US stocks to open down ahead of GDP, net neutrality rules passed
Mixed earnings overnight from well-known US retailers and apprehension ahead of the second revision of US fourth quarter GDP is setting up US stocks for a lower open on Friday.
Gap shares could get a lift on the open after the clothing retailer reported better than expected quarterly earnings and announced a $1.4bn buyback program and raised its dividend by 4.5%. JC Penney shares are expected to fall heavily at the open after reporting a quarterly loss. Excluding items the company was expected to see a profit but in fact broke even.
A downward revision is expected in the second estimate of fourth quarter GDP from 2.6% to 2.1% with core personal consumption expenditures expected to moderate to 1.1% from 1.4%. The reading would mark a sharp slowdown from the 5.0% growth seen in the third quarter. A slowdown was always likely from the huge 5% growth seen in the third quarter; the worry is that the slowdown starts to accelerate into Q1.
In perhaps an important moment for internet tech stocks, the Feral Communications Commission voted on a bill for net neutrality. The advertised benefit of the bill would be to prevent Internet Service Providers from deliberately slowing down or blocking access to certain websites or web services allowing for a more ‘open internet’.
The beneficiaries could include the likes of Netflix or other high-bandwidth online service companies while top ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast would lose out from the extra revenue gained from charging to increase internet speeds. The FCC appears to be refusing to testify to congress over the details of the plan in which the agency has appointed itself regulator of the internet like any other public utility. A concern is that if companies are not able to control costs by overcharging the likes of Netflix, the costs will be passed onto consumers and the price of internet packages may go up.
Futures suggest the:
S&P 500 will open 2 points lower at 2,108 with the
Dow Jones expected to open 13 points lower at 18,201 and the
Nasdaq 100 8 points lower at 4,454.
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