Brexit day, Bank of England eyes cut, FAANG earnings on tap

Week Ahead

Brexit

At long last, after more than three and a half years and much political and market turmoil, Britain will finally leave the European Union on Friday, January 31st at 11:00 GMT. Bongs or not, there will be celebrations and commiserations in equal measure. For the pound, the focus now is on the trade deals with the EU and the US – at Davos last week it was made clear this is not going to be easy.

Bank of England to cut?

Market pricing suggests a roughly 50/50 chance the Bank of England will cut rates by 25bps to 0.5% on Thursday. Whilst hard economic data prior to the election showed a softening in activity, surveys since the Tory win have improved.

Weak inflation – which rose just 1.3% against 1.5% in November – could swing it for the doves. CPI inflation rates are at their lowest since 2016. There is a sense the Bank doesn’t want to get behind the curve of market expectations and is seeking to get a jump on markets whilst still teeing up the cut. It would be following the Fed’s playbook in cutting early in order to prevent a downturn.

Tesla’s record run faces test

Shares in Tesla have enjoyed a remarkable run up to record highs, valuing the company at $100bn. But will the fourth quarter numbers deliver on the promise?

Influential analyst Dan Ives at Wedbush thinks the company will at least meet expectations. He says: “While Tesla shares remain on a historic rally heading into earnings, the bull party likely continues as the aggressive trajectory of Giga 3 production and demand out of Shanghai look very strong out of the gates and is the catalyst to move our price target from $370 to $550 ahead of earnings”.

Apple earnings

Apple has also been making new record highs as it gears up to report its fiscal first quarter earnings. This is always Apple’s strongest as it chalks up the holiday season and new iPhone models. We’ve had decent indications from the Services side of the business indicating that its pivot to being more of a Services business is in full swing. App store customers spent a record $1.42bn between Christmas and New Year, 16% up on last year, the company has said. Management also revealed that Apple News is drawing over 100m monthly active users across the US, UK, Canada and Australia. This is all to the good – Services margins are about double that for the rest of the business and will mean re-rating of the stock going forward.

New Fed makeup

No change expected from the Fed – don’t expect Powell to do anything other than signal he can’t imagine hiking again. A new makeup of the voting membership of the FOMC will provide some interest but is unlikely to change things materially – hawks Eric Rosengren and Esther George, along with doves Charles Evans and James Bullard, are set to depart. They will be replaced by arch dove Neel Kashkari, the more balanced Robert Kaplan and two more hawkish-leaning governors, Loretta Mester and Patrick Harker.

Key Events

(All times GMT)

09.00 GMT 27-Jan Germany Ifo Business Climate
00.30 GMT 28-Jan Australia NAB Business Confidence
13.30 GMT 28-Jan US Durable Goods Orders
15.00 GMT 28-Jan US CB Consumer Confidence
After-Market 28-Jan Apple – Q1 2020
23.50 GMT 28-Jan Bank of Japan Summary of Opinions
00.30 GMT 29-Jan Australia Inflation Rate
07.00 GMT 29-Jan Germany GfK Consumer Confidence
15.30 GMT 29-Jan US EIA Crude Oil Stocks Change
19.00 GMT 29-Jan Federal Reserve Interest Rate Decision
After-Market 29-Jan Microsoft – Q2 2020
After-Market 29-Jan Facebook – Q4 2019
After-Market 29-Jan Tesla – Q4 2019
08.55 GMT 30-Jan Germany Unemployment Rate
10.00 GMT 30-Jan Eurozone Business & Consumer Confidence Surveys
12.00 GMT 30-Jan Bank of England Interest Rate Decision & Inflation Report
13.00 GMT 30-Jan Germany Preliminary Inflation Rate
13.30 GMT 30-Jan US GDP Growth Rate (Q4)
15.30 GMT 30-Jan US EIA Natural Gas Stocks
After-Market 30-Jan Amazon – Q4 2019
10.00 GMT 31-Jan Eurozone Preliminary Q4 GDP
13.30 GMT 31-Jan US Personal Income and Personal Spending

Week Ahead: Markets bet on Fed rate cut

Forex
Indices
Week Ahead

Welcome to your guide to the week ahead in the markets. Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan policy meetings ahead.

Markets bank on Fed cut 

Equity markets have recovered from the August doldrums to push higher, with the S&P 500 hitting 3,000 again. All eyes will be on the Fed this week as it’s expected to cut rates – the question will be how many more cuts should the market bank on? Market pricing suggests a 90% chance of a cut, with a roughly 70% of at least another by the end of the year. The FOMC decision will be announced at 18:00 (GMT) on Wednesday. 

