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Futures Dip As Dollar Rebounds From 8 Month Low

Futures Dip As Dollar Rebounds From 8 Month Low

US equity futures dipped ahead of the MLK day holiday, while global equities were little changed…



Futures Dip As Dollar Rebounds From 8 Month Low

US equity futures dipped ahead of the MLK day holiday, while global equities were little changed after their best start to a year in a generation as investors assessed whether the recent torrid rally has gone too far given the outlook for inflation, growth and earnings. European stocks rose, while Asian stock fell, erasing earlier gains.

As of 8am, US equity futures traded around 4,010, down 0.2% from the Friday close and erasing modest earlier gains. Futures dipped as the dollar snapped a three-day losing streak and reversed an earlier drop that pushed it to an 8 month low, before gaining 0.2% against a basket of currencies, as investors await a slew of US economic data, speeches by ECB President Christine Lagarde and a policy meeting by the Bank of Japan where outgoing head Kuroda may expand the BOJ's Yield Curve Control from 0.50% to 1.00%.

The MSCI ACWI Index slipped for the first time in seven days after posting the biggest advance for the first two weeks in data going back to 1988.

While inflation in the US appears to have peaked, continued policy tightening by the Federal Reserve "just to make sure" and other central banks risks pushing the global economy into a recession that could hurt corporate profits. The World Bank last week added to the gloomy outlook, warning of “one of the sharpest slowdowns we have seen in the past five decades.”

“The fear of missing out currently represents a key driver for equities,” Credit Agricole CIB strategists led by Jean-François Paren wrote in a note. “The market is getting a bit ahead of itself right now.”

European stocks picked up where they left off last week, adding to their best start to the year on record. Stoxx 600 rises 0.2% with real estate, health care and financial services leading gains while travel and miners fall. Here are some of the biggest European movers on Monday:

  • Temenos shares rise as much as 6.4% as investors greet the Swiss software company’s CEO change as a positive; ZKB says move should help to rebuild investor confidence over time
  • Yspomed shares climb as much as 12% after Credit Suisse raised the Swiss company’s shares to outperform, saying it’s the fastest-growth European mid-cap med-tech company
  • Verbund shares rise as much as 2.8% after being raised to neutral from underperform at Credit Suisse, with the broker saying the Austrian power firm’s shares now look fairly valued
  • Sika shares rise as much as 1.3% after the Swiss construction material manufacturer agreed to sell some concrete additive assets to Ineos to win approval for its acquisition of MBCC Group
  • Covestro shares drop as much as 5.1% after preliminary results that analysts said looked weak and would likely put pressure on the chemicals company’s dividends
  • Just Eat and HelloFresh shares fall in early Monday trading after Exane BNP Paribas downgrades both stocks to neutral, taking a more cautious stance on the online food sector
  • Proximus falls as much as 6.1% after the Belgian telecom operator said it would cut its dividend by half from 2024 to reduce leverage
  • ITM Power slumped as much as 19% after issuing a profit warning, which RBC said shows there are still uncertainties related to the timing of large purchase orders and ramp-up costs
  • Tecan Group shares fall as much as 5.6% after Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Maja Pataki cut the recommendation to hold from buy, citing “limited upside nearer term”
  • AutoStore falls as much as 14% after DNB initiated coverage of the shares with a sell recommendation, calling it an “exciting company with an overly stretched valuation”
  • IQE shares plunge as much as 21% after the semiconductor wafer-products maker said that demand from existing customers could take a hit from industry-wide “some destocking”

Asian stocks edged lower as investors braced for another possible surprise from the Bank of Japan later this week, while Chinese shares continued to rally on hopes for reopening and eased regulation. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gave up gains of as much as 0.6% to fall 0.4%, dragged by consumer discretionary and industrial shares. Japanese stocks faltered as the yen strengthened ahead of the BOJ’s policy decision Wednesday. The onshore Chinese market and the Philippines led gains around the region. China’s CSI 300 Index jumped 1.6% to an almost five-month high as overseas investors stepped up purchases of the nation’s shares amid broader optimism on border reopening. Also boosting sentiment was news that Didi Global Inc. has secured the green light to resume signing up new users, another sign that China’s tech crackdown is over.

