The fraught, government-assisted courtship of troubled German banking giants Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank has hit yet another snag. According to a series of reports published Thursday morning, concerns about a mass defection of mutual clients moving some, or all, of their business is giving Deutsche Bank – long reputed to be the more reluctant partner – cold feet.
Deutsche CEO Christian Sewing is reportedly trying to devise a ‘Plan B’ to pitch to investors who support the tie-up. These investors are reportedly demanding that if Deutsche doesn’t go ahead with the merger, it must come up with a plan to turnaround its struggling business as its streak of declining revenue is widely expected to continue.
However, while investors are demanding that the bank try ‘something different’, the options reportedly under consideration (as described by Bloomberg) sound like more of the same: They include a) more cost cuts, focusing on DB’s investment bank and b) a nebulous ‘strategy shift’ that would involve more upfront costs. However, Sewing must at least find a way to paint the turd gold, so to speak, since a return to his original strategy simply ‘wouldn’t be credible’.
In another sign that the deal could be headed for the rocks, BBG noted that after five weeks of talks, the two banks are apparently no closer to a deal. Meanwhile, more Social Democrats, the party of finance minister Olaf Scholz – who is perhaps the biggest proponent of a merger, which he hopes will create a new German ‘national champion’ to support its industrial sector – are siding with the labor unions from the two banks, which have warned that a merger could lead to the loss of 40,000 jobs.
Yet even after senior ECB policymakers reportedly expressed skepticism about the deal, the talks have continued, perhaps because two other European lenders, Italy’s Unicredit and Dutch ING, have expressed an overt interest in buying Commerzbank.
Deutsche Bank Supervisory Board Chairman Paul Achleitner has said DB will give an update by April 26, when DB’s Q1 earnings are due out. Commerzbank has been pushing for an earlier update.
But in a sign that critics of the deal (of which there are many, including the Qatari wealth funds that are among the biggest shareholders in the two banks) are making headway in trying to stop it, the Financial Times reported that the prospects for ‘revenue attrition’ are why DB is suddenly getting nervous. BBG added that doubts about cost savings and the battle to raise capital to finance the deal are also among the bank’s concerns.
In another area where the two banks don’t see eye to eye, Deutsche Bank’s estimates for how much revenue would be lost as a consequence of the deal are significantly higher than Commerzbank’s.
Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are at odds over how many clients would ditch the Frankfurt-based rivals if they merged, highlighting one of the many obstacles to a deal that could transform the face of German banking. Many companies in Germany are clients of both Deutsche and Commerzbank.
Some of them are expected to move parts of their business to rival lenders if the merger happens to avoid becoming overly dependent on a single lender. Deutsche’s internal estimates suggest that this would result in lost revenue of slightly more than €1bn a year, or about 3.5 per cent of the two lenders’ combined pro forma revenue of €33.5bn.
Commerzbank’s view is much more benign, however. It expects that the merged group will suffer only about half of the revenue losses its larger rival is predicting, people familiar with the matter told the Financial Times.
For what it’s worth, JPM’s estimates are more in line with Commerzbank’s.
Kian Abouhossein, analyst at JPMorgan, estimated earlier this year that about 2.5 per cent of joint revenue — or just under €900m by 2021 — would disappear “due to [an] overlap in clients and businesses”. He estimated the merged group would have its “biggest overlap in Mittelstand, followed by international corporates, financial institutions and small business customers”.
But in a ironic twist, it’s looking increasingly plausible that Deutsche Bank’s track record of being “the biggest money laundering bank in the world” – as Maxine Waters so eloquently put it – might end up sinking the deal that its CEO so clearly doesn’t want. According to a separate report in the FT citing internal Deutsche Bank sources, the bank has reportedly estimated that it processed at least €175 million ($197 million) of dirty money for Russian criminals between 2011 and 2014. The bank is bracing itself for fines and litigation. And this doesn’t include the €160 billion ($180 billion) in ‘suspicious’ money that it processed on behalf of Danske Bank’s Estonian branch.
Regulatory concerns about AML might be one potential out for DB. But if the bank really must come up with a ‘Plan B’ if it wants to justify abandoning the talks without risking shareholder backlash, well, we can only think of one realistic alternative: Let Deutsche Bank fail.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2VRyAy1 Tyler Durden
Later today the public will finally get their hands on the long-awaited Mueller report – albeit with color-coded redactions to identify the multiple reasons that certain information from the almost 400-page report can’t be shared with Congress or the public.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Rod Rosenstein will hold a press conference Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Washington to discuss the release, while the report will be delivered to Congress via compact disc between 11 a.m. and noon according to Bloomberg.
Democratic leaders blasted Barr’s decision to brief the White House before the release of the report – with five House chairmen releasing a joint statement demanding that Barr cancel the press conference and “let the full report speak for itself.” According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mueller’s testimony in front of Congress “as soon as possible” is the only way to restore public trust after what they called Barr’s “regrettably partisan handling” of the report.
“This press conference, which apparently will not include Special Counsel Mueller, is unnecessary and inappropriate, and appears designed to shape public perceptions of the report before anyone can read it,” reads the letter.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), who signed the letter, also chimed in on the way the Mueller report is being released
I’m deeply troubled by reports that the WH is being briefed on the Mueller report AHEAD of its release. Now, DOJ is informing us we will not receive the report until around 11/12 tomorrow afternoon — AFTER Barr’s press conference. This is wrong. #ReleaseTheReporthttps://t.co/bR50HhGJ0i
In a taste of the bickering in store, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) mocked Nadler, tweeting that he’s “deeply troubled” by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants.”
I’m “deeply troubled” by the way the Clinton email probe ended, the way the Trump-Russia collusion probe began & how some at the DOJ/FBI abused FISA for the Page spy warrants. I’m “deeply troubled” by how the justice system was weaponized attempting a takedown of Donald Trump. https://t.co/kZHb3y5Tgn
Mueller’s massive investigation saw more than 2,800 subpoenas issued, nearly 500 search warrants, and around the same number of witness interviews, according to Barr. Also included by Mueller was a series of exhibits, however it’s unclear if that will be released.
