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Trade The News Weekly market update
Trade The News Weekly market update
- US equity indices slipped downward for a second consecutive week as doubts about the reality of an economic recovery seemed to gather strength. On Tuesday the S&P500 broke through a key technical level, moving back below its 200-day simple moving average; it had remained above this level since the beginning of June without a serious breach to the downside. Technicians discussed the possibility of a head-and-shoulders formation appearing in the S&P 500, indicating the potential for more downside to come. Along with the fresh bout of skepticism came a wave of commentary on whether a second stimulus package would be needed (along with plenty of criticism of the failings of the initial stimulus plan). President Obama himself said that recovery has not arrived and that stimulus at least should not be wound down yet. In a joint appearance on Bloomberg radio late in the week, perma-bear Nouriel Roubini said the US economy is not yet recovering and the recession will last six more months, while noted Yale economist Robert Shiller and Warren Buffett both said the US needs a second fiscal stimulus package. The "new GM" emerged from its bankruptcy restructuring on Friday, promising that it would repay its government loans in advance of its 2015 deadline. Nymex crude continued its plunge dropping 10.2% for its biggest weekly decline since January, and ending the week below $60 for the first time since mid-May. For the week the DJIA fell 1.6%, the Nasdaq dropped 2.3%, and the S&P500 slid 1.9%.
- There were few economic data reports in the week for investors to fix on, but what data there was offered an interesting picture. On Monday the June ISM non-manufacturing data beat expectations, hitting levels not seen since last fall, while the prices paid index popped above 50. The weekly initial jobless claims fell below 600K for the first time in 24 weeks, although continuing claims remain at all-time highs around 6.8M. Some traders insisted that initial claims looked better because auto sector layoffs have tapered off. A worse-than-expected University of Michigan confidence reading on Friday put the series back where it stood in April, indicating that the jitters over the state of the recovery are having a wider impact beyond the world of finance. Also note that the IMF published an update to its World Economic Outlook report on Wednesday, raising its 2010 global growth forecast to +2.5% from +1.9% back in April (and slightly lowering its outlook for 2009 growth to -1.4%). However the IMF also warned that while the global economy may be beginning to pull out of recession, recovery would likely remain sluggish.
- Though the participants declared it a great success, very little in the way of concrete measures emerged from G8 talks in Italy, with investors mostly focusing on Russia, China and others flogging the reserve currency issue, as well as conflict between the developing and developed nations over CO2 emissions controls. The G8 communiqu√© was full of rhetoric about ensuring fiscal sustainability and warnings of the substantial risks to economic and financial stability. The draft had no direct mention of currencies or the reserve currency issue. The statement noted that countries need to prepare exit strategies once recovery is assured, and noted that strategies would vary depending on economic conditions and public finances. One other factor was G8 commentary on the larger issue of "oil speculators." On Friday, Italian PM Berlusconi said the G8 has expressed disapproval of speculation in oil markets and it discussed intervening to block speculators. This talk of restricting oil speculators helped weigh on energy futures all week.
- Alcoa kicked off earnings season on Thursday by surprising investors with a smaller-than-expected loss and impressive revenues. On the conference call, executives said the company's liquidity situation is much better and said they were "very close" to being free cash flow positive. There were few other notable earnings reports, although Shaw Group lost 10% on Friday after it fell short of the Street's earning expectations and cut its full-year outlook. Also note that energy giant Chevron offered a mid-quarter update, warning that its Q2 downstream results are projected to be significantly lower than the first quarter, with the benefits of higher crude prices in the quarter largely offset by substantial unfavorable foreign currency effects. With earnings season heating up, next week promises reports from financial sector majors Goldman Sachs (Tuesday), JP Morgan (Thursday), Citigroup and Bank of America (both Friday) next week, in addition to reports from Intel, Google, IBM and J&J.
