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Futures Rise To 4,700 “Max Gamma” As Oil Slide Accelerates

Futures Rise To 4,700 "Max Gamma" As Oil Slide Accelerates

U.S. index futures rose again, trading on top of the massive 4700 "max gamma" level despite downbeat data out of Chinese tech names, as investors awaited the latest batch of unemploym

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Futures Rise To 4,700 "Max Gamma" As Oil Slide Accelerates

U.S. index futures rose again, trading on top of the massive 4700 "max gamma" level despite downbeat data out of Chinese tech names, as investors awaited the latest batch of unemployment data and taking comfort from signals that central banks will stay far behind the curve and keep pledges to overlook faster inflation rather than rush into rate hikes.

European stocks were steady and Asian equities fell as Chinese tech stocks tumbled after poor results from Baidu and Bilibili. Treasury yields edged higher, the dollar was little changed and gold declined. Bitcoin retreated for a fifth straight day. Oil prices skidded to a six-week low on concern about a supply overhang and the prospect of China, Japan and the United States dipping in to their fuel reserves, with Brent futures last at $79.77, more than 8% off last month's three-year high. Nasdaq futures rose 86.25 points or 0.53% outperforming S&P 500 futs which were up 11.50 points or 0.25% to 4697.75, after chip giant Nvidia jumped 7% after a sales forecast by the world’s largest chipmaker.

Elsewhere in premarket trading, Cisco dropped 6.6% after the computer networking equipment group’s growth and earnings forecast fell short of expectations while Alibaba slid after reporting sales that missed analyst estimates for a second straight quarter. Some other notable premarket movers:

  • EV makers are mixed in U.S. premarket trading, with Rivian Automotive (RIVN US), Lucid (LCID US) and Canoo (GOEV US) all declining and newly-listed Sono (SEV US) extending its bounce
  • Nvidia (NVDA US) shares gain 7% in U.S. premarket trading, with analysts saying the chipmaker delivered a strong enough quarter to justify its punchy valuation
  • Amtech (ASYS US) fell 22% in post-market trading after reporting fourth quarter revenue that missed estimates from two analysts. The semiconductor stock has risen 139% this year through Wednesday’s trading.
  • Kraft Heinz (KHC US) fell 1.6% in postmarket trading on Wednesday after announcing one of its top holders was selling a portion of its stake.
  • Victoria’s Secret (VSCO US) shares gain 13% in U.S. premarket trading as analysts highlight “better-than- feared” 3Q results for the lingerie retailer.
  • JD.com (JD US) shares advanced 2.2% premarket after it reported net revenue for the third quarter that beat the average analyst estimate.

“While companies are managing to report solid third-quarter numbers, the ability to do so is being tempered by concerns about slimmer margins,” said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in London. “One positive thing, aside from the concern over rising inflation, has been the resilience of labor markets, on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed with most cash indexes giving back early gains or losses to trade flat as travel and consumer companies gained while the energy and minings industries retreated. FTSE 100 underperformed slightly. Oil & gas was the weakest sector followed by mining stocks. European metals and mining stocks fall 0.8%, the second worst performing sub-index on the benchmark Stoxx 600, amid sinking iron ore futures and copper prices. Iron ore retreated as investors weighed a top producer’s forecasts of a balanced market next year and the impact on miners amid a price collapse in recent months. Diversified miners drop, Glencore -0.8%, Anglo American -1%, BHP -0.7%, Rio Tinto -1.1%; the four stocks account for more than 60% of the SXPP.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell, on track for a second day of losses, as Baidu helped lead a slump in Chinese technology giants.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped as much as 0.4%, extending its two-day slide to about 0.9%. The Hang Seng Tech Index lost about 3%, as search engine giant Baidu tumbled on worries over the advertising outlook and video-streaming firm Bilibili dropped after posting a larger-than-expected loss. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and China’s CSI 300 benchmark were the worst performing national benchmarks Thursday, while Taiwan’s Taiex managed a small gain. Alibaba also fell, ahead of its highly awaited earnings report later today that may show the impact of Beijing’s regulatory curbs. Japan's Nikkei was down 0.6% in early trade.

"We do seem to have stalled somewhat as we head into the year end," said Jun Bei Liu, a portfolio manager at Tribeca Investment Partners in Sydney. "Investors perhaps are just taking a bit of pause," she said, in the wake of a strong U.S. results season, but as inflation and China's slowdown loom as macroeconomic headwinds.

“With a bout of earnings having been released and put behind the market, we’re in an environment where investors are inclined to take profits,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities in Tokyo. “Investors are likely to cherry pick stocks that have high earnings and ROE and have strong momentum for growth.”  The region’s equities are now poised for a weekly drop after wiping out gains from earlier this week. Anxiety over global inflation has weighed on sentiment as investors search for clues on when central banks will start raising interest rates. Indonesia and the Philippines kept borrowing costs unchanged, as expected, to aid two economies that bore the brunt of Covid-19 outbreaks in Southeast Asia this year.

In rates, treasuries were slightly cheaper across long-end of the curve after S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures breached Wednesday’s highs. Yields are higher by ~1bp in 30-year sector, with 2s10s steeper by ~1bp, 5s30s by ~0.5bp; 10-year is ~1.60%, trailing bunds by ~2bp as traders push back on ECB rate-hike pricing. Focal points Thursday include several Fed speakers and a potentially historic 10-year TIPS auction at 1pm ET - at $14BN, the 10Y TIPS reopening is poised to draw a record low yield near -1.14%; breakeven inflation rate at ~2.71% is within 7bp of Monday’s YTD high. Elsewhere, Gilts outperformed richening ~2.5bps across the curve. Peripheral spreads tighten, semi-core widens marginally.

In FX, the U.S. dollar erased an earlier modest loss and was flat, with majors mostly range-bound. Treasury yields stabilized from overnight declines; the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers, though most were confined to tight ranges, New Zealand’s dollar led G-10 gains after two-year ahead inflation expectations rose to 2.96% in the fourth quarter from 2.27% in the third, according to survey of businesses published by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Support in euro- Swiss franc at 1.0500 holds for now and consolidation for risk reversals this week suggests that a breach of the key level may not see a big follow through. The pound inched up and is on its longest winning streak in nearly seven months after this week’s jobs and inflation data fueled confidence that the Bank of England will hike rates.

The Turkish lira plunged to a new all time low, with the USDTRY rising to 10.93 after the central bank cut rates by 100bps.

Currency traders are also assessing a sharp downdraft in the Aussie/yen cross, often a barometer of market sentiment. It fell through its 200-day moving average on Tuesday and has lost almost 4% in a dozen sessions .

"You've got the perfect storm there for bears," said Matt Simpson, senior analyst at brokerage City Index. "Fundamentally and technically Aussie/yen looks pretty good with lower oil prices."

In commodities, crude futures remained in the red but bounce off worst levels as the potential for SPR releases remains center stage. WTI finds support near $77, recovering toward $78; Brent regains a $80-handle. Spot gold gives back Asia’s small gains, dropping ~$7 to trade near $1,860/oz. Base metals trade poorly, LME zinc and lead underperform.

