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

 

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UK Election : What Could It Mean To You.

U.K.’s citizens have just voted their next set of Parliament members.

What were the results and why should traders care? Here are a couple of answers:

Why did Theresa May call for snap elections anyway?

Back in mid-April, Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election despite her promises to wait for the May 2020 scheduled elections. The plan was to capitalize on her (and her party’s) popularity and strengthen their numbers ahead of the crucial Brexit negotiations.

Back then the Conservative Party held 330 seats, just a smidge above the 326 required to form a majority in the 650 seats of the Lower House. The Labour Party came in second (229 seats), followed by the Scottish National Party (54) and the Liberal Democrats (9).

The pound rallied at her announcement as market players and their cats had bet on a landslide win for the Tories, with polls attributing double-digit leads against the next party.

Did May’s gamble pay off?

Not even a little bit. In the weeks that followed, May’s hard stance on Brexit, two terror attacks in the U.K., a few REALLY unpopular bits in the Conservative Party manifesto, and hard campaigning from her opponents have pulled the Tories’ lead down to uncomfortable levels.

Fast forward to Election Day and now May’s party has…more regrets than seats in the Parliament.

With a voter turnout of 68.7% – the highest since 1997 – and only one more constituency left undeclared, Theresa May’s Conservative Party is expected to snag 318 seats in the Parliament, 12 fewer than when she called for the elections.

The Labour Party is expected to get 261 seats (+31 seats) while the Liberal Democrats (12) and Democratic Unionist Party (10) also added to their numbers. The Scottish National Party (35) also lost seats, though.

What does this mean for the government?

In a word, trouble. With no party reaching parliamentary majority, the U.K. officially has a “hung Parliament.”

Basically, having a hung Parliament means that it will be harder for the MPs to reach decisions. But as leader of the party with the most seats, May will be given a choice if she wants to (a) form a coalition or (b) run a minority government.

Forming a coalition means teaming up Survival-style to get the required 326 votes. In this scenario the Tories would sign a formal coalition as PM David Cameron did with the Liberal Democrats in 2010. The Tories would have to give up control, though, and likely give Cabinet positions to the other party.

Or they could choose to run a minority government and enter into “confidence and supply” agreements, wherein a small party or independent MPs will “supply” their votes on bills and “confidence” votes in exchange for progress for their pet causes.

What does this mean for Brexit negotiations?

More trouble. Remember that May wanted to reinforce their numbers to improve her bargaining position with the EU and increase chances of a “good deal” for Britain. If you recall, she has said that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

But with the Conservative Party not even getting majority, things just got a lot harder for May. Not only does she have to soften some of her stances (not all Tories are in favor of a hard Brexit), but she might have to scrap some of her plans altogether.

The lack of majority could also lead to delays in the Brexit negotiations. Formal talks was scheduled to start on June 19 but already EU’s Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted:

“Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready; timetable and EU positions are clear. Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal.”

Recall that Britain has already officially triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This means that they have two years to negotiate their way out of the EU. Tick tock.

Any other surprises?

As you can see on the chart above, Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party also lost bigly. More importantly, Alex Salmond – Sturgeon’s deputy, mentor, and a key SNP member, has lost his seat in Gordon.

This means that we won’t see a second Scottish referendum anytime soon. Already Sturgeon has shared that she would “properly think” about whether to press ahead with Referendum 2.0 after the Tories enjoyed their best performance in Scotland since 1983.

Nick Clegg, THE leader of the Lib Dems in 2010 and former Deputy Prime Minister, also lost his seat in Sheffield Hallam to Jared O’Hara of the Labour party. Yikes!

How did the markets react?

The pound took its hardest hit when exit polls – which have been good predictors of actual results – pointed to a hung parliament.

The currency also dropped by its sharpest since the EU referendum and made new lows while the final tallies were shaping up. However, it also saw retracements at the start of the London session.

FTSE 100, which includes companies that would profit from a weaker pound, opened higher today. Meanwhile, FTSE 250, which has more local companies, are marginally lower on the day.

It’s also interesting to note that utilities companies are among the biggest winners today. One possible reason is that the lack of majority would mean that the Labour Party won’t likely push through with nationalizing them while Theresa May can’t cap their bills either.

What now?

PM May revealed that she has seen the Queen and has formally asked permission to form a government.

