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EUROPEAN MIDDAY BRIEFING: Stocks Fall After Downbeat Asia Trading

07/26/2021 | 06:16am EDT

MARKET WRAPS

Stocks:

European stocks fell Monday after markets in China and Hong Kong plummeted.

The major markets action on Monday was tied to China, as the Hang Seng skidded over 4%, following a crackdown both on Tencent's music licensing and the entire tutoring industry. In premarket trade, Tencent Music Entertainment shares dropped 14% after China ordered the company to end exclusive contracts with music copyright holders.

Hong Kong-listed education stocks skidded after educational training institutions were banned from raising money in the stock market and foreign capital cannot invest. The crackdown slammed U.S.-listed Chinese education stocks on Friday.

The crackdown came as China blamed the U.S. for a stalemate in bilateral relations as high-level talks began in the Chinese city of Tianjin.

Rising concerns over the Delta variant of Covid-19 and concerns over economic growth are also likely to challenge the pace at which the U.S. stock market will rise in the coming weeks, investors said. Money managers are also awaiting guidance from the Federal Reserve this week, including policy makers' outlook on inflation and any clues on when the central bank may start scaling back its bond purchase program.

"This will be a choppy environment for the rest of the year as markets deal with growth that isn't as strong, and markets turn to the potential withdrawal of policy support," said Hugh Gimber, a strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management. "You would expect that the spread of the Delta variant would put restrictions in place longer and some supply bottlenecks may not last just a few months."

Among individual equities, shares in Dutch internet conglomerate Prosus, a major investor in Tencent, fell over 9% in Amsterdam.

U.S. Markets:

Stock futures dropped, suggesting that the major stock indexes will retreat from last week's all-time highs after markets in China and Hong Kong plummeted.

Futures linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average retreated. the blue chip index on Friday crossed the 35000 closing milestone for the first time in its history after climbing over 1% last week.

Investors are awaiting earnings from a bevy of American companies including giant technology companies this week that will indicate how large businesses are weathering the pandemic and a recent uptick in inflation. Lockheed Martin is slated to post earnings before the market opens, and electric-car maker Tesla is due to report after the closing bell.

"This week is really where we enter crunchtime for earnings," Mr. Gimber said. "With tech names reporting, the bar is high."

Forex:

The dollar could rise if the Federal Reserve signals that its bond buying program won't continue for much longer in a policy decision Wednesday, Commerzbank said.

The Fed could imply this by changing its statement to say that it would continue buying bonds "until further progress has been made" from the current "until substantial progress has been made," Commerzbank currency analyst Ulrich Leuchtmann said.

While the bond-buying program is "pretty irrelevant" for the foreign exchange market, a change in wording would suggest the Fed, unlike the European Central Bank, is "willing to take restrictive steps again," he said.

Cryptocurrencies jumped Monday, with bitcoin rising more than 18% from its 5 p.m. ET level Friday. Investors pointed to short positions being liquidated and speculation that Amazon.com may be venturing into digital currencies. The price of bitcoin rose to as much as $39,544.29, its highest level since mid June, according to CoinDesk.

EUR/USD, last steady at 1.1773, is likely to "stay sluggish" but stuck within a tight range as both the euro and the dollar are held back, said UniCredit.

Lower U.S. Treasury yields have been "a drag" on the dollar in recent weeks, but lower German bond yields following last week's hints of prolonged stimulus from the European Central Bank aren't helping the euro either, the bank said.

Softer U.S. new homes sales, due later Monday, would likely have a "negligible impact" on the dollar, UniCredit said.

The ongoing clash between the U.K. and EU over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland is likely to limit any sterling gains this week in the absence of market-moving economic data, ING said.

"It appears very little downside risks related to this topic are priced into GBP, and a combination with a USD-positive Fed meeting could make cable [GBP/USD] re-test the 1.3600 support this week."

Bonds:

Morgan Stanley keeps short U.S. Treasuries, seeing the fair value of 10-year U.S. Treasury yields at around 1.60% in the current environment, said strategist Guneet Dhingra.

In assessing the fair value, Morgan Stanley makes assumptions about where it thinks the market can price in the timing of the first rate hike by the Federal Reserve and the subsequent pace.

Taking a conservative approach, Morgan Stanley thinks the market can price the first hike in the first or second quarter of 2023, Dhingra said.

German Bunds are expected to outperform U.S. Treasuries due to the diverging monetary policies of the European Central Bank and the Fed, said Morgan Stanley.

"We think that the increasingly divergent reaction functions between the Fed and the ECB will likely favour Bund outperformance versus USTs over the near term," said strategists Alina Zaytseva and Lorenzo Testa.

They see the risks for the July FOMC meeting as skewed toward an upbeat and hawkish message, while the ECB's position is dovish. The 10-year UST-Bund spread is 168 basis points, according to Tradeweb.

Morgan Stanley thinks a reversal to above 200 basis points may not be attainable in the short run, though.

Commodities:

Oil prices fell, continuing the volatility the market has experienced in recent weeks.

Investors are increasingly worried about rising coronavirus case numbers in several major Asian economies and "any significant reversal of easing in restrictions in parts of Europe and the U.S. would send a fairly bearish signal to the market, particularly when you consider the higher vaccination rates in those regions," said ING's Warren Patterson.

In addition, traders reduced their net bets on rising Brent and WTI prices last week to their lowest since May and November respectively

Base metal prices slipped as China's crackdown on the equity market prompts inventors to flee from risk assets.

