By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — The Democrats’ spending bill gets pruned. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) earnings disappoint as Squid Game fails to translate immediately into a revenue bump. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and IBM (NYSE:IBM) report after the bell, while NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) head a full early slate of earnings. The European Central Bank’s most prominent hawk has called it a day, and oil prices come off recent highs after a fourth straight weekly rise in U.S. crude inventories. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 20th October.
1. Dems trim spending bill
Democratic lawmakers edged closer to agreement on how to trim their mammoth spending bill. President Joe Biden said it’s likely that the party will drop its commitment to two years fee-free tuition at community college.
Opposition from West Virginian Senator Joe Manchin has also scuppered the Clean Electricity Program, which foresees a far-ranging stick-and-carrot mechanism to force the pace of the Energy Transition by utilities.
The administration is trying to trim the scale of the package down to an overall cost of $2 trillion from an original $3.5 trillion. The costs are to be spread out over 10 years. Reports suggested that Democratic lawmakers are looking to tie up a deal by the end of the week on passing the bill.
2. Damp Squid
Netflix stock traded down in Wednesday’s premarket after becoming the first megacap to report earnings for the third quarter. The streaming giant beat forecasts for new subscribers, adding 4.4 million rather than the 3.5 million expected.
However, that didn’t translate into an upside surprise for revenue, because most were based in Asia Pacific. In the higher-paying North American market, the company eked out a subs gain of less than 75,000.
Elsewhere in the megacap universe, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will reportedly change its name in an effort to make itself more associated with the ‘metaverse’ it hopes to build. The move is an implicit recognition of the damage to its brand from endless disclosures about psychological damage done by its social media networks. Reports suggest that political disfavor with the company is already generating resistance to plans for its wallet service, Novi.
3. Stocks set to open flat as earnings season hits top gear; Tesla, IBM earnings eyed
U.S. stocks are set to open flat later as earnings season cranks into top gear. Some solid reports on Tuesday had helped the market to close within an ace of the record highs posted in August.
Tesla earnings after the close will be the highlight of the day, and IBM will probably be grateful for having the spotlight stolen from it. Early reporters include Verizon, NextEra Energy, Anthem, Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) and Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI).
Overnight, ASML became the latest company in the chipmaking sector to extend its assessment of how long tightness in the semiconductor market will last, but its earnings guidance still disappointed.
By 6:20 AM ET (1020 GMT), Dow Jones futures were down 4 points, effectively flat on the day, as were S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq 100 futures.
4. Hawk takes flight
The changing of the guard in Europe’s largest economy will be a complete one. The Deutsche Bundesbank said Jens Weidmann has asked to be released from his duties as its president at the end of the year, citing ‘personal reasons’.
Weidmann had been appointed in 2010 at the request of Angela Merkel, whose run as Chancellor came to an end after last month’s elections (she remains in office pending the formation of a new government).
A noted hawk on inflation, Weidmann has fought what has largely been a losing battle in the policy-making council of the European Central Bank. The new government, which will almost certainly be headed by the center-left Social Democrats, is likely to appoint someone more aligned with its outlook. Strangely for a modern central banker, there is no suggestion of his having traded for personal advantage on insider information.
5. Oil off highs after API stockbuild; EIA data due
Crude oil prices came off recent highs after the American Petroleum Institute’s weekly inventories data showed a surprisingly large rise in U.S. crude stockpiles.
The gain of 3.29 million barrels was smaller than the previous week’s but was larger than expected and the fourth straight weekly gain after a summer of rapid inventory drawdowns. U.S. government data are due at 10:30 AM ET as usual.
Concerns of near-term tightness in the market haven’t gone away, however. Iraq’s oil minister was quoted as saying prices could hit $100 a barrel in the first half of next year, well above the range desired by OPEC and its allies. By 6:30 AM ET, U.S. crude futures were down 1.1% at $81.57 a barrel, while Brent futures were down 1.0% at $84.20 a barrel.