Looking at the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook for November, the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for November, and the Conference Board’s leading index for October. Central bank speakers include PBoC Governor Yi Gang, the ECB’s Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and the Fed’s Bostic, Williams, Evans and Daly. There’ll also be a number of decisions from EM central banks, including Bank Indonesia, the Central Bank of Turkey and the South African Reserve Bank. Finally, earnings releases include Intuit, Applied Materials and TJX.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,703.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 490.50
  • MXAP down 0.3% to 199.31
  • MXAPJ down 0.6% to 650.79
  • Nikkei down 0.3% to 29,598.66
  • Topix down 0.1% to 2,035.52
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.3% to 25,319.72
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.5% to 3,520.71
  • Sensex down 0.4% to 59,755.91
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to 7,379.20
  • Kospi down 0.5% to 2,947.38
  • Brent Futures down 0.1% to $80.18/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,863.45
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 95.75
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.26%
  • Euro little changed at $1.1327

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • More Wall Street banks are wagering that the Federal Reserve will hike rates at a faster-than-expected pace, with Citigroup Inc. joining Morgan Stanley in backing trades that will profit if the central bank does just that
  • China is releasing some oil from its strategic reserves days after the U.S. invited it to participate in a joint sale, suggesting the world’s two biggest oil consumers are willing to work together to keep a lid on energy costs
  • European countries are increasingly forcing reluctant companies to let employees work from home in an effort to break the rapidly spreading fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic

A more in depth look at global markets courtesy of Newsqauwk

Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly negative with sentiment in the region subdued amid a lack of significant macro drivers and following the uninspired lead from the US - where the major indices finished a choppy session in the red and the DJIA gave up the 36k status. Nonetheless, the ASX 200 (+0.1%) remained afloat with notable strength in gold miners, as well as some consumer stocks, although advances in the index were limited by losses in the financial and energy sectors after similar underperformance stateside amid a decline in yields and oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) was initially dragged lower by unfavourable currency inflows which overshadowed reports that Japan wants to enhance tax breaks for corporations that raise wages, while shares in Eisai were hit after EU regulators placed doubts regarding the approval of Co. and Biogen’s co-developed Alzheimer’s drug and SoftBank also declined after the US regulator raised concerns regarding Nvidia’s acquisition of Arm. However, the index then briefly returned flat in late trade on reports that the Japanese stimulus package is to require JPY 55.7tln of fiscal spending which is higher than the previously speculated of around JPY 40tln. The Hang Seng (-1.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.5%) weakened after another liquidity drain by the PBoC and with the declines in Hong Kong exacerbated by tech selling, while the losses in the mainland were to a lesser extent with China said to be mulling additional industrial policies aimed to support growth and SGH Macro sources suggested the US and China agreed there would be some substantial progress on trade such as the removal of some punitive tariffs by the US and increased purchases of US products by China, although the report highlighted that it was unclear if this would be from a high-profile announcement or a discrete relaxing of tariffs. Finally, 10yr JGBs were initially flat as prices failed to benefit from the subdued risk appetite in Japan and rebound in global peers, while firmer metrics at the 20yr JGB bond auction provided a mild tailwind in late trade although the support was only brief and prices were then pressured on news of the potentially larger than anticipated fiscal spending in PM Kishida's stimulus package.

Top Asian News

  • China Property Stocks Sink, $4.2 Billion Rush: Evergrande Update
  • Japan’s Kishida Eyes Record Fiscal Firepower to Boost Recovery
  • China Property Firm Shinsun’s Shares and Bonds Slump
  • JD.com Sales Beat Estimates as Investments Start to Pay Off

Major bourses in Europe are choppy, although sentiment picked up following a subdued APAC session but despite a distinct lack of fresh catalysts. US equity futures have also been grinding higher in early European hours, with the NQ (+0.6%) outpacing the ES (+0.3%), RTY (+0.2%) and YM (+0.2%). Back to European cash – broad-based gains are seen across the Euro bourses – which lifted the CAC, DAX and SMI to notch record intraday highs, whilst upside in the UK's FTSE 100 (-0.2%) has been hampered by hefty losses in today's lagging sectors– the Energy and Basic Resources - amid price action in the respective markets. Tech names also see a strong performance thus far as chip names cheer NVIDIA (+6% pre-market) earnings yesterday. Overall, sectors have maintained a similarly mixed picture vs the cash open, with no overarching theme. In terms of individual movers, Swatch (+2.8%) and Richemont (+0.6) piggyback on the increase in Swiss Watch Exports vs 2020 and 2019. Metro Bank (-20%) plumbed the depths after terminating takeover talks with Carlyle.

Top European News

  • Royal Mail Hands Investors $540 Million Amid Parcel Surge
  • German Coalition Plans Stricter Rent Increase Regulation: Bild
  • HSBC Sees ECB Sticking With Easy Stance Despite Record Inflation
  • Astra Covid Antibody Data Shows Long-Lasting Protection

In FX, the Kiwi has extended its recovery on heightened RBNZ tightening expectations prompted by significant increases in Q4 inflation projections, with some pundits now assigning a greater probability to the OCR rising 50 bp compared to the 25 bp more generally forecast and factored in. Nzd/Usd is eyeing 0.7050 and the 50 DMA just above (at 0.7054 today) having breached the 100 DMA (0.7026), while the Aud/Nzd cross is probing further below 1.0350 even though the Aussie has found some support into 0.7250 against its US rival and will be encouraged by news that COVID-19 restrictions in the state of Victoria are on the verge of being completely lifted.

  • GBP/EUR/DXY - Notwithstanding Kiwi outperformance, the Dollar has lost a bit more of its bullish momentum to the benefit of most rivals, and several of those that compose the basket. Indeed, Cable has popped above 1.3500, while the Euro is looking more comfortable on the 1.1300 handle as the index retreats further from Wednesday’s new y-t-d peak and away from the psychological 96.000 level into a 95.840-642 range. Ahead, IJC and Philly Fed are due amidst another decent slate of Fed speakers, while Eur/Usd will also be eyeing the latest ECB orators for some direction and Eur/Gbp is back around 0.8400 where decent option expiry interest resides (1.1 bn), but perhaps more focused on latest talks between the UK and EU on the NI dispute.
  • CHF/CAD/JPY - The Franc has pared more declines vs the Buck from sub-0.9300 and remains firm against the Euro near 1.0500 in wake of Swiss trade data showing a wider surplus and pick-up in key watch exports, but the Loonie looks a bit hampered by a more pronounced fall in the price of oil as the US calls on other countries for a concerted SPR tap and China is said to be working on the release of some crude stocks. Usd/Cad is tethered to 1.2600 and highly unlikely to threaten 1.1 bn option expiries at the 1.2500 strike in contrast to the Yen that stalled above 114.00 and could be restrained by 1.4 bn between 113.90 and the round number or 1.3 bn from 114.20-25, if not reports that Japan’s stimulus package may require Jpy 55.7 tn of fiscal spending compared to Jpy 40 tn previously speculated.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are off worst levels but still under pressure amid the prospect of looming crude reserves releases, with reports suggesting China is gearing up for its own release. There were also prior source reports that the US was said to have asked other countries to coordinate a release of strategic oil reserves and raised the oil reserve release request with Japan and China. Furthermore, the US tapping of the SPR could be either in the form of a sale and/or loan from the reserve, and the release from the reserve needs to be more than 20mln-30mln bbls to get the message to OPEC, while a source added that the US asked India, South Korea and large oil-consuming countries, but not European countries, to consider oil reserve releases after pleas to OPEC failed. This concoction of headlines guided Brent and WTI futures under USD 80/bbl and USD 78/bbl respectively with early selling also experienced as European players entered the fray. On the geopolitical front, US National security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart the idea of an interim agreement with Iran to buy more time for nuclear negotiations, according to sources. However, two American sources familiar with the call said the officials were just "brainstorming" and that Sullivan passed along an idea put forward by a European ally. Next, participants should continue to expect jawboning from the larger economies that advocated OPEC+ to release more oil. OPEC+ is unlikely to react to prices ahead of next month's meeting (barring any shocks). Elsewhere, spot gold and silver have been choppy within a tight range. Spot gold trades under USD 1,875/oz - with technicians flagging a Fib around USD 1,876/oz. Spot silver trades on either side of USD 25/oz. Base metals are on a softer footing amid the broader performance across industrial commodities – LME copper remains subdued under the USD 9,500/t level, whilst some reports suggest companies are attempting to arbitrage the copper spread between Shanghai and London.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Nov. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 260,000, prior 267,000; Continuing Claims, est. 2.12m, prior 2.16m
  • 8:30am: Nov. Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 24.0, prior 23.8
  • 9:45am: Nov. Langer Consumer Comfort, prior 50.3, revised 50.3
  • 10am: Oct. Leading Index, est. 0.8%, prior 0.2%
  • 11am: Nov. Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 28, prior 31

