Tesla stuff, Squid Games

Tesla stuff: Haters hate, regulators regulate: don’t confuse the two. Duke University engineering and computer science professor Missy Cummings is set to become a new senior adviser for safety at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many Tesla fanboys and girls are crying foul. Cummings, a former pilot and robotics expert, is seen as ‘anti-Tesla’. Now that’s kind of interesting in the first place: you’re either definitely for Tesla or definitely a hater. No room for a middle ground. That’s kind of odd for a carmaker. Most people are not anti or pro Ford, or GM. They maybe like/dislike their cars, think they’re doing a good/bad job with the tech and think management are capable/useless. No one would say they’re anti-Ford. They might have an objective, rational view on the cars and/or the stock, but not a creed. But rational objectivity and Tesla seldom go hand in hand. And I’m not sure if you could say she’s anti-Tesla per se, just sceptical about the level of technology that is being touted around by some companies. But, particularly Tesla. 

 

For instance, last year she tweeted“LMAO…there is NO WAY Tesla will have a viable robo-taxi service this year. My lab has been running controlled experiments on Tesla Autopilot & I can say with certainty that they are not even close to being ready. My student on this project should get hazardous duty pay.”  In one 2018 tweet she said “The only killer robot out there is @elonmusk’s Tesla.” There are lots of examples on the feed.

 

It’s fair to say Cummings is a vocal critic of the ability of self-driving systems to cope with bad weather, and authored plenty of research that calls into question some of the main claims that companies like Tesla make when they market their ‘full self-driving’ systems. There are numerous papers, some choice tweets and essentially you can say she doesn’t buy the tech being anything like close enough to be objectively safe for the roads.  

 

After news of her appointment broke Elon Musk tweeted today: “Objectively, her track record is extremely biased against Tesla.”  

 

Tesla’s self-driving technology is already being investigated by the NHTSA. The company must provide the regulator with extensive data about its Autopilot system by Friday. Tesla has been getting away with marketing ‘Full Self Driving’ technology for a while; Cummings could mark time for a much tougher stance. Steven Cliff, deputy administrator since February, has also been nominated by the White House to lead the NHSTA. He’s currently in charge of the Tesla investigation. Another Tesla ‘hater’, according to many. Regulators are maybe finally going to regulate.

 

Meanwhile, in other Tesla ‘stuff’. Get a load of Elon Musk, who told a customer apparently not impressed with the look of the side mirrors on the cyber truck, that it’s OK to remove them. “They’re required by law, but designed to be easy to remove by owners,” he tweeted. I am ‘absolutely sure’ that is not irresponsible or unsafe…

 

Tesla earnings are due out today: the company hit record deliveries in Q3 as it found chips no one else seems to be able to find. EPS is seen around $1.50, on revenues of $13.6bn. Looking for updates on the Berlin Gigafactory, competition in China, internal chip production, Cyber truck and Semi releases, and, of course, the beta FSD progress. Let’s hope for some analyst questions around the NHSTA today.

 

Squid Games: Netflix posted solid subscriber growth in the third quarter of 4.4m, well ahead of the 3.84m expected. A deluge of hit new content that had been delayed by the pandemic is helping to drive interest such that the company anticipates 8.5m net adds next quarter. Earnings per share were a handsome beat at $3.19 vs $2.56 expected. In Q3, revenue grew 16% year over year to $7.5 billion, while operating income rose 33% vs. the prior year quarter to $1.8 billion. Content and subscribers are in good shape, but free cash flow remains elusive as it reported a second consecutive quarter of negative free cash. Still when you have low-cost, high margin content in multiple languages, you think Netflix will be able to drive non-US subscriber growth substantially in the coming years. Shares fell slightly in after-hours trade.

 

Markets: Stocks are flat again this morning in early trade in Europe, with the FTSE 100 hovering around the 7,200, looking like it has decent support.  The S&P 500 rallied three-quarters of one percent yesterday to close within 0.4% of its record high. Megacap tech had a decent day despite rising bond yields. If it’s stagflation then growth is still a premium.  

 

US 10-year rates rose to a 5-month at 1.67% as the Fed’s Waller said tapering should start in November and that if inflation keeps rising “a more aggressive policy response” might be required in 2022. Bitcoin at or around all-time highs post the ProShare ETF launch.

 

Inflation: UK inflation has fallen! But before we rejoice too much, it’s probably a one-off. CPI fell to 3.1% in September from 3.1% in August. The end of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme at the end of August last year, which led to restaurants raising prices in September, is a big factor. The surge in energy prices and ongoing supply chain problems are still expected to drive inflation to 4% this year. Moreover, the RPI rose 4.9%. 

 

As we said in yesterday’s note on Will the Bank of England actually raise rates in November?, the reading of the inflation print is important: the consensus remains firmly on the MPC voting to raise rates in two weeks’ time. But, as stressed in the same commentary, it’s not a slam dunk given the make-up of the MPC right now. 

Meanwhile, German produce price inflation surged – rising 2.3% month-on-month vs the +1% expected. That took the annual rate to 14.2%. Supply chain and capacity problems abound. Underlines that rising cost pressures are not going away. 

 

Sterling just eased back on the inflation miss. GBPUSD retreated to test the support offered at 1.3770, the OCt 15th swing high, where sits the 50hr SMA. Recent price action indicates this is the chief support before resumption of the uptrend, though we are less convinced that GBP can rally with rate expectations now they are baked in. However, I do see further dollar weakness likely to support further gains for cable following the topping pattern on the last 3 weekly candles.

Will the Bank of England actually raise rates in November?

• GBPUSD hits highest in a month ahead of tomorrow’s CPI inflation print
• Hike in November fully priced by markets…
• But will the MPC hawks have enough votes?

Recent commentary from senior Bank of England officials indicates the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will raise interest rates when it next meets in November, barely over two weeks from now. Market positioning has also shifted significantly in recent weeks from a single hike next year to one this year and at least two next, with the base rate expected to hit 1% by August.

