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“Santa Rally Is Finally Here”: Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet

"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet

One day before what everyone knew would be a hawkish pivot by the Fed, the mood was dour with tech names tumbling and futures hanging…

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"Santa Rally Is Finally Here": Futures Hit All Time High Day After Powell Goes Full Jean-Claude Trichet

One day before what everyone knew would be a hawkish pivot by the Fed, the mood was dour with tech names tumbling and futures hanging one for dear life. One day after, Jerome Powell confirmed he would go full Jean-Claude Trichet as the Fed would not only turbo-taper into a sharply slowing economy, ending its QE program by March but then proceed with hiking rates as many as 3 times in 2022 (more than the 2 hike consensus), with the BOE shocking markets moments ago with a surprise rate hike and even the ECB trimming its turbo QE, and futures are.... at all time highs. That's right - eminis are higher by 140 points in 24 hours because the Fed was more hawkish than consensus expected.  At 8:00 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 215 points, or 0.61%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 27.25 points, or 0.57%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 100 points, or 0.61%.

Treasury yields jumped alongside European bonds after the BOE became the first major central bank to raise rates since the pandemic, while the dollar fell and the pound jumped. The Euro also hit session highs after the ECB seemed to turn ever so slightly more hawkish as its monthly QE is set to shrink in the coming year.

"The market likes facts it can digest. With the uncertainty now gone, it finds relief,” said Frederik Hildner, a portfolio manager at Salm-Salm & Partner. Gradual rising rates “provides more firepower for the next downturn, as it displays the ability normalize monetary policy.”

On Wednesday, Jerome Powell said the U.S. economy no longer needed increasing amounts of policy support as annual inflation has been running at more than double the central bank's target in recent months, while the economy nears full employment. Recent readings on surging producer and consumer prices as well as the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus have fueled anxiety as the benchmark S&P 500 inches closer to a record high.

"Is the Santa Rally finally here? Markets certainly seem to have a spring in their step... the prospect of three interest rate hikes in 2022 would suggest the central bank has a clear plan to not let inflation get out of control," Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell wrote in a client note.

"Equally, it isn't being too aggressive to trip up the economy. This sense of balance is exactly what investors want, and an upbeat tone from the Fed certainly seems to have rubbed off on markets" Bell said, clearly goalseeking his narrative to the market's response as just 24 hours later he would be saying just the opposite when futures were tanking of hawkish Fed fears.

Big tech stocks and banks led gains in premarket trading. Shares in Tesla, Microsoft, Meta and Amazon.com rose between 0.7% and 2.4%, with the lift pushing Apple shares nearer to an historic market value of $3 trillion. Bank stocks including JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup all gained between 0.7% and 0.8%. Here are some of the biggest U.S. movers today:

  • Apple (APPL) and other big U.S. tech stocks rise after the Federal Reserve said that it would speed up its taper, joining in with a broader relief rally across risk assets. Apple shares are up 0.6%, with the stock drawing nearer to an historic market capitalization of $3 trillion. Also Thursday, Goldman Sachs said lead times for Apple’s iPhone have declined in the latest week.
  • Assertio (ASRT US) shares rise 4% after the company announced the $44 million acquisition of the Otrexup device from Antares Pharma.
  • Blue Bird (BLBD US) dropped 6% after the school bus-maker provided a weaker-than-expected sales outlook. The company also offered $75m shares at $16/share in a private placement.
  • Danimer Scientific (DNMR) falls 10% after announcing that it plans to offer $175 million of convertible senior notes.
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL) is up 2% after saying it expects to report a profit for the fourth quarter, citing a strong demand for travel over the winter holiday period and a decline in jet fuel prices. Other airline stocks are also higher.
  • DocuSign (DOCU) falls 2% as Morgan Stanley issued a downgrade, saying third-quarter results changed the firm’s view regarding the durability of growth through tough post-pandemic comparables.
  • Freyr Battery (FREY) gains 14% after executing its inaugural offtake agreement for at least 31 GWh of low-carbon battery cells.
  • IronNet (IRNT US) slumps 25% after the cybersecurity company’s results fell short of expectations, prompting a Street-low target from Jefferies.
  • Lennar Corp. (LEN US) declined 6% after it reported a forecast for purchase contracts that was weaker than expected.
  • Plug Power (PLUG) gains 5% after signing an agreement with Korean electric-vehicle manufacturer Edison Motors to develop an electric city bus powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Syndax Pharmaceuticals (SNDX) falls 8% after pricing 3.2 million shares at $17.50 each.
  • Tesla (TSLA) is up 2%, rising with other electric vehicle stocks amid a broader gain in technology stocks and U.S. futures on hopes that the Federal Reserve’s policy tightening will fight high inflation without hampering economic growth.
  • Wayfair (W) falls 2% after BofA downgraded the stock to underperform, citing weak near-term data and difficult comparisons through the first quarter of 2022 for the online furniture retailer.

European equities rally with Euro Stoxx 50 up as much as 2.1% before drifting off best levels. The U.K.’s exporter-heavy FTSE 100 Index pared some gains after the BOE decision, while European dipped modestly after the European Central Bank’s meeting.  Miners, tech and autos are the best performers, utilities and media names lag.

Equities have whipsawed in recent weeks as investors attempted to price in the prospect of rate hikes, while assessing risks from the spread of the omicron variant. The market’s early response to the Fed signals some relief arising from policy clarity, and optimism that the rebound from pandemic lows can weather the pivot away from ultra-loose monetary settings.

“The market is breathing a sigh of relief that the FOMC meeting suggested that it is taking inflation risks in the United States more seriously,” Ann-Katrin Petersen, an investment strategist at Allianz Global Investors, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “The question really will be whether the Fed will dare to do even more in order to taper the inflation risk.”

