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The Week Ahead: US jobs; eurozone inflation; easyJet results

The Week Ahead: Michael Hewson analyses key upcoming economic and company events.

The US jobs report for November – including the closely watched non-farm payrolls figure – is set to be released on Friday, while the week’s other major diaried economic events include Wednesday’s eurozone inflation print for November and Thursday’s US PCE price index reading for October. Meanwhile, easyJet and Snowflake are among the companies reporting their latest results. 

OUR TOP THREE EVENTS, 28 NOVEMBER - 2 DECEMBER:

Tuesday – easyJet full-year results

This was supposed to be the year that the UK travel sector returned to normal after the disruption caused by Covid. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove up the price of fuel, adding to airlines’ operating costs, while staffing issues contributed to flight delays and cancellations, causing a summer of travel chaos. 

Some of the challenges facing the sector have been self-inflicted. Lockdown-era redundancies and, more recently, industrial action led to a summer of discontent at UK airports. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the easyJet share price has suffered as a result. In October easyJet stock hit a ten-year low and, though the shares have rebounded somewhat, they remain down by more than a third this year. 

In Q4 easyJet operated at 88% of its 2019 capacity, missing expectations for 90%. Revenue for the three months to the end of September is forecast to have increased to £2.5bn. That should help lift full-year revenue to around £5.77bn. Even so, easyJet is expected to post a full-year loss of between £170m and £ 190m, including incremental disruption costs of £75m – linked primarily to operational issues in Q3 – and FX costs of £64m. Management said in the Q4 update that they will not be recommending the payment of a dividend.

Fuel costs for the first half of the airline’s 2023 fiscal year are 69% hedged, up from 60% hedged at the end of Q3 2022. The company has also said that it expects to fly around 20m seats in Q1 2023, a 30% increase year-on-year and a return to pre-pandemic levels. Shareholders will be hoping that this target is achieved, even though recent experience has shown that easyJet can barely cope with current capacity levels at some airports. At Gatwick Airport, for instance, late departures and baggage reclaim delays of up to three hours became a common experience this year – an unpleasant experience made worse by a shortage of staff to deal with irate passengers. 

Wednesday – EU CPI (November)

Although the recent easing in energy prices suggests that inflation may soon begin to slow, the lagging indicator that is Europe’s consumer price index (CPI) has continued to rise. Euro area CPI increased 10.6% in the year to October, up from 9.9% in September. However, October also saw Germany’s producer price index (PPI) fall 4.2% month-on-month, its first monthly decline since May 2020. On an annual basis, German PPI increased 34.5% in October, down from a record high of 45.8% in August and September  

If PPI is indeed a leading indicator for headline CPI, and provided that temperatures don’t drop unseasonably low in the coming weeks, there is a chance that consumer price inflation could soon start to ease, even though CPI readings are likely to remain at historically elevated levels for some time. 

Core inflation, which excludes volatile food, energy, alcohol and tobacco prices, rose 5% in the year to October, up from 4.8% in September. With the European Central Bank concerned about the risks of tightening too aggressively, softer headline and core CPI readings for November could help build a case for the ECB to slow the pace of future interest rate hikes to 0.5 percentage points or lower. The ECB’s next interest rate decision is due on 15 December.

Friday – US non-farm payrolls (November)

Despite concerns over the economic outlook, the US labour market remains robust. In October the US economy added 261,000 jobs, beating the figure of 200,000 that economists had expected, but down from September’s upwardly revised tally of 315,000. 

However, the unemployment rate edged up to 3.7% in October, versus 3.5% in September, while annual growth in average hourly earnings slowed to 4.7%, down from 5% a month earlier. More recently, new claims for unemployment benefits rose to 240,000 in the week ending 19 November, the highest total since August. 

The October jobs report offered little sign of a wage-price spiral, even though vacancies are still at high levels. Job cuts rather than pay rises have been a theme of the current earnings season, particularly at the big tech companies. Amazon announced the loss of over 10,000 jobs worldwide, Meta cut 11,000 jobs and Twitter also saw a spike in the number of staff heading for the exit – some of them voluntarily because they don’t want to work for new owner Elon Musk. 

While not all of these job losses are in the US, a trend towards lay-offs does appear to be starting to build. That said, it is likely to take time to filter through to the official jobs report since high numbers of job vacancies imply that many job seekers will soon find new employers. It’s also important to remember that hiring tends to pick up around Thanksgiving and Christmas, driven by seasonal recruitment of temps. 

For November, economists estimate that 200,000 jobs were added to the US economy, which would be the lowest number this year. The unemployment rate is expected to tick higher to 3.8% as the labour force participation rate increases, while earnings growth is set to remain flat at 4.7%.

