(Wednesday Market Open) A few spots on the Apple put pressure on the stock market early, but the bigger story today may end up being falling crude oil prices. Crude oil futures threatened to dip under $49 a barrel, hurt by talk of dissent within OPEC.
It’s the week of the “A-team,” with Apple (AAPL) starting things off with its quarterly earnings report late Tuesday followed by Amazon (AMZN) and Alphabet (GOOG), scheduled for Thursday afternoon. AAPL shares came under pressure early Wednesday as investors digested the company’s first fall in annual sales since 2001, declining iPhone sales, and lower earnings per share (see below).
The stock has had a good run, rising to $117 recently from $111 at the end of September. Wednesday morning’s losses took it back down to the $114 range. Generally, AAPL tends to have an overweight impact on the market because it’s part of so many peoples’ portfolios, both institutional and retail.
Wednesday morning’s big company earnings included Boeing (BA), which beat Wall Street’s estimates on earnings per share and delivered a positive forecast on airplane deliveries, and Coca-Cola (KO), which beat analysts’ expectations for earnings per share and revenue and reported solid growth in the U.S., Japan, and western Europe.
The earnings season as a whole looks pretty good so far. As the Cubs and Indians battle it out in the World Series, perhaps a baseball metaphor is in order. S&P 500 stocks are batting over .750, meaning more than 75% of companies have beat earnings expectations with Q3 results. The generally strong earnings to date, accompanied by positive statements from a number of CEOs on various earnings calls, paint a rosier economic picture heading into 2017.
Optimism about the economy and growing expectations of a December rate hike helped send the U.S. dollar this week to its highest levels vs. other currencies since early January. The chance of a December rate hike now stands at 78%, according to Fed funds futures.
Oil futures fell back below $50 a barrel early Wednesday, under pressure from a 4.8 million barrel surge in U.S. stockpiles last week reported by the American Petroleum Institute (API). The official weekly inventory data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) comes later this morning. U.S. crude futures appear to have technical support at around the $48 level, and this renewed weakness in oil is worth watching, as it could be partly responsible for the pressure on the stock market so far today.
It’s a light day for economic data, but keep an eye out for new home sales.
Spots on the Apple? Stock Falls After Earnings Data: Apple delivered a Q3 pretty much as Wall Street analysts had expected, and even outpaced analyst expectations for iPhone sales. Nevertheless, shares fell after Tuesday afternoon’s earnings report as investors digested weakness in China, continued declines in overall revenue, and a year-over-year drop in earnings per share. AAPL did beat analysts’ expectations for iPhone sales, selling 45.5 million during Q3, while analysts had expected 44.8 million. However, perhaps more tellingly, iPhone sales were down 2.5 million from a year earlier. It was the third-straight quarter of declining iPhone sales. Earnings per share topped analyst expectations by one cent at $1.67, and revenue, while in line with expectations, was down from a year ago for the third-straight quarter. On the plus side, AAPL issued Q4 guidance that surpassed average estimates and said it was “thrilled” with iPhone sales, noting that demand outstrips supply for the iPhone 7.
Will Tesla Earnings Electrify? Tesla Motors (TSLA) is arguably the stock du jour of Wednesday afternoon’s earnings schedule, and analysts expect the electric automaker to post a positive Q3. Consensus for TSLA’s earnings per share is 5 cents, up from a loss of 58 cents in the same quarter a year ago, according to a Briefing.com survey of analysts. And on the sales side of the ledger, there may be some reason for optimism. Earlier this month, TSLA announced that deliveries during Q3 totaled about 24,500 vehicles, representing 70% year-over-year growth. Model S sedans made up 15,800 of the total, while Model X SUV deliveries totaled 8,700. At the time, TLSA also gave an optimistic outlook for the current quarter. Despite this, the stock has been somewhat sluggish lately, hovering around the $200 a share mark, down from a peak last spring above $260. Will today’s earnings report help the stock pull out of the shoulder and back onto the highway? We shall see.
Get Those Trick-or-Treaters Ready: Halloween is next week, marking what some retailers consider the start of holiday shopping season. Christmas can be a true economic force, with hundreds of billions of dollars spent and hundreds of thousands of people hired by retailers. In 2015, for instance, holiday sales totaled $626.1 billion, the National Retail Foundation said. That was up about 3% from the previous year. What will this year look like? It’s a bit hard to say right now, especially because the election lies between now and then, and some retailers have told the media that consumers seem to be holding back on purchases based on pre-election anxiety. Look for the early November government readings on jobs and retail sales to perhaps provide some clues about how much people might be willing to spend on gifts. Thursday’s durable goods data might also give an indication as to how consumers are feeling going into the final months of the year.
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