US equity futures and European markets started the Thanksgiving week on an upbeat note as investors set aside fear of surging inflation and focused on a pickup in M&A activity while China signaled possible easing measures. The euphoria which lifted S&P futures up some 0.5% overnight and just shy of all time highs ended abruptly and futures reversed after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Covid situation in the country is worse than anything so far and tighter curbs are needed. At 730 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 95 points, or 0.26%. S&P 500 e-minis were up 12.25 points, or 0.26% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 58.75 points, or 0.357%.
U.S. stocks trade near record levels, outpacing the rest of the world, as investors see few alternatives amid rising inflation and a persistent pandemic that undermines global recovery. Concerns about high valuations and the potential for the economy to run too hot on the back of loose monetary and fiscal policies have interrupted, but not stopped the rally. In other words, as Bloomberg puts it "bears are winning the argument, bulls are winning in the market" while Nasdaq futures hit another record high as demand for technology stocks remained strong.
“Based on historical data, the Thanksgiving week is a strong week for U.S. equities,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, wrote in a note. “Black Friday sales will be closely watched. The good news is, people still have money to spend, even though they get less goods and services in exchange of what’s spent.”
In premarket moves, heavyweights, including most FAANG majors, rose in premarket trade. Vonage Holdings Corp. jumped 26% in premarket trading after Ericsson agreed to buy it. Telecom Italia SpA jumped as much as 30% in Europe after KKR offered to buy it for $12 billion. Energy stocks recovered slightly from last week's losses, although anticipation of several economic readings this week kept gains in check. Bank stocks rose in premarket trading as the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield climbed for the first time in three sessions to about 1.58%. S&P 500 futures gain as much as 0.5% on Monday morning. Tesla gained 2.8% after Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted that Model S Plaid will "probably" be coming to China around March. Activision Blizzard (ATVI.O) slipped 1.1% after a media report that the video game publisher's top boss, Bobby Kotick, would consider leaving if he cannot quickly fix culture problems. Travel and energy stocks, which were among the worst performers last week, also marked small gains before the open. Here is a list of the other notable premarket movers:
- Astra Space (ASTR US) shares surge 33% in premarket trading after the company said its rocket reached orbit.
- Aurora Innovation (AUR US) falls 8% in premarket, after soaring 71% last week amid a surge in popularity for self-driving technology companies among retail traders.
- Chinese electric-carmaker Xpeng (XPEV US) rises as much as 2.8% premarket after co. unveils a large sports-utility vehicle pitted more directly against Tesla’s Model Y and Nio’s ES series. Stocks of other EV makers are mixed.
- Monster Beverage (MNST US)., the maker of energy drinks, is exploring a combination with Corona brewer Constellation Brands (STZ US), according to people familiar with the matter.
- CASI Pharma (CASI US) jumped 17% in postmarket trading after CEO Wei-Wu He disclosed the purchase of 400,000 shares in a regulatory filing.
Along with an eye on the Fed's plans for tightening policy, investors are also watching for an announcement from Joe Biden on his pick for the next Fed chair. Powell was supposed to make his decision by the weekend but has since delayed it repeatedly. Investors expect current chair Jerome Powell to stay on for another term, although Fed Governor Lael Brainard is also seen as a candidate for the position.
“Bringing the most dovish of the doves wouldn’t guarantee a longer period of zero rates,” Ozkardeskaya wrote. “If the decisions are based on economic fundamentals, the economy is calling for a rate hike. And it’s calling for it quite soon.”
The Stoxx 600 trimmed gains after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for tighter Covid-19 restrictions. European telecom shares surged after KKR’s offer to buy Telecom Italia for about $12 billion, which boosted sentiment about M&A in the sector. The Stoxx 600 Telecommunications Index gained as much as 1.6%, the best-performing sector gauge for the region: Telefonica +4.8%, Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane +4%, KPN +2.7%. Meanwhile, telecom equipment stock Ericsson underperforms the rest of the SXKP index, falling as much as 4.9% after a deal to buy U.S. cloud communication provider Vonage; Danske Bank says the price is “quite steep”.
