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Week Ahead: Central banks on tap, NFP faces massive Covid hit
The economic calendar is packed full of top-tier releases this week, starting with manufacturing PMIs from China and the US. The RBA, BOC, and ECB all announce their latest policy decisions – and, in the case of the ECB, potentially ruffle a few more feathers in Germany. And, of course, we have the latest US nonfarm payrolls report to round off the week.
China Caixin Manufacturing PMI – does the headline reflect the story?
China’s Caixin Manufacturing PMI slipped back into negative territory in April, missing market expectations of another print just above the 50 mark. A look at the sub-indexes painted a rather more messy picture than the headline number.
New orders slumped for a third month and export orders dropped the most since December 2008. Order backlogs rose, while supplier delivery times improved and input costs fell on the collapsing oil prices, pushing the headline number higher.
May’s reading is expected to hold just below 50 – but once again, the vastly different performance of those sub-indexes is likely where the true story will lie. It looks like Chinese industry has a lot further to go yet before growth returns properly.
US ISM PMIs to stabilise
US manufacturing collapsed last month, with the index diving to 41.5 from 49.1 in March. Despite being the worst drop since April 2009, the reading was still better than market expectations of 36.9, although this was because of a surge in supplier delivery times. While usually a sign of a strong economy, deliveries were held up by supply shortages due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Things are expected to have stabilised in May, but getting back into growth territory (a reading above 50) could take a while; Oxford Economics doesn’t expect output losses to be recouped until 2021.
The decline in non-manufacturing is expected to moderate slightly, with the index forecast to tick higher to 44.2 from 41.8.
RBA, BOC, ECB interest rate decisions
The Reserve Bank of Australia is the first of three central banks to hold monetary policy meetings this week. Rates are already at a record low 0.25%, which is effectively zero, and the board has no appetite for taking them negative.
ASX 30 Day Interbank Cash Rate Futures for June show markets are pricing in nearly 50-50 odds of a cut to zero, but many analysts think the RBA has done all it will do, and that rates will remain unchanged for two or three years.
This week’s Bank of Canada rate announcement coincides with the start of Tiff Macklem’s tenure as governor. Senior deputy governor Carolyn Wilkins said recently that the BOC could look at adjusting its asset purchasing programme with the aim of stimulating the economy, rather than just enhancing the liquidity of financial markets, although policymakers may not be ready for such a move just yet.
The European Central Bank is expected to leave rates unchanged, although the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) is likely to be extended and expanded. Christine Lagarde will face questions about Germany’s ruling on the ECB’s quantitative easing programme during the post-meeting presser. Read our full preview on the ECB monetary policy meeting here.
Last week Isabel Schnabel, a member of the ECB board who joined in January, shrugged off the ruling, suggesting it was for the Bundesbank and Germany’s government to resolve the issue.
“I’m sure there is going to be communication between the Bundesbank and the German parliament and the German government, and one will have to find a solution,” Schnabel told the Financial Times last week. “If the ECB can be constructive in supporting that process, we will of course do so.”
Australia quarterly GDP: the end of three decades of growth
First-quarter economic data is expected to show that the Australian economy contracted -0.8% on the quarter and -1.2% on the year. Australia is expected to fall into recession for the first time in three decades this year, with GDP dropping -10%.
Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined the government’s plans to help revive the economy, but he also warned that any recovery was likely to take between three and five years.
Eurozone retail sales and Germany factory orders
The collapse in Eurozone retail sales is expected to have worsened at the start of Q2. Analysts are forecasting a month-on-month decline of -18.6% during April, after a -11.2% drop in March. Year-on-year sales are predicted to have cratered -24%.
Germany’s April factory orders data will likely reveal some similarly painful numbers. Orders fell -15.6% in March and economists are expecting a -21.3% drop when the April data is published on Friday.
US NFP – jobless rate to hit 20%?
After tanking -20.5 million last month in the worst drop on record, this week’s US nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show another decline in employment of up to -5 million. The jobless rate, which leapt to nearly 15% in April, is likely to print just shy of 20%. Economists expect unemployment will peak around 25%, although Goldman Sachs analysts have suggested it could climb higher.
Join Markets.com chief market analyst Neil Wilson for live analysis of the market reaction to the US nonfarm payrolls report with our free webinar.
