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TRUMP-ENOMICS

Retail Sales Surge, setting biggest single month Increase in more than 2 years

Jacob Wohl

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In September, retail sales increased 1.6% last month, according to The Commerce Department. On an annual basis, retail sales have increased 4.4%. This makes September the best single month increase in retail sales since March 2015.

US retail sales have been under pressure for years, as consumers increasingly utilize online shopping in the Amazon age, yet retail sales posted their biggest gains in 2-1/2 years.

Many speculate that this sharp increase in retail sales may be due to the massive hurricane recovery efforts in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.

The economy grew at a 3.1% annualized rate from April 2016 to June 2017.

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Jacob Wohl is the CEO and Head of Fixed Income and Interest Rates for Montgomery Assets, a proprietary trading and asset management firm based in Los Angeles, CA. Jacob Wohl is the host of the Offended America Podcast

TRUMP-ENOMICS

Bitcoin rebounds after losing almost a third of its value

Jacob Wohl

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LONDON (Reuters) – Bitcoin surged on Monday, recovering more than $1,000 after losing almost a third of its value in less than four days as traders bought back into the volatile cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin tumbled in the second half of last week, falling as low as $5,555 on the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp exchange on Sunday, a slide of almost 30 percent from a record high just shy of $7,900 on Wednesday.

It rebounded on Monday, trading up more than 14 percent on the day at $6,718, though that was still more than $1,000 less than last week’s record high.

Market-watchers said the fall had been driven by a decision on Wednesday to abandon a planned software upgrade that could have split the cryptocurrency in a so-called “fork” – a move that had initially had a positive impact on the digital coin, sending it to a record high of $7,888 on the view that this marked a resolution of a long-term dispute.

But some were disappointed that “Segwit2x” fork had been abandoned. It would have increased the capacity of the “blocks” transactions are processed in, thereby reducing competition to get payments processed and lowering transaction fees.

Consequently, analysts said, some of those who see low fees as important to the future of bitcoin were selling it for a clone called Bitcoin Cash that spun off from the original in August. Its block sizes are larger, and therefore transaction fees are lower.

Bitcoin Cash tripled in value at the end of the week as bitcoin slid, reaching an all-time high just below $2,000 on Sunda and briefly overtaking Ethereum as the world’s second-biggest cryptocurrency.

But traders bought back into the original bitcoin on Monday, sending Bitcoin Cash plummeting. It was trading down over 30 percent on the day at around $1,097, according to industry website Coinmarketcap.

“Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash will co-exist and serve different use cases, just like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It’s not a zero sum game,” bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antopolous said in a post on Twitter.

Bitcoin is up more than 500 percent so far this year.

(This version of the story was refiled to change headline to “claws back” from “rebounds” to avoid confusion)

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TRUMP-ENOMICS

Chinese Firm Tencent Quietly Bought 12% Stake in Snapchat

Jacob Wohl

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(Reuters) – Tencent Holdings Ltd now has a 12 percent stake in Snapchat operator Snap Inc, company filings showed on Wednesday, the latest in a string of major investments in the United States by China’s new tech heavyweights.

The details of the stake, revealed by Snapchat after badly received quarterly results, came as U.S. and Chinese firms announced $9 billion in new deals on the arrival of President Donald Trump in Beijing.

It helped the U.S. company recoup a slide of almost 20 percent in pre-trading in New York after it reported third-quarter revenue and user growth well below Wall Street expectations.

Snap shares recovered to trade down 12 percent at $13.29 in premarket trading from a close of $15.12 on Tuesday.

“While such news may be initially perceived as positive by the market, one has to remember that Tencent’s holdings in Snap is the non-voting Class A shares, which makes a possible acquisition of Snap by Tencent less likely,” said Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi.

Along with Alibaba and Baidu, Tencent has poured billions of cash from a decade of growth in China into buying U.S. firms and holds 5 percent of electric car maker Tesla, as well as stakes in ride service company Lyft and augmented reality startup Magic Leap.

The largest social media and gaming company in China and owner of the popular mobile application WeChat, it had previously invested in Snap through an affiliate in 2013, and has been referred as a “role model” by Snap’s co-founder and Chief Executive Evan Spiegel.

Snap said in its quarterly report that Tencent had bought 145.8 million shares of its non-voting Class A common stock on the open market. Snap had about 1.2 billion shares outstanding, as of Oct 31.(bit.ly/2zqvybE)

“The positive side of this could be that the two companies may create business partnership of some kind or Tencent may aid Snap in expanding its reach into China,” Morningstar’s Mogharabi said.

Unlike many U.S. stock market-listed corporations, Snap is not obligated to disclose changes in Tencent’s ownership of Snap’s Class A stock. Snap said it had only received the details of the stake from Tencent this month and declined to answer further questions on the filing.

Snap, on Tuesday, reported third-quarter revenue and user growth well below Wall Street expectations, as it struggles to compete with Facebook Inc’s Instagram. The company has disappointed investors each quarter since it floated on the New York Stock Exchange in March.
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Fox held talks to sell most of the company to Disney

Jacob Wohl

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Reuters Reports Fox’s shares jumped 7.1 percent to $26.76 in afternoon trading in response. Disney shares climbed 1.7 pct to $100.33.

The two sides are not currently talking, CNBC said, but had held talks in the last few weeks, reflecting a view among Fox executives that the media company could not reach the size needed to compete with Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and other major media players. cnb.cx/2hgHcPA

For Disney, a deal could bring additional programming it could use to lure audiences as the company tries to navigate consumers’ rapid migration to digital viewing and spending by technology companies pushing further into Hollywood.

Disney, which under U.S. rules could not own two broadcast networks, would not purchase all of Fox, CNBC reported. It would not seek to buy Fox’s sports programming assets for fear of running foul of antitrust laws with its own ESPN network, and would also not buy Fox News or Fox’s broadcast network or local broadcasting affiliates, the report said.

It did discuss buying Fox’s movie and TV production studios, cable networks FX and National Geographic and international assets such as Star and B Sky B, CNBC said.

Fox has bid $14.5 billion to acquire the remaining 61 percent it does not own of Sky Plc, but the acquisition has been delayed by British regulators.

Disney has been struggling with subscriber declines at ESPN, its biggest network, and is planning to launch direct-to-consumer video streaming services to reach younger audiences that have shunned traditional cable and satellite offerings.

Much of Fox’s revenue has come from its cable division, which houses Fox News, FX and other channels. Fox said in August that it expects to see high single-digit domestic affiliate fee growth every quarter in fiscal 2018.

Fox and Disney are co-owners of Hulu, a streaming service that offers on-demand and live TV packages. Hulu also is partially owned by Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc.

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