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Nervous Traders Drag US Futures, World Stocks Lower Ahead Of G-20

US equity futures, European and Asian stocks all dropped as nervous investors looked ahead skeptically to a much anticipated meeting between the American and Chinese presidents that could decide the course of the trade war. US Treasury yields dropped and the dollar gained amid a flutter of risk-off sentiment across the globe.

The G20 Summit kicks off today in Buenos Aires, and while the main event will be the Trump-Xi "dinner of the decade" on Saturday, headline risk is high for the entire event. Market participants have every reason to be nervous: heading into the meeting neither side has expressed a willingness to make concession, making the outcome highly uncertain.

Ahead of his Saturday meeting with Xi, Trump said Thursday he’s very close to “doing something” with China as officials work on the contours of a deal that may delay ramping up tariffs on the Asian country in January. Any sign of a trade truce could take the edge off a rampant greenback and boost risk assets including emerging-market currencies and stocks. Goldman Sachs, however, said an escalation of tensions is the most likely outcome. Citi agrees and notes that even a positive statement will likely be faded promptly by markets because as Citi notes, "any material break in the trade war impasse is difficult to achieve, and so any positive response on Monday may ultimately be short-lived."

US equity futures were down 0.5%, following weakness in Europe where the Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped to session lows, falling as much as 0.6% and trimming its weekly gains following a raft of disappointing macro data. Revised data showed Italy’s economy contracted 0.1% q/q in 3Q; German Oct. adjusted retail sales dropped -0.3% m/m; missing estimates of +0.4%. Euro-area inflation slipped to 2% in November from a year earlier, matching estimates, while the core reading unexpectedly dropped to 1%.

Germany’s DAX (-0.6%) felt the burden of falling auto names after Daimler (-2.7%) was downgraded to sell at HSBC, in turn moving the likes of Volkswagen (-1.1%) and BMW (-1.8%) lower in sympathy. Sector wise, consumer discretionary (weighed by auto names) lags, closely followed by financials as Morgan Stanley downgraded the EU banking sector, while Deutsche bank (-3.0%) shares hit an all time low as the bank feels the brunt of a double whammy from the aforementioned downgrade alongside a second day of raids amid the money laundering probe. Italian PM Conte and Economy Minister Tria are studying cutting the 2019 deficit/GDP target to around 2% in order to reach a deal with the EU; according to a paper.

In the latest Brexit news, UK PM May said Britain will be a more divided country if Parliament votes against her Brexit deal, while she also urged MPs to think about delivering on Brexit vote and answered that she is focused on December 11th vote when asked if she has a plan B if her deal is not approved by Parliament. The number of Conservative MPs who have spoken out against Theresa May's Brexit deal hit 100 as critics said her two-week charm offensive is failing.

Earlier in the session, Asian stocks traded mixed amid a cautious global risk tone with shares gaining in Tokyo, slipping in Seoul and slumping in Sydney, while rebounding in Shanghai and Hong Kong ahead of the US-China showdown at the G20 and as participants digested disappointing Chinese PMI data. ASX 200 (-1.6%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.4%) initially followed suit to the lacklustre lead from their counterparts stateside with Australia the underperformer on broad weakness in which nearly all sectors declined, while Japanese exporters were hampered by recent flows into the JPY before staging a late recovery. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.8%) were initially indecisive due to trade uncertainty amid a ‘hot and cold’ stance by US President Trump who stated he is close to doing something on trade with China but is unsure if he wants to, while reports noted that White House Trade Adviser and ‘China hawk’ Navarro is back on the guest list for the Trump-Xi dinner tomorrow evening. Furthermore, the latest Chinese PMI data left much to be desired as both Official Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing PMIs missed expectations with the former at its lowest since June 2016. The indices closed higher on the day, however.

