S&P futures traded lower, alongside shares in Europe and most of Asia – but since rebounded from overnight lows – as worries about a delay to U.S. economic stimulus, surging virus cases across Europe and concerns about tonight’s final presidential debate and election interference weighed on sentiment. Investors also braced for another high level of weekly jobless claims, while with just 12 days to go until the US election and Europe’s struggle to contain second waves it’s become increasingly tricky for markets, according to Citi. As risk sentiment soured overnight, the USD bottomed out at yesterday’s lows, while oil and cryptocurrencies rose.
ES futures tumbled to session low just above 3,400 late on Wednesday night, when the top U.S. spy chief accused Iran of making its most direct efforts to interfere in the closing days of the presidential election, saying the Islamic Republic faked a series of intimidating messages to Democratic voters.
This followed another volatile session on Wednesday, when US shares closed lower amid signs that a stimulus package is unlikely to become law before the election, as we have said all along. Nancy Pelosi and Steven Mnuchin “made progress” in their latest talks and will speak again Thursday even as the odds remained long for a deal that could pass in the Senate.
With no meaningful progress on fiscal policy, markets “are reacting to the heightened political instability that comes with the confirmation of efforts to manipulate the presidential race,” said Saxo strategist Eleanor Creagh. “The ability for either candidate to seize upon accusations of foreign interference is heightened and raises the probability of a contested outcome, particularly as the race could be closer than polls currently indicate.”
Tesla climbed about 5% after the electric-car maker reported its fifth consecutive quarterly profit on record revenue of $8.8 billion. Chipotle fell 4% as it posted a drop in quarterly profit, hurt by higher beef prices, delivery costs and coronavirus-related expenses. Coca-Cola also edged lower ahead of its quarterly report.
“There is increasingly a recognition that no fiscal package agreement ahead of the election is likely,” said James McCormick, global head of desk strategy at NatWest Markets. “The Covid-19 resurgence is certainly a background issue for risk assets, but the fiscal debate in the U.S. has been the main short-term question.”
In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index initially fell more than 1% trading at the lowest level since Oct. 2, with energy and chemicals leading losses among sectors, but has since rebounded into the green helped by gains in travel and retail stocks. British Airways owner IAG plunged after warning it won’t break even based on cash flow in the fourth quarter.
Earlier in the session the MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.6% with Asian markets mixed: Japan’s Topix and South Korea’s Kospi fell, while Taiwan’s Taiex and Thailand’s SET increased. The Topix lost 1.1%, with Recruit and Daiichi Sankyo contributing the most to the move. The Shanghai Composite Index retreated 0.4%, driven by China Life and Fosun Pharma.
There was more bad news on the virus front, as there is increasing evidence that the pandemic is worsening around the world. German infections jumped to a record and Spain’s heath minister said the spread of coronavirus is out of control in certain parts of the country. U.S. hospitalizations for Covid-19 have reached a two-month high.
In FX, the dollar advanced against most of its Group-of-10 peers, with the Bloomberg Dollar Index rebounding from its lowest level since early September touched Wednesday. The euro erased early gains; the pound weakened while Gilts sold off as traders waited for more concrete evidence the U.K. and European Union could be moving toward a Brexit trade deal. The yuan led a decline in emerging Asian currencies as tensions between Washington and Beijing resurfaced and claims emerged of attempted foreign interference in the U.S. election. The U.S. designated six more Chinese publications as “foreign missions,” adding to the list of media outlets it describes as controlled by Beijing which must meet requirements similar to those imposed on embassies and consulates in America. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan- Ocha ordered the withdrawal of the week-old state of emergency in the nation’s capital that barred large gatherings, in a bid to pacify pro-democracy protesters.
In rates, Treasuries gained as the U.S. session gets underway, leaving long-end yields richer by ~2bp in a bull-flattening move. Risk-aversion mounted amid stimulus delay, rising virus cases and U.S. election concerns stoked by foreign interference accusations. Yields across front-end remained anchored, flattening 2s10s by 1bp and 5s30s by 1.7bp; 10-year yields around 0.81%, richer by ~1bp vs. Wednesday close. Bunds (2bp) and gilts (4bp) both lag Treasuries; gilts notably underperform following 2035 and 2050 debt sales. Treasuries advanced during the Asian session after a top U.S. intelligence official warned Iran and Russia are attempting to interfere with the Nov. 3 election, where the possibility of a close race and a protracted vote count has alarmed investors.