Central banks

  • 8am: Fed’s Bostic Discusses Regional Outlook
  • 9:30am: Fed’s Williams speaks on Transatlantic responses to pandemic
  • 2pm: Fed’s Evans Takes Part in Moderated Q&A
  • 3:30pm: Fed’s Daly takes part in Fed Listens event

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After 9 weeks since surgery, yesterday I got the green light to play golf again from my consultant. Yippee. However he said that he’ll likely see me in 3-5 years to do a procedure called distal femoral osteotomy where he’ll break my femur and realign the leg over the good part of the knee. Basically I have a knee that is very good on the inside half and very bad on the outer lateral side. He’s patched the bad side up but it’s unlikely to last more than a few years before the arthritis becomes too painful. This operation would be aimed at delaying knee replacement for as long as possible! Sounds painful and a bit crazy! Meanwhile I also have a painful slipped disc in my back at the moment that I’m going to have an injection for to hopefully avoid surgery after years of managing it. As you might imagine from reading my posts last week I don’t get much sympathy at home at the moment for my various ailments. In terms of operations and golf I’m turning into a very very poor man’s Tiger Woods!

Markets have been limping a bit over the last 24 hours too as the inflation realities seemed to be a bit more in focus. Those worries were given additional fuel from the UK CPI release for October, which followed the US and the Euro Area in delivering another upside surprise, just as a number of key agricultural prices continued to show significant strength. Oil was down notably though as we’ll discuss below. To add to the mix, the latest global Covid-19 wave has shown no sign of abating yet, even if some countries are better equipped for it than others.

Starting with inflation, one of the main pieces of news arrived yesterday morning, when the UK reported that CPI came in at +4.2% year-on-year in October. That was above every economist’s estimate on Bloomberg, surpassing the +3.9% consensus expectation that was also the BoE’s staff projection in their November Monetary Policy Report. That’s the fastest UK inflation since 2011, and core inflation also surprised on the upside with a +3.4% reading (vs. +3.1% expected). In response to this, our UK economist (link here) is now expecting that CPI will peak at +5.4% in April, with the 2022 annual average CPI still at +4.2%, which is more than double the BoE’s 2% target. The release was also seen as strengthening the case for a December rate hike by the BoE, and sterling was the second best performing G10 currency after being top the day before in response, strengthening +0.45% against the US dollar.

Even as inflation risks mounted however, the major equity indices demonstrated an impressive resilience, with the STOXX 600 (+0.14%) rising for the 17th time in the last 19 sessions. This is the best such streak since June this year, when the index managed to increase 18 of 20 days. We’ll see if that mark is matched today That was a better performance than the S&P 500 (-0.26%). 342 stocks were in the red today, the most in three weeks. Energy (-1.74%) and financials (-1.11%) each declined more than a percent, on lower oil prices and yields, respectively. Real estate (+0.65%) and consumer discretionary (+0.59%) led the way, driven by a +3.25% increase in Tesla. In line with the broad-based retreat, small-caps continued to put in a much weaker performance, with the Russell 2000 shedding -1.16% as it underperformed the S&P for a 4th consecutive session.

Sovereign bonds also managed to advance yesterday, with yields on 10yr Treasuries (-4.5bps) posting their biggest decline in over a week, taking them to 1.59%. Declining inflation expectations drove that move, with the 10yr breakeven down -3.2bps to 2.71%, which was its biggest decline in over two weeks. For Europe it was a different story however, with yields on 10yr bunds only down -0.3bps, just as those on 10yr OATs (+0.1bps) and BTPs (+0.5bps) both moved higher. Most of the Treasury rally was after Europe closed though.

Those moves came against the backdrop of a fairly divergent performance among commodities. On the one hand oil prices fell back, with WTI (-2.97%) closing beneath $80/bbl for only the second time in the last month as speculation continued that the US would tap its strategic reserves. On the other hand, there was no sign of any relenting in European natural gas prices, which rose a further +0.79% yesterday to bring their gains over the last 7 days to +31.57%. That follows the German regulator’s decision to temporarily suspend certification for Nord Stream 2, which has added to fears that Europe will face major supply issues over the winter. And while we’re discussing the factors fuelling inflation, there were some fresh moves higher in agricultural prices as well yesterday, with wheat futures (+1.48%) hitting an 8-year high, and coffee futures (+4.75%) climbing to their highest level in almost a decade.

Central banks will be watching these trends closely. There’s still no word on who’s going to lead the Fed over the next 4 years, but yesterday’s news was that President Biden will make his pick by Thanksgiving. For those keeping track at home, on Tuesday the guidance was within the next four days. So, while it appears momentum toward an announcement is growing, take signaling of any particular day with a grain of salt. On the topic of the Fed, our US economists released their updated Fed outlook yesterday (link here) in which they brought forward their view of the expected liftoff to July 2022, with another rate increase following in Q4 2022. And although it’s not their base case, they acknowledge that incoming data could even push the Fed to speed up their taper and raise rates before June. They don’t see the choice of the next Fed Chair as having much impact on the broad policy trajectory, since inflation next year is likely to still be at high levels that makes most officials uncomfortable, plus the annual rotation of regional Fed presidents with an FOMC vote leans more hawkish next year. So that will constrain the extent to which a new chair could shift matters in a dovish direction, even if they wanted to.

Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly in the red outside of a flat KOSPI (+0.01%). The Shanghai Composite (-0.13%), CSI (-0.64%), Nikkei (-0.77%) and Hang Seng (-1.35%) are being dragged down by tech after a bout of Chinese IT companies missed earnings continuing a theme of this earnings season. Elsewhere in Japan, the Nikkei reported that the new economic stimulus package could be around YEN 78.9 tn ($691 bn). Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will announce the package on Friday. Elsewhere S&P 500 (+0.08%) and DAX futures (+0.01%) both fairly flat.

The House of Representatives is slated to begin debate on the Biden social and climate spending ‘build back better’ bill. Word from Congress suggested it could be tabled for a vote as soon as today, though the House has been as profligate missing self-imposed deadlines to vote on the bill as President Biden has been with the announcement of Fed Chair. In addition to the Build Back Better package, there’ll still be plenty of action in Congress over the next month, with another government shutdown looming on December 3, and then a debt ceiling deadline estimated on December 15. The House Budget Chair echoed Treasury Secretary Yellen’s exhortation, and urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a government default. Treasury bills are pricing increasing debt ceiling uncertainty during December; yields on bills maturing from mid- to late-December are around double the yields of bills maturing in November and January.

