Apple, Amazon Earnings, Eurozone GDP, Biden and Xi, OPEC+ - What's Moving Markets

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Apple, Amazon Earnings, Eurozone GDP, Biden and Xi, OPEC+ - What's Moving Markets
Credit: © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse -- Positive updates from tech giants Amazon and Apple are expected to help U.S. stocks open higher, while stronger-than-expected second quarter GDP growth in the Eurozone has also helped risk sentiment. Presidents Biden and Xi held constructive talks and next week’s OPEC+ meeting looms large in the oil markets. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Friday, July 29.

1. Amazon, Apple continue tech earnings

Earnings from the influential Big Tech sector continue to dominate sentiment, with both Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) surpassing expectations with their quarterly results released after the close Thursday.

The second quarter was tricky for Amazon, with the world's largest online retailer seeing net sales in North America, the company's largest market, climbing 10% in the just-ended quarter, compared with a 22% gain in the same period a year ago. Its international unit actually saw an outright decline of 12%.

However, it’s the outlook that has impressed, with Amazon expecting a jump in third-quarter revenue, as it collects bigger fees from Prime loyalty subscriptions amid resilient consumer demand.

This follows major rival Walmart (NYSE: WMT ) earlier this week saying it would make much less this year than it once expected as soaring prices weighed on discretionary spending by U.S. consumers.

Apple also forecasted strong demand for its flagship iPhone product despite consumers tightening other spending as economic growth slows.

The tech giant’s phone sales in the fiscal third quarter rose 3% to $40.7 billion, ahead of the expected 3% decline, outperforming the wider global smartphone market which dropped 9% during the last quarter, according to Canalys data.

It also noted that demand rebounded in mid-June in its key China market after COVID-19 lockdowns hampered sales. That said, quarterly revenue in Greater China fell 1%, snapping a streak of strong quarters in the region.

Apple declined to provide specific revenue guidance, citing the economic uncertainty but said annual sales should rise faster in the current quarter than the 2% growth it posted in the just-ended quarter - something not to be sniffed at in the current climate.

2. Biden, Xi detente

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping chatted for more than two hours on the phone on Thursday, suggesting that relations between the globe’s two economic superpowers, while still frosty, are thawing.

The major topic of debate was Taiwan, of which there wasn’t an escalation of words, suggesting neither side wants a fresh political crisis as they deal with economic problems at home.

The other main areas covered focused on Russia's war in Ukraine and areas of possible U.S.-China cooperation, such as climate change, according to a senior U.S. official who briefed reporters.

The presidents were also reported to have discussed a possible face-to-face meeting. Such a move would be another step toward stabilizing the bilateral relationship and could point toward the eventual removal of U.S. tariffs from Chinese imports, freeing global trade.

3. Stocks set to open higher; earnings cement positive week

U.S. stock markets are set to open higher Friday, set to end the week on a positive note on the back of strong earnings from tech giants Amazon and Apple [see above].

By 6 AM ET (1000 GMT), Dow Jones futures were up 75 points or 0.2%, S&P 500 futures were up 0.7%, and Nasdaq 100 futures were up 1.1%.

The main indices are on course for a second positive week in a row, with generally strong corporate earnings holding sway even after the Federal Reserve increased interest rates by a further 75 basis points and GDP contracted for the second quarter in a row.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average is 2% higher so far this week, while the broad-based S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite have both gained 2.8%.

That said, the earnings have not all been strong, with chipmaker Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC ) quarterly numbers falling short of expectations while streaming device maker Roku (NASDAQ: ROKU ) warned of a slowdown in advertising, hitting its stock hard.

Key earnings Friday come from the likes of Chevron (NYSE: CVX ), Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM ), AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN ) and Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ), while the personal consumption expenditure index , the Fed's preferred measure of inflation, as well as personal income and personal spending are due for release.

4. Eurozone GDP surprises to the upside

The Eurozone grew surprisingly strongly in the second quarter, defying expectations of a slowdown and the previous day’s weak U.S. release, thanks to healthy performances in Spain, France, and Italy.

Eurozone gross domestic product rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in the April-June period and 4.0% year-on-year , much better than the expected 0.2% quarterly rise and a 3.4% year-on-year gain.

This growth was largely based on France beating expectations with 0.5% quarterly growth, Italy with a much stronger 1.0% growth, and Spain with an equally surprising 1.1% increase.

All good news, but these are preliminary estimates which may well be revised later, and worryingly growth in the region’s biggest economy, Germany , officially stagnated in the second quarter.

Influential investment bank J.P. Morgan predicted earlier this week a technical recession in the Eurozone early next year, estimating that GDP growth in the region would contract 0.5% in both the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year.

5. Oil gains; OPEC+ in focus

Crude oil prices traded higher Friday, helped by supply concerns ahead of next week’s meeting of a group of top producers even amid fears of a global recession.

The news that the U.S. economy, the world’s largest, shrank for the second consecutive quarter weighed on the crude market Thursday as it pointed to reduced demand from the globe’s biggest consumer.

That said, the weak tone hasn’t lasted long as attention turns to the next meeting between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+.

The members have now unwound the record 9.7 million barrels per day supply cut they agreed on in April 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic slammed demand.

U.S. President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia last month hoping to strike a deal to increase production, but it could be difficult for most of the group to boost supply significantly, given they are struggling to meet their current production quotas due to a lack of investment when prices were lower.

By 6 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were up 2.1% at $98.42 a barrel, while Brent crude was up 2.1% at $103.96 a barrel.

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