Oil leads global market tumble on ‘Black Monday’

Forex
Indices

The collapse of OPEC+ talks over the weekend tipped markets into chaos on Monday. Traders, already on edge due to the unfolding coronavirus epidemic, were sent fleeing to safety after Saudi Arabia slashed its crude oil prices.

Crude and Brent tumbled over 30%, their worst daily performance since the Gulf War, hitting lows below $27.50 and $31.50 respectively. The Kingdom cut prices for April crude by 30% and stated that it intends to raise its output above 10 million barrels per day. Talks at the weekend saw OPEC and its allies fail to agree new terms for an oil production cut; OPEC+ couldn’t even agree to extend the current level of cuts, let alone deepen the cuts to battle the hit to demand from the coronavirus outbreak.

Saudi Arabia is well-positioned to weather weak prices and Russia claims it can withstand the pressure for up to a decade. US shale oil producers, who have flooded the global market with oil to take advantage of supported prices and are heavily debt-laden, could be in dire trouble.

Equities tank

Global equity markets have been sent tumbling. The collapse in the oil markets, combined with news that the Italian government has imposed travel bans on 16 million people, sent investors running from stocks.

US futures went limit down after triggering circuit breakers during the Asian session. After a 5% drop the Dow was indicated to open down over 1,300 points, but based upon the ETF market – which is not suspended – the Dow was looking at a drop of 1,500. Asian stocks took a hammering, with the Hang Seng and the Nikkei both closing over 1,100 points lower.

European equities sank as well, with the DAX, and Euro Stoxx 50, all off around 7%. The FTSE 100, also down 7% to test 6,000, was trading at levels not seen since the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum.

Stocks most at risk

While stocks across the board tanked, several industries were hit harder than others.

Oil majors slumped. BP (LSE) tumbled 20%, ExxonMobil dropped 17%, Chevron tumbled 16%, and Occidental cratered 38% – all in pre-market trading on the NYSE – while Royal Dutch Shell fell 14%.

Airlines were hit hard as well after the price slump left them sitting on big losses after hedging oil at higher prices. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines were all down 5-6% in the pre-market.

Coronavirus fears weighed on tech stocks. The FAANGS all recorded losses in the range of 6-7%, but cruise ship operators were hit harder. The US government warned American citizens not to go on cruises. Carnival – the company that owns many of the ships currently stranded due to on-board quarantines – dropped 10%, Norwegian Cruise Lines tumbled 11%, and Royal Caribbean Cruises slumped 12% – all before the markets opened.

New record lows for US bonds

The flight to safety drove the yield on US government debt down to record lows. Yields move inversely to prices. The yield on the US 10-year treasury bond fell to 0.32% while the yield on the 30-year treasury note fell towards 0.7%, breaching 1% for the first time in a year.

Gold traded around $1,673 after hitting $1,700 over the weekend.

Cryptos join in with global market chaos

The cryptocurrency market is no stranger to volatility. The world’s largest cryptocurrencies were down around 10-15%, with Bitcoin falling below $8,000.

Week Ahead: OPEC meets, Caixin PMI to reveal coronavirus impact

Week Ahead
XRay

OPEC to the rescue, Democrats approach Super Tuesday, US Nonfarm Payrolls and more on Covid-19

Welcome to your guide to the week ahead in the markets. Watch the latest week ahead video in XRay on the platform now.

OPEC to the rescue?

Oil has been hammered as the coronavirus forced factories across China to cease production and grounded flights across the globe. China is coming back online now, but crude inventories have been building amid the demand drop-off and we could be facing shutdowns in other parts of the world if the virus continues to spread.

Crude and Brent fell to their lowest levels in over 12 months last week, but hope remains that OPEC will ride to the rescue when it meets on Thursday and Friday. The current pact to cut production by 1.7 million barrels per day expires at the end of this month. There is talk of extending the deal and cutting production by another 600,000 barrels per day, but it is uncertain whether cartel ally Russia will agree to such a move.

Caixin PMI

Chinese manufacturing came back online towards the end of February, with travel data showing a larger-than-expected number of workers were able to leave their hometowns and return to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday. The number of people travelling at the end of the month was still well below usual post-holiday levels, however. Even businesses that have reopened are facing labour shortages, supply chain disruptions, and weak demand. This week’s Caixin Manufacturing PMI will be a key measure as economists slash growth expectations and markets look for clues over how severe the economic impact of a large-scale outbreak in the US or Europe could be.

