Fed day; Smartphone slide; GE earnings

Posted at 3:52 AM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 05:52:40-04

1. Fed day: The day investors have been anticipating for weeks is finally here.

The Federal Reserve will announce its decision on interest rates at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a press conference with Chairman Jerome Powell.

It’s widely expected that the Fed will cut interest rates for the first time in more than a decade. Attention will then shift to what Powell has to say about the path forward.

Powell could also face questions on why a rate cut is necessary at a moment when the US economy is strong and unemployment remains historically low, and whether cutting rates now could limit the Fed’s ability to respond to a future crisis.

The economic impact of the trade fight between the United States and China is likely to come up, too. President Donald Trump’s tweets on Tuesday criticizing China indicated that a deal could still be a ways off.

2. Smartphone slide: A saturated smartphone market hit both Samsung and Apple last quarter. But Apple, unlike Samsung, still managed to grow its revenue.

Profit in Samsung’s smartphone business slumped by nearly 42% to 1.56 trillion Korean won ($1.32 billion), and the outlook for the rest of the year looks grim.

“The overall mobile market demand is expected to remain weak due to growing uncertainties over the global economy and trade,” Samsung said Wednesday.

Revenue dropped 4% compared to last year as Samsung also faced price declines in its memory chip business. Shares fell nearly 3%.

Apple said Tuesday that iPhone sales for the quarter fell to about $26 billion, a decline of nearly 12% from the same period a year earlier.

But the company managed to grow its overall revenue by 1% from the prior year as it finds more traction selling wearable devices and digital services, including Apple Pay and Apple Music. Shares rose more than 4% in premarket trading.

3. GE earnings: General Electric’s slumping power division continues to drag down the company’s profit, and GE is burning through cash. But investors know that by now.

Instead, they’re hoping GE can continue to demonstrate progress in its turnaround when the company reports earnings before US markets open.

Despite tumbling earnings, GE has stood by its 2019 guidance for industrial free cash flow throughout the year. But it faces a new threat: the Boeing 737 Max crisis.

Boeing said last week it is preparing for a 737 Max production shutdown in case it does not receive approval to fly the grounded plane again this year. That would serve as a setback for GE, which makes jet engines for the 737 Max.

Want more markets? Watch CNN’s “Markets Now” digital live show Wednesday at 12:45 p.m. ET.

4. Global markets: US stock futures point higher ahead of news from the Fed.

The Dow is set to rise about 70 points, or 0.3%, when US markets open. The S&P 500 is poised to increase 0.2%, while the Nasdaq is tracking up 0.4%.

European markets, meanwhile, are more of a mix. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.3% in early trading, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.1%.

Airbus reported stronger-than-expected earnings for the three months ending in June, but noted that it could face delivery challenges in the second half of the year.

Stocks in Asia fell on concerns about trade as negotiations between Washington and Beijing continue. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.3% and Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.9%.

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5. Coming this week:
Wednesday — Fed rate decision; GE, Occidental Petroleum, Molson Coors, and Qualcomm earnings
Thursday — Bank of England rate decision; General Motors, Dunkin’, Kraft Heinz and Verizon earnings
Friday — US jobs report; Exxon, Chevron and Berkshire Hathaway earnings