China Stocks Soar To 7 Year High After Collapse In Exports; US Futures Slip On Continuing Dollar Surge

If there was any doubt that global trade is stalling, it was promptly wiped out following the latest abysmal Chinese trade data which saw exports tumble by 15% - the most in over a year - on expectations of a 8% rebound, with the trade surplus coming in at CNY18.2 billion, far below the lowest estimate. While unnecessary, with the Chinese GDP growth rate this Wednesday already expect to print at a record low, this was further evidence of weak demand both at home and abroad. Weakness was seen in most key markets, and the strength of China's currency was partly to blame, which again brings up China's CNY devaluation and ultimately QE, which as we wrote some time ago, is the ultimate endgame in the global reflation trade which, at least for now until the CBs begin active money paradropping to everyone not just the 0.01%, is only leading to inflation in stocks and deflation in everything else.

This is what the "market" also promptly realized because just as the Chinese economy is stalling fast and landing hard, its stock market rose by another 2.2%, a fresh 7 year high, while the now amusing Hang Seng surged by 2.7%, rising above 28,000 as the local Chinese stock bubble has spilled over in full force in neighboring Hong Kong where the average P/E is now best described as an excel calculation error.

As such, Asian stocks trade mostly mixed with Chinese bourses outperforming underpinned by poor trade balance data which prompted speculation of further stimulus measures. The headline reading printed its smallest surplus in 13-months in CNY terms and a 2-yr low in USD terms (CNY) (Mar) M/M 18.1bln vs Exp. 250.00bln (Prev. 350.50bln). Shanghai Comp (+2.2%) touched a fresh 7yr high while the Hang Seng added 2.7%. Nikkei 225 (-0.25%) was unable to break above 20,000 amid profit-taking after last week’s surge.

Curiously, the Dollar surged promptly following the China news (which due to the CNY peg means even more Chinese weakness), and has now risen to a fraction above 1.05 in the EURUSD,rapidly approaching decade lows in the pair, while the USDJPY came within 20 pips of 121 overnight. Just as curiously, today USD strength is not conducive to a rise in the S&P futures, which at last check were just fractionally red. We attribute this to DE Shaw not recalibrating its ES correlation algos to track whatever FX pair is up for the day.

European equities have started the week relatively mixed with macro newsflow from a European perspective particularly light thus far. More specifically, the FTSE 100 has been seen lower throughout the session with a lot of UK mining names, including BHP, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Anglo American and Vedanta Resources all downgraded at Citi, with analysts at UBS also warning of the ramifications of lower iron ore prices. Elsewhere, the weaker EUR has aided some German export names but has not been enough to drag the DAX back into positive territory. From a fixed income perspective, things are also relatively quiet on that front with the GR/GE spread modestly wider as participants await any breakthrough in discussion between Greece and their European counterparts. This week sees around EUR 26.5bln of supply from the Eurozone but the absorption of this is likely to be offset by large redemption flow with EUR 17.3bln and EUR 12.5bln Italian and Dutch redemptions on Wednesday. Finally, today’s Italian auction was relatively well received and has subsequently provided some mild reprieve for Italian paper.

Over in the US, the Fed's Kocherlakota (non-voter, dove) reiterated his stance that the Fed should hold off from raising rates until the second half of 2016. (BBG) Fed's Williams (voter, dove) says the Fed must take into account early and gradual rate hikes against acting later and more aggressively. (RTRS).

In FX markets, the USD index has started the week off on the front foot despite a relatively steady open. This has largely stemmed from EUR weakness amid no fundamental news but helped USD/JPY to break above 120.50 and weigh on its major counterparts. As such, GBP also trades lower with yet more weight being placed on the currency by the ongoing UK political uncertainty. Elsewhere, focus resides on Antipodean currencies with AUD and NZD weighed on by the lacklustre Chinese trade balance data, an unwind of last week’s carry trade positions and lower iron ore prices.

