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Futures Slip As Traders Read Between Powell’s Lines

Futures Slip As Traders Read Between Powell’s Lines

After yesterday’s torrid, Powell-inspired meltup which saw the S&P soar the most since…

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Futures Slip As Traders Read Between Powell's Lines

After yesterday's torrid, Powell-inspired meltup which saw the S&P soar the most since May 2020 (just days after its biggest drop since June 2020)...

... U.S. futures paused their surge after Jerome Powell eased fears that the Federal Reserve will unleash an even more aggressive tightening path and took a 75bps rate hike off the table. As of 745am EDT, S&P 500 futures dropped 0.6%, while Nasdaq 100 contracts fell 0.8%, as investors digested Powell’s vow to curb inflation, while acknowledging it could inflict some “pain” to the economy. In fact, an example of just what the Fed is fearing came earlier today when the BOE hiked 25bps as expected, but warned a stagflationary recession is be imminent as the central bank now expects GDP to contract while inflation rises double digits in the coming months, which is precisely what happens when central banks are far behind the curve. 

In other assets, the dollar jumped to session highs as cable tumbled to July 2020 lows, 10Y yields were flat around 2.95 while bitcoin traded off yesterday's highs between 39K and 40K.

“Alongside tightening monetary policy, a number of risks - persistently high inflation, indications that consumer demand is softening, and the economic consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine - have raised investors’ concerns about the strength of future economic growth,” said Richard Flynn, U.K. managing director at Charles Schwab. “In this context, market volatility is likely to continue.”

For those who missed yesterday's white knuckle session, the US central bank raised the benchmark rate by a half percentage point on Wednesday, the steepest increment since 2000, in order to keep inflation under control. By ruling out a more aggressive hike, the central bank gave a boost to equity markets, with the S&P 500 posting its biggest daily advance since 2020. The Nasdaq 100 closed 3.4% higher, but is still down 17% this year.

We are puzzled why the market thinks that Fed hikes are going to stop inflation,” said Nancy Davis, founder of Quadratic Capital Management. “We see inflation as driven by massive government spending, supply chain disruptions and, more recently, by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Sure, the Fed is powerless to do anything against inflation, but it has to do something. Policy makers are trying to juggle the need to quell the fastest inflation in four decades against hard-won economic growth. In Europe, German factory orders plummeted, highlighting the toll from the war. The soaring price of commodities further complicates efforts to subdue price pressures.

“The combination of high inflation and a weakening global economic outlook has fueled concerns about how far central banks will be able to raise interest rates without overburdening the economy,” Fraser Lundie, head of public fixed income markets at Federated Hermes, wrote in a note to clients.

In premarket trading, EBay plunged 6.9% as analysts said macro headwinds, including the war in Ukraine, inflation and consumer confidence, will pressure results in the near term. The e-commerce firm gave a lackluster sales and profit outlook for the second  quarter, as a pandemic-driven sales bump fades. U.S.-listed Chinese stocks dropped again as investors mulled an expanding list of firms that face potential security delistings and the Federal Reserve’s rate decision. JD.com (JD US) shares trade down 2.8%, Pinduoduo (PDD US) -3.5% and Bilibili (BILI US)  -5% in premarket. Some other notable premarket movers:

  • Albemarle (ALB US) shares jump 14% in premarket trading after the company boosted its profit and sales guidance for the full year, citing continued strength in pricing in the Lithium and Bromine businesses. .
  • Hycroft Mining (HYMC US) shares surge as much as 36% in U.S. premarket trading after the precious metals producer gave an update for the first quarter, with the firm saying that its strengthened balance sheet allows it to cut debt, complete technical studies and launch an exploration program.
  • Qorvo (QRVO US) analysts said that guidance from the radio frequency solutions fell short of expectations amid weakness in China and high inventory, prompting price target cuts among brokers. Qorvo shares fell 4.9% in postmarket trading on Wednesday after forecasting adjusted earnings per share for the first quarter that missed the average analyst estimate.
  • Booking Holdings (BKNG US) impressed analysts with April bookings topping 2019 levels and positive comments on summer travel. The shares rose 7.7% in postmarket trading after the company’s first-quarter revenue and gross bookings both beat the average analyst estimate.
  • Twilio (TWLO US) analysts highlighted the gross margin performance and reiteration of guidance as encouraging points in the communication-software provider’s results, though some were left wanting more from the firm’s revenue beat. The shares rose 3.8% in after-hours trading Wednesday after adjusted earnings per share for the first quarter beat the average analyst estimate.
  • Fortinet (FTNT US) analysts lauded the infrastructure software company’s solid quarter in light of continued supply chain pressures. The company’s shares rose 7% in extended trading on Wednesday after it reported first-quarter results and raised its full-year forecast.
  • Etsy (ETSY US) analysts were overall positive on the e-commerce firm’s results, though noted that challenges relating to the macroeonomic backdrop and the reopening of economies weighed on the company’s outlook. Etsy shares fell 10% in postmarket trading Wednesday after its forecast for second-quarter revenue fell short of the average analyst estimate.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 was up 1% after rising as much as 1.8%. FTSE 100 up 1.1%, and DAX +1.4%, with most indexes well off session highs. Tech, real estate and industrials were the strongest performing sectors, autos and insurance underperform as gains are faded. Positive results from large caps including Airbus SE, Shell Plc, UniCredit SpA and ArcelorMittal SA also helped brighten the mood. Some notable European movers:

  • Airbus jumps as much as 8.5% on a “solid” 1Q, with adjusted Ebit “significantly” above consensus, Bernstein says, with Jefferies noting key highlight is plan to ramp up A320 production.
  • Shell shares rise as much as 3.6% after company reports record profit for the quarter. Jefferies said the results signaled “strong” second-half buyback acceleration.
  • UniCredit jumps as much as 7.6%, the most intraday since March 29, after reporting revenue for the first quarter that beat estimates. Analysts note “solid” earnings ex-Russia.
  • S4 Capital shares soared as much as 20% on Thursday after Martin Sorrell’s media company said it will publish its results for last year tomorrow, following a lengthy delay.
  • Outokumpu shares rise as much as 9.3% after the Finnish steel maker presented its latest earnings, which included several beats to consensus estimates, including on adjusted Ebitda.
  • Argenx shares rise as much as 6.7% after the Belgian immunology firm posted its latest earnings, which included a large beat on sales for its key drug Vyvgart (efgartigimod).
  • Netcompany shares rise as much as 6.1%, the most intraday in a month, after the software developer reported 1Q earnings that are broadly in line with estimates.
  • Verbund dropped the most in two months after the Austrian Chancellor said he’s asked the finance and economy ministries to develop new rules to administer windfall profits at state-controlled companies.
  • Virgin Money shares slide as much as 6.7% after the lender reported first-half results. Goodbody linked the share price drop to several factors, including the bank not announcing a buyback.
  • Hikma Pharmaceuticals fell as much as 11%, the most since April 2020, after the company reduced guidance for its generics division. Peel Hunt calls update “obviously disappointing.”

