Futures Slide After Trump Opens A "Most Unwelcome Can Of Worms" With TikTok, WeChat Executive OrderTyler DurdenFri, 08/07/2020 - 07:19
World stocks ended a four day rally overnight that pushed the MSCI World index to green for the year, after U.S. President Trump cranked up simmering tensions with China after late on Thursday has signed orders to ban Americans from transactions involving China’s ByteDance (TikTok’s parent) and WeChat (owned by Tencent), taking effect in 45 days. Furthermore, Trump’s Working Group on Financial Markets recommended that Chinese companies currently listed on US exchanges should be delisted if they do not become compliant with US accounting standards.
Tencent Holdings slumped 5% in Hong Kong after plunging as much as the 10% limit earlier.
Trump's decision to take aim at WeChat, the world’s most-used messaging app, has the potential to upend the international businesses of companies from Apple Inc. to Walmart Inc.
“The executive orders leveled on TikTok and the scrutiny over WeChat has opened up a most unwelcome can of worms," said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at AxiCorp. This could “be more of a signal than anything else, especially front-running the China trade talks” expected later this month, he said.
S&P futures pared some of their Thursday gains after the ES continued to print new post-COVID highs in late US trade on Thursday; the Emini hit a high of just shy of 3350, ahead of its ATH just beneath 3400.
MSCI’s index of world stocks fell 0.2% on Friday after up four consecutive days of gains. It was less than 3% away from a late February peak, and had just turned green on the year on Thursday. European stocks opened lower, with major indexes down between 0.2% to 0.4% in early trading, although they largely brushed off Asia’s tech-led slump. The Eurostoxx 600 is little changed as gains in telecoms and media are offset by weaker autos and oil & gas names. FTSE MIB and IBEX underperform.
Chinese stocks led losers in Asia and the yuan slumped after Trump issued the executive orders, noting that his admin was stepping up efforts to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps from U.S. digital networks and called TikTok and WeChat “significant threats.” “The U.S. pressure on China’s tech sector appears likely to continue in the presidential elections, injecting volatility in the sector and opening the door to escalatory retaliation,” UBS strategists said.
In addition to the TikTok crackdown, Trump confirmed he has signed proclamation re-imposing aluminium tariffs on Canada, to which Canada has said it would retaliate. However, as NewsSquawk notes, the measures appear more symbolic/political for now than part of a broader economic concern.
Meanwhile, concerns remain that lawmakers won’t be able to resolve differences over a new U.S. relief package. The White House and congressional Democrats are up against a self-imposed Friday deadline to strike a deal. Markets will also be closely watching details from the monthly U.S. jobs report today (full preview here), which is expected to show a steep slowdown in hiring during July.
In rates, there is a modest bull-flattening bias in Treasuries, 2s unch. At 11.5bps, 10s -2bps at 52bps and 30s -3bps at 117bps; the strength was made in futures overnight amid the escalating Sino-US tensions.
In FX, the dollar strengthened, while gold retreated for the first time in six days. The subdued risk tone has seen the Dollar Index reclaim the 93 handle after the late risk rally on Thursday kept it away, seeing cyclical currencies and EMFX on the defensive. Turkey’s lira slumped to a record low against the dollar even after the central bank spent billions to to prop it up, although a late burst pushed the battered currency to unchanged.
Sterling fell after a post-BOE advance on Thursday, as traders take stock of officials distancing themselves from negative rates and an optimistic view of the U.K’s economic recovery. The Australian currency weakened after dovish remarks from the Reserve Bank and the escalation of the U.S.-China row weighed on the currency. The New Zealand dollar followed suit, seeing the biggest losses in the G-10. The Norwegian krone follow oil and gold prices lower, although a mid-week spike in the commodities helped make the currency see the biggest weekly gains among its peers against the greenback.
In commodities, crude futures have been moving slightly lower through Europe, although by no means significant, with oil demand more sheltered from the US-China tech battle. Gold and silver have faded some of their record gains, with silver dropping modestly after rising just shy of $30 late on Thursday.
Economic data include the monthly employment report for July. Dish and Brookfield Renewable Partners are due to report earnings.
