Blake Nordstrom, Tesla Shares, Another Bad Day: CEO Daily for January 3, 2019

Good morning.

Yesterday’s CEO Daily pointed to signs that a recession may be looming in 2019. But one man who doesn’t see it is Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta, who sat down recently with Fortune‘s Susie Gharib. “I think 2019 is going to be a reasonably good year for the U.S. economy,” he told her. “When I talk to our biggest corporate customers, what they say to me is: they read the newspapers, they watch the news, and it is hard for them not to be a little bit more cautious. But they are still reasonably optimistic, they are still incrementally hiring more people, they are still incrementally spending more on cap ex.”

Nassetta expressed only a bit more concern about business relations with China, where Hilton has been expanding at the blistering rate of one new hotel a week (including the scenic Fuxian Lake hotel, where we will be holding the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum in September.) “Of course I’m worried” about the trade dispute, Nassetta said. But he added: “At the moment, we are not seeing any real impact from it.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook sounded somewhat less optimistic yesterday, blaming a slowdown in China for the company’s projection of weaker revenue growth in the quarter ended in December. “Trade tensions put additional pressure” on the Chinese economy, Cook said on CNBC.

By the way, if you collect offbeat recession indicators, check out this one in Barron’s on how frequently the word has been searched on Google in the last few months.

More news below.

Alan Murray

Top News

Blake Nordstrom

Nordstrom co-president Blake Nordstrom, who ran the department-store chain alongside his brothers, died yesterday just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer. He had told employees of his lymphoma diagnosis on December 10, telling them it was a treatable form and he was optimistic about his prognosis. Fortune

Tesla Shares

Tesla managed to triple its vehicle deliveries last year, but it wasn’t enough for investors. The company missed expectations for Q4 deliveries of its Model 3 sedan–63,150 rather than the expected 64,900. Its share price fell by as much as 9%, which was also partly down to a wider stock market slide. Guardian

Speaking of Markets

Asian markets were mixed today following Apple’s sales warning. The Shanghai Composite and Hang Seng didn’t provide much good news, with falls of 0.26% and 0.04% respectively, and the Nikkei also fell by 0.31%. Australia’s ASX closed up by 1.36%, though. European markets opened down, by 0.73% at the time of writing. U.S. futures suggest another gloomy day lies ahead. AP

Yen Surge

The yen went beserk today, surging by around 8% and 10% versus the Australian dollar and Turkish lira respectively. Traders aren’t quite sure why, but algorithms seem to have exacerbated the moves. Bloomberg

Around the Water Cooler

China Probe

China has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon–the first time anyone has achieved this. The Chang’e-4 craft landed this morning, relaying a photo of the relatively unexplored terrain there. Chang’e-4 will survey the landscape and study its composition and environment. Being on the far side of the moon will also allow it to conduct radio-astronomical studies without interference from Earth and its pesky radio equipment. Al Jazeera

Samsung Future

Samsung has been a casualty of falling investor confidence, in the wake of Apple’s China-related revised guidance, but some analysts say the Chinese slowdown will have a limited impact on the South Korean phone champion. Why? Samsung may be the biggest phone maker in the world, but it isn’t very big in China. CNBC

Shutdown Standoff

Congressional Democrats took up President Trump’s invitation to discuss the government shutdown deadlock yesterday, but their first meeting since the shutdown took effect did not result in any breakthroughs. The next meeting is scheduled for Friday. The Democrats believe Trump will cave in on his demand for wall funding, as Americans blame him for the shutdown. Financial Times


President Trump issued a series of false and/or diplomatically hair-raising foreign policy statements yesterday following his cabinet meeting. He claimed that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was justified because of terrorism (it wasn’t) and that it bankrupted the Soviet Union (it didn’t.) He also horrified Israeli officials by saying Iranian forces “can do what they want [in Syria] frankly,” and insulted India’s funding for funding an Afghan “library” when the country has spent billions on development projects in that country. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.