Following a relentless rout that erased nearly $2 trillion in market value from the S&P 500 last week, US equity futures have surged, extending their Monday holiday gains just as predicted on Sunday when we said that a "Nasty Squeeze" was on Deck following last week's "Second Largest Ever" shorting by hedge funds. Nasdaq 100 futures rose as much as 2.2% before trading 1.7% higher as major US tech and internet stocks advanced, poised to extend Friday’s gains; shares of Tesla and Twitter also rose following billionaire Elon Musk’s comments at the Qatar Economic Forum; S&P 500 futures gained 1.8%; the cash market was closed on Monday for a holiday. Asian and European stocks also advanced as did bitcoin which jumped above $21K after sliding below $18K briefly on Saturday. Meanwhile Treasuries and the US Dollar retreated.
US stocks came under renewed pressure last week, with the S&P plunged into bear market territory amid surging inflation and fears that aggressive rate hikes by the Federal Reserve will push the economy into a recession. The S&P 500 is set for an 11% drop in June, poised for the worst month since March 2020, which marked the lows of the pandemic selloff. Sentiment was somewhat boosted by Biden’s Monday comments on the economy in which he said that a recession isn't "inevitable" (what else will he say) but strategists have warned of more volatility ahead.
“Even if the mid-term investing landscape remains blurry to most market operators at the beginning of this summer season, some investors looking for opportunities to buy shares at a discounted price have been reassured,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades. “The fact central banks are moving quickly towards a super hawkish stance in order to tame inflation is also perceived as good news by some.”
In premarket trading, bank stocks also pushed higher amid a broader rebound in risk assets. In corporate news, HSBC has lost two senior investment bankers in Asia as global banks compete for financial technology talent and dealmaking slows. Meanwhile, the UK’s Payment Systems Regulator will focus a pair of market reviews on the rising card fees charged by Visa and Mastercard. Tech names were also solidly higher; notable movers included Apple +2.4%, Microsoft +2%, Amazon.com +2.6%, Alphabet +2.6%, Meta Platforms +2.1%, Nvidia +3.1% premarket; all six stocks closed higher on Friday, while US markets were closed for a holiday on Monday. Stocks related to cryptocurrencies were also indicating a rally as the price of Bitcoin continues to hold above $20,000 amid a tentative recovery and hopes that prices have bottomed. Meanwhile, Revlon surged as much as 27% in premarket trading, extending Friday’s rally after the cosmetics firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Here are some other notable premarket movers:
Tesla (TSLA US) and Twitter (TWTR US) shares rose in premarket trading on Tuesday after billionaire Elon Musk said the CEO label at the social media firm was less important than driving the product and that Tesla will cut its salaried workforce by about 10% over the next three months. Tesla rose 3.1% and Twitter was up 1.2% in premarket trading
- Revlon shares surge as much as 27% in US premarket trading, extending Friday’s rally after the cosmetics firm filed for bankruptcy.
- Major US technology and internet stocks advanced in premarket trading on Tuesday, poised to extend Friday’s gains. Apple (AAPL US) +2.4%, Microsoft (MSFT US) +2%, Amazon.com (AMZN US) +2.6%, Alphabet (GOOGL US) +2.6%
- Spirit (SAVE US) shares jump 13% in US premarket trading, to $24, after JetBlue (JBLU US) raised its offer to $33.50 per share from $31.50 on June 6, the latest move in a multi-billion dollar takeover contest with rival Frontier (ULCC US). Arrival shares jump 8.6% in US premarket trading after the electric- vehicle maker announced that its zero-emission van has achieved EU certification and received European Whole Vehicle Type Approval.
- US-listed Chinese stocks are mostly higher in premarket trading, tracking a two-day 2.3% rise in the Hang Seng Tech Index.
- Alibaba (BABA US) +4.6%, Baidu (BIDU US) +3.5%, Pinduoduo (PDD US)+3.3%
- Stocks related to cryptocurrencies rise on Tuesday in US premarket trading as the price of Bitcoin continues to hold above $20,000 amid a tentative recovery and hopes that prices have bottomed. Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) +5.6%, Coinbase (COIN US) +4.7%, MicroStrategy (MSTR US) +5%
- Citi cuts ratings on International Paper Co. and WestRock to neutral from buy, citing increasing questions about demand as supply additions loom. International Paper falls 1.1% in premarket trading, WestRock -1.5%
- Keep an eye on Maxar shares as Wells Fargo said the stock is its top pick in the burgeoning space sector, initiating it at overweight, Rocket Lab at equal-weight and Virgin Galactic at underweight.
- Adobe (ADBE US) shares may be in focus today as the stock was downgraded to equal-weight and given Street-low $362 target from $591 by Morgan Stanley, on expectation of a slowing structural growth profile for the computer software company.
After unexpectedly accelerating to a fresh 40-year high in May, US consumer price growth is seen slowing, with a Bloomberg survey of economists predicting 6.5% by the fourth quarter and to 3.5% by the middle of next year. Yet fears are rampant that Federal Reserve policy makers intent on cooling price pressures will go too far and trigger an economic slowdown. Strategists at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. warned equities may have further to fall to fully price in the risk of recession, reflecting wider skepticism about Tuesday’s rebound.
“We think equities will struggle to rebound sustainably until earnings expectations reset lower and/or central banks turn more dovish, which seems unlikely for now,” said Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays Plc.
European stocks also extended their recent recovery, with the region’s benchmark Stoxx 600 Index rising 1%, led by gains in basic resources and chemical companies’ shares. Consumer discretionary, chemicals and autos also trade well. CAC 40 outperforms.
- Leonardo jumps as much as 9.7% in Milan trading after its DRS unit agreed to buy Israeli radar-maker RADA Electronic in an all-stock transaction.
