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Futures Rebound As Energy Prices Soar

Futures Rebound As Energy Prices Soar

US equity futures and European markets rebounded from a tech rout on Monday that was triggered by fears of soaring energy costs, stagflation, tech overvaluation and escalating Chinese property distress…

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Futures Rebound As Energy Prices Soar

US equity futures and European markets rebounded from a tech rout on Monday that was triggered by fears of soaring energy costs, stagflation, tech overvaluation and escalating Chinese property distress even as Asian shares tracked Monday's broad Wall Street sell-off to weaken for a third straight session. The dollar rose and yields rebounded back ato 1.50% as the rise in oil continued, pushing Brent above $82/bbl. At of 7:15am ET, S&P futures were up 16.25 points, or 0.38%, to 4,307; Dow futs were up 116 points and Nasdaq futures rose 47.25 points as technology shares bounced in Europe. Bitcoin jumped above $50,000 for the first time since Sept 7.

The “market correction, initially sparked by tapering expectations and China’s property sector worries, is now being driven by record energy prices as well as lingering political uncertainties in the U.S. about the crucial question of the debt ceiling,” said Pierre Veyret, a technical analyst at ActivTrades. “Markets are likely to stay volatile this week and with no clear direction until there is significant progress on the existing concerns.”

Additionally, the recent calm in global markets which hit an all time high as recently as a few weeks ago, has been shattered by a growing wall of worry spanning a debt crisis in China, elevated inflation on the back of commodity supply shocks, fading economic recovery and U.S. political bickering. Meanwhile, investors brace for a tapering of stimulus by the Federal Reserve.

Nerves eased on Tuesday, however, led by a tech rebound following Monday's Facebook-led rout, and big bank stocks were higher in premarket trading as 10-year Treasury yields climbed to about 1.5% led again by breakevens as oil not only held onto recent impressive gains - along with most other commodities after a gauge of commodities soared to an all-time record - but Brent rose above $82 .

As to the insanity in Europe's gas sector, European natural gas contracts soared on Tuesday to an unprecedented 111.70 euros per megawatt-hour, compared with 15.49 euros in February. The continent is bracing for a winter crunch in energy supply, with German front-month power contracts also jumping to record levels.

Global shortages of gas and coal are pushing energy prices higher, disrupting markets from the U.K. to China, as economies emerge from the pandemic. Surging costs are threatening to raise inflation and starting to weigh onindustrial production, with some companies in Europe forced to cut output. “The fiercely nervous sentiment on the market continues due to fears of reduced supply during the winter,” trader Energi Danmark wrote in a note Tuesday. “Everything looks set for another week of price climbs.”

In U.S. premarket trading, Facebook found dip buyers in premarket trading after a 4.9% plunge on Monday amid an hours-long service disruption. The stock added 1.6% in the early New York session. Lordstown Motors shares declined as much as 4.6% after the electric vehicle automaker was downgraded to underweight by Morgan Stanley, while the PT was also cut to $2 from $8. Uphealth fell after pricing its share offering at a discount. And Facebook was up 1.5% following Monday’s slump after it blamed a global service outage that kept its social media apps offline for much of yesterday on a problem with its network configuration. Here are some other notable premarket movers:

  • Amplify Energy (AMPY US) rises 10% in U.S. premarket trading, paring some of Monday’s 44% plunge tied to an oil spill from a California offshore pipeline operated by the company
  • Comtech Telecom (CMTL US) slid more than 7% Monday postmarket after it reported adjusted earnings below average analyst estimates

It is “the period of a multiplicity of shocks percolating through the financial markets leaving them in the fog, with many watching from the sidelines for clarity,” Sebastien Galy, a senior macro strategist at Nordea Invetsment, wrote in a note.

The technology subgroup in Europe’s benchmark Stoxx 600 advanced for the first time in eight days. European natural-gas contracts jumped as much as 16% and West Texas Intermediate crude headed for a seven-year high.

Earlier in the session, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped as much as 1.3%, declining for a third consecutive session. Japan stocks were down 2.5%, South Korea gave up 2% and Australia shed 0.4%. The drop in markets took MSCI's main benchmark to 619.77, the lowest since November 2020 but it pared losses to be down 0.6% in late Asia trade. The index has shed more than 5% this year, with Hong Kong and Japanese markets among the big losers.

"Investors are clearly worried about inflation due to supply chain disruptions and the rally in energy prices," said Vasu Menon, executive  director of investment strategy at OCBC Bank.  "We have seen tech stocks outperform value stocks, so if inflation remains a worry, then tech stocks tend to get hit," Menon said.

In rates, Treasuries were under pressure with yields near session highs, cheaper by up to 2.5bp across belly of the curve. Yields rose not only on the continued surge in commodities, but about the total chaos over the debt ceiling D-Date which will be hit in two weeks. Gilts lag amid bond auctions, adding to upside pressure on yields, while S&P 500 futures pare about a third of Monday’s 1.3% slide. The RBA kept monetary policy unchanged as expected. 

In FX, the dollar rose against most Group-of-10 currencies near a one-year high versus major peers ahead of key U.S. payrolls data due at the end of the week; the pound bucked the trend, advancing for a fourth session. The euro fell 0.25% to $1.1592, while the yen rose 0.29% to $111.18. Leveraged funds sold the kiwi aggressively after a New Zealand business survey showed weak third-quarter economic sentiment.  Sentiment on the euro over the next year reached its most bearish since June 2020 on Friday amid a widening policy divergence between the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.

