Equity markets in Europe traded higher today, supported by solid corporate earnings, further monetary policy easing from Japan, as well as what can only be described as “less bad” GDP report from Spain. Also, commodity complex benefited from upward revision to China’s GDP estimate by analysts at Bank of America (Q4 GDP estimate now stands at 7.8% vs. Prev. view of 7.5%). Decent demand for the latest debt issuance saw IT/GE 10s tighten by c.5bps, with SP/GE 10s also seen tighter by 3bps.
It is cloudy out there as Sandy enters the mid-Atlantic region, although for all the pre-apocalypse preparations in New York, the Frankenstorm may just be yet another dud now that its landfall is expected to come sufficiently south of NYC to make the latest round of Zone 1 evacuations about overblown as last year's Irene hysteria (of course it will be a gift from god for each and every S&P company as it will provide a perfect excuse for everyone to miss revenues and earnings in Q4). That said, Wall Street is effectively closed today for carbon-based lifeforms if not for electron ones, and a quick look at the futures bottom line, which will be open until 9:15 am Eastern, shows a lot of red, with ES down nearly 10 ticks (Shanghai down again as the same old realization seeps day after day - no major easing from the PBOC means Bernanke and company is on their own) as the Friday overnight summary is back on again: Johnny 5 must defend 1400 in ES and 1.2900 in EURUSD at all costs for just two more hours.
After absorbing the latest PMI reports from Europe, as well as yet another disappointing German IFO survey which in turn was followed by a sharp rise in volatility, saw equity markets in Europe print lows of the day. However ever since, equities staged an impressive recovery and are now in positive territory, supported by investors looking to capitalise on oversold conditions and in part by short-positions being squeezed. The sharp and unpredictable mood swings resemble one suffering manic depression and it remains to be seen whether stocks will be able to hold onto gains. The move higher in stocks has been led by the tech sector, which has been one of the worst performing sectors over the recent weeks. Looking elsewhere, EUR underperformed its peers, largely driven by a lower EUR/GBP (by-product of deterioration in EU credit markets, as well as good sized buying by a UK bank in GBP/USD).
The Mañana approach endorsed by the Spanish government is finally beginning to have its toll on investor confidence and after being contained by the so-called Draghi put, 2y bond yields are up over 20bps for the second consecutive day. The decoupling that is being observed is being driven by yesterday’s downgrade of several Spanish regions by Moody’s, citing deterioration in their liquidity positions. As a result, Spain runs a risk of being forced to raise the size of its regional bailout fund which stands at EUR 18bln, with EUR 17.2bln already tapped, as the latest downgrade will likely put an upward pressure on borrowing costs. Major equity markets in Europe are down close to 1%, led by basic materials and oil & gas sectors, as WTI continues to consolidate below the key USD 90 level, while spot Gold continues to lose its shine and is looking to make a test USD 1700. The second half of the session sees the release of the latest Richmond Fed report, as well as the weekly API report.
Yet again Germany was forced to compromise and agree on what can only be viewed as a partial agreement on EU banking supervision. Under the agreed timetable, a legal framework for the new ECB-based supervisor would be finalised by the end of this year and then it would take six to 12 months to get the supervisor up and running. Still, German Chancellor Merkel insisted that direct recapitalisation of banks by the ESM will only be available once fully fledged supervision is in place and ruled out retroactive bank recapitalisation. This, together with the fact that Spain is yet to ask for monetary assistance prompted market participants to book profits. In particular, selling pressure was most evident across the financial sector, where Italian and Spanish banks underperforming for much of the session. As a result, EUR/USD traded lower, with large option expiries today and on Monday between 1.3000 and 1.3050 preventing the pair from posting large losses. Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest Existing Home Sales from the US and Canadian CPI.
