TrackInsight: Big tech euphoria offset faltering macro data

08/05/2020 | 06:00am

Week from 27 July to 2 August 2020

31.7.20 Global Flows Map

Week from 27 July to 2 August 2020

Overall, US stock markets ended the week up thanks to a late-afternoon rally on Friday, fueled by stunning quarterly earnings reports from tech titans.

Shortly after the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google testified before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, shares of Apple skyrocketed above $425 for the first time (+14.73% WTD) as the company posted quarterly revenue of $59.7bn, an increase of 11% from the year-ago quarter, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $2.58, up 18%. In the same vein, Facebook soared 9.95% to all-time highs with better-than-expected revenue while Amazon jumped 5.18% after posting the biggest profit in its history.

This news overshadowed the biggest quarterly plunge in activity since 1947 (US GDP fell at a rate of -9.5% in the three months through June) as well as the rising number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits (1.434 million, i.e. second consecutive week in which initial claims rose after declining for 15 straight weeks).

The Nasdaq Composite gained 3.69% over the week and the S&P 500 added 1.73% due to the tech weight in the index even though the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.16%.

European equity markets did not follow suit, closing lower across the region (MSCI EMU down 3.80% WTD) in the wake of horrific growth data (10.1% drop in Q2 German GDP, compared with -12.4% in Italy, -13.8% in France, and -18.5% in Spain!) and rising Covid-19 cases in several countries. Most APAC markets also ended lower (S&P/ASX 200: -1.60%, NIKKEI 225: -4.58%, and NIFTY 50: -1.08%) except for China (Shanghai Composite up 3.54%) and South Korea (KOSPI up 2.22%).

Compared to last week, the trend among the S&P sectors reversed sharply. Information technology led the pack (+4.98% WTD), only challenged by real estate (+4.10%). By contrast, energy was losing ground (-4.23%) as U.S. crude futures drifted lower (-2.47%) at $40.27 a barrel on concerns about oil demand following weak U.S. economic data. Other economically sensitive sectors also turned red (materials -1.81%, financials -0.94%, industrials -0.16%).

Unsurprisingly, gold broke new records again, rising 3.44% week-over-week to $1,962.8/Oz (eighth consecutive weekly increase) as the US dollar continued to lose value (EUR/USD traded at 1.1829, up 1.75%) after Jerome Powell declared the Fed was “not even thinking about raising rates.” Last but not least, President Donald Trump’s suggestion to delay the 2020 election reinforced this downward trend.

The US 10-Year yield fell again from 0.59% to 0.55% while the 10-year Bund yield declined to -0.53%. The US 3-month T-bill rate slid from 0.11% to 0.09%. Investment grade corporate bonds kept up their winning streak (+0.32% in Europe, +0.82% in the US). On the other hand, high yield bonds were down in Europe (-0.25%) and up in the US (+0.84%) while emerging debt inched up (+0.10% in local currencies).

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