US equities were set for modest gains on Wednesday even as they drifted lower from session highs, as a weakening labor market boosted bets that the Federal Reserve is done with interest-rate hikes and could pivot to monetary easing sooner, even as we are approach levels of priced-in rate cuts which some say guarantee a recession. As of 7:30am ET S&P 500 futures were up 0.1% to 4,581.50, wile Nasdaq futures rose 0.3%. Asian stocks rebounded from a three-day losing streak, while Europe’s Stoxx 600 index traded near the highest level in four months. A rally in bonds stalled with the US 10-year yield rising toward 4.2%. The US Dollar is lower, its first down day this week. Commodities are mixed with Energy weaker, Ags stronger, and base outperforming precious. Bitcoin traded close to the $44,000 mark in the longest winning streak for the largest cryptocurrency since May, fanned by expectations of looser monetary policy. The macro data focus today is on ADP, 23Q3 readings on productivity/labor costs, mortgage applications, and the trade balance.
In US premarket trading, Shake Shack rose after the fast-casual restaurant was upgraded to strong buy from outperform at Raymond James, which sees upside potential to store margin estimates. Box shares fell 14% the cloud storage company cut its adjusted earnings per share guidance for the full year. Here are some other notable premarket movers:
- Asana shares drop 15% with analysts flagging the continuing impact of a weak macroeconomic backdrop on the application software company’s business, stoking worries that growth could be sluggish, even as there are signs of stabilization.
- Altria drops 1.6% and Philip Morris is down 1.2% after British American Tobacco said it would write down the value of some of its US cigarette brands by about £25 billion ($31.5 billion).
- MongoDB shares fall 4.2% after the database software company reported its third-quarter results and gave an outlook. Analysts are broadly positive on the report, but said they may not have met elevated expectations, given the stock is up 120% this year as of last close
- Discover Financial Services (DFS) rises 1.9% and Capital One Financial (COF) gains 2.1% after both stocks were upgraded to buy at BofA Global Research, with the analyst saying the two firms’ shares can re-rate higher in coming months as their peak losses come into view.
- Nio ADRs rise 2.3% after Reuters reported that the Chinese EV maker plans to spin off its battery manufacturing business, possibly before the end of this year.
- Plug Power shares drop 5.7% after Morgan Stanley cut its recommendation on the renewables company, noting liquidity concerns and worsening hydrogen economics.
- Inmode (INMD) slides as much as 13% after the medical devices firm cut its revenue guidance for the full year, missing the average analyst estimate.
- PayPal (PYPL) drops 1.8% after BofA cuts its rating on the mobile payments company to neutral from buy, saying that 2024 is set to be a transition year.
- SentinelOne shares jump 19% after the infrastructure software company reported third-quarter earnings that beat expectations and raised its full-year forecast. Raymond James called the results “strong.”
- Rent the Runway (RENT) drops 12% after the clothing-rental company reported revenue and active subscribers for the third quarter that missed estimates. Wells Fargo and Jefferies both reduced their price targets on the stock.
- Signet Jewelers (SIG) gains 1.6% after Citi raised the Zales owner to buy from neutral, saying the jewelry recession is nearing an end and engagement trends are showing signs of bottoming.
- Yext Inc. shares fall 15% after the digital media technology services company cut its full-year revenue forecast. It did, however, raise its full-year view for adjusted earnings.
Traders are debating the staying power of a rally built on hopes for a sharp policy U-turn. Recent dovish commentary from central bankers may not be tantamount to assurance they are preparing to pivot to easy policy, Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note to clients. Overstretched technicals and the belief that the Fed won’t cut interest rates as quickly as markets expect have prompted bearish warnings from Wall Street heavyweights.
“It’s clear now that there’ll be quite a shift from central banks,” Erlam wrote. “Whether that will be enough to constitute the pivot that’s been so talked about this year may well determine whether markets continue to price in a March cut as a U-turn of that magnitude will have to be clear.”
It’s not just the Fed that is seen cutting rates as soon as March: markets fully priced in six quarter-point rate cuts by the ECB in 2024 earlier on Wednesday, a move that would take the key rate down 150 basis points to 2.5%. German factory orders unexpectedly fell in October, highlighting how manufacturing in Europe’s largest economy remains stuck in a rut.
