The Weekly Wrap – The EUR and Yen Come Out on Top as the Equity Markets Hit Corrective Territory

The Stats

It was a relatively busy week on the economic calendar, in the week ending 28th February.

A total of 56 stats were monitored, following the 72 stats in the week prior.

Of the 56 stats,  26 came in ahead forecasts, with 21 economic indicators coming up short of forecast. 9 stats were in line with forecasts in the week.

Looking at the numbers, 25 of the stats reflected an upward trend from previous figures. Of the remaining 31, 25 stats reflected a deterioration from previous.

For the Greenback, it was a particularly bearish week, as the markets reversed bets that the U.S economy would be unscathed from the spread of the coronavirus.

Not only did economic data continue to disappoint, but the markets also raised the probability of multiple rate cuts by the FED.

When gold takes a tumble as investors look for liquidity to meet margin calls, it’s never a good thing…

The Dollar Spot Index fell by 1.21% to end the week at 98.132.

Out of the U.S

It was a quiet first half of the week, with economic data limited to February consumer confidence figures.

A slight uptick in consumer confidence had a muted impact on the dollar on Tuesday.

Market risk aversion and updates from the U.S on the coronavirus pinned the Dollar back early in the week.

In the 2nd half of the week, durable goods orders on Thursday also failed to impress ahead of a busy Friday.

While core durable goods orders rose by 0.90% in January, durable goods orders fell by 0.2%, sending mixed signals to the market.

At the end of the week, the annual rate of inflation continued to fall short of the FED’s 2% objective.

Personal spending rose by just 0.2% in January, which was softer than a 0.4% rise in December.

Chicago PMI numbers were somewhat better than anticipated, however, with the PMI rising from 42.9 to 49.0.

The February numbers suggested that next week’s ISM numbers may not be as dire as the Markit PMI numbers.

It wasn’t enough to support the U.S equity markets or the Dollar, however.

Housing sector numbers and 2nd estimate GDP numbers for the 4th quarter had a muted impact in the week.

In the equity markets, the Dow slumped by 12.36%, with the S&P500 and NASDAQ tumbling by 11.49% and by 10.54% respectively.

Out of the UK

It was a particularly quiet week on the economic calendar.

There were no material stats to provide the Pound with direction.

The lack of stats left the Pound in the hands of Brexit chatter as the EU and Britain prepare to return to the negotiating table.

A visit to $1.30 levels early in the week was brief, with the British Prime Minister spooking the markets once more.

Johnson spoke on Thursday, stating that Britain would walk away from negotiations should there be a lack of progress by the end of June.

With so much to iron out and the 2-sides worlds apart, hopes of having a framework in place by June are slim…

In the week, the Pound fell by 1.09% to $1.2823, with the FTSE100 ending the week down by 11.12%.

Out of the Eurozone

It was a relatively quiet start to the week economic data front.

Germany was in focus, with February IFO Business Climate Index figures and 2nd estimate GDP numbers in focus.

On the positive side for the EUR was a slight pickup in the Business Climate Index. This came off the back of a rise in optimism, as the current assessment index eased back.

Ultimately, however, March numbers will give a better indication of whether the coronavirus has affected business sentiment.

With GDP numbers in line with 1st estimates, the focus then shifted to a busy Friday.

Key stats included French consumer spending and German unemployment numbers.

While Germany’s unemployment rate held steady, French consumer spending took a hit in January. The slide came ahead of the coronavirus news, which suggests that a further pullback in spending could be on the cards.

The stats failed to influence, however, as the markets punished the Dollar through much of the week.

Prelim inflation figures out of Spain and France, French GDP numbers and finalized consumer confidence figures out of the Eurozone also failed to move the dial…

On the monetary policy front, ECB President Lagarde spoke late in the week. She was of the view that the virus had yet to impact inflation to the point where the ECB needs to step in…

That is in stark contrast to the outlook towards FED monetary policy…

For the week, the EUR rose by 1.65% to $1.1026.

For the European major indexes, it was a particularly bearish week. The DAX30 tumbled by 12.44%, with the CAC40 and the EuroStoxx600 ending the week down by 11.94% and 12.25% respectively.

Elsewhere

It was a particularly bearish week for the Aussie Dollar and the Kiwi Dollar.

In the week ending 28th February, the Aussie Dollar slid by 1.69% to $0.6515, with the Kiwi Dollar down by 1.62% to $0.6246.

For the Aussie Dollar

It was a relatively quiet week for the Aussie Dollar on the economic data front.

Key stats included 4th quarter construction work done and private new CAPEX figures on Wednesday and Thursday.

Both sets of figures disappointed, though a 2.8% slide in new CAPEX in the 4th quarter was more alarming.

RBA monetary policy has not only been in favor of consumer spending but also business investment. The slide suggests a lack of confidence and raised the prospects of a near-term rate cut.

On Friday, the private sector credit figure also failed to impress, with total credit rising by just 0.3% month-on-month.

With the numbers skewed to the negative, risk aversion added to the downside in the week.

Negative sentiment towards the economic outlook led to a slide in commodities and commodity currencies.

For the markets, uncertainly over when the spread of the coronavirus will abate also influenced.

For the Kiwi Dollar

It was a relatively quiet start to the week on the economic colander.

4th quarter retail sales figures failed to impress at the start of the week, with sales rising by 0.7%. In the 3rd quarter, retail sales had risen by 1.7%.

Later in the week, trade data and business confidence figures delivered mixed results that added pressure on the Kiwi.

While trade exports to China rose further, January’s trade was not impacted by China’s shut down.

Business confidence figures, however, suggested some doom and gloom ahead.

With exports to China accounting for 27% of total New Zealand exports in January, it could be quite dire reading next month…

For the Loonie

It was a busy week on the economic calendar. Key stats included wholesale sales figures on Monday and RMPI and GDP numbers on Friday.

A rise in wholesale sales in December failed to provide support at the start of the week, as crude oil prices got hammered.

Market fears of a marked slowdown in the global economy, stemming from the spread of the coronavirus, weighed.

At the end of the week, with the Loonie already under the cosh, GDP numbers also failed to support.

While the economy fared better in December, there was a marked slowdown in the 4th quarter. When considering the economic disruption anticipated in the 1st quarter and beyond, it doesn’t look good.

RMPI numbers also failed to impress, with the RMPI falling by 2.2% in January, reversing most of a 2.7% rise in December.

With the BoC in action next week, the chances of a rate cut certainly jumped in the week…

The Loonie slid by 1.38% to end the week at C$1.3407 against the Greenback.

For the Japanese Yen

It was a relatively quiet week on the data front.

The markets had to wait until Friday for key stats that had little to no influence on the Japanese Yen.

For the Government, the impact of the coronavirus on consumer spending is a blow following last year’s sales tax hike. That suggests that government support is likely to come.

In the meantime, however, retail sales fell by 0.4% in January, following a 2.6% slide in December.

The annual rate of core inflation also eased, with the Ku-area seeing core inflation easing from 0.7% to 0.5% in February.

With the jobs/applications ratio falling from 1.57 to 1.49, the only bright data set was industrial production.

A 0.8% rise in production in January was of little consolation, however, when considering the anticipated drop in demand.

Risk aversion ultimately drove demand for the Yen in the week, with concerns over the U.S economy restoring the Yen’s position as the “go-to” currency.

The Japanese Yen surged by 3.33% to end the week at ¥107.89 against the U.S Dollar. Risk aversion in the week weighed heavily on the Nikkei, which slumped by 9.59%, leaving the index down by 8.89% for February.

Out of China

There were no material stats to provide direction ahead of private sector PMIs on the weekend.

A lack of stats left updates on the coronavirus to provide direction that was ultimately positive for the Yuan.

In contrast, the sell-off across the global stock markets weighed on the CSI300 and Hang Seng, though they did fare better than the pack.

The CSI300 fell by 5.05%, with the Hang Seng falling by 4.32% in the week.

In the week ending 28th February, the Yuan rose by 0.50% to CNY6.9920 against the Greenback.

European Equities: A Week in Review – 29/02/20

The Majors

It was a week to forget for the European majors and beyond.

Market reaction to the continued spread of the coronavirus drove demand for safe havens in the week.