  • Chinese Manufacturing PMI (Nov) 50.0 vs. Exp. 50.2 (Prev. 50.2)
  • Chinese Non-Manufacturing PMI (Nov) 53.4 vs. Exp. 53.8 (Prev. 53.9)
  • Chinese Composite PMI (Nov) 52.8 (Prev. 53.1)

Also overnight, Japan reported the latest inflation data, which was slightly weaker on the margin with Tokyo CPI missing expectations;

  • Japanese Tokyo CPI (Nov) Y/Y 0.8% vs. Exp. 1.1% (Prev. 1.5%).
  • Japanese Tokyo CPI Ex. Fresh Food (Nov) Y/Y 1.0% vs. Exp. 1.0% (Prev. 1.0%)

The Bank of Korea hiked the 7 Day Repo Rate by 25bps to 1.75% as expected, while it stated that sluggish employment eased somewhat and that exports will sustain favourable movements, but that it sees investments slowing. BoK Governor Lee said the rate decision was not unanimous as 2 board members voted to maintain rates, while Lee also commented that the policy rate is  still not at neutral and that he is not worried much about capital outflows due to further Fed rate hikes.

In FX, the dollar rebounded sharply from yesterday's losses, rising against most G-10 peers in a muted trading session; Treasury yields edged lower while the yen was steady as investors refrained from taking risks ahead of this weekend’s meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping. The euro slipped to a day low, holding below the 1.14 handle, after London came into the market. The Norwegian krone crept lower after oil prices resumed their slump, while retail sales contracted in October, missing estimates and unemployment rose in November; DNB finds it likely that Norges Bank will adjust down its rate path in December. The pound remained under pressure, drifting downward as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May continued efforts to win backers for her Brexit deal. Emerging-market equities and currencies dipped.

Finally, Korea’s won held on to this week’s losses as Friday’s interest rate increase did little to assuage concern surrounding the economy.

WTI crude was dragged back under $51 a barrel, on track for the biggest monthly drop in a decade. The euro weakened after data showed inflation in the common-currency region easing.

Looking at this weekend's key event, Guggenheim's Scott Minerd told Bloomberg TV that “I wouldn’t be surprised at the end of this weekend if the U.S. and China didn’t announce a concord that basically sat down a path to help resolve the trade frictions. I don’t think that out of the meeting there’s going to come much substance, but there will be a sort of set of principles that will be established to start the process of bringing an end to the trade war."

WTI (-1.4%) and Brent (-1.0%) lost the USD 51/bbl and USD 60/bbl handles respectively with sentiment deteriorating as the G20 Summit goes underway, where participants will be looking out for leaks in regard to any potential supply change discussed by key policy makers. Meanwhile, ahead of the Dec 6th OPEC meeting, Russian Energy Ministry stated that OPEC and non-OPEC producers are comfortable with the current oil price, while the country’s Energy Minister Novak said Russia plans to maintain the average oil output level until year-end. Note: yesterday he said Russia proposes an output cut for next year.

In the metals complex, gold (-0.2%) erodes post-Powell gains and remains in the November range of USD 1200-1240/oz as the yellow metal mirrors the rising USD, with traders noting a clean break above the top of the range could result in further bullish action. Copper (-0.3%) trade lower amid the cautious risk tone ahead of the Trump-Xi G20 showdown, with moves to the downside exacerbated by the disappointing Chinese manufacturing PMIs overnight. Elsewhere, Shanghai aluminium prices declined to their lowest level in over two years to print their third consecutive monthly decline amid oversupply fused with downbeat Chinese PMIs

Economic data include MNI Chicago Business Barometer.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 2,734.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 down 0.5% to 356.33
  • MSCI Asia down 0.2% to 153.44
  • MSCI Asia ex Japan down 0.4% to 490.93
  • Nikkei up 0.4% to 22,351.06
  • Topix up 0.5% to 1,667.45
  • Hang Seng Index up 0.2% to 26,506.75
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.8% to 2,588.19
  • Sensex up 0.05% to 36,186.77
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.6% to 5,667.16
  • Kospi down 0.8% to 2,096.86
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.9 bps to 0.312%
  • Euro down 0.2% to $1.1374
  • Brent Futures down 1.1% to $58.88/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield fell 5.1 bps to 2.837%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 0.2 bps to 1.506%
  • Brent futures down 1.1% to $58.88/bbl
  • Gold spot down 0.2% to $1,221.86
  • U.S. Dollar Index up 0.2% to 97.00

