The "polar vortex" (no, really) which is about to unleash even record-er cold temperatures upon the US may be the greatest thing to happen to the economy: after all once Q1 GDP estimates miss once again, what better scapegoat to blame it on than cold winter weather during... the winter. However, for the overnight markets, the weather seems to have had an less than desired effect following both much weaker Services PMI data out of China, and after the entire USDJPY ramp achieved during Bernanke's late Friday speech evaporated in the span of two hours in Japanese Monday morning trading, sending the Nikkei reeling lower by 2.35%. One reason for this may be that like in the early summer when both the Yen and the Nikkei froze in a rangebound formation, South Korea has vocally started t0 complain about the weak Yen, which as readers may recall was one of the catalysts to put an end to the surge in the USDJPY and EURJPY. This time may not be different, furthermore as Goldman forecast overnight, it now expects a BOK rate cut of 25 bps as soon as this Thursday. Should that happen expect the JPY coiled-short spring to pounce.
Joking aside, the release of weaker than expected macroeconomic data from China, together with somewhat mixed Services PMIs from Europe meant that heading into the North American open, European stocks are seen mixed. Nevertheless, financials outperformed from the get-go, supported by reports that Brussels is set to ease financial
reforms so that big European banks are not forced automatically to split lending operations from risky trading. Also, Monte Paschi shares in Italy gained over 2% following reports that that some US funds may consider investing as much as EUR 350mln to buy a 20% stake in the bank. At the same time, London listed RSA traded up over 5% after being added to UBS's most preferred list.
Looking elsewhere, a combination of coupon/redemption flows, together with the somewhat lacklustre performance by stocks supported the bid tone by Bunds. On that note, January has the second highest amount of coupons and redemptions in 2014 (EUR 34bln of coupon payments and EUR 98bln of redemptions). Also, touted buying by domestic names ensured that despite the broad based widening of EU sov. bond yield spreads with respect to German 10y, PO/GE 10y spread actually narrowed by over 5bps. However overall, trade volumes remained light as some market participants observed Epiphany holiday.
- ISM non mfg comp, cons 54.5 (10:00 am)
- Factory orders (Nov - mom), cons 1.7% (10:00 am)
- Senate confirmation vote for Yellen as Fed Chair (5:30 pm)
- POMO: $1.00 - $1.50 billion focusing on 02/15/2036 - 11/15/2043 maturities (11:00 am)
- US Sells $28bn 3m and $26bn 6m bills (11:30 am)
Global markets recap:
- Chinese HSBC Services PMI (Dec) M/M 50.9 (Prev. 52.5) - weakest level of expansion in 28 months.
- European stocks are relatively mixed following this morning's Service PMIs.
- Going forward, the second half of the session sees the release of the latest ISM non-manufacturing survey, as well as factory orders report from the US.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.1% to 1827.5
- Stoxx 600 down 0.1% to 327.4
- US 10Yr yield down 1bps to 2.98%
- German 10Yr yield down 3bps to 1.92%
- MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.8% to 139.1
- Gold spot up 0.1% to $1237.8/oz
- Sweden, Finland, Austria mkts closed today for the Epiphany holiday
- 7 out of 19 Stoxx 600 sectors rise; bank, real estate outperform, basic resources, travel & leisure underperform
- 46% of Stoxx 600 members gain, 51.2% decline
- Euro-zone Dec. services PMI 52.1 in line with est.
- U.K. Dec. services PMI 58.8 vs 60.3 est.
- Top Stoxx 600 gainers: RSA Insurance Group PLC +6.7%, Vestas Wind Systems A/S +5.2%, Mediobanca SpA +3.2%, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Sien +2.9%, UniCredit SpA +2.9%, Banco Popolare SC +2.6%, Commerzbank AG +2.6%, FLSmidth & Co A/S +2.5%, Pandora A/S +2.4%, Stada Arzneimittel AG +2.3%
- Top Stoxx 600 decliners: Edenred -4.2%, Aker Solutions ASA -3.1%, Barry Callebaut AG -3%, Remy Cointreau SA -2.8%, John Wood Group PLC -2.7%, Randgold Resources Ltd -2.3%, Umicore SA -2.3%, Fresnillo PLC -2.3%, Polymetal International PLC -2.2%, Portugal Telecom SGPS SA -2.1%
- Asian stocks fall with the Kospi outperforming and the Nikkei underperforming.
- MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.8% to 139.1
- Nikkei 225 down 2.3%, Hang Seng down 0.6%, Kospi up 0.4%, Shanghai Composite down 1.8%, ASX down 0.5%, Sensex down 0.3%
- 0 out of 10 sectors rise with tech, utilities outperforming and telcos, energy underperforming
- China HSBC/Markit Services PMI for Dec. 50.9 vs 52.5 prior
- Gainers: Bangkok Dusit Medical Services +9.7%, Kangwon Land Inc +8.3%, Minor International PCL +7.5%, BEC World PCL +7.3%, MMC Corp Bhd +6.7%, Eclat Textile Co Ltd +6.1%, Siam Commercial Bank PCL/The +5.7%, ANA Holdings Inc +4.8%, Lotte Confectionery Co Ltd +4.2%
- Decliners: Daelim Industrial Co Ltd -8.9%, Adaro Energy Tbk PT -7.9%, Samsung Engineering Co Ltd -7.4%, Tambang Batubara Bukit Asam Pe -7%, Astra Agro Lestari Tbk PT -6.1%, BBMG Corp -5.8%, Fast Retailing Co Ltd -5.8%, Anhui Conch Cem ent Co Ltd -5.6%, TPK Holding Co Ltd -5.2%, Highwealth Construction Corp -5.1%
Chinese HSBC Services PMI (Dec) M/M 50.9 (Prev. 52.5) - weakest level of expansion in 28 months.
BOJ Governor Kuroda said the central bank won’t necessarily end or scale back its stimulus program in 2 years and will continue it until inflation stabilizes at 2%.
EU & UK Headlines
GBP has underperformed EUR following the release of weaker than expected UK Services PMI data and also as market participants digest press reports over the weekend which suggested that the BoE may amend unemployment benchmark to 6.5% from 7.0%. This also resulted in bull flattening of the curve, with Gilts receiving a further boost shortly after the release of weaker than expected UK Services PMI data.
- Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Mark Carney is set to amend the Bank of England’s forward guidance in the coming months by changing the unemployment benchmark to 6.5% from 7.0% at which an interest rates rise will be considered.
UK PMI Services (Dec) M/M 58.8 vs Exp. 60.3 (Prev. 60.0) - lowest since June.
- Composite PMI (Dec) M/M 59.5 (Prev. 60.4) - lowest since July.
- PMI points to UK Q4 GDP growth of above 0.8% Q/Q, 2013 growth of 1.9% Y/Y.
Eurozone Services PMI (Dec) M/M 51.0 vs. Exp. 51.0 (Prev. 51.2). Employment component at 50.0 (Prev. 49.1) - highest since December 2011.
- German Services PMI (Dec F) M/M 53.5 vs. Exp. 54.0 (Prev. 55.7)
- French Services PMI (Dec) M/M 47.8 vs. Exp. 47.4 (Prev. 48.0)
- Italian Services PMI (Dec) M/M 47.9 vs. Exp. 48.7 (Prev. 47.2)
- Spanish Services PMI (Dec) M/M 54.2 (Prev. 51.5) - fastest pace of growth since July 2007
German Saxony CPI (Dec) Y/Y 1.4% (Prev. 1.4%)
- German Hesse CPI (Dec) Y/Y 1.2% (Prev. 1.1%)
- German Brandenburg CPI (Dec) Y/Y 1.3% (Prev. 1.3%)
- German CPI North Rhine Westphalia (Dec) Y/Y 1.8% (Prev. 1.6%)
Fed Comments from the Philadelphia conference over the weekend/late Friday:
- Fed Chairman Bernanke said cut in bond buying does not diminish Fed's commitment to accommodation as long as needed.
- Fed's Dudley (voter, dove) said could decide "at a future date"to fully implement a proposed new policy tool known as a fixed rate full allotment reverse repo facility.
- Fed's Plosser (non-voter, hawk) said Fed could cut QE by larger than USD 10bln increments if economic data improves and sooner bond buying ends the better.
