Global Markets Higher, Sprint and T-Mobile Merger to Receive Nod

Asian and European markets are mostly higher this morning, and U.S. futures are poised to continue to rally following Monday’s record-topping session as investors continue to favor equities. The Director General of WHO (The World Health Organization) says the coronavirus “holds a very grave threat for the world,” as 42,638 cases have been confirmed and 1,016 people have died in China. There are signs that the spread of the virus is slowing as the number of new cases has declined over the past two nights.

Still, the impact on China’s economy and that of its neighbors is manifesting. Smartphone shipments, for example, could decline 30% this quarter from the same period last year, and industrial companies are slowly getting back to work this week after a two-week mandatory extension of the Lunar New Year holiday due to the outbreak.

On these shores, tech stocks look to continue to lead the way to higher highs following Amazon’s record close Monday, which also lifted the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to new heights. With the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury scraping 1.54% Monday, oil prices continuing to tumble, and gold falling from recent highs, stocks are taking the lead again.

Can you kick it? Yes you can.

News Headlines

  • Xerox Holdings has raised its offer to buy HP to $24 a share and said it would launch a public takeover bid in early March. The price comprises $18.40 in cash and 0.149 Xerox shares for each HP share, Xerox said Monday. The offer won’t be tied to financing or due-diligence conditions, it added. Xerox offered HP $22 a share in November.
  • Mastercard won approval to set up a bank card clearing business in China, gaining access to a $27 trillion payments market as part of the nation’s financial opening. The announcement by the People’s Bank of China on Tuesday signals the country is moving ahead with its part of the phase one trade agreement in opening its financial system to U.S. companies.
  • Slack shares are whipsawing after the company took the air out of a Business Insider article. BI reported that Slack just "scored" its biggest customer deal ever because IBM has brought all its employees on the platform. Slack in an 8K filing said, "IBM has been Slack's largest customer for several years and has expanded its usage of Slack over that time." The company said it is not updating its financial guidance for the quarter or year. Shares are now almost 7% lower after jumping 15% yesterday. 
  • Google's HR chief Eileen Naughton is stepping down later this year. The company's workplace culture has been criticized the last few years.
  • Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency. Emissions stayed at around 33 gigatonnes following two years of increases. "This resulted mainly from a sharp decline in CO2 emissions from the power sector in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar PV), fuel switching from coal to natural gas, and higher nuclear power output," said the report. 

The Big Story

Sprint Shares Soar

At 7:35 a.m. ET the stock is 64% higher in pre-market trading. (Could it be the launch of the company's first smartwatch for kids? It is adorable.)

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero approved the company's mega-merger with T-Mobile. The No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. carriers have been notified of the imminent ruling and the decision will be made public today, according to The Wall Street Journal's sources. It isn't known if there are any new concessions or conditions, and the two companies can renegotiate their deal terms if they wish to. TMUS shares are up around 8%. 

The $26.5 billion merger announced in April 2018 had received the approval of the FCC and Justice Department after concessions. But in November attorneys general of several states filed an antitrust lawsuit to block it. They argued the companies combining will hurt consumers, especially those in lower income brackets, and lead to retail job losses. The California's Public Utilities Commission hasn't given the merger its permission yet and is the last hurdle left to cross.

T-Mobile wants to build out its nationwide 5G network and has vowed to provide the same or better rates to its over 90 million subscribers for three years after the deal closes. The company says the deal will create more jobs than before and provide U.S. consumers and businesses with lower prices, better quality, unmatched value, and greater competition.

T-Mobile may also pose a greater threat to larger rivals Verizon and AT&T and has had no trouble attracting customers lately. It added 1.9 million new subscribers in Q4 2019, bringing the total customer count to 86 million and marking the 27th straight quarter in which it generated more than 1 million total net customer additions. The company spent $501 million on merger-related costs in 2019 and $180 million in 2018. 

Dish Network, a major winner from this deal, is geared to become the fourth major wireless provider with Sprint's assets and T-Mobile's network. The stock is up 5% today.

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