Meanwhile, the People’s Bank of China added less cash than expected into the banking system via policy loans while keeping the rate unchanged this month, even with funding demand increasing into Lunar New Year holidays. China’s reopening rally has “more to go” and “there will be a rotation in the region, which is already playing out from India and Australia, which were the leaders in 2022, to North Asia, China, and Korea,” said Sunil Koul, Asia Pacific equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, in a Bloomberg TV interview. While Chinese stocks have been among the region’s best performers this year, Japanese shares have ranked among the worst. Investors have been cautious on Japan equity as the yen climbed with the BOJ expected to continue to move away from its years of ultra-easy monetary policy after lifting a cap on bond yields last month

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Index slipped its lowest level since April, before gaining 0.2% as traders weigh the prospects of slowing Fed hikes. Investors await a slew of US economic data, speeches by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and a policy meeting by the Bank of Japan for more clues into how much further the battered US currency can weaken. The euro edged up to 1.0874, its highest in eight months, before easing in European trade.

Selling in the greenback petered out as macro accounts picked up dollars in thin trade after the London open, two Europe-based traders say, adding that volumes were around around 70% of recent averages as US market are closed for Martin Luther King Day.

Market participants are increasingly expecting more weakness in the dollar, given growing confidence that the Federal Reserve may pause its interest rate rises in the coming months. Short-term US inflation expectations cooled in early January to the lowest level since April 2021, the University of Michigan’s preliminary survey reading showed.

“Positive risk sentiment and rising speculation of an impending Fed pause has driven the US dollar steadily lower in the past week,” Alvin Tan, strategist at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note. The dollar could be in for more losses this week if a raft of US economic data, including retail sales, PPI industrial production and the Fed’s Beige Book, suggest price pressures continue to ease. Focus will also be on two speeches by the ECB’s Lagarde later in the week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Markets are set to pay great attention to Lagarde’s remarks following evidence that price pressure is easing in many countries worldwide and given the further EUR/USD appreciation at the start of 2023,” Unicredit analysts wrote in a note. Given its revised forecast for the ECB to raise rates more than the Fed this year, Unicredit has raised its EUR/USD targets to 1.12 for Q4 23 and 1.16 for Q4 24, compared with its previous targets for 1.07 and 1.12, respectively. “A tighter difference between the two policy rates this year and even more in 2024 calls for a higher EUR-USD,” they write.

The Bank of Japan’s rate review on Wednesday will also be a key focus, as investors remain on high alert for further policy tweaks after December’s shock decision to raise the bar on yield movements

In rates, European bonds decline with 10-year borrowing costs in Germany and the UK climbing 4bps and 5bps respectively. Treasury futures are also lower, with no cash trading today due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday

In commodities, WTI drifts 0.3% lower to trade near $79.60. Spot gold falls roughly $3 to trade near $1,917/oz.

Bitcoin slipped below $21,000 following a rebound over the weekend, when it surged amid optimism that it may have bottomed.

While US calendar is empty Monday with the US closed for MLK day, earnings will be a key catalyst moving forward as traders assess whether companies were able to navigate headwinds including higher interest rates. The busy week will also be punctuated by corporate earnings, including top banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Additionally, a host of Fed officials will be speaking this week, providing more clues for investors. The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting kicks off in Davos, Switzerland, with speakers there including European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and the International Monetary Fund’s Kristalina Georgieva.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 4,002.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 453.40
  • MXAP down 0.3% to 165.60
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 545.98
  • Nikkei down 1.1% to 25,822.32
  • Topix down 0.9% to 1,886.31
  • Hang Seng Index little changed at 21,746.72
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.0% to 3,227.59
  • Sensex down 0.3% to 60,087.56
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.8% to 7,388.18
  • Kospi up 0.6% to 2,399.86
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 2.20%
  • Euro down 0.1% to $1.0819
  • Brent Futures down 0.5% to $84.87/bbl
  • Brent Futures down 0.5% to $84.87/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,915.19
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.16% to 102.37

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Tyler Durden Mon, 01/16/2023 - 08:36

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Lower mortgage rates fueling existing home sales

To understand why we had such a beat in sales, you only need to go back to Nov. 9, when mortgage rates started to fall from 7.37% to 5.99%.



Existing home sales had a huge beat of estimates on Tuesday. This wasn’t shocking for people who follow how I track housing data. To understand why we had such a beat in sales, you only need to go back to Nov. 9, when mortgage rates started to fall from 7.37% to 5.99%.

During November, December and January, purchase application data trended positive, meaning we had many weeks of better-looking data. The weekly growth in purchase application data during those months stabilized housing sales to a historically low level.

For many years I have talked about how rare it is that existing home sales trend below 4 million. That is why the historic collapse in demand in 2022 was one for the record books. We understood why sales collapsed during COVID-19. However, that was primarily due to behavior changes, which meant sales were poised to return higher once behavior returned to normal.

