Global stocks and S&P futures point to a lower open on Monday and as Mark Cudmore noted earlier this morning, there are plenty of potential catalysts: sudden concerns about global growth rolling over, the slide in Apple suppliers which hit Asian stocks following a report that Apple is developing its own microLED screen, Trump’s trade war, this weekend’s McCabe firing, the ongoing personnel turnover in the White House, Abe’s record low popularity amid Japan’s land scandal, lack of Brexit clarity, Italy’s struggle to form a government, Facebook sliding on data breach concerns, Russia’s spat with the U.K., upcoming concerns about this Wednesday’s Fed meeting, ongoing Brexit talks and today’s G-20 gathering, and so on. In fact, the proper question is why the market didn’t notice any or all of these rising concerns before.
Well, they did notice this morning, and world stocks are a sea of red this morning, stuck on their worst run since November on Monday, as caution gripped traders in a week in which the Federal Reserve is likely to raise U.S. interest rates and perhaps signal as many as three more hikes lie in store this year…
… while U.S. equity futures sell led by Nasdaq as e-mini S&P futures break below 50-DMA, with FANG stocks under pressure the pre-market trading led by Facebook (-2.5%) after weekend reports of data breach scandal, helping push the VIX above 17.
A 1% drop for Europe’s main bourses amid a flurry of gloomy company news and weaker Wall Street futures meant MSCI’s world stocks index was down for a fifth day running.
The biggest risk event this week for global markets is the first U.S. interest rate decision under new Fed Chair Jerome Powell. It comes just weeks after he hinted to investors that he’s open to lifting the policy rate four times this year, rather than the three currently reflected in dot-plot forecasts. Some Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expect the median projection to rise to four on Wednesday, while others say there will be no change following a round of mediocre data and policy makers’ stated intentions to move gradually.
“Expected is a confident Fed Chair, both with respect to the economy’s strength and the Fed’s approach to policy,” said analysts at Westpac in a note. “While growth forecasts and the distribution of rate projections are likely to drift up, the median Fed funds forecast should remain unchanged at three in 2018 and three more in 2019,” they added. “Gradual and timely are the operative words for policy.”
Analysts at JPMorgan, however, see a risk the Fed might not only add one more rate rise for this year but for 2019 as well. “The worst case is the ‘18 and ‘19 dots both move up – the Fed is currently guiding to five hikes in ‘18 and ‘19 combined but under this scenario that would shift to seven hikes,” they warned in a note to clients. “Stocks would probably tolerate one net dot increase over ‘18 and ‘19 but a bump in both years could create problems.”
Furthermore, trade war concerns also remain front and center, especially after Sunday’s bizarre snafu in which Treasury official David Malpass said he misspoke hours after claiming the U.S. was pulling out of decade-old formal economic talks with Beijing. This happened on the same day the PBOC announced its new head.
Trade will be top of the agenda at a two-day G20 meeting starting later on Monday in Buenos Aires and any signs of escalating stress between the U.S. and China could make investors in Asia nervous.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index headed for its first drop in three days as technology companies slumped with miners. Earlier, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks also fell, with tech shares under pressure with Bloomberg reporting that Apple was poised to disrupt its supply chain. The yen strengthened amid a huge drop in support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet following the Moritomo land scandal, ironically prompting a flight to safety which is, well, the Yen.
Japan’s Nikkei ended down 1 percent amid a firmer JPY and as support for PM Abe’s administration slumped to 33% (Prev. 45%) in the wake of the land-sale scandal. KOSPI (-0.8%) suffered losses in its top-weighted stocks in which Samsung Electronics fell on news Apple is to develop displays to replace Samsung screens, while Hyundai Motor was hit by a stateside investigation into fatal incidents involving airbag failure which could affect a total of 425K Hyundai and Kia cars. Hang Seng (flat) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.3%) were indecisive and traded choppy amid mixed property data from China, a neutral PBoC open market operation and after China signaled stable monetary policy continuity as it chose PBoC Deputy Governor Yi Gang to be the next central bank hea
In FX, the dollar initially made ground on the euro, though, as bond traders saw the gap between 10-year German and U.S. government yields, referred to as the ‘transatlantic spread’, ratchet out to its widest since December 2016. Cable was a big outperformer rising back over 1.40 as expectations for yet another Brexit transition deal are priced in; meanwhile EMFX continue their recent slide against USD. Key FX moves from BBG:
In key overnight developments, the ECB’s Weidmann said he thinks that good economy developments and inflation would permit a rapid end to bond purchases, while the ECB’s Villeroy commented that the progress to inflation target was slower than anticipated.