BoE members have had numerous occasions to push back against market expectations and have led traders towards a November hike as being the most likely outcome. Over the weekend governor Andrew Bailey stressed that the Bank of England “will have to act” to counter inflation. That’s one for team sticky – which if you are a regular reader, you will know I’ve been saying all along. “That’s why we, at the Bank of England, have signalled, and this is another such signal, that we will have to act,” Bailey said. “But, of course, that action comes in our monetary policy meetings.” Ah, but which policy meeting did he mean? Did he mean November – the market certainly thinks so, and there has been no push back on that. Failure to raise rates next month risks Bailey becoming the Old Lady’s second unreliable boyfriend and the inevitable disapprobation for her taste in gentlemen.

Inflation problems

Inflation expectations in the UK increased to 4.1% in September from 3.1% in August of 2021. Actual inflation is also rising quickly. The latest Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 3.2% in the 12 months to August 2021, up from 2% in July. The increase of 1.2 percentage points is the largest ever recorded increase in the CPI series, which began in January 1997. Soaring energy costs are a big factor, but the whole basket is seeing upwards pressure.

The reading of tomorrow’s CPI print is important. Another hot reading underlines the sense of urgency at the BoE. Cooler raises concerns that officials have got their communication muddled. It is once again expected to hit 3.2%.

Team sticky is winning for now but team transient have some cards up their sleeves. For instance, headline inflation would have been 0.3 percentage points lower in August 2021 without the Eat Out to Help Out discounts in August 2020. Demand destruction from higher prices may also start to feed into lower run rates for inflation.

Yield curve inversion

Markets are pricing in a fairly aggressive tightening cycle by the BoE. 2yr gilt yields have hit a two-and-a-half year high. This could be premature – the MPC may not be as hawkish as recent signals indicate, but if it’s correct then the market is also anticipating that the Bank would quickly need to reverse its actions. Forwards and implied interest rate expectations point to inversion – higher rates at the front end, lower further out. This only implies the market believes the Bank would be making a ‘policy mistake’ by hiking prematurely. Others would point out that taming inflation is its core mandate.

Certainly, the BoE like all central bank is dealing with something rather new: a supply shock. Central banks’ policy toolkits are based around levers to drive demand when it is low. They cannot fix supply crunches and imbalances in the economy very easily by stimulating demand. Nevertheless, the Bank is clearly mindful that allowing inflation to run rampant would a) destroy its credibility and b) allow longer-term inflation expectations to become de-anchored. If supply-side worries are longer lasting than first thought, and demand stays robust, it seems prudent for the MPC to use what tools it has to lean on inflation. What’s clear is that the intense debate around the recent comments and change in market expectations shows the Bank is not doing a particularly good job of communicating its position. We may be left in a position where the MPC hikes a couple of times and then has to dial it back, which risks its credibility – albeit whether more or less than it would by allowing inflation expectations off the leash is an open question.

The last meeting

• MPC voted 7-2 to maintain QE, unanimous on rates
• Ramsden joins Saunders in voting to scale back the QE programme to £840bn, ending it immediately
• CPI inflation is expected to rise further in the near term, to slightly above 4% in 2021 Q4 – and the BoE signalled greater risk it would be above target for most of 2022
• Overall, Bank staff had revised down their expectations for 2021 Q3 GDP growth from 2.9% at the time of the August Report to 2.1%, in part reflecting the emergence of some supply constraints on output
• Shift in forward guidance: MPC noted ‘some developments … [since the August Monetary Policy Report] … appear to have strengthened’ the case for tightening monetary policy.
• Rate hikes could come early, even before end of QE: “All members in this group agreed that any future initial tightening of monetary policy should be implemented by an increase in Bank Rate, even if that tightening became appropriate before the end of the existing UK government bond asset purchase programme.”

Doves vs Hawks

But will it go for the hike? The MPC is relatively evenly split in terms of hawks and doves, so it is not abundantly clear if the recent messaging from some members – albeit including the governor – matches with the votes.

Bailey has sounded hawkish, and we know Ramsden and Saunders are itching to act. Huw Pill, the new chief economist replacing Andy Haldane has also sounded hawkish, though less so than his predecessor.

Commenting after UK inflation expectations hit 4% for the first time since 2008, he said: “The rise in wholesale gas prices threatens to raise retail energy costs next year, sustaining CPI inflation rates above 4 per cent into 2022 second quarter.” We place him in the ‘leaning hawkish’ camp.

On the dovish side, Silvana Tenreyro is highly unlikely to vote for a hike next month, calling rate rises to counter inflation ‘self-defeating’.

Deputy Governor Broadbent said in July that he saw reasons for the inflation tide to ebb. The spike in energy prices since then could lead him to change his mind but for now, we place in the ‘leaning dovish’ camp,

Rate-setter Haskel said in May he’s not worried by inflation, and in July said there was no need to reduce stimulus in the foreseeable future. He goes in the Dovish camp with Catherine Mann, who said last week that she can hold off from raising rates since markets are doing some of the tightening already. “There’s a lot of endogenous tightening of financial conditions already in train in the UK. That means that I can wait on active tightening through a Bank Rate rise,” she said.

That leaves Jon Cunliffe somewhat the swing voter. In July he stressed that inflation was a bump in the road to recovery. We look to see whether the recent spike in inflation and inflation expectations has nudged the likes of Cunliffe, Pill and even Broadbent to move to the Hawkish camp. It seems unlikely that governor Bailey would have pointed the market towards quicker hikes if he did already have a feeling for the MPC’s views on the matter.

Dovish  Leaning dovish  Centre  Leaning hawkish  Hawkish 
Tenreyro

Mann

Haskel

Broadbent Cunliffe Pill Saunders

Ramsden

Bailey

Charts

GBPUSD: The hawkishness from policymakers and market repricing for hikes has supported £, though we do note some noticeable dollar weakness in Tuesday’s session that is flattering the view that it’s all BoE driven. Cable breaks new highs ahead of CPI, above 1.3820 to test the 50% retracement off the May peak. Bullish MACD crossover still in play, but starting to look a tad extended.

