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Investors look to Apple product show as equities struggle for momentum
Weak start for equities this morning, taking the baton from a mixed bag for indices in the US and Asia. FTSE 100 off about 0.5% in early trade heading towards 7,000 again, whilst the DAX is closer to the flat line. US CPI inflation later is the chief attraction as well as Apple’s product show. Shares in China fell, while Tokyo closed at a 5-year high.
US stock markets showed growth-value divergence: the Nasdaq slipped and the Dow and the S&P 500 rallied as the market attempted to consolidate after a run of five straight losses. We saw a bit of a case of futures pumping, cash dumping: i.e. futures rallying but the market selling off on the cash open, which is never a good setup for the market. Futures are weaker today, whilst the US dollar is weaker, sitting in the middle of the recent range, after running into resistance at 92.85 area for the second time in a week.
Large cap growth/tech dragging a bit, cyclicals and energy doing better. So, some rotation away from tech/growth towards the value/cyclical part of the market. Rotation magic still working on the broader market and keeps it steady in the face of a bigger pullback, for now. Apple up a touch as markets continue to digest the impact of the Epic court ruling and look ahead to today’s product event. Expect new models but I don’t believe there is any game-changing tech about to be revealed.
The market has been conditioned to buy the dip since TINA – there is no alternative. But we have not seen this so much so it’s a market that could be unlearning what it was taught because of things like inflation. Persistent supply problems, labour shortages etc will mean it’s not as transitory as people think and since it’s supply-shock, cost-push (bad) inflation not just demand-pull (good) inflation, it is not good for the market. Today’s CPI will be closely watched of course, but will be enough to change anyone’s thinking about whether inflation is stickier than the Fed tells us?
Big trouble in China: Shares in Evergrande plunged again after the company issued a statement saying it was struggling to offload assets to cover its monster debt pile amid a liquidity crunch. Shares fell more than 11% and trading in some of its bonds were halted.
Crypto pump and dump: Litecoin shot higher in a frenzied spike on a press release purporting to be from Walmart, the retailer telling customers it is introducing a pay with Litecoin function in store. Wow, we all thought, Litecoin has been doing nothing for months and then it’s suddenly in with the biggest retailer in the US. The market obviously felt it was legitimate and was even more assured when Litecoin’s Twitter account share the tweet. It didn’t take long for it to be outed as fake news, however, and Litecoin came crashing down again. Litecoin jumped 35% in the space of 10 minutes before it went south. Pure Wild West – clearly a well-orchestrated bid by one or more holders who wanted to drive the price higher for just long enough to get out with the heads above water.
There was a strong read across for other cryptos (note the spikes on the 5-min charts) but they are mainly starting to regain some momentum.
Ocado shares fell after it reported a 10% drop in revenues, caused by the fire at its Erith site on July 16th. Revenues were down before the fire – tough comparisons with last year – but slumped 19% in the period after. More capacity is incoming for the UK but no update on international progress. JD Sports ramped higher again on yet another strong performance with profit before tax and exceptional items rising to £439.5 million. Management forecast outturn headline profit before tax for the full year of at least £750 million.
Can’t make it up: Last week talked a bit about how Coinbase was getting in a twist over the SEC suing it for launching Lend, a product that would let people earn interest (yield) on their Bitcoin holdings. So, it was quite amusing to see them this week tap the bond market, which lets people earn yield on their assets, ie the bonds. Coinbase said it would offer $1.5 billion in senior bond notes. “This capital raise represents an opportunity to bolster our already-strong balance sheet with low-cost capital,” the company said, though they’ll paying up to 4-5% for the privilege.
MicroStrategy is at it again, the company revealed it has purchased an additional 5,050 bitcoins for about $242.9 million in cash at an average price of $48,099 per Bitcoin. Down about $19m on that deal so far, then. “As of 9/12/21 we #hodl ~114,042 bitcoins acquired for ~$3.16 billion at an average price of ~$27,713 per bitcoin,” tweeted the boss Michael Saylor.
