Friday, October 31, 2014

Market Week Wrap-up Weekly Market Update: Fed Passes the QE Baton to the BoJ
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:13 PM EST

The Fed ended QE3 this week, six years after beginning the extraordinary effort to ease monetary condition in the US, and just two days later the Bank of Japan doubled down on its own QE policies. Note that the Fed retained its language on keeping interest rates low for a "considerable time" but dropped its "significant" wording in regards to slack in the US labor market. In addition, the Q3 US GDP topped expectations and grew 3.5%, according to preliminary data. Global equity markets surged higher following the events, with both the DJIA and S&P500 back at all-time closing highs on Friday, the Nikkei up 5% and the Nasdaq at its best level since February 2000. Shanghai saw more modest gains after the flash manufacturing PMI for October gained a bit and Q3 GDP came in at +7.3%. For the week, the DJIA had its biggest gain since early 2013, rising 3.4%, the S&P500 rose 2.7%, and the Nasdaq added another 3.3%.

With progress in the battle for higher inflation slowing, the BoJ caved to pressure and expanded its asset buying program, raising its annual monetary base expansion target to ¥80T from ¥60-70T in a tightly split 5-4 decision. The bank cited "weak developments in demand following consumption tax hike and a substantial decline in crude prices". Annual JGB purchases will also rise to ¥80T from ¥50T prior, while the average maturity held would rise to 7-10 years from seven prior. Subsequently, the BOJ also lowered its FY14 GDP target to 0.5% from 1.0% and core CPI forecast to 1.2% from 1.3%. USD/JPY hit seven-year highs above 112 after the announcement.

The advance look at US third quarter GDP was pretty rosy (+3.5% v +3.0%e), with the headline figure much better than expected. However, analysts were quick to point out that a big gain in government spending was responsible for much of the outperformance, while the fixed investment, exports and imports all declined. Government spending broke a long string of declines and grew at a 10% rate in the quarter. The September durable goods was negative for the second consecutive month, however the decline was much less severe that the one seen in August, and the August data was revised slightly higher.

The Russian Central Bank tried and failed to stem the ongoing collapse of the ruble. USD/RUB has been probing fresh all-time lows day after day, hitting 44 to the dollar on Friday morning, while inflation hit 8% in September and capital outflows are not slowing down. At its scheduled policy meeting on Friday morning, the Bank Rossii raised its main interest rate 150 basis points to 9.5%, three times the expected amount. The ruble strengthened momentarily, with USD/RUB dropping back to 41.25, however it popped back up above 43.00 in no time. In Ukraine news, agreement seems to have been reached in tripartite negotiations with Russia and the EU to secure gas delivery through the winter and resolve some of Ukraine's gas debt.

Crude regained some value in the first half of the week, as WTI rose from $80.60 and topped out at $82.80. At a conference in London, OPEC Secretary General El-Badri said his organization was not seeing any big change in market fundamentals, asserted current prices should not cause alarm and claimed the market was currently oversupplied by about 1 million bpd. His comments corresponded with the top, and WTI was back around $80 by Friday as fresh dollar strength and more central bank easing beat the stuffing out of commodities, including crude. Societe Generale joined several other analysts in forecasting an OPEC production ceiling cut of 1.0-1.5 bpd at the upcoming November 27th meeting.

Hewlett-Packard announced this week that it would enter the 3D printing market in 2016 with a new product that is "10x faster than any product on the market today." Shares of 3D printing names DDD, SSYS and VJET took a big dip on the news. The firm also unveiled an "immersive computing" product with dual touchscreens and a 3D scanner that would work in concert with 3D printers and could reinvent computing.

The fall earnings season is well past the halfway mark, with around four-fifths of the S&P500 having already disclosed results from the July-September period. Data shows that about 80% of these companies have beat EPS expectations. Revenue gains have made modest progress, with the aggregate gains in top-line revenue slightly higher than the average over the last four quarters. Big Oil names, including Exxon and Shell, saw low crude prices cut both ways, as better downstream results made up for worse upstream results. Visa and MasterCard did very well as spending volumes surged. Twitter tanked as investors worried about user growth, while Facebook swooned on weak guidance.

The ECB's asset purchase program is set to begin in November and there has been talk the bank might greatly expand a program that has been widely criticized. The ECB never put a total monetary value on the program, and speculation on how much ABS the bank could buy has focused on remarks made by ECB President Dragh, who said balance sheet would grow back to 2012 levels. In 2012, the ECB's balance sheet was worth €3.0 trillion at its biggest, compared to a figure of €2.0 trillion today, suggesting an ABS purchase plan of up to €1.0 trillion. On Friday a report citing ECB sources suggested that the bank is not targeting a €3.0 trillion balance sheet, in an apparent attempt to tamp down expectations and push governments to continue fiscal reforms. The euro had been slowly strengthening in the first half of the week, in the upper half of the 1.2700 handle, but after the Fed and BoJ moves, the pair dipped below 1.2500 for the first time since August 2012.

The Brazilian Real looked ready for outsized losses following the re-election of President Dilma Rousseff. USD/BRL ended last week at 2.48 and initially tested 2.55 following the election. However, the Real managed to claw its way back as the government started talking about taking a new tack in its second term. Brazil equities have begun coming back a little bit: Petrobras lost nearly 45% between mid-October and early this week, but ticked slightly higher heading into the end of the week.

The Shanghai Composite was swept higher by the surging tide in global risk appetite, ending the week up over 5% at its highest level in 20 months. China's top state-owned banks' Q3 profits were generally in line with expectations, however all of them also saw troubling increases in non-performing loans, in part due to a slump in the property sector. The silver lining for the mainland was a hint from government officials that completion of the delayed Hong Kong-Shanghai trading link has now entered the "final stage." China Stats Bureau will unveil the official October manufacturing PMI figure later tonight, with consensus pointing to a marginal bump to 51.2.