Yesterday marked the first of a number of busy days in the primary EGB market. Against this backdrop, price action in Bunds was choppy with a rally in USTs eventually driving 10yr Bund yields slightly lower on the day. Despite the 2bp tightening in 10yr UST/Bund spreads, boxing 10s30s UST steepeners against DBR flatteners remains a compelling trade in our view. As markets awaited Catalan leader Puigdemont’s appearance in the regional parliament – which resulted in a suspended declaration of independence – long-end peripheral spreads closed more than 2bp wider versus Bunds. Standing out in core space, was the 0.3bp tightening of 7-10yr NETHER.
Dutch PM Mark Rutte yesterday presented the coalition agreement between the four parties making up the new government. The announced tax and spending measures are projected to worsen the budget balance in 2021 by 1.2ppt of GDP, though a budget surplus is still foreseen while debt-to-GDP is still projected to drop to well below 50%.
Today the main focus is on Spain’s PM Rajoy’s address in parliament, in which he possibly announces a triggering of Article 155 of Spain’s constitution. Moreover, we have ECB Chief Economist Praet speaking later today, as well as Fed governors Kaplan and Evans. The September FOMC minutes are also due for release, possibly nudging the market-implied probability of a December hike, currently 77%, up a bit further.
EGB supply. Today Germany taps the OBL 10/22 for €3bn. The belly of the curve has cheapened slightly over the past week with the 2-5-10 fly up by almost 2bp (‘0.5/1/0.5’). In ASWs the bond still looks rich at above 50bp, which is in part owed to the recent (geo-) political risk sentiment. Heading into the ECB meeting, these valuations should only be sustained in a very dovish taper scenario and a reinforced rates forward guidance.
Elsewhere, the DSTA will launch the new DSL 1/24, with the preliminary initial spread guidance vis-à-vis the reference DBR 2/24 set at +10.5-13.5bp yesterday. Elsewhere,Portugal taps the PGBs 10/22 and 4/27 for a combined €1-1.25bn. Hopes of further rating upgrades, and the associated re-inclusion in benchmark indices, has meant PGBs have been largely shielded from the recent widening in SPGBs and BTPs.
Momentum trades are in vogue. This week will be about whether a dovish FOMC reinforces the USD bear trend, while the BoE-fuelled GBP rally faces a pivotal test from PM May’s keynote Brexit speech.
Theme of the week: Will a dovish Fed reinforce the USD bear trend?
The Sep FOMC meeting will be the main event of the week (Wed), with investors looking to see if there is any change in policy bias in light of the recent negative developments in the US economy. We think this may be one of the more difficult meetings and press conferences for Chair Yellen to navigate, not least because of the growing dichotomy within the FOMC over the appropriate near-term policy approach. Our base case is for the doves to prevail, with a lower conviction over the pace and extent of future policy tightening visible in the Fed’s dot plot. While the median 2017 dot is still set to tentatively pencil in a Dec rate hike, we expect to see more members calling for a pause for the remainder of the year; anything more than five would suggest that hopes of a Dec hike stand on a fragile footing. More telling of a dovish shift would be if the 2018 dot also moves lower; here we require five or more members to downgrade their views over future policy hikes, a scenario that cannot be ruled out given the softer US inflation dynamics. What is highly likely is that we’ll see the 2019 and longer-run dots moving lower – with Fed officials acknowledging that a 2% handle for the terminal Fed funds rate is more realistic in the prevailing US economic environment.
While we do not expect US yields or the USD to move much on what would be a well-telegraphed balance sheet announcement this week, there is a slight risk of the Fed delaying the start of this process. This would be indicative of the Fed’s more pessimistic view of the US economy and we would expect this tail risk scenario to be outright USD negative – more so through the sentiment channel, rather than any major move lower in US yields.
Majors: Dovish Fed to trump cautious ECB & BoE
While a dovish FOMC could reinforce the USD bear trend, ECB officials will look to keep their QE taper cards close to their chest this week. The BoE-fuelled GBP rally faces a big test from PM May’s keynote Brexit speech in Florence on Friday.
EUR: Dovish Fed confirmation could see a 1.20 handle again
• The September FOMC meeting is the main focus this week (Wednesday) and we will be looking to see how Chair Yellen manages the two emerging camps within the committee – that is those members looking for a continuation of the current normalisation cycle and those looking for an extended (or even permanent) pause in hikes until there is greater confidence in the US inflation outlook. We note that it’s typically hard for the dollar to rally post-FOMC meetings and this time may not be any different; any hawkish Fed cries could again fall on deaf ears given the lack of convincing economic evidence to point to. Moreover, we do not expect to see US yields or the USD moving much on what would be a well-telegraphed balance sheet announcement this week – especially as offsetting this will be a downshift in the distribution of Fed dots and signs of less conviction from the committee over the pace and extent of future monetary tightening.
• While Fed officials will also follow up the meeting with their own views (Williams, George and Kaplan all on Friday), the focus in the European calendar will be on ECB talk – including two speeches by President Draghi (Thursday and Friday). We would expect much of the same script as the September ECB meeting, with Mr. Draghi likely to keep his QE taper cards close to his chest. Our economists also expect no change in the final release of EZ CPI data (Monday).
European Government Bonds; QE purchases and supply
The risk-off move in EGBs on the back of yet another North Korean nuclear test was fairly shallow, suggesting markets have gotten used to North Korea’s sabre rattling – or are increasingly convinced that a military response from the US is unlikely. Indeed, while 10yr Bund yields edged 1.5bp lower and 5yr German paper outperformed 0.5bp on the 2/5/10yr fly yesterday, core EGB curves actually steepened (admittedly, in part due to the large amount of long-end supply due to hit markets this week), with the 30yr Buxl ASW tightening 1bp. What is more, long-end peripheral spreads over Bunds also managed to tighten, by some 2-4bp. That being said, flows were light yesterday due to the closure of US markets, meaning the impact may have been delayed somewhat.
ECB QE purchases: During the summer lull net QE purchases slowed to €50b in August, versus the stated monthly target €60bn, ECB data released yesterday revealed. Net PSPP purchases accounted for slightly more than 85% of the total, in line with previous months. While net purchases allocated to Germany were back in line with the ECB’s capital key split, purchases in French and Italian paper continued to overshoot their implicit targets more substantially. Calculating the maturity of monthly purchases based on the weighted average maturity (WAM) of portfolio holdings is becoming increasingly distorted by redemptions. In Germany, where redemptions should still play a minor role, the calculated WAM of last month’s purchases increased slightly to 5.8yrs from 5.18yrs.
EGB & SSA supply: Today Austria will re-open 10yr and 20yr lines for a combined €1.4bn (including retention). The RAGB 4/27, at almost -20bp on ASW, offers a 9bp pickup in z-spread versus the NETHER 7/27 and is trading at a small concession again vs the ESM 3/27 line. The RAGB 3/37 was trading exceptionally rich on ASW in early August, but has since been on a cheapening trend, to now trade in the -15bp area. Elsewhere, KfW is likely to come to the market to issue a new 10yr benchmark, a KfW 9/27. We find 10yr KfW sector trading cheap versus NEDWBK and EU. Looking at mid z spread levels, switches from the latter might even offer a pick-up (or minor give up, respectively) when looking at the KFW 2/27 versus EU 9/26 or EU 11/27 for instance. Elsewhere, Spain’s ICO has mandated banks for a new € benchmark 4/22.
Flight to safety prevails courtesy of Mr Trump. US President Trump’s North Korea comments unleased a flight to safety bid in EGB markets yesterday, with 10yr Bunds rallying and peripheral spreads widening sharply. Price action was very much futures driven, though, with flows in cash space, reportedly, still subdued (ie, in holiday mode).
The 10yr bund yield temporary rebounded somewhat after the news that the 5yr OBL tap was technically uncovered but eventually closed almost 5bp lower. The auction of US 10-year notes – that took place after the European close – also felt the pinch, causing Treasuries to pare some of the earlier gains – while pointing to slightly higher Bund yields this opening.