For the DAX30, it was 7 consecutive day in the red, sinking the German Boerse into corrective territory in the week. It was even more dramatic for the EuroStoxx600, which fell from an all-time-high 433.9 on 19th February into corrective territory, with a 10% loss coming in just 6 trading sessions.

So, looking at the numbers, the DAX30 ended the week down by 12.44% to lead the way. The CAC40 and EuroStoxx600 weren’t far behind with losses of 11.94% and 12.25% respectively. Heavy losses on Friday just added salt into the wounds, with the majors not only in corrective territory but also in the deep red for February.

The CAC40 fell by 8.55% in February, with the DAX30 and EuroStoxx600 sliding by 8.41% and by 8.54% respectively.

We aren’t in bear territory yet, but we could be should economic data begin to spook investors alongside the coronavirus.

The Stats

It was a relatively busy week on the Eurozone economic calendar.

Through the 1st half of the week, key stats included German business sentiment figures and 2nd estimate GDP numbers for the 4th quarter.

Business sentiment improved in February, with the IFO Business Climate Index rising from 96.0 to 96.1. The upside came off the back of a pickup in business optimism that was partially offset by negative sentiment towards the current state of the economy.

Interestingly, the figures failed to reflect any negative bias stemming from the spread of the coronavirus. The timing of the survey likely failed to capture the spread across Europe and the U.S.

Germany’s GDP numbers were in line with 1st estimates, affirming the stall in the economy in the 4th quarter. Not great with what’s on the horizon…

Later in the week, French consumer spending and 2nd estimate GDP numbers and German unemployment figures were in focus on Friday.

A slide in consumer spending in January will be yet one more concern for the ECB. It wasn’t all bad, however, with Germany’s labor market resilient at the turn of the year.

On the monetary policy front, ECB President Lagarde was of the view that the spread of the virus had yet to have enough of an impact on inflation to warrant monetary policy support. Next week’s stats could change that narrative…

The Market Movers

From the DAX, it was a bearish week for the auto sector. Daimler and Volkswagen led the way down, with weekly losses of 11.62% and 10.67% respectively. BMW and Continental weren’t far behind, with losses of 9.37% and 9.42% respectively.

It was a particularly bearish week for the banking sector, with Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank tumbling by 16.88% and 20.09% respectively.

From the CAC, things were not much better for the banks. BNP Paribas slumped by 17.74%, while Credit Agricole and Soc Gen seeing losses of 17.73% and by 17.64% respectively.

The French auto sector took a more modest hit, with Renault and Peugeot sliding by 16.35% and 8.57% respectively.

Travel and tourism stocks were worse hit, however. Germany’s Lufthansa tumbled by 21.17%, with Air France-KLM ending the week down by 23.90%.

On the VIX Index

The VIX rose by 2.43% on Friday. Following on from a 42.09% surge on Thursday, the VIX ended the week up by a whopping 134.84%.

Risk aversion plagued the global financial markets driving the VIX to its highest level since hitting 50.3 back in February 2018. On Friday, the VIX had hit a week high 49.5 before easing back.

Updates of the spread of the coronavirus led the U.S equity markets into corrective territory and the largest weekly slide since the Global Financial Crisis.

For the week, the S&P500 slid by 11.49%.

VIX 29/02/20 Daily Chart

The Week Ahead

It’s another busy week ahead on the Eurozone economic calendar. Through the first half of the week, private sector PMI numbers are due out of Italy and Spain. Finalized numbers are also due out of France, Germany, and the Eurozone.

Expect Italy’s manufacturing PMI on Monday and the Eurozone’s composite on Wednesday to have the greatest influence. There could be revisions to German and French numbers to look out for, however.

On Wednesday, German and Eurozone retail sales figures will also be in focus ahead of German factory orders on Friday.

The markets will be looking for some indication of what impact the coronavirus has had on the economy. February and March numbers will be a better guide.

From elsewhere,

Private sector PMI numbers out of China and the U.S in the 1st half of the week will also influence. Expect manufacturing PMI numbers out of China from the weekend and on Monday to have a greater impact, however.

It will ultimately boil down to updates on the coronavirus, however. The next big risk to the market is for the WHO to announce the coronavirus as a pandemic and for more cases in the U.S…

US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Drop and the VIX Surges as the Fed Stands Ready

US stocks continue to tumble on Friday, with the major averages down more than 3% at the lows of the session. Some of the larger tech stocks like Microsoft and Apple slammed lower but rebounded to close well off their lows. Gold prices tumbled on Friday, pulling down the metal mining stocks. The Fed was on the tape mid-day saying that they stand ready to lower rates if need be. The market is currently pricing in 3-rate cuts in 2020 with one coming in March of 2020.

All sectors in the S&P 500 index were lower on Friday, led down by Utilities, Energy was the best performing sector in a down tape. Inflation came out in line with expectations, but this did not affect the 10-year treasury yields which dropped to another all-time low. There is little word from the White House about how they will coordinate a response to the coronavirus which is also keeping inventors skittish. The VIX volatility index hit multi-year highs climbing up to 50%, the highest level since 2008.

Inflation Rises

The Personal-consumption expenditures rose 0.2% in January from December, according to the Commerce Department. Personal income advanced 0.6% last month, the largest gain in 11 months. Expectations were for a  0.2% increase in spending and a 0.4% gain in personal income. Gains in income and spending came against the backdrop of still-modest inflation pressures. The price index for personal consumption expenditures, rose 0.1% on the month and was up 1.7% from a year earlier. Year-over-year price gains were 1.5% in December and 1.3% in November.

Mortgages Continue to Buoy Housing Sales

The spread of the coronavirus and the fears associate with it sent bond yields tumbling, the average rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.23%, an 8-year low. The lower yields are buoying housing sales. The 30-year fixed loosely follows the yield on the 10-year Treasury, which is now at a record low.

The S&P 500 Enters Correction, Coronavirus Fear Grows, Consumer Data Still Solid

The U.S. Market Is Down In Early Trading

The U.S. index futures are down hard again in Friday trading. This is the 7th day of decline and puts the major indices deep in correction territory. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ Composite are all down more than 10% in that time.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 1200 points in Thursday action, its biggest one-day drop on record. This has been the worst week for equities since 2008 and the pain is not yet over.

The sell-off was sparked by the coronavirus and the market’s realization it will have a profound impact on global GDP this year. Yesterday’s warning from Goldman Sachs, that EPS growth would fall to 0% or lower, is the prime example. In virus news, the spread of the virus is not contained. New Zealand and Nigeria have reported their first cases while China and South Korean totals continue to rise. South Korea is now the center of the spread with 500 new cases. China’s epidemic appears to be slowing with only 327 new cases.

The virus is expected to gain a foothold in the U.S. and may already have done so. California reported its first case of community-based transmission and now has roughly 8,500 hundred people under observation.

 Stocks On The Move

Caterpillar is the worst-performing stock in the Dow. The bellwether of global economic activity was down as much as 3.0% in early pre-market trading but cut the losses to only -2.0% by the open of the session. Shares of Apple were also down about 3.0% in early trading while Chevron and Cisco both posted losses near 2.0%. Hard-hit S&P 500 stocks include Norweigan Cruise Lines and American Airlines are moving lower in today’s session and down more than 20% since the broad-market sell-off began.

Paypal is the latest to issue a warning about the virus. The global payments company says revenue will be impacted by the virus because the cross-border activity is slowing. Paypal says revenue will come in at the lower end of the previously stated range and below consensus.

Consumer Data Remains Strong

The day’s economic calendar is topped by the Personal Income and Spending data. The report shows income rose by a larger than expected 0.6% while spending increased only 0.2%. Analysts had been expecting income to rise by about 0.3% and spending the same. Looking in the rearview mirror, the previous month’s income was revised down by 0.1% while spending was revised higher. On the inflation front, PCE prices rose 0.1% last month and are up 1.7% YOY. At the core level, consumer inflation is up 1.6% from last year.

The Technical Chart for this Index Points to More Losses for Equities

Major global equity indices carry a strong enough correlation to warrant keeping an eye on them for potential signals for the overall markets. The UK FTSE 100 (UKX) has made a notable downside technical break that signals a bigger shift might be taking place in the markets after an already unusually large decline in the last week of February.

