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WeWork May Lay Off Thousands

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WeWork is preparing to cut at least 4,000 people from its work force as it tries to stabilize itself after the company’s breakneck growth racked up heavy losses and led it to the brink of collapse, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The cuts are expected to be announced as early as this week and will take place across WeWork’s sprawling global operation. Under the plan, the company’s core business of subletting office space would lay off 2,000 to 2,500 employees, one of the people said. An additional 1,000 employees will leave as WeWork sells or closes down noncore businesses, like a private school in Manhattan that WeWork set up. Additionally, roughly 1,000 building maintenance employees will be transferred to an outside contractor. Together, these employees would represent around a third of the 12,500 people WeWork employed at the end of June.

But one of the people said the company could shed as many as 5,000 to 6,000 employees.

The staff reductions will be included in a five-year plan to overhaul WeWork that could be presented to employees as early as Tuesday, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the layoff plans.

The layoffs represent the human cost of a remarkable reversal in WeWork’s fortunes. Under its co-founder and former chief executive, Adam Neumann, the company piled billions of dollars into an erratic expansion that included adding huge office spaces in the world’s most expensive cities, offering discounts to lure tenants and buying other businesses. WeWork, which leases office space from landlords, refurbishes it and rents it out to its customers, shelved plans for an initial public offering in late September after investors were put off by the company’s losses and had questions about its corporate governance.

Starting on Dec. 9, cleaning and facilities jobs at WeWork will be outsourced to JLL, a real estate services company, or one of its partners, according to an email sent to affected staff members last week that was reviewed by The New York Times. WeWork has assured employees that every member of its cleaning and facilities teams will keep their jobs and receive the same level of pay and comparable benefits. But employees who choose not to transfer will lose their jobs and receive no severance, according to a document provided to employees that was reviewed by The Times.

The changes have unnerved many employees, according to interviews with workers and Slack messages reviewed by The Times, stirring fears that some staff members will eventually lose benefits or be forced to work different schedules.

In the Slack messages, one WeWork facilities staff member said that hearing about the outsourcing was like being informed of a death in the family. Another employee said the decision showed that management was unconcerned about the workers’ welfare and was making decisions based on what would save the company the most money.

David Yaffe-Bellany contributed reporting.



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Saudi Aramco shares priced at top of range in world’s biggest IPO

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Follow Yahoo Finance here for up-to-the-minute briefings on the financial markets, breaking news and other topics of interest to investors and traders. Please check back for continuing coverage.

4:01 p.m. ET: Stocks end higher after choppy trading day

Here’s where markets settled at the end of regular trading Thursday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.15%, or 4.68 points

  • Dow (^DJI): +0.1%, or 28.01 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +0.05%, or 4.03 points

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): +2.1 bps to 1.802%

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.07% to $1,481.20 per ounce

1:47 p.m. ET: Saudi Aramco shares priced at top of range in world’s biggest IPO

Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco priced its initial public offering at the top of its previously indicated range, AFP reports, raising $25.6 billion in the world’s largest ever IPO.

1:38 p.m. ET: Trump says China talks are ‘moving along well’

U.S. President Donald Trump said China trade talks are “moving along well” and that “something could happen on Dec. 15, but that “we are not discussing that yet,” Bloomberg reports.

12:37 p.m. ET: BAC: Holiday spending set for more than 2% jump

Last week was the official start to the holiday shopping season. Bank of America data expects early holiday sales to rise 2.2% from 2018, and the best since 2013. The bulk of those gains will come from — you guessed it — online shopping, which the bank estimates at 14% year-over-year and comprising 38% of total holiday shopping.

That said, BAC had some caveats:

What does it mean for the full season? The predictive power is not great. Remember last year where the holiday season started off fine but ended down as consumers cut back significantly at the end of December amid a sharp sell-off in the stock market? The weakness last year should help boost the YOY rate for total holiday sales this year (Nov plus Dec). Indeed, translating our data into the official numbers derived from the Census Bureau, we would not be surprised if we end up seeing total holiday sales up as much as 4% YOY.

12:30 p.m. ET: Aramco huge, but no help for soft IPO market

Refinitiv points out that the Saudi Aramco IPO boosts the global floatation market’s proceeds to nearly $159 billion in 2019. Overall, however, the global IPO market is tracking 7% lower year-over-year — even though the Aramco offering “would raise more than all of this year’s 117 IPOs on Nasdaq, currently the most active exchange so far during 2019, by value.”

11:35 a.m. ET: Black Friday not entirely a bust for brick-and-mortar?

