In what has been another quiet overnight session, which unlike the past two days has not seen steep, illiquid gaps higher in US equity futures (the E-mini was up 3 points and accelerating to the upside as of this writing so there is still ample time for the momentum algos to go berserk), the main event was the price of Brent rising above $50 for the first time since November with WTI rising as high as $49.97.
The single biggest event overnight was the PBOC's devaluation of the Yuan to the lowest since March 2011, setting the fixing at 6.5693, the highest in over 5 years and in direct response to a stronger dollar, which however if one looks at the DXY remains well below the recent highs in the 100 range, suggesting for China this is only just beggining. However, the fact that there was not more volatility in onshore and offshore overnight FX also comforted the market that at the same time as its was devaluing the PBOC was also intervening in the FX market, thus providing some assurance it would not allow runaway "risk off" sentiment prevail, nor would it promote another blitz round of capital outflows, leading to another gradual levitation in overnight risk.
So far in May, base metals and Oil decoupled markedly. While the Oil price kept rising and moved closer to 50$, base metals fell off a cliff and descended below March lows. We believe that Oil is the errant outlier, helped by deep but temporary supply outages in Canada and Nigeria and all-time record speculative flows, and is more likely to catch down to other commodities going forward rather than the other way round. We look at Oil gyrations as short-term heavy volatility, within a long-term downward trend.
Following last week's lull in global macro, it’s a busy start to the week in which we get the latest deluge of global flash PMIs, while the US economic calendar is loaded with New Home Sales data, Trade Balance, Initial Claims, UMichigan sentiment and the revised US Q1 GDP print on Friday. But perhaps the most expected event will be Yellen's speech on Friday at Harvard's Radcliffe, where the Fed chairman is expected to reveal some more hints on the upcoming rate hike.
It has been more of the same overnight, as global stocks piggybacked on the strong US close and rose despite the lack of good (or bad) macro news, propelled higher by the two usual suspects: a higher USDJPY and a even higher oil, if mostly early on in the trading session.
After last week's key event, the retail sales number, which the market discounted as being too unrealistic (and overly seasonally adjusted) after printing at a 13 month high and attempting to refute the reality observed by countless retailers, this week has a quiet start today with no data of note due out of Europe and just Empire manufacturing (which moments ago missed badly) and the NAHB housing market index of note in the US session this morning.
In the traditional post payrolls data lull, we’re kicking off what’s set to be a much quieter week for data this week with nothing of note due to be released in the US on Monday, however the week picks up with notable economic dataon NFIB small business cofidence, Import prices, PPI and culminates with Friday's retail sales report, UMichigan sentiment and business inventories.
The overnight session has been one of alternative weakness and strength: it started in China where stocks tumbled 2.8% to a two month low following some unexpected warnings in the official People's Daily newspaper and poor trade data. Concerns about China, however, were promptly forgotten and certainly not enough to keep global assets lower, with European stocks gapping higher at the open and rallying from a one-month low, driven by a "surprising" surge in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 200 pips higher since its post-payrolls low. Another driver is the jump in oil, which rallied just shy of $46 a barrel, buoyed by Canadian wildfires that are curbing production and speculation that the Saudi Arabian oil minister succession will be bullish for oil prices.
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).
Less than one week after the BOJ floated a trial balloon using Bloomberg, that it would reduce the rate it charged some banks which set off the biggest USDJPY rally since October 2014, we are back where we started following last night's "completely unexpected" (for everyone else: we wrote "What If The BOJ Disappoints Tonight: How To Trade It" hours before said "shock") shocking announcement out of the BOJ which did absolutely... nothing. "It’s a total shock,” Nader Naeimi, Sydney- based head of dynamic markets at AMP Capital Investors told Bloomberg. "From currencies to equities to everything -- you can see the reaction in the markets. I can’t believe this. It’s very disappointing."
For those who thought that the world's biggest company losing over $40 billion in market cap in an instant on disappointing Apple earnings, would have been sufficient to put a dent in US equity futures, we have some disappointing news: with just over 7 hours until the FOMC reveals its April statement, futures are practically unchanged, even though the Nasdaq appears set for an early bruising in the aftermath of what is becoming a disturbing quarter for tech companies. Instead of tech leading, however, the upside has once again come from the energy complex where moments ago WTI rose above $45 a barrel for the first time since November after yesterday's unexpected 1.07 million barrel API inventory drawdown.
The April FOMC gathering headlines a crowded economic events calendar this week. The post-meeting statement, released Wednesday afternoon, should continue to strike a cautious tone. There will be no press conference and updated economic and financial forecasts will not be released. Few expect the FOMC to add the “balance of risks” sentence back into its communiqué at this point. Doing so would be quite bearish for risk assets as it would definitely open the door for a June rate hike.
Futures are currently unchanged, but the E-mini was down as much as 12 points less than two hours earlier after the European open when this time it was up to the PBOC to intervene in global markets by pushing the Yuan higher (selling USDCNY via intermediary banks) sending global stocks sharply higher off session lows and leaving the S&P futures virtually unchanged. As Bloomberg reported, there has been increasing USD/CNY selling in afternoon session as Dollar Index edged lower. This is the PBOC entering the building and levitating stocks.
Good news is still bad news after all. After last night's China 6.7% GDP print which while the lowest since Q1 2009, was in line with expectations, coupled with beats in IP, Fixed Asset Investment and Retail Sales (on the back of $1 trillion in total financing in Q1) the sentiment this morning is that China has turned the corner (if only for the time being). And that's the problem, because while China was a good excuse for the Fed to interrupt its rate hike cycle as the biggest "global" threat, that is no longer the case if China has indeed resumed growing. As such Yellen no longer has a ready excuse to delay. This is precisely why futures are lower as of this moment, because suddenly the "scapegoat" narrative has evaporated.
Two days after stocks slid in a coordinated risk-off session, and one day after a DOE estimate of US oil inventories sent US stocks surging while the failed Allergan-Pfizer deal unleashed torrential hopes of a biotech M&A spree leading to the single best day for the sector in 5 years, sentiment has again shifted, this time due to a violent surge in the Yen as the market keeps testing the resolve of the Japanese central bank to keep its currency weak, and so far finding it to be nonexistent.