Week Ahead: Big tech earnings to drive pre-election volatility

Week Ahead

It’s set to be a volatile week for US markets as earnings season continues on Wall Street with Big Tech reporting. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Facebook are among the biggest names delivering their quarterly updates. Meanwhile central banks are in action aplenty with the Bank of Japan, Bank of Canada and European Central Bank all holding policy meetings. And we of course countdown to November’s US presidential election with all eyes on the Vix. 

Big Tech Earnings 

It’s a massive week for corporate earnings and the focus will undoubtedly fall on  the FAANGs with Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) all set to report quarterly earnings figures on Thursday. Earnings come amid scrutiny on big tech as the US Department of Justice opened an antitrust case against Google’s parent company, Alphabet, which focuses on agreements it has made with handset manufacturers and carriers to be the default search engine on new phones. Whilst investors have shrugged this off so far, earnings may well provide fuel for greater volatility in the stock. 

Meanwhile there are fears that the case could create headwinds for Apple’s services business. The DOJ said Apple earns between $8 billion and $12 billion from Google, which would equate to between 17% and 26% of Apple’s revenues from Services last year. Apple recently released its iPhone12 but increasingly the reason for the stock’s higher multiples is about the ecosystem and Services revenues. Nevertheless, analysts remain bullish on these tech giants and they remain among the biggest winners YTDMicrosoft reports on Tuesday and there are dozens of large cap stocks reporting over the next few days. 

ECB  

With the euro gaining ground again versus the US dollar, attention in the FX markets will be on the European Central Bank (ECB) meeting on Thursday. Markets are increasingly betting on the ECB carrying out further easing in a bid to boost faltering economic growth and stagnant prices. The Eurozone slid into its second straight month of deflation in September and with further lockdowns being imposed across the bloc, the risks to the economic outlook have clearly deteriorated since the last meeting. The threat of a double dip recession is real, with Christine Lagarde saying recently that the resurgence of the virus is a clear risk to the economy. Given the murky outlook and dreadful inflation backdrop it seems all but certain the ECB will increase its bond buying programme by another €500bn by December. 

To get a flavour of the mood in the ECB, the usually hawkish Austrian central bank head Robert Holzmann, said recently: “More durable, extensive or strict containment measures will likely require more monetary and fiscal accommodation in the short run.” 

Meanwhile there are also meetings of the Bank of Japan and Bank of Canada taking place this week. 

Economic Data 

The advanced reading for US GDP growth in the third quarter will be the highlight as markets look for clues to the pace and sustainability of the recovery.  The economy is expected growth in the region of 30% as businesses reopened following lockdowns. The Atlanta Fed’s forecast indicates the economy will have expanded by 35% on a quarterly basis – but this of course masks the real damage when it’s coming off the back of a 31% drop in Q2. The GDP reading comes at an opportune moment for Donald Trump who will be able to proclaim that the economy is on fire. 

Election Watch 

The final straight: polling data may not change much – the number of undecided voters has been small. Biden commands a strong national lead but in the key battlegrounds that will determine the result it’s tighter. We’re hosting a special pre-election live event on Nov 2nd to run through how the markets might react.  

Top Economic Data This Week

Open the economic calendar in the platform for a full list of events.

Date  Event 
Oct 26th  German Ifo business climate 
Oct 26th  UK Nationwide house price index 
Oct 26th  US new home sales  
Oct 26th  SNB Chairman Jordan speaks 
Oct 27th  BoJ core CPI 
Oct 27th  US durable goods, core durable goods 
Oct 27th  US CB consumer confidence 
Oct 28th  Australia CPI inflation 
Oct 28th  Bank of Canada rate decision 
Oct 28th  EIA crude oil inventories 
Oct 28th  FOMC member Kaplan speaks 
Oct 29th  Bank of Japan policy statement & economic outlook 
Oct 29th  German preliminary CPI inflation 
Oct 29th  UK mortgage approvals & lending figures 
Oct 29th  US advanced GDP – Q3 
Oct 29th  US weekly jobless claims 
Oct 29th  ECB policy decision & press conference 
Oct 29th  US pending home sales 
Oct 29th  US natural gas storage 
Oct 30th  Tokyo core CPI 
Oct 30th  Japan industrial production 
Oct 30th  French flash GDP 
Oct 30th  German preliminary GDP 
Oct 30th  Eurozone CPI flash estimates 
Oct 30th  Canada GDP 
Oct 30th  US personal spending & core PCE price index 
Oct 30th  Chicago PMI 
Oct 30th  UoM consumer sentiment 