S&P 500 futures down 0.5% to 3,327.50
STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 362.08
MXAP down 0.6% to 168.82
MXAPJ down 0.9% to 563.20
Nikkei down 0.4% to 22,329.94
Topix down 0.2% to 1,546.74
Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 24,531.62
Shanghai Composite down 1% to 3,354.04
Sensex down 0.05% to 38,007.48
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 6,004.84
Kospi up 0.4% to 2,351.67
German 10Y yield fell 0.6 bps to -0.537%
Euro down 0.4% to $1.1829
Brent Futures down 0.4% to $44.89/bbl
Italian 10Y yield fell 4.1 bps to 0.806%
Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.3 bps to 0.276%
Brent futures down 0.8% to $44.74/bbl
Gold spot down 0.1% to $2,060.74
U.S. Dollar Index up 0.3% to 93.10
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
President Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders prohibiting U.S. residents from doing business with the Chinese- owned TikTok and WeChat apps beginning 45 days from now, citing the national security risk of leaving Americans’ personal data exposed
The Trump administration’s move to ban U.S. residents from doing business with Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat app erased $30 billion from the Internet giant’s market value and sent the yuan to its biggest slump in two weeks
Hopes for a speedy economic rebound in large parts of Europe are holding ground as manufacturing starts to recover from pandemic lows. Industrial output in Germany rose at a faster-than-expected pace of 8.9% in June, and factory demand is also increasing. With France and Spain experiencing similar trends, signs are mounting that Europe’s initial bounce-back from the worst recession in living memory may be faster than anticipated
OPEC’s second biggest producer Iraq made its strongest commitment yet to implement deep cuts in crude production after the country’s oil minister and his Saudi counterpart held a phone call Thursday. The country failed to meet its production-cut target in May and June
Asian equity markets failed to sustain the positive handover from Wall St where all major indices notched gains as tech resumed its outperformance and Apple continued to print fresh record highs to edge closer towards the USD 2tln market cap status, while sentiment stateside was also underpinned by lower jobless claims data and with COVID-sensitive sectors such as airlines, hotels and casinos supported in late trade after the US State Department lifted advisory against all international travel and returned to its previous system of country specific levels of travel advice. Nonetheless, the momentum faded in Asia with the region cautious heading into the latest Chinese trade data which later proved to be mostly better than expected and with US-China tensions stoked after US President Trump signed executive orders to ban transactions with TikTok’s parent ByteDance, as well as Tencent-owned WeChat in 45 days. ASX 200 (-0.6%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.4%) were both negative in which Australia’s mining names gave back some of their recent gains and as Japan digested earnings, with sentiment also dampened by concerns of a weaker consumer as although Household Spending in June rose by its fastest pace since data was made available in 2000, the actual decline in household spending for the April-June quarter of 9.8% Y/Y was the steepest contraction on record. Hang Seng (-1.8%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.9%) conformed to the downbeat tone due to the US recent actions against TikTok and WeChat which saw Tencent shares slump over 7%, while US President’s Working Group on Financial Markets earlier recommended Chinese companies currently listed on US exchanges to be compliant with US accounting standards or be delisted. Finally, 10yr JGBs were relatively flat with minimal gains seen amid the risk averse tone and the BoJ present in the market for JPY 940bln of JGBs focused on 1yr-3yr and 5yr-10yr maturities.
Top Asian News
Japan Looks to Scrap New Libor-Tied Lending Six Months Early
China Official Reserves Rise to Highest Since July 2016
European stocks are modestly softer [Euro Stoxx 50 -0.3%] as the downbeat APAC performance seeps into the region after China lodged stern opposition to the US’ executive order on China’s TikTok and WeChat, alongside the State’s drone sale to Taiwan. Broader sectors are mixed with underperformance seen in the energy sector amid losses in the complex, whilst Telecoms remain firm as Deutsche Telekom (+2.8%) holds onto gains amid stellar numbers from T-Mobile (+5.5% pre-mkt) of which Deutsche Telekom owns 43.5%. The sectoral breakdown adds little meat to the bones and provides no clear risk bias, whilst the Travel & Leisure sector remain pressured amid fears of further additions to quarantine lists prompting travel cancellations. In terms of individual movers: BP (-2.6%) trades lower as sources stated that it is poised to sell a large chunk of its oil and gas assets even if crude prices rise; oil giants usually hold assets in the longer-term even if prices fall – with a view of bringing marginal production online contingent on improving market conditions. Rolls-Royce (-3.4%) is hit on the back of source reports that activist investor ValueAct has reportedly sold its entire 10.9% stake in the group since 2017. Finally, Hikma Pharmaceuticals (+9%) extended on gains after raising its FY20 generic revenue guidance alongside its operating margin, whilst the CEO later stated that the group entered a manufacturing deal for Gilead’s remdesivir treatment, potentially providing added impetus.