Heads-Up on Earnings
The following companies are set to publish their quarterly earnings reports this week:
|After-Market||02-Jun||Zoom Video Communications – Q1 2021|
|Pre-Market||03-Jun||Campbell Soup – Q3 2020|
|After-Market||04-Jun||Broadcom – Q2 2020|
|After-Market||04-Jun||Slack – Q1 2021|
|05-Jun||Toshiba Corp – Q4 2019|
Highlights on XRay this Week
Read the full schedule of financial market analysis and training.
|07.15 UTC||Daily||European Morning Call|
|From 15.30 UTC||02-June||Gold, Silver, and Oil Weekly Forecasts|
|12.50 UTC||03-June||Asset of the Day: Indices Insights|
|19.30 UTC||04-June||Daily FX Recap and Looking Forward|
|10.00 UTC||05-June||Supply & Demand – Approach to Trading|
Key Economic Events
Watch out for the biggest events on the economic calendar this week:
|01.45 UTC||01-Jun||China Caixin Manufacturing PMI|
|14.00 UTC||01-Jun||US ISM Manufacturing PMI|
|01.30 UTC||02-Jun||Australia Company Operating Profits (Q/Q)|
|05.30 UTC||02-Jun||RBA Interest Rate Decision|
|07.15 – 08.00 UTC||02-Jun||Eurozone Member State Finalised Manufacturing PMIs|
|08.30 UTC||02-Jun||UK Finalised Manufacturing PMI|
|01.30 UTC||03-Jun||Australia GDP (Q/Q)|
|01.45 UTC||03-Jun||China Caixin Services PMI|
|07.15 – 08.00 UTC||03-Jun||Eurozone Member State Finalised Services PMIs|
|08.30 UTC||03-Jun||UK Finalised Services PMI|
|14.00 UTC||03-Jun||Bank of Canada Interest Rate Decision|
|14.00 UTC||03-Jun||US ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI|
|14.30 UTC||03-Jun||US EIA Crude Oil Inventories|
|01.30 UTC||04-Jun||Australia Retail Sales / Trade Balance|
|09.00 UTC||04-Jun||Eurozone Retail Sales|
|11.45 UTC||04-Jun||ECB Interest Rate Decision|
|12.30 UTC||04-Jun||ECB Press Conference|
|14.30 UTC||04-Jun||US EIA Natural Gas Storage|
|06.00 UTC||05-Jun||Germany Factory Orders|
|12.30 UTC||05-Jun||US Nonfarm Payrolls|
Euro wobbles ahead of German court ruling, risk appetite improves
Attention this morning was on the German constitutional court and its ruling on the ECB’s long-standing bond buying programme. This could limit the amount of bonds the Bundesbank can buy, potentially creating a rift with the ECB and other member states. The real concern is whether it could affect the €750bn Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), which has much looser rules than other QE programmes.
It’s high stakes – if the court blocks the Bundesbank from participating in QE it would be curtains for the ECB and creates significant Eurozone breakup risks. The good news is that the judges probably realise this. High stakes but the risk of serious ructions appears low. The European Court of Justice has already ruled in favour of the ECB’s bond buying, so it’s hoped the German court will not rock the boat at this critical moment.
EURUSD was lower, breaking down at the 1.09 support having failed to sustain the move above 1.10 last week, which could open move back to around 1.0810. The euro seems to be displaying some degree of stress this morning ahead of the German court ruling.
European markets rose after Asian equities made some gains. Markets in Japan, South Korea and China were shut for a holiday, but Hong Kong and Sydney rose. Wall Street closed a little higher after bulls pushed the S&P 500 into positive territory only in the final hour of trading yesterday. There is a little more risk appetite as oil prices climb.
The Reserve Bank of Australia left rates on hold at the record low 0.25% and seems to be well dug in here. The RBA won’t go negative and won’t hike until the Covid-19 crisis is well in the rear view mirror. This is a pattern being repeated by most major central banks.
Oil continues to make steady gains with front month WTI to $22 on hopes lockdowns are being lifted. The idea that we will be moving around anything like as much as before is fanciful, at least in the near term. New Zealand is going to be shut to foreigners – except perhaps their pan-Tasman pals – for a long time to come, the prime minister says. Ryanair has reported passenger numbers in April fell 99.6% and sees minimal traffic in May and June. Carnival is getting cruises going again – tentatively – in August. New car registrations in the UK collapsed in April, falling 97% to just 4,000 vehicles.
API data later today could show a very small build in inventories, but as always we prefer to look at tomorrow’s EIA figures. A small build would give more hope to oil bulls that the glut is not as bad as feared, however I would caution that we are simply seeing inventories naturally build more slowly as we approach tank tops.
Chart: EURUSD wobbles
European markets tumble in catchup trade, Trump bashes China
On the plus side, the UK is sketching out how it plans to end the lockdown. On the minus side, it’s going to take a long time to get back to normal. This, in a nutshell, is the problem facing the global economy and it is one reason why equity markets are not finding a straight line back to where they were pre-crisis.
