Walmart earnings; HSBC warnings; Honda and Brexit

Posted at 2:59 AM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 04:59:35-05

1. Walmart reports: Walmart is set to release earnings before markets open in New York.

Investors will be watching closely to see whether the world’s largest retailer managed to avoid the slowdown some of its competitors saw during the crucial holiday quarter.

The company increased its full year guidance when it reported earnings for the third quarter of 2018 in November. But the mood in the retail industry has darkened since then.

Core retail sales dropped 1.7% in December as American shoppers started to worry about their wallets amid market turmoil and the longest government shutdown in US history.

Yet Walmart stock has gained over 7% so far this year to trade near $100.

2. HSBC warnings: Shares in HSBC dropped more than 2% in Hong Kong after the bank reported earnings that were below analyst expectations.

The bank’s statement highlighted worries that global economic growth could slow further. HSBC said it faced “more challenging market conditions at the end of the year and a weaker global economic outlook.”

HSBC also warned about Britain’s looming exit from the European Union, saying that “many” of its UK customers are “understandably cautious about the immediate future” because of the uncertainty around Brexit.

3. Honda to shut UK factory: Honda has announced that it will close a major plant in 2021 that employs 3,500 people in England.

Honda Motor Europe President Katsushi Inoue said in a statement that the restructuring is needed to “accelerate our electrification strategy” as the auto industry seeks to overcome “unprecedented changes.”

The statement made no reference to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, and Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo said in Tokyo that the decision was not related to Brexit.

But uncertainty concerning Britain’s future trading relationship with its biggest export market is one of the big clouds hanging over the car industry.

Christian Stadler, an autos expert and professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School, said that Brexit “must have been a factor” in Honda’s decision. The separation is due to occur in less than 40 days.

“Companies from Japan and other countries were attracted to Britain because it gave them easier entry to the lucrative European market,” he said. “At the moment, there is no deal in place to continue that after Brexit.”

4. Global market overview: US stock futures were slightly lower.

European markets opened mixed. Stocks in the United Kingdom and Italy were down, while markets in Germany and France moved higher.

Asian markets also struggled to find direction. Equities in Hong Kong and South Korea finished the session in negative territory. Markets in mainland China and Japan posted gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 1.7% on Friday. The S&P 500 added 1.1%, and the Nasdaq was up 0.6%. US markets were closed Monday for a holiday.

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5. Earnings: Advance Auto, Ecolab and Walmart will release earnings before the open. La-Z-Boy, Lending Club and Texas Roadhouse will follow after the close.

6. Coming this week:
Tuesday — Walmart earnings
Wednesday — CVS, Jack in the Box and Cheesecake Factory earnings
Thursday — Deutsche Telekom, Barclays, Baidu, Domino’s, and Wendy’s earnings
Friday — Berkshire Hathaway earnings