US index futures turned positive on Thursday, even as European stock slipped ahead of the ECB decision at 745am ET, with Nasdaq 100 contracts outperforming as oil prices and bond yields stabilized and strategists at Goldman and JPMorgan gave more bullish comments on equities. Sentiment was boosted after Bloomberg reported that China’s crackdown on internet companies may be easing with a revival of the Ant Group IPO, which boosted the country’s US-traded stocks (the news was since refuted by China, but moments later Reuters re-reported what Bloomberg said). S&P 500 futures traded 22 points or 0.5% higher, and Nasdaq 100 futures were 0.4% higher. The dollar slid, and 10Y rates were flat at 3.02%.
Markets remain fixated on the risk that central banks intent on cooling inflation snuff out economic recoveries in the process. Money markets have priced in 36.5 basis points of tightening to the ECB’s rate by next month’s meeting, just short of a 50% chance of a half-a-percentage point increase, which would be the first since 2000.
“To rein in surging prices the Fed has to increase rates, which can result in a recession,” Geir Lode, head of global equities at Federated Hermes, wrote in a note. “However, the pandemic-induced supply-chain shock and the Ukraine conflict are beyond the central bank’s control. In this environment, we need to be lucky to avoid stagflation that could last for a long time.”
While the ECB isn’t expected to raise official borrowing costs, President Christine Lagarde signaled in a blog post last month that the central bank will end bond purchases this month, and hike once in July and again in September, lifting the deposit rate from minus 0.5% to zero. Some investors see a new tone reaching beyond the official line as central bankers succumb to huge pressure to rein in record inflation at more than four times their target of 2%. Peers at the Federal Reserve, Bank of Canada, and Reserve Bank of Australia have hiked in 50-basis point increments this year.
“Chances are that the ECB will have a hawkish pivot today,” Carol Kong, a strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said on Bloomberg Television.
In US premarket trading, Alibaba Group was among the best performers – at least initially – as it pumped, dumped, and then rose again after several conflicting reports that Chinese regulators are considering a potential revival of the initial public offering by Jack Ma’s Ant Group.
Tesla gained 3% after an upgrade to Buy from UBS and after the company said its deliveries of cars made in China doubled in May compared with April and as UBS recommended buying the stock. Bank stocks also traded higher in premarket trading as the US 10-year Treasury yield hovered just above 3%. In corporate news, Credit Suisse shares dropped after its CEO Thomas Gottstein said he wouldn’t comment on State Street’s reported interest in the Swiss bank. Here are all the notable premarket movers:
- Five Below (FIVE US) shares decline 7.3% in premarket trading after the company cut its full-year guidance, while analysts trimmed their targets for the stock, but were broadly positive on the firm’s long-term prospects.
- Spotify (SPOT US) shares could be in focus today as analysts were positive about the streaming giant’s forecast that its podcasting business will turn profitable as the company focuses on more non-music segments like audiobooks.
- Travel stocks could be active on Thursday following Expedia CEO Peter Kern’s bullish comments on summer travel. Keep an eye on Delta (DAL US), United (UAL US), Marriott (MAR US), Expedia (EXPE US), Airbnb (ABNB US), and Booking Holdings (BKNG US) among others
- Watch Oxford Industries (OXM US) shares after the company reported results, as Citi says that there is no sign of consumer weakness in any part of the branded apparel retailer’s business.
- Ollie’s Bargain (OLLI US) stock may be in focus as RBC Capital Markets upgraded the discount retailer to outperform, saying that despite another tough quarter, its fundamentals should improve in the back half and beyond.
In Europe, equities slipped ahead of a European Central Bank decision that will put the region’s monetary policy on a path of tightening and help close the gap with global peers. Real-estate companies and retailers led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index 0.5% lower. EDF jumped the most in three months, after a newspaper report that the new French government is studying two options for the electricity giant’s nationalization, including a buyout offer. Here are the most notable European movers:
- EDF shares rise as much as 8.3% after Les Echos newspaper reported that nationalization is among the priorities for a new government after this month’s legislative elections alongside combating inflation and pension reform.
