Stocks mixed before Fed chair Jay Powell testimony

Forex
Morning Note

Stocks are a pretty mixed, directionless bag right now as the market awaits Fed chair Jay Powell’s testimony in Washington. Wall Street was split – SPX nudged a touch higher, closing about one-tenth of a percent higher close to 2980 having been around 15 points lower earlier in the session. The Dow meanwhile slipped a touch. 

Asia broadly stronger overnight but Chinese shares down a touch. European shares are mildly lower as Mr Powell is set to go up the hill. Caution will be the order of the day until markets get what they want from the Fed chair – if they do. 

FX

Sterling is still languishing at its lows. Ex the January flash crash we’re down at 2-year lows for the pound, with the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming over sterling. GBPUSD was last at 1.2450, a shade off yesterday’s trough but still looking weak. 

Dollar strength is returning as traders dialled back expectations for a deeper, aggressive round of cuts by the Fed. All eyes on Jay Powell’s testimony later on as well as the minutes from the last Fed meeting. The prospect of the Fed chair nudging market thinking slightly away from cuts should keep traders on their toes. Euro steady at 1.120 – look for a move below 1.1180 to push the cross back to the lows. 

Commodities

Oil is firming up after yesterday’s surprisingly large drawdown on inventories. API data showed stockpiles fell by 8.1m barrels last week, versus a c3m draw expected. The data could offer renewed support for oil prices. Meanwhile speculative long positions are growing again. Brent was last a shade below $65. Patterns look a bit bearish and flaggy though. Price action for now looks bound between the $62.50-$65.50 levels, the 50% and 38.2% Fib levels of the big rally through 2019. 

Data overnight – China inflation came in as expected at 2.7%, whilst PPI was weaker, coming in flat in June from the month before. 

Trade progress boosts equities, dents gold; oil soars as OPEC gathers

Forex
Morning Note

It’s been a week of good progress so far, with positive noises on trade and oil production cuts. Markets are firmly risk-on, which is good news for equities and oil, while gold is feeling the pressure.

Equities have recorded strong gains today on the back of trade progress at the G20 meeting. The US and China have agreed to restart trade talks after President Donald Trump met President Xi Jinping at the gathering of world leaders.

European indices have shot higher, with the FTSE 100 up over 1.1% and above 7,500 points for the first time in around 10 weeks. The DAX has hit a fresh 11-month high thanks to a gain of 102 points to trend above 12,559. Futures suggest a strong US open, with both Dow and S&P 500 futures up 0.8% at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, gold is trending below $1,390 today, recording losses of 1.5%, as investors unwind the recent flight to safety.

Oil races higher on OPEC progress

Iran has now given its backing to a proposed extension of OPEC’s joint oil production cuts. Other key OPEC members, as well as non-OPEC ally Russia, also seem to be in favour. This means the cuts could be finalised during the two-day meeting concluding tomorrow.

Oil has shot higher on the news, with crude breaking above $60 per barrel and Brent testing $66.50. Both represent gains of over 3.2%. Crude oil could face resistance near $60.80, the 76% retracement of the top-to-bottom move seen between late May and mid-June. Brent, meanwhile, is trending around the 50% retracement level, with $68.07 the next key resistance, on the 61% retracement line.

Bitcoin tumbles further from 15-month high

Bitcoin has moved further away from the 15-month high struck last week when markets pushed the world’s biggest cryptocurrency towards $14,000. BTC has recorded 10% losses so far today, leaving it to trade in the region of $11,300.

It looks like the once-key $11,000 resistance level has now turned into support.

Super Bitcoin goes ballistic, Fed signals are atrocious

Morning Note

Bitcoin moves higher, threatening $13,000, whilst stocks and gold have dipped as Fed policymakers tempered expectations for a July cut.

