In a huge week for corporate earnings, the US reveals how much impact the coronavirus pandemic had in the first quarter.
US: Will Q1 GDP avoid recession territory?
Wednesday’s first glimpse Q1 GDP reading is going to be an interesting one. The full force of covid-19 wasn’t truly felt in the US – and in the West in general – until the final few weeks of the quarter. However, with the expectation of only modest growth in January and February, the cliff-dive in March is forecast to drag the figure into recession territory – potentially as far as -3.5% at the annualised rate, compared to Q4’s 2.1% increase.
Currently the Federal Reserve’s April meeting is scheduled for Wednesday evening. Yet the possibility of an earlier appearance from Jerome Powell and co. can’t be ruled out if the central bank feels the need to try and manage the GDP fallout.
Elsewhere, the CB consumer confidence figures arrive on Tuesday, with the usual jobless claims reading on Thursday and the final Markit and ISM manufacturing PMIs on Friday.
US: Stocks to Watch
Coming alongside this data drama is a stacked week for US earnings. Alphabet reveals its first quarter performance on Tuesday, in what could see the Google-parent caught between surging traffic and a fall in costs per paid click. Adjusted earnings are expected to rise to $14.30 per share, while revenue is set to climb around 13% to $41.1 billion. The number of paid clicks is set to be up 25.6% quarter-on-quarter, but with a 7.9% decline in the cost per click as companies cut their ad spend in the face of lockdown.
Thursday will then see the first quarter results from Amazon. Jeff Bezos’s company has been one of the major beneficiaries of the pandemic, with its stock hitting all-time peaks of north of $2400 on reports it was making $10,000 a second. Expectations, then, are going to be sky high. However, the real benefits may not be felt until Q2. Analysts are forecasting a 21.9% jump in revenue to $72.8 billion, but with a 9.4% decline in pre-tax profit to $3.98 billion due to rising costs related to the pandemic.
Not to be left out, Apple also be posting its second quarter results on Thursday. The company – which is very reliant on its performance in China – has already warned that it won’t hit its Q2 targets for coronavirus-related reasons. That means revenue will likely be at the bottom end, or lower, of the previously stated $63 billion to $67 billion range. Those same factors will no doubt also impact its Q3 guidance.
UK: Investors will look to Chinese data
It’s a very quiet week for UK data. The FTSE – and the rest of the world – will likely be moved by Thursday’s Chinese manufacturing and services PMIs, while Friday sees the final manufacturing reading for the UK itself, alongside mortgage approvals and net lending to individuals.
UK: Stocks to Watch
Beyond that the focus might be on the corporate side of things. Barclays, Next, Persimmon and WPP all report what could be some nasty numbers on Wednesday; Sainsbury’s unveils its full year results (and, crucially, updates on current trading) on Thursday; and RBS posts its latest figures on Friday.
Eurozone: A busy week for economic data
Making up for the deficits in the UK calendar, the Eurozone is pretty busy this week. German import prices and retail sales arrive on Monday, with Spanish unemployment on Tuesday, and German inflation on Wednesday.
Most importantly, investors will get their first look at the Q1 GDP readings for France, Spain, Italy and the Eurozone as a whole on Thursday, a data-dump that’ll then be followed by the month’s ECB meeting.
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