 

Top Earnings Reports This Week

Don’t forget to tune into our Daily Earnings Season Specials on XRay for more updates

Date  Company  Event 
26-Oct  SAP SE  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Microsoft Corp.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
27-Oct  Pfizer Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Ping An Insurance Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Merck Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Novartis AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Eli Lilly and Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  3M Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  Caterpillar Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  HSBC Holdings plc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  S&P Global Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
27-Oct  BP plc   Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Visa Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  MasterCard Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Amgen Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  ServiceNow Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Boeing Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Sony Corp.  Q2 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Gilead Sciences Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Anthem Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
28-Oct  Equinix Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Apple Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Amazon  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Alphabet  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Facebook Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Samsung  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Life Insurance Co Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Comcast Corp. (Class A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Shopify Inc (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Sanofi S.A.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  AB InBev SA-NV (Anheuser-Busch InBev)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  American Tower Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Starbucks Corp.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Shell (Royal Dutch Shell)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Volkswagen (VW) St.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  Stryker Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
29-Oct  China Life Insurance Co. Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  China Construction Bank Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  AbbVie Inc  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  ExxonMobil Corp. (Exxon Mobil)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Chevron Corp.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Honeywell  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  PetroChina Co Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Postal Savings Bank of China Registered Shs -A-  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  TOTAL S.A.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  AUDI AG  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Altria Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
30-Oct  Colgate-Palmolive Co.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Berkshire Hathaway Inc.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (A)  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  China Merchants Bank Co Ltd.  Q3 2020 Earnings 
31-Oct  Bank of China Ltd  Q3 2020 Earnings 

 

Nikola shares tumble (again)

Equities

Volume leaders today include Apple as normal, as well as Peloton after a blow-out earnings report – EPS of $0.27 almost treble the street consensus of $0.10 indicating the stay-at-home Covid trend is playing out well for the brand. A new cheaper version of its bike should help, too. Apple shares were flat, with Peloton up just +1%, well below its highs.

Hidenburg Research slams Nikola, shares tumble

Nikola shares fell about 15% on high volumes after the Hindenburg Research article. Whilst shares had fallen yesterday following publication, it seems investors have taken fright at the lack of any detailed refutation by Nikola.

A statement today from the company only said the allegations are not accurate and described the report as a ‘hit job’. If it is a hit job, it’s been a very well timed one with the stock having jumped only a couple of days prior on the tie-up with GM. But the lack of detail from the company so far has left investors unimpressed.

Without being able to comment on the details of the report, short attacks can and do happen, and more often than often there is rarely smoke without fire.

Equities move higher into the weekend

Elsewhere, the S&P 500 ticked higher after testing yesterday’s cash close at 3,339, with the 50-day line offering further support untested at 3,321.90. Yesterday’s tap on the 21-day SMA at 3,425 looks a long way off. Nasdaq also higher as risk is catching some bid into the weekend.

European equity markets are closing the day out with some decent weekly gains in the bag. Overall we have seen a real divergence between the US and Europe this week with equity markets this side of the pond doing better. Partly that is down to the rotation out of tech, but also we need to be aware of election risk that will play an increasing role in driving sentiment over the next month and a half.

Crude oil found some bid as the risk sentiment improved as the US session progressed.

Listening to the usual talking heads it seems there is more appetite for value after the three-day tech rout saw the penny drop for many that valuations had gotten out of hand. Let’s see how that goes with Ocado and Next on stage next week.

Brexit headline risk keeps pressure on GBPUSD

In FX, DXY ran out of gas at 93.38 as it tries to make another stab at the top of the descending wedge. GBPUSD tried three times to break below 1.2770 today but the level has just about held for now – sterling remains exposed to Brexit headline risks and bulls may be thin on the ground.

Post fix it looks pretty meek and liable to further downside into the weekend with UK-EU trade talks next week in focus. The current consolidation range looks pretty bearish and flaggy but we should always caution that sellers can get exhausted into the weekend just much as buyers can and there may be some profits being taken.

FTSE lags as dollar continues to drop

Morning Note

Back to school: the unruly mob are back. But that is enough about MPs going back to work – children start the autumn term this week and the furlough scheme starts to unwind with the government reducing its contribution to employees’ wages to 70% in September.

