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Futures Reverse Overnight Weakness, Surge To Record High

Futures Reverse Overnight Weakness, Surge To Record High

Despite a bevy of banks now warning that this is as good as it gets and a sharp market correction is imminent, nothing could spoil the markets party overnight, overnight we saw futures.



Futures Reverse Overnight Weakness, Surge To Record High

Despite a bevy of banks now warning that this is as good as it gets and a sharp market correction is imminent, nothing could spoil the markets party overnight, overnight we saw futures reverse a modest weakness and rebound back to all time highs as investors cheered solid earnings reports from companies including Bank of America and BlackRock and waited what should be a blockbuster retail sales report.

At 8:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 161  points, or 0.47%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 22.25 points, or 0.56%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 114.75 points, or 0.83%.

“We are probably entering the last stage of the pricing of the growth acceleration, and we see encouraging signs suggesting the ‘reflationary’ environment can continue and be supportive for risky assets in the near term,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. strategists led by Alessio Rizzi wrote in a note. “Across assets we continue to prefer equity over credit, and favor a pro-cyclical stance within equity.”

S&P 500 contracts rose 0.4% after the underlying index eased back from an all-time high on Wednesday. Bank of America Corp. and other financialstocks rose in the U.S. pre-market after the lender posted better-than-expected trading revenue. Meanwhile, BlackRock said its assets under management rose to a record $9 trillion in the first quarter, and reported a 16% jump in first-quarter profit as investors poured more money into its diverse funds and fee revenue jumped.

Top U.S. banks kicked off first-quarter reporting season on Wednesday, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co posting sold results largely thanks to massive reserve releases and solid trading revenue.

Most high-flying technology stocks rebounded from a drop in the previous session, with Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp Facebook Inc and Inc rising between 0.5% and 1%. The newly-listed cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase jumped 8.8%, a day after going public in a high-profile debut on the Nasdaq that briefly valued it at more than $100 billion.

European equities climbed as electrical power firm ABB Ltd. boosted its sales guidance and miners rallied. The ruble slid as the Biden administration looked poised to take action against Russian individuals and entities in retaliation for alleged misconduct related to the SolarWinds hack and the U.S. election.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • AB InBev shares jump as much as 5.4% after being upgraded to overweight at Barclays, which said the market’s expectations of margins declining in FY21 was “too pessimistic.” The broker added that AB InBev was the only beverage stock in coverage that could “theoretically double” during 2021.
  • Neste shares gain as much as 3.8% after UBS raised the stock to buy, saying the shares discount “an overly cautious” outlook for renewable products in the long term.
  • Publicis shares rise as much as 4.6% to their highest level in over two years as the ad firm reported 1Q revenue that beat estimates. Analysts praised its return to organic growth, with Citi saying that Publicis is “back to growth with a bang.”
  • Deutsche Wohnen shares gain as much as 6.8% after Germany’s top court struck down Berlin’s five-year rent freeze and restrictions forcing landlords to reduce prices, saying the city lacked the power to impose the rules.
  • ABB shares advanced as much as 4.1% as preliminary results came in above expectations. Handelsbanken said the stronger outcome in 1Q for operational Ebita increases its FY 2021 earnings outlook by 4.3%.
  • THG shares fall as much as 5.2% after the online retailer maintained recently upgraded FY ‘21 revenue growth guidance of +30% to +35% and signaled capital expenditure would be higher.
  • SEB shares decline as much as 1.8%, with the stock being cut to sell at Handelsbanken. The broker said it saw weak loan demand from corporates, but strong capital position.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks gained, overcoming a midday dip, as a gauge of technology shares erased a loss and climbed. TSMC was the biggest boost to the MSCI Asia Pacific Index and Taiwan’s benchmark stock gauge, climbing into the close ahead of its results. The chipmaker beat profit expectations and raised its capex target for the year to $30 billion from a range of $25 billion to $28 billion. Japanese stocks rose as gains in the yen slowed and oil surged to the highest level in a month amid an increase in U.S. demand. China and Hong Kong stocks declined as the People’s Bank of China refrained from adding more liquidity into the banking system for a fourth month, seeking to contain rising leverage. Thailand’s stock market was closed for a holiday.

Chinese stocks fell on Thursday, after the central bank underlined its intention to contain leverage and pursue policy normalization by adding just enough cash to maintain medium-term liquidity. The CSI 300 Index pared an earlier 1.6% decline to close 0.6% lower, just above its 200-day moving average. Liquor giant Wuliangye Yibin lost 3% and Industrial Bank fell 3.9%, among the biggest drags. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.4%. PBOC’s Cash Injection Disappoints Stock Traders Wanting More The PBOC injected 150 billion yuan ($23 billion) into the financial system on Thursday with its medium-term lending facility, slightly less than the 100 billion yuan in one-year policy loans and 56.1 billion yuan of targeted loans maturing on April 25.

Banks fell, with the CSI 300 Financial Index declining the most in three weeks. The PBOC’s stance on Thursday also suggests it isn’t concerned about possible contagion from the recent credit stress engulfing China Huarong Asset Management Co., one of the nation’s largest distressed-debt managers. The CSI 300 Index has lost 15% since climbing to a 13-year high in February, amid investor concerns about tighter monetary policy as the economy recovers. The “PBOC’s operation confirmed the relative pessimistic expectations,” said Wang Chen, partner at XuFunds Investment Management Co., noting that it had a negative impact on the market

In rates, treasuries hold gilt-led gains accumulated during European morning, leaving long-end yields richer by ~2bp, amid gains for stock futures. U.S. 10-year, lower by 1.8bp at 1.615%, trails gilts by ~1bp with bunds broadly in line; curve flattens, with 2s10s tigher by 1.5bp, 5s30s by 0.7bp. Asia session featured choppy price action on low volume, with some focus on front-end buying following Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar’s call for limited year-end funding pressures. U.S. economic data slate includes retail sales and industrial production. 