Trouble in the energy markets seems to be getting worse and there is going to be a rough winter as prices seem to be going only way. Call it political insanity led by the green agenda or a perfect storm of short-term factors, it’s not looking pretty right now.
European natural gas benchmarks keep hitting new highs. Henry Hub natural gas prices were up another 4% to $5.20, a fresh 8-year high and a 14-year high for this time of year. Demand for natural gas is actually growing but supply is failing to keep pace. Problem is the drillers can’t get the funding and they’re over geared as it stands so there is not the ability to go big on drilling to take advantage of the higher prices. Which means inventories are going to keep being squeezed and prices are going one way.
Oil is well and truly back to the races for a fresh run at the YTD highs after breaking above the Aug range at long last. As anticipated given it had completely backloaded its prior demand forecast for 2021 with all the growth to appear in H2, OPEC has finally had to cut its outlook. The cartel trimmed its world oil demand forecast for the last quarter by 110k bpd due to Delta.
“The increased risk of COVID-19 cases primarily fuelled by the Delta variant is clouding oil demand prospects going into the final quarter of the year,” OPEC said in the report. “As a result, second-half 2021 oil demand has been adjusted slightly lower, partially delaying the oil demand recovery into first-half 2022.” OPEC is sticking with the 6m bpd increase in 2021 vs 2020 though, with Q3 showing resilience despite the ongoing problems with the pandemic. But the outlook for 2022 is bullish, with OPEC raising its oil demand forecast for next year by 900k bpd from last month’s outlook, taking demand growth in 2022 to 4.2m bpd. Meanwhile short-term pressure on supply remains with Hurricane Nicholas making landfall in Texas this morning.
WTI made a 6-week high and now clear of the August range and near-term trend resistance.
Stagflation: Industrial giant 3M yesterday warned that inflation is currently higher than company thought in Q3, seeing broad-based inflation, warns on chip shortages.
And it’s not looking like it’s as transitory as the Fed keeps telling us. The Fed reports that consumer 3-year ahead inflation expectations hit 4%, a series high. One-year-ahead inflation expectations rose for the 10th straight month to a median of 5.2% in August. Food prices are expected to grow by 7.9% annually, up from 7.1% in July. Rent is expected to rise by 10%, and the price of medical care is expected to rise by 9.7% over the next year.
Ok so supply chain problems are not the Fed’s fault, but AIT was always going to let inflation expectations become unanchored since it means the market no longer anticipates the Fed will step in. Previous incarnations of the Fed would have sought to guide the market to expect tighter financial conditions by now.
Week Ahead: Fed meeting to assess inflation landscape
With the G7 event in Cornwall wrapping up on Sunday, the Federal Reserve meeting is the big event in the markets this week, whilst traders will also be keeping a close watch on high frequency data such as unemployment claims, retail sales and manufacturing indices from the US. Meanwhile UK inflation data will be assessed for any signs of pressures building in prices that could nudge the Bank of England to tighten monetary policy earlier than thought.
Wednesday’s statement from the Federal Reserve is not expected to feature any fireworks, but it is an important meeting as it will offer clues about the reaction function of the central bank to rising inflation fears. We know the Fed is happy to let inflation run a little hot over the summer as it pins everything on its employment mandate. So, labour market data is arguably more important than inflation numbers right now. On that front the last NFP jobs report was something of a Goldilocks number – not too hot to worry about an early taper of the Fed’s $120bn-a-month bond buying programme, but not so cool as to fret about the recovery. The truth is the Fed is looking at both and this meeting comes at a time of great uncertainty over whether inflation will indeed prove to be as transitory as policymakers believe.