Earlier in the session, Asia’s stock benchmark rose, poised to snap a three-day decline, as the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement calmed fears about super-sized hikes. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 1.2% before paring gains to around 0.4%. Tech and materials were the biggest boosts to the Asia gauge as most sectors rose, with TSMC and Infosys hauling up the measure. Bucking the trend, China’s stock gauge closed lower after a three-day holiday in a sign that Beijing’s vow to boost growth has failed to alleviate concerns over the outlook.  The Fed delivered a 50-basis-point increase that was in line with expectations on Wednesday, and said a bigger hike was not being actively considered. Benchmarks in the Philippines and Vietnam were among the top gainers in the region. Japan and South Korea markets were closed for holidays.  Tech stocks will likely “see a further rally until the next U.S. consumer price inflation reading next week,” said Jessica Amir, a market strategist at Saxo Capital Markets Australia. “The rate hikes weren’t as much as feared,” bond yields have pared and volatility is subsiding, she added. The rally marked a reprieve for Asia’s beaten-down shares, which remain mired in a bear market. The regional benchmark is underperforming U.S. and European peers this year, hurt by the impact of China’s strict Covid-19 restrictions and rising inflation around the region.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index jumped as cable tumbled on the BOE's recession warning, clawing back some of its post-FOMC losses when Powell ruled out a more aggressive pace of monetary tightening. The greenback traded higher against all of its Group-of-10 peers and the Treasury yield curve bear-flattened, trimming some of Wednesday’s aggressive bull steepening which followed the FOMC outcome. The euro fell back below $1.06 and yields on short-dated European bonds fell as ECB hike bets were pared. German factory orders plummeted, highlighting the toll from the war. The pound plunged after the Bank of England warned of a stagflationary recession even as it hiked another 25bps. Norway’s krone held a loss after the central bank kept its key policy unchanged, as widely expected among analysts, and confirmed its plan to deliver a fourth increase in borrowing costs next month. Australia’s dollar pared yesterday’s gains; weaker-than- expected Chinese economic data raised concerns over demand for the nation’s commodity exports and weighed on the Australia’s sovereign bond yields.

China’s yuan dropped as weak economic data hit sentiment. The USD/CNH rose 0.4% to 6.6489; USD/CNY gains 0.2% to 6.6194 after China’s services activity slumped to its weakest level in more than two years in April as Covid outbreaks and lockdowns continued to pummel consumer spending and threaten economic growth. The Caixin China Services purchasing managers’ index crashed to 36.2 in April, the lowest since February 2020, as Covid outbreaks and lockdowns continued to pummel consumer spending, threatening economic growth.

In rates, the Treasury front-end briefly extends losses, following move in gilts after Bank of England hiked 25bp with three voters looking for a bigger 50bp move. U.S. 10-year yields traded around 2.95%, little changed after retreating from day’s high; gilts outperform. Yields cheapened as much as 6bp across front-end of the curve before retreating; U.K. 2-year yields erased the 3bp increase that followed the Bank of England policy announcement; front-end led losses flatten 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by ~2bp and ~4bp on the day.  Bear-flattening move has 5s30s spread near session lows into early U.S. session, unwinding portion of Wednesday’s post-Fed bull-steepening. Fed speakers resume Friday with six events slated.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s policy announcement, overnight swaps are now pricing in close to 50bp rate hikes at the next three policy meetings. Dollar issuance slate empty so far; session has potential to be busy given a number of expected issuers have so far stood down this week. Three-month dollar Libor dropped -3.54bp at 1.37071%, its first decline since April 5.

 

Looking at today's calendar, we get the BoE policy decision (a hike of 25bps as noted earlier, but accompanied by a very dovish warning of recession in late 2022) and UK local elections. Otherwise from central banks, we’ll hear from the ECB’s Lane, Holzmann and Centeno. Data releases include the weekly initial jobless claims from the US and nonfarm productivity. Finally, earnings releases today include Shell.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.7% to 4,267.00
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 167.94
  • MXAPJ up 0.4% to 556.06
  • Nikkei down 0.1% to 26,818.53
  • Topix little changed at 1,898.35
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 20,793.40
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.7% to 3,067.76
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 55,834.32
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.8% to 7,364.65
  • Kospi down 0.1% to 2,677.57
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.2% to 446.50
  • Brent Futures up 0.4% to $110.56/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,890.84
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.34% to 102.94
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 1.01%
  • Euro down 0.3% to $1.0587

Top Overnight NEws from Bloomberg

  • ECB Executive Board member Fabio Panetta said economic expansion has almost ground to a halt in the euro area and faces further “high costs” as policy makers battle record inflation
  • On the eve of the 25th anniversary of its independence, the U.K. central bank is widely expected to hike interest rates to 1% -- the highest since the financial crisis -- and lay out how it intends to take uncharted steps toward unwinding more than a decade of bond purchases
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in London where they are expected to discuss a plan to support Asian nations in diversifying away from Russian oil and gas
  • Boris Johnson has been engulfed by scandal for months and came close to being ousted by members of his Conservative Party. On Thursday, voters across the U.K. are likely to give him their own kicking. Local election results typically deliver losses for ruling parties, especially if they’ve been in power for 12 years as the Tories have
  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Monetary Policy Committee will return to a full complement of seven for the first time this year when it meets later this month. Assistant Governor Karen Silk joins the RBNZ on May 16 and will be an internal member of the committee from that date
  • The dollar fell Wednesday by the most in nearly a month on a trade-weighted basis following the latest Federal Reserve policy decision yet pairs some of those losses as the move was more down to short-term positioning

A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks traded positively as the region reacted to the FOMC meeting where the Fed hiked rates by 50bps as expected and announced to begin reducing the balance sheet from next month, while Fed Chair Powell dispelled concerns of a more aggressive  75bps rate hike. ASX 200 was firmer with gold miners buoyed by higher prices and as the energy sector benefitted from the proposed Russian oil embargo. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were higher following the mainland’s return from the Labour Day holidays but with advances initially contained by several headwinds including an extension of COVID restrictions in Beijing, the deterioration in Caixin Services and Composite PMIs, while the US SEC added over 80 companies to its list for possible delisting and HKMA also hiked its base rate by 50bps in lockstep with the Fed.

Top Asian News

  • Concerns Mount Over Asset Sales; Stocks Fall: Evergrande Update
  • S&P 500 Remains Expensive Despite Yield-Driven Drop: Macro View
  • North Korea Lifts Sweeping Lockdown After One Day, Yonhap Says
  • India’s Surprise Rate Hike Spurs Aggressive Tightening Bets

European bourses are firmer across the board, Euro Stoxx 50 +1.3%, benefitting from the perceived less-hawkish Fed and associated Wall St./APAC performance. Stateside, futures are softer across the board though the likes of the ES remain in relative proximity to overnight best levels, ES -0.5%. Back to Europe, sectors are mostly positive with Real Estate and Tech the outperformers while defensive-biased names are lagging.

Top European News

  • UniCredit Takes $2 Billion Hit on Russia to Cover Potential Exit
  • U.K. April Composite PMI 58.2 vs Flash Reading 57.6
  • BMW Profit Beats Estimates on Strong Demand for Top-End Cars
  • Norway Rate Hike Locked and Loaded for June to Quell Inflation

FX:

  • Dollar finds its feet after FOMC fall out on less hawkish than factored in policy guidance from Fed chair Powell, DXY back within reach of 103.000 vs 102.340 low.
  • Aussie* undermined by much weaker than forecast building approvals, mixed trade, technical and psychological resistance; AUD/USD closer to 0.7200 than 0.7250 and AUD/NZD fades just shy of 1.1100.
  • Sterling weak on super BoE Thursday on prospects that MPC may be more circumspect after latest 25 bp hike; Cable down around 1.2550 vs 1.2635 peak and EUR/GBP firm on 0.8400 handle.
  • Euro underpinned by rebound in EGB yields and option expiries as 1.8 bn rolls off 1.0600.
  • Loonie cushioned by crude alongside Norwegian Crown after no change in rates by Norges Bank that is sticking to schedule for next quarter point hike in June; USD/CAD mostly sub-1.2750 and EUR/NOK capped below 9.9000.
  • Turkish Lira deflated as CPI soars even further beyond target and PPI over 100%.
  • Polish Zloty awaits 100 bp hike from NBP and Czech Koruna 50 bp courtesy of CNB.
  • Brazil's Central Bank raised the Selic rate by 100bps to 12.75%, as expected, while it left the door open to further monetary tightening at a slower pace and considered it appropriate to advance the process of monetary tightening significantly into even more restrictive territory. BCB also stated that inflationary pressures arising from the pandemic period have intensified due to problems related to the new COVID-19 wave in China and the Ukraine war, according to Reuters.
  • Norges Bank: Key Policy Rate 0.75% (exp. 0.75%, prev. 0.75%). Reiterates that the next hike will “most likely” occur in June. Adds, the Krone has recently depreciated and is now weaker than projected.