Earlier in the session, Asian stocks fell as Covid-19 resurgences in Europe triggered risk-off sentiment across markets amid weaker oil prices, a strong U.S. dollar and higher bond yields. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.3%, with India’s Sensex measure slumping the most since April as Paytm’s IPO weighed on sentiment. The country’s oil giant Reliance dragged down the Asian index after scrapping a deal with Saudi Aramco, and energy and financials were the biggest sector losers in the region. Asian markets have turned softer after capping their first weekly retreat this month, following lackluster moves from economically sensitive sectors in the U.S., while investors continue to monitor earnings reports of big Chinese technology firms this week. “Some impact from the regulatory risks and dull macroeconomic conditions have shown up in several Chinese big-tech earnings and that may put investors on the sidelines as earnings season continues,” Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG Asia Pte., wrote in a note. China’s equity gauge posted a second straight day of gains after the central bank’s quarterly report indicated a shift toward easing measures to bolster the economic recovery. South Korea led gains in the region, with the Kospi adding more than 1%, helped by chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.
Asia’s chip-related shares rose after comments from Micron Technology CEO Sanjay Mehrotra added to optimism the global shortage of semiconductors is easing. Reports of Japan earmarking $6.8 billion to bolster domestic chipmaking and Samsung planning to announce the location of its new chip plant in the U.S. also aided sentiment.
Japanese stocks fluctuated after U.S. shares retreated on Friday following hawkish remarks from Federal Reserve officials. The Topix index was virtually unchanged at 2,044.16 as of 2:21 p.m. Tokyo time, while the Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1% to 29,783.92. Out of 2,180 shares in the index, 1,107 rose and 948 fell, while 125 were unchanged. “There are uncertainties surrounding the direction of U.S. monetary policy,” said Shoji Hirakawa, chief global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute Co. “The latest comments from FRB members are spurring talk that steps to taper could accelerate.”
Australian stocks sunk as banks tumbled to almost a 4-month low. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6% to close at 7,353.10, weighed down by banks and technology stocks as the measure for financial shares finished at the lowest level since July 30. Nickel Mines was the top performer after agreeing to expand its strategic partnership with Shanghai Decent. Flight Centre fell for a second session, ending at its lowest close since Sept. 20, as the Covid-19 situation worsens in Europe. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1% to 12,607.64.
In FX, the Bloomberg dollar index holds Asia’s narrow range, trading little changed on the day. AUD outperforms G-10 peers, extending Asia’s modest gains. SEK and JPY are the weakest. RUB lags in EMFX, dropping as much as 1% versus the dollar with USD/RUB on a 74-handle. According to Bloomberg, hedge funds’ bullishness toward the dollar is starting to evaporate amid speculation the U.S. currency has risen too much given the Federal Reserve remains adamant it’s in no rush to raise interest rates. Meanwhile, the euro pared modest Asia session losses to trade below $1.13, while European bond yields edged higher, led by bunds and gilts. The pound dipped after comments from Bank of England policy makers raised questions about the certainty of an interest-rate increase in December. Governor Andrew Bailey said that the risks to the U.K. economy are “two-sided” in a weekend interview. Australian dollar advanced against the kiwi on position tweaking ahead of Wednesday’s RBNZ’s rate decision, and after China’s central bank removed sticking with “normal monetary policy” from its policy outlook. Yen declines as speculation China will steer toward more accommodative policy damps the currency’s haven appeal. Hungary’s forint tumbled to a record low against the euro as back-to-back interest rate increases failed to shield it during a rapidly deteriorating pandemic and a flight to safer assets.
