US pre-mkts: Bank earnings strong, Cat upgrade

Very strong bank earnings coming through this morning – JPM led the way yesterday and the latest numbers from peers also look strong. Real good signs of improving loan growth in particular is a positive for BAC.

US pre-market key pointers

Bank of America (BAC)

Strong performance from Bank of America.

  • Net income of $7.7bn, EPS of $0.85 vs $0.71 expected
  • Revenues up 12% year-on-year – JPM was just up 2.2%
  • Net interest income up 10% to $11.1bn – most rate-sensitive of the big banks
  • Record M&A activity – Noninterest income up 14% to $11.7bn, driven by record asset management fees, strong investment banking revenue and higher sales and trading revenues
  • Expenses down on the quarter, flat on the year
  • $624m clawback from bad loan provisions – bottom line flattered less than the JPM numbers.
  • Stock up pre-mkt to tune of 2.5%, having fallen 0.92% yesterday in sympathy with JPM, which is trading mildly higher in pre-mkt.

Wells Fargo (WFC)

Wells Fargo results showed:

  • Net income of $5.1bn, EPS $1.17 vs $0.98 expected
  • Net interest income was down 5%, due to lower loan balances that reflect soft demand, also higher prepayments, lower yields
  • Results include $1.7bn decrease in credit loss provisions – equivalent to $0.30 per share.
  • Pre-mkt trades +1%, having slipped 1.3% yesterday.

Meanwhile, ahead of the cash open on Wall Street, US futures indicate all the major averages will open higher. SPX seen opening up 30+pts at just under 4,400, Dow Jones +200pts at 34,610, NDX at 14,900. Risk looking solid.

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance reported earnings $1.17, vs $1.02 expected, revenues $1bn ahead of expectations, cost-cutting programme a year ahead of schedule. US comparable sales up 8.1% from a year before.
  • UnitedHealth shares +2% pre-mkt after reporting earnings beat and raised guidance.
  • Caterpillar +1% pre-mkt, bouncing of its weakest level since Jan, as Cowen advises clients to buy ahead of the first ‘megacycle’ in 14 years, initiates with ‘Outperform’ rating and PT of $241.
  • Tesla shares are up pre-mkt to their best level in 7 months.
  • Boeing down 1% pre-mkt after report says co. dealing with new Dreamliner defect, production problems
  • FTSE 100 at HOD just a whisker under 7,200
  • Dollar continues to struggle. GBPUSD making a fresh 3-week high at 1.37334.
  • Gold also trades at HOD at $1,800, sitting on its 100-day SMA.
  • Treasury yields lower, 10s at 1.532%

Wochenausblick: Bereiten Sie sich auf die Flut der Q3-Geschäftsberichte vor

Wall Street wird diese Woche vor lauter Quartalsberichten brummen, da es diese Woche mit der Q3-Earnings-Season ernst wird. Auf der Zahlenseite erwarten uns die US-VPI-Zahlen, sowie ein Blick hinter die Kulissen der Fed mit den jüngsten FOMC-Sitzungsprotokollen.

Wichtige Inflations-Metrik mit US-VPI-Bericht

Zuerst steht die Veröffentlichung des Verpraucherpreisindex-Bericht am Mittwoch an, der die Inflation in den USA bemisst.

Nach der Veröffentlichung der August-Zahlen im September halten sich Jerome Powell und seine Kollegen an das bekannte Drehbuch: dass all diese hohe Inflation nur vorübergehend ist. Werden die Zahlen am Mittwoch das untermauern?

Im Vergleich zeigte der letzte, im September veröffentlichte VPI-Bericht eine kleine Abkühlung im August. Die zugrundeliegenden Preise stiegen am langsamsten seit 6 Monaten. Insgesamt stieg der VPI 0,3% nachdem er im Juli bereits 0,5% zugelegt hatte. In den 12 Monaten bis August stieg der VPI 5,3%, nachdem er im Jahresvergleich für Juli um 5,4% in die Höhe geschossen war.

Einige Fed-Mitglieder sind aber nicht besorgt.

„Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, dass dies vorübergehend erhöhte Preise sind, die auch wieder sinken werden, wenn Lieferengpässe behoben sind“, sagte der Präsident der Chicagoer Fed, Charles Evans, gegenüber CNBC. „Ich glaube es könnte länger dauern als wir erwarten, definitiv, da habe ich keine Zweifel. Aber ich glaube, dass die weitere Anstieg dieser Preise unwahrscheinlich ist.“

Treibstoffpreise steigen aber. Öl und Gas schossen letzte Woche in die Höhe. Höhere Ölpreise deuten im Allgemeinen auf höhere Input- und Transportkosten in mehreren Sektoren hin, die dann auf den Verbraucher abgewälzt werden können, was zu allgemein höheren Preisen führt. Vor dem Hintergrund könnten sich die höheren Energiepreise und ihre Auswirkungen deutlicher im VPI-Bericht des nächsten Monats hervortreten anstatt dem vom Mittwoch.

Sitzungsprotokolle des FOMC-Treffens könnten Einblicke ins Denken der Fed geben

Mittwoche sehen wir auch die Veröffentlichung des FOMC-Sitzungsprotokolle für das Treffen im September.

Wir wissen mittlerweile alle was kommt: Zinsen bleiben niedrig; Zurücknahme kommt bald.

Wir wissen aber auch, dass die Falken unter den Fed-Mitgliedern mit früher als erwarteten Zinserhöhungen rechnen. Es gibt das Gefühl, dass ein Anstieg der Zinsen im nächsten Jahr kommen könnte.

Der Vorsitzende Powell stimmte bei denen mit ein, die vor dem Nicht-Anheben der Schuldenbremse warnten. Finanzministerin Janet Yellen warnte Ende September, dass der US-Regierung das Geld ausgehen könnte, wenn nichts unternommen wird.

Die Nichtbedienung der US-Schulden würde Powell zufolge der US-Wirtschaft „deutliche Schäden“ zufügen. Präsident Biden hat angedeutet, dass ein Anstieg der Staatsschulden möglich ist, sodass die Krise vielleicht noch abgewendet werden kann.

