Futures Drop From All Time High As Concerns Over Stimulus Stalemate Grow

S&P 500 futures dipped along with European stocks on Thursday, one day after briefly rising above the previous record high and closing just a few points below its all time high close, as the global rally showed signs of faltering as stimulus talks in Washington remained deadlocked. Gold and Treasurys were flat, while the dollar fell before key unemployment data.

Wall Street indexes had rallied on Wednesday with gains across most sectors, bringing the S&P 500 about 0.4% below its intraday record high hit on Feb. 19 before shares faltered as investors continue to wonder when Congress will agree on the much needed fiscal stimulus. The concern is that government lifelines merely deferred even more unemployment.

Cisco Systems dropped 5.8% premarket after forecasting first-quarter revenue and profit below Wall Street estimates and laying out a restructuring plan. 

"It seems that the markets have been in glass-half-full mode in the past couple of sessions," said Jane Foley, a strategist at Rabobank in London. "Even if we did get a new record today, the lack of liquidity in August would detract from the credibility of such a move."

European stocks fell, ending their largest four-day rally in two months, with insurers and mining stocks pulled down benchmarks. Dutch insurer Aegon NV tumbled after its profit missed estimates and as it withdrew financial targets over uncertainty from the pandemic. The Stoxx Europe 600 Basic Resources Index led declines, dropping as much as 2.1% the most among sectors in Europe, as the global rally in equities fades and copper, zinc trade lower although th gold rebound continues. Miners fall even as gold pares some of this week’s slump: Rio Tinto -2.9%, Anglo American -3%, BHP Group -2.3%, Glencore -2.3%, ArcelorMittal -2.8%, Antofagasta -2.1%.

Markets continued to hold on to hopes the Democrats and the White House would reach an agreement to pump more money into the economy, with unemployment benefits being a sticking point.

Attention now turns to the weekly U.S. jobless claims data which is expected to show the number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits dipped slightly from the prior week, printing at 1.1 million, although the labor market continues to struggle due to the pandemic. Last week, the government’s July jobs report showed the economy has regained only 9.3 million of the 22 million jobs lost between February and April.

Meanwhile, as we noted several weeks ago, the most hard-hit U.S. states continued to show signs of improvement, with Texas and California reporting falling hospitalizations from the virus.

In rates, Treasuries were unchanged, reversing a modest gain during the Asian session despite a record $26BN 30-year auction at 1pm ET (WI 30-year yield at ~1.358% is ~3bp cheaper than last month’s, which stopped 2.7bp through the WI yield at the bidding deadline; yesterday’s 10- year auction stopped through by less than 1bp after a selloff). Yields declined during Asia session as demand emerged following two-day selloff, are edging higher in early U.S. trading as dealers prepare to underwrite final event of this week’s auction cycle. Yields richer by 0.5bp to 2bp with 10-year around 0.67%, outperforming bunds by 2.5bp, gilts by 1.5bp. According to Bloomberg, large short base may support a covering bid into the auction, while leaving the sector vulnerable to a squeeze.

In FX, the dollar dipped and the euro and pound both advanced against the greenback, mostly helped by sustained dollar weakness. Sterling was stable against the euro, but it remains vulnerable to the common currency, according to Rabobank’s head of FX strategy Jane Foley.

In commodities, oil steadied after rising earlier on signs of improving demand while gold resumed its advance after the Monday crash.

Looking at the day ahead now, the data highlights include the weekly initial jobless claims from the US along with the final July CPI reading from Germany. Fed speakers include Bostic and Brainard, while the Mexican central bank will also be deciding on rates. Tapestry and Applied Materials are among companies reporting earnings.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures little changed at 3,369.25
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 373.17
  • MXAP up 0.5% to 171.17
  • MXAPJ up 0.09% to 564.39
  • Nikkei up 1.8% to 23,249.61
  • Topix up 1.2% to 1,624.15
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.05% to 25,230.67
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.04% to 3,320.73
  • Sensex down 0.1% to 38,331.48
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.7% to 6,091.00
  • Kospi up 0.2% to 2,437.53
  • Brent futures little changed at $45.41/bbl
  • Gold spot up 1% to $1,935.22
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.3% to 93.14
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to -0.461%
  • Euro up 0.4% to $1.1830
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 1.8 bps to 0.836%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.3 bps to 0.3%