Top European News
Standard Life Loses Top Spot Among U.K. Asset Managers
SAS Makes Last-Ditch Bid to Secure Backing for Rescue Plan
TP ICAP Says July Trading Activity ‘Materially Lower’ Than 2019
In FX, the Dollar continues to benefit from corrective and positional trade rather than any real fundamental shift in sentiment or direction, as consolidation and short covering persists pre-NFP and the showdown talks in Washington to resolve differences on the next relief bill. It’s debatable whether the monthly BLS report or fiscal deadline will be Friday’s headline-grabbing event, but for now the Buck has clawed back more lost ground against G10 peers and the index is holding between 93.227-92.759 parameters, above Thursday’s 92.495 new 2020 low.
NZD/EUR/CHF/CAD - The major victims of the Greenback’s ongoing recuperation, if not quite revival, as the Kiwi backs off from a test of resistance/offers into 0.6700 and the Euro fades into 1.1900 where 1.5 bn option expiries reside. Note also, the single currency has found ventures above the round number unsustainable and is now south of almost equally large expiry interest at 1.1850 (1.2 bn), with bids said to be underpinning around 1.1820-10 and a key Fib in close proximity (1.1823). Meanwhile, the Franc remains sub-0.9100 and straddling 1.0800 vs the Euro as SNB reserves data reveal a decline, and the Loonie has reversed further towards 1.3400 from recent 1.3250+ multi-month highs following the reintroduction of US tariffs on Canadian aluminium and impending like-for-like countermeasures. More immediately, the 2 NA nations go head-to-head on the jobs front with July data due simultaneously ahead of Canada’s Ivey PMIs.
AUD/GBP - Also down vs their US counterpart, but clinging to or near big figure/psychological levels at 0.7200 and 1.3100 respectively, as the Aussie draws some underlying support from encouraging or arguably upbeat Chinese trade data and the Pound retains an element of post-BoE strength even though MPC member Ramsden leaves the door open for more stimulus in November should the need arise. For the record, no major reaction down under to the RBA’s SOMP or comments from Deputy Governor Ellis largely underlining latest policy meeting assessments and guidance.
JPY - Still no big make or break for the Yen that is pivoting 105.50 after a late fixed related recoil yesterday and Japanese reserves showing a rise conducive with, but not conclusive, a degree of official intervention, albeit this time around 100 pips above the low 104.00 area.
EM - Simply no respite for the Lira that has crashed to fresh all time depths against the Dollar and Euro for that matter, even though the CBRT has started withdrawing liquidity provisions and instructing banks to use the overnight lending facility at 9.75% ahead of a 50% reduction in primary dealer OMO limits as from Monday. Usd/Try paring back a tad from 7.3650 or so.
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures drift lower in a correlated move with the equity markets as news-flow for the complex remains scarce ahead of the US jobs report. An earlier Saudi-Iraq statement did the rounds but provided no fresh substance – with the two nations reaffirming their commitment to the OPEC+ pact. WTI Sept resides around USD 41.50/bbl having had briefly dipped below the figure, whilst Brent Oct lost its 45/bbl-status after oscillating on either side of the figure in early hours. Elsewhere, spot gold is relatively uneventful and remains contained around the USD 2060/oz mark, as has been the case throughout the European morning, whilst spot silver sees more pronounced losses as price consolidate from yesterday’s outperformance. In terms of base metals, Dalian iron ore prices retreated overnight following yesterday’s warning from the Dalian exchange around investing rationally amid the recent rally, whilst Shanghai copper saw losses as US-Sino tensions continue to ratchet.
US Event Calendar
8:30am: Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. 1.48m, prior 4.8m
Change in Private Payrolls, est. 1.18m, prior 4.77m
Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. -0.5%, prior -1.2%
Average Hourly Earnings YoY, est. 4.2%, prior 5.0%
Average Weekly Hours All Employees, est. 34.4, prior 34.5
Unemployment Rate, est. 10.55%, prior 11.1%
Labor Force Participation Rate, est. 61.8%, prior 61.5%
The Netflix share price rallied by nearly 10% (9.6%) this week after co-CEO Ted Sarandos confirmed the film and television streaming market leader is to introduce a new ad-supported, cheaper subscription. The company also announced it is to lay off another 300 employees, around 4% of its global workforce, in addition to the 150 redundancies last month.
Netflix has been forced into a period of belt-tightening after announcing a 200,000 subscriber-strong net loss over the first quarter of 2022. The U.S. tech giant also ominously forecast expectations for the loss of a further 2 million subscribers over the current quarter that will conclude at the end of this month.
The company has faced increasing sector competition with Paramount+ its latest new rival, joining Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max and a handful of other new streaming platforms jostling for market share. A more competitive environment has combined with a hangover from the subscriber boom Netflix benefitted from over the Covid-19 pandemic and spiralling cost of living crisis.
Despite the strong gains of the past week, Netflix’s share price is still down over 68% for 2022 and 64% in the last 12 months. Stock markets have generally suffered this year with investors switching into risk-off mode in the face of spiralling inflation, rising interest rates, fears of a recession and the geopolitical crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Growth stocks like Netflix whose high valuations were heavily reliant on the value of future revenues have been hit hardest. No recognised member of Wall Street’s Big Tech cabal has escaped punishment this year with even the hugely profitable Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon all seeing their valuations slide by between around 20% and 30%.
But all of those other tech companies have diversified revenue streams, bank profits which dwarf those of Netflix and are sitting on huge cash piles. The more narrowly focused Meta Platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram) which still relies exclusively on ad revenue generated from online advertising on its social media platforms, has also been hit harder, losing half of its value this year.
But among Wall Street’s established, profitable Big Tech stocks, Netflix has suffered the steepest fall in its valuation. But it is still profitable, even if it has taken on significant debt investing in its original content catalogue. And it is still the international market leader by a distance in a growing content streaming market.
Even if the competition is hotting up, Netflix still offers subscribers by far the biggest and most diversified catalogue of film and television content available on the market. And the overall value of the video content streaming market is also expected to keep growing strongly for the next several years. Even if annual growth is forecast to drop into the high single figures in future years.
In that context, there are numerous analysts to have been left with the feeling that while the Netflix share price may well have been over-inflated during the pandemic and due a correction, it has been over-sold. Which could make the stock attractive at its current price of $190.85, compared to the record high of $690.31 reached as recently as October last year.
What’s next for the Netflix share price?
As a company, Netflix is faced with a transition period over the next few years. For the past decade, it has been a high growth company with investors focused on subscriber numbers. The recent dip notwithstanding, it has done exceedingly well on that score, attracting around 220 million paying customers globally.
Netflix established its market-leading position by investing heavily in its content catalogue, first by buying up the rights to popular television shows and films and then pouring hundreds of millions into exclusive content. That investment was necessary to establish a market leading position against its historical rivals Amazon Prime, which benefits from the deeper pockets of its parent company, and Hulu in the USA.
Netflix’s investment in its own exclusive content catalogue also helped compensate for the loss of popular shows like The Office, The Simpsons and Friends. When deals for the rights to these shows and many hit films have ended over the past few years their owners have chosen not to resell them to Netflix. Mainly because they planned or had already launched rival streaming services like Disney+ (The Simpsons) and HBO Max (The Office and Friends).
Netflix will continue to show third party content it acquires the rights to. But with the bulk of the most popular legacy television and film shows now available exclusively on competitor platforms launched by or otherwise associated with rights holders, it will rely ever more heavily on its own exclusive content.
That means continued investment, the expected budget for this year is $17 billion, which will put a strain on profitability. But most analysts expect the company to continue to be a major player in the video streaming sector.
Its strategy to invest in localised content produced specifically for international markets has proven a good one. It has strengthened its offering on big international markets like Japan, South Korea, India and Brazil compared to rivals that exclusively offer English-language content produced with an American audience in mind.
The approach has also produced some of Netflix’s biggest hits across international audiences, like the South Korean dystopian thriller Squid Games and the film Parasite, another Korean production that won the 2020 Academy Award for best picture – the first ever ‘made for streaming’ movie to do so.
Netflix is also, like many of its streaming platform rivals, making a push into sport. It has just lost out to Disney-owned ESPN, the current rights holder, in a bid to acquire the F1 rights for the USA. But having made one big move for prestigious sports rights, even if it ultimately failed, it signals a shift in strategy for a company that hasn’t previously shown an interest in competing for sports audiences.
Over the next year or so, Netflix’s share price is likely to be most influenced by the success of its launch of the planned lower-cost ad-supported subscription. It’s a big call that reverses the trend of the last decade away from linear television programming supported by ad revenue in its pursuit of new growth.
It will take Netflix at least a year or two to roll out a new ad-supported platform globally and in the meanwhile, especially if its forecast of losing another 2 million subscribers this quarter turns out to be accurate, the share price could potentially face further pain. But there is also a suspicion that the stock has generally been oversold and will eventually reclaim some of the huge losses of the past several months.
How much of that loss of share price is reclaimed will most probably rely on take-up of the new ad-supported cheaper membership tier. There is huge potential there with the company estimating around 100 million viewers have been accessing the platform via shared passwords. That’s been clamped down on recently and will continue to be because Netflix is determined to monetise those 100 million viewers contributing nothing to its revenues.
If a big enough chunk of them opt for continued access at the cost of watching ads, the company’s revenue growth could quickly return to healthy levels again. And that could see some strong upside for the Netflix share price in the context of its currently deflated level.
The RBA delivered a speech this week indicating faster monetary policy tightening is to come in the near-term with the aim of curbing the rate of inflation.
Inflation and Monetary Policy 1,2
This week, RBA Governor Philip Lowe spoke about the department’s monetary policy intervention to tackle inflation in the evolving economic environment. Over the last six months, similar factors have continued to put pressure on food and energy prices – namely the war in Ukraine, foods on the East coast, and Covid lockdowns in China. The ongoing lockdowns in China are causing disruptions in manufacturing and production and supply chains coupled with strong global demand that is unable to be met. These pressures have forced households and businesses to absorb the rising cost of living.
To demonstrate the rise, the RBA reporting this week on Business Conditions and Sentiments saw:
Almost a third of all businesses (31 per cent) have difficulty finding suitable staff;
Nearly half (46 per cent) of all businesses have experienced increased operating expenses; and
More than two in five businesses (41 per cent) face supply chain disruptions, which has remained steady since it peaked in January 2022 (47 per cent).
* The Survey of Business Conditions and Sentiments was not conducted between July 2021 to December 2021 (inclusive)
Inflation is being experienced globally, although Australia remains below that of most other advanced economies sitting at 5.1 per cent. The share of items in the CPI basket with annualised price increases of more than 3 per cent is at the highest level since 1990 as displayed in the graph below.
With additional information on leading indicators now on hand, the RBA has pushed their inflation forecast up from 6 to 7 per cent for the December quarter, due to persistently high petrol and energy prices. After this period, the RBA expects inflation will begin to decline.
We are beginning to see pandemic-related supply side issues resolve, with delivery times shortening slightly and businesses finding alternative solutions for global production and logistic networks. Whilst there is still a way to go in normalising the flow in the supply side and the possibility that further disruptions and setbacks could occur, the global production system is adapting accordingly, which should help alleviate some of the inflationary pressures.
The RBA’s goal is to ensure inflation returns to a 2-3 per cent target range over time, with the view that high inflation causes damage to the economy, reduces people’s purchasing power and devalues people’s savings.
Household Wealth 3
Growth of 1.2 per cent in household wealth, equivalent to $173 billion, was reported in the March quarter. The rise was a result of an increase in housing prices in the March quarter. Prices have started reversing since that read.
Demand for credit also boomed, with a record total demand for credit of $218.8 billion for the March quarter. The rise was driven by private non-financial corporations demanding $153.2 billion, while households and government borrowed $41.9 billion and $17.5 billion respectively.
We will likely see a significant shift in household wealth and credit demand in next quarter’s report given the rising interest rate environment, depressed household valuations and elevated pricing pressures.
Portfolio Management Commentary
A lag in leading economic indicators has shifted the RBA’s outlook, with an increase in the expected level of inflation to peak at 7 per cent and rate rises to come harder and faster in the near term. From a portfolio standpoint we are not seeing any degradation in our underlying portfolio and open dialogue with our lenders has us confident in their borrowing base. We are maintaining a close eye on the economic environment to ensure we maintain the performance of our Fund and ensure our lenders are in a position to maintain performance and strive to capitalise off the back of economic shifts.
Researchers at the University of Sussex and their partners in Nigeria used open-source designs and 3D printing to reduce personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for a community in Nigeria during the Covid-19 pandemic – tells a recently published academic paper.
Credit: Please credit Royhaan Folarin, TReND
Researchers at the University of Sussex and their partners in Nigeria used open-source designs and 3D printing to reduce personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages for a community in Nigeria during the Covid-19 pandemic – tells a recently published academic paper.
In their paper in PLOS Biology, Dr Andre Maia Chagas from the University of Sussex, and Dr. Royhaan Folarin from the Olabisi Onabanjo University (Nigeria), explain how their collaboration led to the production of over 400 pieces of PPE for the local hospital and surrounding community, including those providing essential and frontline services. This included face masks and face shields, at a time when a global shortage meant it was impossible for these to be sourced by traditional companies.
In their collaboration, they leveraged existing open-source designs detailing how to manufacture approved PPE. This allowed Nigerian researchers to source, build and use a 3D printer and begin producing and distributing protective equipment for the local community to use. Plus, it was affordable.
One 3D printer operator and one assembler produced on average one face shield in 1 hour 30 minutes, costing 1,200 Naira (£2.38) and one mask in 3 hours 3 minutes costing 2,000 Naira (£3.97). In comparison, at the time of the project, commercially available face shields cost at least 5,000 Naira (£9.92) and reusable masks cost 10,000 Naira (£19.84).
Dr Maia Chagas, Research Bioengineer at the University of Sussex, said: “Through knowledge sharing, collaboration and technology, we were able to help support a community through a global health crisis.
“I’m really proud of the tangible difference we made at a critical time for this community. As PPE was in such high demand and stocks were low, prices for surgical masks, respirators and surgical gowns hiked, with issues arising around exports and international distribution.
“We quickly realized that alternative means of producing and distributing PPE were required. Free and open-source hardware (FOSH) and 3D printing quickly became a viable option.
“We hope that our international collaboration during the pandemic will inspire other innovators to use technology and share knowledge to help address societal problems, which were typically reliant on funding or support from government or large research institutions.
“With open source designs, knowledge sharing and 3D printing, there is a real opportunity for us to start addressing problems from the ground up, and empower local communities and researchers.”
Dr. Royhaan Folarin, a Neuroscientist and lecturer of anatomical sciences at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria, said:
“During the pandemic, we saw the successful printing and donation of PPE in the Czech Republic by Prusa Research and it became a goal for me to use the training I had received in previous TReND in Africa workshops to help impact my immediate community in Nigeria.”
The international collaboration came about as a result of the TReND in Africa network, a charity hosted within Sussex which supports scientific capacity building across Africa.
After initial use, testers provided feedback commending the innovativeness, usefulness and aesthetics of the PPE and, while the team’s 3D printer was not built for large-scale serial manufacturing, they identified the possibilities for several 3D printers to run in parallel, to reduce relative production time. During the pandemic, this was successfully demonstrated by the company Prusa Research, which produced and shipped 200,000 CE certified face shields.