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VIX Tumbles, Global Stocks And Dollar Rally As Korea Tensions Ease

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Overnight bulletin summary

  • Global equities trade higher amid easing geopolitical tensions
  • Pound tumbles on weaker than expected inflation data
  • Today's calendar includes US retail sales, Empire Fed, import prices, NAHB, and API crude oil inventories

Global stocks and US futures are up for a second day, with the VIX sliding 0.65 vols to 11.68 (-5.2%) and haven assets dropping, after a KCNA report report suggested North Korea had pulled back its threat to attack Guam after days of increasingly bellicose "fire and fury" rhetoric with President Trump, and hours after China took its toughest steps to support U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang, while the possibility of a Sino-American trade war was played down. The report, from KCNA on Tuesday, said Kim praised the military for drawing up a “careful plan” to fire missiles toward Guam. Kim was cited by KCNA saying he would watch the U.S.’s conduct “a little more.”

"There is a more relaxed attitude being taken towards the Korean situation in markets. With the report North Korea has put its plans on hold, there is a sense of stepping back from the brink," Rabobank analyst Lyn Graham-Taylor said.

Notably, risk aversion has not totally gone away, as Defence secretary Mattis also warned earlier that if NK fired missiles at Guam, it would be “game on” and “could escalate into war quickly”. That said, he was vague about what would happen if missiles splashed into the sea near Guam.

The result was a continuation of yesterday's "risk-on" sentiment: the USD bounced, the USDJPY spiked as hugh as 110.45, while the pound tumbled on poor UK inflation data, while the EUR was dragged lower on what is a holiday across continental Europe. However, as some trading desks warn, this return of risk appetite may be temporary as the US and South Korea have joint military exercises scheduled for next week, which could spark things off again. For now however, traditional haven assets including gold and core bonds across Europe and TSYs slumped.

Global stocks were roughly unchanged, with the MSCI All-Country World Index declined less than 0.05 percent, while Europe was broadly if modestly higher with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index up 0.1%. Germany’s DAX Index jumped 0.3 percent, as did the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index. S&P Futures are up 0.2%.

In Asia, Japan’s Topix index finished the day 1.1% higher driven by the sharp drop in the Yen, and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.5% at the close. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.3% following a bout of last hour selling, even as the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4%. Markets in South Korea and India are closed Tuesday for holidays. The yen fell 0.7% to 110.41 per dollar, the biggest drop in three weeks.

While the overnight session was generally quiet, aside from the previously noted UK inflation miss which sent sterling tumbling, another indication that Europe may be rolling over was German Q2 GDP data, which missed at 0.6%, below the 0.7% expected, as imports outpaced exports following the recent surge in the Euro.

After hawkish comments from Dudley and UST yields doing well, there is a broad USD bid, even though South Korean markets was closed for national holiday. As noted above, the yen dropped on easing of N.Korean tensions, while the pound weakened after U.K. inflation data missed estimates, and Sweden’s krona gained as headline inflation reached the highest level since 2011.

"We have North Korea saying they will wait, and Trump not saying anything at all, compared to his past promise of 'fire and fury,'" said Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief FX strategist at Daiwa Securities.  "That added up to good news for the dollar, bad news for the yen," he said.

Also overnight, China's credit growth came in higher than expected even as broad M2 plunged to a new all time low of 9.2% (exp. 9.4%): new yuan loans printed 825bn vs 800bn expected while aggregate financing came in at 1220bn vs 1000bn. However both measures of credit growth decreased sharply from June, where aggregate financing was 1776bn and new yuan loans increasing 1540bn.

In rates, the yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced three basis points to 2.25 percent.  Germany’s 10-year yield gained two basis points to 0.43 percent.  Britain’s 10-year yield climbed three basis points to 1.01 percent.

Gold fell 0.6 percent to $1,274 an ounce. Oil prices steadied somewhat after falling more than 2.5 percent on Monday to its lowest in about three weeks on the strength of the dollar and reduced refining in China. Brent was last down 2 cents at $50.71 a barrel.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 2,467.25
  • U.S. 10Y Treasury yield: +3bps to 2.25%
  • EUR/USD: -0.2% to 1.1758
  • USD/JPY: +0.7% at 110.40
  • GBP/USD: -0.5% at 1.2901
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.07% to 376.41
  • MSCI Asia up 0.2% to 158.72
  • MSCI Asia ex Japan up 0.07% to 520.98
  • Nikkei up 1.1% to 19,753.31
  • Topix up 1.1% to 1,616.21
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 27,174.96
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,251.26
  • Sensex up 0.8% to 31,449.03
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 5,757.48
  • Kospi up 0.6% to 2,334.22
  • German 10Y yield rose 1.5 bps to 0.421%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1752
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 0.9 bps to 1.73%
  • Spanish 10Y yield rose 0.2 bps to 1.44%
  • Brent futures down 0.1% to $50.68/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,274.68
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.3% to 93.68

