Global Economic-Growth Story Fades, Dimming Market Optimism

Stock indexes that rode accelerating global growth to fresh records in January are now hamstrung by a moderate but unmistakable slowdown in economic momentum in Europe and elsewhere.

Business activity globally has slowed from multi-year highs, according to the JPMorgan Chase and IHS Markit global purchasing managers index. The global manufacturing index fell to 53.1 in May, a nine-month low. The services index for April, which will be updated for May on Tuesday, slid to 53.8 from 54.8 two months earlier. And business activity in the eurozone fell to its lowest level in a year and a half last month.

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs that investors often look to as a proxy for global demand, has fallen 22% from a recent peak last month. Copper prices, another gauge of economic activity, have been on the decline. Among developed economies, data on the whole have been missing economists’ expectations by a wide margin, according to Citigroup’s index on economic surprises, after easily exceeding expectations for most of 2017.

Hardly anyone expects a recession any time soon. A rise this year in energy prices is being attributed to a combination of solid demand, reduced stockpiles and producer discipline. Growth in the U.S. and some other major economies continues apace, with the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report Friday showing a gain of 223,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 3.8%, the lowest since 2000.

The upbeat jobs report helped steady the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but not enough to recoup all of its losses from earlier in the week. The blue-chip index on Friday added 219.37 points, or 0.9%, to 24635.21.

But with government bond yields near record lows in many countries and the median S&P 500 stock trading at price/earnings multiples seen only rarely in the past century, many investors are buying government bonds and other lower-risk assets in a bid to brace against what is expected to be a volatile market year. It is a safe way to proceed, they say, at a time when much of the expected upside from the global economic expansion for 2018 appears significantly less likely to be realized.

Investors’ risk-off approach has been a hurdle for the stock market. The Dow industrials have struggled to push past 25,000 since March, a feat the index has done just once before falling below the mark again, even as the Federal Reserve has stuck to its well-choreographed pace of interest-rate increases. In the U.K., the path is less certain as the Bank of England weighs whether to forgo further planned rises in its key interest rate or even ease policy depending on how its departure from the European Union proceeds. Meanwhile, trade issues and a volatile currency could force the European Central Bank to alter its own fiscal-tightening plans.

"We generally think markets are in for a series of rude awakenings,” said Joachim Fels, a global economic adviser at the money-management firm Pacific Investment Management Co. The firm recently said it expects to see more market volatility.

Developments in some of Europe’s biggest economies, such as labor strikes in Germany and France in recent months and a harsh cold-weather spell across Northern Europe, are also undercutting the global growth narrative. The threat of more-restrictive trade policy has added further uncertainty to the outlook. And recent data have underscored how the economy remains sluggish, even years into the economic cycle.

Politics has also caused concern. Investors fled stocks and piled into super-safe U.S. Treasurys Tuesday after a brief stretch of turmoil over the formation of a government in Italy. The episode refocused investors on the weaknesses in Italy’s economy as European policy makers attempt to pull back on post-crisis monetary policies.

Italy’s divisions have dimmed much of the investor enthusiasm around last year’s election of the business-friendly French president Emmanuel Macron, whose victory eased fears that the Continent would be riven by anti-Europe populist movements.

Fears of a trade war sharpened after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the EU. All three outlined their own tariffs in response, such as proposing levies on U.S. food and agricultural products. Barclays economists estimated that steel tariffs plus the toll from retaliation could reduce global growth by 0.1 percentage point. That, plus tariffs on $150 billion of Chinese goods and any retaliation, could hit growth by 0.9 point.

The tariffs “reduce business confidence,” which makes it more difficult for companies to make plans and execute on them, said Gary Pollack, head of fixed-income trading at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. “That has ramifications for the real economy.”

The strengthening U.S. dollar is also exposing weaknesses in the developing world. Currencies are tumbling in countries with large trade deficits and large positions of short-term dollar debt. Turkey and Argentina felt compelled to jack up interest rates in May. Indonesia also lifted rates on Wednesday to stop its currency slide.

The U.S. is once again looking like the star performer. That was reinforced Friday by data that showed the U.S. continued to add jobs at a rapid clip. The U.S. factory sector picked up in May, according to data from the Institute for Supply Management.

“We’re being more mindful of the risk we’re taking outside the U.S.,” said Andrew Slimmon, a managing director at Morgan Stanley Investment Management who runs several funds, including a global equity strategy. Mr. Slimmon said he recently cut exposure to emerging markets, reaping some of the gains from last year, and increased fund allocations to U.S. stocks.

—Nick Timiraos contributed to this article.

Write to Michael Wursthorn at, Daniel Kruger at and Ben Eisen at

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Canada likely to buy Trans Mountain pipeline project: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Canada is likely to buy Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline and its proposed expansion project in an attempt to ensure that it is built, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing a person familiar with the talks.

FILE PHOTO: Replacement pipe is stored near crude oil storage tanks at Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline terminal in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

The deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, Bloomberg said

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

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SoftBank Agrees to Sell Flipkart Stake to Walmart

TOKYO—SoftBank Group Corp. said Wednesday it has agreed to sell its entire stake in India’s Flipkart Group to Walmart Inc., clearing the way for SoftBank to step up investment in a Flipkart rival.

