The markets month ahead: key events for your trading diary in October

Get a look at the coming month’s important market-moving events with our October trading preview. 

Economic events to watch in October 

OPEC-JMMC meetings – Monday 4th October  

The month begins in earnest with OPEC-JMMC meetings. OPEC+ comes together for its monthly policy talks. No shocking surprises are expected this month. Instead, we’ll probably see a rubber-stamping of the planned output increase of 400,000 bpd.  

RBA rate statement – Tuesday 5th October  

The Reserve Bank of Australia releases its newest rate statement at the start of the month. Markets forecast no hike for the foreseeable future. The cash rate will probably stay at its historic low. 

RBNZ rate statement – Wednesday 6th October  

Joining its Australian cousin in starting the month with a rate decision is the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Economists think an increase in the 0.2% cash rate will come – but not the 0.5% increase forecast. 

US nonfarm payrolls – Friday 8th October 

Jerome Powell and the Fed, plus the wider markets, will be watching the month’s NFP data carefully. August’s data missed the mark by miles – will September’s stats point towards a US labour market surge? 

US CPI data – Wednesday 13th October 

Consumer Price Index rises cooled in August, backing the Fed’s stance that current high prices are all transitionary. Month-on-month price gains slowed to 0.3%. September’s CPI stats are released on Wednesday 13th of October. 

US retail sales data – Friday 15th October 

Retail sales across America picked up an unexpected bump in August. Sales were up 0.7% according to the Census Bureau. Observers were calling for a 0.7% decline, driven by rising Delta-variant COVID cases. Will we see an upward swing in September too? 

UK CPI data – Tuesday 20th October 

UK inflation is running hot. Last month’s report showed it growing at the fastest rate since records began, rising at 3.2%. It may be all transitionary, but if inflation punches above the Bank of England’s 4% target, then the UK’s central bank may be forced to act. 

European PMIs – Friday October 22nd 

Brace for the monthly European flash PMI blitz with all the key economic activity indicators from France, Germany, and the EU all inbound. Eurozone composite PMI readings for September missed expectations of 58.5 coming in at 56.1. Still in growth, but it looks like activity is starting to slow. 

Bank of Canada rate statement – Wednesday October 27th 

The first rate statement of Justin Trudeau’s third term comes this month. Governor Tiff Macklem and co. stuck to their guns in September, keeping the 0.25% rate in place and the QE pace the same. It’s probable October’s statement will bring much the same. 

ECB Press Conference – Thursday October 28th  

The European Central Bank scaled back its bond-buying programme in September in a bid to cool soaring inflation. Its October moves will likely all come down to how EU CPI reacted to the change. Rates stayed at 0% and it’s likely they will in the mid-term. 

Major economic data 

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Mon Oct-04  8:00am  EUR  Spanish Unemployment Change 
  All Day  All  OPEC Meetings 
  All Day  All  OPEC-JMMC Meetings 
       
Tue Oct-05  4:30am  AUD  RBA Rate Statement 
  4:30am  AUD  Cash Rate 
  Tentative  JPY  BOJ Gov Kuroda Speaks 
  3:00pm  USD  ISM Services PMI 
       
Wed Oct-06  2:00am  NZD  Official Cash Rate 
  2:00am  NZD  RBNZ Rate Statement 
  1:15pm  USD  ADP Non-Farm Employment Change 
  3:30pm  OIL  Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu Oct-07  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3:00pm  CAD  Ivey PMI 
       
Fri Oct-08  1:30am  AUD  RBA Financial Stability Review 
  1:30pm  CAD  Employment Change 
  1:30pm  CAD  Unemployment Rate 
  1:30pm  USD  Average Hourly Earnings m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Non-Farm Employment Change 
  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Rate 
  Tentative  USD  Treasury Currency Report 
       
Tue Oct 12  3:00am  CNH  GDP q/y 
  3:00am  CNH  Retail Sales y/y 
  10:00am  EUR  ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  10:00am  EUR  German ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  3:00pm  USD  JOLTS Job Openings 
  6:00pm  USD  10-y Bond Auction 
       
Wed Oct-13  1:30pm  USD  CPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core CPI m/m 
  6:01pm  USD  30-y Bond Auction 
  7:00pm  USD  FOMC Meeting Minutes 
       
Thu Oct-14  1:30am  AUD  Employment Change 
  1:30am  AUD  Unemployment Rate 
  1:30pm  USD  PPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  4:00pm  OIL  Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Fri Oct-15  7:00am  GBP  Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Empire State Manufacturing Index 
  3:00pm  USD  Prelim UoM Consumer Sentiment 
       
Mon Oct-18  2:15pm  USD  Industrial Production m/m 
  3:30pm  CAD  BOC Business Outlook Survey 
Tue Oct-19  1:30am  AUD  Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes 
       
Wed Oct-20  7:00am  GBP  CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  CPI m/m 
  1:30pm  CAD  Common CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  CAD  Median CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  Retail Sales m/m 
  1:30pm  CAD  Trimmed CPI y/y 
  3:30pm  OIL  Crude Oil Inventories 
  10:45pm  NZD  CPI q/q 
       
