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Research Market strategy
by Swissquote Analysts
Morning News

Italy Fines Auto Makers EUR678M in Finance-Cartel Probe

Topic of the day

Italy's competition watchdog has fined several car makers and their banking subsidiaries in the country a total of around 678 million euros ($776 million) for running a car-financing cartel for more than a decade, the authority said Wednesday. According to the watchdog, the cartel operated between 2003 and 2017. The operation included car makers BMW AG (BMW.XE), Daimler AG (DAI.XE), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA.MI), Ford Motor Co. (F), General Motors Co. (GM), Renault SA (RNO.FR), Peugeot SA (UG.FR), Toyota Motor Corp. (TM), Volkswagen AG (VOW.XE) and two trade associations as well as Santander Consumer Bank SpA. The investigation, which began following a leniency application by Daimler, found a "complex and continued agreement for the exchange of sensitive information on quantities and prices, both current and future" regarding loans and other car financing products, according to the authority. Daimler avoided paying a fine of more than EUR60 million with its leniency application, the regulator added.

Swiss stocks

The SMI rose Wednesday for the second consecutive day after the talks on the US-China trade conflict were extended, closing up 0.7 percent at 8,688 points. Furthermore, US President Donald Trump did not, as had been feared, declare a state of emergency to force the building of a border wall with Mexico in his State of the Nation speech Tuesday. The SMI’s cyclical stocks led the field, with Lonza, Lafargeholcim, Adecco, Swatch, ABB, Geberit and Richemont posting price increases of up to 2.9 percent. Sika also recovered after the previous day’s slump, as some analysts maintained their “buy” or “outperform” recommendations on the previous day’s news of the company’s weak profitability and offer for French company Parex. Julius Baer fell 0.6 percent after analysts lowered the stock’s target sharply, but maintained their “buy” recommendation. On the broader market, Kudelski rose 10.2 percent after winning a major contract from Telefonica. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) surged 20 percent despite posting a loss of CHF 15 billion in 2018 after a record profit in 2017.

International markets


The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.5%, or 1.85 points to 347.7 on hopes of a breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade impasse. The DAX and CAC-40 both gained 0.8%. Stocks are pushing higher into the close after U.S.-China trade talks ended on an optimistic note, said David Madden at CMC Markets. "It was reported that Beijing will release details of the talks on Thursday, but a more recent report claims the release date might change," he said. "Traders are aware some structural issues still persist, and that more issues need to be resolved, but the overall mood is positive."

United States

U.S. stocks edged higher, boosted by optimism over trade talks and signs that the Federal Reserve will stay flexible with its interest-rate increases. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was recently up 160 points, or 0.7%, at 23948, while the S&P 500 also added 0.7%. A fourth consecutive climb for the benchmarks would be the first time since Sept. 14 they have both risen that many sessions in a row. They entered the day up more than 9% from their Dec. 24 lows but still off more than 11% from their 2017 records. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.1%. Major indexes had briefly dipped alongside oil prices and Treasury yields in midmorning trading before stabilizing. While anxiety that the U.S.-China trade fight will weaken the global economy has hurt stocks and other risky investments in recent months, some analysts are still optimistic the two sides can reach a compromise. Three days of discussions between officials from the countries ended Wednesday, with both sides seemingly upbeat about progress toward a trade deal. Tariffs were a major reason why the World Bank cut its forecasts for global growth in 2019 and 2020 late Tuesday, so analysts are trying to determine how shifts in the economy could impact corporate profitability. A number of Fed officials have said in recent days that the central bank can be patient with rate policy this year, easing some fears of further policy tightening as the economy slows. Minutes from the latest Fed meeting showed many officials believed they could be close to ending their recent series of rate increases, another reason analysts think the global economy can do well enough to boost risk assets this year.


Asian stocks were mixed, with sentiment taking a hit after poor Chinese inflation data added further signals that growth in the world's second largest economy is slowing. Hong Kong's Hang Seng reversed gains of over 2% and fell into negative territory within an hour after the release before paring back on those losses. "Risk sentiment went into the tank after China's big miss on CPI and PPI," said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA.


U.S. government-bond prices weakened further after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting and hopes of progress on the U.S. and China's trade talks. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note settled at 2.7728%, compared with 2.716% Tuesday.


UBS lowers the Julius Bär target to 46,10 (59,30) CHF – Buy
CS rises the Endesa target to 20,30 (20,20) EUR – Neutral
HSBC rises Nike to Buy (Hold) – Target 95 (92) USD

Produced by MBI Martin Brückner Infosource GmbH & Co. KG on behalf of Swissquote. All news is acquired with journalistic accuracy. No liability is assumed for delays or errors.

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