Fitch cuts US credit rating and warns of ‘ fiscal deterioration’
The US’s credit rating has been cut to AA+ from AAA, in an unexpected blow to the world’s biggest economy.
The rating agency said its downgrade “reflects the expected fiscal deterioration over the next three years, a high and growing general government debt burden, and the erosion of governance relative to ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ rated peers over the last two decades that has manifested in repeated debt limit standoffs and last-minute resolutions.”
The US narrowly avoided a default just weeks ago, with the federal borrowing limit lifted at the eleventh hour after months of tension over spending cuts.
Tinder parent Match Group shares surge on rosy outlook and user growth
Tinder parent Match Group’s shares jumped 11.6 per cent in after-market trading after the online dating company forecasted better than expected revenue for the current quarter, as its marketing campaign aimed at Gen Z attracts new users and helps boost revenue.
The Dallas-based company forecast third-quarter revenue in the range of $875mn to $885mn, exceeding analysts’ expectations of $863.8mn and an 8 to 9.3 per cent increase from the year ago quarter.
Match Group’s pricing optimization and Tinder marketing campaign aimed at Gen Z daters, It Starts with a Swipe, “yielded both revenue acceleration nd improved users trends,” the company said in a statement, which included a jump in new user and reactivations at Tinder.
Diluted earnings per share in the second quarter rebounded from a loss last year to 48 cents on revenue of $830mn, beating analysts’ expectations.
Trump expects to be indicted today in 2020 election interference probe
Donald Trump said he expected to be charged at 5pm local time in the probe over his alleged attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In a post on his social networking site, Truth Social, the former US president said that special counsel Jack Smith, would be “putting out yet another Fake Indictment of your favourite President” on Tuesday afternoon, “ in order to interfere with the Presidential Election of 2024”.
Trump is the overwhelming frontrunner in the contest to be the Republican candidate in next year’s presidential race. He accused Smith of timing the indictment “to put it right in the middle of my campaign.” Trump already faces criminal charges over the handling of classified documents, and state charges over alleged hush money payments made in the run up to the 2016 election.
Starbucks rides China rebound and pricier drinks to profit beat and record revenue
Starbucks reported record revenues and profits beat analysts’ expectations in the coffee chain’s latest quarter, helped by higher prices for its beverages and a recovery in the Chinese market.
Comparable store sales, a closely watched industry metric, rose 10 per cent globally in the company’s third quarter, missing Wall Street forecasts for 11.8 per cent.
In China, comparable store sales rose 46 per cent from a year ago, with stores back to standard operations after China’s zero-Covid policies in 2022 forced it to close stores or pause services in its second-largest market.
Comparable store sales grew 7 per cent in North America, driven by a 6 per cent increase in the average transaction cost.
Starbucks reported revenue of $9.2bn in its third quarter, a record, but below Wall Street forecasts for $9.3bn. Earnings of 99 cents a share topped forecasts and were up 20 cents from a year ago.
US says military training operations with Niger are ‘suspended’
US security co-operation operations with Niger are currently “suspended” in light of the military coup in the country, the Pentagon said.
“We continue to stay in contact with the Niger military but in terms of training, for example, those types of things, that’s been suspended,” Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said on Tuesday.
US forces remained in the country but were not participating in any evacuation operations, he continued.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken last week said US assistance to Niger was in “jeopardy” following the military takeover of the country’s democratically elected government.
HSBC’s US arm under investigation for discrimination against borrowers of colour
The US banking subsidiary of HSBC is being investigated by federal officials for discriminating against Black and Hispanic borrowers, the bank said on Tuesday.
HSBC disclosed the probe, led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing said that the federal housing authority was looking at HSBC’s lending practices in minority neighbourhoods in six large US cities from 2018 to 2021.
HSBC, which has shrunk its presence in the US housing market over the past decade, had $16bn in residential mortgages outstanding, making it the country’s 25th largest home lending bank.
HSBC declined to comment.
Parliamentary byelection looms in Scotland after voters oust MP
A by-election has been triggered in Scotland after voters in the seat of Rutherglen and Hamilton West pushed to remove the incumbent MP, Margaret Ferrier.