Asian stocks rose, halting a four-day slide, as confidence in Federal Reserve policy allowed investors to take on riskier assets. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index climbed as much as 0.8%, buoyed by energy and technology shares. Japan was Asia’s top performer, aided by a weaker yen. Hong Kong and China stocks eked out gains amid ongoing concern over U.S. sanctions. Australian equities declined for a third day. Asia’s benchmark advanced for the first time this week on hopes the Fed will effectively combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The U.S. central bank said it will double the pace of its asset tapering program to $30 billion a month and projected three interest-rate increases in 2022. In the run-up to the Fed’s decision, Asia’s equity gauge slumped almost 2% over the past four days, keeping it below the 50-day moving average.    The short-term boost to stock market sentiment is from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments about wage inflation not being the main issue for now, and expectations that there’ll be full employment next year, said Ilya Spivak, head of Greater Asia at DailyFX. However, there’s a “meaningful risk” that the Fed’s latest policy stance will trigger liquidation as Asia stock portfolios are de-risked, Spivak said.

Japan’s stocks rose for a second day after the yen weakened and U.S. stocks rallied amid speculation the Federal Reserve will combat surging prices without choking off economic growth. The Topix index climbed 1.5% to close at 2,013.08 in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 Stock Average advanced 2.1% to 29,066.32. Keyence Corp. contributed the most to the Topix’s gain, increasing 2.5%. Out of 2,181 shares in the index, 1,674 rose and 421 fell, while 86 were unchanged. “It wouldn’t be strange to see the discount on Japanese equities narrowing following the FOMC meeting results, with market interest centered around electronics, machinery, automakers and marine transportation stocks,” said Takashi Ito, an equity market strategist at Nomura Securities. Electronics firms and automakers helped lift the Topix as the yen headed for a four-day slump against the dollar, with the currency falling 0.1% to 114.19

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to close at 7,295.70, extending its losing streak to a third day.  CSL was the worst performer after the benchmark’s second-biggest company by weighting completed a placement to fund its Vifor acquisition. Mesoblast was the top performer after saying it plans to conduct an additional U.S. Phase 3 trial of rexlemestrocel-L in patients with chronic low back pain.  Investors also digested November jobs data. Australian employment soared last month, smashing expectations and pushing the jobless rate lower as virus restrictions eased on the east coast. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7% to 12,777.54

In rates, cash USTs bull steepened, bolstered by a large curve steepener that blocked in early London. Bunds are soft at the back end, peripherals slightly wider ahead of today’s ECB meeting. Gilts bear steepen slightly, white pack sonia futures are lower by 2-3.5 ticks.

In FX, the dollar slipped for a second day and oil rose; cable snapped to best levels of the week after the BOE unexpectedly hiked rates.  The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell for a second day as the greenback weakened against all its Group-of-10 peers apart from the yen; Tresury yields fell, led by the belly of the curve. Commodity currencies were the best G-10 performers, led by the krone, which reversed an earlier loss after Norway’s central bank raised its interest rate for the second time this year and flagged another increase in March as officials acted to cool the rebounding economy despite renewed coronavirus concerns. The Australian and New Zealand dollars reversed earlier losses amid upbeat stock markets; the Aussie earlier weakened as RBA Governor Lowe hinted at the prospect of no rate hikes next year. The yen fell as the Federal Reserve’s decision reaffirmed yield differentials ahead of the Bank of Japan’s outcome on Friday. Bonds rose after a solid auction. Elsewhere in FX, NOK outperforms in G-10 after Norges Bank rate action, other commodity currencies are similarly well bid.

In commodities, Crude futures hold a narrow range around best levels of the session. WTI is up 1.1% near $71.70, Brent near $74.70. Spot gold grinds higher, adding ~$9 near $1,786/oz. LME copper outperforms in a well-bid base metals complex

To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 4,734.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.2% to 476.39
  • MXAP up 0.8% to 193.11
  • MXAPJ up 0.5% to 623.76
  • Nikkei up 2.1% to 29,066.32
  • Topix up 1.5% to 2,013.08
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 23,475.50
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 3,675.02
  • Sensex up 0.1% to 57,851.57
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 7,295.66
  • Kospi up 0.6% to 3,006.41
  • Brent Futures up 1.0% to $74.59/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.5% to $1,786.03
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.36% to 96.16
  • German 10Y yield little changed at -0.36%
  • Euro up 0.2% to $1.1316

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The greenback is set for its biggest annual gain in six years and its rally appears to be far from over, market participants say. The prime mover: a hawkish Federal Reserve that’s drawn a roadmap of interest-rate increases over the next three years, while other central banks look much more reticent to withdraw stimulus
  • The ECB is poised to unveil a gradual withdrawal from extraordinary pandemic stimulus in the face of soaring inflation whose path is further clouded by the omicron coronavirus variant
  • The “phenomenal pace” at which the new Covid-19 omicron strain is spreading across the U.K. will trigger a surge in hospital admissions over the holiday period, according to Boris Johnson’s top medical adviser
  • The Swiss National Bank kept both the deposit and the policy rate at -0.75%, as widely predicted by economists. With the global economic recovery on shaky footing due to the omicron variant, President Thomas Jordan and fellow policy makers also reiterated their pledge to supplement subzero rates with currency interventions as needed
  • France will impose tougher rules on people traveling from the U.K., including a ban on non-essential trips and a requirement to self-isolate, as it tries to slow the spread of the omicron variant
  • IHS Markit said its index tracking output across the U.K. economy fell to 53.2 this month from 57.6 in November, reflecting weaker-than-expected growth in service industries including hotels, restaurants and travel-related businesses. Business-to-business services stalled
  • European power prices soared to records after Electricite de France SA said that two nuclear reactors will stop unexpectedly and two will have prolonged halts -- just as the continent heads for a cold snap with already depleted gas inventories
  • Hungary’s central bank increased the effective base interest rate for the fifth time in as many weeks to tackle the fastest inflation since 2007 and shore up the battered forint