Minutes from the FOMC meeting in April had the Fed floating a trial balloon, as these indicated some policymakers are thinking about thinking about tapering asset purchases. “A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee’s goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases,” the minutes said. Members of the FOMC also stressed the importance of “clearly communicating its assessment of progress toward its longer-run goals well in advance of the time when it could be judged substantial enough to warrant a change in the pace of asset purchases”. Tentative – the question remains: when does the Fed think it’s hit the landing area for the economy, and does inflation take off in the meantime? This week’s meeting is not expected to deliver any surprises – the jobs numbers are positive right now but the labour market is some way off the Fed’s goal, whilst the inflation story is fairly well understood for now.
US economic data
There is also going to focus on a batch of important high frequency data out of the US, including retail sales for May, producer price inflation and manufacturing indices for the New York and Philadelphia regions. Expectations for retail sales are heating up – last week the National Retail Federation raised its growth expectations for US retail sales in 2021 to between 10.5% and 13.5%. May should show a pick-up in sales after unexpectedly stalling in April as the boost from stimulus cheques faded. An acceleration is expected in the coming months thanks to a huge savings glut and the rapid reopening of the economy.
The Bank of England does not think inflation will run away, so Wednesday morning’s CPI print will be closely watched by GBP traders. Although it significantly upgraded its near-term economic forecasts and announced a form of ‘technical’ taper’ of bond purchases at its last meeting, the Bank’s outlook on inflation suggests it will be in no rush to raise rates this year. This is acting as a headwind for sterling – an above-forecast reading could be a tailwind.
Major economic data
|Jun 14th||10:00||EZ industrial production|
|Jun 15th||07:00||UK unemployment|
|13:30||US retail sales, PPI, Empire State manufacturing index|
|14:15||US industrial production|
|Jun 16th||03:00||China industrial production, retail sales, fixed asset investment|
|07:00||UK CPI inflation|
|13:30||Canada CPI inflation|
|15:30||US crude oil inventories|
|19:30||FOMC press conference|
|Jun 17th||02:30||Australia unemployment|
|08:30||Swiss National Bank statement|
|10:00||EZ final CPI inflation|
|13:30||US unemployment claims, Philly Fed manufacturing index|
|Jun 18th||tentative||Bank of Japan statement|
Key earnings data
|Jun 15th||Oracle Corp.||Q4 2022 Earnings|
|On The Beach||Interims|
|Jun 17th||Adobe Inc.||Q2 2021 Earnings|
Stocks shrug off higher inflation, gold up as yields are pinned
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.
Week Ahead: Q1 earnings season kicks off on Wall Street
Earnings season gets underway on Wall Street as the big banks get the ball rolling this week. Meanwhile traders are looking at the latest inflation and retail sales figures from the US and a central bank interest rate decision from New Zealand taking place amid the country’s housing boom.
Coming after fresh record highs for the S&P 500 and Dow and expectations for a major cyclical bounce back for the US economy in Q2 and Q3, this week marks the start of an important corporate earnings season for the market. April is historically a strong month for the market and traders will be looking to corporate updates to power further gains for stocks. However, the market is well priced for earnings to pick up this year already – in fact the 6% rise in the bottom-up EPS estimate for Q1 is the largest on record, according to FactSet.
Big banks including JPMorgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Citigroup get the season off to the customary start. Financials have been on the up as bond yields rose in the first quarter and the sector has outperformed the broader market.
In addition to the earnings updates and forecasts for the next quarter, market participants will be paying close attention to what the bank CEOs say about the outlook for the US economy and the recent uptick in bond yields which ought to be supportive of bank earnings. In his annual letter to shareholders sent last week, JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon was very bullish on the US, saying the economic boom could easily run into 2023. Whilst he called stock market valuations are “quite high,” he said a multi-year boom may justify current levels.
