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ECB’s Draghi talks policy after the central bank drops its easing bias

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European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi is speaking at the institution’s headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, following the Governing Council’s interest rate decision.

Investors will be looking for clues as to the ending of the ECB’s massive bond-buying scheme.

But Draghi is not expected to reveal too much in order to prevent any unwanted market tightening, exercising caution after the recent surge in market uncertainty.

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Revolut launches travel booking feature Stays

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Revolut’s new travel booking feature, Stays.

Revolut

LONDON — European fintech giant Revolut is jumping into the travel industry.

The London-based firm launched a new feature Tuesday called Stays, which lets users book hotels and other accommodation through its app.

Customers can receive up to 10% cashback on bookings made through Revolut, the company said.

The move marks a challenge to travel industry giants like Booking Holdings, Expedia and TripAdvisor. It’s also the company’s first product to launch outside the realm of finance.

“As the world begins to cautiously open up, we know everyone is desperate to get away whenever they can — whether it’s to Margate or Mallorca,” said Marsel Nikaj, Revolut’s head of savings and lifestyle.

“We’ve built Stays to make it easy for people to find and book their perfect break in their ideal destination. After 18 months of endless restrictions and lockdowns, we want to give people more and make their money travel further.”

Revolut began life in 2015 as a digital-only banking and payments platform for spending abroad without paying steep currency exchange fees. The company has since expanded its offering, rolling out new features for trading shares and cryptocurrency.

The firm is one of a number of popular “neobanks” that have emerged in Europe and other parts of the world, luring mostly younger customers with a slick user experience and colorful bank cards.

Rivals include Monzo and Starling in the U.K., N26 in Germany and Chime in the U.S.

Last week, Revolut was valued at $33 billion in a monster funding round, making it Britain’s top fintech start-up and the second-largest fintech in Europe. The company has 16 million users globally.

Revolut is aiming to become what’s known as a “super app,” which offers multiple services through one interface. The trend has gained traction in Asia, popularized by companies like Grab and GoTo in Southeast Asia and Alibaba and Tencent in China.

Revolut’s Stays feature is first launching in the U.K. on Tuesday before rolling out to Europe and the U.S. in the coming months. It will only offer accommodation for now, but there are plans to include flights, car hire and other travel options later down the line.

It comes as some European countries are tightening restrictions on public life due to fears over a resurgence in Covid cases. In stark contrast, England lifted nearly all its remaining coronavirus curbs on Monday.

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Asia-Pacific stocks set for mixed start following Wall Street rebound

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SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific looked set for a mixed start on Wednesday, following an overnight bounce stateside that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average rising more than 500 points.

Futures pointed to a higher open for Japanese stocks. The Nikkei futures contract in Chicago was at 27,795 while its counterpart in Osaka was at 27,740. That compared against the Nikkei 225’s last close at 27,388.16.

Japan’s trade data for June is expected to be out at 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN on Wednesday.

Australian stocks, on the other hand, appeared poised for declines. The SPI futures contract was at 7,210.0, against the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 7,252.20.

Australia’s preliminary retail sales data for June is set to be released at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN.

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Overnight stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 549.95 points to 34,511.99. The S&P 500 jumped 1.52% to 4,323.06 while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.57% to 14,498.88.

Those gains were a comeback from Monday’s losses, which saw the Dow plunging more than 700 points amid fears that a Covid resurgence could slow the economic recovery.

Currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 92.973 after seeing levels above 93.1 recently.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.91 per dollar, weaker than levels below 109.5 seen against the greenback earlier in the week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7333, still off levels above $0.742 seen last week.

Here’s a look at what’s on tap:

  • Japan: trade data for June at 7:50 a.m. HK/SIN
  • Australia: Preliminary retail sales data for June at 9:30 a.m. HK/SIN

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Netflix (NFLX) Q2 2021 earnings

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Co-CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings (R) and CEO of Nubank David Velez walk together at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 08, 2021 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Kevin Dietsch | Getty Images

Netflix reported earnings after the bell. Here are the results.

  • Earnings per share (EPS): $2.97 vs $3.16 expected, according to Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $7.34 billion $7.32 billion expected, according to Refinitiv
  • Expected global paid net subscriber additions: 1.75 million expected, according to Factset

Analysts aren’t expecting blockbuster reports this quarter, with Jefferies analysts using the word “meh” to describe anticipated performance in their earnings preview.

“June results are the day after you’ve slept off a cold. Your head is clear, but you’re not quite 100%…That’s where we are for Netflix. June is likely a non-event and clears the way for a 2H acceleration in sub growth. We aren’t quite yet there, but almost,” the Jefferies analysts wrote in a July 18 note.

Even Netflix isn’t expecting high subscriber growth for its second quarter. The company gave guidance of about 1 million net subscriber additions in its first-quarter earnings report.

The company is set to face a test of whether it can continue to sustain high subscriber growth, though the focus will be on its third quarter guidance. Historically, Netflix posts smaller net subscribers additions in the second quarter. That leaves next quarter’s guidance to indicate whether or not the streaming giant can “get back to its pre-Covid 25mn+ net sub adds/year trend,” Bank of America analysts wrote in a July 16 note.

Investors are anticipating 4.87 million net subscriber additions in the third quarter, according to FactSet data.

Netflix is also facing pressure from tough year-over-year comparisons, since last year consumers were in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and spent much more of their time online and in need of entertainment. Worldwide Netflix mobile app downloads were down 38% year-over-year and down 9% quarter-over-quarter, according to Sensor Tower data. Daily active users also dipped more than 20% year-over-year, according to the report.

Still, analysts remain optimistic on the stock.

“We believe that while Netflix will face tough comps in the near term, the company will continue to see long term durable growth despite increasing competition and faces less regulatory scrutiny vs mega-cap tech peers. We continue to see Netflix’s ability to grow as its global content investment strengthens its value proposition,” the BofA analysts wrote.

Much of the optimism comes from Netflix’s upcoming slate of content, much of which had been pushed back into the second half of this year and next year.

“Historically, successful content has been a catalyst for net sub growth, so, after 2Q earnings, we expect investors to focus heavily on the buildup and ultimate success of upcoming content,” Jefferies wrote. “Management has remained confident that back half weighted content will re-accelerate sub growth, bringing the metric closer to its historical cadence. As such, we believe content performance over the next 12 months will play a significant role in shaping how investors view the long-term growth of NFLX.”

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