"A Sea Of Red": Global Stocks Plunge With Tech Shares In Freefall

While there was some nuance in yesterday's pre-open trading, with Asia at least putting up a valiant defense to what would soon become another US rout, this morning the market theme is far simpler: a global sea of red.

Stocks fell across the globe as worries over softening demand for the iPhone prompted a tech stock selloff across the world, while the arrest of car boss Carlos Ghosn pulled Nissan and Renault sharply lower. Even China's recent rally fizzled and the Shanghai composite closed down 2.1% near session lows, signalling that the global slump led by tech shares would deepen Tuesday, adding a new layer of pessimism to markets already anxious over trade. Treasuries advanced and the dollar edged higher.

S&P 500 futures traded near session lows, down 0.6% and tracking a fall in European and Asian shares after renewed weakness in the tech sector pushed Nasdaq futures sharply lower for a second day after Monday's 3% plunge and crippled any hopes for dip buying. News around Apple triggered the latest bout of stock market selling, after the Wall Street Journal reported the consumer tech giant is cutting production for its new iPhones.

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index dropped a fifth day as its technology sector fell 1.3% to the lowest level since February 2017, taking the decline from mid-June peak to 21% and entering a bear market. Not surprisingly, the tech sector was the worst performer on the European benchmark on Tuesday, following Apple’s decline to near bear-market territory and U.S. tech stocks plunge during recent sell-off. The selloff was compounded by an auto sector drop led by Nissan and Renault after Ghosn, chairman of both carmakers, was arrested in Japan for alleged financial misconduct. The European auto sector was not far behind, dropping 1.6 percent, and the broad European STOXX 600 index was down 0.9 percent to a four-week low.

“Most of Europe had a red session yesterday and that has been compounded by the news on Apple and tech stocks overnight, The overall climate is risk off,” said Investec economist Philip Shaw. “Beyond stocks, the Italian bonds spread (over German bonds) is at its widest in about a month now, and Brexit continues to rumble on - uncertainty is very much hurting risk sentiment,” he added.

Earlier, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.2 percent, with Samsung Electronics falling 2 percent. In Japan, Sony Corp shed 3.1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei slipped 1.1 percent, with shares of Nissan Motor Co tumbling more than 5% after Ghosn’s arrest and on news he will be fired from the board this week.

Meanwhile, as noted yesterday, the CDS index of US investment grade issuers blew out to the widest level since the Trump election, signaling renewed nerves about the asset class.

Exactly two months after the S&P hit all time highs, stocks have been caught in a vicious decline and continue to struggle for support as some of the technology companies that helped drive the S&P 500 to a record high earlier this year tumbled amid a slowdown in consumer sales and fears over regulation, many of them entering a bear market.

At the same time, a more gloomy macro outlook is emerging, with Goldman chief equity strategist David kostin overnight recommending investors hold more cash even as it reiterated its base case of S&P 3000 in 2019.

Ray Dalio disagreed, and said that investors should expect low returns for a long time after enjoying years of low interest rates from central-bank stimulus.

“The easy days of long, global bull markets where you can invest in a tracker for five basis points -- I say this as an active fund manager -- and watch the thing go up, I think those days are gone,” Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Barclays Bank PLC and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “It’s going to be a move back to value investing, and back to the Warren Buffett-style of investment.”

In the latest Brexit news, UK PM May is reportedly drawing up secret plans to drop the Irish border backstop and win support from angry Brexiteers, while reports added PM May has received agreement from the EU to drop the backstop plan if both sides can agree on alternative arrangements to keep the border open. Meanwhile, Brexiteers reportedly still lack the sufficient number of signatures required to trigger a no-confidence vote against UK PM May, the FT reported. In related news, Brexit rebels reportedly admitted attempts to oust PM May has stalled as Eurosceptic MPs turned on each other. The Telegraph also reported that the confidence vote now appears to be on hold until after Parliament votes in December on Mrs May's Brexit deal.

Sky News reported that the UK government are to publish new analysis before the MPs’ meaningful vote on the Withdrawal Agreement comparing the “costs and benefits” of Brexit. The impact of three scenarios will be measured; no Brexit, no deal, and leaving with the government's draft deal and a free trade agreement.

