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Futures, Global Markets Rise As Europe Unleashes Energy Hyperinflation Bailout Bazooka

Futures, Global Markets Rise As Europe Unleashes Energy Hyperinflation Bailout Bazooka

Following a flat Monday futures session when the US…

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Futures, Global Markets Rise As Europe Unleashes Energy Hyperinflation Bailout Bazooka

Following a flat Monday futures session when the US was closed for Labor Day and European stocks slumped as Russia confirmed it would halt NS1 pipeline flows indefinitely, on Tuesday European stocks and US equity futures rose as governments attempted to blunt the growing energy crisis, injecting tens of billions in fiscal stimulus to offset soaring energy prices and undoing central bank attempts to crush demand with tighter financial conditions. S&P futures rose 0.6% as Wall Street was set to resume trading after the long weekend, while Nasdaq futures rose 0.7%, ignoring - for now - news of more Chinese lockdowns. Meanwhile, as traders eyes the flood of fiscal "energy support", Treasuries fell across the board, taking the two-year yield to 3.46%, while oil edged down reversing yesterday's OPEC+ production cut gains on demand risks from fresh Chinese Covid lockdowns. The pound rebounded as traders assessed the agenda of incoming PM Liz Truss. European natgas prices eased with politicians scrambling to find solutions after Moscow switched off its main pipeline to the continent.

In premarket trading, Bed Bath & Beyond shares tumbled as much as 25% after Chief Financial Officer Gustavo Arnal fell to his death Friday from a Manhattan skyscraper. Other meme stocks were also drifting lower, including GameStop, which declined 5%. US-listed Chinese stocks also slumped premarket, with the drop led by Alibaba which tracked moves in Hong Kong-listed shares in the past two sessions, as lockdowns hit more cities amid an increase in Covid cases. Alibaba (BABA US) falls 2%, Pinduoduo (PDD US) -1.3%, JD.com (JD US) -1.8%, Baidu (BIDU US) -0.6%Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • FedEx (FDX US) shares decline 1.7% in US premarket trading as Citi downgraded the stock to neutral, noting that it’s concerned about the pace of freight activity heading into year-end.
  • Ciena (CIEN US) shares drop as much as 1.4% in US premarket trading after JPMorgan downgrades the communications equipment company to neutral from overweight on “limited upside” for the stock.
  • Digital World Acquisition (DWAC US) shares slump as much as 33% in US premarket trading, after the blank-check firm that is set to merge with former President Donald Trump’s social media group reportedly failed to get enough shareholder support to extend the deadline to complete the deal.
  • Transocean (RIG US) gains 1.4% in premarket trading as the stock was upgraded to buy from neutral by BTIG, which said in a note that improving day rates in the floater market would help the company recharter rigs at higher levels.
  • CVS Health (CVS US) stock could be in focus as the company agreed to buy Signify Health for $30.50 per share in cash in a transaction valued at ~$8 billion.
  • Watch tanker shares as Jefferies says it remains positive on the outlook for the sector in a note raising PTs across its coverage and upgrading four stocks to buy. Euronav, Frontline (FRO US), Nordic American (NAT US) and Tsakos Energy (TNP US) upgraded to buy from hold, with PTs raised on all.
  • Keep an eye on Rollins (ROL US) stock as it was raised to outperform from sector perform at RBC, with the broker saying the pest-control firm offers a “recession- resilient” model against a tough current backdrop.

Soaring energy costs have added to the complexities for monetary policymakers attempting to manage surging price pressures and the risk of recession. The focus turns next to the ECB, with economists at some of Wall Street’s top banks expecting it to announce a hike of 75 basis points on Thursday.

“The global economy, and in particular the European economy is really faced with a number of very difficult challenges, of which energy is sitting at the heart of everything,” Seema Shah, chief global strategist at Principal Global Investors, said on Bloomberg Television. “It does unfortunately mean that Europe despite all the help that governments are trying to provide for families and businesses, it’s simply not going to be enough to stave off a pretty significant downturn.”