Thu Oct-21  1:30pm  USD  Philly Fed Manufacturing Index 
  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
       
Fri Oct-22  8:15am  EUR  French Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  8:15am  EUR  French Flash Services PMI 
  8:30am  EUR  German Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  8:30am  EUR  German Flash Services PMI 
  9:00am  EUR  Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  9:00am  EUR  Flash Services PMI 
  9:30am  GBP  Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  9:30am  GBP  Flash Services PMI 
  2:45pm  USD  Flash Manufacturing PMI 
  2:45pm  USD  Flash Services PMI 
       
Mon Oct-25  9:00am  EUR  German ifo Business Climate 
       
Tue Oct-26  1:30pm  USD  Core Durable Goods Orders m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Durable Goods Orders m/m 
  3:00pm  USD  CB Consumer Confidence 
       
Wed Oct-27  1:30am  AUD  CPI q/q 
  1:30am  AUD  Trimmed Mean CPI q/q 
  3:00pm  CAD  BOC Monetary Policy Report 
  3:00pm  CAD  BOC Rate Statement 
  3:00pm  CAD  Overnight Rate 
  3:30pm  OIL  Crude Oil Inventories 
  Tentative  CAD  BOC Press Conference 
       
Thu Oct-28  Tentative  JPY  BOJ Outlook Report 
  Tentative  JPY  Monetary Policy Statement 
  Tentative  JPY  BOJ Press Conference 
  12:45pm  EUR  Monetary Policy Statement 
  12:45pm  EUR  Main Refinancing Rate 
  1:30pm  EUR  ECB Press Conference 
  1:30pm  USD  Advance GDP q/q 
  1:30pm  USD  Advance GDP Price Index q/q 
  1:30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3:00pm  USD  Pending Home Sales m/m 
       
Fri Oct-29  8:00am  EUR  German Prelim GDP q/q 
  1:30pm  CAD  GDP m/m 
  1:30pm  USD  Core PCE Price Index m/m 
  2:45pm  USD  Chicago PMI 
  3:00pm  USD  Revised UoM Consumer Sentiment 
Sat Oct-30  Day 1  All  G20 Meetings 
       
Sun Oct-31  1:00am  CNH  Manufacturing PMI 
  Day 2  All  G20 Meetings 

Stocks look to end week on a high as travel stocks catch tailwind

Morning Note

European markets on a firmer footing on Friday – FTSE 100 made a bold move at the open to recapture the week’s intraday high at 7,093 struck on Monday before pulling back, still trades up roughly half of one percent in early trade. This comes after a lacklustre session on Wall Street – Nasdaq up a touch, S&P 500 down a touch after the textbook bounce off the 50-day SMA on Thursday. Cyclicals were higher along with real estate, while basic materials and energy declined as oil pulled back from its highs and precious and some other metals took a hit. Stock markets on either side of the pond now just in the green for the week, Nasdaq just a tad lagging at the moment. Better session for the Hang Seng but still down 5% for the week.

 

Airlines and associated travel stocks are among the top performers this morning on hopes for the relaxation of international travel rules. Ministers are looking to scrap the need for the double-jabbed returning to the UK to take PCR tests, whilst the traffic light system would be scrapped. This would remove a huge blockage for the industry, though what hoops you need to go through once you get to your destination is another matter… ‘your papers please’…’I just wanted a sandwich!’. Anyway, shares in the likes of TUI and IAG rose around 4%. SSP – which does the sandwiches – up 3%. WH Smith +2%.  Informa – which does conferences – also benefitted as it ought to make business travel less of a headache for those HR teams. Not all travel shares were up – EasyJet fell another 1%. HSBC rallied on two upgrades. IHG also got a boost as Berenberg upgraded to buy. Wickes rose 5% after Deutsche Bank raised the stock to buy. 

 

UK retail sales missed expectations in August, but people are spending more on doing things than they are stuff. We had 18 months locked up to order patio sets and games consoles. Now is the time to get out and go the pubs, restaurants or whatever it is you like to do. 

 

After bemoaning the lack of FX volatility earlier this week, yesterday saw it reappear. The main story was a stronger dollar, which rose to its highest in three weeks after some surprisingly good US data. US retail sales rose +0.7% vs –0.8% decline expected, which signalled resilience among consumers as delta fears start to ebb and perhaps indicates spending will start to improve as US households unwind savings again after a period of caution. JPMorgan’s latest spending data report showed consumer spending well above July/August levels. More good news for the US economy emerged as the Philly Fed manufacturing index jumped as price pressures eased. 

 

And now an FT report claiming the European Central Bank is far closer to raising rates than official communiques indicate has the market guessing. The report cites an internal memo saying the ECB is on track to hike rates in about two years’ time, a year earlier than forecast. EURUSD has caught some bid after hitting its weakest since late August but this could just as well be about a paring of dollar gains after an outsize move yesterday. I would not be surprised if the ECB were to keep schtum over a possible earlier rate hike, as it won’t want the euro to rally, however such a hawkishness would go against everything we have come to learn about the ECB over the last decade. It maybe reflects internal concerns that inflation will be stickier than central banks admit right now and that they will be forced into adopting a less accommodative stance presently. On that note, markets are keen to see what the Bank of England does next week to get a grip on inflation.

