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Zero Hedge

US Futures Slide, Europe Jumps As Traders Beg For Chaotic Week To End

There is a sense of almost detached resignation amid trading desks as we enter the last trading day of a chaotic, volatile week that has whipsawed and stopped out virtually everyone after the Nasdaq saw the biggest intraday reversal since Thursday and pattern and momentum trading has become impossible amid one headline tape-bomb after another.

After yesterday furious tumble and sharp, last hour rebound, US equity futures are once again lower expecting fresh developments in the Huawei CFO arrest and trade war saga while today's payroll report may redirect the Fed's tightening focus in wage growth comes in hotter than the 3.1% expected; at the same time European stocks have rebounded from their worst day in more than two years while Asian shares posted modest gains as investors sought to end a bruising week on a more upbeat note. While stock trading was far calmer than Thursday, signs of stress remained just below the surface as the dollar jumped, Treasuries rose and oil whipsawed amid fears Iran could scuttle today's OPEC deal.

The MSCI All-Country World Index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, was up 0.3% on the day, on track to end the week down 2%.

After Europe's Stoxx 600 Index sharp drop on Thursday, which tumbled the most since the U.K. voted to leave the EU in 2016, Friday saw Europe's broadest index jump 1.2% as every sector rallied following the cautious trade in the Asia-Pac session and the rebound seen on Wall Street where the Dow clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. European sectors are experiencing broad-based gains with marginal outperformance in the tech sector as IT names bounce back from yesterday’s Huawei-driven slump.

Technology stocks lead gains on Stoxx 600 Index, with the SX8P Index up as much as 2.3%, outperforming the 1.1% gain in the wider index; Nokia topped the sector index with a 5.9% advance in Helsinki after Thursday’s public holiday, having missed out on initial gains from rival Huawei’s troubles that earlier boosted Ericsson. Inderes said the arrest of Huawei CFO over potential violations of American sanctions on Iran will benefit Nokia and Ericsson, who are the main rivals of Huawei and ZTE. Similarly, Jefferies wrote in a note on Chinese networks that China may have to offer significant concessions to buy Huawei an “out of jail” card and reach a trade deal, with China’s tech subsidies and “buy local” policies potentially under attack. "For example, why would Nokia and Ericsson have only 20% share in China’s 4G market," analysts wrote.

Meanwhile, energy names were volatile as the complex awaits further hints from the key OPEC+ meeting today. In terms of individual movers, Fresenius SE (-15.0%) fell to the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the company cut medium-term guidance, citing lower profit expectations at its clinics unit Helios and medical arm Fresenius Medical Care (-7.8%). The news sent Fresenius BBB- rated bonds tumbling, renewing fears of a deluge of "fallen angels."  On the flip side, Bpost (+7.5%) and Tesco (+4.8%) are hovering near the top of the pan-Europe index amid broker upgrades.

Earlier in the session, Japanese equities outperformed as most Asian gauges nudged higher. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan nudged up 0.2%, though that followed a 1.8 percent drubbing on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.8 percent. Chinese shares, which were up earlier in the day, slipped into negative territory with the blue chips off 0.1 percent.

 

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 also started firmer but were last down 0.4 percent. Markets face a test from U.S. payrolls data later in the session amid speculation that the U.S. economy is heading for a tough patch after years of solid growth. Meanwhile, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell confused traders when late on Thursday, he emphasized the strength of the labor market, throwing a wrench into trader expectations the Fed is poised to pause tightening - arguably the catalyst for Thursday's market-closing ramp following a WSJ article which reported Fed officials were considering whether to signal a new wait-and-see mentality after a likely rate increase at their meeting in December.

While Friday's market has stabilized, for many the recent gyrations are just too much. For Dennis Debusschere, head of portfolio strategy at Evercore ISI, there’s still far too much risk to wade back into a market this riven by volatility. “Overall still untradeable in our opinion, until we get more clarity on trade and we think it will pay to wait this out,” he wrote in a note to clients Thursday. “That being said, our desk is open for business if you’re feeling up to trading this backdrop.”

Meanwhile, the big question is what happens next year: “The big question mark still is what’s going to happen in 2019” with the Fed, Omar Aguilar, CIO of equities and multi-asset strategies at Charles Schwab, told Bloomberg TV. “The jobs report could easily be the catalyst that will tell us a little more about what the path may be.”

Expecting that a big slowdown is coming, interest rate futures rallied hard in massive volumes with the market now pricing in less than half a hike next year, compared to just a month ago when they had been betting on more than two increases.  Treasuries extended their blistering rally, driving 10-year yields down to a three-month trough at 2.8260 percent, before last trading at 2.8863 percent. Yields on two-year notes fell a huge 10 basis points at one stage on Thursday and were last at 2.75 percent. Investors also steamrolled the yield curve to its flattest in over a decade, a trend that has historically presaged economic slowdowns and even recessions.