And speaking of Europe, the Stoxx 50 rose 0.4%; Germany's DAX outperformed peers, adding 0.7%, FTSE MIB lags, dropping 0.1% despite a massive a massive energy bailout plan announced by the new PM, Liz Truss, which amount to over €170 billion, and is meant to freeze houshold energy bills as well as rescue small businesses. Retailers, travel and autos are the strongest-performing sectors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Delivery Hero shares rally as much as 10% after Morgan Stanley raises the stock to overweight, saying the firm is set for the biggest margin improvement in the food delivery sector into 2023 and the most resilient top-line growth.
  • Consumer stocks Greggs rises as much as +7.6%, Asos +8.5%, J D Wetherspoon +6.8%
  • Volkswagen shares rise as much as 3.2% in Frankfurt after the German company decided to push ahead with its plan to list a minority stake in the Porsche sports-car maker this year.
  • Commerzbank shares rise as much as 5% on Warburg upgrade, with the broker seeing good earnings and revenue growth prospects for the German lender.
  • The Stoxx 600 Energy index falls, lagging the broader benchmark, as weaker gas prices and a stalled rally for crude weigh.
  • Gas-exposed names Equinor drop as much as -6.1% and OMV -3.5%, among the biggest decliners
  • Shell decline as much as -2.6% , BP -2.8%, TotalEnergies -2.2% and Eni -4.1% as Brent slipped following the OPEC+ meeting on Monday, with traders weighing the output cut alongside the impact of new lockdowns in China
  • Remy Cointreau shares drop as much as 3.4% after Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Richard Withagen cut the recommendation to reduce from hold, citing slowing global spirits-market growth.
  • BT shares fall as much as 2.8% to the lowest level since November 2021 after Berenberg downgraded the UK carrier to hold from buy, saying 1Q results raised “a multitude of questions” about the investment case.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks turned lower as concerns over global monetary tightening and the impact of Europe’s energy crisis kept risk appetite in check. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.4%, reversing an earlier gain of as much as 0.5%. Energy shares were the biggest advancers after oil rallied overnight, while most other sectors fell.  Stocks in China rebounded after days of losses, while key measures of Hong Kong equities were the biggest laggards in the region. Australian stocks declined after the central bank raised its key rate by 50 basis points. Indonesia’s benchmark narrowly missed a fresh record high. The threat of a global economic slowdown continues to weigh on market sentiment, along with worry over inflation amid climbing commodities prices. The most recent earnings season has done little to quell concerns around the region, with MSCI’s main Asia gauge on track for its fifth-straight quarterly loss and volatility surging. 

“Monetary tightening and accelerating inflation have weighed on investor sentiment and market returns,” Germaine Share, director of manager research of Morningstar wrote in a report. “We have also seen fund managers turn overweight China in the recent months to buy structural growth opportunities at attractive valuations.”

Japanese stocks closed mixed as uncertainty over the global economy countered optimism over the benefits of the weaker yen for exporters.  The Topix fell 0.1% to close at 1,926.58, while the Nikkei was little changed at 27,626.51. Oriental Land Co. contributed the most to the Topix decline, decreasing 6.3% as the stock failed to be added to the blue-chip Nikkei 225. Out of 2,169 stocks in the index, 1,002 rose and 1,014 fell, while 153 were unchanged. “The markets are assuming that the US and European economies are going to be facing difficult situations,” said Hideyuki Suzuki, a general manager at SBI Securities. “Japanese stocks are in a relatively more favorable situation as the country has been late in restarting its economy, so there is still much room for growth.”

Indian stocks ended marginally lower, after swinging between gains and losses for most of Tuesday’s session, as the US Fed’s tightening bias and concerns about a worsening energy crisis in Europe remained an overarching themes in Asia.   The S&P BSE Sensex fell 0.1% to 59,196.99 in Mumbai, erasing gains of as much as 0.5%. The NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped by a similar magnitude. Of the 30 members on the Sensex, 10 rose, while 20 fell. Twelve of 19 sector indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. advanced, led by a measure of power companies.  “Markets are still in a range and rotational buying across sectors is helping the index to hold strong amid mixed global cues,” Ajit Mishra, vice president for research at Religare Broking Ltd. wrote in a note. “Since all sectors, barring IT, are contributing to the move, the focus should be more on stock selection.” 

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index erased a decline as the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers. GBP and SEK are the strongest performers in G-10 FX, JPY and AUD underperform. Yen trades above 142 as Japan's failed MMT experiment slowly comes to a close. The euro inched up to trade around 0.9950. Leveraged investors were heavily positioned for a lower euro versus the dollar, but they see scope to partially unwind some of that exposure and bet on further pound weakness. Sterling climbed as much as 0.8% to $1.1609 after sliding to the lowest since March 2020 on Monday. The rebound was fueled by a report that incoming UK Prime Minister Liz Truss has drafted plans to fix annual electricity and gas bills for a typical UK household at or below the current level of £1,971 ($2,300). The gilt curve bear steepened. Australia’s sovereign bonds gave back an advance after the central bank raised interest rates by a half- percentage point for a fourth consecutive meeting and signaled further hikes ahead in its drive to rein in inflation. The Reserve Bank took the cash rate to 2.35%, the highest level since 2015, in a widely expected announcement on Tuesday. The Australian dollar slumped. The yen fell to a new 24-year low against the dollar as rising Treasury yields highlighted the policy divergence between the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan. Bonds were little changed.

In rates, TSY 10-year yield rose 6bps to 3.25%, while front-end-led losses flatten 2s10s, 5s30s by 1bp and ~3bp on the day; in 10-year sector bunds outperform by nearly 10bp with 10-year German yields richer by ~3bp on the day. The yield on 10-year bunds is up about 1.4bps to 1.54% while German 2-year yields remain 10bp lower on the day following dovish comments from ECB’s Centeno, Kazaks and Stournaras. UK short-end bonds gain, benefiting from new PM’s plan to freeze energy bills, while long-end gilts declined amid concerns about how the proposal will be funded. Treasury cash market was closed Monday for US Labor Day holiday, and few events are slated for Tuesday. Wednesday has several Fed officials slated to speak. 