Bitcoin has gone ballistic: it is building up a head of steam and there’s no point trying to stand in the way. Bitcoin futures began ramping from 11pm last night as they jumped to $11,600 before driving up to almost hitting $13,000 and then paring gains a touch to trade at $12,770 at send time. Look for these little pullbacks along the way as potential entry points, but there is every chance now we see this top the all-time highs and make $20k. 

Causes can be found in many places – the halving in 2020 is one that is being talked about increasingly as bearing on price action now. Facebook’s Libra whitepaper also looks to be a spark. The biggest players are looking at cryptocurrencies afresh and don’t want to miss out. There’s a ‘haven’ play too as nominal and real yields have retreated sharply, reducing the opportunity cost of holding (or HODLing) bitcoin. And the liquidity injection from central banks has forced a range of assets like gold, bonds, the yen etc, so bitcoin is just being swept along by those macro currents.  Whatever the cause, the momentum is powerful right now.

Other major cryptos were firmer with gains for Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, Ether and Bitcoin Cash. Our traders remain roughly 80-90% net long on these assets.

Stocks ease on Fed

Stocks dropped after the Fed chair Jay Powell asserted the central bank’s independence from politics and cautioned against short-termism affecting monetary policy, in a speech that appeared to try and temper expectations for a rate cut in July. At least it looked like he was saying the Fed is by no means sure to cut – we should remember the recent dot plot did not suggest a cut would come until 2020.  

On top of this we had uber-dove James Bullard, who lest we forget was the sole dissenter at the June meeting in voting for a cut, saying that he did not think a 50-basis point cut in July was warranted. This left the market less confident in getting the two-for-one 50bps cut in July – expectations down from around 40% to 26%.  

The market has baked in rate cuts that the Fed is yet to see as completely necessary. As we noted last week after the FOMC statement, there’s yet optionality for Powell and co. In last week’s statement the Fed refrained from explicit references to cuts. The median dot plot showed no cuts this year. The market is ahead of itself again. 

SPX declined 1% to 2917, while the Dow gave up 180 points as Wall Street had its worst day in almost a month. Asia has been softer overnight. Futures indicate European shares are being dragged lower by the Fed’s less-dovish language and by the broader market fears we are seeing around trade and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. As we head into the rest of the week, the G20 and the Trump-Xi meeting will be front and centre. A bit of de-risking ahead of the meeting is also to be expected.

Dollar gains

The Fed’s jawboning lifted the greenback as yields fired a little, with the dollar index climbing back to 95.75. EURUSD was softer, losing the 1.14 handle to trade around 12.1360. Sterling also eased, with GBPUSD down to 1.2670. Boris Johnson goading Jeremy Hunt to say he would take Britain out on Oct 31st with or without a deal is not really helping. Whatever the claims ahead of the poll, the eventual winner would in any event have to face the cold granite of EU negotiations (or lack of, given the EU says it won’t reopen the deal). Dollar firmed up against the yen but remains near 6-month lows.

Gold softer

A stronger USD hit gold, which has retreated from its six-year highs above the big $1433 level to trade around $1406. You would think that gold will need to hold $1400, or it could reopen a move to $1380. Gold’s enjoyed such a strong run that it would make sense to see a pullback – the bull run may not be over by any means. As we noted yesterday in our commodity strategy, the 14-day RSI and standard MACD indicators were showing the market as extremely overbought. 

Oil higher on API data

Oil rose to highest in a month as we saw stockpiles drop 7.5m barrels according to API. This was well ahead of expectations for a c2.5m drop and has given bulls some reason to cheer. Although fundamentals remain weak, prices have pushed up around 10% in the last fortnight largely on Middle East tensions. Brent was last around $65.30, sitting on the 38.2% Fib retracement of the 2019 top-to-bottom decline, after pushing to $66. WTI was holding the $59 handle.

Fed holds, pound breaks $1.27 ahead of BoE

Forex
Morning Note

Stocks firmed and the dollar fell, whilst gold rallied to a 5-year high as the Fed opened the door to cutting rates.