The action ends weeks of uncertainty over where SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son, who runs the world’s largest technology fund, is placing his bets in India’s booming e-commerce market.

Walmart said earlier this month that it would take control of Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company, for $16 billion. Mr. Son had wavered on whether to sell his Vision Fund’s 21% stake to Walmart as part of the deal.

A person familiar with the deliberations said SoftBank was weighing tax considerations and the possible merits of keeping a stake until a public listing of Flipkart shares, which Walmart has said it plans within four years.

A SoftBank spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment beyond confirming that Mr. Son decided to sell. Flipkart and Walmart weren’t immediately available for comment.

Mr. Son said earlier that the Walmart deal gave the SoftBank Vision Fund’s stake in Flipkart a value of about $4 billion, up 60% from what it paid nine months earlier.

By pocketing his profit, Mr. Son can direct his energies elsewhere in India. He told The Wall Street Journal last week that he was considering a bigger investment in Paytm, a digital-payments startup that also runs an online marketplace competing against Flipkart and Inc.’s India unit.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested $1.4 billion in Paytm parent One97 Communications last year. It has since invested $110 million alongside Chinese internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. into Paytm’s online retailer, Paytm E-Commerce.

SoftBank was an early investor in Alibaba, and the two companies share many ties. Alibaba chief Jack Ma is on SoftBank’s board.

The Vision Fund manages nearly $100 billion from backers including the sovereign-wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, and companies such as Apple Inc., Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and Foxconn Technology Group.

Write to Mayumi Negishi at

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Nick Wright details why he believes the Houston Rockets can dethrone the Warriors in the West

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Nick Wright reveals how Harden’s Rockets bounced back to down Curry, KD’s Warriors in Game 2

Stephen Jackson unveils how the Celtics dominated LeBron’s Cavs in Game 2 of the Eastern Conf. Finals Cris Carter on LeBron leaving Cavs: ‘He’s trying to win more championships, and he can’t win them in Cleveland’ Cris Carter details why he has an issue with Mike D’Antoni saying the Rockets need to play more iso ball Stephen Jackson grades LeBron and Cavs’ performance in Game 2 loss to the Boston Celtics

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ZTE’s Operations Shutdown Stymies Major Phone Customers

Customers of ZTE Corp. ZTCOY -15.37% are reassessing their ties with the hobbled Chinese telecommunications firm, concerned that supplies of phones and networking gear will fall short after assembly lines were shut down.

Telstra Corp. TLSYY -1.65% , Australia’s biggest telecom carrier, said Thursday it would no longer carry its own-branded smartphones manufactured by ZTE because it couldn’t guarantee supply. AT&T Inc., T 1.53% the major U.S. distributor of ZTE phones, and MTN Group Ltd., one of Africa’s biggest network operators, said they were assessing the impact of a U.S. ban on component sales to the Chinese company.

ZTE said Wednesday it had halted major operations, though employees at its headquarters in Shenzhen showed up to work as usual Thursday. As hundreds of workers streamed in and out of a nearby cafeteria during lunchtime, some said they had little to do since production was shut down in late April. Others said they were working as usual.

Concerns about ZTE’s ability to ship smartphones, routers and other telecoms gear have heightened after the company’s announcement, which didn’t specify which operations were most affected. The telecom firm had warned for weeks that it was battling to survive a Commerce Department order barring American companies from selling to ZTE as punishment for its violation of a 2017 settlement to resolve its breach of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

A ZTE spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday.

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The Chinese company relies heavily on foreign-made components, particularly U.S. microchips for its smartphones. Qualcomm Inc. supplied chipsets for 84% of phones shipped by ZTE in the first quarter, according to Canalys, highlighting the vulnerability of the global supply chain as technology firms get caught up in the escalating trade fight between the U.S. and China.

Telstra said its move to break from ZTE was a “difficult but necessary step given ZTE’s decision to cease major operating activities.” ZTE was the eighth biggest smartphone vendor in Australia, well behind other suppliers, according to Canalys.

AT&T, one of ZTE’s biggest U.S. distributors, said it is still carrying ZTE phones but is “evaluating the effects of the government order.” Rob Shuter, chief executive of MTN, told investors this week that the African operator was considering contingency plans given its “exposure to ZTE in our networks.”

ZTE employs about 75,000 people around the world, including in factories in China and India, and has five research-and-development offices in the U.S. Its total sales last year were $17.13 billion. Though 60% of its revenue comes from China, it has struggled to sell smartphones in its home market.

It is a different story in the U.S, where ZTE is the only Chinese company to build a substantial smartphone business. Among its most recognizable phones in the market is the Axon M, an unusual dual-screen smartphone that folds in half. ZTE ranked No. 4 in the U.S. smartphone market in the first quarter, according to Canalys, with its sales there accounting for nearly three-fourths of its total smartphone shipments last year.

Beyond phones, an array of U.S. high-tech firms supply components for its base stations and other networking gear. They include Maynard, Mass.-based Acacia Communications , a manufacturer of parts known as optical components, used in networking equipment. The company’s chief executive told investors this week that it was no longer expecting any revenue from ZTE.

At ZTE’s sprawling headquarters in the high-tech Nanshan district of Shenzhen, employees said they were continuing to report to work and collect their salaries, though factory work had ceased last month.