In commodities, brent fell 3% to near $93, paring its post-OPEC+ meeting gains, effective assuring that more production cuts are coming. Spot gold is little changed at $1,712/oz.

Bitcoin has been oscillating under the USD 20,000 mark throughout the European session.

Looking to the day ahead now, and in the political sphere the main event will be that Liz Truss succeeds Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get German factory orders for July, the German and UK construction PMI for August, and from the US there’s the final services and composite PMIs for August, and the ISM services index too.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 3,944.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 414.17
  • MXAP down 0.3% to 153.07
  • MXAPJ little changed at 503.42
  • Nikkei little changed at 27,626.51
  • Topix down 0.1% to 1,926.58
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.1% to 19,202.73
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.4% to 3,243.45
  • Sensex up 0.1% to 59,320.84
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 6,826.54
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,410.02
  • Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,714.18
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.13% to 109.68
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 1.57%
  • Euro up 0.3% to $0.9956

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • German factory orders fell for a sixth month in July. Demand slipped 1.1% from June, driven by a slump in consumer goods, particularly pharmaceutical products. That’s worse than the 0.7% drop economists had predicted
  • European households will benefit from at least 376 billion euros ($375 billion) in government aid to stem whopping energy bills this winter, yet there’s a risk the smorgasbord of spending won’t bring enough relief
  • Switzerland and Finland joined Germany in offering credit facilities to energy companies as the worsening supply crunch and surging prices threaten to create financial havoc in Europe
  • China set a stronger-than-expected exchange-rate fixing for a 10th straight day and said it will allow banks to hold less foreign currencies in reserve, its most substantial moves yet to stabilize a weakening yuan
  • China sealed off parts of Guiyang, capital of the mountainous southern Guizhou province, as an increase in virus cases triggered a stringent response
  • Egypt’s government now favors a more flexible currency to support an economy that’s come under pressure from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a top official said

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asaia-Pac stocks traded somewhat mixed following the holiday lull stateside and as participants braced for this week's central bank decisions beginning with an expected 50bps rate increase by the RBA. ASX 200 lacked firm direction with strength in the energy and tech sectors offset by mixed data releases and an unsurprising 50bps rate increase by the RBA. Nikkei 225 was contained following disappointing household spending and softer wage growth data. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were mixed with Hong Kong pressured as losses in tech overshadowed the strength in property names, while the mainland was underpinned after further support pledges by Chinese authorities and with the PBoC cutting its FX RRR which is seen as a measure to stem the recent currency depreciation.

Top Asian News

  • PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.9096 vs exp. 6.9304 (prev. 6.8998)
  • China's Shanghai reportedly added one high-risk area and two middle-risk areas Tuesday after report of one local asymptomatic COVID case outside of quarantine.
  • Japanese Finance Minister Suzuki confirmed fund requests from ministries for FY23 reached JPY 110tln and said they will decide on a fuel subsidy extension based on prices and other factors.
  • Japan is poised to shorted its COVID isolation time to seven days, Nikkei reported.
  • Japan Arrests Kadokawa Executives in Olympic Bribery Probe
  • MUFG to Sell $600 Million of Marelli Debt to Deutsche Bank
  • PBOC Seen Easing Monetary Policy Despite Yuan Slump
  • Evergrande to Exit Shengjing Bank in $1.1 Billion Forced Sale
  • Nomura India’s Head of Debt Shantanu Sahai Is Said to Leave

European bourses kicked off Tuesday’s trade in the green following a mixed APAC session, which saw no lead from Wall Street amid the US Labor Day holiday. Sentiment this morning was somewhat choppy and bourses trade off highs. Sectors in Europe are mostly firmer and now portraying a mildly anti-defensive/pro-cyclical tilt, with Healthcare, Utilities, Telecoms, and Food & Beverages towards the bottom of the bunch. Stateside, US equity futures remain firmer across the board with the NQ narrowly outpacing the ES, YM, and RTY.

Top European News

  • Europe’s Lehman Warning on Energy Prompts Flurry of Cash Help
  • Retail Rally on Truss Could Be Short-Lived as ‘Storm Is Brewing’
  • UK Utilities Up on Truss Plans to Cap Electricity, Gas Bills
  • Handelsbanken Recruits From Citi, Penser, Dagens Industri
  • European Gas Drops as Governments Move to Fix Energy Crisis

FX

  • The Dollar and index lost upward momentum in low-key US holiday trade on Monday, but found underlying bids to keep the latter propped around 109.50
  • EUR sees some respite and consolidation on either side of 0.9950 against the USD, whilst several ECB headlines were released in the blackout period, albeit from a monthly publication.
  • JPY declined further on yield differentials, with USD/JPY rising above 141.00 and closer to 142.00.
  • Yuan came under renewed pressure irrespective of a firmer than forecast onshore midpoint fix, with China's COVID situation continuing to be a headwind.
  • Russia's Sberbank said they are beginning to lend the Chinese Yuan, seeing large demand for the currency, according to Reuters.

