Wall Street Lunch: Apple Watch Ban Begins -LSB

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Stainless steel Apple watch

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Imports and sales of Apple Watches are banned effective today due to patent issues. (0:15) FedEx announces repurchase of shares. (1:42) There’s a new one dominating The COVID-19 strain. (2:27)

This is an abridged transcript of the podcast.

Our top story today so far

Imports and sales of Apple watches are banned effective today after the Biden administration refused to veto an International Trade Commission decision.

The ITC determined earlier this year that Apple (AAPL) uses a blood oxygenation technology that infringes patents held by Masimo (MEASURE). The deadline for the government to veto the ITC’s decision was December 25. The oxygen feature has been included in some watch models since 2020.

Apple can still appeal the ban to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and the watches can still be sold by third parties like Best Buy (BBY).

Last week, Apple halted sales of the Series 9 and Ultra 2 smartwatches.

In today’s trading

Stocks are slightly higher as bulls look to extend a streak of weekly gains not seen in six years.

S&P (SP500), Dow (DJI) and Nasdaq (COMP.IND) have increased by about 0.3%.

Prices are slightly changed. The 10-year Treasury yield (US10Y) is about 3.9%.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index showed this Housing price growth continued to be strong in October.

The seasonally adjusted HPI composite for 20 cities rose 0.6% M/M vs +0.6% expected and +0.7% in September.

The annual rate of inflation was the highest of the year. The unadjusted 20-city composite rose 4.9% YoY, versus 5% expected and +3.9% in September.

Among the active stocks

FedEx (FDX) says it is set to buy back $1 billion worth of shares as part of its plan to increase the return of capital to shareholders. The company has entered into an accelerated share repurchase agreement with Mizuho Markets Americas.

Samsung (OTCPK: SSNLF) has delayed mass production plans at the new chip facility in Taylor, Texasaccording to a report in the Seoul Economic Daily.

AND 20 of the world’s largest banks cut at least 61,905 jobs in 2023 as banks sought to protect profit margins during a drought in debt and equity deals and sales, the Financial Times reported.

The year saw some of the biggest job cuts since the 2007-08 financial crisis, when 140,000 jobs were lost. While the calm in deals was a major strength, UBS (UBS) acquisition of Credit Suisse led to the elimination of at least 13,000 roles, with more cuts expected in 2024.

In other noted news

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Omicron subvariant, JN.1, has been the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the US

Citing its high transmissibility, the World Health Organization classified JN.1 as a “variant of concern” last week, but suggested it posed a low risk to public health based on currently available evidence.

The latest projections from the CDC show that for the two weeks ending December 23, JN.1 accounted for 39% to 50% of all COVID cases. This is an increase from the estimated prevalence of 15% to 29% two weeks ago, when Omicron’s HV.1 subvariant was the dominant type of COVID in the US.

And in the research corner of Wall Street

The information technology sector (XLK) remains overweight, with software and services leading the sector, according to Citi Research’s US Equity Strategy report on sectors and industry groups.

Although valuations for the sector remain a concern, analysts said growth expectations are still attractive.

Within the software and services subsector, sales and earnings remain profitable. However, within the first half, “the valuation backdrop is less challenging and the underlying path forward is less dependent on growth curves.”

Among the top choices are Corning (GLW), Juniper Networks (JNPR), and Microsoft (MSFT). You can see the full list in the story. Look for the Show Notes link at the top.

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