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U.S. markets inch to record highs, while Chinese firms face Beijing backlash

July 26, 2021, 11:15 PM UTC

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Good evening, Bull Sheeters. This is Fortune finance reporter Rey Mashayekhi, filling in with a special PM edition of the newsletter over the next week while Bernhard takes a well-deserved break.

We’ve got a big week ahead with a slew of mega-cap tech earnings and Robinhood’s expected IPO on tap. Meanwhile, crypto is rallying and Chinese tech stocks are hurting. Let’s get into it.

Markets update

U.S.

  • Markets in New York got off to a positive start to the week, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average each notching up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite ticking up fractionally. All three indexes closed at record highs.
  • Tesla reported a record quarterly profit of $1.1 billion—its eighth consecutive quarter in the black—and nearly doubled its revenues from the same period a year ago, to roughly $12 billion.
  • Electric automaker Lucid Motors saw its shares jump after making its public debut Monday via a SPAC deal.
  • Insurance brokers Aon and Willis Towers Watson have called off their $30 billion merger amid opposition from antitrust regulators.
  • Executives at crypto stablecoin Tether are reportedly facing a Justice Department criminal inquiry into whether they committed bank fraud.
  • Inflation expectations are easing, indicating a potential reprieve to rising consumer prices.

Europe

  • The European bourses had a mostly flat Monday. London’s FTSE lost a fraction, Frankfurt’s DAX notched down -0.3%, the CAC 40 in Paris gained 0.2%, and the pan-European STOXX 600 dropped -0.1%.
  • Barclays has surpassed Credit Suisse in the investment banking power rankings, with the Swiss financial services giant dealing with a talent drain in the wake of the Archegos and Greensill scandals. Credit Suisse also struck a settlement with a former wealth management executive whom it had reportedly spied on.
  • One of the Bank of England’s top policymakers said the central bank should not scale back its stimulus measures until well into 2022.
  • Business morale in Germany sank in July amid supply chain worries and rising COVID-19 infections.

Asia

  • Asian markets had a mostly down start to the week, with China feeling much of the pain. While Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed more than 4% amid a tech route that saw names like Tencent and Alibaba fall sharply. Markets on mainland China also saw declines, with Shanghai’s SSE Composite losing 2.3% and Shenzhen’s SZSE Component dropping 2.7%.
  • Chinese regulators certainly had a part to play in the bearish mood, thanks to Beijing’s crackdown on the country’s tech giants and similar moves to rein in its property management and education tutoring sectors. The tutoring industry reforms have seen Gaotu Techedu founder and CEO Larry Chen, one of China’s richest men at the start of this year, lose his billionaire status.
  • Even as they pump the brakes on tech giants like Ant Group and Tencent, Chinese authorities have looked to those firms to help them develop a state-backed digital yuan.
  • In the wake of Didi Global’s disastrous IPO, SEC commissioner Allison Lee said Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges must regularly disclose risks of the Chinese government interfering in their operations.

Elsewhere

***

That’s all for now; you’ll find today’s reads below. Have a wonderful evening and see you tomorrow.

Rey Mashayekhi
@reym12
rey.mashayekhi@fortune.com

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

Today's reads

Luck of the Irish? Our Christiaan Hetzner digs into Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s plans to beat the lingering, pandemic-induced air travel slump, which O’Leary believes will only be exacerbated by the European Commission’s proposed aviation fuel tax. The Irish carrier is persisting with designs to expand its fleet, having just received its first deliveries of Boeing’s beleaguered 737 MAX airliner.

Blowing bubbles. Our own data guru, Lance Lambert, has a pair of must-reads today on two major sectors of the economy that are worth keeping an eye on. To start, he examines the state of the housing market, which is about to see a slew of pandemic-era protections go away in the weeks and months to come. Then, he turns his attention to the lumber market—a recently booming sector that Lance has done a brilliant job covering over the past few months—and calls an end to the historic lumber bubble of 2021.

The new normal. Fortune contributor Ben Carlson looks to dispel claims that the Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary policy has thrown markets out of whack, and that we’re at risk of a crash once conditions “normalize.” In examining historical metrics like Treasury yields, stock valuations, bond returns, and inflation rates, Ben argues: “It’s important to remember there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ market.”

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Market candy

“The focus has clearly shifted to growth fears over inflationary ones... People [are] much more pessimistic about life being back to normal by year-end than they were a month ago.”

That’s from a new Deutsche Bank survey of global investors, which found that concerns have quickly shifted away from rising consumer prices and more toward the potential economic impact of coronavirus mutations like the Delta variant.

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