Fixed Income

  • Very volatile moves in bonds between the FOMC, BoE and NFP, with Treasuries flipping from bull-to-bear steepening.
  • 10 year note soft within wide 119-09+/118-19+ range, Bunds flat between 153.79-152.74 parameters and Gilts firm in catch-up trade either side of 118.00.
  • Bonos and Oats off best levels after digesting Spanish and French multi-tranche debt issuance

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent have been pivoting relatively narrow ranges ahead of today's JMMC/OPEC+ gatherings, currently posting gains of USD 0.30/bbl.
  • OPEC+ is expected to maintain its policy of increase the output quota by 432k BPD in June, lifted from the 400k BPD in May as part of the pacts terms; newsquawk preview here.
  • Spot gold is bid but lost the USD 1900/oz mark in early-European trade, a figure it has spent the morning modestly below.
  • Norway's labour unions said initial wage talks with oil firms broke down and they will proceed with mediation, according to Reuters.

Crypto

  • Bitcoin is subdued and returned to existing session lows of USD 39.4k amid coverage of the below WSJ story; more broadly, Bitcoin has been steady at the lower-end of the morning's ranges.
  • US Senators Warren and Smith have sent a letter to Fidelity over its Bitcoin 401(k) plan which would allow investors to allocate as much as 20% of their portfolios into Bitcoin, according to WSJ; senators suggest that Bitcoin could be too risky for savers.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: 1Q Unit Labor Costs, est. 10.0%, prior 0.9%
  • 08:30: 1Q Nonfarm Productivity, est. -5.3%, prior 6.6%
  • 08:30: April Continuing Claims, est. 1.4m, prior 1.41m
  • 08:30: April Initial Jobless Claims, est. 180,000, prior 180,000

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

I'm normally asleep at around 945pm each evening but tense football games often disturb that equilibrium and last night was the ultimate sleep disrupter. I was just about to close down my iPad in bed and fall asleep as Man City we're two goals ahead in injury time in the Champions League semi. I stayed the extra minute and in that minute Real Madrid scored twice, took the game into extra time and ultimately won a stunning tie. I finally turned my iPad off 10 minutes before the end but couldn't sleep so turned it on again after they won. Liverpool vs Real Madrid will be an epic final! So all in all a hectic evening trying to watch the Fed while my wife and I watched Ozark (stressful in its own right) and then the football. I'm worn out this morning.

So after all that, the Fed intentionally or unintentionally decided that the market has had enough stress for now and clamped down on the more hawkish potential near-term paths for policy. As a result equities soared, yields fell (especially at the front-end), credit tightened, the dollar slumped and oil built on its earlier rally.

Let's very briefly get the boring bit out of the way in a line or two. Basically the FOMC rose rates by +50bps and signalled they would begin to reduce the size of their balance sheet in June, both in line with our expectations (Our full US econ review is here).

However the most pressing question for markets was how willing the Committee was to consider future rate increases of +75bps. Market participants didn't have to wait long for an answer, as Chair Powell quickly noted that +75bp hikes were not actively being considered, while +50bp hikes were on the table for the "next couple" of meetings. In line, market pricing for the next two meetings ended the day at +100bps, having stripped out any of the small, but recently growing, premium priced in for +75bps over the June and July meetings. The firm rebuke led to a rally in Treasury yields, led by the short-end, as 2yr yields fell -14.0bps, while 10yr yields were a relatively benign -3.7bps by comparison. The move in nominal 10yrs again masked divergence in the decomposition driven by the market’s dovish interpretation, with breakevens widening +4.9bps to 2.88%, while real yields fell -8.6bps, still managing to finish the day in positive territory at 0.05% though.

Elsewhere in the presser, the Chair made multiple mentions of the Committee’s intention to “expeditiously” get policy towards more neutral levels given the monumental inflation-fighting task at hand. He demurred when asked if policy would ultimately need to reach a restrictive rather than just neutral stance, but did not rule it out. He still maintained hope that the Fed could engineer a soft landing after this hiking cycle, but to be fair, it is hard to imagine him saying anything else. He cited strong household and consumer balance sheets as reasons for why the economy could withstand the hiking cycle, when indeed, that very strength when inflation is at multi-decade highs is why policy will probably need to reach restrictive levels not currently appreciated by market pricing. In my opinion the Fed can control the near-term market expectations but beyond that it is all about the inflation data. If it doesn't improve then 50bps will be live at every meeting and not just the "next couple", and 75bps risks will be back on the table. This is all for another day though.

When all was said and done, the market took -11.7bps out of policy tightening during 2022, with futures implying fed funds hitting 2.77% after the December meeting. Futures are still implying that the Fed will hit its terminal rates sometime in the third quarter next year, but that rate was around -18bps lower following the meeting at 3.24%.

Indeed the breathing space given by the removal of the price hike premiums sent US equities on a tear. Little changed heading into the meeting, the S&P 500 ended the day +2.99% higher, its largest one-day gain since May 2020. Every sector ended in the green, with a full 477 companies posting gains, the most since February. The gains were broad-based, with every sector but real estate (+1.09%) gaining at least 2%, though energy (+4.12%), communications (+3.68%) and tech (+3.51%) were the standouts. In line, the NASDAQ (+3.19%) and FANG+ index (+3.40%) outperformed, on the drop in discount rates.

In Asia, mainland Chinese stocks returned following a few days of holidays and are in positive territory with the Shanghai Composite (+0.95%) and CSI (+0.28%) higher. Meanwhile, the Hang Seng (+0.76%) is trading up, but paring its early morning gains. Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 (+0.67%) is climbing while the Japanese and Korean markets are closed for public holidays. Outside of Asia, contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.08%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.07%) are fractionally lower. Stoxx 50 futures are +2.4% due to a post Fed catch-up effect.

Early morning data showed that China’s services sector activity contracted further in April as the Caixin services PMI tumbled to 36.2, its lowest level since the initial onset of the pandemic in February 2020 and compared to March’s reading of 42.

Back now to life pre the Fed. Earlier we had seen sovereign bonds sell off in Europe, with yields on 10yr bunds marginally up +0.7bps to 0.97%, having regularly traded above the 1% mark during the session. Those moves were echoed across the continent and there was a further widening in peripheral spreads, with the gap between Italian 10yr yields over bunds widening by +6.7bps to 198bps. That’s their 11th consecutive move wider, and takes the spread to its highest closing level in almost two years. We’ve also seen a similar move with the Spanish spread, which is at its highest in nearly two years as well, at 109bps. It is likely we'll get a decent reversal this morning though.

That selloff in sovereign bonds came as oil prices reversed their declines so far this week, with Brent Crude up +4.93% to $110.14/bbl after EU President Von der Leyen proposed a ban on Russian oil in the latest sanctions package. Von der Leyen said this would be done “in an orderly fashion”, with the proposal seeing Russian crude oil phased out within 6 months, and refined products by year-end. Nevertheless, Hungary’s foreign minister said that “In its current form the Brussels sanctions package cannot be supported”, which risks holding up the package since it has to have unanimous agreement among the 27 member states. Bloomberg reported people familiar with the matter saying that Hungary and Slovakia would be granted a longer period until the end of 2023 to enforce the sanctions. Although energy stocks benefited from the rise in prices yesterday, they were mostly the exception in Europe, where the broader STOXX 600 underwent a larger -1.08% decline. This morning, Brent crude (+0.43%) is extending its gains.

