Discovery Takes Majority Stake in Oprah's OWN Network: LIVE MARKETS BLOG

 | Dec 04, 2017 | 4:03 PM EST
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Here's what happened on Wall Street Monday, December 4.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record high Monday, rising more than 300 points on the day as markets reacted positively to the prospect of tax reform moving its way through Congress. 

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were not able to hold on to their earlier gains however. The S&P closed down 0.11% and the Nasdaq dropped 1.05%. 


Discovery Takes Majority Stake in OWN Network

In more media news, Discovery Communications (DISCA) increased its stake in the OWN Network it co-owns with Oprah Winfrey to take a majority share. Discovery paid $70 million to increase its stake 24.5% for a total share of 70% of the company.


Blue Apron (APRN) shares were up more than 20% after analysts at Barclays upgraded to stock to "equal-weight" with a $4 price target after saying that the company has reached a stabilization point.

"The promotion of Brad Dickerson to CEO is positive, in our view, given his experience and operational background," Barclays note said. "Blue Apron mentioned in the press release that: 1) On-time, in-full rates in the Linden facility are at parity with the other warehouses (vs "well below 1 standard deviation" just four weeks back) and 2) margins are up significantly from third-quarter level in the fourth quarter."


Big Retailers Were Showing Strength

Retail was also showing strength Monday. Lowe's Cos. (LOW) was up 4% on heavy volume, Target Corp. (TGT) gained nearly 6% and Ross Stores (ROST) was up 4% on heavy volume.


Bank Stocks Rise as Markets Anticipate Tax Reform

Financial stocks like Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Capital One Financial (COF) were both up more than 3%, with Bank of America nearly surpassing its three-month daily trading volume average with four hours left in trading. SunTrust Banks (STI) was also up over 3% on heavy volume.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C) were both up more than 2% on heavy volume, Goldman Sachs GS was up more than 1%. Goldman Sachs (GS) shares were up nearly 2% and Wells Fargo (WFC) was up nearly 3%


Vanguard Expects Rising Risks to the Market's Status Quo

Vanguard issued a note Monday suggesting that the status quo of strong market returns and low financial volatility is at risk of being overturned, especially in the U.S. 

While the chances of a short-term cyclical rebound are underappreciated, according to the firm, potential rate hikes by the Fed could upend the current status quo. 

"For 2018 and beyond, our investment outlook is one of higher risks and lower returns. Elevated valuations, low volatility, and secularly low bond yields are unlikely to be allies for robust financial market returns over the next five years," Vanguard's note said. 

The remedy in such a market is for investors to be disciplined and globally diversified while keeping return expectations realistic. 


Thomas Barkin Named New Head of Richmond Fed

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond named Thomas I. Barkin as its new president and CEO effective January 1, 2018. 

Barkin is currently the chief risk officer at McKinsey & Company and previously served on the board of directors for the Federal Reserve of Atlanta between 2009 and 2014, chairing the board between 2013 and 2014. 

"Tom's exceptional academic credentials, his analytical and research-based thought leadership, combined with his understanding of the Federal Reserve System, were important considerations for this key leadership role," Richmond Fed Search Committee Chair Margaret Lewis said. 


iPhone X Facial Recognition Technology Faces Privacy Concerns

Apple (AAPL) has touted its iPhone X facial recognition technology as a next-generation security barrier for your phone, however, privacy advocates are concerned about the information that is shared by the technology. 

Apple stores your facial data on the phone, however, it also allows apps on your phone to access the data. App makers must ask permission to access the camera and have to explain to Apple why they need access to the data. 

This Washington Post op-Ed details the concerns of privacy experts. 


Venezuela Gets Into the Cryptocurrency Business

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro announced that his country will issue a cryptocurrency named "petro" that will be backed by the country's oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves.

Maduro sees the new currency as a way to bypass U.S. sanctions against the country's struggling economy. 

Sanctions enacted this year by President Trump has complicated certain oil exports and have slowed bond payments. 


OPEC's Latest Production Cut Plan Has Prices Falling 

Oil prices were falling Monday as markets reacted to OPEC's decision to extend production cuts through the end of 2018 as the oil cartel looks to lower supplies in the face of increased production from U.S. shale. 

Industry standard Brent crude prices were down 0.6% to $63.35 per barrel while West Texas crude declined 0.74% to $57.93. 


Fox Is in Talks to Sell the Majority of its Assets

21st Century Fox (FOXA) has resumed talks to sell assets in its movie and television studio segments, as well as its international interests like Britain's Sky network, to Disney (DIS) , according to Wall Street Journal sources. 

Rupert Murdoch and his family, who own about 39% of Fox's voting shares, will make a decision on a sale by the end of the year.

This is the second time in recent weeks the two media giants have engaged in talks. Last month, talks cooled after the two sides could not agree on a price. This time around, talks are reportedly gaining momentum. 

Fox and Disney shares were both up more than 1% premarket.  


Premarket

U.S. futures were climbing ahead of the opening bell Monday, indicating a strong open for the stock market as Wall Street anticipates further positive movement on the tax reform bill that the Senate approved over the weekend. 

Dow futures were up nearly 1%, while S&P futures climbed 0.63% and Nasdaq futures rose 0.5%. 

Asian markets struggled Monday, with the Nikkei and Shanghai Composite both declining on the day. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was the lone major Asian average in the green, rising 0.22% on the day. 

In Europe, the major averages were showing strength as the CAC 40, FTSE 100 and DAX all traded in the green with over three hours left in trading across the Atlantic. 

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