Silver as an investment

European Stocks, Futures Rebound As Stronger Dollar Eases Haven Demand

European stocks rebounded after the biggest one-day drop since November, alongside S&P futures, while Asian equities posted modest declines after yesterday’s weak US close. Gold and yen slid, while the dollar gained on the latest Mnuchin comments to the FT according to which Trump was “absolutely not” trying to talk down the dollar.

European equities rose 0.4% in early trading, hinting at some cautious optimism following a day of risk off sentiment, and reversing the 0.6% fall in Asian equities outside Japan which dipped to a one-month low.  U.K. shares initially traded lower as the pound held much of its gains following the surprise election announcement, however have since rebounded back to unchanged. Having dragged it lower on Tuesday after another major rout in China, commodity companies helped prop the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, which rebounded following the biggest one-day loss since November. Sterling pulled back slightly after reaching the strongest level since October on Tuesday. Oil fluctuated after dipping on yesterday’s API data which showed U.S. oil inventories fell 840,000 barrels last week, a lower than expected draw. On Wednesday official EIA data is expected to show a larger drop of 1.4 million barrels.

“Sterling rallied across the board yesterday on the back of Prime Minister May’s announcement of snap UK elections. The market interpreted the move as an effort to strengthen the prime minister’s majority and reinforce a more unified stance for the upcoming negotiations with the EU,” Unicredit analysts said in a note on Wednesday. “Geopolitical tensions are providing strong support to U.S. Treasuries … (and) in the euro zone Bunds are receiving support from the general decline in risk appetite and uncertainty related to the French presidential election.”

The flight to Treasury safety pushed JGB yields briefly back into the negative overnight, however modest selling in the complex has since seen the 10Y yield rebound back over 0.00%

As Bloomberg highlights in its overnight wrap, after declines on Tuesday, investors seem to be taking the addition of yet another macro risk in their stride. The U.K. vote joins a slew of elections to be held this year against a backdrop of rising populism in the Europe, while geopolitical tensions are simmering over both North Korea and Syria and the pace of monetary tightening in the world’s biggest economy looks uncertain. Meanwhile, the reflation trade has soured, with June rate hike odds dropping below 50% for the first time in two months.

Asian shares failed to benefit from the eventual rebound in risk sentiment, and the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8%, taking its four-day loss to 3.2%. The main Shenzhen market was also down a fourth day. The Hang Seng Index slid 0.4 percent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index dropped below the 10,000 level for the first time in two months. Japan’s Topix index was little changed, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.6 percent and South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.5 percent.

Risk was firmer in Europe,  where the Stoxx Europe 600 increased 0.3% as of 10:10 a.m. in London, after dropping 1.1% on Tuesday. 

In the US, S&P futures rose 0.3% offsetting yesterday’s 0.3% drop in the cash market. IBM slumped in after-hours U.S. trading after its 20th consecutive quarterly sales decline. 

Sterling was just off a six-month peak against the dollar above $1.28 having surged when British Prime Minister Theresa May called an early general election for June 8, seeking to strengthen her party’s majority ahead of Brexit negotiations.

The dollar was undermined in part by an eroding interest rate advantage as U.S. bond yields dived to five-month lows. Yields on 10-year Treasury paper sank to 2.17%, far away from the 2.629% peak seen in March. They were last up slightly on the day at 2.20%.

A run of disappointing U.S. economic data and doubts that the Trump administration will progress with tax cuts have quelled expectations of faster inflation and boosted fixed-income debt. That, in turn, has taken the steam out of Wall Street. The Dow fell 0.55 percent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 lost 0.29 percent and the Nasdaq 0.12 percent. Goldman Sachs lost 4.7 percent in the largest daily drop since June after its earnings missed expectations as trading revenue dropped.

