European shares fell modestly, Asian equities declined for the first day in three, and US equity futures were unchanged before the December U.S. nonfarm payrolls report. China’s offshore yuan fell the most in a year to pare a record weekly rally, while Mexico’s peso climbed after the central bank sold dollars. Oil was trading lower in early trading.
The main economic event on the financial calendar is today’s 8:30am ET December payroll report. The market consensus for today’s print is 178k which is in line with the 178k in November. It’s worth noting that there’s a reasonable range between economists though with the low forecast at 125k and the high forecast at 221k. DB’s Joe LaVorgna is at the lower end of the range and has pegged a 150k print which is more or less where yesterday’s ADP private employment survey came in at for December (153k vs. 175k expected). What might be more interesting though is whether or not the drop in the unemployment rate is sustained. As a reminder the U3 rate fell to 4.6% in November and the lowest since 2007 from 4.9% in October. The drop has been a focus for Fed officials with more talking about an undershooting of the longer run rate so it is worth watching. As always also keep an eye on average hourly earnings. The consensus is for a +0.3% mom rise in December which would have the effect of pushing the annual rate up to +2.8% yoy from +2.5%.
Should the report come in stronger than expected and provide evidence of a healthy U.S. labor market, we could see a second wind to a flagging dollar hit by doubts that Donald Trump will usher in an era of fiscal easing and rapid growth. The employment report is expected to confirm a sixth straight year with more than 2 million jobs added, which may help to stem the steepest losses on a Bloomberg gauge of 10 major currencies this week. Market positioning in options signals the dollar is poised for further gains against the euro.
Ahead of the report, world stocks held near 1-1/2 year highs and the dollar moved up from a three-week low on Friday, with investors looking to upcoming U.S. jobs data to provide clues on the pace of U.S. interest rate rises this year. The MSCI’s gauge of the world’s stock markets hit its highest since July 2015, taking its gains so far this year to 1.7 percent, helped by this week’s generally upbeat economic readings in the U.S., China and Europe. The yen, euro and British pound all weakened for the first time in three days and the Turkish lira extended its loss. European equities declined the most in a week and U.S. futures signaled losses, while the MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined for the first day in three. The three-month interbank lending rate for the offshore yuan rose to a record in Hong Kong.
A quick rundown of global indices from Bloomberg:
Weaker-than-expected private-sector ADP payrolls data on Thursday contributed to the dip in the dollar, despite strong data elsewhere. Investors were looking to today’s jobs figures to see if the bounceback for the dollar could be sustained.
“It’s likely that a stronger jobs number will, in the shorter term, strengthen the dollar. But (soon) people will start questioning how much of a strong dollar the Fed can stomach,” ETF Securities’ head of research and investment strategy, James Butterfill, told Reuters. “Given the sell-off in the dollar, there could be appreciation over the next few weeks, but in the coming few months we could see further dollar weakness.”
Already under pressure as the Trump rally wanes, the dollar extended losses on Thursday as China stepped up efforts to support the yuan, sparking speculation that it wants a firm grip on the currency ahead of Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. As noted last night, the cost of borrowing the yuan in Hong Kong, the main offshore yuan trading center, sky-rocketed and at one point hit 105%, making it too costly for speculators to sell the yuan against the dollar.
The offshore yuan has gained more than 2 percent in the last two sessions, its biggest two-day gain on record, to a two-month high of 6.7833 per dollar before it eased back about 1 percent in Asia on Friday to 6.8610. Having posted its biggest gain for 7 months, of 1.1 percent, in the previous session, it fetched $1.0589 EUR= on Friday.
“What’s going on is a correction of the ‘Trump trade’ since the election. The markets have been trying to fully price in his policies just based on hopes,” Standard Chartered’s executive director of finance, Koichi Yoshikawa, said. “From now on, it’s not going to be a simple one-way bet.”
Investors also closed short positions in U.S. bonds, one of the most popular plays since the election because Trump’s policies are seen as stoking inflation.
Oil prices were steady as Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi stared promised supply cuts, but doubts that all producers will implement output reductions agreed in a landmark OPEC deal last year kept markets from rising further. Gold retreated 0.4 percent to $1,175.17 per ounce after a three-day, 2.9 percent climb. Bitcoin slumped again and was trading at $900 at last check.
In rates, Australian bonds climbed, sending 10-year yields down five basis points to 2.68 percent, a level last seen in November; similar New Zealand rates dropped five basis points to 3.19 percent. U.S. Treasuries rallied Thursday by the most since the post-Brexit jolt, with the yield on the 10-year benchmark falling nine basis points to 2.34 percent. That was the biggest drop since June 27.
