The pajama-traders were active again overnight, ramping US equity futures to overnight highs of 2,870 some 45 points above the late Tuesday lows when fresh fears about new China sanctions accelerated yesterday's selloff.
The rebound was facilitated by another sharp overnight dollar selloff...
... as traders looked to today's address by Fed Chair Powell, who speaks on current economic issues at 9am ET, and whose remarks will be scrutinized amid rising bets that the United States might adopt negative interest rates for the first time to combat the coronavirus pandemic’s severe economic blow. The Fed chair’s speech comes after after President Donald Trump said earlier this week the U.S. should receive the "gift" of negative interest rates.
Powell’s speech via webinar hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics includes text release with a moderated Q&A session to follow and it appears that, at least superficially, algos hope that Powell will hint that NIRP is a possibility.
US futures followed Asian markets higher, while European equity indexes dropped with CAC 40 underperforming peers, down 1.9%. Indexes trade off the lows with FTSE 100 finding support at Monday’s lows near 5,900 after the UK reported the worst GDP in history. Travel, autos and financial services post the largest declines, with all sub-sectors in the red. U.S. equity futures pare overnight losses to trade either side of unchanged. The Stoxx 600 Banks Index falls 2.3% in early trading and is among the worst-performing industry groups amid broader market weakness. ABN Amro and Commerzbank are the final two major European banks reporting for the first quarter and join peers in raising loan-loss provisions. The Dutch bank was the worst-performing lender in the SX7P, down 7% after posting its first loss since 2013, which was worse than expected by analysts. Commerzbank’s earnings also prompted a negative reaction after the lender increased provisions and lowered the full-year target for its CET1 ratio to 12.5%; shares drop 3.5%.
The world’s largest container line, A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, said the fallout from Covid-19 will drive volumes down by as much as 25% this quarter. European tech shares pared declines, however, after China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. said first-quarter sales beat estimates.
Earlier in the session, Asian stocks gained, led by health care and IT, after falling in the last session. Markets in the region were mixed, with Jakarta Composite and Singapore's Straits Times Index falling, and India's S&P BSE Sensex Index and South Korea's Kospi Index rising. The Topix declined 0.1%, with JBCC and Modec falling the most. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.2%, with Xinjiang Winka Times Department Store and Anji Foodstuff posting the biggest advances
Equity investors are debating whether the rally from March lows went too far, with BofA quants confirming the market bounce is just another bear market rally...
... while veteran investor Stan Druckenmiller said the risk-reward calculation for stocks is the worst he’s seen in his career. Data on the virus’s spread is being weighed against the constant news flow of attempts to kick-start industries, coupled with rising reports of second round infections. Overnight, Tesla was allowed to begin preparing for reopeing its only U.S. car plant as soon as next week. Germany will reopen its borders on June 15.
“Market sentiment remains highly susceptible to headline risk and we will continue to be buffeted by the coronavirus numbers over the coming weeks,” said First Abu Dhabi Bank chief economist Simon Ballard. "At the core of investor concerns is the lack of conviction in a self-sustaining global economic recovery."
In rates, Treasuries are steady with the long-end outperforming despite biggest-ever 30-year bond auction during US afternoon; however Tuesday’s record-size 10-year note sale drew strong demand. Long-end yields are richer by ~2bp on the session with rest of the curve little changed, flattening 5s30s; new 10-year note, which drew 0.700% in Tuesday’s auction, trades around 0.66%. Ahead of the $22 billion auction at 1pm ET, WI 30-year yield is ~1.36%, 3.5bp cheaper than April’s 30-year stop (0.5bp below the WI yield at the bidding deadline); Monday’s 3-year sale also stopped through with solid bidding metrics.
In Europe, yield curves bull flattened with 10y Gilts outperforming Bunds by 1bp; U.K. bonds rallied to send yields on two-year securities to a record low of -0.04%, after data showed the economy shrank into what could be its deepest recession in more than three centuries. Peripheral spreads trade off session wides, BTPs lag ahead of debt sales.