Top Overnight News

  • Federal Reserve officials have stepped off a predictable path of interest-rate increases and are signaling to investors a hard truth about relying on increasingly contradictory economic data: There are no easy answers anymore.
  • Waning year-end demand for the U.S. currency is leading to a decline in dollar-funding costs for Japanese and European investors
  • Gold may be turning the corner as prices head for the first back-to-back monthly gain since January, holdings in exchange-traded funds expand, and investors reappraise the metal’s prospects in 2019 amid speculation the Federal Reserve will pause its tightening cycle
  • The sequence in which the ECB will take its next policy moves “has pretty much been communicated. It’s more about the timing of the various elements,” Estonian central banker Ardo Hansson says in interview with Financial Times
  • The first official reading of China’s economy in November showed the manufacturing PMI on the brink of contraction. New export orders contracted for a sixth month while the non-manufacturing gauge, reflecting activity in the construction and services sectors, expanded but at a slower pace

Asian stocks traded mixed amid a cautious global risk tone ahead of the US-China showdown at the G20 and as participants digested disappointing Chinese PMI data. ASX 200 (-1.6%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.4%) initially followed suit to the lacklustre lead from their counterparts stateside with Australia the underperformer on broad weakness in which nearly all sectors declined, while Japanese exporters were hampered by recent flows into the JPY before staging a late recovery. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.2%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.8%) were initially indecisive due to trade uncertainty amid a ‘hot and cold’ stance by US President Trump who stated he is close to doing something on trade with China but is unsure if he wants to, while reports noted that White House Trade Adviser and ‘China hawk’ Navarro is back on the guest list for the Trump-Xi dinner tomorrow evening. Furthermore, the latest Chinese PMI data left much to be desired as both Official Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing PMIs missed expectations with the former at its lowest since June 2016. The indices closed higher on the day, however. Finally, 10yr JGB traded lacklustre after having failed to benefit from the risk averse tone in Japan and BoJ’s presence in the bond market, as prices marginally pulled back from recent gains which had seen long-term yields hit their lowest levels since the beginning of August.

Top Asian News

  • China’s Worsening Economy Adds Pressure on Xi Heading to G-20
  • BOJ Governor Kuroda’s Latest Pay Raise Falls Short
  • Meitu Sinks on Concern Data Privacy Warning Will Worsen Losses
  • Evergrande Leads China Developer Rally; Rhb Cites Policy Hopes

Major European indices are lower across the board (Eurostoxx 50 -0.3%) after the region gave up opening gains amid trade jitters heading the US-Sino showdown at the G20 Summit. UK’s FTSE 100 (-0.7%) underperforms peers as heavyweight miners are pressured by the price action in the base metals complex, while Germany’s DAX (-0.6%) feels the burden of falling auto names after Daimler (-2.7%) was downgraded to sell at HSBC, in turn moving the likes of Volkswagen (-1.1%) and BMW (-1.8%) lower in sympathy. Sector wise, consumer discretionary (weighed by auto names) lags, closely followed by financials as Morgan Stanley downgraded the EU banking sector, while Deutsche bank (-3.0%) shares hit an all time low as the bank feels the brunt of a double whammy from the aforementioned downgrade alongside a second day of raids amid the money laundering probe. In terms of stock specifics, Altice (+8.0%) rose to the top of the Stoxx 600 (-0.5%) after the company sold its 49.9% stake in SFR GTTH for EUR 1.8bln, while Faurecia (-7.1%) is the worst performer in Europe amid a downgrade.

