Amazon earnings, ECB meeting
The FT's Vanessa Kortekaas highlights the key stories to watch for in the coming week, including earnings reports from Amazon, Microsoft and other tech companies, an ECB meeting and Kenya's planned re-run of its presidential election.
Produced by Vanessa Kortekaas. Filmed by Rod Fitzgerald. Additional filming by Lenny Ruvaga. Still images by Getty and Reuters.
Hello, and welcome to "The Week Ahead" from the "Financial Times" in London. Here are some of the big stories we'll be watching in the coming days. We'll find out how some of the tech giants, including Amazon, are doing when they report earnings. The European Central Bank is meeting to decide what to do with its landmark quantitative easing programme. And Kenyans are set to head to the polls once again in a rerun of the presidential election.
A handful of tech companies worth more than $2 trillion between them are set to report earnings on Thursday. Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, and Intel are among the industry's biggest names releasing their results. Both Alphabet and Amazon have ramped up their investment plans recently, with Google acquiring smartphone talent from HTC for $1.1 billion to boost its hardware division, while Amazon purchased Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. But strong advances in the company's core businesses during the third quarter should help to offset at least some of the higher spending. Here's Richard Waters in San Francisco with more on what to expect.
Normally, when the big internet companies report earnings, we're very focused on the growth rates. But right now there are plenty of reasons to look at the costs. So capital spending at these big companies has been growing tremendously. They're in a massive investment race to move into the businesses, $4 billion in the second quarter of this year, which was more than double the year before.
At Google there's been particular concern about traffic acquisition cost, just the amount that it pays to get its mobile advertising out. And we know that these companies are moving into all kinds of new businesses, Amazon into groceries, Google into cloud and into hardware. And so the cost lines will definitely come under close scrutiny this week.
However, the good news, growth is reaccelerate saying at Amazon and Google. Even though Google is approaching, or Alphabet, its parent, is approaching $100 billion in revenues this year, these companies are actually growing faster. So know stocks are up more than the rest of the market this year.
Now to Europe, where the European Central Bank's governing council is meeting on Thursday to decide what to do with its landmark 2 trillion euro quantitative easing programme. The crucial meeting will be between the bank's top officials and governors, representing the eurozone's 19 member states. Mario Draghi, the ECB president, will announce the QE plans, which lie at the heart of the bank's attempt to restore the eurozone economy to full health in 2018.
Europe's central bankers have been buying 60 billion euros worth of bonds every month. And they intend to do so until the end of this year to shore up inflation and to boost growth. However, improvements in the block's economy this year and a shortage of debt to buy will almost certainly mean that the ECB purchases less in 2018 than it has done this year. Claire Jones in Frankfurt has more.
So it's looking increasingly likely that the European Central Bank is going to [? plump ?] for a long taper. That means they're likely to stay active in the eurozone's bond markets for at least the first nine months of 2018, if not the duration of next year. However, they'll buy far fewer bonds, possibly only 30 billion or 20 billion even a month next year. That goes down from the current level of about 60 billion.
Now, people do not expect the European Central Bank to raise interest rates while they're still doing quantitative easing. So what that means is that the first interest rate rise in Europe is not likely to come until 2019.
And finally, Kenyans are set to vote on Thursday in a rerun of the presidential election. This comes after the Supreme Court nullified the victory of incumbent Uhuru Kentatta when the country voted on August 8th. The court cited irregularities and illegalities, mostly in the tallying of the results.
But it is far from certain that the election will actually happen. Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader, who successfully appealed against the initial result, has withdrawn from the contest saying that the vote would not be free or fair. He says the electoral commission has not been sufficiently reformed to ensure that the problems that occurred in the August vote will not be repeated. Here's John Aglionby, our East Africa correspondent reporting from Kenya.
Public opinion in Kenya, as one would expect and one of Africa's most vibrant democracies, is deeply divided. Both President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have legions of supporters willing to do whatever they're told. However, there is also a growing section of the population which is simply fed up with the extended political season because business activity in much of what is East Africa's dominant economy is grinding to a halt as investment decisions are postponed pending political clarity.
Unfortunately for Kenya's economy, the political uncertainty could extend well beyond Thursday's election day. If the election proceeds with both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga, another appeal to the Supreme Court cannot be ruled out. And if it does not, then the nation's future is completely unpredictable.
And that's what the week ahead looks like from the "Financial Times" in London. See you again next time.