Peripheral stock indices continued to outperform today, as market participants reacted to yet another reiteration of support for ECB’s pledge to do all necessary to defend the Eurozone. As a result, banks in Europe are trading up with decent gains, with health care sector in the red given its traditional appeal as a safe-haven investment. German DAX continues to consolidate above the key 7000 mark, being driven higher by Daimler and Deutsche Bank. Looking at other asset classes, there is visible outperformance in the short-end of the curve, with the in-focus Spanish 2s tighter by around 20bps mark. The ongoing speculation of an intervention in the bond market also weighed on the German Bund, which underperformed its US counterpart. USTs come off overnight highs to trade little changed, with the move attributed to deal related selling. In the FX market, the EUR continued to re-price risks surrounding what is inevitable an unlikely scenario of a Eurozone break up. To the upside, resistance levels are seen at the 55DMA line at 1.2395 and then at 1.2400, which is also an intraday option expiry for the session.
The absence of the UK from today’s trade is particularly evident, with volumes remaining particularly light across all asset classes. Nonetheless, European equities are largely seen drifting higher with the exception of the DAX index, which is yet to move over into positive territory. News flow remains light with the highlight of the day so far being comments from the Troika, confirming that Portugal remains on track with its bailout program, and have confirmed that the country will receive the next EUR 4.1bln tranche in July. FX moves remain in a tight range, with EUR/USD looking relatively unchanged, with the USD index slightly weaker as the US comes to market. Looking ahead in the session, participants can look forward to US ISM New York and Factory Orders data as the next risk events of the session.
Everyone knows that Europe is divided into the Periphery (aka the PIIGS), and the Core (aka the countries that are supposed to be safe). What everyone also knows, is that the core, naively represented by Germany and France, supposedly has homogeneous distribution of economic growth and prospects. That all changed last year, when France moved from being a AAA-rated country, to a fallen superduper angel following the Moody's downgrade to AA+. Yet nowhere is the glaring divergence between these two formerly comparable economies than in the two articles cited below, both from the same publication, and both from today.
- Fed Holds Rates Steady, But Outlooks Shift (Hilsenrath)
- Has Obama Stacked the Fed? Not Really (Hilsenrath)
- High Court Skeptical of Obama’s Use of Power as Campaign Starts (Bloomberg)
- Europe Seen Adding Growth Terms to Budget Rules as Focus Shifts (Bloomberg)
- China Reaches Out to Its Adversaries Over Rare Earths (WSJ)
- Iran Says It May Halt Nuclear Program Over Sanctions (Bloomberg)
- Europe Shifts Crisis Focus to Growth as Merkel Backs Draghi Call (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Wants Rules for Raw Material Derivative Trade (Reuters)
- Evercore Profit Falls 62% as Investment Banking Expenses Rise (Bloomberg)
Investing in an uncompetitive company in the ugly EU auto market to bail out its own failing subsidiary.
European equities are taking losses as North America comes to market, with particular underperformance noted in the periphery bourses. Risk-aversion pushed both Spanish and Italian yields higher, with the spread between the Spanish 10-year and the Bund crossing above 400BPS for the first time since Late November 2011. The yields have now come off their highs but still remain elevated. It should be noted that markets are generally light today heading into the Easter weekend as investors take risk off the markets, so large surges in volumes have been observed. In the FX markets, EUR/CHF briefly broke below the SNB’s staunchly defended 1.2000 level on some exchanges, but uncertainty remains over the exact low due to different exchanges registering different prints. Needless to say, all exchanges witnessed a 30pip spike upwards in the cross with significant demand seen pushing the cross away from the floor. EUR/CHF now trades around the 1.2020 level.
More pain in Spain has been the theme so far in the European morning as poor auction results across three lines has resulted in significant widening in the 10-yr government bond yield spreads over benchmark bunds with the Spanish 10yr yield up some 24bps on the day. In combination with this the latest Germany Factory orders also fell short of analysts’ expectations and as such the lower open in bund futures following yesterday’s less than dovish FOMC minutes has been completed retracted and we now sit above last Friday’s high at 138.58.
All you need to read and some more.
Bailed-out but un-restructured. And now Fiat-Chrysler CEO is crying for help as EU car sales crash.
Heading into the North American open, EU stocks are seen lower across the board as market participants reacted to cautious comments from Moody’s rating agency on Spain, which noted that Spain’s fiscal outlook remains challenging despite easier targets. Still, the ratings agency further commented that easier targets do not affect Spain’s A3 government bond rating with a negative outlook. Separately to this, a BHP Billiton executive said that Chinese demand for iron ore is flattening, while according to China's state-backed auto association, China's vehicles sales this year will probably miss their growth forecasts. As a result, basic materials sector has been the worst performing sector today, while auto related stocks such as Daimler and VW also posted significant losses. The ONS reported that inflation in the UK fell to 3.4% in February, down from 3.6% in January. However, higher alcohol prices stopped the rate declining further. Going forward, the latter half of the session sees the release of the latest US housing data, as well as the weekly API report.
German lawmakers are to review Bundesbank controls of and management of Germany’s gold reserves. Parliament’s Budget Committee will assess how the central bank manages its inventory of Germany’s gold bullion bars that are believed to be stored in Frankfurt, Paris, London and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to German newspaper Bild. The German Federal Audit Office has criticised the Bundesbank’s lax auditing and inventory controls regarding Germany’s sizeable gold reserves – 3,396.3 tonnes of gold or some 73.7% of Germany’s national foreign exchange reserves. There is increasing nervousness amongst the German public, German politicians and indeed the Bundesbank itself regarding the gigantic risk on the balance sheet of Germany's central bank and this is leading some in Germany to voice concerns about the location and exact amount of Germany’s gold reserves. The eurozone's central bank system is massively imbalanced after the ECB’s balance sheet surged to a record 3.02 trillion euros ($3.96 trillion) last week, 31% bigger than the German economy, after a second tranche of three-year loans. The concern is that were the eurozone to collapse, Bundesbank's losses could be half a trillion euros - more than one-and-a-half times the size of the Germany's annual budget. In that scenario, Germany’s national patrimony of gold bullion reserves would be needed to support the currency – whether that be a new euro or a return to the Deutsche mark. The German lawmakers are following in the footsteps of US Presidential candidate Ron Paul who has long called for an audit of the US’ gold reserves. It is believed that some 60% of Germany’s gold is stored outside of Germany and much of it in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The latest development in the Porsche-Volkswagen saga comes courtesy of German Manager-Magazin, which notes that Daimler is apparently in advanced negotiations to acquire a stake in the troubled luxury carmaker. It was still unclear what happened with the massive VOW options held by Porsche ahead of expiration today: as the company did not have the money to exercise them earlier, one can only hope that Porsche scrambled enough cash to at least roll the options.