Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.
1. Russian Stocks Shrug. Russia’s MICEX index is up more than 2% despite the announcement of further sanctions against Russian financial institutions. BI’s Sam Ro explains why markets are unmoved: “… There’s little doubt that Russia’s economy is indeed under pressure. And Russia’s MICEX index is actually down 3.5% since the beginning of the year; compare that with the S&P 500, which is up 7.8% during that period. If anything, Wednesday’s reaction reflects investors’ expectations for the sanctions. And it would appear that the markets were prepared for worse.”
2. Europe Gas Cut Off? Morgan Stanley believes it’s possible Russian President Vladimir Putin may respond to the new sanctions by cutting off gas through Ukraine and curbing oil exports, although trading in futures for both was subdued Wednesday morning. “Russia has announced that it will not respond in an ‘eye-for- eye way’ — and in any case, we think that a reciprocal approach would not be effective, given different dependencies,” they say. “For instance, few G7 citizens or leaders have assets or family in Russia, and Russian banks are not an important source of finance for G7 countries. In fact, if Russia responds with economic measures, we think the most effective measures are likely to be restrictions on exports of oil (Russia exports more than 7.5 million barrels of oil equivalent a day) and gas (where Russia provides 30% of Europe’s demand).”
3. Twitter. Twitter crushed earnings expectations after trading Tuesday, and shares were up 25% Wednesday morning before the bell. The social media site saw 271 million monthly active users (MAUs) versus expectations of 267 million monthly active users, a 24% year-over-year jump in usage, and a 6% increase on a quarterly basis. In an interview with BI’s Jay Yarow, CEO Dick Costolo said his firm nevertheless still had a ways to go. “JY: What gets people to sign up and use Twitter? DC: When they are able to sign in, find the kinds of accounts that are interesting to them over time, and curate those accounts into a timeline that delivers value for them day in and day out. The work that we have to do is for the so many people that come to the platform and try to do that is to get them from the sign up to the point where they have got a timeline that delivers value to them over and over again faster and faster.”
4. GDP. The Bureau of Economic Analysis was set to release GDP data at 8:30 a.m. Consensus is for a reading of 2.9% annualized. Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna, who is predicting 4.2%, has explained why he thinks it could be even higher: “Current data imply that Q1 productivity fell at an astounding -5.8% annualized rate, which would be the largest decline since Q3 1947, when productivity plunged by an all-time record amount of -11.2% in the quarter. Productivity then rebounded an even more remarkable +17.8% in the following quarter. In the context of a sharp downward revision to Q1 productivity, our estimate of just a +0.4% rebound in Q2 is extremely modest. If anything, the payback should be much larger, thereby implying even more economic output than what we project.” (Emphasis his).
5. FOMC. The Federal Open Market Committee was to release its latest policy document at 2 p.m. It’s likely to be a snoozer, according to Potomac Research Group’s Greg Valliere. In a note this week he wrote: “The former Fed vice chairman made several key points in [a recent] PRG conference call, which is still available on playback. Our main takeaway is that while the FOMC may tweak its statement this week to reflect higher inflation and an improving labour market, the central bankers will probably wait until September to decide on exit strategies. They will discuss them at this week’s meeting, so the minutes will be important, but they’re in no rush to change their policy language, Don said.”
6. IEX May Prompt Trading Rule Tweak. Reuters reports the advent of IEX, the trading venue favourably portrayed by Michael Lewis in his latest book, “Flash Boys,” may cause the SEC to relax rules that require the fastest possible execution of securities trades. IEX has a “speed bump” in order execution that would not be allowed if it were to become a full-fledged exchange. But the SEC may make an exception. “Though the commissioners will make a decision only after IEX applies to become an exchange, the SEC is likely take into consideration that the high-speed trading phenomenon and the proliferation of such firms took hold only after the rules were written in 2005, the person said.”
7. Gaza On The Brink Of Humanitarian Disaster. The New York Times reports that Israel blew up Gaza’s only power plant, cutting off water and sewage treatment for the territory. “‘Today there is no electricity in Gaza,’ said Jamal Dardasawi of Gaza’s power company. The plant would take months to fix, he said, and eight of the 10 lines that bring electricity to Gaza from Israel have been damaged by the war, leaving only a trickle coming in from there and from Egypt.”
8. ADP and Mortgages. At 8:15 a.m. we get ADP’s private payroll survey for July. Consensus is for 230,000. Mortgage purchase applications, the other piece of data released this morning, fell 2.2% from last week.
9. Earnings. Garmin, Goodyear, Humana, Lorillard, Lumber Liquidators, Phillips 66, SodaStream, and Sprint all report Wednesday morning. After the bell we get Whole Foods and Yelp.
10. Markets. U.S. futures are up 0.2%. London’s FTSE was flat, and Germany’s DAX was up 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei closed up about 0.2%.
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