 

EURUSD: potential inverted head and shoulders but near-term momentum with bears – note bearish MACD crossover. Current price action is tracking a well-worn channel. If a test of 1.6660 fails then we look to recover 1.19. If this gets taken out first and confirmed, looking for 1.22.

Gold was hammered yesterday as the dollar rose and Treasury yields spiked on the better US data. Whilst neither of the data sets should materially alter the Fed’s decision next week, they do nudge things in favour of the USD and spikier yields. The MACD indicator again provided us with a good signal last week for a short. Could be a shakeout of the weaker hands before resumption of attack on $1,830.

Manipulation continues to stoke the market

Morning Note

Yesterday I talked at length about the stock trading of Robert Kaplan, the head of the Dallas Fed, which obviously posed some questions about conflicts of interest. Now the quiet uproar this caused has forced Kaplan and his pal Eric Rosengren, the Boston Fed president, to do something. Both will sell all individual stock holdings by Sep 30th and reinvest in passive funds. “While my personal saving and investment transactions have complied with the Federal Reserve’s ethics rules, I have decided to address even the appearance of any conflict of interest by taking the following steps,” Rosengren said. Ok sure, but it just has a bad smell to it.

 

Stocks are nursing a slight bounce after a tough week, but the downside is open. The FTSE 100 found support at the 7,000 marker, testing its lowest in almost a month but holding the recent range for the time being. US markets were lower for a 4th straight day, the Dow Jones losing more than 150 points, the S&P 500 off by half of one percent and now a little over 1% below the all-time highs. A dovish European Central Bank has eased some concerns. 

 

The ECB did little to rock the boat, announcing a modest taper, but this was not exactly hawkish. PEPP will be conducted at a slightly slower pace, but this is all just tinkering at the edges.  Stocks found some bid, the euro also rose a touch but turned around – just a hint of noise, no new direction or anything to change the mind of any investors out there. Lagarde stressed it’s not a taper but ‘recalibration’ of PEPP.  

 

Message on rates clearly dovish and signalling they are going to look through ‘transitory’ spikes in inflation: “The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching two per cent well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realised progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilising at two per cent over the medium term. This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above target.” 

 

Although inflation forecasts were revised higher, inflation in 2023 is still seen back down to 1.5% – so no signs of a rate hike in my lifetime…I reckon I could get round a table 8 times a year with my mates and say ‘shall we buy more bonds?’ and they would say ‘yeah, let’s buy more bonds’. It’s not monetary policy, it’s just outright repression, manipulation and ultimately a form of theft. 

 

And if you want to see what mega central bank action does – BofA reports today in their Flow Show that the annualized inflow to global stocks in 2021 of $1tn is greater than the cumulative inflow of prior 20 years ($0.8tn). 

 

Stagflation: UK economic growth slowed sharply in July – the reopening burst bust. Output rose by just 0.1% in July, missing expectations for +0.6% expansion.  

 

US initial jobless claims hit their lowest since the pandemic at 310k, whilst continuing claims also fell slightly. 

 

Oil weakened but then recovered some ground after China said it would auction off some state crude reserves to help refiners. WTI remains in a tight range as the market looks for fresh catalysts from the demand unknowns. Near-term downtrend remains in force.

Spot Oil Chart 10.09.2021

European stocks rally as US breaks for Labor Day holiday

Morning Note

European stock markets edged higher this morning towards the top of recent ranges at the start of what’s set to be a fairly quiet day as US markets are shut for the Labor Day holiday. Meanwhile, this week’s European Central Bank meeting looms in the near distance. Investors are still digesting the huge jobs report miss last Friday and what it means for the Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its bond purchases. Stocks just about fell and the dollar was weaker in the wake of the report, whilst gold rallied. It was far from a straight line down for stocks though as large cap growth and tech helped the Nasdaq Composite to rally 0.21% whilst the Dow Jones fell by the same amount. 

 

This morning the main indices are heading higher by around half of one percent. The euro is lower against the dollar as the latter catches some bid in early trade. Data from Germany has been mixed, with factory orders +3.4% vs -0.7% expected, while the construction PMI slipped deeper into contraction territory at 44.6, a three-month low.

 

Stagflation: Friday’s US jobs report was bad, indicating growth rolling over and delta taking its toll on the reopening of the economy. With revisions to the last two months the net add was not as bad as the headline print, but it was nevertheless a poor signal for the US economy at this stage. Of note, employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged, after increasing by an average of 350,000 per month over the prior 6 months. 

 

One jobs miss does not mean the economic recovery is in trouble, but it could foster a more cautious approach among the FOMC members, who could be apt to delay plans to taper asset purchases. Or rather they may prefer to wait and see how the data goes into November. Against the backdrop of warning consumer confidence and stalled jobs growth, the chances of the Fed announcing a taper of bond purchases at its September meeting have receded but does mean it won’t start later in the year.  The question is to what extent rising cases of the delta variant in the US hit the rebound. 

