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HSBC reports fourth-quarter, full-year 2017 earnings

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HSBC’s fortune turned around in 2017 with an increase in the year’s profit.

The bank, largest in Europe by assets, said Tuesday its full-year profit before tax rose 10.9 percent to $20.99 billion after adjusting for foreign currency translation and one-off items. That’s beating the estimated $19.59 billion by Reuters and reversing the decline seen one year ago in 2016.

The bank’s adjusted revenue for 2017 was $51.5 billion, up 5 percent from the previous year.

Analysts had expected higher interest rates to boost HSBC’s lending profitability, resulting in the improved financial performance.

“I think they will have another, not a record, but better-than-expected earnings,” Dickie Wong, executive director of Kingston Securities, told CNBC ahead of the release of the financial report.

The bank’s Hong Kong-listed shares, a heavyweight on the Hang Seng Index, traded 1.26 percent higher at 11 a.m. HK/SIN.

Wong added that HSBC is “in a better shape” compared to other international banks, and investors would be looking for another round of share purchases, though not at the levels previously seen. The bank has bought back $5.5 billion worth of shares from investors since August 2016.

Stuart Gulliver, instrumental in turning around HSBC, will step down as the bank’s chief executive after Tuesday. He will be replaced by HSBC veteran John Flint, who most recently served as the bank’s head of retail banking and wealth management.

HSBC’s latest earnings statement cemented its ability to pick itself up after the global financial crisis. In addition to shifting its focus to Asia, the bank also scaled back some of its operations, including selling its Brazilian business.

“These results and the achievements of the last couple of years give us a great platform to build on,” said Flint in a release that accompanied the earnings announcement.

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Snowflake prices IPO above range, implying market cap of $33.3 billion

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Snowflake CEO Frank Slootman

Snowflake

Snowflake, a provider of cloud-based data storage and analysis software, priced its IPO above its increased range in an offering that values the company at $33.3 billion.

Snowflake is selling 28 million shares at $120 a piece, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the pricing hasn’t been made public. The company, which is poised to debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday under the ticker symbol “SNOW,” is the first of several technology companies to go public this week in one of the busiest stretches of the year. Snowflake will raise approximately $3.4 billion from the offering.

Investors are bidding up Snowflake’s ahead of the offering as they anticipate a blockbuster opening for a company that’s generating over $1 billion in annualized revenue and grew over 130% in the first half of the year. The company had already raised its anticipated debut price range from a maximum of $85 to a max of $110 in the space of less than a week. Snowflake is growing alongside the major public cloud vendors by providing technology that allows clients to quickly analyze and share vast amounts of data and increase capacity as needed, rather than relying on databases that are tied to hardware.

Last week, Snowflake revealed in a filing that Berkshire Hathaway and Salesforce each agreed to buy $250 million of stock at the IPO price in a concurrent private placement. Berkshire Hathaway also agreed to buy 4.04 million shares in a secondary transaction from former CEO Bob Muglia. Based on the IPO price, Berkshire will be paying $484.8 million for those shares. 

Snowflake is entering a market that’s hungry for high-growth cloud software makers, particularly those that have shown an ability to continue expanding through the coronavirus pandemic. Even after pulling back this month, the BVP Nasdaq Emerging Cloud Index, consisting of over 50 publicly traded companies, is up about 55% this year, compared to a 25% gain for the Nasdaq and 5.3% advance in the S&P 500.

Zoom’s stock is up over 500% in 2020, and Fastly has jumped more than 300%. DocuSign, Shopify and Datadog have more than doubled.

WATCH: Here’s what to know about Snowflake

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Stock futures flat as investors await Fed meeting

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U.S. stock futures were flat in overnight trading as investors readied for comments from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday. 

Dow futures rose 12 points. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures were also set to open flat, with gains of 0.02% and 0.07%, respectively.

