In a generally quiet overnight session, renewed hopes for a thaw in U.S.-China trade relations at the upcoming G20 summit helped global shares rise to a one-week high on Wednesday, though lingering fears of a no-deal outcome weighed on European bourses. U.S. futures rose, extending on Tuesday's rebound and tracking gains in Asia as investors rekindled their risk appetite before a key speech by Fed chair Powell who many hope will reverse yesterday's hawkish rhetoric by Clarida, and come off as dovish, especially after this morning's report that Steve Mnuchin has been pushing for a shift
from hiking rates to balance sheet reduction. The dollar and Treasuries were steady.
While President Donald Trump talked tough on the trade tariffs issue ahead of a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, markets focused on comments by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who held open the possibility that the two countries would reach a trade deal. Kudlow’s comments helped Wall Street close higher and allowed Chinese and Japanese shares to rally 1% as the MSCI index of Asian shares ex-Japan gained 0.7%.
The mood however fizzled into the European session, with the pan-European index giving up opening gains to trade flat and Germany’s DAX trading unchanged. Technology companies and retailers were the best performers in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, which struggled to maintain early gains as a Tuesday report that Trump may soon decide about new taxes on imported cars, still weighed on sentiment, keeping Europe’s auto sector shares 0.6 percent in the red.
"An expectation is being priced into markets ahead of the G20 meeting that we will see some deal or at least a framework for a deal between Trump and (Chinese President) Xi Jinping,” said Bernd Berg, global macro strategist at Switzerland-based Woodman Asset Management. “But if they come out with nothing this weekend, it’s going to be very bad."
Traders are also focusing on a speech at 12pm ET by Fed Chair Jerome Powell to see if he offers clues on how many more times the Fed could raise interest rates, following yesterday's modestly hawkish if cautious take from vice chair Clarida.
While Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida took a less dovish stance on Tuesday than some had expected and backed more rate rises, Powell and his colleagues have in recent weeks alluded to global volatility, leading many to speculate the bank’s three-year-long rate rise campaign could pause in 2019.
Continued uncertainty over global trade as well as Brexit and Italy’s ongoing conflict with the European Union, have supported the U.S. dollar, which rose to a two-week high and approached the highest level hit in 2018.
While the main driver for the greenback is the U.S. interest rate path, Rodrigo Catril, senior strategist at National Australia Bank, said it was also benefiting from the uncertain mood. “Markets seem to be jumping at shadows at the moment and against this backdrop of uncertainty, the dollar remains the preferred option for weathering the storm,” Catril said.
Investors are also monitoring developments in Italy’s row with the EU over its budget spending, with Germany’s Handelsblatt and Italy’s La Stampa quoting EU commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis as saying the draft budget needed “substantial correction”.
The 10-year Treasury yield drifted ahead of Jerome Powell’s speech as European bonds nudged higher and the Euro was range bound. Italian bond yields flatlined after sharp rallies that were triggered by what appeared to be a more conciliatory stance from the government over the issue.
The dollar was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers, trading in narrow ranges ahead of key events this week and EUUSD hovered below 1.1300; Treasuries were little changed with the 10-year yield at 3.05%. Sweden’s krona gained even after retail sales and an economic tendency survey missed estimates. The pound trimmed some of the previous session’s losses as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May appeared to back down in a key Brexit battle with Parliament.
Brent crude handed back earlier gains to trade little changed. Brent (-0.4%) and WTI (-0.1%) are lower heading into the US open after initially trading positive. A larger than expected build in API crude stockpiles of +3.453mln compared to the expected build of +0.8mln had little impact on the price rebound at the time which instead focused on the larger than expected gasoline draw
. Additionally, three North Sea forties crude cargoes which were scheduled to load in December have been cancelled due to the temporary closure of the 150,000 BPD capacity Buzzard oilfield. Saudi Energy minister Al Falih stated this morning that Saudi will not and cannot reduce output on their own, and is hopeful that upcoming meetings will result in agreement to stabilise the market.
Gold is slightly lower as the dollar continues to firm, although the yellow metal has rebounded from lows of USD 1211.3/oz in the previous session. Separately, copper is higher following a 3-session decline although, gains for the metal have been restricted by ongoing US-China tensions, with the most recent comments coming from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow saying that US President Trump is prepared to raise tariffs if G20 talks are not constructive.
