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Futures Surge To All Time High As Earnings Supercharge Market Meltup

Futures Surge To All Time High As Earnings Supercharge Market Meltup

The wall of worry that preoccupied traders just weeks ago has melted away, and has been replaced with a global market melt up (just as Goldman predicted again this weekend),

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Futures Surge To All Time High As Earnings Supercharge Market Meltup

The wall of worry that preoccupied traders just weeks ago has melted away, and has been replaced with a global market melt up (just as Goldman predicted again this weekend), which pushed US index futures to a new all time high this morning when spoos hit 4,580.75, while propelling European and Asian stocks higher as corporate earnings helped boost sentiment amid lingering concerns about inflation and growth. As of 715am ET, US equity futures were up 0.42% or 19.25 points, Dow Jones futures were up 126 points or 0.35% and Nasdaq futures jumped 0.61%, extending cash market gains boosted by Tesla’s rally to a $1 trillion market value on a big order and Facebook’s results announcement revealing strong user growth and a $50 billion stock buyback. 10-year Treasury yields dropped by 1 basis point while the dollar slid to session lows. Bitcoin traded around $63,000.

The barrage of earnings reports continued on Tuesday morning, with United Parcel Service, General Electric and 3M all gaining in pre-market trading after strong results. Eli Lilly advanced after raising full-year forecasts. Bakkt shares jumped 36% in the U.S. premarket session after more than tripling Monday when Mastercard said it has inked a deal with the firm to help banks offer cryptocurrency rewards on their debit and credit cards.  Facebook also rose after pledging to buy back as much as $50 billion more in stock, with tech heavyweights Twitter, Alphabet and Microsoft reporting after the market close on Tuesday. Here are all the notable premarket movers:

  • Facebook (FB US) rises as much as 2.5% in premarket as analysts stay bullish despite a third-quarter revenue miss and an outlook that was below consensus. Advertising growth is seen improving in 2022.
  • Tesla (TSLA US) gains 1% after stock closed at a record high, boosted by several factors on Monday including a large car order from rental firm Hertz and Morgan Stanley lifting its price target.
  • Creatd (CRTD US) was up 27% adding to a 50% gain over the past two trading sessions amid a rally in a growing number of retail-trader favorite stocks linked to former U.S. President Donald Trump.
  • Redbox (RDBX US) rises as much as 130% after the firm completed a business combination with Seaport Global Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company.
  • Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks rise, with Eqonex (EQOS US), previously known as Diginex, more than doubling in value after listing Polkadot on its platform and Bakkt (BKKT US) extending Monday’s gains.

Earnings season is helping to counter concerns that elevated inflation and tightening monetary policy will slow the recovery from the pandemic. Some 81% of S&P 500 members have reported better-than-expected results so far, though CitiGroup Inc. warned that profit growth may be close to peaking.

Equity markets are “continuing their recovery and we expect this process to continue past big-tech earnings” and this week’s European Central Bank meeting, where policy makers may flag the end to their pandemic bond-buying program, Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Investment Funds, wrote in a note.

Still, some analysts voiced caution over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains: “Even though this has been a good earnings season in aggregate we are starting to see more companies with supply backlogs, hiring difficulties, and rising input prices that are eating into profits,” Deutsche Bank analysts wrote.

The debate over price pressures continued when former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said officials are unlikely to deal with “inflation reality” successfully until it’s fully recognized.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, added 0.1%

European shares hit the highest level in seven weeks: the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose more than 0.5% led by gains in travel stocks and insurers, and edging close to a the record high reached in September while German stocks gained 0.9%. Reckitt Benckiser gained more than 5% after the maker of Strepsils throat lozenges raised its sales forecast. Swiss lender UBS Group AG climbed after posting a surprise jump in profit, while Novartis AG advanced on news it may spin off its generic-drug unit. After a stellar quarter for U.S. and British banks, Switzerland’s UBS rose over 2% on its highest quarterly profit since 2015, helping the financial services sector climb about 1%.

Earlier in the session, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded 0.3% higher in afternoon trading, paring an earlier gain of as much as 0.7% which pushed it to its highest level in six weeks.  Asian stocks rose as investors focused on encouraging earnings reports from some of the world’s biggest technology companies. The advance was driven by a subgauge of IT names including South Korean memory chipmaker SK Hynix, which climbed after reporting record sales and forecasting further demand growth. Japanese electronics giants Nidec Corp. and Canon Inc. reported results after Tuesday’s close. “The earnings season so far continues to meet investor expectations and assuage inflationary concerns,” said Justin Tang, head of Asianresearch at United First Partners. Tesla’s order from Hertz, good prospects for the $550 billion U.S. infrastructure bill and the latest talks between U.S. and China officials also helped “inject some risk appetite,” Tang said. Japan led gains among national benchmarks, with the Topix rising more than 1%. The market was helped by a local media report that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party may be able to win a majority of seats on its own in the general elections scheduled for next week. Key gauges in tech-heavy South Korea and Taiwan also jumped more than 0.5%, while benchmarks fell in Hong Kong and China.

In China, Modern Land China Co. became the latest builder to miss a payment on a dollar bond, in a further sign of stress in the nation’s real estate sector. Defaults from Chinese borrowers on offshore bonds have jumped to a record.

Japanese stocks advanced as investors looked toward earnings reports from major companies and political stability after the upcoming election. Electronics makers and telecommunications providers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which gained 1.2%. Fast Retailing and Tokyo Electron were the largest contributors to a 1.8% rise in the Nikkei 225. Asian stocks and U.S. futures also rose, following the S&P 500’s climb to a record high, amid positive news from Tesla and Facebook. Japanese companies reporting results today include Canon, Nidec and Hitachi Construction Machinery.  Meanwhile, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party may be able to exceed a majority of 233 seats on its own in the general elections scheduled for Oct. 31, a poll conducted by Asahi showed. “There’s a lot of noise out there but for stocks, it’s about fundamentals, which are corporate earnings,” said Hiroshi Matsumoto, head of Japan investment at Pictet Asset Management. “We’re starting to see some pretty good earnings figures, so I’m thinking we’ll see the Nikkei 225 consolidate around the 29,000 level this week.”

In rates, Treasuries were cheaper across front-end of the curve, fading a portion of Monday’s gains even as corporate earnings propel stock futures to new highs. The 10-year TSY yield is lower by less than 1bp at 1.622%; 2-year yields are cheaper by ~1bp on the day while long-end of the curve is richer by ~1.5bp, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by ~2bp. The TSY curve is flatter with long-end yields richer on the day, unwinding Monday’s steepening move. Treasury auction cycle begins with sale of 2-year notes, followed by 5- and 7-year offerings over next two days. 

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was mixed but slumped to session lows as US traders walked in. The pound led gains followed by other risk-sensitive currencies such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars. Sterling gained even as overnight index swaps show traders trimmed back bets for BOE tightening, pricing in 14 basis points of hikes in November, down from 15 points previously. The yen was the worst performer as demand for haven assets receded following talks between U.S. and Chinese officials on the economy and cooperation in which some incremental progress was made. The euro inched up after gyrating toward the $1.16 handle; the euro’s volatility skew flattened in the past two weeks, suggesting a rebound in the spot market. Given the latter has stalled at a key resistance area, risk reversals could show downside risks once again. The Turkish lira rallied the most in more than four months after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his demand for 10 Western ambassadors to be expelled from the country.

China’s offshore yuan gained for a fourth straight day, lifted by a phone call between the U.S. and China on trade and economic issues. Overnight borrowing costs sunk to one-month lows after the central bank boosted cash injections into the financial system. 