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell to a day low in the European session as the greenback fell against all of its Group- of-10 peers while the 10-year Treasury yield neared a three-week low. Commodity currencies, led by the kiwi and Aussie, were the top performers; the yen held its strongest level in three weeks. The euro rose to a six-week high of $1.1993 before erasing the move; options that capture the ECB monetary policy decision on April 22 suggest market makers see no big risk of a strong pick up in volatility. The pound traded in a narrow range, lacking a clear catalyst as concerns grow that its early year outperformance has run out of steam. The Australian dollar rebound in the European session; it earlier retreated after a decline in the number of full-time jobs took the shine off the nation’s March employment data. Russian bonds sank the most since March last year and the ruble tumbled as the U.S. prepared to unveil sanctions on Russian sovereign debt, the so-called “nuclear option” that has dimmed investor appetite for the market for years.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin was steady and Coinbase Global Inc. climbed 9.4% in pre-market trading following news that three funds at Cathie Wood’s Ark Investment Management bought shares. Oil declined after Wednesday’s surge.

Looking at the day ahead, there’s an array of data out from the US including March retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilisation. In addition, there’s the weekly initial jobless claims, and April data on the Empire State manufacturing survey, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook and the NAHB housing market index. Otherwise, Fed speakers include Bostic, Daly and Mester, and there are an array of earnings releases including UnitedHealth Group, Bank of America, PepsiCo, Citigroup, Charles Schwab, BlackRock and Delta Air Lines.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,135.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.33% to 438.03
  • MXAP up 0.3% to 207.85
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 692.58
  • Nikkei little changed at 29,642.69
  • Topix up 0.4% to 1,959.13
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 28,793.14
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,398.99
  • Sensex down 0.2% to 48,428.51
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 7,058.62
  • Kospi up 0.4% to 3,194.33
  • Brent Futures down 0.7% to $66.14/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,745.45
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 91.64
  • Euro little changed at $1.1984
  • German 10Y yield down 1bp to -0.27%

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The Biden administration is poised to take action against Russian individuals and entities in retaliation for alleged misconduct including the SolarWinds hack and efforts to disrupt the U.S. election, according to people familiar with the matter
  • The number of U.K. online job advertisements returned to levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic for the first time last week, a tentative sign of recovery after economy’s worst slump in three centuries
  • Global bond demand appears to be reviving with the latest sign being a splurge by Japanese investors at the start of their fiscal year. Funds based in the Asian nation snapped up 1.7 trillion yen ($15.6 billion) in overseas fixed- income assets in the first full week of April, the most in five months, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance. That may set the tone for strategy briefings by local insurers this month
  • Anyone hoping Libor’s death notice would accelerate the shift of hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of derivatives toward replacement benchmarks will be sorely disappointed. In the U.S, just 4.7% of contracts traded in March were pegged to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR, the benchmark slated to replace the London interbank offered rate, down from 5% in February
  • Installed after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan abruptly fired his predecessor following a bigger-than-expected rate increase, central bank Governor Sahap Kavcioglu is under pressure to reduce rates but has so far signaled he would not rush to loosen the stance he inherited
  • The U.S. canceled plans to send two warships through Turkish straits into the Black Sea this week, Turkish Foreign Minster Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday, after Russia warned American vessels to stay away from a coastal region it annexed in 2014
  • The direct listing of Coinbase Global Inc. on Nasdaq is a turning point for the whole cryptocurrency sector, according to the firm’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong

Quick look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets were cautious after the choppy performance stateside where there was a reversal of fortunes among the major indices from the day before in which the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished negative amid underperformance in tech. Conversely, the DJIA bucked the trend and notched a fresh record high with energy the biggest gaining sector after oil prices rallied by more than 4% and financials remained afloat despite mixed trade among the blue-chip banks which kick-started earnings season. ASX 200 (+0.5%) swung between gains and losses as pressure in tech and an initially subdued financials sector were offset by energy and mining names, with participants also mulling over updates from the likes of Bank of Queensland, Qantas and Whitehaven Coal. Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) also lacked firm direction amid an indecisive currency and as Japan considers stricter COVID-19 measures for areas surrounding Tokyo, while KOSPI (+0.3%) was kept afloat after a lack of surprises by the BoK which kept rates unchanged at 0.50% and noted uncertainties for growth are high but added the recovery will continue on exports and investment. Hang Seng (-0.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) underperformed as tensions between US and China lingered amid the US delegation visit to Taiwan and with China’s military to conduct live-fire drills off Taiwan which is viewed as a ‘declaration of sovereignty’ and warning to foreign nations, while China's top official in Hong Kong also warned that any foreign power which attempts to use Hong Kong as a pawn will face counter measures. Furthermore, the PBoC announced a CNY 150bln 1-year MLF operation although this failed to spur risk appetite and is expected to result to net drain for the month as there were CNY 100bln of MLF maturing today and CNY 56bln of targeted MLF loans due next week. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat as prices held on to yesterday’s gains amid the non-committal tone seen across most the regional bourses, while the firmer demand at then enhanced liquidity auction for long-end JGBs failed to inspire price action

Top Asian News

  • TSMC Lifts Targets After Warning Chip Crunch May Spill Into 2022
  • Hong Kong Widens Vaccine Access to Residents Ages 16 And Up
  • TSMC Raises 2021 Capex, Sales Growth Outlook
  • ByteDance Is Said to Kick Off IPO Preparations for China Assets