GBPUSD Chart 19.10.2021

EURGBP Gains capped with a stronger EUR today, but has made a fresh 18-month high. BoE racing to hike against a much more dovish ECB ought to be positive, but yield curve inversion highlights the dangers of viewing FX trades purely from a CB tightening/loosening point of view.

EURUSD 19.10.2021

Volgende week: is hoge inflatie VK een blijvertje?

Op het gebied van cijfers is er deze week veel om naar uit te kijken. We beginnen met de Britse CPI. Zal de inflatie langer duren dan we dachten? Ook de Britse en Europese PMI’s staan op de agenda, nu het lijkt alsof de economische activiteit aan het afnemen is. Daarnaast gaat het Amerikaanse cijferseizoen ook door: deze week is het de beurt aan een aantal grote techbedrijven.

CPI VK: de haviken liggen op de loer

Op cijfergebied zal een van de belangrijkste aankondigen van de week die van de nieuwe Britse consumentenprijsindex zijn.

In september bleek dat de inflatie in het Verenigd Koninkrijk ver boven de doelstelling van 2 procent van de Bank of England uitkwam. De consumentenprijzen waren met 3,2 procent gestegen in twaalf maanden – de hoogste stijging sinds men deze cijfers in 2017 is gaan bijhouden.

Het Office for National Statistics meldde dat de stijging “waarschijnlijk van tijdelijke aard” was, en gaf aan dat het overheidsprogramma Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO) mogelijk aan de inflatie had bijgedragen.

“In augustus 2020 gaven veel restaurants en cafés korting op hun prijzen in het kader van het Eat Out to Help Out-programma, waarmee klanten van maandag tot en met woensdag de helft betaalden voor hun eten en drinken (tot maximaal £ 10),” aldus het ONS.

“Omdat EOHO een kortlopend programma was, zal de twaalfmaandelijkse stijging van de inflatie in augustus 2021 waarschijnlijk tijdelijk zijn.”

De officiële verklaring is dat de hogere prijzen dus van tijdelijke aard zijn, maar er gaan geruchten dat de Bank of England er rekening mee houdt dat het langer kan duren dan gedacht.

De nieuwe Chief Economist van de BoE, Huw Pill, sprak eerder uit dat hij gelooft dat de hoge inflatie nog wel even aan kan houden.

“Naar mijn mening verschuift de balans van de risico’s momenteel in de richting van grote bezorgdheid over de inflatieverwachtingen, aangezien het ernaar uitziet dat de huidige inflatie langduriger zal blijken te zijn dan wij oorspronkelijk verwachtten,” aldus Pill in september.

Pill is de stem van de haviken, die steeds luidruchtiger worden in de raad van de Bank of England. Een aantal MPC-leden stuurt aan op een renteverhoging aan het begin van volgend jaar. In die context kan een hoge inflatie in september hen zeker in de kaart spelen.

Duiden nieuwe PMI’s op economische vertraging?

Het is weer die tijd van de maand waarin de flits-PMI’s snel binnenkomen.

Deze week verwachten we PMI’s uit het VK en de EU, nadat de cijfers van vorige maand erop duidden dat de activiteit van deze belangrijke economieën aan het afnemen is.

Laten we beginnen met de Britten. De flitsindex van IHS Markit voor september wees er al op dat de productie is gedaald tot het laagste niveau sinds februari. De score in het VK bedroeg 54,1 punten, een afname ten opzichte van de 54,8 punten in augustus.

Het herstel lijkt aan vaart te verliezen nu we langzaamaan de winter ingaan. Lagere economische activiteit gekoppeld aan een hogere inflatie creëert geen bijzonder goede vooruitzichten voor de Britse economie.

De PMI voor de dienstensector nam in september af tot 54,6 punten van 55,0 punten in augustus, het laagste niveau sinds februari toen het eiland nog in lockdown was. De productie-index is van 60,3 tot 56,4 gedaald, opnieuw het laagste niveau sinds februari.

Aan de andere kant van het Kanaal is het hetzelfde verhaal. De groei van de EU-economie wordt beperkt door aanhoudende problemen in toeleveringsketens, waardoor de inputkosten tot het hoogste niveau in 20 jaar tijd zijn gestegen. Zullen de PMI’s van deze maand het beeld bevestigen?

Kijken we naar de scores, dan zien we dat de IHS-index aangeeft dat de economische groei in september tot het laagste niveau in vijf maanden is gedaald. De EU noteerde 56,1 ten opzichte van 59,0 in augustus.

Ruim onder de verwachtingen van de markt. Uit een enquête van Reuters onder economen en analisten bleek dat zij een afname wel verwachtten, maar niet tot onder 58,5.

Knelpunten in toeleveringsketens, gekoppeld aan een algehele vertraging van de groei van het bbp, lijken de belangrijkste factoren te zijn. De Europese economie nadert inmiddels weer de grootte van voor de pandemie. Een vertraging was dus wel te verwachten, maar zo drastisch was toch wel een verrassing.

Ik verwacht dat we vrijdag weer een lagere PMI voor de EU zullen zien.

Op Wall Street blijft het cijfers regenen

Volgende week begeven we ons middenin het cijferseizoen voor Q3. Grote banken waaronder Goldman Sachs, Citigroup en JPMorgan beten vorige week het spits af. Nu is het de beurt aan een aantal grote techbedrijven om met kwartaalcijfers te komen.

Netflix en Tesla zijn de bekendste namen waar we deze week naar uitkijken. Beide bedrijven noteerden goede resultaten in Q1 en Q2, maar meldden eerder al dat het derde kwartaal van 2021 waarschijnlijk minder vuurwerk zou opleveren.

