European stocks mixed after Wall Street sell-off

  • European stocks mixed after Wall Street sell-off ahead of Georgia run-offs
  • Recovery concerns as cases mount, UK heads for tough lockdown
  • OPEC+ talks continue after no agreement reached

European stock markets chopped around the flatline early on Tuesday as investors sought direction following heavy selling on Wall Street and broader concerns about rising coronavirus cases and the impact these will have on the global economic recovery. Sterling retreated from its strongest in almost three years against the dollar as the UK enters its third lockdown, which will be reviewed in mid-February.

Wall Street indices hit record highs but retreated sharply in a wild session that saw the Dow and S&P 500 suffer their biggest declines since Oct 28th. Yesterday, the S&P 500 declined 1.5% but just was off the lows and held on to 3,700 at the close after dropping as low as 3,662. The Dow Jones fell almost 400pts but was about 350pts off its lows of the day by the close. Whilst it was a tough start to the year on Wall Street, rejection of the lows is a positive sign that there is not much appetite to fight the Fed. The Georgia runoffs today will be crucial for the bond market and we should start to get an idea from midnight tonight. Currently, latest polls indicate the Democrats could take both seats and end the GOP’s Senate Dominance.

Today, the FTSE 100 opened down but quickly turned higher, lifted by the likes of Shell and BP, which both rose around 2-3% in the first part of the session. Reopening stocks struggled at the open before paring losses. Although there is a lot of noise around this lockdown in the UK, the long-term narrative remains tentatively optimistic about vaccines allowing a return to relative normality by the spring. Whilst those of with children in school are disappointed that they are being asked to shoulder any of the burden, let alone see their lives upended again, the market is relatively comfortable with the fact Q1 is going to be tough.

Shares in China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile all rose sharply after the NYSE backtracked on plans to delist the companies. Could this be a sign of a more emollient Biden regime? It won’t harm US-China relations. The China-Europe investment deal is also boosting sentiment in Chinese markets. Stocks in China also rose broadly on hopes that Beijing will continue to deliver greater policy support

Next always likes to under-promise and over-deliver. Shares surged 8% in early trade today, hitting the best level in 5 years, after the company reported a far stronger Christmas trading period than it had guided for back in October; something investors should be used to. Full prices shares in the nine weeks to Boxing Day declined 1.1% from a year before, vs the -8% guided at the last update. Having hiked the full-year profit guidance to £365m in October, from the £300m guided in September, management is able to say full-year profit before tax will be £370m this year. Next’s shift to online is really the blueprint for any retailer. Even with a collapse in the high street, it can consistently deliver free cash flow. The pandemic has proved more challenging – suspending buybacks and dividends, and selling off assets have been required to shore up the balance sheet this year. But it remains a resilient company able to generate pre-tax profit on a consistent basis.

The OPEC+ meeting continues today after the 23 nations in the cartel and allied group failed to reach agreement on production levels for February. Russia is pushing for an increase of 500k bpd next month, but Saudi Arabia is warning that this is too soon, and the market remains fragile. The Saudis don’t want to gamble price stability for a few thousand extra barrels, but it is clear unity is a problem and they cannot assume they can take everyone with them for much longer. Prices were volatile with Brent swinging around a range of $53-$51 and WTI moving up close to $50 before finding support at $47.

Gold prices checked after hitting fresh highs after breaking the recent downtrend and securing the move above the 23.6% retracement at $1,929. – momentum still looking positive. US real rates dropped further as breakeven inflation expectations topped 2%.

Gold prices checked after hitting fresh highs after breaking the recent downtrend.

Wochenausblick: Kommt der Weihnachtsmann zur Wall Street?

In einer zwei Wochen Spezialausgabe des Wochenausblicks richten wir unsere Aufmerksamkeit auf den üblichen Endjahres-Anstieg der Aktienmärkte. Wird die traditionelle Weihnachts-Rallye Wall Street treffen? Oder hat die Stärke der Märkte im November einige der Zugewinne des Dezembers vorweggenommen? Wir betrachten außerdem Öl- und Gas-Aktien im Vorlauf des neuen Jahres.

Kommt die Weihnachts-Rallye zur Wall Street?

Es scheint, als ob die großen Indizes einen holprigen November gehabt hätten. Der Dow Jones erzielte seinen besten Monat seit 1987; Der Euro Stoxxx 600 hatte seinen besten Monat seit Beginn der Aufzeichnungen. Der FTSE 100 legte für seinen besten Monat seit 31 Jahren um 12% zu. Durch Value Rotation hatte der Russell 2000 den besten Monat aller Zeiten. Das ist für November ja auch alles schön und gut, aber bedeutet das, dass eine Weihnachts-Rallye der Wall Street vom Tisch ist?

Die Bewertungen sind gestreckt. So liegt das von S&P 500 Shiller Cape PE Verhältnis bei >33x. Das ist das zweifache des historischen 17-fachen Durchschnitts. Darüber hinaus sind auch Forward-PE-Vielfache oder >21x für den Index ziemlich gestreckt.

Zusätzlich ergab das Bank of America Fund Manager Survey letzte Woche ein Verkaufssignal mit auf 4% der Anlegerportfolios fallenden Kassenbeständen.

In Verbindung mit Stimmungsindikatoren von Goldman Sachs, die eine +2,0 Standardabweichung vom Durchschnitt registrieren, sieht es für eine Weihnachts-Rallye nicht sonderlich gut aus. Ein so hoher Wert führt normalerweise in den kommenden vier bis vier Wochen zu Gegenwind für die Aktienmärkte, was für die Märkte im Dezember eine schlechte Nachricht sein könnte.