- Prosus gains as much as 7.4% in Amsterdam and Naspers gains as much as 6.8% in Johannesburg following a report that Chinese financial regulators are considering reviving the IPO of Jack Ma’s Ant Group.
- Tate & Lyle advances as much as 4.4% after the company reported FY22 results that beat estimates. The FY23 outlook suggests upgrades to consensus estimates, according to Jefferies.
- Beiersdorf rises as much as 7.8% after the company said in a Capital Markets Day presentation on its website that it targets above-market organic sales growth at its consumer unit in the medium term.
- Credit Suisse drops as much as 4.9% after State Street declined to comment on a report that it was looking to acquire the Swiss bank. Separately, Bloomberg reported that Credit Suisse is tapping the brakes on its China expansion.
- CMC Markets falls as much as 19% after cutting its dividend and saying it was boosting spending on new hires, product development, and marketing as the firm seeks to diversify amid a fading retail trading boom.
- Wizz Air drops as much as 8.3%, extending Wednesday’s 9.5% decline after the company gave guidance for an operating loss for the first quarter, while analysts also noted their concern about pricing trends.
Asian stocks slipped as technology and financial firms declined and higher oil prices stoked concerns about inflation. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.3%, trimming its gain this week. Chip stocks declined after a warning on-demand from Intel Corp., with the Hang Seng Tech Index sliding more than 1%, a breather after its recent rally. Australian banks were among the biggest contributors to the regional benchmark’s loss. “We are seeing profit-taking moves after Chinese stocks rose a lot in recent sessions,” said Xue Hua Cui, a China equity analyst at Meritz Securities in Seoul. “There are also renewed concerns about the second-quarter corporate earnings.” Australia’s broad benchmark was among the biggest decliners in the Asia Pacific as bank stocks slumped on concerns about valuations and macroeconomic risks. Shares in Singapore and Malaysia also fell. South Korean equities erased early-day losses to close nearly flat on options expiry, while Japanese peers also finished little change amid the yen’s extended weakness. Read: Australian Bank Stocks Take $32 Billion Hit on Rate Concerns Stocks in much of the region held losses after data showed Chinese exports jumped more than expected in May, while a mini-lockdown weighed on market sentiment. Even with Thursday’s dip, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index remained on track for its fourth straight weekly gain, which would be its longest winning streak since early 2021
Japanese stocks traded in a narrow range as investors continued to worry about inflation and growth while the yen extended losses to a fresh 20-year low. The Topix Index was virtually unchanged at 1,969.05 as of the market close in Tokyo, while the Nikkei 225 was stable at 28,246.53. Out of 2,170 shares in the index, 937 rose and 1,105 fell, while 128 were unchanged.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.4% to close at 7,019.70, its lowest level since May 12. Banks contributed the most to the benchmark’s slump on growing concerns that faster monetary policy tightening might increase housing-market risks and pressure valuations. Magellan was the top performer after saying co-founder Hamish Douglass will resume working with the business in a new consultancy role. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.5% to 11,211.31.
In India, stock gauges advanced for the first session in five, helped by a surge in Reliance Industries and energy companies on the improving outlook for refining margin and software exporters extending recovery. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.8% to 55,320.28 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index gained 0.7%. Both indexes are still headed for weekly drops of about 0.8% and 0.6%, respectively, their first decline in four weeks. “With policy rate announcements now behind us, investors lapped up stocks that were in a downward spiral for quite some time,” Kotak Securities analyst Shrikant Chouhan said in a note. The market may witness select bouts, but volatility is expected to remain over the near-to-medium term, he added. Reliance Industries provided the biggest boost to the key gauges, increasing 2.7%. Out of 30 shares in the Sensex index, 21 rose and 9 fell
In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed as the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers. The euro fluctuated around $1.07. Bunds and Italian bonds swung between modest gains and losses. Options pricing in the euro and spot swings suggest not everyone is convinced that the euro will rally after the ECB meeting, which leaves ample room for an advance on a hawkish decision. The yen rebounded after touching a fresh two-decade low against the dollar and seven-year lows against the Australian dollar and the euro, as traders adjusted positions before the ECB. Speculators are gathering around the beleaguered yen and positioning is by no means extended, suggesting there’s still room for bears to pile in. The New Zealand dollar inched up and the nation’s 10-year yield hit a seven-year high after the RBNZ announced plans to offload QE bond holdings.
