Futures Flat Ahead Of Historic Taper Announcement, China Warns Of “Downward Pressure” On Economy
US stock futures were flat ahead of today’s Fed meeting, where the central bank is widely expected to announce the reduction of asset purchases with a majority of analysts expecting the Fed reducing its monthly purchases of Treasuries by $10 billion and mortgage- backed securities by $5 billion. Nasdaq 100 futures climbed 0.1% while S&P 500 and Dow Jones futures were little changed. Oil fell as the U.S. ramped up pressure on OPEC+ to boost supplies (which will bear zero results). The two-year Treasury yield was steady, while the 30-year rate shed two basis points. European stocks struggled for direction and the dollar fell less than 0.1%.
Despite turmoil in the bond market which sent the MOVE (or bond VIX) index to post-covid highs…
… stocks remain complacent and are likely not under stress “because we all think we know what will come out from today’s meeting: a gradual start of the tapering of the bond purchases program,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. A “taper announcement will likely be seamless, what may be less seamless is the rate discussion,” she wrote in a note.
In recent weeks, policy makers have come under pressure to reassess their assessment of inflation being transitory, with bond and currency markets pricing in faster-than-expected rate hikes. “The big question will be whether they will signal anything about when the rate hikes will start,” Jeanette Garretty, chief economist at Robertson Stephens Wealth Management, said on Bloomberg Television. “I think they are going to try and avoid that.”
Wall Street has also largely shrugged off concerns around rising price pressures and mixed economic growth, boosted by a stellar third-quarter earnings season and an upbeat commentary about growth going forward. In fact, there is absolutely nothing that can dent the ongoing market meltup which according to Morgan Stanley will continue until just around Thanksgiving.
“Anything suggesting that the Fed is confident to keep withdrawing monetary policy support following a start today may allow equity investors to buy more,” said Charalambos Pissouros, head of research at JFD group. “After all, they may have already digested the idea that interest rates will start rising at some point soon.”
Meanwhile, Chinese equities drifted lower after what Bloomberg called was a “dour warning” from Premier Li who cautioned about “downward pressure” for the economy. Hang Seng falls as much as 1.2% after tech shares resume slide.
Here are some of the most notable premarket moves:
Lyft rose after its third-quarter results showed a continued improvement in key metrics for the ride-sharing company.
Zillow dropped as the decision to shut its home-flipping business raised questions about its ability to deliver growth.
Shale oil producer Devon Energy rose 4.8% in premarket trading on topping earnings estimates as oil prices hit multi-year highs.
Mondelez International added 1.9% after the Oreo maker raised its annual sales forecast, helped by price increases and strong demand from emerging markets.
T-Mobile gained 3.4% after the U.S. wireless carrier beat third-quarter estimates for adding monthly bill paying phone subscribers.
Activision Blizzard tumbled 12.0% after the videogame publisher delayed the launch of two much-awaited titles, as its co-leader Jen Oneal decided to step down from her role
On the economic data front, October readings on ADP private payrolls, IHS Markit composite PMI and ISM non-manufacturing activity is due later in the day.
Meanwhile, European stocks were flat as losses in energy stocks offset gains in basic resources shares. Italy’s FTSE MIB outperforms, rising as much as 0.3% while Spain’s IBEX underperforms. Oil & gas, retail and utilities are the weakest Stoxx 600 sectors; miners and autos outperform.
Asia’s equity benchmark was little changed as traders await the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting, with an announcement expected on tapering amid concerns about elevated inflation. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index traded in a narrow range, with Alibaba Group, AIA Group and Samsung Electronics the biggest drags and Tencent among the winners. South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 1.3% on mounting selling by foreign funds. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index declined for a seventh day, extending its longest losing streak since July. The earnings season has failed to boost Asian shares, with the regional benchmark down more than 10% from a February peak as supply-chain and inflation worries persist. Traders will focus on the Fed’s policy move on Wednesday for cues at a time volatility in the bond market has heightened. “U.S. monetary policy has a very direct impact on the Asian market, especially with their plethora of dirty U.S. dollar pegs,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. Philippine stocks were among the top gainers, advancing for a second day after local Covid-19 cases fell to fewest since March. Stocks in Australia also rose after the country’s central bank scrapped a bond-yield target on Tuesday and said there’s still some time to go for rate hikes. Iron ore’s rebound on Wednesday also bolstered the mining sector. Japan’s equity market was closed for a holiday.