Aber es gibt Gründe fröhlich zu sein. Wenn es zu einem Brexit-Deal kommt und die USA ein Covid-Konjunkturpaket verabschieden, in Kombination mit einer starken Impfstoff-Akzeptanz, dann könnten Investoren die Märkte im Dezember bullischer angehen.

Wie immer sind die Signale etwas gemischt, sodass man nur abwarten und beobachten kann. Vielleicht schaffen es der Weihnachtsmann und seine Rentiere schlussendlich doch zur Wall Street.

Brexit

Mit oder ohne Deal läuft die Übergangszeit des Austritts aus der EU für Großbritannien am 31. Januar aus. Marktteilnehmer werden die anstehenden Zahlen zu den Auswirkungen auf die britische Wirtschaft und eine mögliche politische Reaktion der Bank of England im Auge behalten. Zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt gibt es noch keine klaren Signale, ob die EU und Großbritannien sich auf ein Handelsabkommen werden einigen können, obwohl die Märkte grundsätzlich hoffnungsvoll blieben, dass die sich die zwei Seiten einig werden können.

Öl- und Erdgas-Lagerbestände

Mit einem relativ ruhigen Veröffentlichungs-Kalender über die Weihnachtszeit werden die wöchentlichen Öl- und Erdgasvorräte zu den am genauesten beobachteten hochfrequenten Wirtschaftsindikatoren gehören, die die Händler beobachten sollten.

In einer Welt, in der die Öl-Nachfrage massiv gesunken ist, aber mit einem späten, optimistischen Aufschwung über die paar letzten Wochen, war es alles andere als super für Erdölproduzenten.

Erdgas hat es nicht so schlimm getroffen wie Öl, aber die Indikatoren für die Zukunft sind vielleicht nicht so rosig. Die grüne Vision des designierten Präsidenten Biden, die erneuerbare Energiequellen zur Sicherstellung des US-Energiebedarfs vorsieht, könnte großen Einfluss auf die zukünftige Erdgas-Nachfrage haben.

Die OPEC geht einen vorsichtigen Weg, wenn ihre jüngsten Schritte als Anzeichen gelten können. Und wenn man sich das Jahr betrachtet, das ihre Mitglieder mitmachen mussten, ist das wahrscheinlich gar nicht schlecht. Während sie das Go für eine Anhebung des Produktionsvolumens um 500.000 Barrel pro Tag gegeben hat, hat sie die Vorhersage zur Öl-Nachfrage im nächsten Jahr nach unten korrigiert. Sie hat ihre Schätzungen um 410.000 Barrel pro Tag zurückgenommen, sodass die neuen Nachfragewerte bei 95,89 Millionen Barrel pro Tag liegen.

Dies führt zu höheren Öl-Lagerbeständen in den USA. Die EIA berichtet, dass mehr als 2 Millionen Barrel in der Woche seit dem 11. Dezember in die Lagerbestände aufgenommen wurden. Die Leute verreisen nicht, sodass die Treibstoff-Nachfrage gering ist, was zu höheren Lagerbeständen führt.

Könnten Impfstoffe Öl nächstes Jahr Erleichterung verschaffen? Es ist möglich. Die USA haben begonnen Gesundheitspersonal an vorderster Front zu impfen und Großbritannien ist nach aktuellem Stand in der zweiten Woche der ersten Phase des Verteilungsprogramms. Wenn mehr Leute dank des Impfstoffes unterwegs sind, reisen und wieder arbeiten, dann sollte logischerweise auch die Öl-Nachfrage wieder steigen.

Erdgas allerdings hat ein weiteres Problem, das Öl nicht so stark betrifft: das Wetter. Die Temperaturen in Schlüsselmärkten gehören zu den wärmsten, die je verzeichnet wurden, was bedeutet, dass der Verbrauch von Gas zum Heizen niedriger ist. Falls die warmen Temperaturen den Winter hinweg bestehen bleiben, könnten sich die Preise mit kleinerer Binnen- und Geschäftsnachfrage decken.

Webinars zu gucken

Mit dem nahenden Jahresende, schließt Mark Leigh seine 2020 Serie kostenfreier Webinare ab. Er wird 2021 mit weiteren lehrreichen Einsichten und Trading-Tipps wiederkehren, aber stellen Sie sicher, dass Sie keines seiner Webinare in den kommenden zwei Wochen verpassen. Highlights sind unter anderem:

Einführung: Wie das Geschäft funktioniert und wo Sie ins Spiel kommen

Dienstag, 22. Dezember – 17:30 CET

Dieser Überblick soll ein solides und klares Verständnis dafür vermitteln, wie der Markt funktioniert und wie man als Devisenhändler Geld verdient und verliert. Realistische Ziele und Erwartungen. Wie der Markt in Bezug auf Ihr Handelsgeschäft funktioniert. Verschieben Sie die Gewinnchancen zu Ihren Gunsten und kontrollieren Sie das Risiko.

Melden Sie sich an

FXtrademark hat ein eigenes, geschütztes Scorecard-System für jedes Trade-Setup

Mittwoch, 23. Dezember – 17:30 CET

Lernen Sie FXtrademark-Scorecard zu benutzen, mit dem Sie jedes Trade-Setup auf einer Skala von 0 bis 10 auf der Basis festgelegter Kriterien bewerten werden. Das System erlaubt es Ihnen mit System und einem Plan zu handeln, anstatt Ihre Handelsentscheidungen einfach aus dem Bauch heraus oder auf Grund von Emotionen zu treffen.

