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Futures Drop As ECB Confusion Persists, Dollar Rises To Seven Month High; Yuan Plunges

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Asian stocks and S&P futures fall modestly and European shares are little changed as traders digested the surprising reticence from yesterday's ECB meeting and weighed earnings reports from companies including Microsoft, which soared to all time highs after beating non-GAAP estimates, and Daimler. The dollar jumped to 7 month highs, pressuring EM currencies and pushing the euro to its weakest level since March and below the Brexit lows, after Mario Draghi shut down talk of tapering, while the Yuan dropped to the lowest since 2010 after the PBOC cut the fixing by most since August; commodities declined on speculation U.S. monetary policy will diverge from stimulus measures in Europe and Asia.

 

Top corporate stories include BAT’s offer to buy the remaining stake in Reynolds American for $47 billion and speculation AT&T is discussing a takeover of Time Warner; NBC is doubling in bet in BuzzFeed by investing another $200 million.

 

S&P 500 Index futures signaled U.S. equities will pare this week’s advance and European stocks fluctuated while Japanese shares fell after the nation was struck by an earthquake. A gauge of commodities fell for a second day. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index headed for a third weekly gain after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Thursday that the authority’s bond-buying program will likely be tapered before it is halted, a hint that there will be an extension beyond the scheduled end-date of March 2017. Despite today's muted tone, global stocks were set for their first weekly gain in four weeks.

 

"Weaning markets off easy monetary policy will be a delicate exercise for the ECB, and we think the bank is unlikely to remove its stimulus until inflation is solidly on track to 2 percent," Andrew Bosomworth, managing director and portfolio manager at PIMCO, said in a note. "We thus view tapering as a topic for 2017 and beyond."

 

The euro fell to its lowest since March after Draghi’s guarded appearance on Thursday, and was trading just under $1.09 on Friday morning. Speaking after the Governing Council left its stimulus strategy unchanged, Draghi said that “sometimes it’s important to say what we did not discuss.” The topics deemed out of bounds included future rate cuts, extending bond-buying and tapering the program -- or even whether those topics will be on the December agenda.

 

Prospects for more stimulus contrast with Federal Reserve policy as officials weigh the case for its first interest-rate hike since 2015. Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo and San Francisco Fed President John Williams are scheduled to speak today.

 

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“Anybody who had positioned for the risk that Draghi would signal a hard taper took their chips off that particular table,” said Ned Rumpeltin, the head of European currency strategy at Toronto Dominion Bank in London. “This also put emphasis back on the dollar. And the calendar over the next few weeks look dollar friendly.”

 

More troubling than the move in the Euro was the latest plunge in the yuan, whose lower fixing to 6.7558, down 5.8% Y/Y, was the biggest daily move since August, pushing the Chinese currency beyond Bloomberg's year-end forecast of 6.75, CNH hit 6.7666- close to weakest since trading began in 2010.

 

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S&P 500 Index futures were down 0.3%. General Electric Co. and McDonald’s Corp. are among American companies reporting results on Friday. Microsoft Corp. surged as much as 6.2% in after-hours trading after first-quarter sales and earnings topped analysts’ estimates.

 

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index was little changed near a two-week high. Daimler AG fell 2 percent after the automaker reported a 10 percent increase in third-quarter earnings and SAP SE was up 2 percent following the announcement of sales that topped estimates. Ericsson AB slid 2.2 percent following its first loss in almost four years. British American Tobacco Plc paced gains among retailers, rising 2.7 percent after offering to buy the stake it doesn’t already own in Reynolds American Inc. for $47 billion.

 

Japan’s Topix index slid 0.4 percent and the yen strengthened after a magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck western Japan. The nation’s earnings season ramps up next week, with more than 350 members of the equity gauge set to report results.

 

The yield on benchmark U.S. Treasuries due in a decade fell one basis point to 1.74 percent. It touched a four-month high of 1.81 percent this week as higher oil prices spurred speculation inflation will gather pace. That may boost the case for the Fed to raise rates. China’s 10-year bond yield fell two basis points to a record 2.64 percent. Demand for sovereign debt firmed this week as data showed industrial output missed estimates last month and a weakening yuan spurred concern about capital outflows.