Some members of Congress will be allowed to view a copy of Mueller’s report “without certain redactions,” according to a Wednesday filing by federal prosecutors.
“Once the redacted version of the report has been released to the public, the Justice Department plans to make available for review by a limited number of Members of Congress and their staff a copy of the Special Counsel’s report without certain redactions, including removing the redaction of information related to the charges set forth in the indictment in this case,” they wrote in the filing.
According to Bloomberg, citing a person familiar with the matter, the Mueller report will answer a key complaints Democrats have had since Barr released a four-page summary of the report; why did Mueller decline to make a decision on whether to charge Trump with obstruction of justice – something he spent months investigating?
The special counsel found there was evidence “on both sides of the question” of whether Trump obstructed justice and that his probe didn’t “exonerate” the president, according to a four-page summarythat Barr released last month.
Nonetheless, Barr and Rosenstein concluded that the evidence on obstruction didn’t warrant a criminal charge after Mueller submitted his final report. –Bloomberg
The Mueller report won’t be a comprehensive narrative that “tries to reconstruct all the events of the 2016 campaign,” notes Bloomberg.
Justice Department regulations say that Mueller should explain in a report to the attorney general the decisions that he made on who to prosecute, and he can choose to discuss additional relevant findings.
Barr is going beyond what’s required under Justice Department regulations by sharing any of the report. The regulations require only that he inform Congress if the special counsel was prevented from taking a significant action. Barr has said there was no such situation. –Bloomberg
What to look for
For starters, it will be interesting to note whether Mueller actually investigated the genesis of the FBI’s decision to launch their counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign, as well as the history and use of the controversial and largely unverified “Steele Dossier” used to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Some have suggested that FBI’s investigation was a setup from the beginning. Recall that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS – who paid a former UK spy, Christopher Steele, who compiled a bogus dossier using Kremlin sources, which was then used against Trump both at the federal level and in court of public opinion.
Also recall that Maltese professor (and self-admitted Clinton foundation member) Joseph Mifsud seeded Trump aide George Papadopoulos with the rumor that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
Papadopoulos would later drunkenly pass this information to Australian diplomat (and Clinton ally) Alexander Downer, whose report reached the FBI and launched operation crossfire hurricane.
The FBI would then employ at least one spy to “infiltrate” (spy on) the Trump campaign.
Also of interest will be clues as to why Barr and Rosenstein didn’t establish that Trump or his campaign did not obstruct the investigation.
That said, Democrats are hoping that the report might reveal evidence of Trump-Russia collusion that simply didn’t rise to the level of charging anyone with a criminal conspiracy.
The report also might reveal who on the campaign directed long-time Trump associate Roger Stone to communicate with WikiLeaks about releasing information damaging to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the weeks before the election.
It could also shed light on the relationship between Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who Mueller prosecuted, and Konstantin Kilimnik, who Mueller has said has ties to Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik was indicted last year on conspiracy to obstruct justice. –Bloomberg
Barr and Mueller have worked together over the last several weeks to redact key portions of the report – and have used color-coded labels to indicate why various things can’t be seen by Congress or the public. These include grand jury proceedings, classified programs and ongoing investigations – as well as things that could damage the reputations of individuals who were “peripheral” to the investigation.
Barr says he won’t withhold damaging information about public officials, however – including Trump – simply to protect their reputations.
The attorney general also could withhold details of internal White House deliberations, citing executive privilege. He told lawmakers on April 9 that he decided not to seek Trump’s input and had “no plans” to assert the privilege traditionally asserted by presidents who say they need to be able to have private conversations.
That type of information could reveal Trump’s conversations before he fired FBI director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, as well as attempts the president made to fire other top Justice Department officials. –Bloomberg
“A heavily redacted report should not be acceptable to anyone, especially if the report was redacted to protect the president or his associates,” said former New York federal prosecutor Harry Sandick, currently a white-collar criminal defense lawyer.
Prosecutors gave some clue as to what’s going on with the redactions – which are also intended to protect the privacy of uncharged third parties and investigations on “a number of matters” which Mueller has passed along to other prosecutors.
“It is unknown how long some of these investigations may remain ongoing,” said Assistant US Attorney Jonathan Kravis. “And some of the privacy interests that are being protected may persist indefinitely.“
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2UHs6p6 Tyler Durden
Initial jobless claims keep grinding lower and lower.
The last time this few Americans sought the help of government after losing a job was in November 1969. Initial Jobless Claims tumbled another 5K from the prior week’s revised 197K to just 192K: the second consecutive sub-200K print in 50 years, and the lowest print since September 1969.
While the number will probably not come as a big surprise in light of the recent sharp rebound in payrolls, the Fed will be hard pressed to explain why it is pausing its rate hikes at a time when the fewest number of Americans are filing for jobless benefits in half a century.
For some context, the last time claims were this low:
The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” Album hit #1
Wendy’s Hamburgers, American fast food restaurant chains founded by Dave Thomas opens in Columbus, Ohio
Alcatraz Island off SF, is seized by militant Native Americans
US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
So much for that government shutdown Q1 weakness.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2PjRVp9 Tyler Durden
Having re-slumped in February, after bounding back from December’s plunge, US Retail Sales were expected to rebound solidly in March (as analysts projected auto sales and a bounce in gas prices would help) and it did.
Headline retail sales rose 1.6% MoM in March (crushing the 1.0% expected)
Under the hood, every single category rose in April except sporting goods, hobby, and book stores…
While Autos and gas stations soared…
Core retail sales (ex autos and gas stations) rebounded notably in March after it plunged in February…
Everything is awesome again – like it was in January, remember?
