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U.S. GDP, China Olive Branch, Robinhood IPO, Amazon - What's Moving Markets

EconomyJul 29, 2021 13:02
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By Geoffrey Smith -- U.S. 2Q GDP is due, along with weekly jobless claims. Chinese markets bounce after regulators try to calm investor nerves. Didi surges on a report that its backers may take it private again. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) reports earnings after the bell, while Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Paypal struggle to meet sky-high expectations. And Robinhood's IPO is at risk of falling flat - but not as flat as battery maker Clarios. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, 29th July.

1 China markets rebound after regulators extend olive branch

Chinese equity markets bounced sharply after the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission held a call with big local and foreign banks and investors to reassure them that the actions taken against online education companies were an isolated incident, and had no broader significance for the market.

Reports cited unnamed people familiar with the call as saying that the CSRC said it remained committed to allowing Chinese companies access to foreign capital markets, but declined to say what changes, if any, it is planning to the regulation of companies that list in the U.S. through the ‘variable interest entity’ structure favored by many.

China’s tech stocks have been battered by a wave of regulatory actions in recent weeks. Didi Global, the ride-hailing giant, rebounded over 30% in premarket trading after The Wall Street Journal reported that its backers may take it private again in order to appease regulators who had advised against its U.S. listing.

2. Jobless claims and 2Q GDP

The U.S. will publish its first estimate of second-quarter Gross Domestic Product at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT). Growth is expected to have accelerated to an annualized rate of 8.5% from 6.4% in the first quarter, reflecting the reopening of the country’s service sector as the Covid-19 pandemic receded.

The numbers come a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that the central bank won’t be rushed into running down its bond purchases (currently running at $120 billion a month) by a couple of quarters of above-trend growth and inflation. The dollar fell to a two-week low on Wednesday as the market pared back expectations of an early policy tightening.

Also at 8:30 AM ET will be the latest weekly jobless claims numbers. Initial claims are expected to have fallen back to 380,000, from 419,000 a week earlier. Recent claims data have hinted at a slight slowdown in the labor market although they remain hard to interpret due to the pandemic disrupting the usual process of seasonal adjustment.

3. Facebook warns and Paypal struggles, but stocks set to grind higher

Earnings season continues at full throttle, with Facebook falling nearly 4% in premarket after warning of a possible slowdown in advertising revenue due to changes in Apple’s latest iOS operating software that make user behavior harder to track.

Paypal, another big pandemic winner that also reported late Wednesday, was down some 4.7% after reporting a sharp slowdown in net new users.  NASDAQ Futures underperformed in the overnight session, trading flat while Dow Jones futures rose 153 points, or 0.4%, and S&P 500 futures rose 0.2%.

Amazon tops the bill of companies reporting Thursday, albeit after the close. Early updates are due from Merck, Altria (NYSE:MO), Southern, Hershey, Hilton Worldwide and ICE (NYSE:ICE), among others.

4. Robinhood prices IPO at bottom of range; Clarios postpones

Brokerage Robinhood  (NASDAQ:HOOD) priced its initial public offering at the lower end of its marketing range, as investors hesitated to commit to a company that has recent and high-profile run-ins with regulators over its business model.

The company’s bankers priced the offering at $38 a share. That still gives it a valuation of around $32 billion, almost triple its reported valuation in a private funding round last year.

The shares are due to debut on the Nasdaq market later today.  That’s more than can be said for Brookfield-backed battery maker Clarios International, which was reported by Bloomberg to have postponed its debut indefinitely due to market conditions. Clarios had hoped to raise as much as $1.8 billion

5 Oil hits two-week high; buoyant Shell (LON:RDSa), Total updates

Crude oil prices rose to a two-week high, holding gains after U.S. government data confirmed a solid draw on inventories last week.  Bad-tempered public diplomacy between Iran and the West is also strengthening expectations that Iranian supply will not return to the world market as quickly as had been seen a month ago.

The mood was also lifted by strong quarterly updates from Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDSa) and TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) overnight, with Shell in particular channeling extra money back to shareholders rather than raise its capital spending. That suggests that Big Oil will be happy to enjoy the current windfall rather than work hard to increase output in the coming months.

By 6:30 AM ET (1030 GMT), U.S. crude futures were up 0.5% at $72.75 a barrel, while Brent futures were up 0.2% at $74.12 a barrel.

U.S. GDP, China Olive Branch, Robinhood IPO, Amazon - What's Moving Markets

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