Democrats approach Super Tuesday

This week will give markets a clearer indication of which Democratic candidate is likely to challenge President Trump in this year’s election. 14 states are due to hold primaries on ‘Super Tuesday’. Only 100 delegates were assigned during three primaries last week, with Bernie Sanders securing almost half of those. A strong performance on Super Tuesday would cement his position as the frontrunner – the number of delegates up for grabs on Tuesday alone is around a third of the nearly 4,000 needed to secure the nomination. Bernie is the worst outcome as far as the markets are concerned due to his socialist policies, so any shift in voting towards more moderate candidates like Joe Biden could see markets breath a small sigh of relief.

US nonfarm payrolls

Usually the highlight of the economic calendar, this month’s nonfarm payrolls may not be so impactful. The monetary policy outlook is currently ruled by coronavirus headlines – markets are betting on a rate cut in April, if not this month, and a solid set of jobs numbers would be unlikely to materially shift those expectations. Markets are thinking about the potential economic impact of a large-scale Covid-19 outbreak in the US, so backwards-looking data may not settle many nerves

Heads-Up On Earnings

2nd March – 01.45 GMTChina Caixin Manufacturing PMI
2nd March – 08.15-09.30 GMTEurozone / UK Finalised Manufacturing PMIs
2nd March – 15.00 GMTUS ISM Manufacturing Index
3rd March – 03.30 GMTRBA Official Cash Rate Decision & Statement
3rd March BeiersdorfQ4 2019
3rd March – 10.00 GMTEurozone Flash CPI Estimate
3rd March – After MarketHewlett Packard EnterpriseQ1 20202
4th March – 00.30 GMTAustralia Quarterly GDP
4th March – 07.00 GMTDS Smith Q3 Trading Update
4th March – 08.15-09.30 GMT Eurozone / UK finalised Services PMIs
4th MarchLegal & GeneralQ4 2019
4th March – Pre-MarcketDollar TreeQ4 2019
4th March – Pre-MarketCampbell SoupQ2 2020
4th March – 15.00 GMTBank of Canada Interest Rate Decision and Statement
4th March – 15.00 GMTUS ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
4th March – 15.30 GMTUS EIA Crude Oil Inventories Report
4th March – After MarketZoom Video CommunicationsQ4 2020
5th March – 00.30 GMTAustralia Trade Balance
5th March – All DayOPEC Meeting, Vienna
5th March – Pre-MarketKrogerQ4 2019
5th MarchAvivaQ4 2019
5th March – 15.00 GMTUS EIA Natural Gas Storage Report
5th March – After MarketCostco Wholesale CorpQ2 2020
6th March – 00.30 GMTAustralia Retail Sales
6th March – All DayOPEC+ Meeting, Vienna
6th March – 13.00 GMTUS Nonfarm Payrolls Report

Watch The Week Ahead on XRay

Highlights on XRay this week:
Daily –  08:15 GMT
European Morning Call
  Free Register       

March 2nd – 15.00 GMT
The Trendsignal Podcast
  Free Register    

March 3rd – 10.00 GMT
FXTrademark Course: Trading Strategies
  Free Register       

March 4th – 10:00 GMT
FXTrademark Course: 10 Laws of Trading
  Free Register       

March 6th – 13:00 GMT
Live Trade Setups with Mark Leigh
Free Register

Markets still rattled by coronavirus fears after yesterday’s brutal sell-off

Forex
Indices

Investors fled to safety en masse yesterday as a spike in coronavirus cases in Italy, South Korea, and Iran raised fears that the outbreak was becoming a pandemic.

$1.5 trillion was wiped from global equity markets; the Dow recorded only its third ever 1,000 point drop, and the VIX ‘fear index’ spiked to the highest levels since January. Oil sank 4% and gold leapt to a seven-year high.

Today, the sell-off has paused, but the market is hugely indecisive.

Stocks, oil, volatile as markets await next major development

Since the European open today we’ve seen major indices like the DAX, FTSE 100, and Euro Stoxx 50 extend gains towards 1%, drop to multi-month lows, and rebound above opening levels. US stock market futures have gone from indicating a 200-point gain for the Dow on the open to minor losses, and back to signalling a positive open.

The FX market continues to see a shift towards the safety of the US dollar, although cable has managed to hold some gains despite easing back after rising to test $1.30 earlier in the session.