 

Looking ahead to this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia is in a pickle over its plans to taper asset purchases. Ongoing lockdowns make it likely the central bank will reverse its previously announced taper, leaving bond purchases at A$5bn a week.  

 

The ECB meanwhile is more likely to go the other way and could announce a slower rate of PEPP asset purchases. Inflation is running at 3% and chief economist Lane has suggested the central bank could be closer to tapering than the market assumed. Hawks have their tails up a bit more these days that the European economy is in relatively good shape, but they worry about inflation. Of note this week will be the latest inflation forecasts for the bloc, which are likely to be revised higher. 

 

Oil is weaker after Saudi Arabia cut selling prices for Asia, nudging WTI and Brent down by more than 1%. The kingdom said it would reduce October official selling prices for all grades exported to Asia by at least $1 a barrel. 

Week Ahead: Central banks take centre stage

The week ahead is dominated by central bank statements. We’ve got three lined up, with the first coming from the ECB. Its dovish outlook runs counter to the Reserve Bank of Australia and Bank of Canada who’ve taken on a more hawkish character of late. We’re not expecting major policy shifts – but surprises are never far away in the world of economics. 

The last glimpse inside the European Central Bank’s thinking we got came in the form of its July meeting minutes. In a world where central banks are starting to take more hawkish footings, the ECB is still relatively dovish. 

The ECB announced its first major strategic financial policy in July. Inflation targets were revised away from trying to keep it below 2% by adopting a specific 2% headline inflation target. Since then, inflation in the Euro area has risen to a decade high of 3%, which is likely to encourage hawks on the Governing Council.  

All very well and good, but what about COVID-19? The pandemic is by no means over, but some key ECB board members are confident even the impact of the Delta variant can’t stunt Europe’s return to the black. 

Limited headwinds are expected. The sentiment is positive. 

“I would say we’re broadly not too far away from what we expected in June for the full year,” Philip Lane, the ECB’s chief economist, told Reuters on Wednesday. “It’s a reasonably well-balanced picture.” 

Importantly, the ECB has said it will keep a “persistently accommodative” stance going forward. Interest rates are likely to stay at their current exceptionally low levels. We’re not expecting to see a shift towards a more hawkish position any time soon. 

Moving to Australia, the RBA has been fairly bullish in its most recent communications. A new rate statement will come the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday morning and we’re not expecting the bank to stray too far from its current course. 

That is to say, tapering of the RBA’s bond buying programme will continue with the aim of scaling it back from September onwards. Rates will probably stay low too. We’re not expecting a hike until late 2022 at the earliest. 

Much depends on how robust Australia’s economy fares in light of rising coronavirus cases and localised lockdowns.  

“The board would be prepared to act in response to further bad news on the health front should that lead to a more significant setback for the economic recovery,” the RBA said in its August meeting minutes. “Experience to date had been that, once virus outbreaks were contained, the economy bounced back quickly.” 

Governor Lowe and his colleagues have said a recession is not very likely, although growth prospects have been revised for 2021. This year, the RBA expects annual growth to be around 4%, lower than the 4.75% previously forecast, but will rise to 4.25% by the end of 2022. 

Rounding off the week’s cavalcade of central bank statements is the Bank of Canada. The BOC is one of the more hawkish of the world’s central banks and has moved towards bond-buying tapering quite quickly, even though it is holding its overnight rate at 0.25%. 

The BOC did point out that a fresh wave of infections and lockdowns in Q2 did inhibit growth, but the bank is confident growth will expand rapidly towards the end of the year.  

The central bank said Canada’s economy is now expected to grow 6.0% in 2021, down from the April forecast of 6.5%, while it revised up its 2022 growth estimate to 4.6% from 3.7%. 

Hot inflation is still floating in the air, with readings expected to stay at or above 3% through to 2022. Quite hot – and at the top of the BOC’s 1-3% range. However, the bank is confident this is all transitionary. It is unlikely to force a policy rethink. 

Major economic data 

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Tue 7-Sep  5.30am  AUD  RBA Rate Statement 
  5.30am  AUD  Cash Rate 
  10.00am  EUR  ZEW Economic Sentiment 
  10.00am  EUR  German ZEW Economic Sentiment 
       
Wed 8-Sep  3.00pm  CAD  BOC Rate Statement 
  3.00pm  CAD  Ivey PMI 
  3.00pm  CAD  Overnight Rate 
  Tentative  CAD  BOC Press Conference 
       
Thu 9-Sep  12.45pm  EUR  Monetary Policy Statement 
  12.45pm  EUR  Main Referencing Rate 
  1.30pm  EUR  ECB Press Conference 
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
  3.30pm  GAS  US Natural Gas Inventories 
  4.00pm  OIL  US Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Fri 10-Sep  1.30pm  CAD  Employment Change 
  1.30pm  CAD  Unemployment Rate 
  1.30pm  USD  PPI m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
  Tentative  GBP  Monetary Policy Hearings 

The All-New Symmetric ECB

This ECB meeting will be different. For a start, the opening statement is going to be shorter and more understandable. Lagarde told us this much when she launched the results of the ECB Strategy Review on 8th July. But is this just another cosmetic tweak or will there be substantial changes?