In FX, as noted above, the dollar index slumped after early gains, ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, which traders will scrutinize for clues on future monetary policy. The Fed chair’s speech comes after after President Donald Trump said earlier this week the U.S. should receive the “gift” of negative interest rates. "We doubt the Fed will ultimately go in the direction of negative rates but speculation on that could certainly intensify, which is key for the dollar,” said Derek Halpenny, the head of global market research at MUFG. The New Zealand dollar plunged by more than 1% against the greenback and money-market pricing for 2021 shifted to factor in a negative cash rate after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said rates below zero “will become an option in future.” It increased its bond- purchase program to NZ$60 billion ($36 billion) from NZ$33 billion.
Most emerging-market currencies weakened against the dollar as cautionary remarks from health authorities about the premature reopening of economies and renewed tensions between China and the U.S. weighed on risk appetite. The premium investors demand to hold developing-nation debt over U.S. Treasuries widened, while MSCI’s measure of emerging currencies inched lower, led by eastern Europe. The lira steadied after its longest winning streak since October, after Turkey’s current-account deficit widened to the most in 22 months. Indian stocks climbed more than 2% after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government will spend a total of 20 trillion rupees ($265 billion) to help the economy.
Friction is increasing between the Trump administration and Beijing after the U.S. moved earlier in the week to block investments in Chinese stocks by a government retirement savings fund. Developing-nation investors are concerned Trump’s criticism of China over the spread of the coronavirus could lead to a resumption of the trade war, which stopped the emerging-market rally in its tracks in 2018.
"All the recent tensions are a reminder that the pre Covid environment was not so rosy too,” said Guillaume Tresca, a strategist at Credit Agricole SA. “Questions on global trade were acute and the trade war between the U.S. and China was well alive. If you have the trade tensions on top of a weak global EM environment, the recovery will be slow, at minimum.”
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month-futures extended on losses from the APAC session as sentiment across the market remains on the backfoot. Prices waned off OPEC sources highs potentially on worries surrounding US-Sino relations, but participants note that concerns over hitting storage capacity have eased as demand gradually recovers, whilst supply cuts also provides a less bearish outlook vs. March. Yesterday’s API printed a larger-than-expected build of 7.6mln barrels vs. Exp. 4.1mln, but Cushing saw a draw of 2.216mln barrels – traders will be eyeing today's DoEs for confirmation. Looking at the WTI forward curve, a chunk of open interest resides in the December 20 contract – reflecting funds’ moves from front-month to further down the line
Looking at the day ahead, the highlight will probably be the aforementioned speech from Fed Chair Powell, while we’ll also hear from the ECB’s Vice President de Guindos and their Chief Economist Lane. In terms of data releases, we have April’s PPI and weekly MBA mortgage applications.
- S&P 500 futures little changed at 2,855.00
- STOXX Europe 600 down 1.3% to 336.05
- MXAP up 0.2% to 146.91
- MXAPJ up 0.3% to 472.43
- Nikkei down 0.5% to 20,267.05
- Topix down 0.1% to 1,474.69
- Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 24,180.30
- Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 2,898.05
- Sensex up 2.5% to 32,139.07
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 5,421.85
- Kospi up 1% to 1,940.42
- Brent futures down 2.2% to $29.31/bbl
- Gold spot little changed at $1,702.08
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 99.99
- German 10Y yield fell 2.5 bps to -0.53%
- Euro down 0.06% to $1.0842
- Italian 10Y yield rose 1.1 bps to 1.715%
- Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.3 bps to 0.791%
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- The judge who drafted the ruling by Germany’s constitutional court on the ECB’s QE program tells German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the central bank “shouldn’t see itself as the ‘Master of the Universe.’ An institution like the ECB, which is only thinly legitimized democratically, is only acceptable if it strictly adheres to the responsibilities assigned to it”
- China reported seven new coronavirus cases Tuesday. Brazil recorded another record day in daily deaths. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman is the latest top official to fall ill
- Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester says that there was a consensus at the central bank prior to the coronavirus crisis that negative interest rates would not work well in the U.S. and “I still am not thinking that would be a go-to tool for me.”