In commodities, WTI and Brent currently trade around the unchanged mark, same as gold. Overnight, Goldman Sachs said it expects a bull market to emerge for commodities in 2021. Spot gold is modestly softer this morning as while the DXY remains below the 93.00 mark and was subdued at the start of the European session it has been gradually picking up and remains in proximity to highs.
The highlight of the day will be the final presidential debate before the U.S. election between Trump and Biden, live from Nashville, Tennessee. Looking ahead, the number of Americans filing for state unemployment benefits last week is expected to dip slightly but remain firmly above 800,000 as support from fiscal stimulus faded.
- S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 3,425.75
- STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 359.04
- German 10Y yield rose 0.5 bps to -0.583%
- Euro down 0.06% to $1.1854
- Italian 10Y yield rose 5.2 bps to 0.578%
- Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 0.205%
- Brent futures up 0.1% to $41.78/bbl
- Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,918.69
- U.S. Dollar Index up 0.1% to 92.69
- MXAP down 0.5% to 176.13
- MXAPJ down 0.2% to 585.62
- Nikkei down 0.7% to 23,474.27
- Topix down 1.1% to 1,619.79
- Hang Seng Index up 0.1% to 24,786.13
- Shanghai Composite down 0.4% to 3,312.50
- Sensex down 0.5% to 40,521.87
- Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 6,173.75
- Kospi down 0.7% to 2,355.05
Top Overnight News from Bloomberg
- Germany should brace for a continued rapid spread of the coronavirus and the number of serious infections and deaths is sure to rise, the nation’s RKI public health institute warned Thursday; Germany joined Italy in reporting another record gain in coronavirus infections, as France and Spain became the first countries in Western Europe to pass 1 million cases since the start of the pandemic
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will pick up discussions a stimulus package again Thursday with time running ever shorter for a deal before the election and President Donald Trump seeking to blame Democrats for any failure
- Riding on the coattails of this week’s record-busting European Union bond sale, Italy is tapping into demand from yield-hungry investors. Orders have already exceeded 70 billion euros ($83 billion) at the nation’s 30-year bond offering through banks on Thursday, according to a person familiar with the sale, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it. Price guidance has been tightened to about seven basis points over similar-maturity debt from 10 basis points earlier, the person said
- China is preparing to grant additional quota for funds to invest in securities overseas, Caixin reported, a move that would allow more capital to flow out of the country
Asia-Pac equities traded with losses across the board as the region took its cue from the downbeat Wall Street handover, which saw the Dow reverse its earlier gains and the S&P and Nasdaq close the day with modest losses as participants tracked stimulus developments. In terms of the electronic reopen, US equity futures opened flat but lost ground after the FBI Director announced that US has identified Russia and Iran to have taken action in order to interfere with the 2020 election, with under a fortnight to go until voters head to the polls. This sentiment reverberated into APAC indices – losses in the ASX 200 (-0.3%) were led by the oil and mining sectors, whilst Nikkei 225 (-0.7%) saw lacklustre performances across its industrial, auto and pharma names, while airliner ANA holdings fell to the foot of the index after sources suggested the Co. is to post a record annual loss and shed half of its fleet. KOSPI (-0.7%) also held onto losses in-line with the regional performance, whilst a South Korean business lobby group called on Japan to ease its restrictions on exports of key industrial products to South Korea in a bid to help improve strained ties between the two countries. In China, Hang Seng (+0.1%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.4%) conformed to the glum tone, and with geopolitical tensions heating up as the Pentagon confirmed last week’s source reports that it notified US Congress of three possible military sales to Taiwan, a move repeatedly contested by Beijing. Finally, JGB futures track action in the fixed income futures complex amid a lack of pertinent data, auctions or news flow.