Gold is down around 0.8% and silver has suffered losses of more than 1.3% on profit-taking, but risk-appetite is clearly still absent as crude and Brent oil are struggling to hold opening levels. Like stock markets, the two benchmarks climbed on the open, then fell into the red, before recovering somewhat.

New coronavirus cases reported in Italy, Iran, Austria, Croatia, Tenerife

Markets are caught between buying the dips and pricing in further worrying developments. The first case of coronavirus has been reported in Southern Italy, and Austria and Croatia have reported their first cases today as well. The two Austrian cases are in the province of Tyrol, which borders Northern Italy, while the young man infected in Croatia had recently returned after spending several days in Milan.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people are being tested and many guests quarantined in a hotel in Tenerife after a case of the virus was confirmed there. Iran has also provided an update on the outbreak there: the number of cases is up to 95 and 16 people have died – the Deputy Health Minister is one of those infected.

We’ve also had a slew of companies warning that COVID-19 will impact their earnings. UK blue-chips Meggitt and Croda are weighing on the FTSE 100 after issuing warnings over the impact of the virus upon their businesses.

Markets may gain more direction when the US markets open, but even then uncertainty looks to be the order of the day.

US and Eurozone spending and confidence, Best Buy earnings

Week Ahead

Welcome to your guide to the week ahead in the markets.

Has COVID-19 peaked?

Markets will of course remain susceptible to news surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak over the coming week. The number of new cases recorded daily had slowed towards the end of last week, but an outbreak in South Korea reignited fears of a global spread. Over 75,000 cases and more than 2,100 fatalities had been reported by the end of the week. An acceleration of cases outside of China could prompt further flights to safety, but otherwise the market seems relatively confident that the outbreak is contained and that stimulus from Beijing and the PBoC will soften the economic hit.

US GDP, durable goods, personal spending

Members of the Federal Reserve were feeling confident about the state of the US economy during their last policy meeting, according to last week’s minutes. The FOMC thinks the outlook has gotten “stronger”, and the coming week offers plenty of data to either challenge or support that view. CB confidence is expected to have ticked higher in January, durable goods orders to have fallen –2%, and core PCE to remain stable on the month. While personal income growth is predicted to have risen, spending is likely to have weakened. A second estimate of Q4 GDP is likely to hold steady at 2.1%.

Eurozone, Germany confidence, flash inflation

The euro could be facing more headwinds this week after sliding to multi-week lows against the pound and multi-year lows against the dollar last week. Sentiment data from Germany and the bloc is expected to soften, mirroring market concerns over the health of the bloc’s economy following some poor industrial data. Flash inflation figures for the Eurozone and Germany are unlikely to make inspiring reading; even if price growth in Germany has strengthened towards the ECB target again, the wider Eurozone reading remains far behind.

Earnings: Best Buy, Bayer

Best Buy reports earnings before the open on February 27th. The stock has put in a strong performance over the last six months, rallying around 40% compared to 15% gains for the retail-wholesale sector and 18% for the S&P 500 index during the same period. Best Buy has delivered 11 earnings beats in the past 12 quarters and beat expectations by over 9% in each of the past two quarters.

Bayer also reports earnings on the 27th. The stock is up 45% from the June 2019 low of 51.90, and was last trading around 75.00.

FTSE in focus on deluge of FY results

Earnings reports will be a key driver of UK stocks over the coming days. A deluge of full-year results for 2019 from blue-chips including Standard Chartered, British American Tobacco, Rio Tinto, Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, RSA Insurance and Meggitt provide clear risks for the FTSE 100 index over the coming sessions. A slew of reports from FTSE 250 constituents throughout the week could also affect the general sentiment around UK plc.

Heads-Up on Earnings

The following companies are set to publish their quarterly earnings reports this week:

24th Feb – 09.00 GMTGerman IFO Business Climate Index
24th Feb Associated British Foods Pre-Close Trading Statement
25th Feb – 12.00 GMTManchester UnitedQ2 2020
25th Feb – Pre-MarketHome DepotQ4 2019
26th Feb – 06.00 GMTRio TintoQ4 2019
26th Feb – 08.00 GMTDanoneQ4 2019
26th FebTaylor WimpeyFY 2019
26th Feb – Pre-MarketLowe’s CompaniesQ4 2019
26th Feb – 15.30 GMTUS EIA Crude Oil Inventories
27th Feb – 00.30 GMTAustralia Private Capital Expenditure
27th Feb – 04.15 GMTStandard CharteredQ4 2019
27th Feb – 06.30 GMTBayerQ4 2019
27th FebPersimmonQ4 2019
27th FebRSA InsuranceFY 2019
27th Feb – 10.00 GMTEurozone Sentiment Survey Results (Consmer, Business, etc)
27th Feb – After-MarketAutodeskQ4 2020
27th Feb – 13.30 GMTUS Q4 GDP 2nd Estimate, Durable Goods Orders
27th Feb – 15.30 GMTUS EIA Natural Gas Storage
27th Feb – Pre-MarketBest Buy Q4 2020
28th Feb – 10.00 GMTEurozone Preliminary Inflation
28th Feb – 12.30 GMTUS PCE Index, Personal Spending, Personal Income
28th Feb – 13.00 GMTGermany Preliminary Inflation

UK inflation beats, EZ construction sinks

Forex

Cable moved to session highs before handing it all back after a forecast-beating inflation print that takes some of the pressure off the Bank of England to cut rates. Inflation hit 1.8% in January, rising from 1.3% in December and ahead of the 1.6% forecast. There is a lot of noise here and indeed all this week with a slew of UK data, none of which – except the PMIs on Friday – that tell us enough yet about the direction of the economy.

The bulk of the increase came from higher petrol prices and airfares falling less than they did a year before. It was the first increase in the pace of inflation for six months and backs up the MPC’s decision not to cut rates last month. However, this is not just an inflation question. We need to see whether the positive survey data in the aftermath of the Tory election win is maintained with PMIs this Friday offering a big test for sterling bulls. And we must see whether positive sentiment – soft data – translates into more positive hard data by way of GDP. Inflation remains below target but the BoE does not seem unduly concerned by this. What the Jan decision makes clear is that the majority of the MPC would prefer to keep their power dry vis-à-vis inflation as long as economic activity does not start to stagnate too much.  

GBPUSD pushed up towards 1.3030 but the rally fizzled with little in the numbers to really indicate a change in direction by the BoE. The pair has now retraced the move, heading back through 1.30 again to 1.2980. The gravitational pull of this level will require some significant gear change in either the data, or more likely Brexit trade deal talks, to shake off. Range-bound.

Meanwhile disappointing Eurozone data keeps rolling in. Following the industrial production shocker, and German ZEW sentiment survey, the latest is a dismal construction output print, which came in at –3.7% in December year-on-year from +1.4% previously. Terrible but only underscoring the sluggishness in the EZ economy. Both EURUSD and EURGBP are vulnerable to further downside in the near-term although both pairs have eased off their lows of the day.  

Elsewhere, bond markets are not joining the risk rally party today with yields sliding to session lows. That’ll be because of, er, monetary policy expectations, which is exactly what’s lifting markets in Europe to fresh all-time highs. Gold is reacting to this yield play as it should, shooting up to $1609.80 to within a whisker of the recent multi-year highs at $1611.  USDJPY is pushing higher, breaking the near-term resistance at the Jan swing high at 110.20 to trade at session highs. With this level cleared we can now look to the May peak at 110.70 before a move back to the big 50% retracement at 112.70. 

Equities bounce, Cass shipping index sinks, inflation and FOMC minutes on tap

Morning Note

And… buy the dip. No one cares about corporate profits warnings anymore. Expected stimulus and expectations for looser monetary policy is the only thing driving the market. But shipping volumes are tanking as global trade contracts. There is only so much bad news =good news this market can take. Xi says China will meet its growth target for the year. But who cares when you make up the numbers anyway? 

Asian equities bounced overnight after Apple’s revenue cloud threatened to dampen the mood. So far it’s just been a light shower. Hong Kong rose 0.5%, while Tokyo erased Tuesday’s 1% decline as trade data showed a narrower-than expected decline in exports. Shares in China were a bit more mixed but Taiwan rallied.

European markets are riding the wave, with the FTSE 100 opening up about 40 pts higher at 7423. The DAX is a third of a percent higher at 13,733.

Yesterday, US equities felt the burn from Apple’s warning. The Dow ended 165 points lower. Apple was just down just 1.83% at stumps. The sense is very much that the world’s most valuable company will ride this out – sticky consumers will only delay purchase of Apple goods, not switch to Samsung or Android.