It’s like 2010 all over: the race to the bottom is on. Only this time the global economy is coming off a period of remarkable synchronised expansion, not a terrible recession and the worst financial crisis in a generation or more. So what gives!? Must Powell acquiesce to the whims of his president? Must Draghi end his tenure not normalising, but actually cutting rates even deeper?

Draghi to be fair has little option. In the absence of structural and fiscal reform – blame Germany – he can but tinker around the edges of the zero lower bound, hoping to weaken the currency to get some competitiveness back. Powell is in a different position, although really it looks like central banks are spitting in the wind in trying to shift inflation expectations. They should try to focus on boosting oil prices instead.

FOMC holds

So yesterday the FOMC nudged towards a cut. Nearly half the 17 members of the FOMC think cuts will be warranted this year. The median dot plot suggests 50bps in cuts through 2020. The dots evinced a shift from a tightening bias to an easing bias. The patient mantra was dropped, whilst the economy is now only expanding at a ‘moderate’, not ‘solid’, rate. The market took this as a sign the Fed’s listening to their demands – a cut in July is now fully priced in.

But there’s yet optionality for Powell and co. The Fed refrained from explicit references to cuts. The median dot plot shows no cuts this year still. The market is ahead of itself again. If we believe the dots, rate cuts will come slower than the market wants them to.

In some ways the Fed thread the needle here – keeping the market and the president happy without actually committing to cuts. The dots suggest the Fed is saying: “Of course we will cut, just not yet-good enough?”. For now it is. But the tail seems to be wagging the dog, forcing the Fed to follow sooner or later.

Certainly revising inflation expectations lower points to concerns that tame price growth cannot simply be attributed to transient factors. Yet at the same time the Fed thinks unemployment will be lower and growth stronger than it thought in March.

The problem we have is that Fed looks like it is flip-flopping; changes its mind based not on economic data but on the caprice of financial markets; appears in thrall to the White House; and is therefore at a very serious risk of losing its credibility.

Markets

Yields hit the deck. US 10yr bond yields slipped beneath 2% again for the first time since 2016. Bunds heading deeper into negative territory.

Gold rallied on the outcome as yields sank, breaking north of $1385. It’s now cleared a tonne of important multi-year resistance, paving the way for a return to $1400 and beyond. This is a big move, but if the Fed doesn’t deliver the cuts the bulls could be caught out.

Stocks liked it – the S&P 500 notched gains of about 0.3%, Limited upside as the Fed was not as dovish as the market wanted and because a lot of this was already priced in. Asian markets rallied across the board.

Futures show European stocks are on the front foot, catching a tailwind from Wall Street and the Fed. The FTSE 100 may underperform though as the pound is finding bid.

Oil has climbed as US inventories feel three times more than expected. Brent was up at $63.50, threatening to break free from its recent range – look for $63.80. WTI at $55.50 also close to breaking out of its trough.

FX

The dollar kicked lower after the Fed decision – but with the ECB looking super easy the gains versus the euro are limited. Likewise the yen with the Bank of Japan also ready to step up stimulus. Likewise the Australian dollar, with RBA governor Lowe talking up a further, imminent, cut. The race to the bottom is on. Is it too soon to talk about currency wars?

The exception here is the Bank of England, which is heading towards raising rates. We get to learn more about the BoE’s position later today. The difference here is the inflation expectations, which are moving up, not down like they are elsewhere. Britain’s also enjoying strong wage growth and a super-tight labour market. All of this is dependent on a smooth Brexit – this is not a given by any means.

Indeed, Brexit is keeping the lid on sterling’s gains – the prospect of Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the EU come October 31st is a risk. There’s now talk of a possible general election if he gets in – risky, we know what happened to May. The prospect of a general election would not do anything to remove uncertainty around UK assets. Zero clarity still.

EURUSD moved through 1.12 and was last at 1.1280, but failing to gain enough momentum to rally above 1.13 and scrub out the Draghi-inspired losses.