Back when everyone had given up on natgas in April when John Arnold was liquidating the Centaurus Master Fund and everyone thought it was an indication of the collapse in nattie end demand (it wasn't), the general peanut gallery said the time of bidless gas is coming. It didn't. Instead, as we then said expected, and as Goldman recommended, it was the time to buy natgas. We are now nearly 100% higher from those April lows. For those who listened to ZH and Goldman, the time to be greedy is over, and as David Greely from Goldman says, it is now "time to take profits." Feel free to sell to all those other banks who are once again about 6 months late to the party.
"The squeeze is on, and people are doing desperate things," is how one independent described the situation in California. As Bloomberg reports, a shortage of supply along with drastically higher wholesale prices of gasoline has caused 'mom-and-pop' gas stations to close down as their margins are destroyed.
- *VALERO SAYS SUPPLY IN CALIFORNIA HAS TIGHTENED
- *VALERO SAYS IT HAS TEMPORARILY HALTED SPOT SALES IN CALIFORNIA
The problem is likely a short-term one, according to some, thanks to the temporary shutdown of local refineries (after Chevron's Richmond refinery fire) and maintenance but it is clear that even a short-term blip in wholesale prices (whether driven by local supply or global geopolitics) causes pain as it would appear we are close to 'inelastic' levels of demand.
Markets were in sleep mode for most of the session, ahead of the BoE monetary policy decision, as well as the ECB’s press conference where the President is unlikely to outline any new measures and instead reiterate that the ECB stands ready to do whatever is necessary. The BoE held both their rates and asset purchase target unchanged, however it is widely expected that the central bank will boost the facility by another GBP 50bln in November. Today’s supply from both Spain and France was easily absorbed by the market, both were supported by the recent decline in bond yields. Going forward, apart from digesting comments from Draghi, market participants will get to see the release of the latest weekly jobs report, durables revisions and the minutes from the FOMC.
Equity markets continued to edge higher today as market participants grew hopeful that a full scale bailout of Spain will take place in the very near future. So much so that even though reports that Spain is to seek bailout this weekend was denied, the risk on sentiment held strong. As a result, SP/GE and IT/GE bond yield spreads tightened further, with IT 10s now yielding close to 5%. The renewed sense of security saw EUR/USD squeeze higher towards the psychologically important 1.3000 level, while GBP/USD also benefited from a weaker USD and is trading in minor positive territory in spite of another round of disappointing macro data from the UK. Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest ISM New York index, as well as the regular weekly API report. Both the BoE and the Fed are due to conduct another round of asset purchases at 1445BST and 1600BST respectively.
The "mañana" approach to fiscal management, that Spain is known for, presented what is generally perceived as overly optimistic growth forecasts for 2013 and lacked details on structural reform resulted in another risk off session. As a result, Spanish stocks continued to underperform (IBEX seen lower by over 5% on the week), with 10y bond yield spread wider by around 12bps as market participants adjusted to higher risk premia. The state is due to sell 2s and 5s next week, which may also have contributed to higher yields. As a reminder, Moody’s review on Spain is set to end today, however there is a chance that the ratings agency may extend the review for another couple of months or wait until the stress test results are published to make an announcement. In other news, according to sources, Greece could return to its European partners for a Spanish-style rescue of its banking sector, as the country is looking to ease the burden via another writedown of its debts or a strong recapitalisation of its banks (no official response as yet). Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest PCE data, as well as the Chicago PMI report for the month of September.
Risk-averse sentiment was prevalent throughout the session, after both Spain and Italy sold bonds/T-bills, which attracted weak bidding and hence saw lower than exp. b/c. In addition to that, yields on 3m and 6m Spanish T-bills were higher, with some pointing to the fact that the Treasury has been forced to step up its T-bill issuance to meet its zero net funding target (higher supply). As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads are wider by around 9bps, with Italian bonds underperforming given the supply later on in the week. This underperformance was also evident in the equity space, where the domestic stock exchange is seen lower by over 1%, compared to DAX which is only lower by 0.4%. In the FX space, firmer USD weighed on both EUR/USD and GBP/USD, both trading in close proximity to intraday option expiry levels.