Technical Outlook for the FTSE 100

Specifically, the index has broken down from a rising trend channel that had encompassed price action over the last 11 years.

FTSE 100 (UKX) Monthly Chart

The monthly chart above shows the rising trend channel and the downside break as a result of this week’s price action. Further, the index shows two distinct sequences of lower highs and lower lows.

FTSE 100 (UKX) Weekly Chart

The above weekly chart shows one series of lower highs and lower lows from the peak posted in July last year. A second series, of a larger degree, can be seen from the peak printed in 2018 near the 7900 price point.

To sum up there are four things that have caught my attention from these charts. The two distinct sequences of lower highs and lower lows, the downside channel break, and lastly, the downward momentum as a result of the price action in the last week of February.

Fundamental Outlook

UK fundamentals don’t necessarily support a sharp decline in the British index. Major economic data as of late has surprised to the upside which allowed the Bank of England to remain on hold in February after having considered cutting interest rates.

At the same time, the recent escalation in Coronavirus fears might shift the central bank back towards the prospect of monetary policy easing which generally would be supportive for equities.

But the Coronavirus itself presents a tremendous amount of uncertainty, especially after it became apparent in the past week that China is not doing well to contain it.

Members of the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve this week did not appear to see the urgency in the virus threat this week in the same manner that the markets have. Comments from officials followed mostly the same rhetoric, that it was too soon to assess if a monetary policy adjustment will be required. Meanwhile, the Fed Funds futures show that the markets have fully priced in a US rate cut in March and are starting to price in a potentially larger 50 basis point cut.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney took a more cautious approach in an interview with Sky News and acknowledged that the virus has led to a decline in tourism and is impacting businesses that rely on supply chains originating from China. However, he did not discuss whether UK policymakers were considering monetary policy easing.

Correlations in the Global Markets

Correlations in Major Equity Indices

The above charts show that the major indices – FTSE 100, Euro Stoxx 50, Dax 30, Nikkei 225, and the S&P 500 have a fairly strong correlation with each other. It can be argued the US index is much stronger compared to the others and the correlation is not as strong.

It is very much possible that a divergence takes place, considering that the UK is about to begin trade negotiations with the EU, although this is not something I would personally count on.

As a result of these correlations, my view is that the bearish signal in the FTSE 100 is pointing to more downside to come for the global equity markets.

Bottom Line

While it could be entirely possible that the UK index is forming a bear trap, I’m taking a much more cautious approach when it comes to equities. I think it is a dangerous time to try and catch the falling knife in stocks, even though it may have worked for some in the past. Rather, I think it’s best to sit on the sidelines and let things develop and revisit getting long equities once there is more clarity surrounding the virus and its potential impacts.

Global Shares Routed as Investors Ditch Risky Assets on Fear of Worldwide Recession

The major European stock indexes are trading sharply lower on Friday after entering correction territory the previous session, after falling 10% below the record highs seen on February 19. This follows steep sell-offs in seven major Asia-Pacific markets and the United States, which have also reached correction territory.

It took just six days for the benchmark S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite Indexes to fall from record highs into correction territory. On Thursday, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,200 points, its biggest one-day drop ever.

In Europe, at 11:44 GMT, the UK’s FTSE 100 Index is trading 6602.33, down 194.07 or -2.86%. Germany’s DAX Index is at 11974.17, down 393.29 or -3.18% and France’s CAC is trading 5354.27, down 141.33 or -2.57%.

Global Stocks Set for Worst Week Since 2008 Financial Crisis

World share markets were headed for their worst week since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis as investors ditched risky assets on fears the coronavirus would become a pandemic and trigger a global recession, Reuters said.

Hope that Fed Comes to the Rescue

Hopes that that the epidemic that started in China would be over in a few months and economic activity would return to normal have been shattered, as new infections reported around the world now surpass those in China.

Hope remains, however, that the U.S. Federal Reserve would cut interest rates as soon as next month to support economic growth.

“We don’t even need to wait for economic data to wee how badly the economy is being hit. You can tell that the sales of airlines and hotels are already falling by a half or something like that,” said Tomoaki Shishido, senior economist at Nomura Securities.

“It is fair to say the impact of the coronavirus will be clearly much bigger than the U.S.-China trade war. So the Fed does not have a reason to take a wait-and-see stance next month,” Shishido said.

Expectations the Fed will cut interest rates to cushion the blow are rising in money markets. Analysts say Fed funds futures are now pricing in about a 75% chance of a 25-basis point cut at the central bank’s March 17-18 meeting.

Fear of Major Global Economic Slump

Fear of a major economic slump is driving commodity and equity prices lower.

Fear as measured by the CBOE volatility index or VIX, jumped to 39.16, the highest level in about two years, well out of the 11-20 range of recent months, according to Reuters.

The index, which measures expected swings in U.S. shares in the next 30 days, typically shoots up to around 50 when bear market selling hits is heaviest and approached almost 90 during the 2008-09 financial crisis, Reuters wrote.

“The coronavirus now looks like a pandemic. Markets can cope even if there is a big risk as long as we can see the end of the tunnel,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. “But at the moment, no one can tell how long this will last and how severe it will get.”

Major Asia-Pacific Markets Tumble into Correction Territory; Investors Brace for Chinese PMI Reports

Asia-Pacific shares tumbled on Friday with China’s Shenzhen stocks diving nearly 5%, as investors feared the coronavirus might develop into a pandemic and trigger global recession. Investors continued to brace for an impact on economic growth with global shares heading for the worst week since the financial crisis in 2008.

On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 21142.96, down 805.27 or -3.67%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 26129.93, down 648.69 or -2.42% and South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 1987.01, down 67.88 or -3.30.

In China, the Shanghai Index settled at 2880.30, down 111.03 or -3.71% and in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 6441.20, down 216.70 or -3.25%.

Coronavirus Update

New infections rapidly spread around the world with countries stockpiling medical supplies and preparing emergency responses, shattering hopes that the epidemic would be contained to China and economic activity would return to normal, Reuters said.

China to Release Key Economic Data This Weekend

While the markets are closed over the weekend, China will release reports on February Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing PMI. The data is expected to show activity in in China’s manufacturing sector in February probably shrank at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis, a Reuters poll showed, as the epidemic took an excruciating economic toll on Chinese factories. Analysts estimate Manufacturing PMI at 45.1, down from 50.0 and Non-Manufacturing PMI at 51.4, down from 54.1.

Steep Losses in China after Stimulus Effect Wears Off

The global stock market rout knocked mainland Chinese shares lower, which have been relatively well supported this month, as new coronavirus cases in the country fell and Beijing doled out measures to shore up economic growth.

The CSI300 Index of Shanghai and Shenzhen shares dropped 2.9%, on track for its first weekly loss in three.

“Economic troubles outside China, especially in the U.S., could hurt the Chinese economy. Foreign investors, who were buying Chinese shares after the Lunar New Year holidays, have become a net seller since late last week,” said Wang Shenshen, senior equity strategist at Mizuho Securities. “Their selling might have intensified today.”

The Crypto Daily – Movers and Shakers – 28/02/20

Bitcoin rose by 0.21% on Wednesday. Partially reversing a 5.51% slide on Wednesday, Bitcoin ended the day at $8,825.6.

A bearish start to the day saw Bitcoin slide to an early morning intraday low $8,555.0 before finding support.

Steering clear of the first major support level at $8,515.3, Bitcoin recovered to a late afternoon intraday high $8,975.0.

Falling well short of the first major resistance level at $9,248.5, Bitcoin fell back to sub-$8,700 levels before moving back into the green.

The near-term bearish trend, formed at late June’s swing hi $13,764.0, remained firmly intact, with Bitcoin struggling to break out from $10,000 levels.

For the bulls, Bitcoin would need to break out from $11,000 levels to form a near-term bullish trend.

The Rest of the Pack

Across the rest of the top 10 cryptos, it was a bullish day for the crypto majors.

Tron’s TRX, Ripple’s XRP, and Stellar’s Lumen led the way, with gains of 3.93%, 3.81%, and 3.06% respectively.

Binance Coin (+2.51%), Litecoin (+2.03%), and EOS (+2.31%) also found strong support.