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Djsore Tyler Durden
Just hours after we reported three new executive departures – and just days ahead of Tesla’s Autonomous Driving event – the good, old fashioned oil-backed naked-short selling conspiracy FUD just keeps on rolling in.
A Tesla vehicle near Pittsburgh caught fire and burned for hours on Wednesday night at an area service garage. The fire occurred despite Tesla engineers reportedly having access to the vehicle prior to moving it. The photos are stunning, showing what appears to be a vehicle that has been close to completely incinerated and reduced to a heap of smoldering wreckage.
The same car had previously caught fire back in February in a garage around the same area, according to CBS 2 Pittsburgh. It was being towed to a new shop on Wednesday and “somehow” caught fire again, despite the fact that a Tesla engineer tried to reduce the risk of fire by removing the fuse from the battery pack prior to transporting the vehicle.
“We removed the car from the garage. A Tesla engineer removed the fuse from the battery pack prior to transport, indicating that would make the car safe for transport. We brought it here to Monroeville, arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon, and about 6:20, the car spontaneously caught fire,” forensic engineer David Bizzak said.
The car burned for about four hours before firefighters were able to get it under control.
Recall, back in December, we wrote an article about a brand new Model S that spontaneously combusted – twice. The car was not being worked on and was not involved in a collision when it caught fire in a tire shop parking lot near the Bay Area, according to NBC. After the fire department arrived and the Tesla was subsequently towed away, it then reignited a second time at a tow yard.
The owner of the tire shop said after the vehicle was brought in on a tow truck and they noticed a “hissing sound” coming from it before the vehicle went up in flames. The batteries in the vehicle continued to burn long after the flames were put out, the fire department concluded, and there was no indication that anyone was shooting at the batteries this time – so there goes that excuse.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2GlYhjI Tyler Durden
Are you ready for the biggest non-event in recent American political history? The mainstream media is treating Thursday’s release of the Mueller report as an event of critical historical importance, but it isn’t. Unless Attorney General William Barr was lying to us in his summary of the report, there aren’t going to be any major bombshells. Of course anti-Trump forces will be sifting through the report for any nuggets that they can possibly use, but in the end it will be a fruitless exercise. Trump never colluded with the Russians, and Mueller didn’t find enough to charge Trump with obstruction of justice. So please feel free to skip reading the full 400 page report, because you can undoubtedly put that time to much better use in some other way.
This whole sordid ordeal once again has shown us that Democrats are a bunch of morons. Once the Stormy Daniels scandal broke wide open, Democrats were given a bright, shiny gift on a silver platter, but they largely ignored it and kept hammering the Russian collusion angle because they are a bunch of idiots.
And of course most of our politicians don’t really want to talk about Stormy Daniels, payoffs and adultery anyway because they have been doing similar things behind the scenes themselves.
Somehow the idea that “Trump colluded with the Russians” became gospel for Democrats, and almost everyone on the left followed the herd because they are a bunch of sheeple. There were a few dissenting voices on the left, but they were drowned out by the hordes of zombies that let CNN, MSNBC and the New York Times do their thinking for them.
Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will hold news conference Thursday just before Congress receives a copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016.
The news conference will be at 9:30 a.m. EDT, said Kerri Kupec. The report is expected to go to Congress between 11 a.m. and noon EDT and likely will be released to the public around the same time.
But the mainstream media is trying to squeeze every ounce of false hype out of this story that they possibly can, and their endless coverage has helped push copies of the Mueller report to number one on Amazon in several categories.
And we aren’t going to get to see the entire report anyway. As USA Today has noted, the report is being heavily redacted for a variety of legal reasons…
Barr has said Justice officials, including members of Mueller’s team, have been working to remove secret grand-jury evidence, classified information, material related to ongoing investigations spun off from the special counsel’s probe and personal information about individuals who were not charged as part of the inquiry.
In a curious move, in recent days officials from the Justice Department have been discussing the conclusions of the report with White House lawyers, and this is something that has infuriated Democrats because they believe that this is unfair.
Justice Department officials have had numerous conversations with White House lawyers about the conclusions made by Mr. Mueller, the special counsel, in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The talks have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the report and strategizes for the coming public war over its findings.
But even after being briefed, the White House seems quite unconcerned about what the report will show.
Meanwhile, ahead of the report, the White House insisted that it would exonerate Trump.
“Regardless of how Democrats and the media try to twist the report, the outcome is still the same: No collusion, no obstruction – complete and total exoneration,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said.
Ultimately, the big mainstream news networks will spend dozens of hours talking about the release of the Mueller report, but it will be a giant waste of time.
Yes, there might be some semi-interesting nuggets in the report, but it is highly unlikely that we are going to learn anything extremely important that we don’t know already.
As I have said from the very beginning, the Mueller investigation was a giant witch hunt, and it should have been shut down long ago.
But in America today, it has become fair game to try to personally destroy your political opponents. And from now on, presidents and other high profile political figures are likely to be subjected to an endless barrage of investigations no matter which political party is in power. This is going to make our country increasingly ungovernable, and it will lead us down a path from which we may never be able to return.
For Trump, this is definitely not the end of his legal troubles, because many other investigations are still ongoing…
With short interest now at 60+% of its float, Lyft has swiftly become a byword for disastrous post-IPO performance by overvalued tech ‘unicorns’. But the ride-sharing app’s steep drop from the highs reached on the day of its debut hasn’t stunted the market’s insatiable appetite for the next big lossmaker.
Pinterest has priced more than $2 above the high end of its range ahead of its market debut on Thursday, even as it is forced to share the spotlight with Zoom Video Communications, a company that provides remote conferencing services that has also bears the distinction of being a profitable business.
Zoom, whose shares priced at $36 apiece, also generated robust demand. Its bankers raised the expected price range on Tuesday, then its shares priced $1 above that range on Wednesday, valuing Zoom at $10 billion, which, amusingly, is well below Pinterest’s $12.6 billion. Both on a fully diluted basis. Moreover, Pinterest reportedly took a ‘conservative’ tack on its pre-IPO valuation, according to WSJ, even as Pinterest executives sped up the timetable for the IPO to take advantage of a ‘hot’ market.