Easy money is what’s important. To give you a flavour, corporate debt protection is at its cheapest for almost 13 years. The CDX North American Investment Grade index, which tracks the cost of protecting against US corporate defaults at 125 companies, sank to its lowest since July 2007. Roll back the maturity and lo your default risk drops. Easy, but I don’t think refinancing existing debt is what loose monetary policy is meant to achieve.

But investors probably should be more concerned about the fallout from the coronavirus. Global trade was already declining before the coronavirus hit – the latest Cass Freight Shipping Index for January was down 9.4% year on year, the largest drop since 2009. This all before the major hit to shipping and trade from the coronavirus in February. Cass notes some Chinese factories are back to work, but are not at 100% capacity, and some have pushed back reopening to Mar 1st.

Overnight Japan exports fell 2.9% in January, short of the nearly 7% drop expected but still indicating the third largest economy is in the mire. It was also a slower rate of decline than the 6.3% in December. But machine orders fell more than expected, down 12.5% vs the 9% forecast.

Divergence – that’s the word for the performance of the US and Eurozone economies. Germany’s ZEW sentiment data was another blow for the euro, which is in a slow death march lower against the US dollar. For EURUSD it’s death by a thousand cuts. The Empire State manufacturing index finally did for the 1.08 level yesterday as we found a new low at 1.07850. This morning EURUSD briefly recovered 1.08 this morning but bears still very much in control. Not a lot of support to close the Macron Gap back to 1.05.

FOMC meeting minutes on tap today are likely to stick to the script and reiterate to the market that the Fed is ‘on side’. Inflation a little hot is better than inflation a little below target, San Francisco Fed president Mary Daly pointed out earlier this month. In particular, we will be looking at anything on balance sheet guidance and on inflation targeting. On a more general note we will look at how much the Fed is citing ‘downside risks’ the outlook – have these worsened since the end of last year? Also of course anything on coronavirus. US PPI is due later today – important leading indicator forecast at +0.1%. We’ve also got Canadian CPI numbers on tap.

One could make a case for U.K.-EU divergence too. EURGBP has declined 11% since August, testing 0.8280, a whisker from the Dec low at 0.82750. There is not a heap of support down to 0.80.

Sterling is eyed ahead of the U.K. CPI release at 09:30, seen at 1.6% vs 1.3% previously. The pound has been holding a pretty tight range and it will take a large surprise to jolt it out of its comfort zone.

GBPUSD remains well anchored to 1.30 – the inflation data may well come in soft again. But while that push cable lower for a time the pull of 1.30 remains strong, and the Bank of England seems minded to look through this bout of lower inflation. 

Gold pushed up to $1600 again and has held gains. The spike at $1611 is the upside target for now. Very tentative signs of a long term head and shoulders topping pattern forming, with the current thrust forming the head. One more dip, one more rally then back. For now lower yields – be it from coronavirus driving safe haven flight, or monetary policy expectations is driving price action.

USDJPY has cleared 110 but ran out of steam at 110.10 and failed to test the Jan highs a little above 110.20.

Oil is firmer, with the apparent base around $50 providing the fulcrum for this move towards $53, running short at $52.90. The drive out of the double bottom neckline is sluggish though and betrays a lack of conviction on the demand side recovering as quickly as bulls would like.

Equities

Metro Bank is getting a new boss. Dan Frumkin, the interim CEO, has landed the poison chalice, I mean top job. RBS, Northern Rock and stint in Bermuda and Latvia seem to fit with Metro quite well. It’s been a torrid old time for Metro with shares down 85% in a year, reporting errors, regulatory investigations and the troubled launch of a senior bond issue at an eye-watering 9.5% coupon. Shares fell 1.5% on the news – perhaps a fear that there are no fresh ideas?

IAG shares are up close to 1% after Qatar Airways increased its stake to 25.1% from 21.4%.

Week Ahead: FOMC’s symmetric minutes, German sentiment, UK inflation

Week Ahead
XRay

FOMC Minutes

The last meeting of the Federal Reserve Committee saw policymakers reaffirming their commitment to letting inflation run hot in order to make up for years of lacklustre price growth. Jerome Powell told reporters after the meeting that “we wanted to underscore our commitment to 2% not being a ceiling, to inflation running symmetrically around 2% and we’re not satisfied with inflation running below 2%”. Expect more underscoring in the minutes, and perhaps more softening of the economic assessment – the post-meeting statement revised its view of consumer spending to “moderate” from “strong” in December.