On other markets, cryptocurrency bitcoin jumped 6 percent to above $4,000, its biggest one day jump since the summer, and extending its rebound from a low of $3,475 touched on Sunday.
Today's expected data include mortgage applications, wholesale inventories, and new home sales. Burlington Stores, Royal Bank of Canada, Tiffany, and Weibo are among companies reporting earnings. Market Snapshot
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- S&P500 futures up 0.1% to 2,686.75
- STOXX Europe 600 up 0.06% to 357.60
- MXAP up 0.7% to 152.77
- MXAPJ up 0.7% to 490.34
- Nikkei up 1% to 22,177.02
- Topix up 0.6% to 1,653.66
- Hang Seng Index up 1.3% to 26,682.56
- Shanghai Composite up 1.1% to 2,601.74
- Sensex up 0.8% to 35,785.59
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.06% to 5,725.08
- Kospi up 0.4% to 2,108.22
- German 10Y yield fell 1.3 bps to 0.337%
- Euro down 0.05% to $1.1283
- Italian 10Y yield rose 2.0 bps to 2.92%
- Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to 1.556%
- Brent futures down 0.3% to $60.05/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,213.28
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 97.38
Asian equity markets traded mostly positive
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin privately asked bond dealers and investors in October whether they want the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates or through faster cuts in its securities portfolio, six people familiar with the matter said; Mnuchin’s question could be seen as suggesting a way for the central bank to accomplish its goal of preventing a strong economy from overheating without triggering the ire of President Donald Trump
- U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has backed down in a key Brexit battle with Parliament, ditching moves to stop lawmakers trying to re-write her plans, according to an official. Risk of no-deal Brexit choking ports rising, U.K. lawmakers say
- President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping will meet over dinner Saturday evening in Buenos Aires marking a pivotal moment in the escalating trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Trump-Xi meeting puts emerging markets on pain-or-pleasure watch
- President Donald Trump renewed his attack on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, telling the Washington Post he’s “not even a little bit happy” with his choice to head the central bank
- Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday sprinkled small doses of concern into otherwise upbeat assessments of the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Clarida backs Fed’s gradual hikes with neutral rate uncertain
- The U.K.’s effort to rejoin a key World Trade Organization agreement that governs public procurement opportunities worth $1.7t a year gained provisional backing on Tuesday
- Credit Suisse Group AG is set to make Madrid its post-Brexit trading hub in the European Union after initially planning to move only some investment banking positions to the Spanish capital from London, according to people with knowledge of the matter
- Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the budget negotiations with the European Union “won’t be easy,” as the government sticks to its spending plans, according to an interview published by Corriere della Sera
following a similar lead from Wall St. but with the session initially mired by lingering uncertainty regarding US-China trade relations. Nikkei 225 (+1.0%) outperformed as the index coat-tailed on the recent advances in USD/JPY, while ASX 200 (-0.1%) was subdued by weakness in miners after the metals complex felt the brunt of the recent USD strength and with financials subdued by AMP Capital amid risk of further mischarging cases and provisions. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+1.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (+1.0%) were higher but with price action choppy in early trade amid tentativeness heading into the Trump-Xi showdown at this week’s G20 and as participants mulled over various comments from officials including White House Economic Adviser Kudlow who affirmed that Trump could hike tariffs if no constructive talks occur at G20 and that the White House is disappointed in China's response to the trade issue. However, Kudlow also noted that Trump is open to a deal with China and there were recent comments from China’s Vice Premier Liu that China wants a negotiated solution on trade based on mutual respect. Finally, 10yr JGBs weakened amid a lacklustre tone in T-note futures and with the BoJ’s presence in the bond market overshadowed by the outperformance of Japanese stocks. China's US envoy said selling or reducing purchases of US Treasuries would be very dangerous like playing with fire,
while the envoy doesn't think anybody in Beijing is seriously thinking about pulling back from US Treasury debt market should tensions worsen. Furthermore, there were reports that China’s Ambassador to the US warned of dire consequences if the trade war leads to economic separation and that China prefers a negotiated solution, while the Ambassador warned that China will retaliate in proportion to any US sanctions regarding Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang. Top Asian News