A 21-year-old factory employee who said he worked on electrical components said his work had stopped around April 20, just days after the Commerce Department order. He now attends training sessions in the mornings and rests in a company dorm during his free time.

Another factory worker, who sat on a bench during his break in a nearby park, said he used to work on communications equipment before it dried up last month. He said he wasn’t upset at the U.S. because it would force China to innovate and develop its own technology.

Among top executives at the company, many were hopeful that a cool-down in trade tensions would lead to a reversal of the ban, a person familiar with the matter said. The company last weekend said it submitted an official request with the Commerce Department to suspend the ban and that it was under review.

ZTE said it “maintains sufficient cash” despite the business shutdown. The company said it had 23.67 billion yuan ($3.73 billion) in cash and cash equivalents as of March 31.

Write to Dan Strumpf at and Wayne Ma at

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What’s on TV Saturday: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction and ‘Warrior’

Bon Jovi at the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony.

The 33rd Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony airs on HBO. And estranged brothers face off in “Warrior.”

What’s on TV

2018 ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CEREMONY 8 p.m. on HBO; also on HBO streaming platforms. Bon Jovi, Nina Simone, Dire Straits and others enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in this 33rd annual celebration. Guests and presenters include Mary J. Blige; Brandon Flowers, of the band the Killers; and Lauryn Hill. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording. (Judas Priest, Kate Bush and Radiohead were among the first-time contenders who didn’t make the cut this year.) Bon Jovi has been eligible since 2008 but was first nominated in 2011. In an interview with The New York Times, Jon Bon Jovi, the lead singer, called the recognition long overdue: “I really want to say it’s about time.”

Tom Hardy, left, and Joel Edgerton in “Warrior.”

WARRIOR (2011) on Amazon, Vudu and YouTube. As Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a science teacher and devoted father, struggles with seemingly insurmountable debt, he returns to his past in the mixed martial arts world to train for Sparta, a $5 million, winner-take-all tournament. Unbeknown to him, his estranged younger brother, Tommy (Tom Hardy), a former Marine, has returned to their hometown to fight in the same competition. Their inevitable showdown becomes more of a family affair when Tommy enlists the help of their recovering alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte). A. O. Scott made the film a Critic’s Pick in his review for The New York Times. “The director’s impressive technique — and all the grace and discipline of his excellent, hard-working cast — is mustered with a single, unambiguous goal in mind,” he wrote. “This movie wants to knock you out.”

THIRST STREET (2017) on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. This dark comedy opens with Gina (Lindsay Burdge), an American flight attendant, enjoying a stable, loving relationship with her boyfriend, Paul (Damien Bonnard). When Paul commits suicide, Gina travels to Paris and grieves by hooking up with a sleazy bartender, Jérôme (also portrayed by Mr. Bonnard). Things take a turn for the worse when Gina mistakes their one-night stand for something more, and gets caught up in a manic obsession. “Thematically shallow but stylistically rich,” Teo Bugbee wrote in The Times, “‘Thirst Street’ is best enjoyed with a hint of its heroine’s willfully superficial vision.”

BLAME (2018) on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. Quinn Shephard, who wrote and directed this teen drama, stars as Abigail, a troubled and reserved student who’s met with taunts when she returns to her New Jersey high school after some time in a psych ward. Abigail receives more unwanted attention when a new teacher, Jeremy (Chris Messina), casts her in the role of Abigail in a student production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” Her role and close relationship with Jeremy provokes the ire of Melissa (Nadia Alexander), a popular bad girl who can’t stand being pushed out of the spotlight.

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Switzerland Wants to Be the World Capital of Cryptocurrency

ZUG, Switzerland—When 24-year-old Ian Worrall launched his crypto-investment startup MyBit last year, he chose this Swiss lakeside city.

It was an odd fit: the no-holds-barred corner of the financial markets meeting button-down Switzerland.

Yet this nation, as closely tied to its ultrasafe Swiss franc as it is to the Alps, is entranced by volatile digital currencies. Buildings in Zug and in Zurich, Switzerland’s financial center, are blossoming into crypto-finance hubs.

Four of the 10 biggest initial coin offerings last year were in Switzerland, according to PwC, more than any other country.

The hope is the country’s banking prowess, low taxes, elite universities and the Swiss brand itself will do for Switzerland what Silicon Valley did for the U.S.

Efforts to expand the so-called Crypto Valley into what Switzerland’s economics minister has called Crypto Nation have seen some success and may offset the country’s shrinking banking sector. The number of banks here has fallen 20% in the past decade, according to the Swiss Bankers Association.

Switzerland “is the best from a tax, legal and operational standpoint,” Mr. Worrall said from the MyBit headquarters in a startup hub called Crypto Valley Labs, where the “California Republic” state flag hangs in his office.

MyBit is an investment platform to fund Internet of Things devices like self-driving automobiles. It raised the equivalent of some $3 million in an initial coin offering last summer.

The space once housed an energy-technology company. There’s a circus school next door.

The number of companies at Crypto Valley Labs and another location jumped from 15 early last year to over 100, said Mathias Ruch, managing partner at Lakeside Partners, which developed the site. “I’m signing contracts on a daily basis,” he said.

