The Week's Top Stories: Growth Jitters and Levi's IPO

March 22, 2019

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.

  • Fed Rates and Growth Jitters: The Fed doubled down on its "patient" policy forecast this week, vowing to hold interest rates steady for the foreseeable future. The central bank said in a statement that the labor market remains strong, but noted some slowing economic growth. The majority of Fed officials now anticipate keeping rates unchanged through the year, a change from December when it forecast at least two hikes in 2019. That announcement helped tank markets at the end of the year, though they have since rebounded. But Wednesday's announcement didn't do much to juice stocks, which were dragged down by bank stock weakness after the Fed's comments about growth. Those jitters about growth ballooned on Friday, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average down more than 450 points heading into the weekend. See more

  • Boeing Updates: Boeing ($BA) is fighting for its reputation. The aircraft manufacturer was served the first subpoenas in a widening federal inquiry into the FAA certification of its 737 Max 8 jets, two of which crashed in the last five months in strikingly similar circumstances. That comes amid the first mass cancellation of a pending 737 Max order. Indonesia's national carrier, Garuda, canceled a nearly $5 billion order for 49 of the jets. Meanwhile, it was reported this week that both doomed flights lacked certain safety features that Boeing had sold as extra "add-ons" and that many airlines opted not to pay for them. See more

  • Levi's IPO + Lyft: Investors' appetite for newly-issued stock appears to have no bottom. Levi's ($LEVI) became the latest high-profile IPO to hit the tape this week. The inventor of the blue jean closed its first day of trading on the NYSE above $22, more than 30 percent higher than its initial public offering price of $17. Levi's CFO told Cheddar it's perfect timing for the 165-year-old company's return to the public markets after a 34-year absence, given the brand's global strength and cultural cache. Levi's time as the hot new kid on the block won't last: Lyft is preparing for its IPO on the NASDAQ next week, while Pinterest and Uber have both reportedly chosen the NYSE as the home for their highly anticipated upcoming listings. See more

  • Nike Earnings: Nike ($NKE) shares took a tumble late in the week after reporting weaker-than-expected North American sales growth. The footwear giant beat on earnings per share and reported revenue in line with analysts' expectations, but the stock took a hit on the domestic guidance which was hurt by weakness in its Converse brand. Converse has been losing out to competition from Vans, even as Nike's flagship sneakers and Jordan brand have continued to show strength. The disappointing report followed a high-profile February incident in which Duke star Zion Williamson's Nike sneaker blew out in the first minutes of a nationally televised game. The company said that was a one-time anomaly and that it has custom-made a new shoe for the superstar to wear in the NCAA tournament, in which Duke is heavily favored to go all the way.

  • Google Gaming: Can Google ($GOOGL) become the Netflix ($NFLX) of gaming? The search giant announced its plans for a game-streaming service at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Called Stadia, the service will use YouTube as the platform for users to watch and play games in real-time, using cloud technology. Google said it hopes Stadia will do for gaming what Netflix and Spotify ($SPOT) did for movies and music, respectively. It did not release pricing information. The service comes as rival Microsoft ($MSFT) plans its own cloud-based gaming service. Sony's ($SNE) PlayStation Now streaming service debuted in 2014. Google's Stadia will offer a proprietary controller that connects directly to the internet in order to avoid latency issues. See more

ーby Carlo Versano