US Election, Recession, Brexit: What’s in store for markets in 2020 H2?

Equities
Forex

The first half of 2020 has been a wild ride. We’ve seen unprecedented moves in markets, historic stimulus efforts by both central banks and governments, and record-breaking data that grabbed headlines across the globe.

H1 has already brought plenty of drama, but what should we expect from the next two quarters? Join us for a recap of some of the biggest events in market history and a look at the risks and opportunities that lie ahead.

Coronavirus pandemic prompts worst quarter in decades for stocks

At the start of 2020 the main themes of the year looked to be the US Presidential Election, the trade war with China, and Brexit.

It seems like years ago that markets began to get jittery on fears that the handful of novel coronavirus cases in Wuhan, China, could become something ‘as bad as SARS’. It quickly became apparent that we were dealing with something much worse, and the market was quick to realise the full, brutal, reality of a global pandemic.

The panic reached its zenith towards the end of March. As the sell-off ran out of momentum global stock markets were left -21.3% lower. The S&P 500 had its worst quarter since 2008; the Dow dropped the most since 1987 and set a new record for the biggest single-day gain (2,117 points) and single-day loss (2,997 points). European stocks had their worst quarter since 2002, with a -23% drop in Q1.

Oil turns negative for first time in history after Saudi Arabia sparks price war

Things became even more chaotic in the oil markets when, after OPEC and its allies failed to agree a pandemic response, Saudi Arabia opened the floodgates and slashed prices of its crude oil exports. Oil prices endured the biggest single-day collapse since the Gulf War – over -24%.

It was further strain for a market now seriously considering the risk that shuttered economies across the globe would hit demand so hard that global storage would hit capacity. The May contract for West Texas Intermediate went negative – a first for oil futures – changing hands for almost -$40 ahead of expiry.

Meanwhile US 10-year treasury yields hit record lows of 0.318%, and gold climbed to its highest levels in seven years, pushing even higher in Q2.

Economies locked down, central banks crank up stimulus

Nations across the globe ordered their citizens to remain at home, taking the unprecedented step to voluntarily put huge swathes of their economies on ice for weeks. Even when lockdown measures were eased, the new normal of social distancing, face masks, and plastic screens left many businesses operating at a fraction of their normal capacity.

The world’s central banks were quick to step in during the height of market volatility and continued to do so as the forecasts for the economic impact of the pandemic grew even more grim. The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Canada, the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand all dropped rates to close to zero. Along with the European Central Bank, they unleashed enormous quantitative easing programmes, as well as other lending measures to help support businesses.

Unprecedented stimulus as unemployment spikes

Governments stepped in to pay the wages of furloughed employees as unemployment spiked – the US nonfarm payrolls report for April showed a jaw-dropping 20.5 million Americans had become unemployed in a single month. In the space of just six weeks America had erased all the job gains made since the financial crisis. The bill for US stimulus measures is currently $2 trillion, and is set to go higher when further measures are approved.

While most of the data may be improving, we’re still yet to see just how bad the GDP figures for Q2 are going to be. These, which will be released in the coming weeks, will show just how big a pit we have to dig ourselves out of.

H2: Recovery, US election, trade wars, Brexit

Markets may have recovered much of the coronavirus sell-off – US and European stocks posted their best quarter in decades in Q2 – but the world is still walking a fine line between reopening its economies and fending off the pandemic. Second wave fears abound. In the US in particular, economic data is largely pointing to a sharp rebound in activity, but at the same time Covid-19 case numbers are consistently smashing daily records.

These key competing bullish and bearish factors threaten to keep markets walking a tightrope in the quarters to come. Because of this, progress in the race to find a vaccine is closely watched. Risk is still highly sensitive to news of positive drug trials. The sooner we get a vaccine, the sooner life can return to normal, even if the world economy still has a long way to go before it returns to pre-crisis levels.

US Presidential Election: Trump lags in polls, Biden threatens to reverse tax cuts

The biggest talking point on the market in the coming months, aside from coronavirus, will undoubtedly be the US Presidential Election. The stakes are incredibly high, especially for the US stock market, and Democrat nominee Joe Biden intends to reverse the bulk of the sweeping tax cuts implemented by president Donald Trump.