Turning to the pandemic, cases have continued to rise at the global level over recent days, as alarm grows in a number of countries about the potential extent of the winter wave. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel and Vice Chancellor Scholz are taking part in a video conference with state leaders today on the pandemic amidst a major surge in cases. And Sweden’s government said that they planned to bring in a requirement for vaccine passports at indoor events with more than 100 people. In better news however, the UK’s 7-day average of reported cases moved lower for the first time in a week yesterday. Moderna also joined Pfizer in seeking emergency use authorization from the FDA for booster jabs of its Covid vaccines for all adults.

Looking at yesterday’s other data, US housing starts fell in October to an annualised rate of 1.520m (vs. 1.579m expected), whilst the previous months’ reading was also revised lower. Building permits rose by more than expected however, up to an annualised rate of 1.650m (vs. 1.630m expected). Finally, Canada’s CPI inflation reading rose to +4.7% in October as expected, marking the largest annual rise since February 2003.

To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, the Philadelphia Fed’s business outlook for November, the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for November, and the Conference Board’s leading index for October. Central bank speakers include PBoC Governor Yi Gang, the ECB’s Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and the Fed’s Bostic, Williams, Evans and Daly. There’ll also be a number of decisions from EM central banks, including Bank Indonesia, the Central Bank of Turkey and the South African Reserve Bank. Finally, earnings releases include Intuit, Applied Materials and TJX.

Tyler Durden Thu, 11/18/2021 - 08:05

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TechCrunch+ roundup: Credit Karma post-exit, recruiting developers, re:Invent recap

The very day in Feb. 2020 that Credit Karma planned to announce that it had been acquired by Intuit for over $7 billion, the stock market tanked, spooked by news that a virus could start a pandemic.

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The same day in February 2020 that Credit Karma planned to announce that it had been acquired by Intuit for more than $7 billion, the stock market tanked, spooked by news that a novel virus had the potential to start a pandemic.

“I’m up at 5 o’clock in the morning, the Dow is flashing red … and we’re all like, ‘Are we going to do this?’” said Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin.

That deal eventually closed in December 2020, but in the intervening months, the U.S. Department of Justice forced the company to divest its tax business, and credit markets tightened considerably.


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Use discount code TCPLUSROUNDUP to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription


Fintech reporter Ryan Lawler interviewed Lin, Intuit CEO Sasan Goodarzi, Credit Karma’s chief people officer Colleen McCreary and other executives to learn about how they weathered COVID-19 and divestment while simultaneously crafting a new management structure.

“What had been a very profitable business for a very long time is all of a sudden very unprofitable, because you can’t pivot on a dime,” said Lin. “We had a lot of decisions to make.”

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+
@yourprotagonist

Samsara could become a decacorn in upcoming IoT-themed IPO

Initially founded to create wireless sensors, IoT platform company Samsara reached a $3.6 billion valuation in 2018, but its latest S-1/A filing could boost that “from $10.1 billion to $11.6 billion,” reports Alex Wilhelm in today’s edition of The Exchange.

Two weeks ago, he delved into the company’s inner workings, but “today, we’re more interested in the resulting numbers, not how they were achieved.”

AWS re:Invent 2021 was more incremental than innovative

AWS re:Invent 2021

Image Credits: Amazon

We’re used to Amazon making news: it’s the world’s third-largest company, and its founder is planning to build his own private space station.

But at last week’s re:Invent, the annual conference for AWS customers, “it felt more like Amazon was checking boxes and filling in holes in the product road map,” writes enterprise reporter Ron Miller.

After going virtual in 2020, this year’s in-person return to Las Vegas saw updates from incoming CEO Adam Selipsky, CTO Werner Vogels and others, but “nothing came out of the 2021 re:Invent that felt really cool.”

A few highlights: AWS unveiled the Gravitron 3, its latest Arm-based processor, along with re:Post, a managed Q&A service that replaces AWS forums, and Amplify Study, a no-code/low-code service for devs building cloud-connected applications.

But notably, “this is the first re:Invent in a long time where AWS did not announce a new database,” said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research.

Ron’s recap of the week’s announcements — and the lack thereof — points to a company in transition: “Perhaps Amazon is becoming a bit more like Apple.”

Essential steps to thriving and surviving while fundraising

Close-Up Of Eyeglasses Against Grassy Field

Image Credits: Nilou Van Soest/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

For a founder, raising seed money can be the hardest part of the puzzle, and depending on the sector, can take dozens of weeks to accomplish.

A data-driven approach to the process, however, can help founders tackle fundraising efficiently while minimizing headaches, writes Russ Heddleston, CEO of DocSend.

“Having very clear data on where VCs focus their time on pitch decks or in meetings will guide you to deliver a finely tuned pitch to the right investor.”

3 ways to recruit engineers who fly under LinkedIn’s radar

Close-up of binoculars on table by the sea during sunset, the sunset is reflected in the glass of the binoculars (Close-up of binoculars on table by the sea during sunset, the sunset is reflected in the glass of the binoculars, ASCII, 113 components,

Image Credits: the_burtons (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Last week’s announcement by LinkedIn that it would start offering its services in Hindi highlights a problem facing startups trying to recruit software developers — many of them don’t use the platform.

Potential hires who live in emerging markets are less likely to use LinkedIn, but a lot of devs just don’t take a strong interest in building their brands on social media.

Making an effort to meet developers where they are will help your company as an attractive place to work, writes Sergiu Matei, founder of Index.

In a TechCrunch+ post, he shares three tips you can use to attract engineers in an increasingly competitive market:

  • Open up your content, chats and code
  • Make EQ, not IQ, your hiring criteria
  • Say “yes” to more candidates

SenseTime’s IPO to test market demand for high-growth, high-loss shares in Hong Kong

The market is ripe for AI companies to go public, but for SenseTime’s Hong Kong IPO, demand may be less than that of the wider market, writes Alex Wilhelm.

The company’s new IPO target of up to HK$5.99 billion (US$768 million) is a far cry from its previous $2 billion IPO, possibly reflecting the fact that investors aren’t excited about its steadily increasing losses, Alex writes.

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Spread & Containment

Traders are panicking the most since the pandemic

An iffy market environment with hints of pessimismOver the 20 years we’ve been publishing here, we’ve had the good fortune to test thousands of strategies. There is a reason we keep coming back to sentiment-related measures – because they worked more c…

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An iffy market environment with hints of pessimism

Over the 20 years we've been publishing here, we've had the good fortune to test thousands of strategies. There is a reason we keep coming back to sentiment-related measures - because they worked more consistently over a multi-month time frame than any other. 

One of the keys, however, is context. Investors behave differently during bull markets than they do during bear markets, and both of those are different than trading ranges.

Because of that, we've also tested an untold number of indicators to determine a market's trend. Some add significant value, but usually, they're highly complex and optimized based on historical conditions that may change.

In the help section, we outlined some basics on looking at the market environment. They're simple rules, it's easy to find the indicators just about anywhere, they've worked for decades across every imaginable setting, and they work about as well as more sophisticated systems.

Nowadays, there are many advanced charting and testing platforms available to investors and at reasonable prices. The downside is that it's too easy to get lost by continually searching for a Holy Grail and lose sight of the big picture in the process. For discretionary investors, keeping it simple is usually a better option.

There are a few simple primary guides we watch, all of which are positive. And a few secondary ones, all of which are negative, like the McClellan Summation Index.

So, this is a problem.

We've spent much of the last couple of weeks looking at how split the stock market has been, with too many securities diverging from what the major indexes were doing. These conditions have a strong habit of leading to poor short- to medium-term returns. We can see that above, with positive trend indications in the S&P 500, but negative elsewhere.

