Ongoing Markets Commentary: China’s industrial firms profit

written on April 27, 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. 

US stocks tumbled on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq posting its steepest one-day rout since September 2020.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 2.4%, while the S&P 500 sank 2.8%.  Meantime, European stocks extended losses for a third session. 

Summary

  • Shares in Asia were mixed on Wednesday as mainland Chinese stocks attempted to bounce back from days of losses. 
  • Equity futures in Europe dropped while their US counterparts traded mixed early morning. 
  • Oil prices rose, extending gains on Tuesday, after Russia said it would cut natural gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria from today, escalating an energy crisis at a time the EU is considering a ban on Russian crude imports.  The move was made after both countries refused President Vladimir Putin’s demand to pay for Russian gas imports in rubles. 
  • Profits earned by China’s industrial firms increased by 8.5% year-on-year in Q1, compared with a 5% rise in the first two months of the year.  Profits grew both at state-owned industrial firms and private-sector, despite production challenges due to Covid-19 outbreaks and the Ukraine war. 
  • Visa easily exceeded earnings expectations for its most recent quarter and gave an upbeat view on the spending landscape, saying it expects revenue to accelerate past pre-pandemic levels.  The company cheered a continued recovery in travel spending and noted that it was withstanding the latest macroeconomic dynamics. 
  • Microsoft reported its Q3 results, with EPS coming in at $2.22, beating the consensus estimate of $2.18.  Revenue grew 18% year-over-year to $49.4 billion, slightly above the consensus estimate of $49.03 billion. 
  • Alphabet reported Q1 revenue that fell short of analysts’ expectations, a rare miss for the technology giant reflecting slower ad sales in Europe and a lackluster performance by its YouTube video service.  Revenue was affected by the suspension of its commercial activities in Russia and broader unrest as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Deutsche Bank posted a better-than-expected 17% rise in Q1 profit this morning as investment banking revenues rose despite the Russia conflict that has clouded the outlook.  It was the seventh consecutive quarter of profit, the bank’s longest streak in the black since 2012, and marks the highest quarterly profit since 2014. 
  • Credit Suisse reported a net loss for Q1 2022 and announced a management reshuffle, as the Swiss lender struggles with litigation costs and the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war.  The net loss came in at CHF273 million for the quarter, after sending out a profit warning last week. 
  • GE said 2022 results would likely come in at the bottom end of its guidance due to growing cost pressure and weakness in the renewable energy division, while external factors capped revenue gains in Q1.  
  • Concerns mounted that Elon Musk may have to sell some of his Tesla stake to fund the acquisition of Twitter, wiping roughly $126 billion of Tesla valuation on Tuesday as the stock fell 12%. 

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