Germany ZEW sentiment

Industrial production data last week raised further questions over the outlook for the Eurozone. Production fell 4.1% during 2019, and now there’s the added threat of disrupted supply chains thanks to the coronavirus outbreak. Last month’s ZEW sentiment index surged to 26.7 from 10.7 in December, but recent developments suggest that optimism may have been premature.

UK CPI

A soft inflation reading in December had seen markets divided over whether or not the Bank of England was finally about to cut interest rates, having been on hold so long due to Brexit uncertainty. In the end Governor Mark Carney left things unchanged before passing the baton to Andrew Bailey. Another round of soft inflation data this week might not be enough on its own to persuade the Monetary Policy Committee that a rate cut is necessary, but if Friday’s preliminary Markit PMIs also show weakness markets are likely to raise bets on easing soon.

Eyes on OPEC

Oil markets had been hoping that OPEC would ride to the rescue this month, bringing forward its March meeting as the coronavirus outbreak hammers global oil demand. It now seems that this is unlikely, but any rumours to the contrary will still have a strong impact on oil. A change in diagnostic methods last week saw the number of coronavirus cases and deaths race higher, but equities largely shrugged this off. It’s commodities that are bearing the brunt of the economic impact, so key risks remain for oil on virus and OPEC-related headlines.

Heads-Up On Earnings

The following companies are set to publish their quarterly earnings reports this week:

17th Feb – 21.30 GMTBHP Billiton Q2 2020
18th Feb – 00.30 GMTReserve Bank of Australia Meeting Minutes
18th Feb – 04.00 GMTHSBC Holdings Q4 2019
18th Feb – 09.30 GMTUK Unemployment Rate, Average Earnings
18th Feb – 10.00 GMTEurozone/Germany ZEW Survey Results
18th Feb – Pre-MarketWalmartQ4 2020
18th Feb – Pre-MarketMedtronicQ3 2020
18th Feb – Pre-MarketGlencoreQ4 2019
19th Feb – 09.30 GMTUK Consumer Price Index
19th Feb – 13.30 GMTCanada Consumer Price Index
19th Feb – 19.00 GMTFOMC Meeting Minutes
20th Feb – 00.30 GMTAustralia Employment Change/Unemployment Rate
20th Feb – 01.30 GMTPeople’s Bank of China Interest Rate Decision
20th Feb – 07.00 GMTGermany GfK Consumer Confidence
20th Feb – 09.30 GMTUK Retail Sales
20th Feb – 12.30 GMTECB Monetary Policy Meeting Accounts
20th Feb – 15.30 GMTUS EIA Natural Gas Storage
20th Feb – 16.00 GMTUS EIA Crude Oil Inventories
20th FebBAE SystemsQ4 2019
21st Feb – 06.00 GMTAllianzQ4 2019
21st Feb – 09.30 GMTUK Market Flash Composite (Inc Flash Manufacturing/Services PMIs)
21st Feb – 10.00 GMTEurozone Consumer Price Index
21st Feb – Pre-MarketDeere & CoQ1 20202

Watch the Week Ahead on XRay

Highlights on XRay this week:

Daily08.15 GMTEuropean Morning CallFreeRegister
18th Feb14.15 GMTLive Trading Room with TrendsignalFreeRegister
18th Feb16.30-17.10 GMTAsset in Focus: Oil Gold and SilverFreeRegister
19th Feb 12.00 GMT Midweek Lunch Wrap FreeRegister
21st Feb13.00 GMTLive Trade Setups with Mark LeighFreeRegister

European equities rise as China eases

Forex

Police in Hong Kong are investigating an alleged toilet paper heist, amid a shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak. Things are bad when loo roll becomes currency.

It’s a dull old session out there today: European shares were a little indecisive at the start of play following a mixed bag overnight in Asia, but are leaning higher with stimulus from China helping to lift the mood. Basic resources stocks were among the biggest gains on the FTSE as the blue chip index moved to try to reclaim the 7500 level, last some way short at 7445.

Shares in Hong Kong and Shanghai advanced as China cut a key medium-term interest rate, while Tokyo shares slipped on growth concerns. Markets are betting this will be only a part of a wider stimulus programme to offset the economic damage wrought by the Covid-19 coronavirus – the PBOC has already been injecting liquidity and there will no doubt be more to come. China reported another 2k cases by Sunday night, taking the total to more than 70k.