In a stark change from recent behavior, traders scrambled to trade put options instead of call options. For the first time since the pandemic rally began, there were more puts than calls traded across all U.S. exchanges.

Put call ratios have spiked

For the first time since the March 2020 surge in buying interest, there is reason to question the trends underlying most securities and investors' willingness to buy the dip. Within indexes like the S&P 500, trends are mostly healthy and not unlike other pullbacks over the past 18 months. But it's a different story across the broader universe of stocks.

Stat box

Traders have moved more than $2.5 billion into or out of the SPY ETF for 6 straight sessions. That's tied with December 26, 2007, for the longest stretch of wild inflows/outflows in the fund's history.


The yield curve as a stock market indicator

Dean showed that when the 10's vs. 2's treasury yield spread declines, the yield curve is said to be "flattening." Typically, a flattening of the yield curve suggests softer economic conditions.

Conversely, when the 10's vs. 2's treasury yield spread increases, the yield curve is said to be "steepening." A steepening of the yield curve is typically, but not always, associated with more robust economic conditions.

Significant declines in the treasury yield spread in a brief period are typically associated with growth scare corrections and bear markets.

Using drops in the yield curve as a stock market indicator

This signal triggered 30 other times over the past 44 years. Dean then looked further at these signals, adding layers of context that helped to flesh out whether this is something investors should be worried about.

What a split market looks like

Jay noted that our Short-Term Risk Level indicator can fluctuate from 0 to 10. In essence, the lower the reading, the less perceived risk in the stock market and vice versa. 

One way to look at it is in terms of cash. If one were to rely solely on this indicator to allocate capital (not recommended), then a Risk Level of 0 would suggest keeping 0% of one's portfolio in cash (i.e., fully invested). A Risk Level of 10 suggests keeping 100% of one's portfolio in cash (i.e., no exposure to stocks).

Even though the Short-Term Risk Level is meant for, well, shorter-term movements, a very low level doesn't happen very often, so let's take a look at longer-term returns. 

In the chart below, the red dots highlight previous Short-Term Risk Levels readings of 1.

Short term risk level for stocks has plunged

Using the Short-Term Risk Level for a longer-term signal led to 11 non-overlapping signals, which is a very small sample size, but returns following them were quite consistent.

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Stocks Soar On Optimism Omicron Is A Dud As Traders Focus On Growing China Stimulus

Stocks Soar On Optimism Omicron Is A Dud As Traders Focus On Growing China Stimulus

U.S. index futures rallied, led by gains for Nasdaq 100 contracts, amid waning omicron worries and a booster shot of Chinese stimulus lifted world stock marke

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Stocks Soar On Optimism Omicron Is A Dud As Traders Focus On Growing China Stimulus

U.S. index futures rallied, led by gains for Nasdaq 100 contracts, amid waning omicron worries and a booster shot of Chinese stimulus lifted world stock markets and oil on Tuesday and left traders offloading safe-haven currencies and bonds for the second day in a row. Emini S&P futures were up 61 point to 4,650.75 or about 120 points higher then where Gartman said "stocks are headed lower" some 24 hours ago. Nasdaq futures were up 1.8% and Dow futures rose 1% in premarket trading. In fact, futures are now just 50 points away from where they were below the Black Friday Omicron panic plunge.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index was on track for its first back-to-back run of plus 1% gains since February while Asia saw record bounces from some of China's biggest firms such as Alibaba which soared by the most since its 2019 listing in Hong Kong, leading a rebound in Chinese tech stocks, as bargain hunters piled in amid improved sentiment following Beijing’s move to bolster the economy. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed 1.7% while Japan’s Topix index closed 2.2% higher. The VIX dropped for a second day, sliding below 24, but remained above this year’s average.

The risk-on mood also helped the dollar climb against safe haven currencies such as the Japanese yen, , which had lost 0.6% overnight, as the confidence-sensitive Australian dollar also found buyers. Safe-haven government bonds went the other way with yields  up 2.5% on Germany's benchmark 10-year Bund after falling to a three-month low on Monday.

Reports in South Africa said Omicron cases there had only shown mild symptoms and the top U.S. infectious disease official, Anthony Fauci, told CNN "it does not look like there's a great degree of severity" so far. "Good news relating to the severity of Omicron should be taken with a pinch of salt. Faster transmission could offset the benefits of milder symptoms," researchers at ING said in a note. "More broadly, it is still early days, even if markets are starting to display Omicron fatigue."

"While epidemiologists have rightly warned against premature conclusions on Omicron, markets arguably surmised that last week's brutal sell-off ought to have been milder," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a note. "After all, early assessments of Omicron cases have been declared mild, spurring half-full relief."

There are signs of “a fragile improvement in market mood,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. Still, “no headline addresses the major concern of the week: the rising U.S. inflation, which is a big threat to the investor mood, as the U.S. CPI data is due Friday, and the expectation is an advance to a strong 6.7%,” Ozkardeskaya wrote in a report. “We could see wild mood swings into the second half of the week.”

The gains also came after China's central bank on Monday injected its second shot of stimulus since July by cutting the RRR - or the amount of cash that banks must hold in reserve. Then on Tuesday, the PBOC said that the Interest rate for relending to support rural sector and smaller firms will be cut by 0.25 percentage point, effective from today, with 3-mo, 6-mo and 1-yr relending rates will be cut to 1.7%1.9% and 2%.

After pretending it would let the economy falter for months, Beijing is finally firmly in pro-growth mode with the Politburo stating that stability is the top priority ahead of next year’s Communist Party congress. Premier Li Keqiang also said China has room for a variety of monetary policy tools after yesterday’s reserve ratio cut. As a result, the beaten down financial and property stocks were the biggest winners amid the change in tone from policy makers. In Hong Kong, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. soared by the most since its 2019 listing. Global markets are also getting a lift from the easing policy pivot in world’s second-largest economy which we first flagged more than a weeks ago.

* * *

In the premarket, Intel shares rose 7.7% in premarket trading after the chipmaker confirmed a WSJ report that it plans to float a minority stake in its Mobileye self-driving car business by the middle of next year. Alibaba jumped as much as 5.4% in U.S. premarket trading Tuesday, adding to a 10% rally on Monday as with Chinese tech stocks rebound. Alibaba’s climb in the U.S. comes after its shares posted their biggest gain since June 2017 on Monday.

Cruise operators and airline stocks are trading higher for a second session as investors assess the severity of the omicron virus variant. American Airlines was among the notable outperformers after naming President Robert Isom to replace retiring CEO Doug Parker. AAL rose 3% in premarket trading, while UAL climbs 2.6% and JBLU jumps 2.7%; other gainers include: ALK +2.6%, DAL+2.3%, LUV +2.4%, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise added 3.3%, while Carnival increased 3.1% in premarket trading. Casino operators also rebounded, led by Las Vegas Sands +3.5%, Wynn Resorts +2.7%, MGM Resorts +2.3% after Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam said the city will prioritize quarantine-free travel for business people when its border with mainland China reopens.

In Europe every industry sector rose, led by tech and mining companies, to push the Stoxx 600 Index to a 2% gain led by technology, mining and consumer companies. AstraZeneca was an outliker, falling 2% in London after the company agreed to pay Ionis Pharmaceuticals as much as $3.6 billion to gain rights to a promising medicine for a rare disease. European e-commerce stocks that benefited from increased demand during pandemic-related lockdowns rose in Europe on Tuesday, with many outperforming the benchmark Stoxx 600’s biggest gain since March. Among the names were Allegro +6.3%, Moonpig +5.3%, Global Fashion Group +5.3%, Asos +5.1%, Zalando +4.6%, THG +3.7%, Boozt +3.3%, Ocado +2.4%, Boohoo +1.9%. “As concerns grow over rising case numbers, we expect some people will prefer to shop online again to limit their visits to stores,” Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, says in emailed comments.