Apparently, she’s now teaming up with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to form a coalition in time for the start of Brexit negotiations AND the opening of the new Parliamentin 10 days.

Thing is, the DUP isn’t a fan of a “hard Brexit.” DUP founder Arlene Foster once shared that “No one wants to see a hard Brexit,” adding that “no one wants to see a hard border.”

This means that, unless May convinces Foster and her gang to come over to the “hard” side, then we’ll likely see a toned down version of May’s initial Brexit plans.

Cheerio

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

 

UK OK ?

The U.K. could suffer another ratings downgrade after a General Election led to a hung parliament, Moritz Kraemer, sovereign chief ratings officer at S&P Global, said on Friday.

The U.K. lost its triple A rating after the country voted to leave the European Union in June of last year. S&P said at the time that it was worried the decision would lead to a deterioration of the U.K.’s economic performance and institutional framework.

Kraemer said on Friday that the latest election outcome proves the rating update was correct and further ones could be on the way.

“We have the outlook on the ratings still on negative indicating that further downgrade or downgrades could be in the wings going forward,” he said.

“This depends pretty much on the further outcome of the Brexit negotiations and the reality that the U.K. will face outside the EU, which is still uncertain,” Kraemer added.

Brexit talks, which were due to begin in a couple of weeks, are set to be delayed until the U.K. has a new government in place. The associated uncertainty could hurt the country’s economy by further derailing investment decisions.

Kramer noted that this was the second unnecessary referendum/election in the U.K. “This is quite a track record,” he said.

The upcoming decisions of U.K. lawmakers will be closely watched. Kathrin Muehlbronner, a Moody’s senior vice president and lead U.K. sovereign analyst, said via email: “Moody’s is monitoring the U.K.’s process of forming a new government and will assess the credit implications in due course.”

“As previously stated, the future path of the U.K. sovereign rating will be largely driven by two factors: first, the outcome of the U.K.’s negotiations on leaving the European Union and the implications this has for the country’s growth outlook; Second, fiscal developments, given the country’s fiscal deficit and rising public debt,” she added.

The outcome of the election also seemed to indicate that voters are tired of austerity policies.

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

South Africa Recession

South Africa has entered recession for the first time in eight years, data showed on Tuesday, piling pressure on a government facing corruption allegations and credit downgrades.

Data from Statistics South Africa showed the first quarter contraction was led by weak manufacturing and trade, suggesting high unemployment and stagnant wages were dragging down South Africa’s long-resilient consumer sector, analysts said.

Political instability, high unemployment and credit ratings downgrades have dented business and consumer confidence in South Africa and the rand extended its losses against the dollar, while government bonds also weakened.

South Africa’s economy contracted by 0.7 percent in the first three months of 2017 after shrinking by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, lagging market expectations of a quarter-on-quarter GDP expansion of 0.9 percent.

It was the first time two consecutive quarters showed contraction — a definition of recession — since the second quarter of 2009, although there have been individual quarters of so-called negative growth in more recent years.

A consumer frenzy helped the South African economy grow by an average 5 percent a year in the five years before the 2009 recession, but it has struggled to register much growth since.

“The slowdown in Q1 was due to much worse results from usually stable consumer-facing sectors that had been the key drivers of growth in recent years,” Capital Economics Africa economist John Ashbourne said.

The worst performing sector was trade, catering and accommodation, which contracted by 5.9 percent, while manufacturing – one of the key sectors – fell by 3.7 percent.

Standard Chartered Bank’s Chief Africa Economist Razia Khan said the “awful” data showed weakness where it was not expected.

“Economy in tatters”

The poor growth numbers will pile more pressure on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to get the economy back on track faster as it tries to stave off further credit ratings downgrades and stem falling voter support.

Pressure on President Jacob Zuma, including from within the ANC, has risen since a controversial cabinet reshuffle in March that led to downgrades to “junk” status by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch and allegations of influence peddling.

Zuma has denied any wrongdoing over the allegations.

Corruption allegations escalated when local media reported this week on more than 100,000 leaked emails they say show inappropriate interference in lucrative tenders.

“Our economy is now in tatters as a direct result of an ANC government which is corrupt to the core and has no plan for our economy,” Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said.

South Africa’s Treasury has said it would work to finalise policies critical for boosting confidence and economic growth.