- House Democrats proposed a $3 trillion virus relief bill Tuesday, combining aid to state and local governments with direct cash payments, expanded unemployment insurance and food stamp spending as well as a list of progressive priorities like funds for voting by mail and the troubled U.S. Postal Service
- U.K. retail sales dropped in April by the most in at least a quarter of a century, according to industry figures that outline the impact of the shutdown on stores
- A day after Donald Trump said “we’ve prevailed” in expanding testing enough to start reopening the U.S. economy, the president’s top health experts offered a more cautionary assessment as they warned about the perils of moving too quickly
- Oil retreated from a five-week high on concern that relaxing virus lockdowns too early will lead to a resurgence in cases and derail a nascent recovery in energy demand.
- Borrowing dollars in currency markets, against euros or the yen, is at its cheapest in five years. This has driven up the hedged Treasury yield available to foreign investors, which could prove supportive in Wednesday’s record 30-year bond sale
- The Paris Club is confident China will take part in a global drive to pause debt payments for poor countries that urgently need funds to battle the coronavirus pandemic
- Australia sold A$19 billion ($12.3 billion) in new 10- year sovereign bonds, a second record-breaking sale in as many months, underscoring appetite for debt in one of the highest- yielding markets left among Group-of-10 nations
Asian equity markets were mostly negative following the late slump on Wall St. and with sentiment soured by fears of a 2nd coronavirus wave, as well as efforts in the US Senate to impose sanctions on China. ASX 200 +0.4%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.5%) were lower as the Australian benchmark suffered from the withered ties with China and amid initial losses in financials after the largest bank CBA reported a drop in cash profit and spike in loan impairment expenses, while sentiment in Tokyo was pressured by a firmer currency and with a slew of earnings releases dominating newsflow. Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) were both lacklustre as US-China concerns were stoked by reports of several measures in the US Senate against China including proposed legislation by Republican Senators that would empower President Trump to impose sanctions on China if it does not provide a "full accounting" for the coronavirus outbreak and with the Senate is also planning to move on legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims. India markets bucked the trend with the Sensex (+2.0%) and Nifty (+2.0%) both surging at the open after PM Modi’s recent announcement of a special economic support package totalling INR 20tln, but with some of the gains pared amid the broad cautious tone in the region. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat with the gains in T-notes, weakness in stocks and the BoJ presence in the market for JPY 810bln of JGBs all failing to spur prices.
Top Asian News
- China’s Disinformation Campaign Targets Virus, Researcher Says
- Sony Warns Profit May Fall 30% or More in Fiscal Year
- Investors Flock to Indonesia Dollar Bonds with Record Sales
- NMC Administrators Start Dismantling Top Mideast Hospital Owner
European equities see losses across the region [Euro Stoxx 50 -1.3%] after a mixed APAC trade failed to induce upside in Europe. That being said, US equity futures eke mild gains early doors. Sentiment is weighed on over signs of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases across some economies opening “too early” – which could potentially prolong the reopening of those that are planning to in the immediate future. Further, worries over how the US-China trade situations will pan out also provides uncertainty to investors. Broad-based losses are seen across Europe, Switzerland’s SMI (-0.8%) fares slightly better as inflows into defensive stocks cushion the Pharma-heavy index. Sectors all reside in the red with defensives performing better than cyclicals – reflecting risk aversion; Consumer Discretionary names underperform. The sector breakdown provides little colour. In terms of individual movers; Anglo American (-1.9%), Glencore (-3.5%) and RWE (-2.6%) are weighed on by reports Norway’s sovereign wealth fund has sold its stakes in the Cos amid a breach of guidelines regarding the use of coal. The fund owned 2.4% of Anglo American, 1.2% of Glencore and 0.6% of RWE. Meanwhile, BHP (+0.2%), Enel (-2%) and Uniper (-0.7%) have been put on watch for a potential similar breach. The pre-market saw earnings from ABN AMRO (-7.2%) and Commerzbank (-6.6%), in which both banks reported deeper net losses and higher impairment charges than forecast. A.P. Moller Maersk (-5.9%) holds onto post-earning losses despite topping revenue and EBITDA estimates, as the Co. noted that Q2 volumes across all businesses could fall 20-25%, affecting both profitability and cash flow. Finally, no reprieve for Wirecard (-6%) after law firm TILP filed a lawsuit stating that Wirecard is liable to pay damages to shareholders amid a series of incorrect, omitted and incomplete capital market information.
