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Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

After futures rose to a new all time high during the Tuesday overnight session, the mood has been decided more muted after yesterday’s sharp rates-driven tech selloff, and on Wednesd

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Futures Tread Water With Traders Spooked By Spike In Yields

After futures rose to a new all time high during the Tuesday overnight session, the mood has been decided more muted after yesterday's sharp rates-driven tech selloff, and on Wednesday U.S. futures were mixed and Nasdaq contracts slumped as investors once again contemplated the effect of expected rate hikes on tech stocks with lofty valuations while waiting for the release of Federal Reserve minutes at 2pm today. At 730am, Nasdaq 100 futures traded 0.3% lower amid caution over the impact of higher yields on equity valuations, S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.1%, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 gauge traded near a record high. The dollar weakened, as did bitcoin, while Brent crude rose back over $80.

“The sharp rise in U.S. yields this week has sparked a move from growth to value,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia Pacific. “Wall Street went looking for the winners in an inflationary environment and as a result, loaded up on the Dow Jones at the expense of the Nasdaq.”

Concerns related to the pandemic deepened as Hong Kong restricted dining-in, closed bars and gyms and banned flights from eight countries including the U.S. and the U.K. to slow the spread of the omicron variant. Meanwhile, a selloff in technology stocks extended to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbled as much as 4.2%, sending the gauge toward a six-year low. Traders are now caught in a quandary over deepening fears on global growth combined with a faster tightening by the Federal Reserve.

“Earlier we thought that rate hikes wouldn’t be on the table until mid-2022 but the Fed seems to have worked up a consensus to taper faster and hike sooner rather than later,” Steve Englander, head of global G-10 FX research at Standard Chartered, said in a note. “But we don’t think inflation dynamics will support continued hiking. We suspect the biggest driver of asset markets will be when inflation and Covid fears begin to ebb.”

Data on Tuesday showed mixed signs on U.S. inflation. Prices paid by manufacturers in December came in sharply lower than expected. However, figures showing a faster U.S. job quit rate added to concerns over wage inflation. With 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs in November, compared with 10.6 million available positions, the odds increased the Fed will struggle to influence the employment numbers increasingly dictated by social reasons. The data came before Friday’s monthly report from the Labor Department, currently forecast to show 420,000 job additions in December.

In premarket trading, tech giants Tesla, Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices were among the worst performers. Pfizer advanced in New York premarket trading after BofA Global Research recommended the stock. Shares of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. extended their decline after Tencent cut its stake in gaming and e-commerce company Sea, triggering concerns of similar actions at other firms amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown on the technology sector. Alibaba (BABA US) falls 1.2%, Didi (DIDI US) -1.8%. Here are the other notable premarket movers:

  • Shares in electric vehicle makers fall in U.S. premarket trading, set to extend Tuesday’s losses, amid signs of deepening competition in the sector. Tesla (TSLA US) slips 1.1%, Rivian (RIVN US) -0.6%.
  • Beyond Meat (BYND US) shares jump 8.9% premarket following a CNBC report that Yum! Brands’ KFC will launch fried chicken made with the company’s meat substitute.
  • Recent selloff in Pinterest (PINS US) shares presents an attractive risk/reward, with opportunities for the social media company largely unchanged, Piper Sandler writes in note as it upgrades to overweight. Stock gains 2.3% in premarket trading.
  • Senseonics Holdings (SENS US) shares rise 15% premarket after the medical technology company said it expects a U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision in weeks on an updated diabetes- monitoring system.
  • MillerKnoll (MLKN US) shares were down 3.1% in postmarket trading Tuesday after reporting fiscal 2Q top and bottom line results that missed analysts’ estimates.
  • Annexon (ANNX US) was down 23% postmarket Tuesday after results were released from an experimental therapy for a fatal movement disorder called Huntington’s disease. Three patients in the 28- person trial discontinued treatment due to drug-related side- effects.
  • Wejo Group (WEJO US) shares are up 34% premarket after the company said it’s developing the Wejo Neural Edge platform to enable intelligent handling of data from vehicles at scale.
  • Smart Global (SGH US) falls 6% postmarket Tuesday after the computing memory maker forecast earnings per share for the second quarter. The low end of that forecast missed the average analyst estimate.
  • Beyond Meat (BYND) shares surge premarket after CNBC KFC launch report
  • UBS cut the recommendation on Adobe Inc. (ADBE US) to neutral from buy, citing concerns over the software company’s 2022 growth prospects. Shares down 2% in premarket trading.
  • Oncternal Therapeutics (ONCT US) shares climb 5.1% premarket after saying it reached consensus with the FDA on the design and major details of the phase 3 superiority study ZILO-301 to treat mantle cell lymphoma.

In Europe, the energy, chemicals and car industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.2% to near an all-time high set on Tuesday. The Euro Stoxx 50 rises as much as 0.6%, DAX outperforms. FTSE 100 lags but rises off the lows to trade up 0.2%. Nestle dropped 2.4%, slipping from a record, after Jefferies cut the Swiss food giant to underperform. Utilities were the worst-performing sector in Europe on Wednesday as cyclical areas of the market are favored over defensives, while Uniper and Fortum fall following news of a loan agreement.  Other decliners include RWE (-2.4%), Endesa (2.1%), Verbund (-1.3%), NatGrid (-1.2%), Centrica (-1.2%).

Earlier in the session, technology shares led a decline in Asian equity markets, with investors concerned about the prospects of higher interest rates and Tencent’s continued sale of assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.6%, the most in two weeks, dragged down by Tencent and Meituan. The rout in U.S. tech spilled over to Asia, where the Hang Seng Tech Index plunged 4.6%, the most since July, following Tencent’s stake cut in Singapore’s Sea. Declines in tech and other sectors in Hong Kong widened after the city tightened rules to curb the spread of the omicron variant. Most Asian indexes fell on Wednesday, with Japan an exception among major markets as automakers offered support. The outlook for tighter monetary policy in the U.S. and higher Treasury yields weighed on the region’s technology shares, prompting a rotation from growth to value stocks.   Read: China Tech Selloff Deepens as Tencent Sale Spooks Traders Asian equities have underperformed U.S. and European peers amid slower recoveries and vaccination rates in the past year. With omicron rapidly gaining a foothold in Asia, there is a risk of “any further restriction measures, which could cloud the services sector outlook, along with disruption to supply chains,” said Jun Rong Yeap, a strategist at IG Asia Pte.  Philippine stocks gained as trading resumed following a one-day halt due to a systems glitch.

North Korea appeared to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, just days after leader Kim Jong Un indicated that returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. was a low priority for him in the coming year.

India’s key equity gauges posted their longest run of advances in more than two moths, driven by a rally in financial stocks on hopes of revival in lending on the back of capex spending in the country. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.6% to 60,223.15 in Mumbai, its highest since Nov. 16, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.7%. Both benchmarks stretched their winning run to a fourth day, the longest since Oct. 18. All but six of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. climbed, led by a gauge of banking firms. “I believe from an uncertain, volatile environment, the Nifty is now headed for a directional move,” Sahaj Agrawal, a head of derivative research at Kotak Securities, writes in a note. The Nifty 50 crossed a significant barrier of the 17,800 level and is now expected to trade at 19,000-19,500 level in the medium term, Agrawal added. HDFC Bank contributed the most to the Sensex’s gain, increasing 2.4%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex, 18 rose, while 12 fell

In FX, Bloomberg Dollar Spot index slpped 0.2% back toward Tuesday’s lows, falling as the greenback was weaker against most of its Group-of-10 peers, SEK and JPY are the best performers in G-10, CAD underperforms. Scandinavian currencies and the yen led gains, though most G-10 currencies were trading in narrow ranges. Australia’s dollar reversed an Asia-session loss in European trading. The yen rebounded from a five-year low as investors trimmed short positions on the haven currency and amid a decline in Asian stock markets.

