1) US Employment report (Nov) – 04/12 – one of the most encouraging things about the rebound in the US economy in recent months has been the slide in the unemployment rate from its peaks in April of 14.7%, to 6.9% in October. This trend is expected to continue in November with a further decline to 6.7%. Weekly jobless claims had until two weeks ago continued to decline, however they have now started to rise again from a low of 711k to 778k last week, amidst concerns that the lack of fiscal stimulus is now starting to manifest itself in the form a slowdown in the US economy. One positive factor around the October numbers was a rise in the participation rate to 61.7%, which suggests more workers are returning to the jobs market. The participation rate is still below the 63.4% level it was in February, but at least it now appears to be heading back up again. This is encouraging however with Thanksgiving shutdowns rolling out across the US there is a risk that the rise in jobs growth could stall in the coming months, without the prospect of further fiscal stimulus measures next year from US politicians. Despite the resilience of the US labour market the fact remains that over 9m more Americans are still out of work compared to the beginning of the year. This week's payrolls report is expected to see another 500k jobs added to the 638k in October, however the gains seen in the past 6 months still remain some way short of the 21.5m jobs we saw lost in March and April.
2) ISM and Manufacturing PMIs (Nov) – 01/12 – the manufacturing sector has been much more resilient to the effects of the pandemic than the services sector, over the past few months. The most recent flash PMI numbers from the likes of Germany and France showed a big divergence with France manufacturing weakening slightly to 49.1, while German manufacturing remained strong at 57.9, despite rising infection rates across Europe. Part of this outperformance in Germany is likely to be down to some inventory restocking, as well as improving demand in China, whose economy now appears to have recovered from its own lockdown malaise from February. There is a worry about future demand if we see further lockdown restrictions being implemented which could be a drag on economic activity as we head into 2021. In China manufacturing activity has already returned to levels last seen at the beginning of the year, and this looks set to continue, while the US has also been resilient. This week's ISM reports are likely to act as a decent forward-looking indicator for Friday's payrolls report. Pockets of weakness are still expected to be found in southern Europe, as well as Japan, however it is in the services sector that we are seeing the real problems.
3) European Services PMIs (Nov)– 03/12 – these aren't expected to make for comfortable reading, given the partial lockdowns implemented across large swathes of the European continent. The most recent flash PMI numbers from France and Germany pointed to significant contractions in their latest November numbers, with France at 38. This weakness is likely to be replicated in the latest Spain and Italy numbers and it is here that the biggest worries for EU leaders are set to increase. These have been in contraction territory since August and are likely to remain so for the fourth month in succession. In Italy the services sector has been only able to eke out a single month of positive output since March. Spain is only slightly better with positive months in June and July, however since then the slide in economic activity has been much worse than Italy, with a 41.4 reading in October, compared to 46.7 in Italy. With the EU still arguing about their own fiscal stimulus pandemic plan, and trying to overcome the vetoes of Hungary and Poland it appears unlikely that the money so desperately needed by the likes of Italy and Spain will be available any time soon. This is likely to make the next few months even more painful for the most fragile economies in the euro area. As far as services activity, goes the outliers are expected to be China, and the US, which are both expected to be positive. The UK is likely to miss out with a slide to 45.8, from 51.4 in October.
4) UK data, consumer credit, manufacturing and Services PMIs (Nov) – 30/11, 01/12-03/12 – its set to be an important week for UK data in the wake of the November lockdown coming to an end. Last week's flash PMIs were slightly better than expected in spite of the November lockdown. Manufacturing especially surprised strongly to the upside, with a rebound to 55.2, while services slipped back to 45.8, which was slightly better than expected. Construction is also set to remain resilient given that sector also remained open during November. We also have the latest consumer credit and mortgage approvals numbers for October. The mortgage approvals numbers have been particularly strong in recent months as homeowners strive to take advantage of the stamp duty changes which are due to expire at the end of March next year. This has prompted a surge in buying and selling interest, with approvals running at their best levels since October 2007, after hitting a record low in April.