In commodities, oil prices reached a three-year high on Monday (and continued higher on Tuesday) after OPEC+ confirmed it would stick to its current output policy as demand for petroleum products rebounds, despite pressure from some countries for a bigger boost to production. Underscoring the rise in commodity prices, the Refinitiv/CoreCommodity CRB index rose to 233.08 on Monday, the highest in more than six years. U.S. oil rose 1.15% to $78.51 a barrel, a day after hitting its highest since 2014. Brent crude stood at $82.2 after rising to a three-year top. Gold prices eased to $1,757 per ounce, after rising on Monday to the highest since Sept. 23.

"OPEC+ may inadvertently cause oil prices to surge even higher, adding to an energy crisis that primarily reflects very tight gas and coal markets," said Commonwealth Bank of Australia's commodities analyst Vivek Dhar. "That potentially threatens the global economic recovery, just as global oil demand growth is picking up as economies re‑open on the back of rising vaccination rates," Dhar said in a note.

Traders are now turning their attention to Friday’s nonfarm-payrolls data to gauge the timing of the Fed’s taper. In the latest Fed comments, St. Louis President James Bullard said elevated price pressures may be changing the mentality of businesses and consumers by making them more accustomed to higher inflation. Australia’s central bank kept its monetary settings unchanged.

Looking at the day ahead now, the main data highlight will be the services and composite PMIs for September from around the world. We’ll also get the Euro Area PPI reading for August, and from the US there’s the August trade balance and the September ISM Services index. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Holzmann, and the Fed’s Quarles.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,301.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 452.37
  • MXAP down 0.7% to 192.58
  • MXAPJ down 0.3% to 626.41
  • Nikkei down 2.2% to 27,822.12
  • Topix down 1.3% to 1,947.75
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 24,104.15
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.9% to 3,568.17
  • Sensex up 0.4% to 59,531.35
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,248.36
  • Kospi down 1.9% to 2,962.17
  • Brent Futures up 0.7% to $81.86/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,758.11
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.15% to 93.92
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.2 bps to -0.225%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1603

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • China’s heavily leveraged property firms saw their stocks and bonds tumble after a failure by developer Fantasia Holdings Group Co. to repay notes deepened investor concerns about the sector’s outlook
  • A steep surge in inflation in the euro area has started to take its toll on the economy, according to a survey by IHS Markit
  • China will strictly prevent bank and insurance funds from being used in speculating commodities in a push to maintain market order and stabilize prices
  • The Federal Reserve said that its internal watchdog plans to open an investigation into trading activity by senior U.S. central bank officials, following revelations about transactions in 2020
  • Facebook Inc. blamed a global service outage that kept its social media apps offline for much of Monday on a problem with its network configuration, adding that it found no evidence that user data was compromised during the downtime

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were pressured following the tech sell-off in the US and amid several headwinds for global markets including US-China trade frictions, China's record incursion into Taiwanese airspace and with higher oil prices stoking inflationary concerns. ASX 200 (-0.6%) was dragged lower after the losses in tech rolled over into the region and following somewhat mixed Trade and PMI data releases, but with downside stemmed by resilience in gold miners and the energy sector, after gains in the underlying commodity prices including the rally in oil to a seven-year high. Nikkei 225 (-2.2%) slumped below the 28k level and briefly entered into correction territory as it suffered intraday losses of as much as 3% and with index heavyweights Fast Retailing and SoftBank dominating the list of worst performers, while KOSPI (-1.9%) also fell into a correction with the index at least 10% below the record highs registered earlier this year despite efforts by South Korea’s antitrust regulator to dispel fears of a harsh tech crackdown. Hang Seng (+0.3%) was pressured at the open amid tech woes and default fears after reports that Fantasia Holdings missed payments due yesterday for USD 206mln of bonds, although the Hong Kong benchmark then pared its losses with notable strength seen in Chinese oil majors as they benefit from the rising energy prices. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially kept afloat by the risk aversion but then reversed course amid the uninspired mood in T-notes and Bund futures, as well as weaker metrics from the 10yr JGB auction which attracted a lower bid to cover despite a decline in accepted prices.

Top Asian News

  • Gold Drops After Three-Day Gain as Yields and Dollar Push Higher
  • ‘Kishida Shock’ Hits Japan Markets Wary of Redistribution Plan
  • China Orders Banks to Ramp Up Funding to Boost Coal Output
  • S.Korea’s NPS Could Lose $3.5m From Evergrande Stock Investment

European equities (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.9%; Stoxx 600 +0.7%) have extended on the marginal gains seen at the open as indices attempt to claw back some of yesterday’s losses. Incremental macro newsflow since the close has not provided much cause for optimism and therefore it remains to be seen how durable any recovery will be. Overnight, the APAC session was mostly downbeat as the region contended with the negative US lead, ongoing US-China trade frictions, China's record incursion into Taiwanese airspace and higher oil prices stoking inflationary concern. Final PMIs for the Eurozone saw the composite revised very modestly higher to 56.02 from 56.1 with IHS Markit noting “the current economic situation in the eurozone is an unwelcome mix of rising price pressures but slower growth”. Stateside, futures are exhibiting gains of a similar magnitude to their European counterparts with the ES +0.2% and no real discernible theme across the US majors as traders await further progress in Washington. Sectors in Europe are mostly higher with clear outperformance in banking names with JP Morgan bullish on the sector; Credit Agricole sits at the top of the CAC after launching a new EUR 500mln share repurchase scheme. To the downside, laggards include Construction & Materials and Autos. Individual movers include Greggs (+8.7%) at the top of the Stoxx 600 after raising its profit outlook for the FY despite concerns over supply chain disruptions and staffing issues. Elsewhere, Infineon (+2.8%) has provided some support for the IT sector after confirming its FY 21 forecasts and being confident about the FY22 outlook. Finally, Melrose (-2.2%) is a notable laggard after the Co. cautioned on the fallout of the global chip shortage which has prompted a surge in client cancellations.

