Market Brief: June 19, 2020

A daily summary of news, analysis and data shaping the market.
Market Brief
Friday, June 19, 2020
A Strong Week. U.S. stock indexes on Friday gave up strong early gains to close mostly lower on the session, after the World Health Organization signaled that the coronavirus pandemic remains a deadly threat, and Apple said it will reclose nearly a dozen stores due to rising case counts. But major indexes logged solid weekly gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 207 points, or 0.8%, lower Friday at 25,871, the S&P 500 index closed 0.6% lower at 3098, while the Nasdaq Composite Index finished virtually unchanged at 9946. For the week, the Dow booked a 1% gain, the S&P 500 returned 1.9% and the Nasdaq notched a 3.7% advance. Friday marked quadruple witching, which occurs on the third Friday of the month in March, June, September and December and can cause higher volumes and volatility as single-stock options, single-stock futures, and stock-index options
and stock-futures all expire. In corporate news, Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean Cruises tumbled after the Cruise Lines International Association announced a voluntary suspension of operations from U.S. ports until Sept. 15 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The current no-sail order had been set to expire on July 24.
DJIA 25,871.46 -208.64
S&P 500 3,097.74 -17.60
NASDAQ 9,946.12 3.07
US 10-Year Note 0.70 -0.01
Dollar Index 97.65 0.23
Crude Oil 39.57 0.73
Gold 1,755.20 24.10
Global Dow 2,838.69 -8.35
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Apple Is Shutting Stores in 4 States as Infections Rise
Apple said Friday it was temporarily shutting 11 stores in four U.S. states due to concern about rising infections from Covid-19.

In a statement to Barron’s, Apple said that it was closing locations in Florida, North and South Carolina, and Arizona, beginning Saturday. The company will close two stores in Florida and North Carolina, one store in South Carolina, and six stores in Arizona.

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AMC Theatres Reverses Face Mask Policy After Outcry
AMC Theatres, the biggest cinema chain in the U.S., said Friday it will require all guests to wear face masks when it reopens its cinemas across the U.S. on July 15. The Leawood, Kansas-based company said it made the decision after listening to its customers and to scientific advisors, who recommend face masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus illness Covid-19.

The announcement comes after AMC CEO Adam Aron told Variety on Thursday that the company would not force customers to wear face masks, as he did not want his company to be drawn into what he called “a political controversy.”

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The Racial Wealth Gap Is Huge. Covid-19 Could Make It Worse.
The racial wealth gap in the U.S. was stark before Covid-19 hit, but the pandemic has hit black communities hard, further exposing some of the health, income, and wealth inequities that have contributed to the long-running gap, which is getting renewed attention amid widespread protests around police brutality and racial justice.

While median wealth in the U.S. has grown, African-Americans have seen their wealth barely budge over a period longer than the past two decades, according to a report from McKinsey titled “The Economic Impact of Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” co-written by Shelley Stewart and Jason Wright and released last August. The average median net worth of black families—$17,600—was less than 15% of white families’ $138,200, according to the latest data from the Federal Reserve.

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Marathon Petroleum Shares Climb on Hopes for a Speedway Sale
Marathon Petroleum shares surged in early trading Friday after The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that the big U.S. refiner was considering a sale of its Speedway gasoline and convenience store business as an alternative to its planned spinoff of the valuable division.

J.P. Morgan analyst Phil Gresh calls a Speedway sale a “silver bullet” that would be superior to a spinoff that Marathon Petroleum is now targeting for early 2021 because it would result in substantial cash proceeds that could allow the company to retire debt and buy back stock.

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Albertsons Hopes to Raise More Than $1 Billion With Its IPO
Albertsons, the country’s second-largest grocer, set the terms for its IPO, which could raise as much as $1.3 billion.

Albertsons said it would offer 65.8 million shares at $18 to $20 each. The company plans to list on the New York Stock Exchange, under the ticker “ACI.” BofA Securities, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup are lead underwriters on the deal, according to a June 18 SEC filing.

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Mylan Is Eager to Launch Rival Version of Biogen’s Biggest-Selling Drug After Court Win
Mylan is pressing regulators to approve its generic version of Biogen’s bestselling drug, after defeating Biogen’s patent suit on Thursday.

“[W]e are working with the FDA to accelerate our regulatory approval target action date,” Mylan chief executive Heather Bresch said after a federal-district court in West Virginia ruled that the patent on Biogen’s multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera was invalid.

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Oil’s Rally Points to Better Times Ahead
Oil was rallying again on Friday, rising for the fourth time in five trading days. West Texas Intermediate crude futures vaulted above $40, raising the possibility it will settle above that level for the first time since March. Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, rose 2.4% to $42.51 on the day. West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose 3.3% to $40.11.

With OPEC maintaining its production cuts through at least July, and demand gradually rising around the world, the stage is set for oil demand to outpace supply in the second half of the year. There are still hundreds of millions of barrels of oil sitting in storage around the world, and that extra inventory could weigh on prices this year. But storage tanks no longer appear to be in danger of filling up, and that is a bullish sign for prices.

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30% Is the Magic Number as Companies Set Diversity Goals
Beyond antiracist statements, donations to civil rights groups and Juneteenth celebrations, large companies have pledged to hire more black and minority people, setting goals particularly for senior-level roles amid the heightened fight against institutional racism.

Targets of 30%, in various forms, are proliferating. Facebook, for example, aims to “have 30% more people of color, including 30% more Black people, in leadership positions” over the next five years, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said in a Thursday note.

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Quantum Computing Takes an Exponential Leap With Honeywell’s Latest Breakthrough
Software-industrial conglomerate Honeywell International continues to push the technological envelope, announcing the development of the world’s most powerful quantum computer. Eventually, gains should lead to the creation of an entire new industry.

Honeywell has achieved a quantum volume of 64, meaning it’s tethered together six high functioning q-bits, or quantum bits. That explanation isn’t all that helpful for many laypeople, but quantum computers are supposed to be, essentially, way more powerful than regular computers. More computing power means quantum computers can solve way harder problems.

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5G Is Coming. What Will Change, What Won’t, and Who Will Benefit.
Telecommunication companies are setting the stage for 5G’s long-awaited rollout—but it could take time for consumers to notice a difference, said Craig Moffett, founding partner at New York media and telecom research boutique MoffettNathanson.

“If you stripped away the marketing buzz around it, my guess is the value proposition for consumers is still quite a few years away before it reaches the level of relevance,” Moffett said during Wednesday’s Barron’s Investing In Tech conference.

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