Better-than-expected earnings from FedEx and Adobe after the bell boosted sentiment. FedEx released a blowout quarter with earnings $2.18 per share above analyst estimates, fueled by the e-commerce boom. The shipping company rallied more than 9% in extended trading. Adobe jumped 2% after hours. 

On Tuesday, the Dow closed up marginally, after gaining more than 200 points earlier in the session. Apple shares came off their highs following the technology giant’s new product event, dragging down the 30-stock average following its new product event.

The S&P 500 climbed 0.5%, despite weakness in financials. Tuesday marked the third straight day of gains for the 500-stock index. 

Technology stocks continued their broad based rally. The Nasdaq Composite rose 1.2%, bringing its week to date gain to more than 3%. The technology heavy index dipped in correction territory last week and suffered its worst weekly performance since March.

Positive economic data in the U.S. and China on Tuesday boosted sentiment on Tuesday. 

“Optimism is being supported by a continual flow of good economic news, healthy earnings news and the prospect of getting more comforting news from the Federal Reserve tomorrow suggesting they remain committed to letting the recovery run hot while continuing to provide supportive policies,” Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, told CNBC. 

Wednesday marks the second day of the Federal Reserve policy’s meeting, the first since Chairman Jerome Powell unveiled a policy shift toward greater tolerance of inflation, effectively pledging to keep interest rates low for longer. Investors widely expect the central bank to maintain is downbeat stance on the economy.

The Federal Open Market Committee will provide its quarterly update on its estimates for GDP, unemployment and inflation. The central bank could provide clearer guidance on what it will take to raise rates in the future.

“The Fed doesn’t like to be involved in politics, even though its inherently a political institution but two months before an election is a very difficult time to put your politics aside,” David Zervos, chief market strategist at Jefferies, said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Tuesday. “You just have to expect that there’s going to be some thought to politics. 

One of the hottest initial public offerings of 2020 will open for trading on Wednesday. Data storage software company Snowflake is priced at 30 times forward revenue and even got a rare vote of confidence from Berkshire Hathaway. Snowflake expects to go public at a share price between $100 and $110, according to an updated S-1 filing from Monday.

August retail sales data will be released at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Analysts polled by FactSet are expecting an increase of 1.1%, compared to July’s 1.2% rise. 

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Palestinians fire rockets into Israel during White House ceremony, wounding two

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Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a rocket attack fired from the Gaza Strip and crashed in the southern coastal city of Ashdod on September 15, 2020.

Jack Guez | AFP | Getty Images

Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza into Israel on Tuesday, the Israeli military said, at same time as Israel and two Gulf Arab states signed normalization agreements at the White House in Washington.

Warning sirens sounded in the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump met the foreign ministers of United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House.

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics treated two men for light injuries from flying glass in Ashdod, and four others suffered shock.

An Israeli military spokesman said the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted one of two rockets fired from Gaza.

Israeli men remove the shattered glass window of a laundry shop following a rocket attack fired from the Gaza Strip and crashed in the southern coastal city of Ashdod on September 15, 2020.

Jack Guez | AFP | Getty Images

In Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas, dozens of Palestinians rallied outside a U.N. office to condemn the normalization deals shortly before the signing ceremony began.

“Palestine isn’t for sale,” protesters chanted.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the Bahrain and UAE agreements would not bring Israel peace in the region.

“Peoples of the region will continue to deal with this occupation as their true enemy,” he told Reuters, speaking from Turkey. Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rockets.

In Ramallah in the occupied West Bank there was a small, muted protest at which 200 people gathered in a central square.

Some carried a banner reading: “The UAE-Israeli normalization agreement is a reward for the state of occupation and for settlements, and is a stab in the back of Jerusalem and of Palestine.”

The normalization agreements are the first signed between Israel and Arab states since the peace accords with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

However, they breach what had been a long-standing Arab consensus that normalization of ties with Israel should only come after the creation of an independent Palestinian state in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians see that aspiration as badly damaged by the new agreements.

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