GBPUSD has reclaimed 1.27. Quite a chunky move here, blasting through a couple of big figures in under a day. Maybe the prospect of a more hawkish BoE is helping the pound, albeit the market is actually pricing in cuts, not hikes. At least Mark Carney doesn’t have to deal with a political leader on his case…

USDJPY lost the 108 handle to trade at 107.50, now breaking free into new 2019 lows (ex the Jan flash crash).”

Commodities: Gold hits five-year high as Fed strikes dovish tone, crude oil up after attack on US drone

Gold is trading at its highest level in more than five years after the US Federal Open Market Committee yesterday indicated that monetary policy may become more accommodative.

Gold has gained 1.7% after the FOMC held rates in the 2.25-2.5% range but signalled a cut was coming. It’s trading around $1,383 after rising to test resistance at $1,394 – prices haven’t been this high since March 2014.

Bulls may now be targeting the $1,400 handle, but there is plenty of room for a pullback before support comes into play at $1,362.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated in the post-meeting press conference that “Many participants now see the case for somewhat more accommodative policy has strengthened.”

Markets had been pricing in a rate cut in July. A weakening US dollar has helped push commodity prices higher in the wake of the meeting. Cable is up 0.6%, EUR/USD up 0.5%, and USD/JPY down 0.4%.

Crude oil rises as US and Iran clash over missile attack on drone

Oil prices have extended gains of up to 3% today after tensions in the Middle East cranked higher. Washington claims that a US military drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile in international airspace. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard asserted this morning that the drone had entered Iranian airspace.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been building of late, after the US accused Iran of carrying out the recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran’s oil exports are the subject of sanctions by the US which came into force last year.

The news pushed Brent up to a ten-day high of $63.85, while crude oil rose to a 20-day high above $55.50.

Closing on all-time highs, FOMC preview

Morning Note

Equity markets buoyant after Tuesday’s rally ahead of the key Federal Reserve meeting.

You can just about smell the all-time highs. The S&P 500 rallied 28 points to 2,917.75, just a shade under 1% below its April record high. The Dow added 350+ points to 26,465.54. 

And yet the latest BAML data shows fund managers are at their most bearish since the global financial crisis a decade ago. Equity allocations have experienced their second worst drop on record – we’ve seen a huge move into cash. And yet and yet, we’re close to all-time highs again for US equity markets at least. This is what you may call an unloved rally. 

Asian shares were encouraged by Wall Street’s gains. Japan closed 1.72% higher. Futures indicate European shares are treading water ahead of the FOMC decision later today. A touch of caution after an exuberant session yesterday. 

Oil rallied again – demand outlook matters a lot more than supply constraints. The world is awash with oil whatever OPEC does. Brent was close to its $62.50 comfort, the 50% Fib level that continues to anchor prices. WTI has regained $54. On both charts signs of either double-bottom reversal or bearish flag continuation patterns. 

The prospect of president Trump meeting his counterpart Xi Jinping at the G20 assembly later this month, combined with signs of renewed stimulus efforts by the ECB, has investors eyeing short-term gains. We need to wait and see what the Federal Reserve does. So hold on tight, let the flight begin. 

FOMC Preview 

Summary 

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Markets expect the Fed to cut 3 times this year, but the Fed needs to be careful about reacting too easily to markets. There is not the need to be as pessimistic about growth and inflation as bond markets suggest, despite some softness in recent labour market data. The Fed will seek to avoid sounding overly hawkish, but one feels there is a need to steer markets away from expecting the Fed to ride to the rescue of financial markets.  

Backdrop 

It’s hard to recall a time we headed into an FOMC meeting with so much at stake and with so much uncertainty about what might be agreed and what the guidance for the rest of the year will look like. This means the potential volatility around the event is likely to be substantially higher than at most recent FOMC meetings. 

Macroeconomic indicators suggest slowing growth whilst there have been no positive developments on trade. Inflation is tame but there is arguably enough to keep the Fed on the side lines for the rest of the year. And quite how much the data has softened since the last meeting to suddenly warrant a cut is beyond me. 