Trump is currently lagging in the polls, with voters unimpressed by his response to the pandemic and also to the protests against police brutality that swept the nation. The president has long taken credit for the performance of the stock market and the economy, so for the latter to be facing a deep recession robs him of one of his key topics on the campaign trail.

Joe Biden may currently have a significant lead, but there is a long time to go until the polls, and anything could happen yet.

China trade war in focus, Hong Kong law adds fresh complications

The trade war with China would be a focus for the market anyway, but will come under increasing scrutiny in the run-up to the election. Thanks to Covid-19, anti-China sentiment is running high in the United States. This means Biden will also have to talk tough on China, which could mean that the damaging trade war is set to continue regardless of who wins the White House this time around.

Tensions have already risen on the back of China’s passing of a new Hong Kong security law, and coronavirus makes it virtually impossible that the terms of the Phase One trade agreement hashed out by Washington and Beijing will be carried out. Trump may be forced to stick with the deal, because abandoning it would leave him unable to flaunt his ability to make China toe the line during the presidential race. This would be positive for risk – markets were already rattled by fears that the president’s response to the Hong Kong law would include abandoning the deal.

How, when, and if: Unwinding stimulus

Even if we get a vaccine before the end of the year and global economies do rebound sharply, the vast levels of government and central bank stimulus will need to be addressed. Governments are running wartime levels of debt.

We’re looking at an even longer slog back to normalised monetary policy – something that banks like the Bank of England and the European Central Bank were struggling to reach even before Covid. There will be huge quantitative easing programmes to unwind and interest rates to lift away from zero, or potentially even out of negative territory.

Markets have been able to recover thanks to a steady cocktail of government and central bank stimulus. The years since the financial crisis have proven that it is incredibly difficult to wean markets and the economy off stimulus. There could be some tough decisions ahead, especially as governments begin to consider how they plan to repair their finances in the years to come.

Brexit deadline approaches, impasse remains

There is also Brexit to consider. While the coronavirus forced officials to move their negotiations online, little else seems to have happened so far. Both sides are refusing to budge and both sides are claiming that the other is being unreasonable. The UK does not want an extension to the transition period, and the two sides are running out of time to agree a trade deal.

We’ve seen before that both Downing Street and Brussels like to wait until the last possible moment to soften their stance. However, the risks here are higher because before there was always the prospect of another extension.

The last time negotiations were extended the battle in Westminster shocked the UK to its constitutional core. The Conservative landslide victory of 2019 gave Boris Johnson a much stronger hand this time around – the UK will leave in December, regardless of the situation.

Stay on top of the biggest events in H2

Whatever happens in the coming months, we’ll be here to bring you the latest news and analysis of the top developments and market events via the blog and XRay.

Coronavirus outbreaks leave stocks stuck in their ranges

Morning Note

Virus outbreaks in the US continue to weigh on the mood, as it suggests the run-up in stocks on hopes of a V-shaped economic recovery may be overly optimistic. Several states, mainly in the south, have been forced to re-impose lockdown restrictions after being the first to reopen. Dr Fauci described it as a ‘serious problem’. The dangers of reopening too quickly seem all too apparent, but investors are also keeping an eye on outbreaks in Tokyo, Australia and China.

European equities were a touch softer but trading near the flatline on Monday morning, with a general lack of direction about today’s trade. Major indices tracking around the middle of their June ranges after Asian equities fell. US equities were lower Friday and finished down for the week but, as the month ends, stocks have enjoyed a very strong quarter.

The FTSE 100 is up over 8% quarter-to-date, while the S&P 500 has rallied over 16% in Q2 and the DAX has surged 21%. Valuations remain the concern as we head into earnings season with the S&P 500 still trading at more than 22x on a forward basis.

Coming up this week – Powell testimony, US nonfarm payrolls

Of course stocks haven’t only rallied because of reopening economies – enormous liquidity thanks to the coordinated action of central banks has been key. Central bankers have been striking similar notes in terms of the response to the crisis and Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman, will testify in Congress again this week. The Fed’s rather downbeat assessment of the economic recovery helped to stop the rally in its tracks and since then indices have been trading ranges.

The US jobs report – on Thursday this week due to the July 4th holiday – will provide an important view on the pace of recovery, but we should note that the weekly unemployment claims numbers are proving a more sensitive and up-to-date barometer, not least since there are problems with the data gathering for the monthly nonfarms report.

Facebook shares tumble on ad boycott, but how long can brands stay away?