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equity markets traded mixed as the region digested the FOMC meeting. The ASX 200 (-0.4%) was negative with heavy losses in the healthcare sector and as COVID infections remained rampant. There were also notable comments from RBA Governor Lowe that the board discussed tapering bond purchases in February and ending it in May or could even end purchases in February if economic progress is better than expected, although it is also open to reviewing bond buying again in May if the data disappoints. The Nikkei 225 (+2.1%) outperformed and reclaimed the 29k level after the Lower House recently passed the record extra budget stimulus and with the latest trade data showing double-digit percentage surges in Imports and Exports, despite the latter slightly missing on expectations. The Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.8%) were varied with Hong Kong pressured by losses in the big tech names amid ongoing frictions between the world’s two largest economies and as US lawmakers proposed a bill to allow the US oversight of China audits, although the mainland was kept afloat amid further speculation of a potential LPR cut this month, as well as reports that China will boost financial support for small businesses and offer more longer-term loans to manufacturers. Finally, 10yr JGBs were indecisive despite the constructive mood in Tokyo and with price action stuck near the 152.00 focal point, while demand was also sidelined amid mixed results at the 20yr JGB auction and as the BoJ kickstarts its two-day meeting.

Top Asian News

  • Indonesia Reports First Omicron Case in Jakarta Facility
  • Asia Stocks Snap Four-Day Drop as Traders Take on Risk After Fed
  • Shimao Group Shares Set for Best Day in Month
  • Money Manager Vanishes With $313 Million From China Builder

Equities in Europe have taken their cue from the post-FOMC rally seen across Wall Street (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.6%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) following somewhat mixed APAC trade. As a reminder, markets saw relief with one of the major risk events out of the way, and with Chair Powell refraining from throwing hawkish curveballs. That being said, the forecast does see three rate hikes next year, whilst the Fed Board next year will also be more hawkish – at least within the rotating voters - with George, Mester and Bullard poised to vote from 2022. Nonetheless, US equity future continues grinding higher with all contracts in the green and the RTY (+1.3%) outperforming vs the NQ (+0.7%), ES (+0.6%), and YM (+0.5%). Bourses in Europe also experience broad-based gains with no real outliers, although the upside momentum somewhat waned amid some softer-than-expected PMI metrics ahead of ECB. Sectors in Europe paint a clear pro-cyclical bias. Tech outperforms following a similar sectorial performance seen on Wall Street. Basic Resources and Oil & Gas follow a close second, with Autos and Travel & Leisure also among the biggest gainers. The downside sees Personal & Household Goods, Telecoms and Food & Beverages. Healthcare meanwhile fares better than its defensive peers as Novartis (+4%) is bolstered after commencing a new USD 15bln buyback, highlighting confidence in growth and pipeline. On the flip side, EDF (-12%) shares have slipped after it narrowed FY EBITDA forecasts and highlighted some faults with some nuclear reactors amid corrosion.

Top European News

  • Britain’s Covid Resurgence Cuts Growth to Slowest Since Lockdown
  • SNB Says Franc Is Highly Valued as Omicron Clouds Outlook
  • Norway Delivers Rate Hike That Omicron Had Threatened to Derail
  • Erdogan Approves Third Capital Boost for State Banks Since 2019

In FX, not much bang for the Buck fits the bill accurately as it is panning out in the FOMC aftermath even though market expectations were matched and arguably exceeded in terms of dot plots showing three hikes in 2022 vs two anticipated by most and only one previously, while the unwinding of asset purchases will occur in double quick time to end in March next year instead of June. However, there appears to be enough in the overall statement, SEP and Fed chair Powell’s post-meeting press conference to offset the initial knee-jerk spike in the Dollar and index that lifted the latter very close to its current y-t-d peak at 96.914 vs 96.938 from November 24. Indeed, the terminal rate was maintained at 2.5%, no decision has been taken about whether to take a break after tapering before tightening, and the recovery in labour market participation has been disappointing to the point that it will now take longer to return to higher levels. In response, or on further reflection, the DXY has recoiled to 96.141 and through the 21 DMA that comes in at 96.238 today.

