Ongoing Markets Commentary: Wall Street benchmarks rally

written on April 20, 2022

The war in Ukraine has tended to increase uncertainty regarding inflation and growth prospects.  When and with what consequences this war will end is pure speculation, but capital markets are expected to build a certain immunity to the headline risks in the coming weeks.  The medium- to long-term consequences, on the other hand, could be significant.  It is possible that we are at the beginning of a new bloc formation or a new Cold War.  This would put a significant damper on globalisation and further fuel higher structural inflation. 

The three main Wall Street benchmarks had their best day in over a month on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq closing up 2.2%, as investors responded to positive earnings and dovish comments from two US Federal Reserve officials on interest rate rises.  Meantime, European shares began a holiday-shortened week in the red, with the regional Stoxx 600 down 0.4%. 

Summary

  • Shares in Asia were mixed in Wednesday trade as China defied expectations by keeping its benchmark lending rate unchanged.   
  • European stock futures edged higher as their US counterparts retreated. 
  • Oil prices rose on Wednesday after sinking the previous session, as traders weighed the outlook for global energy demand, with an industry report pointing to a drop in US stockpiles.   
  • The IMF lowered its global growth projections by 0.8% to 3.6% in 2022 and 0.2% to 3.6% in 2023 due to the war in Ukraine.  It also sees 2022 inflation at 5.7% in advanced economies and 8.7% in emerging market and developing economies, 1.8 and 2.8 percentage points higher than projected last January.  The US economy is seen growing 3.7% this year, China 4.4%, and the Euro Area 2.8%. 
  • Netflix plans to create a lower-priced version of its service that has advertising.  It brought up the plan after losing 200,000 customers in the Q1 – the first such decline in a decade – and forecast a further drop of 2 million this quarter.  It also estimates there are more than 100 million people viewing the service without paying for it. 
  • Johnson & Johnson’s quarterly profit exceeded market expectations and raised its dividend payout. 
  • Danone kept its financial goals for 2022 after it delivered a stronger-than-expected 7.1% sales growth in Q1 amid higher input costs and uncertainties linked to the war in Ukraine. 
  • According to a Bloomberg report, Swiss duty-free operator Dufry is considering a potential merger with Italy’s Autogrill to establish a travel retail entity with a combined market value of $5.5 billion at current levels. 
  • Credit Suisse this morning announced it expects a loss in reported Q1 earnings after increasing legal provisions.  

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