US stocks finished higher for the second straight week. Markets in the US will be closed today for Washington’s birthday but have rolled into the holiday in fine fettle. Industrial productions were weak, down 0.3% in January, largely down to Boeing. Ex-aircraft production, factory output rose 0.3%. Retail sales showed the US consumer started the year in decent shape, with headline sales +0.3% month on month.

There are growing fears about the economic impact. Japan’s economy shrank at the quickest pace in six years in the last quarter of 2019 – down 6.3% as the consumption tax hike hobbled the economy far worse than thought.

Most think to hit to tourism and exports resulting from the outbreak will mean the economy contracts again in the March quarter, pushing Japan into recession. Meanwhile Singapore has slashed its growth outlook for 2020.

Oil is higher above $52, having closed last week well. Look like a base has been formed at $50, looking to cement gains north of last week’s highs at $52.2.

In FX, there are tentative signs of stabilisation and basing for EURUSD. Speculators have not been this net short since Jun 2019, with net shorts at nearly 86k, contracts so the short-euro trade is very crowded. As ever this CFTC data is a week old so I wouldn’t be surprised if the next set of data showed deeper net shorts towards 100k corresponding to the dove under 1.0880. The inverted hammer on Friday suggests near term reversal but until 1.09 is reclaimed the bears remain in control.

Sterling is giving a gallic shrug to some French fighting talk vis-à-vis Brexit trade talks. GBPUSD is steady at 1.3040, with support at 1.30 and near-term resistance seen at the 50-day moving average at 1.3070.

RBNZ on hold, US CPI on tap, UK & EU update on growth

Week Ahead

Growth data

With the UK starting 2020 by leaving the EU and striking out on its own, markets would like to see that it ended 2019 on a strong economic footing when preliminary Q4 data is released. The data for most Eurozone members will be the second reading; the preliminary estimates showed expansion of just 0.1% as strong growth in Spain helped to offset contractions in France and Italy. Germany’s Q4 reading will be the flash estimate – analysts expect the Eurozone powerhouse to post a contraction of -0.1%.

RBNZ – Easing cycle is over

A round of strong labour market data last week has markets pricing in stronger odds that the RBNZ is done with its easing cycle. Unemployment dropped to 4% in Q4 and the underutilisation rate, which measures the labour market’s untapped capacity, fell to an 11-year low of 10% in December.

While the Chinese coronavirus outbreak is the latest economic headwind for markets and central banks to contend with, the strength of the domestic data should see the RBNZ confident enough to stand pat and see how the situation develops.

US CPI

Last month’s CPI reading showed the fastest pace of annual inflation in eight years, but a closer look at the numbers revealed some big weaknesses. Month-on-month, price growth slowed to 0.2% from 0.3% in November, core CPI slowed to 0.1% from 0.2%. Average earnings grew just 0.7% in 2019. More soft readings like this will support the market view that Fed policy will remain on hold until well into H2.

Earnings – Kraft Heinz and NVIDIA

Top reports this week will be Kraft Heinz before the market opens on February 13th and NVIDIA after the closing bell the same day. KHC has had a bad start to 2020, declining around 9% even as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit fresh record highs. The company is facing weakening demand and a lack of free cash with which to innovate.

Coronavirus fears caused a small stumble in NVIDIA’s continuing rally, with the stock quickly recovering. China accounts for around a quarter of the chipmaker’s revenue, so management may warn that the virus could dent demand in this key market. EPS of $1.66 is expected on revenue of $2.96 billion – both hefty increases on the same period a year ago.

Key Events

(All times GMT)
01.30 GMT 10-Feb China Consumer Price Index
06.30 GMT 11-Feb Daimler – Q4 2019
09.30 GMT 11-Feb UK Preliminary GDP (QoQ) & Manufacturing Production
Pre-Market 11-Feb Hasbro – Q4 2019
After-Market 11-Feb Lyft – Q4 2019
01.00 GMT 12-Feb RBNZ OCR Decision & Monetary Policy Statement
07.00 GMT 12-Feb Softbank – Q3 2019
15.30 GMT 12-Feb US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
After-Market 12-Feb Cisco – Q2 2020
07.00 GMT 13-Feb Barclays – Q4 2019
Pre-Market 13-Feb The Kraft Heinz Company – Q4 2019
13.30 GMT 13-Feb US Consumer Price Index
15.30 GMT 13-Feb US EIA Natural Gas Storage Data
After-Market 13-Feb NVIDIA – Q4 2020
13-Feb Airbus – Q4 2019
07.00 GMT 14-Feb Germany Preliminary GDP (QoQ)
10.00 GMT 14-Feb Eurozone Flash GDP (QoQ)
13.30 GMT 14-Feb US Retail Sales
15.00 GMT 14-Feb US Preliminary UoM Consumer Sentiment Index

Markets in risk-off mode, Fed sounds caution, BoE set to cut?