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Mark Leighs Trader Clinic

Montag, 28. Dezember – 17:00 CET

Erleben Sie mit unserer Trader Clinic, wie ein Profi die Aufs und Abs des Handels nutzt, um seine Strategie zu verfeinern und seine Gewinne zu verbessern. Schließen Sie sich Mark Leigh an, wie er das Verfahren demonstriert, mit dem er seine Gewinn- und Verlustgeschäfte bewertet und eine bessere Strategie entwickelt.

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10 Trading-Regeln für Händler aller Erfahrungsstufen

Dienstag, 29. Dezember – 17:30 CET

Trading ist keine exakte Wissenschaft, die Märkte sind live und häufig unvorhersehbar. Deshalb brauchen Sie Regeln, die Sie als Basis für informierte und durchdachte Trading-Entscheidungen nutzen können.

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Top Wirtschafts-Daten der Woche

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Mon 21 Dec  12.30am  AUD  Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 
       
  3.00pm  EUR  Consumer Confidence 
       
Tue 22 Dec  9.30am  GBP  Final GDP q/q 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Final GDP q/q 
       
Wed 23 Dec  1.30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Core PCE Price Index m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Personal Spending m/m 
       
  Tentative  USD  Treasury Currency Report 
       
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 24 Dec  1.30pm  USD  Core Durable Good Orders m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Durable Goods Orders m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Changes 
       
  3.30pm  USD  Natural Gas Storage 
       
Tue 29 Dec  3.00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
  Tentative  USD  Treasury Confidence Report 
       
Wed 30 Dec  8.00am  CHF  KOF Economic Barometer 
       
  2.45pm  USD  Chicago PMI 
       
  3.30pm  USD  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 31 Dec  1.00am  CNH  Manufacturing PMI 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
       
  3.30pm  USD  US Natural Gas Inventories 

 

Top Geschäftsberichte diese Woche

Date  Company  Event 
Mon 21 Dec  HEICO  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Factset Research Systems  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Tue 22 Dec  Cintas Corp.  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  CarMax  Q3 2021 Earnings 
     
Wed 23 Dec  Paychex  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Vontobel  Q2 2021 Earnings 
     
Fri 25 Dec  Nitori Holdings  Q3 2021 Earnings 

Wall Street opens at record high

  • Wall Street opens at new record highs, stimulus eyed with jobless claims up
  • Sterling, euro bid with dollar on back foot
  • Signature Aviation soars on bid

US stocks opened at record highs as progress towards a fiscal relief package indicated Congress leaders are close to signing off on a $900bn programme that includes $600 cheques and enhanced unemployment benefits. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat in the House of Representatives, said earlier he was hopeful for a Covid relief package within hours. The S&P 500 hit 3,723 for a new intra-day high and the Nasdaq Composite also notched an all-time high.

The solid start on Wall Street lifted the spirits in Europe. The FTSE 100 turned green after languishing in the red all day albeit 9pts scrubbed due to ex-dividend factors. European markets were broadly higher with the DAX +1% and Stoxx50 +0.85%. Benchmark US yields fell after some disappointing unemployment data.

Sterling trades stronger but a little off its highs after running through stops at $1.36 earlier in the session to take out a fresh two-and-a-half-year high. There are signs of progress on the Brexit front with a possible deal ready for the weekend. MPs are rising for Christmas but will come back to ratify any deal. The European Parliament set a Sunday deadline to see the text in order to ratify it in time. Clock ticks etc, still up in the air but the market favours a deal. Michael Gove says less than 50% chance of agreeing a deal but various sources from Brussels painted a slightly more upbeat picture. Sterling grew in stature with significant dollar weakness the main theme of the day.

The Bank of England left rates on hold and delivered no surprises. The MPC voted unanimously to keep the main lending rate at 0.1% and the stock of asset purchases at £895 billion. There was not a lot in this meeting for the market, though we did get a very clear indication from the Bank that it would ease policy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

US unemployment claims exceeded expectations again. Initial claims rose to 885,00 for the week ended Dec 12th, up from 862k in the previous week and ahead of the roughly 800k expected by economists. Claims remain above the level seen in 2008/09 but are down from the >6m or so we saw at the peak of the pandemic.

EURUSD made fresh highs above 1.2250, rising to meet trend resistance at the upper end of the rising channel.

 

Gold continues to find bid above the 200-day moving average with bulls looking for a confirmed thrust north of this line to mark a trend reversal.

Gold continues to find bid above the 200-day moving average.

 

Equities

Signature Aviation shares rocketed 40% to 373p after a bid from Blackstone, which indicated a possible cash offer of $5.17 per share, which equates to 383p as of the Dec 16th fix at 1.35 GBPUSD exchange rate. Shares were trading a little cheap due to the pandemic but have good exposure to a rebound in air travel over the coming years. There remains an absolute ocean of private equity money ready to be deployed and we are starting to see that take shape – UK listed shares have value because of the Brexit discount.

Will there be a Santa Rally on Wall Street in 2020?

November was a particularly strong month for global equities with the Dow Jones notching its best month since 1987 and the Euro Stoxx 600 enjoying its best month ever, or at least since records began in 1986. Even the laggard FTSE 100 got in on the action, rallying over 12 per cent for its best month 31 years. The value rotation sent the Russell 2000 to its best month on record.

