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That big fourth-quarter growth scare looks like it’s not happening



A General Motors assembly worker works on assembling a V6 engine, used in a variety of GM cars, trucks and crossovers, at the GM Romulus Powertrain plant in Romulus, Michigan, August 21, 2019.

Rebecca Cook | Reuters

What a difference a couple weeks can make: A slowdown in fourth-quarter growth to near-zero that appeared nearly inevitable has disappeared, fading even with manufacturing still stuck in contraction.

A closely watched Federal Reserve gauge that had been pointing to a Q4 flatline in mid-November has reversed course, with Atlanta’s GDP Now indicating 1.3% growth, down from a high of 1.7% a week ago. The tracker had risen in recent days following the release of some positive personal income, durable goods and housing data, then came off a bit on Monday’s ISM Manufacturing survey that was a bit below expectations.

Overall, though, the picture for Q4 does not look nearly as bleak as it did the previous two months.

Continued pressure from the U.S.-China tariffs, a slowing global economy and low inflation levels had raised fears that a year that started off with a 3.1% GDP gain would end with basically nothing. That no longer appears to be the case.

“We went from a recession scare earlier this summer then to a growth scare to what I would argue is setting ourselves up for a pretty solid 2020, in part because the high-frequency data isn’t as bad as people thought,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist for the Americas at Natixis. “People were far too pessimistic.”

Indeed, the year had seen a steady crescendo of recession fear that climaxed when the yield curve inverted in late-summer, with shorter-term government bond yields turning higher than their longer-duration counterparts.

That phenomenon, however, quickly reversed, and the calls for a 2020 recession have ebbed along with the change.

Manufacturing lags

Monday, however, brought about a fresh reminder that the U.S. economy is far from in the clear.

The ISM Manufacturing Survey, a bellwether for the goods-producing sector, remained in contraction with a 48.1 reading. Anything above 50 represents expansion, and this was the fourth straight month below the break-even line.

Economists saw two primary takeaways — that manufacturing remains a concern, but the recent numbers suggest that maybe the downturn, largely associated with the tariffs, is forming a bottoming that could be reversed in the months ahead both in the U.S. and globally.

“Manufacturing PMIs for November suggest that industrial activity strengthened in most regions,” Bethany Beckett, assistant economist at Capital Economics, said in a note. “This provides another welcome sign that the global industrial downturn may be bottoming out.”

Economic data in general is on the rise lately, at least compared to expectations.

The Citi Economic Surprise Index, which compares actual readings to Wall Street estimates, is on the uptick thanks to a turn that began around the third week of November. That’s generally a sign if not of a robust economy then at least one that is outperforming a lowered outlook.

Federal Reserve officials of late have been giving mostly favorable grades to the U.S. economy while still noting the downside risks and the continued pattern of inflation that has remained troublesomely low. President Donald Trump, in a tweet Monday, repeated his insistence that the Fed should keep cutting. But economists think that’s unlikely so long as the growth pattern remains intact.

Concerns about the Fed

“The report should change nothing for Fed officials who are assuming relatively soft manufacturing (but strong consumption) in their baseline economic scenarios,” Citigroup economist Andrew Hollenhorst wrote. “Citi’s official call remains for the Fed to remain on-hold next week and through 2020.”

To be sure, there’s still concern that the recent rebound could be a “head fake,” as Evercore ISI’s Krishna Guha speculated.

While he doesn’t hold a downturn steep enough that it would warrant a rate cut as his mostly likely scenario, Guha said central bank officials could be making a mistake in their recent indications that it will take a material change in conditions for them to make any moves on rates.

“Indeed the ‘material reassessment’ threshold in our view means that the next Fed rate cut, if it turns out to be required, is likely to be a risk-off cut in financial markets rather than a risk-on cut,” wrote Guha, Evercore’s head of global policy and central bank strategy. “This is because it would likely be late and would signal that the central bank no longer has confidence in its relatively upbeat forecast for 2 per cent type growth with a strong labor market and solid consumer.”

Any such situation, though, looks to be in the distance.

