What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - yesterday’s less bad than feared PCE inflation for October reversed momentum in US interest rates and pulled equities and especially US technology stocks higher. With the recent Powell and Brainard statements it is clear, that the Fed will put more weight on inflation than employment as we go into 2022, and thus the pressure will remain on interest rates and high duration assets such as technology stocks. Nasdaq 100 futures sit at 16,414 in early European trading and will have to overcome the 50% retracement level at 16,435 in order to continue the upward momentum.
USDJPY – while US equities and US interest rates turned around yesterday, the reaction in USDJPY was less muted ending the sessions higher underscoring the strong USD momentum. The outlook is still predominantly a question of “will it or won’t it sustain a break above 115.00” which depends on whether the US 10-year yield can push into new highs for the year above the 1.75% level.
Gold (XAUUSD) trades higher after once again managing to find support in the $1780 area. Another strong read on US inflation, this time the Fed’s favored PCE Deflator, helped flatten the US yield curve with the yield on short dated maturities rising while US ten-year notes ended lower after failing to break key resistance in the 1.7% area. The big price slump below $1830 this week was primarily caused by long liquidation from funds who had been rushing into gold before and after the recent CPI shock. Gold’s short-term ability to bounce will mostly depend on whether the washout has triggered a big enough reduction of recently established and now loss-making positions. From a technical perspective, a break above $1816 is the minimum requirement for calm to emerge.
Crude oil (OILUKJAN22 & OILUSJAN21) has settled into a nervous wait-and-see mode with focus on the Dec 2 OPEC+ meeting after its advisory board said the US-led coordinated release of reserves may drive a crude oil surplus early next year. This comes after the alliance called the move unjustified given current conditions and as a result, they may opt to reduce future production hikes when they meet on Tuesday. Yesterday’s EIA report was price supportive with crude oil stocks only seeing a small 1 million barrels increase despite a sharp drop in exports and another injection from strategic reserves.
US treasuries (SHY, IEF, TLT). Yesterday, we received a thorough list of data, which might have just given more reasons to the Fed to accelerate the pace of tapering during the next FOMC meeting. The PCE index rose to 5%, the highest since 1981 while inflation expectations for the next 5 years stuck to 3%. Jobless claims fell to the lowest since 1969, indicating that jobs are recovering fast. Lastly, the FOMC minutes showed that members are beginning to worry about less transitory inflation, provoking rate hikes expectations to accelerate by the end of the day. However, due to the looming holiday, US Treasuries remained muted. 5-year UST futures this morning are down during the Asian session despite low liquidity, indicating that sentiment is bearish. Friday’s trading session will also be affected by low liquidity due to the Thanksgiving schedule. We will have a better picture on Monday, but it looks likely yields will continue their rise and the yield curve flattening.
German Bunds (IS0L). The new German government unveiled a governing coalition deal. Among the extensive list of policies, bond investors should focus on an accommodative fiscal policy for 2022 and 2023, the beginning of a “decade of investment” and the rejection of a new lockdown amid a record rise of Covid cases. More spending translates to higher Bund yields. However, yields remained mutes as Europe becomes the new epicenter of Covid-19 infections. Yet, Bunds remain vulnerable, and rates might move higher as US Treasury yields resume their rise.
Italian BTPS (BTP10). Italian government bonds remained in check as governments in Europe move forward to impose new restrictions due to a rise Covid-19 infections. Yet, investors should remain vigilant as the PEPP program will still end in March. To weaken sentiment in BTPS further is also the news that President Mattarella is going to vacate his position in January leaving a political vacuum. Parties are pushing Draghi to il Quirinale to get rid of him and go to early elections. If that were to happen, the stability that Italian BTPS enjoyed since Draghi entered in Italian politics will vanish provoking a fast widening of the BTPS-Bund spread.
What is going on?
Europe’s Covid problem is deteriorating, and with the region now accounting for almost 60% of global Covid deaths, the risk of more lockdowns and restrictions continue to rise. German business climate in November slumped slightly more than expected to its lowest in five months as local companies grapple with supply bottlenecks and the mentioned fourth wave of COVID-19.
Fed officials at their last meeting were open to removing policy support at a faster pace to rein in inflation. Since then, data have shown accelerating price pressure, not least after the Fed’s favorite gauge, the PCE Deflator rose 5% YoY, the fastest pace in three decades. "Various participants" noted the FOMC should be ready to tweak the tapering pace and raise the target range for the Fed funds rate sooner than currently expected if inflation continues to run higher, minutes showed. By now, the market has priced in a total of three rate hikes for 2022.
EU gas trades higher again today, reaching $30.7/MMBtu (€93.5/GWh) today in response to rising winter demand, low power production from wind farms and increased competition from Asia which is ramping up its LNG imports. Sky-high day ahead prices for power adding to the pain with some countries approaching record highs. Power plants are burning more coal which is cheaper and more profitable and it has helped drive the emissions future (CFIZ1) to a new all-time high this week above €72.5 per tons.
What are we watching next?
The USD and US interest rates will make or break equities - it is clear that interest rate sensitivity is picking up as a theme as US interest rates are trading just below the two recent local highs in March and October. The USD is strong which puts pressure on emerging markets and any indications that the USD is losing momentum will improve flows into emerging market equities and bonds.
Black Friday consumer spending – retail sales during Black Friday tomorrow and over the weekend is often a good barometer on consumer confidence and causes big moves in retailers the following week as their weekend sales are announced.
Earnings Watch – with Thanksgiving today in the US market activity will be significantly lower than normal. Only earnings release today is from Norwegian Adevinta, which has already reported with operating income in Q3 coming in a bit lower than consensus.
Friday: Meituan, Pinduoduo
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
0700 – German Q3 GDP
0700 – German GfK Consumer Confidence
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