A big question facing the market right now is whether inflation is coming – prices are set to rise on a year-on-year basis as the base effects from the pandemic last year play out. But that is not the same as sustained inflation that could pressure central banks into raising rates before the recovery is complete. US CPI inflation figures are due on Tuesday. Last month’s 0.4% increase was in line with expectations but was the last ‘easy’ data point as base effects are set to take effect now. The Labor Department said its consumer price index increased 0.4% in February after rising 0.3% in January. For March the increase is expected to be markedly higher as sharp price declines at the start of the pandemic last year feed through the calculations.
RBNZ rate decision
No change expected to the cash rate of 0.25% and there are no updates to forecasts nor a press conference. However, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand meets amid a housing price boom and slowing momentum in economic indicators. The ANZ business survey released on Thursday showed confidence sliding further to –8.4 whilst details on the activity side were flat to weaker. Cost and inflation pressures were said to be ‘intense’ with pricing expectations hitting a new high on data going back to 1992.
Major economic data
|Mon 12 Apr||15:30||CAD||BOC Business Outlook Survey|
|18:01||USD||US 10yr Bond Auction|
|Tue 13 Apr||Tentative||CNH||China Trade Balance|
|13:30||USD||US CPI Inflation|
|18:01||USD||US 30yr Bond Auction|
|Wed 14 Apr||03:00||NZD||RBNZ Rate Statement|
|10:00||EUR||EZ Industrial Production|
|15:30||WTI/Brent||US Crude Oil Inventories|
|19:00||USD||Fed Beige Book|
|Thu 15 Apr||02:30||AUD||Australia Unemployment|
|13:30||USD||US Retail Sales|
|13:30||USD||Philly Fed Manufacturing|
|13:30||USD||US Unemployment Claims|
|15:30||Nat Gas||US Natural Gas Inventories|
|Fri 16 Apr||03:00||CNH||China GDP|
|13:30||EUR||EZ Final CPI Inflation|
|15:00||USD||UoM Consumer Sentiment|
Key earnings data
|14-Apr||JPMorgan Chase & Co.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||UnitedHealth Inc.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||Bank of America Corp.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||PepsiCo Inc.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|16-Apr||Reliance Industries Ltd Dematerialised||Q4 2021 Earnings|
|14-Apr||Wells Fargo & Co.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|12-Apr||Tata Consultancy Services Limited||Q4 2021 Earnings|
|16-Apr||Honeywell||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||Citigroup Inc.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|16-Apr||Morgan Stanley||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||Charles Schwab||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||BlackRock Inc.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|14-Apr||Goldman Sachs||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|17-Apr||HDFC Bank Ltd Registered Shs||Q4 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||U.S. Bancorp||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|15-Apr||BB&T Corp Registered Shs||Q1 2021 Earnings|
|16-Apr||PNC Financial Services Group Inc.||Q1 2021 Earnings|
Week Ahead: Republican convention fires starting pistol on Presidential election
The Republican convention this week marks the end of the phoney war and start of the campaign proper in the race to the White House. After striking a record high last week, investors are eyeing a potential rise in volatility as the election approaches. Meanwhile there will be a lot of backwards-looking data to be released in the coming days that could move the markets.
Republican convention fires campaign starting pistol
The Republican convention will not only mark the starting pistol for this year’s presidential run, but also the race for the 2024 GOP candidate. Market attention will increasingly come around to the November presidential race with barely over two months left until polling day. Vix futures indicate investors are starting to position for more volatility as the election approaches. Find out all you need to know about the election and follow our special coverage.
Economic data to watch
There is a lot of economic data to get through this week. New Zealand’s retail sales print gets us underway as markets open for the trading week. On Tuesday we are looking at a couple of tentatively scheduled events – the UK’s monetary policy report hearings and US Tresury currency report. Certain to happen that day is the US CB consumer confidence report.
Wednesday sees the weekly crude oil inventories report as well as US durable goods orders and Australian construction activity. On Thursday the US weekly initial jobless claims number gets released, which has become the most-closely watched high frequency economic indicator. Look also at the pending home sales and preliminary (second estimate) GDP numbers.