CNBC’s Rapid Update reading of economist forecasts sees Q4 at 1.6%, while Goldman Sachs said it was cutting its outlook for the quarter, but only by 0.1 percentage point to 1.9%.

“The inevitable recovery in manufacturing, which is highly cyclical, will give the economy the extra thrust going into next year,” said LaVorgna, the Natixis economist. “Wouldn’t it be great if 2020 turned out to be the best year of the cycle?”

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Jets RB Bell (illness) misses practice again By Reuters



New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell was sent home and missed his second consecutive day of practice due to illness.

His status for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins is in doubt and he is listed as questionable on the injury report. With 589 rushing yards on 183 carries, Bell’s 3.2-yard average is a career low. His total of 55 catches ranks second on the Jets this season.

“I think I’ll have more information probably by (Saturday),” head coach Adam Gase said. “We’ll see how he feels. The biggest thing was get him checked out and get him out of the building so nobody else gets sick.”

Illness also has affected tight end Ryan Griffin and cornerback Maurice Canady this week, but they’re expected to play Sunday.

–Without a kicker, the New England Patriots are ready to welcome back Nick Folk if he can show he is recovered from an emergency appendectomy last week, according to an NFL Network report.

Folk was reportedly back at practice with the Patriots on Friday trying to show he is healthy enough to deliver in Sunday’s key game against the Kansas City Chiefs. But he remained a free agent at the start of the day.

After three games as the Patriots’ kicker, Folk was cut last week after his appendix procedure, with speculation that he would return when healthy. New England brought in Kai Forbath to kick against the Houston Texans on Sunday, but he was cut after going 1 of 1 on field goals and 1 of 2 on extra points in a 28-22 defeat.

–Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle has agreed to a three-year contract extension, the team announced.

Financial terms were not disclosed by the Colts, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the extension is worth more than $21 million — plus incentives that boost the contract’s total to $24 million.

Doyle had six catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in the Colts’ 31-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. He has 36 receptions for 377 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games this season.

–Oakland Raiders right tackle Trent Brown has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the team announced.

Brown sustained a pectoral injury in last Sunday’s 40-9 loss to the Chiefs.

Brandon Parker will start in Brown’s place. He will be backed up by David Sharpe.

–San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford will be back in the lineup Sunday vs. the New Orleans Saints, head coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Ford has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and was a limited participant in practice this week, but Shanahan said the six-year veteran was on pace to play this weekend in New Orleans.

–Chiefs running back Damien Williams (NYSE:) has been ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the New England Patriots.

Williams injured his ribs in Kansas City’s 24-17 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Mexico City on Nov. 18 and has not played since.

–Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will miss his fifth straight game this Sunday when Detroit (3-8-1) visits the Minnesota Vikings (8-4).

The 31-year-old Stafford is still recovering from a back injury sustained during the Lions’ Week 9 loss at the Oakland Raiders.

–Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton have been ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Vinatieri, who is dealing with an ailing knee, will miss his first game due to injury since 2009. Hilton is nursing a calf injury.

–Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen has been ruled out for Sunday’s road game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Olsen sustained a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Washington Redskins defensive end Ryan Anderson in the third quarter of the Panthers’ 29-21 setback last Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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PG&E announces $13.5B settlement in California wildfires – PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG)



PG&E (NYSE:PCG) says it reached a settlement with victims of the 2017 northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire which obliterated the town of Paradise, agreeing to pay them $13.5B in damages.

The settlement will resolve all claims arising from those fires, including the 2017 Tubbs Fire, as well as all claims arising from the 2015 Butte Fire and 2016 Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland.

Under the settlement, PG&E will pay half of the $13.5B in cash and half in stock, a major concession to fire victims who were concerned the utility’s stock could be too risky.

But the deal is seen as a win for the company, which has been wooing fire victims away from a rival Chapter 11 plan proposed by bondholders led by Elliott Management.

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Today News For Bank Employees || Daily Banking & Finance Update Ep (17)



Today News For Bank Employees || Daily Banking & Finance Update Ep (17)

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