Wall St Ends Up Sharply as Earnings, Economic Data Lift Optimism

The technology sector gave the S&P 500 its biggest boost, with shares of Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc rising.

Shares of Citigroup, Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley rose after they topped quarterly earnings estimates. The rebounding economy allowed them to release more cash they had set aside for pandemic losses, while sizzling deals, equity financing and trading added to profits. The S&P bank index jumped.

UnitedHealth Group Inc also climbed after the health insurer reported results and raised its full-year adjusted profit forecast on strength from its Optum unit that manages drug benefits.

Adding to optimism, data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week fell close to a 19-month low, and a separate report showed producer prices eased in September.

“Some of the things that worried the market in September, and even last week, as far as the inflation aspect and higher interest rates and the Delta variant, maybe have lessened,” said Alan Lancz, president, Alan B. Lancz & Associates Inc., an investment advisory firm, based in Toledo, Ohio.

“Not that it’s all over, but on a temporary scale at least, you can make a case for it trending in the right direction.”

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 gained 74.35 points, or 1.70%, to end at 4,438.15 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 248.97 points, or 1.71%, to 14,824.90. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 532.21 points, or 1.55%, to 34,910.02.

Gains were broad-based, with all S&P 500 sectors higher.

Shares of Moderna Inc were sharply higher after a panel of expert advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted to recommend booster shots of its COVID-19 vaccine for Americans aged 65 and older and those at high risk of severe illness.

Also in earnings, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc jumped after the drugstore chain reported fourth-quarter revenue and adjusted profit above estimates and forecast growth of 11% to 13% in the long term.

U.S. companies are expected to report strong quarterly profit growth for the third quarter, but investors have been keen to hear what they say about rising costs, labor shortages and supply problems.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Additional reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru and Federica Urso in Gdansk; Editing by Arun Koyyur and David Gregorio)

Marketmind: No Escaping the Inflation Beast

A look at the day ahead from Dhara Ranasinghe.

Data on Thursday showed China’s factory gate prices grew at their fastest pace on record in September, a day after figures showed another solid increase in U.S. consumer prices.

The take away from markets is that transitory or not, central banks are likely to respond to higher inflation sooner rather than later.

And with minutes from last month’s Federal Reserve meeting showing policymakers’ growing concern about inflation, investors have again brought forward rate-hike expectations.

Fed Funds futures have pulled forward expectations for the first hike from late in 2022 to almost fully price a 25 basis point hike by September.

In addition, money market pricing suggests the Bank of England could move before year-end, the cautious European Central Bank could tighten next year and the overtly dovish Reserve Bank of Australia could raise rates by end-2023 — a trajectory that doesn’t gel with the central bank’s guidance.

Singapore’s central bank on Thursday unexpectedly tightened monetary policy, citing forecasts for higher inflation.

Markets, having priced in higher inflation and a tighter monetary policy outlook, appear to be in a calmer mood in early Europe. Asian shares rallied overnight, European and U.S. stock futures are higher too. U.S. Treasury yields, while a touch higher, are holding below recent multi-month highs.

Still, China property shares fell as investors fretted about a debt crisis in the sector.

The Turkish lira, at record lows versus the dollar, is also in the spotlight after Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan dismissed three central bank officials.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Thursday:

– BOJ policymaker rules out stimulus withdrawal even after economy recovers

– Taiwan’s TSMC posts 13.8% rise in Q3 profit on global chip demand surge

– Japan dissolves parliament, setting stage for general election

– Data: Spain harmonized inflation rate(Sept), Canada manufacturing sales (Aug)

– United States: Initial Jobless Claims (Oct), Jobless Claims 4-week Average, PPI (Sept), NY Fed Treasury Purchases 22.5 to 30 years, 4-week and 8-week T-Bill Auction

– Central Banks: Fed’s Bowman, Bostic, Barkin, Bullard, Daly and Harker, ECB’s Elderson, and BoE’s Tenreyro and Mann speak

– Earnings: UnitedHealth, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, US Bancorp, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Fast Retailing, Domino’s Pizza.

(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)

 

Gas Price Surge, Just One More Headwind for World Economy

The gas market chaos, which has driven prices 280% higher in Europe this year and led to a 100%-plus surge in the United States, is being blamed on a range of factors from low storage levels to carbon prices to reduced Russian supplies.

So high are tensions that several European Parliament lawmakers have demanded an investigation into what they said could be market manipulation by Russia’s Gazprom.

