Thoughts For the Week Ahead
The Week That Was
The equity market closed on a positive note Friday, with the Dow Jones surging 176 points higher. Both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also experienced gains of 1% and 1.9%, respectively. Trades and investors carefully considered the latest US corporate earnings reports and economic data, finding reassurance in the economy's resilience. The PCE inflation rate eased further in June, and when coupled with recent GDP data, it indicates the economy's strength, fostering optimism that the US Fed may soon conclude its tightening measures.
Notably, Intel enjoyed a significant boost, with a 6.6% increase in its stock price due to impressive quarterly results and a positive outlook. Similarly, Roku's shares surged by an impressive 31.3% following a smaller-than-expected loss for the recent quarter and better-than-anticipated revenues. Procter & Gamble also saw a rise of 3% in its stock value after reporting upbeat results and a promising outlook.
On the flip side, Exxon Mobil experienced a slight dip of 1.2% due to mixed second-quarter results. Meanwhile, Ford's shares declined by 3.4% despite strong quarterly earnings, as the company pushed back its EV production goal to the following year.
Looking at the overall performance for the week, the Dow Jones registered a modest gain of 0.4%, the S&P 500 increased by 0.8%, and the Nasdaq showed the most significant growth, rising by 2.1%.
On Friday, the JSE FTSE experienced a notable increase of 0.31%, reaching 78 507 points, its highest level in six weeks. This surge was largely attributed to growing expectations that the tightening measures implemented by the US central bank may soon come to an end, providing a positive sentiment to market participants.
However, on the domestic front, South Africa's economy still faces challenges due to the ongoing energy crisis and obstacles in the transport and logistics sector. These factors continue to hinder current economic activity and raise concerns about future growth prospects. In response to these challenges, 115 South African business CEOs have made a commitment to collaborate with the government to address and reverse the situation.
Among the standout performers in the corporate sector, Naspers recorded a significant gain of 4.03%, followed by Northam Platinum with an increase of 3.32%, and Netcare with a rise of 2.98%. On the other hand, Investec experienced a decline of 1.74%, making it the biggest loser on the market.
Overall, the main equity index in South Africa showed resilience throughout the week, posting a noteworthy gain of approximately 2.2%.
The Week Ahead
In the US, market participants are closely monitoring key economic indicators, such as the jobs report and ISM PMI surveys. July's non-farm payrolls are expected to increase by 184 000, which would be the lowest figure since a decline recorded in December 2020. This could signal the potential effects of the unprecedented policy tightening implemented by the Fed in recent months. Additionally, traders and investors are eagerly anticipating the second-quarter earnings season, with reports from major companies like Apple Inc, Amazon.com, Advanced Micro Devices, Shopify, Alibaba Group, Uber Technologies, Merck & Co, Pfizer, Gilead Sciences, Moderna, Caterpillar Inc, Starbucks Corp, The Kraft Heinz Co, Etsy, PayPal Holdings, and Airbnb. Besides, they are also keeping a close eye on economic indicators like the ADP employment change, second-quarter labour productivity, labour costs, factory orders, and regional industry indexes such as the Chicago PMI and Dallas Fed Manufacturing Index.
In the UK, all attention is focused on the upcoming Bank of England meeting, where policymakers are expected to raise the key bank rate by 25 bps to 5.25%, the highest level since April 2008. On the economic data front, the Bank of England will release its monetary indicator, the Nationwide Building Society will publish housing prices, and S&P Global will update PMIs.
Elsewhere in Europe, market participants are eagerly awaiting flash estimates for the second-quarter GDP and inflation in the Euro Area. It is anticipated that the Euro Area will witness a return to growth in the second quarter. Inflation rates in the Euro Area are also being closely watched, with the annual inflation rate expected to fall to 5.3% in July, the lowest level since January 2022. The core inflation rate is projected to decrease to 5.4%, which is still close to the record levels of 5.7%.
Turning to Asia, Chinese PMI figures for July will provide insights into the country's sluggish economic recovery, potentially indicating the extent of incoming economic support from the government. Additionally, China will release its current account balance for the second quarter.
In Japan, a busy week of economic releases will be headlined by the minutes from the Bank of Japan's latest meeting, following a surprising loosening of its yield curve control policy. Japan will also unveil June's retail sales, industrial production, unemployment rate, and consumer confidence for July.
Key Themes for the Week Ahead
US non-farm payrolls
Anticipation builds as Friday's US jobs report is expected to reveal a positive addition of 184 000 jobs in July, while maintaining a historically low unemployment rate of 3.6%. However, there are indications that average hourly earnings have cooled.
The labour market's robustness has played a crucial role in shaping the belief that the economy is on track for a "soft landing," characterised by controlled inflation and strong growth.
Last week, market participant's confidence received a significant boost after Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that the central bank's staff no longer forecasts a US recession. Additionally, Powell expressed optimism about inflation, stating that it had a chance of returning to the target 2% rate without significant job losses.
In response to economic conditions, the Fed recently raised rates by 25 basis points to the highest level since 2007, and it remains open to the possibility of further rate increases depending on future economic data.
A critical concern is whether the economy is growing too rapidly, which could potentially necessitate more rate hikes to contain inflation. Conversely, if there is a steep drop in employment, it might reignite fears of a recession.
