Stephen Innes Head of Trading Asia tells Michael Switow why the yen is weak, and stocks are rallying.
Stephen Innes Head of Trading Asia tells Michael Switow why the yen is weak, and stocks are rallying.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
U.S. stocks are trading off their intraday highs late in the NY session weighed down by financials profit-taking ahead of the deluge of bank earnings reports on Friday, robust US economic data had temporarily overshadowed fears over global trade disputes. That was until a late NY session headline suggesting the US is reportedly preparing the release of a new $200B China tariff list according to two people familiar with the matter. But a list is a list and not an actual tariff, so lots to be ironed on this one. But regardless, it will put the markets back on the defensive for the time being
Until that point, the market was indeed embracing the raft of outstanding US economic data, and despite the apparent downside risks from an escalating trade war the fact investors continue to plough cash into equities, that was a central dictating market theme. And given the likelihood of a strong earnings season, and at one point investors were heard yelling down Wall Street “what trade war”?? Indeed, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. That was until the latest headline when much of the tough slogging was quickly unwound in minutes as the SPX shed 100 points in the flash of an eye reminding investors we are in tricky markets, and nothing can be taken for granted.
The currency markets, however, are a different kettle of fish where the market risk is relatively light with Forex traders doing little more than rotating from what currency pair is hot from what is not. In other words, chasing the fear of missing out seems to be a common theme among G-10 trades after a considerable volume of USD long positions have been culled over the past few weeks, especially against the EUR and AUD. There is a reason why risk is so low in currency land; it’s the real fear of getting sideswiped by trade war headline risk.
Oil prices continue to gain on yet more production outages with Brent briefly breaching the $ 80 per barrel high water mark as strikes by workers in Norway and Gabon added to global production outages.
Without question, supply risk continues to dominate trader psyche and after the API reported another massive draw traders are now positioning for another sizeable drop in today’s EIA weekly report.
ON the bigger picture, the markets continue to access the intermediate-term supply impact as the Nov. 4 US-imposed deadline for allies to halt Iranian imports moves nearer. All the while the Libyan disruptions continue to run on.
At the end of the day, supply concerns and more disruptions continue to skew bullish for oil prices
After a brief peak above 1265 Gold prices resumed its downward path as global stock markets trade well. However Gold prices pulled came off session lows on NATO concerns as the EU countries are worried about possible side agreement between Putin and Trump which could profoundly weaken the alliance. Also, the latest tariff headlines suggesting the US is reportedly preparing the release of a new $200B China tariff list according to two people familiar with the matter should keep a bid under the market. Gold dips remain attractive especially for investors knowing that gold should be an essential part of any diversified portfolio, especially in these highly charged political times.
With this morning’s tariff headline risk, I need to remind myself that the trade war is good for the dollar, as the US has the upper hand in negotiations and whichever way this issue gets resolved it’s likely to be positive for the US current account.
GBP: Cable remains the land of the brave requiring a sharp eye and quick trigger given the plethora of Brexit headline risk. But indeed, in this muddied UK political landscape it does suggest the endgame will be the UK never leaves the EU, and in this scenario, the Pound is ” cheap as chips”. When the UK political malaise subsides, Sterling will be the shining star of the market
JPY: The USD did look poised to break out topside given the fading of trade rhetoric and a real risk-on environment developing. US equities have held up remarkably well as the bull market keeps marching her despite the reams of negative news thrown at the benchmarks. Long USDJPY is entirely under-owned as risk-off trades are still prevalent vs the JPY, and on a break of 111.50-75 levels, dealers will be forced into a risk on trade. But as usual, nothing ever works out as planned so we may have to re-explore this scenario later once we iron our fact from fiction over the latest US trade escalation headline.
MYR: It was an up and down day for the Ringgit which was in high demand and dare I say outperformed early on Bond related inflows as investors position for dovish pause for the BNM. The MGS curve was in firm demand particularly the attractive long end yields which are usually the domain for real money investors and pension funds. Indeed, last weeks Bond market awakening was the real deal!!
As for the BNM policy decision, we anticipate no actual shift in rates, Nor Shamsiah is a BNM veteran, and it would suggest policy continuity, but the markets will be more focused on forwarding guidance. Given the political and fiscal struggles ahead, I think it’s easy to assume this will not be a hawkish pause.
Oil prices continue to flourish and should push higher given the bullish supply skews which should go a long way in supporting the government coffers.
We’re tracking the market movements with Oanda Asia-Pacific Head of Trading Stephen Innes. We explore Brexit developments, Asian economic numbers as well as whether trade fears have eased.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
The bond market is confused, but as my first boss on the BondDesk was always quick to remind me, when in doubt Sell.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.