Facebook shares tumbled more than 8% on Friday as a growing number of companies join a boycott of the platform over hate speech. We saw how a boycott of Facebook by users failed to move the needle on earnings, but this time it’s different – it’s the big brands that pay the big bucks and the loss of Unilever, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Levi’s and Diageo among others will create a headwind to revenue growth in the coming quarter.

I would think Facebook can and will do a lot more and will be able to take steps to assuage brands’ concerns, allowing the stock to recover. Moreover, will brands be able to avoid Facebook for very long? Virtue signalling is one thing, but they also need to shift product.

Crude oil was steady with WTI (Aug) around $38 after rallying off the medium-term support around $37.50. OPEC+ compliance in June is expected to be higher than in May, mainly because Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE are cutting above their quotas. In FX, cable continues to track its channel lower with a new low put in at 1.2315, with the previous support in the 1.2390 region now acting as resistance.

Week Ahead: Sharp rebound for US durable goods, sentiment and PMIs on the up

Week Ahead

There’s plenty on the economic calendar this week to keep markets busy even in the (unlikely) event the headlines are quiet. Confidence data from Europe, PMIs from across the world, and some key US goods orders and spending figures will help to shape our understanding of the continuing impact of Covid-19 and the trajectory of the recovery. 

Eurozone consumer, business confidence surveys

The latest sentiment data from Germany and the Eurozone as a whole will be closely watched. The easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of more businesses is expected to help both business and consumer sentiment to improve, although it goes without saying that overall both groups are still highly pessimistic. 

The flash Eurozone consumer confidence reading for June is expected to improve to -16 from -18.8 in May. Germany’s Ifo Business Climate index is forecast to hit 85.1 – up from 79.5 previously, while the GfK consumer measure is expected to print at -12 for July after the -18.9 reading recorded for June. 

Flash PMIs to help shape expectations for Q2 GDP

Tuesday brings a deluge of flash services and manufacturing PMIs. The latest figures are due from the Eurozone, the UK, and the US. Although subject to revision, the latest numbers will help to refine expectations for those all-important Q2 GDP numbers. 

Sharp increases are expected across the board, as reopening economies help slow the tumble in services in particular. 

US durable goods orders to rebound

Having recently seen a huge jump in employment and retail sales that shattered expectations, it seems likely this week’s US durable goods orders data will show a strong rebound too. 

Like most data, orders had collapsed over the past couple of months at a rate not seen in years. The reopening of the US economy and improving prospects for some consumers and businesses is likely to translate into a sharp rebound. Analysts expect to see orders jump 7.1%, although as with all rebounds after a sharp drop, there will still be a long way to go before we’re back to pre-crisis levels. 

Unemployment claims are also due on Thursday. The consensus is for another slowdown in claims growth, with a further 1.3 million new claims expected. This would mark the first time since the record 6.86 million jump recorded in the last full week of March that new weekly claims have been below 1.5 million. 

US personal spending to climb on easing restrictions, higher employment

Personal income surged in April, recording a 10.5% leap thanks to government relief programmes, although this didn’t translate to increased consumer outlay, with spending dropping -13.6%. Consumers stashed this extra cash, with the savings rate up 33% on the previous month. 

Incomes are expected to have fallen -5% in May without the help of so much government relief, while spending is forecast up 3%.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
17.00 UTC 22-Jun Reading Candlestick Charts: Trading Patterns and Trends
From 15.30 UTC 23-Jun Weekly Gold, Silver, and Oil Forecasts
17.00 UTC 23-Jun Introduction to Currency Trading – Is it For Me?
14.45 UTC 25-June Master the Market with Andrew Barnett

 

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:

14.00 UTC 22-Jun Eurozone Flash Consumer Confidence
07.15 UTC 23-Jun Eurozone/ DE/ FR Flash Services, Manufacturing PMIs
08.30 UTC 23-Jun UK Flash Manufacturing/Services PMIs
13.45 UTC 23-Jun US Flash Manfacturing/Services PMI
03.00 UTC 24-Jun RBNZ Interest Rate Decision
08.00 UTC 24-Jun German ifo Business Climate
14.30 UTC 24-Jun US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
06.00 UTC 25-Jun German GfK Consumer Climate
12.30 UTC 25-Jun US Durable Goods Orders
00.30 UTC 25-Jun US Unemployment Claims
14.30 UTC 25-Jun US EIA Natural Gas Storage
Pre-Market 25-Jun Accenture Plc – Q3 2020, McCormick & Co – Q2 2020
12.30 UTC 26-Jun US PCE, Personal Spending, Personal Income
14.00 UTC 26-Jun Revised University of Michigan Sentiment Index

XRay Live Talks: Trading in the time of Coronavirus

XRay

This week we invited our traders to take part in a live conversation with our chief market analyst Neil Wilson.