Morning Note

Fears of a pandemic may be overegging the pudding, but there is again a clear risk off mood in the market. Cases and deaths rise, airlines are gutting their flight schedules and factories are extending holidays well into February. The mood in the market is one of severe concern – Hong Kong shares tumbled overnight, down 3% again while the Nikkei in Japan was off nearly 2%. The yuan is close to 7 again.

Global equities traded without direction yesterday with little steer coming from the Fed and ongoing watchfulness over the coronavirus in China. Uncertainty over the virus spread and its economic impact continues to dog global markets and today will pressure US and Europe lower still. Yesterday the FTSE and DAX posted tiny gains. The Dow eked out the slimmest of gains, while the S&P 500 was marginally lower. There was no conviction in the bounce post Monday.

Futures indicate European shares are lower as the coronavirus spread shows no signs of slowing. Numbers outside China remain small, but WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said they’re worried about human-to-human transmission. The WHO will meet today to decide whether this is a global emergency.

Investors are clearly looking to the spread of the coronavirus and hoping it doesn’t start to show up more in Europe and the US. Fed chair Jay Powell’s concern over the outbreak only underlined caution as the order of the day. 

The Fed left its main funds rate on hold but did tweak the IOER, raising by 5bps to 1.6%, as expected. The statement on the economy had just one change, with the Fed saying household spending was ‘moderate’. This compared to the December statement when they called it ‘strong’. This was a dovish move, as was Jay Powell’s caution over the coronavirus. He also reiterated the Fed’s worry about inflation being too low, and noted that there is yet to be a sustained pick up in manufacturing.

The Fed seems happy to sit back and assess the data for the time being. The focus is more on policy tools than on policy itself. The Fed remains on hold but we see a clear easing bias, as evidenced by the more cautious statement on household spending.

Earnings look positive in the US, with McDonald’s, Tesla and Apple all posting stronger-than-expected earnings. Even Boeing shares rose, as it tried (again) to draw a line under its troubles despite posting an annual loss for the first time since 1997.

The Bank of England is the main risk event today. I’m still in the cut camp. Markets currently see a roughly 50% chance of a cut.

Harder data has turned notably softer and the BoE doesn’t want to risk allowing weakness to become entrenched. Whilst PMI and CBI survey data did evince something of a Boris Bounce there should be sufficient doubts about whether this will be maintained to warrant a pre-emotive cut.

A cut takes GBPUSD back to 1.28, but a hold is likely to spur bulls to north of the 1.31450 resistance and take out 1.32. There will also be some significant importance attached to whether the BoE decision is seen as:

1) a dovish hold (not now but likely in May); 

2) a hawkish hold (Boris bounce needs to be monitored for longer, seeing a turn in the data, low inflation isn’t a worry);

3) a hawkish cut (one and done, insurance cut); or 

4) a dovish cut (one now, maybe another in May or in the second half if uncertainties persist).

Tesla crushed it with a second straight quarterly profit that defied even bullish expectations. The short case is staring to crumble with each quarter. 

Tesla shares shot higher after hours, leaping 14% to $660. With a spike like this I think what you saw was a lot of shorts finally throwing in the towel.

EPS and revenues beat expectations – critically now Musk sees ongoing free cash flow and net income, which greatly diminishes reliance on investors for future investment.

Deliveries this year will easily exceed 500k – that’s a lofty 35% increase from last year.

Model Y production begins in earnest – deliveries are due to start in March, several months earlier than planned.

Oil was dealt a blow as US inventories rose more than expected. This was not what the bulls had been hoping for. Inventory data showed a build of 3.5 million barrels in the week to Jan 24th, seven times more than expected. Gasoline stocks rose for a 12th consecutive week, hitting a record high at 261.1 million barrels. WTI has retreated to below $53, testing the $52.0 area before bouncing.

In FX, GBPUSD is steady with 1.30 holding just, and should be flat at first before starting to move on BoE expectations running into the 12pm decision. It will be a big move – at least one big figure. EURUSD has found key support at 1.10 holding the bulls are yet to be drawn in properly. USDJPY is a tad lower under 109 seemingly on risk-off bid.

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