Customers walk outside of a Kohl’s store in Colma, Calif., Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Black Friday once again kicked off the start of the holiday shopping season. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

New data from Placer.ai shows that, contrary to some reports showing Black Friday offline foot traffic was down, their performance was decidedly mixed:

We analyzed 16 top retail brands and found that overall, traffic to these stores was up 0.4%. Yet, these numbers were buoyed by a handful of strong performances from 5 brands including Nike and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The general picture was more accurately defined as one of slight decline. In fact, removing Nike and Dick’s from the group reduced the overall picture to a decline of 1.3% Year-over-Year on Black Friday. The biggest decline came from Bed, Bath & Beyond which saw a decline of over 11%. This was likely due to a combination of closed stores and the brand’s decision to open on Thanksgiving for the first time ever – diluting the single day urgency.

The top 16 retail brands, and how foot traffic performed post-Thanksgiving.

Two noteworthy performers were Nike (NKE) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS), which Placer.ai called two of “the most notable brands of 2019 for their strong offline retail performance…Nike saw a Year-over-Year increase of over 11% while Dick’s enjoyed a jump of over 12% on Black Friday 2018.”

11:30 a.m. ET: Gundlach not as negative on Powell as Trump is, but still…

Bond king Jeff Gundlach weighs in on the job he thinks Fed Chair Jerome Powell is doing. In a long sit-down interview with Yahoo Finance’s Julia LaRoche, he likens the central banker to an NFL coach who’s team is losing:

…the heads of losing teams “all say the same thing, ‘Got to watch the tape, got to play better, not good enough.’ Now Jay Powell does the same sort of boilerplate. He just says, ‘data-dependent, don’t know we’re going to do, we might.’ He basically wants to say as little as possible.”

He went on to describe the Fed as “rudderless” and “shamelessly following the bond market [more] than ever before.”

10:05 a.m. ET: Saudi Aramco said to top IPO expectations

FILE – In this Sept. 20, 2019, file photo, taken during a trip organized by Saudi information ministry, workers fix the damage in Aramco’s oil separator at processing facility after the recent Sept. 14 attack in Abqaiq, near Dammam in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia formally started its long-anticipated initial public offering of its state-run oil giant Saudi Aramco on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, which will see a sliver of the firm offered on a local stock exchange in hopes of raising billions of dollars for the kingdom. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian oil giant, has priced its initial public offering (IPO) at the top of its indicative range, sources told Reuters and The Wall Street Journal — raising $25.6 billion and booting China’s Alibaba from its perch as the world’s biggest stock float.

The IPO’s outperformance comes in spite of a chilly reception from international investors. Aramco is targeting a valuation of somewhere around $1.7 trillion, but just shy of the “aspirational” $2 trillion price tag the kingdom sought at the outset.

9:45 a.m. ET: The dollar and U.S. growth

In a morning note, Morgan Stanley says the “narrative on U.S. data may be starting to shift” — and not in a good way, considering this week’s soft service sector data and private payrolls data:

Yesterday’s data only furthered this momentum, with US November non-manufacturing ISM surprising to the downside. Importantly, the business activity subcomponent fell to 51.6, the lowest level since 2010. Meanwhile, the ADP employment change also missed to the downside, bringing the 3-month moving average near multi-year lows, even though some of the weakness was due to the UAW strike. The combination of a softening US outlook and stabilization abroad is a recipe for [U.S. dollar] weakness.

However, the firm’s analysts say they’re skeptical that softer U.S. growth is bad for the entire world:

First, the US’s share of global output is shrinking, not rising, and it is one of the most insensitive economies to international trade, suggesting relatively little pass-through via trade channels and slowing US demand. Second, a weakening USD in response to softer US data is a positive for much of the rest of the world, not a negative. A weaker USD tends to bolster trade volumes and makes supply chain financing easier, not to mention that it eases the cost of USD-denominated liabilities, which are often held by EMs. This is particularly true if US data weaken sufficiently to result in a “material change” in the outlook for [the Federal Reserve], prompting it to ease policy further. Easing by the Fed tends to have a global as well as a local effect – even policy speeches alone can have a material international spillover effect, as the BIS recently concluded.

…Thus, while the US data narrative may continue to shift, we are less convinced that this means the end of the global growth recovery. Accordingly, we continue to expect USD weakness.