Asian equities advanced, on track for their best day in more than three months, following China’s latest moves to bolster growth in the world’s second-largest economy.  The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.8%, poised for its biggest gain since Aug. 24. Consumer-discretionary firms contributed most to the market’s climb, led by Alibaba as bargain hunters snapped up recently rattled Chinese tech stocks. Benchmarks in Hong Kong and Japan led broad gains around the region.  China’s central bank said it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost. Meanwhile the Communist Party’s Politburo signaled an easing of curbs on the battered real-estate sector. “Anxiety over the Chinese economy is abating thanks to the cut in the banks’ reserve ratio and a partial easing of real-estate regulations,” said Hiroshi Namioka, chief strategist at T&D Asset Management Co. Plus, “an overall risk-on mood is being created as people turn increasingly optimistic about any impact from the omicron, leading to higher U.S. equities and long-term yields.”  Financials and industrials also boosted the region’s key equity gauge Tuesday as investors looked toward reopening prospects. The day’s rebound marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. U.S. equities overnight rebounded from Friday’s selloff after reports that cases of the omicron variant have been relatively mild.

Japanese equities rose by the most in over a month, as investors were cheered by reports of Chinese policy makers moving to support the nation’s economy and that global omicron virus cases have been relatively mild. Electronics makers and telecoms were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which gained 2.2%, the most since Nov. 1. SoftBank Group and Tokyo Electron were the largest contributors to a 1.9% rise in the Nikkei 225. The yen extended its loss against the dollar after weakening 0.6% overnight. U.S. stocks climbed Monday after news from South Africa that showed hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed by the latest wave of Covid cases. Meanwhile, China President Xi Jinping oversaw a meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo on Monday that concluded with a signal of an easing in curbs on real estate. “Cyclical stocks, China-linked names and automakers that had been sold on a stronger yen will likely be bought up following China’s change in policy stance,” said Hideyuki Ishiguro, a strategist at Nomura Asset Management in Tokyo. “This will alleviate worry over a slowdown in the Chinese economy.”

India’s benchmark equity index bounced back from a three-month low on optimism that the global economic recovery may be able to withstand risks associated with the omicron virus variant.  The S&P BSE Sensex climbed 1.6% to 57,633.65, in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index also advanced by a similar magnitude. ICICI Bank Ltd. provided the biggest boost to both the gauges with a 3.5% gain. Out of the 30 shares in the Sensex, 29 rose and one fell. All 19 industry sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. gained, led by a measure of metals companies. The uncertainty from the omicron variant, along with expectations of rapid tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve have tested the risk appetite of investors in the previous two sessions in India. However, markets across Asia advanced Tuesday after China pledged measures to support slowing economic growth. “Indian markets mirrored the sharp buoyancy in global indices on the back of short-covering by market participants. The rally was backed by a sharp upsurge in banking and metal stocks, which had taken a severe hammering in recent sessions,” Shrikant Chouhan, head of equity research at Kotak Securities Ltd. wrote in a note.  Australia’s central bank -- at its monetary policy meeting Tuesday -- left its key interest rate unchanged and said that while the strain is a source of uncertainty, it’s not expected to derail the recovery. Reserve Bank of India will announce its rate decision on Wednesday. 

In FX, the Dollar Spot Index inched lower as commodity currencies led gains among Group-of-10 peers. The volatility skew for the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index shows bullish bets on the greenback over the one-month tenor stand near their lowest since August. This may change as soon as next week after Friday's CPI report. The euro reversed an Asia session gain to touch a December low of $1.1254 in early European hours. Bunds and Italian bonds slumped, led by the belly after ECB’s Holzmann yesterday said rate hikes are possible while still buying debt. Money markets continue to price the first 10bps rate hike in December 2022 but October pricing jumps to 7.5bps from 6bps on Monday.

The pound was steady against the dollar, trailing other risk-sensitive currencies, with focus on next week’s Bank of England meeting and how officials will assess the threat of the omicron strain. The Norwegian krone and the Canadian dollar advanced amid rising oil prices and before the Bank of Canada meeting Wednesday. Australian bond yields extended gains and the Aussie dollar advanced versus all of its G-10 peers as central bank optimism that omicron won’t disrupt the economic recovery underscored bets on sooner-than-expected rate hikes. Australia’s central bank left monetary settings unchanged, citing uncertainties from omicron, while highlighting positive signs in the labor market and broader economy. Finally, the yen fell a second day after easing concern over the coronavirus omicron variant

In rates, Treasuries were narrowly mixed with the front-end lagging ahead of today's 3-year auction. Treasury 2-year yields were cheaper by 2.2bp on the day, flattening 2s10s spread by 1.8bp and unwinding portion of Monday’s steepening move; 10-year yields around 1.436%, slightly cheaper on the day. Bunds lag by 1.3bp after ECB’s Holzmann says rate hikes are possible while still buying debt -- BTP’s cheapen 2.5bp vs. Treasuries in 10-year sector. U.S. TSY auctions resume with $54b 3-year note sale at 1pm ET, before $36b 10- and $22b 30-year Wednesday and Thursday; the WI 3-year around 0.973% is above auction stops since Feb. 2020 and ~22bp cheaper than November’s sale, which tailed the WI by 1bp.

In commodities, oil prices jumped another 2% to $74.60 a barrel, adding to a near 5% rebound the day before as concerns about the impact of Omicron on global fuel demand eased; WTI rose about 3% near $71.50. Copper prices also ticked higher while gold was steady at $1,778.5 per ounce on expectations U.S. consumer price data due later this week will show inflation quickening. European natural gas futures rose on talk of fresh Russian sanctions. Spot gold is choppy near $1,780/oz. Base metals are well bid given the broader risk-on tone: most of the complex rises over 1% with LME zinc outperforming. 

Looking at today's calendar, we have trade balance data for October at 8:30 a.m, while the EIA short-term energy outlook is published at 12:00 p.m. The US sells $54 billion of 3-year notes at 1:00 p.m. Biden and Putin talk from 10:00 a.m. Jeffrey Gundlach hosts his Total Return webcast from 4:15 p.m. Autozone Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. report results.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 1.3% to 4,650
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.7% to 476.71
  • MXAP up 1.7% to 193.18
  • MXAPJ up 1.7% to 627.71
  • Nikkei up 1.9% to 28,455.60
  • Topix up 2.2% to 1,989.85
  • Hang Seng Index up 2.7% to 23,983.66
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3,595.09
  • Sensex up 1.6% to 57,657.07
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 7,313.90
  • Kospi up 0.6% to 2,991.72
  • Brent Futures up 2.3% to $74.73/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.0% to $1,778.95
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.36
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1268

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The ECB said its supervision arm will focus its scrutiny in the coming three years on risks that lenders face from a potential spike in bad loans and their search for higher returns
  • Hungary’s central bank is nowhere close to stopping a monetary tightening campaign that will make the country’s real interest rates the highest in central Europe, Deputy Governor Barnabas Virag said
  • The U.S. and European allies are weighing sanctions targeting Russia’s biggest banks and the country’s ability to convert rubles for dollars and other foreign currencies should President Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter
  • China’s exports and imports grew faster than expected in November, with both hitting records as external demand surged ahead of the year-end holidays and domestic production rebounded on an easing power crunch.
  • Some China Evergrande Group bondholders have not received overdue coupon payments after the end of a month-long grace period, putting the world’s most indebted property developer on the brink of its first default on offshore notes
  • U.K. house prices hit a record in November, with values over the past three months rising at their fastest pace for 15 years, according to mortgage lender Halifax

