Morning Bid: Meta plunges, mega mining merger revealed

By Thomson Reuters Apr 25, 2024 | 5:28 AM

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

Megacap Meta revived Big Tech jitters on Wall St overnight as its pumped-up stock balked at an ostensibly decent earnings update late Wednesday – but the mining sector was abuzz about BHP’s a possible $39 billion mega bid for Anglo American.

In a reverse of the positive way markets treated Tesla’s beaten-down shares after a revenue miss the prior day, Meta’s headline beat triggered an out-of-hours 13% plunge in its shares as investors appeared to focus on the scale of its outsize spending on artificial intelligence projects.

The respective market reactions may have much to do with investor positioning in advance – with Tesla down more than 40% for the year before it reported and Meta up more than 40%.

Either way, the Meta retreat has dragged Wall St stock futures back down about 0.5-1.0% ahead of Thursday’s bell and ups the ante as the ‘Magnificent 7’ reports keep rolling in. Microsoft and Alphabet are under the microscope later in the heaviest day of the earnings season so far.

With almost a third of the S&P500 reported already, nearly 80% have beaten estimates and reported earnings growth has picked up close to 7% – back to where consensus forecasts for the first quarter at the start of the year. And blended first-quarter earnings estimates, which combine what’s come in with forecasts for those yet to report, have also climbed back above 3% after a swoon earlier in the month.

Wary of the slightly jaundiced view of tech stocks this month and mounting currency volatility in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei, South Korea’s Kospi and Taiwan’s benchmark all lost 1-2% overnight.

Tech shivered in Europe on Thursday too, with STMicro dropping 3% after the chipmaker cut full-year sales guidance. European banks also topped the diary there but their stocks largely batted away a series of beats.

The big corporate news was in mining and BHP’s $39 billion bid for London-listed Anglo American – a deal that would create the world’s biggest copper miner and which sent Anglo’s shares surging 13% on Thursday. Copper prices have risen more than 10% this year.

With buoyant world growth and a likely geopolitical scramble to secure scarce resources spurring commodity markets of late, deal activity in the sector appears to have gone up a gear and Britain’s cheaply-valued, resource heavy FTSE 100 stock index outperformed again to hit another record high.

Sterling was also higher.

So much for the micro – the macro view of the first three months also hoves into view later on Thursday with the first official cut of Q1 U.S. gross domestic product and related inflation measures.

Consensus forecasts are for growth to have slowed to 2.4% from 3.4% in the final quarter of last year – with core PCE inflation estimates jumping to 3.4% from 2.0%.

However, the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow model has growth running as high as 2.7% and Friday’s March reading of the Fed’s favoured PCE inflation gauge will likely dominate for anxious rates markets.

In heavy week for U.S. Treasury debt sales, two-year yields continued to hover just under 5%.

The dollar slipped back against the euro and sterling, but it continues to zoom ever higher against the Japanese yen to another 34-year high of 155.68 as the Bank of Japan starts its latest two-day meeting.

With no sign yet of any intervention to arrest the yen slide, the indication from Japan’s government is that may not be considered until the dollar threatens 160 yen.

Key diary items that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Thursday:

* US Q1 gross domestic product, weekly jobless claims, March trade balance and wholesale/retail inventories, Kansas City Fed’s April business survey

* US corporate earnings: Microsoft, Alphabet, Intel, Eastman Chemical, Honeywell, Dow, Caterpillar, Union Pacific, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Altria, Northrop Grumman, Capital One, Nasdaq, S&P Global, VeriSign, American Airlines, Mohawk, Southwest Airlines, PG&E, Keurig Dr Pepper, Weyerhauser, International Paper, Wills Towers Watson, AO Smith, Western Digital, L3Harris, Principal Financial, Cincinnati Financial, Hartford Financial, Newmont, Dover, WW Grainger, Textron, Valero Energy, CMS Energy, Xcel Energy, First Energy, Allegion, Royal Caribbean etc

* Bank of Japan begins two-day policy meeting. European Central Bank board member Isabel Schnabel speaks

* US Treasury sells $44 billion of 7-year notes

(By Mike Dolan; Editing by Toby Chopramike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com)