As COVID cases spike, all eyes are on this streaming giant

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Happy Friday the 13th, Bull Sheeters. Global stocks are faltering as we close out the week, with energy weighing on overseas markets. U.S. futures, however, are gaining ground this morning with Disney shares surging in pre-market trading after the entertainment giant posted impressive streaming numbers after the bell.

Meanwhile, investors are warily eyeing a brutal second wave of COVID cases on both sides of the Atlantic.

Let’s check in on the action.

Markets update

Asia

  • The major Asia indexes are down in afternoon trading with Japan’s Nikkei off 0.5%.
  • Here’s a juicy detail about how the mysterious last-minute cancelation of Ant Group’s IPO went down. It was ordered by none other than President Xi Jinping, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday barring American investment firms and pension funds “from buying and selling shares of 20 Chinese companies,” Bloomberg reports, hitting shares in China.

Europe

  • The European bourses were lower at the open, with the Europe Stoxx 600 down 0.1% in mid-morning trading.
  • Here’s a revenue-raising suggestion many of you will object to: a 5% tax on those who work from home. Deutsche Bank calculates it would raise $48 billion a year in the U.S. for the Treasury and €15.9 billion in Germany.
  • The G20 meets today. High on the agenda: getting China to go along with debt relief for the world’s poorest, and COVID-battered, economies.

U.S.

  • U.S. futures are off their lows and gaining this morning. On Thursday, the three major indexes slipped again, leaving the benchmark S&P 500 up a mere 0.8% for the week.
  • Shares in Walt Disney Co. were up 3.3% in pre-market trading after delivering a beat on Disney+ subscriber growth.
  • After Texas topped the 7-figure milestone earlier this week, California has now reported more than 1 million COVID cases and New York City is introducing new restrictions, including early closures of bars and restaurants, starting today. This second wave is not to be messed with.

Elsewhere

  • Gold is up, but trading in a tight range around $1,880/ounce.
  • The dollar is flat.
  • Crude is down with Brent trading around $43/barrel. The rally from earlier in the week has truly faded.
  • Bitcoin has topped $16,200, up more than 2% in the past 24 hours.

***

By the numbers

13

It’s Friday, the 13th… Of course, bulls, by our nature, are not a superstitious bunch. But if we were, a chart like this one below might give us pause. Going back 92 years, Friday the 13ths that fall in November have not been good days for investor portfolios. As LPL Research notes, “in fact, it has the worst average return and lowest % chance of being positive. As if we needed something else to worry about in 2020, now we have it.” As the chart shows, the average daily return for this day over the past 92 years is -0.64%.

“But don’t forget,” LPL adds, “the last time we had a Friday the 13th was in March and the S&P 500 gained 9.3%, for the best gain ever on this frightful day in history.”

27.57

Last week, the S&P 500 rallied for its best week since April as it became clear that the Biden election victory was a definitive one, removing the uncertainty of a contested result at the polls. Then, on Monday, we got a jolt of good vaccine news from Pfizer, sending value stocks higher. That’s all come crashing down in recent days as the COVID numbers worsen, and new modified lockdown measures are introduced. The benchmark S&P is up 27.57 points over the past five trading sessions. That’s a rise of just 0.8% in that period.

881

Bitcoin is one of the big post-Election Day winners. Crypto bulls have driven up the value of Bitcoin by 881 bucks, or 5.7%, in the past week. In the same period, gold is down 3.2%. The divergence is notable if you believe the line that Bitcoin is “a gold play” for the younger generation. For much of 2020, gold has been the hotter bet. But that’s begun to change in recent weeks, as The Market Ear notes in this post.

***

Postscript

A reader, M.M., yesterday sent me the kind of note I love: an article featuring a bunch of tips on new indie films to check out.

She sent me the link, she said, because one of the films on the list is about Italians, their dogs and the mighty white truffle. It’s called The Truffle Hunters. Here’s the trailer. The pooch on the movie poster appears to be a scruffy lagotto romagnolo. It sits on the table of some vecchio tartufaio (old-time truffle hunter).

Lockdown rules permitting, at the end of the month I’m hoping to take our truffle pup out to the woods behind our place in Amandola to root around for some of these potent wonders. She’s a rookie, so I’m not expecting much.

In the meantime, here she is trying to get a seat at the kitchen table. She’s a champion at that.

***

Have a nice weekend, everyone. I’ll see you here on Monday… But first, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner
@BernhardWarner
[email protected]

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