Convenience is What Customers Want Most – Here’s How To Deliver

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Posted by Rieva Lesonsky  on 11-Jul-2017 11:30:00

 In a world where consumers and B2B buyers alike have hundreds of choices available at the tap of a touchscreen, customer service is becoming a key differentiator for businesses. In Microsoft’s most recent State of Global Customer Service Report, 61 percent say customer service is very important; in fact, bad service caused 60 percent to stop doing business from companies in the past.

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How can you provide the kind of customer service that gets customers talking (in a good way) about your business and keeps them coming back? Start by understanding the No. 1 thing your customers want from customer service: convenience Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key

Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key concerns, and preferred communication methods. However, no matter what target market your business serves, convenient customer service basically boils down to four factors:

 

Speed. Rapid resolution of problems and complaints is crucial to providing customer satisfaction. That starts with responding to them quickly. In the Microsoft survey, for example, 57 percent of consumers say they’re not willing to wait more than five minutes on hold to speak to a customer service rep. Whether you handle customer service via email, phone, chat or some combination of the above, make sure you have adequate support to handle your customer load.

 

Consistency. Today, your customers want to do business with you wherever and whenever they please—online, in person or over the phone. They expect their experience with your business to be seamless. They don’t like having to repeat the same information they entered online on the phone, or struggle to pick up a package they ordered online in your store. Look for customer relationship management tools that help you maintain information about customers in a central, web-based location so you and your customer service reps can access it wherever you are.

 

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Flexibility. For a 22-year-old, convenience is being able to text a company’s customer service department. For an 82-year-old, texting is the opposite of convenient—he wants to call you and get a live person, not a voicemail menu. To ensure all your customers have a positive opinion of your service, provide a variety of ways for them to contact your customer service team. That might include phone, email, chat, text or even social media. When customers have the option to reach out to you in the way that’s easiest for them—you’re starting the customer service interaction off on the right foot

Proactivity. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers in the Microsoft survey have a positive opinion of companies offering proactive customer service notifications. After all, what’s more convenient than having a business take care of customer service issues before they even arise? Provide online training videos, how-to guides, or FAQs on your website to help customers better use your product or service. Create an online knowledge base or user board to help them resolve their own questions. Send customers automatic notifications when products need to be refilled, equipment needs to be serviced, or upgrades are available. Consumers will love it when you do the work for them. Customer service is becoming a more important factor in business success. Fortunately, by providing the convenience customers crave, you can make your business stand out in a positive way

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Turns out money can buy happiness

Ryan Denison | July 31, 2017
It’s long been said that money can’t buy happiness, but a recent study puts that cliché to the test and found that it’s not always true. As The Washington Post’s Jenna Gallegos writes, those who use their money to buy more free time through outsourcing tasks like cleaning the house and mowing the yard, or by taking the tollway to and from work, were less stressed and generally happier than those who spent their money on material goods. And while that may seem like something only the well-off can afford, the study’s results were consistent across most income levels.

Unfortunately, few of us live like that. Only two percent of people reported that, if given forty dollars to spend, buying more free time would be among their initial purchases. As the study’s lead author, Ashley Whillans, put it, “People are notoriously bad at making decisions that will make them happier.” The primary reason is that it’s far more difficult to measure the value of our time than it is movie tickets, a new dress, or a few more hours at the office.

Freeing up your schedule, however, won’t make a difference if you spend that extra time making yourself busier. The benefits are only seen in those who use those extra hours to slow down and reduce the stress in their lives. While that may not seem like an earth-shattering revelation, how many of us actually live that way?

Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus take the time to slow down and get away from the madness that so often surrounded him. Luke, for example, tells us that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). The Greek tense clarifies that such actions were a regular part of his ministry.

However, that pattern of withdrawing to pray is telling for another reason as well. When Luke drops that little tidbit about Christ into his Gospel, he does so in the midst of stories describing all the amazing things Jesus was doing in the towns and villages he visited. Our Lord didn’t wait until there was no more work to be done or people to heal before getting away because he knew that life seldom affords us such natural breaks. Rather, Jesus was intentional about setting aside time to get away from the never-ending list of genuinely good and important things to simply be with the Father and rest.

As Christians, we frequently talk about stewardship and how we are to give back to God from what he has so graciously given to us. We often neglect, however, to take into account our most precious resource: time. If God has blessed us with the means to buy ourselves a little bit of free time every now and again, then perhaps part of the reason is to better enable us to spend it with him.

