Fed Rhetoric to Dictate Dollar Direction

Friday February 23: Five things the markets are talking about

Ahead of the U.S open, Euro equities are struggling for direction after a positive Asian session as the market debates the outlook for central banks ‘normalizing’ their policies.

Euro bonds have gained along with Treasuries, while the dollar steadies after yesterday’s drop.

With no U.S data on the docket today, the market will shift its attention towards a plethora of Fed speakers doing the rounds.

First up will be New York Fed Chief, William Dudley, who kicks off proceedings at 10:00 am EDT as he addresses the “Monetary Policy Forum” in Chicago.

Note: Dudley is making his final rounds of appearances before his retirement.

Appearing at the same conference shall be Boston Fed President Rosengren, who is one of the Fed’s more “dovish” members, but who is not a “voter” this year.

Ms. Mester, the President of the Cleveland Fed, will be speaking at the same conference this afternoon at 1:00 PM EDT. She is a “voter” this year and a “hawk.”

Finally, Mr. Williams, the President of the San Francisco Fed, a “voter” on the FOMC this year and generally considered a “moderate,” will be speaking to a group on the west coast on the economy and monetary policy at 03:40 pm EDT.

1. Stocks gain in thin trading

In Japan, stocks rallied in light trade as receding fears of more aggressive U.S interest rate hikes boosted sentiment. The benchmark Nikkei ended +0.7% higher. For the week, it was up +0.8%.The broader Topix gained +0.8%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed +0.8% higher to cap its best week since Oct. In S. Korea, the Kospi had its best day since Oct. 10 rising +1.5%.

In Hong Kong, stocks rose overnight, capping a holiday-shortened trading week, as main indexes managed to recover much of the damage done during the recent rout. The Hang Seng index rose +1.0%, while the China Enterprises Index gained +1.7%.

In China, shares extended their rebound overnight, on sign’s that the Chinese government is once again supporting the stock market. The blue-chip CSI300 index ended up +0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index gained +0.6% in a holiday-shortened week. Both indexes have rebounded over +7% from a low print on Feb. 9.

Note: One of China’s largest insurance companies, Anbang Insurance Group, was seized as it violated laws and regulations that could seriously endanger the solvency of the company.

In Europe, regional indices trade mixed this morning with strength in the Italian MIB offset by weakness in the Spanish Ibex and FTSE.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.3%).

Indices: Stoxx600 flat at 380.4, FTSE -0.2% at 7238, DAX +0.1% at 12470, CAC-40 flat at 5310, IBEX-35 -0.2% at 9858, FTSE MIB +0.4% at 22541, SMI -0.6% at 8917, S&P 500 Futures +0.3%

2. Crude oil prices rally, gold little changed

Crude oil prices remain better bid and range bound following the release of this week’s EIA inventory report, which showed a somewhat surprising decline in crude oil inventories on the order of -2.3m barrels compared to the average increase of +3.4m barrels in the previous five-years.

U.S oil production last week was steady at +10.27m bpd, a record level, while crude exports jumped to more than +2m bpd, close to a record +2.1m hit in October.

Crude bulls are beginning to ask if the “bull” rally could fade away as the U.S. oil production undermines the OPEC production cut commitments.

Note: The decline in crude inventories was particularly acute in Cushing. U.S oil refineries averaged approximately +15.8m bpd during the week ending February 16 or about -330k fewer bpd than last week previous.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices are little changed, but the ‘yellow metal’ remains on track for its sharpest weekly drop in nearly three-months. Spot gold is down -0.1% at +$1,329.16 an ounce.

Note: Prices gained +0.6% Thursday, their biggest one-day percentage rise since Feb. 14. The precious metal remains on track for its biggest weekly fall since the week ended Dec. 8, 2017.

3. Sovereign yields fall

Capital markets remains somewhat sceptical that the recent streak of data on wage growth, consumer prices and producer prices points to a rapid acceleration in inflation on either side of the Atlantic.

Data this morning from the Eurozone showed that consumer price growth slowed slightly last month (see below), but the core-measure edged a tad higher for the first time in months.

The ten-year U.S yield has eased, but remains atop of their 2014 high print, while those on German bunds dropped to the lowest since early January.

The yield on 10-year Treasuries decreased -2 bps to +2.90%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has fallen -2 bps to +0.70%, the lowest in four weeks. In the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has declined -2 bps to +1.546%. In Japan, 10-year JGB’s yield has dipped less than -1 bps to +0.05%, the lowest in more than seven-weeks.

4. Dollar on the back foot

The U.S dollar is modestly weaker as the market is apparently ready to accept as a given that the Fed shall move at least three times this year to tighten monetary policy and to raise the overnight fed funds rate. The only question is whether the Fed shall move for a fourth time and by how much?

For the ‘single’ unit, it’s not only next weekend’s Italian general election (Mar 4) that poses a risk to the EUR (€1.2313), but also Sunday week is the same date that Germany’s SPD party members will vote on the proposed CDU/SPD coalition. The market is currently pricing in a +40-50% chance of a rejection, a result that could see Chancellor Angela Merkel step down.

Elsewhere, the pound (£1.3950) has edged a tad higher after U.K’s PM Theresa May won the backing of her divided Brexit “war cabinet” to ask for an ambitious trade deal with the E.U.

The SEK (€10.0388) is a tad softer outright as the market felt that the Riksbank Feb minutes this morning were on the softer side with concerns lingering over inflation and the exchange rate given the recent negative surprise with Jan CPI data.

5. Eurozone Jan CPI unrevised, but still a distance from target

Eurostat said consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the ‘single unit’ fell -0.9% m/m in January for a +1.3% y/y increase.

Ex-food and energy, or core-inflation, fell -1.3% m/m and rallied +1.2% y/y, accelerating from +1.1% in the previous three months.

An even broader measure of core inflation, which in addition excludes alcohol and tobacco prices, also increased to +1.0% y/y in January from +0.9% in the previous three-months.