Top European News

  • European Banks Have Upside on Capital Returns, Yields, JPM Says
  • Romania Edges Toward First Rate Hike Since 2018: Decision Guide
  • Romania Approves Partial Compensation for Higher Energy Costs
  • Morgan Stanley Expands Diversity-Focused ‘Shark Tank’ to Europe

In FX, the broader Dollar and index remain firmer on the session, with the latter on either side of 94.000 from a 93.804 overnight base, but still within yesterday’s 93.675-94.104 range which marks the first immediate points of support/resistance. State-side, US President Biden spoke with 12 progressive members of Congress in which they agreed to follow through on key priorities, while it was also reported that President Biden told House progressives the spending package needs to be between USD 1.9tln-2.2tln. Biden will meet with moderate House Democrats virtually today. It is also worth keeping an eye on the Fed’s review of trading activities which could lead to a shift in the balance between hawks and doves, following the parting of hawks Rosengren (2022 voter) and Kaplan (2023 voter), who were set to be voters during the projected rate hike period. Ahead, the US ISM Services PMI will likely be the focal point from a state-side data standpoint.

  • EUR, GBP - The EUR and GBP continue to diverge. Sterling extends on earlier gains, seemingly a function of the EUR/GBP cross topping out just before its 50 DMA (0.8546) before taking out yesterday’s 0.8529 low on its way towards 0.8500. The Sterling strength has helped Cable regain 1.3600+ status from a 1.3585 low. EUR/USD meanders around 1.1600 in a relatively narrow 1.1591-1.1622 current intraday band – with yesterday’s low at 1.1586 ahead of the 200 WMA at 1.1572. Europe saw the release of final Services and Composite PMIs, which continue to highlight the theme of rising prices and spillover into demand.
  • AUD, NZD, CAD - he non-US Dollars see mild losses but trade off worst levels as the Dollar recedes and as market sentiment holds an upside bias. The AUD/NZD cross meanwhile remains in focus amid this week’s RBA/RBNZ central bank standoff. The RBA overnight provided no surprises and did not contain any significant new observations, with the currency experiencing choppiness upon the release. The RBNZ, meanwhile, is poised for a 25bps OCR hike at its announcement at 02:00BST/21:00EDT tomorrow. The AUD/NZD cross resides around session lows near 1.0455, whilst OpEx sees some AUD 2.1bln at strike 1.0410. The Loonie sees an underlying bid from crude prices, with USD/CAD back under its 50 DMA at 1.2600 ahead of Canadian trade data.
  • JPY, CHF - The traditional havens are at the foot of the G10 bunch in what is seemingly a risk-influenced move. USD/JPY within a tight 110.88-111.25 band vs yesterday’s 110.50-112.07 range. USD/CHF, meanwhile, has popped above its 21 DMA (0.9250) and trades towards the top of its current 0.9238-70 parameter.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are choppy but ultimately hold an upside bias in the aftermath of the OPEC+ meeting yesterday. Nonetheless, the benchmarks remain near yesterday’s highs which saw Brent Dec test USD 82.00/bbl to the upside. Brent resides around USD 81.50/bbl at the time of writing whilst WTI Nov hovers just under USD 78/bbl. With OPEC out of the way and until the next meeting, traders will be eyeing developments (if any) regarding the Iranian nuclear talks, alongside the electricity situation in China. Furthermore, traders must be cognizant of potential intervention by governments in a bid to control rising energy prices. As a reminder, the White House held talks with Saudi counterparts before the recent OPEC+ meeting and expressed concern on prices. Aside from that, news flow for the complex has been light during the European morning. Elsewhere, precious metals are softer on the day but spot gold and silver trade off worst levels with the yellow metal still holding into USD 1,750/oz-status and spot silver back above USD 22.50/oz. Over to base metals, LME copper remains pressured in what seems to be a continuation of the lacklustre trade seen during APAC hours amid a lack of demand as China remains on holiday.

US Trade Calendar

  • 8:30am: Aug. Trade Balance, est. -$70.8b, prior -$70.1b
  • 9:45am: Sept. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 54.5
  • 9:45am: Sept. Markit US Services PMI, est. 54.4, prior 54.4
  • 10am: Sept. ISM Services Index, est. 59.8, prior 61.7

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

I’m hoping you all survived without WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook yesterday after the outage. We actually had to resort to a conversation over dinner last night. It was a bit weird without hearing pings go off every few minutes. Once the conversation dried up we went on Twitter and then watched Netflix so it wasn’t a total disaster for US tech in our household. Oh and I’m writing this on my iPad while looking up a few things on Google.