Chinese stocks dripped after Premier Li Keqiang said China’s economy faces new downward pressures and has to cut taxes and fees to address the problems faced by small and medium-sized companies. Li did not specify the extent of the new “downward pressure” or its cause, but the phrase is generally used by Chinese officials to refer to a slowing economy. He has used the phrase before, including several times in 2019.
The economy needs “cross-cyclical adjustments” to continue in a proper range, Li said during a visit to China’s top market regulator, state broadcaster CCTV reported. That phrase is associated with a more conservative fiscal and monetary approach that focuses more on the long-term outlook instead of immediate economic performance.
“There are no obvious growth drivers now, so the government is looking for one,” said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong Ltd. “Small businesses’ investment can provide a source of healthier, longer-term growth, compared with government or property investment.”
In rates, 10-year Treasury note futures are at the top of Tuesday’s range, gaining over Asia session while eurodollar futures are up 1-2 ticks in red and green packs as shares declined in China and Hong Kong ahead of today’s FOMC decision and after Premier Li’s warning of downward pressures to the economy. Treasury 10-year yields richer by 1.8bp on the day, flattening 2s10s spread with front-end yields unchanged — bunds and gilts trade slightly cheaper vs. Treasuries. Cash Treasuries resumed trading in London after being closed in Tokyo for a Japanese holiday –curve has flattened with long-end yields richer by as much as 2bp. Focus on U.S. session includes ADP employment and durable goods data, refunding announcement before 2pm ET Fed rate decision. In Europe, Bunds bull flattened, helped in part by dovish comments from ECB’s Lagarde and Muller while peripheral spreads tightened with 10y Bund/BTP narrowing 3bps near 120bps.
In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched lower as the dollar fell versus most of its Group-of-10 peers and Treasury yields fell by up to 3 basis points, led by the long end of the curve. The euro gradually climbed toward the $1.16 handle while European government bonds yields fell and curves flattened. New Zealand’s dollar was among the top G-10 performers, and rose from a two- week low after the unemployment rate dropped more than economists predicted; the Kiwi and Aussie were also boosted by leveraged short covering. The pound inched up from a three-week low against the dollar before a speech by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey. Hedging the pound on an overnight basis is the costliest since March as traders focus on the upcoming meetings by the Federal Reserve and the BOE.
In commodities, crude futures extend Asia’s softness; WTI drops over 2%, stalling near $82, Brent drops a similar magnitude to trade near $83. Spot gold drifts around Asia’s worst levels near $1,783/oz. Most base metals are up over 1% with LME aluminum and tin outperforming
Looking at the day ahead the highlight will be the aforementioned Fed’s policy decision along with Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Other central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, alongside the ECB’s Elderson, Centeno, de Cos and Villeroy. Data releases include the final October services and composite PMIs from the UK and the US, and other US data includes the ISM services index for October, the ADP’s report of private payrolls for October and factory orders for September. Finally, earnings today include Qualcomm, Booking Holdings, Fox Corp and Marriott International.