In the energy complex, Crude futures saw a bid in early trade with WTI briefly breaking back above USD 53 & Brent above USD 59 as uncertainty around the Iranian nuclear deal continues to linger and volumes rolls into the Brent June contract from May ahead of May's expiry on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, in precious metals markets, both spot gold and silver have fallen victim to the stronger USD with spot gold looking to test the USD 1,200 level to the downside. Finally, Copper prices traded relatively flat overnight while iron ore futures rebounded off record lows despite continued weak data from the world’s largest consumer China which fuelled speculation of further easing measures, while there were also reports from late last week that Australia’s Atlas Iron suspended mining operations due to the collapse in prices.

Q1 US reporting starts to build up some momentum this week with 35 of the S&P 500 companies reporting (or 14% of the market cap). Obviously over the full season the big talking point will be how much the dollar is impacting results and whether we'll get an earnings recession. In fact, FactSet analysis has so far shown that of the 24 companies to have reported so far in the S&P 500, 16 have cited some sort of negative impact or sentiment towards the strong Dollar in their Q1 earnings transcripts so far. However some big banks (JP Morgan and Wells Fargo on Tuesday, Bank of America on Wednesday, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on Thursday) report this week and these might out-perform given supportive financial market conditions so far in 2015.

In summary: European shares little changed with the personal & household and basic resources sectors underperforming and oil & gas, bank outperforming. EM stocks rallied for 11th day. China March exports unexpectedly fell. The Swiss and U.K. markets are the worst-performing  larger bourses, the Italian the best. The euro is weaker against the dollar. U.K. 10yr bond yields rise; German yields decline. Commodities gain, with wheat, corn underperforming and Brent crude outperforming. U.S. monthly budget statement due later.

Market Wrap

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 2090
  • Stoxx 600 down 0.1% to 412.5
  • Euro down 0.37% to $1.0565 
  • Dollar Index up 0.37% to 99.71
  • US 10Yr yield up 1bps to 1.96%
  • German 10Yr yield little changed at 0.15%
  • MSCI Asia Pacific up 0.1% to 152.5
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1200.9/oz
  • Eurostoxx 50 -0.1%, FTSE 100 -0.3%, CAC 40 -0.1%, DAX -0.3%, IBEX +0.4%, FTSEMIB +0.5%, SMI -0.6%
  • Asian stocks little changed with the Hang Seng outperforming and the ASX underperforming.
  • MSCI Asia Pacific up 0.1% to 152.5; Nikkei 225 down 0%, Hang Seng up 2.7%, Kospi up 0.5%, Shanghai Composite up 2.2%, ASX down 0.1%, Sensex up 0.3%
  • Italian 10Yr yield up 1bps to 1.27%
  • Spanish 10Yr yield up 1bps to 1.24%
  • French 10Yr yield little changed at 0.43%
    S&P GSCI Index up 1.2% to 417.4
  • Brent Futures up 2.1% to $59.1/bbl, WTI Futures up 1.9% to $52.6/bbl
  • LME 3m Copper up 0.2% to $6048.5/MT
  • LME 3m Nickel up 0.4% to $12675/MT
  • Wheat futures down 1.9% to 514 USd/bu