Bitcoin Cash ABC (+1.87%), Bitcoin Cash SV (+1.68%), Cardano’s ADA (+1.33%), Ethereum (+1.72%), Monero’s XMR (+0.33%), and Tezos (+1.62%) trailed the front runners.

Through the first half of the week, the crypto total market cap rose to a Monday high $290.09bn before hitting a low Thursday low $241.84bn. At the time of writing, the total market cap stood at $254.27bn.

Bitcoin’s dominance rose to 64% levels before easing back. At the time of writing, Bitcoin’s dominance stood at 63.8%, which was still up from sub-63% levels seen on Monday.

Trading volumes recovered from sub-$160bn levels to hit a current week high $196.34bn on Thursday morning. At the time of writing, 24-hr volumes stood at $160.87bn.

This Morning

At the time of writing, Bitcoin was up by 0.65% to $8,883.3. A relatively bullish start to the day saw Bitcoin rise from an early morning low $8,792.2 to a high $8,908.3.

Bitcoin left the major support and resistance levels untested early on.

Elsewhere, it was a bullish start to the day for the majors. Binance Coin (+2.09%), Cardano’s ADA (+2.37%), and Ethereum (+2.35%) led the way early on.

Monero’s XMR trailed the back, up by just 1.04% at the time of writing.

BTC/USD 28/02/20 Daily Chart

For the Bitcoin Day Ahead

Bitcoin would need to move back through the morning high $8,903 to bring the first major resistance level at $9,015.4 into play.

Support from the broader market would be needed, however, for Bitcoin to break back to $9,000 levels.

Barring a broad-based crypto recovery, the first major resistance level would likely pin Bitcoin back on the day.

In the event of a crypto rally, the second major resistance level at $9,205.2 and 38.2% FIB of $9,620 could come into play.

Failure to move back through the morning high $8,908.3 could see Bitcoin hit reverse.

A fall back through to sub-$8,790 levels would bring the first major support level at $8,595.4 into play.

Barring an extended crypto sell-off, however, Bitcoin should well steer clear of the second major support level at $8,365.2 and the 23.6% FIB of $8,200.

European Equities: Futures Point to more Doom and Gloom ahead

Economic Calendar:

Friday, 28th February

French Consumer Spending (MoM) (Jan)

French GDP (QoQ) (Q4) 2nd Estimate

German Unemployment Change (Feb)

German Unemployment Rate (Feb)

Italian CPI (MoM) (Feb) Prelim

German CPI (MoM) (Feb) Prelim

The Majors

It was back into the deep red for the European majors, with Wednesday’s mixed session having been just a brief respite for the bulls.

The EuroStoxx600 slid by 3.75% to lead the way down, with the CAC40 and DAX40 ending the day down by 3.32% and 3.19% respectively.

A greater spread of the coronavirus across new countries and a sharp rise in new cases in Italy weighed on risk appetite on Thursday.

Fears of a recession in the world’s 8th largest economy rattled the markets, with China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea already under the cosh.

Travel and Leisure stocks continued to bear the brunt of investor ire, though all sectors ended the day in the red.

The Stats

It was a relatively quiet day on the Eurozone economic calendar on Thursday. Economic data included prelim February inflation figures out of Spain and finalized consumer confidence figures for the Eurozone.

Unsurprisingly, economic data continued to play 2nd fiddle to the news wires and coronavirus updates.

The Eurozone’s consumer confidence indicator came in at -6.6 according to finalized numbers, which was in line with prelim. In January, the indicator had stood at -8.1.

  • The pickup in consumer confidence was attributed to a brighter outlook on the economic situation. Sentiment will likely tumble in the next set of numbers.
  • By contrast, the Employment Expectations Indicator eased mildly from 105.3 to 105.0.

Later in the day, U.S 4th quarter GDP numbers and durable goods orders were in focus but also failed to influence late in the session.

Core durable goods rose by 0.9% in January, following a 0.1% rise in December. Durable goods fell by 0.2%, however, partially reversing a 2.9% jump from December.

2nd estimate GDP numbers were in line with 1st estimates, with even a 5.2% jump in pending home sales not enough to prevent the slide.

The Market Movers

For the DAX: autos were back into the red on Thursday. BMW and Volkswagen led the down, with the pair sliding by 3.80% and by 4.79% respectively. Continental and Daimler saw more modest losses of 2.48% and 2.69% respectively.

Things were no better for the banks, which saw heavier losses on the day. Commerzbank slid by 5.25%, with Deutsche Bank down by 5.55%.

Deutsche Lufthansa was the worst performer on the DAX for a 2nd consecutive day, sliding by 6.48%.

From the CAC, it was another bearish day for the banks. BNP Paribas slid by 5.87%, with Credit Agricole and Soc Gen seeing heavier losses of 6.16% and by 6.44% respectively.

The auto sector also struggled, with Peugeot and Renault ending the day down by 1.89% and 6.38% respectively.

Air France-KLM slumped by 7.17% on the day.

The latest sell-off leaves the majors in corrective territory, with the EuroStoxx600 way off its all-time high from earlier in the month.

On the VIX Index

The VIX resumed its upward trend on Thursday, surging by 42.09%. Reversing a 1.04% loss from Wednesday, a 5th day in the red out of 6 saw the VIX end the day at 39.2.

Risk aversion spread across the global financial markets, with the S&P500 sliding into corrective territory on Thursday. Coronavirus cases in the U.S and the talk of a U.S pandemic led the move into corrective territory.

We had seen the markets previously buy into the view that the U.S economy would likely be unscathed from the virus.

Commentary from the CDC and rise in the number of cases suggested otherwise, however, with the U.S economic outlook now also uncertain.

When considering the economies that have fallen at the hands of the virus and those at risk, the doom and gloom sentiment does seem justified.

For the current week, Monday through Thursday, the S&P500 was down by 10.76%.

VIX 28/02/20 Daily Chart

The Day Ahead

It’s a relatively busy day ahead on the Eurozone economic calendar on Friday. Economic data includes German unemployment figures and French consumer spending and 4th quarter GDP numbers.

Of less influence on the day include prelim inflation numbers out of Italy and Germany.

From outside of the Eurozone, U.S inflation, trade data,  personal spending, and Chicago PMI numbers will also influence late in the day.

While the stats from the Eurozone and the U.S will influence, expect coronavirus news to remain the key driver.

Bargain hunters may be looking for an entry point but with so much uncertainty, any upside would likely remain limited.

In the futures markets, at the time of writing, the DAX was down by 269.5 points, while the Dow was up by 62 points.

The Dollar Takes a Hit as Economic Data Continues to Play 2nd Fiddle to the Coronavirus

Earlier in the Day:

It was a relatively busy day on the Asian economic calendar this morning. The Japanese Yen and Aussie Dollar were in action.

For the Japanese Yen

Economic data included, February inflation figures and January’s job to applications ratio, industrial production, and retail sales figures.

According to consumer price figures released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication. The Ku-area of Tokyo saw the annual core rate of inflation ease from 0.7% to 0.5%, falling beyond a forecasted 0.6%.

  • Prices for Education slid by 6%, with prices for fuel, light and water charges falling by 2.8%.
  • There were solid increases in prices for clothes & footwear (+2.4%) and furniture and household utensils (+2.0%), however.
  • Prices for medical care (+1.3%), transportation and communication (+1.0%), culture and recreation (+0.9%) also provided support.
  • Prices for housing rose by just 0.5%, however.

With inflationary pressures easing in February, jobs available also eased, as the jobs/applications ratio fell from 1.57 to 1.49. The ratio last stood at sub-1.50 levels back in May 2017, when the ratio had also stood at 1.49.

The Japanese Yen moved from ¥109.638 to ¥109.616 upon release of the figures that preceded the industrial production and retail sales figures.

Retail Sales and Industrial Production

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, retail sales fell by 0.4% in January, year-on-year, following a 2.6% slide in December. Economists had forecasted a 1.1% decline.

Industrial production increased by 0.8% in January, according to prelim figures, following a 1.2% rise in December. Economists had forecast a 0.2% rise.

According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry,

Industries that mainly contributed to the increase were:

  • Motor vehicles, transport equipment (excl. motor vehicles), and other manufacturing.

Industries that mainly contributed to a decrease were

  • Production machinery, general-purpose and business orientated machinery, and electrical machinery, and information, and communication electronics equipment.

