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Long-term bond yields rise. Will the Fed conduct “Operation Twist 2”?
Following Jerome Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole last week, 30-year bond yields advanced to the highest level for two months on Friday. There are signs that the market expects consumer inflation to accelerate, and these expectations hit the far end of the yield curve hardest due to longer maturity.

As the Fed needs to keep borrowing costs under control, including long-term rates, the outflow of investors from long-term bonds started to gradually shape expectations that this demand will be replaced by the Fed purchases on the open market, i.e. increased QE. However, it is not clear how much the yields should rise, that the Central Bank started to worry.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Fed has bought nearly $2 tn in government bonds from the open market bringing its Treasury holdings to $4.36 tn. Short bonds prevailed in the composition of purchases.

In a similar situation after the GFC, when the yields of long-term bonds began to rise faster than short ones (steepening of the yield curve), the Fed resorted to a technique, which consisted in changing the composition of treasuries on the balance sheet – selling short and using proceeds to buy long-term bonds (so-called operation twist). The Fed began to do this in September 2011, curiously, it coincided with gold making a U-turn after it reached the then all-time high of $1900:



Perhaps this happened because investors tried to front-run purchases of the Fed, dumping safe gold and increasing demand for long-term bonds anticipating large buyer would soon appear on the market. If the Fed hints in September that it is interested in conducting “Operation Twist 2” there is a risk that the market reaction may be similar. It is necessary to closely monitor how the Central Bank will comment/react to the rally of long-term yields.

Consumer inflation in the US (Core PCE metric) accelerated in July, which was the expected development amid data on unemployment and retail sales. Consistent with the volatility in economic data in the post-pandemic period, consumer spending also exceeded expectations (1.9% monthly growth, 1.5% forecast), so the effect was small. Much more interesting and unexpected was the report from U. Michigan on consumer sentiment and expectations for August. It is August that is the hypothetical starting point for the second phase of the US economic recovery – the phase of deceleration, so the data for August may pave the way for risk appetite in the market. In August, the sentiment index rose slightly – from 72.5 to 74.1 points, remaining in the same depressive range after it plunged in April.

The more important point of the report was inflation expectations. They rose to 3.1% in August, up from 3.0% in July, the report showed on Friday. Market metric of inflation expectations – the difference between the yield on unprotected and inflation-protected bonds reacted immediately, strengthening to 1.77%, the highest since mid-January 2020:



Since the Fed decided to play openly, announcing its readiness to keep rates low for a long time and tolerate inflation, the risk of a further decline in the dollar increases due to increasing risk of acceleration of inflation expectations including due to the Fed commitment.
 

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Bears in SPX Still Struggle to Make Downside a Base Case
US stock futures declined on Wednesday, followed by European indices, promising a tough day for those who are betting on extension of Wednesday bounce. S&P 500 futures slipped below 3400 points, but moderate selling indicates that the acute phase of the correction had passed and a period of “healthy” consolidation in the 3250-3400 range is coming.

Short-term tests below the range are possible, however, there are no fundamental catalysts in sight nor U-turn in market sentiments for consolidation below the lower bound.



On September 4, when the S&P500 dropped below 3,400, Goldman Sachs maintained its year-end projection of 3,600. The presidential election now poses the greatest risk as Trump is again betting on anti-Chinese rhetoric and “bring back manufacturing jobs in the US.” This adds uncertainty to the political and economic course of the next US leader. It is unknown how far he can go in his campaign pledges. So far, the incumbent has threatened to strip firms from federal contracts which try to save on labor by moving jobs to China.

Corporate reporting of the US firms included in the S&P 500 for the second quarter beat forecasts in 23.1% of cases (data from Lord Abbett), which is a way higher than 4.7%, the average for the previous 5 years. In the context of yield suppression in alternative asset classes better-than-expected 2Q performance may give some justification to their market valuations.

The US Senate, controlled by Republicans, is going to vote on a fiscal package, the proposed volume of which is significantly thinner compared to previous proposals and amounts to only $300 billion. This is much less than what the Democrats want to pass ($2 tn). Approval of a fiscal package worth at least $1tn would be a powerful shot of optimism for risk assets, but time shows that the GOP wants to approve less and less, increasing uncertainty about the final size date of approval.