Lyft shares have been slaughtered – they’re trading 17% below the IPO price – as analysts published a series of downbeat reports (which only confirmed what the market was already telling us).
However, Pinterest boosts one material advantage over Lyft on the basis of fundamentals (so far as those still matter, anyway). While it’s still making losses, those losses are at least narrowing. Though its advertising dependent model still risks comparisons to floundering Snapchat. Meanwhile, Zoom recently became profitable, and its revenues are rapidly growing.
For its fiscal year ending in January 2017, Zoom reported revenue of roughly $61 million. A year later, that more than doubled to over $150 million, then more than doubled again in the year ending January 2019. Its profitability is rare among the recent slew of technology companies coming to the public markets with steep losses.
Pinterest is also growing at a fast clip. And while it isn’t yet profitable, its annual losses are narrowing. Revenue in 2018 totaled $756 million, up from $473 million a year earlier. The company’s net loss narrowed to $63 million in 2018 from $130 million in 2017. Some bank analysts have estimated revenues will grow 30% to 35% in 2019, one person familiar with the matter said.
But as Pinterest struggles to boost its share of the global advertising pie, the comparisons to Snap appear inevitable. The company’s only hope to avoid a similarly disastrous post-IPO streak appears to be keeping its valuation ‘restrained’ – even as some argue that Pinterest might be positioned to better monetize its advertising business.
Despite Pinterest’s efforts to distance itself from the label of a “social media company”, analysts say it can be a useful benchmark for valuation. According to James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities, Pinterest is worth as much as Snap, about $16 billion, and could be much more.
“The ability to monetize that audience is much higher,” Cordwell said of Pinterest before the pricing. “When you’re at Snap you’re in the business of communicating with friends or wasting time; when you’re going to Pinterest there’s high purchasing intent: you’re planning something, looking for a product. That’s exactly what advertisers are looking for.”
But as investors prepare for Pinterest’s market debut, they’ll be trying to parse what Pinterest’s performance might mean for the next round of unicorns, including Palantir, Slack and the long-awaited debut of uber-lossmaker Uber, particularly as the share of loss-maker debuts has risen to its highest level since the tech crash.
But if the Pinterest offering does go sideways, buyers can always blame the investment banks selling the stock for any “mistakes made”, and seek recourse for their losses in the courts.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2UG0pgl Tyler Durden
So much for those photos of Kim and Pompeo standing cheerfully side by side.
One day after North Korea’s Leader Kim reportedly oversaw the test of a “new tactical guided weapon”, North Korea on Thursday demanded that Secretary of State and former CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, should be replaced for any future negotiations with the U.S., the country’s media reported.
“Whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in, talks between the two countries go wrong without any results even from the point close to success,” Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kwon Jong-gun as saying. Kwon is director general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department for American affairs. He was addressing the first session of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly of the country.
Two summits between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un since June 2018 have failed to reach an agreement over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In response, Kwon suggested a “more careful and mature” negotiator to take Pompeo’s place.
“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” he said.
“Therefore, even in the case of a possible resumption of the dialogue with the U.S., I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but [anyone] who is more careful and mature in communicating with us,” he said.
Kwon said the North Korean leader and the U.S. president had good personal relations.
“It is fortunate that the personal relationship between our Chairman of the State Affairs Commission and President Trump is on good terms as usual and our Chairman is pleased to get on well with President Trump,” he noted.
“U.S. Secretary of the State is letting loose reckless remarks and sophism of all kinds against us every day,” he added.
And just to confirm to the US that North Korea has “leverage”, earlier on Thursday, the Kremlin confirmed last week’s rumor that Kim will visit Russia this month for talks with Putin, as Kim is eager to make it clear that if the US refuses to ease relations then North Korea will promptly slide right into the rapidly growing China-Russia axis.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Iqmed9 Tyler Durden
If China’s gargantuan credit injection was supposed to prompt a wave of global “green shoots”, it failed to make a dent on Europe.
Global shares erased this week’s gains and US equity futures dropped after weak manufacturing surveys from Asia and Europe stoked renewed fears of a slowdown in global growth, adding to profit taking ahead of the long Easter weekend, while safe havens such as the dollar and treasuries pushed higher.
European markets dropped after French and German manufacturing PMIs for April showed activity continuing to contract. Germany’s DAX more than doubled losses on the day to trade 0.3 percent lower after the release of the German survey, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2 percent even as carmaker and food shares gained.
While activity in Germany’s services sector rose to a seven-month high in April, investors focused on the 44.5 reading for the manufacturing sector, well below the 50.0 expansion mark for the 3rd consecutive month, and missing expectations of a 45 print (up from 44.1 in March). “The reading was better than last month, but below expectations and we could see from the market report that once again it’s the core industry for Germany that’s the worry – the carmakers are struggling,” said DZ Bank analyst Sebastian Fellechner.
Germany’s weak manufacturing sentiment echoed a miss in the French Mfg PMI which also missed, printing at 49.6, below the 50 exp, and down from 49.7, resulting in the Eurozone PMI falling to 51.3 from 51.6, also missing the 51.8 expected, and the first data point for Q2 signalling further sluggishness. “Manufacturing continues to dampen economic activity in across the € area. Service sector growth also cooled” according to the PMI report, which indicated that if China wishes to grow Europe’s economy – its biggest trading partner – it will have to launcheven more stimulus.
