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Futures Drift Higher In Quiet, Holiday Session

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

US equity futures rose (ahead of a cash session that is closed for Thanksgiving holiday), European stocks were mixed and Asian snapped a three-day losing streak on Thursday, hurt by the U.S. dollar which continued to march higher as investors bet on interest rates rising more quickly in the United States than in other major economies such as Japan and the euro zone.

Overnight Goldman (which only a few weeks ago brought forward its liftoff forecast by one year to July 2002) said that it now expects the Fed "to announce at its December meeting that it is doubling the pace of tapering to $30bn per month starting in January." That forecast, however, has not spooked futures with S&P 500 and Nasdaq eminis rising by 7 points (0.14%) and 28 points (0.17%) respectively, in a listless session – trading volumes on the MSCI’s gauge of world equities slid 18% from its 30-day average. The dollar rose again, hitting a fresh 16-month high. Remy Cointreau SA jumped 11% in Europe on an earnings beat. Base metals rallied, with nickel near the highest level in seven years.

Unlike recent sharp drawdowns, on Wednesday U.S. stocks proved resilient to a slew of strong economic data and Fed minutes on Wednesday that hinted at stagflationary concerns and supported expectations for a quicker removal of stimulus by the Fed. And while inflation concerns deepened, and traders appeared in no mood to miss a year-end calendar meltup, rising bets not only for a quicker taper, but also an earlier liftoff of interest rates, suggest caution may return after Thanksgiving.

“The market mood is rather OK-ish after the minutes,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, wrote in a note. “At this point, it makes sense to expect an earlier, and maybe a steeper rate normalization from the Fed.”

European stocks traded off opening highs with Euro Stoxx 50 up as much as 0.7% before stalling and trading up 0.25% last. Utilities, tech and financial services are the strongest performers; travel remains under pressure as Covid measures are still in focus. MSCI’s global equity benchmark headed for the biggest advance since Nov. 16 as European traders shrugged off a worsening Covid-19 situation in the continent. The Stoxx 600 gauge was boosted by utilities and real estate companies. Remy Cointreau soared to a record high after the French distiller reported first-half results that Citigroup Inc. called “truly exceptional.”

Earlier in the session, Asian equities were poised to snap a three-day losing streak, as traders continued to weigh the prospects of higher inflation and faster-than-expected tapering by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 0.3% Thursday, with Japanese stocks among the leaders as the dollar held a three-day advance against the yen.

In Hong Kong, shares of Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd's (1638.HK) rose as much as 24% on their return to trading, after the embattled Chinese developer said it was offering bondholders an option to exchange existing bonds with new bonds having an extended maturity, to improve financial stability. In India, Reliance shares returned to a price level reached prior to the scrapping of the Indian conglomerate’s deal with Saudi Aramco. 

Asian stocks are hovering near a six-week low as a strong dollar remains a headwind for emerging-market equities, while higher U.S. Treasury yields have dragged down technology and other growth stocks around the region. The latest Fed minutes suggested it will accelerate the pace of tapering and rate hikes if inflation persistently stays above the targeted rate and maintains its uptrend, said Banny Lam, head of research at CEB International Investment. “Strong dollar concerns remain intact on earlier-than-expected rate hikes, intensifying the inflation of emerging markets.” South Korean stocks were among the biggest decliners after the nation’s central bank hiked its key interest rate by 25 basis points to 1%, as expected, citing faster inflation.

In broad terms, "when it comes to regional equities allocation, we're watching the U.S. dollar which is making new highs and that is a headwind for emerging market equities," said Fook-Hien Yap, senior investment strategist at Standard Chartered Bank wealth management. "The market is now pricing in more than two hikes next year, but we think that is overly aggressive. We are only looking for about one hike next year," said Yap.

These expectations have pushed U.S. treasury yields higher, albeit inconsistently, with benchmark 10 year notes last yielding 1.6427% having risen as high as 1.6930% on Wednesday. U.S. Treasuries will not trade on Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday. U.S. stock markets will also be closed and will have a shortened session on Friday.

Sure enough, fixed income markets are quiet. Bund and gilt curves bull flatten a touch, cash Treasuries remain closed for Thanksgiving.