One beneficiary of a hawkish pivot by the ECB would be the euro. The common currency has been bogged down by concerns over euro-area growth while a resurgent dollar and hawkish Fed pushed it to a five-year low against the US currency last month. The euro traded little changed against the dollar at $1.07.
“If we do see Christine Lagarde leaning toward a 50 basis-points hike in July, that’s going to be very supportive of the euro-dollar,” Kong said.
In rates, Treasuries are narrowly mixed with the yield flatter ahead of the ECB rate decision at 7:45 am ET and 30-year bond reopening, the last of this week’s coupon auctions. 2-year TSY yields rose to 2.80%, the highest level since May 4 YTD high. 10-year little changed at 3.02%, underperforming bunds while gilts trail. US front-end cheapening flattens 2s10s by ~1bp on the day toward the lowest level since May 25; as previewed before, the ECB is expected to announce an imminent end to large-scale asset purchases, opening the door for interest-rate hikes at the July meeting; swaps price in around 30bp of rate- hike premium. Looking at today’s auction we have a $19BN 30-year bond reopening which follows Wednesday’s mediocre 10-year, which is tailed by 1.2bp. WI 30-year yield at ~3.16% is above auction stops since 2018 and ~16bp cheaper than May’s, which stopped 0.9bp through.
German bonds and the euro are steady ahead of the ECB’s meeting later Thursday, where traders will look for clues on whether the bank will raise rates by 25bps or 50bps in July. Money markets don’t expect a hike today and currently bet on 36bps next month, and about 132bps by the end of the year. Peripheral spreads tighten to Germany. Both gilt and Treasury curves flatten.
In commodities, WTI trades within Wednesday’s range around the $122 level. Most base metals trade in the red; LME nickel falls 2.9%, underperforming peers. Spot gold falls roughly $3 to trade near $1,850/oz
To the day ahead now, the main highlight will be the aforementioned ECB decision and President Lagarde’s subsequent press conference. We’ll also hear from Bank of Canada Governor Macklem, and data releases today include the US weekly initial jobless claims.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.4% to 4,130.75
- STOXX Europe 600 down 0.7% to 437.16
- MXAP down 0.4% to 168.75
- MXAPJ down 0.6% to 557.70
- Nikkei little changed at 28,246.53
- Topix little changed at 1,969.05
- Hang Seng Index down 0.7% to 21,869.05
- Shanghai Composite down 0.8% to 3,238.95
- Sensex up 0.2% to 54,988.33
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.4% to 7,019.75
- Kospi little changed at 2,625.44
- Brent Futures down 0.4% to $123.07/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,848.12
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 102.62
- German 10Y yield little changed at 1.35%
- Euro down 0.1% to $1.0701
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- The ECB is set to announce an imminent end to large-scale asset purchases, paving the way for the first increase in interest rates in more than a decade next month
- Traders are betting the BOE will deliver a historic half-point interest-rate hike by September to wrest control of inflation running at the fastest pace in four decades
- Judging by the latest comments, the yen’s exchange rate still has some way to go before Japan’s finance ministry would consider intervention to prop up the currency via actual purchase operations, something it has avoided for more than two decades. With the US more likely to be against any moves to weaken the dollar, Japan faces the problem that actual intervention may not be effective
- Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida appears to be counting on the Bank of Japan to keep borrowing costs near rock-bottom levels as his government paves the way for continued spending even after a record-breaking pandemic splurge and with the yen languishing at two-decade lows
- Riksbank Deputy Governor Anna Breman said all options are on the table for the June policy meeting as speculation grows over whether the Swedish central bank needs to speed up its interest rate increases
- China’s exports rebounded in May as Covid-related bottlenecks on production and logistics clear up, but a slowdown looms this year as global consumer demand for goods cools, weakening trade’s ability to act as a driver for economic growth
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of newsquawk
Asia-Pac stocks were subdued following a weak handover from the US and with sentiment cautious. ASX 200 was pressured by underperformance in the top-weighted financials sector and weakness in property-related stocks also suffering amid expectations of aggressive RBA rate hikes which increases banks’ funding costs and could threaten the quality of their loan portfolios. Nikkei 225 kept afloat as participants contemplated the ramifications of further currency depreciation. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were lackluster despite the mostly better than expected Chinese trade data as some COVID concerns resurfaced in Shanghai with the city locking down the Minhang district on Saturday morning for mass COVID testing.