Top European News
- Coronavirus Outbreaks Rip Through European Slaughterhouses
- U.K. Bond Yields Drop to Record With Bets of Rate Cut Revving Up
- ABN Amro Loss Worse Than Expected After $1.2 Billion Hit
In FX, A relatively large 815 mn option expiry at the 0.6000 strike may keep the Kiwi afloat, but the NIRP factor has really rattled the Nzd again after the RBNZ kept the door wide open to the possibility that the OCR could be lowered from the current 0.25% to sub-zero. To recap, QE was increased to Nzd 60 bn from Nzd 33 bn, as widely expected, and linkers will now be included in the asset purchase remit, but rate guidance was considerably more dovish than many envisaged to leave Nzd/Usd hovering just above the round number and Aud/Nzd not far from 1.0800 compared to around 1.0620 at one stage before the policy meeting. Conversely, the Aussie has gleaned some traction from an encouraging rebound in Westpac consumer sentiment that posted a record monthly rise in percentage terms on the eve of jobs data, with Aud/Usd nudging back up towards 0.6500 where 1 bn expiries roll off at today’s NY cut.
- GBP/SEK/NOK - The Pound has recovered from another bout of seasonal May selling pressure, partly on technical grounds as Cable narrowly survived a test of key support at 1.2248, but also due to UK GDP and output for March/Q1 confounding consensus for significant declines, albeit still extremely weak. However, Sterling remains on the back foot below 1.2300 vs the Dollar and well under 0.8800 against a more rangy, resilient Euro in similar vein to the Swedish Crown that has retreated through 10.6000 in wake of headline and core inflation turning negative and sending another signal to the Riksbank that it may yet have to follow its Scandinavian neighbour with a conventional policy response. On that note, Eur/Nok has reversed more post-Norges Bank knee-jerk gains through 11.0000, but unconvincingly so far as Governor Olsen reiterates that the benchmark depo rate is unlikely to fall further from 0%.
- CAD/EUR/CHF/JPY - Renewed risk aversion and a downturn in crude prices have not undermined the Loonie, though Usd/Cad is pivoting 1.4050 after touching 1.3900, as the DXY pares Tuesday’s relatively heavy retracement losses between 100.090-99.894 parameters awaiting Fed chair Powell’s address for the definitive word on negative rates and any other policy insight. Note also, hefty 1.5 bn expiry interest at the 1.4000 strike may keep the pair elevated ahead of Powell if not the NY cut. Meanwhile, the single currency and Swiss Franc have also lost momentum amidst the broad Buck revival, with Eur/Usd unable to challenge yesterday’s best and straddling 1.0850, Usd/Chf over 0.9700 again and Eur/Chf slightly firmer within a 1.0517-28 band, in contrast to the Yen that has rediscovered its safe-haven allure and eyeing 107.00 resistance and offers.
- EM - Perhaps the most poignant test so far of the Lira’s new found power to resist bearish impulses as Usd/Try remains below the psychological 7.0000 level even though Turkey’s current account shortfall surpassed forecasts and almost quintupled in March from the previous month to a near 2 year wide deficit.
