Tough new COVID measures rock global stocks—Bitcoin and Ether stumble
Happy Friday, Bull Sheeters.
It was looking like a risk-on Friday, and then Austria happened. The alpine nation stunned the markets this morning in calling for compulsory COVID vaccinations as case numbers soar there. Neighboring Germany then said it too couldn’t rule out a new round of lockdowns.
The news rocked European equities, the euro and crude. Safe-haven gold and the dollar jumped on the news.
A bright spot in stocks this morning is Big Tech. Nasdaq futures are holding up well. The same cannot be said of crypto. Bitcoin and Ethereum’s Ether are under pressure.
In today’s “By the Numbers” I look at the diverging fortunes of tech stocks and crypto. I also answer your burning question about what I paid for those Air Jordan sneakers earlier this week.
But first, let’s see what else is moving markets as we close out the trading week.
- The major Asian exchanges finished the week mixed, with the Shanghai Composite climbing 1% at the close.
- For a second straight day, Indian e-commerce high-flyer Paytm is taking it on the chin. Shares in the digital payments giant have tumbled nearly 20% since it made its stock market debut on Thursday, a worrying sign for the country’s digital unicorns.
- The will it or won’t it? question hanging over Evergrande is crystallizing for credit analysts. According to S&P Global Ratings, the troubled property developer is likely headed for default as it has “lost the capacity to sell new homes.”
- At the open, the European bourses were solidly higher across the continent with the Stoxx Europe 600 up nearly 0.4% … and then the Austria news dashed the rally. At 5 a.m. ET, the benchmark was 0.1% lower.
- Economists may need to revise their eurozone Q4 GDP numbers as the COVID situation goes from bad to worse, particularly in Europe’s biggest economy, Germany. Meanwhile, other parts of COVID-socked Europe are introducing tough new measures as a dreaded winter wave pushes hospitalization and death rates higher.
- The COVID numbers are doing a job on the euro. The common currency was off more than 0.6% mid-morning, trading at a 16-month low against the dollar.
- Now that the United States has reopened its borders to most Europeans, where are all these Euro travelers going? Judging by my full-flight last week, I’d have guessed New York City… and I’d be wrong. Orlando clocks in as the top destination, a sign leisure travel is bouncing back, CNBC reports.
- U.S. futures hit a big reversal mid-morning European time. Even still, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are well on pace to close out the week in the green.
- Investor focus turns once again to Washington. The House is trying to push through approval of the $1.75 billion Build Back Better economic package and President Joe Biden is expected to name—possibly this weekend— who will run the Federal Reserve.
- Shares in Ford Motor Company were up nearly 0.8% in pre-market after the automaker announced ambitious plans to increase EV production globally to 600,000 cars by 2023, putting it just behind Tesla.
- Sticking with EVs, Apple—yes, the iPhone maker—is pushing a plan to design self-driving electric vehicles.
- Gold is up…over the past 24 hours, and the past week. It trades above $1,860.
- The dollar is gaining, too.
- Crude dropped like a stone on the Austria news. Brent trades below $80/barrel.
- Bitcoin took a tumble overnight. It’s down nearly 4% in the past 24 hours, trading around $57,000. Ethereum’s Ether is off 2%.
By the numbers
I hope you didn’t dump tech shares from your portfolio at the start of the year when the reopening trade kicked into gear. Following yesterday’s rally, the info tech portion of the S&P 500 is up more than 30% year-to-date, outperforming the benchmark as a whole (25.3%). It’s now the fourth-best performing grouping in the S&P, closing in on real estate and finance. Yesterday told a familiar story: Big Tech (helped by Nvidia’s 8.3% surge) drove the benchmark to its 66th record of the year. LPL Financial, for one, thinks tech is on strong footing for the next few quarters. That’s primarily because the info tech sector just hit a 52-week “relative high”—or a high relative to the rest of the S&P 500—and “earnings growth this year is on track to exceed 30%.” This doesn’t mean investors should be jumping back into high-growth tech stocks, the firm cautions. LPL sees a mix of growth and value as a good way to play the markets. Furthermore, its trend ranking continues to put energy and financials at the shared top spot and tech as No. 2.
For crypto bulls, Nov. 10 was a day to remember. Both Bitcoin and Ether hit all-time highs on that date just nine days ago. And since then? BTC has gone full-bear, tumbling 20.5% lower while Ether is down 16.8%. Over that same period, investors are pouring into tech stocks, and the S&P continues to rock all-time highs. I know. We’ve been here many times. Amid a pullback, crypto bears crow, I told you so, the the valuations make no sense. But eventually investors jump in to buy on the dip. What has some market observers nervous about the latest tumble is that, in breaking below $58,000, Bitcoin trades below its 50-day moving average. We saw something similar in April when it suffered its biggest swoon of the year. And, this tumble is happening as tech looks more and more attractive. Nobody is calling it a tech-crypto divergence, but markets pros see the correlation evaporating.
After sending out yesterday’s Bull Sheet, my inbox filled up with reader mail. To recap: I shared the story about my little mission to find a pair of Nike Air Jordan 1s for my daughter. It was anything but a straightforward shopping experience. After striking out online and at two Nike outlets, I reported, I got a tip about an urban footwear reseller in lower Manhattan, Flight Club. There, I found what I was looking for. I wrapped the whole thing up as a lesson in price-discovery gone off the rails. As several readers pointed out, I left out one vital detail from that essay. As one reader chided, “Come on, after discussing price-discovery, we are left wondering at the final price.” I hear you. Here goes. I paid… [dramatic pause]… 214 bucks (tax included). I know. That’s nuts. But it’s far better than the €460 price tag I saw while window-shopping the same ones here in Europe.
I have to admit, I’m pretty anxious to see her face on Christmas morning when she opens the box. Here they are:
Have a lovely weekend. But first, there’s more news below.
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That was the Arabica coffee futures price yesterday. A devoted moka-pot drinker, I've been watching coffee futures prices for much of the year, and cringing. They've more than doubled so far this year, and are ending the year on a tear. What's going on? My colleague Chris Morris explains it's the perfect storm—a supply shock from Brazil, skyrocketing fertilizer prices and crazy global demand—that's pushing up prices to a 10-year high.