But whether that means paying someone to clean the house, saying no to serving on a committee at church, or simply going to bed a bit earlier to make time for him the following morning, most of us could benefit by following Christ’s example and making time with the Father a higher priority in our lives.

Will you?

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Nigerian Stock market views

NSEASI rises 8.4% w/w as H1-17 earnings impress  

…sentiment remains upbeat

The Nigerian equities market advances further as the benchmark index climbed 8.4% higher, breaking its own record in more than 30 months to settle at 36,865pts. The uptrend was bolstered by solid performance scorecards submitted in the week as stronger demand for market bellwethers such as DANGCEM (+11.1%), GUARANTY (+9.6%), NESTLE (+9.3%) and NIGERIAN BREWERIES (+7.9%) pushed the All Share Index higher. Market Capitalization added N980.3bn to settle at N12.7tn driving YTD return to 37.2%. System liquidity opened the week N329.2bn long on account of retail auction funding and coupon inflows which kept rates relatively high (OBB: 17.3%, O/N: 18.8%). The CBN continued its aggressive OMO stance, floating OMO auctions on all trading days except for Monday and mopping up a total of N318.0BN. On Thursday, N65.0bn maturing bills eased liquidity pressures. Closing the week, however, Money market rates crashed as FAAC inflows (estimated at N313bn) hit the system. For the week, the OBB and O/N rates closed at 5.0% and 5.8%, 64bps and 61bps lower week-on-week. In the week ahead, we see the influx of further H1-17 earnings driving sentiments amid intertemporal profit taking. We expect sustained OMO auctions and FX interventions to be the dominant themes that would dictate proceedings in the fixed income space.

Global and Macroeconomic market update

Global equities close mixed 

Performance in the global market ended rather mixed in the week to 28th July 2017 amid an influx of corporate earnings releases across markets. Economic events in the week included US Fed’s FOMC meeting which ended with a decision to maintain status quo, the publication of the IMF’s July World Economic Outlook which left projections for global growth in 2017 and 2018 unchanged at 3.5% and 3.6% respectively and the release of GDP growth numbers in the US economy where the output level increased 2.6% in Q2-2017. Meanwhile, global oil price rebounded to $52.4/b, closing above $50/b for the first time in since OPEC’s June meeting.

Equity indices in the Advanced World witnessed a mixed performance as not so impressive corporate earnings left investors undecided. In the US, the S& P 500 and NASDAQ eased 0.1% and 0.2% w/w respectively while the Dow added 1.0% w/w.  European stocks relayed similar trend as UK FTSE (-0.1% w/w), German DAX (-0.6% w/w) and the STOXX 600 (-0.5% w/w) all closed the week lower. France CAC, on the other hand, added 0.3% w/w.

Markets in the BRICS category also closed mixed with Brazil’s IBOV and China SHANG COMP closing 0.8% and 0.5% higher w/w in contrast to Russia’s RTS and S/Africa’s JSE FTSE which ended the week -1.0% and -0.3% lower.

Activities across Pan African markets was the only outlier, closing bullish on the back of strong momentum in Nigeria (+8.4%), Kenya (+4.7%) and Ghana GSE (+1.8%) which all appreciated w/w.

Domestic Financial Markets Review and Outlook

Equities: NSEASI rises 8.4% w/w as H1-17 earnings impress

The Nigerian equities market advances further as the benchmark index climbed 8.4% higher, breaking its own record in more than 30 months to settle at 36,865pts. The uptrend was bolstered by solid performance scorecards submitted in the week as stronger demand for market bellwethers such as DANGCEM (+11.1%), GUARANTY (+9.6%), NESTLE (+9.3%) and NIGERIAN BREWERIES (+7.9%) pushed the All Share Index higher. Market Capitalization added N980.3bn to settle at N12.7tn driving YTD return to 37.2%.

Performances across sectors mirrored the broader index, with the Banking Index ahead of the pack, 9.5% w/w on gains in GUARANTY (+9.6%), ZENITH (+12.9%), STANBIC (+15.5%) and ETI (+13.3%). The Consumer Goods Index followed closely, up 7.5% w/w amid impressive earnings numbers published by NESTLE (Revenue up 51.6% y/y to N121.9bn, PAT up 2988.4% y/y to N16.5bn) and NIGERIAN BREWERIES (Revenue up 15.0% y/y to N181.0bn, PAT up 24.6% y/y to N23.8bn) among others. The Industrial Goods index also rose 5.9% buoyed by gains in sector giant- DANGCEM whose H1-17 result indicated a mouth watering 41.2% and 39.3% y/y expansion in revenue (N412.7bn) and PAT (N144.0) for the period. The Oil & Gas and Insurance sector indices came in at 3.1% and 2.0% higher driven by decent earnings numbers submitted by OANDO (Revenue up 130.0% y/y to N267.0bn, PAT rebounded to N4.5bn from -N26.9bn in the prior year).