In commodity markets, profit taking nudged gold down 0.4 percent to $1,287.10 an ounce, and away from Monday’s peak of $1,295.42. Oil prices slipped as U.S. crude stockpiles fell by less than expected and a U.S. government report said shale oil output in May was likely to post the biggest monthly increase in more than two years

Economic data include weekly mortgage applications. Scheduled earnings include U.S. Bancorp, Qualcomm, Morgan Stanley.

Bulletin Overnight Summary from RanSquawl

  • European equities trade modestly higher ahead of further notable earnings from the US with macro newsflow from the EU session relatively light
  • Across FX markets, GBP has given back some of its gains against the greenback after having met resistance at 1.2920 to move within proximity to the 1.2800 level
  • Looking ahead, highlights include DoEs, Fed’s George, Rosengren and ECB’s Coeure

Global Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.3% to 2,343.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4% to 377.49
  • MXAP down 0.5% to 145.52
  • MXAPJ down 0.6% to 473.43
  • Nikkei up 0.07% to 18,432.20
  • Topix down 0.01% to 1,471.42
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 23,825.88
  • Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,170.69
  • Sensex up 0.05% to 29,333.48
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.6% to 5,804.01
  • Kospi down 0.5% to 2,138.40
  • German 10Y yield rose 2.1 bps to 0.177%
  • Euro down 0.1% to 1.0718 per US$
  • Brent Futures up 0.1% to $54.95/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 5.6 bps to 1.966%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.9 bps to 1.661%
  • Gold spot down 0.6% to $1,282.57
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 99.70

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Fed June Hike Odds Below 50% After Inflation Expectations Tumble
  • Markets Start to Ponder the $13 Trillion Gorilla in the Room
  • IBM Sales Miss Shows Return to Growth Not Without Roadblocks
  • Trump Mulls Military Options for North Korea. They’re All Grim.
  • European Car Sales Surge 11% as Fiat, Renault Lure Buyers
  • Currency Traders Spot Fatal Flaw in Republicans’ Border Tax Plan
  • Ford’s Schoch Sees ‘Strong 2017’ in China
  • Maserati CEO Bigland Seeing No Signs of Any China Sales Slowdown
  • Nasdaq Seeks German Power Futures Amid Potential Market Split
  • Goldman Sachs Australia’s Steve Maartensz Said Leaving Bank
  • Havertys to Name Richard B. Hare as CFO
  • KKR, Stone Point Buy Wealth Management Firm Focus Financial
  • American Air Wins Arbitration Over Flight Attendant Pay Raise

Asian equity markets traded negative following a weaker lead from Wall Street, where disappointing earnings from the likes of IBM, Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs dampened sentiment. This resulted in early pressure in Nikkei 225 (Unch.) and ASX 200 (-0.5%) with weakness in financials and commodities leading the declines in the latter. Shanghai Comp (-0.8%) and Hang Seng (-0.4%) also conformed to the downbeat tone observed across their global counterparts amid mild increases in Chinese money market rates, with the PBoC’s liquidity operations failing to provide an uplift. 10yr JGBs traded higher as participants sought after safer assets due to the dampened tone in the region, while the 10yr yield declined to 0% which was its lowest since November.
PBoC injected CNY 40bIn 7-day reverse repos, CNY 20bIn in 14-day reverse repos and CNY 20bIn in 28-day reverse repos.

Top Asian News

  • China’s $8.5 Trillion Shadow Bank Industry Is Back in Full Swing
  • Jakarta’s Chinese Christian Governor Trails in Run-off: Polls
  • Samsung Heir’s Trial Homes in on Five Minutes With Ex- President
  • Alcohol Ban Another Drain on India’s Weak State Finances
  • Indian Stocks Fluctuate; TCS Is Biggest Drag on Sensex Benchmark

European markets have rebounded among an air of caution this morning with the Eurostoxx trading higher by a modest 0.3% as participants continue to digest yesterday’s news that PM May is to call a snap election for June 8th. Before that though, focus remains firmly on the 1st round of the tense French election, in which some polls indicate that Macron still holds a slight advantage over his nearest rivals (Le Pen, Fillon). In stock specific news, earning updates have been coming in thick and fast with AB Foods supported by strong results this morning, while Burberry notably underperforms after the retailer stated that revenue fell short of analyst expectations. In credit markets, prices had been subdued for much of the morning with Bunds relatively flat, however recent comments from ECB’s Hansson who noted that it is not too early to discuss ECB policy (change) has pressured the German benchmark in recent trade.

