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Will SPX Resume the Rally After the Storm of Covid-19 Headlines?

On Monday, the struggle continues to unfold between positive macro data and signals of the “second wave” which can be challenging to dismiss. Asian markets closed in deep red while European stocks are trading slightly below the opening in response to reports that some US states are reviewing plans to lift lockdowns or partially reinstate them.

A 6% increase in industrial profits in China in May YoY looks like an encouraging macro update, however details of the report show that growth concentrated in technological sector while other sectors lagged behind. In addition, reduced costs accounted for the better part of the profit growth, which of course includes increased layoffs and wage cuts which puts dent on consumer spending outlook in the month ahead.

The COT update from last Friday showed that large speculators sharply reduced short positions in S&P500 futures:

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In June, the biggest net short position on S&P500 (long positions – short positions) was around -40K contracts, the lowest level since early 2016. As of last Tuesday, there was a sharp turnaround: the number of bets on decline fell by 28.7K contracts. However, bets on the rally of the index fell as well, albeit slightly, by 2.8K contracts.

Swift liquidation of short positions suggests that some market participants are finally dropping their “second dip” prediction, which in turn adds arguments that we may see the next leg of the rally after proper consolidation near the level of 3000 points. Nevertheless, the rally is currently being hindered by a “storm” of headlines about a second wave of Covid-19 and negative shocks in the form that some states are making adjustments to lockdown removal plans.

As for the other “hot spots” of the Covid-19 pandemic, the accelerating number of new cases in India is striking:

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Over the past two weeks, the number of new cases per day has doubled – from 10K to 20K. Growth is concentrated in five large states (Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc.), which account for 43% of GDP. Such a development of the situation prompts us not only to revise down the country’s GDP forecast, but also the forecast for oil consumption, as India accounts for 4.81% of world oil consumption (3rd place in the world).

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% and 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Fed’s Targeted QE Keeps Credit Markets Under Full Control

Despite positive developments in the US economy since the start of lifting lockdowns, Fed Chairman Jeremy Powell reiterated his dismal warning on Monday: extraordinary uncertainty reigns in the prospects for economic recovery. This uncertainty is generated mainly by the fact that economic projections strongly depend on the success of pandemic suppression and the government’s readiness to lend helping hand again in the form of new fiscal injections.

Powell’s statement, in fact, carries a call for taking signals of a second virus outbreak in earnest, but recent explosive growth in the number of new cases in some US states last week failed to convince bulls to ease grip. Optimism, as we see, triumphed after a slight hitch at the start of trading session on Monday: European and American indices closed in green, although the threat of new partial lockdowns in the US loomed on the horizon.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley said that despite the fact that the threat of a second outbreak exists, governments are more attuned to it compared with the first outbreak, they also realized the full power of fiscal “bazooka”, and the Fed, demonstrating unlimited depth of its balance sheet, leaves no chance for development of a credit crisis.
The Fed really hands out credit guarantees on every US credit market, announcing various credit facilities.

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Basically, they are all a kind of a targeted QE – depressing interest rates on the markets where the risk of their outbreak (and subsequent spillover to other credit markets if the state is fragile). It should be noted that the program of direct lending of the Fed to small and medium enterprises has not yet been enacted (the so-called Main Street Credit Facility). The program itself is a powerful signal that interest rates for these borrowers will remain at an acceptable level (as well as the market value of their debts), which should stimulate banks to expand lending to this group of lenders.

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% and 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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Gold Hits $1800 but Ultra-dovish Fed Suggests it isn’t the Limit

U.S. Senate unanimously voted on Tuesday to extend a key stimulus maneuver – Paycheck Protection Program. The goal of this program was to offer cheap loans for firms which want to save jobs. Initially it was expected that the program would be completed before the end of June, but Senate’s to extend it suggests that a wave of layoffs waits the economy without credit support. US stock markets welcomed the decision of the government to extend the program, SPX added 1.5%.

The program could account for some distortions in May NFP report since firms has strong incentive to delay layoffs or even boost hiring. The extension of the program means that the real trend in unemployment may be also masked in July.

Last week we discussed prospects of the Gold rally to $1800 level, which was successfully completed on Tuesday:

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The price of gold has risen to the highest since 2012 amid falling real interest rate in the US and expectations that this trend will continue. This week, these expectations were fueled by a gloomy warning by the Fed’s Powell. Despite positive changes in eco data in May and June, Powell said that significant uncertainty continues to reign in the prospects for economic recovery.

Translating this into the language of concrete actions, the Fed may soon begin to target the yield curve – affect government bond market in such a way that the price of bonds of some maturity (medium to long-term) will fluctuate in a narrow band. In other words, control their yield. Decreased uncertainty about medium and long-term rates should boost lending for respective terms. Today we expect release of the Minutes of the past Fed meeting, which should shed light on intentions of the US central bank to further ease monetary policy, including targeting the yield curve. 