Was die Steuerung der Wirtschaft angeht ist aber wahrscheinlich die Rücknahme die große Maßnahme. Man glaubt, dass die Fed ihre Unterstützung schrittweise zurücknehmen wird, bis sie bis Ende 2022 komplett zurückgenommen ist.

Es ist ein starkes Zeichen, dass die USA schnell zur wirtschaftlichen Normalität zurückkehren wollen. Aber die Bedrohung durch neue COVID-19-Varianten steht immer noch im Raum. Man kann nur hoffen, dass 2022 keine neue Delta-Variante zu einer Welle neuer Lockdowns führt oder die Fed steht im Regen.

Die Earning Season ist wieder hier

Gehen wir zur Wall Street. Wir stehen kurz vor Veröffentlichung der Gewinne des dritten Quartals von den ganz Großen, da diese Woche wieder die Earnings Season beginnt.

Wie immer beginnen wir mit den großen Investitionsbanken, die im Q2 wunderschöne Wachstumszahlen verzeichnet haben. Wird der Trend anhalten? JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs und andere bringen den Ball dieses Quartal ins Rollen. Der erste Geschäftsbericht kommt am Mittwoch von JP.

Obwohl es so aussieht als ob sich das Wachstum vom sehr guten zweiten Quartal 2021 verlangsamt, könnte uns immer noch ein sehr leistungsstarkes Quartal erwarten. Die US-Finanzdatengruppe FactSet prognostiziert für S&P500-Unternehmen ein Gewinnwachstum von 27,6% im dritten Quartal – die dritthöchste Jahresgewinnwachstumsrate des Index seit 2010.

Im Q3 gibt es auch noch Lieferengpässe. Es gab sie in der ersten Jahreshälfte, aber mit dem Anstieg der Preise von Rohmaterialien und Energie könnten wir eine Verlangsamung der Ergebnisse sehen.

Apple und Konsorten haben zwar gewarnt, dass sich das Absatzwachstum gegen Ende des Jahres verlangsamen könnte, aber lassen Sie uns mal abwarten, was passiert.

Unser Kalender für die US-Earnings-Season hält Sie auf dem Laufenden, welche Mega Caps wann melden, damit Sie Ihre Trades basierend auf den Gewinnberichten dieses Quartals planen können. Unten finden Sie eine Übersicht über die Unternehmen, die diese Woche ihre Geschäftsberichte veröffentlichen.

Vigtige økonomiske data

Date  Time (GMT+1  Asset  Event 
Tue Oct-12  10:00am  EUR  ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  10:00am  EUR  German ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  3:00pm  USD  JOLTS Job Openings 
       
  6:01pm  USD  10-y Bond Auction 
Wed Oct-13  1:30pm  USD  CPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core CPI m/m 
  6:01pm  USD  30-y Bond Auction 
  7:00pm  USD  FOMC Meeting Minutes 
       
Thu Oct-14  1:30am  AUD  Employment Change 
  1:30am  AUD  Unemployment Rate 
  1:30pm  USD  PPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  4:00pm  USD  Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Fri Oct-15  1:30pm  USD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Empire State Manufacturing Index 
  3:00pm  USD  Prelim UoM Consumer Sentiment 
  Tentative  USD  Treasury Currency Report 

 

Key earnings data 

Wed 13 Oct  Thu 14 Oct  Fri 15 Oct 
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) PMO  Bank of America Corp (BAC) PMO  Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS) PMO 
     
Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) E  Citigroup Inc (C) PMO  Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS) PMO 
     
  Morgan Stanley (MS) PMO   

 

Stocks start the session weaker

Stocks in Europe are a tad weaker at the open after Monday’s rally, sticking to the recent well-worn ranges. US trading returns today with futures indicating a flattish open. There was a decent session in Asia overnight spurred on by strong data from China with the Nikkei 225 touching 30,000 for the first time since April, and the Topix hitting a 31-year high as the technical breakout from last week continues. Stocks in Shanghai and Shenzen were also up +1%. Despite all the worries about supply chains and Delta, Chinese exports surged in August by 25.6% year-on-year, up from the 19.3.% increase in July and beating the forecast of 17.1%. Sticking with China for a moment, shares in Evergrande, the indebted real estate giant, sank further to the weakest since 2015 as the fallout from its default risk continues to ripple through the property sector, where bond yields are rising fast. 

 

With stock futures doing little in the US and coming off the back of a three-day weekend, the focus will be on the cash equity open later on Wall Street in the wake of Friday’s disappointing jobs report and the lapsing of those last $300 stimulus cheques.  Still the relentless low-vol grind up is holding and Barclays today has lifted its S&P 500 price target to 4600 from 4400. Question is whether Sep/Oct produces a spike in volatility. A 3% drawdown – mild by anyone’s standards – takes you back to the 50-day SMA support that has held up so well this year, while a 10% correction tests the 200-day SMA. Technicals at the moment indicate sideways action and a loss of upwards momentum – merely a question of timing as to when we get a rollover. 

 

Interesting comments from the Bank of England’s Michael Saunders this morning, who said it might be right to think of rates going up in the next year or so. He indicated that the economy was already about the same size as it was before the pandemic, that inflation has been stronger than expected, and that the country does not need as much stimulus as previously. However, it should be noted that Saunders is about the most hawkish on the nine-member MPC so does not speak for the central consensus. I don’t think it tells us much we don’t already know but it underscores the conundrum facing central banks today as to when to ease off the gas. Saunders makes an important point in noting that continuing asset purchases when inflation is 4% might cause medium-term inflation expectations to drift higher, which could cause a more severe monetary policy response down the road. If central banks don’t get a grip on it now, they could be faced with bigger problems later – but they are all deeply paranoid about choking off recovery too soon. GBPUSD tried to rally on the comments but quickly reversed to hit its weakest since Sep 2nd. 

 

E-commerce winner DS Smith shares rose after the company said trading remains strong with solid box volume growth over 2019 levels, particularly in the US and southern Europe. But input costs continue to rise with management mentioning notable increases in the cost of energy and transportation. ‘Given the strong demand for our packaging we have seen good progress towards recovering these increases,’ the company said. Shares rallied over 2% in early trade.

