Run Euro Run !

The euro’s rally may have only just begun.

While the European Central Bank made few changes Thursday to its forward guidance and Mario Draghi said that policy makers were still waiting for wages and prices to match the region’s improving economic growth, the common currency rallied to its highest level in nearly two years.

It’s the best performer among Group-of-10 currencies this year and could still have further to run with the bank likely to announce the scaling back of its quantitative easing program in either September or October.

“It’s an armor-plated rally and it won’t stop,” Peter Kinsella, a London-based senior foreign exchange and rates strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, wrote in a note. “Everything speaks in favor of further EUR appreciation — increasing portfolio inflows, changing monetary policy, improved political risks.”

Increased hawkishness from the central bank, spurred by Draghi saying that reflationary forces had replaced deflationary ones on the continent, has helped the euro rally from lows last seen near the start of the millennium. Investors expect the ECB to start tapering in the new year and are pricing in a 10 basis point rate hike by September 2018.

At the same time, political risks have largely dissipated. The victory of market-friendly Emmanuel Macron in France allayed fears after a populist wave swept through the European Union following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as president of the U.S. Economic growth has also picked up, helping to buoy investor prospects.

The euro broke through $1.16 after Draghi said that the currency’s recent re-pricing had received “some attention,” without specifically saying he was concerned about its strength, at the press conference following July’s ECB decision. That reference helped boost the shared currency, while European bonds rallied following the meeting led by those of Spain and Portugal.

Mario Draghi “essentially did not push back on the market pricing, which was the key point,” said Jordan Rochester, foreign-exchange strategist at Nomura International in London. “The Fed was moving more aggressively in terms of their monetary policy while other banks were still easing. All that’s come into reverse now,” he added, referring to the Federal Reserve’s recent rate hikes.

The euro advanced 0.1 percent to $1.1642 as of 8:49 a.m. in London, having touched $1.1677, its highest since August 2015. The currency has climbed about 11 percent this year, partly on speculation that a tapering of bond purchases is drawing closer. It traded near its highest versus the pound in eight months with one euro worth 89.59 pence.

Nomura currently forecasts the euro at $1.15 by the end of the year. “In the short-term we’re overshooting and I wouldn’t fight it,” Rochester said.

For some analysts, the only thing that can stop a prolonged euro surge is events on the other side of the Atlantic. That could come in the form of progress of U.S. tax reform, according to Rochester.

“One factor that might stop the euro rally from here is a repricing of expectations for the Federal Reserve,” said Andrew Cormack, a London-based money manager at Western Asset Global Management. “There is so little priced for the Fed now any upside surprise in the data could see this reverse.”

Cheerio

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Markets Update

U.S. job growth surged more than expected in June and employers increased hours for workers, with signs of a labor market strengthening that is likely to keep the Federal Reserve on course for a 3rd interest rate increase this year, despite lackluster inflation. Non-farm payrolls increased by 222,000 jobs in June beating expectations for a 179,000 gain. Data for April and May was revised to show 47,000 more jobs were created than previously reported. US unemployment rose to 4.4%, from a 16-year low of 4.3%, because more people were looking for work; a sign of confidence in the labor market. The jobless rate has dropped 0.4% this year and is close to the most recent Fed median forecast for 2017.

UK data released on Friday showed output by British factories unexpectedly fell in May, indicating that the UK economy has struggled to gain any momentum after a slow start to 2017 and further raising questions about the likelihood of the Bank of England raising interest rates this year. Markets were expecting an increase of 0.5% in Manufacturing Production (MoM) but were surprised with a very poor reading of -0.2%. GBPUSD reacted immediately dropping from 1.2955 to 1.28664 (-0.7%) whilst EURGBP climbed from 0.87964 to 0.88602 (+0.55%). GBPUSD is currently trading around 1.2905 and EURGBP around 0.8840.

The G20 meeting in Hamburg over the weekend had little to no impact on the markets. The highlights were the first-time meetings of Trump, Putin & Xi Jinping. The general undertone was that this was the G19 plus 1 meeting as the US was not a particularly welcome attendee.
USDJPY initially dropped by 0.6% on Friday, to trade as low as 113.148, before rebounding higher following the NFP to reach a high of 114.176 – a 0.8% increase on the day. In early trading USDJPY is around 114.15.

EURUSD had a similar story reaching a high of 1.14393 after the data release before retracing down to a low of 1.13791 a relatively small loss of 0.2% on the day. Currently EURUSD is trading around 1.1410.

Gold had heavy selling pressure, dropping 1% on Friday to trade as low as $1,207.17 – close to a 4-month low. Gold is down over 1.6% on the week resulting in its worst performance since May. Currently Gold is trading around $1,212.

WTI closed down 4% on the week as the decline in US inventories did not convince traders that global production was anywhere near rebalancing. On Friday WTI traded down 1.8% to hit a low of $43.88pb. Currently WTI is trading around $44.65pb.