In 2022, it was all about affordability as mortgage rates had a historical rise. Many people just didn’t want to sell their homes and move with a much higher total cost for housing, while first-time homebuyers had to deal with affordability issues.

Even though mortgage rates were falling in November and December, positive purchase application data takes 30-90 days to hit the sales data. So, as sales collapsed from 6.5 million to 4 million in the monthly sales data, it set a low bar for sales to grow. This is something I talked about yesterday on CNBC, to take this home sale in context to what happened before it. 

Because housing data and all economics are so violent lately, we created the weekly Housing Market Tracker, which is designed to look forward, not backward.

From NAR: Total existing-home sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – vaulted 14.5% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million in February. Year-over-year, sales fell 22.6% (down from 5.92 million in February 2022).

As we can see in the chart above, the bounce is very noticeable, but this is different than the COVID-19 lows and massive rebound in sales. Mortgage rates spiked from 5.99% to 7.10% this year, and that produced one month of negative forward-looking purchase application data, which takes about 30-90 days to hit the sales data.

So this report is too old and slow, but if you follow the tracker, you’re not slow. This is the wild housing action I have talked about for some time and why the Housing Market Tracker becomes helpful in understanding this data.

The last two weeks have had positive purchase application data as mortgage rates fell from 7.10% down to 6.55%; tomorrow, we will see if we can make a third positive week. One thing to remember about purchase application data since Nov. 9, 2022 is that it’s had a lot more positive data than harmful data. 

However, the one-month decline in purchase application data did bring us back to levels last seen in 1995 recently. So, the bar is so low we can trip over.

One of the reasons I took off the savagely unhealthy housing market label was that the days on the market are now above 30 days. I am not endorsing, nor will I ever, a housing market that has days on the market at teenager levels. A teenager level means one of two bad things are happening:

1. We have a massive credit boom in housing which will blow up in time because demand is booming, similar to the run-up in the housing bubble years.

2. We simply don’t have enough products for homebuyers, creating forced bidding in a low-inventory environment. 

Guess which one we had post 2020? Look at the purchase application data above — we never had a credit boom. Look at the Inventory data below. Even with the collapse in home sales and the first real rebound, total active listings are still below 1 million.

From NAR: Total housing inventory registered at the end of February was 980,000 units, identical to January & up 15.3% from one year ago (850,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February ’22. #NAREHS

However, with that said, the one data line that I love, love, love, the days on the market, is over 30 days again, and no longer a teenager like last year, when the housing market was savagely unhealthy.

From NAR: First-time buyers were responsible for 27% of sales in January; Individual investors purchased 18% of homes; All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions; Distressed sales represented 2% of sales; Properties typically remained on the market for 34 days.

Today’s existing home sales report was good: we saw a bounce in sales, as to be expected, and the days on the market are still over 30 days. When the Federal Reserve talks about a housing reset, they’re saying they did not like the bidding wars they saw last year, so the fact that price growth looks nothing like it was a year ago is a good thing.

Also, the days on market are on a level they might feel more comfortable in. And, in this report, we saw no signs of forced selling. I’ve always believed we would never see the forced selling we saw from 2005-2008, which was the worst part of the housing bubble crash years. The Federal Reserve also believes this to be the case because of the better credit standards we have in place since 2010. 

Case in point, the MBA‘s recent forbearance data shows that instead of forbearance skyrocketing higher, it’s collapsed. Remember, if you see a forbearance crash bro, hug them, they need it.

Today’s existing home sales report is backward looking as purchase application data did take a hit this year when mortgage rates spiked up to 7.10%. We all can agree now that even with a massive collapse in sales, the inventory data didn’t explode higher like many have predicted for over a decade now.

I have stressed that to understand the housing market, you need to understand how credit channels work post-2010. The 2005 bankruptcy reform laws and 2010 QM laws changed the landscape for housing economics in a way that even today I don’t believe people understand.

However, the housing market took its biggest shot ever in terms of affordability in 2022 and so far in 2023, and the American homeowner didn’t panic once. Even though this data is old, it shows the solid footing homeowners in America have, and how badly wrong the extremely bearish people in this country were about the state of the financial condition of the American homeowner.

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SVB contagion: Australia purportedly asks banks to report on crypto

Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly told banks to improve reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates.



Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly told banks to improve reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates.

Australia’s prudential regulator has purportedly asked local banks to report on cryptocurrency transactions amid the ongoing contagion of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) collapse.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has started requesting banks to declare their exposures to startups and crypto-related companies, the Australian Financial Review reported on March 21.