Furlough forever is simply not an option – zombie staff, zombie businesses. But it means unemployment is surely set to rise – and consumer confidence always follows. The chancellor is floating a tax raid – better to monetize the debt surely?

Stocks soft after strong August

Stocks were a tad weaker on Monday, but August was a great month. The MSCI World index rose 6.6% and the S&P rallied over 7% to record their best August since 1986. The Nasdaq rose 10%. August is usually a poor month for stocks.

Tuesday morning saw a firm bounce for the major European bourses, though the FTSE 100 lagged as it played catchup following the bank holiday. A stronger sterling is also dragging on the big dollar earners. AstraZeneca has started large-scale human trials of its coronavirus candidate vaccine in the US.

The Federal Reserve has put a floor under markets and a ceiling on rates, delivering conditions where stocks can only float higher. We call this TINA – There Is No Alternative. It’s not sustainable of course, but it won’t stop the Fed and other central banks continuing to inflate the bubble. The Fed’s policy shift on inflation has marked a important change for the central bank and it may be followed by the ECB and others.

Vix futures – the so-called ‘fear gauge’ are telling another story. These have started to grind higher despite stocks rallying, which raises a warning about the future path of the market. As previously mentioned, volatility should rise as the election approaches and the races proves far tighter than it currently looks. In summary, the options market is sending a signal that the stock market is not.

Strong China manufacturing PMI lifts sentiment, despite soft readings from France, Spain

Sentiment this morning is helped by data showing Chinese factory activity rose at the fastest pace since 2011. French and Spanish manufacturing PMIs softened, dropping under 50 to signal contraction, while Italy’s was a little better than expected at 53.1.

Some of the moves in US shares are striking. Apple rose over 3% to $129 after splitting, whilst Tesla shares rocketed 13% on its busiest day ever. Stock splits shouldn’t make a difference, except this time they have. Tesla is up 74% for the month.

Zoom races higher after smashing earnings forecasts

Zoom rose almost 23% in after-hours trade after it reported a 355% rise in revenues to $663.5m for the July quarter, smashing forecasts for around $500m. Zoom has proved to be a Covid winner of epic proportions – but shouldn’t we all be going back to the office by now? The UK significantly lags Europe and others in ‘getting back to work’ statistics – this has a huge implication for productivity and for the wider economy.

The dollar continues to soften and trying to guess the bottom is akin to catching a falling knife. The dollar index sank to fresh two-year lows in the wake of the Fed’s inflation shift. Perennial dollar bulls have been caught off guard with the unwind, however the Fed’s recent shift on inflation targeting only underlines that bears called this early.

More inflation and a central bank prepared to let it happen should reduce the purchasing power of the dollar and therefore it ought to weaken. However, with the buck usually a safe harbour, it shouldn’t soften too much more.

The pound was up, with GBPUSD pressing on the post-election euphoria high of last December a little above 1.34. There are Brexit risks ahead – talks recommence next week – but for the moment the major driver of this is the dollar’s weakness. Gold futures rose to $2,000/oz as the weaker dollar lifted commodity markets and US real rates – 10-year TIPS – have sunk again as inflation expectations rise.

Week Ahead: AAPL & TSLA split, Dow reshuffle, NFP in focus

Week Ahead

What’s next for Apple and Tesla once their stock splits go into effect? How will the new-look Dow react to the latest market updates? And can the US nonfarm payrolls continue the trend of strong growth?

Apple and Tesla splits

This week Apple and Tesla will both start trading at their new prices after completing their recent splits. AAPL will drop by a quarter; TSLA by a fifth. Both stocks have seen huge appreciation since the splits were announced, with Apple jumping above $500 per share last week and Tesla continuing to climb after recently blasting through $2,000.

Stocks often pull back after a split as holders sell some of their additional shares to lock in some profit from recent appreciation, but this could be temporary. Apple will soon unveil its latest iPhone range, including the much-anticipated 5G models. Tesla’s upcoming Battery Day event, scheduled for September 22nd, could see the company announce new innovations that improve the range and performance of its cars.

You can find out more about the stock splits and how they affect any open trades here.

New look Dow Jones Industrial Average

Following the Apple stock split, the Dow Jones Industrial Average will be a different beast from this week onwards. The Dow is a price-weighted index, unlike the S&P 500 which is based on market capitalisation, so a 75% drop in Apple’s share price has forced several changes.

First of all Apple will no longer have the largest weighting in the index, and will drop from first place to around 17th. This means that volatility in the stock have a smaller impact upon the Dow than previously. United Health will become the biggest stock in the index, and consequently will have more clout.

