Covid cases rise, Q3 earnings bonanza, US growth data

Another week begins with Covid-19 leading the news. Italy and Spain, the European countries hardest hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, have announced sweeping new measures to combat a surge in the number of new cases. 

Italy said it would introduce the harshest public health restrictions since the end of its first national lockdown in May as new coronavirus cases hit a fresh daily record. 

From Monday all bars and restaurants across the country must close by 6pm. Gyms, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas will close. Schools and workplaces will remain open, but Italians are “strongly recommended” not to leave their immediate areas apart from for studying, work or health reasons. The measures are set to remain in place for a month.

Spain announced a nationwide curfew between 11pm and 6am, which will be imposed immediately, and the government triggered emergency powers after the country’s infection rate jumped by almost a third over the past week.

Further reading

US states also go into the week grappling with a surge in Covid-19 cases as Donald Trump and Joe Biden continue their presidential election campaigns. Mr Biden is ahead in the polls and the two are likely to continue to clash on their different stances on the pandemic.

Further reading

The US Senate aims to confirm Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court judge on Monday, a vote that will grant Republicans the opportunity to appoint the successor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the presidential election.

Ms Barrett was quizzed last week in Senate hearings but very few comments were made on the big issues that are shaking up the US. Observers ask what will be the long-term implications of her appointment.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo will embark on an Asian tour visiting Sri Lanka, India, Maldives and Indonesia in an attempt to counter China’s growing influence on the region.

Mr Trump has made China one of his top priorities in the campaign to secure a seat for his second term, scheduling Mr Pompeo’s trip a week before elections.

But what will President Xi Jinping’s China do next?

Investors will be hoping to find some answers during this week’s Fifth Plenum meeting of the Communist party’s leadership. Whatever else crops up, the semiconductor industry is sure to be high on the agenda as the next all-important Five-Year Plan is drafted against the backdrop of a worsening global economy and US sanctions.

The plenum will also discuss a broad plan for the next 15 years, with goals that are likely to endure for at least the rest of 67-year-old Mr Xi’s rule.

Further reading

It is also a busy week for tech giants. Chief executives of Twitter, Alphabet and Facebook will appear before the US Senate on Wednesday to testify virtually in a hearing about section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Several tech companies are also due to issue their third-quarter results in a bumper week for earnings reports.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan set policy, while the US will head a busy week for gross domestic product figures, with Germany, France, Italy, Spain, South Korea and Mexico among the other economies releasing growth data.


Companies news and earnings

The earnings season is in full swing with tech giants likely to grab the attention of investors for most of the week starting with Microsoft on Tuesday.

Japanese rival Sony, ecommerce platform eBay, image search platform Pinterest and craft site Etsy will follow suit on Wednesday.

Etsy’s sales and share price witnessed a boost at the start of the pandemic since it became the go-to place for handmade masks. Commentators, however, are sceptical that this phenomenon will increase the marketplace’s value permanently.

Thursday is set to be one of the most important days of the week when analysts will be overwhelmed with choice as the companies that are shaping social habits, political orientations and now also the economy will file all on the same day.

Among these headline-grabbing companies are iPhone maker Apple, online retailer Amazon, Google’s Alphabet, social media networks Facebook and Twitter, music stream platform Spotify and Canadian ecommerce group Shopify.

Financials

The majority of UK banks report this week, after Barclays beat market forecasts with positive results the past Friday. The British lender’s stock surged 7 per cent on the day of the announcement, the most in five months.

Further reading

Lex Barclays: yield keeled

HSBC, Spanish lender Santander and Italy’s Mediobanca are due to issue their earnings updates on Tuesday.

Deutsche Bank, which expects to close one in five branches in Germany in a move to try to return to profitability, will publish its results on Wednesday. Nomura is publishing its results on the same day.

Credit Suisse, which has also been planning some restructuring after a boost in second-quarter earnings, is reporting on Thursday together with Lloyds and Standard Chartered. Royal Bank of Scotland closes the week with its earnings on Friday.