Tech led the sell-off last night that stretched to both equities and bonds. One of the noticeable features of the recent weakness in equities is that bonds have struggled to rally. This hints at technicals being nowhere near as strong as they were in the summer and also a realisation that bonds aren’t a great haven if the sell-off is partly inflation related. By the close of trade yesterday, the S&P 500 had shed another -1.30%, making it the 3rd time in the last 5 sessions that the index has lost more than 1%, with the latest move now taking it -5.21% beneath its all-time closing high back in early September. However, unlike some of the other declines of the last month, which have been quite obviously connected to a particular concern like Evergrande or the impact of higher yields, the latest selloff looks to be coming from a more generalised set of concerns, with those worries given a fresh impetus by yet another rise in energy prices yesterday as oil hit multi-year highs. In turn, that spike in energy prices has led to renewed fears about inflation accelerating even further than current forecasts are implying, with knock-on implications for central banks and the amount of monetary stimulus we can expect over the coming months.

We’ll start with those moves in energy given the effects they had elsewhere. Yesterday saw Brent Crude oil prices (+2.50%) close above $81/bbl for the first time in nearly 3 years, and this morning it’s up another +0.42%. On top of that, WTI (+2.29%) oil prices hit a 6-year high of its own at $77.62/bbl, which saw its YTD gains rise above +60%. The latest advance for oil has come as the OPEC+ group agreed yesterday that they’d stick to their planned output hike of +400k barrels per day in November, in spite of some speculation that there could be a larger increase in supply. However, it wasn’t just oil moving higher, with European natural gas prices (+2.07%) taking another leg up after their recent surge, which leaves them just shy of their recent peak last Thursday. And what’s also concerning from an inflationary standpoint is that the moves in commodities were broader than simply energy, with metals including copper (+1.17%) seeing sizeable gains as well. Overall, that meant Bloomberg’s Commodity Spot Index (+1.12%) finally exceeded its 2011 high yesterday, and brings the index’s gains since the post-pandemic low in March 2020 to +94.7%.

Against this backdrop, equities took another tumble as the major indices on both sides of the Atlantic moved lower, including the S&P 500 (-1.30%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (-0.47%). Tech stocks saw the brunt of the declines, with the NASDAQ down -2.14% and the FANG+ index down -3.00%, while Europe’s STOXX Technology Index (-2.39%) fell for a 7th consecutive session. Facebook was one of the bigger laggards yesterday as it fell -4.89% - its worst day since November 2020. The company is dealing with whistleblower allegations that their internal research doesn’t match what executives have been saying about the effect the social media company has on its users. The equal weight S&P 500 was only down -0.63% so the big tech stocks definitely led the way. European equities were less affected than their US counterparts however, having missed out on Friday’s late US equity rally following the European close, with the DAX (-0.79%), the CAC 40 (-0.61%) and the FTSE 100 (-0.23%) all seeing declines of less than 1%. A lower tech weighting probably also helped.

Those concerns about stagflation represented further bad news for sovereign bonds yesterday, as investors moved to upgrade their expectations of future inflation. In Europe, 10yr German breakevens were up by +2.0bps to an 8-year high of 1.72%, while their Italian counterparts hit their highest level in over a decade, at 1.63%. Meanwhile in the US, 10yr breakevens were also up +1.3bps to 2.39%. Those moves in inflation expectations supported higher yields, with those on 10yr Treasuries up +1.7bps to 1.479% by the close of trade, as yields on bunds (+1.0bps), OATs (+1.3bps) and BTPs (+1.8bps) similarly moved higher.

Overnight in Asia, equities have mostly followed the US lower, with the Nikkei (-2.77%), KOSPI (-1.71%), and Australia’s ASX 200 (-0.74%) all losing ground, though the Hang Seng (+0.20%) has recovered slightly thanks to energy stocks, and S&P 500 futures (+0.13%) are also pointing to a modest recovery. Those declines for the Nikkei and the KOSPI leave them just shy of a 10% correction from their recent peaks. In terms of the latest on Evergrande, there are signs that risks are spreading to other property developers, as China’s Fantasia Holdings missed a repayment worth $205.7m on a bond that matured Monday. Unsurprisingly, the developments are continuing to affect China’s HY dollar bond prices, with a Bloomberg index now down by -14.3% since its high back in May. Elsewhere in Asia, we got confirmation shortly after we went to press yesterday from new Japanese PM Fumio Kishida that there’d be a general election on October 31. Interestingly, that will actually be the 3rd general election in a G7 economy in the space of just six weeks, following the votes in Canada and Germany in late September.

Back to the US, and Treasury Secretary Yellen’s estimated deadline to raise the debt ceiling – 18 Oct – is now under 2 weeks away, and during a press conference yesterday President Biden called on Republicans to join with Democrats to raise the debt limit, arguing that over a quarter of the US debt was accumulated during the Trump administration and that it should not be tied to “any new spending being considered. It has nothing to do with my plan for infrastructure or building back better, zero.” Senate Majority Leader Schumer plans to hold a vote this week to lift the debt ceiling, though Republicans are set to block the legislation and are forcing Democrats to use the partisan budget reconciliation process that is currently the vehicle of the Biden “Build Back Better” plan.

Whilst time was running out to deal with the debt ceiling, President Biden also met with progressive House Democrats yesterday to discuss the budget reconciliation package and about potentially limiting the scope of the bill that makes up much of the President’s economic agenda. Press Secretary Psaki said that there is a “recognition that this package is going to be smaller than originally proposed,” but that the President is looking to get it across the goal line. Initial estimates could see the final package closer to $2 trillion over 10 years versus the current $3.5 trillion plans.

