U.S.-China Tensions, Intel, Apple, Gold and Baseball's Opening Day - 5 Things You Must Know Friday

Wall Street looks to end the week on a sour note Friday, as rising U.S.-China tensions pull global stocks lower and safe-haven assets such as gold to multi-year highs. Intel shares slump on chip delays and baseball started its long-delayed season in familiar fashion - with a New York Yankees win.
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Here are five things you must know for Friday, July 24:

1. -- Dr. Frankenstein, I Presume? 

Global stocks slumped in overnight trading, while Treasury bonds and the dollar rallied, amid rising political tensions between the U.S. and China following a speech in California last night by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Calling China's Communist Party a 'Frankenstein" created by the detente policies of former President Richard Nixon, Pompeo attacked Beijing's record on trade, security and human rights in a speech that could define a new and antagonistic relationship between the world's two biggest economies. 

China said the speech was 'filled with ideological bias' while announcing the closure of the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu, a tit-for-rat reaction to Washington's shuttering of the Chinese consulate in Houston.

Wall Street futures look set to open lower Friday as a result, following a sharp sell-off in China and Europe, with the Dow priced for a 100 point pullback and the S&P 500 likely to retreat by around 12 points after the opening bell.

2. -- Cheap As Chips 

Intel Corp.  (INTC) - Get Report shares slumped lower in pre-market trading Friday after the chipmaker  said its new 7-nanometer processor, a key component in its strategy to take on market-leading rivals such as Taiwan Semiconductor, is around six months behind schedule, adding it may have to seek outside help in order to catch-up.

"We're going to be pretty pragmatic about if and when we should be making stuff inside or making outside, and making sure that we have optionality to build internally, mix and match inside and outside, or go outside in its entirety if we need to," CEO Bob Swan told investors on a conference call.

The revelation clouded stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings from the tech group, which included $19.7 billion in revenues and profits of $1.23 per share. Intel stock plunged 11.2% lower in after-hours trading following the 7-nanometer update, and looks to open the trading day at $53.62 each, the lowest since April 3.

3. -- Bad Apple? 

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report shares were under pressure in pre-market trading Friday, pulled down by both U.S.-China tensions and a report that suggests the tech giant could face a potential lawsuit lead by several state Attorneys General for allegedly deceiving customers.

The Tech Transparency Project, a watchdog group, said the Texas state Attorney General could bring the suit, which would be joined by various others, for violating Texas' deceptive trade practices laws. While the watchdog didn't provide details to the potential suit, analysts think it could be related to cases brought against the iPhone maker last year that accused it of slowing down older versions as it launched new and pricier models.

Apple will post earnings for the three months ending in June, its fiscal third quarter, on Thursday July 30, with analysts looking for a bottom line of $2 per share on sales of $51.5 billion, based on early Street estimates.

Apple shares were marked 1.6% lower in pre-market trading Friday to indicate an opening bell price of $365.55 each. 

4. -- Thars Gold In Them There Hills! 

Gold prices held near nine-year highs in overnight trading, propped-up by a weakening U.S. dollar and concerns for the effect of the trillions being spent by governments and central banks around the world to tame the global coronavirus pandemic.

Gold has gained more than 4% this week, and extended that advance in overnight trading, to reach a September 2011 peak of $1,897.16 per ounce, while silver prices have recorded their strongest weekly gains in three decades, rising 17% to just under $22.60 per ounce.

Investors, in fact, have been yanking cash out of their portfolios and putting it into gold for 16 of the past 17 weeks, according to Bank of America data, while gold-backed ETFs, in fact, have attracted some 734 million tons -- or $39.5 billion -- in new inflows over the first six months of this year, a move that takes the overall total to 3,621 tons and surpasses the annual record inflow of 646 tons that was set in 2009. 

5. -- Take Me Home To The Ball Game 

Major League Baseball kicked-off its delayed 60-game season Thursday in Washington last night -- with a wayward ceremonial first pitch from Dr. Anthony Fauci -- with a 4-1 win for the New York Yankees over the hometown Nationals, played four months late in a stadium with no fans.

In what has to be the strangest Opening Day in the history of baseball, during which the league announced the expansion of its playoff field to 16 teams from 10 and players practiced social distancing in the dugouts, Yankee slugger Giancarlo Stanton capped a five-hit performance with the league's first home run of the year, while Gerrit Cole gave up just one run over five innings in an impressive start for the right-handed ace.

On the west coast, Enrique Hernandez, known by his nickname Kike, also homered, while driving in five runs, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-1 win over the San Francisco Giants.  

"I think Major League Baseball is setting an example by playing to empty stadiums. And so are other sports," President Donald Trump said during his daily press briefing at the White House. "We want to get back to normal. The key is to get back to normal."