It's been a while since we used the headline "Futures surge on trade talk optimism" but here we are again.
US equity futures rebounded from Wednesday's slump, climbing alongside stocks in Europe on Thursday following an unexpected jump in Chinese exports and, drumroll, optimism of trade talks between the US and China, while Asian shares mostly fell as investors sift the latest company earnings and brace for more data that will show the extent of the fallout from the coronavirus. Oil jumped after Saudi Arabia announced a sharp cut in discounts to clients around the globe.
On Thursday morning, China unexpectedly reported that exports unexpectedly rose 3.5% in April for the first time this year as factories raced to make up for lost sales due to the coronavirus pandemic, materially above the consensus expectation of a 15.7% drop. At the same time, imports declined significantly by 14.2% yoy in April, primarily on high base, below consensus expectations signaling more trouble ahead as the global economy sinks into recession. Trade data weakened sequentially in April. In month-over-month terms, exports slowed to an increase of 4.3% sa non-annualized in April (vs. +6.0% in March), and contraction in imports widened to 2.7% sa non-annualized in April (vs. -0.1% in March).
April’s better-than-expected exports helped US equity futures and Asian shares trim early losses, but analysts say China’s trade outlook remains bleak as major economies remain in the grip of the health crisis with rising infection numbers and deaths. Futures got a further boost overnight when Bloomberg reported that Chinese and US trade negotiators will speak as soon as next week on progress in implementing a phase-one deal after Trump threatened to "terminate" the agreement if Beijing didn't move to swiftly adhere to its terms.
Futures surged back to 2,880 even as data is expected to show U.S. jobless claims totaling a seasonally adjusted 3 million for the week ended May 2, down from 3.839 million in the prior week and marking the fifth straight weekly decrease in applications.
As earnings season moves along, here are some of the key corporate news:
- Bristol-Myers Squibb gained in pre-market trading after reporting profit and revenue that exceeded Wall Street expectations.
- Telefonica fell after agreeing with Liberty Global Plc to create the U.K.’s largest phone and internet operator. Rival BT Group Plc slumped as it canceled dividends.
- Nintendo beat its own forecast for sales of the Switch console in the last fiscal year, reflecting surging demand for games and other entertainment during the pandemic.
- ArcelorMittal rose even as it suspended dividend payments and withdrew its global steel outlook because of market uncertainties.
- Lyft overcame investors’ worst expectations by pushing closer to profitability. Peloton Interactive Inc. said quarterly revenue soared 66%.
- PayPal Holdings Inc jumped 7.7% after the payment processor said it expected a strong recovery in payments volumes in the second quarter as social distancing drives more people to shop online.
Then there is the ongoing pandemic which has crippled global growth, of course: "We remain concerned about the potential for the pandemic to have lasting effects on growth,” wrote Ron Temple, co-head of multi-asset and head of U.S. equity at Lazard Asset Management. “Countries and companies are likely to exit the crisis with significantly higher debt, curtailing their ability to invest and innovate."
Europe's Stoxx 600 Index gained, rising as high as 1% as most national gauges and industry sectors climbed. Asian stocks fell, led by finance and utilities, after rising in the last session. Japan's Topix declined 0.3%, with Senshukai and Alinco falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.2%, with Shangying Global and Everbright Jiabao posting the biggest slides, despite China's surprising export surge.
Most European government bonds edged lower as Treasuries drifted. Treasuries, though little changed, are extending the curve steepening move unleashed by Wednesday’s supply announcement
In FX, A 0.2% decline for the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index ended a four- session rally and Treasuries were little changed across the curve; the euro was steady against the dollar after attempting to rise above $1.08; bunds erased losses and Italian bonds rose after most oversubscription rates rise at Spanish, French debt sales.
The pound recovered from a two-week low and gilts slipped after the Bank of England refrained from expanding its asset purhcases and kept its policy rate unchanged in a rare early morning announcement; investors expected the central bank might add to its pledge to buy 200 billion pounds ($250 billion) of debt, though policy makers only said they stood ready to take more action. Sterling’s volatility skew was unmoved after its immediate rally against the dollar.