 

The Reserve Bank of Australia stuck to its taper but will extend the purchase of bond purchases at $4bn a week from Nov 2021 to Feb 2022.  The RBA said the decision ‘reflects the delay in the economic recovery and the increased uncertainty associated with the Delta outbreak’. Looks like the RBA is trying to neutralise the taper they announced recently without actually rowing it back.  

 

Oil prices just tracking sideways after running into the near-term trend resistance last week. Bullish MACD crossover is still in play but momentum clearly drifting. Saudi price cut has tamed bulls but growth in Chinese exports is a +ve.

Spot Oil Chart 07.09.2021

Stocks flattish ahead of US jobs report

A decline in US weekly jobless claims to their lowest level since the pandemic began was greeted by new record highs on Wall Street. To be fair, just about anything is greeted by a new all-time high. Initial claims came in at 340k for the week ended August 28th, versus expectations of 345k, and the lowest since March 2020. But it wasn’t all good news. The total number of continuing claims in the week ending August 14th was 12,186,158, an increase of 178,526 from the previous week. Meanwhile, while that ADP number on Wednesday was a big miss, and as noted here before, the report is not a great predictor for the nonfarms. Indeed, lately, it’s been spectacularly inaccurate.  Elsewhere, US durables orders ex-defence were –1.1% month-on-month, while factory orders ex-transport +0.8% vs +1.4% in the prior month. 

Today’s nonfarm payrolls are the main event. The Federal Reserve has tied monetary policy tightly to the labour market and is yet to see the ‘substantial further progress’ it requires to start tapering bond purchases, let alone raise rates. Therefore, the pace of job creation will give markets a signal as to the pace and timing of the Fed’s long-expected taper. Expectations are running around 720k for today’s print.  

 

Ahead of the jobs data, China’s slowdown is striking a downbeat note for risk this morning. Caixin’s services PMI slid into contraction, hitting 46.7, its lowest reading since April 2020. Meanwhile, there is a report saying that the highly indebted Chinese real estate beast Evergrande is facing demands from creditors for immediate payback. A useful thread on the situation can be read here. 

 

European markets opened broadly lower though the FTSE is making some headway of sorts. The Nikkei 225 jumped 2% on the prospect of yet more stimulus as PM Suga resigned over the handling of the pandemic outbreak. Elsewhere the dollar keeps softer and gold consolidates above $1,800 with Treasury yields holding at 1.30%. Oil is steady with WTI a little under the $70 mark it breached in a strong rally yesterday following the EIA inventory draw and the record implied demand. 

 

Stagflation:  Following revisions to Q3 GDP estimates by Goldman and Bank of America, the Atlanta Fed slashed its GDP forecast to 3.7% from 5.3%. At the same time, Morgan Stanley cut its estimate for the third quarter expansion to just 2.9% from 5.3%. The Atlanta Fed update incorporated the latest auto sales – Ford reported yesterday that its sales fell by a third in August from last year due in large part to the chip shortage. GM will idle most of its North American factories in September as a result of the semi-conductor problem. 

 

Energy prices are soaring – particularly natural gas, particularly in Europe. “Let me calm a little bit the language of crisis,” Beatriz Yordi, director of carbon at the European Commission said. “We don’t expect it’s going to be a lasting situation.” Transitory, always transitory…And this is when Europe is warm – prices tend to spike in the cold weather, not the summer. Storage data showed a rise in stocks but the market remains tight. Working gas in storage was 2,871 Bcf as of Friday, August 27th, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net increase of 20 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 579 Bcf less than last year at this time and 222 Bcf below the five-year average of 3,093 Bcf. 

Stocks tick higher after weak open, OPEC sticks to the plan

European stock markets showed some signs of wanting to kick on after shrugging off some early weakness at the start of the session. The FTSE 100 is handicapped to the tune of 13pts already due to ex-dividend factors but the overall tone was initially one of caution as yesterday’s ADP jobs miss has investors looking ahead to tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls. Slightly hawkish chatter around the European Central Bank is also maybe leading to some caution, whilst there is yet further evidence of China’s crackdown on tech firms as it hauls up 11 ride-hailing for ‘illegal behaviour’. After an hour’s trade the main bourses were trading with a bit more confidence, up by around 0.1-0.2%,  but still stuck in recent ranges.

 

Wall Street ended the day largely flat with defensive/bond proxies real estate and utilities leading the gainers, whilst risk-on sectors like energy and financials were the weakest. US 10yr yields at 1.30% in the middle of the week’s range. Note continued rotation into mega cap tech with Apple and Alphabet hitting record highs and lifting the Nasdaq Composite to another all-time peak, though both stocks pared gains to finish off their highs. Reopening did better in Europe yesterday as the Stoxx 600 outperformed.

 

Zoom rebounded very mildly as Cathie Wood said she’d bought the stock on the 16% dip earlier this week. Wood also added some Robinhood and there is a new transparent ETF being launched, stuffed full of the same stocks the other ETFs are invested in. Suppose it makes it easier to say you’re not overconcentrated – just open a new fund to bid up the stocks in the others. The Transparent ETF will be at least 80% invested in stocks in the Transparency Index published by Solactive. Excluded from the index are stocks in the following industries:  (i) alcohol, (ii) banking, (iii) chemicals, (iv) confectionary, (v) fossil fuel transportation, (vi) gambling, (vii) metals, (viii) mineral, (ix) natural gas, (x) oil, and (xi) tobacco. The SEC filing can be found here.

 

Stagflation: ADP payrolls were a big ol’ miss at just +374k vs the +638k expected. Well over half (+200k) were in leisure and hospitality as reopening continues. Not a great indicator for Friday’s nonfarm payrolls and this would potentially give the Fed more rope to delay the taper. If data keeps getting worse, or less good, rather, then you can see the FOMC start to voice concerns at the Sep meeting and we could be in a position where the US central bank actually doesn’t taper asset purchases this year. I still think they will, but this is a very dovish, somewhat politically-motivated Fed with jobs on its mind and Powell looking to keep his job. 

