The daily business briefing: November 20, 2019

The Week 2 weeks ago

1.

The House passed a short-term bill to keep the federal government funded and prevent a government shutdown when currently allocated money runs out on Thursday. The stopgap measure passed 231-192. It will extend funding through Dec. 20, which means Congress will face another deadline just ahead of the winter holidays. The proposal now must be passed by the Senate and signed by President Trump to keep some government offices from being temporarily closed. "With a government shutdown deadline just days away, this continuing resolution is necessary to keep government open as we work towards completing the appropriations process," House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. [CNN]

2.

Home Depot shares fell by 5.4 percent on Tuesday after the home improvement retailer reported disappointing quarterly earnings. Home Depot reported earnings of $2.52 per share, just under expectations of $2.53 per share. The company also cut its 2019 sales forecast. The stock was the main drag on the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which gave back early gains and closed down. Department store company Kohl's also plunged after it cut its profit forecast for the year after reporting sales and earnings that fell short of estimates. "The market wants to move up but there's too much gravel in the path," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for independent broker-dealer Commonwealth Financial Network. [Reuters, CNBC]

3.

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters and warning China against violently cracking down on the protests in the Chinese-run, semi-autonomous city. China responded by repeating its threat to retaliate if the bill becomes law, although it did not provide details on how it would respond. China accused senators of meddling in Hong Kong's affairs. The fresh tensions between the world's two largest economies came as they try to hammer out a deal to end their trade war. The Senate vote weighed down global stocks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped by as much as 1.1 percent on Wednesday after gaining 2.9 percent over two days. [Bloomberg]

4.

U.S. stock index futures fell early Wednesday, dropping further from record levels following Tuesday's slight losses. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq were down by at least 0.3 percent. Stocks struggled Tuesday, both because of a flurry of weak retail earnings reports and rising concerns about the prospects for a deal on easing President Trump's trade war with China. Trump threatened during a Cabinet meeting to step up his tariff hikes on Chinese imports if the two sides can't reach a "phase one" trade agreement. "If we don't make a deal with China, I'll just raise the tariffs even higher," Trump said. [CNBC]

5.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba plans to set its Hong Kong listing price at a 2.8 percent discount to their latest close in New York, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter. The company is expected to officially announce the price on Wednesday. The share sale would raise at least $11.3 billion, a figure that could increase to $12.9 billion if the company exercises a "greenshoe" option to issue more shares. The record cross-border secondary share sale is expected to provide a boost for Hong Kong, which recently slipped into its first recession in a decade and has been rattled by five months of anti-government protests. [Reuters]


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