In commodities, WTI crude oil was steady around $84 a barrel and Brent traded above $86 as investors weighed the outlook for U.S. stockpiles and prospects for talks that may eventually help to revive an Iranian nuclear accord, allowing a pickup in crude exports.
Gold held above $1,800 an ounce and Bitcoin hovered around $62,500.

Looking at today's calendar, we get the August FHFA house price index, September new home sales, October Conference Board consumer confidence and Richmond Fed manufacturing index. In central banks, ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos will speak. In corporate earnings, we will get results from Microsoft, Alphabet, Visa, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Texas Instruments, UPS, General Electric, UBS and Twitter

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,576.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.6% to 474.91
  • MXAP up 0.4% to 200.93
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 662.77
  • Nikkei up 1.8% to 29,106.01
  • Topix up 1.2% to 2,018.40
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 26,038.27
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,597.64
  • Sensex up 0.4% to 61,232.14
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 little changed at 7,443.42
  • Kospi up 0.9% to 3,049.08
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.12%
  • Euro little changed at $1.1609
  • Brent Futures down 0.3% to $85.76/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,802.76
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 93.86

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Traders are wagering on rate hikes of as much as 158 basis points over the next year in countries including the U.K., New Zealand and South Korea amid soaring costs of living and commodity prices. Yet a flattening in yield curves -- historically seen as the market’s assessment of economic health -- indicates rising concern that such a rapid withdrawal of support will hurt the nascent recovery
  • Financial markets have stubbornly ignored recent warnings from ECB policy makers including Chief Economist Philip Lane that they’re wrong to anticipate a rate hike at the end of next year. The task of persuading people otherwise will fall to President Christine Lagarde as she presents the Governing Council’s latest decision on Thursday

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were lifted by the tailwinds seen stateside, whereby the SPX and DJIA both notched fresh all-time-highs, although the NDX outperformed as Tesla shot past the USD 1000/shr mark and USD 1trl market cap milestone. US equity futures overnight drifted higher with the NQ narrowly outperforming its peers. European equity futures also posted mild gains. Back to APAC, the ASX 200 (+0.1%) was kept afloat by tech names as the sector saw tailwinds from the stateside performance. The Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) outperformed following the prior session’s underperformance, and as the JPY drifted lower during the session. The KOSPI (+0.9%) was also firmer with SK Hynix rising some 3% at the open as chip demand supported earnings. The Hang Seng (-0.4%) and Shanghai Comp (-0.3%) opened flat but the latter was initially underpinned following another chunky CNY 190bln net liquidity injection by the PBoC. The Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index fell almost 5% in early trade, whilst Modern Land noted that it will not be able to meet payments and shares were halted until future notice. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower amid spillover selling from T-notes and Bund futures.

Top Asian News

  • MediaTek Sees 2021 Revenue Growing by 52%; 3Q Profit Beats
  • UBS Going ‘Full Bull’ on China Despite Outflows, Growth Worry
  • China’s IPO Flops Raise Red Flag Over Shares Pricing: ECM Watch
  • Asian Stocks Rise as Investors Focus on Major Tech Earnings

European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.6%) trade on a firmer footing after extending on the tentative gains seen at the cash open with the Stoxx 600 at its best level in around seven weeks. The APAC session saw some support via the tailwinds seen in the US after the SPX and DJIA both notched fresh all-time highs and the NDX outperformed and Tesla shot past the USD 1000/shr mark and USD 1trl market cap milestone. The Nikkei 225 (+1.7%) led gains in the region alongside a firmer JPY whilst the Shanghai Comp (-0.3%) was unable to benefit from another chunky liquidity injection by the PBoC. Stateside, futures are indicative of a firmer cash open with the NQ (+0.6%) continuing to outpace peers with Facebook +2.4% in pre-market trade post-results which saw the Co. announce a USD 50bln boost to its share buyback authorisation. From a macro perspective, with the Fed in its blackout period and events on Capitol Hill not providing much impetus for price action, the equity landscape will likely be dominated by earnings with the likes of Alphabet, Microsoft, General Electric, 3M, Visa, AMD and Twitter all due to report today. Earnings are also playing a pivotal role in Europe today with Reckitt (+6.4%) top of the FTSE 100 and supporting the Personal and Household Goods sector after Q3 results prompted the Co. to raise its sales outlook. UBS (+0.6%) is off best levels but still firmer on the session after reporting its highest quarterly profits in six years. Countering the upside from UBS in the Banking sector is Nordea (-4.0%) with shares weighed on by Sampo selling 162mlnn shares in the Co. to institutional investors. Novartis (+1.6%) shares are trading broadly inline with the market after opening gains were scaled back post-Q3 earnings which saw the Co. report a 10% increase in operating profits and announce a strategic review of its generic drug unit Sandoz. Telecoms are near the unchanged mark and unable to benefit from the broader gains seen across the region as Orange (-2.7%) acts as a drag on the sector after announcing a decline in Q3 earnings.

Top European News

  • UBS Going ‘Full Bull’ on China Despite Outflows, Growth Worry
  • Adler Sells Real Estate Portfolio Valued at More Than EU1B
  • Europe Gas Extends Gains With Weak Russian Flows, Norway Outages
  • Latest Impact of Europe’s Energy Crisis is a Plunge in Trading

In FX, the 94.000 level remains tantalisingly or agonisingly close, but elusive for the Dollar index, and it could simply be a psychological barrier as a breach would clear the way for a complete comeback from trough to 94.174 peak set last week. However, the Greenback has lost some yield attraction and the broad risk tone is bullish to dampen demand on safe-haven grounds, while chart resistance and option expiries are also preventing the Buck from staging a more pronounced rebound ahead of a busier US agenda including housing data, consumer confidence, several regional Fed surveys and the first slug of issuance in the form of Usd 60 bn 2 year notes. Back to the DXY, 93.965-795 encapsulates trade thus far, and the 21 DMA stands at 93.966 today, just 3 ticks shy of Monday’s high.

  • AUD - In similar vein to its US counterpart, the Aussie is finding 0.7500 a tough round number to crack, convincingly, but Aud/Usd is deriving support from the ongoing recovery in industrial metals awaiting independent impetus via Q3 inflation data tomorrow.
  • JPY/CHF - The Yen and Franc continue to lag their major peers and retreat further vs the Dollar, with the former now struggling to keep sight of the 114.00 handle even though hefty option expiries reside from 113.85 to the big figure (1 bn), and Usd/Jpy faces more at the 114.50 strike (1.1 bn), while the latter is sub-0.9200 and unwinding more gains relative to the Euro as the cross probes 1.0700.
  • GBP/NZD - Conversely, Sterling remains primed for further attempts to extend gains beyond Fib resistance and breach 1.3800, while eyeing 0.8400 against the Euro irrespective of some UK bank research suggesting that BoE Governor Bailey may not back up recent hawkish words with a vote to hike rates at the November MPC. Elsewhere, the Kiwi is still hovering above 0.7150 and defending 1.0500 vs its Antipodean rival with a degree of traction via RBNZ Governor Orr warning that climate change could culminate in a lengthy phase of stronger inflation that needs a policy response.
  • EUR/CAD - Both rather flat, as the Euro continues to pivot 1.1600 and rely on option expiry interest for underlying support (1.5 bn rolling off from the round number to 1.1610 today), but also anchored by the 21 DMA that aligns with the big figure, while the Loonie has lost its crude prop on the eve of the BoC, though should also receive protection from expiries at 1.2400 (1 bn) within a 1.2394-68 range.
  • EM - The Try has reclaimed more lost ground to trade above 9.5000 vs the Usd on a mix of corrective price action and short covering rather than any real relief about Turkey’s latest rift with international partners given another blast from President Erdogan who said statements issued by ambassadors on Kavala target his country’s judiciary and sovereignty, adding that the Turkish judiciary does not take orders from anyone. On the flip-side, the Zar is softer alongside Gold and ongoing issues with SA power supply provided by Eskom.