With that in mind, is there room left for a positive December and the always-hyped Santa Rally? So far there has been a positive bias in December but this week we are seeing a pause for breath as investors take stock. Clearly there are risks around Brexit and doubts about US stimulus persisting. There is much that can go wrong in the coming months for equity markets.

Christmas cancelled?

Market participants are buying into a Spring reopening but there are lots of risks around the pace at which things ‘get back to normal’. Earnings growth may not materialise until later in the year and investors may seek to pare positions going into the year-end.

Clearly the bounce in November robs something from potential gains in December. Since 1945, the S&P 500 rose nearly 1.5% in all Decembers, according to CFRA Research, which says history “suggests that this November’s surge may end up ‘stealing from Santa,’”. Whenever there is a +5% gain in November, the following month is sub-par, it says.

Valuations are stretched: S&P 500 Shiller Cape PE ratio at >33x, double the 17x average historically. Forward PE multiples or >21x for the index are also quite stretched.

Goldman Sachs notes that its Sentiment Indicator is at +2.0 standard deviations above average, which represents a 98th percentile reading since 2009. A reading this high tends to create headwinds for equity markets in the 1-4 weeks after, implying a damp squib of a December for the stock market. Worth noting that the S&P 500 has already reached GS’s year-end target of 3,700, though it remains very bullish longer-term, forecasting the broad index to hit 4,300 by the end of next year.

Pass the cranberry sauce

Taking a more upbeat view, there is considerable potential for key market risks to be removed, allowing for further gains. If a Brexit deal is agreed and the US passes a stimulus package in the $1tn region being discussed, combined with the rollout of vaccines in the UK, December could yet see investors turn even more bullish.

Monetary policy remains extremely accommodative and the sheer scale of liquidity is supportive of equity valuations. The weaker payrolls report in November only adds to the case for more fiscal support in the US.

Technical outlook

Rising channel holds with price action towards the top of the channel at 3,700 looking stretched and liable for a pullback. Divergence on the MACD persists with the lower highs hugging the descending trendline (green) as the market continues to make new highs and higher lowers along the rising trendline (red). Pullbacks to 3617 area on the 21-day SMA could precede a retest of the trend support and 23.6% retracement around 3350.

Rising channel holds with price action towards the top of the channel at 3,700 looking stretched and liable for a pullback.

Taking another view, a classic rising wedge calling for reversal. 

Taking another view, a classic rising wedge calling for reversal

Banks set to kick off US Q3 earnings season

The S&P 500 rose 8.5% to 3,363 over the third quarter, having hit an all-time of 3580 at the start of September, with an intraday peak at 3588. The market faced ongoing headwinds from the pandemic, but risk sentiment remained well supported through the quarter by fiscal and monetary policy.

A pullback in September erased the August rally but was largely seen as a necessary correction after an over-exuberant period of speculation and ‘hot’ money into a narrow range of stocks.

Q3 earnings come at important crossroads: Expectations for when any stimulus package will be agreed – and how big it should be – continue to drive a lot of the near-term price action, though the market has largely held its 3200-3400 range.

Elevated volatility is also expected around the Nov 3rd election. But next week we turn to earnings and the more mundane assessment of whether companies are actually making any money.

Banks kick off Q3 earnings season

Financials are in focus first: Citigroup and JPMorgan kick off the season formally on October 13th with Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo on the 14th. Morgan Stanley reports on Oct 15th, In Q2, the big banks reported broadly similar trends with big increases in loan loss provisions offset by some stunning trading earnings.

Wall Street beasts – JPM, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America – posted near-record trading revenues in the second quarter with revenues for the five combined topping $33bn, the best in a decade. At the time, we argued that investors need to ask whether the exceptional trading revenues are all that sustainable, and whether there needs to be a much larger increase for bad debt provisions.

Meanwhile, whilst the broad economic outlook has not deteriorated over the quarter, it has become clear that the recovery will be slower than it first appeared. Moreover, during Q3 the Fed announced a shift to average inflation targeting that implies interest rates will be on the floor for many years to come, so there is little prospect of any relief for compressed net interest margins.

Meanwhile there is growing evidence of a real problem in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market as new appraisals are seeing large swatches of real estate being marked down, particularly in the hotels and retail sectors.

At the same time, the energy sector has gone through a significant restructuring as we have seen North American oil and gas chapter 11 filings gathering pace through the summer as energy prices remained low. There is a tonne of debt maturing next year but how much will be repaid?

Key questions for the banks

  • Did the jump in trading revenues in Q2 carry through in Q3? Jamie Dimon thought it would halve.
  • On a related note, did the options frenzy in August help any bank more than others – Morgan Stanley?
  • Have provisions for bad loans increased materially over the quarter?
  • How bad are credit card, home and business loans?
  • And how bad is the commercial property sector, especially hotels and retail as evidence from the CMBS market starts to look very rocky?
  • How are bad debts in oil & gas looking?
  • How are job cuts helping Citigroup lower costs; how will its entry into China make a difference to the outlook?
  • How does Wells Fargo manage without an investment arm to lean on? So far it’s been a bit of a mess.
  • Was Warren Buffett right to cut his stake in Wells Fargo and some other US banks? Buffett pulled out airlines first then banks.
  • What do banks think of never-ending ZIRP and does the Fed’s shift affect forecasts at all?
  • How is Morgan Stanley’s wealth management division cushioning any drop in trading revenues?
  • What progress on Citigroup’s risk management system troubles?

