Week Ahead: Banks get Q3 earnings season underway, US presidential election watch

The start of Q3 earnings season is sure to bring heightened volatility this week, but what about the second showdown between Trump and Biden? The President’s coronavirus diagnosis seems to have pushed more undecided voters into Biden’s camp – it doesn’t like there will be a debate but we are looking at ongoing developments in the campaign.

US presidential election

Catching Covid-19 hasn’t done Trump any favours in the US election polls, with Biden almost 10 points ahead in our election poll tracker at the time of writing. His lead in the top battlegrounds has come down to 4.6pts. Trump trailed Hilary Clinton by 5.1pts in the key battleground states at this stage in 2016, but we should note there are fewer undecided voters this time. Latest betting odds imply 65% chance of a Biden win. 

Banks get Q3 earnings season underway 

The start of Q3 earnings season will add even more volatility to the mix this week. Banks are the first in focus: Citigroup and JPMorgan get things going on October 13th, while Bank of AmericaGoldman Sachs and Wells Fargo are due to report on the 14th. Morgan Stanley reports on Oct 15th. 

In Q2 banks saw a surge in trading revenue that helped to offset large increases in provisions for loan losses. JPM, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America posted their best combined revenue – $33 billion – in a decade. 

At the time, we argued that investors need to ask whether the exceptional trading revenues are all that sustainable, and whether there needs to be a much larger increase for bad debt provisions. 

There are some doubts over whether the jump in trading revenue continued in Q3 – Jamie Dimon expected it to halve. Bad loan provisions, on the other hand, could go much higher. 

Chief market analyst Neil Wilson has outlined some key questions for banks this earnings season. 

Bank Q3 earnings expectations 

(source: Markets.com) 

Bank  Forecast Revenues (no of estimates) 

  

Forecast EPS (no of estimates) 

  

BOA  $20.8bn (8)  $0.5 (23) 
GS  $9.1bn (15)  $5 (21) 
WFG  $17.9bn (17)  $0.4 (24) 
JPM  $28bn (19)  $2.1 (23) 
MS  $10.4bn (15)  $1.2 (20) 
C  $18.5bn (17)  $2 (21) 

Economic data overshadowed by earnings and election focus? 

This week’s economic data may be overlooked given the focus on corporate America and the second Presidential Debate. 

We’ll be watching labour market updates from the UK, Australia and the US this week, along with sentiment and production data from the Eurozone. 

US inflation, retail sales and the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment index will also be in focus, although these would have to do a lot to make waves, given how far inflation has to rise to prompt the Fed to act now it has adopted AIT.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

17.00 UTC 12-Oct Blonde Markets
18.00 UTC 13-Oct Webinar: Technical Indicators
09.00 UTC 13-Oct Earnings Season Daily
14.00 UTC 14-Oct Asset in Focus: Weekly Gold Forecast
17.00 UTC 15⁠-⁠Oct Election2020 Weekly

Top Earnings Reports this Week

Pre-Market 13-Oct Johnson & Johnson – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 13-Oct JPMorgan Chase & Co – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 13-Oct Citigroup – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 13-Oct BlackRock – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 14-Oct UnitedHealth – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 14-Oct Bank of America – Q3 2020
Tentative 14-Oct Goldman Sachs – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 15-Oct Morgan Stanley – Q3 2020
Pre-Market 15-Oct Walgreens Boots Alliance – Q4 2020

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week. A full economic and corporate events calendar is available in the platform.

06.00 UTC 13-Oct UK Unemployment Rate / Claimant Count Change
09.00 UTC 13-Oct Eurozone / German ZEW Economic Sentiment
12.30 UTC 13-Oct US CPI
09.00 UTC 14-Oct Eurozone Industrial Production
00.30 UTC 15-Oct AU Employment Change / Unemployment Rate
12.30 UTC 15-Oct US Weekly Jobless Claims
14.30 UTC 15-Oct US EIA Natural Gas Storage Report
15.00 UTC 15-Oct US EIA Crude Oil Inventories Report
12.30 UTC 16-Oct US Retail Sales
14.00 UTC 16-Oct US Michigan Consumer Sentiment

Banks set to kick off US Q3 earnings season

The S&P 500 rose 8.5% to 3,363 over the third quarter, having hit an all-time of 3580 at the start of September, with an intraday peak at 3588. The market faced ongoing headwinds from the pandemic, but risk sentiment remained well supported through the quarter by fiscal and monetary policy.

A pullback in September erased the August rally but was largely seen as a necessary correction after an over-exuberant period of speculation and ‘hot’ money into a narrow range of stocks.

Q3 earnings come at important crossroads: Expectations for when any stimulus package will be agreed – and how big it should be – continue to drive a lot of the near-term price action, though the market has largely held its 3200-3400 range.

Elevated volatility is also expected around the Nov 3rd election. But next week we turn to earnings and the more mundane assessment of whether companies are actually making any money.

Banks kick off Q3 earnings season

Financials are in focus first: Citigroup and JPMorgan kick off the season formally on October 13th with Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo on the 14th. Morgan Stanley reports on Oct 15th, In Q2, the big banks reported broadly similar trends with big increases in loan loss provisions offset by some stunning trading earnings.

Wall Street beasts – JPM, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America – posted near-record trading revenues in the second quarter with revenues for the five combined topping $33bn, the best in a decade. At the time, we argued that investors need to ask whether the exceptional trading revenues are all that sustainable, and whether there needs to be a much larger increase for bad debt provisions.

Meanwhile, whilst the broad economic outlook has not deteriorated over the quarter, it has become clear that the recovery will be slower than it first appeared. Moreover, during Q3 the Fed announced a shift to average inflation targeting that implies interest rates will be on the floor for many years to come, so there is little prospect of any relief for compressed net interest margins.

Meanwhile there is growing evidence of a real problem in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market as new appraisals are seeing large swatches of real estate being marked down, particularly in the hotels and retail sectors.

At the same time, the energy sector has gone through a significant restructuring as we have seen North American oil and gas chapter 11 filings gathering pace through the summer as energy prices remained low. There is a tonne of debt maturing next year but how much will be repaid?

