What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - US equities momentum waned a bit yesterday and trading flat in early European trading hours. In Nasdaq 100 futures the 16,420 is the key resistance level to watch in today’s session. While Nasdaq 100 futures are flat this morning, Bitcoin is trading 2% lower which if it continues could spill over into US technology stocks as these pockets of the market are connected in terms of risk-off. Bubble stocks were the biggest gainers yesterday and provide another opportunity for retail investors to reduce exposure in bubble stocks ahead of the new year.
EURUSD – The EURUSD rallied sharply yesterday as the US dollar was generally on its back foot, but a solid jump higher in EU sovereign bond yields and the official handover of power to the new German government coalition yesterday may have been elements supporting the rally. The move rose as high as 1.1350, just ahead of tactical resistance near 1.1375, the last hurdle ahead of more major trend resistance near 1.1500. In many past cycles, the calendar roll has proven a major inflection point for EURUSD. The December 15 FOMC meeting and December 16 ECB meeting both look important for the provision of new guidance, with the FOMC already having made a clear hawkish shift, while the ECB will have to deliver revised inflation forecasts and guidance on balance sheet policy after its emergency “PEPP” form of QE is set to end in March.
AUDUSD – The Aussie has undergone a significant sentiment shift from one of the weakest G10 currencies to one of the strongest in recent sessions, in part on the reversal in risk sentiment, but also aided by China signaling a willingness to ease policy. Speculative positioning in the US futures market suggest a very heavy short position that, if similar to positioning in the OTC market, could provide significant fuel for a squeeze higher in the currency if the backdrop of improving risk sentiment and a focus on inflation risks further boosts the price action in key commodities like iron ore, coking coal and other metals. At any rate, AUDUSD has reversed up through the first resistance near 0.7100 and is now staring down the next pivotal area into 0.720-7250, needing to blast through this and then some to suggest an attempt to put in a bottom after touching the huge 0.7000 level within the last week.
Crude oil (OILUKFEB22 & OILUSJAN22) trades higher for a fourth day as omicron demand concerns continue to ease and speculators accumulate length following last week’s washout. Flare-ups around the world resulting in temporary lockdowns is however likely to prevent the market from returning to pre-omicron levels at this point. The EIA reported a small 240k barrels weekly decline in crude stocks while inventories of fuel rose by a combined 6.6 million barrels. Next level of resistance in Brent being the 21-day moving average at $77.20 followed by $77.60.
Gold (XAUUSD) remains stuck below the 200-day moving average, currently at $1793 with the market struggling for direction ahead of Friday’s key US inflation data. Support from a softer dollar continues to be offset by worries that a succession of expected US rate hikes in 2022 will drive up US real yields, thereby reducing a key source of support for gold. Ahead of Friday’s CPI data, the market has priced in three rate hikes next year with the first potentially coming as soon as May. Focus on silver (XAGUSD) which following its recent 13% slump is trying to establish support at $22, thereby supporting a lower XAUXAG ratio has stopped rising after finding resistance above 80 ounces of silver to one ounce of gold.
US Treasuries (IEF, TLT). Haven bid for bonds faded as news hit the market that a third vaccine dose gives coverage for the omicron strain. Ten-year US Treasury yields rose above 1.50%, and yesterday’s 10-year US Treasury auction wasn’t as good as the 3-year auction the previous day. It tailed 0.4bps pricing at 1.518%. The bid-to-cover rose to 2.43x, a little lower than the past six auctions average. The yield curve bear steepened. Yet, we expect long-term yields to remain compressed if Covid infections still are an issue and lead to more restrictions. Today, the Treasury is selling 30-year bonds. If the selloff in the long part of the yield curve continues, we might witness a weak auction.
What is going on?
China PPI falls less than expected in November as it rises 12.9% year-on-year. The PPI number is widely considered a global inflation barometer as China is “the world’s factory”. The rise was higher than the 12.1% year-on-year expected, but lower than October’s 13.5%. The November China CPI number came in slightly cooler than expected at 2.3% year-on-year versus 2.5% expected and 1.5% in October.
