Results statements come thick and fast in the coming days, while Covid continues to influence market direction.
With the US election fast approaching and hopes of an interim stimulus package all but dashed, markets have moved into a holding pattern for the moment.
Another spike in Covid-19 cases both in the US and Europe has dented sentiment. Despite some positive developments from the likes of Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) and AstraZeneca (LSE:AZN) on the search for a vaccine, the immediate damage is already being felt in the real economy, with unemployment and the containment of the virus becoming election focal points. American Express (NYSE:AXP) customers reportedly reduced spending by a fifth in the company’s latest update, in what could prove to be a straw in the wind.
Technology shares will also be in sharp focus this week, especially with Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) already having fallen foul of lofty expectations not being met. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google owner Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are all due to report numbers which will provide evidence as to whether the 29% rise in the Nasdaq so far this year remains tenable.
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In the meantime, the other indices are struggling to build on previous gains, with the Dow Jones now down by 0.7% in the year to date. The S&P 500, influenced by the weighting of big tech shares within the index, is still ahead by 7.2% this year.
The reporting season also continues apace in the UK, with the rest of the banks providing updates, and with Barclays (LSE:BARC) having set the bar high for its competitors.
There are also updates due from both oil majors, as well as earnings from the likes of Next (LSE:NXT), BT Group (LSE:BT.A), Whitbread (LSE:WTB) and WPP (LSE:WPP). These will all provide indications on whether UK blue-chips have been able to make any meaningful progress against this precarious backdrop.
Recent strength in sterling, driven by optimism that a last-gasp agreement could yet be reached in the UK/EU negotiations, has kept a lid on any FTSE 100 index progress. The additional pandemic-related concerns have led to a weaker open on Monday, with the index now 23% down in the year to date.
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