 

The US ISM PMI showed slowing growth and more inflation, albeit the pace of price growth is cooling. The Prices Index registered 79.4%, down 6.3 percentage points compared to the July figure of 85.7%. This was its first reading below 80% since December 2020. Labour shortage evident with the Employment Index slipping into contraction.  

 

Anything really interesting? Well, that Employment Index reading in the ISM neatly matches the ADP report, so something to consider for anyone expecting a blowout NFP on Friday. Want to hire, can’t hire. Just wait ‘til the stimmy cheques wear off. Federal stimmy cheques end Monday Sep 6th – Labor Day ironically – although about half of states have already stopped them. Companies might find it easier to hire thereafter. US initial claims later today seen at 345k, which will also be watched with some scrutiny ahead of the NFP tomorrow. 

 

FTSE reshuffle: Meggitt and Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets to join FTSE 100, whilst there are seven changes to the FTSE 250. Just Eat Takeaway.com and Weir Group will leave the FTSE 100 index. You have to wonder why on earth the FTSE Russell bods think that it makes sense to promote Morrisons just as it’s about to become a private company – particularly as it’s only due to the bidding war that the share price has risen enough to get in. Joining the FTSE 250 are Baltic Classifieds Group, Blackrock Throgmorton Trust, Bridgepoint Group, Darktrace, Draper Esprit and Endeavour Mining plc. Couple of recent IPOs in there that have been performing well since listing. Out go Wickes, Tullow Oil, Temple Bar Investment Trust, Civitas Social Housing and Avon Protection. 

 

Melrose shares rose to the top of the FTSE as it returned to profit and reported trading ahead of expectations, with better profit margins, better earnings per share and significantly lower net debt. It also said the balance sheet has room for a significant further Capital Return next year. Profits rose to £223m from a loss of £11m last year. Shares rose 5% in early trade. 

 

JD Sports still spitting feathers over the CMA’s continued refusal to allow it to acquire Footasylum. The regulator still seems to be taking a high street market share approach with regards the two must-have brands – Nike and Adidas – whilst seemingly not factoring in the amount of direct to consumer business they do already and plan to do in future. Retail changes all of the time and the pandemic has accelerated trends that mean blocking JD Sports from acquiring Footasylum increasingly makes less sense. 

 

ECB speakers are doing the rounds: It’s an interesting moment for the European Central Bank next week so we’re paying close attention to what some of the ECB speakers are up to. After inflation rose to a decade-high 3% this week, leading hawk Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank to call for stimulus to be rolled back.  

 

Hawks are gaining confidence albeit the recovery is showing signs of lost momentum. Vice President Luis de Guindos told a Spanish newspaper that “the economy is performing better in 2021 than we expected, and this will be reflected in the projections that will be published in the coming days”. 

 

Next week on Sep 9th the ECB will need to take a decision on the future path of bond purchases. De Guindos hinted that withdrawal of stimulus is on the cards. “If inflation and the economy recover, then there will logically be a gradual normalisation of monetary policy, and of fiscal policy, too,” he said. 

 

But hawks have been in the minority for many years. ECB policymaker Yannis Stournaras was also on the tape, saying the central bank should be prudent, cautious regarding course of inflation, but stressed that wages are not yet following the course of inflation. This kind of follows what ECB chief economist Philip Lane said last week when he reiterated the central bank’s believe in the transience of inflationary pressures. 

 

OPEC+ stuck to its plan, raising output by 400k bpd, and increasing its 2022 demand outlook amid growing confidence within the bloc and the fundamentals for the market. Members noted that while the pandemic has cast a shadow on sentiment, market fundamentals have strengthened and OECD stocks continue to fall as recovery accelerates. A well-telegraphed move but it shows more consensus than was evident last time when talks dragged on for days. 

 

On stocks, US oil inventories shrank sharply last week, according to EIA data. Stocks fell by 7.2m barrels, double the draw that was expected. However, gasoline inventories rose as Tropical Storm Henry shut driving on the US east coast. Nevertheless, total product supplied, the key measure of implied demand, hit an all-time high of more than 22m bpd. The wash-out in July and August on delta fears may have played out enough to allow speculators to come back in as physical markets remain tight and fundamentals still solid.

 

After touching old support just under $67 WTI trades around $68 this morning as it continues to maintain a slightly bullish medium-term bias hugging the trend line, near-term descending trend is approaching but momentum is already fading a touch before this.

Spot Oil Chart 02.09.2021

Week Ahead: All eyes on US jobs report

A busy week ahead for the markets with the US nonfarm payrolls as the marquee event, as well as two major central bank statements.

Let’s start with the latest US nonfarm payrolls print.

June’s reading performed way above expectations, and the markets will be watching closer than ever when the latest data is released on Friday.

850,000 payrolls were added to the US economy in June – way above the 720,000 forecast. This was also the sixth consecutive month where new additions were made.

However, the unemployment rate rose from 5.8% to 5.9% – higher than the predicted 5.6% rate forecast. Labour force participation, the go-to metric for gauging workforce shortages nationwide rate didn’t budge at 61.6%.

Hiring appears to have dipped a little overall throughout the spring. There are a couple of reasons for this: virus fears; childcare costs; better unemployment insurance; stimulus & furlough schemes. However, it’s been reported that firms have upped wages in order to entice workers into taking new positions.

The employment rate is also an important measure for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell when assessing stimulus and support levels for the US economy.

We know Powell and co. are relatively comfortable about letting the economy run hot, even in the face of rising inflation. As Powell pointed out at the last Fed meeting, there remains a gap of 7.5 million jobs missing from the US economy, although some reports suggest the figure is 6.8m. Until these open positions are filled, expected more Fed stimulus and support.

In terms of indices, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq responded very well to last month’s bumper jobs report, reaching new record highs. Indices traders will be hoping for more of the same with July’s print.

Sticking with US-related data, ISM, one of the key purchasing manager index reporters for the American economy, shares its manufacturing and services outlooks this week.

