GE shares fall to $6.66 a share, lowest close during financial crisis

General Electric shares fell as low as $6.66 share in trading Tuesday, a level which marked the lowest close for the stock during the financial crisis a decade ago.

GE made its painful dividend cut official last week, with the company’s board of directors authorizing the payout to be cut to just a penny a share. Many analysts on Wall Street have warned clients that the dividend cut is likely just the beginning of a slow and difficult process for GE.

The stock has been battered this year, falling more than 61 percent. Despite a brief rally after the appointment of Larry Culp as chairman and CEO, the beleaguered industrial company’s stock has sold off.

GE shares have lost more than 33 percent since the company reported third-quarter earnings on Oct. 30. That day saw GE announce the quarterly dividend cut, report much lower earnings than Wall Street expected and reveal that the SEC and DOJ were expanding the scope of ongoing accounting investigations into the company’s accounting practices.

With about an hour to the close, the shares were down 2 percent to $6.79. It closed at $6.66 on March 5, 2009. Its intraday low during the financial crisis was $5.73.

Culp acknowledged in an interview with CNBC in November that his decision to slash the quarterly dividend to a penny sent regular investors scrambling.

“When we announced on our earnings conference call that we were taking our dividend down to 4 cents a year, we didn’t do anything positive for our retail shareholder base and they have been exiting the stock, I think, as a result,” Culp said.

At the time Culp said he “would make those same decisions,” even as the stock was sliding steadily. “Those were the right decisions to make sure the company is facing forward,” Culp said.

About one-third of GE shares are held by retail investors, a higher than average mix for a public company.

Tesla seeks $167 million in damages from ex-employee Martin Tripp 

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk arrives at 'Revenge Of The Electric Car' Premiere held at Landmark Nuart Theatre on October 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. 

Jeff Vespa | WireImage | Getty Images

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk arrives at ‘Revenge Of The Electric Car’ Premiere held at Landmark Nuart Theatre on October 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. 

Tesla is seeking more than $167 million in a lawsuit against former employee Martin Tripp, recent legal filings revealed.

In the lawsuit, which was filed by the electric car maker in June, Tesla alleges that Tripp, a former process engineer, had illegally exported data and made false claims to reporters, among other things.

Tripp had earlier claimed in a number of press interviews that Tesla engaged in poor manufacturing practices at its massive battery plant outside of Reno, Nevada, and that it may have used damaged battery modules in its Model 3 vehicles, posing a risk to drivers.

An interim case management report published on November 27 reveals that Tripp’s attorneys aim to depose Tesla CEO Elon Musk and more than 10 people involved with the company. Tesla has refused to make Musk available and sought to limit the number of people deposed by Tripp’s defense team at the law firm Tiffany & Bosco.

Tripp’s lawyers wrote in that report: “Tesla has objected to Mr. Tripp’s desire to take more than ten depositions…In this case, where Mr. Tripp is being sued for more than $167,000,000 and has asserted counterclaims against Tesla, more than ten depositions is certainly reasonable and appropriate.”

Tripp attorney Robert D. Mitchell said in an e-mail to CNBC: “The purported damage amount claimed by Tesla relates to supposed dips in Tesla’s stock price by virtue of the information Mr. Tripp provided to the press last summer.” He characterized the damage claims as “absurd.”

Tesla declined to comment.

The suit in Nevada is separate from a whistleblower complaint involving Tripp. In early July, Tripp filed a formal complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission alleging that Tesla made “material omissions and misstatements” to investors relating to its flawed manufacturing practices and handling of scrap at the Gigafactory.

Tripp was represented by Meissner Associates in the whistleblower matter earlier, but is now representing himself, attorney Stuart Meissner told CNBC. Meissner declined to comment further. Tripp also declined requests for comment.

Delta bans support animals from long flights — and no puppies

A dog is seen on the lap of its owner in a plane in Chiba, Japan on January 27, 2017. 

Richard Atrero | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A dog is seen on the lap of its owner in a plane in Chiba, Japan on January 27, 2017. 

Delta Air Lines plans to ban emotional-support animals from flights longer than eight hours and will bar all service and support animals under four months old starting this month.

It is the airline’s latest attempt to curb the surge in passengers flying with service and support animals, which Delta has said has led to soiled cabins and biting. In June 2017, a passenger’s emotional-support dog bit the face of another traveler.

The changes apply to Delta tickets purchased on or after Dec. 18, the company said Monday. Starting Feb. 1, 2019, no support animals will be allowed on board flights longer than eight hours and service and support animals under four months of age, such as puppies, won’t be allowed on any Delta flight.

“These updates support Delta’s commitment to safety and also protect the rights of customers with documented needs — such as veterans with disabilities — to travel with trained service and support animals,” said John Laughter, Delta’s senior vice president for safety, security and compliance. The number of incidents involving support and service animals on board increased 84 percent between 2016 and 2017, Delta said.

Support and service animals fly free of charge and without a carrier under the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act. But passengers and crew members have complained about allergies, animal aggression, including biting, and soiled cabins from the increase in support animals, leading airlines to issue their own restrictions.

All major U.S. airlines have tightened rules for emotional-support animals on board this year, requiring written confirmation that the animals are trained, amid complaints from passengers and crew members. Some airlines, including JetBlue Airways, have limited the types of support animals that they’ll allow on board to cats, dogs and miniature horses.