Bekijk onze Amerikaanse winstcijferkalender voor meer informatie over wanneer welke bedrijven met resultaten zullen komen.

Belangrijke economische data

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Mon 18-Oct  3:00am  CNY  GDP q/y 
  3:00am  CNY  Retail Sales y/y 
  2:15pm  USD  Industrial Production m/m 
  3:30pm  CAD  BOC Business Outlook Survey 
Tue 19-Oct   1:30am  AUD  Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes 
       
Wed 20-Oct  7:00am  GBP  CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  CPI m/m 
  1:30pm  CAD  Common CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  Median CPI y/y 
  1:30pm  CAD  Trimmed CPI y/y 
  3:30pm  USD  Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu 21-Oct  1:30pm  USD  Philly Fed Manufacturing Index 
    USD  Unemployment Claims 
       
Fri 22-Oct  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 
  Tentative  USD  Treasury Currency Report 

 

Belangrijke cijfers deze week

Tue 19 Oct  Wed 20 Oct  Thu 21 Oct  Fri 22 Oct 
Philip Morris International (PM)   Verizon Communications Inc (VZ)   AT&T (T)   American Express (AXP)  
       
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)   International Business Machines (IBM)  Intel Corp (INTC)   Schlumberger Ltd (SLB)  
       
Procter & Gamble (PG)  Tesla Inc (TSLA)   Snap Inc A (SNAP)    
       
Netflix Inc (NFLX)        

 

Mixed start for European equities ahead of NFP

Mixed start in Europe after another positive session on Wall Street as the US Senate approved raising the debt ceiling until December. Treasury yields are higher, with the 10yr hitting 1.6%, which may cool megacap tech’s recovery. All eyes today on the nonfarm payrolls report and what this means for the Fed and tapering. 

 

Whilst European bourses are mainly in the red the FTSE 100 is trying to break above 7,100, but as noted yesterday there is moving average congestion to clear out the way just underneath this and it’s still firmly within the range of the last 6 months. The S&P 500 was up 0.83% on Thursday and has now recovered a chunk of the Monday gap and is now just 3% or so off its all-time high. Momentum just flipping in favour of bulls (we note bullish MACD crossover for futures) – has the supply chain-stagflation worry peaked? Maybe, but rising rates could undermine the big weighted tech sector in the near-term and it is unclear whether there is enough appetite among investors to go more overweight cyclicals when the macro outlook still seems somewhat cloudy in terms of growth, policy and inflation. Next week is earnings season so we either get more bullish conference calls for the coming quarters or a bit of sandbagging re supply chain issues, inflation – for the index a lot will depend on whether the C-suite is confident or cautious about their outlooks.

 

Inflation nation: We can keep banging on about inflation, but it’s well understood now. Even the Bank of England has woken up – BoE chief economist Pill warned that inflation looks to be more persistent than originally anticipated. UK inflation expectations have hit 4% for the first time since 2008 – soaring gas and fuel bills not helping. “The rise in wholesale gas prices threatens to raise retail energy costs next year, sustaining CPI inflation rates above 4 per cent into 2022 second quarter.” said Pill. Tax hikes and labour shortages also featuring in the inflationary mix. There was a rumour doing the round yesterday that BoE’s Broadbent has “taken Nov off the table”. However, with inflation racing higher it’s clear the Bank should be acting to hike in Nov to get ahead. Markets currently pricing a first 25bps rate hike fully by Feb 2022, another 70bps by the end of that year. 

 

Nonfarm payrolls watch: US employers are expected to have added 490k jobs in September, up from 235k in August, which was a big miss on the forecast. NFPs are important and could be market moving later since the Fed has explicitly tied tapering + subsequent rates lift-off to the labour market. A weak number could just dissuade the Fed from announcing its taper in Nov, but I see this as a low-risk outcome. More likely is steady progress on jobs (ADP was strong on Wed) and the November taper announcement to follow. The persistence of inflation and rising fuel costs in particular has changed the equation for the Fed entirely. Benign inflation that we were used to is no longer to be counted on to provide cover for trying to juice the labour market. The problem is not demand side, it’s supply side. Central banks are seeing rising inflationary pressures that are proving more persistent than thought. Slowing economic growth and risks to the outlook stem from the supply side not the demand side – so pumping the demand side even further into a supply side crisis is not helping matters much. 

Monthly recap: German elections, hot UK inflation and NFP miss

We recap some of the key market movers from September in this monthly round-up. 

Monthly markets recap: September 2021

Germany waves goodbye to Angela Merkel in tight federal elections 

After sixteen years at the helm, Angela Merkel will step down as German Chancellor following late September’s closely contested German elections. 

It’s a hugely fragmented result. Pretty much all parties did worse than they thought. The SPD is the majority party, but they’re still very close to the CDU to really have a massive advantage. You could only separate them with a cigarette paper really.  

The Green’s, after topping the polls four months ago, came in third while the FDP came in fourth.  

Olaf Scholtz, the leader of the SPD, now has his work cut out trying to turn these close results into a working coalition. But what we’ve seen is what our political guru and Blonde Money CEO Helen Thomas calls a Code Red for Germany – that is a shift to the left with a bit of a green hint too. 

What the next German federal government looks like now is up for debate. The Green Party is probably going to be central, after doubling their Reichstag presence, but it’s out of the CDU and FDP to see who becomes the third coalition partner. See Helen Thomas’ election round-up below for more information. 

Nonfarm payrolls’ massive miss 

Nonfarm payrolls came in well below expectations in a wobbly US jobs report.  

In August, 275,000 new jobs were added to the US economy, falling far below the 750,000 forecast. 

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.2% while labour force participation stayed unchanged at 61.7%. Hourly earnings rose 0.6% in August, surpassing market predictions of a 0.3% rise. 

Jerome Powell and the Federal Reserve keeps a close eye on the jobs report. Labour market participation has been one of the key metrics the Fed has been looking at throughout the pandemic to decide on whether to start tapering economic support. 