Fixed Income

  • Bunds are off recovery highs, but remain firm within 145.75-144.74 parameters for the Dec contract
  • Gilts have pulled back below parity after rebounding in sympathy to 106.79.
  • 10yr T-note remains depressed towards the bottom of a 116-00/27+ range awaiting the return of US cash markets from the long Labor Day weekend

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent futures have declined below the levels seen at the reopening of electronic trade, but divergence is seen in terms of intraday changes between the contracts as the former saw no settlement on account of the US Labor Day holiday.
  • Spot gold hovers around recent levels just above USD 1,700/oz - gold sees key support at 1699.1 and 1678.4, whilst resistance levels include 1,729 and 1,745.
  • Base metals are mostly firmer with 3M LME copper posting mild gains above USD 7,500/oz but off best levels.
  • France's Aluminium Dunkerque is to cut production by one-fifth amid power costs, according to sources cited by Reuters

Central Banks

  • ECB's Centeno said monetary policy must be patient, ECB may achieve inflation goal with slow normalisation via Eurofi Magazine.
  • ECB's Kazaks said broad of protracted recession could slow rate hikes' ECB will have above the neutral rate if needed via Eurofi Magazine
  • ECB's Scicluna said determining when to use Transmission Protection Instrument (TPI) is a major challenge, via Eurofi Magazine.
  • ECB's Stournaras sees energy costs moderating and bottle easing; EZ inflation is close to its peak, inflation will start steady deceleration via Eurofi Magazine.
  • BoE's Mann said a fast and forceful approach to tightening, potentially followed by a hold or reversal is better than a gradualist approach, while she added that a 75bps rate hike by the BoE is an important question and that they must ensure inflation expectations do not drift further from the target.
  • RBA hiked rates by 50bps to 2.35%, as expected. RBA reiterated that the board is committed to doing what is necessary to ensure inflation returns to the target and it expects to increase rates further in the months ahead but is not on a preset path. Furthermore, it stated that the size and timing of future interest rate increases will be guided by the incoming data and the Board's assessment of the outlook for inflation and the labour market, while it noted that the Australian economy is continuing to grow solidly and national income is being boosted by a record level of the terms of trade.

US Event Calendar

  • 09:45: Aug. S&P Global US Services PMI, est. 44.2, prior 44.1
  • 09:45: Aug. S&P Global US Composite PMI, est. 45.0, prior 45.0
  • 10:00: Aug. ISM Services Index, est. 55.4, prior 56.7

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

US markets might have been closed for the Labor Day holiday, but there was plenty of action in Europe as markets finally reacted to the closure of the Nord Stream gas pipeline on Friday evening. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t a happy one and European assets slumped across the board, with the Euro itself falling beneath $0.99 for the first time since 2002 as we went to press yesterday, whilst the STOXX 600 managed to claw back its initial losses to “only” close -0.62% lower. Those countries most exposed to Russia’s gas were particularly affected, with the DAX falling -2.22% on the day. In the meantime, the prospect that the latest shock would force the ECB into even more aggressive rate hikes saw sovereign bonds yields move higher across the continent.

Of course, the one asset class these losses didn’t apply to were energy itself, and European natural gas futures surged by +14.56% on the day, albeit down from +35% up just after 9am London time. That still leaves them at €246 per megawatt-hour, which is still someway beneath their closing peak at €339 a week and a half ago, but is nevertheless almost five times the level they were trading at a year ago. German power prices for next year also rebounded +12.10% (after falling -48.35% last week), which came as Bloomberg reported people familiar with the matter saying that Germany was now unlikely to meet their target to hit 95% gas storage by November following the recent news on Nord Stream.

In terms of the next policy steps, EU energy ministers are set to meet on Friday, and EU Commission President von der Leyen tweeted that the Commission was “preparing proposals to help vulnerable households and businesses to cope with high energy prices”. She said the aim was to reduce electricity demand, as well as “Enable support to electricity producers facing liquidity challenges linked to volatility”. Let’s see what they come up with, but we also heard from French President Macron, who said he was in favour of an EU-wide windfall tax on energy profits.

Against this backdrop, Brent crude oil prices (+2.92%) moved higher for a second day after the OPEC+ group announced that they would cut production by 100k barrels per day next month. That reverses the increase from September that was one factor helping to lower oil prices, and won’t be welcome news for policymakers as Europe grapples with its own energy issues. In particular, it’ll be interesting to see how this week’s ECB forecasts are affected by the latest energy shock, and how long they expect it to take before inflation returns back to target. In early Asian trade, Brent futures (-0.74%) have reversed a bit of yesterday's gains.