Bank of America sees oil gains in 2019 forecast

U.S. based Capital Economics, meanwhile, sees an average of $63 a barrel over the course of 2019. But some remain bullish yet — Japan’s MUFG views Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to be “oversold,” predicting a “sharp rebound” in coming months, while Societe Generale forecasts Brent at $73 for both 2018 and 2019. Richard Robinson, manager of Ashburton Global Energy Fund, believes the current dip is “transient” and that oil will recover to between $70 and $80 in the next three months, he wrote in a note earlier this month.

BAML’s forecast is supported by its outlook for global demand, which it expects at 1.3 million bpd, consistent with above trend global gross domestic product growth of 3.6 percent. But Goldman Sachs has a much darker forecast, expecting the U.S. to slow down to less than 2 percent by the end of next year, one of its senior strategists told CNBC on Monday. “As a result of that you could see the market getting quite scared,” the strategist said.

But as we go through seasonal demand peaks and the Iran sanctions waivers issued by Washington to 8 major oil-importing countries come off, “we will start to see the market tightening up,” Yazhari said, noting that the market has not felt the full impacts of those sanctions yet, designed to cripple the energy sector of OPEC’s third-largest producer.

“There are a number of factors to suggest the cuts were deep enough, that we will start to see a resumption to the upside in oil prices, but certainly we don’t see oil prices moving up to the $90, $100 level that maybe we could’ve seen,” the analyst said, adding, “We think that the only certainty is uncertainty at the moment.”

Brent crude was trading at $60.35, up .38 percent on the previous day, at 1 p.m. London time. WTI was at $51.55, up roughly half a percent.

CNBC’s Tom DiChristopher contributed to this report.

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JP Morgan downgrades Pfizer, saying stock has moved too far, too fast

J.P. Morgan downgraded Pfizer shares to neutral from overweight on Tuesday, warning clients that the stock’s rally will likely slow after climbing more than 22 percent this year.

“We clearly have seen a positive shift in Pfizer’s narrative, which is now focused on the re-acceleration of the company’s top and bottom line growth beyond 2020,” J.P. Morgan’s Chris Schott said in a note.

“However, with the company now trading in line with peers and the broader market, we see this improved core story as better reflected in valuation,” Schott added. “And with further upside to shares likely tied to either additional pipeline success or positive new launch momentum (largely 2020+ events), we are moving to the sidelines.”

Shares of Pfizer fell 0.7 percent in premarket trading. J.P. Morgan stuck to its $46 price target on Pfizer. Investors have boosted Pfizer shares amid a broader sell-off in the market.

State Department says Senate vote sends ‘wrong message’

But the resolution isn’t likely to change U.S. military policy in the region and its partnership with Saudi Arabia, according to Jack Watling, research fellow for land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

“The administration views Saudi Arabia and the UAE as vital strategic allies; if Congress tries to contain assistance to their operations in Yemen, I would expect missions to be undertaken as counter-terrorism operations, or on other pretexts,” Watling told CNBC.

The resolution is accompanied by separate bipartisan legislation aimed at suspending U.S. weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, which is Washington’s biggest arms buyer. This will have a hard time passing, given that the Senate will likely not have the numbers to produce a veto-proof majority to override the expected veto from President Trump.

Watling also pointed out that Riyadh can always turn to other countries for its weaponry.

“If the U.S. stops supplying munitions I would expect Saudi Arabia to increase purchases from Britain and France, and to look for more Chinese and Russian systems, including the S400 and HQ-9 missiles.”

Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, warned that with more Democrats in Congress next year, the Saudis will face serious challenges.

“I don’t think the structural aspects of U.S.-Saudi relations are at risk,” he said, pointing to what he considered constants such as energy cooperation, counter-terrorism operations, military ties and intelligence sharing. “But I think there’s a long-term threat.”

“Right now Saudi Arabia has become a potent partisan weapon that can be deployed, and it could be deployed next year to powerful ends. Now it’s inevitable that 2019 is going to be a terribly bad year for Saudi Arabia in Washington.”

Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel resigns

It’s hard for any government to match the record levels of staff turnover at President Donald Trump’s White House, but Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s administration appears to be slowly catching up.

The Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel, on Monday, became the fourth high-profile official in the country’s finance and economic sector to leave his position.

Reports of his possible resignation emerged in late October but Monday’s news still took markets by surprise. Differences between the central bank and the government over inflation and lending restrictions on debt-saddled public banks were believed to be factors.

Patel’s exit follows that of Arvind Subramanian, a former chief economic advisor who stepped down in June, and Arvind Panagariya, former vice chairman of government think-tank Niti Aayog, who left last year. Patel’s predecessor, Raghuram Rajan, stepped down as RBI governor in 2016 after failing to obtain a second term — the first time the government didn’t offer a second term to a central bank head in more than two decades.

Also noteworthy is the Tuesday resignation of economist Surjit Bhalla, who was a part-time member on Modi’s economic advisory council. While Bhalla didn’t hold a prominent post like the rest, his departure is still significant.

Each official provided different reasons for their respective decisions. Patel cited personal matters, Subramanian pointed to family commitments while Rajan and Panagariya both said they were returning to academia.

Analysts told CNBC that it’s too speculative to assume the departures reflect badly on the Modi government, but Rajan on Monday countered that notion. Speaking to Indian news outlet The Economic Times about Patel, the economist said any resignation by a government servant is “a note of protest.” He called the RBI chief’s resignation a “statement of dissent,” adding that it was a matter of concern for all Indians.