World Stocks Hit New All Time High; Hong Kong Up For Record 14 Straight Days

World stocks hit a new all time high on Friday with U.S. equity futures rising for the 8th trading day out of 9 in 2018 - the Dow is just a little over 300 points away from 26,000 - alongside Asian shares while European stocks and oil are little changed. The euro surged to a three-year high as Germany was said to reach a "grand coalition" agreement, heaping more pressure on the dollar before inflation data.

European stocks advanced with U.S. equity futures as BlackRock Inc. kicked off a busy earnings season with profits that beat estimates.

MSCI’world stock index hit yet another record high and was on track to rise for its eighth of the nine business days so far this year -- for a total increase of 3.5%. "This bull market is highly related to the fact we are facing good growth, low inflation and soft monetary policy normalization. If any of those were to be shaken that would be a big problem,” said Jeanne Asseraf Bitton, head of cross-asset research at Lyxor Asset Management.

The euro is set for its strongest close since December 2014, leading most G10 currencies higher against the dollar. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed for the first day in three. Hong Kong’s equity index extended a record winning streak as data showed Chinese exports rose in December. Oil fell after a four-day rally, even as most commodities climbed, with gold heading for its highest close since September.

Reports that German policymakers are set to resolve a months-long political stalemate added to news yesterday that the European Central Bank is open to tweaking its policy guidance soon to align it with a strengthening economy. The euro’s overnight index swap rates have risen sharply this week as traders priced in a higher chance of a rate hike early next year.


In response to the EUR strength, German 10-year bond yield hit a fresh five-month high of 0.539 percent after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats agreed a blueprint for formal coalition negotiations.

European stocks took their cue from a recovery in Asian trading, but were set to end the week on a dud note as a surging euro weighed on European exporters and kept gains on Germany’s DAX muted despite the breakthrough in coalition talks. As a result, the MSCI index of European stocks index eked out a 0.1% gain. While the Euro's rise has reflected growing optimism over the bloc’s economic recovery, some have flagged it as a potential brake on stocks. Monica Defend, head of strategy at Amundi Asset Management, said the currency, for which she has a target of $1.22, was the biggest risk to European equities.

Rising European bond yields were also driven higher by minutes on Thursday of the ECB’s December meeting that showed it thinks it should revisit its communication stance in early 2018. Lyxor’s Bitton said Bund yields were already near to hitting her target for the first quarter. “Markets were a bit too complacent about bonds so they took some excuses to correct,” she told Reuters. “We were a little surprised that the market reacted so strongly to the ECB.” The minutes showed that with the euro zone seeing its best growth in a decade, ECB policymakers were considering a gradual shift in its stance to reduce the focus on bond purchases and raise the emphasis on interest rates.

Overnight a blowout china trade surplus, helped by booming global trade, helped Chinese exports to surge last year while import growth slowed to 4.5%. Exports growth for China slowed to 10.9% yoy in December from an increase of 11.5% yoy in November, in line with consensus. Imports growth dropped to 4.5% yoy from 17.6% yoy in November, well below consensus. In sequential terms, exports rose 0.5% mom sa non-annualized, down from a strong increase of 4.1% in November. Imports fell 3.7% mom sa non-annualized, decelerating from +1.8% in November. The trade surplus increased to US$54.7bn, the highest since February 2016, from US$39.0bn in November.

Chinese Trade Balance (CNY)(Dec) 362.0B vs. Exp. 235.2B (Prev. 263.6B).

  • Chinese Exports (CNY)(Dec) Y/Y 7.4% vs. Exp. 6.7% (Prev. 10.3%)
  • Chinese Imports (CNY)(Dec) Y/Y 0.9% vs. Exp. 11.8% (Prev. 15.6%)

Chinese Trade Balance (USD)(Dec) 54.69B vs. Exp. 37.00B (Prev. 40.21B).

  • Chinese Exports (USD)(Dec) Y/Y 10.9% vs. Exp. 10.8% (Prev. 12.3%)
  • Chinese Imports (USD)(Dec) Y/Y 4.5% vs. Exp. 15.1% (Prev. 17.7%)


Some observations on China trade from Goldman:

