Global Stocks Mixed After "Nightmare Victory" For Merkel; Chinese Property Developers Crash

European stocks rose as the euro tumbled following Germany’s election result which was dubbed a "Nightmare Victory" for Merkel and could lead to potentially complicated coalition talks and perhaps even another early election. U.S. equity-index futures point to a lower open, while Asian equities slide after a plunge in Chinese property developer names over worries of new real estate curbs as well as tech stocks following more iPhone delivery concerns. S&P500 futures are steady, down slightly by just over -0.1%, after closing little changed on Friday.

For those who missed it, in the main political event over the weekend, the German election results showed Chancellor Merkel set for a 4th term after her CDU/CSU won the most votes, but performed weaker than expected and will need to undertake coalition discussions. In terms of the number of seats, CDU/CSU won 246 seats, SPD won 153 seats, AfD won 94 seats, FDP won 80 seats, Die Linke won 69 seats and Grune won 67 seats. Given the abysmal performance of the SPD (worst performance since WW2), the party have efused to enter into a Grand Coalition and instead will form the opposition (to avoid AfD becoming the opposition). As such, Merkel will now have to try and form a ‘Jamaica’ Coalition with the FDP and Green parties. However, the FDP initially distanced themselves from forming such an alliance. Furthermore, according the CSU are reportedly considering their historical alliance with the CDU following yesterday's result. Further reports suggest that the CSU are set to vote on their alliance with Merkel's CDU, However, according to a report on Germany's n-tv, CSU leader Seehofer said his party would remain a partner with Merkel's CDU, although Seehofer said he wants CSU leadership to vote on joint caucus.

“The question is obviously now what it means for policy going forward” in Germany, Mitul Kotecha, head of Asia FX and rates strategy at Barclays Bank Plc, said on Bloomberg Television in reference to the election. “Investors are going to be closely following announcements on policy, especially given that fact that the AfD is not just nationalist, but also anti-euro to some extent.” As Bloomberg adds, the process of building a new government could take weeks, so markets may well move on from the result quickly.

The Euro pushes lower through European trading as investors digested these political developments. German election fallout with smaller mandate for Merkel is coupled with latest Italian polls showing support for populist Five Star Movement. The resulting slide in the common currency, which saw the EURUSD slide below 1.189 this morning, sent European stocks modestly higher although the reaction was decided mixed among another session of near record low volumes as trader paralysis continues in a centrally-planned market.  The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell less than 0.1%, as losses in banks and miners offset gains in travel-and-leisure and media shares. Tullow Oil jumped 6.8% after saying Ghana’s new maritime boundary as determined by a tribunal doesn’t affect the TEN fields, and it expects to resume drilling around the end of the year.

Also over the weekend, New Zealand held its general election on Saturday which resulted to a hung parliament, as no party gained the 61 seats needed for a majority. In terms of the projected results, the incumbent National Party won 58 seats, main opposition Labour Party won 45 seats, New Zealand First won 9 seats, Green Party won 7 seats, ACT won 1 seat and the Maori Party won 0 seats. The result has been broad-based weakness for the Kiwi with the AUDNZD rising over 100 pips from its Friday close of 1.0860.

Separately, North Korea’s Foreign Minister stated that President Trump's labelling of Kim Jong Un as ‘Rocketman’ has made North Korean rockets’ visit to entire US mainland inevitable, while there were also separate reports that US Air Force B-1B Lancer Bombers flew over the waters east of North Korea on Saturday.  Elsewhere, on Monday Japan PM Abe confirmed recent rumors, and announced he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on September 28th, to call a snap election and further cement his power following the recent spike in popularity.

The yen pared a drop as Japan’s prime minister unveiled a fresh stimulus package and said he’ll dissolve the lower house of parliament ahead of a general election. Stocks in Europe edged higher helped by the weaker euro, but shares in developing nations headed for a third day retreating.