- Valneva rises as much as 23% after CEO Franck Grimaud said the company’s Lyme disease vaccine has the potential of becoming a “blockbuster” with sales of more than 1 billion euros.
- K+S and OCI shares gain after JPMorgan said valuations are “compelling” and fundamentals remain positive. European fertilizer shares had dropped recently because of rising gas prices. OCI rises as much as 4.6%; K+S +6.3%
- Air Liquide climbs as much as 3.9%, after the French industrial gas company signed a long-term power purchase agreement with Vattenfall.
- Mithra rises as much as 21% after the pharmaceutical company said it received subscription commitments for 3.87m new shares at an issue price of EU6.07 apiece, representing a 5% discount to last close.
- Richemont and Swatch advance after Swiss watch exports for the month of May showed strong demand versus the year-earlier period in the US and Japan as well as in European countries such as France and the UK. Luxury peers also trading higher in a wider rebound. Richemont gains as much as 2.8%, Swatch +2.8%, Hermes +3.3%, LVMH +3.7%
- European apparel retail shares drop after JPMorgan downgrades Asos, About You, Boohoo and Primark owner AB Foods to neutral from overweight, citing the cost of living crisis with cracks emerging in discretionary spending. Asos declines as much as 5.1%, Boohoo -4.8%, About You -4.3%, AB Foods -3.2%
- Proximus and Telenet slide after a statement by the Belgian telecom regulator showed that new entrant Citymesh partnered with Romanian carrier Digi Communications and acquired spectrum across various bands. Proximus shares fall as much as 7.8%, Telenet -3.9%
Earlier in the session, MSCI’s Asia-Pacific index snapped an eight-day slide to add more than 1% as Asian equities headed for their biggest gain this month. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 1.8%, set to snap an eight-day losing streak, with financial and tech stocks among the biggest contributors to its advance. The US president spoke overnight after a conversation with former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, as the White House and congressional Democrats are in talks on legislation that aims to fight inflation. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong led gains in the region. Australia’s index advanced for the first time in days after central bank chief Philip Lowe signaled he will only raise interest rates by 25-to-50 basis points at the July meeting. Chinese shares edged lower after recent gains. “It’s a respite, not a rebound,” said Charu Chanana, a market strategist at Saxo Capital Markets. “We are still in a bear market that is facing a double whammy of Fed tightening and building recession fears, and the second-quarter earnings season is likely to be particularly painful for the markets” due to cost pressures, she added. Valuations for the MSCI Asia gauge have continued to slide toward pandemic lows, with the index down 18% this year. Still, it’s outperforming a measure of global shares, supported by a rally in Chinese equities this month as the country emerges from Covid-triggered lockdowns.
Japanese stocks advanced as investors weighed the impact of the yen’s weakness and the extent of the recent selloff. The Topix Index rose 2% to 1,856.20 as of market close Tokyo time, while the Nikkei advanced 1.8% to 26,246.31. Sony Group Corp. contributed the most to the Topix Index gain, increasing 4%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 2,023 rose and 108 fell, while 39 were unchanged. “Stocks that are expected to have an upward revision from the weak yen may be firm,” said Mitsushige Akino, a senior executive officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.4% to close at 6,523.80, snapping a seven day losing steak. The benchmark was led by gains in banks and miners, with the financials sub-gauge rising the most since March 10. In early trade, Australia’s central bank Governor Philip Lowe said he didn’t see a recession on the horizon for the nation. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.1% to 10,701.59
India’s benchmark share index posted its biggest two-day advance since May 30, boosted by a recovery in information technology stocks and as investors looked for bargains after a sharp selloff last week. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 1.8% to close at 52,532.07 in Mumbai, taking its two-day advance to 2.3%. The NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 1.9%. All of the 19 sectoral indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained, led by a measure of oil & gas companies. “Crude prices have corrected by almost 10% from its recent peak, providing some breather to the Indian market,” Motilal Oswal Financial analyst Siddhartha Khemka wrote in a note. Reliance Industries contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 1.6%. All but one of 30 shares in the Sensex index rose. Of the top ten performers on the measure, half were information technology companies, led by Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. that clocked its biggest advance this month.
In rates, treasuries were cheaper across the curve as trading resumed after Monday’s US holiday; cash USTs bear steepened, but trim losses after cheapening ~5bps at the Asia reopen. Long-end leads losses with stock futures rising after last week’s rout. US yields are ere cheaper by as much as 6bp at long end, steepening 2s10s by nearly 3bp, 5s30s by nearly 4bp; 10-year, higher by ~5bp at 3.27% lags bund and gilts by 3bp and 4.5bp while Italian bonds outperform Treasuries by 12bp in the sector. Bunds and gilts outperform Treasuries, while Italian bonds extend recent gains after ECB’s Olli Rehn reiterated determination to combat unwarranted spikes in borrowing costs for some of the region’s most vulnerable economies. That said the ECB has yet to disclose said measures, a move which most agree will lead to selling the news. Gilts bull flatten, 10y yields drop 4bps after stalling near 2.6%. Bunds are comparatively quiet. Shorter-maturity Australian bonds rallied after central bank chief Philip Lowe said interest rates are likely to rise by 50 basis points at most in July. Money markets subsequently scrapped bets he would track the Federal Reserve with a 75 basis-point move. Japanese government bonds were mixed after a five-year note sale that drew the weakest demand in more than two years in the aftermath of wild price swings in futures that have made some traders uneasy about their exposure to cash bonds.