In other central bank news, the Bank of Korea raised its policy interest rate by 25 basis points on Thursday, as widely expected, as concern about rising household debt and inflation offset uncertainty around a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

In FX, the Bloomberg dollar index recovered Asia’s small weakness to trade flat. SEK is the best performer in G-10 with EUR/SEK down 0.4% after the Riksbank tweaked inflation forecasts slightly and signaled that they see a case for a higher benchmark rate in 2024. NZD and AUD lag with most majors trading a narrow range. The dollar is trading near its highest in almost five years versus the Japanese currency at 115.3 yen, and nearly 18 months to the euro which was at $1.1206.

In commodities, oil prices were mixed after a turbulent few days in which the United States said it would release millions of barrels of oil from strategic reserves in coordination with China, India, South Korea, Japan and Britain to try to cool oil prices after calls to OPEC+ to pump more went unheeded. However, investors laughed at the programme's effectiveness, leading to price gains. Brent crude was last at $82.14 a barrel, down 0.1%.

Action continued to heat up in the base metals market. Nickel rose in London toward the highest level since May 2014 on a closing basis as shrinking inventories pointed to tight supply. Aluminum and copper extended their two-day increase to at least 2% each.

Looking at the day ahead, it's a fairly quiet calendar given the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. On the central bank side however, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, and the ECB’s Villeroy, Elderson and Schnabel, along with BoE Governor Bailey and the BoE’s Haskel. On top of that, the ECB will release the account of their October meeting, and data releases include the German GfK consumer confidence reading for December.

A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk

Asian equities traded mixed following on from the tentative mood in US where the major indices headed into the Thanksgiving holiday with a slight positive bias although upside was capped as participants digested a deluge of mixed data releases and hawkish leaning FOMC Minutes which suggested an increased likelihood of a taper adjustment. ASX 200 (+0.1%) was choppy as outperformance in tech and miners was counterbalanced by losses in consumer stocks, energy and the top-weighted financials sector, while mixed capex data which showed a larger than expected contraction for Q3 further added to the headwinds. Nikkei 225 (+0.7%) outperformed and reclaimed the 29,500 level after the recent favourable currency flows and stimulus optimism with Japan considering offering a JPY 5k inbound travel subsidy and is planning a JPY 22.1tln government bond sale as part of economic stimulus and extra budget. KOSPI (-0.4%) softened amid a widely expected 25bps rate hike by the BoK and with BoK Governor Lee suggesting the potential for another hike in Q1 next year. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.1%) lacked direction amid ongoing frictions including issues related to Taiwan and after the US Commerce Department placed 12 Chinese companies/entities on its entity list due to national security concerns, while EU ambassadors approved to renew sanctions on four Chinese officials and one Chinese entity for human rights abuses. However, the downside for Chinese bourses was limited after another tepid PBoC liquidity effort and with a local press report noting that China is to use more fiscal policy to support growth. There were also reports that Chengdu city launched measures to help developers with cash problems in obtaining funds, while Kaisa Group shares saw a double-digit percentage jump on reopen from a three-week trading halt after it offered to exchange bonds for new bonds with an extended maturity in an effort to improve financial stability and remain afloat. Finally, 10yr JGBs were rangebound after the sideways price action seen in global counterparts and cautious risk tone in Asia, while the results of the latest 40yr JGB auction were also inconclusive with a weaker b/c offset by an increase in the low price.