Top Asian News
- Thai Premier Lifts Bangkok State of Emergency From Thursday
- Hong Kong’s Property Market Takes Hit From Cathay Job Cuts
- State Department Approves $1.8 Billion in Weapons for Taiwan
European equities (Eurostoxx 50 -0.2%) are so far enduring another session of losses with downside in futures accelerating once again alongside the opening of cash products; however, as we enter US hours we have seen a modest pick-up in performance with price action moving closer to the U/C mark on the day – for reference, ES -0.2%. As was the case yesterday, there was a lack of incremental macro catalysts (beyond some of the slightly more downbeat updates on the US stimulus front yesterday) for the move in what has been a relatively busy morning of corporate updates for the region thus far. Sectors trade relatively mixed on the session with slight underperformance observed in health care and oil & gas names with the latter unable to benefit from a modest pick-up in crude prices. Notably, and in spite of downbeat COVID updates from Spain and Germany, travel & leisure names are eking mild gains. Of note and of concern for the sector, prelim Q3 results for IAG (U/C; initially -5.0%) saw the Co. miss on revenue expectations, lower capacity and downgrade its outlook in what is set to be a tough earnings season for airliners. Food & beverage names have been granted some reprieve by earnings from Pernod Ricard (+2.7%) who exceeded expectations for Q1 revenue and anticipate a return to growth by H2. Also, of note for the CAC 40 is gains in Schneider Electric (+2.5%) post-earnings with the Co. beating expectations of revenues and raising FY guidance. Other notable corporate updates include Unilever (+0.4%) who posted a beat on revenues and underlying sales growth whilst maintaining its dividend. To the downside, there were a slew of disappointing Scandi earnings from the likes of Telia (-2.2%), Alfa Laval (-3.0%) and SEB (-1.6%) who are notable laggards within the Stoxx 600.
Top European News
- Siberia Gold Field Has World’s Largest Reserves, Polyus Says
- Germany’s New Coronavirus Cases Jump to a Record of 12,331
- Pandemic Out Of Control in Parts of Spain, Health Minister Says
- British Airways Owner Cuts Flights as Virus Surge Hits Sales
In FX, some respite for the Greenback after Wednesday’s steeper decline and all round selling pushed the index down through 92.500, but the recovery looks fragile amidst the ongoing impasse on US fiscal stimulus and inferences that a deal may well not be settled until after the election, even though the 2 sides are said to have narrowed differences and further talks are scheduled. The DXY and Buck more broadly may also be drawing underlying support on sentimental or psychological grounds, if not truly technical impulses, given the fact that a pseudo double bottom was not breached to expose 92.000, albeit many pundits point out that the bearish trend and tide will unlikely turn unless the index rebounds through 93.000 and holds above the round number. Ahead, IJC, housing data and a trio of Fed speaker and the DXY is currently near the top of a 92.903-603 range.
- NZD/NOK – The Kiwi and Norwegian Crown are both former against the grain, with the former benefiting from Aud/Nzd tailwinds rather than NZ specifics ahead of Q3 CPI data, but the latter perhaps gleaning traction from a marked improvement in Q3 industrial sentiment rather than labour force survey-based unemployment that was higher than expected in August. Nzd/Usd is holding comfortably above 0.6650 as the cross hovers around 1.0660, while Eur/Nok is still eyeing support ahead of 10.9000 after repelling several upside approaches towards or just beyond 11.0000.
- CAD/JPY/EUR/GBP/AUD/CHF – All narrowly mixed vs their US counterpart, with the Loonie paring post-Canadian retail sales losses between 1.3177-36 parameters and the Yen pivoting 104.60 following yesterday’s big figure+ ascent through decent option expiries and prior October highs. However, today’s expiry interests may offer more resistance, as 2.9 bn lie at 104.55-50 and 2.1 bn from 104.10 to 104.00 that coincides with last month’s Usd/Jpy low. Elsewhere, the Euro is straddling 1.1850, the Pound is consolidating circa 1.3100 awaiting BoE rhetoric, Chancellor Sunak and probably any Brexit developments as trade talks resume above all else. Meanwhile, the Aussie is just keeping sights on 0.7100 in advance of October PMIs and the Franc continues to straddle 0.9050 in wake of a somewhat mixed Swiss KOF Autumn update outlining 2 scenarios (baseline -3.6% 2020 GDP and -4.9% worst case if the pandemic spread persists).
- SEK/EM – The Swedish Krona is still lagging and not deriving much momentum from what could be construed as positive news via the Riksbank’s latest business survey showing a gradual recovery in the economic situation and less need on balance to provide financial support to some sectors. Conversely, the Turkish Lira is maintaining a bid unlike other EMs in anticipation of another boost from the CBRT at midday, with the consensus looking for a 175 bp hike.