Whatever the causes, the surge carries major market implications:

1/GROWTH

Analysts say it’s too early to downgrade economic growth forecasts but a hit to economic activity looks inevitable.

Morgan Stanley reckons the impact in the United States, the world’s biggest economy, should be small. While over a third of U.S. energy consumption in 2020 was supplied by natural gas, users were predominantly industrial, it notes.

Overall though, higher gas prices raise the risk of stagflation – high inflation, low growth.

“It is quite clear there is a growing sense of unease about the economic outlook as a growing number of companies look ahead to the prospect of rising costs,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

2/INFLATION

Euro zone wholesale power prices are at record highs, potentially exacerbating inflation pressures inflicted by COVID-related supply bottlenecks. In Germany, 310,000 households face an 11.5% increase in gas bills, data showed on Monday.

Noting German factory gate prices were already the highest since 1974, Citi analysts predicted 5% hikes for electricity and gas prices in January, adding 0.25 percentage points to consumer inflation next year.

Higher food costs are another side effect, given a shortage of carbon dioxide which is used in slaughterhouses and to prolong the shelf-life of food. Cuts in fertiliser production could also lift food prices.

Goldman Sachs predicts higher oil demand, with a $5 per barrel upside risk to its fourth-quarter 2021 Brent price forecast of $80 a barrel. Brent is trading at about $74 currently. [O/R]

3/CENTRAL BANKS

Central banks are sticking with the line that the spike in inflation is temporary — European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel said on Monday she was happy with the broad-based rise in inflation.

But as market- and consumer-based measures of inflation expectations rise, gas prices will be on central banks’ radar.

“If we have higher inflation, transitory or structural, and have slower growth – it will be a very tricky situation for markets and central banks to assess, navigate and communicate,” said Piet Haines Christiansen, chief strategist at Danske Bank.

This week’s central bank meetings could test policymakers’ resolve. The Bank of England meeting on Thursday is in particular focus, given UK inflation has just hit a nine-year high.

With UK producer price inflation soaring, shipping costs showing little sign of cooling, commodity prices higher up and job vacancies tipping 1 million, there is a growing chance that higher prices will stick around for longer, said Susannah Streeter, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“If they do, more (BoE) members may move quickly to vote for a rate rise sooner than expected next year, but it would be an unpopular course of action with looming tax rises already hard to digest for many consumers,” she said.

4/ STATE BAILOUTS

Britain is considering offering state-backed loans to energy firms after big suppliers requested support to cover the cost of taking on customers from companies that went bust under the impact of gas prices. One firm, Bulb, is reportedly seeking a bailout.

France meanwhile plans one-off 100 euro ($118) payments to millions of households to help with energy bills.

“The story emerging from the UK energy sector will soon be more relevant to the European market than Evergrande,” said Althea Spinozzi, senior fixed income Strategist at Saxo Bank.

And in a week packed with central bank meetings, she added that markets were “right to fret.”

5/COMPANIES

Spain shocked the utility sector last week by redirecting billions of euros in energy companies’ profits to consumers and capping increases in gas prices. Revenue hits at Iberdrola and Endesa were estimated by RBC at one billion euros and shares in the companies sold off heavily.

Since the move, investors have fretted about contagion to other countries, Morgan Stanley said. While seeing those fears as overdone, the bank acknowledged there was a risk of margin squeezes at European utilities in coming months.

Sector shares are down for the third week straight.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; graphics by Saikat Chatterjee and Dhara Ranasinghe; additional reporting by Yoruk Bahceli and Sujata Rao; Editing by Sujata Rao and Hugh Lawson)

Universal Music Valued Around $39 Billion Ahead of Stock Market Debut

France’s Vivendi is spinning off Universal and on Monday set a reference price for the listing at 18.5 euros per share, according to a statement issued by Euronext.

Universal Music Group’s (UMG) listing will be Europe’s largest this year and will hand 60% of shares to Vivendi shareholders.

Universal is betting that a boom in streaming led by Spotify that has fuelled royalty revenue and profit growth for several years still has a long way to run, in a music industry it dominates along with Warner and Sony Music, part of Sony Group Corp.

Its flotation carries high stakes for Canal+ owner Vivendi, which hopes to rid itself of a conglomerate discount. However, the listing raises questions about Vivendi’s strategy once it parts ways with its cash cow, in which it will retain only a 10% stake.

Several high-profile investors have also already snapped up large Universal stakes, banking in part on the group’s back catalogue, which includes the likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. They also hope deals with ad-supported software and social media platforms such as Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and TikTok will sustain its performance and valuation.