Top European News

  • French Election Shocker: Pollsters Baffled by Four-Way Race
  • Banks and Clients Tussle Over What It Will Cost to Read Analysts
  • How May’s Election Bet Could Help Scots Independence Forces
  • Pound May Top $1.30 on Short-Gamma Positioning, Charts: Analysis
  • Michael Spencer’s NEX Group Plans Relocation in New York, London
  • Burberry Sales Miss Estimates as New CEO’s Task Gets Tougher
  • Germans Fly to U.S. Ready to Counter Trump’s Surplus Complaints
  • Zalando Drops After Reporting Quarterly Profit to Miss Estimates

In  currencies, the yen dropped 0.4 percent to 108.86 per dollar after gaining 0.5 percent Tuesday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2 percent following a two-day decline. The pound dropped less than 0.1 percent to $1.2836 after its 2.2 percent surge Tuesday. The euro also slipped less than 0.2 percent.  Cable has given back some of its gains against the greenback after having met resistance at 1.2920 to move within proximity to the 1.2800 level with markets now awaiting the Parliamentary confirmation for the go-ahead from yesterday’s announcement. Elsewhere, USD/JPY has continued to climb throughout the European session as geopolitical fears continue to abate, at least for the time being with the pair approaching 109.00 to the upside. Elsewhere, commodity currencies have been a touch softer this morning with USD/CAD tripping above 1.34, while there has been no respite for the AUD as we are back testing 0.7500 against the USD, but the flow looks to be going through AUD/NZD, which is now just below the 1.0700 mark. Finally, EUR has lost some modest ground to the broadly firmer USD with this morning’s inflation data from the Eurozone coming broadly in line with expectations.

In commodities, gold declined 0.5 percent to $1,282.84 an ounce after closing at the highest since November in the previous session. West Texas Intermediate crude oil was little changed at $52.43 a barrel, after two days of losses. Trade across the commodities complex remained uneventful with WTI crude futures only slightly pressured following a smaller than expected headline crude drawdown in the latest API Inventory Report. EU trade has seen some rhetoric from OPEC Sec-Gen Barkindo who said that March compliance data is showing higher conformity with supply cut pact but this has failed to provide too much traction for energy prices ahead of the US crossover. Elsewhere, gold (-0.2%) continued to pull back from 5-month highs as the USD attempted to nurse yesterday’s weakness, while copper found some reprieve and rebounded from 3-months lows.

Looking at the day ahead, this morning in Europe the only data due is the final CPI report for the Euro area where headline CPI is expected to come in at +0.8% mom and +1.5% yoy, and the core at +0.7% yoy. There is no data due in the US although we will get the Fed’s Beige Book while the Fed’s Rosengren is also due to speak. The ECB’s Coeure also speaks this afternoon in NY. Earnings wise, today we will get 16 S&P 500 companies including Morgan Stanley and eBay.

US Event Calendar

  • 7am: MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 1.5%
  • 12:30pm: Fed’s Rosengren Speaks at Bard College Conference
  • 2pm: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book

* * *

DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

We were actually watching the news on TV last night after the surprise snap UK election decision. On this the biggest call out of DB over the last 24 hours was to reverse the 2 year bearish house view on Sterling immediately after the announcement yesterday. Our FX strategists argued last year that an early general election was the only way to resolve the political impasse the U.K. government faces in conducting Brexit negotiations. The 2020 General Election was a problem domestically (small dwindling majority likely forcing policy gridlock and compromises) and externally in as far as negotiating with Europe from a weak position in 2019 as the Brexit deadline approached.

