There is a sense of almost detached resignation amid trading desks as we enter the last trading day of a chaotic, volatile week that has whipsawed and stopped out virtually everyone after the Nasdaq saw the biggest intraday reversal since Thursday and pattern and momentum trading has become impossible amid one headline tape-bomb after another.
After yesterday furious tumble and sharp, last hour rebound, US equity futures are once again lower expecting fresh developments in the Huawei CFO arrest and trade war saga while today’s payroll report may redirect the Fed’s tightening focus in wage growth comes in hotter than the 3.1% expected; at the same time European stocks have rebounded from their worst day in more than two years while Asian shares posted modest gains as investors sought to end a bruising week on a more upbeat note. While stock trading was far calmer than Thursday, signs of stress remained just below the surface as the dollar jumped, Treasuries rose and oil whipsawed amid fears Iran could scuttle today’s OPEC deal.
The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 0.3% on the day, on track to end the week down 2%.
After Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index sharp drop on Thursday, which tumbled the most since the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016, Friday saw Europe’s broadest index jump 1.2% as every sector rallied following the cautious trade in the Asia-Pac session and the rebound seen on Wall Street where the Dow clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. European sectors are experiencing broad-based gains with marginal outperformance in the tech sector as IT names bounce back from yesterday’s Huawei-driven slump.
Technology stocks lead gains on Stoxx 600 Index, with the SX8P Index up as much as 2.3%, outperforming the 1.1% gain in the wider index; Nokia topped the sector index with a 5.9% advance in Helsinki after Thursday’s public holiday, having missed out on initial gains from rival Huawei’s troubles that earlier boosted Ericsson. Inderes said the arrest of Huawei CFO over potential violations of American sanctions on Iran will benefit Nokia and Ericsson, who are the main rivals of Huawei and ZTE. Similarly, Jefferies wrote in a note on Chinese networks that China may have to offer significant concessions to buy Huawei an “out of jail” card and reach a trade deal, with China’s tech subsidies and “buy local” policies potentially under attack. “For example, why would Nokia and Ericsson have only 20% share in China’s 4G market,” analysts wrote.
Meanwhile, energy names were volatile as the complex awaits further hints from the key OPEC+ meeting today. In terms of individual movers, Fresenius SE (-15.0%) fell to the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the company cut medium-term guidance, citing lower profit expectations at its clinics unit Helios and medical arm Fresenius Medical Care (-7.8%). The news sent Fresenius BBB- rated bonds tumbling, renewing fears of a deluge of “fallen angels.” On the flip side, Bpost (+7.5%) and Tesco (+4.8%) are hovering near the top of the pan-Europe index amid broker upgrades.
Earlier in the session, Japanese equities outperformed as most Asian gauges nudged higher. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan nudged up 0.2%, though that followed a 1.8 percent drubbing on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.8 percent. Chinese shares, which were up earlier in the day, slipped into negative territory with the blue chips off 0.1 percent.
E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 also started firmer but were last down 0.4 percent. Markets face a test from U.S. payrolls data later in the session amid speculation that the U.S. economy is heading for a tough patch after years of solid growth.
Will the last employment report released this year (the December report comes out in early January) help markets to continue to form a base? The consensus for nonfarm payrolls today is for a 198k print, following the stronger-thanexpected 250k reading last month. Average hourly earnings are expected to rise +0.3% mom which should be enough to keep the annual reading at +3.1% yoy while the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.7%. DB’s economists are more or less in line with the consensus with a 200k forecast and also expect earnings to climb +0.3% mom, however that would be consistent with a small tick up in the annual rate to +3.17% and the fastest pace since April 2009. They also expect the current pace of job growth to push the unemployment rate down to 3.6% which would be the lowest since December 1969.
Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell confused traders when late on Thursday, he emphasized the strength of the labor market, throwing a wrench into trader expectations the Fed is poised to pause tightening – arguably the catalyst for Thursday’s market-closing ramp following a WSJ article which reported Fed officials were considering whether to signal a new wait-and-see mentality after a likely rate increase at their meeting in December.
