U.S. equity futures are pointing to a third day of declines on Wall Street Thursday as investors react to weaker-than-expected earnings in the tech and industrial sectors and signal increasing concern for the fate of U.S.-China trade talks. Here are five things you need to know before the start of trading on Thursday July 18.
1. -- Netflix Ain't Chill
Netflix Inc. (NFLX - Get Report) shares are set for their biggest decline in at least two years Thursday after the streaming service said it lost U.S. customers, and added fewer-than-expected new subscribers in markets around the world, as its prices increased and competitors began to move into the online entertainment space.
CEO Reed Hastings said the big miss on subscribers additions -- which saw 2.8 million added in overseas markets and 126,000 departures in the United States -- wasn't down to "one thing", but hinted that increasing competition, a recent price hike and a less-than-stellar line-up of original content all combined for one of the company's most disappointing quarters.
2. -- Turning Japanese?
Japan's Nikkei 225 tumbled nearly 2% Thursday after data from the world's third largest economy showed a bigger-than-expected slump in June exports, which fell for the seventh month in a row, and a benchmark survey of manufacturing and business conditions slumped to the lowest level in three years.
The collective readings suggest a troubling slowdown in both the broader Asia region, which is still struggling with the ripple-effects from the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute, and the global industrial economy as a whole, which is being shaken by the weakest readings for manufacturing activity in at least seven years and softer-than-expected earnings from transport and industrial companies in the United States and elsewhere.
3. -- Chips Aren't Down
Taiwan Semiconductor Mfg. Co. Ltd., (TSM - Get Report) the world's biggest contract chipmaker and a lead supplier for Apple Inc. (AAPL - Get Report) iPhones, posted modestly weaker second-quarter earnings but said a pick-up in 5G and smartphone demand would support the global chip sector over the second half of the year.
The Taiwan-based tech group's second half outlook echoes a similarly bullish assessment yesterday from semiconductor supplier ASML Holding NV (ASML - Get Report) ,which posted stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings that suggest global chip demand is starting to recover after a near two-year slowdown.
However, Europe's most valuable tech company, cloud and business software firm SAP SE SAP, dragged the sector lower Thursday after weaker-than-expected second quarter earnings linked in part to global trade tensions.
4. -- Let's (Not) Make a (No) Deal
Britain's non-partisan Office for Budget Responsibility published a report Thursday that warned of a "a very significant hit to the UK economy" if the country were to leave the European Union without a bespoke trade deal on October 31 and would likely increase public debt by around 12% of GDP as the government scrambles to offset the costs of a so-called Hard Brexit.
The report comes amid increasing investor concern that Boris Johnson, the front-runner in the ongoing Conservative Party leadership race that will determine Britain's new Prime Minister, is determined to take Britain out of the EU when its extended Brexit deadline expires later this fall.
Those concerns have pushed the pound to a 27-month low against the U.S. dollar and threaten to tip the world's fifth largest economy into recession.
"The big picture is that heightened uncertainty and declining confidence deter investment, higher trade barriers with the EU weigh on domestic and foreign demand, while the pound and other asset prices fall sharply," OBR chairman Rober Chote said. "These factors combine to push the economy into recession."
5. -- Musk on the Brain
Not content with launching rockets into space, building high-speed transport networks around major cities or shaking up the global auto industry with a clean-energy car that has customers waiting months for delivery, billionaire investor Elon Musk is turning to new venture to satisfy his seemingly boundless energy: your brain.
Musk is planning his latest startup, Neuralink, will aim to link the human brain directly to computers using AI chips implanted directly into the skull via a 2 millimeter incision.
"We can effectively have the option of merging with AI," Musk said. "After solving a bunch of brain-related diseases there is the mitigation of the existential threat of AI. This is the point of it."