The election on June 8th will likely result in a larger Conservative majority (see latest polls below). This should have three material implications, in their opinion. First, it makes the deadline to deliver a “clean”  Brexit without a lengthy transitional arrangement by 2019 far less pressing given that no general election will be due the year after. Second, it will dilute the influence of MPs pushing for hard Brexit, strengthening the government’s domestic political position and allowing earlier compromise over key EU demands for a transitional arrangement. Third, it strengthens the PM’s overall negotiating stance who  in recent weeks has clearly fallen in line with the European negotiating approach. This will involve a settlement of the Brexit payments and other divorce aspects first, to be followed by a lengthy transitional period during which the final outcome of Brexit will emerge. This sequenced approach materially reduces the “crash risk” of Brexit negotiations as well as strengthening the Prime Minister’s hand in pursuing an orderly (and very lengthy) withdrawal. All of the above in turn reduce downside risks for the U.K. growth outlook over Brexit negotiations. Our FX team will look to publish fresh targets in the coming days. In terms of the economic impact, DB’s Mark Wall believes that a larger government majority should also reduce Brexit-related downside risks. However, he hesitates from assuming much upside yet for economic growth or for BoE policy rates. Mark believes that the Conservatives are likely to campaign on an uncompromising “hard Brexit” message and the capacity to concede in negotiations in the EU will come later. He holds his 1.8% GDP growth forecast for 2017 and sees little upside relative to his 1.1% GDP forecast for 2018. A link to both reports can be found here.

Just on those polls, a snap online ICM poll released yesterday in the hours following the election announcement showed that, with a polling sample of 1000 people, support for the Conservatives stands at 46%, with Labour at 25% and the Lib Dems at 11%. The 3 polls prior to this (ICM, YouGov, ComRes) showed the Conservatives as holding an average 20% lead over Labour, so not too dissimilar. The FT poll tracker also shows the Conservatives as holding 43% of the support compared to 25% for Labour (or an 18% lead). The FT also references Electoral Calculus which predicts a Conservative majority of 130 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons. That compares with a working majority of just 17 seats currently.

Unsurprisingly the news of the snap election was initially most felt in FX with Sterling rallying immediately and closing 3 big figures higher or +2.20% at $1.284 – the highest level since October 3rd. That was the biggest rally for the Pound versus the Dollar since January 17th when PM May delivered what was largely considered a fairly balanced Brexit speech. That move in Sterling yesterday weighed heavily on UK equities with the FTSE 100 (-2.46%) ironically suffering its biggest one-day loss since the post-Brexit aftermath on June 27th. The index is also now back to within just 0.7% of the February lows. The big dollar earning blue-chips suffered most of all with some of the biggest losers including BHP (-5.59%), Glencore (-5.58%), BP (-3.93%), GlaxoSmithKline (-3.67%) and Antofagasta (-3.41%). In contrast the more domestically orientated FTSE 250 closed down just -1.16%. For me I have to weigh up whether the potential cheaper cost of my next iPhone purchase (never too far away) offsets my declining domestic share portfolio. It’s a close one!!!

There wasn’t much better news for risk assets outside of the UK yesterday either. In Europe the Stoxx 600 closed down -1.11% while last night the S&P 500 bounced back to pare its loss to a more modest -0.29%. One sector which notably underperformed was US Financials (-0.83%) which came after Goldman Sachs disappointed analysts with a miss at both the revenue and earnings lines following its Q1 report yesterday. In contrast to what we’ve seen with other US banks this reporting season – including BofA yesterday – the miss was largely as a result of disappointing performance in the FICC business. The other  story in markets yesterday was the move in rates. In keeping with the largely risk-off tone but perhaps also reflecting the lingering geopolitical concerns and also the upcoming French presidential election this weekend to some degree, 10y Bund yields initially rallied 3.1bps to 0.153% for the lowest closing yield this year before 10y Treasuries then rallied 8.2bps to 2.169% for the lowest close since November.