- Shanghai will lockdown the Minhang district on Saturday morning for mass COVID-19 testing, according to Bloomberg; additionally, Beijing’s Chaoyang district is to close all entertainment venues from 14:00 local time (07:00BST) for COVID containment.
- US Treasury Secretary Yellen said China is guilty of unfair trade practices but some tariffs on Chinese goods do not serve US strategic interests and the Biden administration is looking to reconfigure tariffs in a way that would be more strategic, according to Bloomberg.
- Japan is planning to expand its prefectural travel subsidies across the entire country, according to Yomiuri.
- RBNZ outlined plans to sell New Zealand government bonds from July 2022 in which it intends to offload NZD 5bln per fiscal year in order of maturity date until its LSAP holdings are reduced to zero, according to Reuters.
Equities are, overall, struggling for clear direction in relatively cautious trade going into ECB; Euro Stoxx 50 -0.5%. Bourses, and US futures, were lifted amid further constructive China tech developments, this time for Ant Group; albeit, we have drifted modestly off best since, ES +0.3%. China is said to be mulling reviving Jack Ma’s Ant IPO, with reports framing it as an easing in crackdowns from China, according to Bloomberg sources. *Click here for analysis/reaction. China PCA Retail Passenger Vehicle Sales (May): -17.3% YY; Tesla (TSLA) 32.2k (prev. 33.5k YY). Walgreens Boots Alliance’s (WBA) Boots has received a non-binding bid from Apollo Global Management and Reliance Industries, according to FT sources.
- Hawkish Lagarde Is Not Fully Priced In the Euro: ECB Cheat Sheet
- Traders Bet BOE Will Join Peers in Historic Half-Point Rate Hike
- European Gas Soars as Fire in US Compounds Russia Supply Concern
- Italy’s Eni to List Renewable Unit Plenitude in Milan
- FirstGroup Rejects £1.2 Billion Takeover Bid From I Squared
- Yen finally finds some friends amidst less hostile yield environment and supportive risk backdrop; USD/JPY retreats just over 100 pips around 134.00 and EUR/JPY almost 150 pips from 144.00+ peak.
- DXY remains anchored around 102.500 ahead of Friday’s US CPI data and as Euro pivots 1.0700 pre-ECB; EUR/USD flanked by decent option expiries as well from 1.0750-55 to 1.0605-00 on the downside.
- Kiwi underpinned after RBNZ outlines schedule for balance sheet rundown; NZD/USD hovers near 0.6450, AUD/NZD sub-1.1150 with AUD/USD capped into 0.7200.
- Rand continues bull run with extra incentive from wider than forecast SA current account surplus, USD/ZAR straddling 15.2500.
- Lira rout resumes following fleeting respite on prospect of capital controls raised by S&P, USD/TRY above 17.2200.
- Yuan retains bulk of Chinese trade data related gains even though parts of Beijing and Shanghai reimpose restrictive Covid measures; USD/CNH closer to 6.6700 than 6.7100, USD/CNY settles sub-6.7000 vs circa 6.7000 high.
