Lithium Producer Livent Falls 12% – Company Warns Market Conditions Remain ‘Challenging’

Livent News – Stock Market Today

StockMarketNews.Today — Shares in lithium producer Livent fell by 12 per cent on Wednesday after the company cut its earnings guidance and warned the market for the battery raw material remains “challenging.” Livent said late Tuesday it is reviewing its plans to expand capacity due to a continued slump in prices for lithium, which is a critical raw material for electric car batteries.

“Current market conditions remain challenging, with lower prices seen across all regions and most end markets,” Paul Graves, Livent’s chief executive said.

Livent’s announcement is a disappointment to expectations of a rebound in lithium prices this year and a growing premium for the company’s lithium hydroxide, which is used in more powerful electric car batteries.

Prices for lithium have fallen by more than 50 per cent over the past year due to an increase in supply from new mines in Australia as well as from the largest producers SQM and Albemarle. Livent said average prices for lithium hydroxide this year were likely to be “low-to-mid-teens per cent” lower than in 2019.

Livent produces lithium in Argentina but also has to buy lithium carbonate from other producers to turn into hydroxide. This means it earns less of a premium than other producers who have their own lithium supply.

The company said it now expects 2019 revenue in the range of $385m to $390m, from an earlier forecast of $400m. It forecasts adjusted ebitda of between $98m to $101m from an earlier expectation of between $105m to $110m.


U.S. Adds 202,000 Private Sector Jobs in December

StockMarketNews.Today — U.S. private employers added a far larger-than-forecast 202,000 jobs in December, according to a report by payrolls processor ADP on Wednesday. Economists had expected the report to show a gain of 160,000 jobs.

November’s figure was revised to 124,000 from the 67,000 initially reported.

“As 2019 came to a close, we saw expanded payrolls in December,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute. “The service providers posted the largest gain since April,driven mainly by professional and business services. Job creation was strong across companies of all sizes, led predominantly by midsized companies.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, said, “Looking through the monthly vagaries of the data, job gains continue to moderate. Manufacturers, energy producers and small companies have been shedding jobs. Unemployment is low, but will begin to rise if job growth slows much further.”

The ADP numbers come ahead of the Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report for December on Friday, which includes both public and private-sector employment.

Economists expect that report to show a gain of 164,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate is forecast to hold steady at 3.5%.

Today’s Stock Market News

Buy and Sell Crude Oil Online

StockMarketNews.Today — Iran attack on US forces sends oil rising. Oil prices and global stock markets stabilised after an initial jolt of volatility in the hours after an Iranian missile strike against American forces in Iraq significantly escalated tensions in the Middle East.

President Trump is due to make a statement in the coming hours, but tweeted “all is well!” overnight, while Iran’s supreme leader said the attack was a “slap” in the face for the US but fell short of making further threats of escalation.

Brent crude was just under 1 per cent higher at $69 a barrel in early London trading, having calmed from an earlier spike to as high as $71.75 in the Asian session as investors gauged the consequences of the Iranian action and the likelihood of a US response.

S&P 500 equity futures initially slumped 1.6 per cent but were recently down 0.2 per cent. Declines in European markets were also measured, with the composite Stoxx 600 index down 0.4 per cent, and similar falls for the major bourses across the continent.

Shares in state oil company Saudi Aramco hit a new low of 34 riyal, the lowest level since the group floated on Saudi Arabia’s stock market last month, as regional markets fell.

Markets across the world were jolted after Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard said it fired “tens of rockets” at facilities in Iraq including the Ain Assad base, which hosts US troops. The attack was retaliation for a US drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds force responsible for overseas military operations, and marked a serious escalation in the confrontation between Iran and the US.

However, investors were reassured by an apparent absence of US casualties and the measured tone of the official responses. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that “assessment of casualties & damages [are] taking place now” and “So far, so good!” following the attack. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, tweeted that Iran does “not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression”.

“We knew some kind of retaliation was going to happen . . . so this is not overly shocking,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment officer at Leuthold Group. “I hate to say it but there are no casualties as of yet, so right now I would say the markets won’t be facing too much selling pressure.”

Market Volatility Index

Investors had sought safer segments of the markets in response to news of the missile attack. The price of gold, seen as a haven during times of uncertainty, climbed to a near-seven-year high, rising 2.2 per cent to $1,600 per troy ounce. In the European morning it was trading back at $1,585, a gain of 0.7 per cent.

The yield on 10-year US treasuries was down 3 basis points at 1.7899 per cent after earlier hitting a one-month low, while the Japanese yen was flat versus the dollar after rising early in the day.

Japan’s Topix stock index shed 1.4 per cent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.8 per cent. China’s CSI 300 of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks was down 1.2 per cent.

“The major risk is that we continue to see a tit-for-tat pattern which escalates into a greater conflict,” said Chris Gaffney, president for world markets at TIAA Bank. “I expect [markets] to recover quickly from any knee-jerk selling as long as there are no additional military actions.”

But some analysts warned that any further escalation could mean Brent crude prices would keep pushing higher, to $75 per barrel.

“Depending on any potential further actions by Iran, which is likely, or a likely retaliation by the US, the price may hover around these levels or hike further to $80 a barrel and beyond,” said Iman Nasseri, managing director for the Middle East with energy consultancy FGE.

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