This was the first of our Live XRay Talks, our virtual trading roundtables and Q&As where we give traders the chance to meet the experts and discover what’s really going on in the markets.

Neil took questions on both the economic and market impact of Covid-19, the reaction of central banks and what could still be to come, OPEC production cuts, the green revolution and more.

Watch it here:

We’ll be bring our traders plenty more of these exclusive events, where you can get your questions answered by veteran traders and market professionals. Our next session takes place on July 4th with Andrew Barnett, senior trader at Trading Mastery.

Make sure you’re signed up to Marketsx for your chance to join our next Live XRay Talk.

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.

Stocks extend last week’s losses on second wave fears

Morning Note

European stocks plunged and US futures tumbled on Monday as equity markets extended last week’s losses amid fears of a second wave to the pandemic. We are seeing pockets of cases in Beijing suddenly – the first in 50 days, whilst Alabama, Florida and South Carolina have reported record numbers of new cases for three days straight.

The dreaded second wave will weigh on equity markets – it is already sparking a wave of selling – and force policymakers to chuck even more money at this. Markets just need to think things are heading in the right direction to go up; it’s the rate of change that matters, so fresh waves of cases are taken as a sell signal.  Equity markets had also clearly become overstretched and overbought.

Stocks dumped on fears of Covid-19 second wave

The FTSE 100 slumped under 6,000 to test the 50-day moving average around 5950, potentially heading for the key support region at 5900. If this goes we can easily see a retreat to the Apr swing lows around 5641 and 5575. BP shares slumped 5% as it wrote off $13.5bn-$17bn of asset values due to lower forecast oil prices – this will only raise speculation that the board will be forced into cutting the dividend sooner or later.

Asia was broadly weaker overnight, with sentiment also being affected by Chinese industrial production, fixed-asset investment and retail sales all falling short of expectations. Futures indicate the S&P 500 open around 2950, a little above the 100-day and 50-day moving averages, having broken beneath its 200-day line. Look especially at 2936/8, where the 100-day and the old 61.8% retracement of the March rout converge.

Bulls fought a rear-guard action on Friday, but that rather hard-fought rally looks capitulation and the path back to 2800 is open. What could change this? You’d need to see a drop in cases and the rebound in the economy as stimulus works its way through to consumers spending with confidence again.

As discussed last week, S&P 500 valuations are very rich and first the Covid-economy trade and now the first reopening trade are all but over, so investors need to find new reasons to buy. Second wave fears are dominating, and the Fed has killed off any last thoughts of a V-shaped recovery.

Bank of England, Brexit in focus this week for UK assets

The Bank of England will this week need to stump up another £100bn-£200bn in QE but should leave rates unchanged. It’s been painting a rather optimistic view of recovery but will need to lower expectations this week for how soon the economy gets back to normal.

On the Brexit front, Boris Johnson will hold a call with EC boss Ursula von der Leyen today in what could be a moment that injects talks with new vigour. The PM will likely threaten no-deal, but it’s hoped this will focus the attention of the EU on delivering a compromise. GBP will be exposed to significant headline risk and may partially explain the currency’s fall this morning.

FX was in risk-off mode too, with the dollar finding fresh bid. GBPUSD broke down through the 1.25 region and was last at the lows of the day with the 50-day moving average around 1.2410 in sight. EURUSD was holding at 1.1230. Crude prices were weaker as risk sentiment soured, with WTI for August trading under $35.

Chart: SPX eyes path back to 2800

Week Ahead: BoE, BoJ meetings; data to crush quick Covid recovery hopes

Week Ahead

Last week the Federal Open Market Committee effectively killed hopes that the global economy could rebound quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic. Much of the data due this week is expected to deteriorate further. Any bright spots could be overshadowed by growing fears we may be facing a second wave of infections.

