Tencent win; Oil rises; Starbucks on China

Posted January 25, 2019 5:46 a.m. EST

— 1. Tencent's gaming win: Tencent can finally make money off new video games again.

Chinese authorities granted licenses for two Tencent games this week, ending a nine-month freeze that had pummeled its stock price in 2018. Tencent makes more than 40% of its revenue from games.

The company's stock gained 4% in Hong Kong on Friday.

Tencent is still waiting for approvals for some of its most highly anticipated mobile games, including "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds."

2. Oil rises: Oil prices are rising on fear of disruption to supplies from Venezuela.

US crude oil futures and global benchmark Brent were both moving higher, with traders worrying about the escalating standoff between Venezuela and the United States.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro broke off relations with the US government this week, after the White House recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela's legitimate president. President Donald Trump is considering further action against Maduro, including oil sanctions, sources have told CNN.

Such sanctions could end up hitting the United States hardest because they would cut off a key source of crude oil for American refineries.

"The US will be hurting itself if it does put these sanctions on Venezuela," said Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData.

3. Starbucks on China: Apple and other companies may be struggling because of a slowdown in China, but Starbucks is still upbeat about its prospects there.

"We are playing the long game," CEO Kevin Johnson said on an earnings call Thursday. "We remain bullish on our path in China and the growth that lies ahead."

China, which could overtake the US as the world's largest retail market this year, saw growth drop to a 28-year low in 2018. But concerns about the health of the second biggest economy could be overblown.

"There is no reason to panic," Wei Sun Christianson, China CEO for Morgan Stanley, told CNN at the World Economic Forum in Davos. "We are confident," she added.

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan told Davos attendees this week that "China's growth will continue and will be sustainable."

Billionaire George Soros struck a very different tone about China late on Thursday. He labeled President Xi Jinping "the most dangerous enemy" of open societies and urged the United States to crack down on Chinese tech firms.

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4. Global market overview: US stock futures were up on Friday.

European markets edged higher in early trading, while major stock markets in Asia also closed higher.

5. Earnings and economics: Colgate-Palmolive is set to release earnings before the open Friday.

Ericsson posted its first annual sales growth since 2013. The Swedish telecoms firm is a leading player in 5G technology, and competes with China's Huawei.

"Growth was partly due to a higher than anticipated activity level in North America driven by increased 5G demand among the US operators," the company said in its 2018 earnings report.

Ericsson shares were up around 3% in early trading in Europe.

Several governments and companies around the world have placed restrictions on the use of Huawei's 5G equipment because of concerns that it could be used by China for spying.

Vodafone said Friday it had decided to "pause" its use of Huawei's equipment in its core networks in Europe to allow time for discussions with governments, regulators and the Chinese company itself. Huawei denies that its products pose security risks.

6. Coming this week:

Friday — Colgate-Palmolive (CL) earnings