- Bank of Thailand Minutes Signal an Interest-Rate Hike Is Coming - Furor Over Gene-Altered Babies Deepens With China Project Halted - Pakistan’s Umar Says No Hurry for IMF Deal as Talks Resume - Turkey Sinks to Last on Emerging-Market Scorecard; Malaysia Tops - Brookfield Is Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Dubai’s Meraas In a slightly choppy session thus far, European equities (Eurostoxx 50 +0.3%) have held on to opening gains
seen in the wake of the upbeat US and Asia-Pac sessions, despite lingering trade concerns. The most recent interjection came from White House Economic Adviser Kudlow who commented that Trump is open to a deal with China and that the raising of tariffs to 25% is not a "certainty" but will be implemented if no constructive talks occur at the G20. In terms of sector specifics, IT names are the clear outperformers at this stage of the session with Wirecard (+1.3%) and Dialog Semiconductor (+3.1%) notable gainers in the tech-space after trying to recoup recent losses with not much else in the way of key newsflow. Noteworthy individual movers include EDF (+3.1%) with shares buoyed by reports that that a potential increase in the French government’s stake in the Co. would take place next year. To the downside, Tenaris (-8.2%), sit at the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the Co.’s chairman was indicted in a graft case, whilst Continental shares (-5.4%) have been weighed on by negative comments from Redburn who have warned over the group’s EBIT prospects in 2019. Top European News
- Continental AG Falls After CFO Sees Margin Pressure Persisting
- Italy Premier Says Social Stability Takes Priority Over Finances
- Fevertree 2018 Stock Surge Erased Amid Tonic Maker’s Silence
- LafargeHolcim Says Cost-Cutting Drive Will Lift 2019 Profit
- Commerzbank, Helaba Are Said to Drop Out of NordLB Bidding
was off bet levels but retaining an underlying bid with supportive month end flows alongside HIA and SOMA redemption (24.9bln comes due on Friday) all impacting, while market participants keep a close eye on Fed Chair Powell’s speech scheduled for later today where he may stop the USD in its tracks or exacerbate the rally. The index has gained more ground above 97.000 to just over 97.500 before losing some momentum but still on the course to challenge the YTD high at 97.693, technically if not fundamentally. EUR:
more choppy trade for the single currency with EUUSD trading around the middle of a 1.1267-1.1304 range having taken out stops at 1.1275. Italian politics keep weighing on the currency with the European Commission unimpressed as it will begin disciplinary actions on Italy regarding debt before Christmas. EU Commissioner Dombrovskis also added that a cut of 0.2% of the 2019 budget target is not enough. EUUSD is being drawn towards a large amount of option expiries between 1.1275 – 1.1300 (1.5bln). Looking ahead, markets will be keeping a close eye on the budget discussion between the Italian PM, two Deputy PM and Finance Minister for any hints of a budge towards EC’s direction. CAD
– Another victim of the USD strength and global trade jitters as Trump’s economic advisor Kudlow said the USMCA agreement is to be signed on Friday at the G20 summit, but sticking points remain in regards to dairy. Note, choppy oil prices have hardly helped the Loonie slide to fresh multi-month lows around 1.3330. JPY
- Edging closer to 114.00 vs. the buck with heavy option expiries around 113.50-55 (1.47bln) and 114.00 (1.9bln). EM
– Mostly weaker as the greenback hold firm with RUB as the standout underperformer amid the ongoing escalation between Russia and Ukraine, though Germany and France stated they are against stricter Russian sanctions for now, while there were witness reports of a Russian minesweeper ship heading towards the Sea of Azov share by Russia and Ukraine. On the flip side, the Russian Central Bank governor emerged earlier with a hawkish tilt whilst keeping options open for the next meeting. Note, USD/RUB is at 67.4000. In commodities,
Brent (-0.4%) and WTI (-0.1%) are lower heading into the US open after initially trading positive. A larger than expected build in API crude stockpiles of +3.453mln compared to the expected build of +0.8mln had little impact on the price rebound at the time. Additionally, three North Sea forties crude cargoes which were scheduled to load in December have been cancelled due to the temporary closure of the 150,000 BPD capacity Buzzard oilfield. Saudi Energy minister Al Falih stated this morning that Saudi will not and cannot reduce output on their own, and is hopeful that upcoming meetings will result in agreement to stabilise the market. Gold is slightly lower as the dollar continues to firm, although the yellow metal has rebounded from lows of USD 1211.3/oz in the previous session. Separately, copper is higher following a 3-session decline although, gains for the metal have been restricted by ongoing US-China tensions, with the most recent comments coming from White House Economic Advisor Kudlow saying that US President Trump is prepared to raise tariffs if G20 talks are not constructive. Looking at the day ahead,