The Bank of England and Bank of Japan both hold policy meetings this week. Expect more signals that stimulus is here to stay for a long time.

Make sure you’re prepared for the coming week – read our full breakdown of the key events and data that markets will be watching.

China industrial production to accelerate, retail sales decline to slow

China is still the bellwether for the global recovery, with markets watching the data closely to see how quickly an economy can rebound from lockdown. Industrial production returned to growth on an annualised basis in April after three months of contraction. Forecasts for May suggest growth accelerated to 5%.

Retail sales are expected to continue to contract, although the rate of decline has moderated sharply since the -20.5% drops recorded in January and February. April saw a drop of -7.5% and the decline is expected to have slowed to -2% in May.

Bank of Japan to set out timeline for low rates

Last week the US FOMC stated that interest rates would remain near zero until 2022. This could prompt a similar move by the Bank of Japan, which will look to curb yen strength on the flight to safety caused by the FOMC’s gloomy economic predictions. The BOJ may therefore decide to give its own timeframe for keeping rates at their current, or lower, levels.

Fading hopes of V-shaped recovery to drag ZEW sentiment lower

German and Eurozone economic sentiment has climbed since April, but forecasts suggest the latest readings could see investor confidence pull back again. Assessment of the current conditions is in dire territory anyway, but the overall numbers were pulled up by improving expectations for a swift recovery – something that is becoming increasingly unlikely.

UK, Canada inflation – price growth to remain under pressure

Lockdowns and collapsing oil prices have exerted heavy pressure on consumer prices. Inflation data this week from the UK and Canada is expected to show further weakness. The UK’s core inflation rate was just 0.1% in April. Forecasts for Canada’s data expect a drop of -0.2% on the month, after the -0.7% recorded in May.

Retails sales decline to worsen for UK, Canada – US looking brighter?

Retail sales figures for the UK and Canada this week are expected to post more huge drops, with consumers still restrained by lockdown measures and business closures. Those businesses that are able to reopen have seen trade affected by the strict social distancing measures.

The UK, Canada, and the US all saw retail sales drop by the most on record in April. In the case of the UK and Canada things are expected to have gotten even worse in May.

However, in the case of the US data, recent figures from Mastercard suggest that the decline in retail sales may have softened notably in May. Sales fell -16.4% in April, but Mastercard says it saw a much smaller decline in transaction volumes last month.

New Zealand growth data: calm before the storm

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern was able to declare last week that Covid-19 had been eradicated in the country and that things could go back to normal.

However, the economic hit caused by the government’s actions to combat the virus will be severe. The OECD predicts a -8.9% drop in GDP this year, with the economy not returning to pre-Covid levels until the end of 2021.

This week’s GDP data is for the first quarter, and a drop of just -0.4% is expected. But as we already know, it’s the second quarter reading that really matters.

Australia jobless rate to keep climbing

Data this week is expected to show another 200,000 jobs were lost last month, on top of the nearly 600,000 in April. The unemployment rate jumped a whole percentage point to 6.2% in April, although this was well below market expectations of a surge to 8.3%.

The jobless rate is predicted to climb to 6.9%, although the true rate is likely much higher, considering how many Australians are currently relying on the government to pay their wages.

Bank of England to expand QE

The Bank of England is expected to expand its quantitative easing programme this week, with estimates for the increase ranging from £70 billion to £200 billion.

Negative rates are sure to get a mention, but policymakers are approaching the issue cautiously. While governor Andrew Bailey has recently softened his opposition to such a tool, he has only gone as far as saying that it would be “foolish” to rule them out. BoE chief economist Andy Haldane said at the end of May that, while the MPC was exploring the idea of negative rates, it was very much in the review phase and a decision on the matter was not close.

Kroger earnings

Kroger is expected to report earnings growth of 23.6% year-on-year when it releases quarterly earnings on June 18th. EPS is predicted at $0.89, while net sales are expected to have increased 7.7% year-on-year to $40.12 billion.