Market Snapshot

  • Virus resurgence across Europe continues with Germany recording the highest number of new cases in more than three months, with daily infections topping 1,000 for three days in a row. Meanwhile two Chinese patients test positive again several months after having recovered, raising fears that the virus could linger and reappear in people previously infected.
  • Around 3.4 million people in England -- or 6% of the population -- have caught coronavirus, according to a large-scale antibody study. The rate in the capital is twice as high, with 13% of Londoners having contracted the virus.
  • Australian employment rebounded in July, with an additional 114,700 jobs added to the economy, beating estimates. Unemployment lowered to 7.5%.
  • Sweden’s controversial virus policy may have saved the economy from a further 4% drop in GDP, according to Capital Economics. Sweden did not impose a strict lockdown, and the country suffered a higher death rate than comparable countries which did impose a lockdown. The Swedish economy contracted 8.6% in the second quarter.

Asian equity markets began mostly higher as the region took impetus from the tech-led gains on Wall St where the S&P 500 and Nasdaq moved to within close proximity of record highs, fuelled by strength across the big tech names and with Tesla front-running the advances following the recent announcement of a 5-for-1 stock split. However, some of the elation gradually waned overnight as focus turned to the deluge of earnings. ASX 200 (-0.7%) and Nikkei 225 (+1.8%) were mixed with price action for the biggest movers in Australia dictated by results, in particular the worst performers AGL Energy and Telstra after both posting weaker bottom lines for the full year, while the Japanese benchmark outperformed on a breakout above 23,000 to print its highest level since February. Hang Seng (Unch.) and Shanghai Comp. (Unch.) were indecisive with only minimal support seen from another substantial PBoC liquidity injection as geopolitical tensions remain in the background and tentativeness ahead of US-China talks on Saturday to assess the Phase-1 deal in which China will reportedly bring up WeChat and TikTok issues. Furthermore, Hong Kong was also kept indecisive amid choppy trade in index heavyweight Tencent which was eventually pressured despite topping earnings estimates as it refrained from an interim dividend and as it faces the impending WeChat ban in US. Finally, 10yr JGBs traded marginally higher after rebounding from yesterday’s floor and despite the strength in Japanese stocks, while the BoJ were also present in the market today for nearly JPY 1.2tln of JGBs in 1yr-10yr maturities.

Top Asia News

  • China Investors Pick Winners From Xi’s New Economic Mantra
  • Duterte to Use Russian Vaccine After Philippine Human Trials
  • Modi’s Key Ministers Hit by Coronavirus as Pandemic Grips India
  • Australia Employment Surges as Economy Absorbs Victoria Relapse

European equities have largely seen modest broad-based losses [Euro Stoxx 50 -0.2%] after a mixed APAC lead as earnings take focus amid a lack of fresh catalysts. UK’s FTSE 100 (-1.1%) sees more pronounced losses vs. the region amid currency dynamics, but more notably due to a slew of large-cap ex-dividends including the likes of AstraZeneca (-1.5%), BP (-2.4%), Diageo (-1.1%), GSK (-2.4%) and Shell (-2.5%) – together equating to just under a quarter (~24%) of the FTSE 100 by weighting. Sectors are mixed with no clear risk profile to be derived – Energy underperforms, IT remains somewhat afloat after its underperformance yesterday, whilst Telecom names see a firm performance on the back of Deutsche Telekom’s (+2.1%) earnings, which topped revenue and adj. EBITDA forecasts whilst the Co. also raised its FY20 adj. EBITDA AL guidance.  In terms of individual movers, Airbus (-1.4%) shares remain pressured after the US maintained tariffs on the European aviation sector. Thyssenkrupp (-14.3%) shares tumbled at the open amid dismal numbers, whilst Wirecard (-13.8%) follows a close second after Deutsche Boerse has announced that subsequent to approving new rules in light of the Wirecard scandal, the new composition of the DAX will be published on August 19th, the review will see Wirecard removed from the index. Separate reports also noted that the Philippines government is mulling criminal charges for Wirecard executives forging travel data. Other earnings-related movers include RWE (+1.4%), Deutsche Wohnen (Unch), Lanxess (-1.1%), Swisscom (-0.3%) and Carlsberg (-4.8%).