KEY EVENTS OVERVIEW (28 NOV-2 DEC):

Monday 28 November

No major scheduled announcements

Tuesday 29 November

easyJet full-year results

See our top three events, above

Wise half-year results

In October payments company Wise reported that Q2 revenue had grown 59% to £211.5m, comfortably beating expectations, as 5 5 million customers – up 40% year-on-year – transferred £27bn. Total income for the first half is expected to come in at £416.1m. Wise, formerly known as TransferWise, upgraded its full-year guidance, saying that it expects to see total income grow 55-60%, fuelled by growth in the customer base and the implementation of higher prices to cope with rising costs.

Despite the positive Q2 results, Wise shares have fallen in the last month and are currently down more than 15% year-to-date. In other news, Wise announced this month that it plans to launch an investment service in Singapore as part of a drive to enter new markets. Last month Wise obtained a £300m debt facility from Silicon Valley Bank to help fund its growth plans.  

Wednesday 30 November

Eurozone CPI (November)

See our top three events, above

Snowflake Q3 results

After Snowflake reported its Q2 numbers on 24 August, shares in the cloud-computing company jumped to their highest level since April as revenue in the three months to the end of July rose 83% to $497.2m, beating forecasts of $435m to $440m. Despite strong revenue growth, the company incurred a loss of $0.70 a share. 

Snowflake upgraded its Q3 product revenue forecast to $500m to $505m, and raised its full-year forecast to $1.92bn. The Montana-based company has expanded its client base to 6,808 customers, up from 6,322 in the previous quarter and up from 5,944 at the end of last year. However, in the last month Snowflake shares have fallen almost 20%, hitting a four-month low in November.     

Salesforce Q3 results

The Salesforce share price, down 40% this year, hit a two-and-a-half-year low at the beginning of November. The cloud-based software company’s fiscal year got off to a good start, with Q1 revenue growing 24% to $7.41bn, fuelled by its acquisition of messaging platform Slack. At the time, the company said that it expected full-year revenue to rise to $31.8bn. But even though Q2 also beat expectations, as revenue grew 22% to $7.72bn and profit came in at $1.19 a share, the company subsequently cut its outlook for the rest of the year. 

Guiding Q3 revenue of $7.82bn and profit of $1.20 a share, the company lowered its full-year revenue forecast to $31bn and cut its full-year profit forecast to between $4.71 and $4.73 a share. Salesforce attributed the downgrades to the strength of the US dollar, with currency effects expected to wipe $800m off the balance sheet. Operating margin is expected to remain steady at 20.4%.

Thursday 1 December

US core PCE price index (October)

The Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation edged higher at the last reading. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, also known as the core PCE price index, increased 5.1% in the year to September, edging up from 4.9% in August. The inflation gauge is, however below its February peak of 5.4%. 

With core prices rising, the Fed appears to have little incentive to pivot from its hawkish stance on monetary policy. That said, if core price growth were to ease, the US dollar – which has fallen from its late-September peaks – could come under further pressure. 

Kroger Q3 results

Shares in US retail giant Kroger hit record highs in April before slipping back, though they remain up 3% for the year. In Q2 revenue increased 9% year-on-year to $34.6bn, and the Ohio-headquartered grocery chain raised its full-year profit guidance for the second quarter in a row to $4.00 a share at the mid-point. 

The company is building on its partnership with UK-based Ocado to expand its digital delivery operation, while in October Kroger announced a proposed $24.6bn merger deal with rival supermarket operator Albertsons. The deal would take the fight to US market-leader Walmart, but will have to pass regulatory scrutiny given that Kroger and Albertsons together account for 13% of US grocery sales. The plans have already raised concerns over the threat to competition, with some industry figures afraid that the deal could result in higher prices. 

Friday 2 December

US non-farm payrolls (November)

See our top three events, above

INDEX DIVIDEND SCHEDULE

Dividend payments from an index's constituent shares can affect your trading account. View this week's index dividend schedule.

SELECTED COMPANY RESULTS

MONDAY 28 NOVEMBER RESULTS
Azek Co. (US) Q4
Home Reit (UK) Full-year
TUESDAY 29 NOVEMBER RESULTS
Crowdstrike Holdings (US) Q3
easyJet (UK) Full-year
Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (US) Q4
Intuit (US) Q1
Marston's (UK) Full-year
NetApp (US) Q2
Topps Tiles (UK) Full-year
Wise (UK) Half-year
Workday (US) Q3
WEDNESDAY 30 NOVEMBER RESULTS
Build-A-Bear Workshop (US) Q3
Future (UK) Full-year
Hormel Foods (US) Q4
La-Z-Boy (US) Q2
Pennon Group (UK) Half-year
Salesforce (US) Q3
Snowflake (US) Q3
Victoria's Secret (US) Q3
THURSDAY 1 DECEMBER RESULTS
AJ Bell (UK) Full-year
Kroger (US) Q3
ReneSola (US) Q3
FRIDAY 2 DECEMBER RESULTS
Genesco (US) Q3
Premier Miton (UK) Full-year

Note: Company announcements are subject to change. Dates correct at the time of writing.


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