Asian equities fell, with the region’s benchmark set for a third day of declines from its highest level in almost a decade, as investors weighed the outlook for returns and political uncertainty prompted some to cash in some of the gains from this year’s rally. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 0.5% to 162.25 in Hong Kong as about three stocks declined for every two that gained. Japanese stocks advanced, with the Topix closing at a fresh two-year high, as the yen weakened against the dollar on speculation of fiscal stimulus by Abe. “Some investors have decided to take some of their gains from the table after the recent rally drove valuations up in many Asian markets,” said John Teja, a director at PT Ciptadana Sekuritas Asia in Jakarta. “The biggest risk for the region and global equities market in general remains the political risk on the Korean peninsula.” The Asian equities benchmark has surged about 20 percent so far this year, putting it on course for its best annual performance since 2009, underpinned by low interest rates and an improving outlook for earnings growth.

Of note, the Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index plunged more than 5% overnight, its biggest single day drop, after China introduced new curbs on real estate over the weekend. The move send the Hang Seng lower by 1.4%, its biggest drop in 6 weeks.

Also notable, China's offshore Yuan tumbled to 6.6205 as China's recent push to weaken the currency, including the weakest fixing since August 31, sent the CNH to the lowest level since August 28.

In rates, the yield on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 2.24 percent, the lowest in a week. Germany’s 10-year yield declined four basis points to 0.41 percent. Britain’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to 1.341 percent, the largest drop in more than two weeks.

In commodities, gold fell 0.2 percent to $1,295.40 an ounce. West Texas Intermediate crude declined 0.1 percent to $50.63 a barrel, while Brent pushed to the highest level since February.

The week is full of Fed speakers, with Yellen set to discuss monetary policy on Tuesday, while the calendar sets off with Dudley, Evans and Kashkari taking the podium today. Investors will look for cues on monetary policy as Fed and ECB officials speak this week: "In the U.S., the mystery of the missing inflation will likely feature in a slate of Fed-speak, with core inflation stuck at 1.4%," Societe Generale strategists including Stephen Gallagher wrote in note.

President Donald Trump and Republican leaders plan to release a tax framework this week that would dramatically cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy and includes a proposal to cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent.  Scheduled earnings on Monday include Red Hat, Synnex.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.1% to 2,495.75
  • VIX up 5% to 10.07
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.1% to 383.59
  • MSCI Asia down 0.5% to 162.23
  • MSCI Asia ex Japan down 0.9% to 533.88
  • Nikkei up 0.5% to 20,397.58
  • Topix up 0.5% to 1,672.82
  • Hang Seng Index down 1.4% to 27,500.34
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.3% to 3,341.55
  • Sensex down 1.3% to 31,494.47
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.03% to 5,683.73
  • Kospi down 0.4% to 2,380.40
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.6 bps to 0.431%
  • Euro down 0.4% to $1.1907
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 0.2 bps to 1.814%
  • Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 1.627%
  • WTI Futures down 0.2% to $50.6/bbl;
  • Brent crude up 0.6% to $57.18
  • Gold spot down 0.4% to $1,292.12
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 92.38