In commodities, WTI and Brent have been softer throughout the European morning dipping from the initially steady start to the APAC session after yesterday’s pressured; nonetheless, prices haven’t dipped too far from recent peaks. Newsflow for the complex and broadly has been sparse thus far as focus remains very much on earnings and events due later in the week. Specifically for energy, we had commentary from Russian Deputy PM Novak that he wants OPEC+ to stick to the agreement to increase production by 400k BPD at the November gathering, commentary which had little impact on crude at the time. Elsewhere, the weekly Private Inventory report is due later in the session and expectations are for a build of 1.7mln for the headline crude figure; for reference, both distillates and gasoline stocks are expected to post a draw. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are pressured this morning with initial downside perhaps stemming from a short-lived resurgence in the USD; however, while the metals do have a negative bias, the magnitude of this – particularly in spot gold – is fairly minimal. Separately, base metals are softer with LME copper hindered and still shy of the 10k figure. Again, newsflow this morning has been limited but we did see a production update from Hochschild who confirmed FY21 production guidance of 360-370k gold-equivalent ounces after reporting that Q3 was the strongest period of the year, thus far.

US Event Calendar

  • 9am: Aug. S&P Case Shiller Composite-20 YoY, est. 20.00%, prior 19.95%; 9am: MoM SA, est. 1.50%, prior 1.55%
  • 9am: Aug. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. 1.5%, prior 1.4%
  • 10am: Oct. Conf. Board Consumer Confidenc, est. 108.2, prior 109.3
    • Present Situation, prior 143.4
    • Expectations, prior 86.6
  • 10am: Oct. Richmond Fed Index, est. 5, prior -3
  • 10am: Sept. New Home Sales, est. 758,000, prior 740,000; MoM, est. 2.5%, prior 1.5%; 

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

If you’ve never seen Lord of the Flies feel free to come round to our house where you’ll get a live performance that gets more authentic the longer this two week half-term holiday we’re in goes on. Yet again working is the safest option. We have the option to “purchase” extra holiday each year but I’m thinking of seeing if I can give some back and take the money instead. They are hard work when put into a room together for any period of time.

It was not only the fighting that was the same as last week, markets were pretty similar yesterday too as we saw fresh equity highs alongside renewed multi-year highs in breakevens. There are a few subtle changes in company reporting trends though. Even though this has been a good earnings season in aggregate we are starting to see more companies with supply backlogs, hiring difficulties, and rising input prices that are eating into profits. Indeed yesterday saw a few consumer staples companies lower full year profit outlooks in their earnings releases.

Nevertheless, major equity indices marched higher, with the small cap Russell 2000 (+0.93%) and Nasdaq composite (+0.90%) outperforming the S&P 500 (+0.47%). Consumer discretionary stocks were the clear outperformer, driven by news of Tesla (+12.66%) receiving a 100k car order from Hertz. Tesla’s big day saw it become the first automaker to cross 1 trillion dollar market cap and also drove the outperformance of the FANG index ahead of Facebook’s after hours earnings release.

Speaking of which, Facebook missed revenue estimates but beat on earnings. Shares were slightly higher in after-hours trading, where they are betting big on virtual reality technology.

Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei 225 (+1.75%) and the KOSPI (+0.61%) are outperforming the Hang Seng (-0.42%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.01%). The sentiment in China is being clouded by the news of another developer, Modern Land China Co., missing a payment on a $250 million dollar bond. This news came as Bloomberg reported that Chinese firms set a yearly record on offshore bond defaults. Another development in the region is that Hong Kong has pushed back against yesterday’s calls for an easing in its virus rules which the banks in particular were calling for. In geopolitics, China’s Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a call about trade and economic concerns, boosting sentiment in Asian markets, while the S&P 500 mini futures (+0.24%) is trading higher. The yield on 10y Treasury (+0.7bps) is also up. In data releases, South Korean preliminary GDP for Q3 came in at +4.0% versus +4.3% expected, while Japan’s services PPI for September declined to +0.9%, missing estimates of +1.1%.

Back to yesterday and in fixed income, as mentioned at the top inflation breakevens continued their march higher. In the US, 10-year Treasury breakevens (+2.7 bps) closed at 2.67%, just shy of their widest levels since 10-year TIPS began trading in 1997. 10yr nominal yields were -0.2 bps lower as real yields slipped -2.3bps to their lowest levels since mid-September. European breakevens kept pace, with 10-year German breakevens increasing +1.9bps to 1.93% and UK breakevens increasing +1.2 bps to 4.20%. As was the case with the US, real yields fell as nominal 10-year yields decreased across Europe. Bunds (-0.9bps), Gilts (-0.5bps), OATs (-1.1bps) and BTP (-3.4bps) yields all fell.

Crude oil futures put in a mixed performance. Multiple OPEC+ members signaled they won’t increase supply at their upcoming meeting leading to gains in crude, yet the gains were short lived, as headlines noted that Iran and the EU will stage talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, paving a way for Iranian oil supply to return to the market. Brent futures finished +0.54% higher while WTI futures were unchanged. Natural gas prices were on a one-way track higher, however. US natural gas prices had their biggest one-day gain in a year, increasing +11.70%, on the back of a colder forecast for the upcoming winter as supply issues still abound. European and UK natural gas prices were only modestly higher by comparison, increasing +1.27% and +1.86%, respectively. European leaders are gathering in Luxembourg today for an emergency meeting on the energy crisis.

European equities were almost unchanged, with the STOXX 600 (+0.07%) finishing with marginal gains with energy (+1.27%) leading. The German DAX (+0.36%) gained with the help of stronger IT (+1.76%) performance despite Ifo expectations (95.4) coming in below consensus (96.6).

In other data releases, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index came at -0.13 versus 0.20 expected. The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index (14.6), however, surprised on the upside by coming above expectations (6.0). Delivery times remained elevated in the survey, and a special question showed that labour supply issues got slightly worse.

In virus news, Moderna reported that its vaccine showed a strong immune response for children from 6 to under 12 years old. Meanwhile, China announced in its initial guidelines that unvaccinated athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing would have to quarantine for 21 days, while Hong Kong was pressured by banks to relax its zero-COVID policy.

In today’s data releases, August FHFA house price index, September new home sales, October Conference Board consumer confidence and Richmond Fed manufacturing index are due from the US. In central banks, ECB’s Villeroy and de Cos will speak. In corporate earnings, we will get results from Microsoft, Alphabet, Visa, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Texas Instruments, UPS, General Electric, UBS and Twitter

 

Tyler Durden Tue, 10/26/2021 - 07:47

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SocGen Is Telling Its Nervous Clients “Don’t Leave The Party Yet” – Here’s Why

SocGen Is Telling Its Nervous Clients "Don’t Leave The Party Yet" – Here’s Why

A surge in cross-asset volatility over the past two weeks has left investors with many questions about its nature and implications and whether it is safe to buy…

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SocGen Is Telling Its Nervous Clients "Don't Leave The Party Yet" - Here's Why

A surge in cross-asset volatility over the past two weeks has left investors with many questions about its nature and implications and whether it is safe to buy the dip (technically there is no longer a dip).