Key questions for the banks

  • Did the jump in trading revenues in Q2 carry through in Q3? Jamie Dimon thought it would halve.
  • On a related note, did the options frenzy in August help any bank more than others – Morgan Stanley?
  • Have provisions for bad loans increased materially over the quarter?
  • How bad are credit card, home and business loans?
  • And how bad is the commercial property sector, especially hotels and retail as evidence from the CMBS market starts to look very rocky?
  • How are bad debts in oil & gas looking?
  • How are job cuts helping Citigroup lower costs; how will its entry into China make a difference to the outlook?
  • How does Wells Fargo manage without an investment arm to lean on? So far it’s been a bit of a mess.
  • Was Warren Buffett right to cut his stake in Wells Fargo and some other US banks? Buffett pulled out airlines first then banks.
  • What do banks think of never-ending ZIRP and does the Fed’s shift affect forecasts at all?
  • How is Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division cushioning any drop in trading revenues?
  • What progress on Citigroup’s risk management system troubles?

Q2 earnings recap

JPMorgan beat on the top and bottom line. Revenues topped $33.8bn vs the $30.5bn expected, whilst earnings per share hit $1.38 vs $1.01 expected. The range of estimates was vast, so the consensus numbers were always going to be a little out.

The bank earned $4.7bn of net income in the second quarter despite building $8.9 billion of credit reserves thanks to its highest-ever quarterly revenue. Loan loss provisions were $10.5bn, which was more than expected and the quarter included almost $9bn in reserve builds largely due to Covid-19.

The consumer bank reported a net loss of $176 million, compared with net income of $4.2 billion in the prior year, predominantly driven by reserve builds. Net revenue was $12.2 billion, down 9%. Credit card sales were 23% lower, with average loans down 7%, while deposits rose 20% as consumers deleveraged.

The provision for credit losses in the consumer bank was $5.8 billion, up $4.7 billion from the prior year driven by reserve builds, chiefly in credit cards.

Trading revenues were phenomenal, rising 80% with fixed income revenues doubling. Return on equity (ROE) rose to 7% from 4% in Q1 but was still well down on the 16% a year before. ROTE rose to 9% from 5% in the prior quarter but was down from 20% a year before.

Citigroup EPS beat at $0.50 vs the $0.28 expected. Trading revenues in fixed income rose 68%, and made up the majority of the $6.9bn in Markets and Securities Services revenues, which rose 48%. Equity trading revenue dipped 3% to $770 million. Consumer banking revenues fell 10% to $7.34 billion, while net credit losses, jumped 12% year over year to $2.2 billion. Net income was down 73% year-on-year.

Since then the bank has offloaded its retail options market making business, leaving Morgan Stanley (reporting Oct 15th) as the major player left in this market. We await to see what kind of impact the explosion in options trading witnessed over the summer had on both. ROE stood at just 2.4% and ROTE at 2.9%.

Wells Fargo – which does not have the investment banking arm to lean on – increased credit loss provisions in the quarter to $9.5bn from $4bn in Q1, vs expectations of about $5bn. WFG reported a $2.4 billion loss for the quarter as revenues fell 17.6% year-on-year.

CEO Charlie Scharf was not mincing his words: “We are extremely disappointed in both our second quarter results and our intent to reduce our dividend. Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably from the assumptions used last quarter, which drove the $8.4 billion addition to our credit loss reserve in the second quarter.”

Bank of America reported earnings of $3.5 billion, with EPS of $0.37 ahead of the $0.27 expected on revenues of $22bn. Its bond trading revenue rose 50% to $3.2 billion, whilst equities trading revenue climbed 7% to $1.2 billion. But the bank increased reserves for credit losses by $4 billion and suffered an 11% decline in interest income.

Return on equity (ROE) fell to 5.44% from 5.91% in the prior quarter and was down significantly from last year’s Q2 11.62%. Return on tangible equity (ROTE) slipped to 7.63% from 8.32% in Q1 2020 and from 16.24% in Q2 2019.

Morgan Stanley was probably the winner from Q2 as it reported net revenues of $13.4 billion for the second quarter compared with $10.2 billion a year ago. Net income hit $3.2 billion, or $1.96 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.2 billion, or $1.23, for the same period a year ago.

Wealth Management delivered a pre-tax income of $1.1 billion with a pre-tax margin of 24.4%. Investment banking rose 39%, with Sales and Trading revenues up 68%. MS managed to increase its ROE to 15.7%, and the ROTE to 17.8% from respectively 11.2% and 12.8% in Q2 2019.

Goldman Sachs reported net revenues of $13.30 billion and net earnings of $2.42 billion for the second quarter. EPS of $6.26 destroyed estimates for $3.78. Bond trading revenue rose by almost 150% to $4.24 billion, whilst equities trading revenue was up 46% to $2.94 billion. ROE came in at 11.1% and ROTE at 11.8%.

Expectations

(source: Markets.com)

Bank Forecast Revenues (no of estimates)

 

Forecast EPS (no of estimates)

 

BOA $20.8bn (8) $0.5 (23)
GS $9.1bn (15) $5 (21)
WFG $17.9bn (17) $0.4 (24)
JPM $28bn (19) $2.1 (23)
MS $10.4bn (15) $1.2 (20)
C $18.5bn (17) $2 (21)

 

Shares

None have really managed to match the recovery in the broad market but valuations are compelling.

Goldman trading either side of 200-day EMA

Wells Fargo can’t catch any bid

Bank of America bound by 50-day SMA

Citigroup still nursing losses after reversal in September

JPM breakouts consistently fail to hold above 200-day EMA

Amazon earnings – what to expect from Q2?

Amazon (AMZN) is due to report earnings July 30th and is set for another strong quarter of revenue growth, albeit costs are also increasing. The stock has jumped more than 60% YTD – can the rally continue?

First of all, the range of estimates for the second quarter is unusually wide and is extremely hard to navigate.

