***Moderna vaccine indicated at 94.5% effective** – 6:56am
The rebound in growth
Set records. But the future
Remains cloaked in fog
Similar to what we have seen in every major economy, Q3 GDP growth in Japan recorded the highest ever rate since statistics were first collected and calculated in 1980. The 21.4% annualized growth in Q3 (5.0% Q/Q), however, was substantially below the levels seen in the US (7.5% Q/Q), France (18.2% Q/Q), Germany (8.2% Q/Q) and the UK (15.5%). Perhaps the bigger concern for Japan is the fact that it has recouped barely half the economic losses derived from the onset of Covid-19. And adding to that concern is the recent resurgence in Covid cases, both in Japan and its major export markets, means that Q4 growth is unlikely to continue this trend, and could very well fall back into negative territory, depending on just how long shutdowns are in place around the world.
Investors, however, embraced the news (or embraced some news if not this) as the Nikkei continued its recent rally, rising 2.05% overnight amidst an overall risk-on setting. In fact, since the close on October 30, the Nikkei has rallied nearly 13% despite relatively unimpressive data. Not only that, given the BOJ is already at max support, it is unclear what else they can be expected to do to support the economy. And yet, the equity market would have you believe the future is bright! The one market not participating in this is FX, where the yen remains unchanged on the session, seemingly unable to decline despite the risk rally, but unable to advance in a weak dollar environment.
As calendar pages keep turning
There’s something that is quite concerning
The Brexit morass
Has reached an impasse
With neither side, for a deal, yearning
While there is no question that deals like the one currently needed to achieve a smooth Brexit on December 31st are always pushed off until there is no more time to delay, it certainly appears that we are getting awfully close to that time. The big news last week was that Dominic Cummings, one of PM Johnson’s key advisors and a major architect of the entire Brexit campaign, resigned from his post. Pundits immediately expected the UK to soften their position on state aid, which along with fishing rights for EU (mainly French) fleets are the two big issues remaining to be sorted. But so far, that is not the case, with the UK’s chief negotiator, David Frost, explaining today that the UK “will not be changing” their positions as the next round of negotiations begins in Brussels. And yet, markets remain entirely sanguine about the results, clearly expecting a deal to be reached and approved in time. This is evident in the fact that the pound has actually rallied slightly today, 0.1%, and remains well-ensconced in its recent uptrend. Similarly, the FTSE 100 continues its recent rally, rising 0.7% and is 14% higher than its close at the end of October. Gilt yields? Essentially unchanged on the day at 0.34%. The point is, there is very little concern that a hard Brexit is in our future. Either that, or the market is completely convinced that if one comes, the BOE will be able to do something about it. FWIW, the latter seems a bad bet.
Ultimately, the story of today’s session is that risk is a wonderful thing, and those who seek to manage risk or exhibit prudence with their positioning will be left behind again. In the growth vs. value debate, value still has no value, it’s all about growth. As an aside, perhaps economist Herbert Stein said it best with his observation now known as Stein’s Law; “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Bull markets cannot go on forever, so beware!
But they continue this morning with risk everywhere rallying. Elsewhere in Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.9% and Shanghai 1.1% after Chinese data showed IP slightly better than expected in October (6.9% Y/Y) although Retail Sales disappointed at 4.3% (exp 5.0%). However, not only did equity markets there rally, so did the renminbi, rising a further 0.35% overnight and back to its strongest level since June 2018.
In fact, even before the Moderna vaccine news hit the tape, equities were all in the green in Europe (DAX (+0.5%, CAC +1.2%) and US futures were jumping (DOW +1.0%, SPX +0.7%, NASDAQ +0.7%), and they have risen further in the wake of the headline. Perhaps everything is rosy and we are set to return to some sense of normalcy. Of course, if that’s the case, will central banks worldwide still need to provide so much support? And if they don’t provide that support, will markets be able to continue to rally on their own? Just something to consider.
But at this time, the good vibes are everywhere, with oil markets (+2.5%) encouraged by the idea that the return to normal lies just around the corner, while gold, which had been higher earlier, seems no longer to be necessary in this brave new world, and has fallen 0.8% on the day (1% since the headline.)
Meanwhile, FX markets are in full risk-on mode. In the G10 bloc, NOK (+0.9%) is the leading gainer, benefitting from the combination of overall risk appetite and the rise in oil prices. After that, there is a group of commodity currencies (AUD, NZD and CAD all +0.4%) rising on the back of stronger commodity prices. The euro and pound have both edged higher by 0.1%, and in the wake of the Moderna news, the yen has actually fallen back, (-0.3%), with risk metrics clearly dominating the dollar story now.
In the EMG bloc, BRL has opened much stronger (+1.5%) and we are seeing strength in the commodity focused currencies here as well; RUB (+1.25%), MXN (+1.1%), ZAR (+1.0%). The rest of the bloc, excepting the Turkish lira (-1.0%) which remains beholden to the inconsistencies of Erdogan’s policies, is also generally firmer but not quite to the same extent. However, the entire story is risk is ON.
On the data front, Retail Sales dominate the week,:
|Existing Home Sales||6.45M|
But if the risk appetite is going to be as strong as this morning indicates, none of the data is going to matter. Nor will anything that the dozen Fed speakers upcoming this week have to say. Instead, this is all about the vaccine, growth and FOMO. In this environment, the dollar is likely to remain under modest pressure, but at the end of the day, there is no reason to believe it will decline sharply.
Good luck and stay safe