CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

Global markets rebound despite trade tensions and weak corporate results

May 7, 2020, 9:18 AM UTC

This is the web version of the Bull Sheet, Fortune’s no-BS daily newsletter on the markets. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.

Good morning, Bull Sheeters. There’s plenty of green on the screens this morning. That’s despite further China-U.S. trade worries and weak corporate results.

Let’s take a closer look.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major indices are mixed. Japan’s Nikkei was up. Hong Kong and Shanghai were in the red.
  • That’s despite better-than-expected trade data coming out of China. Exports still fell, but by a degree that outpaced analysts’ expectations.
  • Japan is close to approving remdesivir, Gilead Science’s drug to treat coronavirus patients.
  • Investors continue to warily eye the deteriorating trade tensions between the U.S. and China, wondering if the pandemic will give the Trump Administration an excuse to draw up new tariffs.

Europe

  • European bourses climbed out of the gate. The benchmarked Stoxx Europe 600 began the day up 0.4% with similar gains on London’s FTSE and Germany’s Dax.
  • There’s more reason to marvel at the Germans’ handling of this crisis. The country expanded the easing of lockdown measures on Wednesday. The Bundesliga (that’s professional soccer) will return later this month.
  • In announcing the measures, Merkel uttered my favorite quote of the day: “we can afford a little audacity.” They’ve earned it.
  • There’s that rarest of headlines today: a mega merger. John Malone’s Liberty Global and Spain’s Telefonica cinched a deal to combine O2 and Virgin Media in a £31.4 billion ($38.9 billion) deal, creating a telecoms and broadband behemoth in the U.K.
  • Materially worse.” That’s how brewing giant AB InBev views Q2, and that’s after a pretty terrible Q1. It’s not that consumers are turning their nose up at Budweiser and Stella Artois. South Africa has banned alcohol during lockdown. Peru shut down bottling plants. And supply chain disruptions are scattered around the globe.

U.S.

  • The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures all point to a positive open. I wrote the exact same thing yesterday, but only the Nasdaq finished in the green.
  • The Nasdaq will aim for a fourth straight day of gains, and it might just get there with some help from Peloton.
  • PTON was up 10% in pre-market trading after it reported yesterday sales jumped 66%. Lockdown has been good for business.
  • Investors this morning are also happy with Lyft, which managed to cut costs dramatically in Q1, and PayPal, which forecast a strong recovery in Q2 payment volumes.
  • It’s Thursday, which means jobless claims will be announced before the opening bell. Economists expect another 3 million workers will have filed for unemployment benefits, pushing the number to more than 30 million over the past seven weeks.
  • Brace yourself: COVID-19 may kill off more than half (52%) of America’s small businesses—a huge engine of the U.S. economy—over the next six months. That’s according to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is up.
  • The dollar is down.
  • Crude is flat. WTI has traded sideways over the past 24 hours, slipping below $24/barrel.

Earnings season report card

As of last Friday, May 1, just over half (55%) of the S&P 500 companies had reported results. On aggregate, it’s a mixed bag. According to FactSet’s John Butters, a majority of S&P companies have reported top-line (revenue) gains that exceed analyst estimates. The bottom line—both EPS and earnings—is a different story, however, as today’s chart (courtesy of FactSet) shows:

First the good news: 65% of S&P 500 report EPS above analysts’ expectations. Bad news: that percentage of beats is below the five-year norm.

Which sectors have come out on top in delivering EPS beats? Consumer staples, IT and healthcare. No surprise there. But also energy—you read that right: energy—and utilities. The laggards include real estate, financials and consumer discretionary.

It’s important to note these are Q1 results. Next quarter will be far more ugly—or, as AB InBev said today, “materially worse.” We’ve already seen a slew of firms remove guidance, which will muddy the picture about the overall health of Corporate America.

There’s been a lot of market commentary about how investors are overlooking this earnings season, and instead focusing on the macro picture: coronavirus infection rates and headlines of economies reopening for business. That makes sense as much of the shutdown damage won’t be baked into corporate performance until companies reveal their Q2 results in mid-summer.

Once this earnings season concludes, I’ll provide an updated report card for the S&P. It will include a big asterisk—the quarterly reports to keep your eye on still lie ahead.

***

Have a nice day everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow.

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

Looking for more detail on coronavirus? Fortune’s Outbreak newsletter will keep you up to date on the latest news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on business and commerce globally. Sign up here.

And, you can write to bullsheet@fortune.com or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

Today's reads

The case for buying AAPL. Last week, Apple said it's amassed a $90.5 billion war chest to buy back shares. It has the cash, no problem. But is it wise at these elevated prices when everything seems so fragile? Shareholders, before you cheer on management to buy up shares, do yourself a favor: read Shawn Tully's analysis on the merits of such a mega purchase.

"Historic proportions." Every quarter the European Commission puts out an economic forecast for the eurozone, and yesterday's was a doozy. Southern Europe is expected to see GDP drop by 9% this year should the EU fail to rally to an emergency pact. The uncertainty is pushing the euro to new lows as fresh doubts over the union form.

(Some of these stories require a subscription to access. There is a 50% discount for our loyal readers if you use this link to sign up. Thank you for supporting our journalism.)

Market candy

Locked down with Kafka

The Belgians have eased lockdown measures. But if you must venture outside there are a dizzying list of do's and don'ts that read as if they were written by Dr. Seuss. For example, "it’s mandatory to wear masks when outside between Monday and Saturday from 8 a.m to 6 p.m if you are over 12 years old, but only in specific streets of the borough, and not for the full length of the streets—for example, in Rue Gray, masks are compulsory in front of number 2, and between numbers 1 and 17." Bloomberg has a brilliant take on the maddening Belgian bureaucracy of lockdown