Forex heatmap

24 hours of reconciliation

24 hours of reconciliation
It took all of 24 hours for the results of the rationality test to kick in after traders took time to the read the minutes from Wednesday. Not a heck of a lot has changed in the Feds view. The minutes were far more balanced than the equity market sell-off suggested. The discussions about their inflation target being symmetric indicate that the Feds are less concerned about the updraft from inflationary pressures than current market pricing. Overall there were few if any significant hawkish shift and traders have started to nimbly re-engage the US dollar downside not waiting until Powell’s key Humphrey Hawkins testimony which should clear up more than a few policy concerns.

The Feds will raise interest rates in March on the back of two strong inflation prints post-January meeting, but the market remains comfortably parked in the three rate hike camp for 2018.
This new Fed Chair will be as data dependent as his predecessor so, in reality, no one knows for sure what the Feds will do other than hike somewhere between two and four times in 2018.

Bond Markets

The bond markets continue to trade from a bear market bias, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon given the burdening supply issues which are compounded as the Feds delicately and gingerly pull back on QE largess.

Stock Markets
US equity market rebounded as concerns over rising US interest rates abate. If you were confused by Wednesday 50 pips downside adventure on the S&P post-FOMC minutes, you were not alone. However, until the dust is settled on the Fed policy debate, we should expect more back and forth ahead of Jerome Powells Humphrey Hawkins testimony.
Oil markets

Oil market bid was boosted by DoE inventories which saw a draw of -1.616 million barrels which far better than consensus and more profound than the -.9mn print by the API. While the market continues to communicate concern over rising levels of shale production, this bullish inventory data coupled with a slightly softer USD profile, it’s easy to see why oil prices are finding fresh session highs going into the NY close.
Gold Markets

Gold continues to act as less of a haven hedge and more as a proxy for USD sentiment. Given the greenback is trading within a restricted range as the stage is getting prepared for new Chair Jerome Powell, gold will remain supported by the $ 1324-25 levels given the markets ubiquitous bias to sell the USD.  But the topside should also stay in check as most traders will opt to only aggressively re-engage in  USD downside after Powell clears the policy airwaves in his Humphrey Hawkins testimony.

The Japanese Yen

No need to jump the gun, today’s CPI data will be a crucial driver in JPY sentiment. Post data comments to follow.

The Euro
Fact of fiction, the Euro remains a point of contention, but topside conviction remains low ahead of the Italian election compounded by softer EU economic data.

The Malaysian Ringgit 

The USDMYR landscape is a bit muddled, and this air of uncertainty could extend, more so if opinion on the soft dollar narrative become less reliable. Rising US interest rates and the markets growing sensitivity to local economic data presents some near-term challenges for the Ringgit. Ultimately we believe that US rates are in the process of topping but until we get a definitive signal from the New Fed chair, hopefully, next week, we should expect offshore flows to remain light in the short run.

None the less the Ringgit is getting support from higher oil prices and given we are far removed from the USDJMYR 4.0 danger zone, longer-term investors should continue to look for opportunistic levels to re-engage long MYR posting

The Chinese Yaun

Markets in China return from a week-long holiday only to discover the US has initiated another anti-dumping probe.. This time for rubber bands. Certainly sounds more bark than the bit, but non the less trade war discussion is picking up.

Continue to favour a constructive view on the Yuan given the markets negative USD bias. But he RMB complex will most certainly benefit from expected bond inflows which should accelerate as we move through 2018.

Confusion reigns

Confusion reigns

In a market starved for significant news, the FOMC minutes provided just enough talking points to keep the dollar bid as US bond yields nudged towards crucial resistance levels.However, the Feds assortment of views on wage growth suggests the FOMC remains pliable during the transition phase from Yellen to Powell. In other words, the Feds stay in wait and see mode regarding inflation.

Of course, the market latched on to the dovish stuff as traders were partial to sell the dollar, but as is so often the case when interpreting the Feds exercise in verbal gymnastics, the market got it wrong. The FOMC minutes were eventually deemed slightly more hawkish after suggesting economic growth will surpass their estimates which caused STIRT traders to nudge rate hike expectations higher through 2018  and providing a bump to dollar sentiment. But given the lack of follow-through, the jury remains out.

The exciting part of the equation today will be the return of China investors which should provide a spark to regional sentiment. But the jury is out on the currency markets and in particular USDJPY which remains the primary vehicle to express currency sentiment.

So there lies the debate,  interest rate hawks preach the FOMC had not seen last week’s sharp inflation report while the doves suggest a need for a string of convincing inflation prints before moving to the four rate hike camp.

Bond Markets

The bond market is confused, but as my first boss on the BondDesk was always quick to remind me, when in doubt Sell.
Oil prices

Tumbling oil prices got a reprieve at the end of the day after American Petroleum Institute data showed a drop of 0.907 million barrels in US crude inventories. Given all the noise about a shale production ramp, Traders were expecting an increase in the warehouse when in reality improved pipeline infrastructure to the Gulf coast and the decreased supply via TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline, sent Cushing inventories tumbling.But the firming dollar continues to thwart investor sentiment despite the bullish inventory data.  By no means is the dollar returning to form so this upbeat inventory data could have some legs.

Gold Prices

It was a  meltdown in Gold markets overnight, and I’m not talking about scrap prices. But in reality, this should provide Gold investors with another opportunity to re-engage as the Fed fell well short of confirming a 4th rate hike in 2018. The minutes were more balanced in my view as the recent uptick in volatility will have as much bearing on Fed policy decision as the subtle rise in inflation.

G-10

The Euro

Disappointing price action from the long perspective continues to weigh on sentiment; bullish views continue to be challenged ahead of the Italian elections, as near-term convictions turn neutral to slightly bearish

The Japanese Yen

There remain substantial offers between 107.50-108 levels that are providing a cap on USDJPY, but Traders remains exceptionally cautious in either direction despite increasing signals for a structural demise in USD sentiment.While fiscal stimulus looks good on paper, we’re entering uncharted territory as the Fed pares back bond purchases while the Treasury issues absurd amounts of debt.
Malaysian Ringgit

We should anticipate more liquidity coming back to the market as mainland investor return. While we’re nowhere near a make or break scenario for the Ringgit, short-term sentiment remains tarnished by an unexpectedly faster rise in US bond yields. While this is mildly negative for local opinion, the main issue is investors are growing increasingly concerned about a quicker pace of interest rate normalisation from the Fed which could trigger regional capital outflow.