Q2 earnings recap

JPMorgan beat on the top and bottom line. Revenues topped $33.8bn vs the $30.5bn expected, whilst earnings per share hit $1.38 vs $1.01 expected. The range of estimates was vast, so the consensus numbers were always going to be a little out.

The bank earned $4.7bn of net income in the second quarter despite building $8.9 billion of credit reserves thanks to its highest-ever quarterly revenue. Loan loss provisions were $10.5bn, which was more than expected and the quarter included almost $9bn in reserve builds largely due to Covid-19.

The consumer bank reported a net loss of $176 million, compared with net income of $4.2 billion in the prior year, predominantly driven by reserve builds. Net revenue was $12.2 billion, down 9%. Credit card sales were 23% lower, with average loans down 7%, while deposits rose 20% as consumers deleveraged.

The provision for credit losses in the consumer bank was $5.8 billion, up $4.7 billion from the prior year driven by reserve builds, chiefly in credit cards.

Trading revenues were phenomenal, rising 80% with fixed income revenues doubling. Return on equity (ROE) rose to 7% from 4% in Q1 but was still well down on the 16% a year before. ROTE rose to 9% from 5% in the prior quarter but was down from 20% a year before.

Citigroup EPS beat at $0.50 vs the $0.28 expected. Trading revenues in fixed income rose 68%, and made up the majority of the $6.9bn in Markets and Securities Services revenues, which rose 48%. Equity trading revenue dipped 3% to $770 million. Consumer banking revenues fell 10% to $7.34 billion, while net credit losses, jumped 12% year over year to $2.2 billion. Net income was down 73% year-on-year.

Since then the bank has offloaded its retail options market making business, leaving Morgan Stanley (reporting Oct 15th) as the major player left in this market. We await to see what kind of impact the explosion in options trading witnessed over the summer had on both. ROE stood at just 2.4% and ROTE at 2.9%.

Wells Fargo – which does not have the investment banking arm to lean on – increased credit loss provisions in the quarter to $9.5bn from $4bn in Q1, vs expectations of about $5bn. WFG reported a $2.4 billion loss for the quarter as revenues fell 17.6% year-on-year.

CEO Charlie Scharf was not mincing his words: „We are extremely disappointed in both our second quarter results and our intent to reduce our dividend. Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably from the assumptions used last quarter, which drove the $8.4 billion addition to our credit loss reserve in the second quarter.“

Bank of America reported earnings of $3.5 billion, with EPS of $0.37 ahead of the $0.27 expected on revenues of $22bn. Its bond trading revenue rose 50% to $3.2 billion, whilst equities trading revenue climbed 7% to $1.2 billion. But the bank increased reserves for credit losses by $4 billion and suffered an 11% decline in interest income.

Return on equity (ROE) fell to 5.44% from 5.91% in the prior quarter and was down significantly from last year’s Q2 11.62%. Return on tangible equity (ROTE) slipped to 7.63% from 8.32% in Q1 2020 and from 16.24% in Q2 2019.

Morgan Stanley was probably the winner from Q2 as it reported net revenues of $13.4 billion for the second quarter compared with $10.2 billion a year ago. Net income hit $3.2 billion, or $1.96 per diluted share, compared with net income of $2.2 billion, or $1.23, for the same period a year ago.

Wealth Management delivered a pre-tax income of $1.1 billion with a pre-tax margin of 24.4%. Investment banking rose 39%, with Sales and Trading revenues up 68%. MS managed to increase its ROE to 15.7%, and the ROTE to 17.8% from respectively 11.2% and 12.8% in Q2 2019.

Goldman Sachs reported net revenues of $13.30 billion and net earnings of $2.42 billion for the second quarter. EPS of $6.26 destroyed estimates for $3.78. Bond trading revenue rose by almost 150% to $4.24 billion, whilst equities trading revenue was up 46% to $2.94 billion. ROE came in at 11.1% and ROTE at 11.8%.

Expectations

(source: Markets.com)

Bank Forecast Revenues (no of estimates)

 

Forecast EPS (no of estimates)

 

BOA $20.8bn (8) $0.5 (23)
GS $9.1bn (15) $5 (21)
WFG $17.9bn (17) $0.4 (24)
JPM $28bn (19) $2.1 (23)
MS $10.4bn (15) $1.2 (20)
C $18.5bn (17) $2 (21)

 

Shares

None have really managed to match the recovery in the broad market but valuations are compelling.

Goldman trading either side of 200-day EMA

Wells Fargo can’t catch any bid

Bank of America bound by 50-day SMA

Citigroup still nursing losses after reversal in September

JPM breakouts consistently fail to hold above 200-day EMA

Futures drop on US Jobless claims

Long and slow: the road to recovery is a winding one. US initial jobless claims rose to 870k last week, indicating ongoing weakness in the labour market as the country struggles out of recession. This was a small increase on the week before and was ahead of market expectations.

Continuing claims declined only a fraction, to 12.58m. The previous week’s level was revised up 119,000 from 12,628,000 to 12,747,000. Unemployment fell marginally to 8.6% after the previous week’s number was revised up to 8.7%.

On a more encouraging note, the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending September 5th was 26,044,952, a decrease of 3,723,513 from the previous week.

Nevertheless, the more recent rise in initial claims is a worry that the momentum in the labour market has faded, which would chime with the kind of warnings that Fed officials have been laying on thick this week.