While Friday’s market has stabilized, for many the recent gyrations are just too much. For Dennis Debusschere, head of portfolio strategy at Evercore ISI, there’s still far too much risk to wade back into a market this riven by volatility. “Overall still untradeable in our opinion, until we get more clarity on trade and we think it will pay to wait this out,” he wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “That being said, our desk is open for business if you’re feeling up to trading this backdrop.”
Meanwhile, the big question is what happens next year: “The big question mark still is what’s going to happen in 2019” with the Fed, Omar Aguilar, CIO of equities and multi-asset strategies at Charles Schwab, told Bloomberg TV. “The jobs report could easily be the catalyst that will tell us a little more about what the path may be.”
Expecting that a big slowdown is coming, interest rate futures rallied hard in massive volumes with the market now pricing in less than half a hike next year, compared to just a month ago when they had been betting on more than two increases. Treasuries extended their blistering rally, driving 10-year yields down to a three-month trough at 2.8260 percent, before last trading at 2.8863 percent. Yields on two-year notes fell a huge 10 basis points at one stage on Thursday and were last at 2.75 percent. Investors also steamrolled the yield curve to its flattest in over a decade, a trend that has historically presaged economic slowdowns and even recessions.
The seismic shock spread far and wide. Yields on 10-year paper sank to the lowest in six months in Germany, almost 12 months in Canada and 16 months in Australia. Italian debt climbed as European bonds largely drifted.
The greenback advanced against most of its Group-of-10 peers ahead of U.S. jobs data that are expected to show hiring slowed last month. The pound fell as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be weighing a plan to postpone the vote on her Brexit deal.
In commodity markets, gold firmed to near a five-month peak as the dollar eased and the threat of higher interest rates waned. Spot gold stood 0.1 percent higher at $1,239.49 per ounce. Oil was less favored, however, falling further as OPEC delayed a decision on output cuts while awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia. Brent futures fell 0.5 percent to $59.77 a barrel, while U.S. crude also lost half a percent to $51.19. Cryptocurrencies continued their collapse with fresh losses after U.S. regulators dashed hopes that a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund would appear before the end of this year.
- S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 2,680.00
- STOXX Europe 600 up 1.3% to 347.69
- MXAP up 0.2% to 151.21
- MXAPJ up 0.2% to 485.67
- Nikkei up 0.8% to 21,678.68
- Topix up 0.6% to 1,620.45
- Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 26,063.76
- Shanghai Composite up 0.03% to 2,605.89
- Sensex up 0.9% to 35,631.53
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 5,681.49
- Kospi up 0.3% to 2,075.76
- German 10Y yield rose 0.8 bps to 0.244%
- Euro down 0.05% to $1.1368
- Italian 10Y yield rose 13.9 bps to 2.835%
- Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 1.46%
- Brent futures up 0.2% to $60.16/bbl
- Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,239.70
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.88
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- The arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada over potential violations of American sanctions on Iran has triggered a debate in China over whether to carry on with trade talks with the U.S. or link the two issues and retaliate; Meng will have a bail hearing Friday to determine whether she is a flight risk and should remain in detention during proceedings on extradition to the U.S.