The FOMC minutes served up little more than a plate of confusion last night, so I expect G-10 along with Asia FX to remain in a state of limbo until Fed Chair Powell takes the podium later this month.

Higher Yields Pushing Dollar Up

Tuesday February 20: Five-things the markets are talking about

Overnight, global stock indexes have declined along with U.S futures, while the ‘big’ dollar has rallied a tad as U.S Treasury yields back up towards their four-year highs.

No central bank meetings are scheduled for this week although minutes from the latest FOMC (Wed) and the ECB meetings (Thurs.) will be published.

Note: Given the forthcoming March FOMC meeting (March 20 -21) when markets expect another +25 bps increase, dealers will be looking for signs that the majority of the committee is aligned for the increase. They also will be looking to see how the FOMC’s views on inflation have evolved.

In the U.K, there will be two major releases – the labor market report (Wed) and the second estimate of Q4 GDP (Thurs.) Elsewhere, Canada will post December retail sales (Thurs.) and consumer prices for January (Fri).

With little to no economic U.S data on tap, the markets focus now turns to the U.S Treasury department, which opens its auction floodgates beginning with today’s record supply of +$151B of three- and six- month bills (Total new debt supply is +$258B this week).

The U.S debt sales should provide a better market understanding of how steep yields can back up in the short-term.

Note: Fed policy makers speaking this week include NY Fed President Dudley and Atlanta Fed President Bostic and Cleveland Fed President Mester is among speakers at the U.S Monetary Policy Forum in NY.

1. Global stocks see ‘red’

Asian equities took their cue from Monday’s European bourse direction as U.S stocks and Treasuries took a break for the Presidents’ Day holiday.

In Japan, the Nikkei fell -1%, surrendering some of its early-week rise thanks to weakness in its electronics and banking sectors. Selling came despite a slip in the yen outright (¥107.10). The Topix fell -0.7%.

Down-under, the Aussie’s S&P/ASX 200 ended flat. In S. Korea, the Kospi fell -1.1%, dragged lower by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which dropped another -2% after falling -1.3% on Monday.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index pared an early slide, down -0.2%, on its first full day of trading in nearly a week. The main benchmark in Singapore fell -0.2%; while Indian’s Sensex was last up +0.4%.

Note: With Chinese and Taiwanese markets still closed for the Lunar New Year holiday, investors should be cautioned against reading too much into recent price action due to thin volumes.

In Europe, indices trade mostly higher across the board following the weakness seen yesterday, with the FTSE under performing being weighed on by HSBC and BHP Billiton following results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘red’ (-0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 flat at 378.3, FTSE -0.5% at 7213, DAX -0.1% at 12373, CAC-40 flat at 5257, IBEX-35 +0.2% at 9829, FTSE MIB +0.1% at 22582 , SMI flat at 8907, S&P 500 Futures -0.8%

2. Oil markets mixed, Brent and WTI move in opposite directions

U.S crude prices are still carrying momentum from Friday’s gains due to yesterday’s President Day’s holiday while international Brent prices have eased.

U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$62.31 a barrel, up +63c, or +1% from Friday’s close. Ongoing supply reductions from Canada to the U.S due to pipeline reductions are supporting WTI prices.

Brent crude has eased on the back of a dip in Asian stocks and a stronger dollar. Brent crude futures are at +$65.54 per barrel, down -13c, or -0.2% from yesterday’s close.

Note: Oil markets remain well supported due to supply restraint by the OPEC. Yesterday, OPEC Secretary-General Barkindo said the organization registered a +133% compliance with agreed output reduction targets in January.

However, soaring U.S production is threatening to erode OPEC’s efforts. Last week, the amount of U.S oilrigs drilling for new production rose for a fourth consecutive week to +798.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have slid for a third consecutive session as the ‘mighty’ buck rebounds from its three-year lows, while the market waits Wednesday’s Fed minutes for clues on the outlook for U.S interest rates. Spot gold is down -0.2% at +$1,343.22 an ounce.

3. Sovereign yields trade atop record highs

This is a huge week for bond investors, as the U.S Treasury prepares to sell +$258B worth of new debt, starting with today’s record sale of +$151B of three- and six- month bills. These debt sales should provide a better understanding of how steep U.S yields could back up in the short-term.

After building up a record “short” position in U.S 2-year futures and historically large short positions across other maturities, higher volatility this month has seen a sharp reduction in these record shorts over the past week.

The biggest reversal was in two-year product – net short positions were slashed by +76,772 contracts to -133,986.

The U.S 10-year is now at +2.92% ahead of the first trading day this week after yesterday’s holiday.

In Japan, BoJ Governor Kuroda did not discuss monetary policy during an appearance in parliament. Speculation has been swirling about the possibility the BoJ might scale back its stimulus since they reduced their purchases of JGB’s last month.

Down-under, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) reiterated in its minutes of this month’s policy meeting that inflation is expected to “only gradually” accelerate as the economy strengthens and wage pressures increase.

4. Dollar gains against most G7 pairs

Ahead of the U.S open, the U.S dollar has seen some steady gains outright versus G7 currency pairs, aside from sterling. The gains are reflective of U.S yields pushing a tad higher.

Sterling has jumped from its overnight low of £1.3934, to again trade north of the psychological £1.4000 handle on news that the European Parliament is putting a document together outlining its desire for an “association agreement” with post-Brexit Britain. This is a break from the position of the chief E.U negotiator Barnier and could allow Britain to retain “privileged” access to the single market.

5. German ZEW Survey moves off from record highs

Germany’s ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment recorded a decrease of 2.6 points this month and currently stands at 17.8 points.

The indicator remains slightly below the long-term average of 23.7 points. The assessment of the current economic situation in Germany decreased by 2.9 points, with the corresponding indicator currently standing at 92.3 points.