The seismic shock spread far and wide. Yields on 10-year paper sank to the lowest in six months in Germany, almost 12 months in Canada and 16 months in Australia. Italian debt climbed as European bonds largely drifted.

The greenback advanced against most of its Group-of-10 peers ahead of U.S. jobs data that are expected to show hiring slowed last month. The pound fell as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May was said to be weighing a plan to postpone the vote on her Brexit deal.

In commodity markets, gold firmed to near a five-month peak as the dollar eased and the threat of higher interest rates waned. Spot gold stood 0.1 percent higher at $1,239.49 per ounce. Oil was less favored, however, falling further as OPEC delayed a decision on output cuts while awaiting support from non-OPEC heavyweight Russia. Brent futures fell 0.5 percent to $59.77 a barrel, while U.S. crude also lost half a percent to $51.19. Cryptocurrencies continued their collapse with fresh losses after U.S. regulators dashed hopes that a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund would appear before the end of this year.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures down 0.4% to 2,680.00
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.3% to 347.69
  • MXAP up 0.2% to 151.21
  • MXAPJ up 0.2% to 485.67
  • Nikkei up 0.8% to 21,678.68
  • Topix up 0.6% to 1,620.45
  • Hang Seng Index down 0.4% to 26,063.76
  • Shanghai Composite up 0.03% to 2,605.89
  • Sensex up 0.9% to 35,631.53
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.4% to 5,681.49
  • Kospi up 0.3% to 2,075.76
  • German 10Y yield rose 0.8 bps to 0.244%
  • Euro down 0.05% to $1.1368
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 13.9 bps to 2.835%
  • Spanish 10Y yield unchanged at 1.46%
  • Brent futures up 0.2% to $60.16/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,239.70
  • U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.88

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • The arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada over potential violations of American sanctions on Iran has triggered a debate in China over whether to carry on with trade talks with the U.S. or link the two issues and retaliate; Meng will have a bail hearing Friday to determine whether she is a flight risk and should remain in detention during proceedings on extradition to the U.S.
  • Oil extended losses near $51 a barrel after OPEC entered a second day of talks in an attempt to draw up a deal to cut output. Iran sees no possibility of agreeing to reduce its output, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said Friday
  • Theresa May met with her top ministers in London on Thursday to discuss options of delaying the Dec. 11 Parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal to avoid a landslide defeat that would risk a major U.K. political crisis, according to a person familiar with the matter
  • EU leaders are poised to turn their next summit into a Brexit crisis meeting, but so far, it doesn’t look like they’re willing to offer her anything that could help to break the deadlock in the U.K. Parliament
  • Angela Merkel’s long exit from politics begins Friday when her party gathers in Hamburg to decide whether to appoint her chosen successor as its new leader or break with the legacy of her 13 years in charge of Germany
  • Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria has complained that he is the victim of one ambush after another as his future is called into question amid tensions with populist leaders over a spending spree to fund election policies, according to newspaper Il Giornale

Asian stocks saw cautious gains with the region getting an early tailwind after the sharp rebound on Wall St, where most majors inished lower albeit off worse levels as tech recovered and the DJIA clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. ASX 200 (+0.4%) and Nikkei 225 (+0.8%) were both higher at the open but gradually pared some of the gains as the risk tone began to turn cautious heading into today’s key-risk NFP jobs data. Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (U/C) were indecisive amid further PBoC inaction in which it remained net neutral for a 5th consecutive week and with the upcoming Chinese trade data over the weekend adding to tentativeness, while pharmaceuticals were the worst hit due to concerns of price declines from the government’s centralized procurement program. Finally, 10yr JGBs were flat amid a similar picture in T-note futures and although early selling pressure was seen in Japanese bonds alongside the strong open in stocks, prices later recovered as the risk appetite somewhat dissipated.

Top Asian News

  • China’s FX Reserves Rose Despite Intervention, Outflow Signs
  • Hong Kong May Slip Into Recession in 2019, Deutsche Bank Warns
  • SoftBank Seeks to Assuage Investors on Pre-IPO Mobile Outage
  • Southeast Asia Reserves Recover a Bit in November as Rout Eases

European equities extended on gains from the cash open (Eurostoxx 50 +1.2%) following the cautious trade in the Asia-Pac session and the rebound seen on Wall St where the Dow clawed back nearly 700 points from intraday lows. European sectors are experiencing broad-based gains with marginal outperformance in the tech sector as IT names bounce back from yesterday’s Huawei-driven slump. Meanwhile, energy names are volatile (currently marginally underperforming) as the complex awaits further hints from the key OPEC+ meeting today. In terms of individual movers, Fresenius SE (-15.0%) fell to the foot of the Stoxx 600 after the company cut medium-term guidance, citing lower profit expectations at its clinics unit Helios and medical arm Fresenius Medical Care (-7.8%). On the flip side, Bpost (+7.5%) and Tesco (+4.8%) are hovering near the top of the pan-Europe index amid broker upgrades.