 

“It’s still a matter of debate whether economic fundamentals have turned better,” said Luo Yunfeng, a fixed-income analyst at Essence Securities Co. in Beijing. “It’s possible that, some time next year, the economy might show some sort of weakness again.”

 

* * *

 

Bulletin Headline Summary from RanSquawk

 

  • A rather uninspiring session so far in Europe with equities trading relatively flat as earnings continues to guide price action
  • USD bull theme is largely in play, though EUFt/USD losses through 1.0900 have been slow and steady
  • Looking ahead, highlights include Canadian CPI and Retail Sales, ECB's Weidmann (Hawk) and Fed's Tarullo (Voter, Dove) Speaks

 

Market Snapshot

 

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.3% to 2130
  • Stoxx 600 up less than 0.1% to 345
  • FTSE 100 up less than 0.1% to 7033
  • DAX up less than 0.1% to 10710
  • German 10Yr yield up less than 1bp to 0.01%
  • Italian 10Yr yield down less than 1bp to 1.36%
  • Spanish 10Yr yield up less than 1bp to 1.11%
  • S&P GSCI Index up less than 0.1% to 374.1
  • MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.3% to 140
  • Nikkei 225 down 0.3% to 17185
  • Hang Seng closed
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.2% to 3091
  • S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% to 5430
  • US 10-yr yield down 1bp to 1.75%
  • Dollar Index up 0.25% to 98.56
  • WTI Crude futures up less than 0.1% to $50.67
  • Brent Futures up 0.3% to $51.51
  • Gold spot down less than 0.1% to $1,265
  • Silver spot down 0.3% to $17.49

 

TOP NEWS:

 

  • BAT Offers to Buy Rest of Reynolds American for $47 Billion: Deal would create world’s largest publicly traded tobacco co.
  • AT&T Said to Discuss Takeover Idea in Time Warner Meetings: Executives said to have met in recent weeks for informal talks
  • Shell Sells $1 Billion of Western Canada Assets to Tourmaline: Oil major follows Conoco, EOG in shedding Canadian assets
  • Chesapeake Finds 4.5 Billion-Barrel Oil Field in Appalachia: Rome Trough field holds about 65 percent oil and gas liquids
  • JPMorgan Facing Criticism on Valuation of Complex Bonds It Sold: Bank ignored fees when determining values, consultant says
  • NBCUniversal Said to Near $200 Million Investment in BuzzFeed
  • Microsoft Jumps as Sales, Profit Top Estimates on Cloud Demand
  • PayPal’s Three-Year Forecast Eases Concern About Card Pacts
  • Volvo Profit Falls as North American Truck Orders Plunge
  • Daimler Quarterly Profit Rises 10% on Mercedes E-Class, SUVs
  • Schlumberger Beats Estimates as U.S. Shale Helps Lead Recovery
  • China to Surpass U.S. as World’s Largest Aviation Market by 2024

 

Asian stocks pared their biggest weekly advance in a month as health-care companies led losses and an earthquake in western Japan weighed on Tokyo equities. Hong Kong markets were shut due to a typhoon. Local markets traded in lackluster fashion following the weak US lead where declines in oil and losses in telecoms dragged sentiment lower. Nikkei 225 (-0.2%) was initially supported by a weaker JPY before reports of an earthquake in the region dragged the index into the red. ASX 200 (-0.2%) was held back by underperformance in healthcare after Healthscope warned of weaker revenue growth for hospitals, while oil and gold names were pressured by the declines in their respective commodities. Shanghai Comp. (+0.2%) traded choppy after property prices continued to soar which could increase the attractiveness of real asset investments over stocks, while a stronger PBoC liquidity injection and typhoon which kept Hong Kong markets closed for trade further added to the indecisiveness. 10yr JGBs saw uneventful trade with the BoJ absent from the market while Kuroda comments also failed to provide any new surprises. 9 out of 10 sectors fall with telcos, staples underperforming and materials, energy outperforming. “It’s likely the quake provided a reason for investors to sell ahead of the weekend,” with the index hovering around multi-month highs, said Shinichi Yamamoto, a senior strategist at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo. “Stocks appear to have managed to break out of their recent boxed-in range, and are likely to show solid performance next week as well.”