🇪🇺 Flash Eurozone PMI falls ⬇️ to 51.3 in April (51.6 – Mar), with first data point for Q2 signalling further sluggishness. Manufacturing continues to dampen economic activity in across the € area. Service sector growth also cooled. More: https://t.co/J5EWgDlqGwpic.twitter.com/Byo1J7CQW3
The weak surveys out of Europe added to a weak Japanese reading on manufacturing activity, which also showed new export orders fell at the fastest pace in almost three years. The manufacturers DI in the April Reuters Tankan survey declined by 2 points from March to +8, marking the sixth straight month of decline since October 2018. The DI has also fallen rapidly, down 20 points over the past six months, and is now at its lowest level since September 2016 (+5).
Earlier in the session, Asia suffered even heavier losses, with South Korean shares leading the decline as issues with the new 2-screen Samsung phone weighed on the biggest stock in the main index.
MSCI’s All Country World Index dropped 0.3% on the day, erasing all gains for the week after the German data, while the VIX inched up above 13 after dipping below 12 yesterday, and back to where it was at the start of the week. On Wednesday, the index had fallen to its lowest since August 2018.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Easter holiday, market participants continue to eye signs of “optimistic progress” in U.S.-China trade negotiations. While yesterday the WSJ reported that Washington and Beijing set a tentative timeline for a fresh round of face-to-face meetings ahead of a possible signing ceremony in late May or early June, the market largely ignored the news as even the algos now appear saturated with daily trade headlines.
In currencies, the dollar was 0.3 percent higher against a basket of peers at 97.261. The Australian dollar was 0.2 percent lower at $0.7163, after earlier jumping to $0.7200 as traders wagered the Reserve Bank of Australia will not rush to ease rates even though the broader economy has seemingly lost momentum.
China’s yuan rose to the highest level in more than nine months after the central bank strengthened its daily fixing by the most in four weeks. The Bloomberg replica of the CFETS RMB Index, which tracks the yuan versus a basket of 24 trading partners’ currencies, edged up for a fifth straight day on Thursday. The gain came after the People’s Bank of China strengthened the yuan’s reference rate by 0.3 percent, the most since March 21, although it was in line with traders and analysts’ expectations. The central bank’s move on the daily fixing was “an indication that the authorities seem comfortable with yuan strength,” according to Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. In the near term, the yuan could test the year’s high of 6.67 per dollar, he said.
PBoC is reportedly unlikely to lower RRR in the short-term after recent liquidity injections and MLF announcement, while better than expected Q1 data also means there is less pressure for a RRR cut. (China Securities Journal)
BoK kept the 7-Day Repo Rate unchanged at 1.75% as expected with the decision made unanimously. BoK said South Korea economy to grow mid-2% level this year and hover below prior projections but won’t significantly diverge from potential level, while it added that exports are to recover gradually
In commodities, oil markets fell despite a surprise decline in U.S. inventories, but the price drops were tempered by a smaller-than-expected reduction in gasoline stocks and ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts.
Economic data include retail sales, jobless claims, Markit PMI readings. Philip Morris, Honeywell, American Express and Danaher are due to report earnings
S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 2,895.00
STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 388.92
MXAP down 0.5% to 163.00
MXAPJ down 0.4% to 543.65
Nikkei down 0.8% to 22,090.12
Topix down 1% to 1,614.97
Hang Seng Index down 0.5% to 29,963.26
Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 3,250.20
Sensex down 0.07% to 39,247.89
Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.05% to 6,259.81
Kospi down 1.4% to 2,213.77
German 10Y yield fell 3.5 bps to 0.045%
Euro down 0.3% to $1.1260
Brent Futures down 0.4% to $71.31/bbl
Italian 10Y yield rose 1.8 bps to 2.241%
Spanish 10Y yield fell 3.2 bps to 1.074%
Brent Futures down 0.4% to $71.31/bbl
Gold spot up 0.1% to $1,275.23
U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 97.24
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
While German manufacturing slumped, France’s economy got off to an encouraging start in the second quarter, with business activity stabilizing as disruption from yellow-vest protests waned; U.K. retail sales showed the resilience of consumers in the face of Brexit uncertainty
As merger talks between Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG appear to run into more obstacles, potential suitors such as ING Groep NV and UniCredit SpA are said to show interest for a piece of the German banking market
Economists are dialing down expectation of stimulus in China after upbeat economic data. UBS and Morgan Stanley have upgraded their outlook for China, though economists still expect targeted stimulus measures
Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are scheduling more face-to- face trade talks in an effort to reach a deal by early-May that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could sign later that month, two people familiar with the plans said
Australian employment climbed more than expected in March, led by full-time roles, suggesting the central bank has more time to assess whether the economy needs further stimulus
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of a “new-type tactical guided weapon,” state media reported, in a likely signal of displeasure over stalled nuclear talks with U.S. President Donald Trump
Turkey remained gripped by a dispute over the result of a local election in Istanbul, with the authorities still considering the governing party’s claim of fraud while the main opposition was awarded victory
Japan is no longer in a state of deflation and the deflationary mindset among company executives is starting to change, Finance Minister Taro Aso says at a Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry event
Attorney General William Barr will hold a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Washington time Thursday on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which the Justice Department has said it will release that morning
U.K house prices stagnated in March as the number of transactions plunged, according to LSL Acadata. Values were flat on an annual basis last month as falls in London and southern England offset gains elsewhere, the firm said in a report Thursday
Asian equity markets were softer with the region tentative ahead of Easter closures and following a lacklustre performance on Wall St where a continued slump across the healthcare sector weighed across the major indices. ASX 200 (Unch) was choppy with the index initially dragged lower as health stocks tracked the underperformance of their counterparts stateside, although the index later recovered amid strength in miners and energy names following quarterly updates from the likes of Fortescue Metals, Santos and Woodside Petroleum. Meanwhile, Nikkei 225 (-0.8%) was weighed by a firmer currency, while Hang Seng (-0.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.4%) also traded subdued despite further liquidity efforts by the PBoC, as hopes for a RRR cut fade and as Hong Kong participants took risk off the table ahead of a 4-day closure. Finally, 10yr JGBs were higher with prices supported by the cautiousness in the region and amid mild gains in T-notes, while today’s enhanced liquidity auction for longer-dated JGBs also attracted greater demand.