5) Go Ahead Group Q1 21 – 03/12 – it's been a difficult few month's for bus and train operators, given the sharp falls in passenger numbers since the March lockdowns were introduced. When Go-Ahead reported its full year numbers in September the company reported a small profit for 2020, on full year revenues of £3.9bn. Rail operating profit fell to £8.9m largely down to losses in its German business and lower margins from its South Eastern franchise. The pandemic has continued to weigh on the business, with operating profit margins slipping back from 1% to 0.3%. In August the company agreed another 8-week funding package with the Department of Transport of £218.4m for the provision of local bus services, while in September an emergency recovery measure agreement was signed by GTR for the period until September 2021, for its Southern and Thameslink franchises.
6) Snowflake Q3 21 – 02/12 – this week's Q3 earnings numbers from Snowflake are set to be the first quarterly numbers as a publicly listed company, and the bar is high having seen the shares more than double since it IPO's at $120 a share. In the first half of this fiscal year, the company returned $242m in revenue, leaving it on course to more than double its turnover for this year, to over $500m. Be warned however as the company is still not profitable, but its new customer growth is quite something. At the end of last year, the company upped its client count from 948 to 2,392, and this year it has added 800 more, taking the total above 3,100. This will please its high-profile backers Salesforce and Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, who both pledged to invest $250m in the business at a price equivalent to the final IPO price. Berkshire has also said it will invest a further $250m by way of a private purchase, also at the IPO price. Expectations are for losses to come in a $0.26c a share, with some of that likely to be down to costs associated with its IPO.
7) Zoom Q3 21 - 30/11 – another recent IPO that has seen exponential share price rises this year as a result of the pandemic. The company only came to market just over a year ago at $36 a share with a valuation of $9bn. The biggest concern at the time was the technology was easily replicable but unlike a lot of its IPO peers at the time Zoom is actually profitable, which automatically set it apart as a company worth watching. There was also the fact that a lot of its competition in the form of Webex, LogMeIn and Skype are still pretty mediocre, and had products which weren't really core offerings. This still remains the case, however revenues have already more than doubled so far year to date and could well soar as high as $2.4bn for the current fiscal year. Investors will have to judge for themselves whether that justifies a market cap of $125bn, which is where we are now with a share price up above $400. In Q1 revenues came in at $328m, before soaring even higher in Q2 to $663.5m, while profits rose to $186m. Unsurprisingly investor enthusiasm for the company has risen exponentially sending the shares up to within touching distance of $600 back in October, before the shares slipped back to where they are now. There is no doubt that Zoom has done very well, however there have been signs of growing pains in terms of its infrastructure, which may well need some investment to improve its resilience, after some outages in August. In light of these gains and the current valuation there is a sense that while Zoom has done very well this year, questions do need to be asked as to whether the company is worth over $120bn. For a start Zoom's success has prompted its competitors to up their game, so the fledgling company could find it has to work that much harder to stand still as time goes by. This could well put the current valuation under slightly more scrutiny, amongst questions as to whether its sustainable at current levels. Q3 profits are expected to come in at $0.75c a share
8) Salesforce Q3 21 – 01/12 – Salesforce also appears to have benefited from the shift to working from, despite being mostly geared towards office working. In August the company reported a big jump in Q2 earnings to $5.15bn while earnings per share rose to $1.44c a share, well above the $0.67c estimates. As a result, the company revised its full year revenue target up to $20.8bn as well as revising up its profit estimates. The company cited its new Work.com product which helps aid clients in the transition to remote working and has also benefited to a certain extent from its elevation into the Dow which has seen its shares hit a record high in early September. Profits for the current quarter are expected to come in at $0.748c a share, which seems a bit on the low side given the outperformance in Q2. The company also announced last week it was in talks to buy Slack Technologies in an attempt to take on Microsoft which offers a similar tool with its Teams offering. A deal could well be announced in the coming days.
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