Carlos Ghosn in trouble; Brexit business; China tech earnings

Posted at 3:43 AM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 05:43:36-05

1. Trouble for Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi: Nissan says that an internal investigation into its chairman, Carlos Ghosn, has turned up evidence of “significant” financial wrongdoing.

The revelation has major implications for the global auto industry. Ghosn is also chairman of Renault and Mitsubishi Motors (MMTOF), and the driving force behind an alliance that links the three carmakers.

Nissan (NSANY) said in a statement that Ghosn has for years been under-reporting his income in Japan. It said “numerous other significant acts of misconduct have been uncovered,” including personal use of company assets.

The Japanese carmaker said it would seek to remove Ghosn as chairman. Japanese media reported that Ghosn was being questioned by prosecutors and could be arrested.

“Nissan has been providing information to the Japanese Public Prosecutors Office and has been fully cooperating with their investigation,” Nissan said in a statement. “We will continue to do so.”

Stocks had stopped trading in Japan when the statement was released, but Nissan shares listed in Frankfurt dropped over 10%. Renault (RNSDF) shares trading in Paris plunged as much as 13%.

2. Brexit support: Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to find a receptive audience Monday when she talks up her Brexit deal at a meeting of the Confederation of British Industry.

John Allan, president of the influential business lobby, will endorse her deal to withdraw from the European Union, saying it “minimizes the damage to our economy,” according to a copy of his remarks released in advance.

“While companies in this room would be the first to say that it is not perfect, it does open a route to a long-term trade arrangement and unlocks transition — the very least that companies need to prepare for Brexit,” he is expected to say.

“So our message to the politicians is this — listen to the businesses in your constituencies — and everyone who depends upon them,” he will add.

The pound strengthened 0.2% to trade at $1.28 on Monday, clawing back some of the losses suffered last week when key UK government ministers resigned and said they would not support the deal. It still needs to be signed off by the other 27 EU member states and the UK parliament.

3. Global market overview: US stock futures were little changed.

European markets opened with gains of roughly 0.5%. Stocks in Asia had a solid session, advancing by as much as 1%.

The Dow added 0.5% on Friday and the S&P 500 gained 0.2%. The Nasdaq shed 0.2%. For the week, all three major indexes declined about 2%.

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4. Earnings and economics: Xiaomi earnings beat estimates Monday, in what should be a boost for the company’s beleaguered Hong Kong-listed shares. The Chinese smartphone maker posted profit of 2.5 billion yuan ($360 million) for the three months ended in September. Revenue grew 49%.

Chinese e-commerce firm (JD) will publish earnings before the US open.

L Brands (LB), the parent company of Bath and Body Works and Victoria’s Secret, will release earnings after the close. The retailer’s stock is down 40% for the year.

One big problem is Victoria’s Secret, which younger customers have abandoned in favor of cheaper brands. Last week, unconfirmed reports indicated that CEO Jan Singer has resigned as head of the brand.

Intuit (INTU) and Urban Outfitters (URBN) will also report after the close.

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5. Coming this week:
Monday — L Brands (LB), Urban Outfitters (URBN), Inc. (JD) earnings
Tuesday — BJ’s Wholesale Club (BJ), Best Buy (BBY), Barnes and Nobels (BKS), Campbell Soup (CPB), Target (TGT), TJX (TJX) and Gap (GPS) earnings
Wednesday — Deere & Co. (DE) earnings
Thursday — US markets closed for Thanksgiving
Friday — Black Friday; US markets close early