the focus for the market is likely to be squarely with Fed Chair Powell’s speech. Away from that we also have the second revision of Q3 GDP in the US where no change from the +3.5% qoq saar estimate is expected. The October advance goods trade balance reading should also be closely watched with the consensus expecting a widening in the deficit to $77bn from $76bn last month. Also due out in the US will be October new home sales and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index print. It is another busy day for ECB speakers however with Coeure, Guindos and Praet all due to speak. The BoE’s Carney will also speak at the Financial Stability Report press conference this afternoon when we will also get the latest annual bank stress test results. US Event Calendar
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
- 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -0.1%
- 8:30am: Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 0.4%, Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.1%
- 8:30am: Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. $77.0b deficit, prior $76.0b deficit, revised $76.3b deficit
- 8:30am: GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 3.5%, prior 3.5%; Personal Consumption, est. 3.9%, prior 4.0%
- 8:30am: Core PCE QoQ, est. 1.6%, prior 1.6%
- 10am: New Home Sales, est. 575,000, prior 553,000
- 10am: Richmond Fed Manufact. Index, est. 15, prior 15
- 12pm: Fed’s Powell Speaks to Economic Club of New York
One thing I haven’t heard much about this year is a Santa Claus rally but the US has now had two up days in a row for the first time since mid month so maybe Santa is trying to get some momentum going. In fact given the conviction with which markets have moved in recent weeks, yesterday was a actually a rare calmer day with US equities opening lower but floating upward into their close. The S&P 500 ended +0.33% despite opening down -0.66%, while the DOW gained +0.44% and the NASDAQ closed flat. Attention continues to focus on this weekend’s meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi. The White House’s top economic advisor Larry Kudlow confirmed today that the two leaders will have dinner on Saturday night at the G-20 in Buenos Aires. He said that “there is a good possibility that we can make a deal” and “I don’t want to go overboard, but he [Trump] has indicated some optimism.” So hopes are continuing to build, and emerging market equities, which would benefit from a benign trade outcome, outperformed yesterday gaining +0.70%.
Apple continues to struggle and traded -0.22% lower yesterday as concerns continue regarding the company’s demand outlook and possible tariffs on components for their goods. Notably, Microsoft overtook it to become the world’s largest company by market cap again for the first time since October 2003! The last time Microsoft was larger than Apple was back in May 2010 (though at that time, Exxon Mobile was larger than either of the tech giants). Since Apple peaked in early October, it has shed around $300 billion of market cap, while Microsoft has shed ‘only’ $60 billion, or the equivalent of Pakistan’s GDP to the equivalent of Panama’s respectively. So in 7 weeks Apple has lost the entire annual GDP of a country with 197 million people in terms of market cap.
Europe struggled after an early positive open to close slightly lower across the board with the STOXX 600 ending -0.26%. Part of the reason for the dip in Europe seemed to lie with a story in the German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche (WiWo) which reported that President Trump may, as soon as next week, impose tariffs on cars imported into the US. However the details of the story appeared vague with the source also referencing “EU circles,” while the EU later rebutted the story. That said, autos lagged the wider market in the STOXX 600 yesterday with the sector down -2.52% with EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom also repeating the warning of the risk of US tariffs on cars.
Making much less of impact on markets yesterday than his speech from two weeks ago were the comments from Fed Vice-Chair Clarida. It’s hard to argue that there was much new information for the market with many of his points a rehash from the October speech. Interestingly, there was no mention of financial conditions, global growth, or recent market volatility which is perhaps a touch hawkish at the margin, as it potentially signals the Fed isn’t hugely concerned about recent developments. Also, Clarida had previously outlined both upside and downside risks to the inflation outlook, but yesterday he dropped his reference to the downside scenario. The flip side however was Clarida’s mention that market- and survey-based measures of inflation expectations had slipped and also that, with an uncertain r-star, the Fed should infer its level from incoming market and economic data. Treasuries appeared fairly nonfussed though with 10-year yields moving as much as +1.8bps higher but quickly snapping back before ending the session close to flat at 3.055%. The USD index gained +0.31%. Later in the session, Chicago Fed President Evans highlighted that inflation is at target and said he favours getting policy back to neutral. The market did not react, but his comments are significant as he will be a voting member of the FOMC in 2019. His most recent vote was a dissent against the rate hike in December 2017.