Futures dropped sharply with the Dow called down ~120 pts around 26,640 and the S&P 500 down ~20pts around 3,214 which would take out the week’s low at 3,229, a two-month trough that sits neatly on the 10% correction level from the recent all-time intra-day high at 3,588. Immediate support emerged at 3212.

Sentiment appears very weak with the downside bias in favour. With economic indicators failing to deliver lift-off and stimulus apparently off the table before the election, there needs to be a positive catalyst to get the bulls back in the game.

Otherwise with election risks and a worsening outlook for the recovery, we need to consider further losses as we approach the election.

Stocks slip after Wall St bounce (bull trap?), FX markets tune into Brexit and ECB

Fear casts a long shadow. If the virus doesn’t get you, the fear might. It’s almost a trope in economic and trading circles: it’s not the virus causing the damage to the economy and businesses, but the twin enemies of a chaotic government response and worst of all, fear.

Fear is what gets you in the end. Fear is what cripples the recovery, be that fear of the virus (I won’t go out) or fear of arbitrary knee jerk responses (why bother booking a holiday abroad). Fear of tax raids is another we might add for many investors looking at how public policy may affect their returns.

Dunelm warns over Christmas lockdowns, IAG announces rights issue

There is a fear stalking some companies. Dunelm this morning warned off a ‘severe but plausible’ scenario in which there are further lockdowns over Christmas. Sales might not recovery fully until 2023, management worry.

Meanwhile IAG has warned demand has eased and now expects capacity to decline this year more than previously thought. Available seat kilometres are forecast to drop by 63% in 2020 and still be 27% below 2019 levels in 2021. Previously it had forecast declines of 59% and 24% respectively. The forecasts came as IAG announced a €2.75bn discounted rights issue to strengthen its balance sheet.

Even Morrison’s, which has seen sales surge, is nursing a drop in profits because the new order means more of the lower margin online business is required.

Names like Azhag the Slaughterer and Gorbad Ironclaw are designed to strike fear into people’s hearts, but investors in Games Workshop have had less reason to be afraid than many. Today’s trading update shows continued strong progress despite the pandemic – indeed staying indoors for long stretches is something their customers are not afraid of.

Shares jumped over 10% after the company reported a very strong three months to August 30th, with sales up to £90m from £78m a year ago. Online growth has been strong. It also declared a dividend of 50p. Peel Hunt raised its price target on the stock.

Global equities rebounded – a classic bull trap?

Yesterday saw a big risk rally as global equities recovered from a 3-day sell-off led by US tech shares. Wall Street – equity markets bounced strongly. The Nasdaq added 2.7%, while the S&P 500 was up 2%. The Nasdaq held its 50-day moving average, with this level offering the major support for the rally. The S&P 500 ran into resistance at the 21-day line. There was some selling into the close though, which makes you wonder if it’s a classic bull trap before the next swing lower.

Vix futures (Sep) broke the rising trend line to trade at 28.50, having taken a 37 handle last Friday. The FTSE 100 climbed over 1.3% to recover the 6,000 level, while the DAX added 2%.

Europe soft as markets await ECB decision

European stock markets turned lower this morning as investors look ahead to the ECB meeting today. The meeting comes amid a sharp rally for the euro that has left policymakers concerned. The line in the sand for the central bank was 1.20 on EURUSD – a level that prompted chief economist Philip Lane to comment that „the euro-dollar rate does matter”. Traders should pay attention to any nod to currency worries from Christine Lagarde.

Whilst the consensus is that the ECB will take no further policy action, policymakers may choose to act, albeit any action at all would be around the PEPP programme rather than slicing interest rates lower. As noted earlier this week, the sharp decline in inflation could force the ECB to take swifter action than the market is anticipating. Eurozone inflation turned negative in August, declining to –0.2% from +0.4% in July.

Sources yesterday indicated the ECB is more confident in its economic projections – it was not entirely clear whether they meant they are more confident that they are right about the , or more confident they will improve.

However, even here the ECB probably doesn’t need to push its PEPP envelope, given only €500bn has been used out of €1.35bn available. I think Christine Lagarde may seek talk up this being a target, rather than a ceiling.

In summary, on the balance of probabilities the ECB will not make any monetary policy changes but will lean hard on jawboning the euro lower and talking up the unused room in the PEPP programme and that it will do whatever it takes to support the recovery and stand ready to expand it if required. EURUSD trades at 1.1820 in a steady pattern ahead of the meeting.

Pound up but Brexit remains key risk

The pound rebounded yesterday afternoon and held gains after the EU said it would not kybosh talks because of the U.K. threat to rip up the withdrawal bill – the internal market Bill. This removed the immediate risk of a collapse in trade talks, which appears to have driven the aggressive move lower in the morning with cable hitting a six-week low. This sent cable hard back to 1.30 in a sharp risk reversal that many newly minted shorts firmly on the wrong side.

But we should caution that sterling remains very exposed to further negative headlines and risks appear still skewed to the downside for the time being and we can only say that sharp moves lower – in the region of one big figure – are to be expected. The EU this morning is said to be considering legal action against the UK over the bill. GBPUSD just traded a little under 1.30 again as morning trading got going in London, possibly with this news weighing on sentiment – again highlighting the headline risk.

Today sees the talks wrap with the usual order of service involving the two sides giving separate press conferences. The focus on the EU side will be to what extent the internal market build has undermined trust.  Remember a deal will always look a lot more distant than it may be in reality.

