Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - The big money shift

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Funds are starting to shift their holdings in the $6 trillion US money market ahead of new rules that will likely boost demand for government securities at the expense of riskier assets. As of mid-April, about five of these funds—including the two largest—had announced plans to convert to government-only holdings or close altogether to avoid Securities and Exchange Commission measures that take effect later this year. Starting in October, the changes mean it will get more expensive to withdraw money from some funds in times of financial stress. The shift may also spur increased demand for government-backed instruments ranging from Treasury bills and agency discount notes to repurchase agreements, while reducing demand for commercial paper and certificates of deposit. When this grand reshuffling happens in earnest though is still up in the air. “So far there are only a few signs,” Barclays strategist Joseph Abate wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. 

Here are today’s top stories

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the US has paused the supply of “high-payload” munitions to Israel over concerns about a potential military offensive on the Gazan city of Rafah. The delivery was supposed to contain 3,500 bombs, split between 2,000-pound and 500-pound explosives. Israel needs to account for the protection of civilians in Rafah, where the US wants “no major conflict take place,” Austin said Wednesday. Washington is worried about the further damage the large bombs could inflict on dense urban areas like Rafah, where about 1.4 million Palestinians are sheltering from Israel’s war with Hamas. Hamas’s health ministry said almost 35,000 Palestinians have been killed during the war, which began on Oct. 7 when Israel said 1,200 Israelis were killed in an attack by Hamas militants. President Joe Biden’s decision to hold off supplying bombs to Israel is the culmination of months of rising frustration over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct of the war in Gaza. And Biden may not be done.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the Rafah border firing into the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Photographer: Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu

Like legions of disgruntled former employees before him, Howard Schultz took to social media to complain about what had gone wrong at his old company. Without naming names, the former Starbucks chief executive criticized his successor, writing that after a significant quarterly earnings miss, “there must be contrition,” Beth Kowitt writes in Bloomberg Opinion. But she adds that, if the ex-coffee king really wants to help Starbucks, he should stop undermining it.

Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav is said to have ordered his lieutenants to find additional opportunities for cost-cutting. And that may mean more terminations at a company that has already eliminated more than 2,000 positions in the past year. There’s bad news for customers as well: The company—parent of CNN, HBO and the Warner Bros. studios—has also decided to raise subscription prices.

David Zaslav  Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

US mortgage rates fell for the first time since late March, giving some relief to homebuyers and lifting applications for purchases and refinancing. The contract rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell 11 basis points in the week ended May 3 to 7.18%. 

It’s tough times for Russia’s super-rich. With Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine stretching into a third year and the wealthy getting used to the idea they are no longer welcome in the West, the playbook for passing on their fortunes has gotten really hard. Even Cyprus and Switzerland—some of the favorite spots for Russia’s moneyed—have introduced bans on providing management services to family trusts with Russian nationals as trustors or beneficiaries.

Instacart elevated a former Uber veteran to chief financial officer while also reporting first-quarter revenue that beat analyst estimates. Emily Reuter, who joined Instacart as vice president of finance six months ago, will take on the new role this week. Nick Giovanni, who helped shepherd Instacart through its initial public offering last year, is retiring after three years at the company.  

For one executive, the clearest sign Neutrogena had lost its way came when their daughter started buying CeraVe facewash and moisturizer. The family had shelves stocked with Neutrogena products, but the 20-year-old wanted a brand she saw on TikTok. Kenvue, which owns Neutrogena and Aveeno, has seen its skin-care market share plummet to less than 14% in 2023 from 23% in 2019—when it was the biggest in the US. Why is Neutrogena missing out on a $42 billion US beauty market? Because it retreated precisely when rivals went all in.

Neutrogena-brand sunscreen  Photographer: Bloomberg

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

New York’s May Art Auctions Face a Big Reveal

Pity the auction house specialists. As they scrambled to assemble work for the all-important spring auctions in New York, a market slump has kept many potential consignors on the sidelines. “Sellers, for this period of time, seem a bit cautious and nervous that there are strong headwinds,” says Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s global chairman and head of global fine art. “They’re thinking that if they can choose to wait, perhaps they should.” That’s not good news for Sotheby’s, or Christie’s and Phillips. This is the first May auction season in recent memory that’s largely devoid of significant estate sales—the kind of collections upon which these bellwether auction weeks are usually built. Indeed, this season may just reveal the true health of the art market.

David Hockney’s A Lawn Being Sprinkled, from 1967, carries a $25 million to $35 million estimate. Source: Christie’s

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