Published: 10:45, April 23, 2024 | Updated: 18:18, April 23, 2024
Stocks gear up for Big Tech earnings; yen toys with danger zone
By Reuters

LONDON - Global shares rose on Tuesday, driven by a recovery on Wall Street, where investor focus is pinned on earnings reports from the US megacaps, while the yen hit a new 34-year low against the dollar, prompting a warning from Japanese officials.

The MSCI All-World index, which on Friday hit a two-month low, was up 0.2 percent, lifted by gains in Europe, where the FTSE 100 hit a record high, while the STOXX 600 traded at one-week highs thanks to the technology sector.

Adding to the optimism was a series of surveys of business activity that showed Germany returned to growth in early April after months of contraction, while activity in the broader euro zone expanded at its fastest clip in nearly a year.

Investors are less concerned right now about the threat of a major reescalation of tension in the Middle East and more focused on earnings.

Against that backdrop, gold is heading for a week-on-week drop of 3.2 percent, its largest this year, while oil has backed off last week's highs.

"We are turning a bit more positive on risk sentiment. There still remains a fair bit of uncertainty around geopolitics and rising US real yields, but we are more positive than we were a week ago," Mohit Kumar, a strategist at Jefferies, said.

The dollar retreated from its recent highs, but is comfortably supported by the view among investors that no rate cuts will be forthcoming any time soon from the Federal Reserve and by the climb this month in Treasury yields to their highest since November.

On Wall Street, big tech shares outperformed ahead of quarterly results this week, sending the Nasdaq 1.1 percent higher. AI darling Nvidia gained 4.4 percent while rose 1.5 percent and Alphabet jumped 1.4 percent, although Tesla dropped 3.4 as it cut prices in its major markets.

Tuesday brings a wealth of big-cap earnings, including Tesla, PepsiCo, UPS, Lockheed Martin and Halliburton.

"Odds are the earnings reports that we see over the next few weeks will be positive, but obviously there's still issues around what the Fed will do the next," said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP. "It's too early to say that problems in the Middle East have gone away."

"There are lots of things that could cause volatility between now and the end of the year. And so we're probably coming to a more constrained, more volatile period for markets."

Aside from Tesla, Meta Platforms, Alphabet and Microsoft will release earnings this week.

Mega wobble?

UBS on Monday downgraded its rating on the mega-cap companies, warning that the profit growth momentum of the so-called Big Six technology stocks could "collapse" over the next few quarters.

US business activity, quarterly economic growth and a measure of monthly inflation top the macro data bill this week.

Traders now expect the first Fed rate cut to come most likely in September and just 40 basis points' worth of cuts, compared with expectations for 150 bps of cuts at the beginning of the year.

Treasuries have been a big casualty of the shift in thinking. The yield on the two-year note, the most sensitive to changes in rate expectations, was up 1.8 bps at 4.898 percent.

In Europe, the picture is different. The European Central Bank is expected to cut in June and this divergence is weighing on the euro. It was last up 0.2 percent at $1.0673, not far off last week's five-month low of $1.0601.

The yen slid to another 34-year low on Tuesday, but recovered modestly to trade flat at 154.85 to the dollar.

Japan finance minister Shunichi Suzuki said last week's trilateral meeting with his US and South Korean counterparts laid the groundwork for Tokyo to take appropriate action in the foreign exchange market.

This is the clearest warning yet from Japanese monetary authorities that tolerance for the slide in the currency is wearing thin and official intervention to prop it up is likely.

Oil recovered some of the sharp losses overnight as investors continued to assess the situation in Middle East. Brent futures rose 0.9 percent to $87.80 a barrel, while US crude rose 0.9 percent to $82.60 a barrel.

Gold fell for a second day, dropping 1 percent to $2,300 an ounce, after shedding 2.7 percent the day before, as investors took profit on the 12 percent rally in the price so far this year.