Stocks, futures slip as even a surge of ‘beats’ fail to lift the COVID gloom

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Good morning. Global stocks and U.S. futures have been sliding all morning as COVID concerns spook investors. Everything else seems to be secondary, including a batch of earnings beats that investors are largely ignoring, and, in some cases, are punishing.

Let’s see what’s moving the markets.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are mostly lower in afternoon trading with the Hang Seng down nearly 0.6%.
  • Jack Ma’s Ant Group hopes to raise roughly $34.5 billion in its pending record-breaking IPO. The fintech giant expects to begin trading next week in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and that fund-raising bonanza will make Ma the 11th wealthiest person on the planet.
  • Some promising news on the COVID vaccine front… CanSino Biologics co-founder Yu Xuefeng reiterated the Chinese vaccine company is on schedule to conclude its single-dose Phase III COVID vaccine trials in January, 2022. He made the remarks Tuesday at the Fortune Global Forum.

Europe

  • The European bourses are in the red with the Europe Stoxx 600 down nearly 0.30% as investors fret over the impact of tighter COVID restrictions across the continent. As we’ve been seeing all earnings season, decent corporate results are getting drowned out by the virus news.
  • There are a few notable exceptions. Shares in HSBC climbed as much as 5.3% in Hong Kong this morning after the bank reported a bottom-line beat and, more importantly, suggested it’s ready to resume dividend payments.
  • BP eked out a slim Q3 operating profit this morning, which amounts to a mammoth beat for Big Oil these days. But its bottom line result comes in a whopping 96% below the year earlier quarter. Shares were up 1.7% at the open, before climbing.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are trading sideways this morning. That’s after all three exchanges bombed out on Monday, the worst drop in a month. The Dow’s Monday losses were enough to put the benchmark index in the red for October.
  • BlackRock is short the dollar going into the election. The world’s biggest money manager believes the greenback has further to fall regardless of which party is in the White House next year.
  • Which companies are on the reporting calendar today? Microsoft, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, 3M and AMD to name a few.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is down, trading around $1,900/ounce.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude is up, with Brent trading at tick above $41/barrel.

***

Eat your beats

As I noted in this space last week, the sacred “beat” is no longer moving investors.

There are exceptions, notably with BP and HSBC today. (The latter is helped by its dividend announcement, however.) But it’s no longer a given that shares will jump when companies outperform the consensus estimate on either the top- or bottom line.

As my colleague Anne Sraders reported yesterday, this trend has now gone to an extreme. She quotes BofA Securities who write in a Monday investor note, “So far this quarter, companies that beat on both top and bottom line have underperformed the S&P 500 by 5bps the day after (worst in history), and misses outperformed by 60bps, highest in history.”

There is some precedent for this bizzarro phenomenon—the tech bubble days of 2000, which was “the only earnings season in history when surprises saw perverse rather than intuitive reactions—beats were not rewarded and misses were not penalized.”

This up-is-down reaction comes as companies are having an impressive quarter, beats-wise. Sraders breaks down just how impressive.

Now, the real test for this trend comes this week as the companies reporting over these five days represent nearly 40% of the S&P 500’s combined earnings.

In other words, if the trend still holds true this time next week this will be something to watch over the coming quarters as well.

***

Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow. 

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
Bernhard.Warner@Fortune.com

As always, you can write to bullsheet@fortune.com or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

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