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks rise on hopes of US-China trade breakthrough

Stocks were poised to add to the prior day’s gains in early trading, amid growing hopes for a breakthrough in U.S.-China trade negotiations. Markets were also underpinned by a drop in jobless claims and a narrowing in the U.S. trade deficit, the latter which is positive for U.S. growth.

Here’s where major benchmarks began trading:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.08%, or 2.56 points

  • Dow (^DJI): +0.12%, or 34.26 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +0.13%, or 10.63 points

  • Crude (^CL=F): +0.8% to $58.90

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): +0.031 to 1.812%

  • Gold (GC=F): -0.40% to $1,479.80 per ounce

Markets largely ignore news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the House Judiciary Committee to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a move that was all but a foregone conclusion.

8:30 a.m. ET: Jobless claims, trade data fan hopes for the economy

In this Nov. 4, 2019, file photo cargo cranes are used to take containers off of a Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation boat at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash. President Donald Trump says he “will make a decision very soon’’ about whether to impose tariffs on imported cars and auto parts. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The Labor Department reported initial claims of 203,000, which was less than Wall Street expected, while the Commerce Department showed the trade deficit narrowed sharply to a 16-month low. The latter is more significant, given that:

  1. It was partly distorted by the General Motors strike, which was a drag on auto imports

  2. It’s a shot in the arm for U.S. fourth quarter GDP, which Wall Street expects to check in somewhere under 2%.

Capital Economics estimates that Q4 growth will print 1.5%. Meanwhile, veteran market watcher Peter Boockvar broke it down this way:

“The trade deficit in October narrowed to $47.2b from $51.1b in September but for the wrong reasons as imports fell more sharply than exports which dropped too. Imports fell by 1.7% after a 1.6% decline in September at sit at the least since November 2017 with particular weakness in the imports of auto’s and consumer goods. Exports also fell for a 2nd month by .2% m/o/m to the lowest since April with declines in capital goods, auto’s and consumer goods.

Bottom line, the smaller trade deficit actually helps the math of the Q4 GDP calculation…”  

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Stock market news: December 5, 2019

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Stocks ended a choppy session higher Thursday as investors considered mixed commentary around U.S.-China trade prospects.

Here’s where markets settled Thursday at the end of regular trading:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.15%, or 4.68 points

  • Dow (^DJI): +0.1%, or 28.01 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +0.05%, or 4.03 points

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): +2.1 bps to 1.802%

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.07% to $1,481.20 per ounce

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said trade negotiations with China were “moving along well,” according to Bloomberg. This compounded with positive remarks on Wednesday, when Trump told reporters from a NATO meeting in London that discussions were “going very well” with China, according to Reuters.

Beijing, for its part, corroborated the more upbeat sentiment, with Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng saying at a regular weekly briefing Thursday that Chinese negotiators remained in “close contact” with their U.S. counterparts. Gao reiterated, however, that a phase one trade deal should include some reduction in tariffs, according to Bloomberg.

Negotiators have 10 days before additional tariffs on about $156 billion worth of Chinese goods are set to take effect, as previously announced by the Trump administration. Earlier this week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested the administration would go ahead with these further levies in absence of an agreement with Beijing by Dec. 15.

Separately, oil prices added to Wednesday’s gains as members of OPEC and allied nations (OPEC+) met to discuss their plans for output next year. Members of the cartel, who are set to meet in Vienna, Austria on Thursday and Friday, are expected to agree to deeper production cuts for next year from their current level of reduction of 1.2 million barrels per day, which expires at the end of March. Thursday morning, Bloomberg reported that the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee of OPEC was recommending a reduction of 500,000 barrels per day.

The oil minister of Iraq had said earlier this week that he and other nations would support a cut to production for next year of around 400,000 barrels a day. Brent crude oil prices, the global benchmark, rose to more than $63 a barrel, while domestic crude was unchanged at $58.43 a barrel from Wednesday at settlement.

Over the past two years, OPEC+ has steadily pared back output in order to offset rising production in non-allied nations like Brazil, Norway, and the U.S., where shale oil output has boomed.

[Click here to read Stock Market Live Updates]

Trader Jonathan Corpina works with children during a traditional bring-your-kids-to-work day on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 29, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

EARNINGS: Tiffany sales sink in home market, Slack tops expectations

Slack (WORK), the newly public workplace messaging software company, delivered stronger than expected third-quarter results. However, its outlook for billings – which reflects its software sales to new customers, renewals and added sales from existing customers – disappointed the Street.

The company’s third-quarter loss per share was 2 cents on revenue of $168.7 million, better than the 16 cent loss per share on revenue of $156.2 million expected, according to Bloomberg data. Slack ended the quarter with more than 105,000 customers, up by 30% over last year.