Norway’s krone pared a gain after Norges Bank surprisingly cut its key policy rate by 25bps to a record low of zero; losses were likely limited by the central bank’s rate path that suggested no bias for further rate cuts; the currency late yesterday posted a big drop in an erratic moves which it later reversed. The Aussie advanced after the nation reported a record trade surplus. A separate report showed China’s exports unexpectedly climbed in April. The yen fell for the first time in five days as the nation returned from the Golden Week holidays.
In Emerging Markets, the Turkish lira weakened to a record low against the dollar before spiking after the regulator banned FX trades for 3 foreign banks on a day of mixed risk sentiment across emetging markets, with investors weighing whether a rebound in emerging-market assets has room to continue. The lira led losses while the South African rand and Mexican peso rallied, extending a bout of varied performances within the asset class. Bahrain tested investor appetite with an offering of dollar-denominated bonds. Czech rate setters were set to extend their rate-cutting cycle. Turkey’s currency has been under pressure due to rate cuts from the nation’s central bank, even as state-owned lenders sold dollars to fend off depreciation.
As a sign of the risks facing developing economies, Philippine’s gross domestic product shrank by 0.2% in the first quarter, the first contraction since 1998. "The global EM environment is still mixed and discrimination is needed more than ever with some pressure points emerging," said Guillame Tresca, a strategist at Credit Agricole SA in Paris
Crude fluctuated before climbing to more than $26 a barrel in New York after Saudi Arabia raised prices.
OIl contracts found a floor early amid reports of a phone call next week between the top US and Chinese negotiators. Looking at the oil market itself, the forward Brent curve has tightened in recent days, reflecting an ease in the oil market glut – aided by production cuts and reviving demand as economies re-open from lockdown. On that front, Saudi Aramco raised its Arab Light OSPs to Asia following two consecutive cuts – signaling resurfacing demand in the region. That being said, Equinor’s CEO does not believe in a quick rebound in the oil market and added it could take until 2022 to see oil markets back normalise. The CEO said deeper cuts would improve the situation. WTI June now resides north of USD 25/bbl, and extends its intraday range (low USD 23.41/bbl), whilst Brent July sees itself printing fresh session highs, having rebounded from a low of USD 29.22/bbl. Elsewhere, spot gold saw some impetus from a softer Buck but remains below the USD 1700/oz mark (daily range USD 1685-1693.40/oz). Copper prices meanwhile remain underpinned by the rebound in the Chinese Trade Balance, coupled with upside seen in stocks supported by the US-China headlines.
Looking at the day ahead data releases include German and French industrial production for March, Italian retail sales for March, along with the German construction PMI for April. There’ll also be the weekly initial jobless claims from the US, preliminary Q1 nonfarm productivity, and March consumer credit. Earnings releases include Bristol Myers Squibb, Danaher, Raytheon Technologies and Uber.
- S&P 500 futures up 1.2% to 2,868.25
- MXAP down 0.4% to 143.95
- MXAPJ down 0.3% to 464.51
- Nikkei up 0.3% to 19,674.77
- Topix down 0.3% to 1,426.73
- Hang Seng Index down 0.7% to 23,980.63
- Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 2,871.52
- Sensex down 0.8% to 31,435.03
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 5,364.20
- Kospi down 0.01% to 1,928.61
- STOXX Europe 600 up 0.5% to 336.13
- German 10Y yield rose 1.6 bps to -0.491%
- Euro up 0.06% to $1.0802
- Italian 10Y yield rose 10.8 bps to 1.8%
- Spanish 10Y yield rose 4.3 bps to 0.896%
- Brent futures up 2.1% to $30.35/bbl
- Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,692.63
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 100.23
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- Top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators will speak as soon as next week on progress in implementing a phase-one deal after President Donald Trump threatened to “terminate” the agreement if Beijing wasn’t adhering to the terms
- French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is to unveil final details of his plan to end curbs on public life later on Thursday. The country is preparing to go back to work and reopen schools starting on Monday
- The men who successfully challenged the European Central Bank’s asset purchase program are readying for their next target: the bank’s response to the coronavirus
- Industrial production in the euro area’s two largest economies cratered in March, highlighting the crippling impact of just half a month of factory closures to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus
- The ECB is “more determined than ever” to support the euro-area economy after the deadly coronavirus forced businesses shut and plunged the 19- nation region into its worst recession in decades, Vice President Luis de Guindos said
