Thoughts For the Week Ahead
The Week That Was
On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed with a 39-point gain, showcasing resilience in the face of challenges. However, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite experienced a slight decline of 0.5% and 1.2%, respectively. This mixed performance stemmed from the contrasting dynamics at play in the market.
The day saw an array of factors influencing investor sentiment. While prominent banks posted robust corporate results that buoyed optimism, concerns about inflation lingered, causing megacap equities to falter. Additionally, the surge in oil prices and escalating tensions in the Middle East further compounded the uncertainty and weighed on investors' minds.
In terms of sector performance, the technology, consumer discretionary, and industrial sectors emerged as notable underperformers. Prominent technology giants such as Tesla, Nvidia, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Amazon experienced modest declines ranging from 1% to 3%. Meanwhile, shares of Boeing took a more substantial hit, sliding by 3.3% due to an expanding inspection of a production defect, while Spirit's shares dipped by 1%.
Conversely, some financial institutions thrived in this complex landscape. JPMorgan saw a 1.5% increase in its stock price, reflecting investor confidence. Wells Fargo also made strides, advancing by 3%. In contrast, Citigroup faced a slight dip of 0.2%, despite surpassing expectations in both earnings and revenue.
UnitedHealth was another bright spot, with a 2.5% gain, following the company's decision to raise its profit guidance and surpass earnings estimates.
For the week as a whole, the S&P 500 managed to eke out a 0.6% gain, showcasing resilience amidst market fluctuations. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted a commendable 0.8% increase, while the Nasdaq Composite added 0.3%, underscoring the dynamic nature of the financial landscape.
On Friday, the JSE All Share Index faced a setback, declining by approximately 0.7% to close at 72 903. This decline extended the negative trend from the previous day, primarily driven by adverse risk sentiment stemming from concerns over a potential escalation of conflict in the Middle East. Simultaneously, apprehensions regarding the possibility of prolonged higher interest rates and mixed economic data from China further weighed on market sentiment.
Analysing individual equity performances, several notable decliners included Picknpay, which experienced a 5.1% decline, along with British American Tobacco, Telkom, and Spar, all of which saw respective drops of 4%, 3.4%, and 3.3%.
Zooming out to the broader picture, the JSE managed to make a notable recovery during the week, surging by an impressive 1.7%. This performance marked its most robust showing since late July, effectively putting an end to a three-week streak of consecutive declines.
The Week Ahead
In this, market participants will closely watch several key speeches by US Federal Reserve policymakers, aiming to gain insights into the potential direction of monetary policy in the months ahead. Simultaneously, the US third-quarter earnings season is in full swing, with highly anticipated reports expected from major corporations, including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Morgan Stanley, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Netflix, Tesla, AT&T, Blackstone, Philip Morris International, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Intuitive Surgical, and SLB.
Shifting attention to economic data, analysts are anticipating modest growth in September's retail sales, projected to have increased by 0.2% last month, a slight deceleration from the 0.6% rise seen in August. Industrial production figures are also noteworthy, with expectations of a 0.1% uptick, down from the 0.4% recorded in the previous period. The housing sector will be under scrutiny as well, with a focus on building permits, housing starts, and existing home sales.
In the UK, the economic calendar is packed with important releases, including key reports on inflation, unemployment, and retail sales, as well as data on Gfk consumer confidence and public sector net borrowing. The UK's consumer price data for September is expected to reveal a slight easing in annual inflation to 6.5%, the lowest since February 2022.
Other notable economic data includes the Euro Area's balance of trade, current account, and construction output.
In China, a busy week of economic releases will be headlined by third-quarter GDP figures, expected to show a notable slowdown in growth. Market participants will eagerly await insights into the impact of Beijing's economic support measures. China will also release data on September's industrial production, retail sales, house prices, and unemployment rate, while the People's Bank of China (PBoC) will decide on new loan prime rates.
In Japan, all eyes will be on September's inflation rate and trade balances as traders seek fresh clues regarding potential signals from the Bank of Japan (BoJ).
Key Themes for the Week Ahead
US Earnings season picks up
The third quarter earnings season is gaining momentum, and it is anticipated to reveal improved profit growth after a relatively lacklustre first half of the year.
Leading the charge is Tesla, which will kick off the earnings reports for megacap companies after the market closes on Wednesday. These companies have played a pivotal role in driving the rally in equity markets throughout the year.
Bank of America and Goldman Sachs are both scheduled to report their earnings before the market opens on Tuesday, setting the tone for the week. Additionally, several regional banks are expected to release their earnings during the upcoming week.
On a positive note, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Citigroup reported quarterly profits on Friday that surpassed analysts' expectations, a boost attributed to higher interest rates.