Additionally, several stocks have been dropped from the index to make way for new ones in order to keep its composition roughly a quarter tech stocks. You can read more about the changes here.

Zoom Video Communications earnings

Since the start of the pandemic Zoom has become an essential tool for businesses across the globe. It’s also seen a sharp increase in personal usage, with consumers using it to do everything from hold date nights to streaming weddings and even funerals. Customer numbers surged 354% year-on-year during the company’s first-quarter, with revenue up 169%.

As a result investors have jumped on the stock, sending ZM rocketing 330% so far this year.

This time around analysts are looking for sales of almost $500 million and EPS of $0.45 per share – which would equate to year-on-year growth of 462.5%.

Reserve Bank of Australia to trim the OCR?

The Reserve Bank of Australia meets this week. Last month policymakers unleashed more QE and acknowledged that there would be an economic hit from the decision to implement a full lockdown in Victoria – the second-largest state by population and output – but left rates on hold.

ASX Cash rate futures show that a slim majority of market participants are expecting the RBA to slash rates to 0% this time around. However, governor Philip Lowe has previously floated the idea of a rate cut to 0.1% should further adjustments be necessary, so even if policymakers do see the need for more easing they may not go all the way to zero.

US Nonfarm Payrolls

Friday’s US nonfarm payrolls data will of course be the main focus of the week. Jobs growth once again outpaced forecasts last month, although the rate of recovery eased to 1.763 million as a resurging number of coronavirus cases slowed hiring.

Recent jobless claims data has continued to show falling numbers of initial and continuous claims: the number of first-time applicants for jobless insurance dropped below 1 million in the week ending August 8th, for the first time since the pandemic started. The four-week average for claims has fallen consistently for several weeks, as have the number of continuous claims.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
12.00 UTC 31⁠⁠-⁠⁠⁠Aug Master the Markets
From 15.30 UTC 1-Sep Weekly Gold, Silver, and Oil Forecasts
17.00 UTC 3-⁠⁠⁠Sep Election2020 Weekly

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:

12.00 UTC 31-Aug German Preliminary CPI
After-Market 31-Aug Zoom Video Communications – Q2 2021
00.45 UTC 01-Sep China Caixin Manufacturing PMI
4.30 UTC 01-Sep RBA Official Cash Rate Decision
7.15 – 8.00 UTC 01-Sep Finalised Eurozone Manufacturing PMIS
8.30 UTC 01-Sep Finalised UK Manufacturing PMI
10.00 UTC 01-Sep Eurozone Flash CPI
14.00 UTC 01-Sep US ISM Manufacturing PMI
1.30 UTC 02-Sep Australia Quarterly GDP
14.30 UTC 02-Sep US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
1.30 UTC 03-Sep Australia Trade Balance
00.45 UTC 03-Sep China Caixin Services PMI
7.15 – 8.00 UTC 03-Sep Finalised Eurozone Services PMIs
8.30 UTC 03-Sep Finalised UK Services PMI
12.30 UTC 03-Sep US Jobless Claims
14.00 UTC 03-Sep US ISM Nonmanufacturing PMI
14.30 UTC 03-Sep US EIA Natural Gas Storage
1.30 UTC 04-Sep Australia Retail Sales
6.00 UTC 04-Sep German Factory Orders
12.30 UTC 04-Sep US Nonfarm Payrolls, Unemployment Rate

Dow reshuffle: Exxon, Pfizer, Raytheon out; Amgen, Salesforce.com, Honeywell in

Equities
Indices

Major changes to the Dow Jones Industrial Average have been announced in the wake of Apple’s 4-for-1 stock split.

Exxon Mobil, Raytheon and Pfizer are to be dropped – all stocks dropped on Tuesday after the announcement late on Monday. As of August 31st, they will be replaced by Honeywell, Salesforce.com and Amgen. All three rose sharply on anticipated rebalancing into these stocks by passive and tracker funds.

It leaves United Health the largest stock on the Dow, with the Apple stock split reducing its weighting as the Dow is a price-weighted index. Many may question why the likes of Amazon, Facebook or Alphabet have not been included instead, but the thinking around index composition for the Dow has never been entirely clear.

What do hedge funds, analysts and insiders say about these new Dow components?