In commodities, the crude complex has fared somewhat better than European equity bourses & US futures with WTI and Brent currently around the unchanged mark; albeit, most recently the benchmarks have experienced a pull-back from earlier highs. Fundamental updates explicitly for the complex have once again been sparse throughout the European morning aside from bank updates which include ABN Amro forecasting WTI averaging USD 34/bbl in 2020 and USD 43/bbl in 2021, alongside Goldman Sachs expecting a bull market to emerge for commodities in 2021. Given the lack of specific fundamental updates price action will likely once again be at the whim of broader sentiment with focus on stimulus updates ahead of the weekend’s latest deadline from Speaker Pelosi. Elsewhere, amidst the mornings European earnings Anglo American tightened their FY20 copper production guidance to 630-660k/T compared to analysts’ expectations for ~631k/T for the period and the prior 638k/T for FY19. Separately, spot gold is modestly softer this morning as while the DXY remains below the 93.00 mark and was subdued at the start of the European session it has been gradually picking up and remains in proximity to highs; as such, the yellow metal is ~USD 6/oz softer but still a similar magnitude from overnight lows.
US Event Calendar
- 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 870,000, prior 898,000; Continuing Claims, est. 9.63m, prior 10m
- 10am: Leading Index, est. 0.6%, prior 1.2%
- 10am: Existing Home Sales, est. 6.3m, prior 6m; Existing Home Sales MoM, est. 5.0%, prior 2.4%
- 11am: Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 11, prior 11
DB’s Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap
US equities fluctuated and Treasury yields rose yesterday as markets reacted to yet another day of stimulus negotiations, though uncertainty remained as to whether a deal would be agreed by the election on November 3rd. In some ways it was one of the more positive days for newsflow, with Speaker Pelosi saying that she “has a prospect for an agreement” with Secretary Mnuchin, although she also acknowledged that it might not come together until after the election. White House Chief of Staff Meadows also said that the two sides were aiming to agree on the framework within 48 hours but did not say whether a vote would be held. The Senate remains the biggest hold up in the talks however, with questions as to whether Majority Leader McConnell and other Republican lawmakers there would agree to any bill near the $2.2 trillion that Democrats have been holding out for.
Yesterday McConnell said he may “not mind” going forward with the bill after the election. However it is unclear whether his Republican colleagues would still support it as there have been a number dissenting voices already, including Senator Mitt Romney earlier in the week, while Senator John Thune, the second-ranking Republican Senator, said that the Senate would not have 13 Republican votes to pass the size of stimulus that the Speaker is seeking. Other senior Republicans felt that any deal should be agreed to and passed now, as it may be hard to know how the political mood will be after the election. With less than two weeks to the election, time is running short for both sides.
After moving between gains and losses throughout the day, the S&P 500 ended the session down -0.23%. It was the second smallest loss for the broad index since the end of August, and cyclical industries such as energy (-1.99%), transportation (-1.75%) and banks (-0.82%) led the declines. Intraday, the VIX rose to its highest level in over a month before settling at 28.7pts, which is just slightly down from Tuesday’s two-week high. Meanwhile yields on 10yr Treasuries had risen +3.7bps, rising above 0.8% for the first time since June, though this morning they’re down -1.2bps at 0.811%. There was also a further steepening in the yield curve yesterday, with the 5s30s curve up +2.4bps to a new 3-year high, as the 2s10 curve also steepened (+3.1bps) to its highest since early June. The dollar slid (-0.49%) for the fourth straight session to its lowest level since the first week of September.
Staying on the US, S&P 500 futures have moved lower overnight (-0.67%) overnight after a top US intelligence official (as per Bloomberg) warned that Iran and Russia are attempting to interfere with the presidential election, which will only raise concerns that the result might be disputed. The news is also acting as an overhang on the Asian session with the Nikkei (-0.68%), Hang Seng (-0.14%), Shanghai Comp (-0.83%), Kospi (-0.92%) and Asx (-0.38%) all trading lower this morning. In line with this risk-off move, the US dollar index has moved up +0.20% this morning. Meanwhile, the onshore Chinese yuan is down -0.22%, marking the first decline in 5 sessions after Caixin reported that China is preparing to raise the qualified domestic institutional investor quota by $10bn, which would allow more funds to be invested in securities overseas.
