Tesla Suffers Worst Day In History As Tech Names Continue To Rout

Tech stocks suffered a broad sell-off yesterday as US markets returned to action following the holiday weekend. Tesla (TSLA) was hit the hardest, sinking 21.1% after the S&P 500 Index Committee declined to add the electric carmaker to the benchmark index.

The committee added online store Etsy (ETSY), test equipment maker Teradyne (TER) and pharmaceutical firm Catalent (CTLT). Investors had been anticipating Tesla’s entrance into the index this quarter after it delivered a fourth consecutive quarter of profit, a requirement for inclusion. Being added to the index would mean a host of funds tracking the S&P would have to buy the stock, potentially giving the firm’s share price a boost.

Tesla’s 20% plus loss was part of a broader sell-off among major tech names over the past week. Investments made by Japanese investment giant Softbank (SFTBY) have raised questions about the fragility of tech stocks’ mega run over the past several weeks. Per The New York Times, Softbank bought billions of dollars-worth of tech stocks, betting that prices would keep rising. As the stocks soared, the firms that sold Softbank the options became forced buyers in order to hedge their risk. More pain came after hours when Slack (WORK), the communications app, tanked 18% after posting its results. Despite beating revenue growth forecasts, it failed to see the kind of surge that Zoom (ZM) has seen since the coronavirus emerged.

The sell-off in the US set the tone for Asian markets, where further losses were seen overnight.

GM jumps after buying 11% stake in electric car firm Nikola

There was a host of news yesterday extending beyond the tech sell-off. General Motors(GM) bought an 11% stake in electric vehicle maker Nikola Corp (NKLA), as part of a deal to help the firm to develop and manufacture new models. The announcement sent GM stock 7.9% higher. Elsewhere, JPMorgan (JPM) announced it is investigating employees and customers over misusing government stimulus funds, Apple (AAPL) counter-sued Epic Games for adding an in-app payment system to the Fortnite video game, and Boeing (BA) announced a second problem with production of its 787 Dreamliner. JPMorgan, Apple and Boeing fell 3.5%, 6.7% and 5.8% respectively during normal market hours. 

At an index level, three major US stock indices were deep in the red on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq Composite falling hardest at -4.1%. In the S&P 500, technology stocks fell 4.6% on average, with utilities the only sector that did not fall by more than 1%. Oil names suffered a painful day, with the 10 biggest losers in the S&P mainly hydrocarbon exploration firms. Tumbling oil prices triggered the selling, after Saudi Arabia cut its official selling price to the US and Asia.

S&P 500: -2.8% Tuesday, +3.1% YTD (SPX, SPY)

Dow Jones Industrial Average: -2.3% Tuesday, -3.6% YTD (DIA)

Nasdaq Composite: -4.1% Tuesday, +20.9% YTD (COMP)

AstraZeneca pauses Covid-19 vaccine trial

The pound continued to slump yesterday, falling below $1.30 after reports that the UK is stepping up preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit. The tumbling pound buffered UK stocks from the broader Tuesday sell-off globally (as large UK firms make a significant proportion of their money overseas in other currencies) as did the UK market’s relative lack of tech exposure.

In corporate news, British pharmaceutical AstraZeneca (AZN) reported that it has been forced to halt its Covid-19 vaccine trial due to an unexpected illness. The firm’s US share listing tumbled close to 8% in after-hours trading following the news.

The FTSE 100 finished Tuesday 0.1% down, with Associated British Foods (ASBFY), hospitality firm Whitbread (WTBCF) and oil giant Royal Dutch Shell (RDS-A) the biggest losers, with each sinking between 3% and 4%. JD Sports Fashion (JDDSF) led the FTSE, closing almost 10% higher after delivering its latest set of quarterly results. The firm reported a substantially lower profit, driven by the costs of adapting to focus on online trading due to store closures. However, the company did reinstate its profit guidance for the full year, and management said the firm had been “encouraged by our performance since the stores re-opened.”

FTSE 100: -0.1% Tuesday, -21.4% YTD

FTSE 250: -0.1% Tuesday, -19.5% YTD

What to watch

Zscaler: Cloud security firm Zscaler (ZS) has returned 186% in 2020 so far, as mass working from home has driven demand for cloud services. Per Zack’s Equity Research, Zscaler has a significant competitive edge in the architecture of its products, and the firm recently became the first cloud security partner to be certified by Microsoft for Office 365. The company has also integrated its solutions with Amazon Web Services, Crowdstrike (CRWD), Cisco (CSCO) and more. Currently, analysts are split between a buy and hold rating on the stock, which has beaten earnings estimates in each of the last four quarters. Today, the firm will deliver its fiscal Q4 2020 earnings, with a $0.03 earnings per share figure expected.

Morrison Supermarkets: British supermarket giant Morrisons’ (MRWSY) share price is relatively flat year-to-date, well ahead of the broader UK market. The company reports its first-half results on Thursday, weeks after expanding its partnership deal with Amazon (AMZN) to provide Prime members with access to the firm’s entire range of goods directly via the Amazon website. The two firms have been connected since 2016, and the continued expansion of that partnership is likely to be a key focus of Morrisons’ Thursday earnings call. Morrisons’ plan to cut prices across hundreds of products will be another feature of the call, with an anticipated autumn price war between supermarkets looming.

Job openings data: On Wednesday, July job openings data will be reported for the US, following Friday’s August jobs report which showed payrolls increased by 1.4 million with the unemployment rate tumbling into single digits. Consensus expectations are for a figure of 6 million open jobs, following June’s 5.9 million number, according to Trading Economics.

Crypto corner: Just Eat to accept bitcoin payments in French subsidiary

Just Eat, one of the UK’s leading online food delivery platforms, has added cryptoasset payment options for its France subsidiary.

The company has partnered with cryptocurrency payment provider Bitpay to allow its users to pay in bitcoin. The move means Just Eat users will now be able to order food from across 15,000 restaurants in France and pay using bitcoin, according to reports.

The addition of cryptoasset payments comes after the acquisition of Just Eat France by Takeaway.com, which has been accepting bitcoin payments since 2017 for other platforms it acquired.

Just Eat France said its users will have to “create a digital wallet by downloading special software or an app.” Once they have linked it to the Just Eat application, they can choose the bitcoin payment option upon checkout that will redirect the users to the Bitpay payment portal.

The price of bitcoin (BITCOMP) will be calculated depending on its current price on Bitpay and the delivery platform will not charge any transaction fee for the cryptocurrency payments.

If a user cancels an order paid for in bitcoin, the platform will make a refund in euros in the user’s bank account rather than in BTC. The refund amount will not depend on the real-time price of Bitcoin, according to the website.

All data, figures & charts are valid as of 09/09/2020.

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