Looking forward now, central banks will remain on the agenda today as well, with the Bank of England decision at mid-day where the consensus and market pricing are expecting a 25bps hike, which would take Bank Rate up to its highest level since the GFC, at 1%. In his preview (link here), our UK economist is in line with this, and expects the core message from the MPC to remain similar to March, highlighting the uncomfortable and intensifying trade-off between growth and inflation. He’s also expecting that the MPC will confirm its intension to start selling gilts, but doesn’t think we’ll get the details until August, with sales commencing early September.

Staying on the UK, we’ve got local elections taking place today as well that’ll be an important mid-term milestone for both the government and opposition, and our UK economists have put together a preview (link here). Last year the Conservatives had a very good set of results as the economy reopened amidst the vaccine rollout. But whereas they were 9 points ahead of Labour in the polls a year ago, they’re now 6 points behind them according to Politico’s average, so it’s a very different context. However, given most of the seats up for grabs today were last fought in 2018 when the Conservatives and Labour were roughly level in the polls during Theresa May’s premiership, the scale of Conservative losses may not be as big as the polling swing over the last 12 months would otherwise imply. One important contest to watch out for will be the Assembly elections in Northern Ireland, where the Irish nationalist Sinn Féin party are leading in the polls, and could become the largest party for the first time since Irish partition in the 1920s. Politico’s poll of polls puts Sinn Féin on 26%, ahead of the unionist DUP on 19%.

On the data side yesterday, we saw the ADP’s report of private payrolls for April, which showed weaker-than-expected growth of 247k in April (vs. 383k expected). That comes ahead of tomorrow’s US jobs report, where our economists are expecting that nonfarm payrolls will have risen by +465k in April. Then there was the ISM services index for April, where the headline felt to 57.1 (vs. 58.5), but the prices paid index rose to a record 84.6. Over in Europe meanwhile, the final composite PMI for the Euro Area in April was in line with the flash reading at 55.8, and March’s retail sales fell by -0.4% (vs. -0.3% expected).

To the day ahead now, and the highlights will include the aforementioned BoE policy decision and UK local elections. Otherwise from central banks, we’ll hear from the ECB’s Lane, Holzmann and Centeno. Data releases include German factory orders and French industrial production for March, the final UK services and composite PMIs for April, and the weekly initial jobless claims from the US. Finally, earnings releases today include Shell.

Tyler Durden Thu, 05/05/2022 - 08:13

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Economics

What Is Quantitative Tightening? How Does It Work?

What Is Quantitative Tightening?The main job of a central bank, like the Federal Reserve, is to keep the economy strong through maximum employment and…

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Quantitative tightening is not the opposite of quantitative easing—they are distinctly different activities.

Ballun from Getty Images Signature; Canva

What Is Quantitative Tightening?

The main job of a central bank, like the Federal Reserve, is to keep the economy strong through maximum employment and stable prices. It does this by managing the Fed Funds Rate, which it sets at its Federal Open Market Committee meetings. This effectively raises or lowers the interest rates that banks offer companies and consumers for things like mortgages, student loans, and credit cards.

But when the economy needs help and interest rates are already low, the Fed must turn to other tools in its arsenal. This includes practices like quantitative easing and quantitative tightening; the former expands the shares of Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and even stocks on the government’s balance sheets, while the latter tightens the monetary supply. Both have a profound effect on liquidity in the financial markets.

The Fed came to the rescue with trillions of dollar’s worth of quantitative easing at the end of the 2007–2008 Financial Crisis, and again during the global Coronavirus pandemic.

But the Fed can’t go on printing money forever. Whenever it employs quantitative easing, the Fed must eventually turn to its counterpart, which is known as quantitative tightening, in order to limit some of the negative outcomes of the former, such as inflation.

How Does Quantitative Tightening Work? What Is an Example of Quantitative Tightening?

Through quantitative tightening, the Federal Reserve reduces its supply of monetary reserves in order to tighten its balance sheet—and it does so simply by letting the bonds and other securities it has purchased reach maturity. When this happens, the Treasury department removes them from its cash balances, and thus the money it has “created” effectively disappears.

Does the Fed know exactly when to ease the gas pedal on quantitative easing? According to the Fed, timing is everything. Remember how the Fed’s main job is to create a strong economy through stable prices and high employment? As it carefully monitors the effects interest rates are having on the economy, it also keeps a close eye on the overall measure of inflation. It’s both a constant battle and a juggle. 

Take the period following the Financial Crisis as an example. The 2007–2008 crisis stemmed in large part from the implosion of collateralized debt obligations, and so the Fed kept the Fed Funds Rate at virtually 0% for almost a decade in order to spur growth and maintain stable rates of employment.

During this period, it also undertook a series of quantitative easing measures, watching its balance sheet balloon from $870 billion in August 2007 to $4.5 trillion in September 2017.

The FRED graph below illustrates how the Fed Funds rate, in blue, remained at nearly zero for the period while the total size of the Fed’s balance sheet, in red, grew. The shaded areas indicate recession.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Effective Federal Funds Rate [EFFR], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/EFFR, May 16, 2022.

The Fed believed that as soon as employment became stable, it needed to turn its attention to meeting its 2% inflation target, which it accomplished by raising interest rates. And so, in October 2015, it began gradually increasing the Fed Funds Rate in 25 basis point increments. Over the next several years, rates went up from 0.0%–0.25% levels to 2.25%–2.5% in 2018. This course of action, in the Fed’s words, was known as liftoff.

After raising rates a few times with no disastrous consequences, in 2017 the Fed next embarked on an effort to reduce its balance sheet through quantitative tightening. This was also known as unwinding its balance sheet, because it was taking action in a slow and gradual way.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Fed let about $6 billion of Treasury securities mature and $4 billion of mortgage-backed securities “run off” per month, increasing that amount every quarter until it hit a maximum of $30 billion Treasuries and $20 billion mortgage-backed securities per month. By July 2019, the Fed announced that its unwinding was complete.

The Fed published a blog post detailing these efforts, categorizing them as its “balance sheet normalization program,” since it sought to “return the policy rate to more neutral levels.”

What Effect Does Quantitative Tightening Have on the Economy?

While the goal of quantitative easing is to spur growth, quantitative tightening doesn’t hinder it; in fact, many Governors of the Federal Reserve believe quantitative tightening doesn’t have much effect on the economy at all.

“Quantitative tightening does not have equal and opposite effects from quantitative easing,” said St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard, “Indeed, one may view the effects of unwinding the balance sheet as relatively minor.”

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen famously described quantitative tightening as “something that will just run quietly in the background over a number of years,” and that “it’ll be like watching paint dry.”

St. Louis Fed Research Director Chris Waller compared quantitative tightening with “slowly opening the stopper in a drain and letting the water run out,” and by doing so, they were “letting the supply of U.S. Treasuries in the hands of the private sector grow.”

But critics have argued that the excess reserves the Fed creates by “printing money” through quantitative easing have negative consequences on the overall economy. For example, these reserves can lead to currency devaluation and higher inflation, which is defined as when prices rise faster than wages. Inflation can have disastrous effects on an economy, resulting in asset bubbles and even recessions.

Even the Fed admitted as much when St. Louis Vice President Chris Neely noted that between 2008–13, the Fed’s asset purchases led to a decrease in 10-Year Treasury yields by 100–200 basis points. He said, “this reduction modestly raised prices and real activity.”

Just remember that the Fed’s principal aims are to generate stable prices and high employment. So while the Fed hasn’t explicitly said so, reducing its balance sheet might be one of its methods to combat inflation.