Asian equity markets traded mixed following the uninspiring handover from US where risk appetite was sapped by US-China tensions and a decline in the energy complex in which oil prices snapped a 5-day win streak, with the region also mulling over key releases from China including Caixin PMIs and the latest trade data. ASX 200 (-0.4%) was lower with the declines led by losses in energy names and gold miners due to the pressure in oil and after the precious metal gave up the USD 1700/oz status, while financials suffered with the largest bank CBA downbeat on speculation the Co. could have been impacted the worst from the coronavirus among the big 4 banks ahead of next week’s quarterly update. Nikkei 225 (+0.3%) initially underperformed on return from the 5-day Golden Week closure to take its first opportunity to digest the nationwide state of emergency extension in Japan, with index heavyweight Fast Retailing pressured pre-earnings and Softbank shared depressed after being sued by WeWork, although the losses in the index were retraced amid favourable currency moves. Hang Seng (-0.7%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.2%) were both cautious due to the increased US-China tensions and after Caixin Services and Composite PMI figures remained in contraction territory, although losses were stemmed by the Chinese trade data which showed a higher surplus and surprise expansion in exports despite imports remaining at a significant contraction. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower as prices tracked the recent downside in T-notes which had been weighed after a larger than expected US Treasury quarterly refunding announcement, although the losses were stemmed amid the BoJ’s presence in the market for nearly JPY 800bln of JGBs.
Top Asian News
- Japan Biopharma Venture Has Surged Almost 400% on Vaccine Hopes
- Turkey Stiffens Manipulation Rules With Lira at Record Low
- China’s Forex Reserves Rise in April as Outflow Pressure Muted
- Mizuho Say Profit Rose Less Than Expected Last Fiscal Year
European equities hold onto gains [Euro Stoxx 50 +0.8%] amid a turnaround from the mostly negative APAC session, as sentiment is underpinned amid hopes US and China will iron out their differences in a call next week among top negotiators. That being said, it is difficult to pre-judge what the sentiment will be during the call, notably due to recent rhetoric emanating from the two nations, whilst US-China trade data does not bode well regarding the Phase One deal. Nonetheless, broad-based gains are seen across Europe, albeit the SMI (+0.3%) lags the region as its heavyweight healthcare names remain in modest negative territory, potentially on a risk-move as the sector lags. Energy and Materials meanwhile show slight outperformance as the oil and base metal complexes regain ground. The sector breakdown reflects a similar performance. In terms of individual movers – Telefonica (+0.2%) gave up most of its opening gains after rising some 3% on the back of a finalised deal with Liberty Global to merge UK assets worth just over GBP 31bln, set to reshape the UK telecom market. As such, Vodafone (-0.9%) and BT (-9.6%) see losses with the latter also exacerbated by dividend cancellation alongside its earnings. The Telefonica/Liberty deal is subject to regulatory approval. AB InBev (+2.5%) holds onto gains post-earnings after the metrics were less severe than feared, but the group expects Q2 results to be materially worse than Q1. Air France (-4.1%) shares fell following detrimental earnings, with Q2 capacity seen down 95% and no expectations of a recovery to pre-crisis levels for several years. Meanwhile, Carnival (-2.0%) remains in the red after the Co’s Princess Cruises have extended halt in global operations through to the end of 2020 summer season, whilst Seabourn has extended its pause into October and November 2020.
Top European News
- Norway Delivers Surprise Rate Cut to Historic Low of 0%
- Guindos Says ECB Is More Determined Than Ever to Support Economy
- British Airways Parent IAG Taps U.K. Funds to Survive Slump
- BT Scraps Dividends to Support Fiber Rollout Through Virus
In FX, NOK/GBP/SEK were not the biggest G10 movers, but in focus and divergent after the Norges Bank delivered an unexpected 25 bp ease to pull the benchmark depo rate back down to zero and supplemented the additional stimulus with an extension of F-loans through to the end of August. Conversely, the BoE stuck to the script on conventional policy and QE, albeit with 2 dovish MPC dissenters calling for asset purchases to be upped by Gbp 100 bn. In response, the Norwegian Krona lost momentum through resistance at 11.0527 and before the big figure to retest 11.1500+ vs the Euro amidst further declines against the Swedish Crown that retains a hawkish hold Riksbank bid to compound its outperformance relative to a weaker single currency near 10.6000, while Cable rebounded from new 2 week lows to 1.2400+ at best and Eur/Gbp retreated towards 0.8700 after extending gains further beyond the 200 DMA.
