Here are five things you must know for Wednesday, May 15:
1. — Stock Futures Lower Amid Subsiding Trade War Worries
U.S. stock futures were lower Wednesday though sentiment was lifted by a softening of the rhetoric from Donald Trump in the U.S.-China trade war and suggestions that talks could resume in the coming weeks.
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Markets also were soothed by weaker-than-expected economic data from China that pointed to not only slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy but also a weakening bargaining position in Beijing’s trade standoff with Washington.
With Trumps describing the dispute with China as “a little squabble” on Tuesday, as well as confirmation from the U.S. Treasury that Secretary Steven Mnuchin will soon travel to Beijing to resume trade talks, markets were happy to add risk following Tuesday’s gains on Wall Street.
Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85 points, futures for the S&P 500 declined 8.70 points, and Nasdaq futures were down 23 points.
The economic calendar in the U.S. Wednesday includes Retail Sales for April at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey for May at 8:30 a.m., Industrial Production for April at 9:15 a.m., and Oil Inventories for the week ended May 10 at 10:30 a.m.
2. — Cisco, Alibaba and Macy’s Report Earnings Wednesday
Alibaba Group Holding (BABA – Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings as consumer growth on its online marketplace surged and its tie-up with Starbucks (SBUX – Get Report) , the world’s biggest coffee chain, helped boost revenue and its cloud computing sales surged.
Macy’s (M – Get Report) earned 44 cents a share on an adjusted basis in the first quarter, higher than estimates of 33 cents. Same-store sales rose 0.7% in the quarter vs. estimates that called for a decline of 0.6%.
Earnings reports are also expected Wednesday from Cisco Systems (CSCO – Get Report) and Jack in the Box (JACK – Get Report) .
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3. — Tilray Rises After Revenue Beat, Aurora Cannabis Slumps
Tilray (TLRY) shares were rising 4% to $50.71 in premarket trading Wednesday after the Canadian cannabis company posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter sales, while its domestic rival Aurora Cannabis (ACB – Get Report) slumped after revenue missed analysts’ forecasts amid caps on retail store growth in the Canadian market.
Tilray said first-quarter revenue rose 195% from a year earlier to $23 million, as sales in Canada surged following the country’s decision to legalize cannabis for recreational use. The adjusted loss in the quarter was 27 cents a share, wider than analysts’ estimates, after a 5.7% drop in the average price per kilogram sold.
CEO Brendan Kennedy also said Tilray was looking to further its partnerships with U.S. and international companies as the potential $150 billion global market for cannabis undergoes a generational change in both regulation and consumer acceptance.
“We’ve been inundated with contacts from Fortune 500 companies who are interested in exploring partnerships with Tilray,” Kennedy told investors on a conference call late Tuesday. “And it’s a range of companies from a broad variety of industries.”
“We’re also starting to have conversations with U.S. retailers who are interested in carrying CBD product in the second half of this year,” he added.
Aurora Cannabis, meanwhile, was tumbling 4.7% to $7.99 in premarket trading after its fiscal third-quarter revenue of C$75.2 million missed Wall Street forecasts of C$77.2 million and consumer cannabis sales were just under C$30 million as provincial regulators limited the number of retail outlets.
The company reported a loss attributable to shareholders in the quarter of $C158 million said Aurora Cannabis said it was “well positioned to achieve positive EBITDA beginning in fiscal Q4.”
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4. — Walmart Considering IPO for U.K. Unit Asda
Walmart (WMT – Get Report) is considering an initial public offering for its U.K. grocery subsidiary Asda, a listing that that could value the company at as much as an estimated 8.5 billion pounds ($11 billion), Bloomberg reported.
The news comes just weeks after U.K. antitrust regulators blocked a planned merger between Asda, Britain’s fourth-largest supermarket, and rival J Sainsbury.
“While we are not rushing into anything, I want you to know that we are seriously considering a path to an IPO,” Judith McKenna, the company’s international chief, told employees at an event in Leeds, according to a summary of the event provided by Asda. Any preparations for going public would “take years,” she said, Bloomberg reported.
5. — Nelson Peltz’s Trian May Wage Activist Campaign at Legg Mason – Report
Nelson Peltz’s Trian Fund Management may wage an activist campaign at Legg Mason (LM – Get Report) and push the mutual fund company to improve its flagging results, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
It would be the second time in 10 years that Trian has targeted the mutual fund company, according to Reuters.
Trian recently has held discussions with Legg Mason about the need to cut costs and improve profit margins, the people told the Journal. The two sides may still negotiate a settlement that sidesteps a proxy fight, the sources added.
On a conference call with analysts Monday, Legg Mason CEO Joseph Sullivan said the company was moving to slash expenses.
“While there is much work to be done, we now have increased visibility into and have gained even greater confidence in our ability to deliver $100 million or more of annual savings now within two years,” he said.