In China they claim that firms grew
Their profits and gross revenue
Encouraged by this
The bulls added risk
While bears had to rethink their view
Quite frankly, it has been a fairly dull session overnight with virtually no data and only a handful of comments. Risk appetite is in the ascension after the Chinese reported, Saturday night, that Industrial Profits rose 19.1% Y/Y. What’s truly remarkable about that statistic, and perhaps what makes it difficult to accept, is that throughout most of 2019, those numbers were negative. In other words, prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, Chinese firms were struggling mightily to make money. But since the very sharp dip in March, the rebound there, at least in this statistic, has been substantial. While it is certainly possible that organic growth is the reason for this sharp rebound, it seems far more likely that PBOC support has been a key factor. Remember, while they don’t get as much press as the Fed or ECB, they are extremely involved in the economy as well as financial markets. After all, there is no semblance of independence from the government.
According to those in the know
The ECB’s starting to show
Some signs of dissension
The rate of inflation’s too low
In one camp the PIGS all believe
More money they ought to receive
But further up north
The hawks have put forth
The view PEPP should end New Year’s Eve
Meanwhile, the other story that is building is the growing split in the ECB between the hawks and doves regarding how to react to the evolving situation. The breakdown is exactly as expected, with Italian, Spanish and Portuguese members calling for more support, via an expansion of the PEPP by December, latest, in order to assure those economies still suffering the aftereffects of the Covid shutdowns, that the ECB will prevent borrowing costs from rising. Meanwhile, the hawkish set, led by Yves Mersch, the Luxembourgish ECB governor, sees the glass half full and has explained there is no need for further action as the economy looks much better. Naturally, German, Dutch and Austrian members are on board with the latter view. Madame Lagarde, the consensus builder, certainly has her work cut out to get policy agreement by the next meeting at the end of October.
Adding to the difficulty for the ECB is the apparent strength of the second wave of the virus that is truly sweeping the Continent. While France has been the worst hit, with more than 11,000 new cases reported yesterday, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Germany are all seeing caseloads as high, or higher, than the initial wave back in March. European governments are reluctant to force another shutdown as the economic consequences are too severe, but they feel the need to do something that will demonstrate they are in control of the situation. Look for more rules, but no mandatory shutdowns.
And remarkably, those are the only economically focused stories of the session. The ongoing US presidential campaigns, especially now that the first debate is nearly upon us, has captured the bulk of the US press’s attention, although the angst over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett has probably been the cause of more spilled digital ink in the past several days.
So, a turn toward markets shows that Asian markets generally performed well (Nikkei +1.3%, Hang Seng +1.0%) although interestingly, despite the Chinese profits data, Shanghai actually fell -0.1%. Europe, on the other hand, is uniformly green, led by the DAX (+2.7%) and CAC (+2.0%), with the FTSE 100 higher by a mere 1.5%. US futures have taken their cues from all this and are currently pointing to openings nearly 1.5% higher than Friday’s closing levels.
Bond markets continue to offer little in the way of price signals as central bank activity continues to be the dominant force. I find it laughable that Fed members are explaining they don’t want to increase QE because they don’t want to have an impact on the bond market. Really? Between the Fed and the ECB, the one thing in which both have been successful is preventing virtually any movement, up or down, in yields. This morning sees the risk-on characteristic of a rise in Treasury and Bund yields, but by just 1.5bps each, and both remain well within their recent trading ranges. Yield curve control is here in all but name.
As to the dollar, it is softer vs. its G10 counterparts with the pound (+1.25%) rising sharply in the past few minutes as the tone leading up to the restart of Brexit negotiations tomorrow has suddenly become quite conciliatory on both sides. But we have also seen solid gains in SEK (+0.7%), NOK (+0.6%) and AUD (+0.5%). The Stocky story has to do with the fact that the Riksbank did not receive any bids for credit by the banking community, implying the situation in the economy is improving. As to NOK and AUD, a reversal in oil and commodity prices has been seen as a positive in both these currencies.
In the emerging markets, the picture is a bit more mixed with ZAR (+0.3%) as the leading gainer, although given the relative movement in the G10 space, one would have expected something more exciting. On the downside, TRY (-1.65%) and RUB (-0.85%) are outliers as the declaration of war between Armenia (Russian-backed) and Azerbaijan (Turkish-backed), has raised further concerns about both nations’ financial capabilities to wage a hot war at this time.
On the data front, while the week has started off slowly, we have a lot to absorb culminating in Friday’s NFP numbers.
|Tuesday||Case Shiller Home Prices||3.60%|
|Core PCE||0.3% (1.4% Y/Y)|
|ISM Prices Paid||59.0|
|Friday||Non Farm Payrolls||850K|
|Average Hourly Earnings||0.2% (4.8% Y/Y)|
|Average Weekly Hours||34.6|
On top of the data, we have thirteen Fed speeches by eight different Fed speakers, although the Chairman is mute this week. It seems unlikely that we will get a mixed message from this group, but it is not impossible. After all, we have both the most hawkish (Mester today) and the most dovish (Kashkari on Wednesday) due, so the chance for some disagreement there. As to the data, it would appear that the payroll data will be most important, but do not ignore the PCE data. Remember, both PPI and CPI have been surprising on the high side the past two months, so a surprise here might get some tongues wagging, although I wouldn’t expect a policy change, that’s for sure.
Net, with a positive risk backdrop, it is no surprise to see the dollar under pressure. However, I expect that we are more likely to see a modest reversal than a large extension of the move unless stocks can go up sharply from their already elevated levels.
Good luck and stay safe