President Trump Donald roiled stock markets with a series of tweets criticizing China on Wednesday night, saying “China is on a massive disinformation campaign,” and “trying desperately to deflect the pain and carnage that their country spread throughout the world” via the Covid-19 pandemic.
Those are strong words and investors are taking note of escalating U.S.-Chinese tensions. Stocks around the world are in the red Thursday morning. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, for instance, is off 0.5%. Europe’s FTSE 100 Index has fallen 1%.
The pandemic continues to wreak havoc on many aspects of the economy, including the retail and travel industries.
Stock in the discretionary retailer L Brands (LB) was up about 0.3% in premarket trading after reporting numbers Wednesday evening. Sales and earnings missed Wall Street estimates by a wide margin, but the shares are up because a lot of bad news is already reflected in the price. L Brands stock is down about 32% year to date and almost 50% over the past three months.
Expedia (EXPE) reported first-quarter numbers after the close of trading as well on Wednesday. The company reported a loss of $1.83 a share, while Wall Street was looking for $1.27. Still, shares are up about 2.7% in premarket trading. Expedia stock, like L Brands shares, has been badly beaten up in 2020, falling about 26% year to date and 34% over the past three months.
There was some better earnings news Wednesday evening, too. Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO), which produces games including NBA2K and Red Dead Redemption, crushed Wall Street earnings estimates for the first calendar quarter of 2020. The company earned $1.50 a share, while analysts were looking for 90 cents. But the stock, already up about 20% year to date, is down about 4.5% in premarket trading Thursday.
The pattern is clear: Expectations often matter more to stocks than the actual earnings. A similar phenomenon is playing out in the energy market.
Oil prices are up for the sixth straight day. Benchmark crude futures are up about 2.2%, bringing their month-to-date gains to about 82%. Shares of oil producers, however, are starting to diverge from the daily moves in the price. Occidental Petroleum (OXY) shares, for instance are off 0.7% in premarket trading. Exxon Mobil (XOM) stock is down 0.4%. Stock in the energy-services giant Halliburton (HAL) is down about 1.3%.
Marijuana producer Aurora Cannabis (ACB) stock is also moving, up on deal news. Shares are up more than 30% in premarket trading after the company announced a deal to buy a CBD company. It’s a huge move, but Aurora shares are down 50% year to date and 90% below their all-time high. Even after the premarket jump, the stock is still down about 88% from its highest point.
Write to Al Root at email@example.com