The damage to semi-core and peripheral spreads (of respectively 1bp and 3-5bp in the 10yr area) would likely have been more pronounced if not for the soothing words from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the ‘threat’ from North Korea. Interestingly, the widening of core govie ASW spreads, particularly in the 2-5yr area, has rendered SSAs more attractive again versus govie peers (see for example KfW 1/21 versus DBR 1/21).
urther out the cure, we also find the z-spread concession at which 20yr KfW trades versus Bunds drifting towards year-to-date highs again (Figure 1). With little data of significance due for release in the Eurozone, European bond markets will probably continue to take their cue from the US in the remainder of this week, with today’s auction of 30yr Treasuries and tomorrow’s US CPI reading – which could well surprise on the upside – standing out. EGB supply dries up.
Activity in the primary EGB market has come to a full standstill. There are no auctions scheduled for the next two weeks – the next planned re-opening is that of the 10yr Bund on August 23. Towards the end of this month we also expect Finland to launch a new 10yr benchmark via syndication. Note that the DSTA yesterday reaffirmed that the launch of the new 7-year DSL via DDA will take place in September or October.
European Fixed Income
The sell-off in Bunds after Mario Draghi’s speech in Sintra felt like a distant memory this week, as 10yr yields dropped back well below 0.50%, the top end of the range that prevailed in the first half of this year. The catalyst of yesterday’s downtick was the less hawkish tone from the BoE, with the news on the Russia probe in the US further supporting the bullish momentum.
This didn’t prevent 10yr BTP/Bund spreads from hitting fresh year-to-date date lows this week, suggesting carry trades remain in favour. We also saw Bono/Bund spreads holding near their post-QE lows, despite the growing clash between the Spanish central and Catalan government on the latter’s desire to hold a referendum on independence on October 1.
We still believe that peripheral spreads, Italian ones in particular, are vulnerable to the upcoming ECB QE taper. Indeed, our fair value estimate for 10yr Bono/Bund spreads, which is based off relative growth and fiscal differences amongst others, suggests that the tightening impact of QE is still around 50bp at the moment. While we do not think this will fully disappear after the taper announcement, much will depend on how long the tapering will take. In our view the ECB will be keen to avoid a scenario where investors immediately extrapolate the end of the net asset purchases. To credibly signal that QE could be extended further, however, taking into account the scarcity of eligible debt, the ECB would likely have to tweak the modalities of the PSPP, e.g. increase the issue share limit for non-CAC bonds. All in all, the summer calm in peripheral bond markets may well persist until Draghi’s speech at the August 24-26 the Jackson Hole Summit, which takes place two weeks before the September ECB meeting.
European Bonds and Global Bond Indices
While European equities received uplift from encouraging Eurozone GDP data, a risk-off mood took hold across Eurozone bond markets, especially after weak US auto sales data send US Treasury yields sharply lower. Core curves bull flattened and the recently launched 10yr Bund benchmark, which will be re-opened today (see below), closed 3bp lower at 0.49%, marking the low end of the range it has traded over the short course of its life thus far.
EGB peripheral spreads saw an initial widening yesterday led by 5-10yr SPGBs – on Thursday Spain will tap the 5yr, 9yr and 25yr segment. Into the market close especially longer dated spreads were able to reverse the widening. In the end, only 3-7yr SPGB and PGB/Bund spreads stood wider – the latter by c. 3bp, although these hit fresh one-and-ahalf year lows yesterday. 10yr and longer BTP/Bund spreads were around 2bp tighter. In terms of today’s dataflow, the main focus is on the US ADP report, which is expected to hint at a solid payrolls report due on Friday, albeit it will be the hourly earnings growth figures that will shape the market’s reaction (here the consensus is for a pick-up in the MoM rate to 0.3%). EGB supply.
Today Germany will tap DBR 8/27 for €3bn. Outright yields don’t look that unattractive, as 0.49% still marks the upper end of the 0.15-0.50% range for 10yr German yields that prevailed in the run-up to Draghi’s Sintra speech on June 27. Moreover, the 10yr Bund also looks relatively appealing on a cross-markets basis, with DSL/Bund and OAT/Bund spreads at around their tightest levels in 12 months. The repo specialness of the DBR 8/27 (-1.32% s/n yesterday), also compared to other 10yr core paper, is another reason why we would expect the auction to get done at reasonable levels.
Elsewhere, Austria announced taps of the RAGBs 2/47 and 10/23 (€1.1bn in total) for its 8 August reserve date. The last time it did not make use of the reserve date was in 2014. Also note that Ireland’s NTMA yesterday cancelled another €500mio of the IRISH 2045 floater, held by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI). These holdings are also relevant for the issuer limit of 33% for the PSPP, and as such the cancellation frees up room for the Irish central bank to conduct more PSPP purchases. Ireland is among the jurisdictions where the Eurosystem PSPP purchases undershoot the target implied by the capital key.
The sell-off in 10yr Bunds took a pause yesterday, as some flight to safety on the back of the missile test conducted by North Korea and dovish comments by ECB Executive Board member Peter Praet underpinned demand. The volume of the Bund future, however, was almost 50% below its 10-day moving average thanks to the closure of US markets. Moreover, yields on 30yr German paper continued their ascend. Meanwhile, semi-core and peripheral bonds managed to squeeze out some further tightening verus Bunds, with OLOs and Bonos bucking the trend though – which makes sense given their tight levels relative to comparables. Interestingly, we find 8-10yr Spain currently trading at the tighest level versus OLOs of the past two years. With US markets open again, the main focus today is on the release of the FOMC minutes, which should offer clues as to whether the intended changes to the balance sheet reinvestment policy are indeed forthcoming “relatively soon”. Interestingly, we find the fed funds strip between the Nov-17 and Jan-19 contract having re-steepened more than 10bp over the past two weeks, suggesting more and more market players are embracing the view that the Fed delays their next rate hike until December and announces the start date of the reinvestment policy changes at the September meeting.
ECB QE data. Net asset purchases in June amounted to €62.4bn. PSPP purchases accounted for €51.6bn (82.7%). Interestingly, purchases remained skewed towards France and Italy, whereas German purchases were roughly in line with the Bundesbank’s capital key in the ECB for the third month running. Furthermore, the weighted average maturity of German purchases jumped from 3.99 years in May to 5.33, the highest reading since January (we doubt the monthly WAM estimate was meaningfully influenced by the reinvestment of maturing holdings). This sheds further light on the strong tightening seen in Schatz ASW spreads last month EGB supply. Germany will launch a new 5yr OBL today. With the markets recently reassesing the ECB policy outlook, the 5yr segment has cheapened more than 10bp on the fly versus the 2s and 10s since the end of May, and more than 12bp on ASW. This should ensure today’s auction won’t fail. Also note that the OBL 10/22 traded at an attractive roll of 9bp in the grey market yesterday – and that 4-5yr OBLs trade at a concession versus the interpolated DBR curve.
European Interest Rates
The outcome of the first round the French presidential election will likely dominate global yield behavior over the coming two weeks. Whether the impact will be limited to that period or last longer will depend on the outcome. In our view, the risk of surprise is higher in the first round, given how closely bunched together candidates’ poll numbers are (Macron 23%, Le Pen 22%, Fillon 20%, Melenchon 19%). It appears likely that the candidates’ final poll readings could end up within the margin of error ahead of the election, making it hard for markets to price out this risk ahead of actual results. The main reason, of course, is that both Le Pen and far-left candidate Melenchon are staunchly anti-EU, and a victory by either would be highly disruptive for both France and Europe more broadly. Alleviating some of the tight polling in the first round is the fact that the second round polls show a comfortable margin for either mainstream candidate (Macron or Fillon) in a head-to-head matchup with Le Pen. Even here, however, there are some risks, as there’s more of a mixed result versus Melenchon. The real risk to markets then, appears to be Melenchon making it to the second round. We discuss how interest rates markets may react to the various outcomes in the first round below. The first, and more likely scenario in our European economists view, is that Le Pen and Macron will be the top two finishers in the first round. In this case, polls indicate that Macron is expected to win fairly easily in the second round, having consistently led by about a 20 point margin—markets would view this outcome as fairly benign. We had estimated previously that there was about 25bp of “redenomination risk” premium in Bunds.