European cash equities (Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3%; Stoxx 600 +0.2%) trade on a modestly in the green but off best levels as bourses’ attempt to reclaim some of the lost ground seen throughout the week somewhat lost momentum, with the Stoxx 600 down 1.3% WTD. Macro drivers for the region remain a combination of this week’s (slightly stale) survey metrics, ECB speak and COVID angst with the latter providing a bulk of the direction for European assets this week. The handover from the APAC region was a somewhat mixed one as the Nikkei 225 (+0.6%) continued to benefit from favourable currency flows and ongoing stimulus hopes whilst Chinese stocks (Shanghai Comp -0.2%) digested a combination of US-China tensions over Taiwan, EU sanctions on China and expectations of domestic fiscal measures to support growth. Futures in the US (ahead of the early close) are currently on a mildly firmer footing (ES +0.3%) however, traders will likely not pay much credence to these moves given that the cash markets are closed today. The latest BofA flow show noted that stocks saw just their second week of outflows for the year, albeit equities have posted USD 839bln of inflows in 2021 which is more than the USD 785bln seen in the past 19 years combined. Elsewhere, SocGen is of the view that the bull market is not over for European equities and the cycle has further room to run into next year as inflation peaks and Fed-ECB policy diverges. SocGen’s end-2022 target of 520 implies a 9% upside from current levels. Sectors in Europe are mostly firmer with the Food & Beverage sector a top performer amid gains in Remy Cointreau (+11%) who sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 post-earnings which saw the Co. raise its profit outlook. In sympathy, Pernod Ricard (+2.0%), Campari (+1.1%) and Diageo (+0.8%) are all seen higher. To the downside, Travel & Leisure names lag amid ongoing losses in sector-heavyweight Evolution (-5.6%) with the latest update for the Co. noting it has contacted New Jersey regulators and launched an internal probe following accusations the company is conducting business in US blacklisted countries. Also of note for the sector, reports suggest that the EU is set to endorse a 9-month limit on COVID-19 vaccine validity in travel. Finally, Vivo Energy (+20%) is seen higher on the session after Vitol reached an agreement to purchase the Co. for USD 1.85/shr.

In FX, the index sees a mild pullback in early European trade on Thanksgiving Day Holiday, after notching a fresh YTD peak yesterday at 96.938 with traders also weighing end-of-month flows. Yesterday's FOMC Minutes had little impact on the Buck, but the release stated the Fed should be prepared to adjust the pace of asset purchases and raise the target range for FFR sooner if inflation continued to run higher than levels consistent with the Fed objective. Some participants preferred a somewhat faster pace of reductions. DXY trades within a narrow 96.649-832 range. Ahead, the calendar is empty from a US standpoint.

  • EUR, GBP – The single currency stands are the current G10 winner, albeit within narrow ranges in holiday-thinned trade. Desks suggest that light short-covering may warrant given the recent COVID-led downside. On the COVID front, reports suggested the EU is to endorse a 9-month limit on COVID-19 vaccine validity in travel. Sources earlier in the week suggested that updated EU travel guidance will likely be released today, whilst France is also today poised to provide more colour on COVID-related restrictions. EUR/USD has reclaimed a 1.1200 handle but trades within yesterday's 1.1184-1.1250 range. GBP/USD meanwhile is relatively flat within a 20-pip parameter, with not much to report aside from overnight commentary highlighting the 'substantial distance' between the UK and EU on the Northern Ireland protocol. Ahead, participants will be on the lookout for commentary from BoE governor Bailey and Haskel. Note, some participants also highlight chunky OpEx tomorrow in GBP/USD comprising of some GBP 1.3bln around 1.3400-10.
  • AUD, NZD – Antipodeans are on the back foot, with the NZD continuing to lag post-RBNZ and following a narrower NZ trade deficit as the AUD/NZD cross inches closer towards 1.0500 after confirming support around the 1.0450 region. AUD/USD was unfazed by lower-than-expected Q3 Aussie Capex. Desks highlight support at 0.7170 (Sept 29th low) ahead of the YTD low at 0.7106. Technicians may also be cognizant of the 21 DMA (0.7346) set to cross through the 100 DMA (0.7346) and 50 DMA (0.7344).
  • JPY – The JPY is relatively flat on the day within a 115.30-45 band, with desks suggesting bids are eye towards 115.00 and offers above 115.50. OpEx is interesting; USD/JPY sees USD 1.2bln between 115.10 and around USD 800mln at strike 115.50.
  • SEK, HUF – The Riksbank maintained its Rate at 0.00% and asset holdings unchanged as expected and said the repo rate will be raised in the latter part of 2024 – with the Q4 2024 rate path seen averaging at 0.19%. Overall, the decision was in-line with expectations. The SEK saw some modest upside heading into the announcement, but on the largely as-expected release, EUR/SEK remained in proximity to the pre-announcement level of 10.20. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Central Bank announced a 40bps hike to its 1-week Repo Rate in an expected but unscheduled move. EUR/HUF moved from 367.25 to 365.40 on the hike.