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks traded mostly positive following the heightened risk appetite among global peers, including in the US, where the DJIA posted its best performance since March and all sectors in the S&P 500 finished positive. Omicron concerns abated throughout the session and resulted in notable outperformance across travel and leisure stocks, while the region also took its opportunity to digest the PBoC's recent RRR cut announcement and mostly better than expected Chinese trade data. The ASX 200 (+1.0%) was positive with broad gains across its sectors aside from utilities and with momentum helped after a lack of surprises at the RBA policy decision - which refrained from any policy tweaks. Nikkei 225 (+1.9%) outperformed and regained a firm footing above the 28k level as exporters benefitted from a weaker currency, and with the advances led by SoftBank which atoned for the recent declines in its portfolio companies. The Hang Seng (+2.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) were both initially lifted in early trade after the announcement of the PBoC’s RRR cut, which is said to likely calm markets amid increasing developer risks, although the mainland bourse then gave back its gains after the PBoC continued to drain liquidity in its daily open market operations. Furthermore, reports that the PBoC lowered its relending rate by 25bps for agricultural and small companies also failed to boost the mainland as this is viewed as a more targeted supportive measure. Finally, 10yr JGBs declined and re-approached the key psychological 152.00 level on spillover selling from USTs as stocks gained and Omicron fears abated. The results of the latest 30yr JGB auction were mixed with higher accepted prices and lower yield offset by a weaker b/c and wider tail in price.

Top Asian News

  • Asian Stocks Set for Best Day in 3 Months as China Tech Rebounds
  • Alibaba Jumps Most Since H.K. Listing as China Tech Rebounds
  • Malaysia Court Dismisses Najib’s Plea, SRC Verdict Due Wednesday
  • LG Energy Seeks Up to 12.75t Won IPO, Biggest in Korea

European stocks have conformed to the risk appetite seen across global peers (Euro Stoxx 50 +2.5%; Stoxx 600 +2.0%), which initially emanated from Wall Street, before seeping into APAC and reverberating in Europe. There is no clear catalyst behind the gains, although desks have been attributing the optimism to receding fears regarding the Omicron variant – with no recorded deaths thus far. That being said, some of the key tail risks to markets have not subsided, with liquidity also expected to be more anemic in the run-up to next week’s risk-packed docket before year end. Nonetheless, US equity futures are grinding higher with the NQ (+1.9%) in the lead, closely followed by the RTY (+1.7%), whilst the ES (+1.3%) and YM (+1.0%) see slightly less pronounced gains. Back in Europe, Euro-bourses see broad-based upside but the UK’s FTSE 100 (+1.1%) and the Swiss SMI (+0.7%) are capped by underperformance in the defensive sectors – with Healthcare and Food & Beverages towards the bottom of the bunch. Sectors are overall in the green with a clear and firm pro-cyclical bias. Tech leads the gains following its recent underperformance, with Basic Resources also among the winners as base metals post decent gains. In terms of individual movers GSK (+0.5%) remains supported after pre-clinical data demonstrate the potential for monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab to be effective against the latest variant, Omicron, plus all other variants of concern defined to date by the WHO. As a reminder, the co. last week said its COVID treatment Sotrovimab retains its activity against the Omicron variant. British American Tobacco (+2.1%) is firmer followed by a positive trading update alongside Babcock (+5.2%) and Ferguson (+4.0%). On the downside, AstraZeneca (-1.7%) resides towards the foot of the Stoxx 600 amid a downgrade at Jefferies, alongside the broader anti-defensive narrative. Looking at analysts’ commentary, Barclays suggests that the Fed is unlikely to over-deliver on the rate hikes that are already priced in, with the bank unphased by the recent Powell pivot and Omicron resurgence. Barclays maintains its positive view on 2022 equities and upgraded its European small caps to overweight on improving fundamentals but oversold performance, and downgraded Momentum to market-weight.

Top European News

  • U.K. House Prices Post Strongest Quarterly Increase Since 2006
  • Republicans’ Pecresse Ties With Le Pen in French Poll
  • Ferguson 1Q U.S. Organic Revenue Beats Estimates
  • EU Aims to Unveil Green Rules for Gas, Nuclear Projects Dec. 22

In FX, although the Buck remains bid on bullish US fundamentals and the index is finding plenty of underlying buying interest/support into 96.000, the overall market mood is constructive enough to help riskier currencies outperform, and shrug off another dovish RBA policy meeting in the case of the Aussie. Instead, Aud/Usd and Aud/Nzd are gaining more ground on the coattails of iron ore prices and favourable tradewinds, as Chinese imports surged beyond expectations and outpaced exports that also beat consensus to leave the surplus somewhat short of the mark. The headline pair reached 0.7101 before running into resistance and 1.2 bn option expiry interest at the 0.7100 strike, while the cross has breached 1.0450 convincingly to expose 1.0500 ahead of NZ Q3 manufacturing sales on Wednesday and following RBNZ Assistant Governor Hawkseby sticking to a considered line on further rate normalisation overnight. He also said the Kiwi is in a broad range of where it is expected to be and that a higher currency in the short-term will help us achieve objectives more quickly. Nzd/Usd is still rotating around 0.6750, while the Loonie is latching on to the latest leg up in WTI over Usd 71/brl to test offers protecting 1.2700 vs its US rival in advance of Canadian and US trade data, Ivey PMIs and tomorrow’s BoC, with the DXY fading following a fleeting breach of Monday’s peak within 96.447-168 confines, Note also, 1.1 bn option expiries reside between 1.2750-55 in Usd/Cad and could cap recovery rallies. Elsewhere, the Scandinavian Crowns continue to rebound from recent lows against the Euro, and Brent’s bounce to the brink of Usd 75/brl is helping the Nok probe 10.2000 rather than a somewhat mixed Norges Bank regional network survey, while the Sek is lagging circa 10.2400 amidst Riksbank concerns over the lack of liquidity and transparency in Sweden’s corporate bond market that needs to be addressed.