Indices on mainland Europe are catching up with the losses sustained in London and New York today, having been shut Friday. The DAX retreated 3% on the open to take a look again at 10,500, whilst the FTSE 100 extended losses to trade about 20 points lower. Hong Kong turned sharply lower ahead of its GDP report.
Whilst monetary and fiscal stimulus sustained a strong rally through April – the best monthly gain for Wall Street since 1987 – it’s harder to see how it can continue to spur gains for equity markets. Moreover, US-China tensions are resurfacing as a result of the outbreak, which is weighing on sentiment. Donald Trump spoke of a ‘very conclusive’ report on China – the demand for reparations will grow, and trade will suffer as the easiest policy lever for the White House to pull. This is an election year so I’d expect Trump to beat on the Chinese as hard as he can without actually going to war. Trade Wars 2.0 will be worse than the original.
And as I pointed out in yesterday’s note, equity indices are showing signs of a potential reversal with the gravestone doji formations on the weekly candle charts looking ominous.
Warren Buffet doesn’t see anything worth investing in. Berkshire Hathaway has $137bn in cash but the Oracle of Omaha hasn’t found anything attractive, he said on Sunday’s shareholder meeting. His advice: buy an index fund and stop paying for advice.
In FX, today’s slate is rather bare but there are some European manufacturing PMIs likely to print at the low end. The US dollar is finding bid as risk appetite weakens, favouring further downside for major peers. EURUSD retreated further having bounced off the 100-day SMA just above 1.10 to find support around 1.09250. GBPUSD has further pulled away from 1.25 to 1.2460.
Front month WTI retreated further away from $20. CFTC figures show speculative long trades in WTI jumped 35% – the worry is traders are trying to pick this market and the physical market is still not able to catch up with the speculators. The move in speculative positioning and price action raises concerns about volatility in the front month contract heading into the rest of May.
BT Group shares dropped more than 3% on reports it’s looking to cut its dividend this week. Quite frankly they ought to have cut it months ago. I rehash what I said in January: Newish CEO Philip Jansen should have done a kitchen sink job and cut the dividend from the start. The cost of investment in 5G and fibre is crippling, despite the cutbacks and cost savings. Net debt ballooned to more than £18.2bn – up £7.2bn from March 31st 2019. How can BT justify paying over £1bn in dividends when it needs to sort this debt out, get a grip on the pension deficit and do the kind of capex needed for 5G and mass fibre rollout? Given the current environment, a dividend cut seems assured.
What to watch this week
NFP – Friday’s nonfarm payrolls release is likely to be a history-making event. Last month’s -701k didn’t reflect many days of lockdown, so the coming month’s print will be seismic. However, this is backward looking data – we know that in the last initial jobless claims have totalled around 30m in six weeks – the NFP number could be as high as 22m according to forecasts. The unemployment rate will soar to 16-17%. The main focus remains on exiting lockdown and finding a cure.
BOE – The Bank of England may well choose this meeting to expand its QE programme by another £200bn, but equally it may choose to sit it out and simply say that it stands ready to do more etc. The Bank will update forecasts in the latest Monetary Policy Report, with the main focus likely to be on how bad they think Q2 will be. Estimates vary, but NIESR said Thursday the contraction will be 15-25%.
RBA – The Australian dollar is our best risk proxy right now. The collapse in AUDJPY on Thursday back to 68.5 after it failed to break 70 was a proxy for equity market sentiment. We will wait to see whether the Reserve Bank of Australia meeting on Tuesday gives any fresh direction to AUD, however there is not going to be a change in policy.
Tech stocks under pressure
Markets remain on the hook to the trade war rumblings, but a new war has opened up that threatens equity investors – a war on tech. What the Fed threatens to give, the DoJ takes away.
Yesterday we saw a soft start in the US before the ISM print missed and investors raised bets the Fed will cut rates this year. But the Fed put was not enough to fight the tide off tech woes.
Fangs are under severe pressure amid fears they are in the crosshairs of trust busters. The DoJ and FTC are marking targets and loading up. Whilst it’s far too early to say if any would, or could, be ripe to be broken up, there’s a real threat this will depress multiples and mean we need to reset expectations. Given the Fangs have been at the front of the market expansion in recent years, this will act as a drag on sentiment as well.
A couple of very big moves yesterday in Alphabet and Facebook.
Alphabet –6% – support now seen around $968, before $895 comes into play.
Facebook –7.5% – key support seen at $159, below that we look to the $145 level.