Top European News

  • Bayer Gains as Analysts Applaud Surprise Measures: Street Wrap
  • The London Housing Market Is Worse Than It Looks. Here’s Why
  • Italian Jobless Rate Jumps With More Reentering Labor Market
  • SocGen Seeks to Tap African Growth and Shrug Off Europe Woes
  • Europe Auto Stocks Drop as China, Trade Prompt PT Cuts at HSBC

In FX, the Greenback remains off pre-Powell highs in wake of the latest FOMC minutes that effectively affirm a shift in the approach towards forward guidance that may start in December after a final rate hike this year, with less pre-set indications and more flexibility to take on board incoming data. However, the Buck is ahead vs all G10 counterparts bar the Kiwi that is benefiting from favourable cross-winds, with the index edging just over 97.000 again. EUR - The single currency has been more volatile than most ahead of the looming G20 Summit and month end, with more spikes vs the Pound through 0.8900 around fixes due to ongoing/residual RHS interest, but another failure at 1.1400 vs the Usd on round number offers and option expiry flows as circa 1.6 bn roll off between the big figure and 1.1410 at the NY cut. Moreover, some Usd12.6 bn SOMA-related Dollar demand coincides with the final trading day of November, and this usually weighs most heavily on Eur/Usd vs potential bids at 1.1350 where another 1.6bn expiries reside. AUD/CAD - Also underperforming vs the Greenback, with the Aud bearing the brunt of a weaker than forecast Chinese manufacturing PMI overnight ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting on Saturday, and struggling top keep hold of 0.7300 as the Aud/Nzd cross pivots 1.0650 and the Kiwi remains within striking distance of its 200 DMA (0.6870). Meanwhile, the Loonie is back below 1.3300 as crude prices resume their slide amidst reports from Russia suggesting that OPEC+ are content with current levels, which have also piled more pressure on the Rub for obvious reasons.

In commodities, WTI (-1.4%) and Brent (-1.0%) lost the USD 51/bbl and USD 60/bbl handles respectively with sentiment  deteriorating as the G20 Summit goes underway, where participants will be looking out for leaks in regard to any potential supply change discussed by key policy makers. Meanwhile, ahead of the Dec 6th OPEC meeting, Russian Energy Ministry stated that OPEC and non-OPEC producers are comfortable with the current oil price, while the country’s Energy Minister Novak said Russia plans to maintain the average oil output level until year-end. Note: yesterday he said Russia proposes an output cut for next year. In the metals complex, gold (-0.2%) erodes post-Powell gains and remains in the November range of USD 1200-1240/oz as the yellow metal mirrors the rising USD, with traders noting a clean break above the top of the range could result in further bullish action. Copper (-0.3%) trade lower amid the cautious risk tone ahead of the Trump-Xi G20 showdown, with moves to the downside exacerbated by the disappointing Chinese manufacturing PMIs overnight. Elsewhere, Shanghai aluminium prices declined to their lowest level in over two years to print their third consecutive monthly decline amid oversupply fused with downbeat Chinese PMIs.

 

US Event Calendar

  • 9am: Fed’s Williams Speaks on Global Economy at G30 in New York
  • 9:45am: Chicago Purchasing Manager, est. 58.5, prior 58.4

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

As I peer into the distance toward s snow-covered mountain tops, the last day of November is now upon us and all of a sudden we’re into the final countdown to year-end, my Xmas ski trip, and thus the likelihood of getting reacquainted with my knee surgeon sometime early next year. We noted at the start of this week that there are still a few big events for markets to get past before we can call it a year and the first of those starts today and continues into the weekend with the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. The G20 overall is a sideshow to the main event, which is the meeting between US President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping. Will the two leaders strike a truce and thus a grand bargain on trade or will talks hit another snag? It would take a brave man to predict the outcome and it does feel like messages have been fairly mixed in recent days despite some optimism from the US side, especially from Trump’s economic advisor Kudlow, that a deal can be made. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides are approaching a deal, possibly to include suspension of any new US tariffs through next spring in exchange for discussions and the lifting of restrictions on US agriculture and energy exports. On the other hand, the President told the very same newspaper earlier this week that it is “highly unlikely” that the next tranche of tariffs, set to take effect on Jan 1, will be delayed. Yesterday’s Reuters headline quoting Trump as saying that he is “close to doing something with China, but he doesn’t know if he wants to do it” perhaps sums up the state of play nicely. Interestingly, the South China Morning Post reported that the White House trade policy adviser, Peter Navarro – who is a known China hawk – is now scheduled to attend the dinner between Trump and Xi having initially been left out. US Trade Representative Lighthizer is still due to attend.