Since then, more of this negative premium has been priced into German sovereign debt, and we now estimate there’s about 35bp. Some of this is likely to be unwound immediately following this outcome in the first round, though not the entire 35bp as the second round polls are still over two weeks away. In terms of peripheral spreads, this would mean compression, given that they are currently close to their widest levels seen in the past few years. Some caveats are in order; in the event that Le Pen wins with a much larger margin than current polls show, the selloff in bunds may be rather muted, given that a surprisingly large margin could reveal some polling issues.
The best case scenario for markets would clearly be the elimination of the two “extreme” candidates: if Macron and Fillon manage to top French voters’ preferences on the 23rd, we anticipate a risk on move from financial markets. The worst outcome for risk assets would be a second round featuring Le Pen and Melenchon. Although we would expect markets to be volatile for some time, such an outcome wouldn’t equate to the end of the world (yet), as it is unlikely that an extremist candidate, even if appointed President, would be able to do much harm without a parliamentary majority.
Historically, France always had two strong candidates, coming from the two main parties. This time round, there is a significant chance that none of them will be represented in the second round. Indeed, this election has faced a series of twists:
? Initial favorite candidate, Francois Fillon (center-right), has lost more than ten points in the polls, partly because of his family’s allegedly fictitious employment issues. Although only third in most polls, Fillon can count on a solid base of center-right voters to keep alive the possibility of being in the second round.
? Macron (center) has managed to emerge as a credible candidate and is now ahead in all polls – with a remaining fragility, though: his voters’ loyalty is seen as lower than than of Fillon or Le Pen’s.
? Marine Le Pen’s campaign hasn’t seen any momentum so far. Starting from a very high position, she has slowly been trending down over the past two months – still, she should still manage to access the second round. She doesn’t seem able to attract new voters, though.
? Finally, Melenchon (far-left)’s support has surged in the past few days pushing him up to the fourth position in the presidential race with a score very close to Fillon’s one. Meaning he could still make it to the final round.
If anything, as soon as the risk of “Frexit” comes into view, we believe the issue for markets will not be France leaving the euro, but the euro leaving France. The most likely reaction to such an episode of financial stress would be a political response in the opposite direction, we believe. If Le Pen and Macron move on, they expect a likely unwind of some of the “redenomination risk” premium embedded in bunds and compression in peripheral spreads. Melenchon in the second round, on the other hand, would present a risk to markets given his favorable second round polling against Fillon and Le Pen. In a favourable outcome EURUSD may move quickly towards their 1.10 3 month forecast. An adverse scenario may see a drop towards recent lows below 1.04.
Historically, exit polls provide a first estimate of results at 8pm local time. However, conclusive results could be available a little later as it could be hard to get a precise estimate of the two winners early, if results are very close. Note that although French media are not allowed to publish any results before 8:00 pm on Sunday, it is possible, as happened in the past, that medias in other countries will. Participation rates at 12pm and 5pm are also worth watching: we believe a high participation rate could be negative for Le Pen (and to a lesser extent for Fillon) – and potentially positive for Macron or Melenchon – and viceversa, providing an early indication on the direction things might take.
The euro area economy has indicated signs of a considerable acceleration following a 0.4 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in the fourth quarter of last year. Recently, all business surveys have continuously surprised on the upside, indicating towards GDP growth accelerating closer to 2.5 percent year-on-year, a rise from 1.7 percent year-on-year recorded at the end of 2016. This is stronger than the possible growth estimated at about 1.1 percent year-on-year, suggesting that the euro area output gap might be closing at a much rapid rate as compared to projected earlier, noted Scotiabank in a research report.
Throughout the euro area, Germany is expected to be an economic outperformer, owing to the firming global demand. The latest IFO surveys have come to their highest levels since 2011 when the German GDP growth was growing by over 4 percent year-on-year. But there are also signs that the euro area recovery is widening throughout its member states. The PMIs are rising in Italy and France in spite of the negative effect of increased political uncertainty, stated Scotiabank.
Moreover, increased supportive financial conditions continue to strengthen the euro area economic recovery, with interest rates staying at low levels along with continuing stimulus provided by the ECB. The subdued euro is also giving a boost, with the nominal effective exchange rate trending at its lowest level in nearly 15 years and helping local competitiveness. Hence, credit growth has bolstered, rising to 2.3 percent year-on-year in February, the most robust since 2009 and over double the growth pace witnessed a year ago. Overall, these developments bolster the view that the euro area economic recovery is becoming more sustainable, stated Scotiabank.
“The risk to the Eurozone growth outlook has now shifted to the upside, with both the EU Commission and the ECB revising their real GDP growth forecasts for this year and next year up closer to 2.0% y/y”, added Scotiabank.
The German bunds gained Friday, following a lower reading of the country’s manufacturing and composite PMI.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, fell nearly 1 basis point to 0.24 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields also slipped around 1 basis point to 0.95 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year bond plunged 1-1/2 basis points to -0.80 percent by 08:40 GMT.
The Markit Flash Germany Composite Output Index registered 56.3 in April, down from March’s near 6-year high of 57.1. This signaled the first easing in growth of private sector business activity since the start of the year, but still the second-fastest rate of expansion in over three years.
Further, the ongoing strength of business conditions in manufacturing, in particular, was reflected in the headline Markit Flash Germany Manufacturing PMI coming in little-changed from March’s 71-month high of 58.3, at 58.2.
The first trading day after the long Easter weekend saw a lot of volatility in EGB markets, helped by the call for snap elections in the UK. Interestingly, despite the risk-off mood in equities and widening in iTraxx credit indices, peripheral EGB spreads managed to tighten. What is more, the 10yr OAT/Bund spread eventually closed little changed at 73p, although 5yr spread widened by 2bp. Thanks to the afternoon rally in US Treasuries, the 10yr Bund yield closed 3bp lower at 0.15%, hitting the low end of the year-to-date range. With four French presidential candidates clustered around 20% in the polls for the first round on Sunday and the backdrop of heightened geopolitical uncertainty, we expect core bond yields to hold at current depressed levels in coming days.
ECB QE data. In the first full week of buying subject to the new monthly target of €60bn total APP purchases amounted to €15bn, which suggests a moderate frontloading ahead of the Easter weekend. The PSSP accounted for €12.5bn, or 83% of the total. This share is within previous ranges, if not slightly lower, with the average since July 2016 at 85%.
EGB supply. Today Germany will re-open the off-the-run DBR 2.5 7/44 line for €1bn. The bond is trading exceptionally rich on ASW by historical standards (i.e. -38bp). However, it is also trading rich in repo (i.e. -0.85% s/n yesterday), suggesting a short base among dealers, and looks cheap on the curve, with the DBR 42/44/46 micro-fly at its highest level on record. This should ensure that the auction won’t fail. For comparison: the previous tap in February saw a real bid/cover of just 0.7 and a retention rate of 41.7% Elsewhere, KfW is expected to launch a new 5yr EUR benchmark today. Interpolating between the KFW 0 6/21 and 7/22 lines would pitch fair value on the secondary curve in the MS -39/-38bp area. Belgium yesterday announced that the bonds that will be tapped on April 24 are going to be the OLO 10/23 and 6/27 lines.
The independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is still the favorite candidate to become the next French President. Odds of his presidency still hovers above 50 percent, far higher than any of his rivals, however, the odds have declined from 67 percent just three weeks ago to 52 percent as of now. While nobody can predict with certainty on who might win on May 7th, one thing is certain that the French are looking for changes and they are looking for it so hard that for the first time main political parties are not at all expected to make it to the round two of the election that will be on May 7th. The incumbent President is so unpopular in France that his approval rating at one point declined to just 4 percent and that legacy would continue to hurt his socialist party for years to come. That is probably is the main reason for his not running for re-election.
Shadow of his disastrous legacy is one of the reasons why the odds are declining for Macron. Many lawmakers of the socialist party are openly supporting Emmanuel Macron against his closest opponent Marine Le Pen. President Hollande has openly declared that it his duty to make sure that Le Pen doesn’t’ win the Presidency. The former Prime Minister under Hollande government of the Socialist Party Manuel Valls has openly declared his support for Mr. Macron instead of his own party’s candidate Benoît Hamon.
Mr. Macron is increasingly being seen as an extension of the establishment and the current socialist government and that is not a good portrayal on an anti-establishment year.
