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Futures Drop As Yields Push Higher, Hawkish ECB Looms

Futures Drop As Yields Push Higher, Hawkish ECB Looms

After yesterday’s bizarro rally, US futures and European bourses dipped ending two days…

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Futures Drop As Yields Push Higher, Hawkish ECB Looms

After yesterday's bizarro rally, US futures and European bourses dipped ending two days of gains, as yields reversed Tuesday's slide and climbed ahead of highly anticipated CPI data on Friday and a hawkish ECB meeting tomorrow, as traders try to predict the Federal Reserve’s policy path. Nasdaq 100 futures were flat at 7:30 a.m. in New York, with contracts on the S&P 500 and Dow Jones also modestly lower. European markets also dipped, with Credit Suisse shares tumbling after the Swiss bank announced that it expects a loss in the 2Q and is weighing a fresh round of job cuts. Meanwhile, Asian stocks rose as Beijing’s move to approve a slew of new video games bolstered bets that the outlook is improving for the Chinese technology sector. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury resumed its advance, climbing to 3%, while the dollar rose as the yen cratered to fresh 20 year lows, flat and bitcoin traded around $30K again.

Among notable premarket movers, energy companies’ extended their Tuesday gains with Imperial Petroleum rising 8.3% and Energy Focus adding 20%. Western Digital shares climbed 4.1% in US premarket trading after the chipmaker said that it’ll consider splitting its main units as part of a review of “strategic alternatives” following talks with activist investor Elliott. US-listed Chinese stocks jump in premarket trading, on track for a third day of gains, after China approved a second batch of video games this year, providing a signal of policy support to the the country’s internet sector; Alibaba (BABA US) gained 5.8%, JD.com (JD US) +4.4%, Pinduoduo (PDD US) +5.9%, Baidu (BIDU US) +2.7%. Other notable premarket movers:

  • Intel (INTC US) shares fell 1.9% in premarket trading as Citi lowered its estimates on the chipmaker after the company’s management mentioned at a conference that circumstances are worse than expected during the quarter.
  • Altria Group (MO US) stock slid 2.4% in premarket trading as Morgan Stanley downgraded it to underweight, citing increasing macro pressures and competitive risks.
  • Western Digital (WDC US) shares rise 4.1% in premarket trading, after the chipmaker said that it will consider splitting its main units as part of a review of “strategic alternatives”.
  • Smartsheet (SMAR US) stock fell about 7% in premarket trading as analysts said the software company delivered a mixed set of results with billings growth decelerating to top estimates by a slimmer margin than in previous quarters.
  • Novavax (NVAX US) shares jump as much as 22% in US premarket trading after the company’s coronavirus vaccine won support from an FDA advisory panel.
  • DBV Technologies ADRs (DBVT US) gain as much as 22% in US premarket trading after a trial for the biotech firm’s peanut allergy treatment met its primary endpoint.

Sentiment remains fragile on concerns rising rates will spark a recession as corporate earnings are set to slide. Thursday the ECB is set to wind down trillions of euros of asset purchases in a prelude to a rate hike expected in July that will mark the end of eight years of negative interest rates. "Higher yields will inevitably resume the pressure on valuations,” said Roger Lee, head of UK equity strategy at Investec Bank.

Inflation now exceeds 8% in the euro area, and is expected to stay above that level in the US when May data comes out on Friday, increasing pressure on central banks to stick to aggressive rate hikes. “Recent bouts of optimism can only be short-lived for now, as they were based on the wrong assumptions, that lower growth would push central bankers to ease their aggressive path,” Olivier Marciot, a portfolio manager at Unigestion SA, wrote in a report. Yet some argue that central banks will be forced back into dovish mode, among them hedge fund founder Ray Dalio. The billionaire said central banks across the globe will be required to cut interest rates in 2024 after a period of stagflation.

On Friday, focus will turn to the US CPI reading for hints on the Fed's tightening path following the central bank’s outsized hike on May 4. The data is expected to show inflation picked up from a month ago, but slightly slowed from a year earlier. Complicating the task of policy makers trying to arrest runaway inflation without choking off growth, the war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending. That’s ignited higher food and energy prices across the world, despite the best efforts of central banks to use higher rates to cool economies.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index was down 0.4%, with shares of basic resources companies and financial sector stocks leading the drop,  while the region’s bonds fell as traders braced for a crucial European Central Bank meeting. Credit Suisse shares tumbled as much as 7.6% after the Swiss bank announced that it expects a loss in the 2Q. In addition, people familiar with the matter said that the lender is weighing a fresh round of job cuts. European mining stocks also underperformed the Stoxx 600 benchmark as copper declines, while iron ore fluctuates with investors weighing signs of demand recovery against caution that China may seek to stabilize commodity prices. The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources sub-index slid 1.1% as of 9:45 a.m. in London after rising to the highest since April on Tuesday. Here are the most notable European movers:

  • Prosus’s shares jump as much as 8.6% in Amsterdam trading after China approved its second batch of video games this year, with a total of 60 titles.
  • Naspers, which holds a 29% stake in Tencent through Prosus, up as much as 9.8%.
  • Inditex shares gain as much as 5.3% after the Zara owner reported 1Q results. Analysts were impressed by the sales beat, with Bryan Garnier calling the company a “safe-haven choice” in the retail sector.
  • UK and European retail stocks rise after Inditex’s results helped boost sentiment, with the retail segment the biggest gainer in the Stoxx 600 Index. Asos gained as much as +3.9%, Boohoo +3.1%, JD Sports +2.5%.
  • Voestalpine shares rise as much as 4.5% after the company reported strong results for the business year, even as its guidance for FY23 points at a lack of visibility for fiscal 2H, according to analysts.
  • Haldex shares rise as much as 45% after SAF-Holland offers SEK66 in cash per share for the Swedish brake and air suspension products maker, representing a 46.5% premium to its closing price on Tuesday.
  • Wizz Air shares fall as much as 8.6% after the company reported results that were in line with expectations but flagged an operating loss for the 1Q of fiscal year 2023.
  • European mining stocks underperform the Stoxx 600 benchmark as copper declines, while iron ore fluctuates. Anglo American shares fell as much as 1.7%, Rio Tinto -1.8%, Glencore -1.7%, Antofagasta -3.3%.
  • Orpea shares declined as much as 5.9% as the company said that French police investigators began an evidence-gathering raid on Wednesday at its headquarters.

Asian stocks rose as Beijing’s move to approve a slew of new video games bolstered bets that the outlook is improving for the Chinese technology sector.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced as much as 1.1%, with Alibaba and Tencent providing the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in Hong Kong outperformed on the approvals news, while Japanese equities climbed as the yen continued to weaken. Stocks in India fell after the country’s central bank raised interest rates as expected while Thai shares inched up after the Bank of Thailand kept its benchmark rate unchanged.  China approved more games in a step toward normalization after a months-long freeze amid the government’s crackdowns on the tech sector. The news follows a report earlier this week that regulators are preparing to conclude an investigation of ride-hailing giant Didi.

“We think the significant dangers have passed” in Chinese equities markets, said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer at California-based private equity firm Patriarch Organization, which holds positions in Alibaba and JD. “The approval on the game titles signals that policymakers are following through on their intention to back off tech regulation and reverse the pain that caused investors to leave the sector."  Optimism toward a less-harsh regulatory environment and China’s post-Covid economic reopening has helped Hong Kong’s tech stocks outperform US peers recently. The Hang Seng Tech Index is up more than 17% the past month compared with little change in the Nasdaq 100. The rebound in Chinese equities also helped the MSCI Asia Pacific Index stage a bigger recovery than the S&P 500 in the same period.

Japanese equities advanced for a fourth straight day, as the yen’s weakness provided support for the nation’s exporters.   The Topix rose 1.2% to 1,969.98 as of market close, while the Nikkei advanced 1% to 28,234.29. Toyota Motor Corp. contributed the most to the Topix gain, increasing 1.8%. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 1,646 rose and 435 fell, while 89 were unchanged.

Stocks in India declined as the Reserve Bank of India said it would withdraw pandemic-era accommodation to quell inflation after raising borrowing costs for a second straight month.  The S&P BSE Sensex dropped 0.4% to 54,893.84, as of 2:46 p.m. in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index fell 0.6%. Both gauges erased gains of as much as 0.8% reached during the central bank’s briefing and are heading for a fourth day of declines. Of 30 shares in the Sensex, 13 rose and 17 fell. Sustained high prices could unhinge inflationary expectations and trigger second-round effects, central bank Governor Shaktikanta Das said in an online briefing, emphasizing that preserving price stability is key to ensuring lasting economic growth. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on the Sensex, while State Bank of India gave the biggest boost. All except two of BSE’s 19 sector sub-gauges declined, with telecom and energy groups the worst performers as realty and metals gained

In FX, Yen weakness extends in European trade, with JPY hitting the weakest level since 2002 at 133.77/USD after BOJ’s Kuroda reiterated easing stance. The dollar strengthened against all its group-of-10 peers with the yen and Australian and New Zealand dollars as the worst performers. The euro fluctuated around the $1.07 handle while bunds and Italian bonds fell alongside Treasuries, paring some of Tuesday’s gains. Australian and New Zealand dollars both weakened amid greenback strength and falling US stock futures. Aussie further was weighed by local yields giving up Tuesday’s RBA-driven gains.

In rates, Treasuries drifted lower, giving back a portion of Tuesday’s gains and following bigger losses for bunds, which underperformed ahead of Thursday’s ECB policy meeting.  Yields are cheaper by 2bp-3bp across the curve with front-end marginally outperforming, steepening 2s10s spread by ~1.5bp and building curve concession for the auction; bunds underperform by 1.5bp in 10-year sector.  Focal points of US session include 10-year auction, following soft results for Tuesday’s 3-year. $33b 10-year reopening at 1pm ET is second of this week’s three auctions; $19b 30-year reopening is ahead Thursday. WI 10-year yield ~3.015% is above auction stops since 2011 and ~7bp cheaper than May’s, which tailed by 1.4bp. JGBs little changed, with benchmark 10-year bonds trading again after no transactions on Tuesday. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany; Italy lags, widening ~3bps to core at the 10y points ahead of the ECB on Thursday.

In commodities, WTI drifts 0.6% higher to trade at around $120. Most base metals are in the green; LME tin rises 2.8%, outperforming peers. Spot gold falls roughly $5 to trade at $1,848/oz.