Major bourses in Europe eke mild gains (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.2%) after experiencing somewhat of a lukewarm cash open as sentiment is seemingly more constructive following a cautious and indecisive APAC lead. US equity futures meanwhile see more pronounced gains following the reversal seen on Wall Street yesterday - with the cyclically-driven RTY (+1.0%) outpacing peers - whilst the next wave of US earnings gets underway; for reference, Bank of America, Citi, Delta, UnitedHealth, BlackRock and PepsiCo are on the docket. Back to Europe, the FTSE 100 (+0.6%) has thus far maintained a narrow lead as heavyweight oil and mining names reap rewards from the higher crude and base metal prices, whilst broad-based gains are seen across Euro bourses. Sectors in Europe kicked off trade with a more procyclical tilt, but that earlier bias dissipated with no theme to be derived. Energy and Financials lag amid recent losses in
the oil/gas and yields. The sectoral breakdown does not provide much by way more meat on the bones, but the tech sector bodes well following upbeat earnings from chip-giant TSMC, who also sees chip demand continuing to be high and the chip shortage maybe lasting into 2022. The Travel & Leisure sectors has also waned alongside commentary from the German Health Minister who stated it will take until Q3 for group immunity from COVID in Germany. In terms of individual movers, AB InBev (+4.5%) leads the gains in the Stoxx 600 as the a broker upgrade at Barclays bolstered the Co., whilst Publicis (+3.8%) is a close second amid a constructive Q1 sales update. Meanwhile, Deutsche Wohnen (+4%) and AroundTown Properties (+1.1%) derived impetus from reports a German Court has ruled that the Berlin rent cap is invalid.

Top European News

  • Berlin’s Rent Freeze Toppled Ending Aggressive Housing Clampdown
  • DNB, Norway’s Biggest Bank, Offers $1.3 Billion for Sbanken
  • Deliveroo CEO Shu Pins Weak IPO on Volatility, Archegos Fallout
  • German Institutes Cut 2021 Economic Outlook on Longer Lockdowns

In FX, the Dollar is holding in, albeit remaining soft against most major counterparts and several EM rivals as the DXY pares some losses within a 91.487-704 range. US Treasury and other bond yields are softening again awaiting a relatively busy docket including top-tier data, regional Fed surveys and 4 speakers, while the Greenback is also striving to stay above certain psychological and technical levels amidst decent option expiry interest.

  • NZD/AUD: Both still gleaning more than most from Buck weakness, but the Kiwi also benefiting from further retracement in the Aud/Nzd cross post-RBNZ and in wake of a somewhat mixed Aussie labour report overnight, as the headline employment change exceeded expectations 2-fold, but was all due to part-time workers given a near 21k fall in the number of full time jobs. Nzd/Usd is hovering towards the upper end of 0.7135-80 parameters, with Aud/Nzd testing 1.0800 and Aud/Usd trying to clear resistance around 0.7750 convincingly, but also facing a formidable hurdle in the form of 1.1 bn option expiries from the half round number up to 0.7765. Ahead, NZ manufacturing PMI and more Chinese data after conflicting trade earlier this week.
  • CAD: The next best G10 performer as the Loonie reclaims 1.2600+ status vs its US peer awaiting Canadian manufacturing sales for some independent impetus rather than ADP payrolls that are now pretty outdated, if not redundant in wake of last Friday’s blowout official employment release.
  • JPY/GBP/EUR: Also firmer against the Dollar with the Yen nearer 108.70 than 109.00 where the start of some hefty option expiry interest resides stretching up to 109.25 (2 bn from 109.00-10 and 1 bn between 109.15-25 to be precise), Sterling eyeing 1.3800 vs a 1.3765 low and the Euro looking at 1.2000 next despite ongoing COVID-19 concerns across the Eurozone that have prompted Germany’s Economic Institutes to downgrade their 2021 GDP forecast to 3.7% from 4.7%, though raising next year’s growth estimate to 3.9% from 2.7% at the same time. Note also, Eur/Usd has option expiries to contend with as 1.9 bn roll off at the NY cut between 1.1975-60, so covering the 1.1970 trough.
  • CHF: The Franc is straddling 0.9225 and 1.1055 against the Greenback and Euro respectively in the run up to speeches from SNB’s Maechler and Moser on the pandemic, financial markets and digital transformation that is likely to reinforce standard policy guidance if either Board member make remarks on negative rates and currency intervention.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are again experiencing choppy price action heading into the US open with no particular catalyst attributed to the price action. That being said, the energy market attempts to juggle several factors including the resurgence of the virus in some economies, the limited vaccine rollouts amid blood clot reports, OPEC+ supply and geopolitical developments. Some earlier weakness in oil prices coincided with commentary from the German Health Minister who stated it will take until Q3 for group immunity, which translates to a slower pickup in domestic activity, but more-so a slower recovery in air travel. In terms of geopolitical developments, Saudi Aramco facilities were again targeted by Houthi militia - but Saudi reportedly intercepted these attacks. Elsewhere, eyes remain on the Russia /Ukraine tensions as rhetoric ramps up, with Ukraine laying out its red lines - the crossing of the border - which could prompt a military response. Meanwhile, China is poised to conduct military drill during US' visit to Taiwan. Further, participants will also be eyeing the JCPOA talks that are set to continue today as Iran gets closer to developing  weapongrade uranium. WTI Jun is back below USD 63/bbl (vs high USD 63.50/bbl) whilst Brent loses ground below USD 66.50 /bb (vs high 65.96/bbl). Elsewhere, spot gold and silver benefit from the softer Buck with the former meandering just under the USD 1,750/oz (vs low USD 1,734/oz) mark with technicians citing a double-top at 1,749/oz. Turning to base metals, LME copper is benefitting from the broader gains across stocks, and the softer Buck, with prices comfortably back above USD 9,000/t.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: March Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 6.4%, prior -3.3%
  • 8:30am: April Continuing Claims, est. 3.7m, prior 3.73m
  • 8:30am: March Retail Sales Control Group, est. 7.2%, prior -3.5%
  • 8:30am: March Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 5.0%, prior -2.7%
  • 8:30am: April Initial Jobless Claims, est. 700,000, prior 744,000
  • 8:30am: April Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 41.5, prior 51.8
  • 8:30am: March Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. 5.8%, prior -3.0%
  • 8:30am: April Empire Manufacturing, est. 20.0, prior 17.4
  • 9:15am: March Capacity Utilization, est. 75.6%, prior 73.8%
  • 9:15am: March Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 3.6%, prior -3.1%
  • 9:15am: March Industrial Production MoM, est. 2.5%, prior -2.2%
  • 9:45am: April Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 51.9
  • 10am: Feb. Business Inventories, est. 0.5%, prior 0.3%
  • 10am: April NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 84, prior 82
  • 4pm: Feb. Total Net TIC Flows, prior $106.3b

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Global markets are a bit dull at the moment but a lively listing from Coinbase turned another grind higher into a small risk-off session later in US trading. The S&P 500 (-0.41%) fell back from its record highs due to the underperformance of technology stocks after the Coinbase reversal (after a blistering start) and as global yields rose slightly.