In FX, Bloomberg dollar spot index fell 0.3% as the greenback weakened against all of its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen. JPY is the weakest in G-10, plunging to a fresh 24 year low of 136. NOK and SEK outperform. The euro advanced and European bonds rallied, led by the front end even as ECB Governing Council Member Peter Kazimir said negative rates must be history by September. Governing Council member Olli Rehn separetely said that “there has been good reason to expedite the normalization of monetary policy”. The pound extended gains amid broad dollar weakness while UK government bonds inched up. BOE Chief Economist Huw Pill said policy makers would sacrifice growth in order to bring down inflation, saying there’s a risk of prices developing a “self-sustaining momentum.
In commodities, WTI drifted 2.3% higher to trade near $112. Most base metals trade in the green; LME zinc rises 2.8%, outperforming peers. LME aluminum lags, dropping 0.3%. Spot gold is little changed at $1,838/oz.
Bitcoin is bid and above the USD 21k mark, after last week's slip to a sub-USD 18k low. Elon Musk says he intends to personally support Dogecoin, via BBG TV. Coinbase (COIN) says connectivity issues across Coinbase and Coinbase Pro could cause failed trades and delayed transactions; issue was subsequently resolved.
To the day ahead now, and data releases include US existing home sale for May, as well as the Chicago Fed’s national activity index for the same month. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Barkin and Mester, the ECB’s Rehn and the BoE’s Pill.
- S&P 500 futures up 1.9% to 3,744.50
- STOXX Europe 600 up 1.0% to 411.06
- MXAP up 1.5% to 158.77
- MXAPJ up 1.5% to 528.18
- Nikkei up 1.8% to 26,246.31
- Topix up 2.0% to 1,856.20
- Hang Seng Index up 1.9% to 21,559.59
- Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,306.72
- Sensex up 2.2% to 52,741.19
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.4% to 6,523.81
- Kospi up 0.7% to 2,408.93
- German 10Y yield little changed at 1.76%
- Euro up 0.5% to $1.0567
- Brent Futures up 1.2% to $115.53/bbl
- Brent Futures up 1.2% to $115.52/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,835.31
- U.S. Dollar Index down 0.61% to 104.06
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- UK rail workers began Britain’s biggest rail strike in three decades after unions rejected a last-minute offer from train companies, bringing services nationwide to a near standstill. Britain’s local authorities say they can’t afford to pay a mandated increase in the legal minimum wage over the next year without a £400 million cash injection from the national government
- A majority of European businesses are worried about their ability to meet employee demands for higher wages amid the current spike in inflation, according to a regional survey by Intrum AB
- Companies in Germany, the UK, France, Spain and Italy are the most distressed since August 2020, according to the Weil European Distress Index. The study aggregates data from more than 3,750 listed European firms
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk
Asia-Pac stocks gained across amid a broad constructive global risk tone despite a lack of fresh macro drivers and the recent holiday closure in the US, with Bitcoin and Chinese commodity prices also stabilising after the recent tumultuous price action. ASX 200 was led higher by the energy sector and after RBA's Lowe effectively ruled out a 75bps hike next month. Nikkei 225 outperformed and reclaimed the 26,000 level amid a predominantly weaker currency. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were positive with sentiment in Hong Kong underpinned by news the SAR is to propose a quarantine-free business travel corridor with mainland China, while mainland bourses lagged with the US ban on imports from Xinjiang taking effect from today. Japan's PM Kishida says rapid JPY weakening is a source of concern, must closely watch FX moves and consider monetary policy and FX measures separately.
Top Asian News
- Chinese Developer Accepts Wheat, Garlic as Payment to Woo Buyers
- China Junk Bond Selloff in New Phase With Record Fosun Rout
- Gold Steady as Traders Weigh Central Bank Plans to Hike Rates
- Australian Tesla-Supplier Eyes First Lithium Exports
- Over- Optimism Among China Steel-Makers Behind Iron Ore’s Plunge
European bourses are firmer and building on Monday's upside, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.1%; thus far, newsflow has largely focused on familiar themes. Additionally, participants are awaiting the return of the US after Monday's market holiday. Currently, ES +1.7% with the region incrementally outperforming European peers. Elon Musk says there a still a few unresolved matters with Twitter (TWTR) including the number of spam users, via BBG TV; still awaiting a resolution, very significant. Adds, they are reducing the salaried workforce of Tesla (TSLA) by circa. 10% over the next three-months.
Top European News
- French President Macron will invite all parties able to form a group in the new parliament for talks on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to Reuters.
- BDI revises down 2022 German GDP forecasts: 1.5% (prev. 3.5%); return to pre-COVID level expected at end-2022 at the earliest
- ECB’s Lane said very high inflation means there is a risk inflation psychology could take hold and said the larger increment for rate increase in September does not represent a red alert assessment of inflation. Lane also commented that he doesn’t see a situation where they would need to revisit the plan for a July decision and there is no preview beyond September of what will be the appropriate pace of tightening, according to Reuters.
- ECB’s Villeroy said the new instrument should be available as much as necessary to make the no-limit commitment to protect the Euro very clear and the more credible such an instrument is, the less it may have to be used in practice. Villeroy added the new instrument will have rules but there will be elements of judgement also and said they would not necessarily need to hold purchases of government or private sector securities to maturity, according to Reuters.
- ECB's Rehn says EZ inflation pressured are broader and stronger; very likely the September move is more than 25bp in magnitude.
- BoE's Pill says if there is evidence of persistent price pressures, the MPC is certainly prepared to act, expects further tightening in the coming months, need to consider the exchange rate when assessing inflationary pressures. Worries that using monetary policy to stabilise the FX rate in the short-term would be a distraction from the BoE's goals.
- HKMA purchases HKD 9.6bln from the market, as the HKD hits the weak-end of the trading range.
- Euro firm as risk revival continues and ECB’s Rehn says 50bp hike in September is highly probable, EUR/USD eyeing 1.0600 after breaching 1.0550, but could be capped by 1bln option expiry interest between 1.0575-85.