Bank of England to stand pat 

Wages are rising at 4% and inflation is on target at 2% – perfect conditions for the Bank of England to raise rates. But the uncertainty over Brexit and signs of a slowdown in GDP growth are likely to leave policymakers standing pat for the time being. The Monetary Policy Committee decision is due at 11:00 (GMT) on Thursday. 

Anything from Bank of Japan? 

The Bank of Japan is also in action Thursday, with markets anticipating no change to its ultra-loose monetary policy. In fact, governor Haruhiko Kuroda said recently that cutting rates deeper into negative territory is among its policy options. Meanwhile, inflation remains stubbornly low, sinking in July to its weakest level in two years. 

Kingfisher and Next earnings 

Results from Kingfisher and Next are among the main events on the corporate diary. For Kingfisher it’s likely to be more of the same with trading tough in France, whilst things are improving in the UK, where B&Q enjoyed a decent bump in like-for-like sales in the first quarter. Next interims come after it delivered a blockbuster trading statement at the end of July as sales growth in Q2 picked up markedly and was well ahead of expectations. Full price sales rose 4%, a thumping beat on the -0.5% guided in May. 

Corporate Diary

These are the upcoming company announcement to put in your calendar.

September 17thAdobe IncQ3
September 17th FedEx CorpQ1 2020
September 18thKingfisher PlcInterim Results
September 19thNext PlcInterim Results

Coming Up On XRay

Watch live or catch up on YouTube. Plus, if you subscribe via the MARKETSX platform, you can submit questions in real time.

07.15 GMTSept 16thEuropean Morning Call
15.30 GMTSept 17thAsset of the Day: Bullion Billions
15.45 GMTSept 17thAsset of the Day: Oil Outlook
19.00 GMTSept 17thLIVE: Trader Training
18.00 GMTSept 18th The Stop Hunter’s Guide to Technical Analysis (part 3) 

Key Economic Events

There’s a lot going on in the coming week, here are the events we to watch out for.

01.30 GMTSept 17thRBA Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
09.00 GMTSept 17thGerman/Eurozone ZEW Economic Sentiment
08.30 GMTSept 18thUK CPI Inflation
18.00 GMTSept 18thFOMC Monetary Policy Decision Annoucement
18.30 GMTSept 18thFOMC Press Conference
22.45 GMTSept 18thNew Zealand GDP (QoQ)
01.30 GMTSept 19thAustralia Employment Change/ Employment Rate
04.00 GMTSept 19thBank of Japan Interest Rate Decision
07.30 GMTSept 19thSwiss National Bank Rate Announcement
11.00 GMTSept 19th BoE Monetary Policy Decision Announcement

ECB to loosen policy, data to prompt Fed and BoE easing bets?

Forex
Indices

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

ECB monetary policy meeting  

Expectations are high ahead of this week’s European Central Bank policy meeting. A run of poor Eurozone data has raised bets on further rate cuts, while investors have snapped up government bonds in the bloc in anticipation of a potential restart to the quantitative easing programme. 

US ISM was dire – will CPI, retail sales and sentiment be any better? 

Key releases on the US calendar this week could crank up the odds of more easing from the Federal Reserve before the year is through. Last week’s ISM manufacturing print shocked, with the index falling into contraction territory. Soft readings from the upcoming CPI, retail sales, or University of Michigan sentiment index could see further dovish bets. 

UK GDP and average earnings – background noise? 

Sterling remains almost exclusively at the mercy of Brexit-related news flow, but growth and wage figures might draw some attention. After having been stuck on hold thanks to the uncertainty of Brexit, the Bank of England may have to be quick out of the starting gate once the October 31st departure deadline passes. Data recently has been weak and another blow from either growth or earnings would see expectations of a rate cut climb. 

Kroger earnings 

It’s been another bad year for Kroger so far. KR is down 12% year-to-date, compared with rises of 14% for the S&P 500 and 16% for its industry. Peers such as Target and Walmart have had strong quarters. Will Kroger’s own investments in expanding online and delivery offerings help it deliver a strong Q2 report? 

Corporate diary 

September 11thHermes InternationalH1
September 12thWM Morrison SupermarketsQ2 2020
September 13thKrogerQ2

Coming Up on XRay

We’re got loads of great sessions for you this week. with our expert guests and residents. Watch live, or catch up when it’s convenient for you. Subscribe to submit questions that our presenters answer in real time.

07.15 GMTSeptember 10thEuropean Morning Call
15.30 GMTSeptember 10thAsset of the Day: Bullion Billions
15.45 GMTSeptember 10thAsset of the Day: Oil Outlook
07.00 GMTSeptember 12thLive Trading Room
18.00 GMTSeptember 12th The Stop Hunter’s Guide to Technical Analysis

Key Economic Events

Stay ahead of the markets by understanding what key economic events are coming up, and what impact they could have on your trades.