Top Asian News
Singapore’s DBS Plans to Stop Financing Coal Power After 2021
HNA Unit in Singapore Pays Bond Amid Questions on Loan Default
Economists Shift China Stimulus Expectations After Upbeat Data
Samsung Electronics Gets Double Whammy, and Korean Stocks Suffer
Major European indices began the day largely unchanged, but have since traded choppy [Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3%] with bourses mixed in spite of further optimistic US-China headlines, as markets are weighed on by broader risk sentiment following the poor PMIs out of the EZ. Sectors have followed a similar transition from flat to relatively mixed this morning, although the consumer staples sector (+1.1%) is significantly outperforming its peers. Buoyed by sector heavyweight Nestle (+1.1%) after a sales update, where they beat on Q1 revenue and affirmed FY19 sales towards 2020 target levels and Unilever (+3.5%) who have confirmed progress towards FY expectations. Other notable movers this morning include Osram Licht (-3.7%) who are trading at the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after reports that Carlyle & Bain are losing confidence regarding a bid for the Co. Kering (-3.6%) are in the red post earnings in-spite of beating on Q1 revenue and reporting LFL increases in Gucci & YSL, with some pre-market commentary citing the potential for downside on the sales increase not perceived as being large enough.
Top European News
U.K. Retail Sales Surge as Consumers Defy Brexit Turmoil
German Economic Activity Improves as Services Remain Resilient
Osram Says Still ‘In Good Talks’ With Bain, Carlyle
French Minister Says Sooner the U.K. Leaves the EU the Better
In FX, it was not the best day for the EUR as it tumbled to the bottom of the G8 performers following dismal manufacturing flash readings from France, Germany and in turn, the EZ. The single currency initially experienced some volatility at the release of the French metrics, before Germany’s miss brought the first wave of material downside, later exacerbated by the disappointing EZ numbers. All-in-all, EUR/USD gave up the 1.1300 handle and fell below its 50 DMA at 1.1294 before briefly breaching the psychological 1.1250. The pair currently resides just above 1.1250, having thus far traded within a 1.1245-1305 range.
USD – On the front-foot amidst the demise of the EUR post-PMIs as the DXY marches on above the 97.000 level from an intraday low of 96.950 (high 97.333). The index did little overnight and mostly traded sideways due to thinned holiday volume alongside a lack of catalysts. The Buck will be eyeing the slew of US data in the form of weekly jobless claims, Philly Fed, retail sales and Markit PMIs later in the session.
GBP – A victim of the post-PMI Dollar strength after Sterling tumbled in tandem with the EUR to an intraday low, although the Pound felt some reprieve following optimistic retail sales, boosted by weather. GBP/USD currently rests below its 50 WMA at 1.3033 at the bottom of today’s 1.3010-1.3053 with potential stops just below the round figure.
AUD – Aussie jobs data did little to provide any material move for the currency, although showed an employment change of 25.7k, a jump from last month’s 4.6k, surpassing expectations of 12.0k, whilst the unemployment rate ticked up to 5.0% from 4.9%, as expected. Westpac argues that due to the conflicting signals from a strengthening labour market against weak GDP, the RBA is seemingly putting more weight on employment from a policy perspective. The analysts add that “slow growth will eventually weigh on employment growth. On this basis, along with inflation remaining low, we continue to forecast cash rate cuts in August and November”. AUD/USD saw a knee-jerk higher to test 0.7200 before most of its gains. The aforementioned Dollar strength then sent to AUD back down to fresh session lows after trading within a 0.7160-.7200 thus far ahead of its 100 DMA at 0.7140. Note: AUD/USD sees USD 1.1bln in options expiring at strike 0.7175 at today’s NY cut.
SEK – The marked G10 underperformer amid the release of dreary unemployment numbers wherein the rate rose to 7.1% although it was expected to be maintained at 6.6%. As such, SEK failed to reap the benefits of the EUR’s weakness as EUR/SEK spiked higher to briefly breach 10.50 to the upside as before stabilising above its 50 DMA at 10.4841.
JPY – The outperformer amongst the G10 currencies despite the sudden USD strength as the Yen benefits from its haven properties given after EZ PMIs somewhat soured market sentiment, although the EUR weakness may have aided the JPY through its EUR cross. USD/JPY gave up the 112.00 handle and currently rests towards middle of a 111.75-112.10 range.
In commodities, Brent (-0.1%) and WTI (-0.2%) prices have traded in-line with general sentiment this morning, with the complex taking a downturn following this morning’s PMIs with German and French Manufacturing missing expectations, as did all 3 EZ measures. Following the German data, the EUR weakened which led to some strength in the USD causing oil prices to deviate negatively from their largely lacklustre trade overnight on a lack of news flow. Looking ahead in the session due to the market holidays for Easter, the Baker Hughes will be release early today April 18th at the usual time of 18:00 BST. Gold (+0.2%) has traded largely in-line with the dollar this morning on the aforementioned PMIs. Overnight, the yellow metal fell to fresh YTD lows around the USD 1271/oz level following positive US-China news flow from President Trump stating the deal is progressing nicely alongside reports that US-China have set a tentative timeline for trade talks; with the potential for a deal to be signed as early as May. Elsewhere, Antofagasta’s Chairman stated that copper demand will be supported by the ongoing fight against climate change, as the metal is critical to electric vehicle production.
Looking at the day ahead, we’ve got March retail sales, the April Philly Fed business outlook, the latest claims data, PMIs, February business inventories and March leading index. Away from the data the ECB’s Lane and Bostic speak this morning and this afternoon respectively, while Italy’s lower house begins debating on the government’s economic forecasts. Finally the earnings highlights include Philip Morris, American Express and Schlumberger.
