What's moving markets today
Here's an interesting way to get people to come back to some of America's floundering shopping malls -- start selling CBD-infused products.
Green Growth Brands (GGBXF), a cannabis company that owns the Seventh Sense Botanical Therapy brand of body and skin care lotions and oils derived from hemp, said Monday it has a deal with Simon Property, the nation's largest mall operator, to open stores in its shopping centers.
Simon (SPG) runs some of the most high-profile malls in the US, including Roosevelt Field on Long Island, The Galleria in Houston and the Woodbury Common outlets just north of New York City. The first Green Growth/Seventh Sense store is slated to open at Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis in March.
Don't be surprised to see Green Growth strike more deals with US retailers either. Peter Horvath, the company's CEO, is a former executive with Victoria's Secret and American Eagle Outfitters.
Walmart's (WMT) streaming plans took another step with the addition of a board member from show business.
NBCUniversal International Group chairman Cesar Conde has been appointed to Walmart's board of directors, the company announced this morning. He currently oversees NBCUniversal's operations outside of North America.
"Cesar brings strong skills as a global executive and expertise in brand management, finance, digital and media that will complement our board of directors' experiences," said Greg Penner, chairman of Walmart's board.
Conde's appointment might help guide Walmart with its entertainment plans. Walmart announced last year it was partnering with movie studio MGM to make new shows for Walmart's streaming service, Vudu. It also struck a deal with Eko, a video startup, to create "original [and] interactive content."
📈Shares of Restaurant Brands International (QSR) are up 20% for the year.
Consumer confidence is already low and there's another sign it might be dinged again: Lower tax refunds.
The IRS said the average refund is down roughly 8%. Refunds for the first full year of the overhauled tax code averaged $1,865 compared to $2,035 for tax year 2017.
If Americans are getting less money back, that might mean they're going to spend less of their refund.
Morgan Stanley announced it is paying $900 million to purchase Solium, a Canadian-based administrator of stock plans. Solium is Morgan Stanley's largest acquisition since the 2008 financial crisis.
Solium specializes in serving startups that are private or that recently went public. The move will give Morgan Stanley a "greater opportunity to establish and develop relationships with a younger demographic and service this population early in their wealth accumulation years,” said Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman.
Solium's clients include some old-line companies, but also startups such as Shopify (SHOP), which had its IPO in 2015, as well as privately held companies like Instacart, Stripe and Levi Strauss & Co.
Morgan Stanley is paying a 43% premium from the Friday closing price of Solium on the Toronto stock exchange. Shares of Morgan Stanley (MS) were slightly higher in premarket trading Monday on the news.
The fear of Tesla (TSLA) running out of cash is no longer a concern for at least one investment firm.
Canaccord Genuity upgraded the car company's stock to a "buy," partly for that reason. Tesla shares are up nearly 3% in premarket trading.
The firm said in an analyst note that it expects a stable year for Tesla with "fewer investor concerns." In addition, Tesla recently slashing the price of the Model 3 is "further proof" that the company is on track to making the car more affordable.
The firm also said that "liquidity is no longer a concern" because it has a $3.7 billion balance sheet.
Tesla's stock is down more than 8% for the year.
The British economy grew 0.2% in the final quarter of 2018, compared to the previous three months, according to data published Monday.
The rate of expansion for the full year was 1.4%, down from 1.8% in 2017.
Economists said that uncertainty over Brexit was a major factor in the poor performance, with business investment falling for the fourth consecutive quarter.
With less than 50 days to go before Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has still not identified an exit proposal that is acceptable to both the European Union and UK parliament.
Paul Dales, Capital Economics' chief UK economist, gave his take in a note to clients:
As the drag on growth from Brexit uncertainty is only going to be bigger in [the first quarter], there's little hope of a rebound early this year.
US futures are pointing higher.
This is a big week in the trade conflict between the US and China.
Trade talks between the countries have resumed, with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin set to travel to Beijing for discussions later this week.
Trump has threatened to increase existing tariffs and enact a third wave of penalties on Chinese goods if the two sides can't broker a permanent truce before the March 1 deadline.
Investors are also wary that Americans could face another possible government shutdown later this week.
Budget talks between Democrats and Republicans ground to a halt over the weekend in a dispute over immigration policy, which appeared to dash hopes that a deal could be reached by Monday to allow Congress ample time to pass legislation before a Friday deadline.