Moreover, last week’s retail sales data has gone against the downbeat, pro-cut grain. The Atlanta Fed GDPNow model predicts 2.1% GDP growth in Q2, up from the previous 1.4%. The model now anticipates second-quarter real personal consumption expenditures growth of 3.2% to 3.9%. 

Talk of demoting Jay Powell further clouds the picture as Trump heaps pressure on the  Fed chair to cut. Know when to walk away, know when to run. 

Market pricing 

Markets do not currently anticipate the Fed will cut rates this week, but they are pricing in a cut in July and a subsequent 1-2 25bps cuts.  

Pricing for a rate cut this week dropped sharply – from nearly 30% to around 21% – after the strong retail sales print on Friday. It’s since crept back up to 26%. For July, though, market pricing indicates an 87% chance of a cut, whilst there is a 95% chance for September. 

The blackout period ahead of the meeting has tied tongues that were in overdrive in the preceding days. 

Powell’s comments in Chicago at the start of June were the trigger for a relief rally in equities. He noted ‘recent developments involving trade negotiations and other matters’, adding that: ‘We do not know how or when these issues will be resolved’. 

This was the key remark: ‘We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion’. 

Critically he did not signal a cut, but only stuck to the Fed’s oft-stated stance. Markets have read much more into this, and could be left disappointed. The problem for Powell now is to gently steer markets back to the right course. 

Coming Up Today (GMT) 

GBP- CPI y/y (08:30) 

CAD- CPI m/m (12:30) 

EUR- ECB President Draghi Speaks (14:00) 

USD- FOMC Economic Projections (18:00) 

USD- FOMC Statement (18:00) 

USD- Federal Fund Rate (18:00) 

USD- FOMC Press Conference (18:30) 

BRL -Interest Rate Decision (21:00) 

NZD- GDP q/q (22:45) 

Oil rallies on Oman tanker fire

Morning Note

Oil rallied on geopolitical tensions in the Middle East while equities started to look like they are range-bound ahead of the FOMC meeting.

Oil jumps

Oil has shot up sharply after slumping to 5-month lows overnight. Reports of an oil tanker being on fire in the Sea of Oman rattled markets and sent Brent up $2 in a matter of minute, but await to see whether this will hold or is an algo-based kneejerk that will be faded. We know that geopolitical tensions in the region are worsening and raise supply-side concerns in terms of short-term outages etc – but with OPEC already curbing output and US production at a record high the market is far less susceptible to a shock.

A surprise build in US inventories was to blame for the drop yesterday and ultimately be more important than what’s happened in Oman. EIA figures showed stockpiles climbed by 2.2m barrels, against an expected decline of around 500k. At this time of year we’d normally see stocks decline but they keep moving higher. More supply, not enough demand. This is squeezing longs and we should see further liquidation in speculators’ net long positions, twisting the screw more.

With the demand outlook so clouded there is no sense that the bear market will end any time soon. Massive US supply has changed the rules of the game and there’s not a lot OPEC can do about it. Brent recovered to the $60.50 area having dropped below $60, before it spiked on the Oman news to trade through $62. Risks skewed to downside – it looks like $50 will be seen before $70. However, we’re in a major support zone and the latest dip could be the second trough in a double-bottom reversal.

Equites retreat

Equities pulled back again yesterday – nothing new in terms of trade, just a loss of stamina it seems. SPX encountered important technical resistance and retreated to 2880 on the close. Markets in Europe retreated as the rally ran out of legs.

European shares were on the back foot again on Thursday but then turned green. Bulls may retake control but until the FOMC meeting Wednesday we may expect the major indices to trade in these ranges. Hong Kong again weaker again amid the protests.

US president Donald Trump says China will make a deal. Well we’ve heard all this before. The markets starting to ignore this rubbish. There is precious little signs that we are even close to seeing a deal done at the G-20. Maybe a top-level handshake between Trump and Xi but hard to see much more.