Today & Tomorrow is light on impactful economic data releases – traders are focusing on Wednesday July 12 when, at 09:30 BST, the UK will release its Average Earnings Index followed, at 15:00 BST, by the Bank of Canada interest rate decision and Fed Chair Yellen’s Testimony.

Cheerio,

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

 

Oil Bull Is Bearish

One of oil’s most prominent bulls is starting to sound like a skeptic.

The global crude market has “materially worsened” and prices may be stuck around $50 a barrel or below, storied hedge fund manager Andy Hall said in an investor letter this week, reversing the optimistic tone he’d taken for months.

Crude prices are down 16 percent for the year, amid signs that rising U.S. output will undercut production cuts ordered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies. After a rally last week, futures for West Texas Intermediate oil slipped 4.1 percent on Wednesday after Russian officials said they were opposed to deeper reductions.

“When the facts change … ” Hall wrote to investors in his Stamford, Connecticut, hedge fund, Astenbeck Capital Management LLC, in a July 3 letter obtained by Bloomberg News. “Not only did sentiment plumb new depths but fundamentals appear to have materially worsened.”

U.S. shale drilling is expanding “at a surprisingly fast rate, thus raising the odds for significant oversupply in 2018, even if OPEC maintains its production cuts.”

Hall’s career stretches back to the 1970s, including stints at BP Plc and legendary trading house Phibro Energy Inc., where he was chief executive officer. This year, he’s consistently pushed against the bearish tide, arguing in investor letters that data showing rising oil supplies was incompleteand that a sustained rally was on its way.

‘Rangebound’

U.S. producers have ramped up output and lowered their own costs faster than expected and growth in demand seems set to be lower than anticipated going forward, Hall wrote in the latest letter. While oil prices may recover somewhat in 2017, they look to be “rangebound for some time to come.”

“At the start of the year, the anchor was thought to be about $60″ for Brent crude “and rising over time,” Hall wrote. “Today, it appears to be closer to $50 (and possibly still falling.)”

A message seeking comment from Hall wasn’t immediately returned. Astenbeck managed $2.4 billion as of the end of 2016, according to a previous investor letter reviewed by Bloomberg. The most-recent letter doesn’t mention the size of the Astenbeck fund or its latest performance.

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Aussie Car Sales Up – Wages Not So Up

Australians could be forgiven if they missed a new record in their economy this week.

Motor vehicle sales, one of the nation’s least-watched economic data, reached an all-time monthly high in May as buyers splashed out on more than 100,000 new vehicles. The buoyant trend appears to defy central bank and economists’ warnings about weak consumer spending amid record-low wage growth and record-high household debt.

Or perhaps things aren’t so bad and Aussies are getting used to tight-fisted employers. While household consumption rose only 0.5 percent in the first quarter, the measure is still just under its 10-year average. At the same time, some things are getting cheaper: car prices have been flat or falling in recent years, and rising slower than workers’ wages, according to Craig James, an economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s securities unit.

“While consumers at the moment aren’t overly chipper about life I think they’ll get used to the fact that wages are growing at a much slower pace than what they’ve done in the past,” said James. “Things have been getting more affordable and that just reflects the fact that our standard of living has been continuing to increase.”

Sales of new motor vehicles rose for the third straight month in May, with annual purchases of sports utility vehicles and other more commercial-type vehicles near record highs. Buyers still aren’t feeling too well-heeled though, with annual growth of luxury cars at five-year lows, according to the Commonwealth Bank.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is hoping Aussies don’t get too complacent about their miserly pay gains. Governor Philip Lowe said as much on Monday, when he encouraged workers to ask for larger wage rises. Company profits are soaring and fatter pay packets would of course help core inflation return to the bank’s 2 to 3 percent target.

But workers’ fears about job security are a big factor holding them back from making demands. And while cars may be an affordable luxury, houses aren’t.

One of the RBA’s biggest concerns is that a mortgage mountain that’s driven household debt to 189 percent of income becomes a long-term strain on spending. While consumption is yet to fall off a cliff, the savings rate dropped to the lowest in almost nine years in the first quarter.

“People are still spending,” said James.  “They’re just spending in different ways.”

Cheerio.

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.

Foreigners Miss Out In Japan

As the Nikkei 225 Stock Average rises toward its highest level in more than two decades, one group of investors has surprisingly missed out.

Since the start of 2016, foreigners have offloaded some $27 billion in the Asian country’s equities. While they were initially right to sell as the Nikkei 225 fell to a 20-month low in June 2016, they’ve been slow to return, even as the measure trades within 4 percent short of its highest close since 1996. In fact, a Bank of America Merrill-Lynch survey published this month showed global fund managers cut their allocations to Tokyo shares.

Strategists say overseas investors, who made big profits plowing money into Japanese equities in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s early years, simply took their eye off the ball. They’ve been diverted by markets like Europe, where valuations are attractive and political risk has receded, as far-right candidates lost in French and Dutch elections. For once, Japanese investors are much more optimistic about Japan — pushing two measures of smaller shares to the highest on record.

