FTSE eases back from post-pandemic high
Mixed start for stocks following a solid performance in the prior session and a mixed one in the US. After a slow start European stock markets – the Stoxx 600 and DAX – eked out fresh records Thursday and the FTSE 100 managed to hit its highest level in 20 months. In the US, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 rose but the Dow was dragged into the red by Disney. This morning, the FTSE 100 is down 0,3% and the rest of the major bourses are trading a little firmer. No sign yet of any major drawdown or volatility, but it seems too quiet.
Inflation is front of mind for investors this week after the US CPI report, which has driven a sharp rally in gold and the US dollar. Today’s University of Michigan inflation expectations will be closely watched, although it is unlikely to drive any material shift in the post-CPI momentum. Expectations are forecast to rise to 5% from 4.8% last month. We’re also watching the UoM consumer sentiment data and JOLTS job openings – a marker for the health of the US labour market, although these days, not such a great signal due to the massive mismatches and dislocation in the market post-pandemic.
Gold has pulled back from a 5-month high hit in the wake of the inflation data, holding around $1,855 in early trade. USD is solid to start the session with DXY consolidating above 95. Oil fell with spot WTI at $80 amid a resurgent US dollar and uncertainty over the path of US policy in terms of addressing higher gasoline prices. Higher case rates in Europe and Asia may also weigh – Austria heading to full medical apartheid with a lockdown for the unvaccinated.
AstraZeneca shares fell 3% after earnings missed expectations, though it said it would start making a profit from its Covid vaccine from the fourth quarter onwards. ‘The Company is now expecting to progressively transition the vaccine to modest profitability as new orders are received. COVID‑19 vaccine sales in Q4 2021 are expected to be a blend of the original pandemic agreements and new orders, with the large majority coming from pandemic agreements,” the firm said in today’s Q3 trading update. Earnings per share of $1.08 was short of expectations but management stuck to its full-year guidance. Shares are up 24% YTD and it remains in a good place to tap growing demand.
Shares in EV darling Rivian soared by another 22% to $123. Tesla ticked lower by just 0.4% after it filings showed founder Elon Musk had offloaded $5bn in stock. At the incredible valuation for Rivian, Musk tweeted: “I hope they’re able to achieve high production & breakeven cash flow. That is the true test. There have been hundreds of automotive startups, both electric & combustion, but Tesla is only American carmaker to reach high volume production & positive cash flow in past 100 years.”