The regulator has ordered banks to improve their reporting on crypto assets and provide daily updates to the APRA, the Financial Review notes, citing three people familiar with the matter. The agency is aiming to obtain more information and insight into banking exposures into crypto as well as associated risks, the sources said.

The new measures are apparently part of the APRA’s increased supervision of the banking sector in the aftermath of recent massive collapses in the global banking system. On March 19, UBS Group agreed to buy its ailing competitor Credit Suisse for $3.2 billion after the latter collapsed over the weekend. The takeover became one of the latest failures in the banking industry following the collapses of SVB and Silvergate.

Barrenjoey analyst Jonathan Mott reportedly told clients in a note that the situation “remains stable” for Australian banks but warned confidence could be quickly disrupted, putting pressure on bank margins.

Related: Silvergate, SBV collapse ‘definitely good’ for Bitcoin, Trezor exec says

“Our channel checks indicate deposits are not being withdrawn from smaller institutions in any size, and capital and liquidity buffers are strong,” Mott said, adding:

“But this is a crisis of confidence and credit spreads and cost of capital will continue to rise. At a minimum, this will add to the margin pressure the banks are facing, while credit quality will continue to deteriorate.”

The news comes soon after the Australian Banking Association launched a cost of living inquiry to study the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions on Australians. The inquiry followed an analysis of the rising inflation suggesting that more than 186 banks in the United States are at risk of a similar shutdown if depositors decide to withdraw all funds.

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Delta Move Is Bad News For Southwest, United Airlines Passengers

Passengers won’t be happy about this, but there’s nothing they can do about it.



Passengers won't be happy about this, but there's nothing they can do about it.

Airfare prices move up and down based on two major things -- passenger demand and the cost of actually flying the plane. In recent months, with covid rules and mask mandates a thing of the past, demand has been very heavy.

Domestic air travel traffic for 2022 rose 10.9% compared to the prior year. The nation's air traffic in 2022 was at 79.6% of the full-year 2019 level. December 2022 domestic traffic was up 2.6% over the year-earlier period and was at 79.9% of December 2019 traffic, according to The International Air Transport Association (IATA).

“The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.

And, while that's not a full recovery to 2019 levels, overall capacity has also not recovered. Total airline seats available actually sits "around 18% below the 2019 level," according to a report from industry analyst OAG.

So, basically, the drop in passengers equals the drop in capacity meaning that planes are flying full. That's one half of the equation that keeps airfare prices high and the second one looks bad for anyone planning to fly in the coming years.

Image source: Getty Images.

Airlines Face One Key Rising Cost

While airlines face some variable costs like fuel, they also must account for fixed costs when setting airfares. Personnel are a major piece of that and the pandemic has accelerated a pilot shortage. That has given the unions that represent pilots the upper hand when it comes to making deals with the airlines.

The first domino in that process fell when Delta Airlines (DAL) - Get Free Report pilots agreed to a contract in early March that gave them an immediate 18% increase with a total of a 34% raise over the four-year term of the deal.

"The Delta contract is now the industry standard, and we expect United to also offer their pilots a similar contract," investment analyst Helane Becker of Cowen wrote in a March 10 commentary, Travel Weekly reported.

US airfare prices have been climbing. They were 8.3% above pre-pandemic levels in February, according to Consumer Price Index, but they're actually below historical highs.

Southwest and United Airlines Pilots Are Next

Airlines have very little negotiating power when it comes to pilots. You can't fly a plane without pilots and the overall shortage of qualified people to fill those roles means that, within reason, United (UAL) - Get Free Report and Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Free Report, both of which are negotiating new deals with their pilot unions, more or less have to equal (or improve on) the Delta deal.

The actual specifics don't matter much to consumers, but the takeaway is that the cost of hiring pilots is about to go up in a very meaningful way at both United and Southwest. That will create a situation where all major U.S. airlines have a higher cost basis going forward.

Lower fuel prices could offset that somewhat, but raises are not going to be unique to pilots. Southwest also has to make a deal with its flight attendants and, although they don't have the same leverage as the pilots, they have taken a hard line.   

The union, which represents Southwest’s 18,000 flight attendants, has been working without a contract for four years. It shared a statement on its Facebook page detailing its position Feb. 20.

"TWU Local 556 believes strongly in making this airline successful and is working to ensure this company we love isn’t run into the ground by leadership more concerned about shareholders than about workers and customers. Management’s methodology of choosing profits at the expense of the operation and its workforce has to change, because the flying public is also tired of the empty apologies that flight attendants have endured for years."

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