Top Overnight News

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime requires his nation’s approval, and vowed to prevent war at all costs
  • EU says frictionless trade with the U.K. is not possible outside the Single Market and Customs Union
  • U.K. Brexit Secretary David Davis says he won’t give a figure for Britain’s divorce bill by October
  • Germany’s top judges have put the legality of the European Central Bank’s 2.3 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) bond-buying program in doubt in a ruling that asks the European Court of Justice for guidance in five cases targeting the policy
  • Intel CEO Becomes Third Chief to Quit Trump Business Council
  • Trump Denounces White Supremacists Amid Backlash to Response
  • Mattis Warns It’s ‘Game On’ If North Korea Strikes Guam
  • U.K. Seeks Interim Customs Union With EU to Smooth Brexit
  • New McDonald’s China Owners to Speed Up Expansion to Catch KFC
  • Danone Is Said to Be Targeted by Activist Investor Corvex
  • Transocean Agrees to Acquire Songa Offshore for $1.2 Billion
  • Wrangler Jeans Owner Will Buy Dickies Maker for $820 Million
  • WebMD Sued by Investor Seeking to Block $2.8 Bln KKR Sale
  • Paulson And Other Hedge Funds Rewarded as Angst Fuels Gold
  • Teva Cedes Spot as Israel’s Biggest Firm in Blow to Prestige
  • ECB’s QE Questioned by German Judges Asking for EU Court Review

Asian stock markets traded higher following the gains in US where the NASDAQ led the advances on continued tech outperformance, while global sentiment was also lifted as geopolitical concerns abated after comments from North Korean leader Kim that they will not strike Guam yet. ASX 200 (+0.47%) and Nikkei 225 (+1.11%) were boosted as tensions de-escalated, with markets in Japan the biggest gainer on JPY weakness. KOSPI is shut for holiday while Hang Seng (-0.28%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.43%) for the majority of the session conformed to the upbeat tone after the PBoC released around CNY 400b1n in MLF loans.

Top Asian News

  • South Korea to Prevent War at All Costs, President Moon Says
  • Hedge Fund Betting on 70% Yuan Devaluation Digs In Amid Gain
  • China Money Supply Growth Slips Again as Leverage Crunch Goes On
  • China’s Economic Speed Bump May Reignite Bond Default Wave
  • Fund Managers’ Positioning Remains Pro-Risk, BofAML Survey Shows
  • Unmarried Indonesians Happier Than Those in Wedlock, Index Shows
  • Modi Says More Indians Paying Tax After Cash Ban, GST Regime

European equities have started the session off strongly (Eurostoxx +0.3%), as geopolitical tensions appear to have abated from the escalation seen last week. More specifically, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discussed the Guam strike plan with officers and said they will not attack Guam yet, but could have a change of mind based on US actions. On a sector specific basis, energy and material names are the only sectors in the red with WTI back below USD 48.00 and gold losing ground amid the return of risk appetite. To the upside, Danone (+1.8%) are one of the notable gainers in Europe amid Corvex building a USD 400mln stake in the company. In fixed income, price action has largely been dictated by the broader risk-sentiment in the market in what is a week particularly void of EU sovereign supply amid summer-thinned trading conditions. More specifically, core paper is trading circa higher by 1.5bps with peripheral spreads higher by between 0.5-1.0bps. Note: the German Constitutional Court has declined to hear challenge of ECB's QE programme and will refer case to the European Court of Justice

Top European News

  • German Economy Extends Growth Spurt as Nation Heads for Election
  • Merkel Jeered on Campaign Trail as Refugee Tensions Boil Up
  • Swedish Inflation Hits Target for First Time in Almost Six Years
  • U.K. Inflation Unexpectedly Holds Steady as Pound Drop Unwinds
  • U.K. Growth, Inflation Outlook Cut, Weakening BOE Rate- Hike Case
  • Schibsted Plunges to 8-Month Low as Facebook Expands Marketplace
  • Bank of Russia Sells All 150b Rubles of 3-Month Bills
  • Danone Undervalued, Scope for Margin Improvement, Bernstein Says
  • Next Falls as Berenberg Says Rally Provides Shorting Opportunity

In currency markets, the main data release this morning has come in the form of the latest UK inflation report. Despite expectations for Y/Y CPI to edge towards 3.0% by the year-end, today's metric fell short of consensus (2.6% vs. Exp. 2.7%) and saw GBP/USD fall circa 40 pips from 1.2950 to 1.2910 with the metric possibly dampening some expectations for a rate hike by the BoE in the short-term. Elsewhere, the USD remains firm against its major counterparts amid hawkish rhetoric yesterday from Fed's Dudley as well as gaining ground against JPY as JPY suffered from safe-haven outflows. Going forward, focus will likely be on NZD with the upcoming NZ dairy auction (futures pricing in a 4% increase in WMP).