S&P 500 futures little changed at 4,622.00
STOXX Europe 600 little changed at 479.79
MXAP little changed at 197.87
MXAPJ little changed at 645.10
Nikkei down 0.4% to 29,520.90
Topix down 0.6% to 2,031.67
Hang Seng Index down 0.3% to 25,024.75
Shanghai Composite down 0.2% to 3,498.54
Sensex little changed at 59,993.78
Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% to 7,392.73
Kospi down 1.3% to 2,975.71
German 10Y yield little changed at -0.18%
Euro little changed at $1.1587
Brent Futures down 1.8% to $83.23/bbl
Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,782.83
U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 94.05
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
The Federal Reserve is widely expected to announce the reduction of asset purchases at the conclusion of its policy meeting Wednesday, which Chair Jerome Powell will likely say is not a step toward raising interest rates any time soon
Traders have had a mixed view for most of this year about when emerging-Asia central banks will begin to normalize policy. Suddenly though, they are rushing to price in rate-hike bets across the region. The hawkish shift is most evident in South Korea and India, where markets are now anticipating at least a quarter-point increase in the next three months, while they are also building in Malaysia and Thailand over a two-year horizon
China’s economy faces new downward pressures and has to cut taxes and fees to address the problems faced by small and medium-sized companies, according to the country’s Premier Li Keqiang
More provinces in China are fighting Covid-19 than at any time since the deadly pathogen first emerged in Wuhan in 2019
The likelihood that elevated inflation will become entrenched is increasing, according to European Central Bank Governing Council member Bostjan Vasle
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk
Asian equity markets traded mixed despite another encouraging handover from Wall Street where all major indices notched fresh record closing highs for the third consecutive day, and the DJIA breached the 36k level amid a slew of earnings and absence of any significant catalysts to derail the recent uptrend. Gains in APAC were also capped by holiday-thinned conditions with Japan away for Culture Day and as the FOMC announcement draws closer (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite). The ASX 200 (+0.9%) outperformed amid a resurgence in the top-weighted financials sector as AMP shares were boosted after it announced to divest a 19.1% stake in Resolution Life Australasia for AUD 524mln and with CBA also higher as Australia’s largest bank is to offer customers the ability to conduct crypto transactions via its app. Conversely, the KOSPI (-1.3%) lagged after its automakers posted weak October sales stateside and following comments from South Korean PM Lee that they cannot afford additional cash handouts right now, while there was also attention on Kakao Pay which more than doubled from the IPO price on its debut. The Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.2%) were lacklustre and failed to benefit from the improvement in Chinese Caixin Services and Composite PMI data, amid ongoing concerns related to the energy crunch and with tech subdued after Yahoo pulled out of China due to a challenging business and legal environment. Furthermore, reports also noted that the Chinese version of Fortnite will close in mid-November, while a slightly firmer PBoC liquidity operation failed to spur Chinese markets as its efforts still resulted in a substantial net drain. Aussie yields continued to soften after the RBA affirmed its dovish tone at yesterday’s meeting and with the central bank also present in the market today for AUD 800mln in semi-government bonds which is in line with its regular weekly purchases, while a softer b/c at the 10yr Australian bond auction failed to unnerve domestic bonds and T-notes futures were steady overnight amid the looming FOMC.
Top Asian News
State Bank of India Profit Tops Estimates on Lower Provisions
Chinese Copper Smelters Boost Exports to Ease Historic Squeeze
China’s PBOC Says Digital Yuan Users Have Surged to 140 Million
Malaysia Holds Rates on Recovery, ‘Benign’ Inflation Outlook
European majors have adopted a similarly mixed performance (Euro Stoxx 50 -0.1%; Stoxx 600 Unch) as seen during the APAC session, as markets and participants count down to the FOMC policy decision, with the BoE and NFPs also on the docket for the rest of the week. US equity futures are also mixed but have been drifting mildly higher in European trade thus far, vs a flat overnight session. Back to Europe, there isn’t anything major to report in terms of under/outperformers among European majors, although Spain’s IBEX (-0.7%) lags in the periphery amidst losses in sector heavyweights. Sectors in Europe are mixed with no overarching theme. Basic Resources top the charts in a slight reversal of yesterday’s underperformance and amid a bounce in base metal prices. Travel & Leisure is propped up by Deutsche Lufthansa (+5.0%) post-earnings. Oil & Gas names are pressured by the decline across the crude complex in the run-up to tomorrow’s OPEC+ confab, whilst Banks are lacklustre as yields lose ground. In terms of individual movers, Vestas Wind System (-9.0%) is at the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after cutting guidance. BMW (+0.4%) is choppy after-earnings which saw EBIT top forecasts and targets confirmed, although the group noted that the rise in raw material prices have also had an impact on earnings, but they do not expect short-term magnesium shortage to affect production. Finally, Pandora (+0.8%) reported improvements on their metrics but warned that APAC performance, including China, remains weak and heavily impacted by COVID-19, with China expected to remain a drag on performance for the remainder of the year.