For the full year, Slack expects to see billings of between $745 million and $760 million, with the midpoint of this range coming below the $754.3 million expected. But Slack also raised full-year sales guidance to as much as $623 million, up by $13 million on the high end of its previous range. It expects an adjusted loss per share in the fourth quarter of as much as 7 cents, in-line with expectations.

Tiffany (TIF) posted disappointing third-quarter results as North American sales weakened further for the jeweler. The company recently announced it was set to be acquired by French luxury retail giant LVMH (MC.PA).

Third-quarter earnings per share were 65 cents on net sales of $1.01 billion, below the 85 cents a share on sales of $1.03 billion expected. Comparable same-store sales in the Americas sank 4% during the quarter, or worse than the decline of just 0.9% expected. Tiffany attributed this mostly to lower spending by foreign tourists, as well as some softness in local customer spending.

Asia remained a strong geographic segment for the company, however, with Asia Pacific comp sales rising 1%, and sales in Japan jumping 14%, versus a 3.8% gain expected. Comp sales in Europe also unexpectedly rose 4%, where a decline of 0.7% was expected.

Dollar General (DG) raised its full-year earnings guidance and posted accelerating sales growth and shrugged off some of the tariff concerns that plagued peer discount retailer Dollar Tree in its most recent quarter.

Dollar General’s net sales totaled $6.99 billion, rising 9% over last year and beating expectations for $6.92 billion. Third-quarter earnings per share were $1.42, or 4 cents above expectations. The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings guidance to as much as $6.65 a share, versus a previous outlook for as much as $6.60 a share.

ECONOMY: Jobless claims unexpectedly decline to lowest level since April

New unemployment claims fell by 10,000 to 203,000 for the week ended November 30, the Department of Labor said Thursday, in a strong final report on the U.S. labor market ahead of the “official” monthly November jobs report Friday.

Thursday’s print marked the lowest number of new jobless claims since mid-April. Consensus economist had expected initial jobless claims to rise to 215,000 for the week, according to Bloomberg data.

Continuing unemployment claims, however, rose more than expected to 1.693 million for the week ended November 23. Consensus economist had expected this to come in at 1.66 million, from an upwardly revised 1.642 million the week prior.

The U.S. trade deficit shrank to the narrowest level since May 2018 in October as trade with China slumped further, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The overall trade deficit came in at $47.2 billion for the month, versus the $48.5 billion expected. September’s trade deficit was revised slightly to $51.1 billion from $51.5 billion reported previously.

October’s decline in the deficit was driven by a 1.7% drop in imports, eclipsing a slight 0.2% decline in exports. Consumer goods imports were the main contributor to the drop, and merchandise imports from China fell 4.8% over the previous month to $35.3 billion. Exports to China sank 17%. The overall U.S. trade deficit with China declined to a seven-month low of $27.8 billion, seasonally adjusted.

Splitting up has been the predominant trend of the past 10 years.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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South African Airways undergoing a ‘business rescue’

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South African Airways, the country’s beleaguered flag carrier, has entered into a new phase of government rescue.

The airline has received a new government-backed cash infusion of 2 billion rand (about $137 million) from its existing lenders, the latest in a series of government bailouts the struggling company has received in recent years.

The South African treasury matched that loan as part of the government’s business rescue plan for the airline.

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s public enterprises minister, announced the plan in a statement Friday.

“Our desire is that the restructured airline will mark the beginning of a new era in South African aviation,” the statement read in part. “It is also important that the reliance on government finances be reduced as soon as possible to minimize disruption to SAA services, customers, staff and other stakeholders.”

Under the plan, a “business rescue practitioner” will take control of the airline and help restructure the company, attempting to stabilize its operations and finances. South African expects to continue flying normally as it restructures.

“This set of actions should provide confidence to customers of SAA to continue to use the airline because there will not be any unplanned stoppages of flights or cancellation of flights without proper notice should that be necessary,” Gordhan’s statement said.

According to Gordhan’s, the company will try to retain as many jobs as possible as the business is reconfigured.

Despite the airline’s financial difficulties, the carrier seems confident in its financial position and has planned to add up to four Airbus A350s to its fleet. Some are already flying on long-haul routes, including to the U.S. The planes represent a significant upgrade to the airline’s onboard product over the old A340s they are replacing.

Featured photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images.

Zach Wichter
covers the aviation industry for TPG. He previously worked for The New York Times.





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