In Brexit-related news, the UK Brexit Select Committee is set to recommend that the UK should request an extension to the EU’s Article 50 process beyond March 2019. Separately, according to an HIS Markit survey, household incomes are rising at near their fastest pace since the financial crisis in 2009 with some speculating this could force the BoE to lift rates again soon. The UK’s BCC has raised its GDP forecast for 2018 from 1.1% to 1.4% and in 2019 from 1.3% to 1.5%. Its first forecast for 2020 is for 1.6% growth.
S&P affirmed Austria at AA+; Outlook Stable and affirmed Denmark at AAA; Outlook Stable. Fitch affirmed Italy at BBB; Outlook Stable.
As widely expected, Vladimir Putin has won the Russian Presidential election with a landslide victory.
Japan PM Abe reportedly asked South Korea President Moon to help set up a meeting with North Korea Leader Kim. White House said that US President Trump told South Korean President Moon that still on track to meet with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim by May.
UK, France and Germany have proposed new EU sanctions on Iran to aim to keep US President Trump committed to the Iranian nuclear deal, while reports added that sanctions would target individuals involved in ballistic weapons activity and war in Syria.
Looking at the commodities complex, WTI (-0.6%) and Brent (-0.7%) are pressured by concerns of oversupply arising as US drilling activity increases. The weekly Baker Hughes rig count added four oil rigs on Friday bringing the total oil rig number to 800 compared to 631 a year ago. Moving on to metals, Gold (-0.1%) continued to edge lower on a firmer dollar but has seen a slight bounce in recent trade. Dalian iron ore fell by 4% to its lowest level since November weighed by high inventories and weaker steel demand.
On today’s relatively quiet calendar, Oracle is set to report quarterly numbers, while no major economic data is expected.
Bulletin Headline summary from RanSquawk
Top Overnight News
Asian equity markets traded mixed with the region indecisive ahead of a widely anticipated Fed rate hike this week. ASX 200 (+0.2%) finished positive as strength in energy kept the index afloat, while Nikkei 225 (-1.0%) underperformed amid a firmer JPY and as support for PM Abe’s administration slumped to 33% (Prev. 45%) in the wake of the land-sale scandal. KOSPI (-0.8%) suffered losses in its top-weighted stocks in which Samsung Electronics fell on news Apple is to develop displays to replace Samsung screens, while Hyundai Motor was hit by a stateside investigation into fatal incidents involving airbag failure which could affect a total of 425K Hyundai and Kia cars. Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.1%) were indecisive and traded choppy amid mixed property data from China, a neutral PBoC open market operation and after China signalled stable monetary policy continuity as it chose PBoC Deputy Governor Yi Gang to be the next central bank head. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat amid an indecisive risk-tone in the region, while an unsurprising Summary of Opinions release and unchanged Rinban announcement also kept prices range-bound. As such, Japanese yields were mixed while their US counterparts were higher ahead of the FOMC in which the US 2-year yield rose to its highest since 2008.
Top Asian News
European bourses started the week on a poor footing (Eurostoxx 50 -1.0%) after a mixed Asian session, as investors anticipate a hawkish Fed meeting later this week. Energy and materials are amongst the worst performing sectors as concerns of US drilling activity points to higher output. Mining names are feeling the pressure from a firmer dollar with Antofagasta (-2.9%), Anglo American (2.8%), BHP (-2.7%), Rio (-2.2%) all seen at the foot of the FTSE 100. On the flip side, the financial sector is outperforming with Barclays (+3.6%) higher after reports that activist investor, Sherborne Investors have acquired a 5.2% stake in the bank. Additionally, SocGen (+0.65%) is providing some support to the sector after the Co. said they expect resolution over the LIBOR probe in the coming weeks. Separately, sources stated the company is applying for a banking license in Australia. In terms of individual movers, Hammerson shares leapt 26% after the Co. rejected a GBP 5bln offer from French retail property developer Klepierre (-4.0%). Micro Focus (-50.6%) plummeted to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 following a double whammy from worse than expected revenue outlook and the departure of their short-lived CEO.
Top European News
In FX, the greenback started off firmer with the DXY above the 90.00 level after last Friday’s stronger than expected Industrial Production and ahead of a widely expected rate hike from the Fed. This pressured its counterparts across the board with commodity-linked currencies also kept subdued by weakness in the metals complex, while USD/HKD rose to print a fresh 33yr high. Conversely, JPY was the exception and outpaced the USD amid the indecisive risk-tone and after USD/JPY failed to hold onto the 106.00 handle. However, in the last hour of trading, the USD has given up virtually all gains and the BBG Dollar index was back to session lows.