Looking at To the day ahead now, and it’s a fairly quiet one on the calendar, but data releases include German industrial production and Italian retail sales for April, as well as the UK construction PMI for May and the final reading of US wholesale inventories for April.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 4,144.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.3% to 441.39
  • MXAP up 0.8% to 169.14
  • MXAPJ up 1.1% to 559.98
  • Nikkei up 1.0% to 28,234.29
  • Topix up 1.2% to 1,969.98
  • Hang Seng Index up 2.2% to 22,014.59
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.7% to 3,263.79
  • Sensex down 0.4% to 54,907.55
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,121.10
  • Kospi little changed at 2,626.15
  • Brent Futures up 0.3% to $120.92/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,847.71
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.34% to 102.67
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 1.33%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.0686

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Boris Johnson plans to press ahead with legislation giving him the power to override parts of the Brexit deal, three people familiar with the matter said, a move likely to anger some of his MPs and the EU
  • The yen’s historic weakness is spreading from the dollar into other currency crosses as the Bank of Japan’s policy isolation grows. Bloomberg’s Correlation-Weighted Currency Index for the yen -- a gauge of its relative strength against a broad basket of Group-of-10 peers -- slumped to a seven-year low Wednesday
  • Japanese investors sold US Treasuries for the sixth consecutive month in April, underscoring waning appetite for the securities as the Federal Reserve sticks to its aggressive monetary tightening path
  • Inflation in Hungary exceeded 10% for the first time in more than 20 years, putting pressure on the central bank to tighten monetary policy further and prop up the forint
  • Australian inflation is likely to breach 6% and potentially could go “well above” that level and remain there for the rest of the year, Secretary to the Treasury Steven Kennedy said Wednesday
  • Economists and investors criticized Australia’s central bank for confusing communications after it raised interest rates by twice as much as expected, having previously signaled a preference for quarter-point moves
  • The RBI delivered a 50 basis-point rate hike as predicted by 17 of 41 economists in a Bloomberg survey
  • A slew of China video game approvals is giving stock bulls renewed hope that a nascent rebound in tech shares could become a sustainable rally. The Hang Seng Tech Index jumped more than 4% Wednesday after the government approved 60 licenses

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were mostly higher following the gains on Wall St and optimism of China easing its tech crackdown. ASX 200 recovered from the prior day’s RBA-induced selling with nearly all sectors in the green, although financials underperformed. Nikkei 225 extended further above the 28k level on currency weakness and with Q1 GDP data revised upwards to a narrower contraction. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. traded mixed with tech fuelling the gains in Hong Kong after China’s NPPA approved the publishing licences for 60 games this month, while sentiment in the mainland gradually soured despite support efforts as an official also warned that China's foreign trade stabilisation faces uncertainties and large pressure.

Top Asian News

  • China Vice Commerce Minister Wang said China's foreign trade stabilisation faces uncertainties and a large pressure from domestic and external factors. Furthermore, he sees global demand growth as low, while he added that China will accelerate export tax rebates and MOFCOM will assist foreign trade companies in securing orders, according to Reuters.
  • Chinese Retail Passenger Car Sales (May) +30% M/M, according to PCA's Prelim data cited by Bloomberg.
  • Japan's CDP has, as expected, submitted a no-confidence motion against the governing administration within the Lower House, motion will be put to a vote on June 9th, via Asahi; Asahi adds that the move is not expected to go anywhere

European bourses have trimmed initial upside, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%, with macro newsflow limited and the initial strength primarily a continuation of APAC/Wall St. leads. In specifics, Credit Suisse (-5%) issued a Q2 profit warning for the group and its Investment Bank division while noted Retail name Inditex (+4%) provided a positive update. Stateside, futures are modestly pressured overall but well within overnight ranges ahead of a slim docket; ES -0.4%. DiDi (DIDI) is in advanced discussions to own a one-third stake of Sinomach Zhijun, a China state-backed EV maker, according to Reuters sources.

Top European News

  • Euro-Zone Economy Grew More Than Estimated at Start of Year
  • Even the ECB’s Most Dire Forecast May Have Been Too Optimistic
  • Euro Options Point to Most-Pivotal ECB Meeting Since 2019
  • Ireland Accuses Johnson of Acting in ‘Bad Faith’ on Brexit Deal
  • Saudi Wealth Fund Makes Second $1 Billion Bet on Swedish Gaming

Central banks

  • RBI hiked the Repurchase Rate by 50bps to 4.90% (exp. 40bps hike) via unanimous decision and dropped mention of "staying accommodative", while RBI Governor Das noted that inflation has increased above upper tolerance levels and they remain focused on bringing down inflation. Das added they will control inflation without losing sight of growth and that further monetary policy measures are necessary to anchor inflation, as well as noted that upside risk to inflation had intensified and materialised sooner than expected.
  • RBI Governor says they dropped the word "accommodative" from their stance, but they remain accommodative; liquidity withdrawal going forward will be calibrated and gradual.
  • BoJ's Kuroda says rapid weakening of JPY as seen recently is undesirable; various macroeconomic models show that a weak JPY is positive. I It is important for FX to move stably, reflecting fundamentals.
  • BoJ is expected to maintain its view that the domestic economy is picking up as a trend and will likely continue improving, according to Reuters sources.
  • PBoC international department official Zhou said the PBoC will keep guiding financing costs lower, while the PBoC also announced that China will extend the trading hours of the interbank FX market, according to Reuters.