Global Headline News
In Asian markets, stocks traded mixed following a lacklustre lead from Wall Street where financials underperformed, although the NASDAQ 100 still finished positive on strength in pharmaceuticals and FANG stocks. Asian stocks decline for first day in three. With MSCI Asia Pacific down 0.3% today it’s still headed for its best start to a year since 2010. Hong Kong stocks post their biggest weekly advence in three months. 6 out of 11 sectors drop as retail, material stocks underperform, real estate, telecoms outperform. Asian bourses were also indecisive as participants were tentative ahead of NFP, with Nikkei 225 (-0.3%) dampened by JPY strength and losses in Fast Retailing after Uniqlo same-store sales fell 5% Y/Y in December. ASX 200 (Unch.) was uneventful and traded flat while the KOSPI (+0.3%) was underpinned by better than expected Q4 preliminary results from Samsung Electronics. Chinese markets were mixed with the Hang Seng (+0.2%) led by energy names, while Shanghai Comp (-0.4%) lagged following a large net weekly drain of CNY 595BN by the PBoC. 10-yr JGBs traded higher amid the dampened risk sentiment in Japan with the yield curve flatter on outperformance in the long end, while the recent weekly securities transactions data also showed foreign investors returned to net buying of Japanese bonds.
Top Asian News
In Europe equity markets (Stoxx600 -0.1%) are trading mildly in the red as mining underperform in the FTSE 100 (flat) in what has been a particularly quiet session ahead of NFP. Stoxx Europe 600 Index declines 0.3% as travel & leisure, utility and commodity stocks underperform; real estate stocks gain. 18 of 19 sectors decline. 31% of Stoxx 600 members gain; 56% decline. Financials are the outperforming sector after some notable broker moves for Worldpay (WPG LN) and Lloyds (LLOY LN), subsequently both Co.’s are at the top of the FTSE leader board. Fixed income markets have not seen too much action thus far, with Bunds trading lower by 8 ticks and in the periphery 10 year PGB yield has found support at the 4% psychological area.
Top European News
In currencies, the offshore yuan fell 1.1 percent to 6.8599 per dollar after a four-day climb. The onshore yuan fell 0.6 percent. The euro declined 0.2 percent to 1.05843 per dollar and the pound was down 0.3 percent at 1.23793. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2 percent after falling 1 percent Thursday in its biggest slide since July on a closing basis. Companies added fewer jobs than forecast in December, according to a private research group. The yen fell 0.7 percent to 116.18 per dollar after strengthening 1.7 percent Thursday. The Aussie and kiwi dropped 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. South Korea’s won lost 0.6 percent. Mexico’s peso jumped 0.5 percent after Banxico sold dollars to bolster the exchange-rate. The currency Thursday erased an advance of 1.5 percent after Trump threatened Toyota Motor Corp. with a border tax for planning to build a factory in Mexico. The Turkish lira was down 0.8 percent at a record low 3.6226 per dollar following a 0.6 percent drop the previous day.
In commodities, crude was down 0.4 percent at $53.55 a barrel after climbing 0.9 percent Thursday following a report that Saudi Arabia is cutting production as it implements an agreement to ease a global supply glut sparked the turnaround. However, further gains have been struggling on trader caution over OPEC implementation of last year’s output agreements. This morning there have been reports of Kuwait making a larger cut in production than required. Oil pushed higher but holds off weekly highs. Performance in base metals also staggering, and with recent gains all on fiscal spending hopes, while Gold prices come off better levels, but marginally so as yet. Gold retreated 0.4 percent to $1,175.17 per ounce after a three-day, 2.9 percent climb.
US Event Calendar
DB’s Jim Reid completes the overnight wrap
It may be a holiday shortened week but there’s been more than enough news to keep markets on their toes in the first few days 2017. Global growth hopes have been boosted following the latest round of PMI’s. The FOMC minutes revealed that “uncertainty” is the new buzzword while one eye has been closely kept on the latest appointments by President-elect Trump. Meanwhile European politics continues to bubble below the surface. The latest food for thought though and the big focus over the last 24 hours has been in China where we’re back to watching the moves in the Renminbi closely after the offshore currency posted the biggest two-day rally on record.