  • NZD/AUD/CAD/GBP/EUR/CHF - All on the rebound vs their US counterpart, with the Kiwi back on the 0.6800 handle and also encouraged by NZ GDP contracting less than feared in Q3, while the Aussie is hovering around 0.7200 in wake of a stellar jobs report only partly tempered by dovish remarks from RBA Governor Lowe who is still not in the 2022 hike camp and non-committal about ending QE next February or extending until May. Elsewhere, the Loonie has clawed back a chunk of its losses amidst recovering crude prices to regain 1.2800+ status ahead of Canadian wholesale trade that is buried between a raft of US data and survey releases, Sterling is flirting with 1.3300 in advance of the BoE that is likely to hold fire irrespective of significantly hotter than forecast UK inflation, the Euro is pivoting 1.1300 pre-ECB that is eyed for details of life after the PEPP and the Franc is somewhat mixed post-SNB that maintained rates and a highly valued assessment of the Chf with readiness to intervene as required. Note, Usd/Chf is meandering from 0.9256 to 0.9221 vs Eur/Chf more elevated within a 1.0455-30 band.
  • JPY - The Yen is underperforming on the eve of the BoJ and looking technically weak to compound its yield and rate disadvantage after Usd/Jpy closed above a key chart level on Wednesday (at 114.03). As such, Fib resistance is now exposed at 114.38 vs the circa 114.25 high, so far, while decent option expiry interest may be influential one way or the other into the NY cut given around 1.3 bn at the 114.25 strike, 1.7 bn at 114.30 and 1.2 bn or so at 114.50.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures are taking advantage of the risk appetite coupled with the softer Buck. WTI Jan trades on either side of USD 71.50/bbl (vs low USD 71.39/bbl) while Brent Feb sees itself around USD 74.50/bbl (vs low USD 74.28/bbl). Complex-specific news has again been on the quiet end, with prices working off the macro impulses for the time being, and with volumes also light heading into Christmas trade. Elsewhere spot gold and silver ebb higher – in tandem with the Dollar, with the former eyeing a group of DMAs to the upside including the 100 (1,788/oz), 21 (1,789/oz) 200 (1,794/oz) and 50 (1,796/oz). Turning to base metals, LME copper has been catapulted higher amid the risk and weaker Dollar, with prices re-testing USD 9,500/t to the upside. Meanwhile, a Chinese government consultancy has said that China's steel consumption will dip 0.7% on an annual basis in 2022 amid policies for the real estate market and uncertainties linked to COVID-19 curb demand.

US event calendar

  • 8:30am: Dec. Initial Jobless Claims, est. 200,000, prior 184,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.94m, prior 1.99m
  • 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts MoM, est. 3.1%, prior -0.7%
  • 8:30am: Nov. Housing Starts, est. 1.57m, prior 1.52m
  • 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 4.0%, revised 4.2%
  • 8:30am: Nov. Building Permits, est. 1.66m, prior 1.65m, revised 1.65m
  • 8:30am: Dec. Philadelphia Fed Business Outl, est. 29.6, prior 39.0
  • 9:15am: Nov. Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.7%, prior 1.2%; Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 1.6%
  • 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 58.5, prior 58.3
  • 9:45am: Dec. Markit US Services PMI, est. 58.8, prior 58.0

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Yesterday’s biggest story was obviously the Fed. In line with our US economists call (their full recap here), the FOMC doubled the pace of taper to $30bn a month, which would bring an end to QE in mid-March. The new dot plot showed three rate hikes in 2022, up from the Committee being split over one hike in September. Farther out, the median dot had 3 additional hikes in 2023 and 2 hikes in 2024, bringing fed funds just below their estimate of the longer-term rate. Notably, all 18 Committee members have liftoff occurring next year, and 10 have 3 hikes penciled in, suggesting consensus behind the recent hawkish turn was strong. Short-end market pricing increased in line and now has around 2.9 hikes priced for 2022. The first hike is fully priced for the June meeting, but notably, meetings as early as March are priced as live, more on that in a bit.

In the statement, the Committee admitted that inflation had exceeded target for some time (dropping ‘transitory’ completely), and that liftoff would be tied to the economy reaching full employment. By the sounds of the press conference, progress toward full employment has proceeded pretty rapidly. Chair Powell noted that while labour force participation progress has been disappointing, almost every other measure of labour market strength shows a very strong labour market, and could create upside risks to inflation should wage growth start to increase beyond productivity. It is within that context that he framed the decision to taper faster, it will leave the Fed in a position to react as needed, providing optionality. In that vein, he stressed a few times that the lag between the end of taper and liftoff need not be as long as it was in the last cycle, and that the Fed will raise rates after taper is done whenever needed, hence meetings as early as March being live.

Notably on Omicron, the Chair, like the rest of us, recognises we don’t know much about the variant yet, but seemed optimistic about the economy’s ability to withstand subsequent Covid shocks, regardless of Omicron’s specifics. While Covid shocks can tighten supply chains, discourage labour participation, and reduce demand, as more people get vaccinated those impacts should dwindle over time, so his argument went. Hammering the point home, he sounded confident that the economy can handle whatever Omicron brings without any additional QE, justifying the accelerated taper path despite Covid risks.

The hawkish turn had been well forecast through Fed speakers since the last meeting, not least of which the Chair himself during Congressional testimony, which served to dull the market impact. Treasury yields were slightly higher, (2yr Tsys +0.6bps and 10yr Tsys +1.5 bps) but were quite docile for an FOMC afternoon. The dollar initially strengthened on the statement release before reversing course and ending the day -0.24% lower. Stocks were the real outperformers, as the S&P 500 rallied through the FOMC events, gaining +1.63%, the best daily performance in two months, while the Nasdaq increased +2.15%. The Russell 2000 matched the S&P, gaining +1.65%. Obviously the market was anticipating the change in policy, but if doubling taper and adding three rate hikes in the next year isn’t enough to tighten financial conditions, what is? The Chair was asked about that in so many words in the press conference, where he responded by noting financial conditions could change on a dime. Indeed, they will have to tighten from historically easy levels if the Fed is to bring inflation back to target through policy.

The Fed may be out of the way now, but the central bank excitement continues today as both the ECB and the BoE announce their own policy decisions later on. We’ll start with the ECB, who like the Fed have faced much higher than expected inflation lately, with the November flash estimate coming in at +4.9%, which is the highest since the formation of the single currency. Whilst Omicron has cast a shadow of uncertainty, with Commission President von der Leyen saying yesterday that it was likely to become dominant in Europe by mid-January, our European economics team doesn’t think there has been anything concrete enough to alter the ECB from their course (like the Fed). In our European economists’ preview (link here) they write the ECB appears on track to initiate a transition to a monetary policy stance based more on policy rates and rates guidance and less on liquidity provision. The ECB is set to confirm that PEPP net purchases will end in March, but will cushion the blow by working flexibility into the post-PEPP asset purchase arrangement. They are also set to make the policy framework more flexible to better respond to inflation uncertainties.

