Early Morning Call: Nasdaq and S&P 500 enter bull market
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 entered bull market yesterday as investors now consider rates to be close to peak levels.
Equity market overview
APAC equity markets were mixed overnight. Hong Kong and China mainland indices were the underperformers, despite positive data. Caixin services PMI climbed back up in expansion territory, after four months below the 50 mark. The index rose to 52.9 in January, from 48 in December.
European indices opened higher this Friday, remaining on their upward trend after the Bank of England (BoE) and European Central Bank (ECB) decided on interest rates. As expected, both central banks raised rates by 50 basis points yesterday. The BoE's main interest rate is now at 4% and the ECB's main refinancing rate stands at 3%.
And as expected, messages from the respective governors were different. BoE governor, Andrew Bailey, said the tightening in pace since the end of 2021 is likely to have an increasing impact on the economy. This should help bring inflation to around 4% in 2023. Previously the BoE's economic projection showed inflation at around 5% this year. "Since the November monetary policy report we've seen the first signs that inflation has turned the corner," said Bailey in his comment following the decision, but added that "it's too soon to declare victory just yet, inflationary pressures are still there."
As for the ECB, it explicitly signalled at least one hike of the same size at its next meeting in March. "... the Governing Council intends to raise interest rates by another 50 basis points at its next monetary policy meeting in March and it will then evaluate the subsequent path of its monetary policy," the ECB said. And Christine Lagarde insisted at the press conference: "We know that we have ground to cover, we know that we are not done".
In the US, Nasdaq and S&P 500 entered bull market yesterday as investors now consider that rates may be close to peak levels.
The US dollar recouped Wednesday's losses sending gold back down to the low $1,900. Yet, the dollar basket could still record a fourth straight weekly loss. It now all rests on January’s non-farm payrolls data. Economists anticipate 185,000 job creations, following 223,000 in December. The unemployment rate should rise one notch to 3.6%, and average hourly earnings 0.3% month-on-month (MoM) and 4.3% year-on-year (YoY).
A bit later at 3pm, ISM services PMI for the month of January is expected to rise to 50.4, after 49.6 in December.
Apple pared earlier gains last night after the company's fiscal first quarter (Q1) earnings. The group posted earnings of $1.88 per share, a 10.9% drop compared to the same quarter last year. Analysts had expected $1.94. Revenue fell by 5.5% to $117.15 billion, the first year-over-year sales decline since 2019. $121.88Bln was expected.
In detail, iPhone and Mac revenue came in short of estimates, down 8.2% and 28.6% respectively. iPad revenue rose 29.7%, above forecasts. Apple CEO Tim Cook said three factors impacted the results: a strong dollar, production issues in China affecting the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, and the overall macroeconomic environment.
Amazon shares were quite jittery in extended trading last night. The internet giant missed earnings estimates, posting earnings per share (EPS) of three cents, compared to 17 cents forecast by analysts. Revenue was better than expected: $149.2bn versus estimates of $145.8bn.
Investors were taken aback by the group’s guidance. Amazon said its operating profit could fall to zero in the current quarter as savings from layoffs do not make up for the financial impact of consumers and cloud customers clamping down on spending. Amazon forecast it would earn between $0 and $4 billion in operating income this quarter, compared with the $4.04 billion that analysts were expecting.
Additionally, the company believes sales growth in its long-lucrative cloud business will slow for the next few quarters. In Q4, Amazon Web Services sales reached $21.3bn, versus $21.76bn expected.
Alphabet missed on both top and bottom lines for its Q4. Google's parent company posted earnings of $1.05 per share, on revenue of $76.05bn. Analysts anticipated EPS of $1.18 and $76.53bn in revenue. Alphabet suffered from a pullback in advertising revenue. Advertisers have cut their budgets as rising inflation and interest rates fuelled concern over consumer spending.
The company said it would take a charge of between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion, mostly in the first quarter of 2023, related to the layoffs of 12,000 employees it announced in January.
Ford Motor reported lower than expected earnings. Ford posted earnings of 51 cents, compared to analysts' expectations of 62 cents. Revenue came broadly in line with expectations, at $41.8bn. Ford predicted a difficult year ahead, blaming chip shortages and other supply chain issues, production "instabilities" that raised costs, along with lower-than-expected volumes.
In 2022, the company recorded an adjusted profit of $10.4bn, short of Ford's own forecast of $11.5bn. Ford expects 2023 adjusted pretax earnings of $9 billion to $11 billion.
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