Amazon’s own Second Quarter 2020 Guidance

Net sales are expected to be between $75.0 billion and $81.0 billion, or to grow between 18% and 28% compared with second quarter 2019. This guidance anticipates an unfavourable impact of approximately 70 basis points from foreign exchange rates.

Operating income (loss) is expected to be between $(1.5) billion and $1.5 billion, compared with $3.1 billion in second quarter 2019. This guidance assumes approximately $4.0 billion of costs related to COVID-19.

What the analysts think of Amazon

Cowen 5-star analyst John Blackledge expects Amazon to deliver another strong quarter of growth with revenue and operating income at the high end of the guided range. The key drivers will be AWS, Advertising and an acceleration in e-commerce growth, which he says will post +29% growth vs +17% in Q2 2019.

Investors should be able to shrug off upwards of $4bn in Covid-related investments flagged in the last earnings release as likely weighing on Q2 EPS numbers. As ever with this kind of growth stock, EPS can be lumpy.

EPS will also be determined by AWS growth. Last quarter AWS revenues exceeded $10bn for the first time and whilst it generated 13.5% of total revenue, it delivered 77% of operating income. However as flagged in the past, the growth in AWS is slowing.

Overall analysts remain very bullish…

And hedge funds still like this stock…

Amazon share price: technical signals calling for pullback closer to 200-day moving average?

MACD crossover looks bearish, whilst the recent extension beyond the 200-day moving average has historically preceded a pullback. More broadly we are starting to see signs that the Nasdaq and tech stocks are retracing some gains after the run up in the second quarter.

Dutch PM Rutte ‘not optimistic’ ahead of EU summit, Netflix misses

European stocks were choppy and likely set for a volatile finish to the week as EU leaders gather in Brussels for a key summit, with market participants squarely focused on whether the EU can agree to a broad recovery fund as part of the talks over the bloc’s budget for 2021-27.

Whilst the EU seems to be edging closer to a deal and Merkel and Macron should ultimately get the consensus they need for something like a €500bn-€750bn package of support, there is a risk the market has put too much on this particular meeting and is left disappointed if there is no final decision taken this weekend.

We may get an agreement in principle on the fund that will be made up of a mix of grants and loans, with details on the total money value and attached reform requirements to be finessed. Even that might be a stretch though – Merkel warned this week that it could take until the end of the summer to achieve a deal and today said talks would be tough.

Dutch PM Rutte said this morning he’s ‘not optimistic’ ahead of the talks. Indeed, I would not expect much more than a political declaration affirming member states commitment to achieving some kind of a deal.

This not an ordinary summit – what’s being talked about is mutual debt issuance for the first time. A deal would be a major breakthrough for the EU and show that the bloc has the ability to respond to an era-defining crisis with one voice.  Merkel is throwing all her political capital behind the European Recovery Fund, so there more than just EU solidarity riding on it.

The Frugal Four of Sweden, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands remain the main barrier to achieving a deal as they are still to be convinced on why they should be sharing the burden of weaker states, but most countries will be out to fight their corner too. At least they are all back in a room and can talk through the night to trade horses and get something done – not so easy on Zoom, albeit it’s an absolute hangar of a room.

ECB’s Lagarde dismisses tapering chatter

Yesterday, the ECB left rates on hold as expected and Christine Lagarde appeared to push back against the tapering chatter by saying the ECB would use the full PEPP envelope of €1.35tn ‘barring surprises’. She also seemed confident member states would agree on the fiscal response to the crisis, which gave the euro a little nudge up at the time.

EURUSD is back under 1.14 this morning – a recovery fund deal would likely take it over 1.15 and set it up for further gains. Near term the support is around the 1.12 region.

Stocks on Wall Street finished lower on Thursday, led by a decline in tech. It’s probably too early to say this is part of a rotation out of growth into value – which could be a trade to consider if you assume that a vaccine is coming and things get back to normal – but there may be an element of profit-taking in big tech as investors take stock of events and consider the uncertainty over the pandemic, reopening rates, stimulus, earnings outlooks and stretched valuations in some corners of the market vs many stocks being in the bargain basement, among others.

Netflix subscribers and earnings growth miss

Netflix shares plunged 9% to $480 in after-hours trade as the company signalled weaker subscriber growth and profits missed expectations. Revenues were a tad better than forecast at $6.15bn, and as I expected, net subscriber additions in excess of 10m were ahead of estimates for about 7.5m, but earnings per share were a little soft at $1.59 vs $1.80 expected.

But guidance on future growth in subscribers was soft with the company only anticipating 2.5m net adds in September quarter. Maintaining Covid-era subscriber growth was always a tall order, if not impossible, but 2.5m would represent its weakest growth rate for a long time.

Although EPS was a miss, it was largely down to the timing of a California research and development tax credit charge. Netflix earnings have always been lumpy and net subscriber adds has always been a greater guide. The company expects 16% operating margin in 2020 and 19% for 2021, which CEO Reed Hastings said was ‘tamping down the expectations’.

Competition remains a headwind as new streaming services come online, but increasingly even social media is considered a rival. Netflix cited TikTok as a competitor – good news then that the US wants to ban the Chinese social media app.

There are of course questions about whether Netflix will manage to attract eyes in the way it did during lockdown – cinemas reopening, bars and restaurants luring people off the sofa etc, whilst the impact of Covid-related shutdowns on production is still being understood. Moreover coronavirus has simply pulled forward a lot of net adds from the coming quarters – expect slower growth but the company remains in a very good place.

US jobless claims mixed, homebuilder sentiment climbs

Economic data from the US was mixed. Initial jobless claims hit 1.3m, almost unchanged from the prior week. The improving trend has all but halted and may reflect the spike in coronavirus cases that has coincided with renewed lockdown measures in a number of economically important states such as Texas and Florida. California’s decision to roll back reopening signals worse could be ahead.

Continuing claims fell to 17.3m vs the 18m last week, which was a tad better than the 17.6m expected. The total number of people claiming benefits in all programmes for the week ending June 27th fell to 32m a decrease of 430k from the previous week. What’s clear is the rate of change is not moving in the right direction – getting back to pre-Covid levels will take a long time.