Amgen (AMGN)

Honeywell (HON)

Salesforce.com (CRM)

Apple and Tesla announce stock splits – here’s what you need to know

Equities

Apple and Tesla have both announced that they will split their stocks at the end of this month. Apple shareholders will be granted three additional shares for each one they hold, while Tesla shareholders will receive another four shares for each one they hold. 

The price of each share will be divided by the size of the split to reflect the increased supply: AAPL will start trading at 0.25 times the pre-split price, while Tesla stock will trade at 0.2 times the pre-split price. 

But why are Apple and Tesla splitting their stocks, and how will this affect your trades? 

Why are Apple and Tesla splitting their stocks? 

Apple was the first to announce its stock split earlier this month, followed a few days later by Tesla. Both shares have rallied hard since the announcements although a split shouldn’t theoretically affect their value. 

Stock splits usually happen for two reasons: to increase liquidity and to make the stock more attractive to retail investors. 

Liquidity 

An asset’s liquidity refers to how easily it can be bought and sold without impacting its pricePutting more shares into circulation often increases its trading volume, which can narrow the spread between bid and ask prices. This could make it easier for buyers and sellers to get a fair price for the shares they want or have. 

Appeal 

Apple stock currently trades for around $430 per share, while Tesla has surged towards $2,000 recently. The high valuation could be putting investors off. Shares are often bought and sold in standardised blocks – a “board lot” of 100 shares would cost an investor $43,000. If the stock were split today, 100 shares would cost $10,750. 

However, modern ways of trading shares (such as leveraged products like Contracts for Difference) have made it more affordable to trade even expensive stocks, so the benefit isn’t as obvious as it used to be 

Regardless of the why the decision was made, investors have taken it as a sign of confidence in the stock – Apple and Tesla wouldn’t want to lower their share price if the companies felt that there wasn’t the potential for further appreciation. 

How will the stock splits affect my trades? 

On August 31st Apple stock will start trading at a quarter of the pre-split price, and Tesla will begin trading at a fifth of the pre-split price. 

Any existing positions on AAPL CFDs will be closed at the original opening price and new positions opened at the new split-adjusted price but for four times more units. The same will happen with positions on TSLA CFDs, but with five times more units. 

See below for an example – note that the prices given are based upon the market value as of August 20th and are for indicative purposes only. 

  • Before the split you have 100 units of Apple CFDs, each valued at $462 for a total value of $46,200. 
  • When the stock is split your position for 100 units will be closed at the original opening price (so P&L will display as zero) and a new position will be opened that is four times larger. In this instance your holdings would now be for 400 units of Apple CFDs.
  • The price of each unit will be worth a quarter of the pre-split price, meaning in this example each unit is valued at $115.50 for a total for $46,200 – exactly as before. 

If you didn’t already have a position in Apple and wanted to trade it, or want to expand an existing position, you would be able to buy the same quantity of units for a lower price, or more units for the same cost as before. 

In effect, the size of your AAPL and TSLA positions will be multiplied by the same quantity as the stock prices are divided by, meaning the value of your holdings will not change. 

How the Apple split will impact the Dow 

Anyone trading the Dow will also need to pay attention to the Apple stock split. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index, so when Apple’s stock price drops thanks to the split the company will no longer be the index’s biggest constituent (that will be UnitedHealth). 

Moves in Apple stock will therefore have less of an influence on the Dow than they currently do. 

Will other companies copy Apple and Tesla? 

Investors are now looking to other tech giants to see whether they decide to follow suit. Amazon and Alphabet will be of particular interest – Amazon’s stock price is over $3,100, while Alphabet is trading near $1,500 at the time of writing. 

A lower stock price for Apple would make the stock more attractive, and Amazon and Alphabet may want to ensure they aren’t pricing potential investors out of the market. However, as the huge cost of an individual share in either of them proves, neither Amazon nor Alphabet has felt the need to resist high prices in the past. 

Fed minutes waltz away with risk appetite

Morning Note

FOMC minutes are casting a shadow over markets and underline that any recovery is not going to be a straight line of advances. The Fed layered on the risks and caution thick, but didn’t come up with any sweeteners for the market in the shape of more easing.

The US dollar roared back, gold tanked, and stocks are wobbling after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting left investors a little disappointed. Members clearly backed away from yield curve control and seemed to be in less of a hurry to push for clearer forward guidance.