The significant slowdown in imports growth should have been in a large part due to a notable moderation of volume growth. The moderation of year-on-year exports growth was primarily due to very weak sequential momentum in December, though a high base in December of the previous year also contributed somewhat. Exports prices might have decelerated sequentially in December, but exports volume growth should have also slowed, amid a slowing though still strong global demand, as suggested the GS Global Leading Indicator. The pace of appreciation in CNY against the USD has been faster since November (though less strong against the basket), and if the trend is extended, this could potentially weigh on exports growth in the coming months. The potential negative impacts on exports (and recent round of appreciation) might be part of reasons for reported suspension of CNY countercyclical factor, though more importantly we view this could signal a policy step further toward liberalization of the FX regime. And we maintain our view for a moderate CNY depreciation in the coming months, which could be supportive to exports growth. However, whether the support from exports can offset headwinds to activity growth from supply-side measures and prevent the growth from declining notably, remains uncertain. The official from the China Customs also mentioned potential pressure for exports growth in Q1 and possible moderation in exports growth for the whole year in the press conference. Against the backdrop of a less benign exports growth, we continue to expect policy to be broadly supportive for domestic demand, in order to keep stability of overall growth.

China Customs said China trade outlook is upbeat for this year, but added it will be difficult for Chinese trade to maintain double digit growth.

The strong trade data, helped the onshore yuan strengthen as much as 0.42% to the highest intraday level since Sept. 8 at 6.4702 per U.S. dollar. The CNY rose 0.41% to 6.4714 as of 3:31pm in Shanghai; CNH reverses earlier loss to advance 0.18% to 6.4790 in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong investors were unfazed by signals local equities may be overbought as the benchmark gauge rose for a record 14th day. Tencent Holdings Ltd. and energy explorers led the advance on Friday. The Hang Seng Index closes 0.9% higher; gauge has added more than 7% since Dec. 20. The 14-day relative strength index has risen to 80, the highest since February last year and above the 70 level that signals to some traders an asset is overbought.

In geopolitics, South Korea and US are in discussions to develop ties with North Korea, according to Yonhap citing an envoy. US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin confirms US plans to reimpose sanctions on Iran, while a separate report states the White House plans to announce decision on Friday. North Korea's propaganda outlet called for the total suspension of joint military drills between South Korea and the United States on Friday, according to Yonhap.

Elsewhere, an exchange-traded fund tracking Brazilian equities dropped in after-hours U.S. trading after S&P Global Ratings cut Brazil’s sovereign credit rating deeper into junk territory. Bitcoin steadied after four days of losses amid increasing scrutiny from regulators around the world.

The end of a turbulent week for bond markets also saw U.S. Treasury yields extending Thursday’s pullback after China disputed a media report that government officials had recommended it slow or halt its purchases of U.S. bonds. The 10-year Treasury yield stood at 2.5498 percent, settling down from Wednesday’s 10-month high of 2.597 percent when fears of a bond bear market gripped investors. “Our target for U.S. 10-year treasuries is 2.8 -- and we might afford up to 3 percent -- but going beyond that it’s becoming an alert signal,” said Amundi’s Defend.

Oil prices retreated from 2014 highs hit the previous day, but stayed near three-year highs on signs of tightening supply in the United States. Brent crude futures hovered at $69.28 a barrel after hitting $70.05 a barrel on Thursday, their highest level since November 2014, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures stood at $63.49, down 0.3 percent on the day.

Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk

  • EUR takes out 2017 highs and the 1.2100 level after German coalition talks appear to make a breakthrough
  • European equities trade with little in the way of firm direction as EUR gains cap upside for the DAX
  • Looking ahead, highlights include US CPI, retail sales and earnings from Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Blackrock

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 2,775.50
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.16% to 397.90
  • MSCI Asia Pacific up 0.3% to 181.02
  • MSCI Asia Pacific ex Japan up 0.8% to 590.07
  • Nikkei down 0.2% to 23,653.82
  • Topix down 0.6% to 1,876.24
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.9% to 31,412.54
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.1% to 3,428.94
  • Sensex up 0.3% to 34,597.69
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.04% to 6,070.05
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,496.42
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.3 bps to 0.578%
  • Euro up 0.8% to $1.2133
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 1.2 bps to 1.781%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 2.5 bps to 1.513%
  • Brent futures little changed at $69.21/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.7% to $1,331.43
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.6% to 91.33

Top Overnight news from Bloomberg

  • Japanese investors sold U.S. sovereign bonds for a second straight month in November while continuing to buy German and French bonds
  • According to three-month options on 10-year Treasury futures, volatility remains near record lows, suggesting investors aren’t worried about big price moves in either direction. That contrasts with the jump in volatility seen during the “taper tantrum” of 2013
  • Fed’s Powell is being asked by Senate Banking Committee member Chris Van Hollen to give assurance he would shield the central bank from any White House effort to influence its oversight of Deutsche Bank AG, which has been drawn into investigations of Russian meddling in U.S. politics
  • Demand for Chinese products is holding up as growth in major trade partners remains intact, and a feared trade war between China and the U.S. has yet to materialize; the trade surplus swells to its largest since January 2016 as imports slump
  • China’s broadest gauge of new credit trailed projections and broad money growth posted the slowest pace on record, signaling that a campaign to cut financial risk is gaining traction
  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley are on a hiring drive in Frankfurt as global investment banks race to establish new headquarters inside the European Union in time for Brexit