Trump also said he’s still looking at placing sanctions on the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It’s been talked about before but it raises spectre of increased tensions between Germany and US (see euro below softer). The project is controversial enough within the EU and creates the potential for further fracturing among EU states. On this Trump has many European allies. And as the Mexico farrago showed, Trump is not afraid to weaponize trade/tariffs for the pursuit of non-economic policies. We know he wants EU members to stump up for defence.  It’s not a giant leap to see Trump weaponizing trade to achieve this ambition. One can anticipate deterioration in relations.

Tory race

In the UK political space, the Tory leadership first vote takes place today. It’ll sort some the wheat from the chaff but still doesn’t get us to the final two. But there will be implications for who’s going to pick up the votes later on from the candidates that don’t make the first pass.

Sterling had rallied a touch on Boris’s speech – algos in overdrive most likely – before slipping back below $1.27 again as Parliament refused to back Labour’s motion to take over business and take no-deal off the table.

Euro breakout fades

In FX, the euro inched up a touch Thursday after a fairly significant sell off yesterday that will have stressed bulls. The drop in the euro seems to be down to the Trump talk on Nord Stream 2 and the prospect of a worsening in relations with Germany. Last look EURUSD was trying to regain the 1.13 handle. This breakout looks like Monty’s sluggish, meat grinder approach to Caen.

Meanwhile inflation expectations have been crushed – the markets calling out the ECB over stimulus hints and says you can do more but we’re not sure if it will work. Euro 5y5y inflation swaps sunk to record lows- below 1.2% for the first time. The ECB will be forced to do more.

Trump’s London calling, US-China trade war worsens, oil smoked

Forex
Morning Note

Global stocks were down by around 6% in May – can we get a better June? The runes are not looking great. 

Futures indicate European shares are lower today as trade tensions continue to mount and investors exhibit greater fear about the global economy and the risk of recession. Asian markets were generally lower after a big selloff on Wall Street on Friday that saw the S&P 500 decline 37 points, or 1.32%, to finish at 2,752.06, below its 200-day moving average. FTSE 100 held the 7150 level, but this is likely to get taken out today. 

Trade fears are heating up 

The trade war is not cooling down; in fact, it looks like the rhetoric is heating up and further escalation seems likely. China is raising tariffs on $60bn of US goods in retaliation for tariffs, coming up with its own blacklist of foreign companies, has accused the US of resorting to ‘intimidation and coercion’, and begun an investigation into FedEx. And the Chinese defence minister says if the US wants a fight, they will ‘fight to the end’. No end in sight, and the chances of a G20 détente are slim.

Futures 

US stock futures were lower along with oil amid growing fears about this trade setup. Nothing like progress has been seen re Mexico, and now the market is dealing with reports that the US has been eyeing slapping tariffs on some Australian imports, As we noted last week, the escalation last week with the attack on Mexico – especially as it represented a weaponization of trade to pursue non-economic policies – represents a major turning point and could bring others into the fray. Again, the EU could come under fire soon. 

PMI day 

Data overnight has been mixed but still indicates slowdown. China’s Caixin PMI read 50.2, unchanged from a month before but a little ahead of expectations. Japan’s PMI has gone negative, moving to 49.8, signalling contraction. Japanese manufacturing output down for 5 months in a row, while new export orders fell for the 6th straight month. Japanese equities were down sharply overnight. UK PMI at 09:30, with the ISM numbers for the US due at 15:00. 

London calling 

Trump heads to the UK today – unfortunately he’s meeting a lame duck PM so we can’t expect much of importance. There will be lots of talk of a trade deal with the US post-Brexit. Harder Brexiteers in the Tory leadership race are likely to be emboldened. Expect the no-deal talk to increase.  

Sterling is sure to be under plenty of pressure until the leadership race is clearer. GBPUSD remains anchored to 1.26 for now, having made fresh multi-month lows last week. However, Friday’s bullish hammer reversal may provide the basis for a short-term rally. Just a hint that the pound is oversold and could be ready for a wee bounce. 