Among other noteworthy companies in the earnings spotlight are healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, scheduled to report ahead of Tuesday's market opening, consumer products titan Procter & Gamble, with its earnings release set for Wednesday's opening, Netflix, whose report is expected after the market closes on Wednesday, and Philip Morris, slated to release its earnings ahead of the market opening on Thursday. These reports are likely to provide valuable insights into the performance of key sectors in the market.
US data; Fed speak
Beyond US corporate earnings, the forthcoming US retail sales data for September, scheduled for release on Tuesday, will offer valuable insights into the vigour of consumer spending, a pivotal driver of approximately two-thirds of the nation's economy.
Economists are anticipating a modest 0.2% increase in retail sales for the past month. A stronger-than-expected result could ignite concerns of a resurgence in inflation and reinforce the perception that the US Fed will need to maintain higher interest rates for an extended period.
Traders and investors will be closely monitoring remarks from Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday when he delivers an address to the Economic Club of New York. Additionally, several regional Fed presidents are slated to make appearances during the week, including Patrick Harker, Thomas Barkin, Neel Kashkari, Loretta Mester, and Lorie Logan. Fed Governors Lisa Cook and Christopher Waller are also scheduled to deliver speeches. These statements from central bank officials will be scrutinised for any hints or guidance regarding monetary policy and its potential implications for the financial markets.
Crude Oil WTI prices experienced a substantial surge of almost 6% on Friday, with Brent marking its most significant weekly gain since February. This uptick in prices was driven by the growing concern that the conflict in the Middle East could intensify, especially as Israel initiated ground operations within the Gaza Strip.
It is important to note that the ongoing Middle East conflict has had minimal direct impact on global oil and gas supplies, and Israel is not a major oil producer. Nonetheless, investors and market observers are closely monitoring the situation, pondering the potential escalation and its implications for oil supplies from neighbouring countries in the world's leading oil-producing region.
Another factor contributing to the price rally was the US' action on Thursday to impose sanctions on the owners of tankers transporting Russian oil at prices exceeding the Group of Seven's established price cap of $60 per barrel. This move aimed to address gaps in the mechanism designed to penalize Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
Russia ranks as the world's second-largest oil producer and a substantial oil exporter. Therefore, heightened US scrutiny of Russian oil shipments has the potential to restrict oil supply, further influencing oil prices.
Market observers are eagerly awaiting a barrage of economic data from China scheduled for release on Wednesday. This data is expected to provide insights into whether the somewhat uneven recovery in the world's second-largest economy is showing signs of stability. There are lingering uncertainties regarding the impact of the crisis in China's property sector and the extent to which Beijing may need to introduce additional stimulus measures.
Economists anticipate that the data on gross domestic product (GDP) will indicate a modest uptick of 4.4% year-over-year, although this figure remains below Beijing's annual growth target of approximately 5%. There have been reports suggesting that the government is contemplating increasing its budget deficit to meet this year's growth target of 5%.
In addition to GDP figures, separate reports on industrial production, retail sales, and unemployment are also anticipated to signal slight improvements in China's economic performance. These indicators will be closely scrutinised for any signs of resilience in the Chinese economy amid ongoing challenges.
The UK is poised to release its latest employment report on Tuesday, followed by the inflation figures for September a day later. These reports hold particular significance as they represent the final data releases before the Bank of England's forthcoming November meeting.
Throughout the year, UK inflation has consistently exceeded expectations and has remained higher than the Bank of England's projections. However, in August, it decelerated more sharply than anticipated, surprising the financial markets. Nevertheless, it continues to hover well above the central bank's targeted rate of 2%.
In the previous jobs report, there were indications that the UK labour market was beginning to cool, even though wage growth remained robust.
Last month, the Bank of England narrowly voted to maintain interest rates at their current levels for the first time in nearly two years. This decision has raised the possibility that interest rates may have peaked, although the central bank has made it clear that it stands ready to take further action to combat inflation if necessary.
South Africa News
A water specialist expressed their dissatisfaction with Johannesburg Water, asserting that it is unjust for the utility company to place blame on residents for the water supply difficulties faced by the municipality. The organisation pointed to elevated water consumption and a surge in demand as the primary factors behind the recent water scarcity issues in the city. In certain regions of the municipality, residents have been forced to depend on water tankers for their supply, while in other areas, the situation has become even more dire with completely dry taps.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has voiced concern, suggesting that the Israeli government's demand for 1.1 million Gaza residents to evacuate could potentially result in a humanitarian catastrophe. The ANC (African National Congress) has reiterated its unwavering support for Palestine amid the ongoing intensification of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The African National Congress (ANC) maintains that South Africa has made progress in addressing its electricity challenges but acknowledges that the country is not entirely free from them yet.
In the upcoming economic calendar for this week, several significant events are scheduled to take place.