Asia equity markets are mostly positive following record highs across all major US indices on optimism heading into earnings season and where energy outperformed with oil at 3yr highs. ASX 200 (Unch) was kept positive throughout the day by commodity-related stocks, but still closed flat due to losses in the largest weighted financials sector. In Japan, index-heavyweight Fast Retailing outperformed and hit its highest in over 2 years after strong quarterly results, although the Nikkei 225 (-0.2%) failed to benefit with the broader market negative on JPY strength. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.9%) and was positive following better than expected Chinese Trade Surplus and Exports, as well as a more convincing liquidity effort by the PBoC. However, the Shanghai Comp (+0.1%) was less decisive as participants also digested disappointing Import numbers and the fact that open market operations still resulted to a net weekly drain. Finally, 10yr JGBs were marginally higher with support seen amid the dampened risk tone in Japan and amid slightly firmer demand in the 40yr JGB auction. The PBoC injected CNY 140bln via 7-day reverse repos and CNY 130bln via 14-day reverse repos. This resulted to a daily net injection of CNY 180bln, but also a weekly net drain of CNY 60bln vs. last week's CNY 510bln net drain.

Top Asian News

  • Another HNA Stock Halted From Trading, Pending Announcement
  • Mubadala Is Said to Mull Options for $920 Million RHB Stake
  • India’s Top Court Judges Break Ranks With Chief Justice
  • Nomura Sees Strong Year in Japan M&A, Fueled by Equity Finance

European equities (Eurostoxx 600 0.2%) have been trading with little in the way of firm direction with any potential gains in the DAX (following German coalition talks) capped by EUR strength. In terms of sector specifics, energy names are  seen lower, in-fitting with the moves seen in WTI and Brent while consumer discretionary names are outperforming with Fiat (+2.7%) top of the FSTE MIB after unveiling plans to invest further in their Michigan plant and provide bonuses to US workers following US tax legislation. Other individual movers include Vivendi (-1.3%) seen lower after warning on guidance, whilst GKN (+24.7%) after rejecting Melrose’s latest takeover offer; nonetheless, sources suggest that Melrose will continue their pursuit of the Co. In European fixed income, the relative calm did not last long, for core EU debt at least, as Gilts succumbed to selling pressure and reversed to a fresh low at 123.69 (-16 ticks vs +9 ticks at best), while Bunds extended to the upside to register a new Eurex peak at 160.62 (+31 ticks vs -14 ticks at worst). FX markets and even faster/frantic trade were the catalyst or driver for moves in bonds with the 10 year German benchmark and even moreso periphery paper the beneficiaries of EUR strength and upbeat tone/fiscal pledges from the new German coalition Government. Off peaks and troughs now as price action abates somewhat, while USTs remain largely sidelined awaiting today’s key data

Top European News

  • Euro Surges to Three-Year High After German Coalition Accord
  • Puma Plunges as Gucci Owner Kering Moves to Shed Its Stake
  • For This Soccer Giant, a Losing Streak Threatens a Takeover Deal
  • Theresa May Facing Winter of Discontent With U.K. Health Crisis
  • Russia’s Oligarchs Brace for U.S. Report Listing Putin Friends

In FX markets, EUR has been extending gains in wake of hawkish December ECB minutes, with added boost coming from news of a breakthrough in Germany to form a grand coalition Government. EUR/USD showed little resistance this time at last year’s 1.2092 peak or the psychological 1.2100 level with layered macro bids propelling the pair to a circa 1.2135 high (best since December 2014). Tech studies show a bullish target 1.2169, but ultimately the charts signal 1.2350 and 1.2430 (200 MMA) as the next major objectives. On the flip-side, big 2.5bln option expiries at 1.2100 may exert a gravitational pull, but with the USD on the back foot perhaps not (DXY down near 91.30). Indeed, the Dollar is weaker across the board, with Cable tripping stops above 1.3600, USD/JPY eyeing bids at 111.00 and stops below, USD/CAD and USD/CHF both close to big figures or round numbers at 1.2500 and 0.9700 respectively. Antipodeans lagging a bit, but still bid vs the Greenback and only just off overnight peaks (AUD/USD and NZD/USD just below 0.7900 and 0.7275 respectively, with weaker Chinese imports within the latest trade balance perhaps dampening sentiment somewhat).