- Sterling rebounds ahead of CBI industrial trends and after BoE chief economist Pill underlines willingness to act if price pressures prove persistent; Pound probes 1.2300 vs Dollar as DXY slips further from recent peaks through 104.000.
- Loonie and Nokkie boosted by firmer crude prices, as former awaits Canadian retail sales data; USD/CAD close to 1.2900 vs circa 1.3078 double top, EUR/NOK sub-10.4000 within 104.4200+/10.3400 range.
- Kiwi and Aussie underpinned by improvement in risk appetite, but hampered as NZ consumer sentiment slides to record low and RBA Governor Lowe pushes back on the amount of 2022 tightening priced in at present; NZD/USD hovers above 0.6350 and AUD/USD shy of 0.7000.
- Franc and Yen remain divergent with SNB and BoJ policy paths, latter largely ignoring latest verbal intervention; USD/CHF pivots 0.9650 and USD/JPY back above 135.00.
- Israel PM Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid agreed on dissolving the Knesset and going for an early election, while the vote will take place next week and Lapid will become PM once the vote passes, according to Walla News.
- Debt divergent and erratic awaiting the return of US cash markets from long holiday weekend.
- Bunds hold within 143.05-144.01 range and Gilts between 111.11-68 parameters.
- Treasury futures retreat and curve flits from marginal flattening to steepening ahead of US existing home sales and more Fed speak via Mester and Barkin
- WTI and Brent are bid amid broader risk sentiment with newsflow focusing on familiar themes primarily around the reduction in Russia's gas supply to Europe.
- Thus far, Brent has tested but failed to connivingly breach the USD 116.00/bbl mark ahead of touted USD 116.37/bbl resistance.
- US Treasury Secretary Yellen said she does not see resuming the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a short-term measure that can address high oil prices, while she added it would take years to have an impact. Yellen also commented that evidence is mixed on the level of pass-through from a gasoline tax holiday to lower prices and said that an exception or ban on insurance for certain Russian oil shipments would effectively provide a price cap on oil, according to Reuters.
- Brazilian Economy Minister Guedes said Brazil is part of the western energy security, particularly for Europe, while he added that privatising and moving Petrobras to Novo Mercado would increase its market cap from BRL 450bln to BRL 750bln. Guedes added that they will conduct new measures again if the war in Ukraine is escalating, according to Reuters.
- PetroEcuador may have to stop exports if protests continue and it declared a force majeure to avoid contract penalties, according to Reuters.
- Vitol CEO says markets are faced with underinvestment and falling production capacity for crude and there is a relatively tight refining situation, via Reuters; if China exports some more products, the tightness felt today won't be felt.
- Denmark's energy agency declared an 'early warning' stage of gas supply preparedness, according to Reuters.
- German regulator says they are not in a hurry to declare the highest gas emergency level yet, via Reuters citing BR; however, Sweden declares an "early warning" stage of gas supply preparedness for Western and Southern parts of the nation.
- Codelco's union presidents ratified the start of a national strike beginning on Wednesday, according to Reuters; an update which, alongside broader risk, is supporting LME Copper.
US Event Calendar
- 08:30: May Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.47, prior 0.47
- 10:00: May Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -3.7%, prior -2.4%
- 10:00: May Home Resales with Condos, est. 5.4m, prior 5.61m
- 11:00: Fed’s Barkin Interviewed During NABE Event
- 12:00: Fed’s Mester Speaks at Women in Leadership Event
- 15:30: Fed’s Barkin Speaks in Richmond
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
I’ll be publishing my latest monthly chartbook later today so keep an eye out for it. It will include the slides for last week’s webinar on the default study “The end of the ultra-low default world”. See here for the webinar replay and here for the original default study.
Welcome to the longest day of the year although most in markets will already say we've had numerous of those already so far this year. Actually if you're outside of London, trying to get in it could be a very, very long day as the UK is today gripped by the first of three alternate day rail strikes. There is a tube strike today thrown in for good measure. It does seem industrial relations with the government are on a knife edge across the UK as at least 3 million workers across different professions are considering industrial action at the moment over pay and working conditions. So this could become a much bigger story if tensions are not eased. With inflation this high it's not easy to see how they can be without big pay rises being offered.
However on this day of wall to wall sun (sorry to the Southern Hemisphere readers), there has been a little more light than dark in markets over the last 24 hours after what was the worst week for global equities since March 2020. The next major event(s) to look forward to are Fed Chair Powell’s congressional testimonies from tomorrow. To be honest though, its been a fairly quiet start to the week given the US holiday yesterday, with the biggest news instead being a fresh rise in European sovereign bond yields after President Lagarde reiterated the ECB’s intentions to start hiking next month, and also shone a bit more light on their plans to deal with any potential fragmentation.
We’ll start with those remarks from Lagarde, who appeared in a hearing at the European Parliament yesterday and spoke strongly against any potential fragmentation in the Euro Area. Indeed, she said that “we need to be absolutely certain” that monetary policy was being transmitted to the different Euro Area countries and went as far to say that it was “right at the core of the mandate”, whilst adding “anybody who doubts that determination will be making a big mistake”. So not quite “whatever it takes” but along the same lines.
Given the ECB has promised to deal with any fragmentation, that should make life easier for them when it comes to raising rates, and European sovereign bond yields responded accordingly yesterday. Looking at the specific moves, yields on 10yr bunds (+9.0bps), OATs (+11.8bps) and BTPs (+12.3bps) all moved noticeably higher, although by the standards of last week that seemed quite modest given that 10yr bund yields had seen absolute moves of 11bps in either direction on 3 out of 5 days last week.