Calls have been growing louder and louder for the authorities to at least look at antitrust issues for the tech giants. Political pressure is building – lawmakers sniff votes in tackling big tech. The shift really happened last year with Facebook’s scandals, which broken the illusion of Silicon Valley being in it for the little guy. They’re just big corporations out to make money like any other – the politicians can smell blood. As I noted a year or two ago, I always thought Trump had the hallmarks of a Teddy Roosevelt trust-buster.
So now we have the Nasdaq in correction territory – down 1.6% yesterday to take it more than 10% off its all-time highs. The Dow was flat, while the S&P 500 notched a decline of 0.3%. The FTSE 100 ended the day in the green, up 0.3% at 7184 with the key 7150 level holding.
Asian shares followed Wall Street’s lead overnight, and futures show European shares are under the cosh again today.
US Treasury yields continue their slide with the 10yr slipping to 2.085% and threatening to find the 2.05% level now. EURUSD has broken out of technical resistance due to the slide in yields as markets bet on a Fed rate cut. EURUSD faces resistance at 1.126/7 but having broken out of the long-term descending wedge we could now look for more gains. Has the dollar rally ended? Well it all depends on the Fed.
Today’s Jay Powell speech is now key to market sentiment after dovish comments from James Bullard yesterday.
St. Louis Fed boss James Bullard – a voting member of the FOMC – says a rate cut may be warranted soon. He talked about a sharper than expected slowdown. He also discussed a cut as insurance – some sense the Fed is seeking to get ahead of the curve – too late! Over to Powell later today.
Bullard has always been one of the most dovish members of the FOMC – the market may have massively miscalculated the US central bank’s view of the economy, inflation and risks to its forecasts. I rather think the Fed will be a lot less ready to ease than the market thinks, and this suggests a significant decoupling between the Fed and market expectations.
Ahead of this we have the Eurozone CPI print. The last
reading showed inflation rose to a 6-month high in April at 1.7%, whilst core
price growth rose to 1.3%. However, this uptick seems to be down to
one-offs and the core read is expected to revert to trend around 1% in May,
with the headline print at 1.4%.
Woodford shut – worse to come?
Neil Woodford has suspended trading in the Woodford Equity Income. Woodford has clearly made a series of poor investment decisions. Out of love UK stocks with entirely domestic may have been ultra-cheap, but they’re still unloved and still cheap. Provident has been a disaster. Kier, whose shares tumbled 40% yesterday, also disaster. It’s been a tough few years for Woodford and things look like they will get worse still.
No surprise the RBA cut rates, it had been fully priced in. The question now is how many more? The statement didn’t tell us anything new. No indication there will be more this year. Worth noting the RBA’s own forecasts are predicated on 50bps of cuts so we’re only half way there. Watch the data. AUDUSD has gained a few pips post the statement, with little detail on future cuts likely to give the bulls some hope. Resistance at 0.6990, the 38.2% Fib level, tested and rejected.
UK retail sales fell off a cliff in May – down 2.7%. This is the worst ever decline in retail sales and will hit the sector today.
Sell in May and go Huawei: US-China ad nauseum
When can we stop talking about the US and China? European stocks called to open higher after a robust session in Asia showed investors are weighing the latest US-China spat over Huawei for what it is. SPX closed down 0.67% yesterday on the broad US-China-Huawei-Google spat, with tech stocks the worst hit. The Nasdaq 100 shipped 126 points to close 1.7% lower. Chip makers were rocked but look set to bounce back today – these rose in after-hours trading and Asian peers were much firmer overnight.
After blacklisting the Chinese firm, the White House has issued three-month reprieve to allow US companies continue to do business with the group. It’s all rather like the way Trump slaps on tariffs but delays the execution to allow room for negotiation. Whether it’s Huawei or tariffs, I would see all of this in the broader context of giant tug-of-war between the two superpowers being played out in front our eyes. As such, the more this goes on the lower the chance of a meaningful resolution to any of it. Trade disputes ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
China has vowed to retaliate but stocks in China rose overnight – the more damage the US tries to do the more the market expects stimulus from Beijing.
We don’t even have a lot on the Brexit front to worry about today. Euro elections are centre stage this week – as noted in yesterday’s FX note, the Brexit Party is set to win in the UK, whilst Eurosceptics and populists of various hue will sweep about a third of the vote across the continent. Watch therefore for action in EUR and GBP crosses, as well as Italian spreads.
Economic indicators overnight have been less than stellar. South Korean exports shrunk by nearly 12% in May, having decline more than 8% in April. Singapore’s government has downgraded growth forecasts for 2019. Thailand GDP growth hit a 4-year low. Lots of trade related effects being felt, clearly.
