Inside Finance - September 11th, 2019

Inside Finance (Sep 11th, 2019)

Hong Kong Wants to Buy London Exchange / POTUS Wants to Refinance U.S. Debt / China Lifts Some Tariffs

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1. Stocks are up, where they've been all day, so far. The Nasdaq is leading gains (thanks, $AAPL) with a nearly 0.8 percent pop. The Dow and the S&P 500 are both up about 0.5 percent. While today is looking good, broader recession fears are still out there, and polls show they may be taking a hit on President Trump's approval ratings. The president, meanwhile, is attacking the Fed again and calling for negative interest rates. The Fed is widely expected to cut rates later this month. – CNN

2. In an apparent olive branch offering, China has exempted some U.S. products from its trade war tariffs. Sixteen products will be spared from additional tariffs, including shrimp, cancer drugs, and livestock feed. The exemption takes effect September 17 and lasts for one year. In some cases, companies can apply for a refund for any tariffs paid already. The show of goodwill could help grease the wheels of negotiation progress. The next round of face-to-face talks is scheduled to take place in October. – NYT

3. By the Numbers: Refinancing U.S. Debt

$22.5 trillion – That's roughly how much debt the U.S. has. President Trump this morning called for refinancing that debt with longer terms and lower interest rates. That would certainly help the government's balance sheet, but there's debate over how that would affect the U.S. economy, since members of the U.S. economy own a significant chunk of that debt.

13% – That's how much debt has grown during the Trump administration. It comes out to $2.6 trillion. A notable addition to the national debt load came in the form of the 2017 tax cut.

$538.6 billion – Taxpayers in fiscal year 2019 paid out a record $538.6 billion in interest payments alone.

2 – That's roughly how many weeks have passed since Stephen Moore called for refinancing debt in an op-ed. President Trump had planned on nominating Moore for an open Fed seat, but that was called off amid controversy over his views on women.

2016 – While Moore's recent op-ed may have revived the conversation, then-candidate Trump called for refinancing U.S. debt while on the campaign trail in 2016. However, it wasn't a regular part of his stump speech. – CNBC

4. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing has made a surprise bid to take over the London Stock Exchange. The deal, worth about $40 billion, would create the third-largest stock exchange. If it goes through, only the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange would be larger in terms of total company value. However, the deal is likely to face intense scrutiny from both financial and political analysts. U.K. Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said Britain will be looking, in particular, for "anything that had security implications for the U.K." – FORTUNE

5. The gig economy is an increasingly prominent aspect of the American job market, but California just passed a bill that aims to reverse that trend. The bill requires businesses to hire workers as employees instead of contractors. There are exceptions, but the bill was specifically designed to target app-based businesses that currently treat workers as contractors—think Lyft, Uber, Postmates, etc. Lawmakers believe these companies are taking advantage of contract law to misclassify workers that should be employees, and eroding the middle class in the process. Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the bill, and it's set to take effect January 1. Investors don't seem to mind, though, both Uber and Lyft stock are up today. – VOX

6. Apple made a bunch of announcements last night, including details on streaming service, gaming service, and new the new iPhone model. You can find out all the details by following Inside Apple, but for the purposes of finance, it's worth noting that Wall Street is reacting positively. The stock was up more than 2.5 percent at last check. – CNBC

7. At last check, GameStop shares were down more than 11 percent amid the gaming retailor's latest lackluster report. However, if you believe "Big Short" investor Michael Burry, this could actually present a great opportunity. He recently revealed that he owns three percent of GameStop and sees a huge upside to the company. – MARKETS INSIDER

8. The vape industry is facing enhanced scrutiny following several recent deaths, and investors with tobacco giants in their portfolios could take a hit on the news. Altria, for instance, was downgraded by at least one analyst this week, in part due to its 35 percent stake in Juul. Earlier today, the Trump administration revealed that it's considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. – CNBC

9. With China's attempt to ease trade tensions today, you might think that oil prices would rise (more international trade means more oil demand), but instead, we're seeing oil prices fall—and analysts are looking at the White House. With the ouster of National Security Advisor John Bolton, some analysts expect U.S. policy toward Iran to soften, which could result in more Iran oil exports. – CNN

10. The average FICO score in America hit a new high of 706 this week. The average credit score hit a low of 686 in 2009. FICO officials say the rising average is in part due to a solid economy, and in part due to increased awareness among consumers about what credit scores are and why they're important. – MARKETWATCH

Schuyler Durham writes Inside Finance. He’s a lifelong Portlander who got his start covering the local music scene, but later became enamored with the complexities of financial and political reporting. After three years in broadcast news, he's now diving back into the digital realm. You can keep up with his writing on Twitter at @SchuylerWriter or watch him goof around on Instagram at @bitterbuddha.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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