Top European News

  • LandSec, Undeterred by Brexit, Makes New Bet on London Offices
  • Danske Says It’s Looking Into Selling Its Swedish Pension Assets
  • Chinese Group Agrees to Buy Amer Sports in $5.2 Billion Deal
  • Bad Air Warnings in London And Paris Peak With Fish And Chips

Currencies: 

  • DXY - Typically rangebound trade in the run up to US labour data, and with markets also monitoring OPEC+ headlines as a decision on whether to cut output and if so by how much remains highly uncertain. The index is hovering just under the 97.000 handle within a 96.767-96.931 band, and well within nearest technical support and resistance levels at 96.300 and 97.311 respectively.
  • GBP - A marginal G10 underperformer as Cable retreats back below 1.2750 from just above 1.2800 at one stage, but this could be more flow-related rather than anything fundamental as Eur/Gbp rallied towards 0.8930 peaks from just under the big figure into the Frankfurt fixing before drifting back again. However, Halifax house prices were much weaker than expected and latest Brexit news is hardly Sterling supportive given more speculation about delaying the meaningful vote to try and avoid a resounding rejection, even though the Government appears to be resolute and standing firm on December 11.
  • NZD/AUD - The Kiwi is at the opposite end of a relatively narrow Usd/Major spectrum, and like the Pound also impacted by indirect factors to a degree, if not in the main. Indeed, Nzd/Usd remains capped ahead of 0.6900, but Aud/Nzd is pivoting 1.0500 as the Aussie unit continues to feel the adverse effects of recent bearish impulses, namely softer than forecast Q3 GDP and a more dovish RBA via Debelle. Hence, Aud/Usd is softer between 0.7210-40 parameters and bound to be wary of huge option expiries from 0.7250-60 in 6.6 bn that form a formidable barrier ahead of circa 1.2 bn up at 0.7300.
  • EUR/JPY - In the pre-NFP ‘hiatus’ and awaiting anything further on the Italian budget front, option expiries may also exert directional impetus on Eur/Usd and Usd/Jpy, as the former faces 2+ bn at the 1.1400 strike and latter is flanked by 1+ bn at 112.50 and 113.00.
  • CAD - The Loonie has pared a bit more lost ground from recent lows, albeit partly due to a broad Usd retracement, eyeing OPEC and also Canada’s jobs report given latest BoC guidance indicating even greater data dependency. Usd/Cad currently just shy of the 1.3400 mark vs 1.3440+ at one stage yesterday.

In commodities, WTI (+0.2%) and Brent (+0.9%) are choppy in what was a volatile session thus far as comments from energy ministers emerged ahead of the key OPEC+ meeting, after yesterday’s OPEC talks ended with no deal for the first time in almost five years. Brent rose after source reports noted that Moscow are ready to cut output by 200k BPD (below OPEC’s desire of 250k-300k but above Russia’s prior “maximum” of 150k) if OPEC are willing to curb production by over 1mln BPD. Prices then fell to session lows following a less constructive tone from Saudi Energy Minister who reiterated that he is not confident there will be a deal today, which came after delegates noted that OPEC talks are focused on a combined OPEC+ cut of 1mln BPD (650k from OPEC and 350k from Non-OPEC). Markets are awaiting the start of the OPEC+ meeting after delegates stated that talks are at deadlocked as Iran appears to be the main sticking point to an OPEC deal, though sources emerged stating that Iran, Venezuela and Libya are set to get exemptions from cuts, adding that OPEC and Russia are looking for a symbolic production commitment from Iran as fears arise that Iran may not be able to follow-through on curb pledges due to US sanctions. In terms of metals, gold hovers around session highs and is set for the best week since August with the USD trading in a tight range ahead of the key US jobs data later today, while London copper rose over a percent is underpinned by the positive risk tone.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. 198,000, prior 250,000
    • Unemployment Rate, est. 3.7%, prior 3.7%; Underemployment Rate, prior 7.4%
    • Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 0.2%; YoY, est. 3.1%, prior 3.1%
  • 8:30am: Average Weekly Hours All Employees, est. 34.5, prior 34.5
  • 10am: Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.7%, prior 0.7%; Wholesale Trade Sales MoM, prior 0.2%
  • 10am: U. of Mich. Sentiment, est. 97, prior 97.5; Current Conditions, prior 112.3; Expectations, prior 88.1
  • 3pm: Consumer Credit, est. $15.0b, prior $10.9b