The canton of Zug, population around 120,000, has emerged as the heart of Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. Its population grew at the fastest rate of all Swiss cantons in 2017, and its jobless rate is 2.3%, below Switzerland’s 2.9% average and down 0.2 percentage points from a year ago. Its corporate tax rate is 14.6%.

Matthias Michel, Zug’s economics minister, said Crypto Valley wasn’t a grand plan. Rather, it began five years ago when pioneers of blockchain platforms like Monetas put down roots in Zug, attracted by the business-friendly environment. Others followed, and an ecosystem developed.

In the process, Zug became a pilgrimage destination for global crypto devotees, complete with guided tours. There’s a “Bitcoin accepted here” sign at city hall.

“You cannot copy and paste [what Zug has done], it’s a systematic approach which makes it strong,” said Mr. Michel.

Recently, officials from Finma, the Swiss financial regulator, met industry representatives at a packed conference here. The meeting showcased another Swiss advantage—nimble regulators, or as Mr. Worrall described the approach: “Do your best, and if you mess up, we’ll work with you.”

While Finma is receptive to cryptocurrencies, the Swiss National Bank is skeptical and has warned of the risks associated with them. Executives from large banks echo those worries.

“From our standpoint, until you are able to trace all of these transactions and subject them to strict rules on anti-money laundering, this is a huge risk,” said UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti.

There are other drawbacks for Switzerland. Despite a skilled workforce, the country lacks a startup culture: There is a greater stigma attached to failing at a new business in Switzerland than there is in the U.S. High living costs will make it hard to scale up. If Mr. Worrall expands, it will probably be in Berlin.

The biggest fear, though, isn’t the central bank or living costs, industry participants say, but rather the potential to run afoul of U.S. regulators.

Switzerland has spent years distancing itself from a reputation as a shady-money haven. Banks have spent billions of dollars settling damaging charges from U.S. authorities related to tax evasion and mortgage-backed securities. Crypto startups say it’s hard to open a business bank account.

This reputational risk was highlighted in January by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who warned that cryptoocurrencies can’t be allowed to become the equivalent of “the Swiss-numbered bank account.”

And even the Swiss are starting to add some nuance to their crypto ambitions. Economics minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, who caused a stir when he called Switzerland “Crypto Nation” a few months ago, has recently backtracked, telling a conference in Zug Thursday that he should have called Switzerland “Blockchain Nation,” a nod to the technology underpinning digital money.

Still, cryptocurrencies are taking hold. One sign: A building housing blockchain and crypto-finance companies called Trust Square opened on Zurich’s ritzy Bahnhofstrasse across from the central bank—just a few blocks from banking giants Credit Suisse and UBS and kitty corner from Tiffany & Co.

Daniel Gasteiger, who developed Trust Square, launched his first blockchain startup from his apartment two years ago, after having spent two decades at UBS and Credit Suisse. Now he has 16 employees, and Trust Square’s 200 workspaces rented in one week. As for his neighbors at the Swiss National Bank, “they need to have an open spirit toward innovation,” he said.

Mr. Gasteiger has positioned Trust Square as a research hub for “Swiss made” blockchain. The offices—which once housed a bank—include space for universities. He thinks even if the digital-currency craze fizzles, Switzerland’s diversified economy will thrive. The banking system is another matter, he says.

“Switzerland will be fine. There will still be watches, chocolate and tourism. It is a question of a new financial center based on trust,” Mr. Gasteiger said.

Write to Brian Blackstone at

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Fantasy baseball forecaster for Week 4: Starting pitcher rankings

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Below are our starting pitcher rankings, pulling together our projections to rank every probable starter for the week ahead to help you set your fantasy rotation. In addition, we’ve ranked all of the week’s two-start pitchers for your convenience.