US manufacturing was still robust last month, according to ISM’s PMI report, but supply chain issues continue to inhibit growth. The factories printing was rated at 60.6 – down from the 61.2 score registered in May.

Momentum is still strong. Four out of the five subindexes rated by ISM showed high growth. Consumer interest in new goods is still high, despite rising prices. But labour shortages, coupled with the rising price of commodities and materials, has caused bottlenecks and shortages as manufacturers struggle to keep up with demand.

“Record-long raw-material lead times, wide-scale shortages of critical basic materials, rising commodities prices and difficulties in transporting products are continuing to affect all segments of the manufacturing economy,” said Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.

The same can be said for the services sector: it expanded in June, but that expansion had softened compared with a best-ever May rating. In this case, the index fell from 63.5 to 60.1.

“The rate of expansion in the services sector remains strong, despite the slight pullback in the rate of growth from the previous month’s all-time high,” explained Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee Anthony Nieves. “Challenges with materials shortages, inflation, logistics and employment resources continue to be an impediment to business conditions.”

Keeping that momentum going is all important for America’s economic health – especially as the US is expected to be the driving force behind the global economic recovery across the rest of this year and beyond.

Moving away from data, a pair of central bank statements are on the way next week.

Starting with the Bank of England, rising inflation is the big one here.

In June, inflation reached 2.5%, thanks to widespread increase in consumer goods. This could just be pent-up demand in the British economy finally being unleashed, but as inflation is now at its highest levels for three years, economists’ nerves may be tested.

Governor Bailey has already made his stance clear: the price jumps are only temporary, and we could see it run as high as 3% by the year’s end. It should then fall away back to acceptable levels after that. Currently, the BoE has a mandate to steer inflation towards 2% and keep it there.

However, Bailey has stated he would be ready to pitch rate hikes should inflation run out of this control.

The Reserve Bank of Australia also shares its latest policy thinking and direction this week.

Chances are, no big changes are coming. Governor Philip Lowe has been very clear that no rate hike will be forthcoming until at least 2024. That’s despite Australia’s strong economic fundamentals.

The historic low cash rate of 0.1% isn’t going anywhere. What’s interesting, however, is that July’s meeting led to some tweaks in Australia’s QE programme. The scale has been pulled back. From September onwards, the rate of RBA bond purchases will slow from AUD$5bn to AUD$4bn per week.

The groundwork for more tweaks to policy has been laid by Governor Lowe. Let’s see what this week’s meeting brings in terms of any small-scale changes.

We can’t finish a preview of the week’s key events without touching on US earnings season.

Week three of large cap earnings reports for Q2 2021 begins on Monday. It’s not as busy as the previous week’s reporting flurry, but we still have some significant reports coming in, namely Alibaba and Uber.

Check out our US earnings calendar for more information on which major firms are sharing earnings reports this week or see below.

Major economic data

Date Time (GMT+1) Asset Event
Mon 2-Aug 8.55am EUR German Final Manufacturing PMI
  3.00pm USD US ISM Manufacturing PMI
 
Tue 3-Aug 5.30am AUD RBA Rate Statement
  5.30am AUD Cash Statement
  11.45pm NZD Employment Change q/q
  11.45pm NZD Unemployment Rate
 
Wed 4-Aug 2.30am AUD Retail Sales m/m
  1.15pm USD ADP Nonfarm Employment Change
  3.00pm USD US ISM Services PMI
  3.30pm OIL US Crude Oil Inventories
 
Thu 5-Aug 12.00pm GBP Asset Purchase Facility
  12.00pm GBP BOE Monetary Policy Report
  12.00pm GBP MPC Asset Purchase Facility Votes
  12.00pm GBP Monetary Policy Summary
  12.00pm GBP MPC Official Bank Rate Votes
  12.00pm GBP Official Bank Rate
  3.30pm GAS US Natural Gas Inventories
 
Fri 6-Aug 2.30am AUD RBA Monetary Policy Statement
  1.30pm CAD Employment Change
  1.30pm CAD Unemployment Rate
  1.30pm USD Average Hourly Earnings q/q
  1.30pm USD Nonfarm Employment Change
  1.30pm USD Unemployment Rate

 

Key earnings data

Mon 2 Aug Tue 3 Aug Wed 4 Aug Thu 5 Aug
Arista Networks Alibaba General Motors Ball Corp
Activision Blizzard The Kraft Heinz Co Beyond Meat
Roku Inc Illumina
Uber Technologies Square Inc
The Trade Desk
Virgin Galactic Holdings

Wall St notches fresh record as US growth surges, Astra beats, Barclays falls

  • Amazon delivers another blowout tech earnings, Twitter misses
  • AstraZeneca tops FTSE 100 after earnings beat expectations, Barclays falls
  • Darktrace IPO off to a flyer

 

Wall Street closed at another record high, copper surged to a new ten-year peak above $10,000 a tonne and oil firmed up above $64 for WTI as the strong cyclical play based on the reopening story held up. The S&P 500 rallied 0.7% to close above 4,211, a new all-time closing high. European stocks are a firmer this morning after a bit of a false start on Thursday that saw early gains erased as the session wore on.

 

US data continues to look very impressive. GDP rose 6.4%, which was a little lighter than expected but still very strong. But this is just the start – we are waiting for the big fiscal relief and infrastructure spending to feed into the data over the next three quarters as the reopening really takes off. New York will be fully open without any restrictions from July 1st. Consumer spending is up big, rising more than 10%. Inflation is feeding through: The PCE price index increased 3.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the core PCE price index increased 2.3 percent. Initial jobless claims decreased by 13,000 to 553,000 in the week ended April 24th, the new post-pandemic low.