Overall, the upcoming jobs report and its implications are being closely watched by traders and investors and policymakers as they gauge the state of the economy and potential monetary policy decisions in the near future.
BOE interest rate decision
The Bank of England (BOE) is gearing up for its upcoming rate-setting meeting on Thursday, and there is a division among market participants regarding the possibility of a 25 basis point rate hike. This comes on the heels of a significant 50 bps increase in June.
While inflation has not accelerated since February and there are indications that widespread price pressures might be easing, it's important to note that inflation still stands at a concerning 7.9% as of June, making it the highest among major economies and well above the BOE's 2% target.
Given this scenario, the chance of a 50 bps rate hike should not be dismissed, especially if policymakers believe that another hike might be necessary in September.
Criticism has been directed at the BOE for allegedly lagging behind the curve, as inflation continued to climb higher than expected despite implementing 13 consecutive rate increases since December 2021. This persistent inflationary pressure has raised concerns about the potential for a recession.
As the rate-setting meeting approaches, market participants are closely monitoring the central bank's decision and its outlook on inflation, economic growth, and further policy actions. The outcome of the meeting could have significant implications for the financial markets and the overall economic trajectory.
Eurozone economic data
On Monday, the Eurozone is set to release its preliminary estimates of July inflation and second-quarter GDP, a highly anticipated event given the ongoing debate surrounding the possibility of another interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB) in September.
Analysts expect the GDP data to indicate a rebound in the bloc's economy during the second quarter, while inflation is projected to show only a slight moderation. Despite inflation halving since its peak in October, it remains elevated at 5.5%, well above the ECB's target of 2%.
Recently, the ECB raised its deposit rate to a historic high; however, it did not provide a clear indication of further rate hikes in its policy statement. As a result, assuming another rate increase at the upcoming September meeting would be premature.
ECB President Christine Lagarde emphasised that the future course of action is uncertain, even though the central bank remains committed to tackling inflation.
The ECB's stance appears to be carefully balanced, acknowledging the need to address inflationary pressures while maintaining flexibility in its decisions.
The forthcoming data release and the ECB's subsequent response will be closely monitored by market participants, as they seek clues about the central bank's intentions and how it plans to navigate the economic landscape amid persistent inflationary challenges.
At the beginning of this week, the release of PMI data from China is expected to reveal a continuation of manufacturing activity contraction for the fourth consecutive month in July. This highlights the urgency for implementing stimulus measures to support the post-pandemic recovery in the world's second-largest economy.
On Monday, the official manufacturing PMI, which primarily focuses on large and state-owned companies, along with the survey for the services sector, will be made public. Subsequently, on Tuesday, the Caixin manufacturing PMI, which concentrates on small and medium-sized enterprises, will be released.
Adding to the concerns, data from Thursday revealed that industrial profits have sustained a double-digit decline for the sixth consecutive month.
The Chinese economy experienced sluggish growth in the second quarter, impacted by weakened demand both domestically and internationally. However, most analysts believe that policymakers are unlikely to implement aggressive stimulus measures due to mounting fears surrounding debt risks.
The situation in China remains challenging, with policymakers facing the delicate task of stimulating the economy while keeping potential debt risks in check. The PMI data releases will be closely watched as they offer crucial insights into the economic situation and could influence the government's decisions regarding appropriate measures to support sustainable growth.
As earnings season continues, all eyes are on tech giants Apple and Amazon, set to announce their earnings after Thursday's market close.
However, some traders and investors remain cautious about the rally in technology stocks, which has been partly fueled by excitement surrounding advancements in artificial intelligence. Notably, the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has surged nearly 44% year-to-date, with the S&P 500 information technology sector not far behind, gaining nearly 46%.
Recent optimistic forecasts from Meta Platforms and strong results from Google parent Alphabet last week have provided support to those who argue that the sky-high valuations of megacap companies are warranted.
As of Friday, over half of the companies listed on the S&P 500 had already reported their second-quarter earnings, with an impressive 78.7% of them surpassing analyst expectations, as reported by Refinitiv data cited by Reuters. This positive trend adds to the overall sentiment in the market.
With Apple and Amazon's earnings eagerly awaited, market participants are carefully monitoring these updates and forecasts to better gauge the technology sector's future trajectory amid concerns of a potential faltering in technology stocks.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation firmly maintains its stance that the former president has already completed his allotted sentence. This comes in light of recent news that the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has requested input from concerned parties regarding the possibility of Jacob Zuma's return to prison.
The recent enactment of a new law aimed at narrowing the racial economic gap in South Africa, a nation known for its persistent inequality, has ignited public debate and led to protests by the main opposition party. On 12 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Employment Equity Amendment Bill of 2020 into law. This legislation lays down "equity targets" with the objective of expediting racial equality in the business sector. The move is being closely watched by various stakeholders as it addresses a longstanding issue of disparity in the country's economy.
The Civilian Secretariat for the Police Service has published new draft regulations for public input. These proposed regulations are designed to create a fresh council, introduce a regulatory body, and define several additional functions for the Minister of Police. The main objective behind these changes is to safeguard the country's critical infrastructure. Members of the public now have the opportunity to provide their feedback on these proposed regulations before they are finalised.
In the upcoming economic calendar for this week, several significant events are scheduled to take place.