S&P Global Ratings and Fitch last week said risks to South Africa’s ratings include weak economic growth and political uncertainty ahead of the ANC conference in December when a successor to Zuma as party leader will be chosen.

Zuma can remain as head of state until an election in 2019.

Moody’s — whose Baa2 rating is two notches above “junk” — is reviewing South Africa for a possible downgrade.

Cheerio

The Pinstripe and Bowler Club shares information with MF Solutions Ltd

Commodity Rally – Maybe !

Commodity prices usually rally as the U.S. Federal Reserve heads into a hiking cycle, but it might be different this time, Goldman Sachs said in a note Monday.

Historically, “commodities perform the best when the Fed is raising rates,” Goldman said. “This makes intuitive sense because the reason why the Fed raises interest rates is that the economy displays signs of overheating. Strong aggregate demand and rising wage and price inflation are precisely the time when commodities perform the best.”

It added that rising interest rates in China also tend to coincide with better commodities performance, noting the mainland’s “outsized role” in demand.

That’s a driver of Goldman’s overweight call on commodities, with expectations for solid performance over the coming year as the Fed raises rates and the labor market runs at full employment.

But Goldman pointed to three risks that could derail its view.

Firstly, it noted that technology changes and U.S. shale oil production could have “a profound impact” on commodity returns.

“While conventional oil production takes time to ramp up, the response time for shale is much shorter,” it said. “This has increased the oil supply elasticity, which may contribute to lower commodities returns relative to historical experience even as demand strengthens.”

Secondly, Goldman said the China tailwind may be waning.

As an example, it cited China’s demand for refined copper, which rose to 10.2 million tons in 2015 from 660,000 tons in 1990, totalling 90 percent of the total global growth in copper demand.

“Going forward, the growth in the Chinese demand for industrial metals is likely to be much more muted, also contributing to lower commodities returns relative to historical experience,” Goldman said.

Finally, Goldman also pointed to a risk from the Fed’s hiking cycle itself, noting that the current pace has been much slower compared with previous cycles amid a gradual US and global economic recovery.

“While our U.S. economists expect three hikes this year and another four hikes in 2018, the fact that this hiking cycle has been different from previous hiking cycles imply that commodities returns may also differ from their historical performance,” it said.

Cheerio

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

 

Feddy Steady

U.S. central bankers stuck to their outlook for gradual monetary-policy tightening after they left interest rates unchanged and showed no alarm over recent economic weakness.

Federal Reserve officials were unusually explicit in their statement, released Wednesday following a two-day meeting in Washington, indicating that a disappointing first quarter wouldn’t knock the committee off its path to raise rates two more times this year after a hike in March.

“The committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory,” the Federal Open Market Committee said. “Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced.”

The widely expected decision contained no concrete commitment to the timing of the next rate increase. Even so, investors increased bets on a move in June after absorbing the Fed’s sanguine assessment of the outlook and its encouraging observations on inflation, following data showing first-quarter economic growth of 0.7 percent and monthly price declines in March.

“Nothing in the statement today, which was voted unanimously by the FOMC, leads me to believe that the Fed is even close to changing its mind on rates,” Roberto Perli, a partner at Cornerstone Macro LLC in Washington, wrote in a note to clients. “Base case is for a couple more rate hikes this year — probably in June and September — and for the beginning of balance sheet shrinkage in December.”

The Fed didn’t signal any change to its balance sheet policy. It is discussing how to begin shrinking its $4.5 trillion in holdings, and officials have said they hope to release a plan this year. They may start unwinding by the end of 2017, though that hinges on economic conditions.

The jobless rate has fallen to a level officials see as consistent with their maximum-employment mandate, and inflation is near the Fed’s 2 percent goal, even if price gains slowed in March. A core measure that strips out food and fuel was 1.6 percent on an annual basis, based on Commerce Department data, and headline inflation stood at 1.8 percent.

“Inflation measured on a 12-month basis recently has been running close to the committee’s 2 percent longer-run objective,” the Fed said. Household spending rose “only modestly” but the fundamentals underpinning consumption growth “remained solid.”

“The statement makes it very clear that the Fed does not take the reported slowdown in first-quarter growth seriously,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Ltd., wrote in an email to clients.