In rates, Treasuries rose, driving the 10-year yield down to its lowest level since late September, ahead of Thanksgiving Thursday.  Italian government bond yields jumped to one-month high on Tuesday and Italian banking stocks dropped to a two-year low, hurt by risk aversion and concerns over the Italian budget. Euro zone money markets no longer fully price in even a 10 bps rate rise from the European Central Bank in 2019, indicating growing investor concern about the economic outlook in the currency bloc.

In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index whipsawed in early London trading even as it stayed near a more than one-week low on concern cooling global growth will slow the pace of Fed rate hikes, keeping Treasury yields under pressure. At the same time, the pound stabilized as Theresa May appealed to business leaders to help deliver her Brexit deal, and evidence mounted that a plot to oust her as U.K. Prime Minister is faltering.

The euro slid as Italian bonds dropped, pushing the yield spread to Germany to the widest in a month; the currency had opened the London session higher, supported by corporate buying in EUR/GBP. The yen rallied to a month-to-date high as Asian stocks followed a U.S. equity slide while the New Zealand dollar got a boost from a jump in milk production; the Aussie was on the back foot even after the RBA said Australia’s unemployment rate could fall further in the near term. India’s rupee rallied a sixth day after the central bank signaled a compromise with the government in their dispute over reserves.

Bitcoin extended its drop below $4,500 for the first time since October 2017.

WTI crude oil futures hovered around $57 a barrel after oil prices lost steam as fears about slower global demand and a surge in U.S. production outweighed expected supply cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Brent crude slipped 0.9 percent to $66.21 per barrel.

In other overnight news, BoJ Governor Kuroda said there is currently no need to ease further, while he added that there was a need for bold monetary policy in 2013 and now we need to persistently continue with policy. Furthermore, Kuroda suggested that the chance of reaching the 2% inflation target during FY2020 is low. Japanese PM Abe says the next initial budget is to have measures to address sales tax.

India's Finance Ministry sources expect that the RBI will stand pat on rates at its meeting next month.

RBA Governor Lowe states that steady policy is to be maintained for 'a while yet' and it is likely that rates will increase at some point if the economy progresses as expected.

Expected data include housing starts and building permits. Best Buy, Campbell Soup, Lowe’s, Medtronic, Target, TJX, and Gap are among companies reporting earnings.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.8% to 2,676.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 353.25
  • MXAP down 1% to 150.89
  • MXAPJ down 1.2% to 481.70
  • Nikkei down 1.1% to 21,583.12
  • Topix down 0.7% to 1,625.67
  • Hang Seng Index down 2% to 25,840.34
  • Shanghai Composite down 2.1% to 2,645.85
  • Sensex down 0.8% to 35,498.94
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.4% to 5,671.79
  • Kospi down 0.9% to 2,082.58
  • German 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 0.359%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1433
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 10.4 bps to 3.223%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.3 bps to 1.653%
  • Brent futures down 0.8% to $66.23/bbl
  • Gold spot little changed at $1,223.14
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.1% to 96.29

Top Overnight News

  • Bank of England governor Carney appears before lawmakers on Tuesday. He’ll be joined by fellow interest-rate setters Jon Cunliffe, Andy Haldane and Michael Saunders. Treasury Committee Chair Nicky Morgan has already asked the BOE to assess any agreement
  • While Salvini is threatening to hijack the EU agenda as the dispute over Italy’s 2019 budget heats up, his closest adviser is trying to steer the populist coalition away from a head-on clash with Brussels, according to senior government and League officials who asked not to be named discussing confidential matters
  • Credit markets are set for the worst year since the global financial crisis as investors abandon hope of a late-2018 rally
  • Turmoil engulfed cryptocurrency markets again on Tuesday, with every major coin extending a rout that’s rocking confidence in the nascent asset class. Bitcoin, which started the year at more than $14,000, has fallen below $4,500. Rivals including Ether, Litecoin and XRP joined the slide, though they pared losses that reached as much as 17 percent
  • Evidence is mounting that the plot to oust U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is faltering. One rebel leader said in private that more than 50 Tories had claimed they would submit letter but they hadn’t all followed through
  • Germany and France have warned the EU to do more to prevent the U.K. from being able to claim victory in Brexit talks, according to EU diplomats. Spain’s Foreign Minister said the EU shouldn’t accept a text on a Brexit agreement that Spain isn’t happy with
  • U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he wants to keep a second Brexit referendum open as an option
  • Australia’s unemployment rate may fall further in the near term based on leading indicators of labor demand, the central bank said in minutes of its November meeting
  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda says he welcomes a diversity of opinion on the effectiveness of negative rates. He also said he believes continuing current policy is best approach for achieving the central bank’s inflation target