Even with the marginal pullback, financial conditions are the most benign in years by some metrics, with Bloomberg’s index of financial conditions in the US easing to its most accommodative level since 2007 yesterday, which just shows how rapidly things have normalised relative to how long it took after the GFC. For comparison’s sake it took until the latter part of 2014 for the index to approach pre-GFC levels.

The turn lower in technology stocks seemed to coincide with a pullback in the new Coinbase direct listing, which at one point valued the cryptocurrency exchange at around $112bn. This was when it traded at $429 after being launched at $250 on the NASDAQ exchange. It eventually closed at $328.28. As a reference point companies around a $110bn market value in the US include Goldman Sachs ($119bn), Lockheed Martin ($108bn), and 3M ($114bn). That’s how big Bitcoin has become.

With technology shares falling back, cyclicals outperformed yesterday led primarily by the energy sector (+2.91%) as WTI futures rose +4.94% and Brent crude added +4.57%. The rally in oil prices came after a larger-than-expected draw on crude inventories. Much of the weakness in risk assets came in the latter part of US trading, and so the STOXX 600 (+0.19%) and other European bourses were able to hold on to their marginal gains.

Elsewhere in cyclicals, largely positive earnings for US financials saw earnings season start in earnest. Three of the largest US banks reported yesterday morning. JPMorgan (-1.75%) started off the cycle and reported a +49% beat on EPS at $4.5/share. Trading revenue climbed 25% even as expectations were for lower volumes across the market. The higher trading numbers were dimmed by lower loan demand, but the bank had a larger-than-expected reserve release as the lender did not see as much loan losses coming in the future. In the ensuing conference call, bank executives noted that many of the bank’s clients seem to be saving or paying down debt with the recent stimulus checks rather than going out and spending it. Goldman Sachs (+2.31%) saw a record profit last quarter on the back of strong trading and deal-making, with the firm’s SPAC business boosting equity underwriting revenues by over 300%. Lastly Wells Fargo (+5.63%) rose strongly as Q1 net income increased to $4.7bn, aided by a larger-than-expected release of loan-loss reserves, even as net interest income was lower than expected. The bank’s CEO noted on the conference call that the lower-for-longer rates will continue to drag on earnings. ‘

In addition, we heard from Fed Chair Powell, who took part in a moderated discussion sponsored by the Economic Club of Washington late in the US session. Chair Powell spoke about the order of operations when it comes to tightening financial conditions and said the Fed would follow the 2013-2014 blueprint, where asset purchases were tapered “well before” any interest rate hikes were considered. Powell noted that the FOMC, “haven't voted on that order, but that is the sense of the guidance that it would work in that way.” He noted that there also has been no discussion of whether the Fed would then shrink the balance sheet – by letting bonds mature – after additional purchases were paused. When speaking on market pricing, Powell noted that “Markets focus too much on what we call the economic predictions, and I would focus more on the outcomes that we’ve described” – pointing specifically to job creation and price levels.

His counterpart in Europe, ECB President Lagarde spoke at a Reuters Newsmaker event yesterday as well. She described the European economy as still standing on the “two crutches” of monetary and fiscal policy and that neither should be removed until there is a full recovery. The comments come ahead of the ECB meeting next week, which is the first since they increased the pace of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) to slow the surge in bond yields and keep credit cheaper for member governments.

Even before Powell had begun speaking sovereign bond yields had moved higher, and actually 10yr US Treasuries peaked (+3.4bps) just prior to the Fed Chair’s comments before ending up +1.8bps at 1.632%, with inflation expectations (+2.2bps) increasing even as real yields (-0.4bps) fell back slightly. Europe saw more noticeable moves, with yields on bunds (+3.4bps), OATs (+3.4bps) and BTPs (+4.6bps) rising as well.

Asian markets are trading mixed this morning with the Nikkei (+0.10%) and Kospi (+0.38%) up while the Hang Seng (-0.96%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.18%) are losing ground. The underperformance of the Shanghai Comp comes as the PBOC injected CNY 150bn into the financial system which is just enough to offset CNY 100bn due today and CNY 56.1bn of targeted loans maturing on April 25. This came short of expectations as sales of government bonds are forecast to accelerate and banks are assisting corporate clients in paying taxes. Outside of Asia, futures on the S&P 50 are up +0.13% while European ones are pointing to a mixed open with those on the Stoxx 50 (-0.15%) and Dax (-0.09%) trading weak but with FTSE 100 futures up +0.13%.

On the pandemic, the rise in the global case count has shown no sign of abating, with John Hopkins data showing that the number of confirmed cases rose by over 5m in the week through Tuesday. That’s the first time the weekly increase has been above 5m since mid-January and is a sizeable reversal from the recent low in mid-February, when cases were rising by “only” 2.5m a week. India has been one of the worst affected, and only yesterday reported another record 200,739 new cases, according to India’s Health Ministry data. Iran also reported a record 25,582 new cases yesterday. Some areas of the US are also in serious difficulty right now, with Michigan experiencing a major surge in new cases (70 cases per 100k people), and numerous states are experiencing rising caseloads, albeit not to the same extent. Elsewhere, Japanese daily Jiji cited Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, as saying that the Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled if it was determined to be impossible to hold the Games.