“Europe has both cyclical and structural challenges, and that’s what causing a lot of that oscillation and volatility about what markets are really expecting the ECB to do in the coming weeks and coming quarters,” Stephanie Niven, portfolio manager at Ninety One UK Ltd., said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
And speaking of Europe and the coming ECB easing, all major markets are higher with Italy leading and Spain lagging as the Stoxx 600 set a four-month high before fading to trade up 0.2% on the session. Miners, travel and financial services are the strongest performing sectors. The moves come after the European Central Bank’s most-hawkish officials yesterday said inflation is showing a “remarkable” slowdown. Germany’s DAX made a new all-time high on rate cut expectations. Tech-related sectors are outperforming, following AAPL’s performance. Among individual stocks, British American Tobacco Plc shares plunged more than 9%, the most since March 2020, after saying it would write down the value of some of its US cigarette brands by about £25 billion ($31.5 billion). Merck KGaA lost 12%, the biggest decline among members of the Stoxx 600 index, after the Evobrutiniban trial failure dealt a blow to the German company’s plans of creating another blockbuster medicine. Here are some of the other biggest movers Wednesday:
- TUI rises as much as 10%, the most intraday since April, after the tour operator gave 2024 guidance that Jefferies said implies “a positive outlook for international travel from Europe”
- Weir Group rises as much as 4.9% after the British energy and mining engineering company outlines its 2026 operating margin target. Jefferies says the target is “very healthy”
- Redde Northgate rises as much as 6.3% after the commercial vehicle rental company said it is confident on the outlook for 2H, expecting to deliver annual earnings “modestly” ahead
- H&M falls as much as 2.4% and Inditex as much as 2.1% after Deutsche Bank said there is “not a lot” to look forward to for the European retail sector in 2024,” downgrading both firms to sell
- Clariant falls as much as 1.9% after the chemicals firm said it plans to close a bioethanol plant in Romania and downsize related activities in Germany, spurring an impairment charge and outlook cut
- Newag tumbles as much as 19% after Onet website reported that the Polish trains manufacturer could have hired hackers to interfere in its train software to hamper servicing by competing companies
Earlier in the session, Asian equities rose, poised to snap a three-day losing streak, boosted by rebounds in Hong Kong and Japan amid rising expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates next year. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 1%, the most since Nov. 15, with Toyota, Sony and BHP Group among the biggest contributors.
- Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed back above 33,000 as the 10yr JGB yield declined to its lowest since August. The Topix jumped more than 1.5% as falling US bond yields supported gains in tech. Indian stocks extended gains after the market breached the $4 trillion mark for the first time on Tuesday.
- Hong Kong shares were also on track to halting a three-day loss. Sentiment on Chinese equities got a lift from a local media report calling for a “mild bull market” next year, while Nomura maintained an overweight position on the market.
- India stocks rallied for the seventh straight day, with key benchmarks climbing to new all-time highs amid continued foreign buying. The S&P BSE Sensex Index rose 0.5% to a new record closing high of 69,653.73 while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.4%. India’s total stock market value reached more than $4 trillion Tuesday for the first time. Foreigners have been buyers of Indian shares since the start of November and purchased more than $3.3 billion of local equities through Dec. 4. Adani Group shares continued to rally on Wednesday as city gas distribution unit surged by a daily 20% limit while green energy units closed 16% higher.
- Australia’s ASX 200 saw broad gains across sectors amid lower yields and with markets unfazed by mixed GDP data
In FX, the Bloomberg dollar spot index steadied. Here are how some key pairs performed:
- AUD/USD rose as much as 0.7% to 0.6597 as global rate cut bets boosted stock markets and risk sentiment;
- USD/JPY rose as much as 0.2% to 147.40 as haven demand ebbed
- EUR/USD pared a drop of 0.2% to trade slightly lower at 1.0790 as the euro heads for its sixth day of losses; Money-markets fully priced 150bps of ECB rate cuts in 2024 earlier in the session
- USD/CAD traded slightly lower, down 0.1% to 1.3585 ahead of the Bank of Canada’s decision, where rates are anticipated to be held steady
In rates, Treasury yields rose 1-4bps across the curve, leaving yields near highs of the day and cheaper by up to 4bp across belly of the curve, after Tuesday’s rally saw 10-year bond yields drop below 4.2% to the lowest level since August. The curve bear flattened with 2s10s narrowing 1.0bps. Peripheral spreads widen to Germany with 10y BTP/Bund widening 1.4bps to 175.4bps. US session focus includes ADP employment change data, which comes ahead of Friday’s jobs report.