However, homebuilder sentiment rose 14 points to 72 in July, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). That’s where the index reached in March before the crisis hit and it slumped to 30 in April.

Oil and gold are both still in consolidation mode. WTI (August) cannot make a move beyond $41 stick, whilst gold is still crabbing sideways around the $1800 level and appears to set its new low and near-term support at $1796. US real rates (10yr TIPS) made new 7-year lows at –0.79%.

Stocks retreat before ECB, US + UK jobless numbers in focus

European stocks pulled back a little after a rally in the previous session as upward pressure on equities continues to hold firm despite rising case numbers as hopes for a vaccine are the new hopes for a US-China trade deal. Moderna has reported encouraging results from initial trials, while there is a lot of hope being pinned on AstraZeneca’s phase one trials, results of which are due to be published July 20th.

Whilst nothing is certain, it seems things are moving in the right direction for a vaccine to emerge by next year.

Shanghai fell 4% and Hong Kong was down almost 2% overnight after a mixed bag of Chinese economic data. US stocks rallied yesterday with the S&P 500 posting its highest close since the June peak, though futures point to the index opening around 20 points lower. The Dow is seen opening about 200 points lower.

UK jobless data reveals first wage drop in six years

The number of employees on payrolls in the UK fell by 650,000 between March and June, but the worst of the employment is still in front of us. Vacancies are at their lowest level since records began in 2001, earnings fell for the first time in six years, and the ONS noted that the standard definition of unemployment does not include half a million employees temporarily away from their jobs specifically for coronavirus-related reasons, who are receiving no pay while their job was on hold.

Unemployment claims were better than feared but we can pin this on furlough schemes which are extending the pretence, delaying the worst and providing a soft landing; but the jobless numbers clearly do not reflect the true extent of what’s coming. Meanwhile the number of hours worked – a key metric for the nation’s productivity – has collapsed.

China GDP rebounds, consumption lags

Chinese GDP grew 3.2% in Q2, up from the –6.8% contraction in Q1, which was better than forecast, albeit we apply the usual caveats about Chinese economic data. Industrial production rebounded 4.8%, but retail sales were down –1.8% vs an expected +0.3% improvement.  Richemont flagged a strong recovery in China despite sales globally falling 47% in its first quarter, with luxury goods stocks weaker. Burberry shares fell another 3%.

US data was solid enough, with industrial production +5.4% in June whilst the Empire State manufacturing index hit 17.2, a beat on the 10 expected and a big jump from the –0.2 in the prior month. It remains to seen however to what extent the rate of change in the recovery turns lower as data starts to reflect the ‘second wave’ of cases and the imposing of some fresh lockdown restrictions in some key states.

In the Fed’s Beige Book, the Dallas Fed noted that while the outlook has improved, the upward trend in new COVID-19 cases has increased uncertainty. “Economic activity increased in almost all Districts, but remained well below where it was prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the national summary read.

US-China tensions are bubbling away – plans by the White House to impose travel restrictions on millions of Chinese Communist party members is the latest in the saga.

Goldman Sachs earnings crushed expectations with a stunning quarter of trading revenues. Bond trading revenue jump 150% to $4.24bn, while equities trading revenue climbed 46% to $2.94bn. For me all it did was underscore the divergence we are seeing between the real economy and the market, which is benefitting hugely from two-pronged monetary and fiscal stimulus.

Oil still rangebound after OPEC agrees to begin tapering production cuts

Oil couldn’t break free from its narrow range as OPEC+ extended cuts but began tapering with production curbs in August down from 9.7m barrels per day to 7.7m bpd, although the total effective cuts will be around 8.1m-8.3m barrels a day as countries which overproduced in May and June would make additional compensation cuts in August and September. OPEC will need to play this carefully – the longer its barrels are off the market the more it could encourage higher cost US oil to come back on.

Inventory data from the States was bullish with the –7.5m drawdown much higher than the –1.3m expected. Gasoline inventories also fell by more than expected at –3m. WTI (Aug) rallied from the medium-term trend support around $39.20 yesterday to press on the $41 handle but it continues to lack momentum – the CCI divergence on the daily timeframe chart points to the rally running out of legs and buyer exhaustion that could call for a further pullback.

In focus today: ECB, Netflix, US jobless claims and retail sales

Lots coming up today…

ECB meeting: Following the top-up to the PEPP programme in June to €1.35tn, the European Central Bank should be keeping its powder dry with the key EU summit starting tomorrow to hammer out the budget.

I expect Christine Lagarde to stress the importance of the fiscal side and leave policy unchanged but stress that ECB’s accommodative position – this is not the time for a discussion of tapering or the details of how much of the envelope you need to use.

In a recent interview she said the central bank had ‘done so much that we have quite a bit of time to assess [the incoming economic data] carefully’. The EU recovery fund is more important for EUR crosses right now – agreement this week may push EURUSD beyond the key 1.15 level.

Netflix earnings: The ultimate stay-at-home company, Netflix (NFLX) has made hay in the pandemic, with the stock hitting an all-time high and clearing $520. In the March quarter, Netflix added 15.77m new subscribers, which was more than double the original forecast of 7m net adds.

The company has forecast 7.5m new adds in the June quarter and may easily beat this with around 10m subscriber additions.  Sequentially lower net adds should not weigh on the stock given the exceptional performance in the first quarter. ARPU could benefit from a depreciation in the dollar since it last reported.

As Netflix itself noted in its Q1 report, there is a lot of unknown to its forecasts. “Given the uncertainty on home confinement timing, this is mostly guesswork. The actual Q2 numbers could end up well below or well above that, depending on many factors including when people can go back to their social lives in various countries and how much people take a break from television after the lockdown.”

The market expects $6.1bn in sales and EPS of $1.8, with paid subscribers to hit 190m.

US weekly unemployment claims: Last Thursday’s data was better than expected for the week ending Jun 27th, however the total number of people claiming benefits in all programmes, including both regular state and all others, and including Covid-related programmes, rose 1.4m to 32.9m in the week to Jun 20th.