Top Overnight News

  • Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union-led bloc is meeting in Berlin on Monday in the wake of the defeat of its Social Democratic Party challenger even while falling to the worst result since 1949
  • Ifo Sept. german business confidence index unexpectedly dropped a second month to 115.2, vs est. 116.0
  • New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English has claimed a mandate to form the next government after winning the biggest slice of the vote in Saturday’s election, even as opposition leader Jacinda Ardern refuses to concede defeat
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will dissolve the lower house of parliament on Sept. 28; general election set for Oct. 22, according to three people with knowledge of his ruling coalition’s plans
  • Japan’s Abe to order relevant officials to come up with 2t yen economic package at economic, fiscal panel meeting today, Yomiuri reports, without attribution
  • Hellman & Friedman to Buy Payments Firm Nets for $5.3 Billion
  • Switch Inc. Is Said to Aim for Year’s Third- Biggest Tech IPO
  • ABB Bolsters U.S. Business With $2.6 Billion GE Unit Deal
  • Unilever Buys Korean Makeup Firm for $2.7 Billion from Goldman
  • Coty Is Said to Mull Selling Some Fragrance Brands: WWD
  • Brazil Regulator Is Said to Back AT&T/Time Warner, Globo Says
  • Blackstone Is Said to Buy UIOF for Rs800 Crore: Economic Times
  • Amazon Unit Plans to Open Data Centers in Middle East by 2019
  • IPhone Disappointment Hammers Suppliers, Fuels Taiwan Outflows
  • European, U.S. Apple Suppliers May Move After DigiTimes Report
  • Top BP Executive Warns OPEC Needs to Prolong Oil Output Curbs
  • Iron Ore Succumbs to Bear Market and May Extend Slump Into $50s
  • Equifax’s Massive Hack Has a Tiny Silver Lining
  • Trump Tax Plan Said to Cut Taxes for Wealthy and Whack NY and NJ
  • GOP Revises Obamacare Repeal With Bill Headed to Likely Defeat
  • Lockheed Says Talks Ongoing With Japan on Supply of THAAD System

Asia equity markets began the week subdued as FX took much of the focus amid post-election hangovers from New Zealand and Germany where the incumbents in both won most votes but failed to get majorities, which moves the process on to coalition negotiations. ASX 200 (+0.1%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.4%) were positive with the latter the outperformer on JPY weakness, while a 4- month high Japanese Nikkei Manufacturing PMI and reports that PM Abe is considering a JPY 2tln economic package added to upbeat tone. Chinese markets were subdued with Shanghai Comp. (-0.4%) and Hang Seng (-1.1%)  negative, as property names suffered from tighter restriction announcements, although the losses in the mainland were stemmed following a firm liquidity operation heading into next week’s National Day holidays. 10yr JGBs were relatively flat as pressure in the safe-haven from a positive risk sentiment in Japan, was counterbalanced by the BoJ’s presence in the market for a respectable amount just shy of JPY1trl in JGBs with 1yr-10yr maturities.

Top Asian News

  • China Developers Plunge as Government Expands Tightening
  • China Is Said to Plan Closer Oversight of State Company Funds
  • Unilever in $2.7 Billion Deal for Korean Cosmetics Maker

A tepid start for European bourses with a sense of anxiety among investors following the result of the German election and a surprise rise in support for the far-right AFD party, subsequently, Chancellor Merkel has been left with a less stable position. Notable underperformers have been financial and commodity related names. However, the initial opening gap in European trade was filled through the session, aided by the performance in oil markets. A slight tick lower in German yields have supported bunds this morning with the yield modestly flatter. A soft start for peripherals as spreads widen against their German counterpart with Spain and Italy wider by 1.6bps and 1bps respectively. Further, Saudi Arabia plan to return to the global conventional bond market, as the Kingdom seeks to address the budget deficit and underpin economic reform efforts. Bunds saw a bid following the results of the German Ifo, with extensions of the move evident of political German uncertainty, as Twitter reports stated that the CSU are considering their historical alliance with the CDU following yesterday's result.

Top European News

  • BOE Seeks Brexit Deal to Protect Existing Derivative Contracts
  • German Business Confidence Unexpectedly Drops for Second Month
  • Turkish Stocks Decline As Kurdish Referendum Weighs on Sentiment
  • Peripheral Euro Bonds Sell Off in Aftermath of German Election