  • CHF/GBP/EUR/JPY - The G10 laggards to varying degrees, with the Franc trying to pare losses from sub-0.9250 vs the Dollar and more successfully against the Euro from almost 1.0450 towards 1.0400, while the Pound is holding mostly above 1.3250 in Cable terms and Eur/Gbp is pivoting 0.8500 as the single currency remains under the psychological 1.1300 level vs the Greenback irrespective of supportive Eurozone macro impulses via better than forecast German industrial output and ZEW economic sentiment over bleak current conditions. Similarly, the Yen remains weak on risk and rate/yield dynamics and Usd/Jpy is now firmer within a loftier 113.40-74 range before a raft of Japanese releases including Q3 GDP revisions and October’s current account balance.
  • EM - More easing in China, but resilience or even ongoing strength in the Cny and Cnh in wake of the PBoC shaving 25 bp off the relending rate for agricultural and small companies, according to sources in the Securities Times that also suggests in tune with the China Daily that an LPR cut may be in the offing. Conversely, weakness in the Rub awaiting the call between Putin and Biden and the Zar on the back of SA GDP missing already low-key expectations, but the Try is nursing some declines in what could be reasonably described as intervention fashion.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are firmer on the session, buoyed by the risk appetite across the markets. From a fundamental standpoint, the benchmarks remain underpinned by the lack of progress in Iranian nuclear talks coupled with the OSP hike seen by Saudi Aramco over the weekend for Asia and US customers – typically a reflection of firmer demand. The morning also saw some reports suggesting Yemen Houthis fired several ballistic missiles and 25 armed drones on Saudi Arabia, including Aramco facilities in Jeddah, but details remain light. Aside from that, the morning’s newsflow has been on the quiet side, with the macro environment currently dictating price action. WTI Jan is back on a USD 71/bbl handle (vs low 69.50/bbl) while Brent Feb topped USD 75.00/bbl (vs low USD 73.20/bbl). In terms of bank forecasts, Citi sees a dramatic fall in energy prices from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022 averages – with Brent seen at USD 62/bbl (from USD 79/bbl) and WTI seen at USD 59/bbl (from USD 75/bbl). Over to metals, spot gold and silver move in tandem with the Buck featuring the former around USD 1,780/oz and caged below that cluster of DMAs which today sees the 50, 100 and 200 at USD 1,793/oz, USD 1,790/oz and USD 1,791/oz respectively. Elsewhere LME copper takes impetus from the broader risk appetite, with prices back north of USD 9,500/t and extending on gains, with the Chinese trade data also supportive for the base metal complex. Overnight, Dalian iron ore futures gained focus as prices were bolstered by the recent liquidity action taken by the PBoC coupled with more sanguine commentary surrounding the Chinese housing market, according to some analysts.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: 3Q Unit Labor Costs, est. 8.3%, prior 8.3%
  • 8:30am: 3Q Nonfarm Productivity, est. -4.9%, prior -5.0%
  • 8:30am: Oct. Trade Balance, est. -$66.8b, prior -$80.9b
  • 3pm: Oct. Consumer Credit, est. $25b, prior $29.9b

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

It’s with much trepidation that I take an hour off work this morning to visit my 4-year old twins’ nativity play. They are by far the youngest in their Reception year and given they were premature, in reality there are technically older kids in the nursery year. As such my expectations were always well managed when the parts were being doled out that they wouldn’t be competing for the blockbuster roles such as Joseph! These expectations were met as they have been cast as “presents”. So I think they have to sit there with a bow around them and try to remember some of the words in the songs they have been given to sing. Success would be for them not to have a fight mid-performance as they do most evenings when I see them. Only when you have identical twins can you witness such love and hatred displayed within the space of a few seconds.

Markets have been swinging between love and hate over the last 10 days with the former winning out yesterday as investors’ concerns eased around the Omicron variant. Obviously we’re still awaiting definitive data on a number of points, but more generally the suggestions that it could be less likely to cause severe disease has injected some optimism back into markets after the recent selloffs. As a result, we saw a decent bounceback among the major equity indices on both sides of the Atlantic, an advance for oil prices following 6 successive weekly declines, and investors even moved to marginally bring forward the likely timing of central bank rate hikes.

We’ll start with equities, where risk appetite only increased as the day went on, with the S&P 500 (+1.17%) posting a broad-based advance that saw over 85% of the index’s members advancing. Europe also put in a strong performance, with the STOXX 600 up +1.3%, whilst many indices saw their biggest advances in months. That included the UK’s FTSE 100 (+1.5%), Spain’s IBEX 35 (+2.4%), and Italy’s FTSE MIB (+2.2%), which, outside of last Wednesday, were the best daily performances since July. European tech shares lagged the broader rally, with the STOXX Technology index down -0.33%, though US tech shares gained steam after the European close, with the Nasdaq up +0.93%, trailing the S&P by a more modest amount.

Greater optimism about the new variant proved supportive for oil prices too, with Brent crude (+4.58%) and WTI (+4.87%) posting gains after a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines, having also been supported by Saudi Arabia’s move to raise oil prices to Asia and the US in January. Oil prices are up another 1% this morning. However, there was a big decline in US natural gas futures (-11.50%) yesterday, the worst daily performance since January 2019, as the mild weather outlook has served to dampen demand.

Over in sovereign bond markets there was a fresh selloff in US Treasuries, and a steepening of the yield curve, as the optimism about Omicron led investors to bring forward their expectations of future rate hikes. Yields moved higher across the curve, with those on 10yr yields up +9.1bps to 1.43%, as both real yields and inflation breakevens moved higher on the day, whilst the 2s10s curve managed to steepen +4.7bps to 79.9bps. 10yr yields are up another +1.4bps this morning. Near-term, the first Fed rate hike is again fully priced by the June FOMC meeting. Over in Europe, yields were lower, with those on 10yr bunds (-0.1bps), OATs (-0.4bps) and BTPs (-3.8bps) all declining, though the greater risk appetite was reflected in the narrowing of peripheral spreads, with the gap between Italian and Spanish yields over bunds both tightening by the close.

Overnight in Asia stocks are all trading up with the Nikkei (+2.09%), Hang Seng (+1.62%), CSI (+0.51%), KOSPI (+0.47%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.12%) all stronger. China’s RRR cut yesterday is certainly helping sentiment. On the data front, China's trade balance for November came in at $71.72 bn (consensus $83.60 bn and $84.54 bn previously), lower than expected as imports grew at +31.7% year-on-year against +21.5% consensus. Exports (+22%) were slightly higher than expected.

Elsewhere the Reserve Bank of Australia held its benchmark interest rate unchanged while cautioning that price pressures remain subdued in Australia compared with other economies as the RBA expects it to reach 2.5% by 2023. Our economists put out a note suggesting that if you squint, the RBA commentary was slightly hawkish though. See more here if you’d like their review. Elsewhere futures are pointing to a positive start in the US and Europe with the S&P 500 (+0.34%) and DAX (+0.38%) contracts trading in the green.

Looking ahead, one of the important events today will be the scheduled video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The Biden administration, in concert with European allies, is reportedly weighing whether to bring economic tools to bear against Russia in response to the recent flare up on the Ukrainian border. Measures being considered included sanctions against President Putin’s inner circle, energy producers, and banks, as well as the more drastic option of denying Russian access to US-run international payments system, SWIFT. The Ruble depreciated -0.66% against the US dollar after having appreciated +0.50% in the morning before the headlines.

In terms of other developments on the pandemic, the global case count has been moving higher for 7 consecutive weeks now, and we got fresh news of tougher restrictions in New York City yesterday. They’re set to place a vaccine mandate on private sector workers from December 27, whilst indoor dining and entertainment will be requiring those aged 12 and over to be fully vaccinated, and those aged 5-11 to have one dose. Here in the UK, over 50k confirmed cases were reported yesterday once again, and the average number of cases over the last week now stands up +9% on the week before.

Turning to Germany, the main news yesterday was that the Greens became the final party of the incoming traffic-light coalition to approve the negotiated agreement, with 86% of members in favour. That follows similar moves by the SPD and the FDP, and today the parties are set to formally sign the deal, with Olaf Scholz set to become chancellor tomorrow in a Bundestag vote, which will also bring an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. For a run down on what to expect from the new government, our research colleagues in Germany have put together a guide on the various policy areas (link here). Staying on Germany, data also showed yesterday that factory orders fell by a much larger-than-expected -6.9% in October (vs. -0.3% expected), with the decline driven by a -13.1% fall in foreign orders, contrary to domestic orders which actually expanded +3.4%.

To the day ahead now, and data highlights include German industrial production for October and the ZEW survey for December, along with the US trade balance for October. Otherwise, US President Biden and Russian President Putin will be holding a video call.

Tyler Durden Tue, 12/07/2021 - 07:59

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