Stocks tick higher after weak open, OPEC sticks to the plan

Morning Note

European stock markets showed some signs of wanting to kick on after shrugging off some early weakness at the start of the session. The FTSE 100 is handicapped to the tune of 13pts already due to ex-dividend factors but the overall tone was initially one of caution as yesterday’s ADP jobs miss has investors looking ahead to tomorrow’s nonfarm payrolls. Slightly hawkish chatter around the European Central Bank is also maybe leading to some caution, whilst there is yet further evidence of China’s crackdown on tech firms as it hauls up 11 ride-hailing for ‘illegal behaviour’. After an hour’s trade the main bourses were trading with a bit more confidence, up by around 0.1-0.2%,  but still stuck in recent ranges.

 

Wall Street ended the day largely flat with defensive/bond proxies real estate and utilities leading the gainers, whilst risk-on sectors like energy and financials were the weakest. US 10yr yields at 1.30% in the middle of the week’s range. Note continued rotation into mega cap tech with Apple and Alphabet hitting record highs and lifting the Nasdaq Composite to another all-time peak, though both stocks pared gains to finish off their highs. Reopening did better in Europe yesterday as the Stoxx 600 outperformed.

 

Zoom rebounded very mildly as Cathie Wood said she’d bought the stock on the 16% dip earlier this week. Wood also added some Robinhood and there is a new transparent ETF being launched, stuffed full of the same stocks the other ETFs are invested in. Suppose it makes it easier to say you’re not overconcentrated – just open a new fund to bid up the stocks in the others. The Transparent ETF will be at least 80% invested in stocks in the Transparency Index published by Solactive. Excluded from the index are stocks in the following industries:  (i) alcohol, (ii) banking, (iii) chemicals, (iv) confectionary, (v) fossil fuel transportation, (vi) gambling, (vii) metals, (viii) mineral, (ix) natural gas, (x) oil, and (xi) tobacco. The SEC filing can be found here.

 

Stagflation: ADP payrolls were a big ol’ miss at just +374k vs the +638k expected. Well over half (+200k) were in leisure and hospitality as reopening continues. Not a great indicator for Friday’s nonfarm payrolls and this would potentially give the Fed more rope to delay the taper. If data keeps getting worse, or less good, rather, then you can see the FOMC start to voice concerns at the Sep meeting and we could be in a position where the US central bank actually doesn’t taper asset purchases this year. I still think they will, but this is a very dovish, somewhat politically-motivated Fed with jobs on its mind and Powell looking to keep his job. 

 

The US ISM PMI showed slowing growth and more inflation, albeit the pace of price growth is cooling. The Prices Index registered 79.4%, down 6.3 percentage points compared to the July figure of 85.7%. This was its first reading below 80% since December 2020. Labour shortage evident with the Employment Index slipping into contraction.  

 

Anything really interesting? Well, that Employment Index reading in the ISM neatly matches the ADP report, so something to consider for anyone expecting a blowout NFP on Friday. Want to hire, can’t hire. Just wait ‘til the stimmy cheques wear off. Federal stimmy cheques end Monday Sep 6th – Labor Day ironically – although about half of states have already stopped them. Companies might find it easier to hire thereafter. US initial claims later today seen at 345k, which will also be watched with some scrutiny ahead of the NFP tomorrow. 

 

FTSE reshuffle: Meggitt and Morrison (Wm) Supermarkets to join FTSE 100, whilst there are seven changes to the FTSE 250. Just Eat Takeaway.com and Weir Group will leave the FTSE 100 index. You have to wonder why on earth the FTSE Russell bods think that it makes sense to promote Morrisons just as it’s about to become a private company – particularly as it’s only due to the bidding war that the share price has risen enough to get in. Joining the FTSE 250 are Baltic Classifieds Group, Blackrock Throgmorton Trust, Bridgepoint Group, Darktrace, Draper Esprit and Endeavour Mining plc. Couple of recent IPOs in there that have been performing well since listing. Out go Wickes, Tullow Oil, Temple Bar Investment Trust, Civitas Social Housing and Avon Protection. 

 

Melrose shares rose to the top of the FTSE as it returned to profit and reported trading ahead of expectations, with better profit margins, better earnings per share and significantly lower net debt. It also said the balance sheet has room for a significant further Capital Return next year. Profits rose to £223m from a loss of £11m last year. Shares rose 5% in early trade. 

 

JD Sports still spitting feathers over the CMA’s continued refusal to allow it to acquire Footasylum. The regulator still seems to be taking a high street market share approach with regards the two must-have brands – Nike and Adidas – whilst seemingly not factoring in the amount of direct to consumer business they do already and plan to do in future. Retail changes all of the time and the pandemic has accelerated trends that mean blocking JD Sports from acquiring Footasylum increasingly makes less sense. 

 

ECB speakers are doing the rounds: It’s an interesting moment for the European Central Bank next week so we’re paying close attention to what some of the ECB speakers are up to. After inflation rose to a decade-high 3% this week, leading hawk Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank to call for stimulus to be rolled back.  

 

Hawks are gaining confidence albeit the recovery is showing signs of lost momentum. Vice President Luis de Guindos told a Spanish newspaper that “the economy is performing better in 2021 than we expected, and this will be reflected in the projections that will be published in the coming days”. 

 

Next week on Sep 9th the ECB will need to take a decision on the future path of bond purchases. De Guindos hinted that withdrawal of stimulus is on the cards. “If inflation and the economy recover, then there will logically be a gradual normalisation of monetary policy, and of fiscal policy, too,” he said. 

 

But hawks have been in the minority for many years. ECB policymaker Yannis Stournaras was also on the tape, saying the central bank should be prudent, cautious regarding course of inflation, but stressed that wages are not yet following the course of inflation. This kind of follows what ECB chief economist Philip Lane said last week when he reiterated the central bank’s believe in the transience of inflationary pressures. 

 

OPEC+ stuck to its plan, raising output by 400k bpd, and increasing its 2022 demand outlook amid growing confidence within the bloc and the fundamentals for the market. Members noted that while the pandemic has cast a shadow on sentiment, market fundamentals have strengthened and OECD stocks continue to fall as recovery accelerates. A well-telegraphed move but it shows more consensus than was evident last time when talks dragged on for days. 

 

On stocks, US oil inventories shrank sharply last week, according to EIA data. Stocks fell by 7.2m barrels, double the draw that was expected. However, gasoline inventories rose as Tropical Storm Henry shut driving on the US east coast. Nevertheless, total product supplied, the key measure of implied demand, hit an all-time high of more than 22m bpd. The wash-out in July and August on delta fears may have played out enough to allow speculators to come back in as physical markets remain tight and fundamentals still solid.

 

After touching old support just under $67 WTI trades around $68 this morning as it continues to maintain a slightly bullish medium-term bias hugging the trend line, near-term descending trend is approaching but momentum is already fading a touch before this.

Spot Oil Chart 02.09.2021