By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- The remnants of Hurrricane Ida batters New York and southern New England. Jobless claims data will provide the latest snapshot of the labor market ahead of Friday's payrolls report. The euro and cryptocurrencies make further gains against the dollar, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) gives ground in the fight over payment processing, and Alibaba (NYSE: BABA ) pays the price of Beijing's push to reduce inequality. Here's what you need to know in financial markets on Thursday, 2nd September.
1. Jobless claims - between a weak ADP (NASDAQ: ADP ) report and Friday's big reveal on jobs
A fresh barrage of economic data is out later, a day after a weak-seeming ADP payrolls report cemented expectations that the Federal Reserve won’t tighten monetary policy until at least November.
Weekly jobless claims data at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT) will indicate whether layoffs have increased as a result of the slowdown suggested in other high-frequency data. Initial claims are expected to edge down to 345,000 from 353,000 last week. Of more interest than usual, given the spotlight on inflationary pressures, may be unit labor cost numbers for the second quarter, which are due at the same time, while factory goods orders for July are due at 10 AM ET.
2. Ida smashes into New York
The tail end of Hurricane Ida buffeted New York City, causing at least eight deaths and triggering a state of emergency on both sides of the Hudson (NYSE: HUD ) River.
The damage included widespread power outages, as in New Orleans at the weekend, as high-energy, high-volume downpours caused extensive flooding.
Extreme weather warnings have also been given in Pennsylvania and much of New England.
The developments are likely to lead to a sharp increase in claims against the world’s biggest insurers and reinsurers. Shares in Munich Re (OTC: MURGY ) and Swiss Re (OTC: SSREY ) were down 1.2% in European trading.
3 Stocks set to drift higher; Apple, payments companies in spotlight
U.S. stock markets are set to open a touch higher later, but essentially drifting well within the trading range of the last 10 days, as attention gradually turns to Friday’s official labor market report.
Stocks likely to be in focus later include Apple, which said on Wednesday that it intends to let third-party payment companies process more transactions through its app store – bowing before a wind of change that is sweeping through global regulation of the Internet. The move will allow the likes of Spotify (NYSE: SPOT ) and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) to keep more of subscription fees processed through the Apple app store.
Also in focus will be EV-charging infrastructure company ChargePoint, which raised its guidance for the year as EV penetration in Europe and the U.S. went faster than expected in the second quarter.
4. Dollar weakness lifts euro and crypto
The euro touched its highest in three weeks against the dollar as the market started to factor in the possibility of the European Central Bank reducing its bond purchases.
The ECB had increased the rate of asset purchases under its Pandemic Emergency program in the spring, steering against the increase in long-term rates caused by the reopening of the U.S. and Eurozone economies. Speculation on the bank at least reversing that move has increased since the accounts of its last policy meeting acknowledged the possibility of inflation – which hit a 13-year high of 3% in August – overshooting too far, or for too long.
The euro’s move is part of a broad pattern of dollar weakness since Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday. That has extended to cryptocurrencies too, which surged by 5% or more across the board in overnight trading.
5. Alibaba coughs up to support 'common prosperity' drive
The price of China’s tech giant shakedown is becoming increasingly clear – and ever higher. Alibaba (NYSE: BABA ) confirmed a report in the state-backed Zhejiang Daily that it will allocate 100 billion yuan $15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of the government’s new drive for "common prosperity".
Alibaba's investment will go towards supporting small and medium enterprises and agriculture, and towards setting up a 20 billion yuan "common prosperity development fund", the newspaper said.
Alibaba, which is based in Zhejiang, is the latest company to divert significant profits away from shareholders to government projects: Tencent (HK: 0700 ) Holdings (OTC: TCEHY ) announced a $7.7 billion fund last week, while Pinduoduo (NASDAQ: PDD ) said it would earmark its first $100 million of profit to philanthropic purposes.
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