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Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
Strong Friday close in the S&P 500 futures reaching the highest closing price for the up cycle that began earlier this month. S&P 500 futures are now up 8.7% from their lowest close on 12 October. This morning the index futures are trading lower hovering around the 3,898 level which is just below the 100-day moving average. This week is all about the FOMC decision and the ongoing US earnings.
Euro STOXX 50 (EU50.I)
European equities had a less spectacular performance on Friday and the impressive performance in US equities has not positively impacted STOXX 50 futures this morning trading lower around the 3,620 level. European equities have done better than US equities over the past month as the US technology sector has had weak Q3 earnings.
FX: USD mixed as Wednesday’s FOMC meeting eyed
Mixed developments for the US dollar on Friday, with the wild rally in equity markets a headwind, while the sharp, partial unwind of the anticipated dovish shift from the Fed at this Wednesday’s FOMC meeting offered some offsetting support as yields perked up slightly after testing key levels last week (see more below in What are we watching next?). After the brief foray above parity and nearly to 1.0100, EURUSD has been tamed back well below that level, while GBPUSD remains relatively bid and well clear of the pivotal level of 1.1500 ahead of the key event risk of the week for sterling, the BoE meeting Thursday (preview below). Elsewhere, USDJPY is coiling within the 145.00-150.00 range, while USDCNH has rebounded sharply and nearly back to the cycle highs. Broad CNH volatility is worth watching for contagion across asset markets.
Wheat futures gap higher on Ukraine supply worries
Wheat futures (ZWZ2) in Chicago surged as much as 7.7% to $8.93 on the opening after Russia over the weekend pulled out of the UN brokered black sea grain deal (see below). Since the UN and Turkey supported grain corridor opened three months ago Ukraine has shipped more than 9 million tons of foodstuff and it has helped ease tight world supplies and control global food costs. Money managers have been wrongfooted by the latest developments after raising bearish bets on Chicago wheat futures by 63% to a 28-month high in the week to October 25. Food exports from Ukraine also includes corn and sunflower oil and reduced supply of those has lifted corn futures (ZCZ2) in Chicago by 2.3% to trade near resistance at $7/bu and soybean oil futures by 2%.
Gold trades nervously within a narrowing range ahead of Wednesday’s FOMC meeting where another bumper rate hike is expected. What may follow, however, has caused a great deal of volatility across markets with traders looking for guidance regarding the pace and strength of future rate hikes. Gold is heading for its seventh straight month of declines, the longest losing streak since at least the late 1960’s (Bloomberg) while bullion-backed ETF holdings have dropped to a 30-month low and money managers hold a net short near the highest in four years. All developments supporting an eventual recovery, but not until we reach peak hawkishness from where we could see yields and the dollar soften. As a minimum gold needs to break above $1730 before an end to the month-long downtrend can be called.
Crude oil (CLZ2 & LCOZ2)
Crude oil trades softer therefore trimming a monthly gain driven by already tight markets and OPEC+’s planned supply cuts from next month. The latest weakness once again being driven by weak economic data from China and a stronger dollar ahead of Wednesday’s FOMC meeting after the famous FOMC whisperer at WSJ in an article speculated the Fed will need to keep rates higher for longer (see below). In addition to OPEC+ production cuts, the market will also have to gauge the impact of EU planned sanctions on Russian oil flows in December, a development that could be a “big hit” to already tight fuel supply, especially in Europe according to Eni’s CEO.
US treasuries (TLT, IEF)
The low water mark for the US 10-year treasury yield benchmark was near 3.90%, a key pivot level this week as we await the FOMC meeting and how the Fed’s guides for its future policy moves now that it is reaching an important inflection point in which the market expects it is likely the Fed will begin to hike in smaller increments as soon as December. It’s a delicate communication task to guide for a downshift without appearing too dovish. The important US economic data this week includes Thursday’s October ISM Services and especially the Friday October payrolls and earnings data for October. The October CPI is up next week.
What is going on?
Russia exits Ukraine grain deal
Russia suspended its participation in the Ukraine grain export deal after a swarm of drones targeted at least one Russian warship from the Black Sea navy. This will block the passage of millions of tonnes of grain via southern Ukraine and may lead to a fresh jump in prices. The report is especially catastrophic as it comes together with massive wheat crop damage with the US crop belt seeing La Nina for its third consecutive year. Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said 218 ships had been immediately affected. This included 95 that had already left its ports and were waiting at the inspection site before unloading, 101 waiting for inspection before collecting Ukrainian grain, and a further 22 that were loaded up and ready to set sail. “Putin needs leverage as things go south for him on the battlefields in Ukraine, so the threat of global food crisis needs to be put back in the Russian toolbox of coercion and blackmail,” wrote Alexander Gabuev, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace via the FT.