In commodities, crude futures drifted higher. WTI rises 0.3% near $76.20, Brent regains at $79-handle. Spot gold has a quiet session trading near $1,844/oz. Base metal are mixed: LME copper, tin and zinc post small losses; lead and nickel are in the green
Looking at today's calendar, we get the October Chicago Fed national activity index, existing home sales data, and the Euro Area advance November consumer confidence. Zoom is among the companies reporting earnings.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 4,710.75
- STOXX Europe 600 up 0.3% to 487.45
- German 10Y yield little changed at -0.34%
- Euro little changed at $1.1283
- MXAP down 0.2% to 198.88
- MXAPJ down 0.2% to 647.20
- Nikkei little changed at 29,774.11
- Topix little changed at 2,042.82
- Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 24,951.34
- Shanghai Composite up 0.6% to 3,582.08
- Sensex down 2.0% to 58,450.84
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 7,353.08
- Kospi up 1.4% to 3,013.25
- Brent Futures up 0.4% to $79.22/bbl
- Gold spot little changed at $1,846.10
- U.S. Dollar Index also little changed at 96.08
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- Negotiators hammering out details of a transformative new global corporate tax regime are shaping the deal to maximize its chance of winning acceptance in the U.S., whose companies face the biggest impact from the overhaul
- The U.S. has shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations. The ruble slid to the weakest since August and the hryvnia fell
- With investors ramping up expectations for the Federal Reserve and other developed-market central banks to tighten policy, the likes of the Brazilian real and Hungarian forint have been weighed down by inflation and political concerns even as local officials pushed up borrowing costs. The Chinese yuan, Taiwanese dollar and Russian ruble have been among the few to stand their ground
- An organization formed by key participants in China’s currency market urged banks to limit speculative foreign-exchange trading after the yuan climbed to a six-year high versus peers
- The Avalanche cryptocurrency has surged in the past several days, taking it briefly into the top 10 by market value and surpassing Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, after a deal related to improvement of U.S. disaster-relief funding
A more detailed breakdown of overnight news courtesy of Newsquawk
Asia-Pac stocks traded mixed following last Friday's mostly negative performance stateside, where risk appetite was dampened by concerns of a fourth COVID wave in Europe and recent hawkish Fed rhetoric. Weekend newsflow was light and the mood was tentative heading into this week's risk events including FOMC minutes and US GDP data before the Thanksgiving holiday. The ASX 200 (-0.6%) was subdued with declines led by weakness in gold miners and the energy sector. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was lacklustre after last week’s inflows into the JPY but with downside eventually reversed as the currency faded some of the gains and following the recent cabinet approval of the stimulus spending. The KOSPI (+1.4%) outperformed and reclaimed the 3k level with shares in index heavyweight Samsung Electronics rallying as its de facto leader tours the US which spurred hopes the Co. could deploy its USD 100bln cash pile. The Hang Seng (-0.4%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.6%) diverged with the mainland kept afloat after the PBoC conducted a mild liquidity injection and maintained its Loan Prime Rate for a 19th consecutive month as expected, although Hong Kong was pressured by losses in energy and cautiousness among developers, as well as the recent announcement of increased constituents in the local benchmark. Finally, 10yr JGBs eked marginal gains amid the cautious risk tone in Asia and following firmer demand at the enhanced liquidity auction for 2yr-20yr JGBs, but with upside capped as T-note futures continued to fade Friday’s early gains that were fuelled by the COVID-19 concerns in Europe before the advances were later halted by hawkish Fed rhetoric calling for a discussion on speeding up the tapering at next month’s meeting.