In a note seeking to ease client concerns, SocGen strategists Jitesh Kumar and Alain Bokobza say "don’t leave the party yet" because they found that the main trigger for the recent market turmoil has been "investors seeking to deleverage their more illiquid/expensive assets to protect profits as the year ends." And while the market may be shaken by residual liquidity tremors over the next couple of weeks, "recent trends nevertheless underpin our recommendation to remain invested and stay overweight in equities, real assets (including commodities), and the dollar."

Drilling down on the increasingly nervous market since the Fed’s recent hawkish turn and the move higher in rates since the September FOMC meeting, SocGen points to several other catalysts that have kept investors on their toes, including:

  1. collateral scarcity in Europe, fueling very high demand for ‘safe’ assets, wider asset swap spreads and a wider cross-currency basis swaps due to a drop in ECB net issuance;

  2. the threat of COVID Delta-variant related lockdowns in Europe (Austria, Germany) even before the emergence of Omicron;

  3. the 6%+ CPI print in the US, followed by the re-nomination of Jerome Powell at the Fed, enabling him to signal scope for a faster taper and earlier rate hikes, stoking policy error fears;

  4. credit spread widening against plummeting German bond yields, while corporate bond issuance has remained robust; and

  5. high pension funding ratios fueling demand for ‘safer’ assets (bonds) to rotate into.

One read of the above is that these combined pressures have increased demand for bonds, while Omicron spooked some investors into cutting over-extended positions on the Friday following Thanksgiving amid low market liquidity. These pressures triggered very sharp moves in some widely owned illiquid assets, including:

  • rotation from high beta stocks into quality stocks;

  • a shift in preference to US equities/large cap tech from small caps/other overseas investments;

  • increased hedging to lock in gains before year-end, triggering higher equity/credit volatility;

  • a sharp rise in funding currencies at the expense of high yielders/EM, leading to a weaker dollar.

Additionally, as the SocGen duo notes, some highly extended inflation plays have been among the most impacted, e.g. both crude oil and breakeven inflation linkers saw substantial one-day drops on 26 November as shown below (the French bank is quick to note that it remains overweight on both commodities and inflation-linked bonds as they provide protection against higher inflation prints and a Fed tightening cycle over 2022).

The market turbulence also took an already extended VIX complex up to the highest levels since the March 2020 crash. So illiquid was the market that the VIX bid/offer spread exploded to 4 vol points, but here too SocGen thinks the Left Tail risks are in fact a manifestation of a lack of liquidity in downside hedges

But how does the sharp risk off episode square with dollar weakness - after all the dollar usually surges when there is a dump in risk.

According to SocGen, dollar weakness coinciding with broader market weakness "was unusual but makes sense when seen through the deleveraging lens." The chart below left shows that during the turmoil on 26 November, the typical funding currencies (EUR, JPY, CHF) strengthened while EM currencies (most of which are high yielders) weakened. This had the overall effect of weakening the broad dollar, especially in the G10 space. However, this trend is expected to reverse and take us back to a strong dollar environment given that we see a full Fed hiking cycle ahead of us (unless of course Omicron or whatever variant comes next ruins these plans).

Looking at actual stock positions, SG’s derivatives team notes that options positioning on US small caps had been increasing throughout October. Therefore, it says, "the risk-off episode came at an inopportune moment for some well invested market participants, who likely had to reduce risk in US small caps faster than they would have preferred." As can be seen in the chart above right, Russell 2000 index turnover in the cash market was overwhelmed by the futures market on 26 November, triggering large intraday moves.

Separately, SocGen also points to the combined position changes visible in the CFTC data for hedge funds and asset managers which it says provides further evidence of the pressure on Russell 2000 futures, which in aggregate saw $5.4bn in selling in the holiday-curtailed last week of November (23-30 Nov data). This was the largest weekly sale of Russell 2000 futures as per CFTC data in more than four years.

In contrast to small caps, positioning on large cap equities has not been under the same pressure. Asset manager + hedge fund flows in S&P500 e-mini futures totalled -$6.4bn in the last available dataset, a relatively small amount for the S&P500. More tellingly, the overall flow on the Nasdaq 100 was slightly positive over this period at +$0.8bn, as shown in the right-hand chart above.

Generally speaking, short-term repo is also a useful indicator of the demand/supply profile of major equity indices. A sharply negative repo rate usually signifies very high demand for balance sheet exposure relative to supply, while a very positive repo rate signifies risk aversion. The chart below shows the 1-month repo rate on S&P500, while the balance sheet pressures faced by banks during the fourth quarter of every year are well known. That said, the current quarter, despite recent weakness in broad equities, has not seen positive repo levels, indicating that US large caps have not been hit by material drawdowns according to SocGen (and their price).

So what should traders do?

In a word, nothing, at least that's the recommendation of SocGen. The bank continues to believe that tightening spells are flattening, and thus recommend being positioned for a flattening of the yield curve, which also supports US stocks that are longer-duration assets and are tilted toward quality. In terms of sectors, long Information & Technology against the financial sector is very well correlated with the trend in the yield curve and is one of our key sector calls linked to the Fed tightening cycle.

Sure enough, the curve has not only flattened at the very long end, but market pricing of the total number of hikes from the Fed over the next few years has also reduced. Hikes previously priced for 2024 and  2025 have all been brought forward to 2023, as the chart below shows. Indeed, as we first showed a week ago, the market is now pricing a small probability of a rate cut in 2025.

One take on these moves is that i) either inflation is not going to be a longer-term problem, and that longer-duration assets should therefore continue to do well, or ii) inflation will be a problem but the Fed will be powerless to do anything about it without blowing up the entire market in the process. Our money is on the latter.

Last but not least, SocGen continues to see support for broader financial markets going into next year as private-sector balance sheets remain strong. To wit, US corporates hold close to $7 trillion in liquid assets and US households have $17 trillion tucked away in deposit and money market funds post the pandemic (then again most of this cash belongs to the 1% with few benefits trickling down to the lower 90%). In short, the French bank believes that there is still plenty of cash on the sidelines and investors will sooner or later need to move away from cash in a 6%+ inflation environment.

In conclusion, SocGen's remains alert to the risks that would flare up in the event of more hawkish central banks as well new COVID variants, but for now it recommends its playbook for 2022, "which is working well so far."

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 13:46

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BoJo Unveils “Plan B” Restrictions To Fight Omicron As New Cases Double Every 2-3 Days

BoJo Unveils “Plan B” Restrictions To Fight Omicron As New Cases Double Every 2-3 Days

Update (0800ET): More details about BoJo’s "Plan B" are coming into focus. The plan could be announced as early as Wednesday evening, or possibly…

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BoJo Unveils “Plan B” Restrictions To Fight Omicron As New Cases Double Every 2-3 Days

Update (0800ET): More details about BoJo's "Plan B" are coming into focus. The plan could be announced as early as Wednesday evening, or possibly Thursday. According to the BBC, the UK cabinet is meeting at 15:45GMT and has scheduled a press conference for 17:30GMT on Plan B.

As of now, the UK government is reportedly drawing up plans that will include a Christmas work from home order as PM Johnson considers measures to slow the spread of the Omicron variant. The measures are expected to include the introduction of vaccine passports to slow the spread of Omicron, along with a renewed work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightclubs, alongside guidance on indoor and outdoor events.

Elsewhere in Europe, Norway's Prime Minister said they must install more restrictions to control the spread of COVID but must avoid a full lockdown of society. The PM added that there should be no more than 10 visitors in private homes, while bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol from midnight every day. The government will introduce new economic compensations for companies hit by COVID restrictions.