Top European News

  • Zurich Insurance Sticks With Outlook as Virus Hits Profit
  • Sweden May Be Facing a Much Milder Recession Than First Feared
  • Wirecard’s Jan Marsalek Added to Interpol’s Most Wanted List

In FX, the Dollar remains depressed following another dead cat bounce and failure to reach 94.000 in index terms with the aid of firm US inflation data, and a retreat in Treasury yields amidst re-flattening across the curve is not helping the Greenback sustain gains as the DXY slips closer to the round number below. Meanwhile, bouts of risk-off trade due to the lack of progress on fiscal stimulus to replace maturing COVID-19 relief are fleeting and not providing the Buck any safe-haven sustenance, as 2nd wave concerns linger alongside global trade, diplomatic and geopolitical threats to the economic recovery. Ahead, initial claims will be monitored in context of the latter and recent signs that the re-opening return to employment is waning.

  • EUR/GBP/CHF/JPY - All benefiting at the expense of the Dollar, and technically in the case of the Euro as it builds a firmer base above the 200 HMA around 1.1800 eyeing 1.1850 next on the upside, while Sterling has recovered well from successive retreats towards 1.3000, albeit with Cable unable to reach 1.3100 again. Elsewhere, the Franc is probing 0.9100 and Yen has bounced a bit further from 107.00 to sit within a 106.92-57 range on the aforementioned less bearish UST yield/curve backdrop.
  • CAD/AUD/NZD - The Loonie has lost some impetus from crude, but meandering between 1.3256-26 parameters and the Aussie is holding above 0.7150 after better than expected jobs data, albeit mainly due to a jump in temporary workers keeping the overall unemployment rate relatively steady, but the Kiwi is lagging again following an attempt to revisit 0.6600 as the NZ pandemic resurgence continues and PM Ahern warns that the situation could get worse before slowing down again. Moreover, RBNZ Deputy Governor Bascand acknowledges a big risk to the outlook due to the growing cluster and a policy response in the event of an extended lockdown likely in the form of NIRP in tandem with a funding for lending facility.
  • SCANDI/EM - Some consolidation after recent volatile trade, and little reaction from the Nok or Sek to mixed Norwegian consumer sentiment, firmer Swedish 1-year CPIF expectations and NIER’s less recessionary 2020 GDP forecast. However, the Zar may respond to SA Gold and mining production as Eskom projects more load-shedding and the Brl has Brazilian services sector growth to digest.

In commodities, WTI September and Brent October futures eke modest gains after a flat APAC session, with prices on either side of 42.75/bbl and 45.50/bbl respectively. The IEA monthly report trimmed its 2020 demand growth forecast by 140k BPD, citing poor jet fuel demand, whilst also cutting the 2021 metric by 240k BPD. The report chimes more with the OPEC's monthly report as opposed to the EIA's STEO, as OPEC also trimmed its 2020 global demand forecast view in light of second wave fears, although IEA specifically mentioned poor jet fuel demand. The IEA and OPEC do however differ in their 2021 view as latter left its forecast unchanged. Elsewhere, Russian Energy Minister Novak pushed back against some speculation that OPEC+ could taper their cuts sooner than agreed on. Novak stated that there has not been any proposals to alter the OPEC+ deal and added the JMMC will not discuss changes to the OPEC+ deal this month when they meet on August 18th. Elsewhere, spot gold remains firmer within recent ranges having had found some interim support at USD 1925/oz, whilst spot silver remains somewhat capped by mild resistance near 26/oz. In terms of base metals, LME copper trades softer despite Shanghai September copper futures closing higher, as the former tracks European stock performance. Shanghai Stainless steel futures also saw a session of gains amid robust demand and recent slump in inventories.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.6%, prior 1.4%; Import Price Index YoY, est. -3.05%, prior -3.8%
  • 8:30am: Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.4%, prior 1.4%; Export Price Index YoY, prior -4.4%
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 1.1m, prior 1.19m; Continuing Claims, est. 15.8m, prior 16.1m
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 44.9

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Normal service appears to have resumed in markets again with the S&P 500 (+1.40%) doing its best to prove that Tuesday’s move was all but a small blip on its one-way ascent to new record highs. The index momentarily hit new highs yesterday but a move of just +0.18% or more today is all it will take to get it there on a closing basis now. Unlike previous days it was a rotation back into tech stocks which did most of the hard work yesterday, with the NASDAQ (+2.13%) recouping a decent chunk of the move lower in the three days into Tuesday.