- Oil extended losses near $51 a barrel after OPEC entered a second day of talks in an attempt to draw up a deal to cut output. Iran sees no possibility of agreeing to reduce its output, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Friday
- Theresa May met with her top ministers in London on Thursday to discuss options of delaying the Dec. 11 Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal to avoid a landslide defeat that would risk a major U.K. political crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter
- EU leaders are poised to turn their next summit into a Brexit crisis meeting, but so far, it doesn’t look like they’re willing to offer her anything that could help to break the deadlock in the U.K. Parliament
- Angela Merkel’s long exit from politics begins Friday when her party gathers in Hamburg to decide whether to appoint her chosen successor as its new leader or break with the legacy of her 13 years in charge of Germany
- Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria has complained that he is the victim of one ambush after another as his future is called into question amid tensions with populist leaders over a spending spree to fund election policies, according to newspaper Il Giornale
Asian stocks saw cautious gains with the region getting an early tailwind after the sharp rebound on Wall St, where most majors inished lower albeit off worse levels as tech recovered and the DJIA clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. ASX 200 (+0.4%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.8%) were both higher at the open but gradually pared some of the gains as the risk tone began to turn cautious heading into today’s key-risk NFP jobs data. Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (U/C) were indecisive amid further PBoC inaction in which it remained net neutral for a 5th consecutive week and with the upcoming Chinese trade data over the weekend adding to tentativeness, while pharmaceuticals were the worst hit due to concerns of price declines from the government’s centralized procurement program. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat amid a similar picture in T-note futures and although early selling pressure was seen in Japanese bonds alongside the strong open in stocks, prices later recovered as the risk appetite somewhat dissipated.
Top Asian News
- China’s FX Reserves Rose Despite Intervention, Outflow Signs
- Hong Kong May Slip Into Recession in 2019, Deutsche Bank Warns
- SoftBank Seeks to Assuage Investors on Pre-IPO Mobile Outage
- Southeast Asia Reserves Recover a Bit in November as Rout Eases
European equities extended on gains from the cash open (Eurostoxx 50 +1.2%) following the cautious trade in the Asia-Pac session and the rebound seen on Wall St where the Dow clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. European sectors are experiencing broad-based gains with marginal outperformance in the tech sector as IT names bounce back from yesterday’s Huawei-driven slump. Meanwhile, energy names are volatile (currently marginally underperforming) as the complex awaits further hints from the key OPEC+ meeting today. In terms of individual movers, Fresenius SE (-15.0%) fell to the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the company cut medium-term guidance, citing lower profit expectations at its clinics unit Helios and medical arm Fresenius Medical Care (-7.8%). On the flip side, Bpost (+7.5%) and Tesco (+4.8%) are hovering near the top of the pan-Europe index amid broker upgrades.
Top European News
- LandSec, Undeterred by Brexit, Makes New Bet on London Offices
- Danske Says It’s Looking Into Selling Its Swedish Pension Assets
- Chinese Group Agrees to Buy Amer Sports in $5.2 Billion Deal
- Bad Air Warnings in London And Paris Peak With Fish And Chips
- DXY – Typically rangebound trade in the run up to US labour data, and with markets also monitoring OPEC+ headlines as a decision on whether to cut output and if so by how much remains highly uncertain. The index is hovering just under the 97.000 handle within a 96.767-96.931 band, and well within nearest technical support and resistance levels at 96.300 and 97.311 respectively.
- GBP – A marginal G10 underperformer as Cable retreats back below 1.2750 from just above 1.2800 at one stage, but this could be more flow-related rather than anything fundamental as Eur/Gbp rallied towards 0.8930 peaks from just under the big figure into the Frankfurt fixing before drifting back again. However, Halifax house prices were much weaker than expected and latest Brexit news is hardly Sterling supportive given more speculation about delaying the meaningful vote to try and avoid a resounding rejection, even though the Government appears to be resolute and standing firm on December 11.
- NZD/AUD – The Kiwi is at the opposite end of a relatively narrow Usd/Major spectrum, and like the Pound also impacted by indirect factors to a degree, if not in the main. Indeed, Nzd/Usd remains capped ahead of 0.6900, but Aud/Nzd is pivoting 1.0500 as the Aussie unit continues to feel the adverse effects of recent bearish impulses, namely softer than forecast Q3 GDP and a more dovish RBA via Debelle. Hence, Aud/Usd is softer between 0.7210-40 parameters and bound to be wary of huge option expiries from 0.7250-60 in 6.6 bn that form a formidable barrier ahead of circa 1.2 bn up at 0.7300.
- EUR/JPY – In the pre-NFP ‘hiatus’ and awaiting anything further on the Italian budget front, option expiries may also exert directional impetus on Eur/Usd and Usd/Jpy, as the former faces 2+ bn at the 1.1400 strike and latter is flanked by 1+ bn at 112.50 and 113.00.