 

Good numbers from AstraZeneca this morning as revenues rose 15% to $7.3bn despite the impact of Covid delaying diagnosis and treatments of other conditions. The vaccine delivered $275m in revenues but is loss-making for now. Shares ticked higher in early trade, rising 2.5% to the top of the footsie. Barclays dragged on the FTSE 100, sliding 6% to the bottom of the index as a drop in investment banking earnings, lower revenues and a cautious outlook took the shine off a doubling in profits. Net income rose to £1.7bn from £605m a year ago but revenues fell 6% to £5.9bn on lower interest rates and lower demand for credit in Britain. Income from its corporate and investment bank declined 1% to £3.6bn as fixed income trading declined 35%. Consumer, cards and payments income fell 22% to £800m. UK income was down 8% to £1.6bn. Looking ahead, Barclays seemed very cautious, particularly about its UK unit, saying it remains uncertain and subject to change depending on the evolution and persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic. And whilst it reported a massive drop in credit impairment charges, it did not reverse any already allocated, which is in contrast to most peers. Surging ecommerce (see Amazon below), helped Smurfit Kappa return a 6% rise in Q1 revenues.

 

Amazon shares rose over 2% in after-hours trade as the company continued the run of blowout tech earnings. Earnings per share hit $15.79 vs. $9.54 expected on revenues of $108.5bn, a rise of 44% from a year before. Income trebled to $8.1bn, with $4.2bn coming from the cloud business. This was another stunning quarter that confirms not only that the likes of Amazon were short-term winners from the pandemic but remains long-term structural champions as consumer trends change and – often forgotten – more and more businesses migrate to the cloud.

 

On the other hand, Twitter shares tumbled 11% in the after-hours market as the company delivered a cautious outlook and it missed on user growth expectation. The company reported revenue of $1.04bn for the quarter, up 28% from $808m a year before. Ad revenues rose 32% year-on year to $899m. Total monetizable users grew 7m to 199m, a little short of the 200m expected. If ever there were a company with immense potential that it repeatedly fails to realise, it’s Twitter.

 

Another Bank Holiday float, but a very different story this time: Shares in Darktrace soared on their debut this morning. Learning a lesson from the Deliveroo flop perhaps, the company priced the IPO at a more conservative 250p, implying a market cap of £1.7bn, but was up around 38% in early trade around 350p, taking the market cap to £2.4bn. Shares are open for conditional trading with unconditional trading to commence under the ticker DARK on May 6th. The right price is very important for an IPO – let people who are getting in after the primary offer a chance to earn something for their trouble, rather than pricing it too aggressively and taking any upside off the table. Darktrace seems to have learned this lesson, with the £1.7bn market cap at the offer well below the £3bn they had previously hoped for. The area of cyber security in which it operates is also one that is seen growing materially over the next few years. For London it’s a welcome thumbs up after the Deliveroo debacle and an encouraging float for future tech listings.

Something strange is happening on Wall Street

Something strange is happening on Wall Street, or at least to a number of individual stocks, which are getting caught up in a battle between a bunch of Reddit day traders and investors and Wall Street hedge funds. Shares in GameStop (GME) surged another 92% on Tuesday to almost $148, with after-hours trade pointing to shares opening up another 42% higher later today. Other companies’ shares are going through the same weird price action. Shares in AMC Entertainment rose 12% yesterday but shot 66% higher in after-hours trade. BlackBerry, Bed, Bath and Beyond and Nokia are among some of the stocks being bid up.

Now even the likes of Elon Musk, Chamath Palihapitiya and Jon Najarian are getting involved. Lists of stocks being shorted by hedge funds are being circulated online and appear at risk of coordinated efforts to bid up these ailing names by the Reddit crowd. It’s a pile-on and there is no telling what other stocks could be next. Luck be to you if you are sitting on the next ‘stonk’ in the firing line.

Among the many aspects of this story that are strange, what is so unusual is the peculiar vigilante morality of the traders pumping the stock on /r/wallstreetbets. They seem hell-bent on taking on Wall Street, they seem to hate hedge funds and threads are peppered with insults about ‘boomer’ money. It’s a generational fight, redistributive and all about robbing the rich to give to the millennial ‘poor’.

What it is demonstrably not about is searching for value. Or at least, whilst there have been fundamental cases on GME put forward by one or two users, the vast majority it seems are working to YOLO (you only live once) their life savings, (or their parent’s) on a stock that they hope will go to the moon.

The problem it seems to me is that they are all working to artificially bid up the price of the security in question. This raises problems about potential securities fraud and specifically market manipulation. Bloomberg’s Matt Levine makes an excellent observation about the possibility of SEC action on this and whether or not the Redditors are carrying out what the regulator might see as an illegal short squeeze. In short, he thinks it could be seen as dodgy, or could be ignored. It’s up for debate still. But is it covert enough to be classed as market manipulation? The argument – that it’s ok because everyone on Reddit knows the game and are in it for fun – I don’t think holds water when we are talking about capital markets in which not all of us are paid-up /r/wallstreetbets members. I would hardly class this as the smooth functioning of financial markets and the SEC will be starting to pay attention.

Which brings me to the other aspect that concerns me is the idea that everyone will win – or at least everyone in their crowd will win. It’s presented as an open goal and all the believers will hold until payday comes.  For every buyer bragging on the way up, there is a seller. For every seller taking profits at the top, there is a ‘schmuck’ buying at the top. Now, this is fine, the Reddit crowd says, if the schmucks are the hedge funds covering their shorts. And not just them: for many Redditors, it’s a badge of honour to have bought at the top. This is weird, to say the least, and hardly the basis for sound investing. Redditors are told to simply hold to force up the price even further. But this is not sustainable forever; it is reasonable to expect that at some point you will want to realize some profits, so you will need to sell. Who do you sell to? Well it cannot always be hedge funds covering shorts – no doubt it will be your peers in the crowd playing the game. When the music stops, someone, or several thousand people, will be left with the bill to pay as the security’s price collapses with no bid coming through on the market.

The Reddit mania is a greater-fool, pure beggar-thy-neighbour trade pure and simple. It is pump and dump cleverly masked by the preachy moralizing about fat cats, boomers and suits. Users are knowingly conspiring to force up the price of an asset well beyond any reasonable expectation of its fundamental value. It’s presented as an attack on the boomer hedge funds, but at its core, it relies on someone else being prepared to pay an even higher price for the security. Nothing short of the Greater Fool Theory in action and ends only one way.

