The dollar's gyrations remain a key source of inspiration for traders with the fundamental focus continuing to switch between falling US and rising OPEC production, according to Saxo Bank's Ole Hanson. Having seen calendar 2017 almost hit $50 last week the realisation that further upside may be hard to achieve may has helped trigger increased demand for protection.
Overnight exuberance sparked by lower than expected Cushing build reported by API is fading on the heels of June OPEC headlines of no production limits (and rising Saudi production) heading into DOE inventory data. Crude inventories printed a significantly higher than expected 2.78mm build but Cushing saw a smaller than expected build of 243k. Gaosline surprised with a 536k build (API 1.17m draw) and Distillates saw a smaller than API build of 1.26m barrels. The biggest news was the biggest plunge in US production since July 2015, and yet inventories still rose suggesting that fundamentally this is and has been as much a demand story as one of supply (even as OPEC countries are happy to offset declining US output).
In a surprising development, the U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased substantially in March 2016 from $47.0 billion in February (revised) to $40.4 billion in March, below the $41.2 billion expected, as exports declined by a modest $1.5 billion, a 0.9% drop to $176.62BN from $178.16BN in Feb. At the same time imports outright plunged by $8.1 billion, down 3.6% in March to $217.06BN from $225.13BN in Feb. Curiously this happened just as Canada announced a trade deficit of C$3.4 billion, the widest on record. In March, the US trade deficit excluding petroleum was $37.48 billion.
While there was no unexpected overnight central bank announcement unlike yesterday's surprise by the RBA which unleashed volatility havoc in the FX market, which promptly spilled over into all asset classes, overnight stocks around the world saw another leg lower without a tangible catalyst, while EM currencies fell to a one-month low after two Fed presidents raised concern investors had become too complacent in their belief that U.S. interest rate raises will stay on hold. Or perhaps all that is happening is that after ignoring Trump, the market is starting to finally price in the possible reality of the Donald in the White House (although as Jeff Gundlach pointed out, Trump would be a far better president for the economy and the market than Hillary or Bernie).
The 'odd' regime shift in the relationship between USDJPY and US equities continues overnight. Following some visible-handedness and follow-through momentum, Yen is weakening against the USD - normally a big flashing green sign for risk-on pajama traders but China's biggest Yuan devaluation in 9 months (since the August turmoil) seems to have stolen the jam out of the bull's donut as US equity futures extend losses, AsiaPac credit risk jumps, and USD strength is weighing on crude prices.
Notable weakness in oil prices amid growth/demand concerns today, following Genscape's (+821k) Cushing's big build report yesterday, and expectations for continued builds in overall crude and Cushing levels set up trades ahead of API's report with oil below $44 heading in. An overall crude inventory rise of 1.3mm barrels (almost double the 750k expectation) was not enough to trump a smaller than expected Cushing build of just 382k barrels (1.3m exp) which seemed to please the machines which ripped WTI back above $44 instantly.
For the moment, silver’s intermediate-term bull market remains in force, albeit with a record level of bearishness on the part of the “smart money”.
Crude oil time-spreads have completely dislocated from inventories. Historically, such dislocations have proved to be short lived. We expect that either spot prices will sell-off again or the back end of the curve will move sharply higher.We estimate that in order for time-spreads to move back in line with inventories, either front end prices have to sell off by USD10-15/bbl or the back end has to appreciate USD15-20/bbl. Given the parameters of our gold pricing model, the latter would imply roughly a USD100-150/oz rise in the gold price.
Remember when the low oil price was an "over-supply" issue and nothing at all to do with the other side of the same coin - dwindling demand? Well it appears that reality is dawning that a record glut combined with tumbling global growth (confirmed by weakness in China PMI, US PMI, and now EU growth expectations) is sending crude prices lower, back to a $43 handle for the June contract...
Overnight Australia finally admitted it has succumbed to the global economic weakness plaguing the rest of the world when in a "surprise" move, Australia’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate for the first time in a year to a record low and left the door open for further easing to counter a wave of disinflation that’s swept over the developed world. The move sent the local currency tumbling and local stocks climbing. Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens and his board lowered the cash rate by 25 basis points to 1.75 percent Tuesday, a move predicted by just 12 of 27 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. The announcement has, not surprisingly unleashed havoc across FX markets and broadly pushed global mood into its latest "risk off" phase.
Central bankers have the unchaperoned power to create the greatest fortunes ever known to mankind at will and to invest that money wherever they want. With trillions of dollars at their disposal and trillions more whenever they want to conjure it into existence, what is to stop them from controlling the oil market just as they have stocks and bonds?
As of today, we now have three consecutive quarters of tightening lending standards. In fact, based on the latest survey, net lending standards tightened even more than during Q4 as shown in the chart below, and are now the tightest on net since the financial crisis. Needless to say, if a recession and a default cycle has always followed two quarters of tighter lending conditions, three quarters does not make it better.