More than 10 per cent of constituents signed a so-called recall petition after Ferrier, formerly of the Scottish National Party, was suspended from the Commons for 30 days.
That sanction was levied after she was convicted for breaking Covid-19 travel rules during the peak of the pandemic in September 2020, actions for which she was suspended from the SNP.
The date of the by-election is yet to be determined, but the contest is likely to be a two-horse race between the SNP and Labour, which previously held the seat.
US manufacturing sector contracts for ninth consecutive month
Activity in the US manufacturing sector contracted for the ninth consecutive month in July, as companies cut jobs in the face of weak demand.
The Institute for Supply Management said its index tracking factory activity edged up to a reading of 46.4 last month from 46 in June. A figure below 50 indicates that the sector is contracting. Economists had expected a reading of 46.8.
Timothy Fiore, chair of the ISM manufacturing business survey committee, said companies had indicated a slowdown in hiring as reduced production pushed them to “manage headcounts down” more than in previous months.
Sarah Breeden appointed Bank of England deputy governor
Sarah Breeden, a senior Bank of England official, will succeed Jon Cunliffe in November as the central bank’s deputy governor for financial stability, the Treasury announced on Tuesday.
Breeden will lead the BoE’s work on financial stability during her five-year term, chairing the Financial Policy Committee in the governor’s absence.
She will also sit on the nine-member monetary policy committee, which sets interest rates, and the prudential regulation committee.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Breeden would bring “extensive experience” to the role from her current work as an FPC member and as the BoE’s executive director for financial stability strategy and risk.
JetBlue Airways cuts forecast as travellers favour international trips
Shares in JetBlue Airways fell 7.3 per cent in early trading after the US carrier cut its earnings outlook for the year as more travellers opt for international destinations.
The US budget airline, which only flies domestic routes, said on Tuesday it expects to earn between 5 and 40 cents per share in 2023, down from a range of 70 cents to $1.
The company said “a greater than expected shift of pent-up Covid demand to long-haul international markets . . . is pressuring demand for domestic travel during the peak summer travel period”.
JetBlue reported net income of $152mn in the second quarter, compared to a net loss for the same period last year of $153mn.
Demand for US workers drops to 2-year low
Demand for US workers continued to slow in June, reaching a two-year low and suggesting that the labour market is heading towards a soft landing.
There were about 9.58mn job vacancies on the last business day of June, slightly lower than a downwardly-revised figure of 9.61mn in May, the labour department said on Tuesday. The number of job openings, which economists consider to be a proxy for labour demand, was about in line with economists’ expectations, according to a Refinitiv survey.
Layoffs held steady at 1.5mn, while job quits dropped to 3.8mn, further indicating that the jobs market is slowing. They are considered more reliable figures than the volatile openings number.
Brewer Molson Coors raises full-year outlook after record quarter for sales
US brewer Molson Coors raised its full-year guidance after reporting record quarterly sales at a time of significant upheaval in the domestic beer market.
Net sales of $3.3bn in the three months to June were the highest since Molson and Coors merged in 2005, and fractionally below Wall Street estimates. This marked a 12 per cent increase from a year ago, thanks to higher prices and sales volumes in top markets and solid demand for premium beers in the US.
Notably, Molson Coors said brand volumes in the US, its primary market, rose 8.7 per cent, its first increase in several quarters. The gains have come as some American drinkers this year boycotted AB InBev’s Bud Light, toppling it as the best-selling beer in the US.
Molson Coors now expects its annual sales growth to be in the high single digits instead of low single digits.
EU says Niger coup poses no risks to bloc’s uranium supplies
The coup in Niger poses no risks to Europe’s uranium supplies, the European Commission has said, despite the country’s role as a key supplier of the fuel.
“There is no supply risk as such when it comes to the EU,” said European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz. “EU utilities have sufficient inventories of natural uranium to mitigate any short-term supply risks. In the medium- and long-term there are enough deposits on the world market to cover EU needs”
Niger is an important supplier of natural uranium to EU member states, particularly France, the bloc’s largest nuclear power producer and the African country’s former colonial authority.