- AUD/NZD/CAD - Already boosted by encouraging export elements in Aussie and Chinese trade data overnight, the Antipodean Dollars have welcomed reports that officials from the US and China are planning to hold a call in relation to progress on the Phase 1 trade agreement next week given that relations between the 2 countries have become increasingly strained over the coronavirus. Aud/Usd is consolidating around 0.6450 and comfortably above a hefty option expiry at 0.6415 (1.2 bn), while Nzd/Usd has regained a firm foothold over 0.6000. Elsewhere, the Loonie has pared losses vs its US counterpart following a sharp slide to a fresh wtd trough circa 1.4173 on Wednesday by a full point in similar vein to crude prices after their midweek setback, eyeing Canadian Ivey PMIs on the eve of the big NA jobs showdown.
- JPY/EUR/CHF - The return of Japanese participants from their Golden Week holidays has dampened demand for the Yen along with the aforementioned US-China trade talk news, with Usd/Jpy bouncing from 106.00 to 106.50 or so and the base of decent 1 bn+ expiry interest at the half round number, but not reaching those sitting between 106.65-75 in the same amount. In contrast, expiries may help the Euro deeper depreciation below 1.0800 after yet more worrying Eurozone economic releases, as 1.4 bn resides from 1.0780-75, though recoveries could also be thwarted by 2.3 bn at the 1.0800 strike or 1 bn just above (1.0805-10), especially if the DXY continues to make headway on the 100.000 handle having eclipsed its pre-month peak at 100.270.
- EM - Most regional currencies are benefiting from a broad upturn in risk sentiment and oil returning to its recovery path, but for the Lira very little respite as Usd/Try rallies through the apex of Turkey’s 2018 crisis and remains in a seemingly endless uptrend approaching 7.2600. Elsewhere, CPI data looms for the Mxn and a 50 bp rate cut for the Czk, while the Brl will soon reflect on a bigger than expected ¾ point ease to a new 3% record low for the Selic.
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures initially traded within a tight range relative to recent performance, with the benchmarks fluctuating between gains and losses in early trade. The contracts found a floor early-doors amid reports of a phone call next week between the top US and Chinese negotiators. Looking at the oil market itself, the forward Brent curve has tightened in recent days, reflecting an ease in the oil market glut – aided by production cuts and reviving demand as economies re-open from lockdown. On that front, Saudi Aramco raised its Arab Light OSPs to Asia following two consecutive cuts – signaling resurfacing demand in the region. That being said, Equinor’s CEO does not believe in a quick rebound in the oil market and added it could take until 2022 to see oil markets back normalise. The CEO said deeper cuts would improve the situation. WTI June now resides north of USD 25/bbl, and extends its intraday range (low USD 23.41/bbl), whilst Brent July sees itself printing fresh session highs, having rebounded from a low of USD 29.22/bbl. Elsewhere, spot gold saw some impetus from a softer Buck but remains below the USD 1700/oz mark (daily range USD 1685-1693.40/oz). Copper prices meanwhile remain underpinned by the rebound in the Chinese Trade Balance, coupled with upside seen in stocks supported by the US-China headlines.