A few asset managers are filing their results this week, starting with Invesco on Tuesday, and Janus Henderson and T Rowe Price on Thursday. Invesco and Janus Henderson have been recently the subject of speculations about a potential merger.

ETF specialist WisdomTree Investments is due to report on Friday.

Other financial companies in the spotlight are S&P Global, index group MSCI, rating agency Moody’s, card companies Visa and Mastercard, advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, and private equity groups Blackstone and KKR.

Big Pharma

Some big participants in the pharmaceutical sector will be watched closely by analysts this week as they publish their results.

Markets have showed a heightened sensitivity to news regarding potential progress in Covid-19 vaccines and their makers.

Novartis provides an update on Tuesday, followed by GSK on Wednesday and Sanofi and Moderna on Thursday.

Energy sector

Fossil fuel suppliers are fighting for survival as they seek to transition and rebrand themselves as clean energy enterprises. The plunge in oil and gas demand this year caused significant disruption in the industry but analysts say it has not had the same impact on all the big players.

Oil major BP, which has pledged to build a renewable business but is also facing investor scepticism, is reporting on Tuesday. Rivals Shell and Total, who have promised similar green commitments, will issue their third-quarter updates respectively on Thursday and Friday.

US competitor ExxonMobil, which has been slower to jump on the green bandwagon and has suffered a big loss after one of the biggest oil price crashes in decades, is reporting on Friday.

General Electric and Italian energy group Eni will also publish their earnings updates this week.

Food & drink

Food delivery group GrubHub, which has been in the news for the merger with Just Eat Takeaway.com, will release its third-quarter results on Wednesday.

Brewing companies seem to be badly hit by the pandemic with pub and restaurant closures affecting their revenues. However, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, beat market expectations for its second-quarters results. With restrictions on social gatherings, will it be the same at its third-quarter update on Thursday?

Coffee chain Starbucks, foodmakers Kraft Heinz and YUM! Brands report on the same day.

Other companies reporting include South Korean group Samsung, US cable company Comcast, industrial group Honeywell, services business Boeing, carmakers of the likes of Volkswagen, Audi, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Tata Motors, Finnish group Nokia, and fashion company Ralph Lauren.

In other news, Canada’s Wheaton Precious Metals, one of the world’s largest companies involved in buying gold and silver, is scheduled to list on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.


Central banks

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde and other policymakers are set to meet on Thursday but analysts expect the ECB to keep its cards covered and the rates on hold.

The EU is facing a wide range of concurrent economic challenges including deflation, a second wave of Covid-19 infections, a looming recession, a delay in the bloc’s recovery fund talks, and the uncertainty brought by a post-Brexit scenario.

Most economists forecast an additional stimulus from the ECB in December together with an expansion of its bond-buying programme of as much as €500bn.

The ECB will publish its lending survey on Tuesday, which should throw some light on the health of banking in the eurozone.

Analysts are confident that the Bank of Japan will not announce any policy changes when its meeting concludes on Thursday, but the bank’s outlook will be of interest.

Many expect the BoJ to lower its forecasts for GDP growth for the financial year that ends in March 2021, and will be seeking clarity on how this will affect asset expansion.

Canada meets on Wednesday and is expected to keep rates steady at 0.25 per cent.

Analysts forecast Brazil will keep its selic rate on hold at 2 per cent on Wednesday.

Chile is set to publish the minutes from its last meeting on Friday, while Colombia is expected to keep its rate on hold at 1.75 per cent on the same day.

Further reading

Economic data

The preliminary figures for US third-quarter gross domestic product will be released on Thursday. According to Financial Times’ calculations, economists expect growth will rise 7 per cent quarter on quarter.

Despite the upbeat outlook economists are still concerned about the lack of political agreement for the country’s proposed stimulus bill.

US consumer confidence data is out on Tuesday. Analysts will also be watching US initial jobless claims on Thursday and personal income and spending on Friday.

Germany’s Ifo business climate survey is expected to slow down on Monday as the country’s Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

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