There were some further developments on the vaccine front, as Denmark became the first EU country to drop the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine permanently from its rollout. This follows a number of countries restricting its usage to various age categories in the aftermath of blood clotting incidents. Meanwhile on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which the US has recommended be paused, the European Medicines Agency separately confirmed that they expected to issue a recommendation on the vaccine next week. In more positive news however, European Commission President von der Leyen said that 50m extra doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would arrive in Q2, having previously been foreseen for Q4. In turn, this will take the total number of doses from Pfizer/BioNtech to 250m in Q2.

It was a fairly quiet day on the data side yesterday ahead of today’s more notable releases, but we did get Euro Area industrial production for February, which fell by -1.0% in February (vs. -1.3% expected). Otherwise, the US import price index in March rose by +1.2% month-on-month (vs. +0.9% expected), while the export price index also rose by a stronger-than-expected +2.1% (vs. +1.0% expected).

To the day ahead now, and there’s an array of data out from the US including March retail sales, industrial production and capacity utilisation. In addition, there’s the weekly initial jobless claims, and April data on the Empire State manufacturing survey, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook and the NAHB housing market index. Otherwise, Fed speakers include Bostic, Daly and Mester, and there are an array of earnings releases including UnitedHealth Group, Bank of America, PepsiCo, Citigroup, Charles Schwab, BlackRock and Delta Air Lines.

Tyler Durden Thu, 04/15/2021 - 08:30

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Industrial Production Decreased 0.1% in January

From the Fed: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization
Industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in January after recording no change in December. In January, manufacturing output declined 0.5 percent and mining output fell 2.3 percent; winter…



From the Fed: Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization
Industrial production edged down 0.1 percent in January after recording no change in December. In January, manufacturing output declined 0.5 percent and mining output fell 2.3 percent; winter weather contributed to the declines in both sectors. The index for utilities jumped 6.0 percent, as demand for heating surged following a move from unusually mild temperatures in December to unusually cold temperatures in January. At 102.6 percent of its 2017 average, total industrial production in January was identical to its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for the industrial sector moved down 0.2 percentage point in January to 78.5 percent, a rate that is 1.1 percentage points below its long-run (1972–2023) average.
emphasis added
Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows Capacity Utilization. This series is up from the record low set in April 2020, and above the level in February 2020 (pre-pandemic).

Capacity utilization at 78.5% is 1.1% below the average from 1972 to 2022.  This was below consensus expectations.

Note: y-axis doesn't start at zero to better show the change.

Industrial Production The second graph shows industrial production since 1967.

Industrial production decreased to 102.6. This is above the pre-pandemic level.

Industrial production was below consensus expectations.

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The Greenback is in Narrow Ranges to Start the Week

Overview: The foreign exchange market is quiet. The
Lunar New Year holiday shut most Asian markets. That, coupled with the light
news in Europe, have…



Overview: The foreign exchange market is quiet. The Lunar New Year holiday shut most Asian markets. That, coupled with the light news in Europe, have served to keep the dollar in narrow ranges against the G10 currencies. The Swedish krona, Norwegian krone, and Japanese yen are posting minor gains against the greenback. The New Zealand dollar, which was strongest major currency last week (1.4%) is off by almost 0.5% today, making it the weakest today. RBNZ Governor Orr underscored the recent message that inflation is still too high (~4.7%). Emerging market currencies are narrowly mixed (+/-0.2%). Of note, India reports December industrial production and January CPI shortly.

The few equity markets in the Asia Pacific region that were not on holiday today, including Australia, India, and New Zealand slipped. Political uncertainty in Pakistan saw its stock market tagged for 3%. On the other hand, Europe's Stoxx 600 is trying to snap a three-day fall (less than 0.4%). Of note, real estate is the strongest sector today, rising by more than 1%. US index futures are trading firmly after new record-highs before the weekend. Benchmark 10-year bond yields are 3-6 bp lower in Europe. The 10-year US Treasury yield is off a basis point to around 4.16%. Gold is trading with a softer bias near $2020. Last week's low was around $2015. April WTI set this month's high before the weekend near $77.15. It is approaching the pre-weekend lows slightly below $76. Support is seen closer to $75. 

Asia Pacific

The top two BOJ officials played down speculation that the central bank’s from negative interest rates will signal the start of a tightening cycle, and for good reason. First, inflation is already well off its peak and could easily fall below the 2% target before the April BOJ meeting that is widely expected to adjust policy. Second, despite a shortage of workers, (Japan's working age population peaked nearly 30 years ago) and the gradual opening to foreign workers, wage growth continues to lag inflation. Third, and related, domestic demand is soft. Toward the end of the week, Japan will publish its initial estimate of Q4 GDP. Consumption is likely to have recovered weakly from the contraction in Q2 and Q3 23. In the five years (20 quarters) before the pandemic, Japan's private consumption component in its GDP contracted by an average of 0.2% a quarter. Also, note that although the BOJ set the overnight target rate at minus 0.10%, the effective rate at the end of last week was 0.005%. Governor Ueda is determined to exit the negative interest rate policy for technical and strategic reasons. Arguably, there was windows of opportunity previously, where the macroeconomic setting was conducive to exiting the negative policy rate. 