- Healthcare stocks fluctuated throughout the week, particularly managed care and hospital names, on chatter that Senate Democrats and the White House were moving closer to a deal on healthcare reform. On Tuesday the WSJ reported that the White House Chief of Staff reiterated the Administration is willing to be flexible on reform as long as the deal gets done. Key player Senator Chuck Grassley questioned the timing of any healthcare bill, cautioning that a Senate vote may not come before the August recess (as demanded by President Obama), but he still expect the legislation to pass this year. Note that the White House said it reached a cost-cutting deal with hospital groups that may save $155B in costs over a 10-year period.
- The June same-store numbers were a mixed bag, with monthly results from most companies still well below last year's levels but more than a few outperforming expectations. TJX and ROST blew out estimates, coming in at +4% versus -2.6%e and +1% versus -2.3%e, respectively. ARO continues to stand out from the pack, with sales up 12%, although it is worth noting this growth is less than the year over year growth it showed in April and May. Department stores reported declines across the board, although they nearly all did better than expected, with high-end names SKS (-4.7% v -10.7%e) and JWN (-10% v -11%e) doing surprisingly better than expected. Higher-end mall retailers continue to suffer. LTD was much worse than expected (-12% v -8.3%e), while AEO and ANF racked up yet another month of big double-digit declines, with both worse than expected. Big box discounters BJ and COST were both a little better than expected, but still showing uncomfortable y/y sales declines, while TGT did worse than expected.
- With the DJIA heading towards 8100 and crude firmly below $60, risk aversion has put an underlying bid into US Treasury prices. This dynamic has regained traction in a big way, helping Treasury prices surge and yield drop to levels not seen in nearly two months. Investors scrambled to get a piece of the $77B in supply that was up for grabs in three auctions this week. A particularly well received 10-year reopening saw an eye-opening 3.28 bid to cover ratio sending the yield roughly 20 bps lower on the week, and down 70 bps from the 4.00% high seen in early June. The 3.25% area stands out as the next key level, marking a midpoint between the 2009 high yield and the March quantitative easing announcement lows (2.54%). Dollar interbank lending rates continue to decline with three-month LIBOR making new all-time lows approaching 50 bps.
- Overseas much of the trading action in government bond markets has centered on the UK. The BoE's decision not to employ an additional ¬£25B to its quantitative easing (for which it already had permission) surprised Gilt markets on Thursday and sent yields to their highest levels in almost a month. The 10-year gilt yields were 3.79% at the time of writing, a full 15 bps higher than its pre quantitative easing levels, leading many to ponder where yields would be had the BoE chosen a different path.
- The long shadow of last Friday's US payroll data has greatly influenced FX trading this week, to the benefit of overall USD and JPY sentiment. Many traders are asking themselves when they can expect to see "real data" that would dispel lingering uncertainty and confirm whether the recovery has begun or not. On Wednesday the IMF raised its global growth forecast for 2010 to +2.5% from +1.9% back in April. However, the IMF also warned that while the global economy might be beginning to pull out of recession, the recovery would be sluggish. The report also suggested that governments have to keep supporting their economies until growth resumes and deflationary risks subside. Meanwhile, government officials continue to stress that economic growth will not likely return to pre crisis levels. The key to recovery is consumer spending, and there has been a dearth of good news on that front. Note that the American Bankers Association (ABA) reported on Tuesday that US consumer loan delinquencies hit their highest level on record in the first quarter of 2009. Rising doubt in regards to GDP growth around the world has brought the fiscal health of countries and whole regions back into question, as highlighted by the release of the Indian budget this week. India stated that its goal to sustain 9% GDP growth over the medium term meant the country would have to keep providing fiscal stimulus.
- The G8 summit provided those who enjoy hashing over the reserve currency issue with a big soapbox all week long. Brazilian President Lula affirmed that the dollar would remain an important currency for decades but also said that the world's dependence on a single currency was not a good thing. Kremlin Aide Dvorkovich commented that Russia has no plans to undermine the dollar but reiterated the view that both Russia and China see the need for the gradual development of a new reserve currency system. A Chinese official reiterated that management of reserve currency system must be improved, with a "more diversified" system a chief goal. World Bank President Zoellick insisted the dollar would remain the primary reserve currency but warned its role cannot be taken for granted by the United States. Still there was no formal discussion of the issue at the G8 conclave, and the USD managed to maintain a foothold below the 1.40 handle for most of the week.