- Fed's Lacker (non-voter, hawk) said uncertain about Fed rate hike timing, but main expectation is for early 2015 and if growth picks up significantly, could see rates increase this year.
Despite the cautious sentiment, credit spreads tightened and financials outperformed from the get-go, supported by reports that Brussels is set to ease financial reforms so that big European banks are not forced automatically to split lending operations from risky trading. Also, Monte Paschi shares in Italy gained over 2% following reports that that some US funds may consider investing as much as EUR 350mln to buy a 20% stake in the bank.
Heading into the North American open, USD index is seen down 0.14%, as market participants position for a slew of risk events and also take note of the latest IMF data which showed that holdings of USD by central banks fell for 1st time in almost a year. The USD accounted for 61.44% of the money held by central banks in the third quarter of 2013, down from 61.76%. At the same time, data showed that the EUR accounted for 24.16% of reserve holdings in the third quarter of 2013, up from 23.93% in the previous three months.
Libya have resumed oil output at El Sharara after protests, with production of as much as 600,000bpd possibly being established, according to news reports without citing anyone. However, there are reports that new protests have erupted in the West.
US Secretary of State Kerry has suggested that Iran could play an observer role in talks on Syria, when they reconvene on Jan 22nd.
The Chinese aluminium market is bracing itself for what could potentially be its worst year in a decade as continuous capacity expansions and lower production costs put pressure on an already oversupplied market.
Japan's demand for copper and copper-alloy fabricated products to rise to 800,000t in 2014 or 3.9%.
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We conclude, as usual, with the overnight recap from DB's Jim Reid
Risk is off to a weak start this morning as we launch into the first full week of 2014: a blockbuster week which features FOMC minutes, the ECB meeting, US payrolls, services PMIs and the start of US earnings season to name just a few highlights. There’s more on the week below but first taking a look at overnight markets, one of the driver’s for today’s weakness is the HSBC China services PMI which came in at 50.9, which is 1.6 points below November’s headline, and is the lowest reading in at least eight months. This will likely provide further fuel to those calling for a Chinese slowdown and it follows an uninspiring set of Chinese PMIs released in recent days including the official manufacturing PMI (51.0 vs 51.2 consensus), HSBC manufacturing PMI (50.5 vs 50.8 previous) and official non-manufacturing PMI (54.6 vs 56.0 previous).
Leading the decliners today are Japanese equities (Nikkei -2.1%) where markets are returning for the first time in 2014 and possibly playing catch up to the weak start to DM equities last week. Chinese equities are down for the third straight session (Shanghai Composite -2.3%, Hang Seng -0.6%) and eyes remain on Chinese interbank funding market where rates continue to bounce around (7-day repo +80bp today). Our China rates strategist has published an outlook suggesting significant near-term headwinds for rates in 2014 including the PBoC maintaining its neutral to tightening bias on liquidity management, demand for liquidity ahead of Chinese New Year and ongoing interest rate reforms. Asian EM currencies are weaker overnight and there are reports that India’s RBI intervened to stem the recent slide in the rupee which is trading at 1-month lows versus the USD.
Briefly reviewing some of the weekend press headlines, the FT is reporting that Brussels may ease financial reforms so that large European banks are not forced to split their lending and trading operations. In a draft European Commission proposal, due to be released in January or February, the separation is no longer mandatory, would be less costly and restrictive than first envisaged and national supervisors are given wide discretion in applying the reforms (Financial Times). The Sunday Times wrote that the Bank of England is set to change its forward guidance by lowering the unemployment threshold to 6.5% over the next few months. In the Euroarea, the weekend press noted that the Italian and Spanish bond yields has fallen to within 200bp of bunds for the first time in around two and a half years following an impressive new year rally (Reuters).
Previewing the week ahead, the Fed remains in full focus starting with today when the US senate will vote on whether to approve the nomination of Janet Yellen as the next Fed Chair to succeed Ben Bernanke at the end of this month. The Senate is expected to vote at around 5:30pm Eastern time according to indications from Democrat Senate leaders. Yellen needs a majority of votes in the 100-person Senate, but she is widely expected to receive broad support. Only a small number of Republicans have voiced opposition to her nomination. Other items on Congress’ new year to-do-list include a potential debate on whether to revive expanded benefits for the long-term unemployed which lapsed in December. A number of forecasters have predicted that the expriation of these benefits could have a bearing on the unemployment rate.
