Commodities: Global Equities Roundup: Market Talk

The latest Market Talks covering Equities. Published exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires throughout the day.

1726 ET – Greif says a three-year transformation initiative has been completed, with a renewed focus on customer service aimed at driving value, not just volume. The industrial-packaging products company also says that Hurricane Harvey cut into profit by $5.3 million, well above the $2.5 million the company previously estimated. Still Greif saw higher sales for the unit most affected by the storm. Shares rise 4% in after-hours trading. ([email protected]; @austenhufford)

1724 ET – Canadian stocks were mixed Wednesday as oil-and-gas producers wound up taking a hit following new operational regulations imposed by the Alberta government. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was down 6.90 points, or 0.04%, to 15,908.78 as decliners were ahead of advancers 973 to 669. Trading volume was 319.7M shares. The blue-chip S&P/TSX 60 Index was up 1.23 points. or 0.1%, to 946.55. ([email protected]; @itsdgc)

1719 ET – Citigroup is expecting revenue in its US branded credit card unit to be flat year-over-year in 4Q. The bank said it expected to continue to see pressure on this closely watched business, stemming from increasing promotional zero-interest offers and a shift toward a co-branded Costco card, where the bank shares revenue with a partner. “We’ll probably have flattish revenues, year-over-year for the fourth quarter,” CFO John Gerspach told analysts at the Goldman Sachs conference Wednesday. “It’s because we’ve got a higher amount of balances and a higher mix of promo balance.” The business hasn’t yet delivered on promises of faster growth. It’s performance is a key to meeting the bank’s 2020 performance targets. ([email protected]; @telisdemos)

1711 ET – US spending for retail prescription drugs rose 1.3% to $328.6 billion in 2016, a slowdown from 2014 and 2015, when growth was 12.4% and 8.9% respectively, according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Published in the journal Health Affairs (see:, the CMS report cited lower spending for hepatitis C drugs–sold by Gilead, AbbVie and others–and fewer new drugs approved in 2016. CMS also said spending growth decelerated for diabetes drugs in 2016. Meanwhile, total US care spending rose 4.3% last year. ([email protected]; @Loftus)

1657 ET – Australian shares look poised to take back some of the week’s losses at the bell, with futures pointing to an opening rise of 16 points after the S&P/ASX 200 fell 26.1 Wednesday to 5945.7. IG expects strength to come through from the banks, with the financial sector likely to be up about 0.5% or so. Broad losses for commodity prices, with crude down sharply and iron ore pulling back, may be a headwind for resources stocks, though IG notes BHP Billiton’s ADRs suggest it is set for early gains. On the data front, October trade data is the highlight. ([email protected]; @RobbMStewart)

1644 ET – NZD/USD has met some resistance after Fonterra cut its milk payout to farmers from $6.70 to $6.40, says BNZ. The bank says it cut its projected payout to $6.30 several weeks ago. Milk powder is New Zealand’s biggest export. ([email protected]; @JamesGlynnWSJ)

1644 ET – Okta continues to see robust demand as its corporate clients increasingly worry about protecting their networks. Okta provides identity management for enterprises, letting their employees access services and data securely. Shares rise 2.8% after hours as the company posts a 61% increase in revenue. Still, the company extends its loss to $33.8 million, from $21.2 million a year earlier, on increased research and development and sales and marketing costs. ([email protected]; @austenhufford)

1639 ET – The benchmark IPC index closes down 1% at 46,973 points, while the Mexican peso weakens for a second consecutive session and oil prices retreat after US crude oil inventories fell sharply in the past week. America Movil gains 0.2%, while bread-maker Bimbo falls 2%. The peso closed in Mexico City at 18.8670 to the dollar vs 18.7750 late Tuesday. The Mexican currency has been pressured in recent days as US tax-cut plans progress in Washington. ([email protected])

1633 ET – Citigroup CFO John Gerspach, speaking at an investor event, said the bank would likely take an upfront hit of $20B under the tax plans recently passed by lawmakers. About $16B-$17B of that would be a write-down of the bank’s deferred tax asset, and the rest would be connected to repatriation. While Citigroup and other banks like Bank of America would take a one-time hit, in the longer run the tax plan is expected to significantly lower the tax rates banks pay, boosting profits. Bank executives have pushed for lawmakers to pass the plan, saying it will benefit their customers and stimulate growth. ([email protected])

1627 ET – The NZ50 is up 0.1% in early trade to 8144.74, after a risk-off tone seeped into global markets. A2 Milk is up 0.5% to NZ$8.12 after it settled a legal dispute with Lion in Australia over marketing. “The parties have mutually agreed not to proceed with their cases against each other,” the company says in a regulatory filing, adding that the terms are confidential. Meanwhile, Fonterra Shareholders Fund is only slightly lower after the co-operative lowered its farmgate milk price. ([email protected])

1625 ET – Jones Act operator Crowley Maritime separates its shipping, fueling and services units in a move to boost its logistics business with the focus on big government clients. Defense Department has a $2.3B, multiyear contract with Crowley to provide freight, trucking and logistics services to 40 Army depots and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the company for relief supplies to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The restructuring “better ties our markets, customers, processes and technology to be more responsive, efficient and cost effective,” Crowley says. ([email protected])

1615 ET – The Aussie dollar is ground back down to 0.7560 in New York as the risk-off tone to markets saw USD appreciate. ANZ says AUD is likely to trade on global risk factors in the session ahead. The US government continues to debate tax reform, the Brexit debate is getting heated and German coalition talks are ongoing. The US president’s stance on Jerusalem also raises political risk, ANZ adds. ([email protected]; @JamesGlynnWSJ)

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