Starting Pitcher Rankings, Week 4 (April 23-29)Rank, Pitcher (Team)1st Start2nd Start1. Max Scherzer (WSH)Wed 4/25-@SF (Samardzija)2. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)Wed 4/25-MIA (Richards)3. Chris Sale (BOS)Thu 4/26-@TOR (Estrada)4. Corey Kluber (CLE)Fri 4/27-SEA (Ramirez)5. Carlos Carrasco (CLE)Mon 4/23-@BAL (Gausman)Sat 4/28-SEA (Leake)6. Robbie Ray (ARI)Tue 4/24-@PHI (Velasquez)Sun 4/29-@WSH (Gonzalez)7. Stephen Strasburg (WSH)Fri 4/27-ARI (Godley)8. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)Wed 4/25-@STL (Wacha)9. Gerrit Cole (HOU)Mon 4/23-LAA (Skaggs)Sun 4/29-OAK (Cahill)10. Rick Porcello (BOS)Tue 4/24-@TOR (Happ)Sun 4/29-TB (Faria)11. Jose Berrios (MIN)Tue 4/24-@NYY (Sabathia)Sun 4/29-CIN (Mahle)12. Chris Archer (TB)Wed 4/25-@BAL (Bundy)13. Jacob deGrom (NYM)Thu 4/26-@STL (Martinez)14. Luke Weaver (STL)Tue 4/24-NYM (Matz)Sun 4/29-@PIT (Kuhl)15. Rich Hill (LAD)Fri 4/27-@SF (Holland)16. Gio Gonzalez (WSH)Mon 4/23-@SF (Stratton)Sun 4/29-ARI (Ray)17. Steven Matz (NYM)Tue 4/24-@STL (Weaver)Sun 4/29-@SD (Mitchell)18. Yu Darvish (CHC)Fri 4/27-MIL (Suter)19. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)Mon 4/23-MIN (Odorizzi)Sat 4/28-@LAA (Richards)20. Justin Verlander (HOU)Wed 4/25-LAA (Tropeano)21. Kevin Gausman (BAL)Mon 4/23-CLE (Carrasco)Sat 4/28-DET (Liriano)22. Zack Godley (ARI)Fri 4/27-@WSH (Strasburg)23. Alex Wood (LAD)Sat 4/28-@SF, Gm. 2 (TBD)24. Luis Severino (NYY)Fri 4/27-@LAA (Heaney)25. James Paxton (SEA)Thu 4/26-@CLE (Clevinger)26. Walker Buehler (LAD)Mon 4/23-MIA (Garcia)Sun 4/29-@SF (Stratton)27. Tanner Roark (WSH)Tue 4/24-@SF (Blach)28. Charlie Morton (HOU)Tue 4/24-LAA (Ohtani)29. Blake Snell (TB)Thu 4/26-@BAL (Tillman)30. Danny Duffy (KC)Fri 4/27-CWS (Lopez)31. Carlos Martinez (STL)Thu 4/26-NYM (deGrom)32. Dylan Bundy (BAL)Wed 4/25-TB (Archer)33. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)Wed 4/25-@TOR (Sanchez)34. Zack Greinke (ARI)Wed 4/25-@PHI (Arrieta)35. Luis Castillo (CIN)Fri 4/27-@MIN (Hughes)36. Kyle Hendricks (CHC)Thu 4/26-MIL (Chacin)37. Brandon McCarthy (ATL)Tue 4/24-@CIN (Mahle)Sun 4/29-@PHI (Velasquez)38. J.A. Happ (TOR)Tue 4/24-BOS (Porcello)Sun 4/29-TEX (Perez)39. Shohei Ohtani (LAA)Tue 4/24-@HOU (Morton)40. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)Sat 4/28-@SF, Gm. 1 (Cueto)41. Jon Lester (CHC)Wed 4/25-@CLE (Bauer)42. Ian Kennedy (KC)Tue 4/24-MIL (Davies)Sun 4/29-CWS (TBD)43. Tyler Anderson (COL)Fri 4/27-@MIA (Urena)44. Patrick Corbin (ARI)Sat 4/28-@WSH (Hellickson)45. Trevor Bauer (CLE)Wed 4/25-CHC (Lester)46. Kenta Maeda (LAD)Tue 4/24-MIA (Peters)47. Jarlin Garcia (MIA)Mon 4/23-@LAD (Buehler)Sun 4/29-COL (Bettis)48. Mike Foltynewicz (ATL)Mon 4/23-@CIN (Romano)Sat 4/28-@PHI (Pivetta)49. Chris Stratton (SF)Mon 4/23-WSH (Gonzalez)Sun 4/29-LAD (Buehler)50. David Price (BOS)Sat 4/28-TB (TBD)51. Jake Arrieta (PHI)Wed 4/25-ARI (Greinke)52. Vince Velasquez (PHI)Tue 4/24-ARI (Ray)Sun 4/29-ATL (McCarthy)53. Trevor Cahill (OAK)Mon 4/23-@TEX (Moore)Sun 4/29-@HOU (Cole)54. Jon Gray (COL)Wed 4/25-SD (Ross)55. Dallas Keuchel (HOU)Fri 4/27-OAK (Manaea)56. Garrett Richards (LAA)Sat 4/28-NYY (Tanaka)57. Jose Quintana (CHC)Sat 4/28-MIL (Guerra)58. Johnny Cueto (SF)Sat 4/28-LAD, Gm. 1 (Ryu)59. Joey Lucchesi (SD)Sat 4/28-NYM (Vargas)60. Jeff Samardzija (SF)Wed 4/25-WSH (Scherzer)61. Zack Wheeler (NYM)Fri 4/27-@SD (Richard)62. Lance McCullers Jr. (HOU)Sat 