Most Asian markets were closed today, and China's mainland markets are closed all week for the Lunar New Year holiday. We expect that after the holiday, more efforts to support the economy and fight deflation will be forthcoming. Despite the stimulus in H2 23, the economy does not seem responsive. The assumption that the state-owned banks are just arms of the government is challenged by the same banks not fully passing on the PBOC's lower rates. The one- and five-year loan prime rates will be set on Feb 20. The same state-owned banks have also been reluctant to lend to the property market and enact the support measures Beijing unveiled in 2022. Lastly, consider the offshore yuan. It does not have to but with few exceptions respects the onshore band (2% for the dollar around the reference rate). Why? While the PBOC could intervene there, but when it does it is fairly clear. The last reference rate creates a band of ~CNH6.9640-CNH7.2485. Is it too much to suggest that the same mechanism that keeps the offshore yuan within the onshore band explains a great deal of how the PBOC manages the exchange rate? To paraphrase an old Chinese saying, "kill an occasional chicken to scare the monkeys."  

The dollar edged a little closer to the JPY150 level ahead of the weekend (~JPY149.60) before settling virtually unchanged near JPY149.30. There are around $1.4 bln in options at JPY150 that expire tomorrow. During the six-week decline in the yen, speculators in the futures market have grown their net short yen position by more than 50% to 84k contracts (~$7 bln). The greenback is a narrow range of about a third of a yen above JPY149. The price action looks like a bullish pennant or flag, The Australian dollar's range last week, roughly $0.6470-$0.6540, is the key to the near-term direction. We favor an upside break and watching the possible bullish divergence with some of the momentum indicators but recognize the $0.6555-75 area to be an important hurdle. The Aussie eked out a small gain last week (~0.20%), the first of the year. Speculators in the futures markets added to their net short Australian dollar position for the fourth week in a row. It now stands at about 71.8k contracts (~$7.2 bln), up from 32.3k before the streak began. The Aussie is trading in about a fifth of a cent range above $0.6510.


The European economic calendar is light this week, and what there is, may be a sad reminder of the Europe's sad state. Eurostat will publish the details of Q4 23 GDP. The initial estimate had the regional economy stagnating after a 0.1% contraction in Q3. The dramatic 1.6% drop in Germany December industrial output (-3.0% year-over-year) underscores the lack of growth impulses to start the new year, and the weakness of what had been the European engine. At the same time, leadership is weak. Among the large members, Italy's Meloni, right-government seems among the strongest, and incidentally, the economy is doing better (but still not well). In 2022, Germany grew by 1.8%. Italy grew twice as fast. Last year, the German economy contracted by 0.3%, while Italy expanded by 0.7%. On the other hand, Italy's budget deficit was about 5.4% of GDP last year, while Germany's was less than 2.5%. Italy's 10-year premium over German narrowed to about 140 bp at the end of January, almost a two-year low, after rising to a nine-month peak last October over 200 bp. It is snapping back this month is near 155 bp. Italy's two-year premium peaked near 95 bp in the middle of last October and fell to almost 45 bp late last month. Last year's low was below 30 bp. It has jumped to about 65 bp now, the most since last November.

The Swiss franc was the strongest G10 currency in Q4 23 as dollar fell across the board. It rose 8.8% and so far, this year, the franc has fallen by about 3.9%. The dollar approached the (50%) retracement objective (~CHF0.8790). Above there is the 200-day moving average (~CHF0.8845) and the (61.8%) retracement near CHF0.8900. The euro is recovering from multiyear lows set against the franc in Q4 23 (~CHF0.9255). It traded up to almost CHF0.9475 last month but pulled back to support near CHF0.9300 earlier this month. There may be potential toward CHF0.9500-CHF0.9550. Switzerland reports January CPI tomorrow. The EU harmonized measure is expected to slip to 2.0% from 2.1%. Its own measure is seen easing to 1.6% (from 1.7%) and the core rate to 1.4% (from 1.5%).

The euro reached a six-day high late in thin Asia Pacific turnover near $1.0805. It was quickly sold to almost $1.0765 before finding a bid in early European turnover. It is the fourth session of higher highs. The pre-weekend low was almost $1.0760, and a break of the $1.0755 area would weaken the fragile technical tone. There are options for about $755 mln euros at $1.08 that expire today. There are large (1.4-1.5 bln euros) at $1.07 that expire tomorrow and Wednesday. Stiff resistance is seen in the $1.0830-40 area. Sterling recovered after breaking down at the start of last week (~$1.2520) but settled back into the $1.26-$1.28 trading range in the past three sessions. The $1.2640 area had capped but, like the euro, set a new six-day high before Europe opened and took sterling down to almost $1.2615. Before the weekend, sterling briefly frayed the $1.26 level. It is an important week for UK data, including the labor market report tomorrow and the January CPI on Wednesday. Soft data may encourage bringing forward the first rate cut to June from August. 


Interest rates and expectations are a key force driving exchange rates. The market has gradually reduced the odds May rate cut to about 73% from 90% chance after the strong January jobs growth. It also scaled back the magnitude of Fed cuts by about 50 bp (to ~112 bp) in the past month. Tomorrow's CPI, more than last week's historic revisions, is a key input into the Fed's reaction function. Fed Chair Powell recently indicated the central bank was looking for more confirmation that inflation was on a sustained path back to its target. The January figures will give the Fed that. Ahead of it, the results of the NY Fed's inflation survey are of little consequence.

Canada reported a loss of full-time jobs in January for the second consecutive month. Wage growth slowed. The decline in the unemployment rate to 5.7% (from 5.8%) can be explained by the decline in the participation rate (65.3% vs. 65.4%). The takeaway is that the market boosted the chances of a June rate cut (to ~77% vs. ~67%). Despite the risk-on mood, which lifted the S&P 500 to a new record high, the Canadian dollar found no traction. It fell slightly for the first time in three sessions. The US dollar made session highs near midday in NY ahead of the weekend near CAD1.3480. The greenback is in a narrow 20-tick range above CAD1.3450 so fat today. Nearby resistance is seen in the CAD1.3500 area but the greenback has been turned back from the CAD1.3540 area three times. There are options for about $630 mln at CAD1.35 that expire tomorrow. The Mexican peso weakened after the central bank seemed to prepare the market for a rate cut as early as next month. However, it recovered and returned to pre-central bank levels near MXN17.08. It has edged low today to MXN17.0640. MXN17.00 was tested early last week. Around $580 mln of options expire there on Thursday. The US dollar reached BRL5.0175 at the start of last week. On the pullback, it found support near BRL4.95. It settled last week just above there. There is a band of technical support between BRL4.91 and BRL4.93.