Elsewhere, stocks in Europe were mixed in early trade ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting later today. Shares in Microsoft rose 3% after-hours following a bumper earnings card which further builds the case for a strong tech-led earnings rebound. Today we have earnings from Tesla, Apple, Facebook and Boeing.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) convenes today for its first meeting of 2021, with some new faces (not least Janet Yellen at Treasury) but the same old problems facing the Federal Reserve as it seeks to steer the US economy out of the pandemic. The statement is released at 19:00 (GMT), followed by the press conference with Chair Jay Powell at 19:30.

Not a lot has materially changed since the December meeting, when the Fed provided updated forecasts on the economic trajectory. Vaccines and stimulus support a bullish case for recovery longer term (eventually things will pan out) but near-term risks to the outlook are elevated (vaccines could be slower to reach people, governments may be reluctant to ease restrictions as quickly as we’d hoped back in November + scarring). The one major change of course is the arrival of Biden in the White House. We also have some greater clarity around the stimulus package being discussed and around vaccines (albeit not all positive).

Economic outlook: Whilst the longer-term outlook remains solid enough and perhaps a little firmer given greater clarity around the fiscal side of things and vaccines, near term softness presents risks and calls for the Fed to remain very dovish and hammer home its willingness to remain as accommodative as necessary for as long as required. Recent deterioration in the labour market supports the thesis that the Fed will be disinclined to even signal it is thinking about taking its foot off the pedal. Moreover, whilst there is hope the stimulus-vaccine cavalry are riding to the rescue later this year, there is no immediate boost from these and, if anything, it could take longer to benefit from these than first expected during the rotation trade of Nov-Dec. Whilst the holiday (Thanksgiving + Christmas) rise in cases is easing, clearly there is just not enough visibility yet about the pandemic for the Fed to sound anything other than cautious about the near-term outlook. The Fed will be mindful about scarring to the economy long term, but this only cements the case for greater accommodation today.

Nonfarm employment growth is stalling

Nonfarm employment growth is stalling

 

Financial conditions remain loose and present little by way of a problem for the Fed right now. The recent rise at the long end of the yield curve seems to be down to expected reflationary trends in 2021 and beyond, so is not a major worry. In the last day the yield on 10s has retreated to a three-week low, giving the Fed even less to think about. AIT implies an acceptance of higher inflation anyway, so I’d expect the Fed to remain very relaxed even if/when CPI and PCE prints push up in the coming months.

Financial conditions remain loose

Financial conditions remain loose

 

Breakevens outpacing nominal yields

Breakevens outpacing nominal yields

Earnings Season Preview

  • Wall Street banks kick off earnings season on Friday
  • EPS estimates seen down -10%
  • BofA, Citi calling top on frothy market

The S&P 500 has risen over 1% this week to make a fresh record high, closing above 3,800 for the first time in its history. Ebullience is a factor of the hope in vaccines leading to a return to normal, corporate earnings improving sharply in 2021, and a broadly expansionary fiscal and monetary environment offering succour to equity valuations. So we come into earnings season with markets in overall good shape, arguably looking a bit toppy and expensive as multiples are stretched and vaccines are yet to deliver the bounce back hoped for. Payroll numbers on Friday (-140k) highlight the problem facing the US economy in terms of long-term damage but also the low bar being set. Looking beyond the Q4 figures, guidance on the upcoming Q1 2021 quarter will no doubt be more important than ever.

All else equal, stretched multiples in 2021 ought to contract slightly as rates rise but EPS should improve faster with more expansionary and redistributive pro-cyclical policy in Washington. The Democrat wins in Georgia have taken us to Blue Wave territory, though it’s important to stress that with the Senate 50/50 and one Democrat (Joe Manchin) already saying he would not approve more radical policies, we are not in Blue Tsunami mode.

The average earnings per share (EPS) on the S&P 500 are seen falling by around -10% on last year’s fourth quarter, with revenues seen flat. This compares with the –7% drop in Q3 and –32.2% decline in Q2 at the height of the pandemic and it has been revised up from –12.8% in September. Q1 2021 EPS is currently forecast at +12.6% so a key theme of this season will be to what extent corporates think the growth trend will pick up at the start of this year, or do they fear of a stop-start recovery?

Key themes

  • Are banks optimistic about net interest margins as yield curve steepens?
  • Are banks ready to recommence buybacks? Or, rather, just big are these buybacks going to be?
  • Do they see further reflationary pressures?
  • Do CFOs predict earnings growth to pick up further in Q1 on the vaccine rollout?
  • What do CEOs think about the likely fiscal expansion and procyclical stimulus from a Democrat Congress?
  • Are CEOs fearful of Blue Wave of regulation and higher corporate taxes?
  • How confident are the energy companies about oil price stabilisation persisting?
  • How have the Stay-at-home stocks performed after the pull-forward in demand in Q2 and Q3?
  • Are Zoom, Amazon, Netflix et al able to manage expectations for future growth?

This week’s highlighted stock

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM): JPM has been buoyed by strong trading revenues at its investment bank, whilst bad loans are not as big a problem as investors thought they would be at the peak of the pandemic. The arrival of fresh stimulus has undoubtedly been a boost to bank shares as it limits the damage of bad loans and it helps steepen the yield curve, boosting net interest income. JPM has already committed to buying back $30bn in stock after the Fed announced in December that it will allow Wall Street’s largest banks to resume share buybacks in the first quarter of 2021, subject to certain rules.

In particular, we will be keen to hear from Jamie Dimon and co about their outlook for rates and how this could impact net interest margins and income. In Q3 net interest income was $13.1 billion, down 9% year-over-year, predominantly driven by the impact of lower nominal rates. However, since then the 10-year yield has risen to nine-month highs above 1.10% and spreads have widened with the with the 2s10s curve steepening further to 0.91%, the widest in well over 3 years. The 5s30s spread is at its widest since 2016. Revenues expected $28.337bn. EPS expected $2.50.

Sentiment for JP Morgan Analysis

 

Citigroup Inc (C) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) are also reporting on Friday a day after BlackRock Inc (BLK) gets the show on the road.