Top European News
BMW Muscles Through Chip Shortage With Profit Jump
Nexans Drops as Morgan Stanley Says 3Q Results Were Weak
Russia’s Biggest Alcohol Retailer Seeks $1.3 Billion in IPO
LSE Boss Expects London Will Keep EU Clearing Role Post-Brexit
In FX, far from all change, but the Kiwi has reclaimed 0.7100+ status against the Greenback and a firmer grasp of the handle in wake of significantly stronger than expected NZ labour market metrics via Q3’s HLFS update overnight, including jobs growth coming in five times higher than forecast and the unemployment rate falling sharply irrespective of a rise in participation. Nzd/Usd is hovering around 0.7135 and the Aud/Nzd cross is under 1.0450 even though the Aussie has regained some composure after its post-RBA relapse to retest 0.7450, albeit with assistance from the Buck’s broad pull-back rather than mixed PMIs and much weaker than anticipated building approvals. Indeed, the Franc has also rebounded from circa 0.9150 with no independent incentive and cognisant that the SNB will be monitoring moves as Eur/Chf meanders within its 1.0604-1.0548 w-t-d range.
DXY/JPY/EUR/GBP/CAD – The Dollar index has drifted back down from a fractional new high compared to Tuesday’s best between 94.144-93.970 parameters vs a 94.136-93.818 range yesterday, and for little apparent reason aside from pre-FOMC tinkering and fine-tuning of positions it seems. Nevertheless, DXY components are mostly taking advantage of the situation, albeit in typically tight ranges seen on a Fed day, with the Yen holding above 114.00 on Japanese Culture Day, the Euro just under 1.1600 and amidst more decent option expiry interest (1.1 bn from 1.1585 to the round number), Sterling still trying to retain 1.3600+ status and also close to a fairly big option expiry (821 mn at the 1.3615 strike) and the Loonie striving to contain declines beneath 1.2400 against the backdrop of retreating oil prices. Note, some upside in the Pound via upgrades to UK services and composite PMIs, but limited and Eur/Gbp remains over 0.8500 in advance of the showdown between Britain and France on fishing tomorrow when the BoE also delivers its eagerly anticipated November policy verdict.
SCANDI/EM – Not much adverse reaction to a slowdown in Sweden’s services PMI for the Sek, while the Nok is taking the latest downturn in Brent crude largely in stride on the eve of the Norges Bank meeting that is widely seen cementing rate hike guidance for next month. However, scant respite or solace for the Try from sub-consensus Turkish CPI as the near 20% y/y print means more divergence relative to the CBRT’s 1 week repo, and PPI accelerated again to heighten the build up of pipeline price pressures. Conversely, the Cnh and Cny are nudging back above 6.4000 after an encouraging Chinese Caixin services PMI and the Zar is on a firm footing awaiting results of SA local elections.