So far the EU has offered to evacuate any Niger staff on a voluntary basis.
Pfizer revenues halve as demand for Covid products drops
Pfizer’s revenue more than halved in the second quarter, after demand for its Covid-19 products fell sharply.
The US drugmaker generated sales of $12.7bn in the three months to end June, down from $27.7bn in the same quarter a year earlier and below analysts’ expectations of $13.3bn.
Combined sales of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine Comirnaty and antiviral medication Paxlovid were worth $1.6bn in the quarter, down from $11.3bn during the same period a year earlier.
Pfizer is racing to launch 19 new medicines over an 18-month period to help it manage the fall in sales of Covid products and the loss of exclusivity on several key drugs.
European commission says Ukraine should use weapons provided only for self-defence after drones hit Moscow
The European commission has said that weapons sent to Ukraine by the bloc can be used only for self-defence, after drones hit Moscow on Tuesday for the second time in three days.
Nabila Massrali, a commission spokesperson, said that “equipment provided to Ukraine by member states through the European Peace Facility can only be used for the defence of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.”
She added that the EU has “established strict mechanisms” to ensure that such equipment is used by Ukraine’s armed forces “for the sole purpose of self-defence”.
The bloc has allocated up to €12bn to the facility, used to fund ammunition, weapons and other military support for Ukraine.
Merck pushes up revenue forecast on strong sales of cancer treatment
Merck raised its full year revenue forecasts on Tuesday as strong sales of its cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda and HPV vaccine Gardasil helped it to post a lower than expected second quarter loss.
The US drugmaker said sales grew by 3 per cent to $15bn in the three months to end June, which beat analysts’ estimates despite a fall in sales of its Covid medicine Lagevrio.
Merck raised its full year revenue forecasts to between $58.6bn and $59.6bn, up from an earlier forecast of $57.7bn and $58.9bn.
The company reported a loss of $2.06 a share, which was mainly due to a charge related to an acquisition.
Caterpillar beats profit forecast as demand and prices rise
Industrial bellwether Caterpillar beat earnings expectations in the second quarter, as strong demand and higher prices helped lift construction equipment sales despite higher interest rates.
The US-based industrial equipment maker on Thursday reported quarterly sales were up 22 per cent year-on-year to $17.3bn, beating analysts’ expectations of $16.5bn.
Earnings rose to $5.67 per share, up $2.54 from the same quarter last year and exceeding analyst expectations of $4.51 per share.
Driving the performance were a 27 per cent increase in sales in its energy and transportation sector and a 19 per cent jump in sales in its construction industries division.
Uber makes first operating profit after years of heavy spending
Uber reported its first operating profit on Tuesday on the back of better cost controls, marking a turning point following years of heavy spending in an expensive push for growth.
The long-awaited landmark in the ride-hailing company’s finances came after it had racked up a total of $31.5bn in operating losses since 2014, the first year for which it disclosed details of its finances.
Uber reported $326mn in pre-tax earnings from its operations from April to June, a turnaround from the operating loss of $713mn a year before.
The company had previously undergone one of the most ambitious global expansions undertaken by a tech start-up as it tapped mountains of cheap capital to subsidise rides and grab market share.
Read more here.
What to watch in North America today
Pharma: Investors will be keen to learn how Pfizer has navigated falling demand for its Covid-19 vaccines, and how sales of Merck’s popular cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda are performing. Pfizer is expected to report a second-quarter halving in revenue compared with the same period last year, and a decrease in earnings per share to 44 cents from $1.73. Merck is expected to report a loss per share of $2.28 in the second quarter on revenues of $14.4bn.
Other companies: Uber, Caterpillar, JetBlue and Molson Coors will report earnings before the bell. Starbucks, Electronic Arts and Chesapeake Energy will report after the bell.