The German 10-year bund yields hit its lowest since December 30 last year on Tuesday as investors poured into safe-haven assets ahead of the Eurozone’s final reading of the consumer price inflation (CPI) for the month of March, scheduled to be released on April 19.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, slumped nearly 2 basis points to 0.17 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields plunged 1-1/2 basis points to 0.91 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year bond also traded nearly 1-1/2 basis points lower at -0.86 percent by 08:30 GMT.
The Eurozone flash CPI inflation reading declined to 1.5 percent for March, from 2.0 percent in February. This was significantly below market expectations of a 1.8 percent increase and the lowest reading for three months.
The core inflation reading also declined to 0.7 percent from 0.9 percent previously and was below expectations of a smaller decline to 0.8 percent. The core rate was 1.0 percent for March 2016, illustrating that overall inflationary pressure has been subdued.
Defying demand for a general election for months, the UK Prime Minister has finally decided to hold a snap general election on June 8th in order to receive a mandate from the people of the United Kingdom to take the country through the two-year Brexit process. She surprised many politicians as well as the market with her announcement from the Downing Street. The decision reportedly came after consultations with senior figures and advisors within the party. The recent state of the opposition Labor Party which is fighting internal battles and revolts against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn might have also influenced the decision. The recent opinion polls show that Theresa May’s conservative party is as much as 21 percent ahead of the main opposition, so holding an election now would likely provide Ms. May with a stronger majority in the parliament.
In addition to that, a win by Ms. May would also end the criticism that she has not contested her post; instead, it was given to her as the former Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after the referendum. This surely adds to the political uncertainties in Europe.
The pound initially suffered a shock selloff on the news but recovered and now trading stronger for the day at 1.264 against the dollar.
The opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn has welcomed the decision.
EUR: French elections likely to cap EUR/USD upside around 1.07 level Naturally one would have expected EUR/USD to have rallied substantially in the face of President Trump’s $ jawboning and rising geopolitical tensions. But gains have been harder to come by recently, with the pair struggling to push above the 1.0670/80 area. It is likely that EZ political risks are playing a role, with investors wary of chasing EUR upside in the run-up to the French presidential elections. A EUR/USD move above 1.0700 looks unlikely and could be met with spec sellers.
Eurozone factory growth hits six-year high in March as growth accelerates in Germany, Italy and France. IHS Markit’s final manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for the eurozone rose to 56.2 in March, the highest since April 2011, from 55.4 in the previous month. The reading was in line with expectations.
An index measuring output, which feeds into a composite PMI due on Wednesday, rose to a near six-year high of 57.5 from 57.3. The flash estimate was 57.2. A sub-index measuring delivery times fell to 41.9 from 43.9, its lowest reading since May 2011. New orders surged despite prices charged rising faster than in any month since June 2011.
Factories across the euro zone struggled to keep up with demand last month. The survey is also signalling the highest incidence of supplier delivery delays for nearly six years. “These delays send warning signal about rising inflationary pressures, as busy suppliers are often able to hike prices,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
March saw eurozone manufacturing employment increase for the thirty-first consecutive month. Price pressures remained elevated at the end of the opening quarter. Manufacturers’ purchasing costs rose at a rate close to February’s 69-month high, leading to the steepest increase in factory gate selling prices since June 2011.
“Euro zone manufacturing is clearly enjoying a sweet spell as we move into spring, but it is also suffering growing pains in the form of supply delays and rising costs,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.
The betting market is underestimating the possibility of a Le Pen victory in the upcoming French election. The market is pricing 63-67 percent chance of an Emmanuel Macron presidency, compared to 22-25 percent chance for a Marine Le Pen victory. We think that is largely due to the polling. All the polls are predicting a Le Pen win in the first round on April 23rd and a Macron victory in the second round with a huge margin of 62-38 percent. Then, why do we think that possibility of a Le Pen win is mispriced? Here are some points to note,
In 2012 election, Front National Leader Marine Le Pen was not so much of dazzling political figure compared to the 2016 election and many people associated her with her father’s more extreme politics. Yet, she received almost 18 percent of the votes in the first round and came in third place.
More French are disgusted with establishment politics that they were during 2012 election.
The market is underestimating the commitments of Le Pen voters. While Polls show a Macron win, they also show that 95 percent of Le Pen supporters passionately back her compared to just 2/3rd for Mr. Macron. Le Pen voters are more likely to head to the polls to cast their votes than any other parties. Almost 37 percent of the French people are planning to abstain from this year’s election even if it helps Le Pen.
French people who are backing other candidates that the above two are more reluctant to back Macron or Le Pen in the second round.
According to Pew Research Center’s 2016 polls, 62 percent French have unfavorable views towards the European Union.
All polls indicate terrible performance by established parties like the incumbent President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party, which means that the anti-establishment wind is blowing strong and Mr. Macron is the establishment candidate among the duo.
Madame Le Pen is the only prominent female candidate in this year’s French election and that needs to be counted too.
We, expect the betting market to correct the odds sharply after the first round outcome. If le Pen secures 32-35 percent in the first round, it is more likely to be a Le Pen Presidency than not.
Data from German Statistics office, Destatis showed Friday that Germany’s retail sales in February unexpectedly fell by real 2.1 percent year-on-year, reversing January’s revised 2.7 percent increase.
Meanwhile, month-on-month, Germany’s retail sales were up 1.8 percent after declining 1 percent in January. The monthly growth beat analysts’ forecasts for a 0.7 percent increase. A similar faster growth was last seen in August 2014.
Mixed data on Friday sent mixed signals about the health of this sector of Europe’s largest economy. A breakdown of the year-on-year data showed sharp drops in sales of food, drinks and tobacco as well as clothing, shoes and other items such as books and jewelry.
The volatile indicator is often subject to revision, the Federal Statistics Office said. The data follows GfK survey which showed German consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell to its lowest level in five months going into April, partly due to people’s concerns that rising inflation will erode their purchasing power.
The German bunds slid Friday, after reading wider-than-expected decline in the country’s unemployment rate during the month of March. Also, investors remain keen to watch the Eurozone’s March consumer price inflation, scheduled to be released shortly today.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, rose 1 basis point to 0.34 percent, the long-term 15-year bond yields rose 1/2 basis point to 0.54 percent and the yield on the short-term 2-year bond traded 1 basis point higher at -0.73 percent by 08:20 GMT.
German unemployment unexpectedly dropped to a new record low in March as Europe’s largest economy powered ahead.
The jobless rate fell to 5.8 percent, from 5.9 percent, and the number of people out of work slid by a seasonally adjusted 30,000 to 2.6 million, data from the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg showed on Friday. Economists in a Bloomberg survey forecast no change in the unemployment rate and a 10,000 decline in the number of people seeking work.
“The job market continues to develop favourably. With the onset of spring activity, the number of unemployed people has declined, employment growth is continuing unabatedly, and demand for new employees continues to be high,” Bloomberg reported, citing Detlef Scheele, Board Member, German Labor agency.
The ECB apparently concluded that enough was enough and yesterday stepped up its verbal intervention campaign to correct overdone market expectations for a ECB depo rate hike adjustment. Following the news story in which unnamed ECB sources were quoted as saying that the message of the March press conference was “way overinterpreted” by markets the Bund future jumped 40 ticks, while the ECB dated EONIA forward curve bull flattened. The 10yr Bund yield eventually closed at 0.34%, near the middle of the 0.15%-0.50% range that we continue to foresee up until the second round of the French presidential elections. What is more, we still feel that the ECB dated EONIA forward for Dec-17, at -0.30%, is pricing in a too high probability of a 10bp depo rate hike.
The Socialist candidate in this year’s French election, Manuel Valls, the former Prime Minister of France has abandoned his candidacy and instead, he would vote for the independent centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in order to defeat their staunch rival Front National leader Marine Le Pen. He said on the French television that the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon is not in the best position to prevent the rise of the dreaded far-right candidate. Mr. Hamon is expected to come fifth in the first round of the election, which will be held on April 23rd. he said that he is not going to take any risk. The incumbent socialist President Francois Hollande is not running for a second term, largely because of his very low approval rating among the French. At one point, his approval rating dropped to just 4 percent. He said repeatedly that as a President it is his primary goal to prevent a Le Pen Presidency as that will not be in the best interest of his country. So far, some 50 lawmakers have also jumped to Macron’s boat in order to prevent Le Pen from getting into the second round.