We know that Jerome Powell and the Fed loves a strong jobs report. But we also know that tapering is on its way anyway – likely in November. August’s job data may not have impacted decision making too much, given the tapering signals were made long before its release.  

However, Fed Chair Powell still believes the US is still far from where he’d comfortably like employment to be. 

Speaking last week, Powell said: “What I said last week was that we had all but met the test for tapering. I made it clear that we are, in my view, a long way from meeting the test for maximum employment.” 

A recent survey taken by the National Association for Business Economics showed 67% of participating economists believed job levels won’t reach pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022. 

UK inflation jumps 

August’s CPI data, released in September, showed UK inflation had reached 3.2%. That’s the highest level since 2012. 

Rising from 2% in July, the latest CPI print also showed a huge month-on-month rise in prices. Inflation soared well clear of the Bank of England’s 2% target – although the UK central bank did say it believed inflation would hit 4% in 2021. 

However, some market observers believe there is a risk that inflation will overshoot even the 4% level. 

The question is how will the BoE respond? A more hawkish tilt could be possible.  

Markets.com Chief Markets Analyst Neil Wilson said: “Unanchored inflation expectations are the worst possible outcome for a central bank they’ve been too slow to recognise the pandemic has completely changed the disinflationary world of 2008-2020. 

“My own view, for what it’s worth, is that the Bank, just like the Fed, has allowed inflation overshoots to allow for the recovery, but it’s been too slow and too generous. Much like the response to the pandemic itself, the medicine (QE, ZIRP) being administered may be doing more harm (inflation) than good (growth, jobs).” 

China intensifies its crypto crackdown 

Bitcoin was rocked towards the end of September after being hit with a body blow landed by the People’s Bank of China. 

The POBC has ruled that all cryptocurrency transactions in China are illegal. That includes all transactions made by Chinese citizens domestically and those coming from offshore and overseas exchanges. 

BTC lost over 8% and nearly dropped below the $40,000 mark on the news from Beijing. It has subsequently staged a comeback, but this latest move from China tells us a couple of important things about crypto. 

Number one: volatility is ridiculous. The fact that Bitcoin is still so susceptible to big swings on both positive and negative news shows it’s still very volatile. It seems hard to see a future driven by crypto right now if such price swings will be the norm. If this is the case, let’s hope it calms down in the future. 

Secondly, it’s that central banks are still wary of digital finance. In China’s case, it loves control.  

Beijing’s official stance is that cryptocurrency is a) illegitimate, b) an environmental disaster, and c) something it cannot control completely. Freeing finances from government oversight is the entire point of decentralised finance (DeFi) after all. In a country as centralised as China, that’s a no-go.  

China has pledged to step up its anti-crypto, anti-mining efforts further. This could cause major ripples for Bitcoin and the digital finance sector as a whole. A significant chunk of global token supply comes from Chinese miners. Someone else will have to pick up the slack. 

Oil & gas prices stage major rally 

A global gas shortage and tighter oil supplies pushed prices into overdrive towards the end of September. 

Natural gas, in particular, was flourishing. At one point, gas had climbed above $6.30, reaching highs not seen for three years. Basically, there’s not enough gas to go around. High demand from the UK and EU is pushing prices up, while the US, which is meant to be in injection season, is also suffering. Asian demand is also intensifying. 

In terms of oil, a supply squeeze coupled with higher demand caused by major economies reopening is putting a support under oil prices.  

Traders are also confident. Energy markets are the place to be right now. As such, trader activity appears to be pushing these new highs and is confident regarding the market’s overall strength. 

Goldman Sachs has also revised its oil price targets upwards. 

Goldman said: “While we have long held a bullish oil view, the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts. 

“The current oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected, with the recovery in global demand from the Delta impact even faster than our above-consensus forecast and with global supply remaining short of our below consensus forecasts.” 

Sterling HOD, FTSE weaker as markets digest slightly hawkish BoE

After a bit of time to digest the Bank of England decision, it looks to have provided that hawkish pivot we’d anticipated. But I would not say it’s enough to really tell the market that it will fulfil its mandate to keep inflation in check and ensure longer-term inflation expectations remain in check. A missed opportunity, I would say, to get a better grip on inflation expectations.

Key points

• MPC votes 7-2 to maintain QE, unanimous on rates
• Ramsden joins Saunders in voting to scale back the QE programme to £840bn, ending it immediately
• CPI inflation is expected to rise further in the near term, to slightly above 4% in 2021 Q4 – and the BoE signalled greater risk it would be above target for most of 2022
• Overall, Bank staff had revised down their expectations for 2021 Q3 GDP growth from 2.9% at the time of the August Report to 2.1%, in part reflecting the emergence of some supply constraints on output
• Shift in forward guidance: MPC noted ‘some developments … [since the August Monetary Policy Report] … appear to have strengthened’ the case for tightening monetary policy.
• Rate hikes could come early, even before end of QE: “All members in this group agreed that any future initial tightening of monetary policy should be implemented by an increase in Bank Rate, even if that tightening became appropriate before the end of the existing UK government bond asset purchase programme.”

Market reaction thus far

• GBPUSD has rallied to highest since Monday off a month low and is looking to hold above 1.37, having risen one big figure today. Needs 1.3740 for bulls to regain control, big test here with trend support recently tested at the neckline. Question is this mildly hawkish pivot is enough to put the floor under GBP. I would still argue for softer dollar into year end allow GBP (and EUR) some scope to strengthen, particularly if the BoE is progressing towards raising rates sooner than previously thought.
• That sterling strength sent the FTSE 100 lower after a solid morning session, leaving the blue chips flat on the session, around 45pts off the highs of the day. Looking now for a lift from Wall St with US futures indicated higher: S&P 500 around 4420, Dow Jones at 34,460.
• 2yr gilt yields jumped to +0.3435% from around 0.28% earlier in the day as markets moved expectations for the first 15bps rate hike forward to Feb 2022.