One thing to keep an eye out for in particular will be the latest inflation projections, with a report from Bloomberg suggesting that they’ll show inflation beneath the 2% target in both 2023 and 2024. So if that’s true, that could offer a route to arguing against a tightening of monetary policy for the time being, since the ECB’s forward guidance has been that it won’t raise rates until it sees inflation at the target “durably for the rest of the projection horizon”.

Today’s other big decision comes from the BoE, where our UK economist is expecting that there’ll be a 15bps increase in Bank Rate, taking it up to 0.25% although they suggest it’s a very close call. See here for the rationale. Ahead of that decision later on, we received a very strong UK inflation print for November, with CPI rising to +5.1% (vs. +4.8% expected), up from +4.2% in October and the fastest pace in a decade. That’s running ahead of the BoE’s own staff forecasts in the November Monetary Policy Report, which had seen inflation at just +4.5% that month, so six-tenths beneath the realised figure. We’ll get their decision at 12:00 London time, 45 minutes ahead of the ECB’s.

In terms of the latest on the Omicron variant, there are continued signs of concern in South Africa, with cases coming in at a record 26,976 yesterday, whilst the number in hospital at 7,339 is up +73% compared to a week ago. Meanwhile the UK recorded their highest number of cases since the pandemic began, at 78,610. England’s Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, said that a lot of Covid records would be broken in the coming weeks, and also that a majority of cases in London were now from the Omicron variant. Separately, the French government is set to hold a meeting tomorrow on Covid measures, and EU leaders will be discussing the pandemic at their summit today.

When it comes to Omicron’s economic impact, we could see some light shed on that today as the December flash PMIs are released from around the world. Overnight we’ve already had the numbers out of Australia and Japan where hints of a slowdown are apparent. Japan's Manufacturing PMI came out at 54.2 (54.5 previous) and the Composite at 51.8 (53.3 previous) while Australia’s Manufacturing and Composite came in at 57.4 and 54.9 respectively (59.2 and 55.7 previous).

Overnight in Asia stocks are trading mostly higher led by the Nikkei (+1.78%) followed by the Shanghai Composite (+0.28%), and KOSPI (+0.22%). However the CSI (-0.07%) and Hang Seng (-0.81%) are losing ground on concerns of US sanctions on Chinese tech companies. In Australia, the November employment report registered a strong beat by adding 366.1k jobs against 200k consensus. This is being reflected in a +12.75 bps surge in Australia's 3y bond. Elsewhere, in India wholesale inflation for November rose +14.2% year on year, levels last seen in 2000 against a consensus of +11.98% on the back of higher food and input prices. DM futures are indicating a positive start to markets today with S&P 500 (+0.19%) and DAX (+1.04%) contracts both higher as we type.

Ahead of the Fed, European markets had put in a fairly steady performance yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.26%. That brought an end to a run of 5 successive declines, with technology stocks in particular seeing an outperformance. Sovereign bond markets were also subdued ahead of the ECB and BoE meetings later, with yields on 10yr bunds (+0.9bps), OATs (+0.5bps) and gilts (+1.2bps) only seeing modest moves higher.

In DC, despite optimistic sounding talks earlier in the week, the latest yesterday was President Biden and Senator Manchin remained far apart on the administration’s build back better bill, imperiling its chances of passing before Christmas. Elsewhere, reports suggested the President would have more nominations for the remaining Fed Board vacancies this week.

Looking at yesterday’s other data, US retail sales underwhelmed in November with growth of just +0.3% (vs. +0.8% expected), and measure excluding gas and motor vehicles was also up just +0.2% (vs. +0.8% expected). Also the NAHB’s housing market index for December moved up to a 10-month high of 84, in line with expectations.

To the day ahead now, and the main highlights will be the aforementioned policy decisions from the ECB and the BoE. On the data side, we’ll also get the flash PMIs for December from around the world, the Euro Area trade balance for October, and in the US there’s November data on industrial production, housing starts and building permits, as well as the weekly initial jobless claims. Finally, EU leaders will be meeting for a summit in Brussels.

Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 08:29

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Six Commodities Investments to Buy as Putin Wages War on Ukraine

Six commodities investments to buy amid the sustained attack of Ukraine by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and rising inflation provide potential to…

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Six commodities investments to buy amid the sustained attack of Ukraine by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and rising inflation provide potential to profit even as the market has been pulling back so far in 2022.

The six commodities investments to buy include those involved in oil, gold and grain due to current supply shortages that are showing no signs of abating anytime soon. Putin’s order for Russian troops to invade Ukraine on Feb. 24 has disrupted the neighboring nation’s agricultural production, led to the theft of grain and imposed an ongoing blockade in the Black Sea to stop farmers from exporting their crops.

Crude oil inventories are down to a “dangerously low point” across Europe, North America and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Asia, just as spare production capacity from OPEC+ nations slid to the lowest levels since April 2020, according to BofA Global Research. Inventories of petroleum products also have fallen to “precarious levels” for middle distillates and even gasoline as the market heads into the peak of the U.S. summer driving season, the investment firm added.

As a result, refined petroleum cracks — the differences between crude oil and the prices of the wholesale petroleum products such as gasoline — recently have “spiked to record levels,” contributing to volatility, BofA wrote. In addition, strategic oil barrels held by OECD governments already are low and likely to decline steeply going forward, leaving consumers exposed to future negative supply shocks, BofA predicted.