Asian stock markets were lower across the board as the risk averse tone rolled over from Wall St, where the tech sector led the sell-off as Apple shares dropped nearly 4% on reports it had reduced production orders and with all FAANG stocks now in bear market territory. As such, the tech sector underperformed in the ASX 200 (-0.4%) and Nikkei 225 (-1.1%) was also pressured with Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan among the worst hit after their Chairman Ghosn was arrested on financial misconduct allegations. Shanghai Comp. (-2.1%) and Hang Seng (-2.0%) were heavily pressured after the PBoC continued to snub liquidity operations and as China’s blue-chip tech names conformed to the global rout in the sector, while JD.com earnings added to the glum as China’s 2nd largest e-commerce firm posted its weakest revenue growth since turning public. Finally, 10yr JGBs were weaker amid profit taking after futures recently hit their highest in around a year and following mixed results at today’s 20yr auction.

Top Asian News

  • BlackRock Doesn’t Expect Significant Growth Slowdown in China
  • China Stocks Lead Global Losses as Tech Rout Hits Fragile Market
  • Stock Traders in Asia Keep Finding New Reasons to Hit ’Sell’
  • World’s Largest Ikea to Open in Manila as Company Bets on Asia

Major European indices are largely in the red, with the SMI outperforming (+0.1%) which is being bolstered by Novartis (+1.0%) following their announcement of a joint digital treatment with Pear Therapeutics for substance abuse disorder. The DAX (-0.7%) is lagging its peers, weighed on by Wirecard (-5.0%) following a disappointing change to guidance forecasting as well as weak sentiment across IT names after the FAANG stocks entered bear market territory on Wall St. In particular, the Stoxx 600 Technology sector (-1.9%), dropped to its lowest level since Feb 2017. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank (-2.5%) are in the red due to reports that the Co processed payments for Danske Bank in Estonia.

Top European News

  • Draghi’s Man in Rome Shows Populists Alert to Budget Backlash
  • BASF Targets $2.3 Billion Profit Boost From Corporate Revamp
  • Danske Fights Back as Hush Money Claims Raise New Questions
  • The One Thing Supercharging Europe Earnings in 2018 Is Crashing
  • As Things Stand, Spain Will Vote Against Brexit Deal: Sanchez

In FX, the DXY index remains technically prone to further downside pressure having closed below another Fib support level yesterday and testing the next bearish chart area around 96.050-10 ahead of 96.000 even. However, a more concerted bout of risk-off trade/positioning saved the DXY and broad Dollar from steeper declines as the tech-induced sell-off in stocks intensified, and jitters over Brexit alongside the Italian budget returned to the fore.

NZD/AUD - The Kiwi is bucking the overall trend and outperforming in contrast to this time on Monday, with Nzd/Usd rebounding firmly to 0.6850+ levels and Aud/Nzd retreating through 1.0650 to just south of 1.0600 following overnight data showing a hefty 6.5% y/y rise in NZ milk collections for October. Conversely, the Aud/Usd has slipped back under 0.7300 again, and close to 0.7250 in wake of RBA minutes underscoring no rush to hike rates and subsequent affirmation of wait-and-see guidance from Governor Lowe. In fact, he asserts that the jobless rate could decline to 4.5% vs 5% at present without inducing wage inflation, while also underlining concerns about the supply of credit.

JPY/CHF - Both benefiting from their more intrinsic allure during periods of pronounced risk aversion and investor angst, as Usd/Jpy probes a bit deeper below 112.50 and a key Fib at 112.46 that could be pivotal on a closing basis with potential to expose daily chart support circa 112.16 ahead of 112.00. Meanwhile, the Franc has inched closer to 0.9900 and over 1.1350 vs the Eur that remains burdened with the aforementioned Italian fiscal concerns.