GBPUSD chart 23.09.2021

Summary view

The BoE trying to tell what we already know without telling us what we already know; ie, that inflation is way stickier than they thought it would be. The BoE said “there are some signs that cost pressures may prove more persistent. Some financial market indicators of inflation expectations have risen somewhat”. Somewhat what? It’s all a bit wishy washy. The problem is the dogma of transient inflation is hard to shake without admitting that they were plain wrong on a very basic assessment of the economic outlook. “The committee’s central expectation continues to be that current elevated global cost pressures will prove transitory,” the statement from the BoE said.

Earlier, PMIs show across Europe and Britain growth momentum is waning, inflation is sticking. The UK composite PMI revealed further loss of growth momentum as output slowed to the weakest in 7 months, whilst the rate of input cost inflation accelerated and charges raised to the greatest extent on record.

Taken together with the PMIs this morning and the Fed last night we are presented with a very simple picture: growth is slowing, supply constraints are deepening, inflation is proving way more persistent than central banks anticipated. This could have important consequences for monetary policy going forward, but for now the CBs are still waiting it out and getting further behind the curve. A bitter pill today has been avoided, but the medicine required will be harder to swallow when it finally comes. Rates are going to need to rise to tame inflation.

Bank of England responds to hot inflation print

The Bank of England will need to respond to biggest jump in inflation on record when it convenes this week. Inflation accelerated to 3.2% in August from 2% in July, well above the central bank’s 2% target. Could this force the BoE to tighten monetary policy sooner than had been expected? A hawkish-sounding Bank of England would be a boost for sterling. In order to be hawkish enough to nudge sterling higher and show it’s prepared to kill inflation as required, the Bank probably ought to end QE now – as the now ex-MPC hawk Andy Haldane argued for last time around. There is a clear risk inflation will overshoot the 4% forecast, let alone the 2% goal. Unanchored inflation expectations are the worst possible outcome for a central bank they’ve been too slow to recognise the pandemic has completely changed the disinflationary world of 2008-2020. Hikes will be required too in the not too distant future and the bank should appreciate that a bitter pill now would be better than even harsher medicine later on. A jobs market with 1m vacancies does not suggest the UK economy is in trouble at the moment. Wage growth remains strong – albeit the picture is very complex due to furlough, the pandemic and base effects + inflation on real wages.

Does the bank go for a more hawkish signal? That is harder to say: it’s already well into a taper and markets anticipate the BoE will be raising rates 2-3 times over the next couple of years – does it need to do more than that? The question is whether the inflation ready has got the right kind of attention that it deserves or whether the BoE is ignoring the red flags. My own view, for what it’s worth, is that the Bank, just like the Fed, has allowed inflation overshoots to allow for the recovery, but it’s been too slow and too generous. Much like the response to the pandemic itself, the medicine (QE, ZIRP) being administered may be doing more harm (inflation) than good (growth, jobs).

Stocks drop, Bitcoin weaker again

You couldn’t really have set it up better. On the day El Salvador made Bitcoin legal tender, the asset plunged by 16%. It’s almost as if the inherent volatility in Bitcoin makes it really bad at being a currency that people use to spend and save. After hitting a fresh high above $52,000 overnight, prices dropped to under $44,000 before finding some stability around the $45,000 area. Not a good start to its life in the mainstream. It simply underscores the fact that it is not a good means of payment or reliable store of value. The El Salvadoran government apparently bought more Bitcoin on the dip.

 

Cathie Wood of Ark was talking on Bitcoin – responding to comments by investor John Paulson. She wheeled out the Bitcoin-bro case that it’s not just digital gold, it’s new global monetary system. She said it’s not subject to the whims of policymakers – in fact it’s a hedge against the whims of policymakers. That may be or may not be, investors should be extremely cautious. The impoverished people of El Salvador don’t have much choice.

 

Stagflation: inflation plus a tax rise plus slowing growth is probably not a great setup for the UK economy. The Tories are pushing on with a regressive tax hike for workers, plus increase the tax on dividends which is going to be an extra blow to investors. It means the overall tax burden is the highest in this country since the second world war. The question that needs to be asked is a bigger one – if you can print money to pay for furlough, test and trace and the rest, why can’t you print money for social care reform?  

 

European stocks saw brisk selling in early trade after a drop for Wall Street and a weak handover from Asia. All sectors in the Stoxx 600 are down in early trade and the major bourses trade -1% to the downside. But it was another record high for the Nasdaq and again there is a slow growth feel to the stock market – things that don’t need cyclical economic growth doing well like Netflix – new all-time high – and Tesla. Cruise liners, casinos and Disney were the best performers though – signs that it’s all doom and gloom with regards Delta and vaccines. Industrials were weak but so too some of the bond proxies like real estate and utilities as bond yields rose. The Dow fell 270pts to 35,100, while the S&P 500 declined 0.34% to 4,520. It seems like the kind of uptick in consumer spend and consumption into the back end of the year will not be as strong as thought due to delta. James Bullard, a relative hawk, said tapering should go ahead soon. US futures heading lower – definite pullback mode so watch out – question is how quickly the market is to buy the dip, so schooled in doing so it is.

 

Time to sell bonds? The 10yr Treasury yield approached 1.4%, hitting a two-month high and breaking above its 200-day SMA. The July high of 1.42% and the 100-day SMA at 1.44% are in view. Gold fell as yields moved up along with the US dollar, which is recovering some ground lost over the last fortnight. USD/JPY ticked up to its best in 3 weeks, while sterling is weaker again after a sharp fall yesterday.

 

Morrisons shares are trading up a touch as the company said it will engage with the panel on a possible auction. Neither Fortress nor CD&R have declared their offers final, so a ‘competitive situation’ exists still. Shares ticked up by about half of one percent at the start of the session.