FX

  • Buck bounces as Yen rout continues after soft verbal intervention from BoJ Governor and Japanese Economy Minister; DXY back around 102.500 axis, USD.JPY climbs to circa 133.86 at one stage.
  • More Lira depreciation on multiple negative factors including unconventional easing policy stance aimed at returning inflation to target, USD/TRY touches 17.1500.
  • Aussie and Kiwi undermined by Greenback rebound and fade in general risk sentiment; AUD/USD loses 0.7200+ status again, NZD/USD sub-0.6450.
  • Franc and Pound down, but Euro and Loonie resilient as former awaits ECB and latter leans on strong crude prices; USD/CHF just shy of 0.9790, Cable under 1.2550, EUR/USD probing 1.0700 and USD/CAD pivoting 1.2550.
  • Forint and Zloty underpinned post-strong Hungarian CPI metrics and pre-NBP that is expected to hike 75bp; EUR/HUF & EUR/PLN around 389.60 and 4.5700 respectively.

Fixed Income

  • Bunds and Gilts pare some losses after testing round and half round number levels at 149.00 and 114.50 respectively, with added incentive after solid demand for 10 year German and UK supply.
  • US Treasuries await 2032 issuance with caution given a lukewarm reception at 3 year auction.
  • 10 year note just off base of 118-03/13 overnight range.

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent have been moving in-line with broader risk; however, following the UAE Minister the benchmarks have extended to the upside and post gains in excess of USD 1.50/bbl.
  • US Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude +1.8mln (exp. -1.9mln), Cushing -1.8mln, Gasoline +1.8mln (exp. +1.1mln), Distillates +3.4mln (exp. +1.1mln)
  • Brazilian government is considering measures to monitor fuel prices at distributors, according to Reuters sources.
  • UAE Energy Minister says situation is not encouraging when it comes to the amounts of crude OPEC+ can bring to the market, via Reuters; Notes conformity with the OPEC+ deal is more than 200%, are risks when China is back, in talks with Germany and other nations to see if they are interested in UAE natgas.
  • Spot gold is essentially unchanged, and continues to pivot its 10-DMA, while base metals are primarily tracking broader risk sentiment.

US Event Calendar

  • 07:00: June MBA Mortgage Applications -6.5%, prior -2.3%
  • 10:00: April Wholesale Trade Sales MoM, prior 1.7%
  • 10:00: April Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 2.1%, prior 2.1%

DB's Henry Allen concludes the overnight wrap

A reminder that Jim’s annual default study was released yesterday. His view is that while nothing much will change for the remainder of 2022, we might be coming to the end of the ultra-low default world discussed in previous editions. First, there’ll likely be a cyclical US recession to address in 2023, and after that, a risk that various trends reverse that have made the last 20 years so subdued for defaults. See the report here for more details.

It’s been another topsy-turvy session for markets over the last 24 hours as investors look forward to the big macro events later in the week, namely the ECB tomorrow and then the US CPI print the day after. Initially it had looked like we were set for another day of higher rates, not least after the hawkish surprise from the RBA we mentioned in yesterday’s edition as they hiked by a larger-than-expected 50bps. But more negative developments subsequently dampened the mood, including an unexpected contraction in German factory orders, and then an announcement by Target (-2.31%) that they were cutting their profit outlook for the second time in three weeks. But then sentiment turned once again later in the US session, with equities seeing a late rally that put the major indices back in positive territory for the day.

Against that backdrop, equities swung between gains and losses, but the S&P 500 rallied to a broad-based gain after the European close, finishing the day +0.95% higher after being as much as -1% lower following the open, with only the consumer discretionary (-0.37%) sector finishing in the red after Target updated their guidance again to now expect Q2’s operating margin to be around 2% amid price reductions to reduce inventory. For the index as a whole, it was also the first back-to-back positive start the week since in a month, that’s also seen it recover all of last week’s declines. Energy (+3.14%) was the biggest outperformer in the S&P amidst a further rise in oil prices, with Brent Crude (+0.89%) moving back above the $120/bbl mark. However, Europe’s STOXX 600 (-0.28%) missed the late rally and eventually settled in negative territory.

Whilst equities had a mixed session, sovereign bonds put in a more consistent performance ahead of tomorrow’s ECB decision, with decent gains posted on both sides of the Atlantic. Yields on 10yr Treasuries were down -6.6bps to 2.97%, moving back beneath 3% again, although this morning’s +2.8bps rise has taken them just back above that point to 3.001% at time of writing. Yesterday’s moves lower in yields were more pronounced at the long end of the curve, with the 2yr yield essentially flat as investors’ expectations of the near-term path of Fed rate hikes remained fairly steady. Indeed, the futures-implied rate by the December meeting was also down just -1.5bps to 2.84%.

It was much the same story in Europe too of lower yields and flatter curves, as the amount of ECB tightening priced in for the rest of the year fell a modest -1.4bps from its high of 125bps the previous day. Yields on 10yr bunds (-2.9bps), OATs (-3.6bps) and gilts (-3.3bps) all fell back, and there was a noticeable decline in peripheral spreads thanks to even larger reductions in the Italian (-12.1bps) and Spanish (-7.4bps) 10yr yields. Interestingly, another trend over recent days that continued was the fall in European natural gas prices (-3.57%), which fell for a 5th consecutive session to hit its lowest level since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at €79.61/MWh.

Those late gains for US equities have carried over into Asia overnight, with the Hang Seng (+1.70%) the Nikkei (+0.85%) both advancing strongly. The main exception to that has been in mainland China however, where the CSI 300 (-0.41%) and the Shanghai Composite (-0.70%) have just taken a tumble this morning. We’ve also seen that in US equity futures too, with those on the S&P 500 down -0.335 this morning.