GBP/EUR - Almost a case of déjà vu for Sterling and the single currency as early attempts to the upside vs the Greenback saw Cable and Eur/Usd revisit recent peaks around 1.2880 and 1.1470 respectively, but a combination of chart resistance and bearish fundamentals forced both back down to circa 1.2825 and 1.1425. In terms of precise technical/psychological levels, 1.2897 and 1.1445 represent Fib retracements, ahead of 1.2900 and 1.1500, while the Pound has remained relatively unchanged and unresponsive to largely on the fence pending Brexit rhetoric from the BoE in testimony to the TSC on November’s QIR.

In commodities, gold has stayed within a USD 5/oz range and traded relatively flat throughout the session moving with the steady dollar ahead of US Thanksgiving. Similarly, copper traded lacklustre breaking a 5-day rally because of a subdued risk sentiment stemming from ongoing US-China trade tensions; with Shanghai rebar adversely affected from these factors. Brent (-0.1%) and WTI (+0.2%) are following a relatively quiet overnight session, while recent upticks in the complex resulted in WTI reclaiming the USD 57/bbl and Brent edging closer to USD 67/bbl. This follows comments from IEA Chief Birol that Iranian oil exports declined by almost 1mln BPD from summer peaks. Looking ahead, traders will be keeping the weekly API crude inventory data which is expected to print a build of 8.79mln barrels.

On today's light data calendar, in the US, there should be some interest in the October housing starts and building permits data, especially following Fed Chair Powell’s recent comments acknowledging a slowdown in the housing market and yesterday’s homebuilder data. Away from that, the BoE’s Carney is due to appear before the Parliament’s Treasury Committee to discuss the Inflation Report, while the ECB’s Nouy and Bundesbank’s Weidmann are both scheduled to speak at separate events.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Housing Starts, est. 1.23m, prior 1.2m; MoM, est. 1.79%, prior -5.3%
  • 8:30am: Building Permits, est. 1.26m, prior 1.24m; MoM, est. -0.79%, prior -0.6%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

With the sell-off of the last 24 hours we have now traded through the last of our YE 2018 top level credit spread forecasts as US HY widened 6bps to +424bps (YE 2018 forecast was 420). We still think US HY is the most expensive part of the EUR & US credit universe but as discussed above, last night we’ve become more optimistic on all credit in the near-term after what has been the worst week of the year. Credit massively under-performed equities last week but equities caught up on the downside yesterday.  The sell-off was underpinned by the FANG names selling off, an accounting scandal emerging at Nissan, oil swinging around and the US housing market spooked by weak data.

Just on the market moves first, the NASDAQ and NYFANG indexes slumped -3.03% and -4.28% yesterday, registering their fourth and third worst days of the year, respectively. Facebook and Apple fell -5.72% and -3.96% respectively, as the sector remains pressured amid a slew of negative PR and the spectre of stricter government regulation. Over the weekend, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview that “the free market is not working” and that new regulation is “inevitable”. This negatively impacted highly-valued social media companies. Twitter and Snapchat traded down -5.02% and -6.78% respectively. The tech sector was further pressured after the WSJ reported that Apple had cut production orders in recent weeks for the new model iPhones, with chipmakers broadly trading lower and Philadelphia semiconductor index shedding -3.86%. The S&P 500 and DOW also slumped -1.66% and -1.56% respectively while in Europe the STOXX 600 turned an early gain of +0.71% into a loss of -0.73%. In credit, cash markets were 2bps and 11bps wider for Euro IG and HY and 2bps and 6bps in the US. CDX IG and HY were, however, 3bps and 11bps wider, respectively. Elsewhere, WTI oil first tested breaking through $55/bbl yesterday, after Russia stopped short of committing to supply cuts, before recovering to close +0.52% at $56.76.

Bond markets were relatively quiet, with Treasuries and Bunds ending -0.4bps and +0.6bps, respectively, albeit masking bigger intraday moves. BTP yields rose +10.6bps to 3.597%, within 10 basis points of their recent closing peak, as rhetoric between Italian officials and their European peers continued to intensify. Finance Ministers from Austria and the Netherlands separately spoke publicly about their concerns, and expressed their hope that the European Commission will loyally enforce the fiscal rules. Italian Finance Minister Tria tried to calm conditions by framing the disagreement as relatively minor, though he also accused the Commission of being biased against expansionary policies, which he argued are needed to avert a macro slowdown.