Bulletin Headline Summary from Bloomberg and RanSquawk

  • European equities have seen a relatively mixed start to the week amid light newsflow and a particularly scarce economic calendar
  • The USD-index trades higher, weighing on its major counterparts with AUD weaker following a substantial miss on expectations for the Chinese trade balance and lower iron ore prices
  • Looking ahead, today sees an absence of tier 1 data on the calendar or notable earnings reports
  • Treasuries decline, 10Y yield approaching 2% level as markets await PPI, CPI and retail sales data later this week.
  • China’s exports slumped 14.6% in March, the most in more than a year, vs expectations for gain of 8.2%; raises questions over the durability of global demand and deepens  challenges for an economy grappling with overcapacity and a property slump
  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is thinking about holding new elections depending on results of negotiations with creditors, Bild reported, without saying where it got the information
  • The anti-euro The Finns party, which eight years ago got just 4% of the vote, is now dressing itself up for Cabinet seats as Finnish voters are set to oust the government after four years of economic failure
  • The nuclear negotiations between world powers and Iran may need to be extended for a third time because the chances of reaching a final agreement by the June 30 deadline seem increasingly remote
  • There’s pent-up demand for the U.S. dollar that will underpin years of appreciation because the world is “structurally short” the dollar, according to investor and former IMF economist Stephen Jen
  • Sovereign bond yields mixed. Asian stocks mostly higher. European equities gain, U.S. equity-index futures lower. Crude oil higher, copper and gold decline
  • Hillary Clinton says she’s running for President
  • Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro met in historic first encounter
  • ECB criticizes Greek draft law protecting indebted home owners
  • International Paper mulls GBP6b bid for Smurfit Kappa, Sky says
  • European banks seen selling $74b of property debt in 2015
  • Citigroup sees Gulf banks boosting borrowing after crude’s slump
  • Saudi Aramco mega deals boost EMEA Islamic loans to record start
  • Oil holds advance as recovery in Iran crude exports seen delayed
  • Peripheral spreads vs Germany narrowed on Friday, paring expansion seen earlier in the week, as European equities rose
  • Earlier widening took place amid supply and concerns over Greece

US Event Calendar

  • 2:00pm: Treasury Budget Statement, March, est. -$43.4b (prior -$36.9b); had been scheduled for April 10


DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight event summary

Q1 US reporting starts to build up some momentum this week with 35 of the S&P 500 companies reporting (or 14% of the market cap). Obviously over the full season the big talking point will be how much the dollar is impacting results and whether we'll get an earnings recession. In fact, FactSet analysis has so far shown that of the 24 companies to have reported so far in the S&P 500, 16 have cited some sort of negative impact or sentiment towards the strong Dollar in their Q1 earnings transcripts so far. However some big banks (JP Morgan and Wells Fargo on Tuesday, Bank of America on Wednesday, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on Thursday) report this week and these might out-perform given supportive financial market conditions so far in 2015.

It's also a big inflation week with UK (on the edge of first YoY deflation since 1960), German, European and US numbers out tomorrow, Wednesday, Friday and Friday respectively. With 10 year bund yields closing at 0.153% last week and so much debate about the Fed's plans in 2015 these numbers are going to be very important over the coming months.

Before we get there however, trade data out of China is providing much of the early attention in the Asia timezone as we start the week. Disappointing numbers have strengthened the case for further stimulus in the region as exports (-14.6% yoy vs. +8.2% expected) in particular were notably weak. Imports also disappointed, with the -12.3% yoy print below the -11.3% expected. The poor numbers also come ahead of the Q1 GDP print for China on Wednesday. Similar to the bounce on Friday, markets are responding to the hope of further stimulus with the Shanghai Comp (+1.50%) and CSI 300 (+1.25%) both higher. The Hang Seng (+0.86%), Kospi (+0.46%) and Nikkei (+0.08%) are also higher.

As well as the aforementioned inflation data and US earnings, Greece will likely continue to be front and centre this week as markets hope to see some progress over its structural reform measures. In the mean time, a report over the weekend in German newspaper FAS certainly attracted its share of attention. The report painted a fairly bleak picture on progress so far, suggesting that Eurozone officials were disappointed and shocked at the Greek government’s lack of progress and movement in its plans, particularly around discussions on the reduction of public service pensions. The report also appeared to confirm earlier suggestions that Greece’s creditors had given Athens until April 20th to present an acceptable list of reform measures, giving the EC, ECB and IMF time to assess the proposals ahead of the EU finance ministers meeting in Riga on April 24th. Technical teams from both the Greek and European side are due to reconvene for talks this week. This story seems to be never ending but at some point soon it will come to a head.