On the data side, the final estimate of Japan’s GDP for Q1 showed a smaller contraction than initially thought, with GDP only falling by an annualised -0.5%, which is half the -1% decline initially thought. However, the Japanese Yen has continued to weaken overnight, and is currently trading at a fresh 20-year low against the US Dollar of 133.13 per dollar. It’s also at a 7-year low against the Euro of 142.19 per euro.

Here in the UK, Brexit could be back in the headlines shortly as it’s been reported by multiple outlets including Bloomberg that legislation will be introduced that would enable the UK government to override the Northern Ireland Protocol. That’s the part of the Brexit deal that avoids the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but has been a persistent source of tension between the two sides since the deal was signed, since it creates an economic border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain that Northern Irish unionists are opposed to. Irish PM Martin said yesterday that Europe would respond in a “calm and firm” way, and Bloomberg’s report suggested the draft bill could be presented to the House of Commons tomorrow.

Looking at yesterday’s data releases, German factory orders for April unexpectedly saw a -2.7% contraction (vs. +0.4% expansion expected). That was the third consecutive monthly decline, and was driven by a -4.0% decline in foreign orders. On the other hand, the final PMIs from the UK for May were revised up relative to the flash readings, with the composite PMI at 53.1 (vs. flash 51.8), helping sterling to strengthen +0.48% against the US Dollar. Finally, the World Bank yesterday became the latest body to downgrade their global growth forecast, now projecting a +2.9% rise in GDP for 2022 compared to their 4.1% estimate put out in January, and openly warned about the risk of stagflation.

To the day ahead now, and it’s a fairly quiet one on the calendar, but data releases include German industrial production and Italian retail sales for April, as well as the UK construction PMI for May and the final reading of US wholesale inventories for April.

Tyler Durden Wed, 06/08/2022 - 08:09

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Government

Inflation

Rising price pressures, stronger and more persistent than generally expected, has been the main challenge for consumers, businesses, and policymakers. It…

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Rising price pressures, stronger and more persistent than generally expected, has been the main challenge for consumers, businesses, and policymakers. It will stay top of mind in the week ahead as both the world's two largest economies, the US and China, report July consumer and producer prices.  

During the Great Depression, the central governments discovered their balance sheets, and budget deficits became a nearly permanent fixture. This is true even for countries like Germany, which ostensibly shunned Keynesian demand management and embraced "ordo-liberalism." During the Global Financial Crisis, the central bank balance sheet was called into action as policy rates hit zero (and fell into negative territory for the members of the eurozone, Switzerland, a few other European countries, and Japan).  

After the Great Financial Crisis, many monetarists and hard-money folks warned of ruinous inflation, which did not materialize. Instead, inflation has soared over the past year or so for most high-income and emerging market countries. The hard-money and monetarists say they told us so. Yet, it took a pandemic of biblical proportions to spur inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, there seems to be no correlation between the size of the central bank's balance sheet (as a percent of GDP), government deficit spending during and after the pandemic, and the subsequent inflation.

The Bank of Japan's balance sheet is nearly 135% of GDP. The Fed's balance sheet is about 36.5% of GDP. The ECB's balance sheet is almost 69% of GDP. Japan's central government debt is more than 2.3-times larger than its GDP. In proportionate terms, US debt is less than half as much as Japan's. The eurozone's debt-to-GDP is a little more than 95%. Consider fiscal policy. The cumulative budget deficit in the US for 2020 and 2021 was a stunning 26.4% of GDP. The deficit in the eurozone was less than half the size (12.2%). Japan's was almost 16% of GDP.  

We will likely learn next week that the July US CPI (year-over-year) fell below the preliminary EMU reading of 8.9%. The median forecast in the Bloomberg survey sees a 0.2% month-over-month gain, which given the base effect, would be consistent with an 8.8% year-over-year rate.  Energy prices have pulled back.  Sept WTI fell 5.3% in June and and another 4.3% in July.  It is off almost 10% so far this month.  The average price of retail gasoline fell 13% in July.  

Japan's headline CPI was a modest 2.4% in June. The BOJ's last meeting concluded the day before the June CPI was reported. Its updated forecast put this year's CPI at 2.4% before falling back to 1.3%-1.4% for the next two years. Do not be mistaken. The BOJ's forecasts are not an outlier. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are also convinced Japan's inflation is temporary. The median forecast is a 1.2% rise in CPI next year, followed by a 0.8% increase in 2024.  

Conventional wisdom is that monetary policy will not change until Governor Kuroda steps down next April. The inflation forecasts, if accurate, suggest the new governor will find that the deflation demon has not been slain after all. Although the BOJ's policy rate is -0.1%, it has been trading at -0.009%. The swaps market has it at 0.01% in a year, 0.07% in two years, and 0.11% in three years.  

After arguably waiting too long to get going, the Federal Reserve has stepped up its game. It persuaded many, even if not everyone, that it is so determined to bring inflation down that it is willing to risk an economic contraction. This is important because it shows that inflation expectations are anchored. Consider the 10-year breakeven peaked in mid-April a little above 3.05% and fell to the year's low slightly below 2.27% a few weeks ago. It is now hovering in narrow band around 2.50%.  In the middle of last month, the two-year breakeven fell to 2.85%, the lowest since October 2021. It popped back to around 3.25% but is approaching the low again.  Recall it peaked shortly after the first rate hike was delivered in March 16, near 5%.  Doesn't this say something about the Fed's anti-inflation credibility? 