Comments from ZEW President Wambach: “The latest survey results continue to show a positive outlook for the German economy. The assessment of the current economic situation is still on a very high level and the economy is expected to improve in the coming six months. Economic growth in Germany is substantially driven by the very good development of both the global economy and private consumption. Inflation expectations for Germany and the Eurozone have also started to increase.”

Forex heatmap

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

US Bond Auction TIPS the dollar

A dismal US 30year TIPS auction is weighing on dollar demand as the sagging bid to cover ratio of 2.31 is signalling dwindling investor appetite as inflationary headwinds build. The dollar is lower because no one wants to own US bonds despite the higher yield, knowing the inflationary headwinds will push yields higher and bond prices lower

The market remains nonplussed by the breakdown of FX /Interest rate correlations and while the debate still rages concerning Wednesday dollar sell-off. I think its time to throw textbook economics out the window as well as the so-called interest rate pivot point. G-10 yield differentials are so tiny that traders could care less about differentials as they become increasingly focused on the future outlook of the expanding US deficits and in particular the budget deficit

Another hot inflation reading as PPI showed a substantial gain but provided no bounce to the buck. When real money is taking the dollar to the woodshed and reluctant to own greenbacks in anyway shape or form, it matters little what the Feds are doing or yields for that matter. And by all indications, we could be in the early stages of protracted dollar sell-off.
Equity Markets

Equity investors are in a happy spot as US stock markets carved out their fifth consecutive day of gains. Despite a midday swoon, markets roared back as investors view the uptick in inflation as non-threatening and remain in buy on dip mode as last weeks equity meltdown looks more and more like an illogical outlier than ever.

Oil Markets

After the decent bounce on the back weaker dollar and Khalid al-Falih suggesting no imminent demise of OPEC and non-member compliance. Not unexpected the markets are becoming a bit more position sensitive heading into the weekend. The weaker US dollar has been a significant component driving market sentiment, and with the dollar entering oversold territory at weeks end, we could see short dollar position pared which could negatively impact interday oil prices.

Frankly giving the evolving vital narratives surrounding OPEC compliance vs Shale output I expect the WTI whipsaw to be as active next week as it was this week. But given the overly bearish outlook for the greenback, we may have printed a short-term floor and dips will remain supported.

Gold Markets

There was very little follow through on the much hotter than expected US PPI print which convinced investors to book some profits after gold rallied hard the previous session. A while the weaker USD is underpinning gold prices, the short dollar speculators a bit overextend suggesting the market could pare back US short dollar risk which may temper topside expectations for Gold prices today. Medium-term bullish conviction remains intact given the higher US inflation profile and weaker USD narrative.

Crypto Markets

Bitcoin buyers were back en masse chasing the dream as the fear of missing ( FOMO)out propelled BTC above 10,000. It appears the recent wave or regulatory worries have been tempered as the massive South Korean market could roar back to life as rumours are circulating that Seoul is looking at licencing several exchanges adding a level of credibility and shoring up severely dented investor confidence.
Currency Markets

The Japanese Yen

Talking about FOMO, is there anyone who is not short USDJPY? Of course, “the crowded trade theory” did cross my mind overnight, for second or two, as USDJPY powered back to 106.80 overnight on the Wakatabe headline, before pressing the sell button again. Dovish or not the market cares little about centeral bank policy these days while looking for any and all opportunities to hammer the dollar mercilessly. With very little chance of intervention at these levels, the JPY bulls should continue to have their way near-term.But short-term speculators are a bit stretched so now is not the time to get greedy.Let’s see what fortunes next week brings.

The Euro

It looks like the grind higher is back in fashion, and the upticks have been relentless over the past 24 hours. But unlike the recent test of 1.25 positioning is much lighter so we could punch higher as traders continue moan over not buying the dips to the low 1.22’s

The Malaysian Ringgit

Powerful bullish signals are falling on deaf ears as investors are far and few between due to Chinese Lunar New Year and quite frankly it’s not worth paying the holiday liquidity premiums to put on risk. Very little offshore interest today so expect the market to remain quiet.

Dollar Dives on Confidence, No Support from Fundamentals

Thursday February 15: Five things the markets are talking about

U.S bond yields have backed after an unexpected rise in U.S consumer inflation to its fastest pace in a year – the core’s +1.8% y/y print yesterday was higher than expected, but still below the Fed’s +2% target – making it more likely the Fed will raise interest rates three or more times this year. But, higher U.S rates have not been able to make the U.S dollar more attractive.

The dollar remains under pressure, building on yesterday’s slide in the Euro session, as the market seems to be losing confidence in the long-run state of the U.S economy.

The Dollar Index is down -0.5% and poised to log another three-year low if the decline persists as we head to U.S session open.

Without any new positive U.S demand or supply shocks that could change the landscape for the country’s economy, it’s easy to see the weak dollar story persisting.

For the dollar to rise with Treasury yields, which it has not been doing this year, there needs to be a return in relative confidence over the medium-term U.S.

Also yesterday, January retail sales fell unexpectedly in their biggest drop in 11- months, declining -0.3%, raising new concerns about the U.S economy as a weaker sale print will lead to lower expectations for Q1 GDP growth.

1. Stocks edge higher

The global stock rally is marching ahead as investors take in stride a jump in sovereign yields.

In Japan, the Nikkei posted a solid rise despite a stronger yen (¥106.31). The index ended up +1.5% overnight, after tumbling to a four-month low on Wednesday. The broader Topix advanced +1.0%.

Down-under, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rebounded +1.2% as the stock index’s energy component rallied +2.4% to reverse some of this month’s decline.

In a shortened session ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped +2%. Its rise of +5.4% this week has erased +50% of last week’s decline, its biggest fall in a decade.

Note: China, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam markets were all closed.