Treasuries were generally flat in overnight trading, with the curve flatter into early U.S. session as long-end outperforms, partially unwinding a two-day selloff to start the year with Tuesday witnessing a late block sale in ultra-bond futures. 10-year yields traded as high as 1.650% ahead of the US open after being mostly flat around 1.645%; yields were richer by up to 2bp across long-end of the curve while little change from front-end out to belly, flattening 2s10s, 5s30s spreads by 0.5bp and 1.8bp; gilts outperformed in the sector by half basis point. Focus expected to continue on IG issuance, which has impacted the market in the past couple of days, and in U.S. afternoon session FOMC minutes will be released. IG dollar issuance slate includes EIB $5B 5-year SOFR and Reliance Ind. 10Y/30Y/40Y; thirteen borrowers priced $23.1b across 30 tranches Tuesday, making it the largest single day volume for U.S. high-grade corporate bonds since first week of September. European peripheral spreads widen to core. 30y Italy lags peers, widening ~2bps to Germany with order books above EU43b at the long 30y syndication. Ten-year yields shot up 8bps in New Zealand as its markets reopened following the New Year holiday. Aussie yields advanced 4bps. A 10-year sale in Japan drew a bid-cover ratio of 3.46.

In commodities, crude futures were range-bound with WTI near just below $77, Brent nearer $80 after OPEC+ agreed to revive more halted production as the outlook for global oil markets improved, with demand largely withstanding the new coronavirus variant. Spot gold puts in a small upside move out of Asia’s tight range to trade near $1,820/oz. Base metals are mixed. LME nickel lags, dropping over 2%; LME aluminum and lead are up ~0.8%. 

Looking at the day ahead, data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,783.25
  • MXAP down 0.4% to 193.71
  • MXAPJ down 0.9% to 626.67
  • Nikkei up 0.1% to 29,332.16
  • Topix up 0.4% to 2,039.27
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.6% to 22,907.25
  • Shanghai Composite down 1.0% to 3,595.18
  • Sensex up 0.7% to 60,300.47
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,565.85
  • Kospi down 1.2% to 2,953.97
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 494.52
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.09%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1304
  • Brent Futures down 0.4% to $79.72/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,819.73
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.13% to 96.13

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The U.S. yield curve’s most dramatic steepening in more than three months has little to do with traders turning more optimistic on the economy or betting on a more aggressive timetable for raising interest rates
  • The surge in euro-area inflation that surprised policy makers in recent months is close to its peak, according to European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau
  • Some Bank of Japan officials say it’s likely the central bank will discuss the possible ditching of a long-held view that price risks are mainly on the downward side at a policy meeting this month, according to people familiar with the matter
  • Turkish authorities are keeping tabs on investors who are buying large amounts of foreign currency and asked banks to deter their clients from using the spot market for hedging-related trades as they struggle to contain the lira’s slide
  • Italy is trying to lock in historically low financing costs at the start of a year where inflationary and political pressures could spell an end to super easy borrowing conditions
  • North Korea appears to have launched its first ballistic missile in about two months, after leader Kim Jong Un indicated he was more interested in bolstering his arsenal than returning to stalled nuclear talks with the U.S.

A More detailed breakdown of overnight news from Newsquawk

Asia-Pac equities traded mostly in the red following the mixed handover from Wall Street, where the US majors maintained a cyclical bias and the NDX bore the brunt of another sizeable Treasury curve bear-steepener. Overnight, US equity futures resumed trade with mild losses and have since been subdued, with participants now gearing up for the FOMC minutes (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite) ahead of Friday’s US jobs report and several scheduled Fed speakers. In APAC, the ASX 200 (-0.3%) was pressured by its tech sector, although the upside in financials cushioned some losses. The Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) was kept afloat by the recent JPY weakness, whilst Sony Group rose some 4% after its chairman announced EV ambitions. The KOSPI (-1.2%) was dealt a blow as North Korea fired a projectile that appeared to be a ballistic missile, but this landed outside of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Hang Seng (-1.6%) saw its losses accelerate with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. China Huarong Asset Management slumped over 50% as it resumed trade following a nine-month halt after its financial failure. The Shanghai Comp. (-1.0%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. In the debt complex, the US T-note futures held a mild upside bias since the resumption of trade, and the US curve was somewhat steady. Participants also highlighted large short-covering heading into yesterday’s US close ahead of the FOMC minutes.

Top Asian News

  • Asian Stocks Slide as Surging Yields Squeeze Technology Sector
  • China’s Growth Forecast Cut by CICC Amid Covid Outbreaks
  • BOJ Is Said to Discuss Changing Long-Held View on Price Risks
  • Gold Holds Gain With Fed Rate Hikes and Treasury Yields in Focus

European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.1%) trade mixed in what has been a relatively quiet session thus far with the final readings of Eurozone services and composite PMIs providing little in the way of fresh impetus for prices. The handover from the APAC region was predominantly a soft one with Chinese bourses lagging once again with the Hang Seng Tech Index tumbling over 4% as the sector tackled headwinds from Wall Street alongside domestic crackdowns. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Comp. (-1%) conformed to the mostly negative tone after again seeing a hefty liquidity drain by the PBoC. Stateside, the ES and RTY are flat whilst the NQ lags once again after yesterday bearing the brunt of another sizeable treasury curve bear-steepener. In terms of house views, analysts at Barclays expect “2022 to be a more normal yet positive year for equities, looking for high single-digit upside and a broader leadership”. Barclays adds that it remains “pro-cyclical (Industrials, Autos, Leisure, reopening plays and Energy OW), and prefer Value to Growth”. Elsewhere, analysts at Citi stated that “monetary tightening may push up longer-dated nominal/real bond yields, threatening highly rated sectors such as IT or Luxury Goods. Alternatively, higher yields could help traditional value trades such as UK equities and Pan-European Financials”. Sectors in Europe are mostly higher, with auto names leading as Renault (+3.4%) sits at the top of the CAC, whilst Stellantis (+0.6%) has seen some support following the announcement that it is planning for a full battery-electric portfolio by 2028. Elsewhere, support has also been seen for Chemicals, Oil & Gas and Banking names with the latter continuing to be supported by the current favourable yield environment. To the downside, Food and Beverage is the clear laggard amid losses in Nestle (-2.6%) following a broker downgrade at Jefferies. Ocado (+5.5%) sits at the top of the Stoxx 600 after being upgraded to buy at Berenberg with analysts expecting the Co. to sign further deals with new and existing grocery e-commerce partners this year. Finally, Uniper (-2.4%) sits near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after securing credit facilities totalling EUR 10bln from Fortum and KfW.

Top European News

  • U.K. Weighs Dropping Covid Test Mandate for Arriving Travelers
  • German Energy Giant Uniper Gets $11 Billion for Margin Calls
  • European Gas Extends Rally as Russian Shipments Remain Curbed
  • Italian Inflation Hits Highest in More Than a Decade on Energy

In FX, notwithstanding Tuesday’s somewhat mixed US manufacturing ISM survey and relatively hawkish remarks from Fed’s Kashkari, the week (and year) in terms of data and events really begins today with the release of ADP as a guide for NFP and minutes of the December FOMC that confirmed a faster pace of tapering and more hawkish dot plots. As such, it may not be surprising to see the Buck meandering broadly and index settling into a range inside yesterday’s parameters with less impetus from Treasuries that have flipped from a severe if not extreme bear-steepening incline. Looking at DXY price action in more detail, 96.337 marks the top and 96.053 the bottom at present, and from a purely technical perspective, 96.098 remains significant as a key Fib retracement level.