- RBNZ kept the OCR unchanged at 0.25% and boosted the Large Scale Asset Purchases programme to NZD 60bln from NZD 33bln as expected, while it stated the LSAP programme will now include NZ government inflation indexed bonds and it expects retail interest rates to decline further. The Committee reaffirmed forward guidance that the OCR will remain at 0.25% until early 2021 but noted negative OCR will become an option in the future and that discussions with financial institutions regarding a negative OCR are ongoing. Furthermore, the central bank stated that financial institutions are not operationally ready for negative rates but they have asked banks to be ready by end of the year for negative rates and they agreed that a least regrets monetary policy approach is needed, delivering stimulus sooner rather than later. (Newswires)
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month-futures extended on losses from the APAC session as sentiment across the market remains on the backfoot. Prices waned off OPEC sources highs potentially on worries surrounding US-Sino relations, but participants note that concerns over hitting storage capacity have eased as demand gradually recovers, whilst supply cuts also provides a less bearish outlook vs. March. Yesterday’s API printed a larger-than-expected build of 7.6mln barrels vs. Exp. 4.1mln, but Cushing saw a draw of 2.216mln barrels – traders will be eyeing today's DoEs for confirmation. Looking at the WTI forward curve, a chunk of open interest resides in the December 20 contract – reflecting funds’ moves from front-month to further down the line. Elsewhere, EIA STEO cut 2020 world oil demand growth forecast by 2.9mln BPD to a decline of 8.13mln BPD Y/Y and its 2021 world oil demand forecast was cut by 580k BPD to 6.99mln BPD Y/Y increase, while it sees inventories to begin drawing in July 2020 and with draws continuing through the end of 2021. The OPEC MOMR will be released later today. WTI June and Brent July both meander off session lows of USD 25.10/bbl (vs. high USD 25.81/bbl) and USD 28.92/bbl (vs. high USD 29.69/bbl) respectively. Meanwhile, spot gold remains lacklustre in a tight USD 6/oz range on either side of 1700/oz, awaiting Fed Chair Powel’s speech on current economic issues at 1400BST. Copper prices meanwhile initially extended on losses amid concerns on the US-China trade front coupled by resurfacings COVID-19 cases in some countries believed to have been “success stories”.
US Event Calendar
- 8:30am: PPI Final Demand MoM, est. -0.5%, prior -0.2%; PPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. -0.1%, prior 0.2%
- 8:30am: PPI Final Demand YoY, est. -0.4%, prior 0.7%; PPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 0.8%, prior 1.4%
DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
Today we are launching our seventh monthly EMR sentiment survey, which can be done easily on either your phone or PC. Here is the link. We’ve once again shortened the market section but have added a few more covid-19 questions. We continue to ask about your WFH experience but also ask your thoughts on the duration of this pandemic, how that will impact various parts of your life and also when you think a virus will be readily available. The more people that fill it in the more interesting the answers so please take a look. You don’t have to answer all questions and it’s all anonymous which will help if you don’t want your boss to know you like working from home.
The quiet week so far exploded into life in the last hour of US trading last night. The main event of the week was meant to be Powell’s speech early in the US session today but he was upstaged last night by Fauci’s cautious tone with regards to re-openings and US Senator Graham’s introduction of a hawkish China bill. Against this backdrop, the S&P 500 closed down -2.05% breaking a string of 3 consecutive days higher, the longest since early February. The NASDAQ (-2.06%) was earlier continuing to out-perform but the weak close edged it just behind the S&P 500. Earlier the Stoxx 600 didn’t hint at the late session weakness to come as it rose +0.26%.
The initial turn in equity pricing coincided with Dr.Fauci’s (the Director of National Institute Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US) testimony before the US Senate health committee, where he warned that reopening “could even set you back on the road to economic recovery”. Along with top officials from the CDC and FDA, he also said that they don’t see a vaccine by the fall and that the current death toll in the US is likely higher than the official count, but with uncertainties as to how much higher.
After that body blow the market dipped, but the real damage seemed to coincide with discussions on more US/China tensions. Senator Lindsay Graham and other Republican Senators introduced a bill “that would authorize the President to impose sanctions on the People’s Republic of China if China fails to cooperate and provide a full accounting of the events leading up to the outbreak of COVID-19.” So one to make markets nervous.
In the wake of the weak close on Wall Street, Asian markets opened with decent declines but have recovered in the last couple of hours. The Hang Seng and Kospi are now unchanged while the Nikkei (-0.44%), Shanghai Comp (-0.18%) and ASX (-0.42%) have pared steeper declines. Elsewhere, India’s Nifty is trading up +1.98% following the announcement of government stimulus to the tune of c.$265bn. Futures on the S&P 500 are also trading flat as we type.