Pension Fund Chairman Recommends Broad Commodity Funds

Bob Carlson, a pension fund chairman who also leads the Retirement Watch investment newsletter, recommended Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund (MLOAX) to all the portfolios in his June 2022 issue. 

Oil and natural gas should be good investments as Europe looks to reduce dependence on Russian exports, Carlson told me. Plus, energy producers in the United States are focused on increasing cash flow and earnings, not maximizing drilling expenses in the short run to increase output, he added.

Bob Carlson, who leads Retirement Watch, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

Good investment opportunities can be found with companies that provide the pipelines, storage facilities and other infrastructure needed to supply the world with oil, natural gas and other energy sources, Carlson continued. 

“One of the attractive qualities of these investments is that their revenues are independent of the prices of the commodities,” Carlson counseled. “The firms charge fees for their services, and the fees often are adjusted for inflation. Their revenues and earnings depend on the volume of commodities passing through their facilities, not the price of the commodity.”

Key energy service companies provide total returns, aided by current income and price appreciation, through investments in energy-related master limited partnerships (MLPs) and securities of industry companies, Carlson pointed out. Those businesses are expected to derive at least 50% of their revenues or operating income from exploration, production, gathering, transportation, processing, storage, refining, distribution or marketing of natural gas, crude oil and other energy resources.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Cohen & Steers Fund Leads List of Six Commodities Investments to Buy

Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund recently held 53 positions and had 50% of its portfolio in the 10 largest positions. Top holdings of the fund included Enbridge (NYSE: ENB), Cheniere Energy (NYSEAMERICAN: LNG), Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB), TC Energy (NYSE: TRP) and Energy Transfer (NYSE: ET).

The fund has achieved strong returns since April 2020. Indeed, it has been on an upward trajectory since the second half of December 2021.

“Crucially, oil prices have held up well even in the face of a slowing Chinese economy and widespread lockdowns,” according to BofA. “Given that most China indicators point to a major decline in mobility across the country, any improvement in the COVID-19 situation in large Chinese cities could send oil prices much higher.”

Carlson’s Chooses DBA to Join Six Commodities Investments to Buy

Despite the evils of war, investors still can profit from the rise in grain prices and other commodities through the futures markets, even as many other equities slip. Instead of buying futures directly, investors can purchase diversified agriculture commodities through Invesco DB Agriculture Fund (DBA), Carlson said.

That ETF seeks to track changes in the DBIQ Diversified Agriculture Index Excess Return. The ETF also earns interest income from cash it invests primarily in treasury securities, while holding them as collateral for the futures contracts.

The major holdings in the index are soybeans, wheat, corn, coffee and live cattle. The index is reconstituted each November.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Gold Funds Featured Among Six Commodities Investments to Buy

Carlson also is recommending gold through iShares Gold Trust (IAU). He described it as the “cheapest, most liquid way” to invest in the shiny yellow metal.

Gold has had its ups and downs in the face of rising global inflation, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s increasing military flyovers of nearby Asian nations and other geopolitical conflicts. At the same time, the U.S. dollar has been appreciating amid high inflation after the Fed recently raised interest rates by 0.5% and promised additional increases later in 2022.

However, there are many risks for the U.S. dollar, so continuing to hold gold remains a good hedge, Carlson counseled.

IAU has retreated since early March, so investors seeking to buy it now that it is rebounding still may do so. Those who believe inflation may stay through 2022 can try to capture gains before the trend no longer is a friend.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Skousen Calls GLD One of the Six Commodities Investments to Buy

“Gold has done far better than stocks, which are down 15-25% this year,” said Mark Skousen, who is recommending SPDR Gold Shares (NYSE Arca: GLD) in his Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter. 

Mark Skousen, head of Forecasts & Strategies, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

GLD has risen nearly 16% since Skousen recommended it about two years ago. Gold climbed 2021 in anticipation of rising inflation, but its performance has been flat so far this year. If gold truly is an indicator of inflation, the previous yellow metal’s stagnant price may be signaling that price inflation will wane heading into 2023.

The investment objective is for the GLD shares to reflect the performance of the price of gold bullion, after subtracting the trust’s expenses. The trust, formed on November 12, 2004, physically holds gold bars.

The trust’s shares are designed for investors who want a cost-effective and convenient way to invest in gold, according to the company’s prospectus. Skousen, who also leads the Five Star Trader, Home Run Trader, TNT Trader and Fast Money Alert services, recently was a featured speaker at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference and advised attendees that he recommended gold as a minor holding in every portfolio.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

EPD Is Another of the Six Commodities Investments to Buy

Oil has done much better as an inflation hedge than gold, Skousen said. One example is his recommendation of Enterprise Products Partners (EPD, $27, 7% yield), up 27% year to date.

EPD has been the “best performer” in the Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter so far this year, Skousen said. Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest publicly traded partnerships and a key North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals. 

The company’s services include natural gas gathering, treating, processing, transportation and storage. In addition, Enterprise Products Partners provides NGL transportation, fractionation, storage and import and export terminals. It further offers crude oil gathering, transportation, storage and terminals, along with petrochemical and refined products transportation, storage and terminals, as well as a marine transportation business.

I personally have owned Enterprise Products Partners since shortly after the 2020 stock market crash when I bought the stock as it started to recover. The stock has been trending upward since the end of 2021.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Money Manager Picks One of Six Commodities Investments to Buy

A seasoned investment professional told me that she likes farm machinery company Deere (NYSE: DE) to profit from agriculture. Michelle Connell, a former portfolio manager who now serves as president of Dallas-based Portia Capital Management, said she still likes Deere despite its 14% drop after it reported results last week.