In Europe, regional indices continue their ascent higher, tracking another positive session in Asia and on Wall Street yesterday. The French CAC is +1% higher following earnings from a host of Index components. The Swiss SMI is underperforming after Nestle reported mixed results.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘black’ (+0.8%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.9% at 378.0, FTSE +0.7% at 7264, DAX +0.9% at 12455, CAC-40 +1.6% at 5248, IBEX-35 +1.3% at 9808, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 22687, SMI +0.2% at 8924, S&P 500 Futures +0.8%

2. Oil rises on Saudi commitment to withhold output, gold higher

Oil prices have rallied +1% overnight to extend their gains from yesterday’s session, lifted by a weak dollar and Saudi comments that it would rather see an undersupplied market than end a deal with OPEC.

Brent crude futures are at +$64.99 a barrel, up +63c, or +1%, extending Wednesday’s +2.6% climb. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are up +83c, or +1.4%, from Wednesday’s close at +$61.43 a barrel, adding to its +2.4% gain.

Oil markets have got a push from comments by Saudi Arabia, voicing support for output cuts backed by OPEC and other producers including Russia since 2017 in an effort to tighten the market and prop up prices.

OPEC Secretary General Barkindo said that preliminary data for January points to high compliance of cuts by producers.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged a tad higher as the dollar weakens and investors’ bank on the precious metal as a hedge against inflation. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,354.34 an ounce and is heading for a fourth consecutive session of gains.

3. Sovereign yields rise

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries is nudging closer to +3%, continuing its steady advance from last year’s low of +2.01% in September.

Following this weeks U.S inflation data, and the potential implications that it has for the pace of Fed rate increases this year, the market will be closely scrutinize speeches later today by ECB policy makers to see whether the recent market turmoil will convince them to ease off plans to taper their bond purchases.

Note: Fed-fund futures show a +21% chance of at least four interest-rate increases by year-end, compared with +17% earlier this week.

In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield has gained +1 bps to +0.77%, the highest in more than two years on the biggest gain in a week.

4. Dollar dives again

The USD remains on the defensive despite higher U.S yields –the currency is usually highly correlated to short-term rates. Market seems to be reacting to concerns over weak U.S policies and/or diverging central bank policies as both the BoJ and ECB could begin tightening monetary policy.

The EUR/USD (€1.2467) probed the upper end this week’s and year range as the pair re-tested the €1.25 handle. Sterling (£1.4042) is a tad higher initially aided by reports that the E.U Commission was looking to ease the Brexit transition conditions. However, the E.U later refuted the reports. The pound is also finding support not only from the dollar’s weakness, but also a perceived higher probability that the current U.K government will serve its full five-year term.

USD/JPY (¥106.69) continues to trade atop of its 15-month lows as the pair probed below ¥106.20 overnight. Japan’s Finance Minister Aso comments that the yen’s strength is not abrupt enough to require intervention supported the yen’s rally.

In cryptocurrencies, bitcoin (BTC) is moving back toward $10,000, up +6% on the day at +$9,840 – the price had slumped some -70% in the past six weeks.

5. Crisis in the Northern Ireland

U.K PM Theresa May is facing a political crisis in Northern Ireland as the DUP, who are part of the government’s coalition, have stated there was “no prospect” of a power sharing deal and suggested a return to direct rule.

This crisis threatens to throw the Good Friday agreement into jeopardy and would be a significant blow to P.M May’s authority as she attempts to agree to a crucial Brexit deal over the Irish border.

Forex heatmap

Will it be a Valentines Day Massacre for the Dollar?

Wednesday February 14: Five things the markets are talking about

Are financial markets justified going from a growth story to an inflation narrative?

Today’s U.S consumer price index (08:30 am) is being touted as one of the most significant economic releases in a number of years as capital markets seek to understand the recent plunges in global equities and sovereign bonds.

With investors already on edge, they are expected to renew this months convulsion on any sign that U.S inflation is exceeding expectations at a rate that may entice the Fed to quicken its plans for tightening monetary policy.

Already this month, after a stronger U.S non-farm payroll (NFP) print and wage numbers, investors have sent U.S Treasury yields aggressively higher and instigated a rout in equities that pushed them into the first correction in 18-months.

Note: Market expectations are looking for the core-CPI (ex-food and energy) to rise +1.7% in January y/y compared with the +1.8% increase in December. U.S retail sales are also out this morning and are expected to have increased for a fifth consecutive month.

A higher CPI will give the USD strength, lead to higher yields and lower equity prices, but a tepid headline print could cause more of a problem, especially with record short U.S 10-year treasury position and a market focusing on President Trump’s proposed budget and the rise in U.S twin deficits.

Note: Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Dog begin, affecting China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Chinese mainland markets are closed Feb. 15-21.

1. Stocks mixed reaction

In Japan, the Nikkei share average dropped to a fresh four-month low overnight as investor sentiment was again sapped by worries about U.S inflation data due this morning. The Nikkei ended -0.4% lower, its lowest closing since early October. The broader Topix fell -0.8%.

Down-under, the Aussie S&P/ASX 200 index fell -0.3%, following a +0.6% rise on Tuesday. In S. Korea the Kospi closed out the overnight session up +1.1%, helped by a +3% jump in Samsung.

In Hong Kong, shares rebound sharply ahead of Lunar New Year holiday. Trading will resume on Feb 20. At close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up +2.27%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rose +2.14%.

In China, stocks rebounded overnight, but volumes were thin, as many traders had already left for the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese markets will reopen on Feb. 22. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up + 0.46%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up +0.8%.

In Europe, regional indices trade higher across the board following a rebound in Wall Street yesterday and strength in U.S futures this morning.

U.S stocks are set to open in the black (+0.4%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +0.7% at 373.2, FTSE +0.7% at 7216, DAX +0.7% at 12286, CAC-40 +0.6% at 5139, IBEX-35 +0.5% at 9693, FTSE MIB +0.2% at 22071, SMI +0.9% at 8832, S&P 500 Futures -+0.4%

2. Oil dips on looming oversupply and weak U.S dollar, gold higher

Oil prices have dipped overnight, pressured by lingering oversupply including rising U.S inventories. However, the prospect of Saudi output dropping next month, economic growth hopes and a weaker U.S dollar all combined to limit losses.

