AMA: Reddit, Robinhood and ‘Roaring Kitty’ to face a grilling today for the GameStop ‘stonk’ frenzy
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Good morning. How cold is it? It’s so cold…lawyers have their hands in their own pockets. It’s so cold… ranchers in Arkansas are putting pantyhose over the heads of their calves to keep them from freezing. That second one is no joke. The deep freeze continues to wreak havoc across much of Texas, and that’s roiling the U.S. energy and oil markets. Stay warm, dear readers!
Meanwhile, at high noon today the House Financial Services Committee will convene a historic hearing on the role social media and zero-fee apps play in triggering asset bubbles and stock-picking manias. Lawmakers will grill the CEOs of Robinhood and Reddit, plus hedge fund chiefs at Melvin Capital and Citadel about what led to the massive rise and fall of stonks like GameStop, AMC Entertainment and Tootsie Roll. Also on the docket is YouTuber Keith “Roaring Kitty” Gill. I sure hope Gill wears that T-shirt of the kitten donning sunglasses, Top Gun-style. (Note to self: It’s time I updated my newsletter attire to something more befitting a bull market. Any T-shirt suggestions?)
Checking in on those meme stonks, I see GameStop shares are up 1.1% in pre-market trading this morning. That’s after plunging a further 7.2% yesterday.
Elsewhere, crude and Bitcoin are climbing.
Let’s see what else is moving markets.
- The major Asia indexes are lower in afternoon trading, with the Hang Seng down 1.6%.
- The dispute between Australia and Big Tech about compensating publishers for their work is getting uglier. Facebook has decided to restrict the sharing of news on its platform for users in the country.
- Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, plans to raise crude production in a bullish sign demand is on the upswing.
- The European bourses were a touch lower with the Stoxx Europe 600 off nearly 0.1% at the open.
- Shares in Ford were up 0.2% in pre-market trading, outperforming the S&P 500. The automaker on Wednesday announced big plans to invest more than $1 billion in a German assembly plant for EVs as the company plans to go all-electric in Europe by 2030.
- Don’t write off Europe’s banks just yet. Barclays on Thursday reported a big beat and a plan to increase buy-backs while Credit Suisse posted a smaller Q4 loss than expected. Consider this: the KBW Bank Index is up 14.6% YTD.
- U.S. futures are frozen in the red. That’s after the Dow closed in record territory on Wednesday.
- Speaking of banks… Wells Fargo futures are up 1% this morning after big gains yesterday on a report regulators are close to lifting the lead weight asset cap that’s been stifling its growth since 2018.
- Bull Sheet (among others) has a sneak peek of Keith Gill’s prepared testimony today, and he sounds like anything but a Wolf of Wall Street. Gill’s legal woes don’t end today. He’s being sued in a class-action case that charges he misrepresented himself as an amateur when in fact he’s a professional stock picker…. “Roaring Kitty Wealth Management. How can we help you?”
- The labor market recovery has been a sluggish one. Today we get jobless data, and the forecast is for a slight decline week-on-week to 773,000 new unemployment claims. If it misses the mark, expect lawmakers on the left to push harder for their fast-track stimulus package.
- A quick note: a reader felt I was being too glib with the subject line of yesterday’s newsletter. He correctly points out that Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway still holds a $120 billion stake in Apple, even after pulling some money out of AAPL. Touché!
- Gold is finally nudging higher, trading above $1,780/ounce.
- The dollar is flat.
- The strong week for crude continues. Brent is trading around $65/barrel, up 6.5% in the past week.
- At 10 a.m. Rome time, Bitcoin was trading at $52,000. It’s up 15.5% since this time last Thursday.
“We were millionaires”
Now that’s a 🚀🚀🚀
The year of…the ETF
It’s also interesting to see that BofA clients continue to be net buyers of financials and consumer discretionary and net sellers of tech.
Crushing the curve
How’s your country faring?
Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.
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Out of the shadows. For many of us, today's House hearing will be the first time we get to hear from billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin, the financier behind Citadel, the hedge fund (and short-seller) and Citadel, the broker that plays a huge role in fulfilling retail traders buy and sell orders. “They operate in the shadows and want to stay in the shadows and don’t want anyone looking at how they conduct their business," a shareholder rights group tells the New York Times.
Christmas in January. U.S. retail sales figures increased by a better-than-expected 5.3% in January, a bullish sign that the American consumer is staging a comeback. Alas, it wasn't enough to stem the mini losing streak in U.S. stocks yesterday.
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According to a new poll of CFOs by Gartner Finance, roughly 1 in 20 finance chiefs said they're considering stocking up this year on Bitcoin, a lá Elon Musk's Tesla. That 5% figure surprised the survey takers. "I guessed that number would come in lower," Alexander Bant, Gartner Finance's chief of research, tells Fortune. Beyond 2021, that trend is expected to go even higher.