Stocks come off highs but optimism reigns, OPEC agrees cut

Morning Note

German and Chinese data is taking the gloss a little off Friday’s US jobs report, but the overriding sense in stock markets remains one of remarkable optimism. Speaking of which, pubs in England could reopen by Jun 22nd.

Stock markets surged last week and completed Friday by breaking through more important levels after a very strong jobs report from the US. The nonfarm payrolls report showed the US economy added 2.5m jobs in May, after more than 20m were lost the previous.

This was taken as a reason to buy stocks as it handsomely beat forecasts of 8m jobs being lost. The S&P 500 is now down just 1% for the year and trades with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of more than 23.

The report was of course hailed as a signal of American greatness – the biggest comeback in history, according to Donald Trump – and the White House even suggested it meant less support may be needed for the economy: ‘There’s no reason to have a major spending bill. The sense of urgent crisis is very greatly dissipated by the report,’ said the president’s economic advisor Stephen Moore.

Cue the Federal Reserve this week which needs to keep up the ‘whatever it takes’ mantra – does it see concern in the recent rise in Treasury yields that it needs to lean on, or will it take their recovery as a sign of optimism?

NFP boosts stocks, but recovery will still take a long time

I would like to make three points on this jobs report.

One, an unemployment rate of 13.3% is still very, very bad – 18m jobs lost over two months and a continuing weekly claims count on the rise.

Two, this was the easy bit as furloughed workers came back to their jobs as soon as they could – this seemed to happen a little quicker than had been expected but was, in itself, not the surprise. The tough part is not the immediate snap back in activity once restrictions lift, but recovery to 2019 levels of employment and productivity, which will take much, much longer.

Three, the data itself is flawed. There have been classification errors, so the real rate of unemployment may be much higher, whilst the response rate to the survey was a lot lower than usual.

Treasury yields and stocks surged – the S&P 500 went above 3200 before closing at 3193, whilst 10-year yields drove to 0.94%. Gold pulled back to its weakest level in a month.

China trade data, German industry output weigh on European stock markets

European stock markets opened lower on Monday, pulling back marginally from Friday’s peaks as Chinese trade data and German industrial production numbers weighed. China’s exports fell 3.3% year-on-year in May, whilst imports declined 16.7%.

German industrial plunged 18% last month, the biggest-ever decline.  But there is little sign risk appetite has really slackened. The FTSE 100 looks well supported now above 6400, having closed the all-important March 6th-9th gap. The DAX looks well supported at 12,700.

Crude oil gaps higher after OPEC meeting

Crude prices gapped higher at the open after OPEC+ agreed to extend the deepest level of production cuts by another month and Saudi Arabia followed this by hiking its July official selling prices by around $6, more than had been expected.

A deal among OPEC and allies, confirmed on Saturday, had already been all but announced last week. WTI (Aug) pushed up above $40 but gains have been capped with this agreement being all but fully priced.

The question will be whether there is appetite among members to extend cuts again. Those countries that have not complied with quotas in May and June will need to make up the difference in July, August and September.

Higher oil prices will encourage US shale producers to reopen taps, whilst it is unclear how well demand is coming back despite lockdown restrictions being lifted around the world.