The Japanese Yen moved from ¥109.652 to ¥109.571 upon release of the figures. At the time of writing, the Japanese Yen was up by 0.06% to ¥109.52 against the U.S Dollar.

For the Aussie Dollar

According to figures released by RBA, total credit increased by 0.3%, month-on-month, in January. In December, credit had risen by 0.2%.

  • Business credit jumped by 0.5%, following a 0.2% rise in December, supporting the marginal uptick.
  • Personal credit fell at a sharper pace, however. Following a 0.4% decline in December, personal credit fell by 0.6% in January.
  • Housing credit rose by 0.3%, following a 0.3% increase in December.

The Aussie Dollar moved from $0.65811 to $0.65832 upon release of the figures. At the time of writing, the Aussie Dollar was up by 0.20% to $0.6582.

Elsewhere

At the time of writing, the Kiwi Dollar was up by 0.03% to $0.6309.

The Day Ahead:

For the EUR

It’s a relatively busy day ahead on the economic calendar. Key stats include German unemployment and French consumer spending figures.

Barring material deviation from 1st estimate numbers, 2nd estimate GDP figures out of France will likely have a muted impact on the EUR.

Later in the European session, prelim Italian and German inflation figures for February will also likely have a muted impact on the EUR.

Outside of the numbers expect news updates on the coronavirus to also provide direction. We’ve seen the Dollar take a hit as the coronavirus spreads across the U.S, leaving the U.S economy at risk of a slowdown.

At the time of writing, the EUR was down by 0.03% at $1.0998.

For the Pound

It’s another quiet day ahead on the economic calendar, with no material stats to provide the Pound with direction.

We can expect the Pound to be under pressure as the markets shift attention to negotiations that commence next week.

At the time of writing, the Pound was up by 0.04% to $1.2892.

Across the Pond

It’s a busy day ahead on the U.S economic calendar.

Key stats include Chicago PMI, personal spending, inflation and trade data. With the markets now beginning to expect monetary policy easing, today’s stats will have a material influence.

We expect finalized consumer sentiment figures for February to have a muted impact on the day.

Outside of the numbers, news updates on the coronavirus will also influence.

The Dollar Spot Index slid by 0.49% to 98.508 on Thursday.

For the Loonie

It’s a busy day ahead on the economic calendar, with key stats including GDP and RMPI numbers.

With the Bank of Canada in action next week, any soft numbers and expect the markets to price in a rate cut.

The BoC had previously talked of a willingness to make a move should economic indicators support a cut. With the coronavirus spreading globally and weighing on global trade and consumption, expect the numbers to do the talking.

The Loonie was down by 0.02% at C$1.3393 against the U.S Dollar, at the time of writing.

US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Tumble As Fears Push VIX to 2-year Highs

US stocks traded under pressure for a 7th consecutive trading session. The S&P 500 index officially hit correction territory. Yields moved lower, volatility continued to rise, as investors struggled to determine where the market will bottom.

While many analysts are talking about whether the Fed will lower rates, the Fed is trying to focus on credit and slower growth. A correction in stock prices is normal, but if prices move quickly into a bear-market territory (the S&P 500 index down 20% from its highs), the Fed will likely be quick to make a move. The data the market is seeing for February is not that bad. The issue is that the stock market is forward-looking and the slowness will probably not occur until April. The market is currently pricing in 3-reductions in Fed fund rates in 2020, with a better tan 50% chance in April.

The VIX volatility index continued to surge on Thursday, rising above 36% at the highs of the session. While the VIX hit a high of 50% in February of 2018, this is likely to be the highest weekly close on the VIX in the past 3-years. Housing data continued to impress as US treasury yields decline. The 10-year Treasury yield hit a low of 1.29 on Thursday, which weighed on mortgage yields making home buying more attractive. Gold prices continue to rise as Treasury yields held south, somewhat buoying metal mining companies.

The Housing Market is Surge

Declining treasury yields are weighing on mortgage rates, providing lower costs to purchase homes. The National Association of Realtors, reported that Pending Home sales surged 5.2% on January, up 5.7% year over year. Pending sales measure signed contracts, not closings.

Here We Go Again – The Pound Is Set for another Rollercoaster of a Summer!

We saw the Pound briefly visit $1.30 levels on Tuesday. The upside came off the back of a combination of events.

Firstly, prevalent Dollar weakness stemming from a shift in monetary policy divergence in favor of the Pound supported the upside in Cable. Secondly, however, was the EU’s terms of negotiation that EU member states finalized on 25th. It wasn’t the terms but the desire to form an ambitious agreement that impressed the markets.

The EU and the UK are scheduled to begin hammering out a trade agreement next week. While the Pound found early support, there is a large degree of apprehension.

Britain’s transition period ends on 31st December at which point Britain goes it alone, with or without the EU as a trading partner.

The Issues

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of key issues that remain. These issues continue to exist in spite of Britain and the EU meeting at the table for more than 3-years.

It ultimately took Johnson and a return of a Tory Party majority to force through the Withdrawal Bill and formalize Britain’s divorce with the EU.

So, with Britain and the EU left with 10-months to thrash out a trade agreement, what are the key issues?

The British government is looking for the following:

  • Abandon commitments made back in October in the EU-UK political declaration that accompanied the Withdrawal Bill.
  • Ultimately, the British government is looking to deliver Brexit in its true form, with Britain free from EU rules and regulations. The last thing that the British government will accept is any strings attached that leaves Britain under any EU laws.
  • A comprehensive trade agreement in the same form as the Canada agreement supplemented by fishery law enforcement.
  • Predetermined judicial cooperation in criminal matters and also transport, and energy.
  • Fishery issues have already hit the headlines before talks even began. For those who voted to leave the EU, it may be somewhat alarming to hear that the EU wants continued access to British waters. An EU concession here is for annual negotiations in order to agree on continued access for EU vessels.

Other key points to negotiate include, but are not limited to:

  • State aid/subsidies
  • Workers’ rights
  • Tariff Free Access to the EU Market
  • Minimal customs barriers.
  • Financial Services

The Timeline

As things stand, Britain and the EU have until June to agree on an outline to a trade agreement.

This would then need to be finalized by September, which gives both sides just 7-months.

When you consider the chatter from Macron and senior French government officials, their preference would be to prevent progress. The alternative would be to tie Britain into EU laws, which is clearly a no-no for Britain.

With Angela Merkel on the way out, Macron has been vying to become the voice of Europe.

Bringing down the British government and leaving Britain to grapple with WTO trade terms would be quite a coup.

So, if the EU and Britain fail to make solid progress in the coming 4-months, the writing may be on the wall for Britain and the Pound.

British Prime Minister Johnson has managed to block the chance of any extension to the transition period.

When considering the issues at hand, even the more optimistic may consider the path ahead as a difficult on.

For that very reason, the Pound’s rollercoaster ride is likely to resume. At least through to the end of the 3rd quarter.

As far as the British Government is concerned, if there is a lack of progress by June then the government will walk away. That means a no-deal hard Brexit that the markets feared since the EU referendum outcome.

What’s next?

Britain and the EU meet next week to get things going and there’s likely to be plenty of chatter.

The EU must appear to be in a position of strength, able to protect the rights of its remaining member states.

Failure to achieve this would raise the chances of further departures from the EU. It’s hardly a surprise that Macron has taken such a position on Brexit.

It’s also going to be of little surprise that he will maintain his position until the bitter end.

After all, there’s little point in being the voice of a Europe that is broken and more interested in protectionism.

For the Pound

We can expect the rollercoaster ride of the last few years to resume.

The good news, for now, is that economic indicators have shown an improvement in economic conditions.

All of this has been in line with the BoE’s post-Brexit outlook, however, which suggests a slowdown to come.

Throw in the likely effect of the coronavirus on the global economy and the doom and gloom may well build.

Could Macron call for the tunnel to be blocked in the event of a no-deal end to the transition period?