Brent crude futures are at +$62.68 per barrel, down -4c. Brent was above +$70 a barrel earlier this month. U.S West Texas Intermediate crude futures are at +$59.06 a barrel, down -13c from yesterday’s close. WTI was trading above +$65 in early February.

On Wednesday, the Saudi energy ministry said that Saudi Aramco’s crude output in March would be -100k bpd below this month’s level while exports would be kept below +7m bpd.

Stateside, yesterday’s API report showed that U.S crude inventories rose by +3.9m barrels in the week to Feb. 9, to +422.4m.

Note: That is due to soaring U.S crude production, which has jumped by over +20% since mid-2016 to more than +10m bpd, surpassing that of top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of Russia, the world’s biggest producer.

Oil traders will take their cue from today’s EIA print (10:30 am EDT) and U.S inflation release.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have rallied for a third consecutive session overnight to hit a one-week high, buoyed by a weaker U.S dollar, while the market awaits U.S inflation data for clues on the pace of future Fed rate increases. Spot gold is up +0.3% at +$1,332 an ounce.

3. Sovereign yields little changed

Earlier this morning, Sweden’s Central Bank (Riksbank) kept their repo rate unchanged at -0.5%. Deputy governor Henry Ohlsson voted to raise rates, but the central bank’s signals on inflation were more downbeat. The inflation forecast for this year was downgraded to +1.8% from +2%. The statement indicated that policy makers would start raising the rate in H2 of 2018. Policy makers stressed that was important not to raise the rate too early and was committed to stimulus to prevent inflation setbacks.

Elsewhere, fixed income seeks guidance from today’s U.S CPI release. The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries fell less than -1 bps to +2.83%. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield declined -2 bps to +0.74%, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield dipped -1 bps to +1.618%. In Japan, the 10-year JGB yield decreased -1 bps to +0.07%, the lowest in more than five weeks.

4. Dollar on soft footing

The USD remains on soft footing ahead of key Jan CPI data for the U.S.

The EUR/USD is steady, trading atop of the €1.2350 area after various European GDP data highlighted better economic growth prospects (see below).

USD/JPY tested ¥106.85 overnight for 15-month lows. The pair came off its worst level to approach 107.50 just ahead of the N.Y session after Japanese officials reiterated that they had no comments on forex levels.

In S. Africa, political optimism that President Zuma would resign has sent the ZAR currency to its best level in nearly two-years outright. The South African Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Maimane (opposition) has stated that its motion to dissolve parliament was processed by Speaker. USD/ZAR is at $11.85 ahead of the open stateside.

The Swedish krona has been volatile after the Riksbank interest rate decision. The krona briefly rose soon after the announcement, but has since pared those gains EUR/SEK last trades flat on the day at €9.9163, compared with €9.8952 before the decision.

5. Euro-zone economy ends 2017 on a high note

Note: There were a number of European GDP releases in the Euro session highlighting better economic growth prospects – Germany mixed; Netherlands beat and Italy a miss.

Industry helped drive the euro-zone’s +0.6% expansion in Q4. This morning’s ‘flash’ estimate of Q4 GDP is the second release and confirms that quarterly growth slowed a tad from Q3’s +0.7% to +0.6%.

There is no breakdown until the next release; however, expenditure evidence would suggest that weaker consumer spending growth was the main driver of the slowdown, while investment expanded after Q3’s contraction and net trade again made a positive contribution to growth.

Digging deeper, industry appears to have made a stronger contribution to GDP growth than in Q3. Following the consensus-beating +0.4% monthly rise in IP in December.

Forex heatmap

USD Under Pressure as Traders eye U.S Inflation

Tuesday February 13: Five things the markets are talking about

Euro equities are trading steady despite a late down swing in Asia, as investors wrestle to find direction after this month’s early collapse.

The dollar has weakened against G10 currency pairs while Treasuries have edged a tad higher along with gold. Crude is heading for its first advance in eight sessions.

Investors are looking to tomorrow’s U.S. consumer-price data for some clues on direction, given that pressure on stocks have been stemming from the outlook for inflation.

The market is expecting U.S consumer-price index to probably increase at a moderate pace last month along with U.S retail sales – both due out tomorrow.

Note: Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Dog begin, affecting China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Chinese mainland markets are closed Feb. 15-21.

1. Stocks mixed review

In Japan, the Nikkei share average closed at a four-month low overnight as investors turned somewhat risk averse as the yen rallies outright. The Nikkei ended -0.7% lower, its lowest closing level in four months.

Down-under, Aussie shares tracked Wall St into positive territory. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose +0.6% at the close of trade, after a -0.3% yesterday. In S. Korea, the Kospi climbed +0.35%.

In Hong Kong, stocks rose overnight, tracking a global rebound, on bargain hunting. At close of trade, the Hang Seng index was up +1.29%, while the Hang Seng China Enterprises index rallied +0.88%.

In China, stocks rebounded, supported by investor sentiment aided by signs of government support and record bank lending last month. At the close, the Shanghai Composite index was up +1%, while the blue-chip CSI300 index was up +1.19%.

In Europe, regional indices trade mostly lower taking the lead from weaker U.S futures. The FTSE trades little changed following a slightly hotter CPI reading, as Gilt yields pare declines.

U.S stocks are set to open in the ‘red (-0.6%).

Indices: Stoxx600 -0.1% at 372.7, FTSE flat at 7173, DAX -0.1% at 12266, CAC-40 -0.1% at 5133, IBEX-35 -0.6% at 9708, FTSE MIB -0.5% at 22215, SMI -0.3% at 8799, S&P 500 Futures -0.6%

2. Oil prices firm on weaker dollar, gold higher

Oil prices are better bid, supported by a rebound in global equities, as well as by a weaker dollar, which potentially supports more fuel consumption.

Brent crude futures are at +$62.97 per barrel, up +38c, or +0.6% from Monday’s close. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$59.60 a barrel, up +31c or +0.5% from yesterday’s settlement.

The stronger prices came after crude registered its biggest loss in two years last week as global stock markets slumped.

Nonetheless, rising U.S production continues to undermine the efforts led by the OPEC and Russia to tighten markets and prop up prices.