More US data rounds out the week on Friday with the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the core PCE price index; personal spending; University of Michigan consumer sentiment; and the Chicago PMI on the slate.
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Earnings to watch
Ad titan WPP reports it interim results for the six months ended June 30th on Thursday. The advertising giant is a useful barometer of economic confidence. Big brands have slashed marketing budgets to cope with pandemic and WPP has warned of the hit it will take this year. But rival Publicis reported a 13-% drop in second quarter like-for-like sales, which was well ahead of the –20% anticipated. Shares in WPP are down over 40% this year – could Publicis offer a clue as whether the stock may find a new course? We are also interested in recruiter Hays – which reports finals on Thursday and is often a great indicator as to the overall health of the labour market globally.
Salesforce.com (CRM) is expected to deliver earnings and revenue growth when it reports numbers for the quarter ended July on Tuesday. EPS is seen at $0.7 on revenues of $4.9bn.
US inflation hot, stocks keep higher as bonds slip
US inflation was a little hot and certainly has a stagflation feel about it, but this won’t be a concern for the Federal Reserve in the slightest. CPI rose 0.6% month-on-month in July, unchanged from a month before and ahead of the 0.3% expected. Year-over-year, headline inflation rose from 0.6% to 1%, whilst core CPI was up 1.6% in July vs the 1.2% expected. Food prices were +4.6% YOY, with beef +14.2%.
Fed unlikely to worry if inflation heads higher
The Fed is going to become more relaxed about letting inflation run above its 2% target. Despite the indicators in the market like TIPs and gold prices suggesting that the massive dose of fiscal and monetary stimulus we have just had, combined with a supply constraint, the output gap is still huge and the economy will run well short of its potential for many years.
So that means the Fed should and could be relaxed about headline inflation running above 2% for a time, instead prioritising the employment level, but it also means inflation expectations can start to become unanchored as they did in the 1970s, which may have longer-term implications for the path of prices and relative values for gold and stocks.
In a nutshell, if inflation expectations lose their anchors then we are faced with a stagflationary environment like nothing we have seen for 50 years. High inflation, low growth for years to come is the unwanted child of a global pandemic meeting massive government intervention.
Treasury yields nudged up with the 5yr up to 0.307% from 0.269% and 10s up to 0.69%. Gold has largely held onto gains after a sharp turnaround this morning with spot trading around $1,935 after touching $1,949 this morning. Higher yields are bad for gold, but higher inflation is so good so the CPI numbers seem to be netting out for now.
EUR/USD moves off lows, SPX eyes all-time high
Earlier in the session, Eurozone industrial production rose over 9% in June but remains down 12% from pre-pandemic levels. EURUSD has moved up off its lows despite the print falling short of the 10% expected.
Stocks were well bid heading into the US session with Europe enjoying broad gains and the FTSE 100 leading the way at +1.5%. The S&P 500 is eyeing a fresh run at the all-time highs with the index only about 1.5% short; the scores on the doors are: record intraday 3,393.52, with the record close at 3,386.15.
The market came up a little short yesterday but you just sense bulls will push it over the line sooner or later. After yesterday’s reversal traders may be a little gun shy but the bulls have the momentum. The Nasdaq remains on the back foot pointing to the kind of rotation out of tech.
Oil heads higher after OPEC report
Crude oil rose with WTI (Sep) north of $42.50 after OPEC’s monthly report indicated the cartel will continue with production cuts for longer. In its monthly report, OPEC lowered its 2020 world oil demand forecast, forecasting a drop of 9.06m bpd compared to a drop of 8.95m bpd in the previous monthly report.
This report seemed to be quelling fears that OPEC+ will be too quick to ramp up production again. Specifically, OPEC said its H2 2020 outlook points to the need for continued efforts to support market rebalancing. Compliance was down but broadly the message seems to be that OPEC is not about to walk away from the market.