The return from summer holidays has started in much the same way as we left off August, with another subdued session that has seen European stocks little changed, Asian shares advance and S&P futures are modestly in the green amid a flurry of M&A. The US dollar weakened, with the Bloomberg Dollar Index down 0.2% for the 2nd day in a row as prospects for a U.S. interest-rate hike this month remained subdued.
The much anticipated payrolls day, expected to provide at least some more clarity on future Fed policy, has arrived and heading into today's report both price action and newsflow has been muted. U.S. equity index futures were fractionally higher, as European stocks rise 0.6% while Asia was flat. Gold fell as the dollar rose, while comments by Vladimir Putin which endorsed an OPEC oil production freeze while granting Iran an exemption, have pushed oil higher.
The quiet overnight market had been focused on the upcoming comments by Stanley Fischer, who is set to give a Bloomberg TV interview at 6:30am ET, where he was expected to expand on his recent hawkish comments. Heading into Fischer's appearance, the dollar strengthened, global stocks rose, oil hovered around $47, while US index futures were largely flat and Treasuries fell.
WTI Crude is now down 6% from last week's highs, back below $47 as supply concerns (Abu Dhabi production rise and ConocoPhilips' CEO comments) and OPEC freeze talks doubts have combined with the biggest collapse in speculative short positions in history (following the Saudi statement) - removing the last 'short-squeeze' leg of support from this dead-cat-bounce.
The dollar index rose to a two-week high on Monday, while bond yields jumped to their highest since June and global stocks sold off after senior Federal Reserve officials indicated a U.S. interest rate increase was on the cards in the near term. The Fed effect - and the stronger dollar - reverberated through markets, pressuring stocks in Europe and emerging markets, pushing oil below $47 and the commodity complex lower.
With Yellen's much anticipated speech just hours away, the already comatose market flatlined overnight in another directionless session, with European stocks and US equity futures practically unchanged, while Asian shares to a two-week low, led by Japan, as investors showed a reluctance to take on risk before Yellen’s speech. The dollar was a tad lower, along with oil which is set for its first weekly drop in a month.
"I know that when we look at the overall U.S. population, it seems like things are getting better. But when you start breaking it down and you look at that core consumer that we serve on the lower economic scale that's out there, things have not gotten any better for her, and arguably, they're worse because rents are accelerating, healthcare is accelerating." - Dollar General CEO, Todd Vasos
In a rerun of yesterday's overnight session, European indexes trade higher while US index futures were modestly in the green, set to propel the S&P 500 to new all time highs. Emerging Market dropped the most in three weeks alongside commodities, as today the market was predisposed hawkishly on a US rate hike ahead of Yellen's Friday speech, pushing the US dollar higher and oil resumed its pre "anonymous sources" headlines slide.
"the most important tell on sentiment will be the U.S. Treasury auctions. Especially as they involve the two-year and belly. Yesterday morphed from “uh, oh they’re hawkish” to “I knew I should’ve bought the damn dip.” Buy every dip when facing the possibility of a third big NFP in a row? Sure, if you believe in the status quo"
European, Asian stocks and S&P futures all fell in another quiet, low-volume early session. With oil entering a bull market yesterday, and set for its longest run of gains in 4 years after, overnight crude stumbled, and reversed early gains, falling for the first time in seven days driven by rebound in the dollar which gained versus all G-10 currencies with commodity currencies underperforming.