Meanwhile on trade, the Biden administration also announced yesterday that they would hold direct talks with Chinese officials in the coming week seeking to enforce prior commitments and start fresh talks to exclude some goods from US tariffs. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai will meet with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, and is expected to focus on how to add and adjust to the Trump administration’s most recent deal with the Chinese government rather than starting from scratch.

There wasn’t much in the way of data yesterday, though US factory orders in August rose by +1.2% (vs. +1.0% expected), and the previous month’s growth was revised up to +0.7% (vs. +0.4% previously).

To the day ahead now, and the main data highlight will be the services and composite PMIs for September from around the world. We’ll also get the Euro Area PPI reading for August, and from the US there’s the August trade balance and the September ISM Services index. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Holzmann, and the Fed’s Quarles.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/05/2021 - 07:45

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Economics

Dollar Slump Halted as Stocks and Bonds Retreat

Overview: Hopes that the global tightening cycle is entering its last phase supplied the fodder for a continued dramatic rally in equities and bonds….

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Overview: Hopes that the global tightening cycle is entering its last phase supplied the fodder for a continued dramatic rally in equities and bonds. The euro traded at par for the first time in two weeks, while sterling reached almost $1.1490, its highest since September 15. The US 10-year yield has fallen by 45 bp in the past five sessions. Yet, the scar tissue from the last bear market rally is still fresh and US equity futures are lower after the S&P 500 had its best two days since 2020. Europe’s Stoxx 600, which has gained more than 5% its three-day rally is more around 0.9% lower in late morning turnover. The large Asia-Pacific bourses advanced, led by a nearly 6% rally in Hong Kong as it returned from holiday. Similarly, the bond market, which rallied with stocks, has sold off. The US 10-year yield is up around seven basis points to 3.70%, while European yields are 7-14 bp higher. Peripheral premiums are also widening. The dollar is firmer against most G10 currencies, with the New Zealand dollar holding its own after the central bank delivered was seems to be a hawkish 50 bp hike. Emerging market currencies are mostly lower, including Poland where the central bank is expected to deliver a 25 bp hike shortly. After rising to $1730 yesterday, gold is offered and could ease back toward $1700 near-term. December WTI is consolidating after rallying around 8.5% earlier this week as the OPEC+ decision is awaited. Speculation over a large nominal cut helped lift prices. US and European natural gas prices are softer today. Iron ore is extended yesterday’s gains, while December copper is paring yesterday’s 2.35% gain. December wheat is off for a third session, and if sustained, would be the longest losing streak since mid-August.  

Asia Pacific

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand quickly laid to rest ideas that the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision to hike only a quarter of a point yesterday instead of a half-point was representative of a broader development. It told us nothing about anything outside of Australia. The RBNZ delivered the expected 50 bp increase and acknowledged it had considered a 75 bp move. In addition, it signaled further tightening would be delivered. It meets next on November 23, and the market has more than an 85% chance of another 50 bp hike discounted.

Both Australia and Japan's final service and composite PMI were revised higher in the final reading. Japan's service PMI was tweaked to 52.2 from 51.9. It was 49.5 in August. Similarly, the composite is at 51.0, up from 50.9 flash reading and 49.4 in August. In Australia, the service and composite PMI were at 50.2 in August. The flash estimate put it at 50.4 and 50.8, respectively. The final reading is 50.6 and 50.9 for the service and composite PMI.

Softer US yields weighed on the dollar against the yen. On Monday, it briefly traded above JPY145. Today, it traded at a seven-day low, slightly above JPY143.50. US yields are firmer, and the greenback has recovered and traded above JPY144.50 in early European turnover. The intraday momentum indicators are getting stretched, and the JPY144.75 area may cap it today. The Australian dollar traded to almost $.06550 yesterday but has struggled to sustain upticks over $0.6520 today. Initial support is seen in the $0.6450-60 area. Trade figures are out tomorrow. The New Zealand dollar initially rose to slightly through $0.5800 on the back of the hike but has succumbed to the greenback's strength. It returned little changed levels around $0.5730 before finding a bid in Europe. The US dollar reached CNH7.2675 last week and finished last week near CNH7.1420. It fell to almost CNH7.01 today and bounced smartly. A near-term low look to be in place, a modest dollar recovery seems likely. 

Europe

UK Prime Minister Truss will speak at the Tory Party Conference as the North American session gets under way. We argued that calling retaining the 45% highest marginal tax rate a "U-turn" was an exaggeration and misreading of the new government. It was the most controversial part of the mini budget apparently among the Tory MPs. This was a strategic retreat and a small price to pay for the other 98% of Kwarteng's announcement. Bringing forward the November 23 "medium-term fiscal plan" (still to be confirmed with specifics) is more about process than substance. The fact that she seems to be considering not making good her Tory predecessor pledge to link welfare payments to inflation suggests she has not been chastened by the cold bath reception to her government's first actions. However, on another front, Truss is changing her stance. As Foreign Secretary she drafted legislation that overrode the Northern Ireland Protocol unilaterally. In a more profound shift, she has abandoned the legislation and UK-EU talks resumed this week Truss is hopeful for a deal in the spring. Lastly, we note that the UK service and composite PMI were revised to show smaller deterioration from August. The service PMI is at 50 not 49.2 as the flash estimate had it. It was at 50.9 previously. The composite remains below 50 at 49.1, but the preliminary estimate had it at 48.4 from 49.6 in August. 