Initial claims today are seen falling again to 1250k from 1314k the previous week, with continuing claims seen down to 17500k from 18062k last week.

US retail sales: Expect to see continued improvement as the economy recovers off the lockdown lows. Retail sales should print another strong reading as consumers binge on their $600-a-week stimulus checks, which are due to finish this month.

Stocks firm, earnings unmask weakness, OPEC+ decision eyed

European markets moved up again this morning after stocks rallied on Wall Street and futures indicate further gains for US equity markets despite big bank earnings underlining the problems on Main Street. Sentiment recovered somewhat after Moderna’s vaccine candidate showed ‘promising’ results from phase 1 trials. It is too early to call a significant breakthrough, but it’s certainly encouraging.

Cyclical components led the way for the Dow with top performers the likes of Caterpillar and Boeing, as well as energy names Exxon and Chevron up over 3% as the index rose over 500pts, or 2.1%, its best day in over two weeks. Apple shares regained some ground to $388 ahead of an EU court ruling today on whether the company should repay €13bn in unpaid taxes.

Asian markets were mixed, with China and Hong Kong lower as US-China tensions rose, but shares in Japan and Australia were higher. European shares advanced around 0.75% in early trade, with the FTSE reclaiming 6,200 and the DAX near 12,800.

However, Tuesday’s reversal off the June peak may still be important – lots of things need to go right to extend the rally and you must believe this reporting season will not be full of good news, albeit EPS estimates – such as they are – may be relatively easy to beat.

My sense is what while the stock market does not reflect the real economy, this does not mean we are about to see a major drawdown again like we saw in March. The vast amount of liquidity that has been injected into the financial system by central banks and the fiscal splurge will keep stocks supported – the cash needs to find a home somewhere and bonds offer nothing. It will likely take a significant escalation in cases – a major second wave in the winter perhaps – to see us look again at the lows.

For the time being major indices are still chopping around the Jun-Jul ranges, albeit the S&P 500 and DAX are near their tops. Failure to breakout for a second time will raise the risk of a bigger near-term pullback, at least back to the 50% retracement of June’s top-to-bottom move in the second week of that month.

Trading revenues, loan loss provisions surge at US banks

US bank earning highlighted the divergence between the stock market and the real economy. JPMorgan and Citigroup posted strong trading revenues from their investment bank divisions but had to significantly increase loan loss provisions at their consumer banks. Wells Fargo – which does have the investment banking arm to lean on – increased credit loss provisions in the quarter to $9.5bn from $4bn in Q1, vs expectations of about $5bn.

This begs the question of when the credit losses from bad corporate and personal debt starts to catch up with the broader market. Moreover, investors need to ask whether the exceptional trading revenues are all that sustainable. Shares in Citigroup and Wells Fargo fell around 4%, whilst JPMorgan edged out a small gain. Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon and US Bancorp report today along with Dow component UnitedHealth.

UK retail earnings

In the UK, retail earnings continue to look exceptionally bleak. Burberry reported a drop in sales of 45% in the first quarter, with demand down 20% in June. Asia is doing OK, but the loss of tourist euros in Europe left EMEIA revenues down 75% as rich tourists stayed clear of stores because of lockdown. Sales in the Americas were down 70% but there is a slight pickup being seen. Encouragingly, mainland China grew mid-teens in Q1 but grew ahead of the January pre COVID level of 30% in June, Burberry said. Shares opened down 5%.

Dixons Carphone reported a sharp fall in adjusted profit to £166m from £339m a year before, with a statutory loss of £140m reflecting the cost of closing Carphone stores. Electricals is solid and online sales are performing well, with the +22% rise in this sector including +166% in April. Whilst Dixons appears to have done well in mitigating the Covid damage by a good online presence, the Mobile division, which was already impaired, continues to drag.

Looking ahead, Dixons says total positive cashflow from Mobile will be lower than the previous guidance of about £200m, in the range of £125m-£175m. Shares fell 6% in early trade.

White House ends Hong Kong special status, US to impose sanctions

US-China tensions are not getting any better – Donald Trump signed a law that will allow the US to impose sanctions on Chinese officials in retaliation for the Hong Kong security law. The White House has also ended the territory’s special trade status – it is now in the eyes of the US and much of the west, no different to rest of China. This is a sad reflection of where things have gone in the 20+ years since the handover.  Britain’s decision to strip Huawei from its telecoms networks reflects a simple realpolitik choice and underscores the years of globalisation are over as east and west cleave in two.

The Bank of Japan left policy on hold but lowered its growth outlook. The forecast range by BoJ board members ranged from -4.5% to -5.7%, worse than the April range of -3% and –5%. It signals the pace of recovery in Japan and elsewhere is slower than anticipated.

Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard talked up more stimulus and suggested stricter forward guidance would be effective – even indicating that the central bank could look at yield curve control – setting targets for short- and medium-term yields in order to underpin their forward guidance.

EUR, GBP push higher ahead of US data; BOC decision on tap

In FX, we are seeing the dollar offered. EURUSD has pushed up to 1.1430, moving clear of the early Jun peak, suggesting a possible extension of this rally through to the March high at 1.15. GBPUSD pushed off yesterday’s lows at 1.2480 to reclaim the 1.26 handle, calling for a move back to the 1.2670 resistance struck on the 9-13 July.

Data today is focused on the US industrial production report, seen +4.3% month on month, and the Empire State manufacturing index, forecast at +10 vs -0.2 last month. The Bank of Canada is expected to leave interest rates on hold at 0.25% today, so we’ll be looking to get an update on how the central bank views the path of economic recovery.  Fed’s Beige Book later this evening will offer an anecdotal view of the US economy which may tell us much more than any backward-looking data can.

Oil remains uncertain ahead of OPEC+ decision

Oil continues to chop sideways ahead of the OPEC+ decision on extending cuts. WTI (Aug) keeps bouncing in and off the area around $40 and price action seems to reflect the uncertainty on OPEC and its allies will decide. The cartel is expected to taper the level of cuts by about 2 million barrels per day from August, down from the current record 9.7 million bpd. Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo had said on Monday that the gradual easing of lockdown measures across the globe, in tandem with the supply cuts, was bringing the oil market closer to balance.