Fed-Speak Friday

The decision to leave the target federal funds rate unchanged in a range of 0.75 percent to 1 percent was unanimous and in line with forecasts. Fed Chair Janet Yellen did not have a press conference after this meeting. But she and at least five other Fed officials are scheduled to speak on Friday, giving policy makers a chance to explain their decision more fully.

Employers continued to hire at the start of 2017, averaging 178,000 net new jobs a month in the first quarter, and signs of labor-market tightness suggest wage growth will pick up further. The unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in March, near or below most estimates for its longer-run sustainable level. April’s figures are due Friday from the Labor Department.

The Fed’s next meeting will take place June 13-14 in Washington. That decision will come alongside officials’ updated quarterly economic projections and will be followed by a press conference with Yellen.

Investors increased the likelihood of a move next month to around 65 percent, according to pricing in federal funds futures contracts, compared to 60 percent before the FOMC decision was announced.

“This glass-half-full statement leaves the door wide open to a June hike, provided, of course, that the recent data letdowns are indeed transitory,” Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote in a note to clients. “We expect this will be the case.”

Cheerio.

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

China One Way – US The Other.

The Chinese and U.S. stock markets are going in opposite directions.

An intensifying crackdown against leverage in Asia’s biggest economy has rocked the hither-to unflappable Shanghai Composite Index over the past week, sending it to a three-month low last session. In the U.S., the largest equity market is embracing a risk rally spurred by the French election, with the S&P 500 Index continuing to build on reflation-trade gains ignited by Donald Trump’s November victory.

The divergence means the two markets are the least in tune since August 2008 — just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. unleashed chaos on the global financial system.

Chinese officials have mainly kept mainland stocks on a tight rein after routs in mid-2015 and the start of 2016 reverberated through world financial markets. Until Monday’s 1.4 percent slump, the Shanghai Composite Index hadn’t fallen more than 1 percent for 86 trading days.

As Beijing’s focus on reducing risk in the financial system shifted from money-market tightening and reducing leverage to containing speculation and irregular trading, the two markets starting moving in opposite directions in the past month.

In one sense, it’s a sign that investors overseas aren’t as worried about Chinese market ructions as they were in previous years — perhaps partly thanks to underlying strength in China’s economy. Given how mainland stocks have become increasingly linked to global markets, however, the divergence may prove to be a short-term phenomenon, according to Daniel So, a strategist at CMB International Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong.

“The Chinese government is squeezing speculation out of the market and while investors adjust, it will inevitably lag behind other parts of the world,” So said.

For now, the split with the U.S. is particularly marked, with the Shanghai Composite’s 30-day correlation with the Bank of New York Mellon index of Chinese American depository receipts approaching zero. The Chinese ADR market — dominated by technology companies like Alibaba Group has climbed 8.6 percent since Trump was elected U.S. president, while the state-company-led Shanghai Composite is down 0.6 percent.

China’s deleveraging drive and the renewed focus on market irregularities have put the mainland share market into a “bad mood,” but officials aren’t likely to tolerate a lot of instability ahead of the Communist Party’s twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle later this year, said George Magnus, a former adviser to UBS Group AG and current associate at the University of Oxford’s China Centre.

‘Minimum Necessary’

“The authorities are trying to calm down leverage and housing at the margin but will not go any further than the minimum necessary,” he said. “If it looks as though regulatory tightening is delivering unfavorable outcomes, and risks any form of instability, you won’t be able to say the world ‘backtrack’ fast enough.”

As long as growth remains stable, though, the regulatory moves may continue. That would be good for the economy over the longer term, said Alex Wolf, a Hong Kong-based senior emerging markets economist at Standard Life Investments Ltd. “Successful efforts at deleveraging and reducing credit to nonbank financial institutions can reduce overall systemic risk.”

Two months ago, Chinese markets were a picture of calm , with mainland stock volatility near the lowest since 2014 and bond yields falling as money-market rates subsided. Tuesday, the Shanghai Composite closed up less than 0.2 percent, after sinking 2.3 percent last week.

For Adrian Zuercher, head of Asia Pacific asset allocation at UBS’s private banking arm in Hong Kong, the weaker relationship between Chinese shares and other markets is a good thing, and is likely to become more marked.

“All these regulations that are taking place are done in a way that should make China less risky,” he said. “The economy is on a solid footing and that’s why they can do some of the measures. We will probably see more international investors coming into China on the fixed income and equity side.”

Cheerio.

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