4/28-OAK (Mengden)63. Jake Odorizzi (MIN)Mon 4/23-@NYY (Tanaka)Sat 4/28-CIN (Romano)64. Jakob Junis (KC)Thu 4/26-CWS (Giolito)65. Tyler Skaggs (LAA)Mon 4/23-@HOU (Cole)Sun 4/29-NYY (Sabathia)66. CC Sabathia (NYY)Tue 4/24-MIN (Berrios)Sun 4/29-@LAA (Skaggs)67. Aaron Nola (PHI)Fri 4/27-ATL (Teheran)68. Sean Manaea (OAK)Fri 4/27-@HOU (Keuchel)69. Jameson Taillon (PIT)Wed 4/25-DET (Boyd)70. Sean Newcomb (ATL)Thu 4/26-@CIN (Bailey)71. Jacob Faria (TB)Tue 4/24-@BAL (Cobb)Sun 4/29-@BOS (Porcello)72. Marco Gonzales (SEA)Tue 4/24-@CWS (TBD)Sun 4/29-@CLE (Tomlin)73. Mike Leake (SEA)Mon 4/23-@CWS (Fulmer)Sat 4/28-@CLE (Carrasco)74. Jordan Montgomery (NYY)Thu 4/26-MIN (Gibson)75. German Marquez (COL)Sat 4/28-@MIA (Smith)76. Chad Bettis (COL)Mon 4/23-SD (Mitchell)Sun 4/29-@MIA (Garcia)77. Jason Vargas (NYM)Sat 4/28-@SD (Lucchesi)78. Chad Kuhl (PIT)Tue 4/24-DET (Zimmermann)Sun 4/29-STL (Weaver)79. Tyler Chatwood (CHC)Tue 4/24-@CLE (Tomlin)Sun 4/29-MIL (Davies)80. Marcus Stroman (TOR)Fri 4/27-TEX (Minor)81. Julio Teheran (ATL)Fri 4/27-@PHI (Nola)82. Mike Clevinger (CLE)Thu 4/26-SEA (Paxton)83. Zach Davies (MIL)Tue 4/24-@KC (Kennedy)Sun 4/29-@CHC (Chatwood)84. Drew Pomeranz (BOS)Fri 4/27-TB (TBD)85. Reynaldo Lopez (CWS)Fri 4/27-@KC (Duffy)86. Francisco Liriano (DET)Sat 4/28-@BAL (Gausman)87. Chase Anderson (MIL)Wed 4/25-@KC (Hammel)88. Felix Hernandez (SEA)Wed 4/25-@CWS (Shields)89. Mike Minor (TEX)Fri 4/27-@TOR (Stroman)90. Tyler Mahle (CIN)Tue 4/24-ATL (McCarthy)Sun 4/29-@MIN (Berrios)91. Ivan Nova (PIT)Thu 4/26-DET (Fulmer)92. Michael Fulmer (DET)Thu 4/26-@PIT (Nova)93. Michael Wacha (STL)Wed 4/25-NYM (Syndergaard)94. Cole Hamels (TEX)Tue 4/24-OAK (Triggs)95. Mike Fiers (DET)Fri 4/27-@BAL (Cashner)96. Jack Flaherty (STL)Sat 4/28-@PIT (Williams)97. Jason Hammel (KC)Wed 4/25-MIL (Anderson)98. Miles Mikolas (STL)Fri 4/27-@PIT (Brault)99. Erasmo Ramirez (SEA)Fri 4/27-@CLE (Kluber)100. Matt Wisler (ATL)Wed 4/25-@CIN (Finnegan)101. Carson Fulmer (CWS)Mon 4/23-SEA (Leake)Sat 4/28-@KC, Gm. 1 (Skoglund)102. Nick Pivetta (PHI)Sat 4/28-ATL (Foltynewicz)103. Caleb Smith (MIA)Sat 4/28-COL (Marquez)104. Andrew Triggs (OAK)Tue 4/24-@TEX (Hamels)105. Sonny Gray (NYY)Wed 4/25-MIN (Lynn)106. Andrew Heaney (LAA)Fri 4/27-NYY (Severino)107. Jaime Garcia (TOR)Sat 4/28-TEX (Colon)108. Trevor Williams (PIT)Sat 4/28-STL (Flaherty)109. Alex Cobb (BAL)Tue 4/24-TB (Faria)Sun 4/29-DET (Zimmermann)110. Sal Romano (CIN)Mon 4/23-ATL (Foltynewicz)Sat 4/28-@MIN (Odorizzi)111. Aaron Sanchez (TOR)Wed 4/25-BOS (Rodriguez)112. Tyson Ross (SD)Wed 4/25-@COL (Gray)113. Josh Tomlin (CLE)Tue 4/24-CHC (Chatwood)Sun 4/29-SEA (Gonzales)114. Lance Lynn (MIN)Wed 4/25-@NYY (Gray)115. Daniel Mengden (OAK)Sat 4/28-@HOU (McCullers)116. Matt Koch (ARI)Thu 4/26-@PHI (Lively)117. Matthew Boyd (DET)Wed 4/25-@PIT (Taillon)118. Junior Guerra (MIL)Sat 4/28-@CHC (Quintana)119. Eric Skoglund (KC)Sat 4/28-CWS, Gm. 1 (Fulmer)120. Nick Tropeano (LAA)Wed 4/25-@HOU (Verlander)121. Jose Urena (MIA)Fri 4/27-COL (Anderson)122. Jeremy Hellickson (WSH)Sat 4/28-ARI (Corbin)123. Clayton Richard (SD)Fri 4/27-NYM (Wheeler)124. Jordan Zimmermann (DET)Tue 4/24-@PIT (Kuhl)Sun 4/29-@BAL (Cobb)125. Marco Estrada (TOR)Thu 4/26-BOS (Sale)126. Eric Lauer (SD)Tue 4/24-@COL (Freeland)127. Bryan Mitchell (SD)Mon 4/23-@COL (Bettis)Sun 4/29-NYM (Matz)128. Matt Moore (TEX)Mon 4/23-OAK (Cahill)129. Ben Lively (PHI)Thu 4/26-ARI (Koch)130. Steven