So all to play for and something for everyone in the pre-show headlines. As for timing, the meeting between Trump and Xi is due to take place Saturday evening at some point over dinner, however the exact timing is uncertain. Another potentially interesting meeting on the agenda was that between Trump and Russian President Putin. However, after the Kremlin confirmed yesterday that the meeting was to go ahead tomorrow, President Trump instead said that he had cancelled the meeting, tweeting yesterday that his decision was “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia”.

In any case, the tensions between Russia and the Ukraine should also be a focal point along with the trade war, while the  presence of the Saudi Crown Prince could also be another talking point. The event has no shortage of AListers however with Japan’s Abe, Germany’s Merkel, France’s Macron, UK’s May, EC’s Juncker, EU’s Tusk, Italy’s Conte, and Turkey’s Erdogan among the leaders attending so there’s the potential for plenty of newsflow this weekend.

As for markets, well the strong three-day winning run for US equities came to an end last night with the S&P 500 (-0.22%), DOW (-0.11%) and NASDAQ (-0.25%) all finishing slightly in the red. As has been the trend recently, tech led the decliners with the NYSE FANG index down -1.13% with Apple (-0.77%) down for the sixth time in the last eight sessions. It was hard to know if the slight riskoff was some pessimism ahead of the G20 or reaction to the news that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty to a new federal charge and also agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller. Prior to this, Europe had opened strongly, benefiting from the dovish Powell halo effect, though ultimately the moves faded. The STOXX 600 pared gains of as much as +0.75% to close +0.20% and the DAX erased gains of +0.93% to close flat.

This morning in Asia markets are off to a mixed start with the Nikkei (+0.33%), Hang Seng (+0.69%) and Shanghai Comp (+0.23%) all up while the Kospi (-0.26%) is down. In terms of overnight data, China’s official November composite PMI continued to soften at 52.8 (vs. 53.1 last month) as both manufacturing (50.0 vs. 50.2 expected) and non-manufacturing PMIs (at 53.4 vs. 53.8 expected) missed expectations. In the details of the manufacturing PMI, new export orders (at 47.0) printed below 50 for the 6th month in a row with new orders also continuing to soften sequentially with the current reading at 50.4 (vs. 50.8 in last month and 53.8 back in May). Japan’s preliminary October industrial production stood at +2.9% mom (vs. +1.2% mom expected) - the highest since January 2015.

Elsewhere, futures on S&P 500 (-0.17%) are pointing towards a slightly softer start. The BoJ is also set to release its monthly bond-buying plan for December at 5:00 pm Tokyo time (8:00 am BST) today which is likely to be closely watched for any possible tweaks as the BoJ tries to boost trading in JGBs. The minutes from the November FOMC meeting were released yesterday evening, but didn’t change the debate much, especially when compared to the market-moving comments from Chair Powell earlier this week. The minutes said that many Committee members may want to change the “further gradual increases” language in the policy statement to something that “places greater emphasis on the evaluation of incoming data.” This confirms the renewed emphasis on data dependency that Powell and Clarida pushed this week. The minutes also signaled that a technical adjustment to the rate setting framework would likely be needed at the December meeting, i.e. raising the IOER rate only 20bps rather than the full 25bps in order to keep the effective federal funds rate near the middle of the target range.

There were several notable landmarks in markets elsewhere yesterday. The first was the 10-year Treasury briefly passing below 3% - touching an intraday low of 2.995% - for first time since September 18th and WTI oil passing below $50 – hitting a low of $49.41 - for the first time since October 9th last year. To be fair both rebounded off the lows. Ten-year Treasuries ended the day at 3.026% (still down -3.3bps on the day) while WTI made a full reversal to finish the session back above $51 (+2.11%), which is roughly where it’s trading this morning. That rebound appeared to be helped by a Reuters report suggesting that both Russia and Saudi Arabia were discussing the details behind a cut in production.