We’ll dig into that shortly but before we get there we’ve got the final US employment report of 2016 to preview. As always nonfarm payrolls will be the big focus and the market consensus for today’s print is 175k which is just a shade below the 178k in November. It’s worth noting that there’s a reasonable range between economists though with the low forecast at 125k and the high forecast at 221k. Our US economists are at the lower end of the range and have pegged a 150k print which is more or less where yesterday’s ADP private employment survey came in at for December (153k vs. 175k expected). What might be more interesting though is whether or not the drop in the unemployment rate is sustained. As a reminder the U3 rate fell to 4.6% in November and the lowest since 2007 from 4.9% in October. The drop has been a focus for Fed officials with more talking about an undershooting of the longer run rate so it is worth watching. As always also keep an eye on average hourly earnings. The consensus is for a +0.3% mom rise in December which would have the effect of pushing the annual rate up to +2.8% yoy from +2.5%. All that to look forward to at 1.30pm GMT.
Back to China where yesterday the offshore Renminbi rallied a further +1.12% to 6.7889 and in doing so clocked a +2.51% two-day gain and the most on record. In fact up to yesterday’s close the currency had rallied +2.76% in 2017 already having weakened -6.20% last year. As a result the PBoC also moved to strengthen the fixing in the onshore currency this morning by the most since 2005 or since the Renminbi was de-pegged from the US Dollar. The rally for the offshore Renminbi has however faded a bit this morning (currently -0.50%). The catalyst for that earlier surge appears to be the crackdown by the PBoC on capital outflows at the end of last year – something we talked about in Tuesday’s EMR. In addition overnight lending rates in Hong Kong have surged in recent days (CNH Hibor touched 61% this morning and the second highest level on record) and liquidity is thin which is helping to exacerbate the moves.
It wasn’t just the Renminbi which had a good day against the Greenback yesterday with EM currencies also surging. The USD index actually closed -1.15% and is already back to mid-December levels. It’s little changed this morning. The Mexican Peso was also back in focus yesterday after Mexico’s Central Bank stepped in to stem the recent slide which helped the currency to rally back over +2%. However that was short lived with President-elect Trump taking to social media again and targeting Toyota this time with a border tax for planning to build a new plant in Mexico to import into the US. Meanwhile Treasuries were notably stronger with the benchmark 10y yield rallying 9.5bps to 2.345% – the lowest level since December 7th. Similar maturity Bund yields also edged down 3.3bps although the periphery was notably weaker (yields 5bps to 14bps higher).
There wasn’t much to report at the other end of the risk spectrum. The S&P 500 (-0.08%) paused for breath with financials and retailers suffering while in Europe the Stoxx 600 finished the day +0.10%. Elsewhere, over in credit markets the focus continues to be on the flying start for primary issuance in the US. Another $10bn priced in US IG yesterday which takes the week-to-date figure past $50bn and making it one of the biggest weeks of all time. What perhaps makes this more incredible is that, unlike in other record weeks, this week’s issuance total has not been boosted by one or two jumbo deals. Rather it’s been a steady diet of benchmark size deals.
Over in Asia this morning it’s been another fairly mixed start. The Nikkei (-0.39%) is in the red while the Hang Seng (+0.54%) and Kospi (+0.42%) are firmer. The Shanghai Comp and ASX are little changed. There’s been some focus on a Bloomberg story this morning too which suggests that China is prepared to step up measures aimed at scrutinizing US companies conducting business in China should Trump take punitive measures against the country. It’s hard to gauge how reliable the story is but it’s one to watch.
Moving on. While yesterday’s ADP print in the US may have come in a tad disappointing, data out of the services sector was less so. The services PMI was revised up at the final count to 53.9 in December from the earlier 53.4 flash reading. Meanwhile the ISM non-manufacturing print came in at 57.2 which, while unchanged versus November, was still better than expected (56.8 expected). Notably the new orders component ticked up to 61.6 from 57.0. The remaining data was the latest weekly initial jobless reading which saw claims fall steeply to 235k from 263k. There was also some Fedspeak yesterday with San Francisco Fed President Williams saying that three hikes in 2017 is a “pretty reasonable” assumption. Meanwhile in Europe yesterday the only significant data was in the UK where the services PMI for the December was reported as rising 1pt to 56.2 and to the highest since July 2015.
Before we look at today’s calendar a quick mention that this morning our European Equity Strategist Sebastian Raedler has raised his year-end Stoxx 600 target from 345 to 375 (3% upside from current levels). He expects 9% EPS growth this year, helped by the rebound in global growth momentum, stronger commodity prices and euro weakness. This would make 2017 the first year of meaningful European EPS growth since 2010. He argues that European equities benefit from two important inflection points. First, global growth is accelerating for the first time since 2013. Secondly, European earnings are rising again,