  • JPY/EUR/AUD/GBP/NZD - All taking advantage of the aforementioned Greenback fade, and with the Yen more eager than others to claw back lost ground given recent underperformance. Hence, Usd/Jpy has retreated further from multi-year highs and through 116.00 to expose more downside potential irrespective of latest reports via newswire sources suggesting the BoJ is expected to slightly revise higher its inflation forecast for the next fiscal year and downgrade the GDP outlook for the year ending in March. Similarly, the Euro is having another look above 1.1300 even though EZ services and composite PMIs were mostly below consensus or preliminary readings and German new car registrations fell sharply, while the Aussie is retesting resistance around 0.7250 and its 50 DMA with some assistance from firm copper prices, Cable remains underpinned near 1.3550 and the 100 DMA and the Kiwi is holding mainly above 0.6800 in the face of stronger Aud/Nzd headwinds. Indeed, the cross is approaching 1.0650 in contrast to Eur/Gbp that is showing signs of changing course following several bounces off circa 0.8333 that equates to 1.2000 as a reciprocal.
  • CHF/CAD - The Franc and Loonie appear a bit less eager to pounce on their US peer’s retrenchment, as the former pivots 0.9150 and latter straddles 1.2700 amidst a downturn in crude pre-Canadian building permits and new house prices.
  • SCANDI/EM - Little sign of any fallout from a slowdown in Sweden’s services PMI as overall risk sentiment remains supportive for the Sek either side of 10.2600 vs the Eur, but the Nok is veering back down towards 10.0000 in line with slippage in Brent from Usd 80+/brl peaks reached on Tuesday. Elsewhere, the Zar is shrugging off a sub-50 SA PMI as Gold strengthens its grip on the Usd 1800/oz handle and the Cnh/Cny are still underpinned after another PBoC liquidity drain and firmer than previous midpoint fix on hopes that cash injections might be forthcoming through open market operations into the banking system from the second half of January to meet rising demand for cash, according to China's Securities Journal. Conversely, the Try has not derived any real comfort from comments by Turkey’s Finance Minister underscoring its shift away from orthodox policies, or insistence that budget discipline will not be compromised.

In commodities, crude benchmarks are currently little changed but have been somewhat choppy within a range shy of USD 1/bbl in European hours, in-spite of limited fresh newsflow occurring. For reference, WTI and Brent reside within USD 77.26-76.53/bbl and USD 80.25-79.56/bbl parameters respectively. Updates for the complex so far include Cascade data reporting that gas flows via the Russian Yamal-Europe pipeline in an eastward direction have reduced. As a reminder, the pipeline drew scrutiny in the run up to the holiday period given reverse mode action, an undertaking the Kremlin described as ‘operational’ and due to a lack of requests being placed. Separately, last nights private inventories were a larger than expected draw, however, the internals all printed builds which surpassed expectations. Today’s EIA release is similar expected to show a headline draw and builds amongst the internals. Elsewhere, and more broadly, geopolitics remain in focus with Reuters sources reporting that a rocket attack has hit a military base in proximity to the Baghdad airport which hosts US forces. Moving to metals, spot gold and silver are once again fairly contained though the yellow metal retains the upside it derived around this point yesterday, hovering just below the USD 1820/oz mark.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications -5.6%, prior -0.6%
  • 8:15am: Dec. ADP Employment Change, est. 410,000, prior 534,000
  • 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 56.9
  • 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 57.5, prior 57.5
  • 2pm: Dec. FOMC Meeting Minutes

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

As you may have seen from my CoTD yesterday all I got for Xmas this year was Omicron, alongside my wife and two of our three kids (we didn’t test Bronte). On Xmas Day I was cooking a late Xmas dinner and I suddenly started to have a slightly lumpy throat and felt a bit tired. Given I’d had a couple of glasses of red wine I thought it might be a case of Bordeaux-2015. However a LFT and PCR test the next day confirmed Covid-19. I had a couple of days of being a bit tired, sneezing and being sniffly. After that I was 100% physically (outside a of bad back, knee and shoulder but I can’t blame that on covid) but am still sniffly today. I’m also still testing positive on a LFT even if I’m out of isolation which tells me testing to get out of isolation early only likely works if you’re completely asymptomatic. My wife was similar to me symptom wise. Maybe slightly worse but she gets flu badly when it arrives and this was nothing like that. The two kids had no real symptoms unless being extremely annoying is one. Indeed spending 10 days cooped up with them in very wet conditions (ie garden activity limited) was very challenging. Although I came out of isolation straight to my home office that was still a very welcome change of scenery yesterday.

The covid numbers are absolutely incredible and beyond my wildest imagination a month ago. Yesterday the UK reported c.219k new cases, France c.272k and the US 1.08 million. While these are alarming numbers it’s equally impressive that where the data is available, patients on mechanical ventilation have hardly budged and hospitalisations, while rising, are so far a decent level below precious peaks. Omicron has seen big enough case numbers now for long enough that even though we’ve had another big boost in cases these past few days, there’s nothing to suggest that the central thesis shouldn’t be anything other than a major decoupling between cases and fatalities. See the chart immediately below of global cases for the exponential recent rise but the still subdued levels of deaths. Clearly there is a lag but enough time has passed that suggests the decoupling will continue to be sizeable.

It seems the main problem over the next few weeks is the huge number of people self isolating as the variant rips through populations. This will massively burden health services and likely various other industries.

However hopefully this latest wave can accelerate the end game for the pandemic and move us towards endemicity faster. Famous last words perhaps but this variant is likely milder, is outcompeting all the others, and our defences are much, much better than they have been (vaccines, immunity, boosters, other therapeutic treatments). Indeed, President Biden directed his team to double the amount of Pfizer’s anti-covid pill Paxlovid they order; he called the pill a game changer. So a difficult few weeks ahead undoubtedly but hopefully light at the end of the tunnel for many countries. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted yesterday that Britain can ride out the current Omicron wave without implementing any stricter measures, suggesting that learning to live with the virus is becoming the official policy stance in the UK. The head scratcher is what countries with zero-covid strategies will do faced with the current set up. If we’ve learnt anything from the last two years of covid it is that there is almost no way of avoiding it. Will a milder variant change such a stance?

Markets seem to have started the year with covid concerns on the back burner as day 2 of 2022 was a lighter version of the buoyant day 1 even if US equities dipped a little led by a big under-performance from the NASDAQ (-1.33%), as tech stocks got hit by higher discount rates with the long end continuing to sell off to start the year.

Elsewhere the Dow Jones (+0.59%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.82%) both climbed to new records, with cyclical sectors generally outperforming once again. Interestingly the STOXX Travel & Leisure index rose a further +3.11% yesterday, having already surpassed its pre-Omicron level.

As discussed the notable exception to yesterday’s rally were tech stocks, with a number of megacap tech stocks significantly underperforming amidst a continued rise in Treasury yields, and the rotation towards cyclical stocks as investors take the message we’ll be living with rather than attempting to defeat Covid. The weakness among that group meant that the FANG+ index fell -1.68% yesterday, with every one of the 10 companies in the index moving lower, and that weakness in turn meant that the S&P 500 (-0.06%) came slightly off its record high from the previous session. Showing the tech imbalance though was the fact that the equal weight S&P 500 was +0.82% and 335 of the index rose on the day. So it was a reflation day overall.

Staying with the theme, the significant rise in treasury yields we saw on Monday extended further yesterday, with the 10yr yield up another +1.9bps to 1.65%. That means the 10yr yield is up by +13.7bps over the last 2 sessions, marking its biggest increase over 2 consecutive sessions since last September. Those moves have also coincided with a notable steepening in the yield curve, which is good news if you value it as a recessionary indicator, with the 2s10s curve +11.3bps to +88.7bps over the last 2 sessions, again marking its biggest 2-day steepening since last September

Those moves higher for Treasury yields were entirely driven by a rise in real yields, with the 10yr real yield moving back above the -1% mark. Conversely, inflation breakevens fell back across the board, with the 10yr breakeven declining more than -7.0bps from an intraday peak of 2.67%, the highest level in more than six weeks, which tempered some of the increase in nominal yields. The decline in breakevens was aided by the release of the ISM manufacturing reading for December, since the prices paid reading fell to 68.2, some way beneath the 79.3 reading that the consensus had been expecting. In fact, that’s the biggest monthly drop in the prices paid measure in over a decade, and leaves it at its lowest level since November 2020. Otherwise, the headline reading did disappoint relative to the consensus at 58.7 (vs. 60.0 expected), but the employment component was above expectations at 54.2 (vs. 53.6 expected), which is its highest level in 8 months and some promising news ahead of this Friday’s jobs report.