* * *

Since the start of the pandemic, we have cautioned readers to look past what political leaders are saying about lockdowns and vaccine mandates intended to "keep us safe", and focus more on ulterior motives, like pushing the Fed to monetize mountains of debt to keep the market-sustaining money tap open. Like with every other major decision, it's important to ask oneself: Cui bono - who benefits?

With that in mind, UK PM Boris Johnson is facing bitter criticism from Britons after he allegedly rushed the announcement of England's "Plan B" - BoJo's more restrictive version of President Biden's "winter plan" - allegedly to try and distract from a national scandal caused by leaked footage of a 10 Downing Street Christmas Party held last winter, when holiday parties were expressly forbidden by COVID lockdown rules.

The FT, which broke the news of BoJo's "Plan B" plans, described the impending announcement as a "dead cat" - that is, something done to draw attention away from a much bigger scandal.

One said the move to Plan B — much earlier than expected — was a “dead cat” move by Johnson to distract attention from the furore over a leaked video of a mock Downing Street press conference showing staff laughing about the party, which breached Covid-19 rules.

The new restrictions - intended to try and stop the spread of omicron - are expected to be announced at a press conference as early as Wednesday, with the new measures put before parliament on Thursday.

Still, according to the UK's top COVID scientists, the new lockdowns couldn't come soon enough, as cases of the omicron variant are believed to be doubling "every two to three days." Neil Ferguson, one of the UK's leading coronavirus experts, warned on Wednesday that if no further measures were introduced, the peak of the current wave of infection would likely arrive in January, and that new infections caused by omicron could potentially overtake delta by Christmas. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen.

But word of BoJo's rush to impose "Plan B" in England has rattled markets in the UK by stoking fears that more omicron lockdowns would be announced in the UK, and elsewhere in Europe. The plan includes requiring vaccine passports to enter large buildings, along with an order to work from home.

British travel and leisure stocks tumbled Wednesday on the news, with Wizz, EasyJet, IAG all down about 4%. Restaurant Group dropped as much as 6.2%, while Cineworld shed 5.6%; the two companies were the worst performers on the All-Shares Index. Gilts, the UK's government bonds, rallied on the news, sending yields down 3 basis points to outperform German bunds. It's expected that "Plan B" will extend requirements for vaccine passports for travelers, and potentially cause up to £18 billion ($23.75 billion) in economic damage, according to documents seen by the Guardian.

In the face of a national uproar caused by the Christmas Party revelations, UK health secretary Sajid Javid pulled out of a number of national broadcast interviews that had been scheduled for Wednesday after a video showing BoJo's top aides holding a mock press conference where they joked about the Christmas Party (which they later denied happened).

Javid had been expected to discuss the UK’s vaccination efforts on the BBC and Sky News, as well as a number of radio stations, delivering an update on the one-year anniversary of the first jab being given in Britain.

Adding to the sting from the news of the Downing Street Christmas Party, ITV also published this video from a mock press conference featuring staffers joking about the Christmas Party, which they later denied happened.

It's an early Christmas present for the opposition...and any European leaders who are tired of BoJo's brusque negotiating style.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:00

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Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears…

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Futures Jump In Volatile Session Dragged By Latest Twists In Omicron Saga

Much of the overnight session was a snooze fest with stocks drifting first higher then lower after surging on Tuesday, as the narrative meandered from "omicron fears ease" optimism to "vaccines won't work" pessimism, before futures took a sudden leg lower, dropping into the red just after 530am ET, following news that UK's Boris Johnson would introduce new restrictions in England to curb Omicron spread, sparking fears that Omicron is more dangerous that expected (and than futures reflected). However, this episode of pessimism proved short-lived because just an hour later, the WSJ confirmed that Omicron is really just a pitch for covid booster shots when it reported that even though the covid vaccine loses significant effectiveness against Omicron in an early study, this is miraculously reversed with a booster shot as three doses of the vaccine were able to neutralize the variant in an initial laboratory study, and the companies said two doses may still protect against severe disease.

Futures quickly shot up on the news, spiking above the gamma "all clear" level of 4,700 in a move best summarized with the following chart.

And so, after going nowhere, S&P futures climbed for a third day, last seen 12 points, or 0.3% higher, just around 4,700 after rising the most since March on Tuesday. Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index rose following the biggest jump in more than a year. In addition to the omicron soap opera, which as we noted yesterday turns out was just one staged covid booster shot advertisement (because Pfizer and Moderna can always do with a bigger yacth), sentiment was also lifted by Chinese authorities' reversal to "easing mode" and aggressive efforts to limit the fallout from property market woes which lifted risk assets in Asia even as key debt deadlines at China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. passed without any sign of payment.

"Clearly in the very short term uncertainty has risen over the Omicron virus... but overall at this stage we do not believe it will derail the macro picture in the medium-term," said Jeremy Gatto, multi-asset portfolio manager at Unigestion.

Treasury yields were little changed after rising across the curve Tuesday. The VIX spiked first on the FT news, then dropped back into the red, while the dollar was flat and crude rose after turning red.

Besides macro, micro was also in play and here are some other notable premarket movers

  • Apple (AAPL US) ticks 1% higher in premarket trading following a Nikkei report that the tech giant told suppliers to speed up iPhone output for Nov.-Jan, citing people it didn’t identify.
  • Amazon.com (AMZN US) shares in focus after an Amazon Web Services outage is wreaking havoc on the e-commerce giant’s delivery operation
  • Stitch Fix (SFIX US) tumbles 25% in U.S. premarket trading after a 2Q forecast miss that analysts called “surprising,” while customer additions also disappointed
  • Pfizer (PFE US) shares drop 2% in U.S. premarket trading after an early study showed that the company’s vaccine provides less immunity to the omicron variant
  • Dare Bioscience (DARE US) soars 41% in premarket trading after Xaciato gets FDA approval for treating bacterial vaginosis
  • EPAM Systems (EPAM US) soars 8% in premarket after S&P Dow Jones Indices said co. will replace Kansas City Southern in the S&P 500 effective prior to the opening of trading on Dec. 14
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT US) upgraded to buy from hold and target boosted to Street-high $32 from $29 at Deutsche Bank with the company seen as a major beneficiary from the shift to electric vehicles. Shares up 4.3% in premarket trading
  • NXP Semiconductor (NXPI US) shares slide 2.2% in U.S. premarket trading after the chipmaker got a new sell rating at UBS
  • Dave & Buster’s (PLAY US) gained 3.5% postmarket after the dining and entertainment company reported EPS that beat the average analyst estimate and authorized a $100 million share buyback program

"Every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won't be the curveball to throw the recovery off course," wrote Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid in a note to clients.

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially drifted both higher and lower then bounced 0.3% on the favorable Pfizer and BioNTech news one day after posting its bigger surge in a year. European benchmark index earlier rose as much as 2%, dropped 2.1%. Health care sub-index leads gains, rising 1.2%, followed by travel stocks. The Stoxx 600 closed 2.5% higher on Tuesday, biggest gain since November 2020

Earlier in the session, Asia stocks also rose for a second day as concerns about the omicron variant and China’s economic slowdown eased. The MSCI AsiaPacific Index climbed as much as 0.9% after capping its biggest one-day gain in more than three months on Tuesday. Technology and health-care shares provided the biggest boosts. Benchmarks in New Zealand and India -- where the central bank held rates at a record low -- were among the day’s best performers.