Economic data: US Bureau of Labor Statistics data is expected to show job openings decreased to 9.6mn in June from 9.8mn the previous month, according to a Refinitiv survey of economists. Separately, activity in the US manufacturing sector is expected to have contracted for the ninth consecutive month, but at a slower pace in July. The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing PMI is expected to record a reading of 46.8 in July, up from 46 in June.
Eurozone jobless rate falls to record low in June
The eurozone unemployment rate has fallen to a record low, indicating that the single currency bloc’s labour market remains healthy despite concerns about weak growth.
Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency, said on Tuesday the June unemployment rate was 6.4 per cent — an all-time low in the eurozone — as it also revised down the rate in the previous two months from 6.5 per cent to 6.4 per cent.
The number of jobless people in the eurozone fell to just over 10.8mn, down 62,000 from May, it said. The strengthening of the region’s job market looks likely to continue in July after German data also released on Tuesday showed the country’s jobless numbers dipped at the start of the third quarter.
US tightens visa waiver programme for Hungary on security concerns
The US has tightened a visa waiver programme for Hungarian citizens after Budapest failed to impose adequate security checks on nearly 1mn people granted citizenship in the past decade, the US embassy in Hungary said on Tuesday.
The move, effective immediately, reduces the validity of the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) for Hungarian passport holders from two years to one and allows only a single entry rather than multiple entries.
“Despite extensive efforts over many years . . . to avoid this outcome and resolve longstanding security issues arising from Hungary’s simplified naturalisation process, the Hungarian government has opted not to address the concerns raised,” the embassy said.
The Hungarian government did not reply to a request for comment.
BMW shares fall on missed profit expectations
BMW missed profit expectations between April and June due to higher costs, and reduced its cash forecasts for the year, even as it raised its profit guidance.
The early release of its results, made under German stock market rules that oblige companies to publish sooner than planned if results are outside the expected range, sent BMW’s shares down 4 per cent.
The premium carmaker said it expected the profit margin in its auto business to be 9-10.5 per cent, higher than its previous forecast of 8-10 per cent, with “solid growth” in car sales.
But its auto margin in the second quarter of the year had been 9.2 per cent, below the 10 per cent that analysts had forecast.
Niger’s junta arrests former ministers as France prepares evacuation
The junta that seized power in Niger last week has arrested senior politicians including the head of the former ruling party, the mines minister and the petroleum minister, who is the son of the former president.
Ruling juntas in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso warned on Monday that any military intervention to restore the deposed government in Niamey would be regarded as a “declaration of war” on their countries. West African states threatened force on Sunday if Niger’s junta did not restore civilian power within seven days.
France will start evacuating its citizens and other Europeans in Niger from Tuesday, the French foreign ministry said.
Risers and fallers in Europe
Big share price moves in Europe today include multinational banking giant HSBC, UK bakery chain Greggs, and hedge fund Man Group:
HSBC: Shares in the bank gained more than 2 per cent after it launched a share buyback on surging profits that were helped by rising interest rates.
Greggs: The iconic sausage roll maker lost more than 4 per cent in early trade despite posting a 14 per cent rise in profits as persistent inflation contributed to a cloudy outlook for UK consumers in the second half of 2023.
Man Group: Shares in the hedge fund lost 5 per cent after profits decreased significantly, but still beat expectations. Assets under management reached a record high of $152bn in the first half of the year.
European stocks slip as investors weigh global slowdown
European stocks followed Asia lower on Tuesday, after fresh data pointed to a slowdown in China’s factory activity, raising investors’ concerns over a global demand slowdown.
The region-wide Stoxx Europe 600 index slipped 0.2 per cent at the opening bell, as did France’s Cac 40 and Germany’s Dax. Basic materials stocks led fallers in the region, as the Stoxx 600 Basic Resources index opened 1 per cent lower.
The declines echoed Asian markets, where China’s benchmark CSI 300 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index both gave up 0.4 per cent, as investors worried over the country’s stalled post-pandemic recovery.
Assets under management at Man Group hit record high
Assets under management at Man Group, the world’s largest listed hedge fund manager, hit a record high in the first half of the year, although the group’s profits fell.