Brault (PIT)Fri 4/27-STL (Mikolas)131. Kyle Freeland (COL)Tue 4/24-SD (Lauer)132. Brent Suter (MIL)Fri 4/27-@CHC (Darvish)133. Lucas Giolito (CWS)Thu 4/26-@KC (Junis)134. Trevor Richards (MIA)Wed 4/25-@LAD (Kershaw)135. Jhoulys Chacin (MIL)Thu 4/26-@CHC (Hendricks)136. Derek Holland (SF)Fri 4/27-LAD (Hill)137. Kendall Graveman (OAK)Wed 4/25-@TEX (Fister)138. Doug Fister (TEX)Wed 4/25-OAK (Graveman)139. Brandon Finnegan (CIN)Wed 4/25-ATL (Wisler)140. Chris Tillman (BAL)Thu 4/26-TB (Snell)141. Dillon Peters (MIA)Tue 4/24-@LAD (Maeda)142. Phil Hughes (MIN)Fri 4/27-CIN (Castillo)143. James Shields (CWS)Wed 4/25-SEA (Hernandez)144. Kyle Gibson (MIN)Thu 4/26-@NYY (Montgomery)145. Bartolo Colon (TEX)Sat 4/28-@TOR (Garcia)146. Ty Blach (SF)Tue 4/24-WSH (Roark)147. Andrew Cashner (BAL)Fri 4/27-DET (Fiers)148. Homer Bailey (CIN)Thu 4/26-ATL (Newcomb)149. Martin Perez (TEX)Sun 4/29-@TOR (Happ)
Two-Start Pitcher Rankings, Week 4 (April 23-29)Rank, Pitcher (Team)1st Start2nd Start1. Carlos Carrasco (CLE)Mon 4/23-@BAL (Gausman)Sat 4/28-SEA (Leake)2. Robbie Ray (ARI)Tue 4/24-@PHI (Velasquez)Sun 4/29-@WSH (Gonzalez)3. Gerrit Cole (HOU)Mon 4/23-LAA (Skaggs)Sun 4/29-OAK (Cahill)4. Rick Porcello (BOS)Tue 4/24-@TOR (Happ)Sun 4/29-TB (Faria)5. Jose Berrios (MIN)Tue 4/24-@NYY (Sabathia)Sun 4/29-CIN (Mahle)6. Luke Weaver (STL)Tue 4/24-NYM (Matz)Sun 4/29-@PIT (Kuhl)7. Gio Gonzalez (WSH)Mon 4/23-@SF (Stratton)Sun 4/29-ARI (Ray)8. Steven Matz (NYM)Tue 4/24-@STL (Weaver)Sun 4/29-@SD (Mitchell)9. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY)Mon 4/23-MIN (Odorizzi)Sat 4/28-@LAA (Richards)10. Kevin Gausman (BAL)Mon 4/23-CLE (Carrasco)Sat 4/28-DET (Liriano)11. Walker Buehler (LAD)Mon 4/23-MIA (Garcia)Sun 4/29-@SF (Stratton)12. Brandon McCarthy (ATL)Tue 4/24-@CIN (Mahle)Sun 4/29-@PHI (Velasquez)13. J.A. Happ (TOR)Tue 4/24-BOS (Porcello)Sun 4/29-TEX (Perez)14. Ian Kennedy (KC)Tue 4/24-MIL (Davies)Sun 4/29-CWS (TBD)15. Jarlin Garcia (MIA)Mon 4/23-@LAD (Buehler)Sun 4/29-COL (Bettis)16. Mike Foltynewicz (ATL)Mon 4/23-@CIN (Romano)Sat 4/28-@PHI (Pivetta)17. Chris Stratton (SF)Mon 4/23-WSH (Gonzalez)Sun 4/29-LAD (Buehler)18. Vince Velasquez (PHI)Tue 4/24-ARI (Ray)Sun 4/29-ATL (McCarthy)19. Trevor Cahill (OAK)Mon 4/23-@TEX (Moore)Sun 4/29-@HOU (Cole)20. Jake Odorizzi (MIN)Mon 4/23-@NYY (Tanaka)Sat 4/28-CIN (Romano)21. Tyler Skaggs (LAA)Mon 4/23-@HOU (Cole)Sun 4/29-NYY (Sabathia)22. CC Sabathia (NYY)Tue 4/24-MIN (Berrios)Sun 4/29-@LAA (Skaggs)23. Jacob Faria (TB)Tue 4/24-@BAL (Cobb)Sun 4/29-@BOS (Porcello)24. Marco Gonzales (SEA)Tue 4/24-@CWS (TBD)Sun 4/29-@CLE (Tomlin)25. Mike Leake (SEA)Mon 4/23-@CWS (Fulmer)Sat 4/28-@CLE (Carrasco)26. Chad Bettis (COL)Mon 4/23-SD (Mitchell)Sun 4/29-@MIA (Garcia)27. Chad Kuhl (PIT)Tue 4/24-DET (Zimmermann)Sun 4/29-STL (Weaver)28. Tyler Chatwood (CHC)Tue 4/24-@CLE (Tomlin)Sun 4/29-MIL (Davies)29. Zach Davies (MIL)Tue 4/24-@KC (Kennedy)Sun 4/29-@CHC (Chatwood)30. Tyler Mahle (CIN)Tue 4/24-ATL (McCarthy)Sun 4/29-@MIN (Berrios)31. Carson Fulmer (CWS)Mon 4/23-SEA (Leake)Sat 4/28-@KC, Gm. 1 (Skoglund)32. Alex Cobb (BAL)Tue 4/24-TB (Faria)Sun 4/29-DET (Zimmermann)33. Sal Romano (CIN)Mon 4/23-ATL (Foltynewicz)Sat 4/28-@MIN (Odorizzi)34. Josh Tomlin (CLE)Tue 4/24-CHC (Chatwood)Sun 4/29-SEA (Gonzales)35. Jordan Zimmermann (DET)Tue 4/24-@PIT (Kuhl)Sun 4/29-@BAL (Cobb)36. Bryan Mitchell (SD)Mon 4/23-@COL (Bettis)Sun 4/29-NYM (Matz)

