Good evening, Bull Sheeters. Fortune finance reporter Rey Mashayekhi here, filling in again this week for Bernhard Warner with a special PM edition of the newsletter.
Global markets continued to climb on Tuesday, with optimism over a coronavirus vaccine apparently the rising tide lifting all boats. There’s also a massive new European economic stimulus package to account for, as well as corporate earnings reports that, by and large, are exceeding expectations.
- Despite giving up a decent chunk of their gains late in the afternoon, the Dow ended the day up 160 points (+0.6%) while the S&P 500 ticked up 0.2%. The Nasdaq gave back some of Monday’s gains and was down 0.8%.
- Major companies that reported earnings today include Coca-Cola, United Airlines, Lockheed Martin, Philip Morris, and Snap. (More on corporate earnings later.) On Wednesday, all eyes will be on heavyweights Microsoft and Tesla.
- UBS will pay more than $10 million in fines to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for circumventing rules designed to give retail investors priority access to municipal bonds.
- It appears increasingly unlikely that Congress will pass a new coronavirus stimulus package before the CARES Act’s expanded unemployment benefits expire at the end of July. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she still hopes to pass a bill before the end of the month, her Republican counterpart, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, says a deal is more likely in early August.
- The European bourses all notched upward Tuesday. London’s FTSE gained 0.1%, while Frankfurt’s DAX (+1%), the CAC 40 in Paris (+0.2%), and the pan-European STOXX 600 (+0.3%) all registered larger gains.
- At the heart of Europe’s optimistic markets was news that European Union leaders in Brussels have agreed a historic 1.8 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) spending package that includes 750 billion euro ($865 billion) in grants and loans designed to aid the continent’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
- Popular stock trading app Robinhood is reportedly canceling its U.K. launch, which would have been the startup brokerage’s first expansion outside of the U.S.
- The major Asian indices all climbed on the news of positive COVID-19 vaccine trials and the EU’s stimulus deal. Tokyo’s Nikkei was up 0.7%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 2.3%, and South Korea’s KOSPI picked up 1.4%. On mainland China, Shanghai’s SSE Composite inched up 0.2%, while Shenzhen’s SZSE Component and SZSE Composite each gained 0.7%.
- Chinese authorities are reportedly considering retaliation against the Chinese operations of European telecom firms Nokia and Ericsson, should the EU follow the lead of the U.S. and U.K. in banning the use of Huawei’s 5G equipment.
- The U.S.’s decision to add 11 Chinese companies to a trade blacklist, for their alleged role in human-rights abuses against China’s Uighur minority group, could force American companies like Apple and Ralph Lauren to recalibrate their supply chains.
- Gold continued to rally to its highest levels in nearly a decade.
- The dollar fell.
- Crude oil climbed, with Brent closing at more than $44 per barrel.
As the world earns
At least some of Tuesday’s positive market performance can be attributed to corporate earnings reports that fared pretty well—at least compared to analysts’ dismal expectations.
- Coca-Cola, for instance, gained 2.3% on the day, despite a 32% dip in profits that corresponded with a 28% decline in revenue last quarter. But Coke’s earnings per share still came in ahead of analysts’ targets, and its executives expressed optimism that the worst of the economic downturn is behind them.
- Likewise, Lockheed Martin’s stock climbed 2.6% after the defense contractor raised both its revenue and earnings guidance for 2020, even in the face of pandemic-related supply chain issues that are impacting the production of aircraft and missiles.
- Snap, on the other hand, saw its stock plummet more than 10% in after-hours trading after revealing losses that swelled 28%, to $326 million. Still, the social media firm reported a 17% increase in both revenue and daily active users year-on-year, and its stock price was up roughly 50% for the year at Tuesday’s close.
All in all, publicly traded companies are outperforming analysts’ expectations for what was, by any measure, a dreadful quarter for the U.S. economy. According to Refinitiv, S&P 500 companies at large are reporting earnings that are 11.6% above expectations, compared to an average of 3.3% above estimates since 1994. And of the 58 companies in the S&P 500 that reported second-quarter earnings as of Tuesday morning, nearly 78% exceeded analyst targets—compared to an average of 65% since 1994.
Still, it appears part of that outperformance can be attributed to the low bar being set by analysts—whose blended year-on-year earnings growth estimate for S&P 500 companies in the second quarter is a remarkable -41.8% (and -36.2% without the notoriously volatile energy sector), according to Refinitiv. The blended year-on-year estimate for revenue growth in the second quarter, meanwhile, is -10.8%.
It’s easy to exceed expectations when they are exceptionally low in the first place.
That’s all for now. Have a pleasant evening and see you again tomorrow.