Expectedly, market sentiment, measured by market breadth (ratio of advancers to decliners) which settled at 2.2x, was largely bullish as a total of 48 stocks advanced against 22 decliners during the week. Additionally, average volume and value traded during the week rose 28.3% and 79.1% to 525.5m units and N8.1bn respectively as appetite for equities strengthened. In the week ahead, we see the influx of further Q2-17 earnings driving sentiments amid intertemporal profit taking.

Money Market: c.N313bn FAAC inflow eases liquidity

System liquidity opened the week N329.2bn long on account of retail auction funding and coupon inflows which kept rates relatively high (OBB: 17.3%, O/N: 18.8%). The CBN continued its aggressive OMO stance, floating OMO auctions on all trading days except for Monday and mopping up a total of N318.0BN. On Thursday, N65.0bn maturing bills eased liquidity pressures. Closing the week, however, Money market rates crashed as FAAC inflows (estimated at N313bn) hit the system. For the week, the OBB and O/N rates closed at 5.0% and 5.8%, 64bps and 61bps lower week-on-week. Going into the new week, we expect the Apex bank to continue its intervention in both the FX and OMO auctions. Additionally, an OMO maturity of N120.0bn is expected to keep rates low.

Bonds & Bills Market: Sell-side sentiment dictates proceedings across maturities

At the beginning of the week, activity in the FI space was subdued as players remained cautious ahead of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Meeting. Sell-side players dominated proceedings in the T-bills space for the week, which drove a bearish close to the market as average yield inched higher by 161bps w/w to close at 20.5%. However, a bullish theme was dominant in the bonds space as average bond yield closed the week 5bps lower to settle at 16.3%. We expect sustained OMO auctions and FX interventions to be the dominant themes that would dictate proceedings in the Fixed income space this week.

Currency Market: Naira appreciates in the parallel market

At the official market, the naira appreciated by 28bps to settle at N306.7/USD. Parallel market rate appreciated to 363.5 from 364.5/USD. However, the newly introduced Investors’ & Exporters’ window saw a slight depreciation to N367.6/USD (vs. N366.4/USD in the previous week). Oil prices strengthened from $48.1/b to $52.4/b. The outlook of the naira remains tied to the spate of CBN’s intervention in the spot and forward markets as well as the better price discovery in the I&E FX window.

by UCAP

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Sterling Bank declares N57 billion earnings

Sterling Bank [Photo: guardian.ng]

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that this was against N50.05 billion posted by the bank in the corresponding year of 2016, indicating an increase of 14 per cent.

This is contained in the bank’s half year result published by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

The bank also posted a profit before tax of N4.3 billion during the period under review compared to N4.38 billion achieved in the previous period.

Its net interest income increased by 5.4 per cent to N27 billion as against N25.6 billion during the corresponding period of 2016.

The bank’s operating expenses declined by 1.6 per cent to N25.7 billion as against N26.1 billion in 2016, re-affirming commitment to building efficient operations.

Further analysis of the result showed that loans and advances increased by 11.9 per cent to N524 billion from N468.3 billion in Dec. 2016.

In the same vein, customer deposits increased by 4.2 per cent to N609 billion compared to N584.7 billion in December 2016.

Shareholders’ funds also increased by 10.5 per cent to N94.6 billion from N85.7 billion in December 2016, while total assets (excluding contingent liabilities) increased by 14.8 per cent to N957.9 billion compared to N834.2 billion in Dec. 2016.

Yemi Adeola, the bank’s Managing Director, was quoted as saying that the improved result was as a result of commitment to efficient operations.

Mr. Adeola said that the bank would continue to deliver top line earnings to meet stakeholders’ yearnings and aspirations.

“We will continue to deliver strong top line earnings with a 14 per cent growth in gross earnings arising from a 20 per cent increase in interest income,” he said.

He stated that in a bid to re-affirm the bank’s commitment to building efficient operations, it recorded a 110-basis point improvement in cost-to-income ratio as a result of the reduction in operating expenses.