Risk-averse sentiment dominated the first half of the session today, as market participants digested yet another disappointing macro economic data release from Europe (German IFO), which fell for a fifth consecutive month. In addition to that, EU’s Van Rompuy said that he sees tendency of losing the sense of urgency, likely pointing the finger at Spain which is yet to request monetary assistance to prevent another speculative attack. It remains unclear when the official request will be made, but there is a risk that the application will only take place after regional elections in late October or even after the Eurogroup meeting in November. Finally, German finance ministry spokesman said that leveraging the ESM to EUR 2trl, as reported by Der Spiegel over the weekend, is not realistic and called the report completely illusionary. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads are wider, with Italian bonds underperforming as markets prepare for this week’s supply from the Treasury. Heading towards the North American cross over, EUR/USD is seen lower by around 75pips and is trading in close proximity to the 1.2900 level, with bids said to be placed below. Talk of dividend related buying in GBP/USD, as well as EU budget related selling in EUR/GBP by two different UK clearers helped support GBP/USD. Going forward, there are no major economic releases set for the second half of the session, but the BoE will conduct its latest APF and the Fed will buy between USD 1.5-2bln in its latest POMO.
As we enter the North American cross over, equity indices in Europe are seen higher, supported by telecom and health care sectors. There was little in terms of fresh news flow and instead the price action was largely driven by expiration of various futures and option contracts. On that note, it is not only the quadruple witching day, but also quarterly S&P rebalancing. As such, brief spells of volatility will be observed as market participants close out remaining positions. Looking elsewhere, range bound price action was observed in the fixed income market, where the benchmark German Bund is currently trading in close proximity to 140.00 level. Talk of demand from Middle Eastern accounts in EUR/USD earlier in the session saw the pair trip buy stops above 1.3000 and then above 1.3025. GBP/USD was a direct beneficiary of USD weakness, which in turn pushed the pair above 1.6300 level (touted option barrier). Going forward, the second half of the session will see the release of the latest CPI from Canada.
Stocks fell in Europe today, that’s in spite of the fact that German investor confidence rose the first time in 5 months (ZEW), as market participants focused on somewhat unfavourable auction schedule for Spain, which may force the Treasury to raise its T-bill issuance in order to meet its zero-net funding target. As a result, Bunds traded higher throughout the session, with the shorter-dated Spanish and Italian bonds underperforming (Italian and Spanish 2s up by c.3bps). Of note, Spanish 10y bond yield has risen back above 6% and given the upcoming supply, there is a risk that yields will continue to rise and flatten the curve. On that note, the Spanish Treasury is set to sell a new 3y benchmark and a 10y re-opening this Thursday, which proved notoriously difficult to sell in the past. Spain is also planning to issue EUR 8bln in private placements with EUR 3bln on Sep-21st and EUR 5bln in mid-October.
Now that the German high court ruling is out of the way and the Dutch elections results produced no real surprises the European equity markets are essentially flat with position squaring evident ahead of the keenly awaited FOMC rate announcement and accompanying press conference. Bund futures have followed a similar trend having ticked higher through the morning with some modest re-widening of the Spanish and Italian 10yr government bond yield spreads, wider by 9bps and 5bps respectively, also in Euribor will did see a decent bid after comments from ECB member Hansson who said the ECB council must now start debating a negative deposit rate. Today’s supply from Italy and Ireland had little impact on the general sentiment, that’s in spite of the fact that demand for debt issued by the Italian Treasury was less than impressive to say the least. Also of note, Catalan President Mas said that Spain should debate staying in the euro, which unsettled the market somewhat. Overnight it was reported that the US Navy have stepped up their security presence in Libya by ordering two warships to the country's coast, according to US officials. This is after the US ambassador to Libya and three American members of his staff were killed in the attack on the US consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by protesters earlier in the week. Today, there were more reports of demonstrations in the region, however supplies remain unaffected.