Polls have so far shown that Marine Le Pen getting beaten by Macron in the second round by a large margin of more than 30 percent despite winning the first. But polls have been proven wrong many a time in 2016. The establishment politicians are very scared as the Le Pen Presidency would not only mean the end of their world but the end of the European union and the Euro.
The pace of credit growth to households and businesses in the Eurozone edged lower in February, data from the European Central Bank showed Monday. The broad money measure, M3, rose 4.7 percent year-over-year in February, slower than the 4.8 percent climb in January, missing expectations for a 4.9 percent rise. The Eurozone money supply growth eased for the second straight month in February.
Within M3, the annual growth rate of deposits placed by households stood at 5.4 percent in February, down from 5.5 percent in January. While, deposits placed by non-monetary financial corporations registered a decline of 2.0 percent.
The ECB has maintained an ultra-loose monetary policy with low interest rates and stimulus measures which have helped bolster credit growth in the Eurozone over the last two years. The narrower aggregate M1, which includes currency in circulation and overnight deposits, remained unchanged at 8.4 percent in February.
Details of the report showed that the annual growth rate of total credit to euro area residents decreased to 4.3 percent in February from 4.6 percent in the previous month. The yearly growth rate of credit to general government moderated to 9.8 from 10.5 percent.
European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger speaking on regulation and Brexit told a press conference on Monday that the central bank is prepared for any outcome from Brexit talks.
Lautenschlaeger said that there may probably be many banking groups coming in due to Brexit and to enable banks to comprehensively comply with requirements, ECB will grant bank-specific phase-in periods. She added that such periods can last months, possibly years, depending on individual circumstances.
Lautenschlaeger called for Basel -3 regulations to be finalized as quickly as possible and added that the committee is close to reaching an agreement.
Last week, a couple of investment banks have scrapped their 2017 euro-dollar parity call. Citigroup called off its euro-dollar parity call saying that it no longer expects a big rally in the US dollar, which could push it to parity with the euro. The bank now expects the euro to decline to 1.04 against the dollar, revised from its previous forecast of 98 cents on the dollar. The euro is currently trading at 1.086 against the dollar and the bank suggests that it could jump to as high as 1.10 against the dollar over the next three months in the Front National candidate Marine Le pen gets beaten in the upcoming French election.
After Citi, it was Barclays. In a report on last Thursday scrapped the euro-dollar parity call noting that investors are breathing a sigh of relief after the Dutch election, where the euro-skeptic PVV party led by Geert Wilders failed to secure the top position. The bank is now forecasting the euro to reach 1.09 against the dollar in the second quarter of 2017 and drop to as low as 1.03 against the dollar in the fourth quarter and rebound to 1.05 against the dollar in early 2018. The bank now only sees modest US dollar appreciation likely to peak in the fourth quarter. The bank said in its report, “The cyclical advantage of the dollar might erode as more robust global growth and inflation materialize, while sideways moves appear more likely without a significant policy boost that shocks rates and equity risk premia higher. The path for the dollar is subject to uncertainty in fiscal and trade policies, which could lead to vastly different outcomes.”
The strength of the US dollar has recently come under strain as the financial markets pose doubts on the ability of the White House to pass its promises, the hope of which boosted the performance of the dollar since the US election.
Our euro-dollar parity call still remains active, which were given out at then exchange rate of 1.11 against the dollar. We have not scrapped it yet but closely monitoring the fundamental changes.
Centrists at the ECB are continuing to downplay the prospects of early tightening, although markets continue to price a hike in Sep 18. Understandably the ECB is concerned that markets will overshoot on any early hint of early tightening. Look out for Eurozone PMIs today. These have been running strong and suggest Eurozone growth may be running at 2%. We’re still clinging to the view that the 1.0850 area is the top of the EUR/USD range, but that could be severely tested if the US healthcare bill fails in the House today.
German bunds trade higher ahead of ECB member lautenschlaeger’s speech, March manufacturing PMI
The German bunds trade higher Thursday as investors wait to watch the European Central Bank member Lautenschlaeger’s speech, scheduled for later in the day. Also, market participants remain keen to read the March manufacturing PMI, due on March 24, which will remain crucial in determining the future direction of the bond market.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, slumped 1-1/2 basis points to 0.39 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields also plunged 1-1/2 basis points to 1.12 percent and the yield on short-term 1-year bond also traded 3-1/2 basis points lower at -0.80 percent by 09:00 GMT.
EM and risk outlook stays relatively supported but we see risk aversion alert signs across the board. While investors focus on US politics and especially on today’s vote on the repeal act of Obamacare, other developments should, in our view, not remain unnoticed: a research paper published by two Fed economists and released by the Brookings Institute suggesting US interest rates staying low with the Fed tolerating inflation overshooting targets, the ECB’s targeted LTRO allocations, and the continued fall of iron ore futures. Despite equity markets retracing some of the post-election rally, US monetary conditions have become more accommodative with the falling USD contributing most to this easing. Foreign conditions have turned from providing hefty headwinds as experienced from 2012-16 into tailwinds, helping US reflation gain momentum over time. Accordingly, we prepare for putting on FX trades that benefit from a steeper US yield curve. Short EURSEK and long USDJPY fall into this category. While short EURSEK should work from now, USDJPY’s current downward momentum suggests waiting for 109.50 or for a stabilisation above 112.50 before establishing longs.
US vote: Today markets will wait for the outcome of the vote but FX investors should note that the vote is not scheduled for a specific time. At the moment the vote count may be low so the Republican leaders need the time to gather votes, indicating why no specific time is provided. There is even a risk the vote may be delayed if the leaders feel the vote may not pass.
Watching iron ore. The PBOC-run Financial News newspaper highlighted that the recent rise of RMB money market rates should be put into the context of recent money market operations. China seems to be tightening its monetary conditions to deal with excessive leverage. Importantly, tighter RMB lending conditions have sparked China’s USD denominated loan demand, pushing its USD denominated liabilities up again. Should this loan-related USD inflow into China end up into a higher FX reserves (see chart below) – thus providing an additional signal that offshore USD liquidity conditions are on the rise – EM markets should see further inflows. Meanwhile, China has seen the ratio of mortgage loans to total credit of commercial banks reaching uncomfortably high readings. It has been China’s property and infrastructure investment driving commodity – including iron ore – demand. Authorities are now directing growth away from the property market which suggests that commodity prices may ease. Falling iron ore prices will not bode well for the AUD. Within this context we recommend using the AUD as a funding tool for high yield EM longs and for a long GBP position. GBPAUD has moved away from levels suggested by relative forward curves.
The Australian bonds traded in a tight range Tuesday as investors refrained from any major activity amid a light trading session. Also, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) March monetary policy meeting minutes, painted a mixed picture of the economy, adding sluggishness to market sentiments.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, hovered around 2.82 percent, the yield on 15-year note also traded flat at 3.21 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year remained steady at 1.81 percent by 04:20 GMT.
The minutes of the RBA March board meeting continued to paint the picture of an RBA unwilling to move official interest rates anytime soon. The Board highlighted a range of positives, but concerns were also raised. The central bank was notably more upbeat about the global outlook and the flow on effect to higher commodity prices.
Concerns surrounding the outlook for the labor market were apparent, with the RBA noting that “conditions had remained mixed” and that “momentum in the labor market remained difficult to assess”. A further mixed picture on the labor market leaves the RBA between a rock and a hard place.
Lastly, markets will now be focussing on the RBA Deputy Governor Guy Debelle’s speech, scheduled to be held on March 22 for further direction in the debt market.
UK’s manufacturing output rose by 1.2 percent in the last quarter of 2016. Boost to competitiveness from sterling’s depreciation last year was probably a key driver of this upturn. The underlying trend is clearly upward, as is indicated by the 1.9 percent rise in Q4 production when compared to the same quarter a year ago, says Lloyds Bank.