Man had assets under management of $152bn at the end of June, up from $143.3bn at the end of last year as customers gave the company more money to manage. However adjusted pre-tax profits fell from $395mn to $137mn, driven by lower performance fees.
The $32mn in performance fees, down from $404mnin the first half of last year, reflected a “difficult first quarter” for trend following strategies, which make money by betting on the overall direction of markets, the company said.
Drones hit Moscow’s business district for second time in three days
A skyscraper in Moscow’s premier business district, Moscow City, was damaged on Monday night by a drone strike for the second time in three days.
“Several drones were shot down by air defences as they tried to enter Moscow. One hit the same City tower as the last time. The facade of the 21st floor was damaged,” said Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin, adding that there was no information about casualties.
The 50-storey tower contains the offices of Russia’s economic development, trade and industry ministries.
There was no immediate statement from Kyiv on responsibility.
Two towers in Moscow City were damaged by drones on the night of July 30. A security guard at one of them was injured.
Diageo beats estimates as consumers turn to premium spirits brands
Diageo outperformed forecasts in the year to June, lifting net sales 6.5 per cent after it raised prices and consumers opted for more expensive spirits.
The maker of Johnnie Walker, Tanqueray and Guinness reported net sales of £17.1bn, the company reported on Tuesday, while pre-tax profit rose 5.1 per cent to £4.6bn. Premium brands made up 63 per cent of sales, 7 percentage points higher than before the pandemic.
In the US, where demand for premium spirits has been lagging since the at-home drinking boom during the pandemic subsided, sales in whisky, rum and vodka declined compared with the previous year, while tequila grew 15 per cent.
The company said price increases “more than offset the absolute cost inflation impact on gross margin”.
Metro Bank records first half-year profit since 2019 scandal
High street challenger Metro Bank reported its first profitable half-year results since a 2019 scandal in which investors were misled over risk, as the Bank of England’s continued rate rises helped the lender’s turnaround efforts.
Underlying profit before tax for the period was £16.1mn, up from a loss of £48mn a year ago and ahead of consensus figures of £6mn. Revenues for the first half of the year rose 20 per cent year on year to £286.4mn, although they missed analyst estimates of £308mn.
“Our statutory profitability in H1, making this the third consecutive quarter of underlying profitability, demonstrates that our strategy is working,” said chief executive Dan Frumkin.
Metro has faced an uphill battle since 2019, when investors were misled over a key risk measure, leading to a 39 per cent share price collapse, more than £15mn in fines, and the departure of its previous leadership team.
Russian drones hit Ukraine’s second-largest city
Russian drones struck residential buildings in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv early on Tuesday, destroying the top two floors of a college dormitory, according to the head of the region’s military administration, Oleh Syniehubov.
Suspilne, Ukraine’s public broadcaster, showed footage of smoke rising from the destroyed section of the dormitory. It quoted Kharkiv region’s chief of police Volodymyr Tymoshko as saying at least one person had been injured.
Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov said that three drones targeted “the middle of the city, in densely populated areas”.
BP raises dividend and announces share buyback despite profit slump
BP increased its dividend and announced further share buybacks even as earnings slumped from the record levels set last year.
The group’s underlying profits for the second quarter were $2.6bn, down almost 70 per cent from the $8.5bn it recorded in the same period last year, undershooting average analyst estimates of $3.5bn.
BP blamed lower refining margins and planned maintenance work for the drop off in performance as the upheaval in energy markets that had supercharged earnings for the previous five quarters receded.
Despite the decline in profits, BP said it remained committed to “delivering for shareholders”, increasing its dividend by 10 per cent to $0.7 per share and announcing $1.5bn in share repurchases. That followed $4.5bn in share buybacks already announced and completed this year.
UK house prices record biggest drop since 2009
UK house prices have dropped by the largest amount in 14 years, according to fresh data from Nationwide.
Prices for July fell 0.2 per cent on the previous month and 3.8 per cent on the same month last year, the largest fall since 2009, the Nationwide house price index showed. The average cost of a home in the UK is now £260,828.