There certainly should be. The ECB has now changed their mandate for the first time in twenty-three years. Having failed abysmally to achieve their rather tortuous previous target of “close to, but below, 2%”, they’re now gunning for simple symmetry around 2%. As Lagarde explained at the Strategy Review, ‘Symmetry means that the Governing Council considers negative and positive deviations of inflation from the target to be equally undesirable’.

In practice, this unleashes the ECB doves. Previously they had to accept 2% as some kind of ceiling, which many of them feared was trapping the eurozone in a low growth, low inflation twilight zone. Since 2013, average annual inflation in the euro area has been just 0.9%. Now the doves can argue that expectations need to be reset in order to get inflation up to its target.

Why did the hawks agree to this?

They’ve certainly not been backward in coming forward over the years. But just as the Germanic fear of printing money was overcome by Mario Draghi, they have once again been forced to concede in this battle so that they don’t lose the war. There was a risk that the Strategy Review could have resulted in a Federal Reserve style “flexible average inflation targeting” regime, which would have tied the hands of the hawks by forcing them to push the stimulus pedal to the metal with average inflation so low for so long. Instead, they’ve managed to retain some power to interpret this new target in their preferred direction. Lagarde outright rejected the question of whether they were copying the Fed, replying ‘the answer is no, quite squarely’.

So now we have a target that seems to please both the doves and the hawks: the classic ECB fudge. Lagarde was at pains to point out that the new mandate was achieved with unanimous consent. Despite this bonhomie, Lagarde also warned that this week’s meeting would not “have unanimous consent”.

The most prominent perma-hawk, Germany’s Jens Weidmann, is certainly gunning for the end of one of the ECB’s alphabet soup of quantitative easing programmes. The PEPP was launched in March last year in direct response to the pandemic. After all the “E” of its name refers to “emergency” – and Weidmann now thinks we are past that stage. As he noted on 27th June: ‘advances on the vaccination front mean that the economy in the euro area… is now probably making its way out of the crisis… The incidence of the disease declines only gradually… All the more reason, then, to talk about the conditions under which the emergency situation can be considered over from the perspective of monetary policy‘.

Meanwhile the increasingly vocal dove Fabio Panetta of Italy (and old friend of Mario Draghi) has warned that tightening too soon would be disastrous: ‘If we are seen as determined to achieve 2% without undue delay and have a clear plan to do so by enabling monetary-fiscal interactions, rising inflation expectations will make our task easier. But if we are seen to be lacking determination, expectations will be less responsive and the “bang for our buck” will be considerably lower: we will end up spending more, not less, and we may not exit the liquidity trap.

How, then, can Lagarde hope to reconcile the two?

By ending the PEPP and resurrecting the old APP – that’s the original Asset Purchase Programme launched under Draghi in mid-2014 when he was in full Whatever It Takes flight. But the APP will have to change. The amount of purchases might have to drop (to please the hawks) but continue for a longer period of time (to please the doves) – and to be flexible enough to be increased/decreased at any time (to please everyone).

What does this mean in practice?

Forget interest rates. QE is now the only game in town. It’s not going anywhere. But it is going to be recalibrated. This week’s meeting gives Lagarde the chance to set up this new framework so that markets can get used to it. We are in a new normal now. As Panetta recently concluded ‘we should recognise that what was seen as unconventional in the past is now conventional‘. Step forward the APP.

Week Ahead: ECB to tilt after strategic shift?

Week Ahead

The ECB clarifies its policy position following June’s strategic shift this week. Data is dominated by UK monthly retail sales following a bumper second quarter, and a flurry of PMI reports. Meanwhile, Q2 earnings season heats up on Wall Street.

Let’s start with the major central bank announcement of the week. This time, it’s the turn of the European Central Bank. Markets will be watching the ECB’s next moves with additional scrutiny as it committed to a strategic refresh earlier last month.

We’ve seen inflation rates rise in the UK and US recently. While Eurozone inflation dipped away from a two-year high a couple of weeks ago, inflation and its effects have been brought to the fore of EU monetary policymakers’ thinking.

Following an 18-month strategic review, the EU has shifted its inflation target to 2%. According to observers, that would give the bloc enough wiggle room to a) accept temporary inflation rates above that and b) keep interest rates near or at historic lows.

Could this feed into a change in pandemic monetary policy? It’s possible, but the fact there is space for ECB policymakers to keep rates low suggests there’ll be no major change from the bloc’s current monetary trajectory.

At June’s meeting, the European Central Bank reiterated its commitment to €1.85 trillion in asset purchases under its PEPP mechanism. This was said to remain in place until March 2022.

Turning to data, one of the week’s key releases is UK retail sales for June and the month-to-month comparisons.

We can gauge June’s figures by looking at the recently-released Q2 2021 retail numbers reported by the British Retail Consortium alongside KPMG.