Top Asian News
- China Blocks Peng Shuai News as It Seeks to Reassure World
- China FX Panel Urges Banks to Cap Speculation as Yuan Surges
- Paytm Founder Compares Himself to Musk After Historic IPO Flop
- China Tech Stocks Are Nearing Inflection Point, UBS GWM Says
European cash bourses kicked off the new trading week with mild gains (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3%; Stoxx 600 +0.3%) following a mixed APAC handover. Some have been attributing the mild gains across Europe in the context of the different approaches of the Fed and ECB, with the latter expected to remain dovish as the former moves tighter, while COVID lockdowns will restrict economic activity. News flow in the European morning has however been sparse, as participants look ahead to FOMC Minutes, Flash PMIs and US GDP ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday (full Newsquawk Desk Schedule on the headline feed) alongside the Fed Chair update from President Biden and a speech from him on the economy. US equity futures see modestly more pronounced gains, with the more cyclically-exposed RTY (+0.6%) performing better than then NQ (+0.4%), ES (+0.4%) and YM (+0.4%). Since the European cash open, the initial mildly positive momentum has somewhat waned across European cash and futures, with the region now conforming to a more mixed picture. Spain's IBEX (+0.7%) is the clear regional outperforming, aided by index heavyweight Telefonica (+5.0%), which benefits from the sectorial boost received by a couple of major M&A updates. Firstly, Telecom Italia (+22%) gapped higher at the open after KKR presented a EUR 0.505/shr offer for Telecom Italia. The offer presents a ~45% premium on Friday's close. Second, Ericsson (-3.5%) made a bid to acquire American publicly held business cloud communications provider Vonage in a deal worth USD 6.2bln. As things stand, the Telecom sector is the clear outperformer, closely followed by banks amid a revival in yields. The other end of the spectrum sees Travel & Leisure back at the foot of the bunch as COVID fears in Europe mount. In terms of individual movers, Vestas Wind Systems (-2.0%) was hit as a cyber incident that impacted parts of its internal IT structure and data has been compromised. Looking ahead, it’s worth noting that volume will likely be more muted towards the latter half of the week on account of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Top European News
- Scholz Closer to German Chancellery as Cabinet Takes Shape
- Austria Back in Lockdown Ahead of Mandatory Vaccine Policy
- Energy Crunch Drives Carbon to Record as Europe Burns More Coal
- BP Goes on Hydrogen Hiring Spree in Bid for 10% Market Share
In FX, the Antipodean Dollars are outperforming at the start of the new week on specific supportive factors, like a bounce in the price of iron ore and a further re-opening from pandemic restrictions in both Australia and New Zealand, while the REINZ shadow board is ‘overwhelmingly’ behind another RBNZ rate hike this week. Aud/Usd is holding around 0.7250 and Nzd/Usd is hovering circa 0.7000 as the Aud/Nzd cross pivots 1.0350 in the run up to flash Aussie PMIs and NZ retail sales.
- DXY - Aussie and Kiwi strength aside, the Greenback retains a solid underlying bid on safe haven and increasingly hawkish Fed grounds after a run of recent much better than expected US data. In index terms, a base just above 96.000 provides a platform to retest last week’s peaks at 96.245 and 96.266 vs 96.223 so far, but Monday’s agenda may not give bulls much in the way of encouragement via data with only existing home sales scheduled. Instead, the Buck could derive more impetus from Treasuries given front-loaded supply ahead of Thanksgiving in the form of Usd 58 bn 2 year and Usd 59 bn 5 year notes.
- CHF/CAD/EUR/GBP/JPY - All narrowly mixed against their US rival, as the Franc keeps its head above 0.9300 and meanders between 1.0485-61 vs the Euro amidst some signs of official intervention from a rise in weekly Swiss sight deposits at domestic banks. Meanwhile, the Loonie has some leverage from a mild rebound in crude prices to pare declines from sub-1.2650 and should glean support into 1.2700 from 1 bn option expiries at 1.2685 on any further risk aversion or fallout in WTI. Conversely, 1 bn option expiry interest from 1.1300-05 could scupper Euro recoveries from Friday’s new y-t-d low around 1.1250 against the backdrop of ongoing COVID-19 contagion and pre-ECB speakers plus preliminary Eurozone consumer confidence. Elsewhere, the Pound is weighing up BoE tightening prospects and the impact of no breakthrough between the UK and EU on NI Protocol as Cable and Eur/Gbp straddle the 1.3435-40 zone and 0.8400 respectively, while the Yen has unwound more of its safe haven premium within a 114.27-113.91 range eyeing UST yields in relation to JGBs alongside overall risk sentiment.