US jobless claims numbers are also due later. These have become a useful barometer for the US economic recovery and tend to show that the momentum from the initial post-lockdown snapback is waning.

Last week, the initial jobs claims improved but the methodology changed somewhat and the only stat we really cared about was that the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending August 15th was 29,224,546, an increase of 2,195,835 from the previous week.

These are the most popular stocks for day trading

Goldman Sachs recently reported that a basket of stocks favoured by retail day traders had outperformed their hedge fund basket by nearly 20% when the coronavirus sell-off was at its worst.

Retail day traders have helped fuel the market recovery from the March 23rd low, struck as fears over the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic reached their zenith.

Here’s what our signals tools have to say about some of the most popular stocks amongst day traders.

Moderna

Moderna is a hotly watched biotech company whose stock has seen a surge in popularity as markets try to bet on the winner in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine.

The stock is up 144% since March 23rd and over 230% year-to-date. Our Analyst Recommendations tool shows a consensus “Strong Buy” rating amongst Wall Street analysts, with the average price target of $87.64 representing a 35% upside even after months of incredible growth.

Tesla

Even CEO Elon Musk tweeting that the stock in his own company was overvalued couldn’t put the brakes on the Telsa stock rally this year. Day traders have helped drive this stock up 131% since March 23rd. Since January 1st the stock is up 140%.

The stock broke above $1,000 for the first time on June 10th, although it has since struggled to hold this level. The rally has left Wall Street analysts struggling to catch up – the average price target of $678.82 represents a -32% downside. Hedge funds snapped up three million shares in the last quarter, and news sentiment around the stock has been almost evenly split between bullish and bearish.

Snap

Snap is up 106% since March 23rd, although on a year-to-date basis the stock is up a more ‘modest’ 35%.

Our signals tools are sending bearish signals, however. Although the consensus rating amongst analysts is a “Buy”, at $19.91 the average price target represents a downside of -14%. Hedge funds dropped five million shares in the last quarter, and company insiders sold $206 million worth of shares.

MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with its stock down 44% for the year. However, traders who bought it at the depths of the March sell-off would have netted a return of 103%.

The average price target amongst analysts of $17.92 represents an upside of just 1%, and the stock has a “Hold” rating. Hedge funds scooped up 48 million shares in the last quarter, while company insiders bought $24.5 million worth of the stock.

Spirit Airlines

SAVE is another stock that is down heavily on the year, but has surged from the March low. Since the market bottomed out, Spirit Airlines has recovered 102%, although it remains down -51% since January 1st.

Analysts rate the stock a “Hold”, although it has an average price target 11% higher than the current price of $20.56. Hedge funds trimmed their holdings by one million shares in the last quarter.

European shares soft ahead of FOMC meeting, Wall Street erases 2020 losses

Shares on Wall Street wiped out all of 2020’s losses even as the US was officially declared in recession. The S&P 500 is now up 0.05% for the year, after rising 1.2% on Monday on what looks like a mad fear-of-missing-out trade. The broad index finished at 3,232.39 on the cash close having gained another 38 pts and is now just 160 points away from its all-time high at 3,393.52 and trades with a forward PE multiple of 23.4.

In other words, unless earnings bounce back significantly faster than consensus estimates, then it’s very richly priced. It’s remarkable that equity markets can be this stretched on such a catastrophic economic contraction – but that is what unlimited Fed liquidity does.

European equities soft as markets await FOMC

Equity markets in Europe were lower again with investors looking ahead to the Federal Reserve two-day meeting, which starts today. Some big names in France – Airbus, Safran, Thales, and Dassault turned sharply lower despite opening in the green this morning even as the French finance minister unveiled a €15bn support plan for the aerospace industry. BP shares fell 1% as investors further digest the restructuring and job cuts.

With its dividend yield running at 9% it will have to cut pay-outs to shareholders sooner or later. The FTSE 100 may test the 6400 support level today after dropping under the 50-hour simple moving average support, whilst the DAX is hovering around the 12,700 level, with a possible support zone found at the big 78.6% Fib level around 12,565.

Candlestick price comparison chart for the FTSE 100 and DAX stock market indices

European markets still seem a bit unsure whether they should follow the US with another leg higher or show some more restraint given the economic uncertainty – and the fact Europe just doesn’t have the same amount of big tech – the S&P 500 technology sector is up 11% YTD, in line with the Nasdaq 100. German trade data was weak as exports in April suffered the biggest decline in 30 years. Exports –24%, imports –16.5%.

Asian markets were mixed with the ASX 200 rallying 2.44% and Chinese shares higher, whilst the Nikkei lost 0.38% as Japanese machine tool orders – an important leading indicator of manufacturing activity – fell 52.8% year-on-year last month.

FOMC meeting – Covid-19 necessitates caution

So far through this equity rally we’ve seen lack of harmony between interest rates and equities. Bonds didn’t really budge even as stocks started to ramp. As we flagged last week, the bond market has started to move, albeit 10yr Treasury yields retreated off their highs yesterday ahead of the FOMC meeting.

The combination of strong jobs, mortgage approvals and car sales numbers last week started to show in longer-date yields picking up. But this will not make the Fed see any reason to change its stance for now. The economic contraction in Q2 is still going to be severe, and unemployment remains exceptionally high by historic standards. The need for monetary policy to remain accommodative has not altered. And for all that the US is reopening, the WHO says the pandemic is getting worse globally.