Kroger stock has weathered the Covid-19 pandemic well, having swiftly rebounded from the March sell-off, and is now trading up around 12% for the year. Our Analyst Recommendations tool shows it has a consensus “Buy” rating. Hedge funds bought 20 million shares in the last quarter.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
09.30 UTC 17-June FXTrademark Course – Moving the Odds
11.00 UTC 17-June Introduction to Currency Trading: Is it For Me?
11.30 UTC 18-June Trading with the Killswitch Approach
10.00 UTC 19-June Supply & Demand – Approach to Trading

 

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:

02.00 UTC 15/06/2020 China Industrial Production / Retail Sales
01.30 UTC 16/06/2020 RBA Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes
03.00 UTC 16/06/2020 Bank of Japan Rate Decision
09.00 UTC 16/06/2020 German/EZ ZEW Economic Sentiment
12.30 UTC 16/06/2020 US Retail Sales
06.00 UTC 17/06/2020 UK Inflation Rate
12.30 UTC 17/06/2020 Canada Inflation Rate
14.30 UTC 17/06/2020 US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
12.45 UTC 17/06/2020 New Zealand Quarterly GDP
01.30 UTC 18/06/2020 Australia Employment Change / Unemployment Rate
Pre-Market 18/06/2020 Kroger (Q1) – Pre-Market
11.00 UTC 18/06/2020 Bank of England Rate Decision
12.30 UTC 18/06/2020 US Weekly Jobless Claims
14.30 UTC 18/06/2020 US EIA Natural Gas Storage
06.00 UTC 19/06/2020 UK Retail Sales
12.30 UTC 19/06/2020 Canada Retail Sales

Second wave fears weigh on risk

Morning Note

The dreaded second wave: Houston is weighing a new lockdown as it warns of a disaster in-waiting. Other states with large populations and economies like California and Florida are also worried about rising Covid case numbers. Across Europe the reopening continues with little to suggest of a disastrous second wave.

Stocks went into freefall yesterday as the untruths of the reopening trade got found and this particular bubble got pricked. As we discussed, fears of a second wave combined with the Fed well and truly killing off the V-shaped recovery idea.

The Dow tumbled nearly 7%, whilst the S&P 500 fell almost 6%. The forward PE multiple on the latter – which I like to track as a broad indicator of whether stocks are overbought – has retreated a touch but at 23+, it’s still rather pricey. The Vix shot above 40.

Futures indicated a little higher but I don’t fancy the chances heading into the weekend. You could say that Thursday’s tumble was basically just the Fed trade and has now played out so we need to look for new information to act as a catalyst, but the second wave fears persist.

European stocks volatile on the open

European stocks also got whacked and were extremely volatile in the first hour of trading on Friday as the bulls and bears pull either end of the rope.  The bears were winning at time of writing. We do seem to be at a key moment as the market makes up its mind – are we due a proper retracement of the recent rally or is this just a normal pullback before resumption of the trend higher. I would tend to favour the former.

The good news for the likes of the FTSE is that it’s underperformed since the March trough, versus its US counterparts. It’s also got an appealing dividend yield, despite some very noteworthy cuts and the prospect of BP likely needing to cut its pay-outs. From a technical point of view there seems to be strong support just a little below where it’s currently trading.

UK posts record GDP drop in April

ONS data shows the UK economy declined over 20% in April, the worst decline on record. It’s backward-looking of course, but it underlines how much of a recovery is required to get back to normal. The slow lifting of restrictions – pubs and cafes are still not open – means the UK may endure a wider bottom than many others, making recovery all the slower. All this before the jobs Armageddon this autumn when furlough support ends.

Chart: FTSE 100. The index has broken out of the channel on the downside. The three black crows candle pattern signal weakness and when combined with the bearish MACD crossover in overbought levels, suggest a pullback is not done yet. There is decent support around the previous Fib support level and the 50-day simple moving average in the 5800-5900 region.

Chart: S&P 500. The broad index closed at the lows, but bulls will be looking for the 200-day moving average around 3020 to hold. The area around 2975 at the bottom of the channel still looks appealing and if breached could act as a gateway to 2800. Another bearish MACD crossover in overbought levels signal weakness and a retrace of some of the recent rally.

Oil fell with other risk assets. WTI for August has moved back to test the $35 support level, with a potential retreat to the $31.50 area next if the trend continues. A bearish MACD crossover is again evident, signalling weakness.

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.

Week Ahead: Expectations high for FOMC meeting

Week Ahead

As has become the norm, we can expect a slew of dire economic data over the coming week. We’ll be looking at the figures for clues on how long the economic recovery could take, and also if projections for the expected Q2 collapse look like they were dire enough. 