To be honest there wasn’t a huge amount for markets to get stuck into. Democratic House Speaker Pelosi reiterated for the umpteenth time that the two sides were “miles apart” on some of the issues in stimulus talks – although markets once again turned a blind eye. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin reiterated the Republican offer of just over $1 trillion in stimulus, telling Fox Business Network that Democratic demands for higher spending could always be done later in the year or in January, and that “we don’t have to do everything at once.” Fed speakers also waded in, with Rosengren saying it would be very bad news it there isn’t additional stimulus. The bottom line is that the main negotiators haven’t spoken since Friday and it’s not clear when talks will resume.

Risk also survived a bumper US inflation print. In fact, the +0.6% mom core CPI reading was the largest monthly rise in almost 3 decades and was well above the +0.2% reading anticipated. In response, US 10-year breakevens rose to 1.666% (up to 1.684% overnight), putting them back at their mid-February levels before worries about the global spread of the pandemic gathered pace. The Treasury curve had already bear steepened prior to the data and in fact if anything, some of the wind was taken out of the sails with 10y yields ending just +3.4bps higher – a record 10y auction also being absorbed with ease - and the 2s10s curve +2.3bps higher at 51.2bps (it did touch 52.7bps at the intraday highs).

Meanwhile, the USD struggled with the Dollar index ending -0.20% (is down a further -0.21% overnight) while the Japanese Yen was the worst-performing G10 currency for a second day running. A host of dovish comments from Fed officials did little to help the Dollar’s case. Gold was one of the exceptions to this safe-haven selloff, seeing a modest recovery from its worst day in 7 years on Tuesday to move +0.21% higher, and silver was also up +2.90%. Gold and silver are building up on yesterday’s advances by being up +0.86% and +0.96% respectively this morning too. Elsewhere in the commodities sphere though, oil prices reached new post-pandemic highs, with Brent crude up +2.09% to reach $45.43/bbl.

In terms of Asia this morning, it’s been a more mixed trading session with Nikkei (+1.87%) leading the advance and the Kopsi (+0.80%) also up but the ASX (-0.76%) and Hang Seng (-0.12%) are down and the Shanghai Comp unchanged. Futures on the S&P 500 are also flat. The only data out this morning came from Japan where July PPI came in at -0.9% yoy (vs. -1.1% yoy expected).

As for the latest on the virus, overnight New Zealand saw another 13 new cases in its fresh outbreak while Singapore quarantined 800 migrant workers after a case was discovered in a dormitory that had been cleared. Meanwhile, in the US, new cases grew by 1.1% in the past 24 hours. Hospitalizations in Texas dropped to a six week low and in New Jersey, Governor Murphy gave the state’s public schools the option of all-remote classes.

Back to markets yesterday, where in Europe the STOXX 600 rallied +1.11% to post its fourth consecutive daily gain. European banks faded into the close but still finished up +0.31% with bonds selling off. Indeed yields on 10yr bunds (+2.9bps), OATs (+2.8bps) and gilts (+3.8bps) all moved higher. However, the tightening of peripheral spreads in Europe continued, with the spread of Italian (-1.3bps) and Spanish (-0.5bps) 10yr yields over bunds falling to their tightest level in almost 6 months.

In terms of other data yesterday, here in the UK, the economic impact of the pandemic was made clear by the Q2 GDP reading showing a -20.4% contraction, a number considerably worse than that already seen for the US, France, Germany and Italy. It was also the largest quarterly contraction since the series begins back in 1955, and comes off the back of a -2.2% decline in Q1. Looking forward however, the June GDP reading did show a month-on-month increase of +8.7%, stronger than the +8.0% reading expected, which continues the recovery from the trough back in April. Furthermore, as our UK economist Sanjay Raja writes (link here ), Q3 is poised for a strong recovery, with high frequency data showing a sizeable rebound in many industries.

The final data point yesterday came from Euro Area industrial production, which missed estimates with a +9.1% increase in June (vs. 10.3% expected). That said, the rebound from the nadir in April continued, with the year-on-year decline now “only” at -12.3%, a long way above the -28.6% yoy fall back in April.

To the day ahead now, and data highlights include the weekly initial jobless claims from the US along with the final July CPI reading from Germany. Fed speakers include Bostic and Brainard, while the Mexican central bank will also be deciding on rates.