US Event Calendar
- 7:30am: Challenger Job Cuts YoY, prior 266.9%
- 8:30am: Nonfarm Productivity, est. -5.5%, prior 1.2%; Unit Labor Costs, est. 4.5%, prior 0.9%
- 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 3m, prior 3.84m; Continuing Claims, est. 19.8m, prior 18m
- 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 39.5
- 3pm: Consumer Credit, est. $15.0b, prior $22.3b
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
Note that it’s a UK holiday tomorrow so there’ll be no EMR or CCD. We’ll see you again on Monday. Pity me that I’ll have to give up the cosy quiet refuse of my home office for a day looking after fighting, biting and snarling toddlers. Ahead of that pain I’ve been reading through some of the planned exit strategies from around the world and a couple of things have puzzled and intrigued me. A few countries have said you can nominate a certain number of people that you can have closer contact with going forward - maybe 10 family members and/or friends. I can’t see how this is going to be anything other than highly political or quite soul destroying. Imagine waiting by the phone or watching your WhatsApp in the expectation of being asked to be on someone else’s list and receiving no messages. Or not getting a reply when asking someone. I haven’t had that much rejection since doing internet dating a long time ago (their loss). I think I’ll just hide and let my wife work out who wants to see us. Also as a random aside the very comprehensive Irish exit strategy document has nightclubs reopening from lockdown in August but only where they can apply social distancing. Nightclubs must have changed a lot since I last went to one over a decade ago if they can apply this.
The trade war theme that dominated markets last year almost feels like a decade ago now however interestingly that made a comeback late in the US session after comments from President Trump suggesting that he was going to review China’s commitments so far towards meeting its obligations within the Phase 1 trade deal. He said he will be able to report back in a week or two. Analytically the trade agreement did have a provision for “natural disasters or other unforeseen events”. However this is politics now and it’s clear that tensions will mount between the world’s two largest economies as we approach the election and possibly beyond. So watch this space.
In terms of market moves, the S&P 500 fell -0.70% after whipsawing between gains and losses all day, before the swoon in the last half hour of the day after Trump spoke. Meanwhile the NASDAQ was able to finish positive, up +0.51% as tech stocks led the moves higher, and were able to withstand the late rout in risk. Europe didn’t have such a good day however, with the STOXX 600 down -0.35% and the DAX down -1.15%.
Overnight we’ve had China April trade data and the Caixin services PMI with the later printing at a weaker than expected 44.4 (vs. 50.1 expected and 43.0 last month). In the details the employment component fell to 47.5 from 48.0 in March, the lowest reading since the series began. There was better news in the trade data, specifically with exports which unexpectedly rose +3.5% yoy (vs. -11.0% yoy expected). Imports dropped -14.2% yoy (vs. -10.0% yoy expected), leading to a trade surplus of $45.3bn (vs. $8.68bn expected) however the positive export number could reduce some of the concern on growth if it persists.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Pompeo has said overnight that the US has delayed an annual report to Congress assessing Hong Kong’s autonomy and added that the postponement will “allow us to account for any additional actions that Beijing may be contemplating in the run-up to the National People’s Congress that would further undermine the people of Hong Kong’s autonomy as promised by China.” The findings of the report could trigger sanctions. So one to watch. Also, the temporary general license which was granted to Huawei amidst the trade war is set to expire on May 15 and any US action on the same will likely be closely watched.
Asian markets are mixed this morning in the wake of the data and headlines with declines for the Hang Seng (-0.55%) and ASX (-0.37%), little change for the Shanghai Comp and the Kospi (+0.50%) up. The Nikkei is also up +0.30% having reopened. Elsewhere, futures on the S&P 500 are up +0.56% as we type.
In other news, Brazil’s congress approved two stimulus bills to help support states and municipalities while also providing BRL 700bn ($122bn) of funds for the economic recovery from the pandemic. The congress also allowed the central bank to buy corporate bonds. Meanwhile, the country’s central bank reduced the Selic rate by 75bps overnight to a record low of 3%. The central bank has now cut rates in each of its past seven meetings.
This morning some market attention will turn to the Bank of England, who’ll be announcing their latest monetary policy decision at the earlier than usual time of 7am in London – so it could well already be out by the time you’re reading this unless you’re an early reader! For those of you not reading from the future our UK economists write in their preview (link here) that they don’t see a change to the BOE’s policy settings in May, given they have already lowered the Bank Rate to a record low 0.1% and expanded QE by a further £200bn. Instead, they think the BoE will ramp up QE by a further £125bn in June, with the main focus today likely to be on their latest economic projections. Investors will be closely watching for the Bank’s assessment of how deep the recession is likely to be, as well as their assumptions regarding the shape and speed of the recovery, and what that might mean for monetary policy.