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Week Ahead: Will Soft US CPI and Retail Sales Mark the End of the Interest Rate Adjustment and Help Cap the Greenback?

markets are still correcting from the overshoot on rates and the dollar that
took place in late 2023. The first Fed rate cut has been pushed out of…



The markets are still correcting from the overshoot on rates and the dollar that took place in late 2023. The first Fed rate cut has been pushed out of March and odds of a May move have been pared to the lowest since last November. The extent of this year's cuts has been chopped to about 4.5 quarter-point move (~112 bp) from more than six a month ago. The market has reduced the extent of ECB cuts to about 114 bp (from 160 bp at the end of January and 190 in late 2023). The Bank of England is now expected to cut rates three times this year (75 bp), which is nearly 100 bp less than was discounted at the end of last year. The extent of Bank of Canada rate cuts this year has been halved to less than 80 bp from 160 bp in late December 2023. We suspect that the interest rate adjustment is nearly over. A soft US CPI and weak retail sales report next Tuesday and Wednesday could help cap US rates and signal the end of the dollar's New Year rally. 

The UK reports CPI on February 14, and given the base effect (-0.6% in January 2023), even a 0.3% decline in prices last month, the year-over-year rate is likely to rise (to 4.2%-4.3%). However, the bigger story for the UK, the eurozone, and Canada is that inflation rose sharply in the Feb-May period last year, and as these drop out of the 12-month comparisons, the year-over-year rates will fall dramatically. The UK and Japan will report Q4 23 GDP. The UK economy likely contracted slightly for the second consecutive quarter. Japan, the world's third-largest economy, likely returned to growth after contracting at an annual rate of almost 3% in Q3. Consumer spending and capex fell in Q2 and Q3 24. Both likely recovered. The UK and Australia report new labor market figures. In the UK wages are moderating and the economy likely lost full-time positions for the second consecutive month in January. It is difficult to image a worse employment data than Australia reported last month. It lost 106k full-time jobs, which, outside of the pandemic, looks like the worst on record. 

United States:  The data and official guidance have pushed out expectation of the first Fed cut and reduce the extent to this year's cut. The market's confidence (~73%, down from 90% after the employment data) of a May move still seems too high given the apparent momentum the economy enjoys in early 2024, even if we do put too much emphasis on the Atlanta Fed's GDP tracker (3.4%) this early in the quarter. The market has about 4.5 Fed cuts discounted this year, down from more than six cuts as recently as mid-January. The May decision is unlikely to be determined by January data. That counts even this week's highlights of CPI, retail sales, and industrial production.

At his post-FOMC press conference, Fed Chair Powell called attention to "six months of good inflation." This looks to have continued into this year. The headline CPI rate is seen rising by 0.2% (February 13), which, given the base effect (0.5% in January 2023), would see the year-over-year rate fall to 3.0%-3.1% from 3.4%  Yet, the median forecast from the nine economists that participated in Bloomberg's survey (by end of last week) see it falling to 2.9%. The core rate is expected to rise by 0.3% for the third consecutive month and the fifth time in six months. That may be more important that the softer year-over-year rate (~3.7% vs 3.9%). 

January retail sales (Feb 15) may have been dragged down by disappointing auto sales (15 mln SAAR, down from 15.83 mln in December). Consumption would appear be off to a slow start after retail sales rose by an average of 0.2% in Q4 23 after a blistering 0.7% average gain in Q3 23. The median forecast is for a 0.2% decline in headline retail sales (+0.6% in December). On the other hand, industrial production (Feb 15) appears to have accelerated and the 0.3% increase the median in Bloomberg's survey is looking for would be the strongest in six months. However, manufacturing itself may be flat. Other high frequency data points include producer prices (year-over-year rates are below 2%), housing starts and permits (small gains expected), and a number of early regional Fed surveys. Of note, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey crashed in January (-43.7 from -14.5) and a sharp snap back is expected in February. On balance, the data is likely to be consistent with the US economy expanding somewhat faster than what the Federal Reserve believes is the long-term non-inflation pace (1.8%). 

The big outside day for the Dollar Index after the US employment data on February 2 saw follow-through buying at the start of last week. It reached 104.60, the highest level since the middle of last November and spent the rest of the week consolidating above 103.95. A move above the 104.80 is needed to reignite the upward momentum. Despite the stretched momentum indicators and the proximity of the upper Bollinger Band (~104.50), there is little technical sign of a top. That said, given the nearly 4% rally off the late December lows, this is the area where we are beginning to look for a reversal pattern.

Eurozone:  Details for Q4 23 GDP (flat and 0.1% year-over-year) will be released with the revisions on February 14. It may be interesting for economists, but the general thrust is sufficiently known for businesses and market participants. The eurozone economy is stagnating or worse. In the last five quarters through Q4 23, in aggregate, there has been no growth. Still, the details of fourth quarter GDP saps much interest in high frequency data from the end of last year. More importantly is the momentum at the start of the new year and the data so far have been limited to some surveys and a preliminary estimate of January CPI (-0.4% month-over-month and minus 3.2% at an annualized rate in the last three months). There seems to be little reason to expect new growth impulses, leaving this quarter to be flat to +0.1%.

The euro's low for the year was set at the start of last week slightly below $1.0725. The subsequent recovery stalled in the $1.0790-95 area, meeting the (38.2%) retracement objective from the Feb 2 high set shortly before the US January jobs report. The momentum indicators remain stretched, as one would expect, given the five weeks of losses in the first six weeks of the year. And if there is a more of a recovery, the $1.0810-40 area may offer stiff resistance. The 20-day moving average, which the euro has not closed above since January 2 is found at the upper end of that band. Note that there are options for 2.5 bln euro at $1.0725 that expire Monday and options for 1.5 bln euros at $1.07 expire shortly after the US CPI report on February 13.  There is another 1.4 bln euro s at $1.07 that expire Wednesday. 

