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Need to Know: Here’s why Goldman thinks Facebook and Google are under threat

Earnings continue to take center stage on Friday, ably supported by the twists and turns of the U.S.-China trade war.

Renewed trade fears sent stocks retreating on Thursday, while mixed corporate earnings failed to inspire investors.

Oil majors Exxon XOM, -0.22% and Chevron CVX, -0.19% , consumer goods giant Colgate-Palmolive COLG, +0.64% and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba BABA, -0.48% will be in focus as they report third quarter results ahead of the open.

In the background, the race to become the Democratic challenger to Donald Trump in next year’s election is bubbling along — and investors should take note.

Goldman Sachs, in our call of the day, has downgraded the communication services sector to neutral from overweight due to rising regulatory risk ahead of the election.

Facebook FB, +1.81% and Alphabet GOOG, -0.09%, the sector’s dominant constituents, are facing antitrust investigations and Goldman said the risks will rise in the 367 days until the public go to the polls.

“Although the growth prospects of many communication services companies remain attractive, the valuation overhang from regulatory uncertainty will likely continue to grow and weigh on the sector’s performance,” analyst David Kostin said.

In a note, Goldman Sachs said antitrust lawsuits against IBM IBM, -1.12% in 1969, AT&T T, +0.76% in 1974, and MSFT, -0.86% n 1998 had all hit the companies’ sales growth and valuation.

Elsewhere the note said most equity investors had focused on Elizabeth Warren’s rising prospects and the potential consequences of her policies.

Most notably managed health care stocks have declined as Warren’s popularity has risen, Goldman said, due to her “Medicare for All” proposals.

Kostin said the winning candidate would still need the support of both chambers of Congress for policies discussed on the campaign trail to be implemented and urged investors to look at the probability of outcomes.

He added: “Based on our earnings and valuation sensitivities, the current state of the race implies a probability-weighted year-end 2020 S&P 500 level of roughly 3,200.

The market

After the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.52% fell 140 points on Thursday, Dow YM00, +0.20% futures are up 0.2%, while S&P 500 ES00, +0.20% and Nasdaq NQ00, +0.22% futures are also higher. Europe stocks SXXP, +0.45% are up, following Asian markets ADOW, +0.56% , which made gains as Chinese factory activity grew at its fastest pace in more than two years in October.

The buzz

It will be another bumper day for earnings as Exxon, Chevron, Colgate-Palmolive, biopharmaceutical firm AbbVie ABBV, -0.14% and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba all report third quarter results ahead of the open.

Colgate-Palmolive beat profit expectations but sales fell short in the third quarter, sending the stock 1.3% lower in pre-market trading, while Exxon’s earnings topped analysts forecasts, boosting shares.

Alibaba BABA, -0.48% shares climbed in pre-market trading after the company reported a sizable earnings beat.

AIG AIG, +0.67% swung to a profit late on Thursday as catastrophes had less of an impact on the insurer.

The U.S. government’s October jobs data will also be released on Friday morning.

Pinterest’s PINS, -3.01% stock fell close to 20% in late trading on Thursday as revenue growth slowed in the third quarter.

Australian airline Qantas said on Friday it grounded three Boeing 737s after finding hairline cracks in the aircrafts’ wing structures. The airline has been inspecting its Boeing 737 NG planes following calls from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. These are different from the grounded Boeing 737 Max jets.

U.S. drugmaker Amgen AMGN, +1.12% said it would take a 20.5% stake in Chinese biotech company BeiGene for $2.7 billion in cash. Amgen said the Beijing-based company will commercialize certain Amgen treatments in China and split the earnings.

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