Official data for the month of January showed a small fall in output in January and the February purchasing managers’ survey showed a modest decline in the level of the headline index from the previous month. Analysts at Lloyds Bank opine that the declines are probably just temporary retreats after outsized gains in previous months.
“With orders as measured by both the PMI and CBI surveys strong enough to point to further output gains over the next few months, the sector still seems on course for further expansion,” said Lloyds Bank in a report.
Fall in manufacturing investment, however, raises concerns about the sustenance of upside in the longer term. UK manufacturing investment probably fell by more than 4 percent last year, its weakest performance since 2009. The start of the Brexit negotiations will likely create more uncertainty which could hamper investments going forward. Continued sluggish investment growth may add to concerns about the UK’s modest productivity performance, adds Lloyds Bank.
The Westpac-McDermott Miller New Zealand consumer confidence index edged slightly lower in the March quarter. Survey showed that people grew wary about the short-term economic outlook, but extended the nation’s run of optimism to six years.
The Westpac McDermott Miller consumer confidence index fell 1.2 points to 111.9 in the March quarter, but remained above the long-run average of 111.4. The present conditions index decreased 0.2 points to 111.2 and the expected conditions index fell 1.9 points to 112.4.
“March’s slight fall in confidence mainly reflected some anxiety about the upcoming election. It might also reflect concerns around housing affordability or political developments offshore, both of which continued to hit the headlines in recent weeks,” said Westpac Banking Corp senior economist Satish Ranchhod.
The latest economic data showed GDP figures showed that on a per-capita basis, household spending rose by around 2 percent last year which reflected a healthy level of spending confidence. With a growing confidence of consumers in their own household financial security, and a positive outlook for the New Zealand economy we could expect continuing positive consumer sentiment to translate into sustained growth.
Growth in Japan is holding up nicely and economic activity has gained momentum since 4Q16 with the pickup in the global capex and manufacturing cycle. Inflation has started to push back above the waterline. But as Governor Kuroda emphasized at a press conference last week, inflation expectations remain stuck, something highlighted by this year’s spring wage negotiation projected to produce only modest wage increases. With price pressures nailed to the floor, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to raise rates.
“With our USD rates forecasts pushed upward, we now expect that the BoJ will taper its asset purchases at a somewhat slower pace than previously and that QE will end in H2 2019, instead of mid-2019. JGB rates unchanged,” said DNB markets in a research note to clients.
There is an ongoing debate whether the BoJ will have to raise its 10-year bond yield cap because of the lack of JGB liquidity. There seems to be still a split of views inside the BoJ on whether the Bank should or should not raise the 10-year yield target when the real interest rates decline further. The longer the BoJ keeps the 10-year yield target unchanged, the more rapidly it will have to adjust the target later.
Analysts expect the BoJ to maintain the current 10-year yield target through year-end, but if it sees greater yen weakness, it would adjust the target in 2H17. BoJ will have to strengthen communication strategy with forward guidance on its yield curve control (YCC) policy to manage market expectations. It would probably provide the conditions under which the BoJ would raise the 10-year yield target.
“While we expect the BoJ to introduce forward guidance on its yield curve control (YCC) policy relatively soon, we think it would do so in July at the earliest, when the BoJ reviews its economic outlook and discusses its monetary policy stance in the Outlook Report. If it may take time to build a consensus among the board members on this issue, delaying its introduction until October,” said J.P. Morgan in a report.
USD/JPY trades below 100-day moving average. The pair is tracking DXY lower, amid holiday-thinned markets (Japan closed for Vernal Equinox Day) and lack of fresh fundamental drivers. Technical studies are bearish, RSI and stochs are biased lower and MACD has shown a bearish crossover on signal line. 112 levels in sight, violation there could see test of 111.60 and then 111 levels.
As expected, the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rate by 25 basis points in its March meeting. However, aside from the rate hike, there were no major changes in the FOMC forecast or statement, except for few minor tweaks. With March meeting gone, there are now seven upcoming meetings this year and the Fed has forecasted hikes in two of them. Let’s look at the market pricing of the hikes, (note, all calculations are based on data as of 16th March)
May 3rd meeting: Market is attaching 94 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, and 6 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent.
June 14th Meeting: Market is attaching 46 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, 51 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent, and 3 percent probability that rates will be at 1.25-1.50 percent.
July 26th meeting: Market is attaching 38 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, 50 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent, 11 percent probability that rates will be at 1.25-1.50 percent, and 1 percent probability that rates will be at 1.50-1.75 percent.
September 20th meeting: Market is attaching 21 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, 45 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent, 28 percent probability that rates will be at 1.25-1.50 percent, 5.5 percent probability that rates will be at 1.50-1.75 percent, and 0.5 percent probability that rates will be at 1.75-2.00 percent.
November 1st meeting: Market is attaching 20 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, 43 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent, 29 percent probability that rates will be at 1.25-1.50 percent, 7 percent probability that rates will be at 1.50-1.75 percent, and 1 percent probability that rates will be at 1.75-2.00 percent.
December 13th meeting: Market is attaching 10 percent probability that rates will be at 0.75-1.00 percent, 32 percent probability that rates will be at 1.00-1.25 percent, 36 percent probability that rates will be at 1.25-1.50 percent, 18 percent probability that rates will be at 1.50-1.75 percent, 3.5 percent probability that rates will be at 1.75-2.00 percent, and 0.5 percent probability that rates will be at 2.00-2.25 percent.
The probability is suggesting,
There hasn’t been much of a change after the FOMC. The market is still pricing a hike in June and a hike in December. It is still not clear why the market is predicting two hikes in H1 and just one in H2. This is probably because the market is pricing the Fed would keep additional room for easing.
We suspect that if the price of oil tumbles further, so would be the hike odds.
The New Zealand bonds remained weak at the time of closing Friday, tracking softness in the U.S. counterparts amid a quiet trading session that witnessed data of little economic significance. Also, investors will remain focused on the GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) price auction, scheduled to be held on March 21.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price rose 1 basis point to 3.29 percent at the time of closing, the yield on 7-year note jumped nearly 1-1/2 basis points to 2.86 percent while the yield on short-term 2-year note also dived 1 basis point higher at 2.13 percent.
New Zealand’s economy expanded 0.4 percent q/q over the final three months of 2016. That was below consensus expectations and the softest quarterly growth experienced since Q2 2015. Q3 growth was also revised lower to 0.8 percent q/q (from 1.1 percent previously reported). As such, annual growth eased to 2.7 percent y/y.
New Zealand’s Dairy prices fell 6.3 percent in the latest GDT price auction, following a 3.2 percent decline a fortnight ago. Within this, powder prices performed poorly, with whole milk powder prices falling 12.4 percent to USD2,794/MT, and skim milk powder prices falling 15.5 percent. Meanwhile, AMF continues to be well-supported at high levels, edging down only 0.8 percent.
The Political establishment in Washington went into a frenzy last year after then-candidate Donald Trump said that he wants to restore relations with the Russians. Every time, Mr. Trump refused to criticize either Russia or Russian President Vladimir Putin, the established anti-Russia establishment in Capitol Hill went after him and that includes several media outlets like CNN, which colluded with the Clinton campaign during the election and more. The skepticism with Russia runs so deep in Capitol Hill and within the establishment that President Trump is considered by many as a Russian spy and they are still looking to prove connections between Trump and Putin.
A recent incident in Capitol Hill proves how deep the hatred runs. Senator John McCain of the Republican Party presented a proposal that envisions bringing Montenegro, a small Balkan country within the umbrella of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and that proposal was rejected by another Republican senator Rand Paul, who did not want to make additional military commitments when the US debt is already at $20 trillion. Russia allegedly took part in a failed coup during last year’s Montenegro election. Mr. Rand Paul’s refusal triggered a furor in Senator McCain, a well-known Russia hawk, who accused Mr. Paul of working with or for the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia-US-Montenegro are part of global geopolitics and there is also nothing wrong being a Russia-hawk but when one accuses a colleague of working for Russia, then probably it’s not just hawkish; it’s a phobia, Russia-phobia.
The real question is, can President Trump overcome these phobics and reconcile with Russia?