Michelle Connell, CEO, Portia Capital Management

Deere’s key issues are supply-related, since demand for agricultural equipment remains strong, especially for the company’s machinery that is more environmentally friendly than its rivals, Connell continued.

Deere is also focused on providing the farming industry with autonomous equipment, Connell counseled. Wall Street analysts expect Deere to have a better story and performance in the second half of 2022 and in full-year 2023.

Connell cited the following to support her recommendation of Deere: 

-More than half its revenues come from large agriculture.

-If the war in Ukraine continues, U.S. farmers will benefit from higher prices for their crops.

-Increased agricultural profits mean that that farmers and farming corporations will be more likely to buy large, expensive farm equipment.  

Deere has fallen back since its recent high on April 20, so investors should be able to purchase shares at reduced prices, Connell continued.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Supply Chains May Improve as China Starts to Lower COVID Curbs

China is easing its COVID-19 restrictions and it could allow goods produced there to start flowing normally again in the coming weeks. China’s lockdowns have affected an estimated 373 million people, including roughly 40% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Disrupted supply chains have affected products such as rice, oil and natural gas.

Shanghai, home to the world’s largest port and 25 million residents, has strained to unload cargo due to strict regulations that have caused shipping containers to stack up. Some Shanghai residents posted videos online to complain about needing food, even though government officials sought to block such public expressions of frustration.

Chinese authorities also drew public criticism for forcibly separating young children with COVID-19 from their parents to prioritize stopping the spread of a new, contagious subvariant of Omicron, BA.2. The variant also has been causing new infections in European nations such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

U.S. COVID Deaths Climb Past 1-Million Mark

U.S. COVID-19 deaths crossed the 1-million mark last week and have climbed further to 1,002,726 as of May 24, according to Johns Hopkins University. Cases in the United States, as of that date, hit 83,501,455. America retains the dubious distinction as the country with the highest numbers of COVID-19 deaths and cases.

COVID-19 deaths worldwide totaled 6,280,342 on May 24, according to Johns Hopkins. Cases across the globe have climbed to 526,664,642.

Roughly 77.8% of the U.S. population, or 258,562,059, have obtained at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of May 24, the CDC reported. Fully vaccinated people total 221,001,614, or 66.6%, of America’s population, according to the CDC. The United States also has given at least one COVID-19 booster vaccine to 102.9 million people, up about 500,000 in the past week.

New data on so-called “long-haul” COVID patients released on May 24 reported that even though some symptoms improve others may persist, according to the Northwestern Medicine Neuro COVID-19 Clinic. Most of the 52 patients monitored in the Northwestern study reported “brain fog,” numbness or tingling, headache, dizziness, blurred vision and fatigue, even 15 months after initial diagnoses of COVID-19.

The six commodities investments to buy are intended to profit from rising energy, gold and grain prices. Despite the market’s volatility, the highest inflation in 40 years, the Fed’s plan for further interest rate hikes to curb price hikes and increasing federal deficits, investors are finding profitable opportunities in energy, gold and grains.

Paul Dykewicz, www.pauldykewicz.com, is an accomplished, award-winning journalist who has written for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, the Journal of Commerce, Seeking Alpha, Guru Focus and other publications and websites. Paul, who can be followed on Twitter @PaulDykewicz, is the editor of StockInvestor.com and DividendInvestor.com, a writer for both websites and a columnist. He further is editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications in Washington, D.C., where he edits monthly investment newsletters, time-sensitive trading alerts, free e-letters and other investment reports. Paul previously served as business editor of Baltimore’s Daily Record newspaper. Paul also is the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a foreword by former national championship-winning football coach Lou Holtz. The book is great as a gift and is endorsed by Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Ara Parseghian, “Rocket” Ismail, Reggie Brooks, Dick Vitale and many others. Call 202-677-4457 for multiple-book pricing.

 

The post Six Commodities Investments to Buy as Putin Wages War on Ukraine appeared first on Stock Investor.

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At least 19 children killed in Texas elementary school – 3 essential reads on America’s relentless gun violence

A school shooting in a small Texas town was almost as deadly as the worst such event in US history. Such shootings have increased in frequency over the…

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Friends and families gather outside the civic center after the mass school shooting on May 24, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

At least 19 children and one teacher were killed when a teenage gunman shot them at a Texas elementary school on May 24, 2022 – the latest mass shooting in a country in which such incidents have become common.

A lot remains unknown about the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a small, predominantly Latino town in South Texas. Police have not as yet revealed a possible motive behind the attack, in which the 18-year-old went classroom to classroom dressed in body armor and carrying two military-style rifles, according to reports.

As the graph below shows, the frequency of school shootings in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Here are three stories from The Conversation’s archives to help fill in the recent history of mass shootings in the U.S. - and explain why the government has failed to take action on gun control, despite the carnage.

1. School shootings are at a record high

The attack at Robb Elementary School was, according to the data, the 137th school shooting to take place in the U.S. so far this year. In 2021, there were 249 school shootings – by far the worst year on record.

James Densley, of Metropolitan State University, and Hamline University’s Jillian Peterson log such incidents in a database of U.S. mass shootings. It has helped them build a profile of the typical school shooting suspect – some of which appears to apply to the suspect in the latest massacre. School shooters overwhelmingly tend to be current or former students of the school they attack. And they are “almost always” in a crisis of some sort prior to the incident, as evidenced by changes in their behavior. Suspects are also often inspired by other school shooters, which could go some way in explaining the rapid growth in such attacks in recent years.