Why Is Quantitative Tightening on the Fed’s Agenda Again?

In 2022, inflation reached decades’ high, stemming from a number of factors, including fallout from the global Coronavirus pandemic, which increased labor prices, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which affected energy and commodities. In March, 2020, the Fed slashed the Fed Funds rate to 0.00%–0.25% in response to the pandemic. In May, 2022 it raised rates again by 0.5%.

What Is the Schedule for Quantitative Tightening?

On May 4, 2022, the Fed announced it would be undertaking a “phased approach” of quantitative tightening measures beginning with a 3-month period of unwinding $30 billion of Treasuries and $17.5 billion mortgage-backed securities beginning on June 1, 2022. By September, 2022 these caps would increase to $60 billion and $35 billion, respectively.

Is Quantitative Tightening Really So Frightening?

TheStreet’s Ellen Chang says that, according to economists, inflation is on a downward trend, most likely to decline to 3% by the end of the year, and that higher interest rates as well as quantitative tightening should do what they’re supposed to, and reduce pricing pressure. 

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What is Stagflation?

Today we’ll look at what stagflation is, as well as how it impacts you and the broader economy. Keep reading to get started.
The post What is Stagflation?…

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Stagflation seems to be a word that we’ve been hearing a lot of recently. With the CPI report showing that inflation had slowed less than expected, stagflation concerns became even louder. However, for the average person, the term probably has never been defined. So, what is stagflation? Today we’ll look at what stagflation is, as well as how it impacts you and the broader economy.

Inflation

First things first, we should probably define what inflation is. The simplest way to define inflation is as the erosion of a currency’s purchasing power. Those moments where it feels like your dollar buys less than it used to  are examples of inflation. Under economic theory, inflation primarily occurs when the growth of the money supply outpaces economic growth. For this reason, when inflation becomes an issue, central banks will attempt to limit the money supply. Essentially if more money is introduced to an economy, without an equal introduction of goods and/or services, inflation occurs. Other contributing factors include rising cost(s) of goods, wages and labor. The U.S. Federal Reserve aims for an inflation rate of 2%, and has averaged that since 2011.

Stagflation Defined

So, now that we know what inflation is, we can address what stagflation is. If inflation alone has the power to impact markets and basic economies, what impacts can stagflation have? To simply define stagflation, allow me to present it as an equation or two:

  1. Stagflation = High Inflation + Slow Economic Growth + High Unemployment
  2. Stagflation = High Inflation + Decreasing GDP

Under the first equation, we aren’t yet in a period of stagflation. While inflation is high, the official unemployment rate is 3.6%. That level reasonably mirrors the level that we were at prior to the onset of Covid back in 2020. However, the labor participation rate is still below pre-pandemic levels by a full percentage point. While that may not sound like a lot, remember that equates to hundreds of thousands of people not participating in the labor force.

With that being said, based on the second equation, we are already experiencing a period of stagflation. The U.S. GDP declined by 1.4% in Q1 of 2022, when it was expected to grow by 1%.

An example of stagflation in the U.S. would be the America of the early to mid 1970s. During this time, the United States experienced two, separate, recessions. There were also four separate years of negative GDP growth, two of which being consecutive. Inflation skyrocketed from 3.6% in 1973 to 8.3%, incidentally, where we are now, to 1974. The closest unemployment was to the 3.6% we have now was 1970 and 1973, when it was 4.9%. In 1975, unemployment was 8.5%.

Impacts and Concerns

So, how does stagflation impact you? Well, first, through the basic inflationary impacts. Let’s say your investments are down 5% this year, better than the broader markets. Tack on 8.3% in inflationary costs, and your money is actually worth 13.3% less. Inflation and bonds have a well-defined history as well. Inflationary risks and different securities have well defined relationships such as the relationship with bonds and the inflation rate. If your bond pays 3%, but inflation rises from 2% to 6%, you are losing money on the investment. Let’s look at your paycheck too. If you got a 5% raise, but inflation went up from the 2% average to 8.5%, your real earnings went down 1.5%. In sum, high inflation hits you at every angle. You effectively make less, your investments return less/negative, and things get more expensive.

Second, looking at the other variable(s) in the equation. What do all of unemployment being high, GDP decreasing, and economic growth slowing mean? Essentially, it means that the average person is at risk of losing their job. Adding the increased costs of goods and services to a loss of income can cause incredible financial strife. Now, apply that on a national level. If more people are out of work, you would also expect less spending. If the average person is unable to stimulate the economy, via spending, it is hard to reverse poor economic growth.

There is also a less direct impact, though perhaps one even more impactful. With the national debt burgeoning in the last two years, financing that debt also becomes more difficult. Discussing the national debt in its current context is an issue deserving its own space. Thankfully, others have already attempted to broach the subject.

Solutions

There is no surefire way to solve or fix stagflation. The general consensus is to first engage in the policies that address inflation. Examples of that would be printing less money and increasing interest rates, as to make borrowing more expensive. Other, less popular, examples would be cutting different government programs/expenditures. Next would be efforts to stimulate the economy, with the simplest being lowering taxes. That is also a complex suggestion to make, and agreeing to a proper execution is usually quite difficult. In addition, without the aforementioned spending cuts, the potential impact is greatly reduced.

Conclusions on Stagflation

There is no question that inflation is currently negatively impacting people. Concerns about global conflicts, and potential recessions, do nothing to assuage the average person’s concerns. Depending on how we look at it, America is already experiencing a period of stagflation. On the inflationary front, the Fed has begun increasing interest rates. Whether or not tax breaks and spending cuts follow are unclear, though admittedly a more accurate term might be unlikely.

In times like these, having a financial plan is important. While you cannot control the rate of inflation, you can control things like your spending and your investments. Even if it doesn’t eliminate it, proper financial planning should help minimize the detrimental impacts of stagflation.

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Futures Slide After China’s “Huge” Data Miss Sparks “Broad-Based Recession Talk”

Futures Slide After China’s "Huge" Data Miss Sparks "Broad-Based Recession Talk"

Friday’s bear market rally dead-cat bounce appears to be…

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Futures Slide After China's "Huge" Data Miss Sparks "Broad-Based Recession Talk"

Friday's bear market rally dead-cat bounce appears to be over, and global stocks have started the new week in the red with US equity futures lower after a "huge miss", as Bloomberg put it, in Chinese data fueled concerns over the impact of a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. As reported last night, China’s industrial output and consumer spending hit the worst levels since the pandemic began, hurt by Covid lockdowns.

And even though officials took another round of measured steps to help the economy by cutting the interest rate for new mortgages over the weekend to bolster an ailing housing market, even as they left the one-year policy loan rate was left unchanged Monday, few believe that any of these actions will have a tangible impact and most continue to expect much more from Beijing. 

As such, after a weekend that saw even Goldman's perpetually optimistic equity strategists slash their S&P target (again) from 4,700 to 4,300, and amid growing fears that a recession is now inevitable, Nasdaq 100 futures slid as much as 1.2%, before paring losses to 0.4% as of 730 a.m. in New York. S&P 500 futures were down 0.3%. 10Y Treasury yields were flat at 2.91% and the dollar dipped modestly while bitcoin traded just above $30,000 dropping from $31,000 earlier in the session.

Among notable moves in premarket trading, Spirit Airlines jumped as much as 21% following a report that JetBlue Airways is planning a tender offer at $30 a share in cash. Major US technology and internet stocks were down after rebounding on Friday, while Tesla shares dropped, with the electric-vehicle maker set to recall 107,293 cars in China over a potential safety risk. Twitter shares fall 3.4% in premarket trading on Monday, on course to wipe out all the gains the stock has made since billionaire Elon Musk disclosed his stake in the social media platform. Twitter fell to as low as $37.86 -- below the the April 1 close of $39.31, before Musk disclosed his stake.

