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Amazon earnings ahead, Paramount CEO Bakish steps down - what's moving markets

Published 04/30/2024, 03:56 PM
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Investing.com -- U.S. stock futures inch down ahead of a fresh batch of corporate earnings, including results from tech giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) announces that Chief Executive Bob Bakish has stepped down even as talks continue over a possible merger between the entertainment group and David Ellison's SkyDance Media. Meanwhile, HSBC says that boss Noel Quinn will retire following an almost five-year tenure at the helm of the bank.

1. Futures inch lower

U.S. stock futures pointed slightly lower on Tuesday, as investors awaited earnings from Amazon and looked ahead to a key Federal Reserve monetary policy decision later in the week.

By 03:26 ET (07:26 GMT), the Dow futures contract had shed 20 points or 0.1%, S&P 500 futures had slipped by 7 points or 0.1%., and Nasdaq 100 futures had dipped by 16 points or 0.1%.

The main indices on Wall Street closed higher on Monday, buoyed by steep gains in Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares after the electric carmaker said it was making progress in securing regulatory approval to roll out its full self-driving software in China. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)'s stock price was also boosted on a report that the iPhone manufacturer was in discussions with OpenAI about incorporating some of the artificial intelligence darling's technology.

Looming in the background during the session was the Fed's upcoming policy meeting on Wednesday, when traders widely expect the U.S. central bank to leave interest rates unchanged. As a result, markets are especially keen to hear how Chair Jerome Powell views the path forward for rates in the coming months, with many investors now betting that the Fed will not deliver a much-anticipated cut to borrowing costs until September.

2. Amazon earnings ahead

Amazon is set to headline the earnings calendar on Tuesday, with the ecommerce titan due to release its latest quarterly results after the closing bell.

Investors will likely be keen to see how performance is evolving at Amazon's all-important AWS cloud computing division. The unit, which is continuing to recover from a recent slowdown in client spending on cloud services, has been moving to fold more AI-powered features into its offerings in a bid to bolster demand.

As such, like its Big Tech peers Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) last week, Amazon could face sharp questions over how it plans to turn its major investments in AI into sustainably elevated sales and profits.

Meanwhile, for Amazon as a whole, analysts are predicting that stable online customer expenditures and the introduction of advertising into its Prime Video streaming service may have supported total returns during the first quarter. An ongoing cost-cutting push -- including further layoffs at AWS -- and a drive to reorganize Amazon's U.S. logistics network could also give some lift to profit margins, they noted.

3. Paramount Global's Bakish steps down

Paramount Global has announced that Chief Executive Bob Bakish has stepped down amid ongoing talks over a potential tie-up talks with David Ellison's Skydance Media.

George Cheeks, CEO of CBS, Chris McCarthy, CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios and Paramount Media Networks and Brian Robbins, Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon were appointed to the newly created Office of the CEO to "lead and oversee the company moving forward," the company said.

Some analysts cast doubt over the change, arguing that the Hollywood firm behind movies like "The Godfather" need stable leadership to navigate the discussions with Skydance and combat fierce competition to its crucial Paramount+ streaming service.

Various media sources reported on Monday that Skydance has sweetened its bid to take control of Paramount, offering to inject $3 billion in the combined company that can used to pay down debt and repurchase stock.

Paramount's Class B shares were slightly higher in afterhours trading following the news.

4. HSBC CEO Noel Quinn to retire

HSBC said on Tuesday that Chief Executive Noel Quinn will retire after nearly five years in the role, where he oversaw a major transformation in the bank that drastically improved its cash position and earnings.

Quinn steps down after a 37-year career at HSBC, and will stay on as CEO until the Board finds his successor.

Quinn led a major streamlining of HSBC’s operations during his tenure, most recently overseeing the sale of its Canadian and Argentine operations. He also led the bank in shifting its focus back onto its core consumer banking segments in Europe and Asia.

This saw HSBC log bumper earnings over the past two years, while the cash and capital positions of the bank improved substantially.

5. Oil choppy

Oil prices hovered around the flatline in European trade on Tuesday as focus remained on any progress in ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas.

Media reports said that Israel had offered a 40-day ceasefire offer to Hamas, as delegates from the two met in Egypt for renewed talks. The Hamas delegation left Cairo, and will return with a written response to the proposal, reports said. A ceasefire represents a potential de-escalation in the conflict between the two, which could see traders attach a lower risk premium to oil.

Elsewhere, growing expectations of higher-for-longer U.S. interest rates prior to a Federal Reserve meeting this week threatened to weigh on sentiment.

Brent oil futures expiring in June rose 0.1% to $88.45 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate crude futures edged up 0.1% to $82.72 per barrel by 03:29 ET.

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