Staying with US employment, the number of US job openings fell to 10.562m in November (vs. 11.079m expected), but the number of people quitting their job hit a record high of 4.5m. That pushed the quits rate back to its record of 3.0% and just shows that the labour market continues to remain very tight with employees struggling to hire the staff needed. This has been our favourite indicator of the labour market over the last few quarters and it continues to keep to the same trend.

Back to bonds and Europe saw a much more subdued movement in sovereign bond yields, although gilts were the exception as the 10yr yield surged +11.7bps as it caught up following the previous day’s public holiday in the UK. Elsewhere however, yields on bunds (-0.2bps), OATs (-1.1bps) and BTPs (+0.9bps) all saw fairly modest moves.

Also of interest ahead of tonight’s Fed minutes, there was a story from the Wall Street Journal late yesterday that said Fed officials are considering whether to reduce their bond holdings, and thus beginning QT, in short order. Last cycle, the Fed kept the size of its balance sheet flat for three years after the end of QE by reinvesting maturing proceeds before starting QT. This iteration of QE is set to end in March, so any move towards balance sheet rolloff would be a much quicker tightening than last cycle, which the article suggested was a real possibility. As this cycle has taught us time and again, it is moving much faster than historical precedent, so don’t rely on prior timelines. Balance sheet policy and the timing of any QT will be a major focus in tonight’s minutes, along with any signals for the timing of liftoff and path of subsequent rate hikes.

Overnight in Asia markets are trading mostly lower with the KOSPI (-1.45%), Hang Seng (-0.85%), Shanghai Composite (-0.81%) and CSI (-0.67%) dragged down largely by IT stocks while the Nikkei (+0.07%) is holding up better. In China, Tencent cut its stake in a Singapore based company yesterday by selling $ 4 billion worth shares amidst China's regulatory crackdown with investors concerned they will do more. This has helped push the Hang Seng Tech Index towards its lowest close since its inception in July 2020 with Tencent and companies it invested in losing heavily. Moving on, Japan is bringing forward booster doses for the elderly while maintaining border controls in an effort to contain Omicron.

Futures are indicating a weaker start in DM markets with the S&P 500 (-0.25%) and DAX (-0.11%) both tracking their Asian peers.

Oil prices continued their ascent yesterday, with Brent Crude (+1.20%) hitting its highest level since the Omicron variant first emerged on the scene. Those moves came as the OPEC+ group agreed that they would go ahead with the increase in output in February of 400k barrels per day. And the strength we saw in commodities more broadly last year has also continued to persist into 2022, with copper prices (+1.12%) hitting a 2-month high, whilst soybean prices (+2.49%) hit a 4-month high.

Looking at yesterday’s other data, German unemployment fell by -23k in December (vs. -15k expected), leaving the level of unemployment at a post-pandemic low of 2.405m in December. Finally, the preliminary French CPI reading for December came in slightly beneath expectations on the EU-harmomised measure, at 3.4% (vs. 3.5% expected).

To the day ahead now, and data releases include the December services and composite PMIs from the Euro Area, Italy, France, Germany and the US. On top of that, there’s the ADP’s December report of private payrolls from the US, the preliminary December CPI report from Italy, and December’s consumer confidence reading from France. Separately from the Federal Reserve, we’ll get the minutes of the December FOMC meeting.

Tyler Durden Wed, 01/05/2022 - 08:07

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China Will Struggle To Reach Positive GDP This Quarter Premier Says, Warning Economy “To Some Degree” Worse Than 2020

China Will Struggle To Reach Positive GDP This Quarter Premier Says, Warning Economy "To Some Degree" Worse Than 2020

Over the weekend, we…

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China Will Struggle To Reach Positive GDP This Quarter Premier Says, Warning Economy "To Some Degree" Worse Than 2020

Over the weekend, we quoted Goldman's head of hedge fund sales Tony Pasquariello who had some very choice words for China, saying its economy was so bad, "it’s simply eye-popping (witness the worst IP print on record)", and prompted Goldman's sellside research desk to cut its expectation for 2022 Chinese GDP growth to just 4%, which ex-2020 would be the slowest growth rate since 1990! For the sake of balance, Pasquariello noted that Shanghai was set to reopen on June 1st which could be a potential upside catalyst at a time when foreign investors have largely written away Chinese equities.

Fast forward to today when we find that Pasquariello's hedging was not necessary, because on Wednesday, China's Premier Li Keqiang held a teleconference this afternoon under the topic of "stabilizing economic growth" with provincial, city-level and county-level local government officials across the country in which he had some very dismal comments about the current state of China's economy.

As Goldman notes, "while there are not many new measures being announced from this conference, the nature and scale of this conference is quite unusual. Chinese policymakers are in greater urgency to support the economy after the very weak activity growth in April, anemic recovery month-to-date in May, and continued increases in unemployment rates."

Specifically, premier Li said China’s economy is worse off to a “certain extent” than 2020 when the pandemic first emerged, urging efforts to reduce the unemployment rate which as we noted recently has soared to the highest level since the covid crash.

“Economic indicators in China have fallen significantly, and difficulties in some aspects and to a certain extent are greater than when the epidemic hit us severely in 2020,” Li said Wednesday following a meeting with local authorities, state-owned companies and financial firms to discuss how to stabilize the economy, Bloomberg reported.

China’s premier also said the world’s second-largest economy would struggle to record positive growth in the current quarter, urging officials to help companies resume production after Covid-19 lockdowns, according to the FT.

“We will try to make sure the economy grows in the second quarter,” Li said, according to a transcript that the Financial Times verified with three people briefed on the premier’s remarks. “This is not a high target and a far cry from our 5.5 per cent goal. But we have to do so.”

The last time China’s growth entered negative territory was when output plunged 6.9 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic ended an era of uninterrupted growth dating back more than 30 years.

The comments by Li Keqiang, to tens of thousands of officials on an internal videocast on Wednesday, underscore the difficulties President Xi Jinping’s administration will have in reaching its annual growth target of 5.5% while also battling Omicron outbreaks.

Concerned that the unemployment rate is approaching levels where the dreaded "social unrest" becomes a possibility, the premier urged officials to make sure the unemployment rate falls and the economy “operates in a reasonable range” in the second quarter of this year, state media cited him as saying. Earlier in May, Li warned of a “complicated and grave” employment situation after the nation’s surveyed jobless rate climbed to 6.1% in April, the highest since February 2020, and sent the yuan plunging to the lowest level since late 2020.

Today's meeting was the latest in a series of urgent calls by Li (who is quitting his job next March) to shore up the economy, which has come under enormous pressure from Covid outbreaks and lockdowns in recent months, threatening the government's growth target of about 5.5%. President Xi's stubborn commitment to Covid Zero means China is guaranteed to miss that goal this year: Economists now forecast gross domestic product growth will hit just 4.5%, according to a new Bloomberg survey, with Goldman predicting GDP will rise just 4.0% as noted above.

In hopes of offsetting some of the gloom and doom unleashed by Beijing's flawed covid policies, Li indicated that China will try to reduce the impact of its strict Zero-Covid policy on the economy. “At the same time as controlling the epidemic, we must complete the task of economic development,” he said.