According to BRC, retail sales jumped 10.4% between April-June when weighted against the same period in 2019. This was the fastest quarterly growth reported since records began back in 1995.

The report also comes with an initial British retail health check for June too. KPMG reports that, against 2019’s levels, retail sales in June shot up 13.1%.

For context, BRC and KMPG are weighing retail sales against 2019’s numbers, as 2020’s numbers have been distorted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A combination of lockdown easing, warmer summer temperatures, and Euro 2020 contributed to the rise in retail spending. Additionally, many UK holidaymakers have had no choice but to stay at home, thus keeping money that would be spent overseas in the local economy.

All of this is down to pent up demand being unleashed as lockdown restrictions lift. From Monday, nearly all of the major restrictions on British life are being removed, so the battle for wallets is now on.

What will be interesting to see is any change in habits from retail spending to experiences. This was the trend in the US for the past couple of months, so UK may shoppers may also move towards doing things rather than buying things.

We also have a wealth of PMI reports coming in from the US, UK, and the EU on Friday.

For the UK, both services and manufacturing IHS Markit PMIs showed the UK is still very much on a growth footing.

Starting with manufacturing, June’s reading came in at 63.9, a touch lower than May’s all-time high of 65.6, but still one of the highest rates in the survey’s 30-year history. However, industry insiders warned supply chain snarls and high input costs meeting surging demand could cause a slowdown in factory output going forward.

June’s services PMI reading was in line with UK manufacturing: a slight dip away from May’s high, but still showing strong growth. The actual reading came in at 62.4. However, rising operational expenses and staff shortages could impact growth in the short term, as could rising inflation. We’ll get a clearer picture with July’s reading.

The EU will be hoping to keep the momentum rolling into July too. June’s readings were some of the most positive for years. June’s composite flash index was 59.2 – an increase over the 57.1 registered in May. Services bounced from 55.2 to 58.0, suggesting pent up demand is driving the hospitality and services sector forward.

The US, while thriving, could have reached its peak, according to PMI releases. Its composite score for June was 63.7 – the second-fastest rate of expansion on record.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said: “June saw another month of impressive output growth across the manufacturing and services sectors of the US economy, rounding off the strongest quarterly expansion since data were first available in 2009.”

“The rate of growth cooled compared to May’s record high, however, adding to signs that the economy’s recovery bounce peaked in the second quarter.”

Inflation will no doubt play a big role in July’s PMI calculations. Core and non-core prices are up in the economies mentioned above, but Friday’s release will give us a better understanding of its impact on US economic activity.

We also transition into the second week of US Q2 earning season. A mixture of tech and FMCG firms are reporting this week, including the likes of Netflix, Twitter, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, and Coca-Cola.

Oilfield services and engineering firm Schlumberger may be one to watch. Oil prices have gone from strength to strength this the tail end of last year. Has this fed into increased activity for multinationals like Schlumberger and consequently better financial results?

You can find a run down of the large caps reporting on Wall Street this week below, but you can also see our full US earnings calendar here.

Major economic data

Date Time (GMT+1) Asset Event
Tue 20-Jul 2.30am AUD Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
 
Wed 21-Jul 2.30am AUD Retail Sales m/m
  3.30pm OIL US Crude Oil Inventories
 
Thu 22-Jul 12.45pm EUR Monetary Policy Statement
  12.45pm EUR Main Refinancing Rate
  1.30pm EUR ECB Press Conference
  3.30pm GAS US Natural Gas Inventories
 
Fri 23-Jul 7.00am GBP Retail Sales m/m
  8.15am EUR French Flash Manufacturing PMI
  8.15am EUR French Flash Services PMI
  8.30am EUR German Flash Manufacturing PMI
  8.30am EUR German Flash Services PMI
  9.00am EUR Flash Manufacturing PMI
  9.00am EUR Flash Services PMI
  9.30am GBP Flash Manufacturing PMI
  9.30am GBP Flash Services PMI
  1.30pm CAD Core Retail Sales m/m
  1.30pm CAD Retail Sales m/m
  2.45pm USD Flash Manufacturing PMI
  2.45pm USD Flash Services PMI

 

Key earnings data

Mon 19-Jul Tue 20-Jul Wed 21-Jul Thu 22-Jul Fri 23-Jul
Philip Morris International Coca-Cola AT&T American Express
IBM
Netflix Johnson & Johnson Newmont Goldcorp Schlumberger
Verizon Communications Intel Corp
Snap Inc
Twitter Inc

Stocks shrug off higher inflation, gold up as yields are pinned

Morning Note

A mildly positive start to the Friday session for European markets after Wall Street set fresh records, with the S&P 500 jumping to a new all-time high even as data showed US inflation surged in May. US CPI rose to 5% last month, whilst the core reading rose to +3.8%, the highest in 30 years. Core month-on-month declined from 0.9% in April to 0.7% in May but still remains extremely high. Rates actually fell with the 10yr Treasury under 1.44%, sending the dollar to under 90 and gold firmer. 