US Event Calendar
8:30am: Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. 1.0%, prior -0.2%; Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.7%, prior -0.4%
8:30am: Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook, est. 11, prior 13.7
8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 205,000, prior 196,000; Continuing Claims, est. 1.72m, prior 1.71m
9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 59.8
9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 52.8, prior 52.4
9:45am: Markit US Services PMI, est. 55, prior 55.3
9:45am: Markit US Composite PMI, prior 54.6
10am: Leading Index, est. 0.4%, prior 0.2%
10am: Business Inventories, est. 0.3%, prior 0.8%
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
It’s my last day at work for a couple of weeks. I may need it to get over last night’s Champions League football. Never has a Liverpool game played second fiddle as much as last night. Nick Burns in my team is a Spurs season ticket holder and he’ll be unbearable today but secretly I’m very happy. Anyway I won’t have much rest on hols as two years after a random speculative visit to a house for sale – when my wife was delirious with double morning sickness carrying twins and I was swept away by it being opposite my golf club – next week we move in. We fell in love with the idea of it but maybe didn’t quite comprehend the enormity of the project despite having done a smaller scale one six years ago. After planning permission, architects, hiring builders and then 10 months of renovations we are mentally exhausted. The stress has at times been unbearable and given the state of the house last night when I went to see it it’s not over yet as the builders are working all of Easter. Given all the unforeseen costs if I were a corporate bond I would have been downgraded from solid investment grade to junk in this process. Those twins will have a lot to answer for in the years ahead. I’ll be off for the next two weeks unpacking boxes and when my wife isn’t looking heading off to the first tee where I can be 2 minutes after leaving my front door. You’ll be in the safe hands of Craig and Quinn while I’m off. See you on the other side.
Talking of taking on more debt, there was a lot of talk in the market yesterday about the latest credit fuelled China growth and activity data that was out just over 24 hours ago. Well today we’ll see if the Q1 boost in activity there can make an impact on the global flash PMIs. Of special interest will be the German and Eurozone manufacturing readings. The former slumped to 44.1 last month and the lowest since 2012. That’s also in contrast to what appears to still be a fairly solid services sector with the reading over 11 pts higher at 55.4. The gap is expected to close this month with the manufacturing reading expected to nudge up to a still very weak 45.0, and the services reading to moderate slightly to 55.0. For the Euro Area the consensus is for a 51.8 composite reading which would be slightly up from 51.6 last month, helped also by a slight climb in the manufacturing sector (48.0 expected from 47.5 last month) more than offsetting a modest pullback in the services data. At some point the manufacturing numbers should see a decent bounce in Europe, after declining for 14 out of the last 15 months, but whether it’s today remains to be seen. As a minimum we should see the first “b” of bounce. All this data is out between 8.15am BST and 9.00am BST this morning.
An interesting point that our China economists made after yesterday’s numbers was that total government spending rose by 23% in Q1 despite weak revenue growth of just 3%. They note that fiscal policy was eased by a fairly eye catching 6ppts of nominal GDP in Q1. This is important as it suggests that growth is being driven by more than just monetary policy. Our colleagues now expect monetary and fiscal policy to shift to neutral in Q2 and for the rapid credit and fiscal expansion to stabilise. That actually goes against a Bloomberg story which did the rounds yesterday suggesting that China might take more steps to inject more stimulus, specifically through bolstering sales of cars and electronics. Although this may be a more targeted measure. In any case, our team no longer forecast a RRR or interest rate cut for the rest of this year. The upside surprise in Q1 has also meant that they have pushed up their 2019 growth forecast from 6.1% to 6.3% although still expect a slowdown in H2 as fiscal support slows in line with revenue constraints. More in our colleagues report here.
That Bloomberg story about China bolstering sales of cars and autos – combined with another big rally for Qualcomm – actually saw the NASDAQ 100 close at a new all-time high after gaining +0.34%, while the full NASDAQ index fell -0.05% despite opening the session higher. There was a similar course of travel for the S&P 500 which ended -0.23% after a brighter start. After tepid moves on Monday and Tuesday, the S&P 500 has traded in a range of +/-0.78% over the last three sessions, the second narrowest of the year. Healthcare names struggled again yesterday with the sector dropping -2.89% as the fallout from concerns about “Medicare for All” continued. The sector has now lost -6.61% this month which compares to a +2.33% gain for the S&P 500.
Health care was also a drag in Europe however the STOXX 600 still eked out a +0.10% gain by the end of play as autos and banks rallied. The index is now at its highest level since August and back to within 5.91% of the all-time high from 2015. Just on autos, the sector gained +1.62% following that China story and is now up for five sessions in a row. European Banks rose +0.88% and are now at the highest since October as core European yields rose, with 10y Bunds up to 0.078% (+1.4ps). Treasuries ended little changed at 2.592% – although are down a couple of basis points this morning – while in commodities we saw copper rally +0.94% to reach the highest level since July.
This morning in Asia bourses have followed the S&P lower with the Nikkei (-0.68%), Hang Seng (-0.58%), Shanghai Comp (-0.23%) and Kospi (-1.06%) all in the red. The latter appears to be underperforming on the back of news that North Korea has tested a new “tactical weapon” according to state media. Sentiment more broadly in Asia also failed to get much of a lift from the news that US and China officials are aiming for an early May announcement on a trade deal, suggesting that this isn’t necessarily new news. Lighthizer and Mnuchin are expected to travel to Beijing from the week of April 29th to continue discussions. Elsewhere, in rates markets we should also note that China’s overnight repurchase rate is 16bps lower this morning having hit a headline inducing four-year high yesterday as cash supplies tightened. Longer dated 10y yields are steady this morning at 3.369% but are up over 30bps since the end of March.