Japan:  In each of the past six years, the Japanese economy contracted in at least one quarter (in 2018 and 2022 there were two contracting quarters). Last year, it was the third quarter, when output fell by 0.7% (quarter-over-quarter). A stabilization in consumption and a recovery in private investment, both of which fell in Q2 23 and Q3 23, likely helped return the world's third largest economy to growth. Exports also increased. The GDP deflator appears to have peaked in Q3 23 at a 5.3% year-over-year pace. On the back of firmer US Treasury yields and comments by BOJ officials that downplayed the likelihood of a tightening cycle even after negative interest rate policy is jettisoned, the dollar rose to nearly three-month highs against the yen (~JPY149.60). Although Japanese officials have not expressed concern about the price action in the foreign exchange market, the yen's six-week drop is the kind of one-way market that is resisted. The November high was near JPY149.75, in front of the psychologically important JPY150 level. There are $1.4 bln in options at JPY150 that expire shortly after the US CPI report on February 13. A move above JPY150 brings last year's high near JPY152 into view.

United Kingdom: It is an important week for UK data and the jobs report and the CPI, in particular will likely impact expectations for interest rate policy. Average weekly earnings have slowed for four consecutive months through November and look poised to continue to slow as the labor market cools. The key message on UK CPI is that it will fall sharply starting the February report and running through May. In those four months in 2023, UK CPI rose by an average of 1.0% a month. In the last four months, through January, the UK's CPI rose by an average of 0.2% a month. Due to 0.6% decline in January 2023 UK CPI, the 0.3% decline expected for last month's CPI will translate into a small increase in the year-over-year rate. But that is not the signal. Even if UK's inflation averaged 0.4% in the Feb-May period this year, the headline year-over-year rate would still slip below 2% (from 4% in December). The core rate is firmer, but the direction is lower. It peaked at 7.1% last May and finished the year at 5.1%. The UK also reports Q4 23 GDP. Recall that the monthly print showed a 0.3% contraction in October followed by 0.3% growth in November. It is seen contracting by 0.2% in December. That would likely translate to a 0.1% contraction quarter-over-quarter for the second consecutive quarter. Surveys suggest manufacturing remains weak while the services are finding traction. The swaps market has about a 70% chance that the first cut is delivered by midyear. Three cuts and about a small chance of a fourth cut is discounted for this year. 

Sterling broke out of its $1.26-$1.28 trading range to the downside at the start of last week, largely on follow-through selling after the US jobs report on February 2. It bottomed near $1.2520 and recovered to settle above $1.26 for the past three sessions. Sterling's recovery stalled near $1.2645, the (50%) retracement of the losses from February 2 high (~$1.2770). The next retracement (61.8%) is around $1.2675, which is also where the 20-day moving average is found.

Australia: The January employment data will be reported early on February 15. It is difficult to imagine a worse report than December's, even though the unemployment rate held at 3.9% (up from 3.5% at midyear). Australia lost a stunning 106.6k full-time posts, which wiped out half of the increase reported in the Jan-November period (~211k). Part of the reason that the unemployment rate did not rise was that the participation rate fell by a sharp 0.5% to 66.8%. At the same time, other hard data have been poor. Remember December retail sales tumbled 2.7% in the face of expectations of a 0.5% gain. November gain itself was revised lower by nearly as much as economists had forecast a December gain (1.6% vs. 2.0%). Building approvals dropped 9.5%. Here, too, economists (median in Bloomberg's survey) forecast a 0.5% increase. November's 1.6% gain was revised to 0.3%. There may be scope for the market to bring forward the first rate cut by Reserve Bank of Australia to June from August. 

The Australian dollar recorded a new low for the year last Monday near $0.6470, its lowest level since mid-November as it extended the post-US jobs data drop. However, it stabilized and largely traded in a range mostly between $0.6480 and about $0.6540. The upper end of the range corresponds to the (50%) retracement of the decline from the pre-jobs data high a little above $0.6600. The next retracement (61.8%) is near $0.6555, and the 20-day moving average, which the Aussie has not closed above since January 3 is a little higher (~$0.6560).

Canada:  Canada has a light economic diary in the coming days. January existing home sales and housing starts, and Canada' portfolio investment account (December) rarely moves the market in the best of times. In terms of drivers, the 30- and 60-day correlations with the changes in the exchange rate seem to be the general direction of the dollar (DXY) and risk-appetites (S&P 500). The Canadian dollar seems less sensitive to oil and two-year rate differentials (less than 0.2 correlation for both period). The US dollar took out the January high marginally and rose to about CAD1.3545 early last week before consolidating at lower levels ahead of the Canadian employment data reported before the weekend. The Canadian dollar strengthened initially on the news, even though full-time jobs fell for the second consecutive month. The greenback found support ahead of CAD1.3400 and recovered back to set new session highs near CAD1.3480. The risk seems to be on the upside. 

Mexico:  After the January CPI figures and the central bank decision to hold policy steady, there may not be market-moving economic data February 22 with another look at Q4 23 GDP (0.1%), first half of February CPI, and minutes from the Banxico meeting. The central bank raised quarterly inflation forecasts through Q3 but left the Q4 24 projection at 3.5%. The target is 3%, +/- 1%. The dollar initially moved higher in response, but the upticks (to ~MXN17.17) were short-lived. The greenback settled last week below MXN17.10, to post its second consecutive weekly decline. The MXN17.00 area had been approached before Mexico's CPI and central bank meeting. It has not traded below there since January 16, but it could if the US CPI and retail sales data are soft and cap US rates. 



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