In commodities, crude futures decline d again: WTI drifted 0.7% lower to trade near $71.79. Spot gold rises roughly $3 to trade near $2,023/oz.
Bitcoin traded close to the $44,000 mark in the longest winning streak for the largest cryptocurrency since May, fanned by expectations of looser monetary policy.
Looking to the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November, as well as the October trade balance. Meanwhile in Europe, there’s German factory orders and Euro Area retail sales for October, along with the German and UK construction PMIs for November. From central banks, there’s a policy decision from the Bank of Canada, whilst the Bank of England are releasing their Financial Stability Report.
- S&P 500 futures up 0.2% to 4,584.25
- STOXX Europe 600 up 0.2% to 468.41
- MXAP up 1.0% to 161.44
- MXAPJ up 0.6% to 500.33
- Nikkei up 2.0% to 33,445.90
- Topix up 1.9% to 2,387.20
- Hang Seng Index up 0.8% to 16,463.26
- Shanghai Composite down 0.1% to 2,968.93
- Sensex up 0.5% to 69,668.50
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.7% to 7,178.35
- Kospi little changed at 2,495.38
- Brent Futures down 0.3% to $77.00/bbl
- Gold spot up 0.2% to $2,023.02
- U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 103.96
- German 10Y yield little changed at 2.25%
- Euro little changed at $1.0795
Top Overnight News
- BOJ Deputy Governor Ryozo Himino said an exit from ultra-loose monetary policy, if done properly, will reap benefits for the economy, signaling that an end to decades of super-low interest rates may be nearing. RTRS
- Apple wants batteries for its latest generation of iPhones to be made in India, as part of the US tech giant’s efforts to diversify its global supply chain and move manufacturing out of China. FT
- The BOE amplified warnings about hedge funds shorting Treasury futures, saying the net position is now larger than during the pandemic “dash for cash.” The central bank said the position’s grown to $800 billion from about $650 billion in July, suggesting a jump in the so-called basis trade. BBG
- Global airlines are poised to generate record revenue of $23.3 billion this year and will extend the gains in 2024, IATA said. That’s more than double what the trade body expected in June. BBG
- Joe Biden said he may not have sought reelection if Donald Trump weren’t the probable GOP challenger. “I’m not sure I’d be running,” he told donors in Massachusetts. “But look, he is running and I just have to run.” BBG
- Crude stockpiles at Cushing jumped by a massive 4.3 million barrels last week, the API is said to have reported. That would be the biggest surge in more than three years, if confirmed by the EIA today. Overall, US supplies edged up: Gasoline and distillate inventories rose by a combined 4.7 million. BBG
- ADP jobs data will be scrutinized for more signs of softening. It’s forecast at 130,000, still significantly below its one-year average. But don’t read too much into it before Friday’s payrolls: The correlation was negative over the past year. BBG
- U.S. negotiators made a fresh offer to Russia in recent weeks to secure the release of detained Americans Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, but Moscow rejected the American proposal, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday. WSJ
- NVDA’s CEO said he still hopes to supply high-end processors to China, days after U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo warned U.S. companies against sales of AI-enabling chips to the country in the name of national security. WSJ
A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk
APAC stocks were mostly higher with risk sentiment underpinned by softer yields as market focus remained on data releases and with the recent drop in US job openings stoking hopes for Fed rate cuts. ASX 200 saw broad gains across sectors amid lower yields and with markets unfazed by mixed GDP data. Nikkei 225 climbed back above 33,000 as the 10yr JGB yield declined to its lowest since August. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp were somewhat varied as the Hong Kong benchmark conformed to the overall upbeat mood, while the mainland lagged after the PBoC continued to drain liquidity and Moody’s revised China’s credit outlook to negative.
