Read this First 05/28/2019

Tornadoes ripped through southwestern Ohio last night causing widespread damage just north of Dayton.  There are no reports of deaths, yet.  But, over 5 million are without power and snow removal crews are being used to get debris from trees off the highways. What a way to finish up your Memorial Day Weekend, eh? .. A massive 8.0 Earthquake hit Peru yesterday north of Lima causing substantial damage and at least one death. 8.0 is pretty, pretty, pretty BIG..  A different kind of shockwave was felt in Europe as Matteo Salvini and "The League Party" wins elections in Italy.  Salvini is considered, "Far Right" and supports restricting the mass immigration that the EU has been pushing.. In Austria, their young phenom Chancellor Sebastian Kurz was ousted in a "No-Confidence Vote".  The other leaders claim the 32 year old was completely unwilling to work with other leaders but many claim it was fallout from the "Ibiza Scandal".  This refers to videos showing Kurz negotiating with the daughter of a Russian Oligarch to buy a stake in an Austrian newspaper and oust reporters that were critical of him and his party. (Im surprised Trump hasn't tried that) .. A knife wielding nut job in Tokyo, Japan went on a stabbing spree during rush hour.  The man killed two people and injured a dozen.  No motivation is known, yet... In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu was considered certain to lead a coalition party of his Likud party and the far right.  He is now negotiating to make that happen and if he is unsuccessful there would be another election...and in a MAJOR trial in Oklahoma, Johnson and Johnson is being sued by cities and towns for the "Opioid Epidemic".  I will say that the epidemic is a disaster and needs to be addressed. But, if we start making drugmakers responsible for drug abuse are they going to continue to research new drugs? If the FDA certifies drugs and controls how and where they are sold and controls the marketing (think about the 30 second long disclaimers in drug commercials) how can a court rule the drugmaker's have to pay users? .. or abusers??  I'd rather not see prescription drugs advertised on TV but I am not ready to stop drugmakers from finding new medications. Did people sue the makers of cocaine or heroin when they were banned in the USA?....and an RIP to Jeremiah Denton.  Denton was a high ranking military pilot that was shot down and held as a POW in Viet Nam.  He was used in propaganda videos that were broadcast all over the world by the North Vietnamese.  During one video Denton used Morse Code by "Blinking" the letters  T O R T U R E into the camera.  Genius.. He will be buried in Arlington..  ...  SPORTS:  NHL:  Boston takes game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals 4-2 .. ..GOLF:  Kevin Na wins the Colonial (now known as the Charles Schwab Challenge because everything has to be named for the sponsor... except THIS week's "Memorial" at Jack Nicklaus' course in Ohio) .. Game One of the NBA finals is Thursday.  Don't blink or you might miss the series.  Golden State is just TOO good .. and TWO big RIP's in the Sports world.  RIP to football legend Bart Starr, 85. Starr was a hero in Green Bay and is the only QB to win Three League Championships in a row. Starr played for the late great Bear Bryant at Alabama and under Vince Lombardi in Green Bay... Also, RIP to Bill Buckner.  Buckner was infamous for booting the grounder from Mookie Wilson when the Mets came back and beat the Red Sox in the World Series.  This overshadowed his greatness as a player.  Buckner had over 2700 hits and almost never struck out.  He had 453 strikeouts in his entire career.  Buckner suffered from Lewy Body Dementia and died yesterday at age 69.  ...  CELEBRIDIOTS: What's worse than being arraigned for a Felony in NY today?  Being arraigned for TWO crimes!!  Former Porn Star lawyer Avenatti is being formally charged with stealing money from his former porn client AND being charged with extortion.  At least prosecutors were nice enough to do it on the same day.. so he can only have to go to court once ..Jeopardy James Holzhauer didn't take Memorial Day off.  In fact he added a whopping $130,000 to his total.  He is over two million and within $325,000 of the Ken Jennings record.  If he averages what he has been winning he could break the record Friday. ..and is what I think is a "Fake outrage to get attention" story.  Singer/rapper Iggy Azalea, (whom has not been in the news in a good long time) is OUTRAGED that topless pictures of her "LEAKED" out.  HERE (no, that isn't the leaked photo. We make jokes here and show Bikinis. No actual nakedness) They were "extra" shots from a GQ photoshoot.  The photographer claims they must have been stolen because he didn't give them to anyone.  Iggy says she will SUE SUE SUE whomever is behind the leak.  Anyone buying it? ...Or do you think she leaked them herself?  .. I know one thing.. it wasn't ME.  I throw all photos of Iggy out IMMEDIATELY. ...Sorry, just not a fan.. 

From SeekingAlpha.com

Board members of Renault (OTCPK:RNLSY) are said to be meeting over the next few days with a goal of making a decision early next week on whether to go ahead with Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) merger talks. FCA pitched a finely balanced merger of equals on Monday to create the world’s third-biggest automaker that would "sell approximately 8.7M vehicles annually." There would be no plant closures as a result of the tie-up, while the deal would provide an opportunity to lead in the development of electric and autonomous vehicles. An open question is whether Fiat would ultimately join the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance.

J&J heads to court in opioid case

The state of Oklahoma today will seek billions of dollars from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), while Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA) avoided trial after agreeing on Sunday to pay $85M but denied "any wrongdoing." Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter has accused the two drugmakers, along with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, of carrying out deceptive marking campaigns that downplayed opioids' addictive risks while overstating their benefits. Purdue Pharma resolved claims in March for $270M.