- SCANDI/EM - The Nok is deriving some traction from Brent back over Usd 79/brl, but geopolitical concerns are preventing the Rub from benefiting and the Mxn is also on a weaker footing along with most EM currencies. However, the Try is striving to draw a line in the sand irrespective of a marked deterioration in Turkish consumer sentiment and the Cnh/Cny are holding up well regardless of a softer PBoC fix for the onshore unit as LPRs were unchanged yet again and China’s FX regulator told banks to limit Yuan spec trades. In CEE, the Pln has plunged on diplomatic strains between Poland and the EU, the Huf has depreciated to all time lows on virus fears and the Czk has been hampered by CNB’s Holub downplaying the chances of more big tightening surprises such as the aggressive hike last time.
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures see some consolidation following Friday’s slide in prices. In terms of the fundamentals, the demand side of the equations continues to be threatened by the fourth wave of COVID, namely in the European nations that have not had a successful vaccine rollout. As a reminder, Austria is in a 20-day nationwide lockdown as of today, whilst Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands see tighter restrictions, with the latter two also experiencing COVID-related social unrest over the weekend. The European Commission will on Wednesday issue a set of new recommendations to its member states on non-essential travel, a senior EU diplomat said, which will be watched for activity and jet fuel demand. Over to the supply side, There were weekend reports that Japan and the US are planning a joint announcement regarding the SPR release, although a key Japanese official later noted there was no fixed plan yet on releasing reserves. Japanese PM Kishida confirmed that they are considering releasing oil reserves to curb prices. Meanwhile, Iranian nuclear talks are regaining focus as negotiations are poised to resume on the 29th of November – it is likely we’ll see officials telegraph their stances heading into the meeting. Eyes will be on whether the US offers an olive branch as Tehran stands firm. Elsewhere, the next OPEC+ meeting is also looming, but against the backdrop of lower prices, COVID risk and SPR releases, it is difficult to see a scenario where OPEC+ will be more hawkish than dovish. WTI and Brent Jan trade on either side of USD 76/bbl and USD 79/bbl respectively and within relatively narrow bands. Spot gold and silver meanwhile see a mild divergence, with the yellow metal constrained by resistance in the USD 1,850/oz area, whilst spot silver rebounded off support at USD 24.50/oz. Finally, base metals are relatively mixed with no standout performers to point out. LME copper is flat but holds onto USD 9,500+/t status.
US Event Calendar
- 8:30am: Oct. Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. 0.10, prior -0.13
- 10am: Oct. Existing Home Sales MoM, est. -1.8%, prior 7.0%
- 10am: Oct. Home Resales with Condos, est. 6.18m, prior 6.29m
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
This morning we’ve just published our 2022 credit strategy outlook. 2021 has been one of the lowest vol years for credit on record but we think this is unlikely to last and spreads will sell-off at some point in H1 when markets reappraise how far behind the curve the Fed is. Even with covid restrictions mounting again in Europe as we go to print, we think it’s more likely that we’ll be in a “growthflationary” environment for 2022 and think overheating risks are more acute than the stagflation risk, especially in the US. Strong growth and high liquidity should mean that full year 2022 is a reasonable year for credit overall but if we’re correct there’ll be regular pockets of inflationary/interest rate concerns in the market, which we think is more likely to happen in H1. At the H1 wides, we could see spreads widen as much as 30-40bps in IG and 120-160bps in HY which is consistent with typical mid-cycle ranges through history. We do expect this to mostly retrace in H2 as markets recover from the shock and growth remains decent and liquidity still high. However, with the potential for a shift in the narrative to potential late-cycle dynamics, we think spreads will close 2022 slightly wider than they are today. We will be watching the yield curve closely through the year for clues as to how the cycle will evolve into 2023. This has the ability to move our YE 22 forecasts in both directions as the year progresses.
