HP Performs Better than Expected in the First Quarter
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The US computer manufacturer HP Inc has benefited from increased demand for computers in the wake of the corona pandemic. The company had actually announced its financial results after the close of the US stock exchange, but then published the figures during trading. Turnover in the first quarter jumped by 1 billion US dollars thanks to the good demand. The company earned 1.1 (previous year: 0.7) billion dollars net or 92 (previous year 46) cents per share. Revenues climbed to 15.6 billion dollars from 14.6 billion dollars a year ago. Analysts had expected earnings per share of 66 cents on sales of 15 billion dollars. In personal computers, notebooks did particularly well, with revenues up 7 per cent to 10.6 billion dollars. Printing systems sales also rose 7 per cent to $5 billion. In late US stock trading, the share price gained 1.3 per cent to $28.33 after initial premiums of 4 per cent.
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The Swiss stock market closed with losses on Thursday. Late in the day, losses on Wall Street in the USA weighed on Swiss share prices. The market was weighed down by losses in the defensive heavyweights Nestle, Novartis and Roche. The latter fell by 1.8 per cent, even positive study results did not help. The SMI lost 0.6 per cent to 10,659 points. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 15 price losers and five price winners. 39.99 (previously: 50.06) million shares were traded. At the same time, the rise in US bond yields fuelled interest rate hike fantasies and thus supported stocks from the financial sector. Swiss Life, Credit Suisse, Swiss Re, UBS and Partners Group rose as much as 1.2 per cent at the top of the table. "The increasing interest rate differential between short- and long-term bonds is acting like a money-printing machine for the banks," one stock exchange trader pointed out. Insurance stocks in particular also benefited from decent business figures from French insurer Axa. Zurich Insurance, however, slipped into the red. Adecco fell by 1.7 per cent after its business report. The employment services provider surprised positively in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Citi. However, the decline in sales is likely to continue, traders said.
European equity indices closed lower on Thursday as rising bond market rates weighed on stock prices on both sides of the Atlantic. The Stoxx Europe 600 index finished down 0.4% to 411.7 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 and the SBF 120 both dropped 0.2%, while the 10-year OAT rate returned to positive territory on Thursday, for the first time since June 2020. In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 fell by 0.7% and the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.1%. Nexity (+5.7%) is forecasting a "sharp increase" in current operating profit (OIR) in 2021, "to at least 350 million euros, i.e. a margin rate of over 7%". In 2020, the property developer's OIR fell 19% to €285 million, generating a margin of 5.9%. Axa (+4.2%) plans to pay a dividend of 1.43 euros in 2021, the level it originally planned to pay last year, after recording a net profit down 18% for the past year. Veolia (unchanged) said Thursday that it had not resumed discussions with its rival Suez (-0.2%) since the filing of its hostile takeover bid, and announced it was aiming for an improvement in its performance in 2021. The group also published annual results for 2020 marked by the impact of the crisis but also by a return to growth in the fourth quarter. SES (-6.8%) expects current market conditions to lead to a contraction in its key financial indicators in 2021. Alten gained 5.8% following the increase in Invest Securities' recommendation on value from "neutral" to "buy". The broker raised its target price to €110, instead of €96 previously. The German chemical and pharmaceutical group Bayer (-6.4% in Frankfurt) announced on Thursday a net profit and lower sales for the fourth quarter.
The New York Stock Exchange closed sharply lower despite a decrease in unemployment registrations in the United States, with technology stocks again under pressure after the benchmark bond rate rose above 1.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 1.8% on Thursday to 31,402.01 points, while the broad S&P 500 Index finished down 2.5% to 3,829.34 points. The technology-dominated Nasdaq Composite fell 3.5% to 13,119.43 points. Twitter (+3.7%) presented ambitious medium-term objectives. The social network plans to double its turnover to at least 7.5 billion dollars by 2023. Retailer Target (-1.2%) announced the creation of new areas dedicated to Apple products (-3.5%) in its shops. The pharmaceutical group Merck (+0.1%) announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement on the purchase of Pandion Therapeutics (+130%) for 1.85 billion dollars in cash. The graphics chip manufacturer Nvidia (-8.2%) was swept away by the downturn in technology values despite the publication of a quarterly turnover in excess of 5 billion dollars for the first time in its history, thanks to strong demand on the video game market during the holiday season. Mastercard (-3.5%) only plans to accept bitcoin transactions in its network, Ann Cairns, executive vice-president of the American payment card specialist, told a conference on Thursday. The GameStop share was again particularly volatile, ending the session with a 19% gain.
The stock markets in East Asia are deep in the red on Friday after US bond yields jumped again and the US stock markets fell as a result. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index fell by 3.5 per cent to 29,128 points. On the Shanghai stock exchange, prices fall by an average of 2.0 per cent; the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong is down 2.8 per cent. In Seoul, South Korea, the Kospi falls by 3.5 per cent.
Despite the reassuring words of the US central bankers, who dismiss the scenario of inflation slippage and tighter monetary policy, some investors are moving out of equities in response to rising bond yields. The US 10-year rate continued to rise on Thursday, gaining 14 basis points to 1.525%.
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