‘With regard to the outlook for monetary policy beyond this meeting, a number of participants noted that providing greater clarity regarding the likely path of the target range for the federal funds rate would be appropriate at some point,” the minutes said. This use of the phrase ‘at some point’ indicated members are not in a rush to tie rate hikes to specific economic goals. The Fed also noted that most members judged yield curve control ‘would likely provide only modest benefits in the current environment’.

The FOMC meets again in mid-September and will be reviewing the recent economic progress. For now it seems the Fed doesn’t feel the need to go quickly on more explicit forward guidance as the economy is still ‘in’ the pandemic – as long as cases rage we know what the Fed will do. The question comes on the exit – how quickly does the economy need to recover into the autumn for the Fed to feel the need to tie tightening to specific economic goals – the purpose of which would be to keep markets on an even keel.

Equities trip on FOMC minutes

The S&P 500 flirted with 3,400 in the early part of Wednesday’s session but shot 50pts lower after the minutes were released, ending down 0.44% to 3,374.85. The Dow and Nasdaq both tripped up as well. Asian markets fell overnight. European equity indices are taking their cue from this weak handover and dropped over 1% in early trade, before stocks pulled off the lows after China’s ministry of commerce said this morning that US-China trade talks would resume in the coming days. Vix futures are still pointing to increased volatility as we head towards the US election in November.

Apple hits $2tn market cap

Apple advanced to a new record high and became the world’s first $2tn company as it rose above $467 but closed flat at $462.83. There is a lot going on here – some of which is driven by Apple’s business and some of which is due to external factors. Apple has created a brand with immense power, and investors have really bought into the pivot towards Services to generate more sustainable revenues than being a pure play hardware manufacturer.

The upcoming rollout of 5G iPhones is a prime factor, as is its very strong balance sheet. I also think we could throw in the upcoming stock split as a factor as despite the fact it ought not to matter to the share price, it will undoubtedly make it easier for retail investors – a growing crop of US day traders – to buy the shares. Cf Tesla. And it’s a Covid-winner – the thirst for high quality growth has been well documented.

Dollar up, Brexit headline risks could weigh on sterling

The dollar caught a strong bid after the minutes. EURUSD fell from 1.1940 to 1.1840 where it has found support and is pushing off this level to pare some of the losses this morning. Cable also shipped two big figures in the last day and is now under 1.31 with near-term horizontal support at 1.3050. Brexit headline risks remain as trade talks continue this week – update coming tomorrow but we could get wire reports to knock the stuffing out of sterling. Overall if this is a cyclical dollar bear market then we would see this as a temporary blip.

Delivery Hero – a beneficiary of an increase in orders due to the pandemic – has been named the replacement for the disastrous, scandal ridden Wirecard on the DAX. The food delivery company will join the German blue-chip index on Monday. Delivery Hero is on course to deliver one billion orders this year, thanks in large part to the lockdowns.

Another sub-1m print for US jobless figures?

US initial jobless claims today are expected to come in under 1m again, with continuing claims at 15m. Last week’s report showed jobless claims fell under 1m for the first time since the pandemic, but unemployment levels remain exceptionally high and the concern is that temporary layoffs become permanent. The rate of change is not going to improve – the easy wins are behind us and the hard slog lies in front.

EIA crude oil inventories showed a draw of 1.6m barrels last week, while gasoline stocks declined by 3.3m barrels. WTI crude prices nudged up to $43.20 before pulling back as risk assets came under pressure from the Fed minutes. Copper prices broke above $3 for the first time in over two years but failed to sustain the move after the minutes and pared gains.

Tomorrow morning watch for Eurozone PMIs (ignore) and UK retail sales. Sales rebounded 13.9% in June after May’s 12.3% jump, which almost took total sales back to where they were before the pandemic. We know however that these masks huge shifts in how people spend their money. We also know that when furlough schemes end and we get a real increase in unemployment, people will be tightening their belts.

FTSE 100 completes 400pt round trip this week

Morning Note

Stocks turned broadly weaker yesterday as investors reacted to some stinky data from Europe and the US. Overnight Asian data has also had the whiff of soft cheese that’s been left out too long. Stocks are softer once more, though most of Europe is on holiday so the focus is on London until New York opens.

The S&P 500 eased back almost 1% to relinquish the 61.8% retracement at 2934 but closing at 2912 it finished well off the lows. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 recorded their best months since 1987 as equity markets rebounded on central bank largesse, government bailouts and the outperformance of US tech over just about anything else. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was up 19% for the month and is nearly flat for the year. It’s shame we don’t really have any tech firms left, as nothing else is growing.

