Summary: Equity markets closed last week somewhat mixed, but the Asian session was mostly strong on indications that the Chinese PBOC is shifting its attitude on monetary policy toward easing. Elsewhere, the difficult wait for the Fed Chair nomination news continues this week ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. Crude oil bounced after finding support overnight, but the risk of SPR release and Covid demand worries still linger.
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - a new week following a new all-time high in US equities on the close on Friday, which is starting with Nasdaq 100 futures opening up higher trading around the 16,610 level in early European trading. Last week showed that investors and traders are utilizing the Covid-19 lockdown playbook selling off physical companies while buying online companies that are better equipped to navigate new lockdowns in Europe. With the US 10-year yield remaining in a range around the 1.55% there is nothing from preventing equities from extending recent gains.
EURUSD and EURGBP – new Covid restrictions across Europe, which has become the center of the latest Covid wave, have crimped sentiment for the euro, as has the still very elevated power and natural gas prices. EURUSD has traded back down toward the lows of the cycle near 1.1265 overnight, with the next psychological magnet lower likely the 1.1000 area as long as the big 1.1500 break level continues to provide resistance. In EURGBP, last week saw the break of the prior major pivot low near 0.8400, with the next objective the post-Brexit vote low near 0.8275.
USDJPY – threatened support on Friday on a spike lower in long US treasury, but a reversal of much of that action by this morning in late Asian trading is likewise seeing USDJPY trying to recover back into the higher range, with a focus on the recent top just short of 115.00. We likely need for long US treasury yields to sustain a move higher to support a major foray above this huge 114.5-115.00 chart area, which has topped the market action since early 2017. Meanwhile, if risk sentiment worsens further in EM and darkens the outlook for JPY carry trades there, while US treasuries remains rangebound or head lower, the JPY could squeeze higher as the speculative interest is tilted heavily short.
Gold (XAUUSD) extended Friday’s drop below $1850 overnight, before bouncing ahead of key support in the $1830-35 area. The risk of a quicker withdrawal of Fed stimulus supporting real yields and the dollar has for now reduced gold's ability to build on the technical breakout. However, the price softness on Friday helped attract ETF buying with Bloomberg reporting a 10 tons increase, the biggest one-day jump since January 15. Gold’s biggest short-term threat remains the tripling of futures long held by funds during the past seven weeks to a 14-month. Most of that buying being technical driven with the risk of long liquidation now looming on a break below the mentioned support level.
Crude oil (OILUKJAN22 & OILUSDEC21) opened softer in Asia after Friday’s big drop but has so far managed to find support at $77.85, the previous top from July. The market focus has during the past few weeks shifted from the current tight supply to the risk of a coordinated reserve release, a renewed Covid-driven slowdown in demand and recent oil market reports from the EIA and IEA pointing to a balanced market in early 2022. Speculators who for the last six weeks have been net sellers of crude oil futures cut their combined WTI and Brent long to a three-month low in the week to November 16. Focus on SPR and Covid risks this week
US treasuries (SHY, IEF, TLT). Government bond yields worldwide dropped as new lockdown measures were imposed in Austria on Friday. Ten-year yields tumbled to 1.55%, and they are likely to continue to trade range-bound as the debt ceiling issue will continue to compress long-term yields as volatility peaks in money markets. Investors will focus on this week’s PCE index, FOMC minutes and any news regarding a change of leadership of the Federal Reserve. If Brainard is appointed as Fed chair, the market will expect low rates for longer, thus inflation expectations will advance putting upward pressure on yields. Thus, it is unavoidable to continue to see the 5s30s continue to flatten.
German Bunds (IS0L). We expect European sovereigns, in general, to continue to benefit from news related to a surge of Covid cases and lack of collateral as the year ends. Yet, the perception of inflation is changing among ECB members with Isabel Schnabel last week saying that the central bank will need to be ready to act if inflation proves more durable. Therefore, as we enter in the new year, and collateral shortages will be eased, we anticipate spreads to resume their widening.
What is going on?