This week will be heavily compressed given Thanksgiving on Thursday. The highlight though will be a likely choice of Fed governor before this, assuming the timetable doesn’t slip again. Overnight it’s been announced that Biden will give a speech to the American people tomorrow on the economy and prices. It’s possible the Fed Chair gets announced here and perhaps plans to release oil from the strategic reserve. We will see.
Following that, Wednesday is especially busy as a pre-holiday US data dump descends upon us. We’ll see the minutes of the November 3rd FOMC meeting and earlier that day the core PCE deflator (the Fed's preferred inflation metric), Durable Goods, the UoM sentiment index (including latest inflation expectations), new home sales and jobless claims amongst a few other releases.
More internationally, covid will be focus, especially in Europe as Austria enters lockdown today after the shock announcement on Friday. Germany is probably the swing factor here for sentiment in Europe so case numbers will be watched closely. Staying with Germany, there’s anticipation that a coalition agreement could be reached in Germany between the SPD, Greens and the FDP, almost two months after their federal election. Otherwise, the flash PMIs for November will be in focus, with the ECB following the Fed and releasing the minutes from their recent meeting on Thursday.
As discussed at the top the most important market event this week is likely to be on the future leadership of the Federal Reserve, as it’s been widely reported that President Biden is expected to announce his choice on who’ll be the next Fed Chair by Thanksgiving on Thursday. Previous deadlines have slipped on this announcement, but time is becoming increasingly limited given the need for Senate confirmation ahead of Chair Powell’s current four-year term expiring in early February. The two names that are quite obviously in the frame are incumbent Chair Powell and Governor Brainard, but there are also a number of other positions to fill at the Fed in the coming months, with Vice Chair Clarida’s term as an FOMC governor expiring in January, Randal Quarles set to leave the Board by the end of this year, and another vacant post still unfilled. So a significant opportunity for the Biden administration to reshape the top positions at the Fed.
In spite of all the speculation over the position of the Fed Chair, our US economists write in their latest Fed update (link here), that the decision is unlikely to have a material impact on the broad policy trajectory. Inflation in 2022 is likely to remain at levels that make most Fed officials uncomfortable, whilst the regional Fed presidents rotating as voters lean more hawkish next year, so there’ll be constraints to how policy could shift in a dovish direction, even if an incoming chair wanted to move things that way.
Another unconfirmed but much anticipated announcement this week could come from Germany, where there’s hope that the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP will finally reach a coalition agreement. The general secretaries of all three parties have recently said that they hope next week will be when a deal is reached, and a deal would pave the way for the SPD’s Olaf Scholz to become chancellor at the head of a 3-party coalition. Nevertheless, there are still some hurdles to clear before then, since an agreement would mark the start of internal party approval processes. The FDP and the SPD are set to hold a party convention, whilst the Greens have announced that their members will vote on the agreement.
On the virus, there is no doubt things are getting worse in Europe but it’s worth putting some of the vaccine numbers in some context. Austria (64% of total population) has a double vaccination rate that is somewhat lower than the likes of Spain (79%), Italy (74%), France (69%), the UK (69%) and Germany (68%). The UK for all its pandemic fighting faults is probably as well placed as any due to it being more advanced on the booster campaign due to an earlier vaccine start date and also due to higher natural infections. It was also a conscious decision back in the summer in the UK to flatten the peak to take load off the winter wave. So this is an area where scientists and the government may have made a calculated decision that pays off. Europe is a bit behind on boosters versus the UK but perhaps these will accelerate as more people get 6 months from their second jab, albeit a bit too late to stop some kind of winter wave.
There may also be notable divergence within Europe. Countries like Italy and Spain (and to a slightly lesser extent France) that were hit hard in the initial waves have a high vaccination rate so it seems less likely they will suffer the dramatic escalation that Austria has seen. Germany is in the balance as they have had lower infection rates which unfortunately may have encouraged slightly lower vaccination rates. The irony here is that there is some correlation between early success/lower infections and lower subsequent vaccination rates. The opposite is also true - i.e. early bad outcomes but high vaccination rates. The US is another contradiction as it’s vaccination rate of 58% is very low in the developed world but it has had high levels of natural infections and has a higher intolerance for lockdowns. So tough to model all the above.