The FTSE 100 endured a terrible session, finishing 3.5% weaker as Shell tumbled, just holding onto 5900 and the 38.2% retracement of the drawdown. At Friday’s open the index shipped another 2% to break under 5800 and move back to where it opened on Monday at 5,752, completing a 400-pt round trip this week. This will be a level bulls will seek to defend. RBS shares rallied 3%, whilst Lloyds fell 4%. RBS said profits fell 59% to £288m as it set aside £800 for loan losses. But revenues were down just 1.6% at £3.2bn – Lloyds reported an 11% decline in revenues. Something doesn’t look right.

South Korean exports declined 24.3%, the worst slump in 11 years. Japanese factory activity fell to its lowest since 2009. The AIG Australian PMI dropped by 17.9 points to 35.8 in April, its largest month-to-month fall in the 28 years since it began. New Zealand consumer confidence fell 21 points in April to 84.8, where it troughed in 2008. Today’s main event will be the US ISM manufacturing PMI, which is seen declining to 36.7 from 49.1 a month ago.

Donald Trump is threatening new tariffs on China in retaliation for the coronavirus – trade tensions back on the agenda won’t be terribly positive for risk appetite but for now remains something on the margins. But the US and Europe will demand China steps up – if we talk about what permanent changes are taking place or what trends have accelerated sharply, then deglobalisation has to be at the forefront.

Apple shares declined in extended trading after it reported a slowdown in revenue growth and declined to offer guidance for the June quarter. It will however continue to buy back stock and increased its share repurchase programme by $50bn. Revenues from iPhones declined 7% to $29bn, but Services revenues rose 16% to $13.3bn. Overall revenue growth was down to +0.5% vs 9% in the previous quarter.

Amazon shares also dipped after hours as it warned massive costs incurred because of Covid-19 could lead it to a first quarterly loss in 5 years. Amazon always spends big when required and is prepared to make the investment at the expense of short-term earnings per share metrics.

Despite these results, both Apple and Amazon are in the camp where you think they will be thriving under the new world order. More smartphone time – yes, more home delivery – yes, more cloud servers required – yes.

Crude oil continues to find bid with front month WTI running to $20 before dropping back to $19. Crude prices are stabilising as OPEC+ cuts begin to take effect this month, potentially easing the supply-demand imbalance. Markets are also more confident about US states reopening for business, which will fuel demand for crude products like gasoline. Texas oil regulators don’t seem prepared to mandate production cuts, with chairman Wayne Christian against plans for 1m bpd reduction.

In FX, yesterday saw a pretty aggressive 4pm fix as we approached the month end. GBPUSD made a big-figure move and rallied through 1.25 and beyond 1.26 but turned back as it approached the Apr 14th swing high at 1.2650 and the 200-day SMA. It looked an easy fade but the euro also spiked but has held its gains, with EURUSD trading at 1.0960, having briefly dipped to 1.0830 after the ECB decision.

Charts

GBPUSD fades after hitting near-term resistance

EURUSD – clears 50-day SMA, looking to scale Apr 14th high

Week Ahead: Bumper week with FOMC, ECB, FAANGS & GDP

Week Ahead

Welcome to your guide to the week ahead in the markets. Remember you can now find all the key events affecting the markets in our new Events Calendar in the platform.

European Central Bank rate decision

Last week ECB president Christine Lagarde allegedly told EU leaders during a private video summit that the bloc could be facing a drop in GDP of up to 15%, and that their efforts to contain the outbreak have been both too little and too late. Monetary policy can only go so far, but the ECB does still have room to manoeuvre. Expansion of QE will likely be the first port of call if policymakers decide more needs to be done, but minutes from the March 18th meeting show that cutting rates was floated, too.

FOMC decision – has the Fed got any ammunition left?

What’s left for the Federal Reserve to do? Rates have been slashed to zero, and that’s where futures markets see them staying well into 2021 at least. And it’s hard to announce more QE when you’ve already committed to unlimited asset purchases. The key question is what the FOMC has left in reserve in case its vast stimulus measures aren’t enough. Will policymakers set negative rates? Will they buy corporate stocks? Will they explicitly target yields on government bonds? Markets will be looking for reassurance that policymakers still have plenty of ammunition left. 

Bumper week of earnings with Apple, Alphabet, Facebook reporting 

Netflix has already reported earnings, but this week sees the rest of the FAANG group offering up their quarterly figures. Tesla and Microsoft are also amongst the heavy hitters providing updates this week. 