RBNZ said the financial system is well placed to support economic recovery despite uncertainty and risks, while the more recent Delta outbreak is creating stress for some industries and regions, particularly in Auckland. RBNZ also noted that with the risk of global inflation heightened, already stretched asset prices are facing headwinds from rising global interest rates and that supply chain bottlenecks and inflation are adding to stresses in some sectors. Furthermore, they intend to increase the minimum CFR requirement to its previous level of 75% on 1st January 2022, subject to no significant worsening in economic condition, while capital requirements for banks are to progressively increase from 1st July 2022 and it is encouraging to see them increasing ahead of these requirements. (Newswires)
In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are softer and in proximity to USD 82/bbl and USD 83/bbl respectively with losses today also potentially a function of the downbeat China COVID updates seen overnight. As a reminder, China’s most recent COVID-19 outbreak is reportedly the most widespread since Wuhan with infection in 19 of 31 provinces, according to a major newswires article. It was also reported that around half the flights to and from Beijing city’s two airports were cancelled Tuesday, according to aviation industry data site VariFlight. Further, yesterday’s Private Inventory data was also bearish, printing a larger-than-expected build of 3.6mln bbl vs exp. +2.2mln, ahead of today’s DoEs which will take place 1hr earlier for those in Europe. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s OPEC+, markets expect a continuation of the current plan to ease output curbs by 400k BPD/m. Outside calls have been getting louder for the producers to open the taps more than planned amid inflationary feed-through to consumers and company margins, although ministers, including de-factor heads Saudi and Russia, have been putting weight behind current plans, with no pushback seen from members within OPEC+ thus far. Further, the COVID situation in China is deteriorating, hence ministers will likely express a cautious approach. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver are flat within overnight ranges, as is usually the case before FOMC. Base metals are staging a recovery with LME copper back above USD 9,500/t, whilst Chinese thermal coal futures rose some 10% following 10 days of declines
US Event Calendar
8:15am: Oct. ADP Employment Change, est. 400,000, prior 568,000
9:45am: Oct. Markit US Services PMI, est. 58.2, prior 58.2
Oct. Markit US Composite PMI, prior 57.3
10am: Sept. Durable Goods Orders, est. -0.4%, prior -0.4%
Sept. -Less Transportation, est. 0.4%, prior 0.4%
Sept. Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, prior 0.8%
Sept. Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, prior 1.4%
10am: Sept. Factory Orders, est. 0.1%, prior 1.2%
Sept. Factory Orders Ex Trans, est. 0%, prior 0.5%
10am: Oct. ISM Services Index, est. 62.0, prior 61.9
2pm: FOMC Rate Decision
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
So after much anticipation we’ve finally arrived at the Fed’s decision day, where it’s widely anticipated (including by DB’s US economists) that they’ll announce a tapering in their asset purchases. Such a move has been increasingly anticipated over recent months, not least with the repeated upgrades to inflation forecasts over the course of 2021, and the FOMC themselves flagged this at their September meeting, where their statement said that “if progress continues broadly as expected … a moderation in the pace of asset purchases may soon be warranted.”
In terms of what our economists are expecting, their view is that the Fed will announce monthly reductions of $10bn and $5bn in the pace of Treasury and MBS purchases respectively, with the first cut to purchases coming in mid-November. They see this bringing the latest round of QE to an end in June 2022, though this would also offer some flexibility to respond to any changes in the economic environment over the coming eight months should they arise. On the question of rate hikes, they think lift-off won’t take place until December 2022, but don’t see Chair Powell actively pushing back on current market pricing (a full hike nearly priced in by mid-year 22) given the elevated uncertainty about the outlook, particularly on inflation. You can see more details in their preview here.
Of course since the Fed’s last meeting, many inflationary pressures have only grown, particularly given the fresh surge in energy prices that’s taken WTI oil up to $83/bbl, having been at just $72/bbl at the time of their September meeting. In turn, this has taken market expectations of future inflation up as well, with the 10yr breakeven now standing at 2.52%, up from 2.28% following Powell’s September press conference. And market pricing has also shifted significantly since the last meeting, with investors having gone from expecting less than one full hike by the December 2022 meeting to more than two.
Ahead of all that, global risk assets continued to perform strongly and a number of major indices climbed to fresh all-time highs yesterday. The S&P 500 (+0.37%), the NASDAQ (+0.34%), the Dow Jones (+0.39%) and Europe’s STOXX 600 (+0.14%) all hit new records, whilst France’s CAC 40 (+049%) exceeded its previous closing peak made all the way back in 2000. Positive earnings news helped bolster those indices, with 27 of 29 S&P 500 reporters beating earnings estimates during trading, and 16 of 20 after-hours reporters beating earnings estimates. This included Pfizer during the day, which raised its full-year forecasts on the back of strong vaccine demand and noted it had the capacity to produce as much as 4 billion shots next year. However, the big winner yesterday (the biggest in the small-cap Russell 2000 yesterday) was Avis Budget Group (+108.31%) even if its performance actually marked a fall from its intraday high when the share price had more than tripled. Those moves occurred after Avis posted strong earnings driven by better-than-expected demand. Their CEO said they’d add more electric cars, whilst the stock also got attention on the WallStreetBets forum on Reddit, which readers may recall was behind some big moves at the start of the year in various “meme stocks” like GameStop. The banner day added $8.5bn to its market cap, which helped it leap frog fellow meme stock AMC to become the second biggest company in the Russell 2000 from third slot yesterday.