In Commodity prices were lacklustre overnight in which WTI crude futures pulled back from Friday’s gains and briefly slipped to below USD 62/bbl. Elsewhere, gold languished as the greenback remained firm ahead of the looming FOMC, while copper extended on last week’s lows alongside the indecisive risk tone and early weakness in Chinese metals prices in which Dalian iron ore futures slipped over 3% shortly after the open.
In commodities, WTI (-0.6%) and Brent (-0.7%) are pressured by concerns of oversupply arising as US drilling activity increases. The weekly Baker Hughes rig count added four oil rigs on Friday bringing the total oil rig number to 800 compared to 631 a year ago. Russian Energy Minister Novak affirmed pledge to see OPEC production deal through to the end and reiterated that Russia is willing to extend cuts if necessary, while he added that Russia is open to discussing phase-out from the deal when appropriate. Moving on to metals, Gold (-0.1%) continued to edge lower on a firmer dollar but has seen a slight bounce in recent trade. Dalian iron ore fell by 4% to its lowest level since November weighed by high inventories and weaker steel demand .
On today’s global calendar, the commencement of the two-day G20 finance ministers meeting should be the highlight on Monday, while the expected announcement by China’s NPC for the PBOC governor role will also be closely watched. Meanwhile the UK’s David Davis and EU’s Michal Barnier are due to meet in Brussels with the meeting bringing possible clues about an agreement on the terms of Brexit transition. It should be a fairly quiet start to the week for data with UK and China house prices data due overnight, followed by the January trade balance for the Euro area. There is no data due in the US however the Fed’s Bostic is slated to speak in the afternoon.
US Event Calendar
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
If markets were feeling a little indecisive last week given the unpredictable spate of headlines which seemed to come from the White House on an almost daily basis then there’s good news as we have the welcome distraction of a Fed meeting this week. Indeed, Wednesday’s meeting is the focal point for markets over the next five days – not least because it is Fed Chair Powell’s debut – although there are a few other potentially interesting events for us to look forward to including today’s two-day G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers, the conclusion of China’s NPC tomorrow, the global flash PMIs and UK/ EU summit on Thursday and yet another US government funding deadline due up on Friday. So plenty to keep markets interested.
In terms of the Fed, the consensus view amongst economists is for a 25bp rate hike and that’s reflected in the market with fed funds contracts fully pricing that in. With that likely as good as done our US economists believe that there are three key questions going into the meeting that we should be asking. The first is: does the committee still see risks as “roughly balanced”. The second is: will the median dots move up, and in particular, will they signal four rate hikes this year. The third is: how will the new chairman perform in the press conference, and what changes in style/messaging might he signal?
In summary, the team expect the answer to the first question to be that the Committee sounds a bit more upbeat (though not yet worried) about inflation developments, and a message on economic activity that is little changed. They also expect the Committee to raise growth forecasts and lower unemployment forecasts. In terms of the second question, their view is that we see the median dot move to 4 hikes from 3. However, this is likely to be a close call. Perhaps of more interest will be the terminal rate though. The team expect the terminal rate forecast to rise to 3.3% in 2020 from 3.1% in the December forecast. As for the third question and Fed Chair Powell’s press conference, on substance, they expect Powell’s message to centre on the signs of an overheating economy, and that the Fed’s current tightening action is clearly in order. This would signal that another rate hike is on the way in June.
Away from the Fed, the market will most likely be interested in the rhetoric and debate around protectionism and free trade at today’s G20 meeting with the world seemingly on the brink of a trade war. Ahead of it, Bloomberg reported over the weekend that the US was withdrawing from economic dialogue with Beijing with Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs David Malpass saying that “because there wasn’t a path back toward a market orientation, I discontinued the China economic dialogue”. Malpass did try to walk back on his words later on and noted that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin continues to hold ‘private’ discussions with China.
On the subject of trade, last Friday our global economists published a special report titled “The rising risk of a trade war”. While the team’s baseline assumption is that trade policy actions will be limited to restrictions which are small enough not to have a significant macro impact, they also look at a couple of tail risk scenarios to this view. One is a significant but contained increase in tariffs on US imports from China on a scale very recently floated by the Administration which would likely be met by a similar imposition of tariffs on China’s imports from the US. In the second they assume that US-China trade tensions spiral into a large conflict with high tariffs imposed across the board on both sides. The team also consider the risks around a full withdrawal by the US from NAFTA. See the following link for the full report.