Ahead of that decision, sterling was one of the worst-performing G10 currencies yesterday, falling by -0.68% against the US dollar (and down a further -0.25% this morning) and we should note that our FX strategists have turned bearish again on the pound (link here). The reason for their bearish outlook comes from the combination of slow progress on a lockdown exit strategy, the prospect of Brexit (remember that word??) risks re-emerging, as well as rising UK inflation risks threatening to put downward pressure on real yields.
Elsewhere in Europe, the single currency lost ground again yesterday following the German Constitutional Court’s ruling the previous day, with a further -0.42% decline against the US dollar. Sovereign debt sold off across the continent as well as in the US. Ten year Treasury yields rose +4.1bps on the day to 0.703%, the highest level since 15 April. The spike was party driven by news that the government was increasing the debt it planned to issue in its quarterly refunding auctions. The US will issue a record high of $96 billion to fund government expenditures as the economy slows. The US was not the only country with large issuance news as part of the bund yields rise was attributed to the news that the government is selling EUR7.5bn worth of its first ever 15-year bonds. The GCC ruling the previous day also put some pressure on bonds.
By the end of the session, yields on 10yr bunds were up +7.0bps, while those on OATs (+7.2bps) and BTPs (+10.8bps) also increased, and the Italian-German 10yr spread stood at a 2-week high of 248bps. One interesting piece of news yesterday came from the French central bank governor, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, who said that the ECB would probably need to do more to boost inflation. He said “In the very name of our mandate, we will be able to go further, and we will most likely have to go further, and thus support the recovery through low interest rates and abundant liquidity for a long time”. I suppose the only problem is that this alone hasn’t helped inflation pick up over the last decade. However a combination of this and the new higher fiscal spending if maintained when a more normal recovery returns might be more likely to generate it.
In Germany, Chancellor Merkel said that the first phase of the pandemic had passed, and that all shops would be able to reopen while the Bundesliga would also be able to resume with matches played behind closed doors. Meanwhile in the UK, Prime Minister Johnson said that he’d be outlining plans to ease the lockdown on Sunday, and that he hoped to “get going on some of these measures on Monday”.
Today we’ll get the latest round of weekly initial jobless claims from the US for the week up to May 2. Our economists are expecting a 3.1m reading, which would mark the 5th consecutive weekly decline. Ahead of that, the ADP Research Institute released their monthly private payrolls report, which showed a -20.236m decline in April, only slightly better than the -20.550m decline anticipated by the consensus. The U.K. will be on holiday tomorrow so a reminder that on payrolls DB economists are expecting nonfarm payrolls to fall by 23 million (compared to -701k previously), which would raise the unemployment rate to a post-WWII high of 18.0% (vs. 4.4%).
Looking at yesterday’s other data, the services and composite PMIs released from Europe for April were incredibly bad once again. The final composite PMI for the Euro Area came in at 13.6, a tenth higher than the flash reading, but still the lowest in the history of the series. Other composite PMIs fell to new depths, with the readings for Germany (17.4), France (11.1), Italy (10.9) and Spain (9.2) all at record lows. As is clear, the southern European economies have been among the most affected, and the European Commission’s latest economic forecasts yesterday also pointed to large declines there. In fact, in their forecasts the three largest contractions for the Euro Area countries in 2020 were seen in Greece (-9.7%), Italy (-9.5%) and Spain (-9.4%).
Concluding with the rest of the data, and the UK’s construction PMI fell to 8.2 in April, the lowest since the data series began in 1997. In Germany, factory orders fell in March by -15.6%, the largest in data going back to 1991, while Euro Area retail sales also fell by -11.2% in March.
To the day ahead now, and the highlight is likely to be the aforementioned Bank of England decision, though we’ll also hear from the ECB’s Lagarde, De Guindos, Wedimann and Mersch, as well as the Fed’s Bostic, Kashkari and Harker, and get a decision from the Norges Bank as well. Data releases include German and French industrial production for March, Italian retail sales for March, along with the German construction PMI for April. There’ll also be the weekly initial jobless claims from the US, preliminary Q1 nonfarm productivity, and March consumer credit. Earnings releases include Bristol Myers Squibb, Danaher, Raytheon Technologies and Uber.