US stock futures drop after Netflix warns on subscriber numbers

US stock futures dropped on Wednesday following disappointing earnings from Netflix and further signs that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates aggressively to curb inflation.

Contracts tracking Wall Street’s technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 index were down 0.7 per cent during the early European morning after Netflix said its decade-long run of subscriber growth had drawn to an end in the first quarter of 2022 and that it had become “harder to grow membership” in many markets.

Analysts at JPMorgan attributed the decline in US futures on Wednesday to “micro catalysts”, including the disappointing Netflix results, as opposed to broader macro-economic factors that have been driving trading in recent weeks.

The streaming company projected in its latest earnings update that subscriber numbers would drop by another 2mn in the current quarter, having already fallen about 200,000 in the previous three months. Its shares lost more than 25 per cent in pre-market trading on Wednesday, indicating $40bn could be wiped from its value after the opening bell on Wall Street.

Futures tracking the broad S&P 500 gauge were down 0.4 per cent, while in Europe, the regional Stoxx 600 gauge added 0.4 per cent in morning dealings after closing the previous trading session down 0.8 per cent.

Adding to pressure on equities, the IMF on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast for this year to 3.6 per cent, down 0.8 percentage points since its January forecast, noting that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will knock economic progress while stoking inflation.

In government debt markets, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note ticked down 0.02 percentage points to 2.9 per cent.

A sell-off in the previous session took the 10-year “real yield” — which is adjusted to reflect medium-term inflation expectations — into positive territory for the first time since the coronavirus crisis in March 2020. It hovered at minus 0.04 per cent on Wednesday morning.

Bond yields rise as their prices fall.

Real yields have jumped this year on expectations of the Fed tightening monetary policy in a bid to curb surging consumer price growth, which reached an annual 8.5 per cent last month. Those climbing real yields have, in turn, reduced the appeal of — and exacerbated pressure on — riskier parts of financial markets, including more speculative tech and media stocks.

This week’s yield moves come during a string of speeches from senior Fed officials, with Fed chair Jay Powell due to speak on Thursday. Already, Charles Evans, Chicago Fed president, has said the central bank is likely to raise interest rates to between 2.25 per cent and 2.5 per cent by the end of the year. James Bullard, president of the St Louis branch of the Fed, also said a jumbo 0.75-percentage-point rate increase may come at some point in 2022. The Fed’s current benchmark interest rate is 0.25-0.50 per cent.

Elsewhere in equity markets, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gauge lost 0.4 per cent, while Japan’s Topix added 1 per cent. “The continued weakness in the yen is helping Japanese equities rally once again this morning,” JPMorgan analysts commented. The yen fell past ¥128 to the dollar this week, trading at its weakest level in 20 years.

In commodity markets, Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, added 1 per cent to just over $108 a barrel, having dropped 5 per cent on Tuesday in a fall that snapped four days of gains.

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