Speaking of the ECB, the latest shock from the Nord Stream headlines led markets to price in a further +6bps of rate hikes over the rest of 2022, which brings the total amount expected to +174.9bps. That takes the expected rate implied by year-end to its highest level yet, and means that markets are pricing the equivalent of a 75bps move this week, and then two further 50bps moves in October and December, so a pace unlike anything we’ve been used to seeing over recent years. And in turn, with investors expecting more aggressive rate hikes and faster inflation, sovereign bonds also sold off significantly, with yields on 10yr bunds (+4.0bps), OATs (+4.6bps) and BTPs (+10.8bps) all moving higher on the day.

Here in the UK, we got confirmation that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would become the next Prime Minister today, after she defeated former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership election. Truss’ victory was somewhat narrower than recent polls had implied, with a 57%-43% win among party members, and it was also the smallest margin of victory for a new leader with Conservative members since the current system was brought in over 20 years ago. UK assets were unaffected by the news, since it had been widely expected in advance, but they’ve significantly underperformed over the last month as the contest has proceeded, with gilts down -8.2% over August (vs. -5.1% for Euro Sovereigns and -2.6% for Treasuries). Furthermore, since Prime Minister Johnson announced his resignation on July 7, sterling has been the worst performer among the G10 currencies, having fallen -4.21% against the US Dollar. Our FX strategist Shreyas Gopal even put out a report yesterday assessing the risks of a UK balance of payments crisis (link here).

In terms of what happens now, Truss will be invited to become PM by the Queen after Johnson resigns today. After that, she’s expected to deliver a speech from 10 Downing Street, and start putting together her new cabinet. The key post of Chancellor of the Exchequer (the UK’s finance minister) is widely expected to go to current Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who wrote in an FT op-ed on Sunday evening that the Truss government would “take immediate action” on the cost of living, and that there would “need to be some fiscal loosening to help people through the winter”. There were also some lines to reassure markets, saying that they would “work to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio over time”, and they “remain fully committed to the independence of the Bank of England”. Overnight all the newspapers are reporting that Truss is close to sanctioning the freezing of energy bills for the next 18 months which could cost an eye watering £130bn. For context the entire covid spending has been estimated at somewhere between £300-400bn.

Asian equity markets are trading higher this morning following yesterday’s announcement by Chinese officials that they will speed up stimulus efforts in the third quarter to boost the economy as evidence points to a further loss of momentum for an economy marred by pandemic related losses and a property slump. The RRR cut yesterday is also helping. As I type, Chinese stocks are leading gains across the region with the Shanghai Composite (+0.96%) and CSI (+0.54%) both moving higher while the Kospi (+0.10%) is also up. Elsewhere, the Nikkei (+0.02%) is recovering from its earlier losses whilst the Hang Seng (-0.33%) is sliding after its opening gains this morning.

S&P 500 (+0.50%) and NASDAQ 100 (+0.63%) futures are edging higher after the holiday. Meanwhile, 2 and 10yr US Treasuries are +6.8bps and +4bps higher respectively, following the global move yesterday.

In monetary policy news, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised its official cash rate (OCR) to the highest level since 2015, increasing it by 50 bps to 2.35%, its fifth hike in a row to curb soaring inflation that is pushing up prices in the nation. In a statement, the RBA Governor Philip Lowe indicated that the central bank would continue to adjust rates as inflation continues to run above its 2%-3% target range. He added that prices are expected to increase further over the months ahead before peaking later this year. Our economists think the move and comments leans slightly more hawkish which is reflected by Aussie yields rising as I type.

In terms of data releases yesterday, we got the final services and composite PMIs for August from Europe, where there were generally downward revisions relative to the flash readings. In the Euro Area, the composite PMI was revised down to 48.9 (vs. flash 49.2), and in the UK, it was revised down to a contractionary 49.6 (vs. flash 50.9), which is the first time in 18 months that the UK composite PMI has been in contractionary territory. Otherwise, Euro Area retail sales grew by +0.3% in July (vs. +0.4% expected).

To the day ahead now, and in the political sphere the main event will be that Liz Truss succeeds Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister. Otherwise on the data side, we’ll get German factory orders for July, the German and UK construction PMI for August, and from the US there’s the final services and composite PMIs for August, and the ISM services index too.

Tyler Durden Tue, 09/06/2022 - 07:51

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The Fed’s Big Problem, There Are Two Economies But Only One Interest Rate

The Fed’s Big Problem, There Are Two Economies But Only One Interest Rate

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

On average, the economy…

Published

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The Fed's Big Problem, There Are Two Economies But Only One Interest Rate

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk.com,

On average, the economy looks OK. But averages are misleading. Several large groups of people are struggling. They all have one thing in common.

Case-Shiller home price index, CPI rent index, and the index of hourly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers.

Who’s Unhappy?

Those looking to buy a home but cannot afford the record high prices, are not faring well in this economy.