In FX, the EUR suffered following the weekend results despite Chancellor Merkel being set for a fourth term. Merkel’s CDU/CSU performed weaker than expected and will now need to undertake coalition discussions, likely set to attempt to form a ‘Jamaica’ Coalition with the FDP and Green Parties, with FDP being an initial hurdle. EUR/USD rejected 1.20 on Friday, and struggled as Asian trade began, trading through 1.19, now consolidating just above these levels. EUR/GBP saw similar price action, finding support ahead of September’s lows. A break through the 0.8774 area could see trade once again in the start of 2017’s trading range. NZD was also heavy following their election results, and in line with Germany, despite a victory for the National Party, a majority was also not secured. This places the next government at the hands of New Zealand First Party’s leader and effective ‘kingmaker’ Winston Peters, who is all too familiar with this obligation having supported both the National Party and main opposition Labour in past governments. NZD/USD find some support following initial selling pressure, support at September 18th’s low held, with some buying evident around these levels. AUD/NZD held just through 1.0800, yet continuing to show a downward trend following the stacked offers seen around 1.1150 through September.

In commodities, prices were mostly range-bound which kept WTI subdued, while copper was unchanged amid a subdued risk tone. Elsewhere, gold (-0.3%) was pressured from early trade due to a firmer greenback, after the currency benefitted from political uncertainty weighing on a couple of its major counterparts post-elections.

On today's calendar we have Germany’s IFO indicators on business climate, expectations and current assessment all of which missed expectations (Current Conditions 123.6 vs Exp. 124.8; Expectations 107.4, Exp. 107.9; Business Climate 115.2, exp. 116). Over in the US, there is the Chicago Fed National and Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. -0.2, prior 0
  • 8:30am: Fed’s Dudley Speaks on Workforce Development
  • 10:30am: Dallas Fed Manf. Activity, est. 11.5, prior 17
  • 12:40pm: Fed’s Evans Speaks on Economy and Monetary Policy
  • 6:30pm: Fed’s Kashkari Speaks at Townhall in Grand Forks, North Dakota

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

3 months today until Xmas. How time flies. Normally I’d associate Xmas with relaxing, lie-ins and having good family time. However Xmas will now be forever associated in my eyes with the utter chaos of my current life. I’ll let readers do their own arithmetic but 2 year old Maisie was due on September 23rd and the twins were technically due yesterday (they are nearly 4 weeks now!). So to avoid yet more chaos in 12 months’ time this Xmas you’ll be most likely to find me in a Tibetan monastery.

One wonders how whether Mrs Merkel would like her own private retreat to prepare herself for the difficult time ahead after a disappointing yet still overwhelming victory in yesterday's German election. As we highlighted last week, the election was always going to be purely about the coalition arithmetic and deals. These are likely to be more difficult after the results. To recap Mrs Merkel's CDU/SCU polled 33% (37% in final polls on Friday) against the SPD's 20.5% (22% in final polls). Combined these two parties saw their lowest share of the vote since World War II (since 1949 for Merkel’s party). The AfD (Alternatives for Germany) came third with 12.6% of votes (11% expected on Friday) and will now be the first far right party in the Bundestag since the Nazi party. They beat the pro-business FDP (10.7% - Free democrats Party), Greens (8.9%) and the post-Communist Left (9.2%). Given that the SPD now want to be the main opposition rather than join in another grand coalition, the so called Jamaican coalition of the CDU/SCU, FDP and Greens is likely, but there will be some big idealogical differences to negotiate around. The FDP are known to be against further Euro integration which will be one of the key takeaways from the election. The FDP leader Christian Lindner has indicated a willingness to join in coalition talks, but said that "We want to organise a change of direction for our country” and also tweeted that "€60bn Eurozone budget flowing into France or Italy is inconceivable for us...a line in the sand”. Meanwhile, a leading Green politician told broadcaster ZDF that talks will be "very hard, we are far apart  on many issues".