Attention will remain on the US today, as the final presidential debate takes place this evening between President Trump and former Vice President Biden at 9:00pm ET. As we’ve mentioned before, the debates haven’t tended to move the dial much historically, and the unprecedented quantity of early voting this year means that the number of remaining voters will be even lower this time around. Nevertheless, it represents the last set-piece opportunity in which the two candidates will meet, and is one of the final chances to change the contours of the race. In the polling averages, Biden leads Trump by 9.9pts according to FiveThirtyEight and 7.5pts on RealClearPolitics. The format will be the same as the first debate with six 15-minute segments, though to stop interruptions this time, the opening 2-minute answers at the start of each segment will see the other candidate’s microphone muted to prevent interruptions. Subject to news developments, the topics down for discussion tonight are fighting Covid-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security, and leadership.
On the coronavirus, new records in cases were set across Europe yesterday as governments continue to re-impose restrictions on their citizens. Here in the UK, a record 26,707 cases were confirmed, while the number of hospitalisations in England rose above 6k for the first time since late May. Elsewhere, both Italy (15,199) and the Netherlands (8,789) also reported new highs, and Spain has become the first nation in Western Europe to record 1 million coronavirus cases in total. It should be noted however that testing today is much more widespread than it was during the first wave back in March, so countries are much better at picking up the extent of the virus than they were before. Elsewhere, German health minister Jens Spahn tested positive for the virus, while the Czech Republic announced the closure of all non-essential shops from today in order to stop the virus’ spread. Switzerland is also preparing new measures, with Swiss Interior Minister Berset saying the government was readying a new round of restrictions that would target events and crowds of people.
European assets suffered against the backdrop of rising case numbers, and equities lost further ground across the continent. By the close, the STOXX 600 had fallen another -1.29% yesterday in its 3rd consecutive move lower, while the DAX was down -1.41%. Sovereign bonds declined across the board too, with yields on 10yr bunds (+1.8bps), OATs (+1.7bps) and BTPs (+5.5bps) all moving higher.
Over in the US, New York saw the number of new cases rose above 2,000 for the first time since May. The recent rise in cases is now translating into further hospitalisations in the US with nearly 40k people currently in hospital, the most since late summer. 37 states are reporting increased hospitalisations and 21 of those have reported new records or approaching previous highs in the last week. Elsewhere in the US, trials of vaccines by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson may resume as soon as this week according to US government officials. There was particular interest in the AstraZeneca study after a participant in Brazil died, but Bloomberg reported “a person familiar with the matter” saying that person had not received the shot. Staying on vaccines, the Indian government is expecting a covid-19 vaccine to be ready for sale as early as December if clinical trials are successful. That makes India the third country after the UK and US that could see a vaccine around then. So an important month to watch.
Sterling had its strongest performance against the US Dollar since March yesterday, with a +1.55% advance, as the news came through that the UK had agreed to restart trade talks with the EU. Optimism rose throughout the day, especially following a speech by the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in which he acknowledged compromise from both sides would be required to reach a deal. In a statement saying that talks would now restart from today, Downing Street welcomed this acknowledgement from Barnier, and the two sides have jointly agreed a set of organising principles for the further negotiations, with the initial phase of these taking place in London from today until Sunday. In terms of the reaction elsewhere, gilts lost ground throughout the day, with 10yr yields closing up +5.5bps.
There wasn’t a lot of data to report on yesterday, though CPI inflation in the UK rose to +0.5% in September (vs. +0.6% expected). The release remains below the BoE’s 2% inflation target, and came as BoE Deputy Governor Ramsden also said yesterday that there was “considerable headroom” for more QE. As a reminder, our UK economist’s view is that there’ll be a further £60bn of QE next month. Canada also released their CPI reading yesterday, which similarly showed an increase to +0.5%.
To the day ahead now, and the main highlight will be the aforementioned US presidential debate. Otherwise, data releases today include the weekly initial jobless claims from the US, September’s existing home sales and leading index, as well as the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index for October. From the Euro Area, there’ll also be the advance consumer confidence reading for October. Central Bank speakers include BoE Governor Bailey and chief economist Haldane, the ECB’s Panetta, and the Fed’s Barkin, Daly and Kaplan. The Central Bank of Turkey will also be deciding on rates. And finally, earnings releases include Intel, Coca Cola, AT&T, Danaher and Union Pacific.