He said while net interest margin and asset quality improved by 80 basis points and 250 basis points respectively, capital adequacy and liquidity ratios remained strong and above the regulatory benchmark, at 12 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

Mr. Adeola said that the bank maintained its global credit rating from Moody’s (B2) with a stable outlook as a result of a resilient deposit funding base and solid local currency liquidity buffers.

He attributed the rating re-affirmation to improvements in the bank’s IT infrastructure and risk management processes and growing retail product suite.

On the prospect for the second half of the year, Adeola said the bank was committed to sustainable growth of its balance sheet and revenues in a cautious but optimistic manner.

He added that risk asset growth strategy would remain focused primarily on the health, agriculture and education sectors.

Mr. Adeola said the bank would also continue to drive its retail business aggressively using technology whilst remaining committed to superior service delivery and value creation for its stakeholders.

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These 25 Companies Are More Powerful Than Many Countries

Going stateless to maximize profits, multinational companies are vying with governments for global power. Who is winning?

BY PARAG KHANNA
TOP 25 BY DAVID FRANCIS
ILLUSTRATION BY EDEL RODRIGUEZ

At first glance, the story of Accenture reads like the archetype of the American dream. One of the world’s biggest consulting companies, which commands tens of billions of dollars in annual revenues, was born in the 1950s as a small division of accounting firm Arthur Andersen. Its first major project was advising General Electric to install a computer at a Kentucky facility in order to automate payment processing. Several decades of growth followed, and by 1989, the division was successful enough to become its own organization: Andersen Consulting.

Yet a deeper look at the business shows its ascent veering off the American track. This wasn’t because it opened foreign offices in Mexico, Japan, and other countries; international expansion is pro forma for many U.S. companies. Rather, Andersen Consulting saw benefits—fewer taxes, cheaper labor, less onerous regulations — beyond borders and restructured internally to take advantage of them. By 2001, when it went public after adopting the name Accenture, it had morphed into a network of franchises loosely coordinated out of a Swiss holding company. It incorporated in Bermuda and stayed there until 2009, when it redomiciled in Ireland, another low-tax jurisdiction. Today, Accenture’s roughly 373,000 employees are scattered across more than 200 cities in 55 countries. Consultants parachute into locations for commissioned work but often report to offices in regional hubs, such as Prague and Dubai, with lower tax rates. To avoid pesky residency status, the human resources department ensures that employees don’t spend too much time at their project sites.

Welcome to the age of metanationals: companies that, like Accenture, are effectively stateless. When business and strategy experts Yves Doz, José Santos, and Peter Williamson coined the term in a 2001 book, metanationals were an emerging phenomenon, a divergence from the tradition of corporations taking pride in their national roots. (In the 1950s, General Motors President Charles Wilson famously said, “What was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”) Today, the severing of state lifelines has become business as usual.

ExxonMobil, Unilever, BlackRock, HSBC, DHL, Visa—these companies all choose locations for personnel, factories, executive suites, or bank accounts based on where regulations are friendly, resources abundant, and connectivity seamless. Clever metanationals often have legal domicile in one country, corporate management in another, financial assets in a third, and administrative staff spread over several more. Some of the largest American-born firms — GE, IBM, Microsoft, to name a few — collectively are holding trillions of dollars tax-free offshore by having revenues from overseas markets paid to holding companies incorporated in Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, or Singapore. In a nice illustration of the tension this trend creates with policymakers, some observers have dubbed the money “stateless income,” while U.S. President Barack Obama has called the companies hoarding it America’s “corporate deserters.”

It isn’t surprising, of course, when companies find new ways to act in their own interest; it’s surprising when they don’t. The rise of metanationals, however, isn’t just about new ways of making money. It also unsettles the definition of “global superpower.”

The debate over that term usually focuses on states—that is, can any country compete with America’s status and influence? In June 2015, the Pew Research Center surveyed people in 40 countries and found that a median of 48 percent thought China had or would surpass the United States as a superpower, while just 35 percent said it never would. Pew, however, might have considered widening its scope of research — for corporations are likely to overtake all states in terms of clout.

Already, the cash that Apple has on hand exceeds the GDPs of two-thirds of the world’s countries. Firms are also setting the pace vis-à-vis government regulators in a perennial game of cat-and-mouse. After the 2008 financial crisis, the U.S. Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act to discourage banks from growing excessively big and catastrophe-prone. Yet while the law crushed some smaller financial institutions, the largest banks — with operations spread across many countries — actually became even larger, amassing more capital and lending less. Today, the 10 biggest banks still control almost 50 percent of assets under management worldwide. Meanwhile, some European Union officials, including Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, are pushing for a common tax-base policy among member states to prevent corporations from taking advantage of preferential rates. But if that happened (and it’s a very big if), firms would just look beyond the continent for metanational opportunities.