- CAD – The Loonie has pared a bit more lost ground from recent lows, albeit partly due to a broad Usd retracement, eyeing OPEC and also Canada’s jobs report given latest BoC guidance indicating even greater data dependency. Usd/Cad currently just shy of the 1.3400 mark vs 1.3440+ at one stage yesterday.
In commodities, WTI (+0.2%) and Brent (+0.9%) are choppy in what was a volatile session thus far as comments from energy ministers emerged ahead of the key OPEC+ meeting, after yesterday’s OPEC talks ended with no deal for the first time in almost five years. Brent rose after source reports noted that Moscow are ready to cut output by 200k BPD (below OPEC’s desire of 250k-300k but above Russia’s prior “maximum” of 150k) if OPEC are willing to curb production by over 1mln BPD. Prices then fell to session lows following a less constructive tone from Saudi Energy Minister who reiterated that he is not confident there will be a deal today, which came after delegates noted that OPEC talks are focused on a combined OPEC+ cut of 1mln BPD (650k from OPEC and 350k from Non-OPEC). Markets are awaiting the start of the OPEC+ meeting after delegates stated that talks are at deadlocked as Iran appears to be the main sticking point to an OPEC deal, though sources emerged stating that Iran, Venezuela and Libya are set to get exemptions from cuts, adding that OPEC and Russia are looking for a symbolic production commitment from Iran as fears arise that Iran may not be able to follow-through on curb pledges due to US sanctions. In terms of metals, gold hovers around session highs and is set for the best week since August with the USD trading in a tight range ahead of the key US jobs data later today, while London copper rose over a percent is underpinned by the positive risk tone.
US Event Calendar
- 8:30am: Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. 198,000, prior 250,000
- Unemployment Rate, est. 3.7%, prior 3.7%; Underemployment Rate, prior 7.4%
- Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 0.2%; YoY, est. 3.1%, prior 3.1%
- 8:30am: Average Weekly Hours All Employees, est. 34.5, prior 34.5
- 10am: Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7%; Wholesale Trade Sales MoM, prior 0.2%
- 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 97, prior 97.5; Current Conditions, prior 112.3; Expectations, prior 88.1
- 3pm: Consumer Credit, est. $15.0b, prior $10.9b
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
The age of innocence has truly gone in financial markets after a turbulent 24 hours but one that saw a spectacular rally after Europe closed last night and one that has steadily carried on in Asia overnight (more on this below). Before we get to that I’m on an intense client marketing roadshow at the moment on the 2019 Credit outlook and there are a litany of worries out there from investors. Maybe I’m trying to be too cute here but I think the problems we’re seeing in credit at the moment are more of a “ghost of Xmas future” rather than a sign of an imminent disaster scenario. However my overall confidence that credit will blow up around the end of this cycle has only intensified in the last couple of weeks. Liquidity is awful in credit and it’s been a broken two way market for several years (probably as long as I’ve worked in it – 24 years). However this has got worse this cycle as the size of the market has grown rapidly but dealer balance sheets have reduced. As such you can buy massive size at new issue but your ability to sell in secondary is constrained to a small percentage of this. This didn’t matter much when inflows dominated – as they mostly did in this cycle pre-2018 – but in a year of outflows across the board the lack of a proper two way market is increasingly being felt. As discussed I don’t think this is the start of the crisis yet but be warned that when this economic cycle does roll over or even starts to operate at stall speed the credit market will be very messy and will influence other markets again.
On the positive side and despite a very steep mid-session selloff, US markets ultimately closed well off the lows. The DOW, S&P 500 and NASDAQ finished -0.32%, -0.15% and +0.42% respectively, though they traded as low as -3.14%, -2.91%, and -2.43% respectively, around noon in New York. At its lows, the S&P 500 was on course for its worst two-session stretch since February, and before that you’d have to go back to August 2015 or 2011 to find the last episode with as steep a two-day drop. The DOW and S&P 500 dipped into negative territory for the year again, but clawed back and are now +0.92% and +0.84% YTD (+3.16% and +2.69% on a total return basis). The NASDAQ has clung to its outperformance, as it is now up +4.13% this year, or +5.20% on a total return basis, though of course the difference is narrower in the low-dividend paying, high-growth tech index.
