Marketmind: Megacaps scatter in the cloud

by | Oct 25, 2023 | Business

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

Differing fortunes in artificial intelligence and cloud computing have seen the herd of Big Tech megacaps scatter as the earnings season unfolds – offsetting optimism on Wednesday about a well-flagged and long-delayed Chinese economic stimulus.

After the bell on Tuesday, Google-parent Alphabet’s reported its cloud business suffered in the September quarter while rival Microsoft said its equivalent took off, suggesting the Windows maker’s AI investment had given it the edge.

While Alphabet’s shares fell 7% in out-of-hours trading, Microsoft’s surged 5%. Together, both stocks account for nearly 10% of the entire S&P500.

Meta, IBM and Boeing are among the blue chips updating later on Wendesday.

But after the S&P500 staged an impressive 0.7% bounce on Tuesday, futures were back in the red again ahead of the open.

The negativity cut across what was otherwise a more upbeat macro picture and a calmer bond market following recent ructions.

Of the 118 S&P500 companies that have reported so far, 82% have beaten analysts’ expectations and the estimated aggregate annual profit growth is tracking an above-forecast 2.5% – according to LSEG data.

What’s more, the latest U.S. business surveys for October showed activity picked up more steam into the fourth quarter, manufacturing returned to expansion and price pressures continued to ease.

The Goldilocks-like reading of brisk growth without overheated inflation underlined the theme of U.S. exceptionalism given its contrast to euro zone and Japanese business weakness in sister surveys for this month. And the dollar is climbing again as a result.

There was some brightening of the global growth picture, however, after China’s top parliamentary body approved one trillion yuan ($137 billion) in sovereign bond sales to help rebuild areas hit by this year’s floods and improve urban infrastructure to cope with future disasters.

Japan’s government is considering spending around $33 billion for payouts to low-income households and an income tax cut to cushion the blow from rising living costs.

Japanese and Chinese stocks advanced.

But the relatively modest fiscal moves cannot yet dispel deeper anxiety about China’s ongoing property bust and worrying geopolitics. Chinese developer Country Garden is deemed in default on a dollar bond for the first time, Bloomberg News reported.

And rising government borrowing and fiscal expansion are hardly what bond investors would be cheering in the United States or Europe right now, where growing worries about debt supply and lax budget policies have seen borrowing costs soar to 16-year highs.

With another 5-year Treasury auction of more than $50 billion due later in the day, U.S. Treasury yields hovered just below recent highs and the benchmark 10-year was at 4.88%.

Congressional dysfunction over electing a House speaker continued after 22 days of hiatus.

Elsewhere, the Bank of Canada is expected to keep its interest rates on hold later – encouraged by signs of ebbing inflation there.

In Europe, Deutsche Bank shares surged 7% after it promised more share buybacks next year and said it may return more capital to shareholders than it had previously envisaged.

But shares in Worldline more than halved after the French payment company cut its full-year targets as the economic slowdown hurt its business in key markets including Germany.

Key developments that should provide more direction to U.S. markets later on Wednesday:

* Bank of Canada policy decision and press conference

* U.S. Sept new home sales

* U.S. corporate earnings: Meta, IBM, Boeing, ServiceNow, Thermo Fisher Scientific, United Health, General Dynamics, Whirlpool, Moody’s, Ameriprise, Baker Hughes, Teradyne, Equinix, Align, Everest, EQT, CME, ADP, Otis, Hess, Hilton Worldwide etfc

* Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell gives brief introductory remarks before public policy event in Washington

* U.S. Treasury auctions 5-year notes, 2-yr floating rate notes

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Barbara Lewis; [email protected]. Twitter: @reutersMikeD)


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