While the breakevens have been consolidating, we note the correlation between the changes in the 10-year yield breakeven and oil prices increased to almost 0.60 over the past 30 days, the highest in more than three months. The correlation between the changes in oil and the US two-year breakeven is around 0.83, the highest since the end of 2020. Surely, most observers would agree that whatever attenuated relationship there may be between fiscal and monetary policy on one hand and oil prices on the other, it is overshadowed by several other factors.

Last week, the Bank of England warned that inflation was likely to peak near 13%. That is twice as much as it anticipated at the end of last year when it began its tightening cycle. The main culprit is not monetary or fiscal variables but the supply shock from the energy sector. The BOE is also the first major central bank to acknowledge a recession. Indeed, it warns that the economy will contract for five consecutive quarters, which does not include the second quarter. The UK reports Q2 GDP on August 12, and the median forecast (Bloomberg survey) is for a small contraction.  

Nevertheless, the  BOE is clearly determined to continue to tighten monetary policy. Governor Bailey is cagey about the pace of hikes going forward, like many other central banks, including the Fed, ECB, and the Reserve Bank of Australia. Yet, the market remains fairly convinced that the central BOE will hike rates by at least another 100 bp in the last three meetings of the year. The BOE is also the first major central bank to announce intentions of actively selling some of its sovereign and corporate bond holdings to shrink its balance sheet quicker than the passive approach of allowing maturing issues to roll off.  

The cottage industry of critics put the Federal Reserve in a "damned if they do and don't if they don't" box. First, many wanted the central bank to be more aggressive than even the hawks at the Fed advocated. Then as the economy slows, they are among the first to condemn the Fed for inducing a recession. Endless fodder for the large pipes that deliver the streaming news.  

We have staked out a middle ground between those pundits and cynics who have been saying the US is in a recession for a few months and several Fed officials who suggest there is little sign of a broad economic slowdown. Yet, even Powell acknowledges the path to a soft landing is getting narrower. While recognizing we live in a probabilistic world, we see the odds of a soft-landing as minuscule at best. 

It is not just because of monetary policy, which is tightening aggressively. Indeed, after the stronger than expected employment report, which saw a new cyclical low in the unemployment rate (3.5%) and the strongest jobs growth in five months (528k), the Fed funds futures were discounting around a 75% chance of another 75 bp hike at next month's meeting that concludes on September 21. The 2-10-year yield curve is inverted by the most since 2000 (almost 40 bp).  Fiscal policy is tightening too, and aggressively at that. The OECD projects government spending to fall by 0.1% this year. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey is for the budget deficit to fall to 4.4% of GDP this year from 10.8% last year. The two-month 25% slide in oil prices is helpful for the soft-landing scenario, but they have still doubled since early 2021, which proceeded the end of the last few business cycles.  

Also, the inventory cycle has matured, and from a tailwind last year, it has turned into a headwind. If it weren't for the inventory adjustment, the US economy would have expanded in H1. The good news here is that the drag from inventories may be winding down. Another drag that may replace it is that some sectors that saw strong demand during the pandemic may have built too and cut back. Given that it was slow to take its foot off the accelerator, the Fed's biggest mistake would be to declare victory too early. This risk-reward assessment also injects a human element into the risks of a hard-landing. 

The July CPI should offer some comfort that inflation, which jumped in Q2, is steadying at the start of Q3. After rising by 1.0% in May and 1.3% in June, the July CPI is expected to edge up by 0.2%. If so, it would match the smallest monthly increase since November 2020. It would also be consistent with a small decline in the year-over-year rate, which has only happened one other time since last August (in April). However, the core rate may tick up. The median forecast (Bloomberg survey) sees a 0.6% increase, which is the average over the last nine months. This would produce the first increase in the year-over-year core CPI since March. It peaked then at 6.5% and fell to 5.9% in June.  

The market still expects the Fed to raise rates aggressively and double the pace of the roll-off from its balance sheet starting next month. The market is now looking for the Fed to hike rates by 125 bp in the last three meetings of the year. Look at what has happened. The year-end Fed funds rate has mostly been between 3.25% and 3.50% for the past two months. It pushed through the upper end after the jobs report.  

Moreover, the Fed's hawkish rhetoric and the jobs report did not manage to dissuade the market from pricing in a cut in the Fed funds rate next year.  Even if the terminal rate is a bit higher than the market previously thought, it seems more confident of a rate cut in H2 23.  Specifically, the implied yield of the December 2023 Fed funds futures is about 33 bp below the yield of the December 2022 contract.  Over the course of the week the chances of a cut in Q3 23 were downgraded. At the end of July, the September Fed funds yielded 32 bp less than the December 2022 contract. It closed last week at  a 12 bp discount.  

The team of economists at ITC found that since 1990, the first Fed cut has come on average 10.6 months after the last hike. It is in a range of five months to 18 months. If the market is right and the Fed finishes its tightening this year, or even early next year, it appears to be pricing in a fairly typical gap.  

Much to the chagrin of some of the Fed's critics that put the hawks at the Bundesbank to shame, the market is confident that the economy will reach a point later this year or early next year that will prompt the Fed to ease off its drive. This is the real meaning of the central bank put. They will not pursue the old Mellon recommendation:  liquidate, liquidate, and liquidate. The hawks do not have a constituency for it. And that seems global, not just limited to the US. But, of course, like playing three-card Monty, it always looks easy from the sidelines.  

