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“It could be a challenge for the stock market in the fact that about 40 percent of the S&P 500 earnings are generated from outside the United States,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. “As the dollar strengthens, that has certainly created risk to those earnings. Another thing that could be a risk is, as the global economy has been slowing this year, the rising dollar poses a problem for many countries outside the U.S., and that has contributed to the slowdown in growth. The question is whether the U.S. economy can withstand a slowdown in global growth, and I don’t think it can in the long run.”

Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex, said the dollar in recent sessions has been getting a boost from the Fed. After last week’s meeting, the Fed’s statement indicated a rate hike is coming in December and several more could be in store for next year.

“Broadly, the dollar is at its best levels of the year,” said Chandler. “We just got done with earnings season, and many people are afraid earnings peaked, and the stronger dollar just adds to that.”

Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, said margins appear to have peaked at a record 10 percent level for the S&P 500 in the third quarter. Third quarter profits were 28 percent higher for the S&P 500, according to Thomson Reuters. Fourth quarter profits are expected to grow about 18 percent.

Boockvar said the decline in Apple after a key supplier reported slower orders was one catalyst for Monday’s decline in stocks. The market was also still reacting to Friday comments from White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who said any trade deal will be on President Donald Trump’s terms.

But the dollar was also a factor since it plays into a theme of peaking earnings that the market has been worried about.

“It’s another clip to earnings,” said Boockvar, adding the market was already anxious about higher interest rates. “You’ve had low wages. That’s reversing. Now you get clipped via higher costs from tariffs, higher transportation costs, and you throw in the stronger dollar. You can make a strong argument that the third quarter was the peak for profit margins.”

Boockvar said corporate profit margins peaked at lower levels in the last cycles. They topped out at a high of 9.5 percent in the mid-2000s, and at 7.75 percent in the early 2000s, he said.

“[The dollar] was certainly a factor all through the third-quarter earnings for multinationals. We hear as an excuse that it was the stronger dollar, and the dollar is still below where it was in 2016, even with all these rate hikes,” said Boockvar. “I’m not going to believe the dollar is going to run away, but it is a likely factor here.” Among the companies complaining about dollar headwinds last quarter were Apple and FANG names like Alphabet, he said.

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Virgin’s Branson plans humanitarian aid concert on Venezuela border



Richard Branson is organizing a concert to raise funds for a humanitarian aid effort for crisis-stricken Venezuela to be held in the Colombian border city of Cucuta next week, the British billionaire said in a video on social media.

President Nicolas Maduro is resisting foreign efforts to send food and medicine to the hyperinflationary country suffering from rising hunger.

An aid convoy supplied by the United States and Colombia arrived in Cucuta last week, where it is being held in warehouses.

“Nicolas Maduro’s regime, which is responsible for this crisis, is currently refusing to allow any humanitarian aid into the country,” Branson said in the video.

“We must break this impasse or soon, many Venezuelans will be on the verge of starvation or death,” he said, adding the effort aimed to raise $100 million in 60 days.

The concert is scheduled for Feb. 22 and will feature a “wonderful line-up of regional and international artists,” Branson said, without providing details.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has invoked articles of the constitution to assume the presidency, says humanitarian aid will begin to flow across the border the next day.

The Virgin Group, which handles media inquiries for Branson, said the video was genuine and that it would provide more information soon.

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Spanish prime minister calls snap election after budget fails to pass



Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a debate on the government's 2019 budget during a parliament session in Madrid on February 13, 2019.


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez attends a debate on the government’s 2019 budget during a parliament session in Madrid on February 13, 2019.

The government of Spain formally called for a snap general election Friday following its failure to pass its 2019 budget through Congress.

Earlier in the week, the ruling Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) failed to secure the additional votes it needed from two separatist Catalan parties, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT).

With the government paralyzed by a lack of support, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called for an election to break the impasse. The vote will be held on the April 28th.

PSOE’s budget for 2019 wanted to slash the deficit but spend some money in certain areas, including regions such as Catalonia. On Tuesday, the country’s Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero said the Catalan parties should accept the deal or risk damaging “Catalans in particular, and all Spaniards in general.”

However, both Catalan parties have rejected calls to come to heel on the budget, demanding that any deal would have to include a referendum on independence for the region.

The prospect of a softening from the Catalan parties, who want the region of Catalonia to gain independence from Spain, was always unlikely given the backdrop of a current trial of the leaders of the failed 2017 Catalan independence movement.

Twelve separatist leaders are currently appearing at Madrid’s Supreme Court on a number of charges including rebellion and sedition. Jail terms of up to 25 years are possible.

Yield on Spanish sovereign bonds rose before the election announcement. Yield on fixed income debt moves inversely to the asset price.

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Singapore Airlines earnings for the third quarter



The most recent earnings report from Singapore Airlines showed “encouraging signs,” according to one analyst who spoke to CNBC.

Those comments came after Singapore Airlines, also known as SIA, reported third-quarter earnings on Thursday that came in above expectations despite a 27 percent drop in net profit compared to the year-ago period.

Singapore Airlines made 284 million Singapore dollars (approximately $209 million) in the three months that ended on Dec. 31, down from S$389 million a year-earlier, which was restated to reflect accounting changes. That was above the $240.2 million Singapore dollars (about $176.7 million) expected by three analysts in estimates obtained by Reuters and Refinitiv.

Yields for the Singapore carrier as well as other regional airlines have been “going down for a few years quite consistently,” but Singapore Airlines’ namesake carrier has resumed growth over the last three to six months, Brendan Sobie, chief analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday.

“The trend does seem to be bottoming out, which is a very encouraging trend for SIA,” Sobie said. “5 percent growth, which is not much. But it’s, you know, a lot better than zero, which they’ve basically been at for the last few years.”

“I think the results were largely in line with our expectations,” Paul Yong, senior vice president of equity research at Singaporean bank DBS, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday. The bank has a buy rating on Singapore Airlines’ stock, with a target price of 11 Singapore dollars per share.

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