In other such popular retail stocks, Tesla retreated -3.03% after Elon Musk cast some doubt the previous evening over the recently announced deal to sell 100,000 cars to rental car company Hertz. That said, the automaker has still added over $300 billion in market cap over the last month.
Sovereign bonds were another asset class that put in a decent performance ahead of the Fed, with yields falling throughout the curve across a range of countries following the relatively dovish tone vs heightened expectations from the RBA yesterday morning. By the close, those on 10yr Treasuries were down -1.4bps to 1.54%, whilst their counterparts in Europe saw even steeper declines, including those on 10yr bunds (-6.3bps), OATs (-8.5bps) and BTPs (-14.1bps). BTPs were the biggest story and the move seemed to coincide with a reappraisal of ECB hike expectations, as pricing through December 2022 declined -6.5 bps, down from c.20 bps of expected tightening priced as of Monday. So a big decline.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite (-0.57%), the Hang Seng (-0.93%) and the KOSPI (-1.23%) are all trading lower. Japan’s markets are closed due to the Culture Day, meaning also that cash treasuries are not trading in the region. In data releases, the Caixin Services PMI for China rose to 53.8 versus 53.1 expected. However, Premier Li’s remarks about new “downward pressure” on China’s economy and latest COVID outbreak, which is now the most widespread since the first emergence of the virus, are weighing down on the sentiment. Meanwhile, China and Hong Kong are discussing reopening of the shared border. The S&P 500 futures (-0.01%) is pretty flat this morning. Aussie yields are again lower especially at the front end with the infamous April 24 bond around -7bps as we type.
As we go to print the Associated Press have called the Virginia as a victory for the GOP Youngkin with New Jersey equivalent also looking likely to go to the GOP. So a big blow to the Democrats. Of those, Virginia was being more closely watched. As recently as the Obama years it was a fiercely contested battleground, but it’s trended Democratic over the last few cycles, with Biden’s 10 point margin of victory last year well exceeding his 4.4 point margin nationally. So this will not be good news for the Dems ahead of next year’s mid-terms. It will also increase the odds of legislative and fiscal gridlock after that – although the latter has been increasingly expected.
Staying with US Politics, President Biden indicated in a news conference that he was getting closer to announcing whether or not he would re-nominate Fed Chair Powell for another term as head of the central bank, or if he would appoint a new Chair. He said an announcement will come “fairly quickly”.
In terms of the latest on the pandemic, the US CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices met and backed the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year olds, joining the FDA who gave the vaccine the green light for the same age group.
There wasn’t much in the way of data releases yesterday, though we did get the final manufacturing PMIs from Europe, where the Euro Area PMI for October was revised down two-tenths from the flash estimate to 58.3. Germany also saw a downward revision to 57.8 (vs. flash 58.2), but Italy outperformed expectations with a 61.1 reading (vs. 59.6 expected).
To the day ahead now, and the highlight will be the aforementioned policy decision from the Fed, along with Chair Powell’s subsequent press conference. Other central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, alongside the ECB’s Elderson, Centeno, de Cos and Villeroy. Data releases include the final October services and composite PMIs from the UK and the US, and other US data includes the ISM services index for October, the ADP’s report of private payrolls for October and factory orders for September. Finally, earnings today include Qualcomm, Booking Holdings, Fox Corp and Marriott International.
Wed, 11/03/2021 – 08:13