Li also stressed implementation of current support policies, and said more detailed implementation measures would be issued by the end of this month. Somewhat bizarrely, he said that economic data for the second quarter would be released “accurately”, hinting that prior Chinese data was - gasp - inaccurate? Perish the thought.

As Bloomberg reported earlier this week, China's State Council outlined 33 support measures on Monday to help businesses struggling to cope with the lockdowns, including extra tax rebates, relief on social insurance payments and loans, and additional funding for aviation and rail construction. Local governments were told to spend most of the proceeds from special bonds -- used mainly for infrastructure -- by the end of August. Judging by the lack of market reaction, investors saw right through this latest mostly verbal attempt to prop up confidence in the country ahead of the 20th Party Congress later this year, where Xi's fate will be determine (amid some rumors that his political career may be cut short if China's economy does not stabilize).

The central bank and banking regulator also held a meeting with major financial institutions on Monday to urge them to boost loans.
Li met with local authorities in April, when Shanghai was in the middle of a lockdown, telling them to “add a sense of urgency” as they rolled out policy. During a trip to Yunnan province last week, he said they should “act decisively” to support growth. Of course, when banks artificially inject loans into an economy where there is no loan demand, what you end up getting is just another bubble.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/25/2022 - 11:25

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Futures Slide Before Fed Minutes, Dollar Jumps As China Lockdown Fears Return

Futures Slide Before Fed Minutes, Dollar Jumps As China Lockdown Fears Return

Another day, another failure by markets to hold on to even the…

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Futures Slide Before Fed Minutes, Dollar Jumps As China Lockdown Fears Return

Another day, another failure by markets to hold on to even the smallest overnight gains: US futures erased earlier profits and dipped as traders prepared for potential volatility surrounding the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes which may provide insight into the central bank’s tightening path, while fears over Chinese lockdowns returned as Beijing recorded more Covid cases and the nearby port city of Tianjin locked down a city-center district. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500 were each down 0.5% at 7:30 a.m. in New York after gaining as much as 1% earlier, signaling an extension to Tuesday’s slide that followed a profit warning from Snap.

In premarket trading, Nordstrom jumped 10% after raising its forecast for earnings and revenue for the coming year suggesting that the luxury consumer is doing quite fine even as most of the middle class has tapped out; analysts highlighted the department store’s exposure to higher-end customers.Meanwhile, Wendy’s surged 12% after shareholder Trian Fund Management, billionaire Nelson Peltz' investment vehicle, said it will explore a transaction that could give it control of the fast-food chain. Here are the most notable premarket movers in the US:

  • Urban Outfitters (URBN US) shares rose as much as 5.7% in premarket trading after Nordstrom’s annual forecasts provided some relief for the beaten down retail sector. Shares rallied even as Urban Outfitters reported lower-than-expected profit and sales for the 1Q.
  • Best Buy (BBY US) shares could be in focus as Citi cuts its price target on electronics retailer to a new Street-low of $65 from $80, saying that there continues to be “significant risk” to 2H estimates.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS US) sinks as much as 20% premarket after the retailer cut its year adjusted earnings per share and comparable sales guidance for the full year. Peers including Big 5 Sporting Goods, Hibbett and Foot Locker also fell after the DKS earnings release
  • 2U Inc. (TWOU US) shares drop as much as 4.3% in US premarket trading after Piper Sandler downgraded the online educational services provider to underweight from neutral, with broker flagging growing regulatory risk.
  • Verrica Pharma (VRCA US) shares slump as much as 61% in US premarket trading after the drug developer received an FDA Complete Response Letter for its VP-102 molluscum treatment.
  • Shopify’s (SHOP US) U.S.-listed shares fell 0.7% in premarket trading after a second prominent shareholder advisory firm ISS joined its peer Glass Lewis to oppose the Canadian company’s plan to give CEO Tobi Lutke a special “founder share” that will preserve his voting power.
  • Cazoo (CZOO US) shares declined 3.3% in premarket trading as Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of the stock with a neutral recommendation, saying the company is well positioned to capture the significant growth in online used car sales.
  • CME Group (CME US Equity) may be in focus as its stock was upgraded to outperform from market perform at Oppenheimer on attractive valuation and an “appealing” dividend policy.

US stocks have slumped this year, with the S&P 500 flirting with a bear market on Friday, as investors fear that the Fed’s active monetary tightening will plunge the economy into a recession: as Bloomberg notes, amid surging inflation, lackluster earnings and bleak company guidance have added to market concerns. The tech sector has been particularly in focus amid higher rates, which mean a bigger discount for the present value of future profits. The Nasdaq 100 index has tumbled to the lowest since November 2020 and its 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 19.7 is the lowest since the start of the pandemic and below its 10-year average.

“The consumer in the US is still showing really good signs of strength,” said Michael Metcalfe, global head of macro strategy at State Street Global Markets. “Even if there is a slowdown it’s going to be quite mild,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Meanwhile, Barclays Plc strategists including Emmanuel Cau see scope for stocks to fall further if outflows from mutual funds pick up, unless recession fears are alleviated. Retail investors have also not yet fully capitulated and “still look to be buying dips in old favorites in tech/growth,” the strategists said.

"Our central scenario remains that a recession can be avoided and that geopolitical risks will moderate over the course of the year, allowing equities to move higher,” said Mark Haefele,  chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “But recent market falls have underlined the importance of being selective and considering strategies that mitigate volatility."

The Fed raised interest rates by 50 basis points earlier this month -- to a target range of 0.75% to 1% -- and Chair Jerome Powell has signaled it was on track to make similar-sized moves at its meetings in June and July. Investors are now awaiting the release of the May 3-4 meeting minutes later on Wednesday to evaluate the future path of rate hikes. However, in recent days, traders have dialed back the expected pace of Fed interest-rate increases over worse-than-expected economic data and the selloff in equities. Sales of new US homes fell more in April than economists forecast, and the Richmond Fed’s measure of business activity dropped to a two-year low. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped for a second day to 2.73%.

“Given the risks to growth and our view that positive real rates will be unmanageable for any significant length of time, we expect the Fed to deliver less tightening in 2022 overall than it and markets currently expect,” Salman Ahmed, global head of macro and strategic asset allocation at Fidelity International, wrote in a note.

In Europe, stocks pared an earlier advance but hold in the green while the dollar rallies. The Stoxx 600 gave back most of the morning’s gains with autos, financial services and travel weighing while miners and utilities outperformed. The euro slid as comments by European Central Bank officials indicated policy normalization will be gradual. The ECB is in the midst of a debate over how aggressive it should act to rein in inflation. Here are some of the most notable European movers today:

SSE shares rise as much as 6.3% after strong guidance and amid reports that electricity generators are likely to escape windfall taxes being considered by the U.K. government.

  • Air France-KLM jumps as much as 13% in Paris after falling 21% on Tuesday as the airline kicked off a EU2.26 billion rights offering.
  • Mining and energy stocks outperform the broader market in Europe as iron ore rebounded, while oil rose after a report that showed a decline in US gasoline stockpiles. Rio Tinto gains as much as 2.3%, Anglo American +2.6%, TotalEnergies +2.8%, Equinor +3.7%
  • Elekta rises as much as 9.3% after releasing a 4Q earnings report that beat analysts’ expectations.
  • Torm climbs as much as 12% after Pareto initiates coverage at buy and says the company may pay out dividends equal to 40% of its market value over the next 3 years.
  • Mercell rises as much as 104% to NOK6.13/share after recommending a NOK6.3/share offer from Spring Cayman Bidco.
  • Luxury stocks traded lower amid rekindled Covid-19 worries in China as Beijing continued to report new infections while nearby Tianjin locked down its city center. LVMH declines as much as 1.4%, Burberry -2.6% and Hermes -1.7%
  • Sodexo falls as much as 5.7% after the French caterer decided not to open up the capital of its benefits & rewards unit to a partner following a review of the business.
  • Ocado slumps as much as 8% after its grocery joint venture with Marks & Spencer slashed its forecast for FY22 sales growth to low single digits, rather than around 10% guided previously.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were steady as traders continued to gauge growth concerns and fears of a US recession. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1%, paring an earlier increase of as much as 0.5%, as gains in the financial sector were offset by losses in consumer names. New Zealand equities dipped on Wednesday after the central bank delivered an expected half-point interest rate hike to combat inflation. Chinese shares stabilized after the central bank and banking regulator urged lenders to boost loans as the nation grapples with ongoing Covid outbreaks. The benchmark CSI 300 Index snapped a two-day losing streak to close 0.6% higher.