Unsurprisingly, the moves yesterday coincided with higher volatility with the VIX climbing as much as +5.2pts to 25.94 and pretty much back to the October highs, though it too rallied alongside the equity market to end close to flat at 21.15. Meanwhile, the price action was even uglier in Europe as the US lows were around the close. The STOXX 600 plunged -3.09% and is down -4.22% in two days – the most in two days since June 2016. Nowhere was safe. The DAX (-3.48%), CAC (-3.32%), FTSE MIB (-3.54%) and IBEX (-2.75%) all saw huge moves lower. The DAX has now joined the Italy’s FSTEMIB in bear market territory, as it is now -20.49% off its highs earlier this year. The FTSEMIB is down -24.04% from its highs. European Banks – which were already down nearly -27% YTD going into yesterday – tumbled -4.29% for the biggest daily fall since May and the third biggest since immediately after Brexit. The index is now at the lowest since October 2016 and within 17% of the June 2016 lows all of a sudden. US Banks fell -1.87%, though they had dipped -4.3% at their troughs to touch the lowest level since September 2017.
As for credit, HY cash spreads in Europe and the US were +8.5bps and +14.8bps wider respectively. For context, US spreads are now at the widest since December 2016 and this is the best performing broad credit market over the last couple of years. In bond markets, 10y Treasuries rallied-2.4bps but was as much as 9bps lower intra-day. Thanks to an outperformance at the front end (two-year fell -3.7bps), the 2s10s curve actually ended a shade steeper at 13.0bps (+1.3bps on the day). However that move for the 10y now puts it at the lowest since September at 2.89%, and only +48.6bps above where we started the year. The spread on the Dec 19 to Dec 18 eurodollar contract – indicative for what is priced into Fed hikes for next year – is down to just 16bps. It was at 60bps in October. This certainly appears to be too low, though a Wall Street Journal article yesterday seemed to signal a willingness by the Fed to moderate its pace of rate hikes. Finally, in Europe, Bunds closed -4.1bps lower at 0.236%.
Quite amazing moves with Bunds continuing to defy all fundamental logic and trading instead as a risk-off lightning rod. There was some talk that the sharp moves lower at the open yesterday were exaggerated by the unexpected midweek close for markets in the US which resulted in futures systems failing to be programmed to adjust and orders backing up. However the combination of a -2.25% drop for WTI (-5.2% at the lows) post the OPEC meeting (more below) and the Huawei story that we mentioned yesterday certainly aided to the initial malaise. There was some talk that both the Chinese and US authorities would have been aware of the arrest before last weekend’s talks and as such this story shouldn’t be necessarily a threat to the truce, though Reuters reported last night that President Trump did not know about the planned arrest. The implications of this are unclear, since it could mean that Trump has less direct control over the arresting agency, but it could also indicate that the move is not part of trade policy. Either way, how this development will be key for the market moving forward, especially any response from Chinese officials.
This morning in Asia markets are largely trading higher with the Nikkei (+0.60%), Hang Seng (+0.21%), Shanghai Comp (+0.08%) and Kospi (+0.51%) all up. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 (-0.11%) are pointing towards a flattish start. Meantime crude oil (WTI -0.39% and Brent -0.60%) prices are continuing to trade lower this morning. It wouldn’t be an EMR worth it’s place in the daily schedule without an Italy and Brexit update. As we go to print Italian daily La Stampa has reported that the Italian Premier Conte and Deputy Premier Di Maio are in favour of the resignation of Finance Minister Tria while Deputy Premier Salvini is against his resignation. So signs of tension. In the U.K. a few press articles (like Bloomberg) are suggesting that PM May is considering postponing Tuesday’s big vote. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of substance to the story at the moment but it mentions going back to the EU for concessions on the Irish backstop as one possibility. How the EU will feel would be the obvious question.