House prices have come under increasing pressure as lenders have ratcheted up mortgage costs in response to higher interest rates.
In June, house prices remained broadly flat compared with the previous month, Nationwide’s data showed, but were 3.5 per cent lower than the same month last year.
Uniper to invest €8bn in renewables over seven years
The nationalised German gas importer Uniper plans to invest €8bn in renewables in the next seven years as it seeks to harness strong earnings to shift away from fossil fuels.
The company, which last year received a multibillion euro bailout to prevent its collapse after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, said it would capitalise on better-than-expected performance to triple the average annual investments made over the past three years, expanding renewables and decarbonising its gas business by pursuing green hydrogen.
Uniper, which posted earnings before interest and taxes of €3.7bn in the first half of 2023 compared with a €757mn loss last year, has come under pressure from environmental campaigners to help Germany meet its ambitious green targets after the government stepped in to rescue the company.
Toyota Motor’s profit surges despite price war with local China brands
Toyota Motor has bucked a sharp slowdown in China with quarterly profits surging 94 per cent as the group sold 2.75mn vehicles globally, a year-on-year increase of 8.1 per cent.
The company’s shares briefly rose 3 per cent on Tuesday after it reported that operating profit increased to ¥1.12tn from ¥578.6bn ($4bn) a year earlier. Analysts had expected ¥925.6bn, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Japanese carmakers have been hit heavily in China this year due to a slow transition to electric vehicles and rising local brands. Sales of Toyota and Lexus vehicles there rose 8.6 per cent but operating profits dropped 26 per cent due to a price war.
HSBC unveils $2bn share buyback as rising rates boost income
HSBC announced a further share buyback of up to $2bn and reported better than expected pre-tax profits, as rising rates boosted the UK-based lender.
The bank reported pre-tax profits of $8.8bn in the three months to June, beating analysts’ expectations of $8bn. Chief executive Noel Quinn said it was a “strong first-half performance”.
He added that the bank had “good broad-based profit generation around the world, higher revenue in our global businesses driven by strong net interest income, and continued tight cost control”.
China’s Country Garden stock falls after share placement cancelled
Shares in Country Garden fell as much as 10 per cent on Tuesday after one of China’s most important property developers abruptly abandoned an attempt to raise new funds.
The company, the largest developer in the country by sales last year and a barometer for the sector’s health, decided to cancel the $300mn share placement on Monday night, two sources briefed on the placement said, without providing a reason.
A successful placement would have been a rare example of a new capital markets deal in a real estate sector starved of investment. JPMorgan was the sole bookrunner.
Read more about Country Garden’s aborted share placement here.
What to watch in Europe today
Events: German economy minister Robert Habeck speaks about decarbonisation of the country’s power plants and the status of state aid regulations in talks with the European Commission. Poland marks the anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw uprising against Nazi German occupation.
Indicators: Still with Germany, the eurozone’s largest economy is expected to publish jobless data for July, after figures on Monday suggested inflation had eased across the bloc amid signs of a generalised recovery. July figures from the Nationwide house price and British Retail Consortium indices are expected. Despite a worsening outlook for the UK housing market, mortgage approvals rose unexpectedly on Monday.
Results: Investors are paying close attention to how inflation and rising interest rates are affecting consumer behaviour and companies’ bottom lines. Among UK companies reporting are alcoholic drinks giant Diageo, lenders HSBC and Metro Bank and energy major BP, which is expected to post second-quarter pre-tax profits of $6.4bn on revenues of $47.8bn, according to consensus estimates compiled by Refinitiv.
China consumption incentives and US rates sentiment lift Asia stocks
Asian equities rose on Tuesday as investors reacted to measures by Beijing to boost consumption in China and calculated that interest rate increases in the US were coming to an end.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 1.1 per cent, Japan’s Topix rose 0.6 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi gained 1.3 per cent and China’s CSI 300 advanced 0.4 per cent.
The Asia moves followed gains in the US as investors wagered that the Federal Reserve’s monetary cycle was likely to be finished for this year. Incentives for consumers in China were also cheered. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose 0.2 per cent each on Monday.