This morning in Asia the majority of bourses are following the lead from Wall Street and Europe yesterday and are currently tracking lower. The Hang Seng (-0.74%), Shanghai Comp (-1.10%), Kospi (-0.50%) and ASX (-0.56%) are all in the red. It’s worth noting that materials names are underperforming, which isn’t a surprise given the moves for metals over the last 24 hours. Most notable is the latest leg lower for iron ore which fell another -4.60% yesterday and is now down over -33% from the February highs. Elsewhere, the Nikkei is currently little changed, helped by a slightly weaker Yen. US equity index futures are a touch higher however despite IBM reporting softer than expected sales figures after closing bell last night which saw shares tumble 5% in extended trading. Meanwhile in bond markets this morning the most notable move is that for JGB’s where the 10y (using the March-2027 maturity bond) has fallen below 0% (touching -0.005%) for the first time since mid-November. It’s worth adding that the BoJ today maintained the amount of 5y and 10y bond purchases in its regular bond buying exercise.

Yesterday we saw the latest CSPP numbers and it’s looking like I might have to say ‘I was wrong’ soon which are words a research analyst always struggles with. I thought that the ECB might taper corporate purchases alongside Government bonds but the early evidence suggests some evidence otherwise. However the ‘strong’ numbers of the last two weeks (post taper) might be slightly distorted by two pretty weak weekly numbers in March and the Easter break but the average daily purchases in the 4 business days last week of €423mn were comfortably above the daily average of €368mn since the program started. But if you average it over 5 days it goes down to €338mn/day. So until we see the full month’s purchases on May 2nd (two weeks time) we really can’t be sure. At that point the ECB will surely want to have signalled how they have split the taper. To be fair my colleague Michal has been more of the opinion that they’ll keep CSPP ‘stronger for longer’ than me. It’s important as for the last few months I’ve felt that although technicals have been strong for credit, the technicals for Bunds have been even stronger (see a recent Credit Bites for more thus creating headwinds for spreads. If the CSPP is staying ‘stronger for longer’ it will help redress that balance a little but it’s too early for this to be confirmed.

Away from that, yesterday’s macro data was largely a sideshow. In the US industrial production was confirmed as increasing +0.5% mom as expected with capacity utilization also edging up four-tenths to 76.1%. Manufacturing production did however decline -0.4% mom, led by the auto sector. Elsewhere, housing starts were confirmed as declining a relatively steep -6.8% mom (vs. -3.0% expected) although that was somewhat offset by a two percentage point upward revision to the February print to +5.0%. Building permits was reported as rising +3.6% mom (vs. +2.0% expected). Away from this, there was no  data of note in Europe however we did get other economic news out of the IMF with the latest quarterly forecasts released. The fund revised its global growth forecast up one-tenth to 3.5% this year and left its 2018 forecast for 3.6% unchanged.

The forecast for the US was also left unchanged at 2.3% and 2.5% for this year and next. There was also a little bit of Fedspeak yesterday from Kansas City Fed President Esther George, although again it didn’t do much to move the dial. George said that “balance sheet adjustments will need to be gradual and smooth” and that “importantly, once the process begins, it should continue without reconsideration at each subsequent FOMC meeting”.

Looking at the day ahead, this morning in Europe the only data due is the final CPI report for the Euro area where headline CPI is expected to come in at +0.8% mom and +1.5% yoy, and the core at +0.7% yoy. There is no data due in the US although we will get the Fed’s Beige Book while the Fed’s Rosengren is also due to speak. The ECB’s Coeure also speaks this afternoon in NY. Earnings wise, today we will get 16 S&P 500 companies including Morgan Stanley and eBay.