As mentioned earlier, oil had a difficult session yesterday, falling back to its recent lows with WTI touching a $50 handle and Brent trading back below $60 per barrel. The first day of the OPEC summit did not appear promising for the odds of a new production deal, as the ministers apparently discussed a 1 million barrel per day cut, below the 1.5 million needed to balance the market.The Libyan oil minister abruptly left before the day’s meetings concluded, and the organization canceled their scheduled press conference. The Russian delegation will join the OPEC contingent today in an effort to finalize a deal, but Saudi Energy Minister al-Falih said that “Russia is not ready for a substantial cut.” Watch this space today.
Overnight, the Fed Chair Powell delivered an upbeat message on the US economy and the Job market ahead of today’s payrolls release. He said, “our economy is currently performing very well overall, with strong job creation and gradually rising wages,’’ while adding, “in fact, by many national-level measures, our labour market is very strong.’’ Elsewhere, the Fed’s John Williams said yesterday that the biggest challenge which the policy makers are facing is achieving a soft landing. He said, “we have a pretty strong economy — unemployment pretty low, inflation near our goal — it’s just managing a soft landing, keeping this expansion going for the next few years.”
So will the last employment report released this year (the December report comes out in early January) help markets to continue to form a base? The consensus for nonfarm payrolls today is for a 198k print, following the stronger-thanexpected 250k reading last month. Average hourly earnings are expected to rise +0.3% mom which should be enough to keep the annual reading at +3.1% yoy while the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 3.7%. Our US economists are more or less in line with the consensus with a 200k forecast and also expect earnings to climb +0.3% mom, however that would be consistent with a small tick up in the annual rate to +3.17% and the fastest pace since April 2009. They also expect the current pace of job growth to push the unemployment rate down to 3.6% which would be the lowest since December 1969.
Going into that, yesterday’s ADP employment change report for November was a tad disappointing at 179k (vs. 195k expected) while more interestingly the recent tick up in initial jobless claims held with the print coming in at 231k. The four-week moving average is now 228k and the highest since April having gotten as low as 206k in September. So the climb, while not yet at concerning levels, is certainly notable and worth watching now on a week to week basis. As for the other interesting data points yesterday, the October trade deficit was confirmed as reaching a new cyclical wide. The ISM non-manufacturing print for November was a relative positive after coming in at 60.7, up 0.4pts from October and ahead of expectations for a decline to 59.0. Worth noting is that the three-month moving average of non-manufacturing ISM is now the highest on record which is a fairly reliable lead indicator for private nonfarm payrolls. US durable goods orders for October were revised slightly higher to -4.3% mom from -4.4%, though the core measures stayed at 0.0% mom. Factory orders declined -2.1% mom, though both were nevertheless higher year-on-year.
As for the day ahead, the aforementioned November employment in the US will no doubt be front and centre, however, prior to that, we’ve October industrial production prints in Germany and France, along with Q3 labour costs in the former, and the final Q3 GDP revisions for the Euro Area (no change from +0.2% qoq second reading expected). We’ll also get the monthly inflation reporting for November in the UK. Also due out in the US is October wholesale inventories and trade sales, the preliminary December University of Michigan survey and October consumer credit. November foreign reserves data in China is also expected out at some point. Away from that the OPEC/OPEC+ meeting moves into the final day while the ECB’s Coeure and Fed’s Brainard are scheduled to speak. Today is also the day that Germany’s ruling CDU party elects a new chair to succeed Merkel. Our FX strategists noted yesterday that according to polls, the result should be a close call between general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karranbauer (AKK) and Friedrich Merz. Broadly speaking, AKK stands for a continuation of the Merkel-era strategy of positioning the CDU at the centre of the political spectrum, whereas Merz stands for a sharpening of the party’s traditional profile as a centre-right party. Last night our German economics team put out a piece explaining the event and suggesting that Merz would be good for the DAX and AKK good for the Euro.
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