Asian equities have been trading sideways as the prospect of slower growth amid tighter monetary conditions, as well as China’s strict Covid policy and supply-chain disruptions, remain key overhangs for the market. In China, the country’s strict Covid policy is outweighing broad measures to support growth and keeping investors wary. Its commitment to Covid Zero means it’s all but certain to miss its economic growth target by a large margin for the first time ever. The nation’s central bank and banking regulator urged lenders to boost loans in the latest effort to shore up the battered economy.

“The valuation is still nowhere near attractive and you have a number of leading indicators, whether its credit, liquidity or growth, which are not yet indicating that we want to take more risks on the market,” Frank Benzimra, head of Asia equity strategy at Societe Generale, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. He added that the preferred strategy in equities will focus on defensive plays like resources and income. Investors will get further clues on the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate policies with the release in Washington of minutes from the latest meeting on Wednesday. Concerns that the Fed’s tightening will plunge the nation into recession had spurred a sharp selloff in US shares recently.

Japanese stocks ended a bumpy day lower as investors awaited minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting and continued to gauge the impact of China’s rising Covid cases. The Topix fell 0.1% to close at 1,876.58, while the Nikkei declined 0.3% to 26,677.80. Nintendo Co. contributed the most to the Topix Index decline, decreasing 4.3%. Out of 2,171 shares in the index, 793 rose and 1,257 fell, while 121 were unchanged.

Meanwhile, Australian stocks bounced with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 0.4% to close at 7,155.20, with banks and miners contributing the most to its move. Costa Group was the top performer after reaffirming its operating capex guidance. Chalice Mining dropped after an equity raising. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7% to 11,173.37 after the RBNZ’s policy decision. The central bank raised interest rates by half a percentage point for a second straight meeting and forecast further aggressive hikes to come to tame inflation.

India’s key equity indexes fell for the third consecutive session, dragged by losses in software makers as worries grow over companies’ spending on technology amid a clouded growth outlook. The S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.6% to 53,749.26 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index dropped 0.6%. The benchmark has retreated for all but four sessions this month, slipping 5.8%, dragged by Infosys, Tata Consultancy and Reliance Industries. All but two of the 19 sector sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. fell on Wednesday, led by information technology stocks. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 12 rose and 18 fell. The S&P BSE IT Index has lost nearly 26% this year and is trading at its lowest level since June. 

In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index resumed rising, up 0.3% with all G-10 FX in the red against the dollar. The euro slipped and Italian bonds extended gains after comments from ECB officials. Executive board member Fabio Panetta said the ECB shouldn’t seek to raise its interest rates too far as long as the euro-area economy displays continuing signs of fragility. Board Member Olli Rehn said the ECB should raise rates to zero in autumn. The pound was steady against the dollar and gained versus the euro, paring some of its losses from Tuesday. Focus is on the long-awaited report into lockdown parties at No. 10. The BOE needs to tighten policy further to fight rising inflation, but it’s also wary of acting too quickly and risking pushing the UK into recession, according to Chief Economist Huw Pill. Sweden’s krona slumped on the back of a stronger dollar and amid data showing that consumer confidence fell to the lowest level since the global financial crisis. Yen eased as Treasury yields steadied in Asia from an overnight plunge.  China’s offshore yuan weakened for the first time in five days as Beijing recorded more Covid cases and the nearby port city of Tianjin locked down a city-center district.

New Zealand dollar and sovereign yields rose after the RBNZ hiked rates by 50 basis points for a second straight meeting and forecast more aggressive tightening, with the cash rate seen peaking at 3.95% in 2023.

Most emerging-market currencies also weakened against a stronger dollar as investors await minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting for clues on the pace of US rate hikes.  The ruble extended its recent rally in Moscow even as Russia’s central bank moved up the date of its next interest-rate meeting by more than two weeks to stem gains in the currency with more monetary easing. Russia has been pushed closer to a potential default. US banks and individuals are barred from accepting bond payments from Russia’s government since 12:01 a.m. New York time on Wednesday, when a license that had allowed the cash to flow ended. The lira lagged most of its peers, weakening for a fourth day amid expectations that Turkey’s central bank will keep rates unchanged on Thursday even after consumer prices rose an annual 70% in April.

In rates, Treasuries were steady with yields slightly richer across long-end of the curve as S&P 500 futures edge lower, holding small losses. US 10-year yields around 2.745% are slightly richer vs Tuesday’s close; long-end outperformance tightens 5s30s spread by 1.4bp on the day with 30-year yields lower by ~1bp. Bunds outperform by 2bp in 10-year sector while gilts lag slightly with no major catalyst. Focal points of US session include durable goods orders data, 5-year note auction and minutes of May 3-4 FOMC meeting. The US auction cycle resumes at 1pm ET with $48b 5-year note sale, concludes Thursday with $42b 7-year notes; Tuesday’s 2-year auction stopped through despite strong rally into bidding deadline. The WI 5-year yield at ~2.740% is ~4.5bp richer than April auction, which tailed by 0.9bp.

In commodities, WTI pushed higher, heading back toward best levels of the week near $111.60. Most base metals trade in the red; LME aluminum falls 2.3%, underperforming peers. Spot gold falls roughly $10 to trade around $1,856/oz. Spot silver loses 1.1% to around.

Bitcoin trades on either side of USD 30k with no real direction.

Looking to the day ahead now, and central bank publications include the FOMC minutes from their May meeting and the ECB’s Financial Stability Review. Separately, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Rehn, Panetta, Holzmann, de Cos and Lane, BoJ Governor Kuroda, Fed Vice Chair Brainard and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Otherwise, data releases from the US include preliminary April data on durable goods orders and core capital goods orders.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,942.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 433.41
  • MXAP little changed at 163.41
  • MXAPJ up 0.3% to 531.42
  • Nikkei down 0.3% to 26,677.80
  • Topix little changed at 1,876.58
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 20,171.27
  • Shanghai Composite up 1.2% to 3,107.46
  • Sensex down 0.5% to 53,763.20
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 7,155.24
  • Kospi up 0.4% to 2,617.22
  • German 10Y yield little changed at 0.94%
  • Euro down 0.5% to $1.0677
  • Brent Futures up 1.0% to $114.69/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.5% to $1,856.22
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.30% to 102.16

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • New Zealand dollar and sovereign yields rose after the RBNZ hiked rates by 50 basis points and forecast more aggressive tightening, with the cash rate seen peaking at 3.95% in 2023
  • The euro slipped and Italian bonds extended gains after comments from ECB officials. Executive board member Fabio Panetta said the ECB shouldn’t seek to raise its interest rates too far as long as the euro-area economy displays continuing signs of fragility. Board Member Olli Rehn said the ECB should raise rates to zero in autumn
  • The pound was steady against the dollar and gained versus the euro, paring some of its losses from Tuesday. Focus is on the long-awaited report into lockdown parties at No. 10
  • The BOE needs to tighten policy further to fight rising inflation, but it’s also wary of acting too quickly and risking pushing the UK into recession, according to Chief Economist Huw Pill
  • Sweden’s krona slumped on the back of a stronger dollar and amid data showing that consumer confidence fell to the lowest level since the global financial crisis
  • Yen eased as Treasury yields steadied in Asia from an overnight plunge

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asia-Pac stocks were mostly positive but with gains capped and price action choppy after a lacklustre lead from global counterparts as poor data from the US and Europe stoked growth concerns, while the region also reflected on the latest provocations by North Korea and the RBNZ’s rate increase. ASX 200 was led higher by commodity-related stocks despite the surprise contraction in Construction Work. Nikkei 225 remained subdued after recent currency inflows and with sentiment clouded by geopolitical tensions. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were marginally higher following further support efforts by the PBoC and CBIRC which have explored increasing loans with major institutions and with the central bank to boost credit support, although the upside is contained amid the ongoing COVID concerns and with Beijing said to tighten restrictions among essential workers.