Note: U.S oil production has rallied above +10m bpd, overtaking top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of top producer Russia.

There are also strong signals the output will rally further. Data last Friday showed that U.S energy companies added 26 oilrigs looking for new production, boosting the count to +791, the highest since April 2015.

Gold prices have hit a one-week high overnight, aided by a weaker dollar and as the market awaits for tomorrow’s U.S inflation data for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes. Spot gold is up +0.4% at +$1,327.81 an ounce.

Note: Yesterday, the yellow metal rose +0.5%, its biggest single-day percentage gain in more than one week.

4. Sovereign yields fall

G7 sovereign bond yields look attractive across the curve after yields rallied on a recovering global economy and on expectations central banks will tighten policy faster than previously thought.

With the lack of economic market news the fixed income market looks attractive and reason why yields fell in the overnight session.

The yield on U.S 10-year Treasuries fell -3 bps to +2.83%, the biggest drop in more than a week. In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield declined -2 bps to +0.74%, the lowest in a week, while in the U.K the 10-year Gilt yield has dipped -1 bps to +1.601% despite the higher inflation print (see below).

4. Sterling reaction muted

The pound (£1.3896) has edged a tad higher after U.K January annual inflation unexpectedly remained at +3% (see below) as worries about the U.K. getting a transitional deal after breaking up from the E.U persist. EUR/GBP trades down -0.1% at €0.8868. Although the high inflation number will add to expectations for another BoE hike, futures prices would suggest that the market has priced in two rate increases for the next 12-months.

Note: PM Theresa May’s government will aim to address the Brexit transition in a series of six speeches by the prime minister and other senior ministers in the next few weeks, which her office dubbed “The Road to Brexit.” May’s first speech is to be delivered at a conference in Munich next Saturday, while Foreign minister Boris Johnson will begin the series with a speech tomorrow.

Elsewhere, the USD is modestly lower as President Trump’s proposed budget brings into focus the U.S twin deficits. The EUR/USD (€1.2337) is higher by +0.2%, while USD/JPY (¥107.55) is lower by -0.9% as fixed income dealers ponder the limits of an expansionary BoJ policy.

5. U.K inflation above target in January

Data this morning showed that U.K consumer prices rose +3% y/y in January. This headline print suggests that the Bank of England (BoE) case for higher borrowing costs is somewhat justified to bring borrowing costs back to its +2% annual goal.

The ONS said that the price gains were driven by clothing, footwear and recreational goods and services, especially tickets for zoos and gardens.

Note: Market consensus was expecting annual inflation in January to slow to +2.9%, from +3% m/m.

U.K Inflation has been above the BoE’s +2% annual target for 12-consecutive months. Last week the BoE said that they expected to raise interest rates at a swifter pace than they anticipated last year to contain growth in prices.

Note: The BoE raised its benchmark rate for the first time in a decade in November, to +0.5%. Futures prices suggest that the central bank will lift it again as soon as May.

Forex heatmap

A day of calm

A day of calm

Equity markets have begun the week on a somewhat positive not picking up from Friday rebound as bargain hunters have returned on the first sign of stability. I guess if you owned a stock for fundamental reasons seven days ago and its 5 % lower this week, why not add to the portfolio? So the story goes.

While the Vix has pulled back to the 25 zone, it’s very trying to view this weeks stock market bounce anything other than technical correction after critical Global benchmarks had one of the there worst performances in years. However, the market is trying to find a positive equilibrium, and if we can get through this week’s critical US CPI relatively unscathed, then it would most certainly look as if last week was little more than a corrective episode rather then the commencement of a bear market.

None the less, government bond yields have found some stability after yields moved higher, albeit in very thinly traded Bond markets.
But certainly adding to the semblance of calm which has started the week. But concerns abound that the Bond Markets have only begun to factor in both the global reflation trade and burdening supply which could drive US bond yields considerably higher.

Oil  Markets

Ignoring US supply-side concerns, OIl markets attempted to make a half-hearted recovery overnight on little more than an equity market correlated bounce and indeed the weaker USD added to the momentum.

Despite the Oil market exhibiting all the hallmarks of technical trading, toppling from massively overbought conditions to retracing on an equity correlated bounce. But technical momentum or not, with the EIA data around the corner, it’s hard not to overlook their expectations that U.S. crude output may rise to 11 million bpd by the end of the year.

However, global demand remains firm, and despite the shale oil boom the supply tightening narrative remains prevalent with OIL towing the line.

Battle lines are forming in an around the WTI 60.00 bpd level which should make for an exciting market this week.

Gold Markets

Gold prices were supported by a weaker dollar and physical demand ahead of Chinese lunar new year. The equity market carnage has abated, and the waves of cross assets selling to replenish equity margins have temporarily decreased providing a calmer market to re-establish Gold longs. But prices should remain within a range ahead of this week US inflation data as the US CPI will be a monster print for the markets inflation views and could provide a catalyst for Gold to bounce higher.
Currency Markets

The US dollar traded lower as currency traders are analysing the rebounding global equity markets. Lots of noise but little momentum as traders are keying on this week’s US CPI with volumes and liquidity density much lower to start the week.

Japanese Yen

The markets continue to digest the potential FX trading leverage cap for individuals in Japan. Mrs Watanabe was a considerable player in the market( especially for Retail brokers), so we’re keeping a close eye on the developments

As for the Yen, we seem to be at a crossroads in all Asian markets with currency markets barely budging looking for some inflation clarity in Wednesday CPI. The fear is that a higher print will send bond yields sky high and equity markets will tumble once again.

Australian Dollar

A rebound in risk sentiment has seen USD haven hedged unwind and buoyed commodity markets.As such, the Aussie dollar has found some solid footing this morning
Malaysian Ringgit

We’re at a bit of a crossroads this week as the markets are grappling with inflation versus the global growth narrative.

An uptick in inflation will lead to higher yields and will present the most significant headwind for the Ringgit. While the market has priced in 3 US rate hikes for 2018, a sudden uptick in US inflation could quicken the pace of the FED interest rate normalisation and could weigh negatively on regional sentiment.