Quickly recapping markets on Friday, it was a strong end to what turned out to be a decent week for US equities as the S&P 500 and the Dow closed +0.52% and +0.55% higher respectively on the day. The S&P 500 in fact recorded its first back to back weekly gains in nearly two months. Despite gains being largely broad based, industrials (+1.80%) led after General Electric in particular jumped nearly 11% on the back of the news that it is to dispose of the bulk of its financial arm and return money to shareholders.

Price action was fairly subdued elsewhere in the US. The Dollar, as measured by the DXY, closed a touch higher (+0.18%) to close out a strong week (+2.9%) while 10y Treasuries finished 1.2bps tighter at 1.947%. Fedspeak offered few new surprises. The non-voting and dovish Minneapolis Fed President Kocherlakota reiterated his 2016 liftoff timing, remarking that it would be a mistake to raise rates this year given the subdued inflationary outlook. His views were in stark contrast to the hawkish Richmond Fed President Lacker however, who was also unchanged in his view of a June liftoff date given the transitory effects of recent soft data. Of more interest perhaps, Lacker did however comment that ‘I don’t see it as problematic to reduce rates having raised them once’, saying that although it may be unexpected, ‘presumably we’re setting rates where we ought to be’.

Closer to home on Friday, risk assets in Europe extended their strong run with the Stoxx 600 (+0.92%), DAX (+1.71%) and CAC (+0.60%) all finishing higher. The Euro (-0.52%) continued to weaken versus the Dollar, while bond markets remained well supported as 10y yields in the periphery tightened 2-4bps. There was similar strength in credit markets as Xover ended 6bps tighter. In truth there wasn’t too much data wise for the market to react to. In France industrial production (+0.6% yoy vs. +0.5% expected) was a touch above expectations, however manufacturing production (-0.8% yoy vs. -0.3% expected) weakened more than consensus estimates. In the UK meanwhile, data did little to help support the hawks. Construction output for February was significantly weaker than expected (-1.3% yoy vs. +1.9% expected) and both industrial (+0.1% yoy vs. +0.3% expected) and manufacturing (+1.1% yoy vs. +1.3% expected) production came in below market. The GBP weakened 0.55% on Friday to close at $1.463 and the lowest since June 2010. Election concerns were also not helping.

It’s a fairly busy calendar for us to look forward to this week as earnings season kicks up a gear in the US as mentioned while Greece headlines and the G20 finance ministers meeting on Thursday mark the non-data related highlights. The calendar starts off on the slower side this morning however with just Italian industrial production due in Europe and no releases scheduled for the US. It’s a different story on Tuesday headlined by the UK CPI/PPI/RPI readings for March where the market is expecting the headline inflation reading to stay at 0.0% yoy. Inflation data out of Italy is also due while industrial production for the Euro-area is scheduled. In the US, March retail sales are the highlight while PPI, NFIB small business optimism survey and business inventories are all expected. We start in China on Wednesday where retail sales, industrial production, fixed assets and most importantly Q1 GDP are all expected. In Japan industrial production and capacity utilization are expected. Inflation data will be the highlight in the European timezone with the final March CPI reading for Germany due as well as the preliminary number in France. The ECB meeting is also due to take place as well as the February trade data for the region. In the US on Wednesday we’ve got industrial production, empire manufacturing, capacity utilization, manufacturing production, NAHB housing market index and the release of the Fed’s Beige Book all due. There is little in way of data in the Asia or Europe timezones on Thursday, however in the US we’ve got housing starts, building permits, jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed business outlook all due. We round off the week on Friday in Europe with the final March CPI reading for the Euro-area as well as employment indicators out of the UK. Inflation data will be the highlight over the in the US meanwhile with market consensus for a +0.1% yoy core. Average weekly earnings, leading index and University of Michigan consumer sentiment print round off the week’s prints. Fedspeak wise, we’ve got Kocherlakota, Bullard, Fischer, Lacker, Lockhart, Mester and Rosengren all due to speak.