However, an unwinding of the cuts just as some economies put the brakes on activity again threatens to send oil prices lower. OPEC yesterday said it expects a bullish recovery in demand in the second half, revising its 2020 oil demand drop to 8.9m bpd, vs the 9m forecast in June. The cartel cited better data in developed nations offsetting worse-than-expected performance in emerging markets. EIA inventories are seen showing a draw of 1.3m barrels after last week produced an unexpected gain of 5.7m barrels.

JPM shares rise on record trading revenues

Extrapolating too much from a single bank’s earnings is always an easy trap to fall into … but the quarterly numbers from JPMorgan indicate Main Street is not doing nearly as well as Wall Street – this is not a surprise, but it begs the question of when the credit losses from bad corporate and personal debt starts to catch up with the broader market. Moreover, investors need to ask whether the exceptional trading revenues are all that sustainable.

JPM rose in pre-market trade – the shares of JPM and other investment banks (C, GS, MS, BAC) can rally from this because they are relatively cheap and have not participated in the rally since March in the same way as the broad market. However, the implications for the broader market are interesting – do impairments matter for the rest of the market, for consumer cyclicals for example? Given the way the investment bank is doing all the lifting, what are the implications for financials like the XLF ETF? Or Russell 1000 financials? The outlook there must be a lot more challenging.

JPMorgan beat on the top and bottom line. Revenues topped $33.8bn vs the $30.5bn expected, whilst earnings per share hit $1.38 vs $1.01 expected. There was a huge range of estimates so the consensus numbers were always going to be a little out.

The bank earned $4.7bn of net income in the second quarter despite building $8.9 billion of credit reserves thanks to its highest-ever quarterly revenue.

Loan loss provisions were $10.5bn, which was more than expected and the quarter included almost $9bn in reserve builds largely due to Covid-19. The company reaffirmed suspension of share buybacks at least through the end of Q3 2020.

The consumer bank reported a net loss of $176 million, compared with net income of $4.2 billion in the prior year, predominantly driven by reserve builds. Net revenue was $12.2 billion, down 9%. Credit card sales were 23% lower, with average loans down 7%, while deposits rose 20% as consumers deleveraged. The provision for credit losses in the consumer bank was $5.8 billion, up $4.7 billion from the prior year driven by reserve builds, chiefly in credit cards.

Trading revenues were phenomenal, rising 80% with fixed income revenues doubling, which indicates the investment banks on Wall Street are in good shape thanks largely to their trading arms. But the numbers elsewhere don’t suggest Main St is in good shape at all, which indicates the more diversified investment banks are going to be in better shape than many others. As we discussed in the preview to this week, the massive about of investment grade corporate bond issuance and mortgage refinancing as companies and household refinanced to take advantage of lower rates has been a big help, albeit far bigger than we had thought. Assets under management rose 15% but this probably broadly reflects the rally in the equity markets since the last earnings release.

My sense is what while the stock market does not reflect the real economy, and the JPM numbers reinforce this view, this is not a barrier to further gains. The vast amount of liquidity that has been injected into the financial system will keep stocks supported – the cash needs to find a home somewhere and bonds offer nothing. However there is clearly a risk that Main Street starts to bite at the ankles of Wall Street and results in another pullback like we saw in the second week of June. We should remember that there could some very hard yards ahead for the US economy as states pause reopening – loan loss provisions may need to rise a lot more.

Meanwhile Delta Airlines reported an ugly loss of $4.43 vs $4.07 expected, though revenues were a little ahead of forecast. Net loss of $3.9bn with Q2 revenues the lowest since the mid-80s. It has the cash to last 19 months despite burning through $27m a day in cash – down from $100m at the peak of the crisis.

Wells Fargo and Citigroup coming up next….

Stocks pull back as California shuts up shop again, pound retreats

A rolling back of the reopening process in California and rising US-China tensions left Wall St and Asian markets weaker, with stocks in Europe following their lead as surprisingly good Chinese trade data was not enough to calm markets.

European equity indices fell back in early trade on Tuesday after stocks on Wall Street suffered a stunning reversal late in yesterday’s session. At one point the S&P 500 touched its highest since level since the end of February at 3,235 before sellers sold hard into that level and we saw a very sharp pullback to 3,155 at stumps.

After threatening to break free from the Jun-Jul trading range, the fact the S&P was unable to make good on its promise could signal fresh concerns about the pandemic but also investor caution as we head into earnings season – the fact is the market should not be up for the year. Although it’s hard to get a real feel for valuations because so many companies scrapped earnings guidance, the S&P 500 is trading on a forward PE multiple that is way too optimistic, you would feel. Earnings season gets underway properly today with JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

The Nasdaq also slipped 2% as tech stocks rolled over, with profit-taking a possible explanation after a) a very strong run for the market has left prices very high and, b) signs of a pullback for the broader market indicated now might be a good time to take stock. Tesla rode a $200 range in a wild day of trading that saw the stock open at $1,659, rally to $1,795 and close down 3% at $1,497.

Stocks retreat as California rolls back reopening, US-China tensions rise

California’s economy is larger than that of the UK or France, so when Governor Gavin Newsom rolled back the reopening of the state on Monday, investors took notice. The closure of bars, barbers and cinemas among other business venues followed moves in economically important states like Texas, Florida and elsewhere, indicating the rate of change in the recovery is not going to improve.

Whilst the market had developed a degree of immunity to case numbers rising, it is susceptible to signs that the economic recovery will be a lot slower than the rally for stocks in the last three months suggests.

Overnight Chinese trade data surprised to the upside with exports up 0.5% in June and imports rising 2.7%, beating expectations for a decline and signalling that domestic demand is holding up well. Singapore’s economy plunged into a recession with a 41.2% drop in GDP, while Japan’s industrial production figures were revised lower.

Tensions between the US and China took another sour turn as the White House rejected China’s claims to islands in the South China Sea, which aligns the US with a UN ruling in 2016. It had previously declined to take sides – the move indicates Washington’s displeasure and willingness to go up against China on multiple fronts now.