The New Zealand bonds nose-dived Thursday, tracking weakness in the U.S. counterpart, with the 10-year yields sinking to over 2-week low after investors crowded demand in safe-haven assets, following lower-than-expected fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP).
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price plunged 10 basis points to 3.28 percent, while the yield on 7-year note also slumped 10 basis points to 2.85 percent while the yield on short-term 2-year note dived 6-1/2 basis points to 2.12 percent by 05:50GMT.
New Zealand’s economy expanded 0.4 percent q/q over the final three months of 2016. That was below consensus expectations and the softest quarterly growth experienced since Q2 2015. Q3 growth was also revised lower to 0.8 percent q/q (from 1.1 percent previously reported). As such, annual growth eased to 2.7 percent y/y.
On the back of stronger terms of trade, nominal GDP rose 2.1 percent q/q (7.5 percent y/y), while real gross national disposable income (RGNDI) surged 2.8 percent q/q, the strongest quarterly lift since Q1 2010. In per capita terms, RGNDI rose 2.3 percent q/q. The benefits of this real income boost should not be discounted.
A rate hike from the US Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) today is almost a certainty. The policymakers would conclude their two days of meeting today and announce the decision at 18:00 GMT, followed by a press conference by the Fed Chair Janet Yellen. As of data available for March 14th, the participants in the financial markets are pricing with 91 percent probability that there will be a 25 basis points rate hike. The market is pricing the next hike to be in June and the third hike to be in December.
We have prepared an FOMC dashboard that segregates members in three distinct groups, Hawks, Doves, and unknowns based on their remarks and commentaries made in public forums, focusing on the March interest rate decision. That dashboard is also suggesting that there will be a hike today. We have found that except for Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, all the other members are hawkish heading to the rate decision. We also couldn’t confirm the views of Daniel Tarullo, who has recently resigned and this is his last rate decision meeting.
The US dollar index is currently trading at 101.38, down 0.25 percent for the day. The dollar has been struggling to head to higher highs despite a full market pricing (almost) of a hike in March and three this year. So, the dollar index might see selloffs after the interest rate decision if the inflation and interest rate outlooks are not substantially upgraded beyond what was shared in the December projections. In addition to that, the major focus is on the Dutch election this week, for which the results would start appearing after the FOMC meeting.
The Australian bonds traded modestly higher Wednesday as investors poured into safe-haven assets ahead of the February employment report, scheduled to be released on March 16. Also, the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) monetary policy meeting, scheduled for later in the day will provide further guidance to financial markets.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, fell 1/2 basis point to 2.93 percent, the yield on 15-year note dived nearly 1 basis point to 3.32 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year also traded 1 basis point lower at 1.89 percent by 03:20 GMT.
Australia’s February business conditions retraced some of the previous month’s gains, but remain at levels consistent with solid growth. Confidence also eased back slightly. Business confidence also edged down in February, alongside a further deterioration in the Federal Government’s standing in public opinion polling.
“We expect the February jobs report, out later this week, to show a solid rise in employment, but over the longer term a sharper downtrend in the unemployment rate is likely necessary for a sustained boost to households’ perceptions of their finances,” ANZ Research commented in its latest research report.
The UK gilts slumped Tuesday ahead of the country’s labor market report, due on March 15 and as investors remain cautious ahead of the Bank of England’s (BoE) monetary policy decision, scheduled to be held on March 16.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year gilts, which moves inversely to its price, rose 1 basis points to 1.25 percent, the super-long 25-year bond yields also rose 1/2 basis point to 1.88 percent and the yield on the short-term 3-year traded flat at 0.24 percent by 09:50 GMT.
The BoE is expected to maintain its neutral policy stance at the monetary policy meeting, scheduled to be held on March 16. Further, the central bank is also expected to hold its Bank Rate at 0.25 percent while leaving the targets for the stock of government bond purchases (APF) and the stock of corporate bond purchases (CBPS) unchanged at GBP435bn and GBP10bn, respectively.
“In our view, the BoE seems to be more worried about slower growth than too-high inflation if this is only temporary. EUR/GBP has reached our 1-3M target of 0.87 and we are currently reviewing our forecast. We still see risks skewed to the upside for EUR/GBP in the coming months ahead of and after the triggering of Article 50,” Danske Bank commented in its recent research report.
The Japanese government bonds traded narrowly mixed Tuesday as investors await to watch the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ) 2-day monetary policy meeting, scheduled to be held on March 15-16, announcing its decision on Thursday.
The benchmark 10-year bond yield, which moves inversely to its price, hovered around 0.09 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields also traded flat at 0.87 percent and the yield on the short-term 2-year note remained steady at -0.25 percent by 06:00 GMT.
The BoJ is expected to keep monetary policy steady on Thursday and stress that inflation is nowhere near levels that justify talk of withdrawing massive stimulus, as weak consumer spending casts a cloud over an otherwise healthy pick-up in the economy.
Further, at the two-day rate review that ends on Thursday, the central bank is expected to maintain its short-term interest rate target at minus 0.1 percent and a pledge to guide the 10-year government bond yield around zero percent via aggressive asset purchases. Analysts also expect the BoJ to keep intact a loose pledge to maintain the pace of its annual increase in Japanese government bond (JGBs), which is JPY80 trillion (USD696.62 billion).
The German bunds jumped at the start of the week on Monday as investors remain keen to watch the European Central Bank (ECB) Governor Mario Draghi’s speech, scheduled for later in the day. Also, the 30-year auction, scheduled to be held on March 15 will remain crucial in determining the teh future direction of the bond market.
Besides, markets shall remain hooked to assess the speeches by other ECB members Sabine Lautenschlaeger, Vitor Constancio and Peter Praet later through the day.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, slumped nearly 4 basis points to 0.45 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields plunged over 4 basis points to 1.22 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year bond traded 1-1/2 basis points lower at -0.82 percent by 08:30 GMT.
The ECB kept all policy measures unchanged at last week’s meeting, which was in line with market expectations. However, Governor Mario Draghi had a hawkish tone during the Q&A session as he said the Governing Council discussed whether to remove the ‘lower levels’ from the forward guidance on policy rates.
Further, on the very short-end, German yield curve, Draghi said the ECB was monitoring distortions. The market reacted by sending German government bond yields higher by around 5bp beyond the 10Y point.
Lastly, investors will be closely eyeing February consumer price inflation, due to be released on March 16 for detailed direction in the debt market.
The New Zealand government bonds jumped Monday at the time of closing, following expectations of a drop in the country’s fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), scheduled to be released on March 15.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price plunged 3-1/2 basis points to 3.39 percent at the time of closing, the yield on 7-year note also slipped nearly 3-1/2 basis points to 2.94 percent while the yield on short-term 5-year note traded 2-1/2 basis points lower at 2.64 percent.
The rate of quarterly GDP growth is expected to soften a touch in Q4, partly related to temporary weather influences. Tight supply (rather than meaningfully softer demand) conditions are dominating. The current account deficit should remain at a historically comfortable level, ANZ research reported.
“We estimate that GDP rose by a modest 0.5 percent in the December quarter, following 1.1 percent growth in September. Construction is again expected to be one of the strongest sectors, with primary production and manufacturing likely to be the most significant drags on growth,” Westpac commented in its recent research publication.
The German 10-year government bund yields climbed to 5-week high on the last trading day of the week ahead of the Eurogroup Summit scheduled to be held later in the day. Also, a hawkish stance by the European Central Bank (ECB) in its monetary policy meeting held yesterday, drove prices lower.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond, which moves inversely to its price, jumped 2-1/2 basis points to 0.44 percent, the long-term 30-year bond yields surged 3 basis points to 1.26 percent and the yield on short-term 2-year bond traded 2 basis points higher at -0.84 percent by 08:10 GMT.
The ECB kept all policy measures unchanged at today’s meeting, which was in line with market expectations. However, Governor Mario Draghi had a hawkish tone during the Q&A session as he said the Governing Council discussed whether to remove the ‘lower levels’ from the forward guidance on policy rates.
Further, on the very short-end, German yield curve, Draghi said the ECB was monitoring distortions. The market reacted by sending German government bond yields higher by around 5bp beyond the 10Y point.
Lastly, investors will be closely eyeing the trade balance, due late today for detailed direction in the debt market.
