Fed rides to the rescue

Morning Note

Yesterday, I noted that policymakers would be forced to chuck even more money at pandemic relief as second waves of cases and a painful and incomplete economic recovery bit. Right on cue, the Federal Reserve announced it would start buying individual corporate bonds, building on the existing purchases of ETFs. The Fed ‘will purchase corporate bonds to create a corporate bond portfolio that is based on a broad, diversified market index of U.S. corporate bonds’, the central bank said.

The Fed is stepping things up after its statement last week left investors more than a little concerned about the pace of recovery. The move suggests that the Fed, as was clear last week, is worried about the economy enduring a protracted downturn. Meanwhile the White House is again said to be mulling a $1tn infrastructure plan to stimulate the economy. The two horsemen of risk sentiment recovery – monetary and fiscal stimulus – riding to the rescue again.

US stocks erased losses, Europe pushes higher on the open

US equities bounced strongly off the lows of the day. The S&P 500 closed up 0.83% at 3,066, a full 100 points above its low of the day. The Dow scrubbed out a 760-point drop to finish up 157 points. European equities closed lower but well off the lows. Things had looked a little dicey as the major indices tested some key support, but the ‘plunge protection team’ arrived right on time. The Vix swung from a high close to 45 to close under 35 – the Fed made clear it’s got this.

Today the major bourses have taken their cue from Wall Street and opened higher. Asian markets rose. The FTSE 100 rose more than 2% to back above 6,200 and test the 100-day line resistance, while European counterparts rose by similar amounts. Ashtead Group rose c15% in early trade after it maintained its dividend despite a halving in profits. The infrastructure stimulus touted by the White House would be a massive boost for the construction equipment company.

Geopolitical tensions lurk as Korea tensions rise, Chinese and Indian forces clash

Reports circulating close to the market open of North Korea blowing up the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong near the border need to be monitored but we have yet not seen any major market response. There are also reports of an ‘incident’, between Chinese and Indian forces on the border later described as a ‘violent face-off’ in which at least three Indian soldiers were killed. So, a little geopolitical shenanigans to add to the mix this morning but thus far nothing overly significant for the market.

Support for risk assets helped lift crude prices, with WTI for August climbing back above $37 around the middle of the range of the consolidation over the past month. Support is holding around $35 but the 200-hour moving average at $37.70.

GBP/USD bounces off lows, tests 200-day SMA

FX markets remain broadly steady with majors holding within ranges, with risk currencies supported this morning. GBPUSD has bounced firmly off yesterday’s lows at 1.2450 to test the 200-day SMA at 1.2690, which has acted as resistance and the pair has nestled back on the old comfort around 1.2630. EURUSD traded above 1.13 again as the long-term 23.6% level at 1.1230 starts to look like meaningful support to act as a base for the next leg higher.

Chart: FTSE recovery looks to get back into the channel and recover both the old 50% retracement and the 100-day simple moving average, which after last Thursday is starting to act as near-term resistance. Thursday’s cash market opening high at 6,329 needs to be cleared to resume the uptrend.

Chart: SPX tested the old 61.8% retracement and 100-day SMA at 2936, which held. Thursday’s cash opening high at 3,123 needs to be cleared to resume the uptrend.