The world is entering an era in which the most powerful law is not that of sovereignty but that of supply and demand. As scholar Gary Gereffi of Duke University has argued, denationalization now involves companies assembling the capacities of various locations into their global value chains. This has birthed success for companies, such as commodities trader Glencore and logistics firm Archer Daniels Midland, that don’t focus primarily on manufacturing goods, but are experts at getting the physical ingredients of what metanationals make wherever they’re needed.

Could businesses go a step further, shifting from stateless to virtual? Some people think so. In 2013, Balaji Srinivasan, now a partner at the venture-capital company Andreessen Horowitz, gave a much debated talk in which he claimed Silicon Valley is becoming more powerful than Wall Street and the U.S. government. He described “Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit,” or the creation of “an opt-in society, ultimately outside the U.S., run by technology.” The idea is that because social communities increasingly exist online, businesses and their operations might move entirely into the cloud.

Much as the notion of taxing a metanational based on its headquarters’ location now seems painfully antiquated, Srinivasan’s ultimate exit may ring of techie utopianism. If stateless companies live by one rule, however, it’s that there’s always another place to go where profits are higher, oversight friendlier, and opportunities more plentiful. This belief has helped nimble, mobile, and smart corporations outgrow their original masters, including the world’s reigning superpower. Seen in this light, metanationals disassociating from terrestrial restraints and harnessing the power of the cloud is anything but far-fetched. It may even be inevitable.

The Top 25 Corporate Nations

BY DAVID FRANCIS

Things Carried

 Note that Amazon has leapfrogged to the number one position as the largest company in the world by July 2017

 

David Francis (@davidcfrancis) is a senior reporter for Foreign Policy.

A version of this article originally appeared in the March/April 2016 issue of  FP under the title “Rise of the Titans.”

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What the ‘world’s richest person’ says about us

Dr. Jim Denison | July 28, 2017
For a few hours, Jeff Bezos was officially the wealthiest person in the world. With a net worth exceeding $90 billion, he passed Bill Gates when shares of Amazon stock surged Thursday morning. The company’s stock then settled down slightly, moving Bezos into second place today.

Amazon was named “the world’s most innovative company of 2017.” The company started as an online book retailer but now delivers everything from groceries to personal care products to cloud computing. Amazon has outgrown Walmart to become the largest retailer in the United States.

But there’s a dark side to the story. Bezos was named World’s Worst Boss by the International Trade Union Confederation in May 2014. A New York Times article profiles Amazon’s work culture, in which emails arrive past midnight followed by text messages asking why they were not answered.

The company boasts that its standards are “unreasonably high.” Some workers suffering from personal crises claim they were evaluated unfairly or forced out rather than given time to recover. One former employer said, “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

My point today is not to criticize Jeff Bezos and Amazon but to explore the cultural narrative they illustrate. We now live in a world dominated by multinational corporations. According to one analyst, “By many measures, corporations are more central players in global affairs than nations.” Foreign Policy lists twenty-five companies, Amazon among them, which it says “are more powerful than many countries.” It calls them “corporate nations.”

The digital age makes it possible for companies to transcend geographical and traditional boundaries quickly. Uber is now the world’s largest taxi company; Airbnb is the world’s largest hotel company. Shopping at companies like Amazon is easier than ever. But working for them can be challenging.

Profits are obviously important to corporate success. “No margin, no mission,” as they say. But people are the reason companies exist. What would a company be without employees, employers, and customers?

The same question applies to churches. “Buildings, budgets, and baptisms” may measure success, but they don’t necessarily measure significance. “Pastor” translates poimen, which means “shepherd.” It’s hard to be a shepherd without sheep.

Lamentably, there’s something in fallen human nature that tempts us to make people a means to our end. Remember when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath? Because he violated their institutional authority, “the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him” (Mark 3:6).

In one of John Maxwell’s books, he tells about a new staff member at his church who walked by a group of people on Sunday morning to get to his office. The pastor later confronted the man, who said, “I had work to do.” Maxwell responded correctly: “These people are your work!”

What is your “work” today?