Futures drift lower

U.S. stock index futures are pointing to slight losses following Memorial Day weekend, with the DJIA down 27 points as caution prevailed over the fate of trade talks between Washington and Beijing. On Monday, President Trump said the U.S. was "not ready" to make a deal with China, before adding that he expected one "sometime in the future." Asia stocks booked gains, however, as investors bet on fresh stimulus from Beijing following consecutive months of dismal economic data.

European elections

European markets and the euro were little changed at the $1.12 level following European parliamentary elections, which saw some anti-EU and nationalist parties make significant gains - landing about 23% of the seats in parliament - but indicated that pro-EU parties had largely held their ground. While this will inevitably give smaller parties more leverage and the effects may be pronounced on environmental rules, trade liberalization and tech regulation, it won't be a revolution. "The gains are simply too small and it does not look like the parties are set to unite themselves more than they did in the previous parliament," said Bert Colijn, senior eurozone economist at ING.

Promises of a firm Brexit date

The contest to replace Theresa May as U.K. prime minister has begun, with former foreign minister Boris Johnson the clear front-runner in a field of more than a dozen candidates. "We will leave the EU on October 31, deal or no deal," he told an economic conference in Switzerland. Electing a new Conservative Party leader is a two-stage process. Starting the week of June 10, the party's 300 or so members of Parliament will whittle down the field of candidates to two through successive rounds of voting. After that, the party's rank-and-file members will decide which of those two finalists gets to be leader.

More trade deal talk

Speaking at a press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Trump said he hoped to announce a trade deal with Japan "probably in August." "When I talk about a security threat, I talk about a balance sheet," he added, describing the U.S.'s trade deficit with Japan (which stood at $56.8B in 2018) as "unbelievably large." Separately, Canada has taken a first step toward ratifying USMCA after the U.S. struck deals on May 17 to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Box office magic for 'Aladdin'

Disney's (NYSE:DIS) live action remake of the 1992 animated classic Aladdingrabbed the top spot of the domestic box office during the U.S. holiday weekend, hauling in an estimated $112.7M. Globally, the movie drew in $207.1M over the three-day weekend, excluding Monday, further propelling the so-called Disney renaissance. The studio's Avengers: Endgame also continued its record-setting haul in third place, putting it about $100M behind the worldwide total of Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all time.

Another Alibaba listing

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) is reportedly considering raising as much as $20B through a listing in Hong Kong, lining up a second blockbuster deal following its 2014 record $25B float in New York. The follow-on share sale would provide Alibaba with additional capital to fund its new initiatives, like cloud computing and Hema supermarkets, and comes as founder Jack Ma prepares to step down as chairman in September. A Hong Kong listing would also give mainland investors their first direct access to one of China’s biggest success stories via the stock connect trading link between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Crypto fever

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is planning to release its cryptocurrency, internally called GlobalCoin, in about a dozen countries during the first quarter of 2020, according to the BBC. CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly met with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney in April to discuss the crypto, and also spoke with U.S. Treasury officials regarding regulatory issues and firms such as Western Union (NYSE:WU) to discuss transferring funds. Plans for the crypto comes as Bitcoin (BTC-USD) rallies near $9,000 (up by about 120% YTD).

'Sports Illustrated' sold for $110M

More than a year after putting it on the block, Meredith (NYSE:MDP) has offloaded Sports Illustrated to Authentic Brands for $110M, but that doesn't mean the crown jewel of the publishing world is leaving the family. Meredith will continue to publish the print magazine, manage its website, and will still be responsible for advertising, video and social media. Authentic Brands, meanwhile, will seek licensing deals that could slap the Sports Illustrated name on everything from consumer goods, like apparel, to the emerging sports gambling marketplace.

What else is happening...

True real estate beauty is embedded in its financial performance, says contributor Christopher Volk.

European Commission may whack Italy with €3B fine.

Euronext (OTCPK:EUXTF) victory as Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQpulls out of Oslo Bors battle.

Deutsche Bank's (NYSE:DB) investment banking head may get the boot.

African swine flu has these stocks on watch.

Completed Saudi sales boon to U.S. defense industry.

Blastoff! SpaceX (SPACEraised over $1B in six months.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) sees weak LNG prices as short-term issue.

More pressure on Walmart (NYSE:WMT) ahead of annual meeting

Today's Markets 

In Asia, Japan +0.4%. Hong Kong +0.4%. China +0.6%. India +0.2%.  In Europe, at midday, London -0.1%. Paris -0.3%. Frankfurt -0.3%.  Futures at 6:20, Dow -0.2%. S&P -0.3%. Nasdaq -0.2%. Crude +0.9% to $59.13. Gold flat at $1283.10. Bitcoin -0.4% to $8679.  Ten-year Treasury Yield -4 bps to 2.29%

Today's Economic Calendar

9:00 S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index 9:00 FHFA House Price Index 10:00 Consumer Confidence 10:30 Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey 11:30 Results of $40B, 2-Year Note Auction 1:00 PM Results of $41B, 5-Year Note Auction

Regards,

Roger “Raj”  Searing rajsearing@gmail.com

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