 

Top Asian News

 

  • Yuan Weakens Beyond Year-End Estimates as PBOC Lowers Fixing: Currency traded offshore declines close to record low
  • China Home Prices Rise in Fewer Cities Amid Tougher Curbs: Authorities in 21 cities have imposed curbs to cool prices
  • China Resources Pharma Said to Raise $1.8 Billion From IPO: Drugmaker prices first-time share sale below midpoint of range
  • Inflation Outlook Rises Everywhere But Japan in Test for BOJ: Japan’s 5-year inflation swap below 0.3%, versus 1.9% in U.S.
  • Duterte Goodbye to U.S. Swelling Costs on $42 Billion Bonds: Middle finger curse of EU also sped up outflows from peso debt
  • Hong Kong Cancels Stock Trading as Typhoon Haima Lashes City: Airport Authority says 689 flights canceled or delayed

 

In Europe, it has likewise been a rather uninspiring session so far with equities trading relatively flat as earnings continues to guide price action. IT names outperform this morning following Microsoft's financial results beating expectations, consequently shares rose over 6% in after-market hours to surge past their dot.com peak, while European listed SAP are among the best performers after the tech giant upgraded their profit forecast. Elsewhere, British American Tobacco leads the FTSE 100 higher on the back of reports that they are to purchase the remaining stake in Reynold American for GBP 47BN. European stocks held on to their biggest weekly gain in a month amid deal activity and mixed earnings report after ECB chief yesterday pushed talks on bond-plan future to later meeting. 10 out of 19 Stoxx 600 sectors fall with autos, health care underperforming and basic resources, banks outperforming. 50% of Stoxx 600 members decline, 47% gain. The ECB “put a lot of pressure on themselves and on us for the December meeting,” said Holger Sandte, chief European analyst at Nordea Markets in Copenhagen. “Markets are pretty dependent on their drugs, so to get out is difficult. There’s a big communication challenge here.”

 

Top European News

 

  • Draghi’s ‘Did Not Discuss’ Leaves Investors Filling Blanks: ECB chief pushes talks on bond-plan future to later meeting.
  • Bombardier to Scrap 7,500 More Jobs as CEO Deepens Cost Cuts: Bellemare reduces employment for second time in eight months.
  • Nissan Confronts Post-Brexit Reality With SUV Plant Decision: Britain’s top auto producer weighing whether to keep Qashqai.
  • Deutsche Bank Shares Back to Level Before DOJ $14 Billion Demand: Shares traded at 13.10 euros before company confirmed request.
  • Daimler Sees Growth Stalling on North America Truck Market Woes: Weak North America demand burdens Daimler’s trucks division
  • Monte Paschi Heads for Best Week Ever With Fidentiis Skeptical: Monte Paschi climbs as much as 15%, extending this week’s rally to 54% as the Italian bank pressed ahead with plans to boost capital and sell non-performing loans.
  • UBS’s Currency Trading Volume Hit Record as Pound Crashed: ‘We processed our highest volume of trades in a minute’: Hall Fed move, other central bank policy changes to boost trading

 

In FX, the Bloomberg dollar gauge added 0.2 percent. South Korea’s won was the worst performer among major currencies, sliding 0.7 percent. The euro dropped 0.5 percent to $1.0880, falling for the first time through the low recorded on June 24, when the outcome of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union was announced. Draghi’s non-committal stance leaves traders waiting until at least December for news about policy changes. China’s yuan fell as much as 0.2 percent to 6.7605 per dollar in Shanghai, weakening beyond the 6.75 level that it was forecast to reach by year-end. The onshore yuan has declined in all but one session this month as the People’s Bank of China allowed a drop past the 6.7 level that was previously seen as its line in the sand. In offshore trading, the currency was within 0.5 percent of the weakest level recorded since trading began in 2010.