We expect the market to trade in a tight range ahead of this domestic GDP and US CPI. Both monster data points for the Ringgits near-term fate

FX and Equities Brace for a Bumpy Week

Monday February 12: Five things the markets are talking about

Investors are bracing for another bumpy ride this week after market volatility has returned with a vengeance, delivering the biggest rout in global stocks in a number of years.

Despite stocks getting a reprieve overnight, investor fears of interest rate hikes that started the market correction continues to persist.

Last week, the CBOE volatility index ended almost three times higher than its Jan. 26 level. The ten-year Treasury yield finished last week atop of where they started at +2.85%.

Stateside, this week’s inflation report – U.S consumer-price data on Wednesday – could be the catalyst for a major struggle between equities and bonds that triggered the initial market turbulence.

Elsewhere, while the coming week is absent of G10 central bank meetings, there are a number of important economic indicators to be released. In the U.K, consumer and producer price indexes and retail sales for last month should be a challenge for the pound (£1.3560). While in Japan, its first estimate of Q4 growth along with last month’s producer price index and December’s machinery orders (a proxy for capital spending) should be capable of moving the yen (¥108.70).

Later today, President Trump will deliver his 2019 budget blueprint.

1. Stocks breath a ‘sigh of relief’

Global equities overnight have found some temporary support while volatility remains elevated.

Note: In Japan, equity markets were closed due to a bank holiday Feb. 12, while Chinese New-Year celebrations for the ‘Year of the Dog’ begin (Feb 15-21) and follow across much of Asia, including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Down-under, the Aussie S&P/ASX 200 was down -0.6%, weighed down by a fresh -1.6% drop in the energy sector, while in S. Korea, the Kospi rallied +0.4%.

China and Hong Kong stocks rebounded after last week’s aggressive sell-off. In China, the Shanghai Composite index was up +0.8%, while China’s blue-chip CSI300 index was up +1.3%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was up +0.71%.

In Europe, regional indices are trading sharply higher across the board following on from a sharp rebound on Wall Street Friday and positive Asian markets.

U.S stocks are set to open deep in the ‘black (+1.2%).

Indices: Stoxx600 +1.5% at 374.1, FTSE +1.2% at 7181, DAX +1.9% at 12336, CAC-40 +1.5% at 5153, IBEX-35 +1.5% at 9785, FTSE MIB +1.1% at 22404, SMI +1.8% at 8831, S&P 500 Futures +1.2%

2. Oil prices rally +1%, gold higher

Oil prices start the week better bid, recovering some of this month’s steep losses as global equities find some firm footing after last week sea of red.

Brent crude futures are at +$63.54 per barrel, up +75c, or +1.2% from Friday’s close. U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures are at +$60.04 a barrel – that’s up +84c, or +1.4% from the close.

The stronger prices came after crude registered its biggest loss in two years last week as global stock markets slumped.

Nonetheless, rising U.S production continues to undermine the efforts led by the OPEC and Russia to tighten markets and prop up prices.

Note: U.S oil production has rallied above +10m bpd, overtaking top exporter Saudi Arabia and coming within reach of top producer Russia.

There are also strong signals the output will rally further. Data on Friday showed that U.S energy companies added 26 oilrigs looking for new production, boosting the count to +791, the highest since April 2015.

Ahead of the U.S open, gold prices have edged a tad higher as the dollar eased against G7 currency pairs after last week’s rally. Expect investors to take their cues from this weeks U.S inflation data. Spot gold is up +0.3% percent at +$1,320.19 an ounce.

Note: Prices touched their lowest since Jan. 4 at +$1,306.81 last week.

3. Sovereign yields creep higher

U.S and eurozone government bond yields have edged higher overnight, heading back towards multi-year highs on unease that a pick up in inflationary pressures globally and a strong domestic economy will encourage the ECB and the Fed to signal to be more aggressive than originally priced in at the beginning of the year.

In Europe, bond yields across the bloc were +1-2 bps higher in early trade, while in the U.S the 10-year note trades atop of its four-year highs.

In Germany, the 10-year Bund yield is up almost +2 bps at +0.77% and within sight of its nearly three-year high hit last week at around +0.81%. The yield on the U.S 10-year note has rallied +4 bps to +2.90%, the highest in more than four years, while in the U.K, the 10-year Gilt yield has gained +4 bps to +1.605%.

4. The U.S dollar’s quiet trading session

A broad-based flight to safe haven, such as U.S treasuries or the Japanese yen (¥108.70), has not happened to date despite the recent turmoil on equity markets.

The dollar ‘bulls’ are looking for the USD to rally this week, despite financial market volatility to remain high near-term as looser U.S fiscal policy and upside risk to U.S. inflation raises concerns.

Overnight, FX saw a quiet session ahead of some key inflation data this week (U.K Jan CPI Feb 13 and U.S Jan CPI on Feb 14).

Note: The recent pick up in global bond yields has been led stateside, while capital market wait for more details from President Trump’s budget and his infrastructure plan.

EUR/USD (€1.2272) is little changed, but holding below the psychological €1.23 handle. On the weekend, ECB’s Nowotny (Austria) reiterated the concerns about attempts by the U.S to politically influence the exchange rate.

GBP/USD (£1.3860) trades atop of Friday’s close despite the BoE having turned more rates ‘bullish’ last week. Dealers are now putting more weight on Brexit concerns as the U.K previously admitted that the growth potential of the economy had declined.

USD/JPY (¥108.70) is steady as Japanese markets were closed for a bank holiday.

5. Swiss inflation still super low

Data this morning showed that Swiss consumer prices slid -0.1% in January from December leaving the annual inflation rate at +0.7% and slightly below expectations.

Digging deeper, the decrease compared with the previous month is due in particular to the decrease in prices for outpatient hospital medical services. Prices for air transport also declined, along with prices for clothing and footwear, in particular because of sales. In contrast, prices for overnight stays in hotels, heating oil and electricity increased.

Inflation is still low despite the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) efforts to raise it through negative interest rates and a willingness to intervene in currency markets.

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