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Today's big stories

  1. UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in February, but Brits still paid more than the month before
  2. Our analyst has looked into how to profit as we head into a new "market narrative" – Read Now
  3. Chinese electric vehicle maker Nio reported mixed results

Dress Code

Dress Code

What’s Going On Here?

Data out on Friday showed that UK retail sales fell last month, even if the country’s shoppers have been swapping slippers for sneakers.

What Does This Mean?

Brits said farewell to the last of their Covid restrictions in February, and it looks like they couldn’t wait to get out and about: clothing and footwear sales were up 13% from the month before, and fuel sales were up 4%. Unfortunately, that’s where the spending stopped: sales at household goods stores fell by 3%, as home improvement habits ground to a halt. Online retail sales were down 5% too, which means they made up the smallest proportion of overall retail sales since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. All in all, that led overall retail sales to shrink 0.3% from January – a long way off the 0.7% growth economists were expecting.

Why Should I Care?

Zooming in: Vote of no confidence.
Shoppers might’ve been buying less, but they spent 0.7% more as inflation in the country continued to climb. No wonder they’re not feeling too hot: data out last week showed UK consumer confidence fell in March for the fourth month in a row, hitting its lowest since the depths of the pandemic in November 2020. And since prices are only set to climb, Brits might be forced to cut back even more in the next few months…

The bigger picture: Softly, softly.
This data suggests the Bank of England might’ve been right to change its tone earlier this month, when it suggested that it might need to go a little easier on interest rate hikes than it thought. Now, though, some economists are speculating that it might not raise rates at all in the second half of this year – especially as another spike in the UK’s Covid cases proves the country’s economy isn’t out of the woods yet.

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Analyst Take

How To Get Ahead Of The Next Major Market Narrative

How To Get Ahead Of The Next Major Market Narrative
Photo of Stéphane Renevier

Stéphane Renevier, Analyst

What’s Going On Here?

Investors are constantly trying to explain why markets are behaving the way they are.

And they do that in part by telling themselves new stories every few months: market narratives that allow them to rationalize every shift and make decisions accordingly.

Right now, that narrative is centered on reflation: the combination of high growth and high inflation that has seen stock prices climb pretty relentlessly.

But there are some pretty glaring signs that we’re about to turn the page on that particular narrative.

So that’s today’s Insight: what the narrative could be about to shift to, and how to put yourself in a position to profit before it does.

Read or listen to the Insight here

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Smooth Talker

Smooth Talker

What’s Going On Here?

Nio reported a strong quarter for deliveries late last week, as the Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker proved that it’s not what you know…

What Does This Mean?

EV makers have been struggling to get their hands on parts recently, but Nio’s been managing better than most. That’s because its EVs are manufactured by the Chinese government-backed Jianghuai Automobile Group – a well-connected firm with the heft to get suppliers on side. And it pulled it out of the bag: Nio delivered 44% more cars than the same time the year before, pushing up its overall revenue by 49%.

But none of those parts came cheap, and that extra cost – along with Nio’s ongoing investment in a new product lineup – saw the EV maker post a $340 million loss last quarter. And when it followed up with a worse-than-expected revenue outlook for this quarter, investors didn’t hesitate to send its stock down.

Why Should I Care?

For markets: Nio’s keeping busy.
Nio’s stock has now lost nearly 40% of its value this year, but the EV maker has a plan to turn things around: it’s aiming to launch three new models this year. One of those – due to be delivered to Chinese buyers this week – is being hailed as a direct rival to Tesla’s Model S, and analysts seem to believe the hype: their average price target for Nio’s stock is now $47 – more than double its current price of $20.

The bigger picture: Anything Tesla can’t do…
Nio has another project on the go too: the EV maker is planning to work with competitor Geely to set up 24,000 Chinese battery swapping stations – a faster alternative to charging – by 2025. It must know something Tesla doesn’t: the US EV maker already experimented with swapping batteries in 2014, only to scrap the project soon after.

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💬 Quote of the day

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Muriel Strode (an American poet)
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