Johnson may insist on it should the spread of the coronavirus continue through to June…

At the time of writing, the Pound was down by 0.08% to $1.28859, with the return to sub-$1.29 levels leaving the Pound down by 0.60% for the current week and by 2.42% for the current month…

Expect $1.25 levels to be on the cards should it become painfully clear that talks are going to go nowhere…

GBP/USD 27/02/20 Daily Chart

Virus Fears Scuttle Market, EPS Growth In Question, Data Still Holding Up

Equities Fall In Fourth Day Of Viral Rout

The U.S. futures market is indicating another deep decline on Thursday. The move, sparked by a growing fear of the coronavirus, shaved another -1.0% and more off of the major indices. Today’s news includes word of the first community-spread case of coronavirus in the U.S. Health officials in California report the first case in which there is no known trail of contagion. The news raises the stakes in terms of economic impact, if the U.S. shuts down like China and other countries global GDP could contract sharply in 2020.

Elsewhere in the world, China continues to report new cases despite signs its containment efforts are starting to pay off. In South Korea, the second hardest nation, the number of new cases spiked to set a new daily record. The disease is not yet contained in that country. Officials in Japan are taking precautionary efforts and have closed all schools, the number of cases is growing in the EU as well.

Stocks On The Move

Tech is among the days hardest hit. The sector has above-average exposure to China and international markets making it particularly vulnerable to the disease. Apple and Intel are among the days leaders but are not the biggest losers by far. Apple and Intell are both down about -1.5% while chipmakers NVDA and AMD have shed -2.5% and -3.9% respectively.

Microsoft and Goldman Sachs are the latest to issue warnings about the viral impact. Microsoft says it will not meet its Q1 revenue targets because the supply chain is re-ramping slower than expected. Goldman Sachs analysts issued a warning that EPS growth for the entire S&P 500 could come in well below expectations for the year, as low as 0.0% but I think their estimate is generous.

Best Buy issued a Q4 earnings report this morning. The company reports better than expected revenue and earnings that were driven by an increase in comp-store sales. Shares were up sharply following the news but have since given up their gains. Virgin Galactic got a major catalyst from analysts this morning. A double-dose of downgrades from Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse have shares down more than -13.0%.

The Data Is Good, No Indication Of Weakness

The number of new claims for unemployment insurance climbed 8,000 over the last week but remains low and trending near historic lows. The continuing claims and total claims figures, both indicators of conditions within the broad labor market, were relatively flat over the past week. New orders for durable goods fell -0.20% over the past month. The figure is better than expected and accompanied by a double-digit increase in core capital goods orders. On the GDP front, the final read for 4th quarter GDP is 2.1% and unchanged from the previous estimate.

Asian Shares Mostly Lower; Bank of Korea Leaves Policy Rate Unchanged While Aussie Yields Hit Record Lows

The major Asia Pacific stock indexes traded mostly lower on Thursday as cautious investors digested the latest news over the fast-spreading new coronavirus while assessing the potential global economic impact of the virus that has so far infected more than 81,000 people and killed over 2,700.

Although most of the people infected and killed by the disease to-date are from China, the number of cases outside of the country has surged in recent weeks with countries like South Korea, Italy and Iran at the forefront.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday confirmed the first potential “community spread” of the coronavirus stateside. Additionally, late Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will be in charge of the U.S. response to the deadly outbreak. Trump also said the risk of the disease to the country remained “very low.”

On Thursday, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index settled at 21948.23, down 477.96 or -2.13%. South Korea’s KOSPI Index finished at 2054.89, down 21.88 or -1.05% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index closed at 26687.89, down 8.6 or -0.03%.

China’s Shanghai Index settled at 2991.33, up 3.4 or +0.11% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at 6657.90, down 50.2 or -0.75%.

Early in the session, U.S. futures markets are pointing toward a lower opening on Thursday after the benchmark S&P 500 Index wiped out $1.7 trillion in just two sessions.

Bank of Korea Keeps Policy Rate Unchanged

In an unexpected move, the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark policy rate unchanged. Central bank policymakers surprised the financial markets by holding the benchmark interest rate at 1.25% when analysts polled by Reuters were expecting a rate cut. That was despite a recent spike in the number of coronavirus cases in the country threatening its economy.

Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Leong Lin Jing described the Bank of Korea’s interest rate decision as “a little bit curious.”

“Bank of Korea has had a habit of being a little bit behind the curve … when acknowledging that growth is slowing down,” Leong said.

Australian Shares Fall for Fifth Straight Session

Increased reports of coronavirus cases around the world saw Australian shares tumble of a fifth consecutive session on Thursday, wiping out all the gains achieved earlier in the year, the Brisbane Times reported.

All sectors aside from healthcare and utilities finished in the red, led by steep declines in technology and energy shares. As was the case earlier this week, the weakness was driven by uncertainty on the human and economic toll the coronavirus may bring.

In other news, Australia’s 10-year bond yield fell to a new record low of 0.845 percent after Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said risk of global pandemic is very much upon us, while urging the need to take action.

Additionally, Australia private capital expenditure dropped -2.8% in Q4, much worse than expectation of 0.5% increase. In seasonally adjusted terms, building and structures dropped -5.9%. Mining dropped -2.7%. Equipment, plant and machinery rose 0.8%. Manufacturing dropped -10.1% and other selected industries fell -1.9%.

Trump: US Coronavirus Risk ‘Very Low’; Microsoft Warns of Windows Unit Revenue Miss

U.S. equity markets finished mixed on Wednesday with the S&P 500 Index falling for a fifth straight session, while the selling pressure was a little lighter than the two previous sessions, the price action remained volatile as investors continued to react to headlines about coronavirus and its potential impact on the U.S. economy.

In the cash market on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3116.39, down 11.82 or -0.36%, the blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 26957.59, down 123.77 or -0.43% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite closed at 8980.78, up 15.17 or +0.17%.

Trump Says Coronavirus Risk in US is Low

President Donald Trump told Americans on Wednesday that the risk from coronavirus remained “very low,” and placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the U.S. response to the looming global health crisis.

He also said the spread of the virus in the United States was not “inevitable” and then went on to say: “It probably will, it possibly will. It could be at a very small level, or it could be at a larger level. Whatever happens we’re totally prepared.”

U.S. Coronavirus Update

Dozens of people were being checked for the coronavirus in the New York City area on Wednesday, officials said, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state has had no confirmed cases so far, Reuters reported.

“This situation is not a situation that should cause undue fear,” Cuomo told a news conference, saying that 27 people in New York have tested negative for the virus.

I’m happy to say right now, we don’t have a case,” county health commissioner Lawrence Eisenstein said.

In other news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an infection of the new coronavirus in California in someone who had not traveled outside the United States or been exposed to a person known to have the virus, a first for the country.

Microsoft Expects Windows Unit to Miss Revenue Outlook on Coronavirus Impact

Microsoft Inc. said on Wednesday it does not expect to meet its quarterly revenue forecast for its Windows and personal computing business as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, sending its shares down more than 1% in after-market trading.

“Although we see strong Windows demand in line with our expectations, the supply chain is returning to normal operations at a slower pace than anticipated,” the company said in a statement.

Microsoft is the second company in the trillion dollar club to withdraw outlook. Earlier this month, Apple said that it may not be able to meet its March-quarter sales forecast.

The Mid-Week Wrap – Asian Markets and Stocks

The last week of the month usually is pretty quiet. Is it also the case this week?

For the U.S Dollar

It was a quiet start to the week on the economic data front. The markets needed until Tuesday for consumer confidence figures that failed to impress.

We saw the Dollar under pressure at the start of the week, with last week’s PMI numbers raising the chances of a FED rate hike in the 1st half of the year.

The shift in sentiment saw demand for the Dollar ease early in the week. Following FED Chair Powell’s testimony, the markets had anticipated a resilient U.S economy. Recent economic indicators suggested otherwise, with the U.S private sector contracting in February.

Throw in the rising number of cases of the coronavirus and the CDC’s outlook and the U.S economy also faces headwinds.

Through the remainder of the week, inflation and personal spending figures on Friday will garner plenty of attention. Personal spending figures will be of particular interest as it will indicate any consumer concerns over the virus.

Ahead of the numbers, 2nd estimate GDP numbers for the 4th quarter are due out along with durable goods orders on Thursday.

Expect the durable goods orders to have a greater impact, as the markets look for coronavirus impact on demand.

For the EUR

It was also a relatively quiet start to the week. Germany’s business confidence 2nd estimate GDP numbers were in focus.