 

In commodities, the Bloomberg Commodity Index extended the first weekly decline in a month, falling 0.2 percent as dollar strength made raw materials more expensive to buy in other countries. Crude oil was little changed at $50.64 a barrel in New York, following Thursday’s retreat from a 15-month high. Rosneft PJSC Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said Russia is capable of a substantial boost to production less than two weeks after President Vladimir Putin pledged support for international efforts to limit output. Nigeria also said Thursday that it cut the price of every type of crude it sells in an effort to boost its global oil market share. Nickel fell 0.8 percent to $10,045 a ton in London having earlier touched the lowest price in two weeks. The metal came under pressure after China’s top stainless steel producer said it plans to cut output. Aluminum climbed for the first time in six days in London, trimming this week’s loss to 3.5 percent. Gold fell for a second day, dropping 0.2 percent to $1,263.73 an ounce, near its 200-day average, a measure watched by traders and analysts who use chart patterns to make price predictions.

 

Looking at today's calendar, it looks set to be a much quieter end to the week today for data. In fact with no releases due in the US the only prints we’ll get today will be the UK public sector net borrowing data for September, due out this morning and the October consumer confidence print for the Euro area this afternoon. Away from that, the Fed’s Tarullo will speak this afternoon (3.15pm BST) followed by Williams (7.30pm BST) later this evening. The EU leaders will also continue on with the summit in Brussels while the Bundesbank’s Weidmann and Italy’s Padoan are due to speak this morning. Away from the macro, earnings wise we’ve got nine S&P 500 companies due to report including McDonald’s and General Electric (both prior to the open).

 

* * *

 

US Event Calendar

 

  • No Macro
  • 10:15am: Fed’s Tarullo speaks in New York
  • 2:30pm: Fed’s Williams speaks in San Francisco
  • 1pm: Baker Hughes rig count

 

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

 

At a period of time in the current cycle where every other word spoken by central bankers gets debated to the nth degree, we instead find ourselves sitting here this morning mulling over what Draghi didn’t say at the ECB press conference yesterday. In one of the more dull ECB meetings in recent memory, Draghi has instead passed the baton on to December. The main takeaway was that Draghi confirmed that the ECB has not discussed tapering or extending the asset purchase program. Indeed there was no intention of using up the option to completely rule out tapering, or to openly pre-signal a QE extension. That said we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes and it’s more than possible that his refusal to pre-commit to an extension is because he is trying to build a consensus on the council and that therefore the topic is being actively discussed.

 

Our European economists don’t think that Draghi’s refusal to pre-commit in terms of extending QE and excluding a tapering should be read as the Governing Council thinking about a gradual termination of the QE programme from March 2017. Importantly they note that staff working groups have not yet completed their analysis on how to best tackle the bond scarcity issue were QE to be extended so pre-signalling at the meeting yesterday would have perhaps been premature. They also note that there was some room for an implicitly dovish signal towards the end of the press conference. Draghi seemed to dismiss the idea that markets are becoming too complacent in expecting QE to run indefinitely. One could see this as validating current market pricing of a further extension of QE. In summary, our economists continue to believe that the ECB will announce an extension of the €80bn QE programme in December. The key though to make it credible is how to resolve the eligible bond problem.

 

On that subject, with today’s calendar fairly bare one event worth keeping an eye on is Portugal’s sovereign rating review by DBRS today. Draghi yesterday confirmed that Portugal’s debt would no longer become eligible to buy under the current QE programme in the event of a downgrade to junk today with Moody’s, Fitch and S&P already there. Earlier this month Portugal’s Finance Minister claimed that DRBS had a more positive assessment of the country’s fiscal efforts so that has somewhat tempered concerns.

 

Markets were fairly choppy at and around the ECB. As Draghi spoke the Stoxx 600 dipped and touched an intraday low of -0.84%. However by the end of the press conference the index had pared all of that move lower and in fact as the session crept towards the close it had edged into positive territory (+0.19%) by the time the closing bell sounded. European Banks in particular seemed to enjoy the fact that there were no shocks with the Stoxx 600 Banks index ending +1.26% for its third successive daily gain. That index has quietly gone about climbing over +27% from the lows back in July which compares to a gain of ‘just’ +8% for the broader index. Meanwhile, the Euro (-0.41%) was under a bit of pressure and has touched the lowest level since March in trading this morning while sovereign bond yields – with the exception of Portugal (+1.5bps) – were 1-4bps lower across the board.