The last great time to buy a home was in 2012. Over the next eight years, home prices moved further and further away from wages.

When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, we had record QE, record fiscal stimulus, mortgage rates hit record lows, and inflation hit the highest levels in 40 years.

In response, home prices soared out of sight. Worse yet, the price of rent rose at least 0.4 percent for 28 straight months.

Rent of Primary Residence vs OER

Data from the BLS, chart by Mish

Rent vs OER Chart Notes

  • OER stands for Owners’ Equivalent Rent. It is the price one would pay to rent their own house, unfurnished without rent.

  • Rent of primary residence is just what one would expect. It is measured price of rent, unfurnished, without utilities.

Mass Confusion Over OER

Contrary to widespread myth, OER is a measured price with very minor imputations that do not matter. OER is designed to track rent prices and it does. It is a measured price.

Much of the confusion comes from a misquoted BLS statement on OER, emphasis mine.

The expenditure weight in the CPI market basket for OER is based on the following question that the Consumer Expenditure Survey asks of consumers who own their primary residence: “If someone were to rent your home today, how much do you think it would rent for monthly, unfurnished and without utilities?

Note that these responses are not used in estimating price change for the shelter categories, only the weight.

People quote that question as if that is how the BLS measures prices. It doesn’t. Prices, except for minor, irrelevant imputations, are based on actual measured rents.

No One Pays OER

The problem with OER is the weight not the measure. No one actually pays OER. Rather, people pay mortgages.

Yet, OER it is the single largest component of the CPI with a weight of 26.769 percent. Rent has a weight of 7.671 percent.

Many people conclude that the CPI is overstated because no one pays OER. The problem with this idea is home prices are at record highs and home prices are not in the CPI at all.

Homes are not in the CPI because economists consider them a capital expense not a personal expense.

But so what? Inflation matters not just consumer inflation. The Fed has made a big mess of things by ignoring obvious housing bubbles.

30-year mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates courtesy of Mortgage News Daily, annotations by Mish

When the Fed slashed interest rates to zero, mortgage rates fell below 3.0% for an extended period allowing everyone to refinance at 3.0 percent or below. Most did.

OER rose from 332 to 403 between January of 2020 and January of 2024. That’s a gain of 21.4 percent.

Rent rose from 338 to 412. That’s a gain of 21.9 percent.

Whereas the renter is struggling, the homeowner refinanced lower putting extra money in his pocket every month.

Home owners also benefitted from rising wages, rising value of their home and a stable, not rising mortgage payment.

Winners and Losers

  • The homeowners are generally doing OK. The home ownership rate is 65.7 percent.

  • The 34.3 percent who rent are generally not doing OK.

The study did not break things down by home owners vs renters, but I suspect most of the use is by renters.

According to the latest CPI report, rent was up at least 0.4 percent for the 29th straight month. Shelter, a broader category, rose 0.6 percent. Food rose 0.4 percent.

CPI data from the BLS, chart by Mish

Whereas home owners have a fixed payment, likely refinanced lower than their initial mortgage, renters faces huge increases, not every month, but once a year, big bang.

For discussion please see Another Hotter Than Expected CPI Led by Shelter, Up Another 0.6 Percent

The stress is easy to spot by demographics.

Credit Card and Auto Delinquencies Soar

Credit card debt surged to a record high in the fourth quarter. Even more troubling is a steep climb in 90 day or longer delinquencies.

Record High Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt rose to a new record high of $1.13 trillion, up $50 billion in the quarter. Even more troubling is the surge in serious delinquencies, defined as 90 days or more past due.

For nearly all age groups, serious delinquencies are the highest since 2011 at best.

Auto Loan Delinquencies

Serious delinquencies on auto loans have jumped from under 3 percent in mid-2021 to to 5 percent at the end of 2023 for age group 18-29.

Age group 30-39 is also troubling. Serious delinquencies for age groups 18-29 and 30-39 are at the highest levels since 2010.

For further discussion please see Credit Card and Auto Delinquencies Soar, Especially Age Group 18 to 39

Generational Homeownership Rates

Home ownership rates courtesy of Apartment List

The above chart is from the Apartment List’s 2023 Millennial Homeownership Report

Those struggling with rent are more likely to Millennials and Zoomers than Generation X, Baby Boomers, or members of the Silent Generation.

The same age groups struggling with credit card and auto delinquencies.

On Average Everything is Great

Average it up as Fed and all the clueless economic and political writers do, and things look great.

This is why we have seen countless stories attempting to explain why people should be happy.

Krugman Blames Partisanship

OK, there is a fair amount of partisanship in the polls.

However, Biden isn’t struggling from partisanship alone. If that was the reason, Biden would not be polling so miserably with Democrats in general, blacks, and younger voters.

In addition to Biden’s Age and Senility, this allegedly booming economy left behind the renters and everyone under the age of 40 struggling to make ends meet.