“The biggest point appealing to investors is that the Omicron variant doesn’t seem to be too fatal,” which is encouraging to those who had been going short to close out their positions, said Tomoichiro Kubota, a senior market analyst at Matsui Securities in Tokyo. “Worry that the Chinese economy will lose its growth momentum has subsided quite a bit.” Thus far, Omicron cases haven’t overwhelmed hospitals while vaccine developments indicate some promise in dealing with the variant. While vaccines like the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new strain, protection can be fortified with boosters. The two-day rally in the Asian stock benchmark marks a sharp turnaround following weeks of declines since mid-November. Stocks in China also climbed for a second day. The nation’s central bank said Monday it will cut the amount of cash most banks must keep in reserve from Dec. 15, providing a liquidity boost and helping restore investor confidence

In FX, news on the Omicron variant rippled through G-10 currencies after a report the Pfizer vaccine could neutralize the Omicron variant boosted risk appetite. The pound underperformed other Group-of-10 peers, extending declines after reports that the U.K. government is poised to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions.  A gauge of the dollar’s strength fluctuated as Treasuries pare gains and stocks rally after a report that said Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. EUR/USD rose 0.1% to 1.1277; USD/NOK falls as much as 0.8% to 8.9459, lowest since Nov. 25

Sterling fell against the euro and the dollar, as traders pare bets on the path of Bank of England rate hikes following reports that the U.K. could introduce fresh Covid-19 restrictions such as working from home and vaccine passports for large venues. Money markets pare rate hike bets, with just six basis points of interest rate hikes priced in for the BOE meeting next week. GBP/USD falls as much as 0.6% to 1.3163, testing the key level of 1.3165, the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of gains since March 2020. EUR/GBP gains as much as 0.7% to 0.85695, the highest since Nov. 11.

“The market will probably see this as more U.K. specific and therefore an issue for the pound at least in the short term,” said Stuart Bennett, FX strategist at Santander.

In rates, Treasuries were mixed with markets reacting in a risk-on manner to the Dow Jones report that Pfizer and BioNTech claim three vaccine doses neutralize the omicron variant. Yields remain richer by less than 1bp across long-end of the curve while front-end trades cheaper on the day, flattening curve spreads. Session’s focal points include $36b 10-year note reopening at 1pm ET, following Tuesday’s strong 3-year note auction. Treasury 10-year yields around 1.475%, near flat on the day; gilts outperform slightly after Financial Times report that further Covid restrictions will be announced imminently to curb the variant’s spread. U.S. 2-year yields were cheaper by 1bp on the day, rose to new 2021 high following Pfizer vaccine report; 2s10s spread erased a flattening move

In commodities, crude futures turned red, WTI falling 0.8%, popping back below $72. Spot gold holds Asia’s modest gains, adding $8 to trade near $1,792/oz.

Looking at the day ahead, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,693.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 480.55
  • MXAP up 0.7% to 194.84
  • MXAPJ up 0.6% to 632.78
  • Nikkei up 1.4% to 28,860.62
  • Topix up 0.6% to 2,002.24
  • Hang Seng Index little changed at 23,996.87
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,637.57
  • Sensex up 1.8% to 58,654.25
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.3% to 7,405.45
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 3,001.80
  • Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,790.33
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.17% to 96.20
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.38%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1286
  • Brent Futures down 0.5% to $75.04/bbl

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The omicron variant of Covid-19 must inflict significant damage on the euro-area economy for European Central Bank Governing Council member Martins Kazaks to back additional stimulus
  • “The current phase of higher inflation could last longer than expected only some months ago,” ECB vice president Luis de Guindos says at event
  • The earliest studies on omicron are in and the glimpse they’re providing is cautiously optimistic: while vaccines like the one made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE may be less powerful against the new variant, protection can be fortified with boosters
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce new Covid-19 restrictions in England, known as “Plan B,” to stop the spread of the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reported, citing three senior Whitehall officials familiar with the matter.
  • French economic activity will continue to rise in December, despite another wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and fresh uncertainty over the omicron variant, according the Bank of France
  • The Kingdom of Denmark will sell a sovereign green bond for the first time next month to help the Nordic nation meet one of the world’s most ambitious climate targets
  • Tom Hayes, the former UBS Group AG and Citigroup Inc. trader who became the face of the sprawling Libor scandal, has lost his bid to appeal his U.K. criminal conviction
  • Poland is poised for a hefty increase in interest rates after a spike in inflation to a two- decade high convinced central bankers that spiraling price growth isn’t transitory. Of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 20 expect a 50 basis-point hike to 1.75% today and 10 see the rate rising to 2%. The other two expect a 25 basis-point increase
  • Australia is weighing plans for a central bank-issued digital currency alongside the regulation of the crypto market as it seeks to overhaul how the nation’s consumers and businesses pay for goods and services
  • Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masayoshi Amamiya dropped a strong hint that big firms are in less need of funding support, a comment that will likely fuel speculation the BOJ will scale back its pandemic buying of corporate bonds and commercial paper

A detailed summary of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets traded positively as the region took impetus from the global risk momentum following the tech-led rally in the US, where Apple shares rose to a record high and amid increased optimism that Omicron could be less dangerous than prior variants. This was after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID and NIH's Fauci also suggested that Omicron was 'almost certainly' not more severe than Delta, although there were some slight headwinds in late Wall Street trade after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. The ASX 200 (+1.3%) was underpinned in which tech led the broad gains across sectors as it found inspiration from the outperformance of big tech stateside, and with energy bolstered by the recent rebound in underlying oil prices. The Nikkei 225 (+1.4%) conformed to the upbeat mood although further advances were capped after USD/JPY eased off the prior day’s highs and following a wider-than-expected contraction to the economy with the final annualised Q3 GDP at -3.6% vs exp. -3.1%. The Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.2%) were less decisive and initially lagged behind their peers as sentiment was mired by default concerns due to the failure by Evergrande to pay bondholders in the lapsed 30-day grace period on two USD-denominated bond payments and with Kaisa Group in a trading halt after missing the deadline for USD 400mln in offshore debt which didn’t bode well for its affiliates. Furthermore, China Aoyuan Property Group received over USD 650mln in repayment demands and warned it may not be able to meet debt obligations, while a subdued Hong Kong debut for Weibo shares which declined around 6% from the offer price added to the glum mood for Hong Kong’s blue-chip tech stocks, as did reports that China is to tighten rules for tech companies seeking foreign funding. Finally, 10yr JGBs languished after spillover selling from T-notes and due to the heightened global risk appetite, but with downside stemmed by support at the key psychological 152.00 level and amid the presence of the BoJ in the market today for over JPY 1.0tln of JGBs.

Top Asian News

  • China Clean Car Sales Spike as Consumers Embrace Electric
  • Gold Edges Higher as Traders Weigh Vaccine Efficacy, Geopolitics
  • Paint Maker Avia Avian Falls in Debut After $763 Million IPO
  • Tokyo Prepares to Introduce Same-Sex Partnerships Next Year