Germany's announcement of the weekend of a 200 bln euro off-budget "defensive shield" has spurred more rancor in Europe. Not all countries have the fiscal space of Germany. Two EC Commissioners called for an EU budget response. They seem to look at the 1.8 trillion-euro joint debt program (Next Generation fund) as precedent. This is, of course, the issue. During the pandemic, some suggested this was a key breakthrough for fiscal union, a congenital birth defect of EMU. However, this is exactly what the fight is about. If there is no joint action, the net result will likely be more fragmentation of the internal markets. Still, the creditor nations will resist, and Germany's Finance Minister Linder was first out of the shoot. While claiming to be open to other measures, Linder argued that challenge now is from supply shock, not demand. On the other hand, the European Parliament mandated that all mobile phones, tablets, and cameras are equipped with USB-C charge by the end of 2024. The costs savings is estimated to be around 250 mln euros a year. No fiscal union, partial banking, and monetary union, but a charger union.

The final PMI disappointed in the eurozone. The Big 4 preliminary readings were revised lower, suggesting conditions deteriorated further since the flash estimates. It was small change, but the direction was uniform. On the aggregate level, the service PMI was revised lower to 48.8 from 48.9 and 49.8 in August. The composite reading eased to 48.1 from 48.2 preliminary estimate and 48.9 in August. Italy and Spain, for which there is no flash report, were both weaker than expected, further below the 50 boom/bust level. France was the only one of these four that had a composite reading above 50 and improved from August. Separately, France reported a dramatic 2.4% rise in the August industrial output. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey was for an unchanged report. Lastly, we note that Germany's August trade surplus was a quarter of the size that economists (median in the Bloomberg survey) expected at 1.2 bln euros instead of 4.7 bln. Adding insult to injury, the July balance was revised to 3.4 bln euros from 5.4 bln.

The euro stalled near $1.00 yesterday, the highest level since September 20. However, it has come back better offered today and fell slightly below $0.9925 in early European activity. Initial support is seen around $0.9900 and then $0.9840-50. The euro finished last week slightly above $0.9800. We suspect that market may consolidate broadly now ahead of Friday's US jobs report. The euro's gains seem more a function of short covering than bottom picking. Sterling edged a little closer to $1.15 but could not push through and has been setback to about $1.1380. The intraday momentum indicators allow for a bit more slippage and the next support area is around $1.1350.

America

Fed Chair Powell has explained that for inflation, one number, the PCE deflator best captures the price pressures. However, he says, the labor market has many dimensions and no one number does it justice. Weekly initial jobless claims fell to five-month lows in late September. On the other hand, the ISM manufacturing employment index fell below the 50 boom/bust level for the fourth month in the past five. The JOLTS report showed the labor market easing, with job openings falling by nearly a million to its lowest level in 14 months. Yet, despite the talk about the Reserve Bank of Australia's smaller cut as some kind of tell of Fed policy (eye roll) and the drop in JOLTS, the fact of the matter is that the market view of the trajectory of Fed policy has not changed. Specifically, the probability of a 75 bp hike is almost 77% at yesterday's settlement, which is the most since last Monday. The terminal rate is still seen in 

Attention may turn to the ADP report due today but recall that they have changed their model and explicitly said that it is not meant to forecast the national figures. Those are due Friday. Also, along with the ADP data, the US reports the August trade figures today. We are concerned that the US trade deficit will deteriorate again and note that dollar is at extreme levels of valuation on the OECD's purchasing power parity model. That may be a 2023 story. What counts for GDP, of course, is the real trade balance, and in July it was at its lowest level since last October. Despite the strong dollar, US goods exports reached a record in July. Imports fell to a five-month low, which, at least in part, seems to reflect the difficult in many consumer businesses in managing inventories. The final PMI reading is unlikely to draw much attention. The preliminary reading had the composite rising for the first time in six months but still below the 50 at 49.3. The ISM services offer new information. The risk seems to be on the downside of the median forecast for 56.0 from 56.9.

Yesterday, we mistakenly said that would report is August building permits and trade figure, but they are out today. Permits, which likely fell for the third straight month, as the tighter monetary policy bits. The combination of slowing world growth and softer commodity prices warns the best of the positive terms-of-trade shock is behind it. The trade surplus is expected to fall for the second consecutive month. Even before the RBA delivered the 25 bp rate hike, the market had been downgrading the probability of a half-point move from the Bank of Canada. Last Thursday, the swaps market had it as a 92% chance. At the close Monday, it had been downgraded to a little less 72%. Yesterday, it slipped slightly below 65%. Further softening appears to be taking place today, even after the RBNZ's 50 bp hike. The odds have slipped below 50% in the swaps market.

After finishing last week slightly above CAD1.38, the US dollar has been sold to nearly CAD1.35 yesterday. No follow-through selling has been seen and the greenback was bid back to CAD1.3585. The Canadian dollar has fallen out of favor today as US equity index futures are paring gains after two strong advances. There may be scope for CAD1.3630 today if the sale of US equities resumes. The greenback has found a base around MXN19.95. The risk-off mod can lift it back toward MXN20.10-15. Look for the dollar to also recover more against the Brazilian real after bouncing off the BRL5.11 area yesterday.