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

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

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Stalemate in Fiscal Talks, Growing Slack in eco Data put a dent in Equities Rally
US equities were unable to develop positive start of Thursday session and bulls ceded ground to sellers later. There may be growing conviction in the market that US lawmakers (both the Fed and Congress) will not be able to enact monetary or fiscal support before the US presidential elections. This is a negative scenario for equity markets which reinforces the case for consolidation.

Yesterday I wrote that the GOP wanted to adopt skinny fiscal package – in the amount of only $300 billion. The vote on it was scheduled for Thursday. The vote failed and it looks like that the talks headed for a dead end.

A break below 3300 points in SPX early in the session today may set persistent corrective tone for risky assets extending for the rest of the session. However, rising US index futures indicate that breaking support won’t be an easy task.

In the economic calendar, the focus is on the US CPI release for August. Core inflation is expected at 1.6%, and the market will be more sensitive to negative deviations from the forecast than positive ones. Market response to accelerating inflation is limited by the Fed’s new “patient” inflationary stance (FAIT). Slowing inflation in the US is critical for sentiment, since nothing can be opposed to it yet due to the stalemate in fiscal negotiations. Yesterday’s PPI release which beat estimates indicates that inflation pressure could rise in the prices of consumer goods as well.

The report on unemployment claims in the US released on Thursday was a blow to market optimism. The number of unemployed increased for the fourth consecutive week. This is a subtle signal that slack in economic activity is growing in the US.



Key points from the September ECB meeting

Earlier in this week I wrote that the chance for the resumption of EURUSD rally is high, since the ECB cannot stop the growth of the Euro with any specific measures. This statement can be strengthened by considering key meeting takeaways:

  • The ECB’s response to the Fed’s new inflation targeting concept is in the works, so the euro could not get anything out of it;
  • Inflation forecasts for 2020, 2021 are unexpectedly revised upwards – the ECB’s bias to ease policy becomes lower;
  • The ECB is closely monitoring the exchange rate of the euro and believes that the expensive euro slows inflation. However, targeting of Euro exchange rate is not included in monetary policy objectives. This is the verbal intervention that we talked about, and which did not make an impression on the euro. The base scenario for EURUSD, despite the growing chances of the dollar bullish pullback in the next two weeks, is continue rally towards 1.25 level.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.

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

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The RBA left cash rate unchanged on Tuesday but gave clear-cut indications that it wants to float additional easing measures at the next meeting to stimulate hiring.

“The Board continues to consider how additional monetary easing could support jobs as the economy opens up further”, the policy statement said.
Three out of four major Australian banks - Westpac, NAB and ANZ expect the central bank to cut the cash rate in November.

The implicit pledge of the RBA to reduce borrowing costs was made just before the release of the government's budget for 2020/21. The government is expected to ramp up borrowing, but accommodative policy of the RBA should help the government bond market to absorb increased supply.
We can also notice a subtle shift in emphasis in the policy statement towards employment goals (instead of routine discussion of inflation targets) which is reminiscent of the Fed’s shift toward flexible average inflation targeting policy.If it’s true, then the RBA may be willing to tolerate higher inflation as well in exchange for lower future unemployment. Of course, this development bodes ill for the national currency, AUD.

From the technical perspective the RBA’s dovish bias helped AUDUSD to complete formation of the double-top reversal pattern in the pullback that started on September 28, which in turn was part of the bearish trend initiated in September:


A breakthrough of the local minimum at 0.7130 should allow us to consider targets at 0.7080 and 0.70 levels.

The AUDUSD decline of more than 5% in September and the episode of "resistance" since September 28 were consistent with waves of correction and rally in equity markets, indicating a link between the events. Then a further decline in AUDUSD suggests a nix in the stock markets, which is very likely to happen due to upcoming pre-election volatility. Earlier, retail brokers in the US (such as IB) announced an increase in initial and maintenance margins for some instruments, mentioning the risks of "elevated volatility" ahead of the elections.