Equities in Europe shifted to a lower configuration after a mixed open (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.7%; Stoxx 600 -0.1%) as sentiment was dented by rumours of tightening COVID measures in the UK. Markets have been awaiting the next catalyst to latch onto for direction amidst a lack of fresh fundamentals. US equity futures have also been dented but to a lesser extent, with the YM (-0.1%) and ES (Unch) straddling behind the NQ (+0.2%) and RTY (+0.2%). Sources in recent trade suggested an 85% chance of the UK implementing COVID Plan B, according to Times' Dunn; reports indicate such restrictions could be implemented on Thursday, with the potential for an announcement today. In terms of the timings, the UK cabinet is penciled in for 15:45GMT and presser for 17:30GMT on Plan B, according to BBC's Goodall. Note, this will not be a formal lockdown but more so work-from-home guidance, vaccine passports for nightlife and numerical restrictions on indoor/outdoor gatherings. APAC closed in the green across the board following the tech-led rally in the US. The upside overnight was attributed to a continuation of market optimism after early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID, albeit after a small study pointed to reduced vaccine efficacy against the new variant. Participants will be closely watching any updates from the vaccine-makers, with the BioNTech CEO stating the drugmaker has data coming Wednesday or Thursday related to the new COVID-19 variant, thus markets will be eyeing a potential update this week ahead of the Pfizer investor call next Friday. Back to European, the UK’s FTSE 100 (Unch) and the Swiss SMI (+0.8%) are largely buoyed by their defensive stocks, with sectors seeing a defensive formation, albeit to a slightly lesser extent vs the open. Healthcare retains its top spot closely followed by Food & Beverages, although Personal & Household Goods and Telecoms have moved down the ranks. On the flip side, Retail, Banks and Travel & Leisure trade at the bottom of the bunch, whilst Tech nursed some earlier losses after opening as the lagging sector. In terms of individual movers, Nestle (+1.8%) is bolstered after announcing a CHF 20bln share repurchase programme alongside a stake reduction in L'Oreal (+1.0%) to 20.1% from 23.3% - worth some EUR 9bln. L’Oreal has shrugged off the stake sale and conforms to the firm sectoral performance across the Personal & Household Goods. Meanwhile, chip names are under pressure after Nikkei sources reported that Apple (+0.8% pre-market) was forced to scale back the total output target for 2021, with iPhone and iPad assembly halted for several days due to supply chain constraints and restrictions on the use of power in China, multiple sources told Nikkei. STMicroelectronics (-1.7%) and Infineon (-5.0%) are among the losers, with the latter also weighed on by a broker downgrade at JPM.

Top European News

  • ECB’s Kazaks Sets High Bar for Omicron-Driven Extra Stimulus
  • Biden Is Left Guessing Over Putin’s Ultimate Aim in Ukraine
  • Byju’s Buys Austria’s GeoGebra to Bolster Online Math Courses
  • Scholz Elected by Parliament to Take Charge as German Chancellor

In FX, the Dollar index continues to hold above 96.000, but bounces have become less pronounced and the range so far today is distinctly narrower (96.285-130) in fitting with the generally restrained trade in pairings within the basket and beyond, bar a few exceptions. Price action suggests a relatively muted midweek session unless a major game-changer arrives and Wednesday’s agenda does not bode that well in terms of catalysts aside from JOLTS and the BoC policy meeting before the second leg of this week’s refunding in the form of Usd 36 bn 10 year notes.

  • AUD/EUR - Notwithstanding the largely contained currency moves noted above, the Aussie is maintaining bullish momentum on specific factors including strength in iron ore prices and encouraging Chinese data plus PBoC easing that should have a positive knock-on effect for one of its main trading partners even though diplomatic relations between the two nations are increasingly strained. Aud/Usd has also cleared a couple of technical hurdles on the way up to circa 0.7143 and Aud/Nzd is firmer on the 1.0500 handle ahead of the RBA’s latest chart pack release and a speech by Governor Lowe. Elsewhere, the Euro has regained composure after its sub-1.1250 tumble on Tuesday vs the Buck and dip through 0.8500 against the Pound, but still faces psychological resistance at 1.1300 and the 21 DMA that comes in at 1.1317 today, while Eur/Gbp needs to breach the 100 DMA (0.8513) convincingly or close above to confirm a change in direction for the cross from a chart perspective.
  • CHF/CAD/JPY/GBP/NZD - All sitting tight in relation to their US counterpart, with the Franc paring some declines between 0.9255-30 parameters and the Loonie straddling 1.2650 in the run up to the aforementioned BoC that is widely seen as a non-event given no new MPR or press conference, not to mention the actual changes in QE and rate guidance last time. Nevertheless, implied volatility is quite high via a 63 pip breakeven for Usd/Cad. Meanwhile, Sterling lost grip of the 1.3200 handle amidst swirling speculation about the UK reverting to plan B and more Tory MPs calling for PM Johnson to resign, the Yen is rotating around 113.50 eyeing broad risk sentiment and US Treasury yields in context of spreads to JGBs, and the Kiwi is lagging after touching 0.6800 awaiting independent impetus from NZ manufacturing sales for Q3.
  • SCANDI/EM - The Nok extended its advantage/outperformance against the Sek as Brent rebounded towards Usd 76/brl in early trade and Riksbank’s Jansson retained reservations about flagging a repo rate hike at the end of the forecast horizon, while the Mxn and Rub also initially derived some support from oil with the latter also taking on board latest hawkish talk from the CBR. However, the Cny and Cnh are outpacing their rivals again with some assistance from a firmer PBoC midpoint fix to hit multi-year peaks vs the Usd and probe 6.3500 ahead of option expiry interest at 6.3000 and a Fib retracement at 6.2946, in stark contrast to the Try that is unwinding recent recovery gains with no help from the latest blast from Turkish President Erdogan - see 10.00GMT post in the Headline Feed for more. Conversely, the Czk has taken heed of CNB’s Holub underscoring tightening signals and expectations for the next rate convene and the Pln and Brl are anticipating hikes from the NBP and BCB.

In commodities, crude futures have been hit on the prospect of imminent COVID-related measures in the UK, albeit the measures do not involve lockdowns. Brent and WTI front month futures slipped from European highs to breach APAC lows. The former dipped below USD 74.50/bbl from a USD 76.00/bbl European peak while its WTI counterpart tested USD 71.00/bbl from USD 72.50/bbl at best. Overnight the benchmarks traded on either side the USD 75/bbl mark and just under USD 72/bbl after the weekly Private Inventories printed a larger-than-expected draw (-3.6mln vs exp. -3.1mln), albeit the internals were less bullish. Yesterday also saw the release of the EIA STEO, cut its 2021 world oil demand growth forecast by an insignificant 10k BPD but raised the 2022 metric by 200k BPD – with the IEA and OPEC monthly reports poised to be released next week. On the vaccine front, a small preliminary study of 12 people showed a 40x reduction in neutralization capacity of the Pfizer vaccine against Omicron, but early hospitalisation data from South Africa showed the new variant could result in less severe COVID. BioNTech CEO said they have data coming in on Wednesday or Thursday related to the new Omicron variant. The geopolitical space is also worth keeping on the radar, with US President Biden yesterday warning Russian President Putin that gas exports via Nord Stream 2 will be targeted and more troops will be deployed if he orders an invasion of Ukraine. Further, reports suggested, an Indian army helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence staff reportedly on board, according to Sputnik. Note, Tamil Nadu is located towards the south of the country and away from conflict zones. Elsewhere spot gold was supported by the overnight pullback in the Dollar, but the recent risk aversion took the yellow metal above the 100 DMA around USD 1,790/oz, with nearby upside levels including the 200 DMA (1,792/oz) and the 50 DMA (1,794/oz). Copper prices meanwhile consolidated within a tight range, with LME copper holding onto a USD 9,500/t handle (just about). Dalian iron ore extended on gains in a continuation of the upside seen in recent trade.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -7.2%
  • 10am: Oct. JOLTs Job Openings, est. 10.5m, prior 10.4m

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

A reminder that we are currently conducting our special 2022 survey. We ask about rates, equities, bond yields and the path of covid in 2022, amongst other things, and also return to a festive question we asked in 2019, namely your favourite ever Christmas songs. The link is here and it’ll be open until tomorrow. All help filling in very much appreciated.