The rally for Treasuries was given an added boost by yesterday’s data in the US. The highlight was the soft core PCE print for October (+0.1024% vs. +0.2% expected) which resulted in the annual rate falling by one-tenth from an already downwardly-revised +1.94% yoy to +1.77% yoy, the lowest since February. On the back of a dovish Powell on Wednesday, that data was perhaps more fuel to the fire for the dovish camp and could drive more talk of a pause in the Fed’s tightening cycle. It’s worth noting that the healthcare component of the data was soft and that there could be some seasonality in this data so that is something to keep in mind.

The other interesting data point in the US yesterday was the weekly initial jobless claims print, which jumped 10k to 234k (vs. 220k expected) and the highest in six months. The four-week moving average is now at 223k and the highest since July. There was some talk that the Thanksgiving Holiday may have had an impact on the data, however a persistent uptick in the jobless claims data would definitely be food for thought looking ahead. So worth setting a calendar reminder for this print over the next two Thursdays after a long period where the number has been no more than a mild distraction to lunch or breakfast depending on where you are in the world.

Over in Italy, the Government and the European Commission continued to trade barbs, with Conte saying that they “are not indifferent to the reaction of financial markets [but] we can’t back away from the core promises we made to Italians.” There still seems to be movement toward a budget deficit of 2.2% of GDP rather than 2.4%, but Commission VP Dombrovskis said that would be an insufficient cut. Italian Deputy Premier Salvini said that the Italian government is not considering lowering the budget deficit below 2.2% while adding that “if there is a saving we won’t leave the money there unspent, we will invest it for other spending.” Still, the Italian press reported that the EU could give Italy more time before instigating the Excessive Deficit Procedure, i.e. delaying the decision till February 2019. This helped BTPs rally -5.2bps despite tepid demand as the Treasury auctioned 4.25 billion euros of debt across the 10- and 5-year tenors.

On Brexit, we didn’t get a lot of new information yesterday but the pound nevertheless traded -0.35% weaker versus the dollar. EU Chief Negotiator Barnier said that discussions are over and that the current Withdrawal Agreement is the only possible Brexit deal. DUP Leader Foster reiterated her opposition to the deal, saying that there exists a better option. It’s hard to square those two views, which explains where there is so much uncertainty ahead of next month’s Parliamentary vote. Interesting it looks like we’ll have a live televised debate with May Vs Corbyn on primetime TV on Sunday 9th December. The problem is that May has agreed to have it on the BBC whereas Corbyn is leaning towards ITV as he didn’t want it to clash with the finale of “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”. It rather sums up the process at the moment. Overnight, on her way to the G-20 summit, UK PM May said that national divisions over Brexit will widen if lawmakers fail to back her plans in the parliamentary vote next month while adding that there are no alternatives to her current deal as she ruled out another referendum and said Britain won’t be in a Customs Union with the EU and dismissed the Norway option. She also reiterated that she won’t resign in the event of her Brexit deal getting rejected by the UK Parliament.

Coming back to inflation, there was also some disappointment in the German HICP reading which came in at a below market +0.1% mom (vs. +0.2% expected) – and so pushing the annual rate down two tenths to +2.2% yoy. A reminder that we get the broader Euro Area reading today in addition to country level reports from France and Italy.

Apart from the inflation and jobless claims prints, the US also released personal income and personal spending data, which both surprised to the upside and supported the narrative of continued labour market strength for now. Income rose +0.5% mom, the fastest pace since January, while spending rose +0.6%, fastest since March. The housing market continued to show signs of slowing, as home sales fell -2.6% mom, their sixth consecutive decline. That’s the longest such streak since 2014.

In terms of the day ahead, as mentioned at the top the G20 Leaders Summit officially gets underway and continues into the weekend, so expect headlines throughout. As for data, shortly after this hits your emails this morning we’ll get November Nationwide house price data in the UK and October German retail sales numbers. Not long after that we get the preliminary November CPI reading for France before the aforementioned Euro Area reading. In the US the only release scheduled is the November Chicago PMI, which is expected to largely hold steady around October’s level. Away from the data we’re finishing the week with two more ECB speakers, with Mersch and Coeure speaking at separate events. Finally the Fed’s Williams will speak this afternoon on the “Global Economy” at an event in New York.