When it came to bonds though, it was UK gilts who were one of the biggest underperformers yesterday after we heard from one of the more hawkish members of the Bank of England’s MPC. Catherine Mann (who was in the minority that favoured of a 50bps move last week) said in a speech that “the incoming data on inflation show increasingly domestic embeddedness, persistence, and momentum”. Furthermore, she also warned about the risk of embedded domestic inflation being “further boosted by inflation imported via a Sterling depreciation”. Against that backdrop, 10yr gilt yields rose by +10.6bps to close above 2.6% for the first time since 2014, whilst overnight index swaps are continuing to price in a more aggressive response from the BoE after the next meeting, with 50bp moves priced in for each of the next 3 meetings, which would be the fastest pace of hikes since they gained operational independence in 1997.
In spite of the sovereign bond selloff, equities put in a much better performance yesterday, with the STOXX 600 (+0.91%) seeing a broad-based advance that was supported by all the main sector groups. Other indices on the continent also moved higher, including the FTSE 100 (+1.50%), the DAX (+1.06%) and the FTSE MIB (+0.99%). The worst performer on a relative basis was France’s CAC 40 (+0.64%), which struggled following the news that President Macron had lost his parliamentary majority, which will make passing his agenda much more difficult in the coming years. See our economists’ piece on the topic here.
With the US holiday we only had futures to look at, but those on the S&P 500 had moved around +1% higher by the time of the European close. They are +1.62% higher this morning with the NASDAQ 100 futures (+1.71%) also meaningfully higher. Meanwhile, Fed funds futures were again moving in the direction of pricing in a more aggressive path of rate hikes, with the implied rate by the December meeting up +7.18bps to 3.625%, albeit still beneath their closing peak of 3.72% just before the Fed meeting, which meant that Treasury futures were also pointing to fresh declines yesterday as well.
Asian equity markets are relatively buoyant this morning with the Nikkei (+1.76%) leading the pack followed by the Hang Seng (+1.42%). In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite (+0.18%) and CSI (+0.12%) are also trading in positive territory whilst the Kospi (+1.03%) is sharply higher in early trade.
Elsewhere, the meeting minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) released this morning indicated that the central bank is leaning towards more monetary policy tightening over the coming months. The minutes also revealed that inflation was expected to increase to 7% by the end of the year due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions, before coming back towards the 2-3% inflation range in 2023. Meanwhile, the RBA Governor Philip highlighted that interest rates were still "very low" but watered-down expectations of 75bps rate hikes thus signaling a 25 or 50bps move at the July meeting.
On the FX side, the Aussie Dollar did witness a sharp dip during the RBA Governor’s Q&A session but is reversing losses, trading +0.35% at 0.697 per US dollar, as I type. Elsewhere the Japanese yen has remained under pressure at 135.03 per dollar, not far off a 24-year low of 135.58 hit early last week. Separately, oil prices are higher this morning with Brent futures (+1.04%) at $115.32/bbl and WTI futures increasing +1.79% to $111.52/bbl.
To the day ahead now, and data releases include US existing home sale for May, as well as the Chicago Fed’s national activity index for the same month. Otherwise, central bank speakers include the Fed’s Barkin and Mester, the ECB’s Rehn and the BoE’s Pill.
Off Campus Texas A&M Housing With “Resort Style” Rooftop Pool Defaults On Debt Payment
Off Campus Texas A&M Housing With "Resort Style" Rooftop Pool Defaults On Debt Payment
Who could have possibly thought, amidst all this…
Who could have possibly thought, amidst all this euphoria, that luxury college housing complexes for students might not be the best idea in the world?
It's looking like for one complex - with, of course, a "resort style" rooftop pool (which everybody knows is integral to ones studies) - near the Texas A&M University campus is starting to find out this harsh reality.
The 3,400-bed student housing complex, called Park West, is going to default on its July debt payment according to Moody’s Investors Service, who downgraded the company's bonds deeper into junk territory this week.
The property, which provides off-campus housing for students, is located in College Station, Texas, Bloomberg reported in a mid-week wrap up. It has reportedly been struggling since even before the pandemic, thanks to the building's higher rents.
Moody's commented: “The project’s financial distress is directly linked to prolonged weakness within its College Station, Texas student housing submarket which has been an ongoing problem since Park West opened for fall 2017.”
$15.3 million is due in principal and interest, but the complex will only pay $8.5 million. The company that sold the bonds, NCCD-College Station Properties LLC, still has about $342 million in bonds outstanding, Bloomberg reported.
The vice president and director of operations for the company confirmed that the company would default but offered up no other color.
For a look at the complex's posh amenities, you can review its website here.
“Worst Start Since 1788”: A Closer Look At The Catastrophic First Half Performance
"Worst Start Since 1788": A Closer Look At The Catastrophic First Half Performance
As discussed yesterday…
Worst first half for stocks…
As discussed yesterday...
Worst first half for stocks in 52 years. pic.twitter.com/mOYvbJ6pvo— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 30, 2022
... and again this morning, when Rabobank's Michael Every said that "if you bought stocks in H1, you lost; if bonds, you lost; if commodities, you were doing great until recently; if crypto you lost; if the US dollar, you were fine" but lost purchasing power to inflation, the first six months of the year were terrible.
Just how terrible? To quantify the destruction, we go to the latest chart of the day from DB's Jim Reid who writes that "the good news is that H1 is now over. The bad news is that the outlook for H2 is not looking good."
To demonstrate just how bad H1 was, Reid shares three charts. They show that:
1) Deutsche Bank's US 10yr Treasury proxy index did indeed see the worst H1 since 1788 in spite of a sizeable late June rally, and...
2) the S&P 500 saw the worst H1 total return since 1962 after a rally last week just pulled it back from being the worst since 1932.
Here, BofA has outdone DB, and notes that in real timers, the S&P500's performance was the worst since 1872!