The FOMC could bring back its economic projections, and may also provide some additional clarity on the policy outlook with a shift towards implicit forward guidance. 

What can confidence data tell us about the post-Covid recovery? 

Traders, economists, businesses, and policymakers across the globe are still uncertain what shape the post-lockdown recovery will take. Many are still hoping for a sharp rebound, but it seems unlikely. 

Amongst all this uncertainty, business and consumer sentiment is a useful indicator of how people on the ground feel about the road ahead. Unsurprisingly the surveys so far have been deeply pessimistic. 

But economies are reopening, lockdown measures are being eased, and some semblance of normal life is returning for people in many countries. Has this translated into a more positive outlook, or has taking the first step simply highlighted how far we have left to travel on the road to recovery?

US inflation data – is sustained deflation on the way? 

US inflation data is due this week. The headlines recently have been impressive – April saw the biggest drop in price growth since December 2008, and core inflation posted the largest drop since the data series began in 1957. 

A single month of sharp price declines isn’t going to worry policymakers too much, but the big worry is that we’re entering an extended period of deflation. Interest rates are already at rock bottom, but another below-zero reading for price growth could see markets questioning how much longer the FOMC can leave it before pushing rates negative. 

FOMC meeting – markets looking for economic projections and forward guidance 

The Federal Open Market Committee announces its latest policy decisions on Thursday. 

Markets will be hoping for more direction from the FOMC this time around. April’s meeting, and the subsequent minutes, failed to provide any concrete outline of how monetary policy could evolve in the future to respond to worsening economic conditions. Members had discussed establishing targets for unemployment and inflation, and also for setting a threshold date before which rates would not be increased. 

We’re likely to see the Summary of Economic Projections make a return; this was dropped in March, because the outlook for the economy at the time was too uncertain to call. This, and a move towards implicit forward guidance, will give markets a more accurate picture of Fed policy going forwards. 

UK growth and production data to shape Q2 expectations 

A slew of UK data for April gives us a glimpse of the dreaded Q2 performance. It’s accepted that this quarter will be dire, but monthly GDP and industry production figures will show whether even the worst-case scenarios have been gloomy enough. 

The GDP average for the threemonth period ending in April is expected to print at -12%, down from -2% in April. On a monthly basis, growth is forecast down -24%, while the year-on-year drop will be around -29%. Manufacturing production is likely to have fallen almost -30%. We’re in the midst of what is supposed to be the worst of it, but there are still questions over just how badly the economy has been hit. 

Clear skies for Adobe’s cloud-based offering? 

With earnings season over, the corporate calendar is looking decidedly thin, although Adobe could prove an interesting highlight. 

The company’s software is cloud-based, much to the relief of many of the businesses who rely on it but have employees stuck at home away from their work computers. The fact its products are sold on a subscription model could help to keep revenue relatively stable, although like most companies Adobe is likely to report a hit to business during the quarter.

Highlights on XRay this Week 

Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.

07.15 UTC Daily European Morning Call
17.00 UTC 08-June Blonde Markets
From 15.30 UTC 09-June Gold, Silver, and Oil Weekly Forecasts
17.00 UTC 10-June FOMC Preview with chief market analyst Neil Wilson
14.45 UTC 11-June Master the Markets with Andrew Barnett

Key Events this Week

Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:

06.00 UTC 08-Jun German Industrial Production
08.30 UTC 08-Jun Eurozone Sentix Investor Confidence
01.30 UTC 09-Jun AU NAB Business Confidence
09.00 UTC 09-Jun Eurozone Final Employment Change / Revised GDP (Q/Q)
00.30 UTC 10-Jun Westpac Consumer Sentiment
01.30 UTC 10-Jun China CPI
12.30 UTC 10-Jun US CPI
14.30 UTC 10-Jun US EIA Crude Oil Inventories
18.00 UTC 10-Jun FOMC Rate Decision
18.30 UTC 10-Jun FOMC Press Conference
Pre-Market 10-Jun Dollarama – Q1 2021
12.30 UTC 11-Jun US Unemployment Claims
14.30 UTC 11-Jun US EIA Natural Gas Storage
After-Market 11-Jun Adobe – Q2 2020
06.00 UTC 12-Jun UK GDP (M/M), Manufacturing/Industrial Production (M/M), Construction Output (M/M)
14.00 UTC 12-Jun Preliminary University of Michigan Sentiment Index

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