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Week Ahead: Big tech earnings to drive pre-election volatility
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 YTD. Microsoft reports on Tuesday and there are dozens of large cap stocks reporting over the next few days.
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.
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.
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.
|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
|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|
Shell sold, Lloyds crumples, markets look to future post Covid
Shares in Shell slumped 7% as it cut its dividend and reported net income in the first quarter almost halved. Whilst BP chose to absorb a $6bn rise in net debt to $51bn and gearing above 36x in order to preserve its precious dividend, Shell seems to be taking a more prudent approach in cutting its dividend for the first time since the 1940s. Arguably BP is better placed to weather the storm, but Shell is taking the more sensible course of action. Shell’s gearing ratio is down to around 28x, a more comfortable level for Ben van Beurden than it is for Bernard Looney. This poses a simple question for investors – can BP keep it up?
Shares in Lloyds sank 4% after profits collapsed in the first quarter and it significantly raised impairment charges. Profits before tax fell by 95% to £74m, as it raised credit losses provisions to £1.4bn. More worryingly for Lloyds is the 11% fall in revenues – if the housing market remains sluggish it’s got a lot of exposure to worry about and doesn’t have the investment banking arm to fall back on that Barclays does. The read across hit RBS, which is similarly exposed to credit impairments in the UK, with shares almost 4% lower.
The US economy shrank more than expected in the first quarter, declining by 4.8% and signalling the slowdown in Q2 could be well beyond estimates. Spain’s economy declined by 5.2% in the first quarter, marking the steepest contraction since records began in 1995. It was also worse than the ~4% decline expected.
But the extent of economic destruction matters less to the market than the speed at which recovery will happen, so news from Gilead that its remdesivir drug can probably treat Covid-19 sent stocks into a strong rally. White House health advisor Dr Anthony Fauci gave it a cautious thumbs up, too. Global stock markets are looking to a world post-Covid-19, although the wider macro trade is less optimistic.
The S&P 500 rallied over 2.6%, closing 5 points above the important 61.8% retracement found at 2934, after the Gilead news. The Dow also rallied and is on pace for its best month since 1987. The broader S&P 500 is tracking its best month since Oct 1974. These are strange times for markets, but you have to look at the way in which tech is driving gains and how large caps can lean on central bank support.
European markets jumped yesterday and are skirting around the flat line after almost an hour of trading as traders try to figure out whether there is any more left in this rally. I don’t think markets are going to want to retest the highs any time soon and profit-taking and renewed risk-aversion will likely see a pullback before long.
Last night the Federal Reserve warned of medium-term risks to the economy and signalled there is not going to be a V-shape recovery. Jay Powell did nothing to upset markets and suggested it was likely the Fed would need to do more. The European Central Bank will need to communicate a similar message of support today.
Microsoft and Facebook earnings were very strong, beating estimates, but this does nothing but underline the relative safety to be found in high quality technology companies with strong balance sheets and resilience to lockdown measures. Facebook jumped 10% in after-hours trading as it said April showed some stability in ad revenues, echoing the statement from Alphabet.
Oil continues to notch gains as the risk rally reflects hopes of the global economy opening up sooner, and after a smaller-than-feared build in US crude inventories. Front-month WTI rose above $17 in early European trade. US crude oil inventories rose by 9m barrels from the previous week less than the 11-12m expected and giving some flicker of hope to beleaguered oil traders. Domestic US production slipped, but not by a lot, falling to 12.1m bpd from 12.2m bpd a week before.
Russia’s energy minister Novak said the country’s producers would cut output by 20% from February levels in May, while Norway is playing ball with the OPEC+ arrangement by reducing production by 13%. But demand falls still seem to exceed the capacity of the market to reduce supply. The International Energy Agency said Thursday that global energy demand will fall by 6% in 2020, and will be down 9% in the US and 11% in the EU.