The Biggest Stock Market News of 2019’s First Half

The Biggest Stock Market News of 2019’s First Half

Few could've predicted the most memorable and surprising stock market highlights of early 2019

News that shook the market in 2019.

Six months ago, markets were coming off a rough-and-tumble end to 2018 and investors didn’t know what to expect for the year ahead. Halfway into 2019, there’s certainly been a lot of major stock market news to digest, and almost none of it went the way Wall Street expected. From the wild world of 2019 IPOs to the rapidly changing expectations for interest rates and everything in between, here are seven of the biggest stock market news items and surprises in the first two quarters of 2019.

BeyondMeat’s IPO and fantastic performance.

Beyond Meat (ticker: BYND), the plant-based meat substitute company, seemingly came out of nowhere to dominate the 2019 stock market headlines. Any funds or underwriters lucky enough to buy BYND’s May 2 IPO at $25 more than doubled their money on Day One, when shares closed above $65. By mid-June shares had touched $200 as the full extent of investors’ craving for the niche food category pioneer still wasn’t realized. The question now is whether the Beyond Burger, sold at an increasing number of grocers and restaurant chains, is a fad or the crux of a profitable long-term trend that fundamentally changes consumer beliefs and behavior.

Uber & Lyft take a hike.

While Beyond Meat was definitely the unexpected breakout star of 2019’s first half, ride-hailing rivals and archetypal “unicorns” Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) were supposed to highlight the highly anticipated 2019 IPO class. Instead, both debuts were fantastically disappointing: Lyft shares rose the first day only to immediately slump below the $72 IPO price, while Uber shares plunged 7.6% within hours of going public. Both companies reported more than $1 billion losses in their first quarterly earnings reports as public companies, and near-term profitability is a pipe dream for each. In short, these long-hyped IPOs have flopped for investors – at least retail investors.

Tesla falling out of favor.

The biggest stock market news for any Tesla (TSLA) shareholder hasn’t been good in 2019: shares crossed below the rarely-breached $200 level for the first time since 2016 as shareholders lost patience with Musk’s penchant to overpromise and underdeliver. Shares fell 8% in a single day after reporting first-quarter numbers, which saw a 31% quarter-over-quarter drop in sales, the largest quarterly sales decline in company history. A combination of delivery problems, a $7,500 EV tax subsidy that’s been slashed in half, and Tesla’s attempts to do more than what its finances and facilities allow are catching up. CEO Musk’s most important promise – steady profitability – keeps getting delayed.

Tech antitrust cases against Google, Facebook, Amazon.

While the central legacy of the Trump presidency likely won’t be deregulation, there’s no doubt it is one of the administration’s most firmly held policy ideals. Alas, the government must still govern. But the rapid rise of Silicon Valley heavyweights, whose power, influence, cash and cache (of personal data) grows greater by the year, has earned a parallel rise in scrutiny. The FTC and Justice Department recently divvied up antitrust responsibilities in preparation to examine Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Facebook (FB), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL). Digital monopolies are fertile ground for antitrust in the 21st century, with questions over acquisition practices and online market concentration in the forefront.

Is Bitcoin back? Facebook’s new digital currency.

Remember cryptocurrencies? Well one of the biggest stock market news stories of 2019 might just be this: they’re not going anywhere. Bitcoin is up more than 260% to-date in 2019, with the most famous cryptocurrency approaching the $10,000 level again after slumping below $4,000 not long ago. Increased acceptance is part of the catalyst, with companies like AT&T (T) now accepting BTC payments and Fidelity offering trading. A flurry of entrepreneurial activity, sparked by crypto’s 2018 headline-fest, should also start supplementing the ecosystem with great new tools and services. Even Facebook just announced that it’s launching its own cryptocurrency, Libra, designed to be price-stable and integrated into its messaging apps.

Yield curve inverts.

One of the most widely followed indicators of an upcoming recession, the inverted yield curve, flashed red in June, as yields on three-month T-bills exceeded yields on 10-year Treasurys by 21 basis points. Yield curve inversions have preceded each of the last seven recessions, and over the past 50 years the lead time before the economy started contracting has ranged from five to 17 months. Interestingly, this comes during the U.S.’s best labor market in years and with stocks at all-time highs. Yet somehow trade war tensions and low inflation have still caused the Federal Reserve to hint that future interest rate cuts, not hikes, might be more appropriate.

Boeing's deep hole.

A longtime Dow component, aerospace giant Boeing Co. (BA) got itself into deep trouble in 2019 when the fastest-selling airplane series in company history, the Boeing 737 MAX, was grounded worldwide in March after a second fatal commercial crash involving the MAX 8 in just over four months. The media immediately pounced on Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), demanding explanations for exactly what went wrong, a timeline for fixing the bug and transparency into the murky FAA safety review process. Shares are down just 10% since the deadly March crash, despite the lack of answers and ongoing global grounding. Hopefully this is the grimmest stock market news of 2019.

Stock market surprises in 2019's first half.

  • BeyondMeat’s IPO and fantastic performance.

  • Uber & Lyft take a hike.

  • Tesla falls out of favor.

  • Tech antitrust cases against Google, Facebook, Amazon.

  • Is Bitcoin back? Facebook’s new digital currency.

  • The yield curve inverts.

  • Boeing Co.'s deep hole.


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