China's inflation will be reported after it its reserves (lower), trade surplus (smaller), and lending figures (less). The June CPI was at 2.5% year-over-year, roughly the midpoint seen since the onset of Covid (-0.5%-5.4%). It is expected to have edged up to 2.8% in July. The recovery in pork prices led to the acceleration in food inflation (2.9% vs. 2.3%). The core measure, which excludes food and energy, rose 1.0% year-over-year in June from 0.9% in April and May.   Meanwhile, China's PPI is expected to lurch down, possibly below 5%, to its lowest level since March 2021. It peaked at 13.5% last October, and the decline in July will be the ninth consecutive monthly decline.

The subdued price pressures may give the PBOC room to ease policy, but it seems to be in no rush. It is encouraging lending and has offered some fiscal support. It has been mild. There appears to be a window to ease policy in the next couple of weeks. Liquidity conditions have tightened due to several factors, including PBOC draining operations and tax payments, and on August 16, a CNY600 bln medium-term lending facility matured. There are several ways that the PBOC could provide more liquidity, including a new medium-term lending facility, reverse repos, and a cut in reserve requirements.  


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Spread & Containment

Inflation Breakeven and Term Spreads Adjusted for Premia

Expected inflation inferred from the Treasury-TIPS spread is tainted by risk and liquidity premia. The difference between expected future short rates and…

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Expected inflation inferred from the Treasury-TIPS spread is tainted by risk and liquidity premia. The difference between expected future short rates and current short rates is also obscured by risk premia. Here are adjusted spreads:

Figure 1: Five year inflation breakeven calculated as five year Treasury yield minus five year TIPS yield (blue, left scale), five year breakeven adjusted by inflation risk premium and liquidity premium per DKW (red, left scale), both in %. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: FRB via FRED, Treasury, NBER, KWW following D’amico, Kim and Wei (DKW) accessed 8/4, and author’s calculations.

The adjusted series suggests an upward movement in expected inflation with the expanded Russian invasion of Ukraine, but less than that indicated by the simple Treasury-TIPS spread (and no downward movement recently).

How have recent releases affected inflation expectations? Figure 2 presents a detail.

Figure 2: Five year inflation breakeven calculated as five year Treasury yield minus five year TIPS yield (blue, left scale), five year breakeven adjusted by inflation risk premium and liquidity premium per DKW (red, left scale), both in %. Source: FRB via FRED, Treasury, KWW following D’amico, Kim and Wei (DKW) accessed 8/4, and author’s calculations.

The inflation breakeven rises with the GDP advance and PCE deflator releases, but stays constant with today’s employment numbers (strangely). However, to the extent that the Treasury-TIPS spread mismeasures expectations, we should be a bit wary of this result (inflation expectations do drop with the GDP release with the adjusted measure).

What about the 10yr-3mo spread? The unadjusted has taken a big dive in recent weeks, coming close to inversion.

Figure 3: 10 year-3 month Treasury spread (dark blue), and implied future nominal rates over next ten years (pink), both in %. NBER defined recession dates shaded gray. Source: FRB via FRED, Treasury, NBER, KWW following D’amico, Kim and Wei (DKW) accessed 8/4, and author’s calculations.

 

The gap between 10yr-3mo went negative in 2019, and again with the onset of the pandemic. The yield curve steepened sharply with the Georgia special election outcomes, and then counterintuitively rose again with the Russian expanded incursion into Ukraine. The spread dropped sharply from May 6th onward.

The spread incorporates a inflation risk premium so that on average, the yield curve slopes up. Hence, the standard 10yr-3mo spread does not necessarily equal the difference between 3 month yields over the next 10 years vs the current 3 month yield. I show the sum of the future 3 month real yields and future 3 month inflation rates over the next ten years as the pink line in Figure 2. This line probably better shows the heightened expectations of growth in 2021Q1-Q2, as well as the dropoff in perceived growth prospects in May.

The detail suggests the expected asset price responses to the recent releases as well.

Figure 4: 10 year-3 month Treasury spread (dark blue), and implied future nominal rates over next ten years (pink), both in %. Source: FRB via FRED, Treasury, KWW following D’amico, Kim and Wei (DKW) accessed 8/4, and author’s calculations.

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Economics

Sixth recession red flag raised, despite strong jobs report

On the same day, the BLS revealed that we’ve recovered all the jobs lost to COVID-19 and I am raising my sixth recession red flag.
The post Sixth recession…

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What a crazy day for my economic model! On the same day, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that we’ve recovered all the jobs lost to COVID-19 and I am raising my sixth recession red flag.

When I wrote the America is back recovery model on April 7, 2020, and then retired it on Dec. 9, 2020, I knew one data line would lag the most: jobs! I have talked about how job openings would move toward 10 million and that we should get all the jobs we lost to COVID-19 back by September 2022. Well, I was off by two months: Today, the BLS reported that 528,000 jobs were created with positive revisions of 28,000, which gave us just enough to pass the February 2020 levels.

From BLS: 
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 528,000 in July, and the unemployment rate edged down to 3.5 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job growth was widespread, led by gains in leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and health care. Both total nonfarm employment and the unemployment rate have returned to their February 2020 pre-pandemic levels.

Feb 2020: 152,504,000
July 2022: 152,536,000

The big job numbers we have seen recently are tied to the decline in the job openings data, which lags also, but we do see a decrease in this data line as it appears for now that the job openings data has peaked in this cycle. It recently went from 11.3 million to 10.7 million, and the recent peak was near 11.9 million.