China new home sales post biggest monthly drop in a year
Sales of new homes in China slumped by the biggest monthly decline in a year in July, according to private-sector data compiled from the country’s top 100 developers, as the indebted property sector comes under renewed pressure.
Sales declined 33.1 per cent in value compared with a year earlier to a total of Rmb350.4bn ($48.9bn), according to data from China Real Estate Information Company. The July slump followed a contraction in June.
Chinese developers were roiled by a wave of defaults last year and the recent slowdown in sales comes as the economy has stagnated despite the unwinding of Covid-19 controls last year.
What to watch in Asia today
Events: The Reserve Bank of Australia issues an interest rate decision. Economists at Bank of America and Westpac expect a 25-basis-point rise to 4.35 per cent. The Bank of Japan releases minutes of its June monetary policy meeting. China marks Army Day, the anniversary of the founding of its armed forces in 1927 during the Chinese civil war. Thailand’s financial markets are closed for Asanha Bucha, a Buddhist festival observed on the full moon of the eighth lunar month.
Indicators: It’s a big day for purchasing managers’ indices, as Caixin issues its latest data for China. Japan’s Nikkei publishes the manufacturing PMI for July and S&P Global releases similar figures for India, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. Australia also provides a manufacturing PMI. Indonesia publishes consumer price index figures. Hong Kong announces the latest retail sales data, Japan notes its June unemployment rate and South Korea releases June trade data.
Results: UK-based, Asia-focused HSBC issues first-half earnings, while Japan’s Mitsui & Co, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Nomura, TDK and Toyota publish first-quarter data. Hong Kong’s Kerry Group provides second-quarter results.
Former Trump donor gives $5mn to Democratic candidate Kennedy
A top Republican donor who helped fund Donald Trump’s past presidential runs has emerged as a top financial supporter of Robert F Kennedy Jr’s longshot White House bid, as conservative cash keeps flowing to Joe Biden’s main challenger for the Democratic nomination.
According to federal filings released on Monday, Timothy Mellon gave $5mn to American Values, the main political action committee, or outside spending group, supporting Kennedy’s White House bid.
Not only are some Republicans drawn to Kennedy’s views questioning vaccinations and US support for Ukraine, but they also see his candidacy as weakening Biden heading into the general election.
Biden nixes Trump plan to move Space Command to Alabama
President Joe Biden has decided to keep the US Space Command in Colorado, reversing Donald Trump’s plan to move it to Alabama, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The move comes as the Biden administration has grown increasingly frustrated with Tommy Tuberville, a Republican senator from Alabama, who has blocked the confirmation of dozens of senior military officers to protest the Pentagon’s efforts to protect abortion access in the military.
But even before then, Democratic lawmakers in Colorado had been putting pressure on Biden to overturn Trump’s decision. The move by the current president was heavily criticised by Alabama Republicans as brazenly political and designed to punish a conservative state.
Avis beats profit expectations on strong summer travel demand
High demand for summer travel helped car rental company Avis Budget Group exceed Wall Street’s expectations for profit.
Avis earned $436mn in net income in the three months ending in June, beating analysts’ forecasts by 18 per cent. Revenue was slightly below forecasts at $3.1bn, with Wall Street expecting $3.2bn.
Chief executive Joe Ferraro said the Avis team had been able to capitalise on “strong and increasing travel demand” and that “summer travel has continued to be robust with elevated peak period demand and seasonally improved pricing”.
While Avis’s revenue dipped 7 per cent on a per-day basis compared with the year-ago quarter, rental days increased by 4 per cent.
German sandal maker Birkenstock’s owner considers September IPO
The private equity owners of German sandal maker Birkenstock are considering an initial public offering of the company that may take place as soon as September, according to people familiar with the matter.
If L Catterton decided to go ahead with the listing, Birkenstock could be valued at more than $8bn, the people said.
An exit at that valuation would mark a bumper return for the private equity firm, which is backed by French luxury fashion house LVMH and has invested in consumer brands including Scandinavian fashion company Ganni and fitness company ClassPass.