So what's driving these high ass oil prices? Fundamentals, paper pushing derivatives, fraud, or fear? A common sense discussion ensues...
Although the supply and demand factors do not seem to support the current price levels, there are plenty of other events to sustain and add premium.
Reports that the ECB is discussing a new variation for sovereign bond purchases involving secret caps for interest rates failed to support peripheral EU bonds and instead provided market participants with an opportunity to book profits following recent strong gains. As a result, 10y peripheral bonds with respect to the benchmark German Bund are wider by around 12bps, with the shorter dated 2y bonds wider by around 15bps. This underperformance by peripheral EU assets is also evident in the stock market, where the IBEX and the Italian FTSE-MIB failed to match performance of the core indices today. The latest PMI data from the Eurozone, as well as China overnight underpinned the need for more simulative measures either from respective central banks or the government. While the PBOC continues to refrain from more easing, the release of the FOMC minutes last night revealed the members favoured easing soon if no growth doesn’t pick up.
European bourses are down at the North American crossover, all ten sectors in the red, on thin volumes and a distinct lack of data and news flow from the EU and the UK. The risk-off tone in part attributed to the much wider than expected Japanese trade deficit for July, whose exports also fell the most in six months, raising investor concern once again that Asian economy as a whole is stalling. Elsewhere, investor caution over the Greek debt crisis is once again mounting, as EU’s Juncker visits Athens today to meet with the Greek PM Samaras. Overnight it was reported that Greece would present EUR 13.5bln in budget cuts today, higher than the previous EUR 11.5bln, and whilst the country is not asking for more money, Samaras might request more time to implement them. Lawmakers in Netherlands remain critical of providing more aid for the country and continue to push for more reforms, such as spending cuts and privatization, with the Dutch Finance Minister de Jaeger commenting earlier that it is not a good idea for Greece to get more time.
European equities are trading flat to minor positive territory at the North American crossover having pared losses made following the weaker than expected Japanese Q2 preliminary GDP and reports from Chinese press that China's RRR cut might have been postponed as the People's Bank of China's reverse repo activity still satisfies liquidity needs. Elsewhere, Bank of America cut China's growth forecast from 7.7% to 8.0% for the year, commenting that the country's ability for monetary easing was constrained by house prices. Volumes have been particularly thin, however, and as there is no economic data scheduled for release from the US, it is likely to stay that way. Greek Q2 advanced GDP surprised markets, contracting at a slower pace year-over-year than Q1 and than was expected, boosting risk appetite across the board. As such, Spanish and Italian spreads are seen tighter by 12.6bps and 9.1bps respectively, with the Spanish 10-year yield holding below the key 7% and the Italian's under 6% despite the Italian government debt coming in at a record high of EUR 1972.9bln.
European markets opened lower as risk-off was observed across the asset classes as participants reacted to the disappointing data from China overnight. Continental equity futures have moved horizontally throughout the session so far with little newsflow or influential data to sway price action. Heading into the European open, little has changed as all European indices are in the red, being led lower by consumer goods and utilities. China posted a sharp narrowing in their trade balance surplus to USD 25bln from USD 32bln in June, as the growth in exports slows across the month. As such, it is not a surprise to hear the usual market chatter of the Chinese central bank taking an imminent move to cut their Reserve Requirement Ratio today. However, as nothing has materialised, the riskier assets have not seen any significant lift from the talk.
The initial boost given to European equities following weaker than expected overnight data from China, which renewed speculation of more stimulus measures, has faded throughout the morning. The major European bourses are now trading in negative territory at the North American crossover. The DAX is underperforming, weighed down by the likes of Commerzbank and Deutsche Telekom who both failed to impress markets with their earnings reports pre-market. However, thin summer volumes and another light economic calendar have once again been the theme for the morning, with only the UK Trade Balance for June gaining some market attention. Despite the larger than expected deficit, the ONS said that the figure is likely distorted by the extra public holidays.
The European start was quiet in terms of news-flow, with concentration still centered on the finances of the peripheral nations as Spain still refuses to accept they may need a bailout for the country as a whole. The Spanish short-end has seen a continuation of yesterday’s downside, with profit-taking noted following last weeks rally. Bund futures have seen a part-retracement of yesterday’s weakness, boosted by a well-bid 10yr German auction and as sentiment takes a turn towards safer havens. The headline event today came out of London with the Bank of England quarterly inflation report. Alongside expectation they cut growth forecasts for this year and next, although against forecasts the report and comments from Governor King were less dovish than anticipated causing strengthening of GBP, with moves to fresh highs in GBP/USD. Short sterling suffered downside following comments from King who said cutting interest rates would damage some financial institutions and would be partly counter-productive.