Top Asian News
- Chinese official Liu said the Biden-Xi meeting cannot solve US-China problems and domestic US politics could pose problems for US-China ties, while Liu added US policy towards China is unlikely to change in the near future and the outcome of Taiwan elections may affect US-China relations.
- Fitch said there are no further updates after it affirmed China’s A+ rating with a stable outlook in August and S&P also said there was no change to China’s credit rating or outlook, according to Reuters.
- BoJ Deputy Governor Himino said the BoJ will patiently maintain easy policy until a sustained and stable achievement of the price target is in sight, while he added that Japan’s financial system is likely resilient enough to weather stress from transition to higher interest rates. Furthermore, Himino stated they must make appropriate decisions on the timing of the exit and procedure by scrutinising wage and inflation developments.
- Japan is reportedly considering a tax carryover for loss-making wage hikes, via Kyodo
- Japanese MOF official suggest some Japan primary dealers said 20yr JGB sales should be reduced, according to Bloomberg
- Chinese November Retail Passenger Vehicle Sales Y/Y 25% (prev. 10.2% Y/Y), according to China’s PCA
- Moody’s has placed 26 Chinese LGFVs ratings on review for a downgrade following sovereign action; Moody’s affirms Hong Kong SAR’s Aa3 rating, changes outlook to negative from stable
European equities, Eurostoxx50 +0.3%, are trading modestly firmer on the back of a positive handover from APAC trade overnight, though the DAX, +0.1%, marginally lags; hampered by losses in Merck -13%. European sectors are mixed with a slight positive tilt; Travel & Leisure and Basic Resources outperform, with the former propped up by Tui +10% whilst the latter benefits from higher base metals prices. US equity futures are also trading on a firmer footing, posting gains similar to their European counterparts; ES +0.3%.
Top European News
- ECB’s Kazaks says there is now no need to cut rates in H1, but if the situation changes then ECB decisions might change, via Econostream.
- German coalition sources, to Reuters, have said that little budgetary progress was made overnight with the parties still far apart; Green leader Lang added the budget will not be discussed at Cabinet on Wednesday.
- EU finance ministers are discussing debt reduction targets as part of a fiscal overhaul which could include a fiscal buffer of 1.5% of GDP, according to Bloomberg.
- UK CMA says it is undertaking wider piece of work looking at competition in groceries sector, and has set out latest findings and next steps in its ongoing review.
- BoE FSR: FPC is maintaining the UK countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) rate at its neutral setting of 2%; The full impact of higher interest rates will take time to come through; The overall risk environment remains challenging, reflecting subdued economic activity, further risks to the outlook for global growth and inflation, and increased geopolitical tensions.
- A choppy European morning for the Dollar thus far, within confined ranges on either side of 104.00 between 103.88-104.05 as macro newsflow this morning remains light.
- Aussie, Kiwi and Loonie are all firmer amid the broader upbeat risk sentiment and rebound in base metals, following yesterday’s session of losses.
- The Japanese Yen is slightly lower and back above 147.00; BoJ’s Himino suggested the central bank does not have a present schedule in mind on an exit from easy policy.
- PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1140 vs exp. 7.1476 (prev. 7.1127).
- China’s major state-owned banks were seen selling dollars for yuan in the onshore spot FX market, according to sources cited by Reuters.
- Another session of differing initial performance for Gilts and EGBs with UK debt beginning on the backfoot to the modest benefit of the region’s yields.
- USTs in-fitting with Gilts throughout the morning, as yields lift off lows as participants take a slight pause after recent marked dovish action with ADP due.
- Though, Bunds have retreated from the aforementioned high after failing to test touted Fib resistance at 135.27; a high that printed as part of a gradual post-data move.
- Overall, market pricing remains extremely dovish, with participants/notes continuing to focus on Schnabel’s commentary from early Tuesday.
- UK sells GBP 3bln 0.875% 2033 Green Gilt: b/c 2.66x (prev. 2.56x), average yield 4.091% (prev. 4.315%) and tail 1.3bps (prev. 1.3bps)
- WTI and Brent, -1.1%, have resumed downward price action in recent trade having consolidated overnight; nothing by way of fresh fundamental behind the move, though attention is on Russian President Putin arriving in the UAE.