US stocks have been roiled this year, with the S&P 500 on tick away from a bear market as recently as last Thursday, on worries of an aggressive pace of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve at a time when macroeconomic data showed a slowdown in growth. Data from China on Monday highlighted a massive toll on the economy from Covid-19 lockdowns, with retail sales and industrial output both contracting.

Although lower valuations sparked a rally in stocks on Friday, strategists including Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson warned of more losses ahead as equity markets also price in slower corporate earnings growth. Goldman Sachs strategists led by David Kostin cut their year-end target for the S&P 500 on Friday to 4,300 points from 4,700. 

"The broad-based recession talk is the major catalyzer this Monday,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, wrote in a note. “Activity in US futures hint that Friday’s rebound was certainly nothing more than a dead cat bounce” just as we said at the time

The risk of an economic downturn amid price pressures and rising borrowing costs remains the major worry for markets. Goldman Sachs Group Senior Chairman Lloyd Blankfein urged companies and consumers to gird for a US recession, saying it’s a “very, very high risk.” Traders remain wary of calling a bottom for equities despite a 17% drop in global shares this year, with Morgan Stanley warning that any bounce in US stocks would be a bear-market rally and more declines lie ahead.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index fell as much as 0.8% before paring losses, with declines for tech and travel stocks offsetting gains for basic resources as industrial metals rallied. The Euro Stoxx 50 falls 0.4%. IBEX outperforms, adding 0.3%. Tech, personal care and consumer products are the worst performing sectors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today:

  • Basic Resources stocks outperformed with broad gains among mining and steel companies; ArcelorMittal +3.5%; SSAB +2.6%; Glencore +2.1%; Voestalpine +3.1%.
  • Sartorius AG and Sartorius Stedim shares gain as UBS upgrades both stocks to buy following a “significant de-rating” for the lab-equipment companies, seeing supportive global trends.
  • Carl Zeiss Meditec gains as much as 4.9% after HSBC raised its recommendation to buy from hold, saying the medical optical manufacturer is “well-equipped to deal with supply chain challenges.”
  • Interpump rises as much as 7.6%, extending winning streak to five days, as Banca Akros upgrades the stock to buy from accumulate following Friday’s 1Q results.
  • Casino shares jump as much 5.8% after the French grocer said it’s started a process to sell its GreenYellow renewable energy arm, confirming a Bloomberg News report from Friday.
  • Ryanair shares decline as much as 4.3% on FY results, with analysts focusing on the low-budget carrier’s recovery outlook. They note management is cautiously optimistic about summer travel.
  • Vantage Towers shares decline after the company posted FY23 adjusted Ebitda after leases and recurring free cash flow forecasts that missed analyst estimates at mid- points.
  • Unilever falls after a 13-F filing from Nelson Peltz’s Trian shows no position in the company, according to Jefferies, damping speculation after press reports earlier this year that the fund had built a stake.
  • Michelin shares fall as much as 3.7% after being downgraded to neutral from overweight at JPMorgan, which says it writes off any chance of seeing a recovery in volume production growth in FY22.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks eked out modest gains as surprisingly weak Chinese economic data spurred volatility and caused traders to reassess their outlook on the region. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index was up 0.1%, paring an earlier advance of as much as 0.9%  on stimulus hopes. The region’s information technology index rose as much as 1.5%, with TMSC giving the biggest boost. A sub-gauge on materials shares fell the most.

Equities in China led losses, as Beijing’s moves to cut the mortgage rate for first-time home buyers and ease lockdown restrictions in Shanghai failed to reverse the downbeat mood. Asian stocks were trading higher early Monday, building on Friday’s rally, only to trim or reverse gains as data showed a sharper-than-expected contraction in Chinese activity in April. Signs of an earnings recovery in China are needed for investors to come back, Arnout van Rijn, chief investment officer for APAC at Robeco Hong Kong Ltd., said on Bloomberg Television.

“It looks like China is not going to meet the 15% earnings growth that people were looking for just a couple of months ago. So now we’re looking for five, 10, maybe it’s even going to fall to zero.”   Meanwhile, JPMorgan analysts, who had called China tech “uninvestable” in March, upgraded some tech heavyweights including Alibaba in a Monday report, citing less regulatory uncertainties. Benchmarks in Japan, Australia, India and Taiwan maintained gains while Hong Kong also recovered some ground later in the day. Markets in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were closed for holidays.     

Japanese equities were mixed, with the Topix closing slightly lower after worse-than-expected Chinese economic data amid the impact from virus-related lockdowns. The Topix fell 0.1% to close at 1,863.26, with Honda Motor contributing the most to the decline after its forecast for the current year missed analyst expectations. The Nikkei advanced 0.5% to 26,547.05, with KDDI among the biggest boosts after announcing its results and a 200 billion yen buyback. “Though the lockdowns in China are pushing down the economy and causing supply chain difficulties, there’s a positive outlook since the weekend that there could be a gradual easing of the lockdowns as it seems that virus cases have peaked out,” said Masashi Akutsu, chief strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to 7,093.00, trimming an earlier advance of as much as 1.1% after soft Chinese economic data stoked concerns about global growth. Read: Aussie, Kiwi Slump After Weak China Data: Inside Australia/NZ Brambles was the top performer after confirming it’s in talks with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners on a takeover proposal. Qube also climbed after completing a A$400 million share buyback.  In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1% to 11,157.66.

In rates, Treasuries were steady with yields within 1bp of Friday’s close. US 10-year yield near flat ~2.91% with bunds cheaper by ~5bp, gilts ~3.5bp amid heavy. German 10-year yield up 5 bps, trading narrowly below 1%. Italian 10-year bonds underperform, with the 10-year yield up 8 bps to 2.93%. Peripheral spreads are mixed to Germany; Italy and Spain widen and Portugal tightens. The Italy 10-year was cheaper by more than 6bp on the day amid renewed ECB jawboning. Core European rates are higher, pricing in ECB policy tightening. During Asia session, Chinese data showed industrial output and consumer spending at worst levels since the pandemic began. The dollar issuance slate includes CBA 3T covered SOFR; $30b expected for this week as syndicate desks seek opportunities for pent-up supply. Three-month dollar Libor +1.13bp at 1.45500%.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed while the greenback advanced against most of its Group-of-10 peers. Treasuries inched lower, led by the front end, and outperformed European bonds. The euro inched up against the dollar. Italian bonds dropped, leading peripheral underperformance against euro- area peers, while money markets showed increased ECB tightening wagers after policy maker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said a consensus is “clearly emerging” at the central bank on normalizing monetary policy and that June’s meeting will be “decisive.” He also signaled that the weakness of the euro is focusing the minds of ECB policy makers at a time when the currency is heading toward parity with the dollar. The euro may resume its rally versus the pound in the spot market as options traders pile up bullish wagers. The pound fell against both the dollar and euro, staying under selling pressure on concerns that high UK inflation will weigh on the economy. Markets await testimony from Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey and other central bank officials later in the day, ahead of a reading of April inflation later in the week. Australian and New Zealand dollars fell after Chinese industrial and consumer data fanned concerns of a further slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

In commodities, WTI drifts 0.4% lower to trade above $110. Spot gold pares some declines, down some $6, but still around $1,800/oz. Most base metals trade in the green; LME tin rises 3.4%, outperforming peers. Bitcoin falls 4.6% to trade below $30,000