Three-month copper on the LME was down 0.6% at $9,571.50 a metric ton, while aluminum fell 1% to $2,483.50 a ton and nickel edged down 0.2% to $19,440 a ton.

EMEA HEADLINES

German Business Sentiment Falls in July

German business sentiment worsened in July amid an increase in coronavirus infections and supply woes, missing forecasts for an increase.

The Ifo business-climate index came in at 100.8 points in July compared with the 101.7 points registered in June, according to data from the Ifo Institute released Monday. The reading missed a forecast from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal, who expected the index to increase to 102.5.

Talking Markets: Delta Variant Stunts European Households' Confidence

Consumer confidence in Europe is wobbling amid the spread of the more infectious Covid-19 Delta variant, denting the region's prospects of a strong, consumer-led recovery this summer.

The eurozone's consumer confidence indicator fell in July following five consecutive months of gains, preliminary data from Eurostat showed Thursday. The last decline was registered in January amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases. The U.K.'s consumer barometer, compiled by research firm GfK, increased in July, but showed that Britons' expectations about the economy's short-term performance are worsening.

Ryanair Sees a Further Drop in Fares to Counteract 'Pingdemic,' Travel Uncertainty

Ryanair Holdings PLC said Monday that it expects the U.K.'s current "pingdemic" to lead to more uncertainty and that it will counteract this with more price stimulation and lower fares in the near term.

The "pingdemic" refers to people being notified by the U.K. National Health Service's Covid-19 app that they need to self-isolate for a set amount of time after it registers users have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Philips Launches EUR1.5B Share-Buyback Program; 2Q Profit Hit by Provision

Koninklijke Philips NV on Monday launched a 1.5 billion euro ($1.77 billion) share buyback as it reported a fall in second-quarter net profit after booking a provision against a faulty component used in some sleep and respiratory-care products, as previously flagged.

The Dutch health-technology company backed its full-year guidance. It expects to deliver low-to-mid-single-digits comparable sales growth for 2021. The company also said it expects to report adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortization margin improvement of 60 to 80 basis points.

Credit Suisse Settles Spying Case With Ex-Executive Iqbal Khan

Credit Suisse Group AG said it reached a settlement with a former executive and private investigators over a spying scandal that rocked the bank.

In fall 2019, the Swiss bank hired investigators to spy on Iqbal Khan, a top wealth-management executive who was leaving to join rival UBS Group AG. Mr. Khan spotted one of the investigators and went to the police, setting off international headlines and leading to the ouster of the bank's chief executive over the reputational fallout.

The Delta Variant Upends the World's Pandemic Response

The Delta variant is changing calculations of governments around the world, raising doubts about how quickly they can leave the coronavirus pandemic behind, widening the gulf between highly vaccinated places and the rest, and infiltrating countries that had previously kept the virus at bay.

(MORE TO FOLLOW) Dow Jones Newswires

07-26-21 0615ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ALINA HOLDINGS PLC 2.79% 20.25 Delayed Quote.-3.57%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / EURO (AUD/EUR) 0.04% 0.6223 Delayed Quote.-1.62%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (AUD/USD) -0.09% 0.72737 Delayed Quote.-5.58%
BITCOIN - EURO -1.05% 35865.22 Real-time Quote.56.08%
BITCOIN - UNITED STATES DOLLAR -1.08% 41903.42 Real-time Quote.49.55%
BRITISH POUND / EURO (GBP/EUR) -0.11% 1.1699 Delayed Quote.4.20%
BRITISH POUND / US DOLLAR (GBP/USD) -0.20% 1.36739 Delayed Quote.-0.05%
CANADIAN DOLLAR / EURO (CAD/EUR) 0.08% 0.677378 Delayed Quote.4.78%
CANADIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (CAD/USD) -0.10% 0.79134 Delayed Quote.0.62%
DJ INDUSTRIAL 0.21% 34869.37 Delayed Quote.13.69%
EURO / BRITISH POUND (EUR/GBP) 0.11% 0.85456 Delayed Quote.-4.00%
EURO / US DOLLAR (EUR/USD) -0.19% 1.16858 Delayed Quote.-4.02%
HANG SENG 0.18% 24198.82 Real-time Quote.-11.14%
INDIAN RUPEE / EURO (INR/EUR) -0.04% 0.011555 Delayed Quote.3.13%
INDIAN RUPEE / US DOLLAR (INR/USD) -0.22% 0.013505 Delayed Quote.-1.05%
LONDON BRENT OIL 1.08% 80.26 Delayed Quote.49.38%
NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (NZD/USD) -0.31% 0.69851 Delayed Quote.-2.30%
OUSTER, INC. 5.62% 7.7 Delayed Quote.0.00%
PROSUS N.V. 0.24% 70.21 Real-time Quote.-20.76%
RYANAIR HOLDINGS PLC -2.95% 16.83 Real-time Quote.6.43%
S&P GSCI ALUMINUM INDEX 0.35% 184.0793 Delayed Quote.47.62%
S&P GSCI CRUDE OIL INDEX -0.09% 418.1737 Delayed Quote.52.47%
TENCENT HOLDINGS LIMITED 0.96% 464.6 End-of-day quote.-17.62%
TESLA, INC. 2.19% 791.36 Delayed Quote.12.14%
UBS GROUP AG 0.67% 15.01 Delayed Quote.19.49%
US DOLLAR / EURO (USD/EUR) 0.09% 0.855725 Delayed Quote.4.19%
WTI 1.14% 76.28 Delayed Quote.52.07%
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