Equities Sink On Global Tensions, VIX Jumps 20%; Earnings Still In Focus
The Jamal Khashoggi Killing Has Markets On Edge
Global tensions sent equities markets around the world diving for cover. Fear of slowing growth, the fallout from the US-Sino trade war, and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi all played a part. Asian markets were down the most falling an average 2.5% to 3.0% at the close of the Tuesday session. Indices in the region are trading at or near long-term low levels with the Korean Kospi hitting a near 20 month low with today’s action. The Volatility Index rose more than 20%.
European markets were down an average -1.0% to -2.0% at mid-day, up off the low of the session but still at or near their own 20-month lows and indicated lower. Focus in this region is on the murder of Khashoggi which is turning into a major international event. The journalist, a self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia, has deep ties to the US, EU and other major western powers who are now faced with the problem of how to deal with the Saudi’s now the cat is out of the bag. The Saudi’s have promised not to weaponize oil but the crisis is far from over.
The Tech Wreck
Technology stocks were hit the hardest in the EU session. Chipmaker AWS led with a loss near -25% as the companies outlook for year-end sales was not convincing enough for shareholders to stand pat. AWS released earnings yesterday delivering a near 50% increase in revenue with upbeat guidance for the final three months of the year.
Tech stocks led Tuesday’s route in both the EU and the US. US futures were indicated down an average 1.5% to 2.0% going into the opening bell and looking weak despite a round of positive earnings releases. Reports from United Technologies, Harley Davidson, Verizon and McDonald’s all beat analysts expectations on the top and bottom lines sending shares of these stocks higher in early action.
US Corporate Earnings Are Strong, Outlook OK
United Technologies and Harley Davidson were able to raise guidance, executives at HOG say stronger sales in the EU have helped to offset issues with tariffs and were a boost to earnings. Verizon’s beat was driven by better than expected subscriber growth. On the flipside, shares of Caterpillar fell more than -6.0% despite its top and bottom line beat due to poor outlook and weak guidance. The company says tariffs and trade woe are having an impact on profitability but was able to reaffirm its guidance. The problem for traders is that guidance was in a range with the lower end well below analysts consensus.
McDonald’s beat was driven by strong comp store sales. Comps in the US rose a strong 2.4%, just shy of the 2.5% estimated, but global comps rose a whopping 4.2%. Analysts had been expecting a more tepid 3.7% but strength was seen in the lead international markets, up 5.4%, and in the high-growth target market, up 4.6%. There is no economic data scheduled for today so traders will be focused on earnings and global headlines. Notable earnings after the close of Tuesday’s US session are Chubb, Texas Instruments, and iRobot.