Looking ahead, we get the US May Empire manufacturing index, Canada April housing starts, March manufacturing, wholesale trade sales. Central bank speakers include the Fed's Williams, ECB's Lane, Villeroy and Panetta, BOE's Bailey, Ramsden, Haskel and Saunders. We get earnings from Ryanair, Take-Two Interactive.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 4,008.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 433.33
  • MXAP up 0.2% to 160.34
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 523.32
  • Nikkei up 0.5% to 26,547.05
  • Topix little changed at 1,863.26
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 19,950.21
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,073.75
  • Sensex up 0.6% to 53,119.79
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% to 7,093.03
  • Kospi down 0.3% to 2,596.58
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.98%
  • Euro up 0.1% to $1.0424
  • Brent Futures down 1.4% to $109.98/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.8% to $1,797.30
  • US Dollar Index little changed at 104.46

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • NATO members rallied around Finland and Sweden on Sunday after they announced plans to join the alliance, marking another dramatic change in Europe’s security architecture triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine
  • The euro area’s pandemic recovery would almost grind to a halt, while prices would surge even more quickly if there are serious disruptions to natural-gas supplies from Russia, according to new projections from the European Commission
  • UK energy regulator Ofgem plans to adjust its price cap every three months instead of every six. Changing the level more often would help consumers to take advantage of falling wholesale prices more quickly, it said in a statement Monday. This would also mean higher prices filter through bills quicker
  • Boris Johnson has warned Brussels that the UK government will press ahead with unilateral changes to parts of the Brexit agreement if it does not engage in “genuine dialogue”
  • While debt bulls on Wall Street have been crushed all year, market sentiment has shifted markedly over the past week from inflation fears to growth. That theme gathered more strength Monday, when data showing China’s economy contracted sharply in April set off fresh gains for Treasuries
  • China’s economy is paying the price for the government’s Covid Zero policy, with industrial output and consumer spending sliding to the worst levels since the pandemic began and analysts warning of no quick recovery. Industrial output unexpectedly fell 2.9% in April from a year ago, while retail sales contracted 11.1% in the period, weaker than a projected 6.6% drop
  • Japanese manufacturers are increasingly looking to move offshore operations to their home market, according to a Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co. executive. The rapidly weakening yen, global supply-chain constraints, geopolitical risks and shifting wages patterns are prompting the switch, Kiyoshi Imamura, a managing director of the steelmaker, said in an interview in Tokyo last week

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed after disappointing Chinese activity data clouded over the early momentum from Friday’s rally on Wall St. ASX 200 was higher as tech stocks were inspired by US counterparts and amid M&A related newsflow with Brambles enjoying a double-digit percentage gain after it confirmed it had talks with CVC regarding a potential takeover by the latter. Nikkei 225 kept afloat as earnings releases provided the catalysts for individual stocks but with gains capped by a choppy currency. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp initially gained with property names underpinned after China permitted a further reduction in mortgage loan interest rates for first-time home purchases and with casino stocks also firmer in the hope of a tax reduction on gaming revenue. However, the mood was then spoiled by weak Chinese data and after the PBoC maintained its 1-year MLF rate.

Top Asian News

  • PBoC conducted a CNY 100bln in 1-year MLF with the rate kept unchanged at 2.85% and stated the MLF and Reverse Repo aim to keep liquidity reasonably ample, according to Bloomberg.
  • Beijing extended work from home guidance in several districts and announced three additional rounds of mass COVID-19 testing in most districts including its largest district Chaoyang, according to Reuters.
  • Shanghai will gradually start reopening businesses including shopping malls and hair salons in China's financial and manufacturing hub beginning on Monday following weeks of a strict lockdown, according to Reuters.
  • Shanghai city official said 15 out of the 16 districts achieved zero-COVID outside quarantine areas and the city's epidemic is under control but added that risks of a rebound remain and they will need to continue to stick to controls. The official said the focus until May 21st will be to prevent risks of a rebound and many movement restrictions are to remain, while they will look to allow normal life to resume in Shanghai from June 1st and will begin to reopen supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies from today, according to Reuters.
  • Chinese financial authorities permitted a further reduction in mortgage loan interest rates for some home buyers whereby commercial banks can lower the lower limit of interest rates on home loans by 20bps based on the corresponding tenor of benchmark Loan Prime Rates for purchases of first homes, according to Reuters.
  • China's stats bureau spokesman said economic operations are expected to improve in May and that China is steadily pushing forward production resumption in COVID-hit areas, while they expect China's economic recovery and rebound in consumption to quicken but noted that exports face some pressure as the global economy slows, according to Reuters.
  • Macau is reportedly considering a tax cut for casinos amid a decline in gaming revenue in which a cut could be as much as 5% off the current 40% levied on casino gaming revenue, according to Bloomberg.

European bourses are mixed, Euro Stoxx 50 -0.6%, following a similar APAC session with impetus from Shanghai's reopening offset by activity data and geopolitics. Stateside, futures are lower across the board, ES -0.4%, with the NQ marginally lagging as yields lift; Fed's Williams due later before Powell on Tuesday. US players are focused on whether the end-week bounce is a turnaround from technical bear-market levels or not. China's market regulator says Tesla (TSLA) has recalled 107.3k Model 3 & Y vehicles, which were made in China. JetBlue (JBLU) is to launch a tender offer for Spirit Airlines (SAVE); JetBlue is to offer USD 30/shr, but prepared to pay USD 33/shr if Spirit provides JetBlue with requested data, WSJ sources say. Elon Musk tweeted that Twitter’s (TWTR) legal team called to complain that he violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size and he also tweeted there is some chance that over 90% of Twitter’s daily active users might be bots.

Top European News

  • UK PM Johnson is reportedly set to give the green light for a bill on the Northern Ireland protocol, according to the Guardian.
  • UK PM Johnson said he hopes the EU changes its position on the Northern Ireland protocol and if not, he must act, while he sees a sensible landing spot for a protocol deal and will set out the next steps on the protocol in the coming days, according to Reuters.
  • UK PM Johnson is expected to visit Northern Ireland on Monday for talks with party leaders in an effort to break the political deadlock at Stormont, according to Sky News.
  • Irish Foreign Minister Coveney says the EU is prepared to move on reducing checks on goods coming into the region from Britain, via Politico.
  • UK Cabinet ministers have turned on the BoE regarding rising inflation, whereby one minister warned that the Bank was failing to "get things right" and another suggested that it had failed a "big test", according to The Telegraph.
  • Group of over 50 economists warned that the UK's post-Brexit plans to boost the competitiveness of its finance industry risk creating the sort of problems that resulted in the GFC, according to Reuters.
  • European Commission Spring Economic Forecasts: cuts 2022 GDP forecast to 2.7% from the 4.0% projected in February. Click here for more detail.

Central Banks

  • ECB's Villeroy expects a decisive June meeting and an active summer meeting, pace of further steps will account for actual activity/inflation data with some optionality and gradualism; but, should at least move towards the neutral rate. Will carefully monitor developments in the effective FX rate, as a significant driver of imported inflation; EUR that is too weak would go against the objective of price stability.
  •  
  • ECB’s de Cos said the central bank will likely decide at the next meeting to end its stimulus program in July and raise rates very soon after that, while he added that they are not seeing second-round effects and are monitoring it, according to Reuters.

FX

  • Euro firmer following verbal intervention from ECB’s Villeroy and spike in EGB yields EUR/USD rebounds from sub-1.0400 to 1.0435 at best.
  • Dollar up elsewhere as DXY pivots 104.500, but Yen resilient on risk grounds as Chinese data misses consensus by some distance; USD/JPY capped into 129.50.
  • Franc falls across the board after IMM specs raise short bets and Swiss sight deposits show SNB remaining on the sidelines; USD/CHF above 1.0050 at one stage.
  • However, HKMA continues to defend HKD peg amidst CNY, CNH weakness in wake of disappointing Chinese industrial production and retail sales releases.
  • Norwegian Crown undermined by pullback in Brent and narrower trade surplus, EUR/NOK over 10.2100.
  • SA Rand soft as Gold retreats to test support around and under Usd 1800/oz.
  • Loonie slips with WTI ahead of Canadian housing starts, manufacturing sales and wholesale trade, Sterling dips before BoE testimony; USD/CAD 1.2900+, Cable sub-1.2250.