Powell Pleads Patience

In Jerome Powell’s Interview with 60 Minutes, the Fed Chairman Tells 60 Minutes US Fiscal Path is Unsustainable

Powell: When high inflation really threatens to become persistent, we use our tools to bring down inflation. It’s very important for that young couple — and particularly for younger couples starting out who may not have great financial means, that we succeed in this effort.

60 Minutes: You’re asking the American people for patience?

Powell: Yes. And I think people have been patient and have been through a pretty difficult time. And I think now we’re coming through that time and starting to feel a little bit better about things.

Powell, Krugman, and most of the economic writers, even at the Wall Street Journal have not managed to figure out over a third of the nation is struggling.

Many Are Addicted to “Buy Now, Pay Later” Plans

Buy Now Pay Later, BNPL, plans are increasingly popular. It’s another sign of consumer credit stress.

For discussion, please see Many Are Addicted to “Buy Now, Pay Later” Plans, It’s a Big Trap

The study did not break things down by home owners vs renters, but I strongly suspect most of the BNPL use is by renters.

What About Jobs?

Jobs Soar but Full Time Employment Is Barely Changed Since May 2022

Nonfarm payrolls and employment levels from the BLS, chart by Mish.

But hey, that’s OK because on average, the economy is great. Or do we really mean, on average the stock market is great, and the average homeowner is fine?

Hello Mr. Powell

There are two economies (the homeowners/asset holders and everyone else). However, there is only one interest rate. Patience please says Powell.

Lowering rates risks risks fueling the housing bubble and the most expensive stock market in history.

Hello Mr. Powell, it’s your move.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/21/2024 - 07:20

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Dozens Of Major Companies Say 2024 Will Be The Year Of Cost Cutting

Dozens Of Major Companies Say 2024 Will Be The Year Of Cost Cutting

We already know that the Biden administration and the BLS are ignoring…

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Dozens Of Major Companies Say 2024 Will Be The Year Of Cost Cutting

We already know that the Biden administration and the BLS are ignoring the massive layoffs happening across corporate America in favor of pushing some asinine narrative that 'Bidenomics', whatever that even means, is somehow creating jobs other than 2nd and 3rd jobs for senior citizens driving Uber when they should be retired. 

Now, it's becoming clear that 2024 could be the year when corporations continue 'cost cutting', which could mean a number of strategies, almost all of which result in less employees and less pay instead of more. 

Executives from various industries, including toy, cosmetics, and technology sectors, are cutting costs and jobs, even in profitable companies such as Mattel, PayPal, Cisco, Nike, Estée Lauder, and Levi Strauss, CNBC wrote this week.

Macy's plans to shut five stores and cut over 2,300 jobs, while airlines like JetBlue and Spirit offer buyouts, and United reduces in-flight services. This trend is driven by consumer caution and investor pressure for companies to adapt to changing demand and higher expenses, the report says.

Significant labor contracts in sectors like airlines and UPS have raised costs, challenging businesses accustomed to passing these on to consumers. Remember those celebrations people were having about UPS drivers winning their new contracts just months ago? UPS is already laying off drivers as a result.

Walmart is expanding its store network, contrasting with the broader cost-cutting movement. Major banks have already reduced their workforce significantly, anticipating economic shifts. U.S. companies announced significant job cuts in January, indicating a focus on profit optimization amid steady earnings reports without relying on substantial price or sales increases.

A full list of major companies that have laid off workers or implemented strategies to cut costs include:

  • Mattel
  • PayPal
  • Cisco
  • Nike
  • Estée Lauder
  • Levi Strauss
  • Macy’s
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • UPS
  • Meta (parent of Facebook and Instagram)
  • Amazon
  • Alphabet (parent of Google)
  • Microsoft
  • Warner Bros. Discovery
  • Disney
  • Paramount Global
  • Comcast (parent company of NBCUniversal)
  • Delta Air Lines
  • General Motors
  • Ford Motor
  • Stellantis
  • Chipotle
  • Wells Fargo
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Home Depot

Meta's restructuring in 2023 set a precedent for tech giants like Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Cisco to reduce their workforces. But the trend extends beyond tech, with UPS cutting 12,000 jobs and others in retail and entertainment also announcing layoffs.

Significant cost savings have been announced by major corporations, including Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney, with the latter aiming for $7.5 billion in savings.

Paramount Global and NBCUniversal have also trimmed their staffs. Cost-cutting measures have reached various sectors, including airlines adjusting services and deferring expenses, and automakers scaling back investments due to challenges in demand and EV adoption.

“You’re seeing a rebalancing happening in the labor markets, in the capital markets. And that rebalancing is still going to play out and gradually lead to a more sustainable environment of lower inflation and lower interest rates, and perhaps a little bit slower growth, said Gregory Daco, chief economist for EY.

He continued, telling CNBC: “You are in an environment where cost fatigue is very much part of the equation for consumers and business leaders. The cost of most everything is much higher than it was before the pandemic, whether it’s goods, inputs, equipment, labor, even interest rates.”