 

Hot inflation readings right now are pretty much fully priced and understood, as is the reaction function of central banks: they see it as transitory, nothing to worry about. This was evinced by the European Central Bank yesterday, which stuck to the inflation-is-temporary script. It raised expectations for growth and inflation this year but sees inflation at just 1.4% in 2023. The message from the ECB was that things are much better, but we are not about to ease off. 

 

The ECB said it sees risks to the growth outlook as “broadly balanced”, for the first time since December 2018. And the statement was quite dovish given upgrades, with the bank saying that “the Governing Council expects net purchases under the PEPP over the coming quarter to continue to be conducted at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of the year”. We might have expected them to drop the word significantly at this meeting. It’s all set up nicely for a battle over the summer between the hawks and doves – if the data continues its current trajectory, we should anticipate a September taper announcement. 

 

Bank of America’s closely-followed Flow Show shows strong flows to bonds, with $12.5bn inflows vs $1.5bn to equities in the last week. The paper notes dryly that “nobody knows how to trade inflation, everybody knows how to trade ‘don’t fight the Fed’.” This is an apt way of describing the fact that just about no one around today really understands either a strong and sustained period of inflation, nor a proper bear market. Just because you’ve not had to deal with it before doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  

 

Yields falling on a hot inflation print seems counter-intuitive. But while inflation is surging, inflation expectations are not shooting higher. As such, at its meeting next week, the Fed can still argue that the inflation we are seeing is a factor of base effects and short-term supply problems. The question remains: at what point does the stream of higher inflation readings become more than just transitory?

 

With yields sinking to fresh 3-month lows, real rates (TIPS) shot lower too, giving a helping hand to gold. The set up for gold looks promising – rising inflation + a Fed willing to keep its thumb on yields, producing even-more negative real rates. Prices have clawed back the $1,900 level and could be heading for the $1,960 region if the recent peak at $1,196 can be cleared. Failure to retain the $1,900 could see the 50% retracement at $1,877 again.

The FTSE 100 is testing the near-term highs around 7120 in early trade – a break could call for test of the post-pandemic peak at 7,164 at the top of the ascending triangle. Continued MACD divergence is a headwind.

Markets look for direction from ECB, US CPI inflation

Morning Note

European stock markets were again lacking direction ahead of today’s closely awaited ECB meeting and a hotly anticipated inflation reading from the US. The FTSE 100 trades a little higher, the DAX a little lower. Wall Street closed lower with the major indices holding to well-worn ranges. The S&P 500 down 0.4% to 4,219.55 but remains just a few points below its all-time high of 4,238.04 set on May 7th.  

Meme stocks attracted the most interest as Clean Energy Fuels – the fourth most talked about stock on the /Wallstreetbets thread yesterday – rallied 31%. AMC fell 10% and Clover Health dropped 23% after a monster rally in the previous session. Today’s most-discussed stocks include WISH, CLF, WKHS, AMC and TLRY. 

 US inflation reading key risk event

If there is a worry about inflation – today’s US CPI print will tell us a lot – then the bond market is not showing it. US 10yr yields fell under 1.49% to the lowest level in 3 months. This is not just a Fed thing – the yield on longer dated paper such as the 30yr is also well off its 2021 highs. Today’s inflation reading still poses a risk to the market. The annual rate is forecast to climb to 4.7% in May, from 4.2% in April, whilst the core reading is seen at 3.4%, with the month-on-month at +0.4%. With the Federal Reserve anchoring its policy goals to employment, another hot reading won’t be too much to worry about. Nevertheless, the print will still lead to some volatility at 13:30 (BST) in index futures, numerous FX crosses and gold. An above forecast inflation reading would reignite market taper fears, albeit this is likely to be short-lived and one to fade as the Fed still has control of this, at least to the extent that the market believes it does.

ECB set to hold steady for now

The European Central Bank (ECB) convenes today amid a much rosier economic outlook than at the start of the year. But with the central bank having communicated its plans to front-load asset purchases, there is not expected to be any material change in policy or communication. It will be hard to avoid taper talk so how the ECB responds to questions around tapering will be of central importance to the market’s expectations and the euro. At the March meeting the ECB said it would pick up the pace of asset purchases, front-loading the PEPP scheme, but that it could still use less than the full envelope of €1.85tn if favourable financial conditions can be maintained without spending it all. The outcome of the March meeting was very much that the PEPP programme is more likely to end by March 2022 than be extended, albeit policy will remain very accommodative well beyond that point. Today it’s likely the ECB will support continuing running PEPP at around €80bn a month before starting to taper in September. 

Yields have been pressing higher but have retreated from the May peaks. The increased pace of asset purchases that was agreed in March came as a response to rising yields at the time. But the economic outlook – chiefly driven by a strong vaccine rollout that was slow to start but is now firing on all cylinders – has improved greatly since then. The ECB has been taking the line that inflation is temporary and rising bond yields reflect better fundamentals, so I don’t think it will be unduly concerned by a higher rate environment now due to the better economic picture. This will make talk of a taper very difficult to ignore. The language around the speed of asset purchases may change somewhat, and this could drive EZ yields + EUR higher. It will be very interesting to see what the ECB says about the state of financing conditions, and it is sure to continue to tie PEPP purchases to maintaining these as ‘favourable’.  