Following on from that, the FOMC minutes (released on Wednesday) will be closely watched given the Fed’s recent decision to taper QE. According to Bernanke, further tapering is dependent on their assessment of economic conditions in general and the labor market in particular. DB’s US economists write that the key focus of the minutes will be to discern whether meeting participants viewed the first tapering move as the beginning of a steady sequence of purchase reductions which should continue over the next several meetings, or whether they are leaning toward a more tentative approach. Bernanke envisaged that asset purchases will likely be cut at a measured pace throughout 2014 if job gains continue as expected and this is something that we will likely get further detail on in the minutes. Outside of the minutes, the Fed speakers this week include Williams and Bullard who are scheduled to speak on US economy on Tuesday and Friday respectively.
In terms of data releases, Friday’s US employment report is the clear highlight. The market is expecting a gain of 195k in the headline (vs a 203k gain last month), +195k in private payrolls (vs 196k last month) and for unemployment to remain at 7.0%. In advance of this, the ADP employment will be released on Wednesday and the expectation here is for a +200k outcome for December (vs 215k previous). Other US data releases include today’s ISM non-manufacturing & factory orders, Tuesday’s trade data, Thursday’s jobless claims and Friday’s wholesale inventories.
Staying Stateside, the Q4 earnings season unofficially kicks-off with Alcoa’s quarterly report on Thursday, but the earnings docket will stay relatively light with only seven S&P500 companies reporting this week. Earnings will get more interesting next week when the major US banks and broker dealers’ earnings reports start to trickle in. As we head into reporting season, the Wall Street Journal reports that a total of 94 companies have issued earnings guidance that came in below the median analyst estimate for Q4, citing FactSet data. That’s the highest number since the company began tracking the data in 2006. Only 13 companies gave guidance above the median estimate, tying the record for the fewest number, reached during the first quarter of 2006.
Across the Atlantic, the ECB meets on Thursday where DB’s Gilles Moec expects no major news as the governing council continues to debate whether more steps are necessary. Indeed, Gilles thinks that the ECB seems to be comfortable with its current stance: they have managed to convince the market that they could do more, with their "array of instruments”. At the same time, they would need a "smoking gun" to get them into action but the trickle of data released since the December meeting does not provide them with one. Again, Draghi’s post rate-announcement press conference will be key.
Speaking of data the flow of economic releases in the Euroarea begins with today’s services PMIs. Gilles highlights that after November’s sharp fall to 47.2 (from 50.5), it’s important that Italy’s services PMI does not disappoint given also weak November lending numbers. The PMIs will be followed up by the Euroarea inflation and unemployment reports on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively. Germany reports November factory orders and trade data on Wednesday and industrial production the following day. Friday’s release of UK, French and Spanish industrial production rounds out the week’s major European data releases.
In Asia, following a lacklustre set of Chinese PMIs to start the year we have a fairly big week of Chinese data. The December trade report will be released on Wednesday where the Bloomberg consensus is centred on export growth of 5.2% (vs 12.7% last month) and import growth of 5.0% (vs 5.3% in November). The monthly inflation data on Thursday will also make for interesting reading. New bank lending and money supply data will be released on Friday. On the topic of China, our Chief China economist Jun Ma published a themes and strategy update for 2014 focusing on the country’s growth-enhancing reforms.
Jun thinks that 2014 will mark the beginning of a series of growth-enhancing structural reforms and should witness a cyclical economic recovery. He expects GDP growth to continue its recovery on the back of five major drivers: 1) reduced overcapacity; 2) deregulation in sectors with under-capacity; 3) the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to “reactivate money stock”; 4) rising external demand; and 5) a pro-cyclical fiscal policy. It will be a relatively quiet in Japan but elsewhere the Bank of Korea and Bank of Indonesia policy meetings are the major central bank meetings in Asia this week.