UK economy undershoots forecasts with tepid recovery

The UK is already seeing what a non-V recovery looks like. GDP growth rebounded 1.8% in May, which was well short of the 5.5% expected. In the three months to May, the economy contracted by 19.1%. Some of the numbers are truly horrendous and it’s hard to see how the economy can deliver the +20% rebound required to get back to 2019 with confidence sapped like it is and unemployment set to rise sharply.

UK retail sales rose 10.9% in June on a like for like basis excluding temporarily closed stores, whilst overall sales rose a more modest 3.4% and non-food sales in stores were down a whopping 46.8% for the quarter. Suffice to say that headlines of rebounds mask many ills.

Sterling extended a selloff after the GDP numbers disappointed. The reversal in risk appetite late yesterday saw GBPUSD break down through the channel support and this move has continued to build momentum overnight and into the European morning session. The rejection of the 1.2667 region seems to have made the near-term top for the rally. The 38.2% retrace line at 1.250 may offer support before the old 50% retracement level at 1.2464.

WTI (Aug) was a little softer under $40 as market participants eye the OPEC+ JMMC meeting on Wednesday. This will decide whether to roll back some of the 9.6m barrels or so in production cuts by the cartel and allies. The risk is that if OPEC acts too earnestly to raise production again the market could swiftly tip back into oversupply should the economic recovery globally fail to build the momentum required.

Another factor to consider is whether giving the green light to up production is taken by some members as an excuse to open the taps again and result in more production than agreed – compliance remains the ever-present risk for any OPEC deal.

Equities rally ahead of Wall Street’s Q2 earnings season

A positive start to the week for global equities reflected a strong finish on Wall Street on Friday and an unwillingness to get bogged down by record global daily case numbers. A surge in the futures overnight translated into +1% gains for European cash equity markets as they opened, although the immediate move was to retreat off the highs made by the futures.

Whilst indices have chopped around the Jun-Jul ranges, there are divergences in the performance: the DAX is close to its June high, the FTSE 100 has only retraced 38.2%. Meanwhile futures show the S&P 500 is set to open at 3200, just 40 points from its post-March highs, whilst the Dow has only retraced 50%. These discrepancies reflect index composition as much as anything else – what to watch out for this week will be whether the S&P 500 or the DAX break free or move back towards the middle of their ranges.

The WHO said over 230k new cases were recorded in 24hrs, a record. The US recorded over 70k cases but increasingly investors are shrugging off these headlines as it’s felt the country won’t lockdown in the same way again. Nevertheless, the spike in Covid cases has slowed reopening in several states and this could translate into negative rate of change in some of the economic data which could be a problem for bulls.

It’s a big week for data, not least the start of the Q2 earnings season on Wall StreetThe high frequency economic data should continue to point to recovery however it will be the rate of change that matters more – is the recovery gaining momentum or are the easy wins behind us?

Tesla stock surged another 10% on Friday to rise above $1,500. The company is likely to report a fourth straight quarterly profit on July 22nd, which would clear the way for it to enter the S&P 500, and may explain the recent rally as funds have decided they will need to own some of it.

In commodities, gold continues to consolidate on the $1,800 level and with the bullish flag in play it could retrace further before the near-term pullback is complete, with the longer-term support on the trend line coming in around $1788. Speculative net long positioning rose, whilst inflows into gold funds continue to surge.

Crude oil continues to battle with the trend line as it tries to recover the bullish bias after last week’s sharp sell-off. Coming up this week is the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) drilling report (Jul 13th) and OPEC monthly oil market report (July 14th). Speculative net positioning has barely changed in the last week, according to the CFTC COT report, with net longs at 535k vs 543k the prior week.

In FX, the dollar bounced a little of its lows in early trade with the dollar index making a bottom at 96.35 and pushing back up to 96.50. Sentiment for the dollar is a bit softer due to the risk-on trade, which is lifting major peers to drift higher. GBPUSD may have made a near-term top around 1.2670 but remains supported by the bullish channel.

Volgende week: COVID-19 geeft het sentiment opnieuw klappen, kunnen de discounters profiteren?

Een zwik aan sentimentdata, Amerikaanse productiecijfers en resultaten van de discounters, die goed gepositioneerd zijn voor de economische neergang, zullen volgende week de markt bepalen. Lees verder voor een complete breakdown van de financiële agendapunten die u in de gaten moet houden.

Vertrouwen in Duitsland omhoog? Sentiment in VK, NZ daalt naar verwachting verder

Er worden deze week veel nieuwe sentimentdata gepubliceerd, waaronder het bedrijfsklimaat in Duitsland van Ifo, consumentenvertrouwen in Duitsland en het Verenigd Koninkrijk van GfK, het Amerikaanse consumentenvertrouwen van het US CB en tot slot het bedrijfsvertrouwen in Nieuw-Zeeland van ANZ.

In Duitsland zal de stemming naar verwachting beter zijn, waar de lockdowns sowieso al minder streng waren en de economische gevolgen naar verwachting minder sterk zullen zijn. Scholen en kleine bedrijven zijn weer open en de terugkeer naar een soort van normaliteit zal het sentiment naar verwachting doen opleven van de historische dieptepunten.

Het is een ander verhaal in het VK, waar de meeste beperkingen nog steeds actief blijven. Een sterke stijging van de werkloosheid zal ook op het sentiment wegen, waarbij zelfs werknemers die door de verlofregeling van de overheid worden beschermd een onzekere toekomst tegemoet gaan zodra de regering stopt met het betalen van hun lonen.

Hoewel de Nieuw-Zeelandse economie ondertussen heropend is, zal het meest recente ANZ-rapport naar verwachting opnieuw een verzwakking van het bedrijfssentiment laten zien.

Het is wellicht geen echte weerspiegeling van het huidige sentiment, aangezien de regering vorige week financiële maatregelen van meer dan 20% van het BBP heeft aangekondigd om de economische groei te stimuleren. Binnen twee jaar moet er weer sprake zijn van een terugkeer naar het werkloosheidsniveau van voor de uitbraak van COVID-19.

