Business briefing

The daily business briefing: February 21, 2017

Stock futures point to possible new records, HSBC shares plunge as profits fall short of expectations, and more

1

Stock futures put new records in sight after holiday

U.S. stock futures rose early Tuesday, pointing to a higher open and possible fresh records as trading resumes after the three-day Presidents Day weekend. Shares of Home Depot and Walmart rose after the companies reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings. Walmart reported that sales at stores open at least a year rose by 1.8 percent, beating expectations of analysts polled by research firm Consesus Metrix, who had forecast a 1.3 percent rise. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures were up by 0.3 percent, as were the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 indexes.

2

HSBC shares dive after profit falls short of expectations

HSBC shares plunged by as much as 6.8 percent in London on Tuesday after the British multinational bank reported fourth-quarter profit that fell short of estimates, due to an unexpected decline in revenue. HSBC also warned that profits could fall again in 2017. The stock's fall was its steepest since August 2015. HSBC reported a $3.4 billion pretax quarterly loss, which it chalked up to slowing growth in Hong Kong and the U.K., both core markets for the lender. CEO Stuart Gulliver is struggling to reverse five years of falling revenue by reducing expenses, increasing the bank's cost-cutting target by $1 billion to $6 billion.

3

Euro zone ministers agree to new Greece bailout talks

Euro zone finance ministers agreed Monday to start new bailout negotiations with Greece as soon next week. Greece needs a new infusion of aid under its $91 billion bailout to meet its next major debt repayment in the summer. Experts will try to hammer out a proposed deal on new reforms to Greek pensions, taxes, and other financial matters. Greece has relied on bailout money in exchange for painful austerity measures for years, but the head of euro zone finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said the policy is now "moving away from austerity and putting more emphasis on deep reforms."

4

Snap executives pitch IPO to London investors

Executives from Snapchat parent company Snap held an event in London on Monday, launching an effort to persuade London money managers to invest in its initial public offering of stock. Snapchat is a popular messaging app, but Snap has yet to make a profit. Snap hopes to raise between $19.5 billion and $22.3 billion in its IPO, but some of the investors who attended its event said they had hoped for more information on its projected revenue and advertising share growth. "That's the million dollar question," said one potential investor, "and we won't find out for some time."

5

Chinese commerce minister urges U.S. to avoid trade war

China's commerce minister, Gao Hucheng, on Monday appealed to the U.S. to avoid a trade war between the world's two biggest economies, saying, "Cooperation benefits both, while confrontation can only hurt." China has a bigger trade surplus with the U.S. than any other nation. President Trump has accused Beijing of manipulating the value of its currency to give its companies an unfair advantage, and has threatened to impose punitive tariffs. Gao said that the two countries can overcome trade frictions through negotiations, as they have in the past.

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