CEO Daily: Friday, 17th March

March 17, 2017, 11:55 AM UTC

Good morning, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

If you are searching for a pot of gold today, you might start in the stock market. Historically, the S&P 500 has been more likely to rise on St. Patrick’s than the vast majority of other days in the year, according to Fortune’s Lucinda Shen. In fact, today has been one of the 10 most consistently positive calendar days for stock investing in the last two decades, beaten only by July 3, July 13, August 17, September 16 and December 26.

And if you are looking to pick your stocks, you might start with Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which are the big winners in the Trump budget. Nearly half of the president’s $30 billion supplemental defense budget request for this year would go to weaponry, which could mean truckloads of gold for those two companies.

Beer is also a good bet today. Wallethub says 56% of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s, which is the fourth most popular drinking day of the year, surpassed only by New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day and the Fourth of July. The world will gulp 13 million pints of Guinness, and that can’t be bad for Diageo.

So enjoy the day, keep an eye out for leprechauns, and stay off the roads. I’ll be on vacation next week, and Geoffrey Smith will be manning the CEO Daily keyboard.

News below.

Top News

The Dollar Goes Into Reverse 

The dollar fell sharply as markets started to speculate that the greenback’s long rally may have run its course. The trigger for the reversal was the Federal Reserve’s refusal to pencil in a further rate rise on top of the three it already expects for 2017. Markets have priced in a lot of good news about the U.S., and it will be harder from now on to justify a dollar valuation so far above long-term averages. Meanwhile, a senior ECB official boosted the euro by hinting that it hasn’t ruled out raising  interest rates before it ends its quantitative program ends in December. The developments give an added spice to this weekend’s G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Germany, where Steven Mnuchin is sure to be asked about his dollar policy. Reuters

Coal Exodus Caps Global CO2 Emissions

The world’s transition to cleaner energy is happening faster than expected. The International Energy Agency said Friday that carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources stayed flat for the third straight year in 2016, thanks mainly to a sharp drop in U.S. emissions back to 1992 levels. A combination of official measures and falling prices for gas and renewables is rapidly displacing coal from the U.S. fuel mix. Emissions also fell 1% in China, an even more striking achievement given that official figures suggest the economy grew at over 6.5%, and further evidence that pollution is a more important factor in policy-making than Climate Change in many countries. FT, metered access

 White House Doubles Down as Senate Debunks Wiretap Claims

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders, in a bipartisan statement, said they had no evidence that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance in 2016, flatly contradicting claims made by the President earlier this month. House Speaker Paul Ryan also said he and his colleagues have “seen no evidence” for the claims. White House spokesman Sean Spicer pointed to claims by a Fox News commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, that the U.K.’s GCHQ had ‘done the dirty work. GCHQ, which never normally comments on media reports, said Napolitano’s comments are “utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.” The Sun reported that national security advisor HR McMaster apologised to U.K. security chiefs in person overnight. Time

McDonald’s Really Didn't Mean It 

Few people need a weekend as badly as McDonald’s social media managers. Hackers cracked the company’s official Twitter account Thursday and used it to send an abusive message to President Trump. The company deleted the tweet and made its excuses before Trump supporters could raise a head of steam to boycott the company as they have done with, for example, Starbucks, which promised to hire more refugees in the wake of the proposed travel ban. CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly referred to an earlier similar incident, which did not actually happen. Fortune


Around the Water Cooler

Honest’s CEO Switch Sends a Message

Honest Company, the consumer products firm founded by actress Jessica Alba, appointed Nick Vlahos, chief operating officer at Clorox, as its new CEO. He replaces co-founder and startup expert Brian Lee. The move is a neat metaphor for how the company is mutating from a self-styled tech company into a more orthodox consumer products play, albeit with an innovative line in digital-based distribution. Lee failed to sell the company last year to Unilever, which was leery of Honest's direct-to-consumer model. With Vlahos’ arrival, the company may start to look more like the company that Unilever bought instead, ‘green’ household products maker Seventh Generation. Fortune

Uber Wants Secret Arbitration With Google

Disappointment for those hoping to settle down with the popcorn in front of Silicon Valley’s trial of the year. Uber signaled the company wants to take accusations of IP theft from Alphabet’s autonomous driving project Waymo out of a district court and settle them in a secret arbitration process. That course is generally quicker, cheaper and harder to appeal. Uber’s lawyer Arturo Gonzalez argued this was allowed under “very broad” arbitration provisions in Alphabet’s contract with Anthony Levandowski. Waymo accused Levandowski of downloading over 14,000 confidential files from its servers before defecting to Uber last year. Judge William Alsup warned that Waymo’s allegations were “a serious proposition.” Fortune

Adidas Bids Auf Wiedersehen to TV

Adidas’ new CEO Kasper Rorsted said the company would drop advertising on TV in order to focus on other digital channels. Rorsted told CNBC that “it’s clear that the younger consumer engages with us predominantly over the mobile device…you don’t see TV advertising any more.” Rorsted this week outlined plans to grow Adidas' online sales by 300%, having charted a similar course at his last company, consumer products group Henkel. The news won’t shock executives at CBS, ESPN etc., but will be none the less depressing for that. CNBC

When Cord-Cutting Leads to More Time in Front of the TV

Our last contribution of the week is evidence that men are going to new and extreme lengths to ensure they can get the maximum exposure to March Madness. Research by the  athenahealth network found a 30% spike in...vasectomies during the first week of the NCAA basketball championships. As gentlemen of a certain age will know, doctors advise at least two or three days of home rest (i.e., TV time) after the procedure. Clinics are wising up to the commercial opportunities too: last year, Texas-based Urology Team offered special deals during the tournament. This year, it’s the turn of doctors at the University of Utah Health. Fortune

Summaries by Geoffrey Smith;


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