick Group on a fully-diluted basis.

The company said, “The Merger will create an industry-leading gold company with the greatest concentration of Tier One Gold Assets in the industry, led by a proven management team of owners. Superior operating metrics, including the highest Adjusted EBITDA margin and the lowest total cash cost position among Senior Gold Peers, will support sustainable investment in growth and shareholder returns.”

The merger is expected to close by Q1 2019.

Following completion of the merger: John Thornton, Executive Chairman of Barrick, will become Executive Chairman of the New Barrick Group; Mark Bristow, Chief Executive Officer of Randgold, will become President and Chief Executive Officer of the new Barrick Group; Graham Shuttleworth, Finance Director and Chief Financial Officer of Randgold, will become Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the new Barrick Group; Kevin Thomson, Senior Executive Vice President, Strategic Matters of Barrick, will become Senior Executive Vice President, Strategic Matters of the new Barrick Group; Two-thirds of the directors of the board of the new Barrick Group will be nominated by Barrick, and one-third will be nominated by Randgold.


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The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7

 

The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners
The Philly Fed rises to 25.7 in July , Stockwinners

The Philly Fed bounce to 25.7 from a 19-month low of 19.9 in June and a 1-year high of 34.4 in May was accompanied by an ISM-adjusted Philly Fed rise to 59.7 from 59.4 in June and a 45-year high of 62.5 in May, versus the same 59.7 in April.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reports that regional manufacturing activity continued to expand in July. All the broad indicators remained positive, with the general activity and new orders indexes improving this month. The survey’s price indexes suggest widespread increases for purchased inputs, and more firms reported price increases for their own manufactured goods. Expectations for the next six months continued to moderate but remain positive overall.

Monday’s Empire State headline slipped to 22.6 in July from an 8-month high of 25.0 in June but a lower 20.1 in May, while the ISM-adjusted measure fell more sharply, to 54.6 from a 12-year high of 57.9 in June and 56.9 in May.

The U.S. state of New York has been known by many nicknames, most notably as the Empire State, adopted as late as the 19th century. This nickname has been incorporated into the names of several state buildings and events, and is commonly believed to refer to the state’s wealth and resources.

For later July surveys, analysts expect a Richmond Fed drop to 17.0 from 20.0, a Dallas Fed drop to 30.0 from 36.5, a Chicago PMI decline to 60.0 from 64.1 in June, an ISM drop to 59.0 from 60.2, and an ISM-NMI drop to 58.0 from 59.1

The mix should allow the ISM-adjusted average of the major surveys to slip back to 58 from the 59 cycle-high set in May and June, versus the same 58 readings in six of eight months through April.

Producer sentiment is enjoying a lift from fiscal stimulus, the mining and factory resurgence, and a stronger global economy that has translated to strength in trade in the face of limited capacity constraints and little near-term inflation risk.


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Algos and VIX

Algos are manipulating the VIX according to a whistleblower complaint

CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings - Stockwinners.com
CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings 

Algorithms  (Algos) are manipulating the VIX according to a whistleblower complaint filed with the SEC and CBoE, according to a Bloomberg report filed late yesterday.

“Algos,” as they’re called, automatically execute trades based on pre-programmed criteria. They can process millions of trades in seconds, predict market movements, take advantage of arbitrage opportunities, speculate on trends and otherwise do whatever programmers design them for.

The letter filed by the lawyer for the unnamed whistleblower claims that derivative VIX equity volatility index can be targeted and moved by posting quotes on options on the underlying S&P 500 without needing to actually trade them or deploy capital.

This has reportedly cost investors $100’s of millions/month in profits and may have contributed to the flat-line on the VIX followed by its surge to 50.3 last week, according to the report.

The CBoE denied the validity of the manipulation charge, citing factual errors and fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the VIX index, VIX futures and volatility.

The search for a scapegoat will no doubt continue after the VIX surge last week contributed to the 10-11% correction on underlying stocks, along with the demise of the XIV inverse VIX short-volatility index.

CBOE Global Markets (CBOE) is up 24 cents to $110.92′


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CBOE Global Markets falls due to VIX

CBOE Global Markets falls on concerns over VIX Futures

CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings - Stockwinners.com
CBOE Global Markets falls amid VIX swings – Stockwinners.com

Shares of CBOE Global Markets (CBOE) are falling after a Tuesday sell-off amid swings in market volatility which saw the CBOE volatility index rise over 50.

CBOE RESPONDS

CBOE defended its VIX volatility index after investors and analysts blamed exchange-traded products that aim to track the measure for worsening the wild trading in the stock market, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.

“The markets were resilient…We were generally pleased with how [the VIX] acted in a very volatile and stressful time,” said William Speth, CBOE VP of research and product development. “I think there are a lot of things going on here,” he said.

“Certainly the VIX ETPs are part of the mix, but the 800-pound gorilla has been these volatility control funds.”

MARKET “CLEARLY WORRIED”

On Tuesday, Wells Fargo analyst Christopher Harris said that spikes in volatility would normally be seen as good for CBOE.

However, given that the losses in the overcrowded trade of “short volatility” have been so severe, the market is “clearly worried” about the negative implications for future VIX volumes, which he believes is weighing on CBOE shares.

While he cannot say how much of CBOE’s volumes are tied to short volatility strategies, Harris said that if VIX related volumes were to go back to 2015 levels that would be 15% dilutive to his 2018 EPS estimate, adding that the recent selloff appears to be factoring in “quite a lot of downside.”

Harris has an Outperform rating on CBOE shares.

On Wednesday, JPMorgan analyst Kenneth Worthington downgraded CBOE to Neutral from Overweight and cut his price target for the shares to $110 from $131.

The liquidation and fall of various exchange traded notes represents a risk to VIX Futures volumes, likely bringing a reduction in VIX Futures trading activity looking over the next few months, Worthington wrote.

He also sees some risk to volumes in VIX options and potential for a deterioration in CBOE’s valuation as VIX has been a key growth driver for the company.

Meanwhile, Goldman downgraded CBOE to Neutral from Buy and cut its price target to $115 from $140. Analyst Alexander Blostein said the unwind in the CBOE’s VIX ETF products will likely weigh on the company’s VIX futures franchise, creating headwinds to the firm’s top-line growth and potentially the stock’s valuation.

The analyst added he continues to see longer-term growth prospects in the CBOE/BATS combination, but believes the shares may lag.

CME UPGRADE

Goldman’s Blostein also upgraded CME Group (CME) to Buy from Neutral and raised his price target to $180 from $160.

Blostein expects CME’s revenue growth to accelerate in 2018/19 amid significant growth in open interest and the increasing likelihood of normalization of volatility.

The analyst expects the prospects of rising inflation expectations and normalization of volatility to drive product velocity higher over the next two years, adding to already to the healthy build-up in open interest.

PRICE ACTION

CBOE Global Markets  is down 3.2%, or $3.73, to $113.21, in Wednesday’s trading. Meanwhile, CME Group is up 2.1% to $160.95.


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