By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- Stocks are set to open lower after Microsoft reported slowing demand even for the fastest-growing parts of its empire. It's another big day for earnings, with Tesla headlining later on, and Boeing, NextEra Energy and Abbott due before the open. Germany departs from eight decades of pacifism, agreeing to ship its modern battle tanks to the world's hottest war zone. And short-sellers Hindenburg Research goes after India's richest man Gautam Adani, wiping nearly $10 billion off his group's value. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Wednesday, 25th January.
1. As Microsoft goes, so goes the U.S.…
Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) earnings reinforced the impression that 2023 is going to be a tough year for business. The software giant, whose broad reach across the business and consumer segments of the economy makes it a decent proxy for the rest of USA Inc., said its revenue grew at the slowest rate in six years in the three months through December, the mid-point of its fiscal year.
Adjusted earnings were fractionally above expectations, but included a $1.2B restructuring charge related to the 10,000 job cuts it announced last week. But analysts were more concerned by the top line, where sales of Windows and Xbox-related services slumped as COVID-related factors ebbed. The company even expects a significant slowdown this year in its Cloud services division this year, which has been its strongest-performing segment in recent quarters.
Microsoft stock fell nearly 2.5% in premarket trading.
2. Tesla’s up next
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) reports earnings after the closing bell, arguably facing its stiffest challenge yet in trying to justify a valuation that still far exceeds anything else in the auto sector.
The company has lost around half its value since its last quarterly update, with CEO Elon Musk repeatedly selling stock to fund his misfiring purchase of Twitter. Musk took the witness stand in a trial on Tuesday where he is accused of deliberately misleading investors with a tweet about a possible buyout back in 2018. He told the court he believed that he had funding for the buyout in place.
Tesla is expected to report adjusted earnings per share of $1.15, down from $2.54 a year ago, hurt by production disruptions and price cuts in the final quarter of last year.
3. Stocks set to open lower in Microsoft’s shadow; Abbott, IBM, Boeing all set to report later
U.S. stock markets are set to open lower later, as Microsoft’s lackluster outlook casts a long shadow over the rest of the market.
By 06:20 ET (11:20 GMT), Dow Jones futures were down 160 points, or 0.5%. While S&P 500 futures were down 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures were down 1.2%, with technology stocks coming under particular pressure.
Sentiment has not been helped by news of the Department of Justice charging Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) with abusing its market dominance of the online advertising industry, which is a significant expansion of the existing antitrust actions against the Google owner.
Other stocks due to report on Wednesday include Boeing (NYSE:BA), NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE), IBM (NYSE:IBM), Lonza Group (OTC:LZAGY), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), CSX (NASDAQ:CSX) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC), Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) and Lam Research (NASDAQ:LRCX), among many others.
4. Scholz frees the Leopards
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz formally approved the shipment of Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, a day after reports suggested that the U.S., too, has finally relented on including its Abrams M1 battle tank in future military aid packages.
The move was sharply criticized as an escalation of the conflict by Moscow, but warmly welcomed by Germany’s NATO allies, who have been exasperated at its reluctance to fill a vital gap in Ukraine’s arsenal.
Germany’s change of heart is a landmark in the evolution of its foreign policy, which has seen it shun any kind of leadership role in military affairs since World War 2. The move will put a sharp focus on Moscow’s reaction function, given its previous threats of using battlefield nuclear weapons.
The decision comes, ironically, on the birthday of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
5. Adani hit by short-seller claims, rebuts allegations
The sprawling empire of India’s richest man, Gautam Adani, was shaken by a report by short sellers Hindenburg Research, which accused it of various accounting tricks to inflate the value of its portfolio companies.
The flagship Adani Enterprises (NS:ADEL) holding company fell 1.1% in Mumbai, while the group’s ports and shipping arm lost over 6%.
Companies linked to Adani lost around $9B in market capitalization on the report, which the group’s chief financial officer described as “a malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, baseless and discredited allegations,” according to the Financial Times.
Adani’s net worth is estimated at some $118B, tied largely to investments in fossil fuels and renewable energy.