U.S. billionaire William Ackman suffered a setback when his attempt to invest in Universal via a special purpose acquisition vehicle (SPAC) hit a snag with regulators and investors. However, Ackman still got a 10% stake via his Pershing Square hedge fund. China’s Tencent owns 20% of Universal.

One winner in the listing will be Vincent Bollore, the French media tycoon who is Vivendi’s controlling shareholder. He will receive Universal shares worth 6 billion euros at Monday’s price.

Bollore has been an aggressive consolidator in France’s media and publishing landscape, and he has a long-held ambition to build up a southern European media powerhouse.

Vivendi itself may suffer in the short run, however, and shares are expected to fall Tuesday as they begin trading without Universal.

BNP Paribas, Natixis, Credit Agricole, Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale are the lead financial advisers on the deal, out of 17 banks in total — an unusually large total.

The fee pot is expected to be below standard listings as no fresh cash is being raised as part of the spin-off.

Universal said in its prospectus that the overall expenses to be paid in relation to the Universal deal would not go beyond 0.5% of the total amount of the share distribution.

The listing is the latest win for Euronext in Amsterdam, which has grown as a financial centre in the wake of Britain’s departure from the European Union. Before Universal, Amsterdam had attracted a record 14 IPOs so far this year, of which 10 were SPACs.

But the only Amsterdam listing of a size comparable to Universal in recent history was the 95 billion euro listing of technology investor Prosus, also a spin-off, in September 2019.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

($1 = 0.8524 euros)

(Additional reporting by Toby Sterling; Writing by Sarah White; Editing by David Evans and Lisa Shumaker)

Wall Street Investment Banks Cut China Growth Forecasts

Chinese trade data released over the weekend undershot forecasts, while figures out on Monday showed inflation rising in the country’s factory sector, potentially adding extra strains.

JPMorgan reduced its quarter-on-quarter growth estimate for the third three months of the year to 2.0% from 4.3%, and trimmed its full-year forecast to 8.9% from 9.1%.

Morgan Stanley lowered its quarterly forecast to 1.6%, while Goldman cut its estimate to 2.3% from 5.8% and to 8.3% versus 8.6% for the full year.

“Recent developments point at further downside risks to already soft 3Q growth forecasts, related to the spread of the Delta variant, a series of regulatory changes in new economy sectors, and erosion of market confidence,” JPMorgan’s analysts said.

Both JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley also predicted Chinese authorities would respond with support measures.

On the monetary policy front, JPMorgan said the People’s Bank of China’s main policy rates were likely to be trimmed by 5 basis points in the fourth quarter, while it would deliver two more 50 basis point cuts to banks’ reserve requirements (RRR), the first in October and another in January.

It has already provided one cut last month.

Morgan Stanley said it expected one 50 bps RRR cut before the end of the year and that government bond issuance could accelerate in coming months to support infrastructure investment.

“A mild deceleration in exports in 2H and an ongoing slowdown in domestic demand amid Delta resurgence mean policy support could ramp up in coming months,” the bank said.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

(Reporting by Marc JonesEditing by David Goodman and David Holmes)

Goldman Sachs to Raise Pay for Junior Investment Bankers – Business Insider

The bank’s second-year analysts will now make $125,000 in base compensation, while first-year associates will earn $150,000, Business Insider reported https://www.businessinsider.com/goldman-sachs-raises-salaries-investment-bankers-junior-analysts-associates-salary-2021-8?IR=T, citing two people familiar with the situation.

No formal announcement about the pay raise has been made and it was unclear which other levels of employees at the investment banking division have also been given salary increases, the report from the financial and business news website said.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Investment banks have raised pay for first- and second-year associates this summer in an attempt to ease the strain on these workers and compensate them more for their work supporting more senior staff in a year of unprecedented deal making.

Citi Group, Morgan Stanley, UBS Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG have already increased pay for their first-year analysts to around $100,000, a raise of about $15,000.

In February, a group of junior bankers in Goldman’s investment bank told senior management they were working nearly 100 hours a week and sleeping 5 hours a night to keep up with an over-the-top workload and “unrealistic deadlines.” Half of the group, which consisted of 13 first-year employees, said they were likely to quit by summer unless conditions improved.

Goldman’s Chief Executive Officer David Solomon has said the bank was working to hire more associates to help with the workload, and vowed to enforce the “Saturday rule,” which prohibits employees from working between 9 p.m. Friday night and 9 a.m. on Sunday, except in certain circumstances.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, and Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)