As Reid further notes, "I’ve found through my career that these type of charts are always the most demanded as investors want to put their performance in context." Which is why he also added a the third chart which is an abridged version of one published by DB's Henry Allen in a report fully reviewing H1, June and Q2 (more below, and also available to professional subs in the usual place).
As Reid concludes, "if you like horror stories its an alternative to Stranger Things which returns to our global screens today. Obviously if you run a commodity fund you may think differently!"
Stepping back from this narrow take, we look at the full performance review for June and Q2 conducted by Reid's colleague, Henry Allen, which finds that "it's hard to overstate just how bad markets have performed over recent months, with the returns in Q2 very much following in Q1’s footsteps... a range of asset classes saw significant losses, including equities, credit and sovereign bonds, whilst the US dollar and some commodities like oil were among the few exceptions. In fact, in total return terms we’ve just seen the biggest H1 decline for the S&P 500 in 60 years, and in June alone just 2 of the 38 non-currency assets in our sample were in positive territory, which is the same as what we saw during the initial market chaos from the pandemic in March 2020."
On a YTD basis as well, just 4 of 38 tracked assets are in positive territory, which as it stands is even lower than the 7 assets that managed to score a positive return in 2008.
The main reason for these broad-based declines is the fact that recession and stagflation risks have ramped up significantly over Q2. This has been for several reasons, but first among them is the fact that inflation has proven far more persistent than the consensus expected once again, requiring a more aggressive pace of rate hikes from central banks than investors were expecting at the start of the quarter. For instance, the rate priced in by Fed funds futures for the December 2022 meeting has risen from 2.40% at the end of Q1 to 3.38% at the end of Q2. A similar pattern has been seen from other central banks, and the effects are beginning to show up in the real economy too, with US mortgage rates reaching a post-2008 high. The good news is that as of today, the market is now pricing in not just rate hikes to peak in Q4, but about 14bps of rate cuts in Q1.
in any case, the big worry from investors’ point of view is that the cumulative effect of these rate hikes will be enough to knock the economy into recession, and on that front we’ve seen multiple signs pointing to slower growth recently in both the US and Europe. For instance, the flash Euro Area composite PMI for June came in at a 16-month low of 51.9, whilst its US counterpart fell to a 5-month low of 51.2. Other recessionary indicators like the yield curve are also showing concerning signs, with the 2s10s Treasury curve still hovering just outside inversion territory at the end of the quarter, at just +5.1bps. The energy shock is adding to these growth concerns, and that’s persisted over Q2 as the war in Ukraine has continued. Brent crude oil prices built on their sizeable gains from Q1, with a further +6.4% rise in Q2 that left them at $115/bbl. Meanwhile, European natural gas is up by +14.8% to €145 per megawatt-hour. However, fears of a global recession have knocked industrial metals prices significantly, and the London Metal Exchange Index has just seen its first quarterly fall since the initial wave of the pandemic in Q1 2020, and its -25.0% decline is the largest since the turmoil of the GFC in Q4 2008.
That decline in risk appetite has knocked a range of other assets too:
- The S&P 500 slumped -16.1% over Q2, meaning its quarterly performance was the second worst since the GFC turmoil of Q4 2008.
- Sovereign bonds built on their losses from Q1,
- Euro sovereigns (-7.4%) saw their worst quarterly performance of the 21st century so far as the ECB announced their plan to start hiking rates from July to deal with high inflation.
- Cryptocurrencies shared in the losses too, with Bitcoin’s (59.0%) decline over Q2 marking its worst quarterly performance in over a decade
Which assets saw the biggest gains in Q2?
- Energy Commodities: The continued war in Ukraine put further upward pressure on energy prices, with Brent crude (+6.4%) and WTI (+5.5%) oil both advancing over the quarter. The rise was particularly noticeable for European natural gas, with futures up by +14.8% as the continent faces up to the risk of a potential gas cut-off from Russia.
- US Dollar: The dollar was the best-performing of the G10 currencies in Q2 as it dawned on investors that the Fed would hike more aggressively than they expected, and the YTD gains for the dollar index now stand at +9.4%.
Which assets saw the biggest losses in Q2?
- Equities: Growing fears about a recession led to significant equity losses in Q2, with the S&P 500 (-16.1%) seeing its second-worst quarterly performance since the GFC turmoil of Q4 2008. That pattern was seen across the world, with Europe’s STOXX 600 down -9.1%, Japan’s Nikkei down -5.0%, and the MSCI EM index down -11.4%.
- Credit: For a second consecutive quarter, every credit index we follow across USD, EUR and GBP moved lower. EUR and USD HY saw some of the worst losses, with declines of -10.7% and -9.9% respectively.
- Sovereign Bonds: As with credit, sovereign bonds lost ground on both sides of the Atlantic, and the decline in European sovereigns (-7.4%) was the worst so far in the 21st century. Treasuries also lost further ground, and their -4.1% decline over Q2 brings their YTD losses to -9.4%.
- Non-energy commodities: Whilst energy saw further gains over Q2, other commodities saw some major declines. Industrial metals were a significant underperformer, with the London Metal Exchange Index (-25.0%) seeing its largest quarterly decline since the GFC turmoil of 2008. Precious metals lost ground too, with declines for both gold (-6.7%) and silver (-18.2%). And a number of agricultural commodities also fell back, including wheat (-13.6%).
- Japanese Yen: The Japanese Yen weakened against the US Dollar by -10.3% over Q2, which also marked its 6th consecutive quarterly decline against the dollar. By the close at the end of the quarter, that left the Yen trading at 136 per dollar, which is around its weakest level since 1998. That came as the Bank of Japan has become the outlier among the major advanced economy central banks in not hiking rates with even the Swiss National Bank hiking in June for the first time in 15 years.
