Market Morning: Brexit Burn, New Anti-Cannabis AG, Cobalt On Blockchain, Microsoft on Healthcare

Brexit Deal Goes Down in Flames, Markets Yawn

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Theresa May’s Brexit deal was defeated by such a large margin, 432-202, that stock markets have been shocked into complacency over it, or at least that’s what it seems. With such a huge defeat, there is no way that the deal can be renegotiated or tweaked to somehow get past Parliament on a second try. The options now seem to be a second referendum, or the indefinite extension of the Brexit deadline from March 29th to who knows when. Either eventuality would be short term bullish for British stocks. A no-deal Brexit, also a possibility, would be very bearish on the other hand, but it doesn’t seem there is much chance of that happening. Meanwhile, the London FTSE 100 was actually up this morning at the open, but is now down, but not by much. (NYSEARCA:EWU)

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Attorney General Nominee Barr Hates Cannabis

President Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is not that much different from the old one at least insofar as cannabis goes. The old one, Jeff Sessions, supported the federal ban on marijuana, which technically still exists but is unenforceable, and so does the new one, William Barr. He however also said that he would not go after state-regulated cannabis companies that comply with internal state regulations, probably because going after legitimate companies following state law is untenable and could start riots. Pot stocks (NYSEARCA:MJ) plummeted on Barr’s statement at the end of the day yesterday, but there is no substantive difference between him and Sessions on the issue, so the decline will likely be reversed soon all else being equal.

Ford, IBM Go Blockchain on African Cobalt

Here’s an interesting little blockchain ditty today out of Reuters. IBM (NYSE:IBM) and Ford (NYSE:F) are teaming up with a Korean cathode maker and a Chinese cobalt company to put the cobalt supply from the Congo on the blockchain. The point is to prevent cobalt mined by children from being included in the cobalt supply, which in effect amounts to a boycott of children, who will have to find some other source of income instead, usually prostitution or crime. Demand for cobalt is expected to go up dramatically as electric cars become more popular. The idea is to put all the cobalt mined in secure bags and then coded onto the blockchain, which would have to match the records to prove that it isn’t mined by children. Good luck finding other work, kids!

Microsoft, Walgreens, Team Up on Healthcare

Another day, another healthcare team-up. This time, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will be teaming up with Walgreens (NYSE:WBA), the latter migrating their data onto Microsoft’s cloud, Azure. “Improving health outcomes while lowering the cost of care is a complex challenge that requires broad collaboration and strong partnership between the health care and tech industries,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the release. Somehow using Azure is supposed to make healthcare cheaper. Good luck with that. The deal is good for 7 years.

Netflix Raising Prices, Inflation?

Inflation may be muted, but that isn’t stopping one of the FANGs from biting down. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) will be raising prices between 13-18%, its most popular plan going up from $11 a month to $13. So skip out on that quarter cup of Starbucks coffee and you should even out more or less. Netflix is saying that the hikes are because of rising costs, but that they will put the additional money into new shows, which means either they’re confused or they’re doing both. Its cheapest plan will be going up from $8 to $9, so those people only have to pour out a little bit of coffee. These are the biggest price hikes for the streaming giant since it began streaming services 10 years ago. That would put Netflix at about 1.8% inflation annual, which sort of makes some sense.

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