Oil smoked, gold higher 

Oil has taken a beating as markets worry more about a slowdown in global demand than supply constraints. Brent has declined by 10% or so in just a couple of days and is holding on $61, while WTI is clinging to $53. Speculators are liquidating long positions wholesale, with Friday’s COT report showing net longs down by 40k contracts. Net long positioning has fallen by about a fifth (100k contracts or more) since the late April high at 547.4k. 

Stockpiles are at their highest in two years. Speculative long positions continue to be cut. Supply uncertainty is losing out to demand uncertainty. Simply put, with OPEC and co curbing output, there is ample excess capacity in the market should it be needed. 14-day RSI and 20-day CCI suggest oversold and ready for a bounce, but this is like trying to catch a falling knife. 

Gold meanwhile is picking up safe haven bid as this decline is not just about valuations but about big fears for the global economy. The easing off in the US dollar has also supported gold. Having broken $1300 gold was last around $1310, with next target $1324.

FTSE rebalancing etc

Finally, there’s a fair bit of chatter about the FTSE rebalancing – will Marks & Spencer survive in the 100? Will JD Sports be promoted? I wouldn’t get too worked up about it all, even if it’s good sport. EasyJet likely to go – shares have been hammered but the business is tightly run and it’s always been one of the smallest in the FTSE 100. MKS lucky to survive with only the rights issue saving it.

Kier – warning on profits – going from bad to worse after the rights issue flopped.  

Astra – hails Lynparza pancreatic cancer drug trials success 

William Hill – bid rumours are doing the rounds 

Dignity – says it welcomes Treasury/FCA proposals  

Trump’s Mexican standoff rattles investors

Forex
Indices
Morning Note

Mexican standoff

A Mexican standoff is one in which there is no strategy that exists that allows either side to gain victory. Donald Trump may take note.

Any hopes May would end on a high were dashed as the White House slapped tariffs on all goods from Mexico. Tariffs of 5% will take effect Jun 10th, and could rise to as much as 25% by October. The intent is to ratchet pressure on Mexico to stop illegal immigration to the US.

Coming at a time of a breakdown in talks with China, it’s another blow to bulls and we should consider further downside risks from escalation. The worry is who’s next on Trump’s list – the EU may be next.

A fight with its neighbour and largest trading partner was not on the agenda. With all eyes fixed on China, and with Nafta 2 agreed and all apparently all hunky dory on the Mexico front, the caprice of Trump has caught investors off guard and will weigh on investor sentiment.

Trump has weaponised trade and economic might of the US. We have to assume that talks with China are going nowhere, and that this therefore – in the absence of being able to find a new stick with which to beat Beijing – is Trump finding a new ‘enemy’ to attack.

Futures sink

It’s early yet but following yesterday’s steadying of the ship, futures in the US are off south again and a retest of the 200-day moving average on the S&P 500 seems assured. Dow futures are printing a 24k handle and are on course to close sharply lower for the month. Sell in May and go away turns out to have been accurate this time. You’d have anyway wanted to see a much firmer rally yesterday to suggest the bottom had been found.

Futures show European equities are retreating on this fresh trade threat and it’s set to be a down day. FTSE 100 key support at 7150 and may well get taken out today.

FX: Peso hit

Needless to say the Mexican peso plunged on the news and will now be sensitive to news flow on any escalation of tariffs, or likewise, any detente. USDMXN has broken up through 19.64 and is trading very near the highs of the year from Jan. Peso bears will have the 20 handle in their sights.

Japanese auto stocks were hit as they use Mexico as base to import to US. Mazda, Nissan, Toyota among the sharpest fallers. This is likely to have some read across for European carmakers in today’s session.

Havens that had briefly retreated amid yesterday’s more upbeat session, are once again bid. USDJPY has fallen through support to find the 108 handle. Gold has rallied through $1294 even as the relative safety of the dollar left greenback just a few pips from two-year highs.