In commodities, WTI and Brent futures are choppy following the earlier softness at the start of the session, which was seemingly a function of a mild deterioration across equity markets, also coinciding with Ifax reports that the US is trying to persuade Russia to lift oil output. Sticking with OPEC+, the morning also saw commentary out of Kuwait and the UAE, who both signalled open-mindedness heading into next week’s meeting, although WSJ sources yesterday suggested the UAE does not see the need to pause current plans. WTI Jan has dipped back under USD 78/bbl (vs high USD 76.65/bbl) while Brent Feb resides just north of USD 80.50/bbl (vs high 81.40/bbl). Ahead, participants will be balancing OPEC+ sources and commentary to get a more solid idea on which route the group will likely take next week. Elsewhere, spot gold remains caged within a cluster of DMAs including the 100 (1,793), 200 (1,791) and 50 (1,789). Base metals are once again firmer with traders citing bullish commentary on Chinese infrastructure. LME copper inches closer towards USD 10k/t whilst Dalian iron ore futures overnight stretched their rally to a fifth consecutive session, spot prices topped USD 100/t.

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

A reminder that this week we published our 2022 credit strategy outlook. See here for the full report. Craig has also put out a more detailed HY 2022 strategy document here and Karthik a more detailed IG equivalent here. Basically we think spreads will widen as much as 30-40bps in IG and 120-160bps in HY due to a response to a more dramatic appreciation of the Fed being well behind the curve. This sort of move is consistent with typical mid-cycle ranges through history. We do expect this to mostly retrace in H2 as markets recover from the shock and growth remains decent and liquidity still high.

Today will likely prove a quieter one in markets given the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. But ahead of that, risk assets eventually climbed a wall of worry yesterday as investors moved to dial up their hawkish bets on the Fed’s policy trajectory, just as the latest Covid wave in Europe further contributed to investor concerns. Nevertheless, after trading in the red most of the day, global equity markets just managed to finish the day in positive territory, with the S&P 500 gaining +0.23% and the STOXX 600 advancing +0.09%.

First, on the hawkish Fed policy trajectory, our US economics team updated their calls to expect just that. In a note yesterday (link here), they outlined expectations for the Fed to double the pace of tapering at the December FOMC meeting following better-than-expected inflation and employment data since the November FOMC. This would bring monthly reductions in Treasury purchases to $20bn and MBS purchases to $10bn, which would bring the end of taper forward to March. In line, they’re bringing their call for liftoff forward a month to June 2022.

Our econ team weren’t the only ones to adjust their outlook. San Francisco Fed President Daly, one of the biggest doves on the FOMC and a voter in December, said in an interview that, “if (strong inflation and jobs data continue) then those are the things that would say, looks like we need faster tapering”. Furthermore, she also said that “I am very open and, in fact, leaning towards that we’ll want to raise rates from the zero lower bound at the end of next year”. So if one of the Fed’s biggest doves is feeling this way, then that showcases the shift in thinking that could be taking place more broadly on the committee. Front-end US rates sold off following the comment and yesterday’s data releases, which did nothing to change the recent hawkish turn from Fed officials. In fact, by the close of trade investors were fully pricing in a hike by June, and pricing about two-thirds probability of a May hike. They are still projecting three full hikes in the next calendar year. You’ll know from the credit outlook that we continue to think the Fed is way behind the curve and that catch-up will likely cause some volatility in H1 with notably wider credit spreads. See the link at the top for more on our view.

Those moves were given some fresh impetus by stronger-than-expected US data, of which plenty arrived in advance of the holiday today. First, the weekly initial jobless claims for the week through November 20 fell to 199k (vs. 260k expected), which is their lowest level since 1969 and the first time we’ve seen a reading comfortably around or beneath their levels immediately before the pandemic. Claims are always a bit all over the place around Thanksgiving due to seasonal adjustments so we may need a couple of weeks before the trend can be confirmed. Secondly, we then had the second estimate of Q3 GDP in the US, which was revised up a tenth to show an annualised growth rate of +2.1%. Third, the personal income and spending data came in above expectations in October, with personal income up +0.5%, and personal spending up +1.3%, which in both cases was three-tenths higher than expected. And finally, although the University of Michigan’s final consumer sentiment index was still at a decade low, the final measure came in at 67.4, above the preliminary reading of 66.8. Long-term inflation expectations edged back up a tenth to 3.0%, where it was in September and May this year, the joint highest readings since 2013.