Even Chipotle is experimenting with robots to boost efficiency. These adjustments reflect a broader recalibration after the pandemic's disruptions, with companies aiming for a sustainable balance in a potentially slower economic growth environment.

Tyler Durden Wed, 02/21/2024 - 05:45

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Walmart Hits Record High After Earnings Beat, Despite Soft Guidance, Warning About “Choiceful” Consumers Spending Less

Walmart Hits Record High After Earnings Beat, Despite Soft Guidance, Warning About "Choiceful" Consumers Spending Less

Walmart shares hit…

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Walmart Hits Record High After Earnings Beat, Despite Soft Guidance, Warning About "Choiceful" Consumers Spending Less

Walmart shares hit a new all-time high after the largest bricks and mortar retailer reported earnings that beat expectations despite providing guidance that was marginally softer, as choosy shoppers nevertheless kept buying in its stores.

Here is what the company report for the final quarter of 2023:

  • Adjusted EPS $1.80 (excluding impact, net of tax, from a net gain of $0.23 on equity and other investments) vs. $1.71 y/y, beating estimate of $1.65
  • Revenue $173.39 billion, +5.7% y/y, beating estimate $170.66 billion
    • Total US comparable sales ex-gas +3.9%, estimate +3.2%
    • Walmart-only US stores comparable sales ex-gas +4%, estimate +3.12%
    • Sam's Club US comparable sales ex-gas +3.1%, estimate +2.99%
  • Change in US E-Commerce sales +17%, beating estimate +15.5%
  • Adjusted operating income $7.25 billion, beating estimate $6.79 billion

Of the metrics reported, however, the most important one is that Walmart’s same-store sales (ex fuel), rose 4% YoY for US stores (of which net sales was 3.% and eCommerce added 17%). Wall Street was expecting 3.1% so the number was clearly a beat and was driven by "strength in grocery, health and wellness, offset by softness in general merchandise", and was the result of higher transactions (+4.3%) offsetting average ticket prices, which dropped 0.3% YoY. Still, the number is a far cry from the 8.3% comp sales a year ago.

In keeping with the noted softness in general merchandise, the world’s largest retailer delivered softer guidance for the current fiscal year, as it expects consumers to be selective in their spending:

  • For full-year 2025, WMT sees
    • Net sales +3% to +4%, slower than growth from the prior year, and adjusted EPS $6.70 to $7.12, slightly disappointing vs the median consensus estimate of $7.09
    • Capital expenditures approximately 3.0% to 3.5% of net sales
  • For Q1, 2025, WMT sees sees adjusted EPS $1.48 to $1.56.

Discussing the quarter, CEO Doug McMillan said that "we crossed $100 billion in eCommerce sales and drove share gains as our customer experience metrics improved, evenduring our highest volume days leading up to the holidays"

Commenting on customer "selectivity", CFO John Rainey said that “they are being choiceful" as consumers continue to spend less per trip but have been shopping frequently, adding that the company expects some resilience to continue for the rest of the year.

There was more good news: Walmart is gaining share in nearly every category, according to Rainey, with e-commerce among the factors driving growth as the company trims losses associated with handling online orders. Furthermore, while deflation is still a possibility, the company expects it to be less likely based on what it observed during the latest quarter.

That said, while grabbing more spending with low-priced groceries and other basics, Walmart has been cautious in recent months about the health of the consumer amid persistent inflation and higher interest rates. As noted above, US consumers have been buying cheaper products and seeking value, as they pull back from discretionary products like general merchandise. That has resulted in softer sales for some retailers, including Target Corp. and Home Depot Inc. Other big-box retailers are set to report their quarterly earnings in the coming weeks.

As Bloomberg notes, the recent moderation in inflation is another challenge for Walmart and other retail operators that have passed down price increases to consumers over the past few years. This has contributed to higher dollar sales for companies, followed by an uptick in revenue during the pandemic when people bought more groceries and home goods. Such increases are slowing overall, though inflation remains stubborn in some areas like groceries and shelter.

Similar to all of its major competitors, Walmart has been beefing up automation in warehouses and stores in recent years, while remodeling locations to make them more modern. Pickup and delivery businesses continue to expand, driving share gains among upper-income households and fueling growth of the Walmart+ membership program.

Separately, Walmart said it agreed to buy smart-TV maker Vizio Holding Corp. for about $2.3 billion. The deal would accelerate the retailer’s advertising business, called Walmart Connect, and help Walmart and its advertisers engage more with customers. Walmart has been expanding Walmart Connect and other nonretail businesses that have faster growth and better margins. The deal announcement confirmed a Wall Street Journal report from last week. Vizio shares soared 15% in Tuesday premarket trading.

As for WMT, the Bentonville, after the stock gained 16% over the past year, it jumped another 5.7% on Tuesday rising to a new all time high as investors were clearly satisfied with what they saw.

Full investor presentation below (pdf link)

Tyler Durden Tue, 02/20/2024 - 10:17

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