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Why Greece’s Return to the Bond Market Matters

This week Greece returned to the international bond market for the first time in three years with a 3 billion euro denominated bond that matures in 2022 yielding less than 5%. This is a remarkable comeback for a country that defaulted on its obligations twice in 2012 and still has a deeply distressed credit rating.

This new bond issue is important for debt investors because it signals two important things. First, it signals that investors are prepared to put the 2011 Eurozone crisis behind them and step in to buy new Greek debt. Secondly, it signals that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailouts of the Greek economy worked as intended to shore up investor confidence. It also demonstrates how bond investors are hungry for yield in this low global interest rate environment and are willing to buy bonds issued by riskier borrowers.

Why Are Yields So Low?

What is somewhat surprising is how low the yield is on this new bond. Various media reports say the yield is around 4.6%. Given the country’s still relatively risky credit ratings, this yield seems low. Greece is rated ‘Caa2’ at Moody’s and “B-” at Standard and Poor’s. Even giving Greece the benefit of the doubt and using the higher credit rating of “B-,” data from the St. Louis Fed shows that the effective yield on single B rated issues is currently around 5.5% (see chart), which is nearly 1% higher than Greece.

Part of the reason Greek debt does not yield more is because of how investor’s view the country’s relationship with the rest of the Eurozone and Germany in particular. Greece was not expelled from the block during the depths of the 2011 crisis (a concept termed Grexit). Instead money was poured into the Greek economy and banking system. It is because of this backing that yields on the country’s new debt do not completely match the country’s credit ratings.

The Bottom Line

Greece’s re-entry to the bond market this week is a positive step, but the country still needs to undergo important structural reform to improve the productivity of its economy and get its overall debt ratios more in line with other Eurozone countries. Failure to build on this positive momentum could limit the country’s ability to borrow again in the near term.

Disclaimer: Gary Ashton is an oil and gas financial consultant who writes for Investopedia. The observations he makes are his own and are not intended as investment advice.

Read more: Why Greece’s Return to the Bond Market Matters | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/news/why-greeces-return-bond-market-matters/#ixzz4o83lanAI
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Amazon Wobble Creates Ripples Across Worldwide Stock Markets

An earnings miss by Amazon that hit U.S. technology stocks overnight rippled through into other markets on Friday, with Asian stocks retreating from recent highs and European tech shares opening sharply lower.

Amazon’s stock tumbled over 2 percent on Thursday after it reported a slump in profits, as its rapid and costly expansion into new shopping categories and countries showed no sign of slowing.

“It has been a pretty good season for earnings and this is the first big company that has sown a few doubts on that, and it also raises question on where the broader tech sector is headed from here,” said Investec economist Victoria Clarke.

Amazon has been one of the companies powering the sector this year, with a 40 percent rise up until Thursday.

Though other U.S. sectors were resilient, Wall Street’s “fear index”, the VIX, rose sharply on Thursday from a record low of 8.84 percent to an intra-day high of 11.5 percent.

Amazon is one of the so-called “FANG” group of the most influential tech stocks, along with Facebook, Netflix and Google, hence the broad impact of its setback, which hit Asian shares as well knocking the U.S. tech sector off recent highs.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8 percent, with Samsung Electronics , Asia’s largest company by market capitalisation, dropping 3.5 percent.

Europe’s tech index fell 1.4 percent in early trading on Friday, the region’s worst-performing sector.

“In terms of one story shaping sentiment it is quite remarkable, but markets are also a bit nervous ahead of U.S. GDP numbers due out today,” said Investec’s Clarke.

“The trigger was Amazon but developments overnight on U.S. healthcare has not helped sentiment.”

U.S. Senate Republicans failed early on Friday to overturn the healthcare law known as Obamacare, in a stinging blow to President Donald Trump that may end the Republican Party’s seven-year quest to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The dollar dipped against its major peers on Friday, though second quarter U.S. economic growth data due later could potentially give it some respite from the recent sell-off.

Economists expect the world’s largest economy to have grown about 2.6 percent in the second quarter, from 1.4 percent in the first quarter.

SWISS FALL

The Swiss franc was one of the biggest movers in the currency market and is on track to post its biggest weekly drop against the dollar for more than 22 months.

The franc has been falling as investors bet the Swiss National Bank will keep monetary policy loose as other central banks move towards tightening.

Oil prices held near eight-week highs hit on Thursday after key OPEC members pledged to reduce exports and the U.S. government reported a sharp decline in crude inventories.

Brent crude futures were at $51.52 per barrel, up slightly in European trading and close to highs of $51.64 hit on Thursday.

 

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