Top Asian News

  • US SEC official said significant issues remain in reaching a deal with China over audit inspections and even if US and China reach a deal on proceeding with inspections, they would still have a long way to go, according to Bloomberg.
  • China will be seeing a Pacific Island Agreement when Senior Diplomat Wang Yi visits the region next week, according to documents cited by Reuters.
  • North Korea Fires Suspected ICBM as Biden Wraps Up Asia Tour
  • Luxury Stocks Slip Again as China Covid-19 Worries Persist
  • Asia Firms Keep SPAC Dream Alive Despite Poor Returns: ECM Watch
  • Powerlong 2022 Dollar Bonds Fall Further, Poised for Worst Week

In Europe the early optimism across the equity complex faded in early trading. Major European indices post mild broad-based gains with no real standouts. Sectors initially opened with an anti-defensive bias but have since reconfigured to a more pro-defensive one. Stateside, US equity futures have trimmed earlier gains, with relatively broad-based gains seen across the contracts; ES (+0.1%).

Top European News

  • Aiming ECB Rate at Neutral Risks Hurting Economy, Panetta Says
  • M&S Says Russia Exit, Inflation to Prevent Profit Growth
  • Prudential Names Citi Veteran Wadhwani as Insurer’s Next CEO
  • EU’s Gentiloni Eyes Deal on Russian Oil Embargo: Davos Update
  • UK’s Poorest to See Inflation Hit Near Double Pace of the Rich

FX

  • Buck builds a base before Fed speak, FOMC minutes and US data - DXY tops 102.250 compared to low of 101.640 on Tuesday.
  • Kiwi holds up well after RBNZ hike, higher OCR outlook and Governor Orr outlining the need to tighten well beyond neutral - Nzd/Usd hovers above 0.6450 and Aud/Nzd around 1.0950.
  • Euro pulls back sharply as ECB’s Panetta counters aggressive rate guidance with gradualism to avoid a normalisation tantrum - Eur/Usd sub-1.0700 and Eur/Gbp under 0.8550.
  • Aussie undermined by flagging risk sentiment and contraction in Q1 construction work completed - Aud/Usd retreats through 0.7100.
  • Loonie and Nokkie glean some underlying traction from oil returning to boiling point - Usd/Cad capped into 1.2850, Eur/Nok pivots 10.2500.
  • Franc, Yen and Sterling all make way for Greenback revival - Usd/Chf bounces through 0.9600, Usd/Jpy over 127.00 and Cable close to 1.2500.

Fixed Income

  • Choppy trade in bonds amidst fluid risk backdrop and ongoing flood of global Central Bank rhetoric, Bunds and Gilts fade just above 154.00 and 119.00.
  • Eurozone periphery outperforming as ECB's Panetta urges gradualism to avoid a normalisation tantrum and Knot backs President Lagarde on ZIRP by end Q3 rather than going 50 bp in one hit.
  • US Treasuries flat-line before US data, Fed's Brainard, FOMC minutes and 5-year supply - 10 year T-note midway between 120-21/09+ parameters.

Commodities

  • WTI and Brent July futures are firmer intraday with little newsflow throughout the European morning.
  • US Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude +0.6mln (exp. -0.7mln), Gasoline -4.2mln (exp. -0.6mln), Distillates -0.9mln (exp. +0.9mln), Cushing -0.7mln.
  • Spot gold is pressured by the recovery in the Dollar but found some support at its 21 DMA.
  • Base metals are pressured by the turn in the risk tone this morning.

US Event Calendar

  • 07:00: May MBA Mortgage Applications -1.2%, prior -11.0%
  • 08:30: April Durable Goods Orders, est. 0.6%, prior 1.1%
    • -Less Transportation, est. 0.5%, prior 1.4%
  • 08:30: April Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 0.4%
  • 08:30: April Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 0.5%, prior 1.3%

Central Banks

  • 12:15: Fed’s Brainard Delivers Commencement Address
  • 14:00: May FOMC Meeting Minutes

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

This morning we’ve launched our latest monthly survey. In it we try to ask questions that aren’t easy to derive from market pricing. For example we ask whether you think a recession is a price worth paying to tame inflation back to target. We also ask whether you think the Fed will think the same. We ask whether you think bubbles are still in markets and whether the bottom is in for equities. We also ask you the best hedge against inflation from a small list of mainstream assets. Hopefully it will be of use and the more people that fill it in the more useful it might be so all help welcome. The link is here.

Talking of inflation I had a huge shock yesterday. The first quote of three came back from builders for what I hope will be our last ever renovation project as we upgrade a dilapidated old outbuilding. Given the job I do I'd like to think I'm fully aware of commodity price effects and labour shortages pushing up costs but nothing could have prepared me for a quote 250% higher than what I expected. We have two quotes to come but if they don't come in nearer to my expectations then we're either going to shelve/postpone the project after a couple of years of planning or my work output might reduce as I learn how to lay bricks, plumb, tile, make and install windows and plaster amongst other things. Maybe I could sell the rights of my journey from banker to builder to Netflix to make up for lost earnings.

Rather like my building quote expectations, markets came back down to earth yesterday, only avoiding a fresh closing one-year low in the S&P 500 via a late-day rally that sent the market from intra-day lows of -2.48% earlier in the session to -0.81% at the close and giving back just under half the gains from the best Monday since January. Having said that S&P futures are up +0.6% this morning so we've had a big swing from the lows yesterday afternoon.

The blame for the weak market yesterday was put on weak economic data alongside negative corporate news. US tech stocks saw the biggest losses as the NASDAQ (-2.35%) hit its lowest level in over 18 months following Snap’s move to cut its profit forecasts that we mentioned in yesterday’s edition. The stock itself fell -43.08%. Indeed, the NASDAQ just barely avoided closing more than -30% (-29.85%) from its all-time high reached back in November. The S&P 500's closing loss leaves it +1.03% week to date as it tries to avoid an 8th consecutive weekly decline for just the third time since our data starts in 1928. Typical defensive sectors Utilities (+2.01%), staples (+1.66%), and real estate (+1.21%) drove the intraday recovery, so even with the broad index off the day’s lows, the decomposition points to continued growth fears.

Investors had already been braced for a more difficult day following the Monday night news from Snap, but further fuel was then added to the fire after US data releases significantly underwhelmed shortly after the open. First, the flash composite PMI for May fell to 53.8 (vs. 55.7 expected), marking a second consecutive decline in that measure. And then the new home sales data for April massively underperformed with the number falling to an annualised 591k (vs. 749k expected), whilst the March reading was also revised down to an annualised 709k (vs. 763k previously). That 591k reading left new home sales at their lowest since April 2020 during the Covid shutdowns, and comes against the backdrop of a sharp rise in mortgage rates as the Fed have tightened policy, with the 30-year fixed rate reported by Freddie Mac rising from 3.11% at the end of 2021 to 5.25% in the latest reading last week.