Fed chair Jay Powell spoke yesterday but did not really go into monetary policy. His remarks were focused on financial stability, stressing that ‘business debt does not present the kind of elevated risks to the stability of the financial system that would lead to broad harm … should conditions deteriorate’. He added though that ‘the level of debt certainly could stress borrowers if the economy weakens’. Move along, nothing to see here. Fed governor Richard Clarida speaks later – will have a lot more on policy and will be closely watched. FOMC minutes are due tomorrow.
Forex – dollar bid
The dollar continues to find bid, with the dollar index touching on 98 again, its strongest since May 3rd. Meanwhile EURUSD has also sunk to its weakest since May 3rd. US 10yr has risen above 2.4% again, having been as low as 2.35% last week. Firmer US yields and the safe haven appeal of the USD in the current trade war situation is keeping the dollar supported.
Yesterday’s emerging three inside up formation on the GBPUSD daily chart fizzled out, with the pound under the cosh still and threatening now to break below 1.27. The 1.2710 region is acting as support for now but the downwards pressure could eventually tell.
RBA set to cut
The post-election bounce in the Australian dollar proved short-lived as anticipated. AUDUSD was back trading on the 0.68 handle as the RBA gave us a very clear signal it’s ready to cut rates. In fact, this was about as dovish Philip Lowe could be without actually saying ‘I will cut rates in June’.
The June 4th meeting will likely see the central bank move to cut the cash rate to 1.25% from the current 1.5%. The RBA is really tying its policy outlook to the labour market. Unemployment rose to 5.2% in April and the risk is that exposure to China and trade will act as a drag in the coming months. Low inflation currently gives it ample scope to cut rates.
Morning note: Equities pressured on tough talk on China trade, RBA holds
US equity markets pared losses yesterday, with the S&P 500 declining by around half a percent to 2,932.47, having been close to the 2900 handle again.
Rhetoric from the US side has shifted markedly in the last two days. Having seen progress and a good direction to productive discussions, relations have soured.
Tweets from Donald Trump over the weekend saying he would raise tariffs on $200bn in imports from China as early as Friday did the main damage to risk sentiment, sparking a selloff in equities. Following this the Robert Lighthizer and Steve Mnuchin said China had reneged on its commitments and painted a very downbeat picture of the talks. This hit trade sensitive stocks after-market and will keep the downwards pressure on equities.
Quite where this leaves us is hard to say. There is a sense that the US is working extremely hard to extract last-minute concessions from China ahead of a planned visit by vice-premier Liu He. That visit has been confirmed – he is to visit the US May 9th-10th. Equity futures in Europe rose on the news of the Chinese visit still being a go, but risks remain skewed to the downside today it would seem.
Just talking tough?
Will that be enough to avert the tariffs being raised on Friday is unclear, but at least it means the two sides are continuing to talk and a deal is still possible. However, we don’t know if this is a last-ditch rescue mission to save talks or something that moves talks on in a more substantive way. The optics suggest the former, but one cannot but sense that Mr Trump is playing us a little. He may well be making a deal seem further away in order to make the achievement seem all the more impressive when it comes.
The market has been juiced by expectations the US and China would do a deal, combined with a much more dovish sounding Fed. Those two key planks are what the ATHs rest upon – remove one and we should expect more downside.
RBA holds rates before Australian elections
Elsewhere, in the FX space, the RBA chose not to cut rates, leaving the benchmark at 1.5% again. It was about 50/50 whether the central bank would cut or stick, and it seems that for now, with enough evidence that the slowdown can be blamed on transitory factors, the RBA is prepared to wait and see before easing. Also, with the election looming, the RBA probably felt it wise to wait.
We’ve seen global central banks pivot from their tightening stance, but markets have just been a tad quick in calling the new easing cycle – the Fed last week and the RBA today confirm that it’s a done deal. AUDUSD spiked to regain the 70 handle – it may well now keep in a range between 0.7030 and 0.7060, the narrow band it was in for the last week of April.
GBPUSD remains supported above 1.31 but remains susceptible to Brexit news flow again. Despite all the jawboning, there is little evidence that Labour and the Tories can do a deal. Whether this gaping chasm between the major parties forces the UK towards a second referendum, General Election or a hard exit is still unknown.
Finally, a word on Bitcoin – the crypto market remains bullish and Bitcoin futures are moving rapidly towards the $6,000 level. This could attract some technical interest as it would mark the clear move out of the bottom formation, whilst momentum traders may start to pile in on the back of it.