“Japan doesn’t seem to be foreign investors’ predominant focus,” Shusuke Yamada, chief foreign-exchange and equity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Japan, said in a phone interview. “We don’t have big events. It may not be easy for the Japanese market to attract attention.”

The Nikkei 225 has risen 35 percent from that low in June last year, while the Jasdaq Index and the Tokyo Stock Exchange Second Section gauge of smaller stocks, which are dominated by local investors, both advanced to records this week. The Nikkei 225 slipped 0.5 percent Wednesday.

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Why People Avoid Nordic Banks

Nordic banks, long considered among the safest in the world, are losing their appeal as an investment target as lenders further south start to look more attractive, according to PineBridge Investments, a multi-asset manager that oversees about $85 billion.

Graeme Bencke, the portfolio manager who heads equity strategy at PineBridge in London, says the circumstances that made banks in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland a “good investment in the post-crisis period” no longer exist.

“Now, we’re in more of an upswing and a lot of the European banks that had been in trouble, southern European in particular, are now starting to see an incremental improvement,” Bencke said in an interview in Stockholm. “So there’s a much bigger inflection point in valuation in those banks than there is in the Nordics. That’s kind of keeping us away from the Nordic banks.”

Investors have so far stayed loyal to banks in the Nordic region, where prosperous and stable economies have been relatively unscathed by the wave of financial shocks to have hit since 2008. Nordic lenders have also tended to take a more cautious approach on capital adequacy. But that investor loyalty has driven up valuations, potentially leaving less room for price gains.

Sweden’s four biggest banks are all in the top half of Bloomberg’s index of European financial stocks, based on price-earnings ratios for next year. Nordea Bank AB, the biggest Nordic lender, has seen its share price soar about 50 percent over the past 12 months, compared with a roughly 35 percent increase in the Bloomberg index.

Meanwhile, banks further south are starting to emerge from years of trouble. In Spain, Banco Santander SA’s recent takeover of Banco Popular Espanol SA (a key test of European resolution rules) shows southern Europe’s banks are successfully dealing with their weakest links. (Though Italy is still trying to figure out how to handle its struggling banks.)

“Southern European banks in particular have a lot of problem assets which had been aggressively marked on the books,” Bencke said. “These banks are now able to offload some of those problem assets at losses that are smaller than the losses they’ve already taken. So we’re starting to see again, assuming the recovery continues, it’s quite a good inflection point for those banks with more difficult assets. Which is something the market’s been waiting for for years.”

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BRICS Back

Resurgent growth is reviving one of the past decade’s hottest trades.

Emerging-market investors are again piling into the so-called BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — pushing monthly inflows and stock prices to nearly two-year highs. The bet is that a pickup in the global economy will fuel demand for the countries’ commodity exports, drive an expansion of middle-class consumption and help them shore up fiscal accounts.

Wooed by India’s efforts to streamline regulations, Brazil’s economic rebound, stabilizing prices for Russian oil exports and China’s stronger currency, traders are warming to the countries’ higher yields and better outlook for equities. It’s an abrupt reversal after they were scorched by a 40 percent drop in the biggest BRIC exchange-traded fund from the end of 2012 through early 2016 as Brazil lost its investment grade, Chinese growth slowed from a meteoric pace, Russia’s oil revenue plummeted and India’s current account deficit swelled.

“Improving fundamentals, attractive valuations, and high yields in a yield-starved world make emerging markets once again attractive, including some of the BRICs,” Jens Nystedt, a New York-based money manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management overseeing $417 billion in assets, wrote in an email.

Non-resident portfolio flows into BRIC nations rose to $166.5 billion last month, up from $28.3 billion in outflows 12 months prior, according to data compiled by the Institute of International Finance and EPFR Global. Chinese equities saw their biggest quarterly inflows in two years, while traders piled into Indian bonds at the highest level in almost three years, Bloomberg data show.

Mark Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, favors Brazil, China and India, adding that Russia will also benefit from a growth rebound. Brazilian assets will benefit as Latin America’s largest economy bounces back from two years of contractions, while Chinese investment will pick up as its foreign reserves recover from a six-year low in January, according to Steve Hooker, who helps oversee $12 billion of assets as an emerging-market money manager at Newfleet Asset Management.

Fastest Growth

Coined in 2001 by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill, “BRICs” became a ubiquitous shorthand for the fastest-growing emerging economies (other investors later capitalized the S and added South Africa to the mix).

In the decade ending Dec. 30, 2012, developing-nation equities had annual returns of 17 percent, twice those of developed nations. That changed in the taper tantrum years amid fears that the Fragile Five, which included Brazil and India, would struggle to meet high external funding needs. Responding to changing sentiment, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. shut its BRIC fund in October 2015 after losing 88 percent of its assets since a 2010 peak.

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Mt Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd.