The earnings season goes into full throttle today, with 3 of the 4 big ganks reporting before the opening bell. What should we expect? JPMorgan (JPM), Citigroup (C) and Wells Fargo (WFC) are all expected to record year-over-year earnings gains. The driving forces: Trump’s huge tax bill payday and heightened income from stock market volatility. Investors will also be listening carefully to JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, whose earnings call always commands a lot of attention. The market up now two days in a row, it will look to ride the momentum if things get off to a good start today with banking numbers, the S&P 500 and Dow both looking to attain parity on the year. Let’s see how the tone will be set!
Daily Summary: The Dow Jones tacked on 1.21%, the S&P 500 gaining 0.83%. The NASDAQ edged up 1.01%. Yesterday, the market succeeded in seeing past the latest Oval Office headlines, but today might be a different story.
On Wednesday, Trump played the warmonger – “Get ready, Russia” – after Russia had threatened to shoot down any missile attack. Yesterday’s early tweet took a different tone, “Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all!” The markets don’t seem to care so much about the president’s wishy-washiness, hypocrisy, or even blatant lies. They care about the bottom line, “Is it good for trade?” The same could be said about the constant vicissitudes surrounding the prospects for a trade- war between China and the U.S. From one day to the next, we’ve seen volatility that was utterly non-existent last year, the market trying to constantly and perfectly gauge risk levels that are utterly known, changing by the minute, and are nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
With the whims of world leaders from China’s Jinping to America’s Trump to North Korea’s Jong-un seemingly changing by the day, projected by contradictory tweets, misleading policy statements and the like, it’s really anybody’s guess what will be the end of these world standoffs. From trade wars to nuclear threats, the world’s kingpins have kept their own chief advisors in the dark, and the same goes for one trying to accurately keep one step ahead of the market.
Newbridge Securities chief market strategist, couldn’t have made it clearer: “On one hand, you have earnings that are expected to be strong and the S&P 500 has repeatedly tested its 200-day moving average and held above it. On the other, you have erratic policies and questions over what will happen in Syria, with trade, with the Russia investigation.”
With all of that said, concerns about a trade-war continue to be in the limelight today, the White House planning another set of fresh tariffs, accompanied by a threat to block Chinese investment in the United States. China, on its part, is looking to join forces with European allies – and the cherry on top, projections have China revealing which U.S. products will be on its laundry list of tariffs as soon as next week. Placing China in the hot seat, Trump has likewise instructed top aides to examine the possibility of taking part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Perhaps giving more Trump more leverage, data released today showed China seeing its first monthly trade deficit in thirteen months’ time.
And as for Syria, news broke that Britain, France and the U.S. were in the planning stages of a broad-based strike against Syria, meaning that that could also serve as a catalyst for market volatility. What all of this means is that unless you have a crystal ball, you won’t be able to know which geopolitical development or developments today will have the strongest bearing on the market. To keep on top of your game, though, carefully watch the guidance and forecasts CEOs make for this year, which could be far more critical than a revenue or earnings beat or miss.
A case in point would be Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), which got slaughtered yesterday! Releasing fiscal 2018 earnings guidance beneath the consensus, the floor fell out from beneath it, the stock’s market cap imploding. BBBY fell 20% on the day!
On the flipside, one of the biggest winners was Zuora (ZUO), which skyrocketed 43% in its first day of trading. Late Wednesday, the enterprise software provider priced its IPO above the range that was expected. Delta (DAL) surged 2.9% after its Q1 sales and earnings outstripped the consensus. Franklin Resources (BEN) was up 2.7% after notching up its stock buyback program.
One stock to watch today is Amazon (AMZN). Trump seems to have launched a vendetta against the company, using every tool at hand to exact revenge against the company. Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, had remained silent in the face of the onslaught he’s taken from Trump over Twitter and other platforms, and that seems to have enflamed Trump’s anger all the more. Trump has now issued an Executive Order to examine the U.S. Postal Service’s operations and finances, as well as its position in the package delivery industry. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has a special deal to deliver Amazon’s products at a discounted price after regular routes are completed, which has put it in the firing lines, Trump accusing Amazon of exacerbating the tribulations of the USPS.
Today’s Economic Calendar: Be primed for the University of Michigan’s initial April consumer sentiment index at 10:00 N.Y. time. What investors want to see is whether consumers are antsy about this year’s market volatility. The consensus is a reading of 101.
At the very same hour, be attuned for February’s job openings report. The consensus is that 6 million new jobs were created in February, down from January’s 6.3 million.
Three Fed officials will be speaking today: Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, and Dallas Fed President Rob Kaplan. All of them could move markets.
Friday’s Hot Stocks: AMZN
Have a great trading day!