One big retailer is OK with Amazon; China’s World Bank wants US to join; Global firms want China to put new cyber rules on hold


Profitable Moment
 

The dollar is weakening

A funny thing has been happening in the markets over the past few weeks. While equities continue on a tear, often reaching record heights, the US dollar has slowly but surely been giving up some of its gains. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies has fallen about 4% since its January highs. There are many reasons for the dollar’s decline. The weaker US growth in Q1 and lower forecasts for 2017 GDP may cause the Fed to revisit the number of rate rises this year (unlikely.) Worries over trade issues – NAFTA, China, TPP, TTIP etc has also given cause for concern. All these are reasons for the dollar’s weakness. On the flip side, there are reasons for euro strength. France’s new pro-European president has diminished worries about the euro’s future.  Economic growth is picking up in the eurozone and that has given renewed confidence in the single currency.  Finally – and its very difficult to put a price on this – there is a level of policy confusion in Washington. The Trump rally was largely predicated on banking and tax reform. That is looking more difficult and farther down the road. So the dollar is coming under pressure. The dollar’s fall is a far cry from the post-Brexit collapse of sterling…but it is a trend and it seems likely to continue.

Richard.Quest@cnn.com 

What’s new… what’s next
 

By Matt Egan, Julia Horowitz and Paul R. La Monica of CNNMoney

1. China’s World Bank wants the U.S. on board

Jin Liqun, the president of the Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank, told CNN’s David McKenzie that the U.S. should consider joining the organization. “Any member is welcome to join,” he said. What is the bank, exactly? It’s effectively China’s answer to the World Bank. The financial institution wants to develop a network of global partners to tackle infrastructure needs across Asia. Some projects have been criticized as potential white elephants, but Jin said the bank plans to ensure resources translate to tangible results.

2. North Korea is linked to ransomware attacks

Security researchers have flagged a possible connection between North Korea and the massive cyberattack that hit at least 150 countries around the world. Experts say it’s far too early to say whether North Korea was definitively behind the outbreak of ransomware infections. But the secretive regime has been linked to other major hacking cases in the past. One big example: The U.S. government concluded North Korea was behind a major attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

3. Trump voters want jobs. Not Russia noise

Russia was not a hot topic when CNNMoney traveled the country to meet with dozens of Trump voters. Nor was James Comey, the FBI director Trump fired. Yet that’s what the White House is focusing on these days, instead of the jobs and wages that Trump voters want. Kenneth Olsen, a Wisconsin factory worker whose job is being shipped to Canada, is getting impatient. “The longer they stall around…the more people are gonna get hurt,” he told CNNMoney. 

4. Home Depot isn’t getting Amazon-ed

Take that, Jeff Bezos? Home Depot reported strong revenue and profits Tuesday, pushing its stock to an all-time high. Home Depot’s digital sales are growing rapidly too, but the chain is benefiting from solid demand from professional builders — who still like to go to stores for plywood and bricks. Many other retailers are struggling though — especially those with a presence at the mall. Teen apparel retailer Rue21 is the latest to file for bankruptcy.

5. Quick Takes:

Companies around the world want China to put its new cyber rules on hold

One of Elon Musk’s cousins is leaving Tesla/SolarCity to start a new firm

Tuition-free college is becoming a big trend in some American states…

…and one UK politician wants a tax hike to make college free for Brits as well

Vending machines aren’t just for soda. You can buy a Ferrari from this one!

Facebook’s Instagram copies Snapchat again — this time with face filters

Big 3 giant Ford reportedly set to announce layoffs as auto sales slump

Twitter cofounder Biz Stone is back at Twitter. Let the speculation begin

6. What’s next:

Speaking of Russia… Perhaps the latest GDP numbers out of Moscow will get a bit more attention given all the controversy about Trump. Russia’s economy has been slammed by the twin forces of cheap oil and sanctions from the US and Europe. But economists think the GDP report due out on Wednesday will show Russia’s economy grew by 0.4% during the first quarter.  

More trouble from Target? It’s been an absolutely brutal period for the bricks-and-mortar retail industry. Will Target add to the gloom-and-doom? The discount retailer’s quarterly numbers are due out on Wednesday morning and investors are nervous. Target’s stock price has plummeted by 25% so far this year alone.

Victoria’s Secret and Cisco on tap: More dour retail news could come after the closing bell. That’s when L Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret, is slated to post results. The company’s stock has lost one-quarter of its value this year. Thankfully, the tech industry is doing much better than retail. That should be evident when Cisco Systems heads to the earnings stage on Wednesday afternoon.

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