I spoke to DB's Mark Wall after the results and we discussed the impact on euro area integration. As Mark said, earlier this summer the "Macron Pivot" suggested a surprising counter thrust against anti-EU populism. Marcon turned to Merkel for support to strengthen the euro area with a new integration push. However her capacity to reciprocate may be a lot more limited now. Some might see Macron's proposals -- due to be fleshed out in a speech tomorrow -- as unhelpful in the circumstances, in timing if not in substance. Mark thinks Germany will be less able to relax its traditional demand for strong conditionality on any new common funds and the speed of progress towards an agreement could now be slower and more fraught. If the result takes upward pressure off the euro it may help cement an ECB exit announcement on 26 October in line with baseline expectations (six month extension of QE at EUR40bn), but hopes for a significant policy rebalancing for the euro area, facilitated by easier fiscal  policy/support for economic convergence, are likely to get dialled back. It could also make it more difficult for Merkel to gather the support necessary for a Weidmann Presidency of the ECB, if that was the plan. So lots to chew over.

Elsewhere, France’s Macron suffered a small set back with his party losing 6 seats as the Senate renewed 170 out of its 348 seats. Notably, the practical impact is likely limited near term as the National assembly (where Macron has a clear majority) has the final say in legislations over the Senate. However it perhaps reflects that his honeymoon as leader has been pretty short.

This morning, the EURUSD is trading a touch weaker (-0.18%) as we type. Asian markets are mixed but little changed as we type, with the Kospi (-0.44%), Hang Seng (-0.83%) and Chinese bourses (-0.3%) all down modestly, while the Nikkei (+0.58%) and ASX 200 (+0.19%) are both up slightly. Japanese stocks have been helped by reports that Japan's Abe will announce a fresh stimulus package alongside the expected snap election decision later this morning.

After the dust has settled in Germany, the most important event of this week is likely to be the latest on the tax reform agenda in the US. This weekend in between going to 2nd birthday parties, changing tens of nappies, trying to watch Liverpool play while bathing a toddler, hours of sterilising bottle feeding and milk expressing equipment, and being forced into action every couple of hours at night, I managed to read the very useful "A primer on tax reform and the upcoming budget debate" by DB's Brett Ryan. In reading this you get a feel for how complicated things are and how possible it'll be that nothing gets done. Regular legislation would take 60 votes in the Senate and bipartisan support and allow for proper tax reform. However this is seemingly impossible. The reality is that any changes will likely be made through the reconciliation process. However this first requires a budget being passed by Congress which hasn't been achieved since the Democratic super-majority in 2009-10.

The only good news is that we think that any positive tax reform has been priced out of markets so there's a limit to how much disappointment there can be to continued failure. This week we would expect a vague outline of what will be pursued from the so-called "Big 6" (including Treasury Sec Mnuchin, Gary Cohn, Ryan, Senate majority leader McConnell). Overnight, the Washington post reported Republicans were “targeting” a corporate tax rate of 20%, but plans remains fluid. Elsewhere, Trump said “we’ll see what happens, but I hope it’s going to be 15%”, while Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the upcoming tax plan will be “getting rid of lots of deductions”.

So with German politics in a state of flux and US politics increasingly fraught, suddenly the UK looks a bit of a stable safe haven after Mrs May's speech on Friday. Although it hasn't unlocked doors, it’s been seen as a step in the right direction away from the likelihood of a hard Brexit. In the speech, PM May clarified: 1) UK would seek a transitional deal that would allow continue market access on current terms for c2 years post Brexit (under the framework of 'the existing structure of EU rules and regulations), which in effect leaves UK as a rules taker in the EU until March 2021, 2) UK is committed to the current EU budgetary round to 2020 and meeting past financial commitments, but avoided explicit numbers on the divorce bill, but 3) in terms of a future trade agreement, there was little new in terms of content, although she ruled out both EEA and Canada style options. Overall, DB’s Oliver Harvey believes the tone of her speech was constructive and the initial reaction from EU negotiator Barnier has been cautiously positive. For more details. Later on, the Times reported Mrs May is willing to pay up to GBP40bln in return for a transition deal. Focus now turns to the EU-UK Brexit talks which resume today.

