Marketmind: Corporate scatter
A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.
A hail of mega corporate updates distracted stock markets from a confusing macro picture – but offers little more clarity with scattergun fortunes and ambiguous readouts for the wider economy.
Shares in Walt Disney surged 6% ahead of Thursday’s open after the firm announced a sweeping restructuring under reinstated CEO Bob Iger and cut 7,000 jobs – 3.6% of its workforce – in an effort to save $5.5 billion and make its streaming business profitable.
Disney’s job shedding is yet another sign that January’s red-hot U.S. employment reading may not be the full picture as company apes many big tech and digital firms in downsizing its staff this year.
The share price reaction, however, was in contrast to the bizarre Alphabet swoon on Wednesday.
Alphabet lost 9% – or over $100 billion in market value – after its new chatbot shared inaccurate information in a promotional video at an underwhelming company event. The flub fed worries that the Google parent is losing ground to rival Microsoft in the renewed craze around artificial intelligence.
Fears over ailing Swiss bank Credit Suisse dominated in Europe. Its shares dropped 5% after it reported its worst annual loss since the 2008 global financial crisis and warned of a further “substantial” loss this year. The mood didn’t improve even as it marked out another step towards creating a standalone investment bank by buying Michael Klein’s advisory boutique for $175 million.
For inflation worriers, consumer goods firms bear close watching. Unilever said on Thursday it would continue to raise prices for its detergents, soaps and packaged food to offset rising input costs but the pace of price rises was slowing and would ease up more in the second half of 2023.
Price increases would continue in the second half “but it will be a lower rates of increases…we are probably past peak inflation, but not yet past peak pricing,” finance chief Graeme Pitkethly said.
That disinflation drum continued to beat in Germany, where consumer prices inflation fell more than anticipated last month, easing back below the 10% expected to 9.2% on the year.
Sweden’s central bank emphasised that rising global interest rates were still some way from their peaks as it raised its key rate by half a percentage point to 3.0%, forecasting more to come.
Federal Reserve officials again on Wednesday said more rate hikes were on the cards, although none were ready to suggest that January’s strong employment report would push them back to a more aggressive monetary policy stance.
Moving to a funds rate of between 5.00% and 5.25% “seems a very reasonable view,” said New York Fed chief John Williams.
More generally, U.S. stock futures were higher on Thursday, with Treasury yields and the dollar falling back. European shares touched a fresh nine-month high on Thursday as Germany’s Siemens and UK’s AstraZeneca boosted earnings euphoria, while Britain’s bank, commodity and pharma heavy FTSE100 hit another record high.
The share in troubled Indian giant Adani took another negative twist. Financial index provider MSCI said some Adani securities should no longer be designated as free float, after market participants raised concerns about the eligibility of the Indian conglomerate’s companies for some of its indexes.
Norway’s $1.35 trillion sovereign wealth fund said it had recently divested virtually all its remaining shares in the Adani group.
Key developments that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Thursday:
* U.S. weekly jobless claims
* Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, European Central Bank board member Luis de Guindos speak
* European Union summit
* U.S. Treasury auctions 30-year bond
* U.S. corp earnings: AbbVie, PepsiCo, S&P Global, PayPal, Apollo, Hilton, Expedia, News Corp, Ralph Lauren, Lyft, Kellogg, Motorola Solutions, Mohawk Industries, Philip Morris, Huntington Ingalls, Duke Energy, Wills Towers Watson
Disney+ loses subscribers for the first time https://www.reuters.com/graphics/DISNEY-RESULTS/zgpobkzqxvd/chart.png
Google owns significant chunk of the search engine market https://www.reuters.com/graphics/ALPHABET-SEARCHENGINE/jnpwyxbzopw/chart_eikon.jpg
Credit Suisse goes off piste https://www.reuters.com/graphics/CREDITSUISSEGP-OUTLOOK/lgpdknabmvo/chart_eikon.jpg
Big Oil’s record profits https://www.reuters.com/graphics/OILMAJORS-PROFITS/lgvdknaqkpo/chart.png
(By Mike Dolan; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @reutersMikeD)