ETF Express: Week Ending 4 August 2023
- Short US equity funds (BBUS, SNAS) topped the performance charts last week as Fitch downgraded the US’s credit rating from AAA to AA+. This, alongside reports of slowing labour market growth, indicated a possible weakness in the US economy.
- Risk-on tech-focused ETFs (CRYP, GGUS, LNAS, RBTZ, TANN) fell as Apple’s earnings disappointed, building on negative market sentiments. The technology titan acts as a key bellwether for the US tech sector.
- There were $1.02 billion in reported inflows for the week, and only $218.5 million in outflows, marking a large week of net inflows for the Australian ETF industry.
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Uber Joins the Highway to Profitability
Thematic Growth and Technology
Uber made history last week, reporting its first ever operating profit and surprising analysts across the world.1 The firm posted US$326 million in operating profit, compared to a loss of US$713 million in the year prior. Revenue also increased 14% to US$9.23 billion.2
Founded in the 2010s, Uber is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that burst onto the transportation scene with the goal of disrupting the legacy taxi industry. How? By letting everyday drivers use their cars for profit and popularising what is now known as the ‘sharing economy’, a model shared by fellow startup successes such as Airbnb, DiDi, and Lyft.
While the ride sharing model was transformative for the transportation industry, it came with its own set of distinct challenges. Not only did Uber have to establish a new norm in transit, it also had to contest with a slew of new competitors who sought to emulate their rise to stardom. This led to extensive price-wars, as well as an incentive to differentiate – projects such as fully autonomous driving came and went, costing immense capital and leaving the firm’s balance book in the red.
Uber’s path to profit began as founder CEO Travis Kalanick stepped away from the firm in 2017 and replacement CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took up the driver’s seat and decided even innovators need to take time to refine instead of continuing to trailblaze. Since then, Uber has taken on a more disciplined approach to spending. Now, with its first profitable earnings under its belt, Uber looks to continue its win-streak, upgrading its EBITDA forecast from US$975 million to US$1.025 billion for Q3 of 2023.4
- Fitch Ratings’ surprising downgrade of the US’s long-term credit rating from AAA to AA+ may drive demand for safe-haven assets such as precious metals.5
- Higher interest rates as a part of the Fed’s tight monetary policy have supported the US dollar. Healthy labour and economic data also indicate that the US economy could potentially withstand further rate hikes.
- India, one of the largest consumers of gold, has seen demand fall to its lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.6
- Major oil exporters are cutting on supply. Saudi Arabia is looking to extend its unilateral production cut of one million barrels per day (bpd) into September. Furthermore, Russia will seek to also continue its oil supply restriction into September, albeit at a reduced level – 300,000 bpd versus 500,000 bpd in August.7
- US crude stockpiles declined by a record 17 million barrels last week due to increased refinery runs and robust exports.8
- Global demand hits record 102.8 million bpd in July, according to Goldman Sachs.9
- Chinese economic difficulties may indicate that its crude demand has peaked for 2023.10 While headline data continues to show solid demand, most supply has already been met and stored for use.
- Low supply levels may fail to meet rising demand: After reporting a 14% drop in first-half 2023 production, state-owned Chilean miner Codelco reduced its output projections by 70,000 tons.11
- Chinese government could look to boost its industrial sector as key manufacturing PMIs showed yet another factory activity drop in July.12
- China’s July Manufacturing PMI is still in contraction, providing new proof that the economy’s recovery is stalling.13 US factory activity has also decreased for the ninth consecutive month, a reflection of the weak domestic and international demand for American goods.14
Forecasts are not guaranteed, and undue reliance should not be placed on them. This information is based on views held by Global X or referenced sources as at 4th August 2023.