The big risk for EUR crosses around this meeting is: does the ECB silence taper talk with enough vigour to keep yields in check, or does it allow the market to think the more hawkish voices are winning the argument about when the central bank eventually exits emergency mode? With the ECB seen in a holding pattern, there is quite a low bar for a hawkish surprise.

Inflation has picked up since the last meeting, which could see the forecast for 2021 and 2022 revised upwards from the March level. EZ inflation rose to 2% in May from 1.6% in April, the first time it’s been on target in over two years. With growth in Q1 a little light, the rebound in the summer should mean GDP projections remain broadly unchanged. 

ECB speakers have been offering a few titbits since the last meeting. Of particular importance to the speed at which the ECB will exit emergency mode, Christine Lagarde stressed that inflationary pressures will be temporary – sticking to the global central banker script. At the April meeting she said tapering talk was premature. But she remains caught between the hawks and doves. Kazaks and Lane made it clear policymakers will look at the asset purchase programme again in June, which could involve scaling back the programme if the economic situation is better.  There were dovish comments from Panetta in late May, noting that it was too early to taper bond purchases. Banque de France Governor, Villeroy de Galhau, stressed that the ECB is going to be at least as slow to tighten as the Federal Reserve. 

Finally, London’s IPO market is showing signs of fatigue. Broker Marex has pulled its planned listing, while fuel cell company Elcogen and miner Tungsten have both delayed planned floats. Whilst there may be more to the Marex decision than simply ‘challenging IPO market conditions’, it does rather seem there is some amount of investor fatigue after a deluge of new issuance in the first quarter. Wise to pause. In the case of Marex, it may be wise to steer clear. 

ECB preview: no big changes ahead of Jun 10th meeting

Forex
  • No material changes expected 
  • More hawkish (EUR positive) more likely than more dovish 
  • Brighter economic outlook since March 

The European Central Bank (ECB) convenes on Thursday (Jun 10th) amid a much rosier economic outlook than at the start of the year. But with the central bank having communicated its plans to front-load asset purchases, there is not expected to be any material change in policy or communication. It will be hard to avoid taper talk so how the ECB responds to questions around tapering will be of central importance to the market’s expectations and the euro. 

At the March meeting the ECB said it would pick up the pace of asset purchases, front-loading the PEPP scheme, but that it could still use less than the full envelope of €1.85tn if favourable financial conditions can be maintained without spending it all. The outcome of the March meeting was very much that the PEPP programme is more likely to end by March 2022 than be extended, albeit policy will remain very accommodative well beyond that point.  

To taper? 

Yields have been pressing higher but have retreated from the May peaks. The increased pace of asset purchases that was agreed in March came as a response to rising yields at the time. But the economic outlook – chiefly driven by a strong vaccine rollout that was slow to start but is now firing on all cylinders – has improved greatly since then. The ECB has been taking the line that inflation is temporary and rising bond yields reflect better fundamentals, so I don’t think it will be unduly concerned by a higher rate environment now due to the better economic picture. This will make talk of a taper very difficult to ignore. The language around the speed of asset purchases may change somewhat, and this could drive EZ yields + EUR higher. It will be very interesting to see what the ECB says about the state of financing conditions and it is sure to continue to tie PEPP purchases to maintaining these as ‘favourable’.  

The big risk for EUR crosses around this meeting is: does the ECB silence taper talk with enough vigour to keep yields in check, or does it allow the market to think the more hawkish voices are winning the argument about when the central bank eventually exits emergency mode. 

New projections 

Inflation has picked up since the last meeting, which could see the forecast for 2021 and 2022 revised upwards from the March level. EZ inflation rose to 2% in May from 1.6% in April, the first time it’s been on target in over two years. With growth in Q1 a little light, the rebound in the summer should mean GDP projections remain broadly unchanged. 

What has the ECB been saying lately? 

ECB speakers have been offering a few titbits since the last meeting. Of particular importance to the speed at which the ECB will exit emergency mode, Christine Lagarde stressed that inflationary pressures will be temporary – sticking to the global central banker script. At the April meeting she said tapering talk was premature. 

Kazaks and Lane made it clear policymakers will look at the asset purchase programme again in June, which could involve scaling back the programme if the economic situation is better.  There were dovish comments from the Panetta in late May, noting that it was too early to taper bond purchases. Banque de France Governor, Villeroy de Galhau, stressed that the ECB is going to be at least as slow to tighten as the Federal Reserve. 

But we’ve also had warnings about financial stability risks stemming from rising levels of sovereign debt. Vice president de Guindos warned of a “legacy of higher debt and weaker balance sheets which … could prompt sharp market corrections and financial stress”. 

Technical outlook 

Right now, the price action has flipped above the 5-day moving average (RHS), so we look for a confirmation of this move (close above today and a green candle again tomorrow) for a bullish signal. On the LHS, the longer-term view of the daily MACD divergence is raising a warning flag. 

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