Jefferies upgraded JPM and WFC this week, stating that EPS estimates are up on a “less bad” credit outlook. And whilst banks are struggling to drive revenue growth, the analysts believe that “higher long rates and an eventual turn in loan growth could join strong deposit growth, better cost control, and a restart of buybacks as positives”.

US Earnings Calendar Highlights

 

Mon 11 Jan
Tue 12 Jan
Wed 13 Jan
Thu 14 Jan Blackrock Inc (BLC)
Fri 15 Jan JPMorgan Chase Co. (JPM)
Citigroup (C)
Wells Fargo (WFC)
Mon 18 Jan
Tue 19 Jan Bank of America Corp (BAC)
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS)
Netflix Inc (NFLX)
Wed 20 Jan Morgan Stanley (MS)
Proctor & Gamble (PG)
Thur 21 Jan IntelCorp (ITC)
International Business Macines (IBM)
Fri 22 Jan Schlumberger Ltd (STB)
Mon 25 Jan
Tue 26 Jan 3m Co (MMM)
American Express (AXP)
General Electric (GE)
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Verizon Communications Inc (VZ)
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)
Starbucks Group (SBUX)
Wed 27 Jan AT&T (T)
Automatic Data Processing (ADP)
Boeing (BO)
Apple Inc (AAPL)
Facebook (FB)
Thu Jan 27 McDonald’s Corp (MCD)
Fri Jan 28 AON (AON)
Caterpillar Inc (CAT)
Chevron (CVX)
Mon 1 Feb Alphabet Inc C (GOOG)
Alphabet Inc A (GOOGL)
Tue 2 Feb ExxonMobil (XOM)
Lumentum Holdings (LITE)
Pfizer (PFE)
Gilead Sciences Inc (GILD)
Snap IncA (SNAP)
Wed 3 Feb General Motors (GM)
Mastercard (MA)
Spotify Tehcnology SA (SPOT)
Illumina (ILMN)
Microsoft Corp (MSFT)
Mondelez (MDLZ)
PayPal Holdings (PYPL)
Peloton (PTON)
Qualcomm Inc (QCOM)
Tesla Inc (TSLA)
Twilio (TWL)
Thu 4 Feb Coca-Cola Co (KO)
Merck & Co Inc (MRK)
Philip Morris International (PM)
Takeda Pharmaceutical (TAK)
Twitter Inc (TWTR)
Activision Blizzard (ATVI)
Amazon.com Inc (AMZN)
Pinterest (Pins)
Uber Technologies (UBER)
Visa Inc Class A (V)

European stocks mixed after Wall Street sell-off

  • European stocks mixed after Wall Street sell-off ahead of Georgia run-offs
  • Recovery concerns as cases mount, UK heads for tough lockdown
  • OPEC+ talks continue after no agreement reached

European stock markets chopped around the flatline early on Tuesday as investors sought direction following heavy selling on Wall Street and broader concerns about rising coronavirus cases and the impact these will have on the global economic recovery. Sterling retreated from its strongest in almost three years against the dollar as the UK enters its third lockdown, which will be reviewed in mid-February.

Wall Street indices hit record highs but retreated sharply in a wild session that saw the Dow and S&P 500 suffer their biggest declines since Oct 28th. Yesterday, the S&P 500 declined 1.5% but just was off the lows and held on to 3,700 at the close after dropping as low as 3,662. The Dow Jones fell almost 400pts but was about 350pts off its lows of the day by the close. Whilst it was a tough start to the year on Wall Street, rejection of the lows is a positive sign that there is not much appetite to fight the Fed. The Georgia runoffs today will be crucial for the bond market and we should start to get an idea from midnight tonight. Currently, latest polls indicate the Democrats could take both seats and end the GOP’s Senate Dominance.

Today, the FTSE 100 opened down but quickly turned higher, lifted by the likes of Shell and BP, which both rose around 2-3% in the first part of the session. Reopening stocks struggled at the open before paring losses. Although there is a lot of noise around this lockdown in the UK, the long-term narrative remains tentatively optimistic about vaccines allowing a return to relative normality by the spring. Whilst those of with children in school are disappointed that they are being asked to shoulder any of the burden, let alone see their lives upended again, the market is relatively comfortable with the fact Q1 is going to be tough.

Shares in China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile all rose sharply after the NYSE backtracked on plans to delist the companies. Could this be a sign of a more emollient Biden regime? It won’t harm US-China relations. The China-Europe investment deal is also boosting sentiment in Chinese markets. Stocks in China also rose broadly on hopes that Beijing will continue to deliver greater policy support

Next always likes to under-promise and over-deliver. Shares surged 8% in early trade today, hitting the best level in 5 years, after the company reported a far stronger Christmas trading period than it had guided for back in October; something investors should be used to. Full prices shares in the nine weeks to Boxing Day declined 1.1% from a year before, vs the -8% guided at the last update. Having hiked the full-year profit guidance to £365m in October, from the £300m guided in September, management is able to say full-year profit before tax will be £370m this year. Next’s shift to online is really the blueprint for any retailer. Even with a collapse in the high street, it can consistently deliver free cash flow. The pandemic has proved more challenging – suspending buybacks and dividends, and selling off assets have been required to shore up the balance sheet this year. But it remains a resilient company able to generate pre-tax profit on a consistent basis.

The OPEC+ meeting continues today after the 23 nations in the cartel and allied group failed to reach agreement on production levels for February. Russia is pushing for an increase of 500k bpd next month, but Saudi Arabia is warning that this is too soon, and the market remains fragile. The Saudis don’t want to gamble price stability for a few thousand extra barrels, but it is clear unity is a problem and they cannot assume they can take everyone with them for much longer. Prices were volatile with Brent swinging around a range of $53-$51 and WTI moving up close to $50 before finding support at $47.

Gold prices checked after hitting fresh highs after breaking the recent downtrend and securing the move above the 23.6% retracement at $1,929. – momentum still looking positive. US real rates dropped further as breakeven inflation expectations topped 2%.

Gold prices checked after hitting fresh highs after breaking the recent downtrend.

CySEC (EU)

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  • Strategy Builder

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