In commodities, in the energy complex, both WTI and Brent crude futures are seen lower despite the softer USD as Brent makes a pullback from the USD 70.00 level, leading some to question how much further scope there is for the ongoing rally in prices. Energy specific newsflow remains light, however, markets will be on the watch for any announcements today from the White House regarding sanction on Iran. In metals markets, both spot gold and silver have benefitted from the softer USD. Elsewhere, steel futures saw their largest daily decline in a month after three consecutive days of gains as demand faltered overnight. Finally, the latest Chinese trade data saw a 4.3% decline in copper imports for the month of December. US Commerce Secretary Ross says results of investigation into national security impact from steel imports have been submitted to President Trump who has 90 days to decide on any potential action.

Looking at the day ahead, Italy’s November IP and the final reading of France and Spain’s December CPI are due. Over in the US, there is the December CPI (core of 0.2% mom and 1.7% expected) and retail sales along with the November business inventories. Onto other events, the Bundesbank’s Weidmann and the Fed’s Rosengren will speak. Elsewhere, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Blackrock will release its results.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: US CPI MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.4%; CPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1%
  • 8:30am: US CPI YoY, est. 2.1%, prior 2.2%; CPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 1.7%, prior 1.7%
  • 8:30am: Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. 0.5%, prior 0.8%; Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 1.0%
  • 8:30am: Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.4%, prior 0.8%; Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0.4%, prior 0.8%
  • 8:30am: Real Avg Weekly Earnings YoY, prior 0.83%; Real Avg Hourly Earning YoY, prior 0.2%
  • 10am: Business Inventories, est. 0.4%, prior -0.1%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After a long period of calm, suddenly the market is getting startled by all manner of things. Indeed it’s been a pass the parcel week for reasons for the sell-off. The BoJ started things off on Tuesday, China added to it by a tweak to the way they managed the Yuan and then remarks about reducing their Treasury holdings (subsequently denied) turbo charged it and then just as things were reversing, along came a surprisingly hawkish set of ECB minutes as the baton got passed from Treasuries to European bonds as to the epicentre of the sell-off. If that wasn't enough today we have US CPI which should be the focal monthly US release this year. DB are in line with consensus with +0.1% mom headline (+2.1% yoy) and +0.2% mom/+1.7% yoy (unchanged) core expected. As a reminder our economists think US inflation will pick up more meaningfully from Q2 onwards.

In a week of surprises is there one last sting in the tail though? Ahead of this, and the start of US bank earnings today, the minutes from the December ECB meeting showed that there was a “widely shared” view amongst ECB  officials that the Governing Council’s communication would need to evolve gradually, without a change in sequencing, if the economy continued to expand and inflation converged towards the Governing Council’s aim. The minutes also showed that “the language pertaining to various dimensions of the monetary policy stance and forward guidance could be revisited early in the coming year (2018)”. The key was "widely shared” view as this indicates that a desire to move policy on was more prevalent than just amongst one or two outlier council members. Our rates strategist Francis Yared noted that the “without a change in sequencing” implies that the first thing to go will be the QE part of forward guidance which means either removing the potential for increase "in size and/or duration" mention in the statement (low hanging fruit) or remove the possibility to extend beyond Sep-18 (more hawkish). Overall this makes the January 25th meeting a little more interesting now.

10 yr bunds which had troughed at 0.512% in the morning session, hit a high of 0.596% in the run up to the end of the session with a late rally leading to a close of 0.579% (+3.9bp). The highest level since the major leg of the rally that began at the start of 2016 is the 0.60% print seen very briefly in July last year. So we were nearly at 2 year highs yesterday. Bunds are finally succumbing to gravity. Elsewhere, Gilts and French OATs also rose 2.2bp and 4.9bp respectively, with similar increases at the 2y part of the curve.

However after Europe closed, a strong US 30 year auction led to decent rally in Treasuries and after hitting an earlier high of 2.5679%, 10 years closed at 2.538% (-2bp). They're at up c1bp in Asia this morning.

In China, the December trade surplus was released this morning and was above market at $54.7bn (vs. $37bn) with imports lower than expected at 4.5% yoy (vs. 15.1%) but exports were broadly in line at 10.9% yoy. This morning in Asia, markets are a mixed. The Hang Seng (+0.48%) and Kospi (+0.25%) are both up modestly, while China’s CSI300 (-0.09%) and Nikkei (-0.31%) are down as we type.