Back to credit, as we highlighted yesterday, the recent weakness in the asset class has become a talking point for broader markets and while our view is now that value is starting to emerge, there are an increasing number of idiosyncratic stories plaguing the market. There were a couple more examples yesterday with the aforementioned story about Nissan removing its chairman after being arrested for violations of financial law. This caused Renault’s CDS to widen +25.0bps (equity down -8.43%), while Vallourec bonds dropped 15pts after falling 11pts on Friday as concerns mount about the company’s rising leverage in the wake of recent results. Like we’ve see in equity markets, it does feel like credits are now getting punished with sharp moves in the wake of  negative headlines Certainly something to watch, but as we said above, credit is now much more attractively priced than it has been for some time.

From steel tubing to Downing Street, where we’ve actually had a rare temporary lull for Brexit headlines over the last 24 hours, although behind the scenes it does look we’re getting closer to the threshold for a confidence vote in PM May with the Times yesterday reporting that “senior Brexiteers” had told reporters that they had “firm pledges” from over 50 MPs to submit letters. As a reminder, 48 are needed to trigger the process. Looking further out, yesterday DB’s Oliver Harvey published a report arguing that there is still a path towards an orderly Brexit based on the existing Withdrawal Agreement should May survive a confidence vote. This path is provided by the political declaration on the future economic relationship. The latter has yet to be negotiated, and as the EU27 and UK recognise in the joint statement, the existing temporary customs arrangement (TCA) already provides a basis for a future economic relationship. Oli argues that the UK should push for the political declaration on the future relationship to explicitly commit the UK to a form of Brexit that might be described as “Norway plus.” The temporary customs arrangement would become permanent, but under the governance framework of UK membership of the EEA and EFT. The UK should tie the political declaration on the future relationship to the good faith clause in the existing Withdrawal Agreement, meaning that if negotiations were not pursued on these lines after the transition period had begun, the UK could withhold payments from the EU27. This would help to allay concerns from across the political divide that the UK would be “trapped” in a sub optimal customs union with the EU27.

Meanwhile, to complicate matters, Bloomberg has reported that the EU is mulling over issuing a series of separate statements on Brexit on Sunday, in addition to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration. This comes after pressure from some EU countries not to appease any additional UK demands. Elsewhere, the SUN has reported that the PM May has drawn up a secret plan to scrap the Irish backstop arrangement in an attempt to win over angry Tory Brexiteers after a meeting with them yesterday. However, if a mutually agreeable solution couldn’t be found over the last couple of years, it seems tough to imagine one was finally found yesterday afternoon. We’ll see.

Further adding to the complexity of where Brexit heads, last night the DUP abstained on the UK finance bill, which implements the budget. This stops short of their prior threat to actively vote against the legislation, but is still a surprise and signals that further political turbulence between PM May and the DUP is likely. The bill only just scraped through. Sterling finished +0.14% yesterday and this morning is trading flattish (+0.02%) in early trade.

Sentiment more broadly in Asia is following Wall Street’s lead with almost all markets trading in a sea of red. The Nikkei (-1.25%, with Nissan Motors down as much as -5.41% and Mitsubishi Motors -6.71%), Hang Seng (-1.84%), Shanghai Comp (-1.63%) and Kospi (-0.96%) are all down along with most other markets. Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (-0.29%) are extending losses as we type.

Back to yesterday, where as we mentioned at the top, weak US homebuilder sentiment survey data played its part in the moves for markets. The November NAHB housing market index tumbled to 60 from 68 in October after expectations had been for just a 1pt drop. That’s the lowest reading since August 2016 and biggest one-month drop since February 2014. The details weren’t much better and falls into line with the expectation of a softer outlook for housing. As you’ll see in the day ahead we’ve got more housing data in the US today so worth keeping an eye on even if the October data for starts could be distorted by Hurricane Michael.

As far as the day ahead is concerned, we’re fairly light on data today with Q3 employment stats in France, October PPI in Germany and November CBI total orders data in the UK the only releases of note. In the US, there should be some interest in the October housing starts and building permits data, especially following Fed Chair Powell’s recent comments acknowledging a slowdown in the housing market and yesterday’s homebuilder data. Away from that, the BoE’s Carney is due to appear before the Parliament’s Treasury Committee to discuss the Inflation Report, while the ECB’s Nouy and Bundesbank’s Weidmann are both scheduled to speak at separate events.