CPI: Duitsland en eurozone

Het instorten van de olieprijzen en de aanhoudende stimuleringsmaatregelen van de Europese Centrale Bank zorgen voor druk op de meest recente inflatiecijfers uit Duitsland en de eurozone.

De prijsgroei in de eurozone daalde van 0,7% naar een vierjarig dieptepunt van 0,3% in april, zoals vorige week werd bevestigd. Dit was grotendeels te wijden aan het instorten van de olieprijs; de stabielere kerninflatiewaarde daalde van 1% naar 0,9% op jaarbasis. Prijzen van voedsel, alcohol en tabak namen toe.

Terwijl de meeste belangrijke economieën van de eurozone met deflatie te maken kregen, bleef er sprake van prijsgroei in Duitsland. Meer van zulke gegevens zouden de spanningen tussen de motor van de Europese economie en de Europese Centrale Bank, die onenigheid hadden over de rechtmatigheid van het ECB-opkoopprogramma, nog verder kunnen doen toenemen..

Orders van duurzame goederen in VS dalen verder, werkloosheid raakt uitgaven

Het aantal orders van duurzame goederen in de VS kelderde in maart. Er was sprake van een daling van -14,4% vergeleken met de maand ervoor. Transportbestellingen, met name die van passagiersvliegtuigen, droogden vrijwel helemaal op.

Voorspellingen voor april suggereren nog eens -25% verdere daling. De persoonlijke inkomens- en bestedingscijfers later deze week kunnen eveneens weer een grote afname laten zien. In maart daalde het inkomen met -2% ten opzichte van de maand ervoor, terwijl de uitgaven een recorddaling van -7,5% lieten zien nu mensen gedwongen thuis moeten blijven. Twintig miljoen Amerikanen hebben in april hun baan verloren. De volgende reeks inkomenscijfers zal dan ook waarschijnlijk een nog veel grotere ineenstorting laten zien.

Japans werkloosheidscijfer, industriële productie, detailverkoop

Gegevens uit Japan zullen vrijdag een breed beeld geven van de lokale economische ontwikkeling, hoewel we al weten dat de economie van het Aziatische land zich in een recessie bevindt. De werkloosheid zal naar verwachting zijn gestegen tot 3,2% in april, van 2,5% in maart. Verwacht wordt dat de detailhandel in de loop van de maand zal blijven krimpen, al neemt de mate langzaam af van -4,5% tot -3,2%. Voorlopige industriële productiegegevens zullen aantonen of de jaardaling van -5,2% die in maart werd opgetekend, vorige maand iets is gematigd.

Resultaten: discounters doen het naar verwachting goed door hamstergedrag consumenten

De voordeelketens Costco, Dollar General en Dollar Tree zullen deze week allemaal hun kwartaalresultaten presenteren. Consumenten kochten volop essentiële producten in Q1. Krappere budgetten stijgende werkloosheid kunnen de vraag op lange termijn stimuleren.

Costco heeft echter andere zakelijke belangen die geraakt kunnen worden door de stagnerende economie en social distancing. De afdelingen food courts, reisdiensten en optiek trokken de vergelijkbare omzet met -4,7% omlaag ten opzichte van dezelfde periode vorig jaar, ook al steeg de vraag van consumenten naar basisproducten.

Dollar Tree kondigde aan dat het 25.000 extra medewerkers in dienst zou nemen om de toegenomen vraag in winkels en distributiecentra op te vangen. Financiële resultaten zullen een tik krijgen van het besluit om de onlineverkoop eind maart gedurende zeven dagen op te schorten, waardoor de omzet in die periode met bijna 20% is gedaald. Juist online hebben andere retailers zoals Walmart de dalende verkoopvolumes in de winkels goed kunnen maken.

Dollar General is de duidelijke winnaar als het gaat om de prestaties van aandelen, met een winst van 16% sinds het begin van het jaar. Costco staat bijna 5% hoger, terwijl Dollar Tree, dat goed presteerde tijdens de laatste recessie, bijna 15% is gedaald. Goldman Sachs gaf het aandeel vorige week een koopadvies.

Heads-Up on Earnings 

The following companies are set to publish their quarterly earnings reports this week:

Pre-Market 27-May Royal Bank of Canada
After-Market 27-May Autodesk – Q1 2021
After-Market 27-May Workday Inc – Q1 2021
Pre-Market 28-May Dollar Tree – Q1 2020
14.00 UTC 28-May Dollar General – Q1 2020
After-Market 28-May Salesforce – Q1 2021
After-Market 28-May Costco Wholesale Corp – Q3 2020
After-Market 28-May Dell Technologies – Q1 2021

 

Highlights on XRay this Week 

17.00 UTC 25-May Blonde Markets
15.30 UTC 26-May Weekly Gold Forecast
10.00 UTC 27-May The Marketsx Experience: Platform Walkthrough
14.45 UTC 28-May Master the Markets with Andrew Barnett
12.25 UTC  29-May US PCE: Live Market Analysis

 

Key Economic Events

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

08.00 UTC 25-May German Ifo Business Climate
06.00 UTC 26-May German GfK Consumer Climate
14.00 UTC 26-May US CB Consumer Confidence
01.30 UTC 27-May Australia Construction Work Done (Q1)
01.00 UTC 28-May New Zealand ANZ Business Confidence
01.30 UTC 28-May AU Private Capital Expenditure (QoQ)
12.00 UTC 28-May Germany Preliminary CPI
12.30 UTC 28-May US Durable Goods Orders
14.30 UTC 28-May US EIA Natural Gas Storage
15.00 UTC 28-May US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
23.01 UTC 28-May UK GfK Consumer Confidence
23.30 UTC 28-May Japan Unemployment Rate, Flash Industrial Production, Retail Sales
09.00 UTC 29-May Eurozone Flash Inflation
12.30 UTC 29-May Canada GDP (Q1)
12.30 UTC 29-May US PCE, Personal Income, Personal Spending

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