In commodities, metals markets have seen a mixed performance with gold (-0.5%) pressured amid safe-haven outflows as geopolitical concerns subsided while Copper benefited from the upbeat risk tone. WTI failed to make any significant recovery from yesterday's losses in which prices languished below USD 48/bbl after a bearish Genscape report, OPEC sources and comments from the EIA.

Looking at the day ahead, there will be quite a lot of data, including: July retail sales, import / export price index for July (0.1% mom and 0.3% mom expected respectively), empire manufacturing stats (10 expected), the NAHB housing market index and US foreign net transactions for June. Further, Home depot will report its results today.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Import Price Index MoM, est. 0.1%, prior -0.2%; 8:30am: Import Price Index YoY, est. 1.5%, prior 1.5%

    • Export Price Index MoM, est. 0.2%, prior -0.2%; 8:30am: Export Price Index YoY, prior 0.6%
  • 8:30am: Empire Manufacturing, est. 10, prior 9.8
  • 8:30am: Retail Sales Advance MoM, est. 0.3%, prior -0.2%; Retail Sales Ex Auto MoM, est. 0.3%, prior -0.2%

    • Retail Sales Ex Auto and Gas, est. 0.4%, prior -0.1%; Retail Sales Control Group, est. 0.4%, prior -0.1%
  • 10am: NAHB Housing Market Index, est. 64, prior 64
  • 10am: Business Inventories, est. 0.4%, prior 0.3%
  • 4pm: Total Net TIC Flows, prior $57.3b; Net Long-term TIC Flows, prior $91.9b

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

Can we get back to August yet? Unless you are well connected to Kim Jong-un or to a lesser extent Mr Trump then it’s impossible to answer. However a lack of escalation over the weekend and more reassuring words from a top US general has been a big relief for markets. As it’s the 15th today we're clearly at the midmonth point that the North Korean leader previously suggested was his timetable to potentially launch missiles at Guam although as we'll see below NK state media has suggested overnight that he is reviewing his plans and will watch the US first. It will be difficult for markets to fully recover their poise until we're out of this mid-month window with no new provocations (or worse). However every day that no news breaks should help markets recover to where they were before last Monday evening's "fire and fury' tweet after the earlier Washington Post story that Pyongyang has produced a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside one of its missiles.

Following the calmer words from Defence Secretary Mattis and CIA’s director Pompeo over the weekend talkshows, US’s Marine General, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Dunford followed up and told South Korean President Moon that “…everyone hopes to resolve the current situation without going to war…”. Today, President Moon spoke at a separate function and said “there will be no war repeated on the Korean peninsula” and emphasised the need for diplomatic efforts.

The reduced prospect of a US-NK conflict boosted US markets overnight with Asian markets broadly higher this morning. The Kospi (+0.6%), Nikkei (+1.3%), Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Chinese bourses (+0.2%-0.7%) are all higher as we type. Elsewhere, the Korean Won is up 0.5%.

Notably, risk aversion has not totally gone away, as Defence secretary Mattis also warned earlier that if NK fired missiles at Guam, it would be “game on” and “could escalate into war quickly”. That said, he was vague about what would happen if missiles splashed into the sea near Guam. On the other side of the fence, according to the Korean central news agency, Kim Jong-Un has reviewed his missile strike plans and will watch what the US is doing “a little more”.

Looking away from geopolitics, the US’s July retail sales will be out later today. DB’s economist Brett Ryan expect sturdy gains on both headline (+0.6% forecast vs. -0.2% previously) and ex-automobile sales (+0.6% vs. -0.2%) following two consecutive monthly declines. Note that there has been only one other occasion in the current business cycle when ex-auto sales fell for three consecutive months and that was due  to unusually harsh winter weather in late 2014 / early 2015. Elsewhere, US data on June business inventories (+0.4% expected), US foreign net transaction, empire manufacturing (10 expected) and the NAHB housing market index are also due today, all of which should provide us with some clues on the US’s 2H GDP outlook.

Moving back to markets. Remember that steady increase in the S&P we talked about a couple of weeks back. Well before yesterday, it was 77 trading days since the S&P increased by more than 1% in any one day. Clearly the +1.00% S&P gain overnight has just prevented this run continuing. All we needed was 3 more days to beat the prior record set back between November 06 and March 07 (79 trading days). Perhaps we'll now wait another 10 years before the record is threatened again.

