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.
SANTA CLAUS RALLY CONTINUES
We'll spare you the obligatory Santa joke here and get straight to the point: the market continues to hit fresh highs, with stocks closing the week strong on optimism over that U.S.-China trade deal announced earlier this month.
If you're wondering where the deal actually stands, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that a signing ceremony alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming soon, telling reporters "The deal is done, it's just being translated right now." It's worth noting that Beijing has not yet confirmed specifics of the deal, with a spokesman for China saying details would become public after the official signing.
Investors, meanwhile, seem to be trading on that optimism, launching the Nasdaq past 9,000 points for the first time on Thursday. The S&P 500, considered the broadest stock market index, is seeing returns of 50 percent over the first three years of the Trump presidency ー more than double the average return for other presidents at this point in their first term. Despite the trade war, 2019 was an excellent year for the markets, with all the major indexes at or near record highs.
One major contributor to the Nasdaq record high: Amazon, which saw its shares surge after the company announced "record-breaking" holiday sales. Indeed, the entire retail sector, both online and off, is ending the year on a high note after a great holiday. UPS says it expects returned packages to hit a record high, with more people than ever doing the majority of their shopping online. UPS alone expects to process nearly two million returns at the peak on January 2. E-commerce sales rose 19 percent this season, making up 15 percent of all retail sales, according to MasterCard.
BOEING FIRES CEO
Dennis Muilenburg is out as CEO of Boeing, effective immediately. Boeing’s chairman, David Calhoun, will take over the top job next month, though he is already said to be at work attempting to fix the company's image. The board reportedly decided to finally let Muilenburg go, nearly 14 months to the day since the first of two 737 Max crashes that threw Boeing into its biggest corporate crisis ever. Muilenburg became the face of the crisis, testifying in front of Congress and apologizing to victims’ families while also working to get the Max back into service. The FAA has still not given Boeing the go-ahead to return the Max to the skies, and airlines continue to cancel flights into the late spring as a result.
TESLA SHARES GET HIGH
Shares of Tesla hit new highs this week as the electric automaker is set to begin delivering its first China-made Model 3 cars on Monday ー the very first ones out of its Shanghai Gigafactory. That factory now fully charged after Tesla secured a $1.3 billion loan from a group of Chinese banks.
The China momentum helped Tesla's record run past $420 ー that number, of course, being the mythical benchmark at which Elon Musk tweeted he would take the company private ー and the same tweet that landed him in hot water with the SEC. Musk, never one to pass up a meme-able moment, gave a pithy reaction to Monday's news: 'Whoa … the stock is so high lol'.
UBER CEO'S NEXT ACT
Travis Kalanick is now officially over Uber. The controversial co-founder of the ridehailing giant resigned from the company's board this week, even cashing out all his remaining shares of the stock. In 2017, Kalanick was ignominiously ousted as CEO over the company's "frat boy" culture and sexism.
Kalanick is taking some of the $2.7 billion he made and investing in a “ghost kitchen” startup called CloudKitchens. Ghost kitchens are basically restaurants without any seating but with chefs cooking exclusively for delivery apps. They are hugely popular in China and parts of Europe, and gaining popularity in the U.S. In New York City, the country's largest market for food delivery, a handful of startups are opening ghost kitchens in dense areas of Manhattan. There has even been speculation that one of the VC-backed delivery apps, like Doordash or Postmates, could merge with a ghost kitchen to create a vertically integrated restaurant-delivery business.