In other news, overnight the RBNZ increased its asset-purchase program to NZD60 billion ($36 billion) from NZD33 billion while keeping the official cash rate unchanged but signaled that it is open to further interest rate cuts, including taking them negative, as it attempts to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The New Zealand dollar is trading down -1.09% this morning. Here in the UK, the Telegraph reported overnight citing a confidential Treasury assessment of the coronavirus crisis estimates that it will cost the Exchequer almost £300bn this year and could require measures including an increase in income tax, the end of the triple lock on state pension increases and a two-year public sector pay freeze.
Today, attention will turn to Fed Chair Powell, who’ll be speaking at the Peterson Institute for International Economics at 9 am EST (via webcast of course). The description of the event says he’ll make “remarks on current economic issues”, which will be followed by a discussion with the Peterson Institute’s president. The market expectation is that he’ll discuss future policy options including negative rates which various Fed presidents have been very reluctant to endorse of late.
One President that was only too happy to endorse such a policy though was Mr Trump who said in a tweet yesterday that “As long as other countries are receiving the benefits of Negative Rates, the USA should also accept the “GIFT”. Big numbers!” That came as we heard from a number of Fed speakers, who all warned of the potential for massive economic damage. St. Louis Fed President Bullard said that “You will get business failures on a grand scale and you will be taking risks that you would go into depression” if the shutdowns last as long as 90 or 120 days. Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Kaplan also said in a CNN interview that “If we get to a peak unemployment rate, which we think will be around 20%, and we end the year around a 10% unemployment rate, there may well need to be more fiscal stimulus in order to boost economic growth”. We also heard from the Fed’s Quarles during the day and he said that the Fed could curtail Wall Street banks’ ability to pay dividends by cranking up the amount of capital they need to maintain due to the coronavirus crisis. Later in the evening, Cleveland Fed President Mester said that unemployment is likely to reach or pass 20% in the US, before a slow and uncertain economic recovery in the fall of 2020.
Given the late risk off move yesterday sovereign bond markets were fairly dichotomous as well. 10yr bund yields ended the session up +0.7bps, while 10yr Treasury yields fell by -4.5bps – the 3rd largest daily fall in 10yr yields in a month. Risk off and a successful auction seemed to spur the late rally. With most of the market moving news in the US, there was little to comment on spreads, with those on Italian 10yr debt over bunds widening by +0.5bps with those on Spanish debt falling by -3.2bps. Commodities had a more positive time, with WTI oil rising to its highest level in over a month yesterday, up +6.79% to $25.78/barrel, with Brent also up +1.18%.
Ahead of Powell today, data yesterday showed some truly historic moves in US inflation, with a sizeable move lower in US consumer prices in April. The main headline was that the core CPI index fell by -0.4%, which was its largest month-on-month fall since the data series began in 1957. The overall CPI fell by -0.8%, which was itself the biggest decline since December 2008. Unsurprisingly energy saw some of the largest declines, with gasoline down -20.6% on the previous month. In terms of the annual numbers, that means CPI now stands at just +0.3% (vs. +0.4% expected), the lowest since October 2015, while core CPI of +1.4% (vs. +1.7% expected) is at its lowest since April 2011.
Other data out yesterday was predictably bad. The NFIB small business optimism index fell to 90.9 in April, the lowest since March 2013, though this was better than the 83.0 reading expected. Meanwhile, industrial production in India was down by -16.7% in March, more than double the -8.0% decline expected.
Before the day ahead a note that we are launching the latest edition of Konzept - DB Research’s magazine - today. The subject matter is “Life after covid-19”. In the magazine we have 20 articles about how the world will change covering macro, micro and life in general. In one of the lead features we have opposing strong views on why this crisis will be inflation/deflationary. We will release a podcast on this debate tomorrow which I compered in a hopefully neutral manner. So watch this space.
To the day ahead now, and the highlight will probably be the aforementioned speech from Fed Chair Powell, while we’ll also hear from the ECB’s Vice President de Guindos and their Chief Economist Lane. In terms of data releases, there’ll be the UK’s Q1 GDP reading, the Euro Area’s industrial production for March, and from the US we have April’s PPI and weekly MBA mortgage applications.