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Five Things - Europe

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Good morning. Stocks are edging higher after a down day, boosted by earnings from U.S. tech giants, and the U.K. reimposed lockdown restrictions in some of Northern England. Here's what's moving markets.


It's Friday and it's going to be a scorcher. Those are two reasons to be cheerful after European stocks posted their biggest drop in more than a month on Thursday amid bleak updates on the state of both corporate profits and the economy. Futures are pointing higher this morning, with sentiment aided by results from large-cap technology stocks. As July draws to a close, the Stoxx Europe 600 index is currently almost exactly where it was at the start of the month. A benchmark tracking the U.S. dollar looks set to match its worst month in a decade, while gold is headed for the biggest monthly gain in more than four years.

Bigger Tech

Big tech had a big night, as Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc. all jumped in after-hours trading following earnings. The largest of the three was arguably the pick of the bunch as Apple trounced Wall Street forecasts, with locked down consumers snapping up new iPhones, iPads and Mac computers to stay connected during the pandemic. Alphabet Inc. also updated, but left investors wanting as the Google-parent reported its first ever decline in quarterly advertising sales. Even so, the stock managed to post a minor gain in extended trading. The impressive evening for the sector came just a day after leaders faced five hours of interrogation in Congress over allegations their power is out of control.

Hopes and Fears

A surprise announcement on Twitter saw the U.K. reimpose lockdown restrictions across a large part of northern England, citing a lack of adherence to social distancing, with people no longer able to meet indoors with members of other households. Elsewhere, Danes can visit their buddies in Sweden again after lawmakers in Copenhagen announced the opening of all borders with the nation, even as Swedes are implored to carry on working from home. In Italy, opposition leader Matteo Salvini lashed out at the government after a number of migrants tested positive for Covid-19, while in Spain, the virus is spreading at the fastest pace since April. In France, the infection rate has almost doubled in weeks. Finally, in the drug space, Johnson & Johnson's experimental vaccine protected macaque monkeys with a single shot in a pre-clinical study.

No Budging

American lawmakers cast doubt over U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion that November's election could be delayed until after the Covid-19 pandemic eases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Trump's own Republican party, said the vote can't be budged and Democrat Nancy Pelosi tweeted the text of the American constitution that says Congress sets the rules on the matter. That said, it's not the first time a change in election date has ever been suggested, and congress could move it if it wanted to. Trump's tweet on the subject came minutes after data showed the world's largest economy shrank at a record pace in the second quarter. As the president asks whether mail-in votes could be subject to fraud, here's what we know about postal balloting.

Coming Up…

What's the damage? It's time to find out by how much the euro area economy contracted in the second quarter, with gross domestic product numbers due this morning. And after statistics Thursday showed Germany's economy shrank the most in at least half a century, we'll also get readings from France, Italy and Spain. Meanwhile, the earnings schedule is a tad lighter than Thursday's, but today's highlights include Natwest Group Plc, as well as British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group S.A. The latter's rival, Air France-KLM, last night pushed back its financial targets by a year. Lender BNP Paribas S.A. reported a solid performance in fixed-income trading earlier and telecommunications firm Nokia Oyj's quarterly profit topped estimates.

What We've Been Reading

This is what's caught our eye over the past 24 hours. 

And finally, here's what Cormac Mullen is interested in this morning

The sense of apprehension toward the U.S. economy that was evident in some of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's comments this week is continuing to seep into bond and currency markets. A rally in Treasuries has now pushed benchmark yields through the bottom of the trading range they have been in since late March. The 10-year yield fell toward 0.53% early Friday, following weak U.S. GDP data and ominous signs from the labour market. A close below the range opens up the door to a retest of March's record low, when it plunged as far as 0.31%. Five-year yields are already at fresh lows. Meanwhile, the dollar continued its slide against major peers. Unlike during the global recession of the financial crisis, there seems to be a growing sense that the U.S. is no longer the ``cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry basket,'' despite what is happening in its buoyant, yet increasingly isolated tech sector. That might help risk assets in other global markets outperform, but there are no guarantees they would do so on an absolute basis. International investors should remember than when the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold. 

Cormac Mullen is a Cross-Asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

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