While we mention China, over the weekend Yi Gang has been named as the new PBOC Governor, replacing Zhou Xiaochaun. Mr Yi has been the deputy PBOC Governor for nearly 10 years and so the appointment suggests that China is signalling that it’s seeking policy continuity with further focus in modernising the country’s financial sector and monetary policy. The other update to note from the weekend is confirmation that Vladimir Putin has secured victory in Russia’s presidential election with nearly 77% of the votes and will therefore stay at the helm for another 6 years.
This morning markets in Asia have opened mixed with the Hang Seng (+0.06%), CSI 300 (+0.23%) and ASX 200 (+0.17%) modestly higher while the Kospi (-0.77%) and Nikkei (-1.11%) are down as we type, in part due to a Bloomberg report suggesting that Apple is designing and producing its own device displays for the first time. Markets in Japan also appear to be reacting to a nationwide survey which has showed a notable decline in support for PM Abe’s cabinet. The survey by Jiji Press shows that support is down over 9 percentage points versus last month to 39% and that disapproval has exceeded approval for the first time in five months.
The moves this morning also follow a week in which US equities in particular struggled with the S&P 500 falling in four out of the five days (with Friday’s small +0.17% rebound saving the index from a full house) to clock a -1.24% decline. In fairness, the index is slightly above the mid-point of the YTD high in late January and YTD low in early February and really it’s just struggled for direction for the last five weeks or so. Bond markets were a little less exciting last week with Treasuries about 5bps lower over the week but the curve back to flattening fairly aggressively with 2s10s 8.3bps flatter and 5s30s 7.2bps flatter. In commodities, WTI Oil jumped +1.88% to be up for the third straight day on Friday. DB’s Michael Hsueh believes the fundamental upside risks to oil still exist and is likely to result in some further upward revisions to his 2018 demand growth assumptions.
In terms of data on Friday, in the US, the February IP was well above market at +1.1% mom (vs. +0.4% expected) which lifted annual growth to the highest since 2011 at +4.4% yoy, while capacity utilisation also grew to the highest since 2015 at 78.1% (vs. 77.7% expected). The March University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey rose to the highest since 2004 at 102 (vs. 99.2 expected). In the details, the current conditions index jumped 7.9pts to 122.8 – the highest since 1946 while the consumers’ one year ahead inflation expectation edged up 0.2pts to +2.9% (highest since Mar. 2015). Elsewhere, February housing starts and building permits both fell more than expected, at -7.0% mom to 1,236k (vs. 1,290k expected) and -5.7% mom to 1,298k (vs. 1,320k expected) respectively. Factoring in the above, the Atlanta Fed now estimate Q1 GDP growth at 1.8% saar (-0.1ppt from previous). Back in Europe, the Euro area’s final reading of February core CPI was confirmed at 1.0% yoy.
Now turning to the ECB speak over the weekend. The ECB’s Villeroy reiterated that the Euro area economy is experiencing a “robust expansion” and that a decision to lose the easing bias on QE should be seen as a sign of confidence. He also added that “there is some kind of welcome alignment of stars between the economic background, market expectations and the convergence of those market expectations towards our own views within the Governing council”. Elsewhere, the ECB’s Knot noted that the Euro area economic “outlook is almost as good as it gets” while indicating the region is “projected to continue this firm path of growth”. On inflation, he noted he has “a high degree of confidence that actually inflation will pick up and will at some point support the definition of price stability”.
Finally back on Friday, the latest BOE Financial Policy Committee statement noted that apart from Brexit, UK’s financial stability outlook remains “standard” while potential material risks are from global vulnerabilities. The bank noted “some signs of rising domestic risk appetite in recent quarters” and that issuance of leveraged loans by UK companies have increased in 2017. The bank added that “valuations in some segments of the UK commercial real estate sector appear stretched”, while the proportion of new owner-occupier mortgages at higher LVR has also increased. Elsewhere, the BOE believes that UK banks could withstand a disorderly Brexit with their existing capital buffers but there is still a high potential risks of disruption to existing derivative contracts.
On today’s calendar, the commencement of the two-day G20 finance ministers meeting should be the highlight on Monday, while the expected announcement by China’s NPC for the PBOC governor role will also be closely watched. Meanwhile the UK’s David Davis and EU’s Michal Barnier are due to meet in Brussels with the meeting bringing possible clues about an agreement on the terms of Brexit transition. It should be a fairly quiet start to the week for data with UK and China house prices data due overnight, followed by the January trade balance for the Euro area. There is no data due in the US however the Fed’s Bostic is slated to speak in the afternoon.
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