Fed Vice Chair Clarida suggests faster Fed taper - in comments on Friday, suggesting that the December FOMC meeting could speed the pace at which the Fed will reduce its asset purchases. “I’ll be looking closely at the data that we get between now and the December meeting...It may well be appropriate at that meeting to have a discussion about increasing the pace at which we are reducing our asset purchases.”
China’s central bank signals that it may ease policy. In a monetary policy report from Friday, the PBOC dropped language from prior reports, including phrase suggesting that the bank will maintain “normal monetary policy” and a promise not to “flood the economy with stimulus”. This comes in the wake of considerable disruption in the property sector as the government cracks down on an overleveraged property sector. Asian equities were mostly higher on the news, especially in Korea, although the Hang Seng index was slightly in the red as of this writing.
Ericsson to acquire cloud provider Vonage in $6.2bn deal. This pushes the Swedish telecommunication company into the cloud communication industry seeking to add more growth to the overall business. Vonage has delivered 11% revenue growth in the past 12 months hitting $1.4bn with an operating margin of 10.4%.
Global proceeds from IPOs hit $600bn in record year. This is the biggest amount since 2007 and almost 200% above the level in 2019 highlighting the excessive risk sentiment in equities.
More confusing signals from Bank of England. Governor Bailey said in an interview for the Sunday Times that risks to the country are “two-sided” at the moment as growth slows and inflation rises, and that the cause of inflation problems is supply side constraints and that “monetary policy isn’t going to solve those directly.” Similarly, BoE Chief Economist Huw Pill said on Friday that the Bank of England said that the weight of evidence was shifting in favour of rate hikes but that he has not yet made a decision, encouraging observers to focus on the longer term rather than meeting-to-meeting decision.
US shared intelligence with allies suggesting potential for Russia to invade Ukraine - according to Bloomberg sources. The intelligence noted up to 100,000 soldiers could be deployed in such a scenario, and that some half of that number are already in position. Russian president Vladimir Putin denied Russia intends to invade, but seemed to pat himself on the back for “having gotten the attention of the US and is allies, which he accused of failing to take Russia’s ‘red lines’ over Ukraine seriously”, as the article puts it.
What are we watching next?
Who will US President Biden nominate to head the Fed next February? Powell is still seen as more likely to get the nod that Brainard by roughly two to one, and this Fed Chair nomination issue is hanging over the markets, as the current Fed chair term ends in early February and from comments made last week by President Biden, an announcement could come any day. One uncertainty that would come with a Brainard nomination is the potential difficulty of having her nomination approved by the Senate. The nomination news could generate significant short-term volatility on the choice of the nominally more dovish Lael Brainard over current Fed Chair Powell, though we see little difference in the medium-longer term implications for monetary policy, and the Fed is likely to get a prominent new regulatory role either way (under Brainard or someone else if she is nominated to replace Powell).
Will Germany announce a Covid lockdown? - Friday saw some volatility on Austria’s announcement of a full Covid lockdown, with Germany’s health minister saying that a similar move in Germany could not be ruled out. Later that day, that was contradicted by comments from another minister. Meanwhile, resistance against Covid restrictions has turned violent in Netherlands.
Earnings Watch – the number of important earnings is falling rapidly, but this week Tuesday is the most important day with key earnings from Xiaomi, XPeng and Kuaishou, both important Chinese technology companies. Also on Tuesday, US companies such as Medtronic, Autodesk and Dell Technologies are worth watching.
Monday: Sino Pharmaceutical, Prosus, Zoom Video, Agilent Technologies
Tuesday: Xiaomi, Kuaishou Technology, Compass Group, Medtronic, Analog Devices, Autodesk, VMWare, Dell Technologies, XPeng, HP, Best Buy, Dollar Tree
Friday: Meituan, Pinduoduo
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
0900 - Switzerland SNB weekly sight deposit data
1330 – US Chicago Fed Oct. National Activity Index
1500 – US Oct. Existing Home Sales
1730 – ECB's Guindos to speak
2145 – New Zealand Q3 Retail Sales
2200 – Australia Nov. Flash Services & Manufacturing PMI
0105 – Australia RBA’s Kohler to speak
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