 

As we moved into the US session the focus moved on from the ECB and over towards earnings which were on the whole a bit more disappointing. Following the strong results from the Banks, it was the telecom and tech sectors which underwhelmed with earnings reports from Verizon (shares down -2.48%) and eBay (shares down -10.76%) disappointing. That overshadowed better than expected numbers from American Express which sent shares up over 9% and the most in seven years. The S&P 500 (-0.14%) ended with a modest decline.

 

Also not helping sentiment was a reversal in Oil prices. WTI (-2.30%) undid most of the move higher on Wednesday to close back below $51/bbl. The leg lower for Oil was blamed on comments from the CEO of Rosneft – the largest Oil company in Russia – who said that Russia has the capacity to add up to 4m barrels a day if there’s demand and conditions allow for it. Staying with Oil, yesterday Schlumberger became the first of the big Oil companies to report in the US. Q3 results were mixed with earnings beating but revenues a slight miss. The big names report next week.

 

Switching our focus over to Asia this morning where it’s been a fairly directionless session to conclude the week. While the Nikkei (+0.29%) is up, the Shanghai Comp (-0.36%) has reversed earlier gains into the midday break while the Kospi (-0.40%) and ASX (-0.14%) have also edged lower. Markets in Hong Kong are still closed in anticipation of Typhoon Haima drawing closer. Datawise in Asia the focus has been on China. The September property prices data is out and it showed that new home prices (excluding government subsided housing) rose in 63 of the 70 cities last month. That’s down from 64 cities in August while prices dropped in 6 cities versus 4 in August, suggesting a cooling off. It’s worth also highlighting the move in the Chinese Yuan this morning. It’s currently down -0.18% after the fix was set weaker with the current 6.757 level the weakest in six years. Since Golden Week two weeks ago, the Yuan has depreciated on 8 of the last 10 days. Elsewhere this morning US equity index futures are down slightly despite Microsoft reporting better than expected Q3 numbers which sent shares up over 6% in extended trading.

 

Staying with the micro focus briefly, in a report this morning, our European equity strategists highlight that many investors have been scratching their heads about the continued strength of the European mining sector, which has outperformed by 90% since January despite renewed USD strength and copper price weakness. An important driver of the outperformance is the fact that 75% of the sector is listed in the UK, making mining a key beneficiary of the plunge in Sterling. Yet, our strategists are cautious on the sector, as the recent USD strength and the fading Chinese credit impulse point to around 15% downside for metal prices. Given that Sterling only matters when it moves sharply, it would most likely take a renewed bout of political crisis in the UK to offset the impact of softening metal prices.

 

Wrapping up what was a broadly decent day for economic data in the US yesterday. Existing home sales rose a bumper +3.2% mom last month, well exceeding expectations for just a +0.4% rise. Elsewhere the Philly Fed survey did fall 3.1pts at the headline to 9.7 however the market was forecasting for a bigger drop to 5.0. Also the underlying details showed much more improvement than the modest decline in the headline suggested. New orders (16.3 vs. 1.4 in the prior month) and shipments (15.3 vs. -8.8) in particular stood out while the number of employees also improved. Our US economists noted that the six-month outlook for capex also bounced by 12.6pts this month to 21.2. Elsewhere, the Conference Board’s leading index was up +0.2% mom last month as expected. Initial jobless claims rose 13k last week to 260k but there was some suggestion that this was impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

 

The focus data wise in Europe was once again in the UK. The latest retail sales numbers came across as fairly soft with sales flat MoM both excluding and including fuel. That compared to expectations for a +0.2% and +0.3% increase respectively. Sterling was slightly weaker (-0.25%) although the move lower came a few hours after that data.

 

As we glance over today’s calendar, it looks set to be a much quieter end to the week today for data. In fact with no releases due in the US the only prints we’ll get today will be the UK public sector net borrowing data for September, due out this morning and the October consumer confidence print for the Euro area this afternoon. Away from that, the Fed’s Tarullo will speak this afternoon (3.15pm BST) followed by Williams (7.30pm BST) later this evening. The EU leaders will also continue on with the summit in Brussels while the Bundesbank’s Weidmann and Italy’s Padoan are due to speak this morning. Away from the macro, earnings wise we’ve got nine S&P 500 companies due to report including McDonald’s and General Electric (both prior to the open).

 

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