We have seen increases in jobless claims and slighter increases in continuing claims. However, nothing too drastic yet. Again, at this stage of the economic cycle you should focus on the rate of change data.



A tighter labor market is a good thing; this means people with less educational backgrounds can get employed since we have many jobs that don’t require a college education. The unemployment rate did tick up for those with less than a high school diploma in this report.

Here is a breakdown of the unemployment rate and educational attainment for those 25 years and older:

—Less than a high school diploma: 5.9%.
—High school graduate and no college: 3.6%
—Some college or associate degree: 2.8%
—Bachelor’s degree and higher: 2.0%



Below is a breakdown of the jobs created. Every sector created jobs; even the government created jobs. All this was just working our way back from the losses to COVID-19, which I knew would take a bit longer than some people would have thought with the economic data we had in 2021.



Now that we have regained all the jobs lost to COVID-19, what is next?

Hopefully, people know that we weren’t in a recession in the first six months of the year. When you’re in a recession, you don’t create jobs, have positive industrial production data, or positive consumer data in GDP. We had some funky trade and inventory data that tilted the GDP negatively, but the traditional data lines that go negative in a recession are just not there yet.

Even so, because some of the more current data is trending negatively,  I am raising my sixth recession red flag today. Allow me to present my case.

Recession red flag watch

Where are we in the economic cycle? I’ve already raised five of my six recession red flags, but until they are all up, I don’t use the word recession.

Let’s review those red flags in order, as my model is based on an economic progression model:

1. The unemployment rate falls down to a level where we start to talk about Federal Reserve rate hikes because the economy doesn’t need as much stimulus for employment gains.  For this recovery, the unemployment rate getting to 4% is the level where I raised my first recession red flag. This just means that the recovery is more mature than the earlier stages of the unemployment rate falling. Today it’s currently at 3.5%.

2. The Federal Reserve starts to raise rates. The Federal Reserve started Its rate hike process this year, to start fighting inflation and has been more aggressive recently. This shows that the expansion is longer and that the Federal Reserve is in a mood to tighten policy rather than make it more accommodative.

3. The inverted yield curve. This is more of a market-driven bond yield red flag. I had been on an inverted yield curve watch since Thanksgiving of 2021. This is when the two-year yield and 10-year yield slap high fives and say hi to each other. It’s another progression red flag, reflecting that we are in a more mature stage of the economy. Traditionally you see an inverted yield curve before every recession.



4. Find the overheating economic sector where demand can’t be sustained. Once that demand comes back to normal, people will be laid off. We see this in the durable goods data. A few companies are laying people off or putting into place a hiring freeze.



5.  New home sales, housing starts, and permits fall into a recession. Once mortgage rates rise, the new home sales sector does get hit harder than the existing home sales market. The homebuilder confidence index is falling noticeably, and while we never had the housing build-up in credit and sales that we saw in 2005, the builders will slow housing production down with higher rates. I raised my fifth recession red flag in June.

Today, I am raising the last recession red flag, which considers the Leading Economic Index (LEI). This week I presented my six recession red flag model to the Committee For Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) — the committee that created the leading economic index. “Since its inception in 1942, CED has addressed national priorities to promote sustained economic growth and development to benefit all Americans. CED’s work in those first few years led to great policy accomplishments. One is the Marshall Plan, the economic development program that helped rebuild Europe and maintain peace, the Bretton Woods Agreement that established the new global financial system, and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.” 

6. Leading economic index declines four to six months before a recession. Historically, the LEI fades into every recession, outside a one-time huge economic shock like COVID-19. To raise this flag I needed four to six months of decline, which we saw recently. However, knowing the components of this data line, I know this data line has legs to keep going lower.

As you can see, the LEI doesn’t have a good history of reversing course when the downtrend is in place. We have had times in the mid-1990s when we saw a slowdown but didn’t get a recession.

With that in mind, how might this reverse? Well, the two easy answers are this:

1. Rates fall to get the housing sector back in line.
2. Growth rate of inflation falls, the Fed stops hiking rates and reverses course, as they did in 2018.

Most Americans are working, and job openings are still high enough that people can find work if they need to. However, if you’re asking me how we could see a reversal after all six flags are up, this is it.

So how do I square raising the last recession red flag when we had such a strong job report today? Well, the model isn’t designed to work during a recession. It’s intended to show the progression of an expansion into a recession.  As you can see below, this data line fell in 2006, and we were still creating jobs in 2006 and 2007.

During the housing bubble, we had a clear over-investment, and that was in the housing market, so the recession red flag model was evident before the recession. Only three of my recession red flags were up before the COVID-19 crisis; in fact, we were still in expansionary mode if COVID-19 hadn’t occurred.

I can’t describe it any other way: things have been crazy since April 2020. All of us that track economic data have had to adjust to the highest velocity of data movement in our lifetime and have had to make COVID-19 adjustments all the time.

At some point in the future, things will get back to normal. I’ve presented you with my data lines to show we weren’t in a recession the first six months of the year, but the economic data is getting softer and softer. I will be looking for weaker data lines getting to the point where we actually see real recessionary data, which means jobs are being lost monthly, production data falls and companies make adjustments to their business model with greater force.

I’ll take each data point one day at a time and try to make sense of it. Remember, economics done right should be very boring, and always, be the detective, not the troll.

The post Sixth recession red flag raised, despite strong jobs report appeared first on HousingWire.

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