Back to PMIs where we’ll also get the US flash numbers this afternoon alongside the March retail sales report. For the PMI, consensus expectations are for the manufacturing index to rise to 52.8 from 52.4, but for the services index to fall to 55.0 from 55.3. On the retail numbers, our US economists expect sales excluding autos to have climbed +0.5% mom which is slightly below the market consensus (+0.7% expected) however our colleagues also note that there may be weather related downside risk to the March numbers as well given that the so-called “bomb cyclone” event affected large swaths of the country in the middle of the month. However, the fact that the March employment report and the aforementioned auto sales data did not show meaningful weather effects indicates that this distortion may be limited. Also today, the Attorney General Barr is releasing the redacted Mueller report at a press conference at 9:30am ET/2:30pm BST which has the scope to generate headline volatility.
Retuning again to yesterday, where the latest earnings reports can only really be described as mixed. Morgan Stanley shares closed up +2.64% after beating earnings expectations but disappointing on revenues. Balancing that out were poor results from Abbot Labs (-4.61%), which beat headline expectations but failed to impress with their guidance amid the healthcare rout, and Bank of New York Mellon (-9.52%), which saw weak net interest income and fall in deposits. US Bancorp (+0.78%) posted in-line results.
In other news, the ECB’s Hansson was quoted yesterday as saying that “there are some signs of hope for the second half of 2019 at the moment”, pointing specifically to a solution between the US-China in their trade conflict. Nowotny did however also hint at it not being time to introduce tiering for the ECB. There was a similar story from MNI and combined with the recent commentary, there appears to be a bias towards the ECB not going down this route for now if it’s all is to be believed.
Staying with Europe, as expected Germany’s economy ministry slashed its forecast for 2019 growth to 0.5% with the ministry still expecting a weak first half. That matches our economists’ forecast for this year.
In the US, Philadelphia Fed President Harker reiterated his prior views in favour of one more rate hike this year followed by one in 2020. Separately, St. Louis Fed President Bullard gave a presentation in favour of nominal GDP targeting. He is one of the most dovish members of the committee, but there certainly seems to be a growing contingent of policymakers in favour of changes to the Fed’s operating framework. Later in the session, the Fed’s beige book said that there was “some strengthening” in conditions and “reports on manufacturing activity were favorable.” However, there was some “trade-related uncertainty” and “labor markets remained tight.” On inflation, prices were reported to “have risen modestly.” So nothing really new to shake the Fed’s current views.
As for the data that was out yesterday, March UK CPI was soft, as the yoy figures for headline and core inflation both missed expectations by -0.1pp, coming in at 1.9% and 1.8%, respectively. That should give the BoE some more breathing room, though the forward rates curve didn’t move much in response to the data. The retail price index rose 2.4% versus expectations for 2.6%, though PPI output rose 2.4% versus the expected 2.1%. In the euro area, March CPI was confirmed at 1.4% headline and 0.8% core, while Italy’s final print was also unchanged at 1.1%. In the US, the February trade deficit came in at -$49.4 billion, narrower than expected as exports performed strongly, rising 1.1% versus a more tepid 0.2% rise in imports.
To the day ahead now, where the obvious focus this morning in Europe is on those April flash PMIs. Away from that we’ll also get March PPI in Germany and March retail sales in the UK. The BoE’s credit conditions and bank liabilities survey is also out this morning. Meanwhile in the US this afternoon we’ve got March retail sales, the April Philly Fed business outlook, the latest claims data, PMIs, February business inventories and March leading index. Away from the data the ECB’s Lane and Bostic speak this morning and this afternoon respectively, while Italy’s lower house begins debating on the government’s economic forecasts. Finally the earnings highlights include Philip Morris, American Express and Schlumberger.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2UK6zvW Tyler Durden
Support for the Tories is plunging following Theresa May’s latest Brexit can-kick (a six-month extension until Halloween), and as cross-party talks for a Brexit compromise stall, it appears Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit Party is emerging as the biggest winner from all the Brexit chaos.
According to the latest YouGov poll, the second in two days, Farage’s newly formed party, which enjoyed its official coming-out party on Friday during a rally in Coventry, has leapfrogged both establishment parties in the upcoming European Parliamentary elections.
That poll put the Brexit Party at 23%, Labour at 22% and the Conservatives at 17%. Change UK, the group of MPs who defected from the Conservatives and Labour earlier this year, were at 8%, just behind the Green Party, 10%, and the Liberal Democrats, 9%.
Intriguingly, the report suggest the Brexit Party has drawn supporters from UKIP following Farage’s departure – after quitting UKIP late last year, Farage slammed the party as Islamophobic.
According to the latest reading, a large number of Brexit Party backers are former Tories who are furious at Theresa May.
During the party’s launch, Farage, who was flanked by Aunnunziata Rees-Mogg, the sister of Jacob Rees-Mogg, said: “I do believe that we can win these European elections and that we can again start to put the fear of God into our members of parliament in Westminster. They deserve nothing less than that after the way they’ve treated us over this betrayal.”
Farage heralded the latest poll results on Twitter:
There is a long way to go, but it is clear that there is a desire to change politics for good.
Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political research, attributed the party’s popularity to ‘good branding.’
“They’ve got very good branding – it does what it says on the tin. If you want to say ‘I support Brexit’ you’ve got a party there that is called the Brexit Party. That probably does help them in away that Change UK does not help The Independent Group.”
He also credited the bump to publicity from their launch.
“Some of the surge is that people didn’t realise that Nigel Farage is now the Brexit Party not Ukip, but some of it might be that it is in the immediate aftermath of them getting lots of publicity from their launch.”
Farage led UKIP to victory in the 2014 European Parliament elections, when it topped the poll with 26.6% of the vote. But the party’s popularity has plunged under new leader Gerard Batten.
If Farage succeeds in leading the Brexit Party – which he said has dozens of candidates ready to participate in the race – to victory, then Brussels will have a serious problem on its hands: A coalition of anti-establishment eurosceptics from Italy, Hungary, Poland, the UK and elsewhere who will form a significant plurality in the European Parliament.
via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Xk6GuT Tyler Durden