- Bunds choppy and lagging Eurozone periphery within 149.17-148.52 range pre-ECB, as focus falls on fragmentation along with rate and QE guidance
- Gilts underperforming between 114.86-42 parameters as BoE tightening expectations rise and drag Sonia strip down
- US Treasuries flat-lining ahead of jobless claims and long bond supply, with 10 year T-note just above par inside tight 118-07/117-26+ band
- WTI and Brent are steady after giving up overnight gains with participants cautious and cognizant of China’s fluid COVID situation.
- Currently, the benchmarks are sub-USD 122/bbl and USD 123.50/bbl respectively, vs highs of 122.72 and 124.34.
- Magnitude 5.6 earthquake hits the Antofagasta region in Chile, according to EMSC.
- Spot gold is sub-USD1850/oz, having slipped below its falling 10-DMA but holding above the overlapping 200- & 21-DMAs at USD 1842/oz.
- Riksbank’s Breman says she will support doing what is required to attain the inflation target, including more hikes than are currently in the path; adding, to control inflation back to target, need to act now. Does not exclude a 50bps hike at the next meeting.
- Hungarian Finance Minister says the Hungary has issued FX bonds totalling USD 3bln and EUR 750mln; follows the NBH maintaining its one-week deposit rate at 6.75%.
US Event Calendar
- 08:30: May Continuing Claims, est. 1.3m, prior 1.31m
- 08:30: June Initial Jobless Claims, est. 206,000, prior 200,000
- 12:00: 1Q US Household Change in Net Wor, prior $5.3t
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
I kicked off Day 1 of our annual European LevFin conference in London yesterday and we had a record attendance of over 1100 issuers and investors. It was the first in-person version since 2019 and if this conference is anything to go by, people still like the personal contacts that such an event brings. I also had a dinner at the event last night so I’m a bit shattered this morning so bear with me. This conference has been going now for 26 years at DB and the headline acts at the post conference entertainment have in the past included, The Killers, Duran Duran, Cheryl Crow, Dire Straits, The Corrs, The Sugababes, Stevie Wonder and Bon Jovi. Last night’s entertainment was a pub quiz. How times have changed.
If you think the above means Zoom is dead then think again, as I’ll be doing a Zoom webinar next Wednesday (June 15th) at 2pm on my annual Default Study (“The End of the ultra-low default world?”), published earlier this week, that I presented at the conference. Please click here to register, and here to see the report itself.
The day before this (June 14th), also at 2pm London time, a selection of our heads of trading and research desks will do a call on the near-term macro outlook across rates, FX, EM, equities and credit. Please click here to register.
As I recover from the heckling of telling High Yield investors that defaults are coming, we arrive at the business end of the week with a big 36 hours ahead with the ECB meeting today, and US CPI tomorrow, looming large! And then don’t forget the FOMC, BoE and BoJ meetings next week. Markets approach this busy period on the nervous side with rates and equities selling off over the last 24 hours, and that’s still the case in much of Asia in this morning’s trading.
Starting with Europe, sovereign bond yields hit fresh highs yesterday as investors have come to view a potential 50bp hike at some point this year as an increasingly likely possibility. In fact by the close of trade yesterday, overnight index swaps were pricing in 132bps worth of ECB hikes by the December meeting, which is the highest to date and more than double the 63bps of hikes expected after their last meeting in mid-April. So if they don’t hike until July as is widely expected, that implies at least one 50bp move is being fully priced in by year-end.
In their preview last week (link here), our European economists agreed with this assessment that a 50bp hike is likely soon, and their view is that one of the two hikes in Q3 will be a 50bp hike, with September being more likely than July. After that, they then see the ECB reverting to continuous back-to-back 25bp hikes until they reach a terminal deposit rate of 2% in mid-summer 2023, although there’s a risk of a second 50bp hike before policy rates reach neutral. In terms of today’s decision however, they expect the ECB to confirm that APP net purchases will cease at the end of June, and that their new staff forecasts will show inflation at 2.0% in 2024, thus satisfying the liftoff criteria. When it comes to new guidance, their view is that the three conditions for policy rate liftoff are likely to be replaced by new guidance on the speed and extent of the hiking cycle. And finally on TLTRO, they expect the end of the TLTRO discount to be confirmed and the ECB to pledge a smooth transmission of monetary tightening through the banking system.