In terms of markets performance, lower risk aversion was evident across the board yesterday with the Vix down 21% to 12.3, gold falling 0.6% and the Swiss franc -0.2%. US equities strengthened, with the S&P up 1%, the Dow (+0.6%) and the Nasdaq (+1.3%). Within the S&P, only the energy sector was in the red (-0.3%), while all other sectors rose, particularly real estate (+1.7%) and IT (+1.6%). European markets were also up, with the Stoxx 600 +1.1% higher, with gains in every sector, particularly real estate and utilities (both +1.8%). Elsewhere, the DAX (+1.3%), FTSE 100 (+0.6%), CAC (+1.2%) and FTSE MIB (+1.7%) were also up.

Government bond yields rose modestly reflecting lower risk aversion, with core yields up 1-3bp at the longer end of the curve, including: German bunds (2Y: unch; 10Y: +2bps), Gilts (2Y: +1bp; 10Y: +1bps) and French OATs (2Y: +2bp; 10Y: +3bps). Peripheral bond yields outperformed as tensions eased with Italian BTPs (2Y: -1bp; 10Y: -1bp) and Portugal (2Y: +2bp; 10Y: -4bp) generally rallying. Across the pond, UST 10Y has increased 3bps this morning to 2.25%.

Turning to the currency markets, the USD dollar index gained 0.4% yesterday, supported by the Fed Dudley’s comments on rates outlook (discussed later). Conversely, both the Euro and Sterling dipped 0.4% versus the USD, while the Euro/Sterling was broadly flat. In commodities, WTI oil fell 2.5% following concerns for slowing Chinese demand (softer IP data) and EIA raising forecasts that US shale output will reach an all-time high in September. Elsewhere, precious metals were slightly lower (Gold -0.6%; Silver -0.2%), while base metals were broadly unchanged, with Copper (+0.2%), Zinc (-0.4%), although aluminium fell -1.6% after a strong 9% rise in the prior week.

Away from the markets, NY Fed president Dudley told the AP he expects inflation to move somewhat higher as the labour market tightens further and suggested the Fed will announce its taper plan next month. On the rates outlook, he said "If (economic forecasts) evolves in line with my expectations … I would be in favour of doing another rate hike later this year." Elsewhere, he said White House economic adviser Gary Cohn is a “reasonable candidate” to head the Fed if Trump does not name Yellen for a second term.

Following on with the economic outlook, Bloomberg surveyed 38 economists recently, ~76% of them expect congress will pass tax cut legislations by November 2018, albeit the tax cuts are likely to be lower than what the Trump administration had originally promised. The potential policy changes are expected to add 0.2ppt to the pace of GDP expansion in 2018.

The latest ECB CSPP holdings were released yesterday. They bought €1.11bn last week which compares to €1.54bn, €0.79bn, €0.72bn, €1.43bn over the previous four weeks. These continue to be low numbers and this week's equate to an average of €221mn per day (vs. €354mn/day since CSPP started). The CSPP/PSPP ratio was 11.4% (previous weeks 12.8%, 8.1%, 6%, 10.4%) which is slightly below the average since the April taper begun but the average since this point of 12.8% is still higher than the pre-taper ratio of 11.6%. So the evidence is still in favour of CSPP having been trimmed less than PSPP since April even if there have been some softer weeks of late. The ECB probably did a little front loading to account for summer credit liquidity being worse than in govt. bonds.

Before we take a look at today’s calendar, we wrap up with other data releases from yesterday. Adding onto our comments yesterday for the slightly lower than expected July industrial production data in China, our China research term believes that slower growth was mainly driven by surprisingly weak data from the property sector. (eg: growth of property sales cooled to 4.8% yoy in July after a strong rebound to 30.3% yoy in June). Overall, our team think that the slowdown in July is unlikely to change the government policy stance in Q3 (ie: they do not expect a visible loosening of monetary or fiscal policy). With GDP growth at 6.9% in H1, they argue that the government can afford to allow growth to drop moderately in Q3. Elsewhere, the Eurozone’s June industrial production was slightly lower than expected at -0.6% mom (vs. -0.5%) and 2.6% (vs. 2.8% yoy).

Looking at the day ahead, as our note is published, Germany’s preliminary 2Q GDP will be released, with 0.7% qoq and 1.9% expected. Then the UK’s July CPI (0% mom and 2.7% yoy expected), PPI output and retail price index are due. Over in the US, there will be quite a lot of data, including: July retail sales, import / export price index for July (0.1% mom and 0.3% mom expected respectively), empire manufacturing stats (10 expected), the NAHB housing market index and US foreign net transactions for June. Further, Home depot will report its results today.


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