GBPUSD has held the 1.26 handle but, having broken through this level and below last week’s lows, the pound is now sensitive to further downside squeezing as uncertainty over the next prime minister and the direction of Brexit persists.

Overnight data is not helping risk today. China PMI figures slipped to 49.4 against 49.9 expected, signalling contraction in factory activity again. The PMI data suggests China is feeling the heat from the trade war and tariffs. Caixin PMI is due Monday and May show an even steeper contraction.

Oil

The whole picture is bearish for oil. Crude prices are at three-month lows. US inventories yesterday showed a smaller than expected drawdown at just -282k versus -860k expected. Stockpiles are at their highest in two years. Speculative long positions continue to be cut. Supply uncertainty is losing out to demand uncertainty. Simply put, with OPEC and co curbing output, there is ample excess capacity in the market should it be needed, so supply worries can be overstated. Traders are also betting Permian offtake constraints will lessen as the year goes on. Copper’s also been slipping and is retesting the Jan lows. Commodity markets are telling us there’s trouble in the global economy.

Uber

Uber losses hit $1bn but this was at the lower end of guidance, whilst revenues came in at the top of the guided range at $3.1bn. Top marks for that, but fundamental questions remain over top line growth in bookings.

Quarter on quarter bookings growth of a mere 3.4% is a worry, and shows how tough this market is becoming. Costs rose 35% from a year ago, whilst grids booking revenues were up 34%. Monthly active users jumped to 93m from 91m. Nevertheless these were solid results in line with management expectations, which should give investors some confidence

European stocks rebound, euro about to give it up

Forex
Indices
Morning Note

Stocks were lower across the board yesterday as the weight of the US-China trade dispute pushed everything down. From pretty much assuming the US and China would strike a deal, the market is repricing for a prolonged fight.

SPX closed lower by 19 points, or 0.69%, at 2,783, resting close on the 100-day moving average. This was a little off its lows of the day and a shade above the all-important 200-day moving average at 2776. The Dow shipped over 200 points and was briefly below 25k. 

The FTSE is also flirting with the 200-day line having closed 83 points lower at 7185. The pattern looks decidedly bearishy and flaggy right now. Support on the 38% retracement of the bottom-to-top rally from the 2018 low thru Apr high sits at 7150, which we saw tested and rejected yesterday. This was also an area of support that produced a bounce through the third week of May. 

We are seeing a small rebound in Europe on the open but there’s still lots of nervousness out there and the downward pressure is rather powerful and looks hard to resist. Any gains look hard won and easy to give up at the moment.

Forex

Dollar is still bid, pressuring everything else, with the dollar index on the 98 handle as it hoovers up haven demand. The euros is on the brink of capitulation on the 1.11 handle, with the pair last at 1.11343, ready to test those key May lows again, which marked a 2-year trough for the single currency. A breakdown through 1.11 on the downside brings 1.08 back into the picture.

GBPUSD doing very little still, trapped around the 1.2640 region. Whilst we are yet to retest Thursday’s low at 1.2610, we are making progressively lower highs and lower closes – the pound is still under a lot of pressure and this doesn’t look like having much chance of lifting until we know who the next PM will be. Brexit uncertainty remains.

That renewed dollar strength seems to be weighing on gold, which was last back at 1277. Rising trend support appears around the 1270 mark but for now the metal looks caught in a range. 

The GDP second print for Q1 is later – with the market already betting big on a rate cut this year it’s hard to see how a downward revision will really shift things. The first reading showed 3.2% and is expected to be revised down to 3.1%.

Watches of Switzerland

Meanwhile the latest IPO is in London – Watches of Switzerland has priced at the top of its range, at 270p. Shares will start trading today on the open. As we’ve seen this year IPOs can be a rough ride for shareholders and management. Hopefully for the management and buyers it won’t turn out to be another turkey like Aston Martin – one feels the omens are better for this one.

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