- Cryptocurrencies: The broader risk-off tone has been bad news for cryptocurrencies, and Bitcoin’s -59.0% decline over Q2 is its worst quarterly performance in over a decade. Other cryptocurrencies have lost significant ground as well, including Litecoin (-59.2%) and XRP (-61.2%).
Looking specifically at June rather than Q2 as a whole, the picture looks even worse in some ways since just 2 of the 38 non-currency assets are in positive territory for the month, which is the same number as in March 2020 when global markets reacted to the initial wave of the pandemic. The two positive assets are the Shanghai Comp (+7.5%) and the Hang Seng (+3.0%), which have been supported by improving economic data as Covid restrictions have been eased. Otherwise however, it’s been negative across the board, and even commodities have struggled after their strong start to the year, with Brent crude (-6.5%) and WTI (7.8%) posting their first monthly declines so far this year as concerns about a recession have mounted. The main catalyst for this was the much stronger-than-expected US CPI print for June, which triggered another selloff as it dawned on investors that the Fed would be forced to hike rates even more aggressively to rein in inflation, which they followed through on at their meeting when they hiked by 75bps for the first time since 1994.
Finally, without further ado, here are the charts showing total returns for the month of June...
... for Q2...
... and for YTD.
Risk Capital and Markets: A Temporary Retreat or Long Term Pull Back?
As inflation has taken center stage, markets have gone into retreat globally, and across asset classes. In 2022, as bond rates have risen, stock prices…
As inflation has taken center stage, markets have gone into retreat globally, and across asset classes. In 2022, as bond rates have risen, stock prices have fallen, and crypto has imploded, even true believers are questioning what the bottom for markets might be, and when we will get there. While it is easy to call the market movement in 2022 a correction and to argue that it is overdue, it is facile, and it fails to address the question of why it is happening now, and whether the correction is overdone or has more to go. In this post, I will argue that almost everything that we are observing in markets, across asset classes, can be explained by a pull back on risk capital, and that understanding the magnitude of the pull back, and putting in historical perspective, is key to gauging what is coming next.
Risk Capital: What is it?
To put risk capital in perspective, it is best to start with a definition of risk that is comprehensive and all-inclusive, and that is to think of risk as a combination of danger (downside) and opportunity (upside) and to consider how investments vary in terms of exposure to both. In every asset class, there is a range of investment choices, with some being safer (or even guaranteed) and others being riskier.
Risk capital is the portion of capital that is invested in the riskiest segments of each market and safety capital is that portion that finds its way to the safest segments in each market.
While risk and safety capital approach the market from opposite ends in the risk spectrum, one (safety capital) being driven by fear and the other (risk capital), by greed, they need to not only co-exist, but be in balance, for the market to be healthy. When to two are not in balance, these imbalances can have profound and often unhealthy effects not just of markets, but also on the overall economy. At the extremes, when risk capital is absent and everyone seeks safety, the economy and markets will atrophy, as businesses and investors will stay away from risky ventures, and when risk capital is too easy and accessible, risky asset prices will soar, and the economy will see too much growth in its riskiest segments, often at the expense of more stable (and still necessary) businesses.
Risk Capital's Ebbs and Flows
It is a common misconception that the risk-takers supply risk capital (risk takers) and that the investors who invest for safety draw from different investor pools, and that these pools remain unchanged over time. While investor risk aversion clearly does play a role in whether investors are drawn to invest in risk or safety capital, it obscures two realities:
- Variation within an investor's portfolio: Many investors, including even the most risk averse, may and often do set aside a portion of their portfolios for riskier investments, drawn by the higher expected returns on those investments. For some investors, this set aside will be the portion that they can afford to lose, without affecting their life styles in any material way. For others, it can be the portion of their capital with the longest time horizon (pension fund savings or 401Ks, if you are a young investor, for example), where they believe that any losses on risk capital can be made up over time. For still others, it is that segment of their portfolios that they treat las long shot gambles, hoping for a disproportionately large payoff, if they are lucky. The amount that is put into the risk capital portion will vary with investor risk aversion, with more risk averse investors putting less or even nothing into the riskiest assets, and less risk averse investors putting in more.
- Variation across time: The amount that investors are willing to put into risk capital, or conversely redirect to safety capital, will change over time, with several factors playing a role in determining whether risk capital will be plentiful or scarce. The first is market momentum, since more money will be put into the riskiest asset classes, when markets are rising, because investors who benefit from these rising markets will have more capital that they are willing to risk. The second is the the health and stability of the economy, since investors with secure jobs and rising paychecks are more willing to take risks.
There are two macro factors that will come into play, and both are in play in markets today. The first is the return that can be earned on guaranteed investments, i.e., US treasury bills and bonds, for instance, if you are a investor in US dollar, since it is a measure of what someone who takes no or very low risk can expect to earn. When treasury rates are low or close to zero, refusing to take risk will result in returns that are very low or close to zero as well, thus inducing investors to expose themselves to more risk than they would have taken in higher interest rate regimes. The second is inflation, which reduces the nominal return you make on all your investments, and the effects of rising inflation on risk capital are complex. As expected inflation rises, you are likely to see higher interest rates, and as we noted above, that may induce investors to cut back on risk taking and focus on earning enough to cover the ravages of inflation. As uncertainty about inflation rises, you will see reallocation of investment across asset classes, with real assets gaining when unexpected inflation is positive (actual inflation is higher than expected), and financial assets benefiting when unexpected inflation is negative (actual inflation is less than expected).
If you are wondering why you should care about risk capital's ebbs and flows, it is because you will feel its effects in almost everything you do in investing and business.