The strong defensive rotation in the S&P 500 and continued fears of a recession saw investors pour into Treasuries, which have been supported by speculation that the Fed might not be able to get far above neutral if those growth risks do materialise. Yields on 10yr Treasuries ended the day down -10.1bps at 2.75%, and the latest decline in the 10yr inflation breakeven to 2.58% leaves it at its lowest closing level since late-February, just after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine that led to a spike in global commodity prices. And with investors growing more worried about growth and less worried about inflation, Fed funds futures took out -11.5bps of expected tightening by the December meeting, and saw terminal fed funds futures pricing next year close below 3.00% for the first time in two weeks. 10 year US yields are back up a basis point this morning.

Over in Europe there was much the same pattern of equity losses and advances for sovereign bonds. However, the decline in yields was more muted after there was further chatter about a potential 50bp hike from the ECB. Austrian central bank governor Holzmann said that “A bigger step at the start of our rate-hike cycle would make sense”, and Latvian central bank governor Kazaks also said that a 50bp hike was “certainly one thing that we could discuss”. Along with Dutch central bank governor Knot, that’s now 3 members of the Governing Council who’ve openly discussed the potential they could move by 50bps as the Fed has done, and markets seem to be increasingly pricing in a chance of that, with the amount of hikes priced in by the July meeting closing at a fresh high of 32.5bps yesterday.

In spite of the growing talk about a 50bp move at a single meeting, the broader risk-off tone yesterday led to a decline in sovereign bond yields across the continent, with those on 10yr bunds (-4.9bps), OATs (-4.3bps) and BTPs (-5.9bps) all falling back. Equities struggled alongside their US counterparts, and the STOXX 600 (-1.14%) ended the day lower, as did the DAX (-1.80%) and the CAC 40 (-1.66%). The flash PMIs were also somewhat underwhelming at the margins, with the Euro Area composite PMI falling a bit more than expected to 54.9 (vs. 55.1 expected).

Over in the UK there were even larger moves after the country’s flash PMIs significantly underperformed expectations. The composite PMI fell to 51.8 (vs. 56.5 expected), which is the lowest reading since February 2021 when the country was still in lockdown. In turn, that saw sterling weaken against the other major currencies as investors dialled back the amount of expected tightening from the Bank of England, with a fall of -0.44% against the US dollar. That also led to a relative outperformance in gilts, with 10yr yields down -8.3bps. And on top of that, there were signs of further issues on the cost of living down the tracks, with the CEO of the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem saying that the energy price cap was set to increase to a record £2,800 in October, an increase of more than 40% from its current level.

Asian equity markets are mostly trading higher this morning with the Hang Seng (+0.64%), Shanghai Composite (+0.58%), CSI (+0.17%) and Kospi (+0.80%) trading in positive territory with the Nikkei (-0.03%) trading fractionally lower.

Earlier today, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), in a widely anticipated move, hiked the official cash rate (OCR) by 50bps to 2.0%, its fifth-rate hike in a row in a bid to get on top of inflation which is currently running at a 31-year high. The central bank has significantly increased its forecast of how high the OCR might rise in the coming years with the cash rate jumping to about 3.4% by the end of this year and peaking at 3.95% in the third quarter of 2023. Additionally, it forecasts the OCR to start falling towards the end of 2024. Following the release of the statement, the New Zealand dollar hit a three-week high of 0.65 against the US dollar.

Elsewhere, as we mentioned last week, today marks the expiration of the US Treasury Department’s temporary waiver that allowed Russia to make sovereign debt payments to US creditors. US investors will no longer be able to receive such payments, pushing Russia closer to default on its outstanding sovereign debt.

To the day ahead now, and central bank publications include the FOMC minutes from their May meeting and the ECB’s Financial Stability Review. Separately, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, the ECB’s Rehn, Panetta, Holzmann, de Cos and Lane, BoJ Governor Kuroda, Fed Vice Chair Brainard and the BoE’s Tenreyro. Otherwise, data releases from the US include preliminary April data on durable goods orders and core capital goods orders.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/25/2022 - 08:00

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Economics

Is The Recent Rise In US Interest Rates Peaking?

After months of higher Treasury yields, the possibility that rates have peaked is a topical discussion, fueled by easing rates in recent days. Although…

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After months of higher Treasury yields, the possibility that rates have peaked is a topical discussion, fueled by easing rates in recent days. Although there are still three trading days to go this week, the widely followed 2- and 10-year Treasury yields look set to post their first run of three-weekly declines this year.

The modest drop in yields may be a temporary lull before the upswing resumes, although analysts are considering factors that may put a ceiling on further increases for the near term.

Perhaps the main catalyst that’s changing sentiment for bonds: an expanding wave of forecasts that US recession risk is rising. “The bond market is clearly putting a greater focus on the risk of a recession and less of a concern on sustained inflation,” says Mark Freeman, chief investment officer at Socorro Asset Management.

Bloomberg notes that US economic data has recently weakened overall, relative to expectations. The change has cut the Bloomberg US Economic Surprise Index to its lowest level since last September.

The Treasury market appears to be entertaining the possibility, iif only on the margins, that growth will stumble. The 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.76% on Tuesday (May 24), the lowest in over a month. If the benchmark rate holds below last week’s close, it’ll mark the first time since November that the yield has slipped for three straight weeks.

A critical factor, of course, is how long the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. For a clue, let’s start with the policy-sensitive 2-year Treasury yield, which is also showing hints of rolling over (or at least temporarily topping out).

Fed funds futures are still estimating a high probability that the central bank will lift rates again at the June 15 FOMC meeting. The market is currently pricing in a 90%-plus probability for a 50-basis-point hike to a 0.75%-to-1.0% target rate.

But the outlook for additional rate hikes has turned cloudy. Futures are now forecasting a high probability (90%) of no change in rates for the July FOMC meeting.

Inflation’s future path will likely determine what the Fed does beyond the June meeting, which appears to be a done-deal in terms of a 50-basis-point hike. The Treasury market is effectively pricing in next month’s hike, but for now it’s a wait-and-see environment beyond June.

One reason is that there are several hints that the recent surge in US inflation has peaked. Even if true, that doesn’t mean that inflation will return to the low pre-pandemic levels soon. But if inflation data shows more signs of topping out, as it did in April, the Fed may be more inclined to put its rate-hiking plans on hold, at least temporarily. Market sentiment seems to be adjusting to this possibility.

The key debate ultimately centers on US economic strength and on this front there are mixed signals. On the one hand, it appears that output is set to rebound in the second quarter following the contraction in Q1. For example, the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow model estimates Q2 growth will revive to a moderate 2.4% increase (seasonally adjusted annual rate) from a 1.4% slide previously.

Meanwhile, the New York Fed’s Weekly Economic Index continues to reflect slowing but still moderately positive growth through May 14. The implication: the easing in the US economic trend will take the edge off of inflation in the months ahead.

That’s also the implied message in yesterday’s PMI survey data for this month. “The early survey data for May indicate that the recent economic growth spurt has lost further momentum,” says Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence. “Growth has slowed since peaking in March, most notably in the service sector, as pent up demand following the reopening of the economy after the Omicron wave shows signs of waning.”

The critical question is whether the hints of softer growth momentum will continue and translate to a further pullback in inflation from its recent peak – almost surely a necessary event to stay the Fed’s hand in raising rates beyond June.

Key updates to watch start with May inflation numbers, which arrive in a few weeks. The strength (or lack thereof) of the labor market will be closely read too. Next week’s update on nonfarm payrolls is expected to show that hiring slowed in May to a 340,000 monthly increase from 406,000 in April, based on the consensus forecast via TradingEconomics.com. That’s still a relatively solid gain to keep the economy moving forward, but it’s also enough of a slowdown to support the inflation-has-peaked narrative.

For the moment, the bond market’s on board with this view. The question is whether incoming data will give the crowd a reason to abandon this developing narrative?


How is recession risk evolving? Monitor the outlook with a subscription to:
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