My optimism for life has been shattered this morning. Not from the markets or the virus but just as I woke this morning England cricketers finally surrendered and collapsed in a heap on the first day of the Ashes - one the oldest international rivalries in sport. It was all I could do not to turn round and go back to bed. However out of duty I’m soldering on. After the twins nativity play went without incident yesterday, this morning it’s Maisie’s turn. Given she’s in a wheelchair at the moment she can’t get on stage so they’ve given her a solo singing spot at the start. I’m going so I can bring a bucket for all my wife’s tears as she sings!! If I shed a tear I’ll pretend it’s because of the cricket.

The global market rebound continued to gather strength yesterday as investors became increasingly optimistic that the Omicron variant wouldn’t prove as bad as initially feared. To be honest, it was more the absence of bad news rather than any concrete good news helping to drive sentiment. Late in the US session we did see some headlines suggesting that the Pfizer vaccine may provide some defence against Omicron but also that the new variant does evade some of the immunity produced by this vaccine. This report of the small study (12 people!!) from South Africa lacked substance but you could take positives and negatives from it. More information is clearly needed.

For the markets though, every day that passes without a wave of severe cases driven by Omicron is offering more hope that this won’t be the curveball to throw the recovery off course. Indeed, to get a sense of the scale of the market rebound, both the S&P 500 and the STOXX 600 in Europe have now clocked in their strongest 2-day performances of 2021 so far, with the indices up by +3.27% and +3.76% respectively since the start of the week. Meanwhile, the VIX fell below 25 for the first time in a week.

On the day, the S&P 500 (+2.07%) put in its strongest daily performance since March, whilst the STOXX 600 (+2.45%) saw its strongest daily performance since the news that the Pfizer vaccine was successful in trials back in November 2020. Once again the gains were incredibly broad-based, albeit with cyclical sectors leading the way. The Nasdaq (+3.03%) outperformed the S&P 500 for the first time in a week as tech shares led the rally. Small cap stocks also had a strong day, with the Russell 2000 up +2.28%, on the back of Omicron optimism.

This recovery in risk assets was also seen in the bounceback in oil prices, with Brent crude (+3.23%) and WTI (+3.68%) now both up by more than $5.5/bbl since the start of the week, which puts them well on the way to ending a run of 6 consecutive weekly declines.

For further evidence of this increased optimism, we can also look at the way that investors have been dialling back up their estimates of future rate hikes from the Fed, with yesterday seeing another push in this direction. Before the Omicron news hit, Fed fund futures were fully pricing in an initial hike by the June meeting, but by the close on the Monday after Thanksgiving they’d moved down those odds to just 61% in June, with an initial hike not fully priced until September. Fast forward just over a week however, and we’re now not only back to pricing in a June hike, but the odds of a May hike are standing at +78.8%, which is actually higher than the +66.1% chance priced before the Omicron news hit. A reminder that we’re just a week away now from the Fed’s next decision, where it’s hotly anticipated they could accelerate the pace at which they’ll taper their asset purchases.

With investors bringing forward their bets on monetary tightening, front-end US Treasury yields were hitting post-pandemic highs yesterday, with the 2yr Treasury yield up +5.8bps to 0.69%, a level we haven’t seen since March 2020. Longer-dated yield increases weren’t as large, with the 10yr yield up +3.9bps to 1.47%, and the 5s30s curve flattened another -1.8bps to 54.4bps, just above the post-pandemic low of 53.7bps. Over in Europe there was similarly a rise in most countries’ bond yields, with those on 10yr bunds (+1.4bps), OATs (+1.0bps) and BTPs (+4.4bps) all moving higher, though incidentally, the 5s30s curve in Germany was also down -2.2bps to its own post-pandemic low of 50.0bps.

One pretty big news story that markets have been relatively unperturbed by so far is the rising tensions between the US and Russia over Ukraine. Yesterday saw a video call between US President Biden and Russian President Putin. The US readout from the call did not offer much in the way of concrete details, but if you’re looking for any optimistic news, it said that both sides tasked their teams with following up. Setting the background for the call, there were reports immediately beforehand that the US was considering evacuating their citizens and posturing to stop Nord Stream 2 if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Ruble appreciated +0.42% against the dollar, and is now only slightly weaker versus the dollar on the week.

Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.49%), CSI (+1.11%), Shanghai Composite (+0.86%) and the KOSPI (+0.78%) as markets respond positively to the Pfizer study mentioned at the top. The Hang Seng (-0.12%) is lagging though. In Japan, the final Q3 GDP contracted -3.6% quarter on quarter annualised against consensus expectations of -3.1% on lower consumer spending than initially estimated. In India, the RBI left the key policy rate unchanged for the ninth consecutive meeting today while underscoring increasing headwinds from the Omicron variant. Futures markets indicate a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 (+0.41%) and DAX (+0.12%) futures trading in the green.

Back on the pandemic, despite the relative benign news on Omicron, rising global case counts mean that the direction of travel is still towards tougher restrictions across a range of countries. In fact here in the UK, we saw the 7-day average of reported cases move above 48,000 for the first time since January. In terms of fresh restrictions, yesterday saw Canada announce that they’d be extending their vaccine mandate, which will now require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated, including road transportation, telecommunications and banking. In Sweden, the government is preparing a bill that would see Covid passes introduced for gyms and restaurants, while Poland put further measures in place, including remote schooling from December 20 until January 9, while vaccines would become mandatory for health workers, teachers and uniformed services from March 1. One move to ease restrictions came in Austria, where it was confirmed shops would be reopening on Monday, albeit only for those vaccinated, while restaurants and hotels would reopen the following week. If you see our daily charts you’ll see that cases in Austria have dropped sharply since the peaks a couple of weeks ago, albeit still high internationally.

In DC, Congressional leaders apparently agreed to a deal that would ultimately lead to the debt ceiling being increased, after some procedural chicanery. Senate Majority Leader McConnell voiced support for the measure, which is a good sign for its ultimate prospects of passing, but it still needs at least 10 Republican votes in the Senate to pass. McConnell indicated the votes would be there when the Senate ultimately takes it up, which is reportedly set to happen this week. The House passed the measure last night. Yields on Treasury bills maturing in December fell following the headlines.

Looking ahead, today will mark the end of an era in Germany, as Olaf Scholz is set to become Chancellor in a Bundestag vote later on, marking an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure. That vote will simply be a formality given the three parties of the incoming coalition (the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP) have a comfortable majority between them, and the new cabinet will feature 7 SPD ministers, 5 Green ministers, and 4 from the FDP. Among the positions will include Green co-leader Robert Habeck as Vice Chancellor, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, and FDP leader Christian Lindner as finance minister.

Running through yesterday’s data, the US trade deficit narrowed to $67.1bn in October (vs. $66.8bn expected), marking its smallest level since April. Meanwhile in the Euro Area, the latest Q3 growth estimate was left unchanged at +2.2%, but both Q1 and Q2’s growth was revised up a tenth. Over in Germany, industrial production grew by a stronger-than-expected +2.8% in October (vs. +1.0% expected), with the previous month’s contraction also revised to show a smaller -0.5% decline. In addition, the expectations component of the December ZEW survey fell by less than expected to 29.9 (vs. 25.4 expected), but the current situation measure fell to a 6-month low of -7.4 (vs. 5.7 expected).

To the day ahead now, and Olaf Scholz is expected to become German Chancellor in a Bundestag vote today. From central banks, the Bank of Canada will be deciding on rates, and we’ll also hear from ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Schnabel. Finally, data releases include the JOLTS job openings from the US for October.

Tyler Durden Wed, 12/08/2021 - 07:58

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