By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) signaled a sharp slowdown in subscriber growth, casting doubt over the growth narratives of other pandemic winners. Europe’s soccer rebellion collapsed shambolically. Verizon (NYSE:VZ), NextEra and Anthem all report early, while Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) and Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR) update after the close. Germany’s top court dismisses a challenge to the EU’s recovery fund and oil prices slip as concerns about the spread of Covid-19 in India and Japan multiply. Here’s what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday April 21st.
1. Netflix’ unsurprising surprise
Netflix said its net subscriber growth fell well short of expectations in the first quarter. The shares fell over 10% in after-hours trading in response.
The company has consistently said that the pandemic had accelerated subscriber growth at the expense of future years, but had still expected 6 million new users at the start of 2021. Instead, it was less than 4 million. The company’s guidance was also disappointing, at a mere 1 million net adds for the current quarter.
On the bright side, it said that it had felt no material impact from competition so far, and that it is ramping up new content production after the difficulties of the last 12 months. Lower production costs and successful price increases meant that revenue and profit were both higher than expected.
2. Soccer revolt crumbles
The attempt by Europe’s richest soccer clubs to form a new league that would concentrate more revenue in their hands ended in ignominious failure, as the six English clubs who originally signed up pulled out. They were followed on Wednesday by Atletico de Madrid and Milan, Italy-based Internazionale.
The withdrawals followed a furious backlash from fans, dismay from players and coaching staff and signals from the U.K. government that it would do everything possible to block the initiative.
Ed Woodward (NASDAQ:WWD), executive chairman of Manchester United, resigned, while his former employer, JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), is facing a serious embarrassment having agreed to bankroll the new league for $6 billion.
Shares in Juventus Football Club (MI:JUVE), the only publicly-listed Italian member of the breakaway league, fell 12.5%, while those of Manchester United fell 6% in New York late on Tuesday.
3. Stocks set to open lower; Verizon, NextEra and Chipotle all due to report
U.S. stocks are set to open lower for a third day later, as the usual cascade of carefully-orchestrated earnings beats fails to reassure a market that is waking up to the global importance of India’s Covid crisis.
The world’s sixth-largest economy, which is also the second-biggest net importer of crude oil, has made all adults eligible for vaccination but reports suggest that there is nowhere near enough supply of vaccines – despite export restrictions that are slowing the pace of vaccination campaigns elsewhere.
Verizon leads the morning’s earnings roster, along with Anthem, NextEra, Lam Research, Nasdaq and TE Connectivity. They will all struggle to match ASML (NASDAQ:ASML), the Dutch-based maker of equipment for the semiconductor industry, which released banner earnings and guidance overnight.
4. Germany’s Constitutional Court dismisses attempt to stop EU recovery fund
The German Constitutional Court dismissed a suit that had tried to stop Germany participating in the 750 billion euro EU Recovery Fund, the cornerstone of the region’s plans to rebuild its economy after the pandemic and a landmark development in the bloc’s longer term progress toward fuller fiscal and economic integration.
The ruling is a huge relief for the bloc, given that Germany is supposed to contribute more to the fund than any other EU country. The yields on Italian, Greek and Spanish debt all fell, as the market priced in the greater certainty of German support for the bloc’s weaker members.
Another factor supporting ‘integration’ trades is an opinion poll showing that the Green Party, which is more enthusiastic about closer fiscal integration with the rest of the Eurozone, had overtaken Angela Merkel’s center-right alliance ahead of nationwide elections in September. The Christian Democrats have been engrossed in a power struggle over who should succeed her as Chancellor candidate, and have also been damaged by mismanagement of the country’s vaccination campaign.
5. Oil slips on demand fears as India, Japan Covid-19 cases rise.
Crude oil prices fell to their lowest in a week as concerns about the trajectory of fuel demand rose in the wake of a surprise increase in U.S. inventories last week.
The American Petroleum Institute reported a rise of just under half a million barrels in crude stockpiles, in contrast to expectations of a decline of 3 million. U.S. government data are due at 10:30 AM ET, as usual.
In addition to concerns about the strength of Indian demand, Japan’s two most populous prefectures, of Tokyo and Osaka, both asked the central government to lock down their economies with emergency decrees. The measures are likely to hit mobility in Asia’s third-largest consumer of oil.
Netflix Falls Short, Soccer Fiasco, Oil Stockpiles – What’s Moving Markets