All that created additional momentum in front-end US rates, with the 2yr yield (+2.6bps) and the 5yr yield (+0.3bps) both rising to fresh post-pandemic highs as the prospect of faster tapering and earlier rate hikes came into view. That put further upward pressure on the dollar as well, with the index strengthening by +0.33% yesterday to hit a 16-month high, having now risen by over +6% since its low in late May just 6 months ago. Of course the flip side was that a number of currencies shifted lower vis-à-vis the dollar, and the euro dipped below the $1.12 mark at the end of the day for the first time since June 2020.

Amidst the moves higher in front-end Treasury yields, another round of curve flattening saw longer-dated ones fall back yesterday, with the 10yr yield down -3.1bps to 1.63%. That flattening took the 5s30s curve down -6.9bps to its lowest level since the initial market turmoil at the start of the pandemic back in March 2020, having fallen by over 100bps since its intraday high back in February. 2s10s twisted -5.7bps flatter as well, as investors priced in near-term Fed policy action that could engender a hard landing that hurts longer term growth. It was a different picture in Europe however, where curves steepened for the most part and the moves lower in long-end rates were much more subdued. By the close, yields on 10yr bunds (-0.8bps), OATs (+0.0bps) and BTPs (+1.3bps) had seen relatively little movement, as investors continue to expect that the ECB will take a much more cautious approach to raising rates relative to the Fed.

Overnight in Asia markets are again mixed but being led by the Nikkei (+0.68%) and the Hang Seng (+0.14%), while the Shanghai Composite (-0.10%), CSI (-0.31%) and KOSPI (-0.34%) are losing ground. In a widely expected move the Bank of Korea raised rates for a second time since August, taking the policy rate to 1.0%. The BOK revised its inflation outlook to 2.3% for 2021 and 2% for 2022 which was expected. Futures markets are higher with the S&P 500 (+0.28%) and DAX (+0.35%) trading in the green. Treasuries are closed.

Back to yesterday, and one of the main pieces of news came from Germany, where there was finally confirmation that the centre-left SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP had agreed a full coalition deal. In terms of the economic measures, the notable ones include a restoration of the debt brake from 2023, which has been suspended during the pandemic, as well as an increase in the minimum wage to €12 per hour. We’ll wait to see if dealing with the climate emergency is carved out to some degree from the debt brake. I suspect it will be in some form. Assuming the deal is agreed by each of the parties, who will put the agreement to internal party approval processes, that could see the SPD’s Olaf Scholz become Chancellor in the week commencing December 6, bringing an end to Chancellor Merkel’s 16-year tenure.

That new coalition will be coming into office at a difficult time in light of the latest covid wave across Europe, and in his remarks yesterday, Scholz said that they would consider targeted vaccination mandates for those working with vulnerable groups. That came as the Bild newspaper reported that Chancellor Merkel asked the members of the new coalition to impose a 2-week nationwide lockdown, but this was rejected in a meeting on Tuesday evening. Overnight Germany reported 75,961 new cases, up from 66,884 on Tuesday.

Other countries are also moving to ramp up restrictions across the continent, with French health minister Veran expected to announce fresh measures at a news conference today, whilst Italy approved new curbs on the unvaccinated, including entry restrictions to enter restaurants and cinemas. Elsewhere, Slovakia announced a new lockdown that will see residents only permitted to leave home for work, education, or essential activities, with the closure of restaurants and non-essential shops for two weeks. A reminder that we are adding a daily G7 plus important country new cases chart every day in this email blast and a fatalities chart in the full pdf under “view report”.

The day ahead has a fairly quiet calendar given the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. On the central bank side however, we’ll hear from ECB President Lagarde, and the ECB’s Villeroy, Elderson and Schnabel, along with BoE Governor Bailey and the BoE’s Haskel. On top of that, the ECB will release the account of their October meeting, and data releases include the German GfK consumer confidence reading for December.


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