Stocks make further gains as oil bounce carries on

Risk is bid again: Stocks rallied for a second day this week with European bourses making gains in early trade Tuesday after a solid day on Wall St and another good handover from Asia in the wake of the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer jab, whilst markets seem to found their safe space regards Delta after last week’s wobble. European stocks maybe also got a slight boost as data showed the German economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter. Nevertheless, the Bundesbank cautioned on Monday that the Delta variant could see the country miss full-year growth estimates.

Gains in early trade come off the back off record highs on the Nasdaq, while the S&P 500 is called to open at a fresh all-time high later today. The FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine boosted shares in both companies, with the latter rallying over 9% in Frankfurt, whilst PFE was up almost 3% in New York. Moderna also rose 7%. The decision – which should increase vaccination rates in the US – helped cement the risk rally started in Asia and which followed through the European session and into the New York open. Reopening stocks like the cruise operators did well as markets bet it means more vaccines and an easier path for companies to make them mandatory. It’s also evident that booster shots will be rolled out in many countries. Energy stocks led the charge as oil prices rallied over 6% at one point, snapping a 7-day losing streak. Growth/ large cap tech/ momentum provided a solid back up, with Apple and Facebook both +1%, Tesla +3%. Keep your eyes on On Holding, a running shoemaker backed by Roger Federer. The company filed for an IPO in New York, looking at a valuation of $6-8bn after it said net sales had risen by 85% in the first half of the year. It’s said to be in more than 8,000 shops worldwide and with the Federer name backing it has a powerful brand image to lever.

Last week’s wobble hardly registered on the Richter scale – a test of the 50-day for S&P futures, almost, proving enough to get dip buyers back in the hunt. Watch the long-term MACD divergence on the daily, though we could be about to see a bullish crossover.

US 500 Chart 24.08.2021

But despite the gains in the market, the macro data keeps telling us we are well past peak growth, albeit traders are looking at a reignition of the reflation/reopening trade in September. The headline from yesterday’s PMI report for the UK economy said it all, and nothing we didn’t know already: Recovery loses momentum as supply constraints hit output growth in both the manufacturing and service sectors. The composite output index slumped to a 6-month low, with constraints on growth stemming from supply chain problems and staff shortages. Some will blame Brexit, and it may be a factor, but this is being seen everywhere in the developed world as countries rebuild post-covid. IHS Markit said incidences of reduced output due to shortages of staff or materials were x14 higher than usual and the largest since the survey began in January 1998. And just as in Europe, although there may be a sign of inflationary pressures easing from Jun/Jul peaks, higher wages due to the tightness in the labour market and severe shortages of raw materials continue to be a major problem.

US PMI data also slowed and missed expectations. The report showed the third month of declining momentum and prices keep going up, with the twin drivers of supply chains and staffing to blame.

• Services input prices 73.5 vs 72.3 prior
• Manufacturing input prices 88.4 vs 86.7 prior
• Composite input prices 75.9 vs 74.6 prior

But slowing momentum in the economy could just keep the Fed from getting too hawkish, which stock markets would certainly prefer. Stickier inflation makes it harder for the Fed to stay easy for too long – the FOMC is in a bind, and we won’t know if this is a policy mistake for some months. Declining momentum in the economic data would favour a more dovish response from the Fed. Past peak growth, past peak Delta variant worries all we can do is wait for the Fed to tell markets where to go.

Stickier inflation helping gold to maintain momentum towards the $1,800 area where we look for a possible bullish 100/200day crossover to follow up the bullish MACD.

Gold chart 24.08.2021

Oil rebounded sharply – big outside day reversal rejecting the May low suggests bulls have wrestled back control. Monday’s over 5% jump for WTI saw it snap its worst run since 2019. Although there are still big worries about demand – the market seems to be saying that the recent selling was overdone. GS analysts on Monday argued that steadily tightening markets will overcome macro trends like Delta variant worries to push prices to a new cycle high in the autumn. They are similarly bullish for base metals.

Spot Oil Chart 24.08.2021

Volgende week: FOMC-notulen bieden inzicht in Fed-beleid

Deze week worden de laatste notulen van de FOMC-vergaderingen gepubliceerd, die meer duidelijk zullen maken over de denkwijze van de Fed. Ook verwachten we diverse belangrijke economische cijfers. De aandacht zal daarnaast uitgaan naar de Amerikaanse detailhandelsverkopen na een onverwachte toename in juni, net als de nieuwste CPI-cijfers voor de Britse economie.

De notulen van de FOMC-vergadering van juli worden deze week gepubliceerd.

De situatie bleef na de vorige tweedaagse vergadering van de Fed vrijwel onveranderd.

De rente werd niet verhoogd ten opzichte van het huidige historisch lage niveau en evenmin werd er informatie gedeeld over wanneer het obligatie-opkoopprogramma ter waarde van $ 120 miljard per jaar zal worden afgebouwd.

“Afgelopen december gaf het Comité aan dat het door zou blijven gaan met het opkopen van schatkistpapier voor in elk geval $ 80 miljard per maand en door hypotheken gedekte obligaties voor minstens $ 40 miljard per maand, in elk geval tot er substantiële vooruitgang wordt geboekt op het gebied van werkgelegenheid en prijsstabiliteit,” aldus de toelichting van de FOMC. “Sindsdien heeft de economie zich dichter naar deze doelen toe ontwikkeld, en het Comité zal de vooruitgang doorlopend blijven beoordelingen in komende vergaderingen.”

De essentie is dat de economie zich blijft herstellen, ondanks het snel toenemende aantal COVID-19-besmettingen. De veranderende economische omstandigheden als gevolg van de pandemie kunnen voorzitter Powell er echter toe dwingen sneller te handelen dan verwacht.