The Fed is likely to leave rates and forward guidance unchanged. It will also stick to unlimited QE commitment, albeit it is tapering purchases. Although there have been signs that the US economy is bouncing back quicker than expected, unemployment is expected to remain elevated through the rest of the year and beyond.

Moreover, there are signs of Covid cases increasing in states which have reopened, and there is always the potential for a second wave this winter. This means the Fed will remain cautious, but it may want to signal that the next move on rates will be up and not down to quell talk of negative rates. The move in longer-dated Treasuries of late supports this view is now the market’s view.

Vroom prices IPO above target range

Meanwhile, keeping an eye on capital market health, another IPO in the US got away well. Vroom, an online used car seller, raised close to $500m in its initial public offering yesterday, pricing at $22, above the previous $18-$20 range, and implying a market cap of around $2.5bn. The company will start trading on the Nasdaq today with the ticker VRM. IPO activity is down this year for very obvious reasons, but there are signs the market in the US at least is coming back to life.

ZoomInfo stock has more than doubled since its IPO last week. We will be watching closely to see whether it encourages some of the larger names and ‘unicorns’ such as Airbnb, Robinhood, Instacart or Palantir to come back to the IPO table this year in spite of the pandemic.

GBPUSD gains in risk-on trade

In FX, the pound is coming off its highs to test the trend support around the 50-period moving average on the 1-hr time frame. Still sterling continues to make gains versus the dollar as the risk-on mood in markets supports cable. Having failed to secure 1.2750 bulls will need to retake this level soon to continue the thrust to 1.28 and open the road to 1.30. Immediate horizontal support at 1.2630.

Candlestick price chart and technical indicators for GBP/USD FX pair on June 9th

European shares cautious after Wall Street soars

Risk on resumes? Wall Street enjoyed one of its best days this year as hopes grew for a Covid-19 vaccine The Dow rallied 900 points, up almost 4%, while the S&P 500 rose 90 points, or 3.15%, to 2953, closing at its highest since March 6th. The close was just a little shy of the 2954 peak on Apr 29th, the most recent swing high.

European shares were firmer at the open before losing steam quickly. The FTSE 100 added to yesterday’s gains to trade above 6100 again on the open but then followed Frankfurt and Paris. US futures were off their highs. Asian markets were green across the board.

Indices are now at or slightly above the top of the recent trading ranges since the March trough. The question we have now is whether it makes sense for equities to take another leg higher and re-approach record highs against a backdrop of the worst economic slumps in decades. Hence, we would expect some pullback around these levels even if bulls muster again for a fresh drive. Economic reality may eventually hit home, the question is whether we first see a new leg higher and post-Covid high made.

Moderna shares rose 20% to $80 after the company said its early-stage human trial for a coronavirus vaccine produced positive results, with Covid-19 antibodies seen in all 45 participants. It’s early days but markets are prepared to see the glass half full at this stage. Four years is the fastest it’s taken to deliver a vaccine – for mumps in the 1960s. Technology may have moved on, but pinning all your hopes on a vaccine seems overly optimistic, which suggests these moves are driven by algos playing the news.

A vaccine – not treatment – is key of course to resuming life as normal – no social distancing on planes or in bars. It’s the holy grail right now and markets are prepared to take a leap of faith.

News from Europe is further supporting risk appetite with the old Franco-German engine at work. Merkel and Macron have agreed to push for a €500bn EU fund which would be in the form of grants not loans. With Germany on board now it should drive the holdouts in the Netherlands and Austria to agree. It will be funded by the European Commission borrowing money – coronabonds in all but name. This is an important breakthrough for the EU – at least it should be.

UK unemployment claims jumped, and wages fell, but the unemployment rate actually fell to 3.9% because of the furlough scheme keeping employees in their jobs. This is in marked contrast to the US, where there is no furlough scheme. The worry is that furlough simply delays the inevitable when companies do reopen, and at massive cost. For markets this could be seeing a big rise in unemployment and therefore hit to the economy even as cases of Covid-19 are fading.

After breaking out to new 7-year highs above $1764 yesterday gold has backed off and tested support at $1725 as the risk rally tempered the bulls’ passion. US 10 year Treasury yields advanced to 0.74% but have since pulled back to 0.70%.

WTI (Jun) seems to have safely negotiated today’s expiry after another big gain for crude on Monday indicated further confidence that oil markets are rebalancing more quickly than feared. Front month WTI traded at $32, with August now at $32.59. Brent futures traded above $35. Given the extent of the recent gains, there is ample room for a pullback from these levels.

In FX, the dollar was weaker apparently on better risk appetite, lending support to major peers. GBPUSD continued to break free from Sunday’s lows as better risk appetite boost sterling. Cable rallied into resistance at 1.2250, the past support level, and has now added around 1.5% this week. The pound continues face pressure though as a risk proxy – as previously noted sterling has become a RoRo (risk-on, risk-off) currency of late, as well as doubts around progress on talks between the UK and EU. The British government has just announced a new tariff regime for the post-transition world that would see 60% of imports without tariffs.

Today Jay Powell speaks at 3pm as he faces questions from Congress. In a prepared testimony he said: “We are committed to using our full range of tools to support the economy in this challenging time even as we recognize that these actions are only a part of a broader public-sector response.”

Chart: S&P 500 facing big test at the top of the range: confirmation of the breach of the late Apr swing high and push above the 61.8% retracement at 2934 opens path back to 3140 and the early March swing highs.

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