European equities are seen in decent positive territory heading into the Wall Street bell, though a clear lack of direction has been observed as well a thin summer volumes . The FTSE-100 is the day's underperformer following last night's allegations made by the State of New York against UK bank Standard Chartered that the company violated US sanctions by making secret transactions to the tune of USD 250bln with Iran. The Spanish 10-year yield has held below the key 7.00% level, though higher than yesterday's close at 6.76 with the spread over the benchmark Bund is slightly wider by 1.2bps. Steepening seen in the Spanish 2-year over the last couple of days as ECB's Draghi commented that any periphery bond-buying programme would be in the short end has halted and is now wider by 13bps. The Italian 10-year yield briefly traded above the 6.00% level though has since pulled back to lows printed earlier, currently standing at 5.91%, its spread tighter by 10.4bps on the session.
Both the ECB and the BoE have held their benchmark borrowing rates unchanged at 0.75% and 0.5% respectively at their rate announcements. The ECB decision provided instant support for EUR/USD, in firm positive territory at the North American crossover. In the fast money move, European equity futures sold off, but half the move has been rapidly pared. In fixed income, Bund futures declined, and are now seen marginally higher on the day. Despite this decision being largely expected, markets have priced in action from the ECB today, and some analysts pointed to a potential rate cut today. This reaction was seen on initial disappointment and the retracement move made as the ECB could still announce measures at the press conference scheduled to begin at 1330BST/0730CDT. Risk appetite has boosted European equities are in positive territory at the North American crossover as speculation that the ECB will announce further stimulus at the press conference later today rises. Financials are the best performing sector led by BNP Paribas whose earnings beat analyst expectations despite a decline of 13% year-over-year for its net.
Some positive indicators have prompted at least one article at Forbes to predict $8.00 natural gas by "the approaching winter."
European equities are trading in flat-to-positive territory going into the North American crossover with the FTSE-100 the primary laggard, being driven lower by individual earnings releases. Oil supermajor BP released a disappointing set of Q2 earnings, reporting a net loss of USD 1.39bln, pressing the stock lower by 4.25% at the midpoint of the European trading day. Data releases from Europe today have picked up in volume, but come alongside expectations, proving unreactive across the asset classes, as German unemployment changes matches estimates at a reading of +7K for July. The topic of a banking licence for the ESM has arisen once more, as German politicians have begun voicing their concerns on the issue, with a German senior lawmaker commenting that he cannot see an ESM banking licence becoming a reality. However, this appears to be another reiteration of the German political stance, and therefore not a particular shock to markets. With today the last trading day in the month, larger than average month-end extensions have proved supportive in the longer-end of the curve today, with notably large extensions in Germany, France and the Netherlands.
The major European bourses are down as US participants come to their desks, volumes still thin but higher than yesterday’s, and underperformance once again observed in the peripheries, with the IBEX down 2.5% and the FTSE MIB down 1.2%. Last night’s outlook changes on German sovereign debt caused a sell-off in the bund futures, with the effect being compounded as Germany comes to market with a 30-year offering tomorrow. The rating agency moves, as well as softer Euro-zone PMIs and reports that Spain is considering requesting a full international bailout have weighed on the riskier asset classes, taking EUR/USD back below the 1.2100 level. Furthermore, with Greece and a potential Greek exit now back in the news, investor caution is rife as the Troika begin their Greek report of the troubled country today.
European equities are trading in minor positive territory on light volume and a light economic calendar with the exception of the IBEX and the FTSE MIB which are down 0.3% and 0.4% respectively as US participants begin to come to their desks. Headline employment data from the UK was for the most part in-line with expectations, though the jobless claims change for June showed a 6.1K increase compared with the 5.0K expected, with downward revisions to May’s figures. The BoE minutes showed the July increase in APF was not unanimous at 7-2, and a GBP 75bln increase was also discussed, and that should the additional easing measures not work, a further rate cut would be examined. The final comment caused a spike to the upside in the short Sterling strip of 6 ticks, Gilt futures rose to make highs of 121.78, and GBP/USD to slide back below 1.5600, though the pair has since come off its lows and trades back above this level.