- Base metals bolstered by the broader risk sentiment and following the gains in some major APAC markets overnight; modest upside in XAU, but well within recent ranges as we await fresh impetus on next year’s monetary expectations.
- US Energy Inventory Data (bbls): Crude +0.6mln (exp. -1.4mln), Gasoline +2.8mln (exp. +1.0mln), Distillate +0.9mln (exp. +1.5mln), Cushing +4.3mln.
- Saudi Arabia set January Arab light crude OSP to Asia at Oman/Dubai + USD 3.50/bbl, to NW Europe at ICE Brent + USD 2.90/bbl and to US at ASCI + USD 7.15/bbl, according to Aramco/pricing document cited by Reuters.
- Venezuelan President Maduro said he would authorise oil exploration in an area around the Esequibo River which is a disputed territory with Guyana. It was also that US official Nichols said they are seeing Venezuela’s illicit oil trade move back into the formal sector.
- Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Navy seized two vessels smuggling 4.5mln/ltrs of fuel, according to Tasnim.
- Hamas official said there will be no negotiations or exchange of detainees until the aggression against Gaza stops.
- US President Biden will participate in a meeting with G7 leaders today and Ukrainian President Zelensky will also join the G7 leaders video summit, according to Reuters.
- US Treasury Secretary Yellen said the US would be responsible for Ukraine’s defeat if Biden’s funding request fails to win approval by Congress and noted US aid to Ukraine is essential to keep the government operating and maintain IMF financial support to Ukraine.
- Russian Upper House of Parliament proposes to hold elections on March 17th 2024, via Tass; will consider the election date order on December 7th.
- Islamic Resistance in Iraq say Harir base in Erbil targeted by drone in response to the bombing of Gaza, according to Al Jazeera.
US Event Calendar
- 07:00: Dec. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 0.3%
- 08:15: Nov. ADP Employment Change, est. 130,000, prior 113,000
- 08:30: 3Q Nonfarm Productivity, est. 4.9%, prior 4.7%
- 08:30: 3Q Unit Labor Costs, est. -0.9%, prior -0.8%
- 08:30: Oct. Trade Balance, est. -$64.2b, prior -$61.5b
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
The rate cut narrative continues to gather pace, leading to a fresh bond rally over the last 24 hours on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, that was mostly driven by the latest JOLTS data, where fewer job openings suggested that the tightness in the labour market was continuing to ease. Clearly that could be very good news but the rapid normalising of labour market conditions will need to plateau at some point soon to ensure that the appearance of a potential soft landing is not just a path to a harder one.
In the meantime, we also had the ISM services index, which showed that a steady pace of growth was continuing, despite the ongoing contraction in the manufacturing prints. And over in Europe, matters were helped further by some dovish comments from the ECB’s Schnabel, helping the German DAX (+0.78%) to close at an all-time high .
In terms of the details, those comments from Schnabel meant that bonds got the day off to a very positive start. Specifically, she said in a Reuters interview that the November flash CPI reading was “a very pleasant surprise”, and the recent inflation data “has made a further rate increase rather unlikely .” In turn, that meant investors ratcheted up the likelihood of an ECB rate cut as early as the March meeting, with market pricing now pointing to an 86% probability of a 25bp cut by then .
That momentum continued throughout the day, particularly after the JOLTS report in the US showed that job openings were down to 8.733m in October (9.3m expected). That’s the lowest they’ve been in the last two-and-a-half years, and it meant that the ratio of job openings per unemployed individuals was back down to just 1.34. That’s down from 1.8 six months ago and moving us closer to the pre-pandemic levels around 1.2. It represents good news from the Fed’s point of view since they’ve wanted to see labour demand and supply come back into balance for some time. As discussed at the top, we would expect to see a significant fall in job openings in a recession so the momentum would need to slow relatively soon to avoid that .