While 2nd estimate GDP figures were in line with 1st estimate, there was an improvement in business sentiment.

February’s IFO survey came ahead of the spread of the coronavirus through Europe, however, limiting any upside for the EUR.

Over the remainder of the week, the focus will shift to consumer spending and 4th quarter GDP numbers out of France. There are also unemployment numbers out of Germany to also consider.

For now, we’ve seen the EUR find support as the sentiment shifts towards the U.S economy. Ultimately, however, the Eurozone economy remains more at risk to a marked slowdown that that of the U.S, which suggests the upside to be limited.

A more material spread of the virus across the U.S, however, would alter that outlook.

For the Pound

It’s a particularly quiet week on the economic data front and there have been no material stats to provide support.

We saw the Pound bounce back to $1.30 levels on Tuesday following the EU member states desire to form an ambitious trade agreement with Britain.

That comes with strings attached, however, which Britain is unwilling to agree to.

On Thursday, the British government is due to announce its starting terms, which will give an idea of just how far apart the 2-sides are.

Expect reaction to influence the Pound over the remainder of the week.

Stocks go down due to the virus in an environment of no macroeconomic data releases. In the meantime, how have the commodity currencies reacted to the recent developments in the markets?

We saw the commodity currencies fair better in the early part of the week, in spite of the risk aversion.

This was largely due to the shift in sentiment towards the U.S economy and monetary policy

That being said, it’s still been a bearish week for the commodity currencies.

For the Aussie Dollar, new CAPEX figures for the 4th quarter failed to impress this morning.

With business investment on the slide, any slide in consumer spending would add further pressure on the RBA to make a move.

In the last meeting, the RBA had raised some concerns over the likely impact of the coronavirus on the global economy. Since then, we can expect that concern to have spiked as the virus reaches new countries.

It certainly looks set for a particularly dovish RBA next week, which should limit any upside for the Aussie Dollar.

Things are not much better for the Kiwi Dollar.

Retail sales rose by just 0.7% in the 4th quarter, following a 1.7% rise in the 3rd, with the numbers coming ahead of key stats on Thursday.

While January trade data delivered support, with exports to China on the rise once more in January, it was business confidence that weighed.

The trade figures failed to capture the effects of the extended Chinese New Year and quarantines across the country. February’s figures are expected to be quite dire, however, if business confidence numbers are anything to go by.

That leaves the Kiwi under immense pressure, with economic disruption expected to continue beyond the 1st quarter.

A slight decline in all of the commodity currency charts. Meanwhile, how have the major Asian countries fared during this period? I assume they have been hit the most by the coronavirus.

For the Japanese Yen

We saw the Japanese Yen find renewed interest this week, at the expense of the Greenback. With risk aversion continuing to plague the markets, the rise in the number of cases in the U.S and weak data provided the upside.

The markets had previously moved away from the Yen over concerns that the region would be harder hit by the virus.

This is likely to be the case, however, which should limit any return to ¥107 – 108 levels against the Greenback.

On the economic data front, retail sales and industrial production figures due out on Friday will unlikely reflect the effects of the virus.

Dire numbers, however, would suggest that the BoJ will need to make a move of some sort…

For the rest of the Asian Majors

Unsurprisingly, the rest of the Asian majors have struggled in the week.

We’ve seen the Taiwanese Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Korean Won, and Chinese Yuan struggle as disruption to trade is expected to hurt the respective economies.

Monetary and fiscal policy support has been delivered by a number of central banks in the region.

Uncertainty over the time frame involved, however, and how bad it could get continues to pressure the majors. This will likely continue near-term or at least until the pace of the global spread abates.

Will U.S Durable Goods Orders Give the Markets More Angst as the Number of U.S Cases Rise?

Earlier in the Day:

It was a relatively busy day on the Asian economic calendar this morning. The Kiwi Dollar and Aussie Dollar were in action.

For the Kiwi Dollar

New Zealand’s trade deficit narrowed from NZ$4,460m to NZ$3,870 year-on-year in January. Month-on-month, the trade balance fell from an NZ$384m surplus to an NZ$340m deficit.

According to NZ Stats,

  • Total exports rose by NZ$382m (8.8%) from January 2019 to hit NZ$4.7bn.
    • Exports to China jumped by NZ$302m (31%) to NZ$1.3bn in January, compared with January 2019.
    • A jump in dairy, meat, and log exports led the way.
    • The rise in exports to China meant that China accounted for 27% of total exports, all of which came before the extended CNY holidays and quarantines across the country.
  • Total imports fell by NZ$212m (4.0%) to NZ$5.1bn in January 2020.
    • A slide in the import of vehicles, parts, and accessories (NZ$116m) weighed on imports. Motor car imports were the main driver.
    • Imports from China stood at NZ$1.1bn in January 2020, which accounted for 22% of total monthly imports. On an annual basis, 20% of total imports were from China.

The New Zealand Dollar moved from $0.62898 to $0.62900 upon release of the figures that preceded January business confidence figures.

In January, the ANZ Business Confidence Index fell from -13.2 to -19.4. Economists had forecast a rise to -7.9.

According to the latest ANZ Report,

  • A net 12% of firms expect stronger activity ahead for their own business, falling by 5.
  • Agriculture sector own activity tumbled from +16 to -30, with manufacturing own activity down from +24 to +4.
  • Expected profitability, investment and employment intentions were all in decline.
  • The downward trend was attributed to the spread of the coronavirus. ANZ noted that survey responses received after the COVID-19 outbreak hit the headlines were more negative. These accounted for one-third of the total respondents.
  • On the bright side, the construction sector saw a rosier outlook, with retail sector pricing intentions jumping to the highest level since 2008.

The Kiwi Dollar moved from $0.62866 to $0.62900 upon release of the numbers. At the time of writing, the Kiwi Dollar down by 0.05% to $0.6290.

For the Aussie Dollar

Private new capital expenditure slid by 2.8% in the 4th quarter, following on from a revised 0.4% decline in the 3rd quarter. Economists had forecast a 0.4% rise.

According to the ABS,

  • Building and structures saw a 5.9% slide, while new CAPEX expenditure on equipment, plant, and machinery rose by 0.8%.
  • In the 3rd quarter, investments in building and structures had risen by 2.5%, while expenditure on equipment, plant, and machinery had fallen by 3.6%.

The Aussie Dollar moved from $0.65511 to $0.65535 upon release of the figures. At the time of writing, the Aussie Dollar was up by 0.18% to $0.6556.

While the Aussie Dollar was up in the early hours, the slump in new CAPEX expenditure gives the RBA further reason to cut rates. The low-interest-rate environment was not only meant to support consumers but also fuel business spending.

Elsewhere

At the time of writing, the Japanese Yen was up by 0.16% to ¥110.25 against the U.S Dollar.

The Day Ahead:

For the EUR

It’s a relatively busy day ahead on the economic calendar. Key stats include prelim February inflation figures out of Spain and finalized Eurozone consumer confidence figures.

Barring a material pullback in inflation, however, we would expect the numbers to have a muted impact on the EUR.

Expect any revision to Eurozone consumer confidence figures to influence, however, as the markets search for sentiment towards the spread of the coronavirus.

Outside of the numbers, expect market risk sentiment to continue to provide direction. For the EUR, early support kicked in as the markets reacted to news of a rise in new coronavirus cases in the U.S. The upward swing has come as the markets reverse bets on the U.S economy being unscathed from the spread of the virus.

At the time of writing, the EUR was up by 0.26% at $1.0909.

For the Pound

It’s also a quiet day ahead on the economic calendar, with no material stats to provide the Pound with direction.

While there are no stats to consider, the British Government is due to release its terms for trade negotiations with the EU.

It will all come down to how far apart the 2-sides are from the get-go and how the EU responds and Boris Johnson and David Foster react in return.

Expectations are for a difficult road ahead, which should peg the Pound back at $1.29 levels and bring $1.28 levels back into play.

On the monetary policy front, BoE MPC member Cunliffe is scheduled to speak in the early afternoon. Following Cunliffe’s concerns over the negative effects of prolonged monetary policy easing, expect any dovish chatter to weigh on the Pound.

We’ve yet to hear of central banks wanting to step in as the coronavirus continues to spread. This may well change in the coming weeks…

At the time of writing, the Pound was up by 0.12% to $1.2921.