With all that in mind, European yields moved higher through the day, with those on 10yr bunds (+6.2bps) and OATs (+7.0bps) both rising to their highest levels since 2014. The selloff was more pronounced among peripheral debt, with yields on 10yr Italian (+8.8bps) and Spanish (+8.2bps) debt seeing even larger rises, although the spread of both over bunds was still tighter than their recent peak last week. There are signs of growing nervousness elsewhere too, with EURUSD overnight implied volatility at its highest level right now since the US presidential election in November 2020. Meanwhile, those at the more hawkish end of the Governing Council received further support yesterday from data revisions, with Euro Area growth in Q1 revised up to show a +0.6% expansion (vs. +0.3% previously).
This investor concern about rate hikes and persistent inflation was bad news for equities, first in Europe where the STOXX 600 (-0.57%) fell for a second day running and then extending to a late sell-off across the Atlantic, where the S&P 500 fell -1.08%, with only energy (+0.15%) managing to end the day in the green. This brings the index to +0.18% for the week, as it enters yet another late week showdown to see if it can manage to stay in positive territory. The decline came as 10yr Treasuries eclipsed the 3% mark again, closing up +4.8bps at 3.02%, and we’re up another +1.5 bps higher this morning at 3.036%. The impact of tighter monetary policy extended beyond risk assets and showed some signs of being felt in the real economy, too, with the number of mortgage applications in the US falling to a 22-year low in the week ending June 3.
These inflationary worries for investors and central banks were aggravated further by a fresh rise in commodity prices. Oil prices saw further gains, and Brent Crude (+2.50%) moved back above $123/bbl again, inching ever closer to their post-invasion peak levels despite news of OPEC supply expansion and US reserve releases. That trend has continued this morning, with Brent crude up a further +0.33% at $123.98/bbl. WTI (+2.26%) moved above $122/bbl as well, so not far from its peak closing level following the invasion of $123.70/bbl. US natural gas prices displayed a lot of volatility, hitting a post-2008 high intraday before crashing into the close to finish down -6.39% following reports of a fire at a terminal used for exporting, keeping supplies stateside. European natural gas futures fell for a 6th consecutive session to hit another post-Ukraine invasion low of €78.41/MWh.
Those losses on Wall Street have carried over into Asia overnight as that rally in oil prices has ramped up worries about inflation and the outlook for interest rates. The Hang Seng (-0.24%), the Shanghai Composite (-0.49%) and the CSI 300 (-0.64%) are all in negative territory, as is the Kospi (-0.31%), although the Nikkei (+0.26%) is up as the weaker Yen has raised hopes for an earnings improvement. Indeed yesterday, the Yen fell a further -1.22% against the US Dollar to close at a 20-year low of 134.25 Yen per dollar, having at one point traded at an intraday low of 134.47. Bear in mind that its intraday low so far in the 21st century was at 135.15 back in January 2002, so we’re not far off reaching levels unseen since the 1990s, although this morning it’s strengthened a touch to 134.06. Outside of Asia, stock futures in the US and Europe are pointing to additional losses today with contracts on the S&P 500 (-0.10%), NASDAQ 100 (-0.11%) and DAX (-0.44%) edging lower.
Finally on the data front, China’s May exports advanced +16.9% y/y, beating analyst estimates for a +8.0% rise and faster than the +3.9% increase in April. At the same time, the nation’s trade surplus grew to $78.76 bn in May, (vs. $57.7 bn expected) and compared to a $51.12 bn surplus in April. Separately, German industrial production grew by a weaker-than-expected +0.7% in April (vs. +1.2% expected), which comes on the back of an unexpected contraction in factory orders the previous day.
To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned ECB decision and President Lagarde’s subsequent press conference. We’ll also hear from Bank of Canada Governor Macklem, and data releases today include the US weekly initial jobless claims.