Today: April 22, 2024
Today: April 22, 2024

Marketmind: Apple angst, Tesla tanks, Bitcoin balks

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LA Post: Marketmind: Apple angst, Tesla tanks, Bitcoin balks
Reuters
Reuters
March 05, 2024

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan

Has the "Magnificent Seven" become the "Famous Five" or even "Fab Four"?

With one eye on the major macro events of the week, Apple and Tesla's separation from this year's tech-infused stock market buoyancy and their underperformance against the other "Magnificent Seven" megacaps has become more pointed.

Apple's stock was down almost 2% again ahead of Tuesday's bell after news that iPhone sales in China fell 24% year-on-year in the first six weeks of 2024 - as the U.S. giant faces increased competition from domestic rivals such as Huawei.

And it has been a bad week already for Apple, which dropped 3% on Monday after the European Union fined it 1.84 billion euros ($2 billion) for thwarting competition from music streaming rivals via curbs on its App Store. It was the iPhone maker's first ever penalty for breaching EU rules.

Apple is now down almost 10% for the year to date - underperforming the Nasdaq 100 and S&P500 by about 16%. And even though it is still up 15% over the past 12 months, that's less than a third the gain of the Nasdaq 100.

Tesla's stock woes are even deeper as it faces waning demand for electric vehicles and a price war, with its stock now down almost 25% for 2024. It dropped more than 7% on Monday alone after its sales declined in February in China, where it likely faced a slowdown during the Lunar New Year holidays.

With artificial intelligence and related chipmaking the buzz of the year, Google-parent Alphabet has not fared much better - and is down almost 5% for the year.

With even the equal-weighted S&P500 up 4% this year, the underperformance is notable.

Exposure to China's stumbling economy, the geopolitical standoff between Washington and Beijing and this year U.S. elections may be common factors.

China's mainland stocks edged higher on Tuesday after Chinese Premier Li Qiang announced an ambitious 2024 economic growth target of around 5% on Tuesday, promising steps to transform the country's development model and defuse risks fuelled by bankrupt property developers and indebted cities.

But with property and tech sector worries smouldering in the background, Hong Kong's Hang Seng were less impressed - sliding 2.6% and with its tech giants tumbling 4.3%.

Details of Tuesday's National People's Congress plan showed China will boost defence spending by 7.2% this year, fuelling a military budget that has more than doubled under President Xi Jinping's 11 years in office as Beijing hardens its stance on Taiwan.

Back on Wall St, politics was also top of mind on "Super Tuesday". Donald Trump won the North Dakota Republican presidential caucuses on Monday, according to projections, ahead of a slew of contests where he is expected to strengthen his grip on the party's presidential nomination.

Trump, who has promised universal 10% import tariffs and bilateral trade tariffs of 60% on China's goods if elected, was handed a major victory on Monday as the U.S. Supreme Court barred states from disqualifying candidates under a constitutional provision involving insurrection. That reversed Colorado's exclusion of him from its ballot.

Elsewhere, bitcoin's almost 60% charge higher this year seemed to stumble at the final hurdle on Tuesday as it balked at 2021's record high near $69,000 and turned tail.

Microstrategy fell almost 9% after the bitcoin development company announced a private offering for $600 million in convertible senior notes, with proceeds to be used to buy bitcoin.

More broadly, S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were in the red again after a dour start to the week.

Advanced Micro Devices was off about 3% after a report that the chipmaker hit a U.S. government roadblock in its efforts to sell an AI chip tailored for the Chinese market.

With Wednesday's congressional testimony from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell now firmly in view, U.S. Treasury yields were calm and the dollar index was steady.

Key diary items that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Tuesday:

* U.S. Feb service sector surveys from ISM and S&P Global, Jan factory goods orders

* Federal Reserve Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr speaks

* U.S. Treasury auctions 3-, 6-month bills

* U.S. corp earnings: Target, Crowdstrike, Greenlight Capital, Ross Stores

(By Mike Dolan, editing by Ed Osmond, [email protected])

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