Pfizer says three shots of its vaccine offer more significant protection against the omicron covid variant. This news from yesterday sounded more promising than the news from just yesterday from a preliminary South African study that patients vaccinated with two shots showed some, but heavily reduced, production of antibodies in patients with the omicron variant. Pfizer found the same, but says that a third shot can bring the antibody response to similar levels as for the prior covid variants. Pfizer also said an omicron-targeted version of its vaccine could be ready in March.
Buffett-backed digital lender Nubank to start trading today. The Brazilian-based digital bank Nubank is raising $2.6bn in its IPO becoming of the biggest IPOs this year with shares priced at $9 and first day of trading today on NYSE. This will mark one of the biggest publicly listed fintech companies in the world and provide a glimpse into the feasibility of running a large digital only bank.
Bank of Canada upgrades language on inflation, likely set for January rate hike. The new Bank of Canada policy statement dropped a reference from the prior statement on “temporary” inflation forces, though it still maintained the expectation that inflation would drop toward 2 percent in the second half of next year. The strength in the jobs market was noted. Overall, the hawkish language changes were clear, if relatively small relative to rather aggressive market shift in expectations, and Canadian yields eased a few basis points lower at the front part of the yield curve, though a January rate hike from the bank remains likely, according to market expectations.
Brazil hikes policy rate 150 basis points, BRL sees sharp gains. The rate hike to 9.25% was in line with expectations, but the central bank delivered hawkish guidance for another hike of the same size at the February meeting as the bank has clearly gone into aggressive inflation fighting mode. The Brazilian real responded strongly, gaining some 1.4% versus the US dollar yesterday.
The EU gas and power market went from bad to worse yesterday after an unplanned outage temporarily cut supplies from Norway’s giant Troll field. Coming on top of geopolitical risks related to Ukraine, low winter supplies from Russia, freezing cold weather and rapidly declining stocks, these developments have driven Dutch TTF one month benchmark gas back above €100 per MWh or $34 per MMBtu. With rising demand for coal driving the cost of EU emissions to a fresh record above €90 per tons, the cost of power has surged as well. In Germany the one-year baseload contract reached a record €189 per MWh, or 5 times the long-term average.
What are we watching next?
WASDE on tap - Ahead of today’s monthly update on world supply and demand, the grains sector has seen a slight drift lower during the past week as the market tried to gauge the impact of the omicron variant. Today’s World Agriculture Supply and Demand report (WASDE) will primarily focus on ending stocks with expectations pointing to a relatively quiet update. US corn stockpiles are expected to have fallen slightly from November while wheat and soybean stocks are both expected to be higher, both in the US and globally.
The EU is set to decide by December 22 whether investments in gas and nuclear energy should be labelled climate friendly. The design of the EU green investment classification system is closely watched by investors worldwide and could potentially attract billions of euros in private finance to help the green transition, especially given the need to reduce the usage of coal, the biggest polluter.
This week’s earnings: Today’s focus is Oracle which is still struggling to find an attractive growth trajectory in the age of cloud applications, SaaS business models, and more open-source software on databases with flat revenue over the past four fiscal years. Lululemon has been one of the big winners during the pandemic gaining tailwind from home exercising, but generally the company taps into a longer-term trend of personal health. Analysts expect Lululemon to report 29% y/y revenue growth in Q3 (ending 31 October).
Thursday: Sekisui House, Hormel Foods, Costco Wholesale, Oracle, Broadcom, Lululemon Athletica, Chewy, Vail Resorts
Friday: Carl Zeiss Meditec
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
0830 – Hungary Rate Announcement
1200 – Mexico Nov. CPI
1330 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims and Continuing Claims
1530 – EIA Natural Gas Storage Change
1700 – USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report (WASDE)
1800 – US Treasury 30-year T-Bond auction
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