Lula’s comeback in Brazilian presidential elections
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claimed a victory in Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating incumbent rightwing leader Jair Bolsonaro by less than two percentage points and setting the stage for a return to leftwing governance in Latin America’s largest nation. Brazilian ETFs including such as EWZ:arcx, IBZL:xams, RIO:xpar, BRZU:arcx, or BRQ:arcx may be the ones to watch, as will be the BRL later in the day. BRL has been the best performer in the EM basket (excluding Russian rouble) against the USD so far this year. Lack of economic plans from Lula may make a case for market outperformance somewhat weaker, however.
What are we watching next?
Is Fed concerned that market is expecting too much of a dovish shift at FOMC meeting this Wednesday?
Nick Timiraos, who is seen as a kind of “Fed whisperer” and possible conduit of Fed communication with the market, had sent shivers across markets last week with a report suggesting that the November FOMC meeting may be used to signal a downshift to smaller rate hikes. This saw equity markets extending gains while the USD was on the backfoot last week, but now he has come out with another article: Cash-rich Consumers Could Mean Higher Interest Rates for Longer, saying that higher consumers savings buffers and a low level of interest expenses could require that the Federal Reserve raise rates higher and keep them there for longer due to less sensitivity to interest rates than was seen likely previously. The December 2023 EuroDollar contract had rallied as much as 50 basis points off the lows recently, correcting some 15 basis points Friday and slipping a bit lower to start this week as the market is unsure of how aggressively it should lean for dovish guidance.
Big week ahead for central bank meetings
The general theme is “downshifting” of guidance (As noted in the FOMC comments above). The FOMC meets Wednesday and is expected to hike 75 basis points with guidance indicating that the pace of hikes may start to slow as soon as at the December meeting (if likely with no commitment in either direction). First up, however, is tonight’s RBA meeting, where Governor Philip Lowe and company are expected to only hike 25 basis points tonight after a string of 50 basis point moves was followed last month by a surprisingly small 25 basis point move as the RBA expressed concerned about the impact of further tightening on consumption and mortgage payments, though a small minority still expect another 50 basis points moves. On Thursday, we have a pivotal Bank of England meeting, the first after the violent market swings during the uproar over former PM Truss’ fiscally risky policy moves. With calming markets and the new Sunak government rolling out far tighter budget plans, BoE expectations have fallen like a stone, but with the market still expecting the first ever 75 basis point move for this cycle. The BoE has s history of bad communication with the market – and an austere budget brings forward and increases the severity of the coming recession. Finally, Norges Bank also meets Thursday and is expected to hike 25 basis points, seemingly in no hurry despite a very weak currency and high inflation readings, and even having guided that it soon sees an end to the tightening cycle.
Earnings to watch
Today’s US earnings focus is Stryker which is expected to see its earnings growth increase to 7% y/y with operating margin still under pressure. Otherwise, as we look ahead, earnings tomorrow from Toyota, Sony, BP, AMD, and Airbnb will have the market’s focus.
- Monday: Daiichi Sankyo, Stryker
- Tuesday: Toyota Motor, Sony Group, Mondelez, AMD, Airbnb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, BP
- Wednesday: KDDI, Novo Nordisk, GSK, Booking, Qualcomm, CVS Health, Estee Lauder, Humana
- Thursday: Cigna, Amgen, PayPal, Starbucks, EOG Resources, ConocoPhillips, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Zoetis, Canadian Natural Resources, DBS Group
- Friday: Duke Energy, Enbridge
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0900 – Switzerland SNB Weekly Sight Deposits
- 0930 – UK Se. Mortgage Approvals
- 1000 – Eurozone Oct. Flash CPI estimate
- 1000 – Eurozone Q3 GDP estimate
- 1345 – US Oct. Chicago PMI
- 1430 – US Oct. Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity
- 1500 – ECB Chief Economist Lane to speak
- 0145 – China Oct. Caixin Manufacturing PMI
- 0330 – Australia RBA Cash Target Announcement
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