08.30 GMTSeptember 9thUK Monthly GDP
01.30 GMTSeptember 10thChina CPI
08.30 GMTSeptember 10thUK Average Earnings
00.30 GMTSeptember 11thAustralia Westpac Consumer Confidence
11.45 GMTSeptember 12thECB Monetary Policy Rate and Statement
12.30 GMTSeptember 12th US CPI
12.30 GMTSteptember 13thUS Retail Sales
14.00 GMTSeptember 13th US Preliminary Michigan Sentiment Index

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).”

Equities flat ahead of big week for central banks

Indices
Morning Note

Shares open flat as markets look ahead to the FOMC meeting later in the week, whilst Lufthansa shares tumble on a profits warning.

European equities look pretty flat on the open after a decent run last week for global equity markets. The S&P 500 closed a shade lower on Friday. Asian shares a bit wobbly overnight. Gains may be hard to sustain with the Fed in focus and no clear signs of progress on trade.  Investors may take a bit of risk off the table in the next couple of days.

US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has poured cold water on any hopes that we might get a trade deal from the G20 meeting and said the US is ready to increase tariffs on China if necessary. 

FOMC meeting

All eyes are of course on the Fed meeting this week. 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. This means the potential volatility around the event is likely to be substantially higher than at most recent FOMC meetings. Traders may start to show some nervousness ahead of the Fed meeting if they think it won’t be accommodative as hoped. 

We’ve also got the BoE and BoJ expected to stand pat. We could though see some hawks on the MPC vote for a rate hike to signal their intent, as it appears waiting for Brexit clarity could take a while longer than policymakers had anticipated. Three members of the rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee have in the last week or so said that rates will likely need to rise at a faster clip over the next two years than the market is currently pricing. This week could be when they signal their intent.

EURUSD is looking softer ahead of the Fed meeting with the apparent failure of the double-bottom breakout from the descending wedge. Last trading on 1.12, a breach on the downside of this handle opens up a return to the 1.110 level immediately. Sterling remains softer too ahead of the Bank of England meeting with the dollar broadly firmer. GBPUSD has last holding support at 1.2580 where we long-term rising trend support coming in.  

Oil 

A fair old whipsaw last week as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East temporarily lifted prices. But on the whole the bleak demand outlook is weighing on prices and we have seen Brent retreat to the comfort of $62-$62.50. WTI is a shade below the $53 level.  Yet to see a sustained downside break again but it may be coming, albeit rising geopolitical tensions may offer support.

Speculative long positions have been heavily reduced – CFTC data showing a trimming in net long positions of around 50k contracts from 400k reported in the COT on Jun 7th to 351k reported on Friday. That’s down from a high of around 547k at the end of April. The reduction in net long positions reflects worries about a supply glut as demand weakens and US production ramps. 

Effectively the market has decided that OPEC will choose to extend its production curbs when it meets later this month/early July. To do anything else would be to risk a collapse in prices. Saudi oil minister Al-Falih is optimistic about extending cuts. His confidence is now being discounted by the market however.

Equities

Deutsche Bank – If no one wants to marry you because you’ve got too much baggage, the answer is to get rid of the baggage. Deutsche plans to set up a bad bank (that’ll make two then) to offload some of the least profitable elements of business. This is Sewing’s big play – we await to see whether it’s enough to really convince shareholders that we’ve hit the bottom. Profitability targets still look rather distant.

Airlines – Lufthansa’s profits warning has taken the wind out of the airlines today. The margin on its preferred metric is seen between 5.5% and 6.5%, down from the previous guidance for adjusted EBIT margin of 6.5 to 8%.

At the end of April we noted that Lufthansa’s Q1 loss wasa red flag for the airline sector. Over-capacity in the European short haul market, intense competition and the resulting pressure on fares can be blamed for the decline in profitability, whilst rising fuel costs are an added headache. The sector always does a good job at competing away margins in the good times. No signs that anyone is prepared to reduce capacity therefore we would anticipate the wave of consolidation in European short haul is not over.

Babcock/Serco – Babcock confirms speculation it’s been approached by Serco. Not an immediately obvious move but the two are a pretty good fit and we had anticipated some consolidation in the sector given the problems for outsourcers. Serco has been doing well against a tough backdrop for outsourcers, meeting new higher performance targets, whilst Babcock has been suffering.  Babcock has been downgrading its forecasts for a while and has been on a persistently downward spiral. Last month Babcock reported profits down 47% last year and warned of a tough outlook for the coming one. 

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