- Risk Premiums: The risk premiums that you observe in every risky asset market are a function of how much risk capital there is in play, with risk premiums going up when risk capital becomes scarcer and down, when risk capital is more plentiful. In the bond and loan market, access to risk capital will determine default spreads on bonds, with lower rated bonds feeling the pain more intensely when risk capital is withdrawn or moves to the side lines. Not only will default spreads widen more for lower-rated bonds, but there will be less bond issuances by riskier companies. In the equity market, the equity risk premium is the price of risk, and its movements will track shifts in risk capital, increasing as risk capital becomes scarcer.
- Price and Value Gaps: As those of you who read this blog know well, I draw a contrast between value and price, with the former driven by fundamentals (cash flows, growth and risk) and the latter by mood, momentum and liquidity. The value and price processes can yield different numbers for the same company, and the two numbers can diverge for long periods, with convergence not guaranteed but likely over long periods.I argue that investors play the value game, buying investments when the price is less than the value and hoping for convergence, and that traders play the pricing game, buying and selling on market momentum, rather than fundamentals. At the risk of generalizing, safety capital, with its focus on earnings and cash flows now, is more likely to focus on fundamentals, and play the investor game, whereas risk capital, drawn by the need to make high returns quickly, is more likely to play the trading game. Thus, when risk capital is plentiful, you are more likely to see the pricing game overwhelm the value game, with prices often rising well above value, and more so for the riskiest segments of every asset class. A pull back in risk capital is often the catalyst for corrections, where price not only converges back on value, but often overshoots in the other direction (creating under valuations). It behooves both investors and traders to therefore track movements in risk capital, since it is will determine when long term bets on value will pay off for the former, and the timing of entry into and exit from markets for the latter.
- Corporate Life Cycle: The ebbs and flows of risk capital have consequences for all businesses, but the effects will vary widely across companies, depending on where they are in the life cycle. Using another one of my favorite structures, the corporate life cycle, you can see the consequences of expanding and shrinking risk capital, through the lens of free cash flows (and how they vary across the life cycle).Early in the corporate life cycle, young companies have negative free cash flows, driven by losses on operations and investments for future growth, making them dependent on risk capital for survival and growth. As companies mature, their cash flows first become self sustaining first, as operating cash flows cover investments, and then turn large and positive, making them not only less dependent on risk capital for survival but also more valued in an environment where safety capital is dominant. Put simply, as risk capital becomes scarcer, young companies, especially those that are money-losing and with negative cash flows, will see bigger pricing markdowns and more failures than more mature companies.
Risk Capital: Historical Perspective
How do you track the availability and access to risk capital over time? There are three proxies that I will use, and while each has its limitations, read together, they can provide a fuller measure of the ebbs and flows of risk capital. The first is funds invested by venture capitalists, with a breakdown further into types, from pre-seed and seed financing to very young companies to capital provided to more young companies with more established business models, as a prelude to exit (acquisition or IPO). The second is the trend line in initial public offerings (number and value raised), since companies are more likely to go public and be able to raise more capital in issue proceeds, when risk capital is plentiful. The third is original bond issuances by the riskiest companies (below investment grade and high yield), since these issuances are more likely to have a friendly reception when risk capital is easily available than when it is not.
Let’s start with venture capital, the typical source of capital for start ups and young companies for decades in the United States, and more recently, in the rest of the world. In the graph below, I trace out total venture capital raised, by year, between 1995 and 2021, in the US:
|Source: NVCA Yearbooks|
|Source: Jay Ritter|
In the final graph, I look at corporate bond offerings, broken down into investment grade and high yield, by year, from 1996 to 2021:
Here again, you see a familiar pattern, with the percentage of high-yield bond issuances tracking the availability of risk capital. As with IPOs, you see big dips in 2000-01and 2008-09, reflecting market corrections and crises, and a period of easy access to risk capital in the last decade. Again, the percentage of corporate bond issuances hit an all-time high in 2021, representing more than a quarter of all bond issuances. In sum, all three proxies for risk capital show the same patterns over time, pulling back and surging during the same time periods, and with all three proxies, it is clear that 2021 was a boom year.
The last two and a half years may not represent much time on a historical scale, but the period has packed in enough surprises to make it feel like we have aged a decade. We started 2020 with a pandemic that altered our personal, work and financial lives, and in 2022, at least in North America and Europe, we have seen inflation reach levels that we have not seen for decades. Looking at the 30 months through the lens of risk capital can help us understand not only the journey that markets have gone through to get where they are today, but also perhaps decipher where they may go next. In the graph below, I look at venture capital, IPOs and high yield bond issuances over the last two and a half years:
|Spreadsheet for implied ERP|
|Source for raw data: S&P Cap IQ|
The big question that we all face, as we look towards the second half of the year, is whether the pullback in risk capital is temporary, as it was in 2020, or whether it is more long term, as it was after the dot-com bust in 2000 and the market crisis in 2008. If it is the former, there is hope of not just a recovery, but a strong rebound in risky asset prices, and if it is the latter, stocks may stabilize, but the riskiest assets will see depressed prices for much longer. I don't have a crystal ball or any special macro forecasting abilities, but if I had to guess, it would be that it is the latter. Unlike a virus, where a vaccine may provide at least the semblance of a quick cure (real or imagined), inflation, once unleashed, has no quick fix. Moreover, now that inflation has reared its head, neither central banks nor governments can provide the boosts that they were able to in 2020 and may even have to take actions that make things worse, rather than better, for risk capital. Finally, at the risk of sounding callous, I do think that a return of fear and a longer term pullback in risk capital is healthy for markets and the economy, since risk capital providers, spoiled by a decade or more of easy returns, have become lazy and sloppy in their pricing and trading decisions, and have, in the process, skewed capital allocation in the economy. If a long-term slowdown is in the cards, it is almost certain that the investment strategies that delivered high returns in the last decade will no longer work in this new environment, and that old lessons, dismissed as outdated just a few years go, may need to be relearned.
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