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Netflix Subscriber Growth Tops Expectations

Netflix Inc. reported another quarter of blockbuster subscriber growth that exceeded its own forecast and expectations from Wall Street, illustrating the ongoing demand for a service that now reaches 125 million people globally.

Shares jumped 4.9% to $322.85 in after-hours trading, following a 1.2% decline during the regular session Monday amid concerns about whether the video-streaming company could keep its growth streak.

The video-streaming giant added 7.41 million subscribers in the first quarter, including 5.46 million internationally. Analysts expected Netflix to add a little over 6.5 million net new subscribers for the first quarter.

The company also expects to increase subscribers at a strong clip in the current quarter. Netflix forecast a net addition of 6.2 million users, compared with analysts’ expectations of 5.6 million.

Netflix has been one of the fastest-growing stocks on the market so far this year as the company blew past expectations for U.S. and international growth. The company’s shares have risen more than 60% in 2018, compared with the 0.2% increase of the S&P 500. Wall Street grew even more bullish earlier this year when Netflix demonstrated in its fourth-quarter results that it can still add domestic customers despite raising prices, a trend that continued in the first quarter.


Netflix stock has outperformed its technology peers as investors have grown concerned about possible regulation of tech giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. over data privacy concerns. On the earnings call Monday, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings sought to distance the subscription-supported company from other tech giants. “We’re very different from the ad-supported businesses and we’ve always been very big on protecting all of our members’ viewing,” Mr. Hastings said. “I think we’re substantially inoculated from the other issues that are happening in the industry.”

Noting that Netflix will spend more than $10 billion on content and marketing this year versus $1.3 billion on technology, Mr. Hastings said “we’re much more of a media company in that way than pure tech.”

Investors were looking to Monday’s results for evidence that the California-based company could sustain its rapid global growth as its home market matures. Netflix executives have highlighted the opportunity as equivalent to all of the broadband homes in the world outside of China—which they estimate at around 700 million, growing toward one billion. Netflix currently has 118.9 million total paid subscriptions and 125 million total memberships. The international segment now accounts for 55% of overall subscriptions and 50% of revenue.

In its domestic market, Netflix has sought deals with corporate partners to bring on more subscribers. Last week, the company announced a partnership with its former rival Comcast Corp. to bundle its service with Comcast’s cable TV and internet plans. Netflix struck a similar deal with European pay-TV operator Sky last month and has also bundled its service with wireless carrier T-Mobile.

The company has also been investing heavily in its content to lure, and keep subscribers. Netflix reiterated Monday that it expects to spend up to $8 billion on content this year, more than rivals like HBO and Inc. Due to its high level of upfront spending to source original content, Netflix continues to be on track to have negative free cash flow of $3 billion to $4 billion this year. It forecasted “several more years” of negative free cash flow.

Netflix will have 700 original shows and movies on the service this year, including 80 series specific to local, non-English-speaking markets.

Netflix is also continuing its aggressive hunt for top-notch talent, attracting everyone from star Hollywood creators to publicists with big paychecks. The streaming service poached “Glee” and “American Horror Story” producer Ryan Murphy from 21st Century Fox with a five-year, $300 million production agreement, in addition to wooin g Shonda Rhimes, the creator of “Scandal,” away from ABC.

But as its content ambitions have grown, the streaming service has jostled with rivals at home and abroad who worry it is upending their businesses.

Netflix is currently embroiled in a tussle with Cannes Film Festival, which announced that it won’t allow Netflix original movies to vie for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize, because Netflix’s original films don’t have theatrical distribution in France. French law requires that movies don’t appear on streaming services for 36 months after their theatrical debut—at odds with Netflix, whose entire model is to debut movies on its service for subscribers. Though Cannes executives said Netflix could premiere movies out of the competitive running, Netflix responded by pulling out of Cannes completely.

“We will continue to celebrate our films and filmmakers at other festivals around the world but unfortunately we will have to sit out Cannes for now so that our growing French membership can continue to enjoy our original films,” Netflix said in a shareholder letter Monday.

Overall for the first quarter, Netflix reported a profit of $290 million, or 64 cents a share, up from $178 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 40% to $3.7 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 64 cents a share on $3.69 billion in revenue.

Write to Shalini Ramachandran at and Imani Moise at

Appeared in the April 17, 2018, print edition as ‘Netflix Growth Beats Forecast.’

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