US real yieldsare breaking higher, driven largely by nominal yields and pushing USDJPY through the 115 level. US 10y real yields (59bp)have now retraced 70% of the decline seen in the past 3 months (falling from 71bp to 30bp). Within the G10 the JPY is generally the most sensitive as real yields rise, but recently also the NOK has come up on the scale. The NOK generally moves in line with oil prices, suggesting the recent rise in nominal yields, while inflation expectations stay flat as oil prices have fallen, should keep USDNOK on an upward trend for now. USDJPY is approaching a technical level, where a move through 115.62 should mark a break of the current trading range, with little resistance before 118.60.
USD and Payrolls. Market expectations are for a strongFebruary employment print today following ADP on Wednesday. Using submission to Bloomberg, sent after the ADP, we calculate median expectations to be at 230k. Average hourly earnings will be more important for the USD relative to the headline NFP as this would suggesthigher domestic inflationary pressures. The US saw import prices from China, the source of over 20% of U.S. imports, rise 0.1% in February. According to our economists, that may not seem like much, but it was the first increase in three years. Global and local inflationary pressures could soon make markets reprice Fed rate hike expectations going into 2018 and beyond, which we think would be bullish for the USD.
ECB lookingat EUR REER. Markets perceived the ECB to have been hawkish yesterday,yet we couldn’t find much difference in the commentary relative to December. The sell-off in bunds drove EURUSD higher but we are considering it as an opportunity to sell. Inflation forecasts were pushed higher (as markets expected) with marginal tweaks to growth forecasts. Most importantly for investors looking for signals to the end of the current QE programme, Draghi reiterated several times that their current forecasts are conditional on finishing the current programme and thatunderlying inflation pressures remained subdued. We need to wait for more domestic core inflation prints.For our FX analysis, the most interesting comments were in response to a question about the US administration (Peter Navarro) saying that the EUR is too weak for Germany. After repeating what the US treasury (not classifying Germany as a currency manipulator) and Weidmann (ECB sets monetary policy for Germany) have said before, Draghi went to say, (in a comment that appeared to be offscript,) “By the way, if we look at where the [real] effective exchange rate stands today with respect to historical average, we don’t see especially that the euro is off the historical average. But the [real] effective exchange rate of the dollar is off the historical average. So it means that it’s not the euro which is the culprit for this situation.”
EUR: watching equity flows. EURUSD is currently tracking the 5y yield differential between Germany and the US.Front end rates (such as in the 2y part of the curve) point to a lower EURUSD due to the repo related distortions in the German 2y. We showed earlier this week that looking at forward rate differentials, EURUSD should be trading massively lower and could be experiencing something that we last observed in 2013. Back then it was foreign equity and bond inflows helping the currency. Today, the bond market valuations are much less attractive for a foreigner. Data from the IIFsuggests that global equity allocations to the euro area are low relative to a year ago (partly a result of political worries). We will therefore be watching for the next balance of payments release (22 Mar) to see if equity flows are limiting the downside for the EUR.
China’s new yuan loans fell sharply in February from near-record levels in the previous month but were still higher than expected. Chinese banks extended 1.17 trillion yuan (about 169.2 billion U.S. dollars) of new yuan loans in February, down from 2.03 trillion yuan in the previous month, central bank data showed Thursday.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has adopted a modest tightening bias in a bid to cool explosive growth in debt, though it is treading cautiously to avoid hurting economic growth. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new February yuan loans of 0.920 trillion yuan.
China’s new yuan loans remained relatively strong in February, led by long-term household loans and corporate lending. Household and corporate long-term loans, in combination, accounted for CNY982.2bn or 84% of overall monthly new yuan loans.
The M2, a broad measure of the money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, grew 11.1 percent from a year earlier to about 158.29 trillion yuan. The M1, a narrow measure of the money supply which covers cash in circulation plus demand deposits, rose 21.4 percent year on year to 47.65 trillion yuan.
“We see little chance for monetary policy to return to easing. In addition, the PBoC should continue to re-shape the interest rate curve in the money market, with higher 7-day reverse repo rates and Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF) rates,” said ANZ in a report.
As a harbinger of what may be in store in Friday’s US jobs report, surprisingly strong ADP data pushed bond yields higher yesterday. The 10yr UST yield topped 2.56% as markets assess the Fed’s potential hiking pace for the year. The discounted odds for a hike at the March meeting have risen to 90%. By the end of the year the effective fed funds rate is now seen some 65bp above the current average, which can be interpreted as a c. 60% probability for a third hike this year being discounted.
10yr Bund yields were dragged higher alongside to 0.37% with Bund ASWs largely reversing Tuesday’s widening. EGB spreads versus Bunds saw only moderate widening pressure with 10yr OAT/Bund widening just 1bp yesterday, while only slightly underperforming OLOs. With a new Harris poll showing Macron overtaking Le Pen in the first round, OATS may receive some tailwind today.
ECB meeting. Today’s focus will be squarely on the ECB, but we do not expect any changes to policy or communication against the backdrop of increased political risks. Rather we believe that the ECB will want to reinsure markets with more dovish tones. Nonetheless, the money market curve re-steepened yesterday, dragged higher with the overall rates market. The June 2018 ECB dated EONIA forward is up at -0.24bp again, some 11bp above current average EONIA fixing. We doubt whether the ECB will alter its forward guidance already at today’s meeting, although a risk remains that larger revisions of the staff forecasts might outweigh an unchanged guidance. Our economists believe smaller upticks to the headline inflation projection on the basis of adjusted underlying assumptions regarding oil prices and/or the exchange rate might be possible. However the core inflation profile should be more important, and here the ECB is more likely to reiterate that there is little evidence of self-sustainable inflation yet. Accordingly, we do not expect any discussion regarding a tapering to have occurred at this point.
EGB supply. Only Ireland will be active today reopening the IRISHs 5/26 and 2/45 for a combined €1-1.25bn. Italy announced a new 7yr BTP 5/24 (€3-3.5bn) for auction on 13 March. Alongside the Tesoro will also reopen the BTP 10/19 (€2.25-2.75bn) as well as the BTPs 9/33 and 9/46 (combined €2-2.75bn).
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit bill suffered a second defeat at the House of Lords after the lawmakers rejected last week an amendment with regard to the rights of the people of the European Union who are staying in the United Kingdom. Yesterday, by an overwhelming majority, 366 to 268, the lawmakers voted in favor of an amendment which gives the parliamentarians in the United Kingdom, the final say over the Brexit deal, which is expected to be reached over next two years after the Article 50 is triggered before March 31st this year.
The amendment was introduced by the Labor Party of the UK but the government had argued that it would be a threat to national interest. However, that didn’t prevent the amendment from securing a bipartisan victory. While Ms. May had verbally promised a vote to the parliament in her Brexit speech, the amendment binds her to make good on that promise.
The Brexit bill will now return to the House of Commons with the amendment forcing May to have a vote on her Brexit deal and another guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens. The government is working hard to pass the bill and trigger the Article 50 divorce clause by March 31st or the exit would become more difficult after that date. From April 1st, a country looking to exit the EU would need the support of 14 members of the 27 members group.
The Japanese government bonds skid Thursday on the back of falling U.S. Treasuries, after comments by the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen raised chances of an interest rate hike at the monetary policy meeting scheduled to be held on March 14-15. Also, weak investor demand at the 5-year auction held Wednesday weighed on bond prices, pushing the yields to multi-month highs.
The benchmark 10-year bond yield, which moves inversely to its price, rose 1-1/2 basis points to 0.09 percent, while the long-term 30-year bond yields hovered around 0.86 percent while the yield on the short-term 2-year note jumped 2-1/2 basis points to -0.26 percent by 06:30 GMT.
Recent comments from the Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, specifying that a March rate hike is definitely on the cards, if the economy holds momentum, added to the rise in market expectations and investors have quite already priced in for a rate hike this month. This further, led to a surge in bond yields, pushing prices to record lows.
The auction attracted weak investor demand as the five-year bonds remained expensive. Further, the bid-to-cover ratio, a gauge of demand, at Thursday’s JPY2.4 trillion (USD20.97 billion) 5-year auction slipped to 2.86 from 4.26 at the previous sale in February.