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Toyota rolls out first battery electric car in cautious debut as rivals go full-throttle

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A 2023 Toyota bZ4X all-electric SUV is displayed during the 2021 LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November, 17, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Blake

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By Satoshi Sugiyama and Maki Shiraki

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM) Corp rolls out its first mass-produced battery electric car in Japan on Thursday for lease only, a strategy the automaker says will help ease driver concerns about battery life and resale value but has raised analysts’ eyebrows.

Gasoline-electric hybrid models remain far more popular in Toyota’s home market than electric vehicles (EVs), which accounted for just 1% of the passenger cars sold in Japan last year, according to industry data. Still, the market is growing fast and foreign automakers including Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Inc are making visible inroads on the streets of cities such as Tokyo.

Bundling insurance, repair costs and a battery warranty into the deal, Toyota will lease the bZ4X sport utility vehicles (SUV) at the equivalent of $39,000 for the first four years. Cancelling in the first 48 months will mean an additional fee.

While EV acceptance has been slow in Japan, that will change, and Toyota could risk losing market share by focusing on a model of leasing rather than purchasing, said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter.

“Anything you are doing that’s making it harder to buy is maybe not a good thing,” he said.

“It’s a strategy I am not that fond of. It does signal that Toyota is taking the home market a little bit for granted.”

Toyota said in December it would commit 8 trillion yen ($62 billion) to electrify its cars by 2030.

Toyota aims to lease 5,000 of the SUVs in the current financial year – around the same amount of EVs that analysts estimate Tesla sold in Japan last year.

The automaker plans to start selling the bZ4X in other markets later this year, and pre-orders have already started in some European countries.

Toyota has not decided when it will start selling the cars in Japan, a spokesperson said.

‘DISPEL ANXIETY’

EVs became popular in Europe through lease programmes offered by employers and Toyota may be trying a similar tack to popularise electric cars, said Seiji Sugiura, a senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute.

First-time customers are concerned about battery life and the potential fall in the trade-in value over time, said Shinya Kotera, president of KINTO, the Toyota unit offering the leases.

“It’s our role to dispel anxiety” toward EVs, he said.

Imports of battery EVs jumped almost three times to a record 8,610 vehicles in 2021, according to industry data. Analysts estimate roughly 60% of those were Teslas.

Still, Japanese automakers remain cautious about switching into the all-electric lane.

Toyota pioneered the hybrid more than two decades ago and retains big ambitions for both hybrids and hydrogen-powered vehicles, even as it is investing more to boost its battery EV line-up.

Rival Nissan (OTC:NSANY) Motor Co pioneered mass-market EVs with the Leaf in 2010 but will launch only its second battery EV model, the Ariya SUV, also on Thursday. The Ariya will be sold for the equivalent of $41,500, not including a government subsidy.

Honda Motor Co in April laid out a target to roll out 30 electric vehicle models globally by 2030.

($1 = 129.7000 yen)

Stock Markets

Snowflake Stock Plunges 7% Despite Rosenblatt Upgrade to Buy on Valuation and Growth

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© Reuters. Snowflake (SNOW) Stock Plunges 7% Despite Rosenblatt Upgrade to Buy on Valuation and Growth

By Senad Karaahmetovic

Shares of Snowflake Inc (NYSE:SNOW) are down more than 7% today on broader sector weakness despite the fact that Rosenblatt analyst Blair Abernethy upgraded it to Buy from Neutral.

A new price target is $255.00 per share, down from the prior $325.00. The upgrade call comes as the company prepares to report Q1 results on Wednesday after market close.

“Given the ongoing enterprise Digital Transformation momentum, strong Q1 growth reported by the leading Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), and Snowflake’s healthy +160% Net Revenue Retention (NRR) rate, we expect Snowflake to meet or marginally exceed our Q1 Product Revenue growth estimate of 81% y-o-y,” Abernethy said in an upgrade note.

The price target implies a near 100% upside from current levels.

As of 10:15 EST, Snowflake stock price trades at $128.89.

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Exclusive-Oracle to win unconditional EU nod for $28.3 billion Cerner deal -sources

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Oracle Corp. is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. business software maker Oracle Corp (NYSE:ORCL) is set to gain unconditional EU antitrust clearance for its $28.3 billion acquisition of U.S. healthcare IT company Cerner Corp (NASDAQ:CERN), three people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Oracle announced the deal, its biggest ever, in December last year. It will give it access to a trove of data and could attract more healthcare clients to its cloud platform.

Cerner’s data can help Oracle train and improve the software maker’s artificial intelligence-based cloud services. The company, whose software traditionally ran in its customers’ data centers, has started shifting its service to cloud computing providers.

The European Commission, which is scheduled to decide on the deal by June 1, and Oracle declined to comment.

Tech giants such as Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT). have ramped up investments in the healthcare sector, spurred by demand for cloud-based solutions during the pandemic.

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Wall St plunges as Snap’s bleak forecast sparks selloff

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2/2

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Snapchat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

2/2

By Devik Jain and Anisha Sircar

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Tuesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the slump, as a weak earnings forecast from Snapchat-owner Snap Inc (NYSE:SNAP) added to nerves about an inflation-struck economy.

Snap Inc plummeted 39.7%, dragging down several social media and internet stocks, after the company slashed its second-quarter earnings forecast and said the economy had worsened faster than expected in the last month.

The stock was set for its worst single-day drop.

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), Google-owner Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Inc, Meta Platforms Inc and Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) Inc, which rely heavily on advertising revenue, fell between 3.0% and 24.8%.

“Snap is a proxy for online advertising and when you see weakness there then you automatically think Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Pinterest and Google,” Dennis Dick, a trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas, said.

“The back half of the earnings season has seen major disappointments. Expectations are a lot lower, but these companies seem to be finding a way to even get under the lower bar.”

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors declined in morning trade after rising broadly in the previous session. The communication services sector slid 5.2%.

Wall Street rebounded on Monday from a steep selloff last week that saw both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq mark their longest streak of weekly declines since the dotcom bust in 2001 on mounting concerns about a recession.

Data showed U.S. business activity slowed moderately in May as higher prices cooled demand for services, while renewed supply constraints because of COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine hampered production at factories.

“Yesterday’s rally and Friday’s action suggested that the market hit a near-term bottom, but there’s still a lot of negative sentiment … (macro worries) are a big part of this decline,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak later in the day, with investors looking for fresh comments about the path of future interest rate hikes.

Markets are pricing in 50 basis point rate hikes by the Fed in June and July..

At 10:06 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 246.25 points, or 0.77%, at 31,633.99, the S&P 500 was down 70.15 points, or 1.77%, at 3,903.60, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 376.45 points, or 3.26%, at 11,158.83.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co slumped 27.2% after the apparel retailer trimmed its annual sales and margins outlook, citing a surge in freight and raw material costs.

Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ:ZM) Inc inched up 0.9% after raising its full-year profit forecast on strong enterprise demand.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose to 29.24 points.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.96-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 4.46-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and 37 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded five new highs and 237 new lows.

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