In this regard, gold has a room for appreciation above $1800 because it becomes increasingly clear that the Fed will ease more depressing yields further.

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% and 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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How Long will the Fed Keep Interest Rates low?

The minutes of the Fed meeting in June showed that officials want to give more certainty to investors about the path of interest rates. More specifically, the Central Bank is exploring the possibility of “tying” low interest rates to some goal, like achieving certain macroeconomic goal. For example, keep rates at current level until unemployment drops to 4%. This idea is not new and is similar to a pledge to keep rates low until inflation reaches some target, but we can say now that officials want to make a stronger statement.

For the US dollar, such Fed stance is clearly a downside risk, since by tying the policy to a macroeconomic event, the Fed loses opportunity to respond flexibly to the “unforeseen” accelerated recovery of economic activity (as it usually does). Of course, we have to take into account monetary policy of other central banks. Dollar decline will be more pronounced if other central banks choose to remain flexible and less categorical (i.e. less dovish) in their guidance for markets.

US crude oil stocks declined 7.1 million barrels, beating forecast of 0.71 million barrels, showed the latest report from the EIA. As oil prices continue to drift into profitable zone for US oil producers, they have more incentive to increase output, hence reduction of stocks could be achieved due to the outflow of oil from the inventories exceeding inflow. In other words, oil demand in the United States can be recovering faster than production, which is essential sign of expansion. Oil prices advanced by 1.5% on Thursday thanks to the positive EIA update and are likely to extend gains, pricing in expectations of more signals that the US economic recovery is gaining traction.

Sweeping reaction by the European government to prevent spillover from falling incomes on consumption seem to have been crowned with success: retail sales in Germany rose 3.8% in May against the forecast of -3.5%. Government countermeasures to retain jobs apparently were also successful – the number of unemployed increased by 69K in June, beating forecast of 120K.

Unexpected pickup activity of the manufacturing sector in the United States prompts us to revise outlook of recovery in manufacturing sector as well.  ISM production PMI rose to 52.6 points in June, Markit PMI – to 49.8 points. Both indicators beat forecasts.

There was a little disappointment in the ADP jobs report, which estimated gain in jobs at 2.369 million with a forecast of 3 million new jobs. Government schemes to avoid layoffs in the form of cheap liquidity sources like PPP loans which helped to offset declining sales volume on demand for labor contributed significantly to the boost in employment in May.

All states in the US continued phasing out lockdowns in June, so it’s reasonable to expect that while this process continues, the number of jobs will increase. Given the available information about the quarantine removal process, even big surprise in jobs count may be discounted by investors, although markets may not be ready for a weak report. Payrolls are expected to show 3.5M gain in June.

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% and 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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June NFP report: Returning Workers Back is one Thing, it’s Another Thing to Keep Them

So yesterday we saw another big surprise in the US macro data: June Payrolls jumped 4.8M (3.2M exp), unemployment fell to 11.1%. However, these two indicators do not reveal the whole picture. It should be borne in mind that 31.5 million people continue to receive benefits, and the number of employed is 15M lower than in February. In addition, as some states began to partially reinstate lockdowns, numbers in July may be worse.

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The report did not make a serious impression on the market, as the states continued to remove lockdowns in June and this process naturally leads to reopening of firms and return of workers back to work. Therefore, it’s more correct to talk about restarting old jobs. However, returning workers to their workplaces is one thing, it is another thing to keep them with a reduced sales volume. Time will tell.

Even after strong job growth in June, employment in the US economy is still lower than the February level by 14.66 million. Extended unemployment benefits cover the income gap, but this scheme will be valid only until July 31, and it is unlikely that these 14.66 million will return to work by August. As a result, some shock of consumption is a time bomb for the US economy.

Unemployment fell from 13.3% to 11.1% but given that more than 31 million people continue to receive benefits, the official figure may underestimate the true number of unemployed.

The hotel industry and leisure made the largest contribution to payrolls (+2.088Mjobs), retail grew by 740K, education and healthcare added 568K jobs.

“Sticky” initial and continuing unemployment claims in the last week of June is also worrying development. Initial claims again increased more than forecast (1.425M with a forecast of 1.35M), continuing claims remained at 19.2M with a forecast of 19M, slightly higher compared to the previous week:

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Homebase data indicates gradual increase in layoffs in small businesses. Some of them could take advantage of PPP loans (which the government basically agreed to forgive) and now, after they spent the money, they decided to start firing staff. According to the National Federation of Independent Enterprises, 14% of respondents said they used the loan, but they would have to start firing workers because demand has not recovered to the level before the coronacrisis. The data once again points to the importance of the wage protection program offered by the government in containing a wave of layoffs. It is obvious that state support is effectively delaying the onset of true fallout from the lockdowns and it’s really hard to predict how far in this direction the government can go.

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 73% and 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

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