- Following all the rhetoric about "diversifying reserves," the ECB published a report on the international role of the euro that stated international use of the currency was relatively stable in 2008 and stated it accounted for 26.5% of global reserves compared to 25.3% at the end of 2007. Currency dealers focused right in on the report's suggestion that the global financial crisis has had no visible effect on the dollar and that the US currency would maintain its preeminence in international markets. The document implied that China, Russia and India have had little success in actually reducing the USD's role in global affairs, despite their tough stance on the subject. A Goldman Sachs analyst commented that the latest COFER data from the IMF reinforced this conclusion, with the data showing there have been no signs of FX reserve diversification to date. The analyst noted that the Q2 COFER release three months from now would be more interesting, as it would cover the recent period of BRIC and G5 reserve currency talk.
- EUR/USD maintained a choppy 1.3850 to 1.4050 range during the week, despite all the above-mentioned chatter around (if not at) the G8 on the dollar as an FX reserve. On the macro side there were fresh concerns that Euro Zone exporters have been squeezed by euro strength, which has forced European companies to step up cost-cutting efforts in order to compete with rivals from the US and elsewhere amid fears that it could slow the pace of recovery. German Finance Minister Steinbrueck commented that interest rate hikes would be needed to mop up liquidity in Europe, although he did not mention any timeframe for imposing such action.
- USD/JPY moved back below the 95.00 level as risk aversion continued to simmer. The yen strength gained some momentum as some chatter circulated that the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) was offering USD in the pair. The break below the 94.70 level proved critical in price action, as the 93.70 level was where the Japanese Postal System was seen selling JPY back in May. The non-appearance of any official names selling the yen elected significant stops in JPY-related pairs. As the week ended, the JPY sustained its firm tone. Dealers commented that JPY strength was highlighted by recent 'lack of appetite' for Toshin issues, with people pointing out that the Nikko/Pimco High Income Toshin attracted ¬•4.9B out of ¬•300B target.
- GBP/USD encountered some choppy price action as well as initial speculation rose for the potential for more quantitative easing (QE) from the BoE. The GBP/USD bounced nicely off its April uptrend line at 1.6000 and and firmed when the BoE did not raise its current ceiling of its ¬£125B QE program and not activate its ¬£25B in authorization remaining. The BoE left its interest rates unchanged at 0.50%, as expected.
- Equity markets in Asia were also weighed down by a sharp reversal in investor sentiment, as indices in Tokyo and Sydney both hit their worst levels in weeks. However, South Korea notably re-emerged as an outperformer in the region, driven by positive developments from its corporate sector as well as a positive assessment from its monetary authorities. On Monday, Samsung offered a surprisingly strong Q2 guidance, putting operating profit estimate at KRW2.2-2.6T vs consensus view of KRW789M and sales forecast of KRW31-33T v KRW19T expected. Those projections sparked a kneejerk rally in Samsung shares as well as overall strength in the Kospi tech sector that persisted for nearly the remainder of the week. Then on Thursday, the Bank of Korea left its key rate at 2.00% for the fifth consecutive month citing better than expected economic performance over Q2, while also pledging to keep policy accommodative for some time. Subsequently on Friday, Bank of Korea raised its GDP forecast in 2009 from -2.4% to -1.6% and in 2010 from 3.5% to 3.6% while also boosting its consumer inflation view to 2.9% from 2.7% in 2009 and 3.0% in 2010.
- Australia was weighed down by an array of economic and political developments, ranging from a steep slide in commodity prices and another disappointing jobs number down to more uncertainty over pricing contracts with steelmakers in China and the detainment of a Rio Tinto's executive on alleged espionage charges. Sydney's S&P/ASX index slumped to its worst levels since late April at 3,715, while the Aussie Dollar fell to its lowest level against the greenback and the Euro since late May.
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