Overall given that last winter we had no vaccines and this year we have very high levels of protection it seems unfathomable that we’ll have an outcome anywhere near as bad. Yes there will be selected countries where the virus will have a more severe impact but most developed countries will likely get by without lockdowns in my opinion even if the headlines aren’t always going to be pleasant. Famous last words but those are my thoughts.
In light of the rising caseloads, the November flash PMIs should provide some context for how the global economy has performed into the month. We’ve already seen a deceleration in the composite PMIs for the Euro Area since the summer, so it’ll be interesting to see if that’s maintained. If anything the US data has reaccelerated in Q4 with the Atlanta Fed GDPNow series at 8.2% for the quarter after what will likely be a revised 2.2% print on Wednesday for Q3. Time will tell if Covid temporarily dampens this again. Elsewhere datawise, we’ll also get the Ifo’s latest business climate indicator for Germany on Wednesday, which has experienced a similar deceleration to other European data since the summer. The rest of the week ahead appears as usual in the day-by-day calendar at the end.
Overnight in Asia stocks are mixed with the KOSPI (+1.31%) leading the pack followed by the Shanghai Composite (+0.65%) and CSI (+0.53%), while the Nikkei (-0.18%) and Hang Seng (-0.35%) are lower. Stocks in China are being boosted by optimism that the PBOC would be easing its policy stance after its quarterly monetary policy report on Friday dropped a few hints to that effect. Futures are pointing towards a positive start in the US and Europe with S&P 500 futures (+0.31%) and DAX futures (+0.14%) both in the green.
Turning to last week now, rising Covid cases prompted renewed lockdown measures to varying degrees and hit risk sentiment. Countries across Europe implemented new lockdown measures and vaccine requirements to combat the latest rise in Covid cases. The standouts included Austria and Germany. Austria will start a nationwide lockdown starting today and will implement a compulsory Covid vaccine mandate from February. Germany will restrict leisure activities and access to public transportation for unvaccinated citizens and announced a plan to improve vaccination efforts. DM ten-year yields decreased following the headline. Treasury, bund, and gilt yields declined -3.8bps, -6.7bps, and -4.6bps on Friday, respectively, bringing the weekly totals to -1.3bps, -8.3bps, and -3.5bps, respectively. The broad dollar appreciated +0.54% Friday, and +0.98% over the week.
Brent and WTI futures declined -2.89% and -3.68% on Friday following global demand fears, after drifting -4.27% and -5.79% lower throughout the week as headlines circulated that the US and allies were weighing whether to release strategic reserves.
European equity indices declined late in the week as the renewed lockdown measures were publicized. The Stoxx 600, DAX, and CAC 40 declined -0.33%, -0.38%, and -0.42%, respectively on Friday, bringing their weekly totals to -0.14%, +0.41%, and +0.29%.
The S&P 500 index was also hit ending the week +0.32% higher after declining -0.14% Friday, though weekly gains were concentrated in big technology and consumer discretionary stocks. U.S. risk markets were likely supported by the U.S. House of Representatives passing the Biden Administration’s climate and social spending bill. The bill will proceed to the Senate, where its fate lays with a few key moderate Democrats. This follows President Biden signing a physical infrastructure bill into law on Monday.
On the Fed, communications from officials took a decidedly more hawkish turn on inflation dynamics, especially from dovish members. Whether the Fed decides to accelerate its asset purchase taper at the December FOMC will likely be the key focus in markets heading into the meeting.
Ending the weekly wrap up with some positive Covid news: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared Pfizer and Moderna booster shots for all adults. Additionally, the US will order 10 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid pill.
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…
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:
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;
the threat of COVID Delta-variant related lockdowns in Europe (Austria, Germany) even before the emergence of Omicron;
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;
credit spread widening against plummeting German bond yields, while corporate bond issuance has remained robust; and
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."
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…
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.
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…
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.
- 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.
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