Quickly recapping the market’s performance on Friday. US (S&P +0.06%) and European equities (Stoxx 600 +0.09%) were little changed following North Korea’s threat of testing a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. Gold rose 0.47% and core bond markets were slightly firmer (UST 10y yields -2.7bp; Bunds -0.7bp; Gilts -0.9bp), partly reflecting the bias for safe haven assets. The US dollar index dipped 0.10% while Sterling fell 0.56% not helped by Moody's late downgrade. In commodities, WTI oil rose 0.22%, while Iron Ore continues to fall (-3.83%; -12% for the week) on growing concerns of reduced  demand from Chinese steel producers.

Away from the markets and onto central bankers’ commentaries. In the US, the Fed’s John Williams said “I do expect us to need to raise rates gradually….it’s not like we need to raise rates a lot over the  next couple of years”. He also noted a “new normal” for rates may be 2.5%. Elsewhere, the Fed’s Esther George reiterated “I support an approach that removes (financial) accommodation in small doses” and the Fed’s Robert Kaplan noted “there are number of reasons the US isn’t reaching its inflation target and a number of those are not transitory”. Over in Europe, ECB’s VP Vitor Constancio noted “the recent euro appreciation may have a more limited dampening effect on inflation than what would be implied by historical averages”.

Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from Friday. The MarkitSeptember flash PMIs for Germany and Eurozone was above market’s expectations. In Germany, the composite PMI rose 2ppts to 57.8 (vs. 55.7 expected), marking a 77 month high. The solid growth was driven by both the manufacturing sector (60.6 vs. 59 expected) and the services sector (55.6 vs. 53.7 expected). The Eurozone’s composite PMI also surprised on the upside, with the index up 1ppt to 56.7 (vs. 55.6 expected), just below this year’s cyclical highs. DB’s Peter Sidorov noted the rise was seen in both sectors, with manufacturing reaching new cyclical highs (led by Germany). In services, there were big rebounds in both Germany and France.

Over in the US, the composite PMI fell 0.7pts to 55.6 (vs. 55.3 previous), with a 0.2pt rise in the manufacturing PMI to 53.0 more than offset by a 0.9pt decline in the services PMI to 55.1 (vs. 55.7 expected). Elsewhere, the final readings for France’s 2Q GDP was broadly unchanged at 0.5% qoq and 1.8% yoy (vs. 1.7% expected).

To the week ahead now. Today starts with Germany’s IFO indicators on business climate, expectations and current assessment. Over in the US, there is the Chicago Fed National and Dallas Fed manufacturing activity index. Onto Tuesday, Japan’s services producer price index will be out early in the morning. Then in France, there is manufacturing and business confidence indicators. In the UK,finance loans for housing are due. Over in the US, there is the CB consumer  confidence index, Richmond Fed manufacturing index, CoreLogic house price data for key cities as well as new home sales data. Turning to Wednesday, Italy’s July industrial orders along with confidence indicators on manufacturing, consumer and economic sentiment will be due. France’s consumer confidence and the Eurozone’s M3 money supply data are also due. Over in the US, there is durable and capital goods orders for August, pending home sales and MBA mortgage applications. For Thursday, Germany’s September CPI (with state based CPI data) and GfK consumer confidence readings will be due. For the Eurozone, there is a range of confidence indicators including: consumers, business climate, economy and industrial. Over in the US, there is the third reading of 2Q GDP, Core PCE and personal consumption. Elsewhere, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing activity index, August wholesale inventories and stats on continuing claims and initial jobless claims are also due. Finally on Friday, there will be numerous data out of Japan early in the morning, including: August national CPI, IP, jobless rate, retail sales and vehicle production. Further, China’s Caixin China PMI manufacturing index and UK’s GfK consumer confidence will also be out early. Then we have CPI for the Eurozone along with CPI & PPI for France and Italy. In Germany, there is unemployment change for September. In the UK, there is the final reading of 2Q GDP along with mortgage approvals and money supply M4 stats. Over in the US, there is PCE core for August, personal income and spending, the Chicago PMI along with the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index.