 


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Plunging pound and crumbling confidence: How the new UK government stumbled into a political and financial crisis of its own making

Liz Truss took over as prime minister with an ambitious plan to cut taxes by the most since 1972 – investors balked after it wasn’t clear how she would…

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The hard hats likely came in handy recently for Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng. Stefan Rousseau/Pool Photo via AP

The new British government is off to a very rocky start – after stumbling through an economic and financial crisis of its own making.

Just a few weeks into its term on Sept. 23, 2022, Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government released a so-called mini-budget that proposed £161 billion – about US$184 billion at today’s rate – in new spending and the biggest tax cuts in half a century, with the benefits mainly going to Britain’s top earners. The aim was to jump-start growth in an economy on the verge of recession, but the government didn’t indicate how it would pay for it – or provide evidence that the spending and tax cuts would actually work.

Financial markets reacted badly, prompting interest rates to soar and the pound to plunge to the lowest level against the dollar since 1985. The Bank of England was forced to gobble up government bonds to avoid a financial crisis.

After days of defending the plan, the government did a U-turn of sorts on Oct. 3 by scrapping the most controversial component of the budget – elimination of its top 45% tax rate on high earners. This calmed markets, leading to a rally in the pound and government bonds.

As a finance professor who tracks markets closely, I believe at the heart of this mini-crisis over the mini-budget was a lack of confidence – and now a lack of credibility.

A looming recession

Truss’ government inherited a troubled economy.

Growth has been sluggish, with the latest quarterly figure at 0.2%. The Bank of England predicts the U.K. will soon enter a recession that could last until 2024. The latest data on U.K. manufacturing shows the sector is contracting.

Consumer confidence is at its lowest level ever as soaring inflation – currently at an annualized pace of 9.9% – drives up the cost of living, especially for food and fuel. At the same time, real, inflation-adjusted wages are falling by a record amount, or around 3%.

It’s important to note that many countries in the world, including the U.S. and in mainland Europe, are experiencing the same problems of low growth and high inflation. But rumblings in the background in the U.K. are also other weaknesses.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the U.K. has suffered from lower productivity compared with other major economies. Business investment plateaued after Brexit in 2016 – when a slim majority of voters chose to leave the European Union – and remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels. And the U.K. also consistently runs a balance of payments deficit, which means the country imports a lot more goods and services than it exports, with a trade deficit of over 5% of gross domestic product.

In other words, investors were already predisposed to view the long-term trajectory of the U.K. economy and the British pound in a negative light.

An ambitious agenda

Truss, who became prime minister on Sept. 6, 2022, also didn’t have a strong start politically.

The government of Boris Johnson lost the confidence of his party and the electorate after a series of scandals, including accusations he mishandled sexual abuse allegations and revelations about parties being held in government offices while the country was in lockdown.

Truss was not the preferred candidate of lawmakers in her own Conservative Party, who had the task of submitting two choices for the wider party membership to vote on. The rest of the party – dues-paying members of the general public – chose Truss. The lack of support from Conservative members of Parliament meant she wasn’t in a position of strength coming into the job.

Nonetheless, the new cabinet had an ambitious agenda of cutting taxes and deregulating energy and business.

Some of the decisions, laid out in the mini-budget, were expected, such as subsidies limiting higher energy prices, reversing an increase in social security taxes and a planned increase in the corporate tax rate.

But others, notably a plan to abolish the 45% tax rate on incomes over £150,000, were not anticipated by markets. Since there were no explicit spending cuts cited, funding for the £161 billion package was expected to come from selling more debt. There was also the threat that this would be paid for, in part, by lower welfare payments at a time when poorer Britons are suffering from the soaring cost of living. The fear of welfare cuts is putting more pressure on the Truss government.

a man in a brown stocking hat inspects souvenirs near a bunch of UK flags and other trinkets
The cost of living crisis in the U.K. has everyone looking for deals where they can. AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

A collapse in confidence

Even as the new U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng was presenting the mini-budget on Sept. 23, the British pound was already getting hammered. It sank from $1.13 the day before the proposal to as low as $1.03 in intraday trading on Sept. 26. Yields on 10-year government bonds, known as gilts, jumped from about 3.5% to 4.5% – the highest level since 2008 – in the same period.

The jump in rates prompted mortgage lenders to suspend deals with new customers, eventually offering them again at significantly higher borrowing costs. There were fears that this would lead to a crash in the housing market.

In addition, the drop in gilt prices led to a crisis in pension funds, putting them at risk of insolvency.

Many members of Truss’ party voiced opposition to the high levels of borrowing likely necessary to finance the tax cuts and spending and said they would vote against the package.

The International Monetary Fund, which bailed out the U.K. in 1976, even offered its figurative two cents on the tax cuts, urging the government to “reevaluate” the plan. The comments further spooked investors.

To prevent a broader crisis in financial markets, the Bank of England stepped in and pledged to purchase up to £65 billion in government bonds.

Besides causing investors to lose faith, the crisis also severely dented the public’s confidence in the U.K. government. The latest polls showed the opposition Labour Party enjoying a 24-point lead, on average, over the Conservatives.

So the government likely had little choice but to reverse course and drop the most controversial part of the plan, the abolition of the 45% tax rate. The pound recovered its losses. The recovery in gilts was more modest, with bonds still trading at elevated levels.

Putting this all together, less than a month into the job, Truss has lost confidence – and credibility – with international investors, voters and her own party. And all this over a “mini-budget” – the full budget isn’t due until November 2022. It suggests the U.K.‘s troubles are far from over, a view echoed by credit rating agencies.