We hebben in opeenvolgende CPI-publicaties gezien dat de kerninflatie toeneemt en de werkloosheid afneemt. De niet-agrarische salarisstrookjes van afgelopen maand waren in jaren niet zo goed: er werden maar liefst 943.000 nieuwe banen toegevoegd aan de Amerikaanse economie. De werkloosheid daalde tot 5,4 procent.

Arbeidsparticipatie is een van de belangrijkste indicatoren die de Fed gebruikt om de gezondheid van de Amerikaanse economie te peilen en beleidsaanpassingen te doen. We hebben al een aantal suggesties gekregen die erop wijzen dat een afbouw van de steunmaatregelen in aantocht is, en dit kan de inzichten die we zullen krijgen uit de FOMC-notulen van woensdag wellicht naar de achtergrond verdringen.

Op cijfergebied verwachten we deze week nieuwe cijfers over de Amerikaanse detailhandelsverkoop. De markten zullen benieuwd zijn of de verrassende toename van juni een incident was of het begin van een nieuwe trend.

De kernverkoop nam in juni met 1,1 procent toe en de detailhandelsverkopen als geheel stegen met 0,6 procent, iets waar de markten niet op hadden gerekend. Op jaarbasis lagen de verkopen 18 procent hoger dan in juni 2020.

Volgens het Amerikaanse ministerie van Handel vormden de vaccinaties tegen COVID-19, lage rentetarieven en enorme fiscale stimuleringsmaatregelen het fundament van deze toename. Toch kwam dit nieuws, zoals hierboven vermeld, voor Amerikaanse economen als een verrassing. Met het heropenen van de Amerikaanse economie lijken consumenten meer geld aan ervaringen en reizen te besteden dan aan consumptiegoederen.

In de vorige publicatie van de detailhandelscijfers moesten de ramingen voor mei zelfs neerwaarts worden bijgesteld. In mei was er uiteindelijk sprake van een maandelijkse afname van 1,7 procent, in plaats van de 1,3 procent waar eerder vanuit werd gegaan. Vooral als gevolg van de relatief grotere bedragen die consumenten aan ervaringen besteden.

Woensdagochtend verwachten we op cijfergebied eveneens de Britse consumentenprijsindices voor juli.

In juni noteerde de CPI nog op het hoogste niveau in drie jaar tijd. De inflatie bedroeg vorige maand 2,5 procent, meer dan de 2,1 procent die in mei werd genoteerd; de inflatie bevindt zich nu op het hoogste niveau sinds 2018. Het kan de Bank of England ertoe aanzetten om eerder dan gepland het rentebeleid te herzien.

Dat gezegd hebbende hield gouverneur Bailey in augustus vooralsnog vast aan de oorspronkelijke plannen van de Britse centrale bank, waarin wordt aangenomen dat de hoge inflatie slechts een tijdelijk fenomeen is. Er werden dan ook geen grote wijzigingen in het Britse monetaire beleid aangekondigd.

De Bank of England heeft echter de langetermijnverwachtingen op het gebied van inflatie herzien. Er wordt nu aangenomen dat de inflatie de komende 12 maanden tot 3,1 procent kan stijgen, meer dan de 2,8 procent die in juni werd voorspeld.

Zullen de CPI-cijfers van deze maand opnieuw de verwachtingen verslaan, en zal het genoeg zijn om gouverneur Bailey en co. tot actie te dwingen?

Nu we het toch over centrale banken hebben: de Reserve Bank of New Zealand zal deze week ook de renteverklaring voor augustus publiceren.

Het gerucht gaat dat de RBNZ al deze maand de rente zou kunnen verhogen. Vorige maand verraste men al met de aankondiging dat het QE-programma volledig zal worden afgebouwd.

“Onze huidige verwachting is dat de RBNZ in de monetaire beleidsverklaring van augustus de rente zal verhogen, gevolgd door nieuwe renteverhogingen in de maanden daarna tot de rente in 2022 uiteindelijk 1,75 procent zal bedragen,” aldus Finn Robinson, econoom bij de Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ).

Al ruim een jaar bedraagt de contante rente in Nieuw-Zeeland nu 0,25 procent.

Een eventuele renteverhoging zou een antwoord zijn op de toenemende CPI-inflatie. In juli nam de consumentenprijsindex in Nieuw-Zeeland met 1,3 procent toe tot 3,3 procent, waarmee deze buiten de bandbreedte van de RBNZ van 1-3 procent viel.

Als er inderdaad een renteverhoging wordt aangekondigd, zal Nieuw-Zeeland een van de eerste landen, zo niet het eerste land zijn dat deze stap zet.

Ook is het de laatste week van het cijferseizoen voor het tweede kwartaal. We verwachten weinig nieuws van large caps, al is Walmart het grootste bedrijf dat nog met cijfers moet komen. Bekijk onze cijferkalender voor meer informatie over welke bedrijven wanneer hun kwartaalresultaten bekendmaken.

Belangrijke economische data

Date  Time (GMT+1)  Asset  Event 
Tue 17-Aug  2.30am  AUD  Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes 
  1.30pm  USD  Core Retail Sales m/m 
  1.30pm  USD  Retail Sales m/m 
       
Wed 18-Aug  3.00am  NZD  Official Cash Rate 
  3.00am  NZD  RBNZ Monetary Policy Statement 
  3.00am  NZD  RBNZ Rate Statement 
  4.00am  NZD  RBNZ Press Conference 
  7.00am  GBP  UK CPI m/m 
  1.30pm  CAD  CPI m/m 
  3.30pm  OIL  US Crude Oil Inventories 
  7.00pm  USD  FOMC Meeting Minutes 
       
Thu 19-Aug  2.30am  AUD  Employment Change 
  2.30am  AUD  Unemployment Rate 
       
Fri 20-Aug  7.00am  GBP  Retail Sales m/m 

 

Belangrijke cijfers deze week

Mon 16 Aug  Tue 17 Aug  Wed 18 Aug 
Roblox Corporation  Walmart   Lumentum Holdings 
 
Cisco Systems 
 
NVIDIA  

 

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