Across the Pond

It’s a relatively busy day ahead on the U.S economic calendar. January durable goods orders and 2nd estimate GDP numbers for the 4th quarter are due out.

Barring deviation from 1st estimate numbers, expect the core durable goods and durable goods orders to have the greatest impact.

Following last week’s particularly disappointing PMI numbers, any slide in orders will pressure the Greenback further.

Initial weekly jobless claims and pending home sales figures for January are also due out. We will also expect the numbers to have a muted impact on the Dollar, however.

Outside of the numbers, market risk sentiment will continue to influence.

At the time of writing, the Dollar Spot Index was down by 0.06% to 98.939.

For the Loonie

It’s a quiet day ahead on the economic calendar, with key stats limited to 4th quarter current account figures out of Canada.

We can expect the numbers to have a muted impact on the Loonie, however.

Focus through the day will be on the economic outlook and demand for crude oil, which remains Loonie negative.

The Loonie was down by 0.06% at C$1.3341 against the U.S Dollar, at the time of writing.

European Equities: Another Slide on the Cards and the Prospects of a Global Pandemic Intensify

Economic Calendar:

Thursday, 27th February

Spanish HICP (YoY) (Feb) Prelim

Spanish HICP (YoY) (Feb) Prelim

Eurozone Consumer Confidence (Feb) Final

Friday, 28th February

French Consumer Spending (MoM) (Jan)

French GDP (QoQ) (Q4) 2nd Estimate

German Unemployment Change (Feb)

German Unemployment Rate (Feb)

Italian CPI (MoM) (Feb) Prelim

German CPI (MoM) (Feb) Prelim

The Majors

It was a mixed day for the European majors on Wednesday, with investors tiptoeing back into riskier assets. Support came in spite of the continued spread of the coronavirus, with a decision by EU member states to leave borders open delivering the support.

The continued concern over the spread of the virus was evidenced in travel and leisure stocks, however, that were the worst performers on the day.

The DAX30 saw its 5th consecutive day in the red, falling by 0.12%. Finding support was the CAC40, which eked out a 0.09% gain, while the EuroStoxx600 ending the day flat.

The Stats

It was a relatively quiet day on the Eurozone economic calendar on Wednesday. Economic data included jobseeker numbers out of France.

The numbers had a muted impact on the majors, however, in spite of total job seekers falling from 3,292.9k to 3,264.8k.

Concerns over the economic outlook continue to mute the effect of historical data that have yet to reflect the impact of the coronavirus.

Out of the U.S, January’s new home sales also had a muted impact on the majors late in the European session.

A bullish start to the day across the U.S majors did provide support, however…

The Market Movers

For the DAX: autos were amongst the top performers on Wednesday as investors went bargain hunting. BMW and Daimler led the way with gains of 1.26% and 1.05% respectively. Continental and Volkswagen saw more modest gains of 0.94% and 0.24% respectively.

It was a mixed day for the banks, however, with Commerzbank falling by 0.35%, while Deutsche Bank rose by 1.38%.

Deutsche Lufthansa was the worst performer on the DAX30, falling by 1.99%.

From the CAC, it was another bearish day for the banks. BNP Paribas fell by 1.00%, with Credit Agricole and Soc Gen declining by 1.14% and by 1.01% respectively.

The auto sector found support, however, with Renault and Peugeot ending the day up by 1.22% and 4.75% respectively.

Air France-KLM continued to struggle, however, with a 0.87% loss on the day.

On the VIX Index

The VIX saw red for the 1st time in 5-days, with a 1.04% loss. Following an 11.27% gain on Tuesday, the VIX ended the day at 27.6.

While the U.S equity markets had found support through the early part of the day, news updates on the coronavirus led to a late reversal, leaving the S&P500 down by 0.38% on the day.

The reversal was not enough to drive the VIX into positive territory, however, though the downside for the VIX may be temporary…

VIX 27/02/20 Daily Chart

The Day Ahead

It’s a relatively busy day ahead on the Eurozone economic calendar on Thursday. Economic data includes prelim February inflation figures out of Spain and finalized Eurozone consumer confidence numbers.

From the U.S, durable goods orders and 2nd estimate GDP numbers for the 4th quarter also provided direction.

Expect the Eurozone consumer confidence and numbers from the U.S to have the greatest influence from the calendar.

It will ultimately boil down to news updates and the later coronavirus numbers…

In the futures markets, at the time of writing, the DAX was down by 275.5 points, with the Dow down by 218 points.

US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Close Mixed; Nasdaq Outperforms; The Russell Drops Sharply

US stocks were mixed on Wednesday after initially rising, but the Dow and S&P moved into the red and remain underwater for the latter half of the trading session. The Nasdaq broke a 4-day losing streak driven by the FANG stocks which outperform. The Russell 200 was the worst-performing average declining by 1.2%. Oil prices were under significant pressure falling 3%, as concerns over the coronavirus continued to weigh on energy. All sectors in the S&P 500 index were lower driven down by Energy, Healthcare was the worst-performing sector. US home sales surged higher rising nearly 8%, driven by rising mortgage applications. The VIX volatility index slipped slightly but still remain buoyed above 27%.

US Home Sales Rise

The commerce department reported that US single-family homes raced to a 12-year high in January. New home sales jumped 7.9% to an annual rate of 764,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2007. December’s sales pace was revised up to 708,000 units from the previously reported 694,000 units. Expectations had been for new home sales, which account for about 12.3% of housing market sales, which would advance 3.5% to a pace of 710,000 units in January. New home sales jumped 30.3% in the Midwest to their highest level since October 2007.

The gain in home sales was driven by rising mortgage application volume which rose 1.5% last week from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 3.73% from 3.77%, with points decreasing to 0.27 from 0.28. Applications to refinance a home loan fell 1% for the week but were still 152% higher than a year ago.

Energy Inventories Rose

US crude oil inventories increased by 500 thousand barrels from the previous week. At 443.3 million barrels, crude oil inventories are about 3% below the five year average for this time of year. Gasoline inventories decreased by 2.7 million barrels last week and are about 2% above the five year average for this time of year. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 2.1 million barrels last week and are about 5% below the five year average for this time of year.

Equities Attempt Rebound, Coronavirus Spreading, 2020 Growth In Question

The U.S. Futures Edge Higher

The U.S. futures are edging higher in early Wednesday trading following two days of massive declines. The broad market made its biggest drop in over four years over the course of Monday and Tuesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ Composite are all looking at opening gains in the range of 0.10% to 0.15%. Although early action looks bullish, traders are warned not to read too much into the move. The Coronavirus is still spreading and its impact on global economic activity only now being felt.

China reports an additional 406 cases in the overnight session with 52 more dead. South Korea says it has 169 new cases and a rising death toll as does Italy. France now reports its first case proving the virus can spread despite the best efforts of health officials. In the U.S. officials report over 50 cases, they are prepping the public for an epidemic the only questions are when it will start and how long it will last. Regardless, the economic impact of this event will be wide-ranging and long-lasting.

Stocks On The Move

The tech sector is trying to move higher in early trading despite its entering correction territory. Now down 10% from recent highs the sector is on the verge of a full-blown bear market. Shares of Apple are among the leaders, down -12% in the last two days, but up about 0.4% in early action.

Shares of Office Depot are among today’s hottest issues. The company reported better than expected results and positive guidance that lifted shares 5.0%. Shares of TJX, parent of the TJMaxx chains of apparel stores, are up more than 6.15% after it reported better than expected earnings. The company says comps rose 6.0% sparking a similar rise in share prices.

Fast-food retailers Papa John’s and Wendy’s are both moving lower. Both companies reported better than expected results due to strength in the U.S. consumer. the downside is outlook failed to impress and that has investors second-guessing their positions.

Volatility Is On The Rise

The VIX, a so-called “fear gauge”, spiked over the last two days. The index, a measure of options prices relative to the S&P 500, has reached levels above 25 and is fast approaching a two-year high. The index shows a high degree of demand for options, protection against a market downturn, and that spells lower prices for the S&P 500.

On the economic front, New Home Sales are due out later in the session. Sales are expected to rise from the previous month and may top estimates. Warmer than expected weather has had a positive impact on other housing data.