David McMillan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to…

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Roubini: The Stagflationary Debt Crisis Is Here

Authored by Nouriel Roubini via Project Syndicate,

The Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. US and global equities are already back in a bear market, and the scale of the crisis that awaits has not even been fully priced in yet.

For a year now, I have argued that the increase in inflation would be persistent, that its causes include not only bad policies but also negative supply shocks, and that central banks’ attempt to fight it would cause a hard economic landing. When the recession comes, I warned, it will be severe and protracted, with widespread financial distress and debt crises. Notwithstanding their hawkish talk, central bankers, caught in a debt trap, may still wimp out and settle for above-target inflation. Any portfolio of risky equities and less risky fixed-income bonds will lose money on the bonds, owing to higher inflation and inflation expectations.

How do these predictions stack up? First, Team Transitory clearly lost to Team Persistent in the inflation debate. On top of excessively loose monetary, fiscal, and credit policies, negative supply shocks caused price growth to surge. COVID-19 lockdowns led to supply bottlenecks, including for labor. China’s “zero-COVID” policy created even more problems for global supply chains. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves through energy and other commodity markets. And the broader sanctions regime – not least the weaponization of the US dollar and other currencies – has further balkanized the global economy, with “friend-shoring” and trade and immigration restrictions accelerating the trend toward deglobalization.

Everyone now recognizes that these persistent negative supply shocks have contributed to inflation, and the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the US Federal Reserve have begun to acknowledge that a soft landing will be exceedingly difficult to pull off. Fed Chair Jerome Powell now speaks of a “softish landing” with at least “some pain.” Meanwhile, a hard-landing scenario is becoming the consensus among market analysts, economists, and investors.

It is much harder to achieve a soft landing under conditions of stagflationary negative supply shocks than it is when the economy is overheating because of excessive demand. Since World War II, there has never been a case where the Fed achieved a soft landing with inflation above 5% (it is currently above 8%) and unemployment below 5% (it is currently 3.7%). And if a hard landing is the baseline for the United States, it is even more likely in Europe, owing to the Russian energy shock, China’s slowdown, and the ECB falling even further behind the curve relative to the Fed.

Are we already in a recession? Not yet, but the US did report negative growth in the first half of the year, and most forward-looking indicators of economic activity in advanced economies point to a sharp slowdown that will grow even worse with monetary-policy tightening. A hard landing by year’s end should be regarded as the baseline scenario.

While many other analysts now agree, they seem to think that the coming recession will be short and shallow, whereas I have cautioned against such relative optimism, stressing the risk of a severe and protracted stagflationary debt crisis. And now, the latest distress in financial markets – including bond and credit markets – has reinforced my view that central banks’ efforts to bring inflation back down to target will cause both an economic and a financial crash.

I have also long argued that central banks, regardless of their tough talk, will feel immense pressure to reverse their tightening once the scenario of a hard economic landing and a financial crash materializes. Early signs of wimping out are already discernible in the United Kingdom. Faced with the market reaction to the new government’s reckless fiscal stimulus, the BOE has launched an emergency quantitative-easing (QE) program to buy up government bonds (the yields on which have spiked).

Monetary policy is increasingly subject to fiscal capture. Recall that a similar turnaround occurred in the first quarter of 2019, when the Fed stopped its quantitative-tightening (QT) program and started pursuing a mix of backdoor QE and policy-rate cuts – after previously signaling continued rate hikes and QT – at the first sign of mild financial pressures and a growth slowdown. Central banks will talk tough; but there is good reason to doubt their willingness to do “whatever it takes” to return inflation to its target rate in a world of excessive debt with risks of an economic and financial crash.

Moreover, there are early signs that the Great Moderation has given way to the Great Stagflation, which will be characterized by instability and a confluence of slow-motion negative supply shocks. In addition to the disruptions mentioned above, these shocks could include societal aging in many key economies (a problem made worse by immigration restrictions); Sino-American decoupling; a “geopolitical depression” and breakdown of multilateralism; new variants of COVID-19 and new outbreaks, such as monkeypox; the increasingly damaging consequences of climate change; cyberwarfare; and fiscal policies to boost wages and workers’ power.

Where does that leave the traditional 60/40 portfolio? I previously argued that the negative correlation between bond and equity prices would break down as inflation rises, and indeed it has. Between January and June of this year, US (and global) equity indices fell by over 20% while long-term bond yields rose from 1.5% to 3.5%, leading to massive losses on both equities and bonds (positive price correlation).

Moreover, bond yields fell during the market rally between July and mid-August (which I correctly predicted would be a dead-cat bounce), thus maintaining the positive price correlation; and since mid-August, equities have continued their sharp fall while bond yields have gone much higher. As higher inflation has led to tighter monetary policy, a balanced bear market for both equities and bonds has emerged.

But US and global equities have not yet fully priced in even a mild and short hard landing. Equities will fall by about 30% in a mild recession, and by 40% or more in the severe stagflationary debt crisis that I have predicted for the global economy. Signs of strain in debt markets are mounting: sovereign spreads and long-term bond rates are rising, and high-yield spreads are increasing sharply; leveraged-loan and collateralized-loan-obligation markets are shutting down; highly indebted firms, shadow banks, households, governments, and countries are entering debt distress.

The crisis is here.

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/04/2022 - 17:25

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