A crowd of people in uniforms and safety vests, standing near an ambulance and empty gurney.
Emergency personnel gather near Robb Elementary School following the shooting on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

Densley and Peterson write that the “overwhelming number of shootings and shooting threats” have left schools struggling to respond, resulting in a patchwork of different measures that have failed to slow the frequency of attacks across the states. The two scholars contrast this local response to school shooting in the U.S. to the national legislative action taken in countries such as the U.K., Finland and Germany, concluding: “School shootings are not inevitable. They’re preventable. But practitioners and policymakers must act quickly because each school shooting feeds the cycle for the next one, causing harm far beyond that which is measured in lives lost.”


Read more: School shootings are at a record high this year – but they can be prevented


A uniformed officer walks past a sign saying 'Welcome Robb Elementary School Bienvenidos'
An officer in uniform walks past a sign that says ‘Welcome Robb Elementary School Bienvenidos.’ Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images

2. More guns within reach of would-be school shooters

While some of the traits that make up a “typical” U.S. school shooter may appear in those living in other countries, too, there is one area in which the U.S. stands alone – access to guns.

The suspect in the Robb Elementary School reportedly bought his military-style rifles shortly after his 18th birthday. That he was able to do so apparently with ease is likely due to the lax gun control laws in place in Texas, where the alleged shooter lived, and in the U.S. That lack of substantive regulation has led to an ever-increasing number of firearms in the hands of U.S. residents – a trend that has only accelerated in recent years, as University of Michigan’s Patrick Carter and Marc A. Zimmerman and Rebeccah Sokol of Wayne State University note.

“Since the onset of the public health crisis, firearm sales have spiked. Many of these firearms have ended up in households with teenage children, increasing the risk of accidental or intentional injury or fatalities, or death by suicide,” they write. It also makes it easier for would-be school shooters to get their hands on firearms that left unsecured around the house.

“Most school shooters obtain the firearm from home. And the number of guns within reach of high school-age teenagers has increased during the pandemic,” they write.


Read more: Most school shooters get their guns from home – and during the pandemic, the number of firearms in households with teenagers went up


3. Why popular support for gun control isn’t enough

In response to the killings in Texas, calls for stronger gun control laws are already being made, including by President Joe Biden in his speech the night of the shooting. But as evidenced by the lack of meaningful political action after the Sandy Hook massacre, in which 20 children and six school staff members were killed, the chances of getting anything through Congress appear slim.

This is despite polling that shows that a majority of Americans actually support stronger gun laws such as a ban on assault weapons.

So why doesn’t the government do what the people want? Harry Wilson, a professor of public affairs at Roanoke College, has a three-part answer.

First, the United States is not a direct democracy and, as such, citizens do not make decisions themselves, Wilson writes. Instead, the power to make laws lies in the hands of their elected representatives in Congress. But “the composition and rules of Congress are also crucial, especially in the Senate,” he writes, “where each state has two votes. This allocation of senators disproportionately represents the interests of less populous states.”

Secondly, “polling and public opinion are not as straightforward as they seem. Focusing on only one or two poll questions can distort the public’s views regarding gun control,” says Wilson.

And finally, the influence of voters and interest groups acts as a counterbalance to popular opinion.

“Gun owners are more likely than non-owners to vote based on the issue of gun control, to have contacted an elected official about gun rights, and to have contributed money to an organization that takes a position on gun control,” writes Wilson.

Meanwhile lobbying groups representing huge membership, like the NRA, put further pressure on elected representatives. “Elected officials want votes. There is no doubt that money is essential for political campaigns, but votes, not money or polls, are what determine elections. If a group can supply votes, then it has power,” writes Wilson.


Read more: If polls say people want gun control, why doesn't Congress just pass it?


Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.

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Moderna CEO Laments ‘Throwing 30 Million Doses In The Garbage Because Nobody Wants Them’

Moderna CEO Laments ‘Throwing 30 Million Doses In The Garbage Because Nobody Wants Them’

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel is complaining about…

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Moderna CEO Laments 'Throwing 30 Million Doses In The Garbage Because Nobody Wants Them'

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel is complaining about having to 'throw away' 30 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine because 'nobody wants them.'

"It's sad to say, I'm in the process of throwing 30 million doses in the garbage because nobody wants them. We have a big demand problem," Bancel told an audience at the World Economic Forum, adding that attempts to contact various governments to see if anyone wants to pick up the slack was a total fail.

"We right now have governments - we tried to contact ... through the embassies in Washington. Every country, and nobody wants to take them."

"The issue in many countries is that people don't want vaccines."

Watch:

Bancel's comments come days after Bloomberg reported that EU health officials want to amend contracts with Pfizer and other vaccine makers in order to reduce supplies

During a virtual meeting organized by Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, governments shared a joint letter to the EU Commission which reads: "We hope that the discussion with the commission and among member states will allow flexibility in the vaccine agreements," adding "We are also counting on vaccine producers to show understanding to the exceptional challenges that Poland is facing supporting Ukraine and giving shelter to millions of Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war."

Some countries are seeking to amend so-called advanced purchase agreements signed with producers, as demand for shots wanes and budgets come under strain from the fallout of the war in Ukraine and the costs of accommodating refugees.

Adjusting deals with suppliers could grant member states the right to “re-phase, suspend or cancel altogether vaccine deliveries with short shelf life,” Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania’s prime ministers wrote in a joint letter to Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen late last month.

Meanwhile, in a separate letter the health ministry of Bulgaria called for an "open dialog" with the commission and pharmaceutical companies, arguing that the current arrangement forces member states to "purchase quantities of vaccines they don’t need."

Tyler Durden Tue, 05/24/2022 - 21:45

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