US, Eurozone GDP 

We’ve seen piecemeal evidence of the impact COVID-19 has had on the US and Eurozone economies thanks to industrial data, PMIs, and business sentiment figures. But now it’s time to get the full picture, as the US and Eurozone will both publish estimates of Q1 growth. It was initially believed that moderate growth in January and February would have softened the blow from social distancing and widespread lockdowns that went into effect in March. Now the consensus is that the recession expected in Q2 arrived much earlier. Estimates vary wildly, but no matter how dire the results, the figures for Q2 are likely to be way worse.

Heads-Up on Earnings

After-Market   28-Apr   Alphabet – Q1 2020  
After-Market   29-Apr   Microsoft – Q3 2020  
After-Market   29-Apr   Facebook – Q1 2020  
After-Market   29-Apr   Tesla – Q1 2020  
After-Market   30-Apr   Apple – Q2 2020  
After-Market   30-Apr   Amazon – Q1 2020 

Key Events

03.00 UTC   28-Apr   BOJ Rate Decision & Outlook Report  
07.00 UTC  28-Apr  Spanish Unemployment Rate Q1 
14.00 UTC   28-Apr   US CB Consumer Confidence  
01.30 UTC   29-Apr   Australia Quarterly CPI  
12.00 UTC   29-Apr   Germany Preliminary CPI  
12.30 UTC   29-Apr   US Advance GDP QoQ  
14.30 UTC   29-Apr   US EIA Crude Oil Inventories  
18.00 UTC   29-Apr   FOMC Rate Decision  
09.00 UTC   30-Apr   Eurozone Flash GDP  
11.45 UTC   30-Apr   ECB Rate Decision and Statement  
12.30 UTC   30-Apr   US Initial Jobless Claims  
14.30 UTC   30-Apr   US EIA Natural Gas Storage 

Netflix, Apple, Disney: Who will you back in the battle of the streamers?

Equities

Netflix was once the king of streaming, but its dominance could be coming to an end. Competition has already been fierce thanks to Amazon Instant Video and Hulu, but the streaming market is about to get a lot more crowded.

NFLX has now turned negative on a year-to-date basis, with the stock feeling the pressure thanks to an uncertain outlook for the company. Both Apple and Disney are launching their streaming services this year and Netflix is sure to suffer as a result – especially as both drastically undercut its pricing.

Apple TV+ launches on November 1st and reportedly has a budget of $6 billion in order to help it get some of Hollywood’s biggest stars involved. Already on the starting line-up are Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa and Oprah.

Apple is offering a first-year subscription completely free with the purchase of any new Apple device – a great way to leverage its existing market even if they do already have other subscriptions.

However, it remains unclear whether Apple TV+ will also have a library of licensed shows and films alongside its own original content. Without this its offering could seem rather sparse at launch. The service will launch with nine shows and Apple plans to add another five over the next few months.

This lack of choice could see consumers treating Apple TV+ more as a supplement to Netflix – are many really going to cancel their subscriptions for the sake of nine shows?

Is Disney a bigger threat to Netflix than Apple?

While Apple has the capital to throw behind new content, Disney represents a more established threat. Its streaming service, Disney+ is set to launch with an extensive back catalogue of beloved classics. And that’s not to mention mega-franchises like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as content from National Geographic. This is a much bigger blow to Netflix.

Like Netflix and Apple, Disney will also be investing heavily in new shows. In the first year the service will premiere over 25 original series, as well as 10 films.

In this respect, Apple seems like something of an outlier. It’s tiny library of original shows may attract Apple enthusiasts, and the small price tag might see it sit alongside consumer’s existing subscriptions. Given that a lot of consumers will be getting the first year free anyway, it will be a while before we know whether those initial subscribers translate to paying subscribers in twelve months’ time.

Apple could be hoping to use its TV+ offering as a way of ensuring brand loyalty. Amazon already does this with its Instant Video Service. It’s only a few pounds or dollars more each year to opt for the full Prime subscription, which also includes free delivery and music streaming.

Even if it is built to sit alongside its competitors, it still creates problems for Netflix. The last time the company raised prices it lost subscribers – with more alternatives out there Netflix will have to think twice before it ups its costs again. Just how loyal are Netflix customers: if the company raises its prices will they drop rivals to free up disposable income or just jump from the most expensive ship?

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