Economy health check; GM and Trump; Cost of Brexit

Posted November 28, 2018 5:08 a.m. EST

— 1. How strong is the US economy? Investors who may be worried about a potential slowdown in the United States have two new reports to consider on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department will release its second estimate of third-quarter GDP at 8:30 a.m. ET. The government previously estimated the economy grew 3.5% in the three months to September, slower than the 4.2% rate posted in the second quarter.

The Federal Reserve will also release its inaugural report on the nation's financial stability, which will assess key vulnerabilities including asset valuations, borrowing by businesses and households and financial sector leverage.

Certain indicators already suggest the economy is softening, from capital expenditures to manufacturing sentiment to residential construction. The question is whether that's just a cooling off, or the beginning of a steeper slide.

2. GM and Trump: President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to cut all General Motors subsidies after the automaker announced thousands of jobs cuts.

That caused the company's stock to drop as much as 3.8%.

But it's not clear which subsidies Trump was referring to. A person familiar with the matter told CNN Business that GM is unaware of any significant federal subsidies the company receives beyond a $7,500 tax credit for certain electric vehicles, which goes to the consumer, not the company.

Trump's threat came a day after GM (GM) announced plans to cut 14,000 jobs and shut five facilities in North America, dealing a blow to the president's promise to help auto workers.

Watch CNN Business' 'Markets Now' today at 12:45 p.m. ET

3. The cost of Brexit: The UK government and the Bank of England will spell out the economic costs of Brexit later on Wednesday.

"In all scenarios, in pure economic terms, there is a cost," Treasury chief Philip Hammond said during an interview with Sky News.

Prime Minister Theresa May is trying to push the divorce agreement she has negotiated with the European Union through a hostile UK parliament. On Wednesday, Hammond said the economic costs of that deal would be "very little."

There are still big risks. If the government's plan falls apart, potential alternatives include crashing out of the bloc without a deal, a second referendum on Brexit or a general election in Britain.

"If uncertainty is the enemy of economic growth then the UK economy's in a deep mess," noted Kit Juckes, a strategist at Societe Generale.

The pound is languishing around $1.28, far below the recent peak of $1.43 it reached in April.

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were higher.

European markets advanced at the open. Benchmark indexes in China and Japan closed with gains of over 1%.

The Dow added 0.4% on Tuesday. The S&P 500 gained 0.3% and the Nasdaq finished mostly unchanged.

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5. Earnings and economics: Investors will check Tiffany (TIF) earnings to see if the luxury jeweler has sustained its momentum from the second quarter, when it revealed surging sales and raised its profit forecast.

Tiffany is in the midst of a makeover designed to make it more appealing to the young and hip. It is also spending millions of dollars on a renovation of its flagship location in New York.

Burlington Stores (BURL), Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS), J M Smucker (SJM) will release earnings before the open. Guess (GES) and La-Z-Boy (LZB) will follow after the close.

The US Census Bureau will release data on new home sales for October at 10 a.m. ET.

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6. Coming this week: Wednesday — J M Smucker (SJM), Box (BOX) and Tiffany (TIF) earnings; US GDP second estimateThursday — Dollar Tree (DLTR), Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and HP (HPQ) earnings; Fed notes releasedFriday — G20 begins in Argentina