Staying with the Fed, today the baton passes to Fed Chair Powell when he speaks at the Economic Club of New York at 5pm GMT on “The Federal Reserve’s framework for monitoring financial stability.” Our US economists previously highlighted that they expect Powell to reiterate the Fed’s plan to get back to neutral. However, since Powell has previously emphasized that neutral is highly uncertain, they are also watching for any hints that Powell sees recent market developments and/or slower activity in rate sensitive sectors like housing and capex as evidence that neutral could be lower than previously thought.
This morning in Asia markets are following Wall Street’s lead with Nikkei (+0.96%), Hang Seng (+0.91%), Shanghai Comp (+0.86%) and Kospi (+0.30%) all up with a rally largely driven by technology shares. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (+0.03%) are pointing towards a flat start.
Moving on. Yesterday’s slew of data in the US was unlikely to move the dial for policy makers much at the Fed. The S&P CoreLogic National Home Price Index rose 0.33% mom and 5.15% yoy on a seasonally adjusted basis, roughly in line with expectations. The FHFA purchase only house price index rose +0.2%, the third weakest month since January 2015. Higher interest rates and tax changes continue to weigh on the housing sector. On the other hand, consumer confidence and the labour market continue to look strong, with the Conference Board Consumer Confidence index printing at 135.7 as expected, down 2.2pts but near its multi-decade high. The labour market subindex rose to 34.4, a new cycle high.
In other news, the daily Italy update consisted of another comment from the League suggesting that the deficit could be lowered to the 2.2% to 2.3% range, this time from Armando Siri. Reuters also reported that EU government delegates are today expected to back the EC’s disciplinary move against Italy, however a formal disciplinary proceeding may not begin until February. Also out yesterday was an MNI article suggesting that the ECB might be willing to consider OMT as an option for Italy should spreads come under further pressure. The story did appear to be rightly ignored by the market however, especially considering that OMT is conditional on an ESM programme. We are not close to being there yet, even if our head of research David Folkerts-Landau believes that the ESM and structural reforms will need to eventually be negotiated together in a grand bargain to deal with the Italian problem (see the op-ed here from David).
After a good run, BTPs were slightly weaker yesterday with two-year yields closing +3.3bps higher and 10-year yields +2.0bps. As we go to print Italian daily Corriere Della Sera reported PM Conte as saying that dealing with the EU over the budget wont be easy while adding that Italy will push ahead with reforms as social stability is more important for Italy. Elsewhere, the EC VP Dombrovskis said in an interview with La Stampa that Italy needs a “significant correction” of its budget. Indeed as we’re pressing the send button HB is reporting that the EU will open deficit procedures before Christmas. So the pressure is still high even if the news flow has improved of late.
Over to Brexit, where Prime Minister May continues to try to sell her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to the public and to lawmakers. The leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, said yesterday that “as far as I can see, this [deal] is not going through parliament” and the pound dropped -0.73% versus the dollar, as passage looks less and less likely and a hangover from the Trump comments the previous night on it being a better deal for the EU and that it precludes a UK/US free trade deal percolated. Nevertheless, a reminder that we turned bullish on the pound on Monday due to two key factors: first, the Government will allow amendments during the legislation process, and second, Labour has signaled their willingness to work through the amendment channel rather than try to topple the government. Together, these ingredients should enable the ‘soft Brexit’ majority in Parliament to coalesce around a non-disruptive exit plan. Voting on the motion to accept or reject the Brexit deal will start in the House of Commons at 7 p.m. on December 11 but the “Meaningful Vote” debate will start on December 4. There will be five days of 8hrs debate, each led by a different cabinet minister. So we may get an idea of potential amendments from next week.
As far as the day ahead is concerned, as noted earlier the focus for the market is likely to be squarely with Fed Chair Powell’s speech. Away from that we also have the second revision of Q3 GDP in the US where no change from the +3.5% qoq saar estimate is expected. The October advance goods trade balance reading should also be closely watched with the consensus expecting a widening in the deficit to $77bn from $76bn last month. Also due out in the US will be October new home sales and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index print. This morning in Europe it’s quiet with December consumer confidence in Germany and the October M3 money supply reading for the Euro Area the only data due. It is another busy day for ECB speakers however with Coeure, Guindos and Praet all due to speak. The BoE’s Carney will also speak at the Financial Stability Report press conference this afternoon when we will also get the latest annual bank stress test results.
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