Now recapping other markets performance from yesterday. US bourses rebounded to fresh highs, with the S&P (+0.70%), Dow (+0.81%) and Nasdaq (+0.81%) all closing higher. Within the S&P, gains were mainly led by energy and industrial stocks. European markets broadly weakened, with the Stoxx 600 (-0.34%), CAC (-0.29%) and DAX (-0.59%) all lower, but the FTSE rose 0.19%, led by mining and energy stocks.

Turning to currencies, the US dollar index fell 0.50% while the Euro jumped 0.70% following the hawkish ECB minutes and Sterling also gained 0.23%. Brent crude briefly broke through $70/bbl for the first time in three years, but pared
back gains to close marginally higher at $69.26/bbl. Elsewhere, precious metals strengthened (Gold +0.42%; Silver +0.06%) while other base metals were mixed but little changed (Aluminium -0.36%; Copper -0.82%; Zinc +0.32%).

Away from the markets and onto Fed speak now. The Fed’s Dudley noted three rate hikes in 2018 “doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable sort of starting point” but the final trajectory will depend on how the economy and inflation evolves. In view of the tax cuts and stronger economic momentum in the US, he has lifted his 2018 GDP growth forecast by c0.5ppt to 2.5%-2.75%, with the tax benefits accounting for about 2/3 of the upgrade. Looking further ahead, he noted that the “Fed may have to press harder on the brakes at some point over the next few years”, in part as if labour market tightens much further, it will be harder to slow the economy to a sustainable pace.

Staying in the US, in an interview with President Trump, the WSJ noted Mr Trump reiterated his stance of exiting from the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) if it can’t be reworked in his favour, although he is willing to be “a little bit flexible”. In terms of the Mexican border wall, he said “they (Mexico) can pay for it indirectly through NAFTA”. Elsewhere, Wal-Mart has raised the starting pay for its US workers by c10% to $11/hour, which is expected to cost the retailer c$300m. If other US firms follow through, it may just add to the inflation pressures the market has been largely waiting for.

Back in the UK, the former UK Independence party leader Nigel Farage tweeted “just maybe, we should have a second referendum (on Brexit)”, a view that is echoed by a Labour member of the House of Lords Andrew Adonis who noted “…I agree…bring it on”. That said, PM May has ruled out another vote as it would be a “betrayal” of the 52% voters who had previously voted for Brexit.

Finally, our FX team has recently raised their 2018 EURUSD forecast to 1.30. Yesterday, our European economists wrote a note considering the ramifications for the euro area and in particular ECB policy from a higher Euro. Assuming a gradual, linear appreciation to 1.30 at the end of 2018 and then remaining steady in 2019 and 2020, Our economists estimate that the ECB staff’s annual core HICP inflation forecast profile would face a downwards parallel  shift by 0.1-0.2pp over the period 2018 to 2020. That said, they view the FX-adjusted profile for core inflation as still consistent with their call that the ECB ends QE net purchases by the end of 2018. Core inflation would rise from c1.0% in 2018 to 1.6-1.7% in 2020. Refer to their note for more details.

Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from yesterday. In the US, the core PPI (ex food and energy) was below expectations at -0.1% mom (vs. 0.2%) and 2.3% yoy (vs. 2.5% expected), with the miss mainly due to a decline in the price of volatile trade services. Notably, the healthcare services component was solid, up 0.37% mom, which is the largest increase since 2009. This lifted annual inflation for this component to 1.6% yoy and should be reflected in the PCE healthcare print later on. Elsewhere, the weekly initial jobless claims was above market (261k vs. 245k) while continuing claims was lower than expected (1,867k vs. 1,920k). The Eurozone’s November IP was higher than expected at 1.0% mom (vs. 0.8%) and 3.2% yoy (vs 3.1% expected), which backs up the solid PMIs recently.

Elsewhere, Italy’s November retail sales was also above market at 1.4% yoy (vs 1.2% expected), while the December Bank of France industrial sentiment rose to a fresh seven year high of 110 (vs. 107). In Germany, 2017 GDP growth  was softer than expected at 2.2% (vs. 2.3% expected) but still the strongest annual reading since 2011. Finally, in the BOE’s 4Q credit conditions survey, lenders reported no change in the supply of credit to corporates. The demand for refinancing of mortgages posted the biggest increase for almost a decade, but the supply of unsecured credit to households was reported to have tightened, with a further tightening expected in 1Q.

Looking at the day ahead, Italy’s November IP and the final reading of France and Spain’s December CPI are due. Over in the US, there is the December CPI (core of 0.2% mom and 1.7% expected) and retail sales along with the November business inventories. Onto other events, the Bundesbank’s Weidmann and the Fed’s Rosengren will speak. Elsewhere, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan and Blackrock will release its results.