Fixed income

  • EGBs rattled by ECB rhetoric inferring key policy meetings kicking off in June and extending through summer.
  • Bunds down towards 153.00 and 10 year yield back up around 1%, Gilts almost 1/2 point adrift and T-note erasing gains from 12/32+ above par at best.
  • Eurozone periphery underperforming with added risk-off angst following much weaker than expected Chinese data.

In commodities

  • WTI and Brent are pressured, but well off lows, and torn between China's lockdown easing and poor activity data amid numerous other catalysts
  • Specifically, the benchmarks are around USD 110/bbl and USD 111/bbl respectively,
  • Saudi Aramco Q1 net income rose 82% Y/Y to INR 39.5bln for its highest quarterly profit since listing, according to Sky News.
  • Saudi Energy Minister says they are going to get to 13.2-13.4mln BPD, subject to what is done in the divided zone, by end-2026/start-2027; can maintain production when there, if the market demands this.
  • OPEC+ to continue with monthly output increases, according to Bahrain's oil minister via Reuters.
  • Iraqi state-run North Oil Company said Kurdish armed forces took control of some oil wells in northern Kirkuk, according to Reuters.
  • Iraq oil minister says they aim to increase oil production to 6mln BPD by end-2027, OPEC is targeting a energy market balance not a price; adding, current production capacity is 4.9mln BPD, will reach 5mln BPD before the end of 2022.
  • China is to increase fuel prices from Tuesday, according to China's NDRC; gasoline by CNY 285/t and diesel by CNY 270/t.

US Event Calendar

  • 08:30: May Empire Manufacturing, est. 15.0, prior 24.6
  • 16:00: March Total Net TIC Flows, prior $162.6b

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Markets managed a big bounce on Friday but the mood has soured again in the Asian session after a weak slew of data from China as covid lockdowns had an even worse impact than expected. Industrial production (-2.9% vs +0.5% expected), retail sales (-11.1% vs -6.6% expected) and property investment (-2.7% vs -1.5% expected) all crashed through estimates by a large margin. The slump in retail sales and industrial production was the weakest since March 2020. The latter also had the lowest print on record, with the worst decline coming from auto manufacturing (-31.8%). The surveyed jobless rate (6.1% vs estimates of 6.0%) also ticked up by more than expected from 5.8% in March and is now close to the high of 6.2% in February 2020. Although the 1-year policy loan rate was left unchanged today, the PBoC did ease the rate on new mortgages this weekend. In other data releases, Japan’s April PPI (+10.0%) came in above estimates of +9.4%, the highest since 1980.

Amid this, the Shanghai Composite (-0.51%) and the Hang Seng (-0.43%) are in the red, and outperformed by the KOSPI (-0.21%) and the Nikkei (+0.46%). The sentiment has soured in American markets too, with S&P 500 futures also trading lower (-0.68%) and the US 10y yield declining by -2.2bps. Oil (-1.48%) is edging lower too on growth concerns.

After last week’s meltdown in crypto markets, Bitcoin is back at above $30k this morning – a jump since the lows of nearly $26k last Thursday but way short of the $38k it traded at in the beginning of the month and $68k early last November. The infamous TerraUSD, the stablecoin that fuelled the crypto slide, is at $0.18. It is supposed to trade at $1 at all times.

Looking forward now and there's not a standout event to focus on this week but they'll be plenty to keep us all occupied. US retail sales (tomorrow) looks like the highlight alongside Powell's speech the same day. There will also be US housing data smattered across the week and UK and Japanese inflation on Wednesday and Friday respectively.

Let's start with US retail sales as it will be a good early guide for Q2 GDP. Our US economists are anticipating a +1.7% print, up from +0.7% in March. Rebounding auto sales should help the headline number. For more on the consumer, Brett Ryan put out this chartbook last week on the US consumer (link here). US industrial production is out the same day.

We have a long list of central bank speakers this week headed by Powell and Lagarde (tomorrow) and BoE Bailey today. There are many more spread across the week and you can see the list in the day by day event list at the end. We do have the last ECB meeting minutes on Thursday but the subsequent push towards a July hike might make these quite dated.

US housing will be a big focus next week. It's probably too early for the highest mortgage rates since 2009 to kick in but with these rates around 220bps higher YTD, some damage will surely soon be done after the highest YoY price appreciation outside of an immediate post WWII bounce, in our 120 year plus housing database. On this we will see the NAHB housing market index (tomorrow), April’s US building permits and housing starts (Wednesday), and existing home sales (Thursday).

Turning to corporate earnings, it will be another quiet week after 457 of the S&P 500 companies and 368 of the STOXX 600 companies have reported earnings this season so far. Yet, it will be an important one to gauge how the US consumer is faring amid inflation at multi-decade highs, including reports such as Walmart, Home Depot (tomorrow), Target and TJX (Wednesday). Results will also be due from China's key tech and ecommerce companies like JD.com (tomorrow), Tencent (Wednesday) and Xiaomi (Thursday). Other notable corporate reporters will include Cisco (Wednesday), Applied Materials, Palo Alto Networks (Thursday) and Deere (Friday).

A quick recap of last week’s markets now. Fears that global growth would slow due to the tightening task at hand for central banks sent ripples across markets, without a clear specific catalyst. Equities declined, credit spreads widened, the dollar rallied, and sovereign yields declined.

The S&P 500 fell for the sixth consecutive week for the first time since 2011, falling -13.0% over that time. Even with a +2.39% rally on Friday, it fell -2.41% last week. Large cap technology firms underperformed, with the NASDAQ falling -2.80% (+3.82% Friday), while the FANG+ index fell -3.48% (+5.45% Friday). Volatility was elevated, with the Vix closing above 30 for 6 straight days for the first time since immediately following the invasion, narrowly avoiding a 7th straight day above 30 by closing the week at 28.8. European equities outperformed, with the STOXX 600 climbing +0.83% after a banner +2.14% gain Friday. The Itraxx crossover ended the week at 446bps, its widest level since June 2020. Crypto assets sharply declined, with Bitcoin down -12.51% and Coinbase -34.58% over the week, with a number of so-called ‘stablecoins’ breaking their pledged parity, forcing some to stop trading.

The growth fears drove a flight to quality. The dollar index increased +0.87% (-0.27% Friday) to its highest levels since 2002. Only the yen outperformed the US dollar in the G10 space. Sovereign yields rallied significantly, with 10yr Treasuries, bunds, and gilts falling -19.3bps (+8.5bps Friday), -23.0bps (+6.2bps Friday), and -28.7bps (+4.7bps Friday), respectively.

Reports that the EU was considering softening their oil-related sanctions due to member resistance combined with growth fears to send oil prices much lower at the beginning of the week, with Brent crude futures almost breaking $100/bbl. When all was said and done, a gradual rally over the back half of the week saw Brent merely -1.04% lower (+3.82% Friday). On the back of disappointing data from China it is down -1.48% this morning.

There was a lot of high-profile central bank speak to work through, as there will be this week. The main takeaways included Fed officials aligning behind a series of +50bp hikes the next few meetings, downplaying the chances of +75bp hikes until September at the earliest. Meanwhile, momentum in the ECB is growing toward a July policy rate hike, with policy rates breaching positive territory by the end of the year.

In terms of data Friday, the University of Michigan survey of inflation expectations for the next five years was unchanged at 3 percent, though inflation has weighed on consumers’ perception of the current situation.

Tyler Durden Mon, 05/16/2022 - 08:02

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