All this dovish news led to a major sovereign bond rally, with yields on 10yr Treasuries (-8.9bps) down to a 3-month low of 4.17%, whilst the 2yr Treasury (-5.3bps) fell to 4.58%. In Asia yields are back up 2-3bps across the curve. The rally yesterday though meant that there was even growing speculation about a Fed rate cut as soon as January, with futures placing a 14% probability of this by yesterday’s close. Meanwhile in Europe, there were even larger moves in yields, with those on 10yr bunds (-10.7bps) falling to their lowest in nearly 7 months at 2.24%, just as those on 10yr OATs (-12.4bps) and BTPs (-13.3bps) saw significant declines as well.
As all this was happening, other data yesterday offered some support to a soft landing scenario. In particular, the ISM services index rose slightly more than expected to 52.7 in November (vs. 52.3 expected), and the new orders component remained at 55.5 (vs. 54.9 expected). Remember though, there are still several releases to navigate over the coming days, as today will bring the ADP’s report of private payrolls, ahead of the jobs report and UoM inflation expectations on Friday, and then the latest CPI report next Tuesday.
Risk assets saw a mixed response to this backdrop, with some big differentiation. The S&P 500 (-0.06%) was fairly flat, supported by a big recovery in big tech stocks as the Magnificent 7 (+1.24%) ended a run of 4 consecutive declines and the broader NASDAQ was up +0.31%. By contrast, the Russell 2000 (-1.38%) lost significant ground, having just advanced for the last 4 sessions. The equal-weighted S&P 500 was down -0.89%, with 82% of S&P constituents down on the day. Over in Europe there was a strong equity performance, with the STOXX 600 (+0.40%) at a 4-month high, whilst the DAX (+0.78%) hit a new record as it surpassed its previous closing high from July .
Asian equity markets are largely soaring this morning with the Nikkei (+1.78%) leading gains and with the Hang Seng (+0.73%) and the KOSPI (+0.28%) also trading in the green. Meanwhile, Chinese stocks are more mixed with the CSI (+0.15%) holding on to its gains while the Shanghai Composite (-0.11%) is slightly lower. Elsewhere, the S&P/ASX 200 (+1.74%) is also advancing despite weakness in the GDP release (more on this below). S&P 500 (+0.28%) and NASDAQ 100 (+0.42%) futures are moving higher.
In the commodities space, oil posted a further decline yesterday with news that Saudi Arabia lowered its selling prices to Asia for next month. Both Brent (-1.06% to $77.20/bbl) and WTI (-0.99% to $72.32/bbl) fell to five-month lows. Oil prices are now down more than 20% from their peaks in late September, adding to the more sanguine inflation outlook as we approach 2024.
Turning to next year’s outlook, Luke Templeman, Olga Cotaga, and Galina Pozdnyakova have just published a thematic outlook for 2024 link here. They consider six key themes and how the resilience of the world economy in 2023 has changed the way they will impact markets, corporates, and economies in 2024.
Coming back to wrap up with some data now. Overnight Australian GDP expanded +0.2% in the September quarter compared with the previous three months, marking an eighth consecutive quarter of growth. Markets were expecting GDP growth to increase to +0.5% from +0.4% growth in the previous quarter, with sizeable back revisions softening the miss. This helped annual GDP growth come in at 2.1% (v/s +1.9% expected), and little changed from the previous quarter’s downwardly revised growth of 2.0%.
Looking at yesterday’s other data, there was a bit more optimism in some of the final PMI readings for November. For example, the Euro Area composite PMI was revised up half a point from the flash reading to 47.1, and the UK composite PMI was revised up six-tenths to 50.7. Separately, we also had the ECB’s Consumer Expectations Survey for October, which showed that median 1yr inflation expectations stayed at 4.0%, and 3yr expectations were also unchanged at 2.5%. Our European economists’ recent dbDIG survey suggests that expectations should move lower next month, which would add more relief for the ECB, considering the focus on still elevated inflation expectations from some of its hawks such as in comments by Germany’s Nagel yesterday evening.
To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November, as well as the October trade balance. Meanwhile in Europe, there’s German factory orders and Euro Area retail sales for October, along with the German and UK construction PMIs for November. From central banks, there’s a policy decision from the Bank of Canada, whilst the Bank of England are releasing their Financial Stability Report.