The trade balance of Australia in August was almost half of the forecast (2.64 billion against 5.15 billion Australian dollars), which indicates a reduction in exports. Business activity in Australia is especially sensitive to the dynamics of foreign trade, therefore, the weakening of exports is an additional blow to Australian assets and hence the demand for AUD.

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.
High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% and 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 

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Last Chance for Trump to Narrow the gap​

Biden’s lead in polls declined last week, albeit slightly, which still kept markets under pressure. The event which jumps into the foreground this week is the second presidential debate. It is Trump's last big chance before the election to leap forward and narrow the lead. In my opinion, if Trump manages to weaken Biden’s advantage, it will be a risk-off event since this outcome increases the chance of contested elections (which is a great source of uncertainty). Extension of Biden’s lead should be a boon for the markets helping them to extend the rally.

Important data on the US economy this week will be new home sales, the Fed's Beige Book and, of course, the initial jobless claims, which will receive a little more attention as the jobs market exhibited some weakness last week. The rest of the calendar for America is not particularly remarkable.
On Monday, the USD index began to decline aggressively, continuing the downward trend from September 25. Recall that at the same time the probability of Biden's victory and the probability of a complete victory for the Democrats began to rise:


The Covid situation in the United States was generally calm in September, but became alarming in early October:

The numbers are not so critical yet to tighten measures (and crash the market), but let’s keep the finger on the pulse.
In my opinion, there are little grounds to expect some surprise in Trump performance on the debates and expectations that Biden will extend or retain its lead should drive USD decline this week. The target for USD index is 93.00 level and 1.1830 - 1.1850 in EURUSD.
The data on Chinese economy left a mixed impression. GDP in the third quarter increased by 4.9% (forecast 5.2%), but the growth of industrial production in September (which is tied to external demand) beat expectations - 6.9% against the forecast of 5.8%. Retail sales jumped 3.3% YoY last month, against a more modest forecast of 1.8%. Unemployment has dropped.

Today, a meeting of the OPEC + joint monitoring commission is scheduled, at which it will be discussed how responsibly the participants are approaching production cuts. Europe has tightened measures due to rising incidence of Covid-19, which curbs fuel demand and OPEC is increasingly aware of the need to adjust supply. Specific decisions, however, may happen at the full OPEC+ meeting due on November 30 - December 1, but today's meeting should contribute to the discussion about what OPEC + will do at the full meeting.

COT data showed that long positions of Brent speculators increased by 37,531 lots in the last reporting week. The net position increased to 120,108 lots. Most of the changes occurred in short covering - 28K out of 37K (~ 75%). It looks like speculators were unwilling to stay short ahead of news from OPEC + this week which creates opportunity for prices to test some monthly resistance levels:
 

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SPX and USD Index: What to Expect in the Second Half of the Week?​


Looking at recent volatility, especially vigorous move to the upside, stock markets could rally on hopes that fiscal deal will be approved before the elections. But on Tuesday, much hoped talks fell through once again. House Speaker Pelosi and Mnuchin still “hold hope” and continue tense negotiations almost 24/7, but rumors suggest that there is no progress on key differences. Reuters reported that the GOP’s head in the Senate Mitch McConnell would not want to approved aid before the elections.
The SPX was unable to sustain gains, bouncing down from the level of 3500 last week, without much upside impulses this week. The slide was accompanied by a sharp decline of the odds of Democratic sweep outcome:

On the hourly chart we see that 200-day SMA test failed, but on October 19 the market gave up important support:

Now the battle unfolds for the horizontal level of 3420. It has sustained multiple tests so far due to weak sellers’ indecision, but chances are good that we will go lower with 50-day MA on the daily chart (the next important support at 3400) as the next target. Depending on the struggle at the level it will be seen whether the prospects remain to switch quickly to the growth. Accordingly, there is an opportunity for a near-term short trade, and a pause is assumed for buyers, since they can wait for more discount.
The dollar sold heavily in line with the ideas set forth in my Monday post. The tests of 93.00 and 92.76 levels have been successfully complete and, in my view, it is time to correct upwards with potential entries in the 92.70 - 92.45 area. For EURUSD, this should be the zone 1.1890 - 1.19160:

The reason is potential downside in the US stock market.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.
High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% and 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 

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SPX Tests 50-day SMA at 3400 Points. Will the Level Hold?​


The "jingle" from the Congress, Treasury and the US administration about coronavirus aid was hollow again. Controversial messages culminated in Trump's trash talk in Twitter that Democrats want to hand out cash to Democratic states - poorly run and with high crime rates. Who would doubt that the fiscal deal is nothing more than a convenient opportunity to please traditional and potential voters and earn extra political points. The horse trading that we observe looks like attempts to hog the covers.
As long as the harm from delaying the aid (i.e. wrath of constituents) does not outweigh the expected political gain from striking a deal with an opposing party, it makes sense to delay it. There is no urgent need, judging by the US labor market data and retail sales, yet. Democrats can deliberately pursue disadvantageous for the GOP channels of cash distribution, based on Biden's lead in polls.
It is not entirely clear why futures reacted up yesterday after so many promises and hopes, but awareness came quickly. The test of 3400 level in SPX futures, which we discussed yesterday, is almost complete, the USD is correcting upward, also in line with yesterday post:

SPX sellers weren’t especially confident or assertive yesterday, but this is just the first test of important level. 200-hour SMA has flipped down but given that the lead of Biden and Democrats in polls has retraced slightly (which drives up the odds of contested elections i), there is little reason to switch to brisk rally and a slightly larger correction and a second test of the 50-SMA are likely.
The situation with the virus in the US continues to be tense, the news front is filled with reports of some kind of new measures there. Europe also actively dampens optimism. I would not be in a hurry to go into longs on the benchmark, even at 3400 level.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.
High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% and 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 

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EURUSD: Case for Deeper Pullback as Markets Enter Turbulent Pre-election Week​


US index futures slipped into negative territory on Monday as the greenback went on a massive offensive (gained both against major and EM currencies). Oil bounced down. US 10yr bond yield dropped indicating some fresh demand for risk-free assets. There are good chances that the last week before the US elections will be marked by risk-off, as by the end of last week there was little confidence that Trump would not resist the outcome of the elections.
Another important theme for the markets is the number of Covid-19 new cases in the US, which has set a new record:


In my view, US government and local authorities currently don’t have means to resist other than returning part of restrictions, decreasing mobility and thus increasing social distancing. But they will probably be less severe than in the first wave. Nevertheless, as we have already seen with the example of European assets, these measures weigh heavily on market sentiments. While the US stock market compensated for the fall in September with subsequent rebound, European equities failed to soar in the same fashion, remaining largely in consolidation mode.
In addition, on Friday we saw the indexes of activity in the EU service sector for September, which behaved significantly worse than the manufacturing ones, i.e. services business is suffering again.
The ECB will hold a policy meeting this week, where the focus will be on regulator's response to the recent weakening of activity in the service sectors and downgrade of the EU growth forecasts by market experts. Together with increased demand for USD on risk-aversion, I would consider another downside correction in EURUSD this week with targets at 1.178 and 1.17:

In addition, the plight of the EU services sector suggests that soon the fiscal or monetary authorities will have to offer some substantial monetary cushion, putting medium-term pressure on the Euro.
Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.
High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% and 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 

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What can we expect from the EURUSD after the ECB meeting?​


As expected, EURUSD crashed after the ECB meeting on Thursday, as policymakers almost openly stated that the central bank will continue to ease credit conditions in December. The only question is what policy instruments will be involved (depo rate cut, increase in QE, expansion of TLTRO or increased asset-purchases within the PEPP). The coronavirus impacts began without warning, causing the ECB to act almost preemptively:

All members of the ECB governing council unanimously supported the need for intervention in December. Recent tightening of social restrictions in Europe threaten to plunge the economy into another recession (this becomes the baseline scenario now!).
ECB President Lagarde announced that all instruments will undergo recalibration. In fact, this means that in December a mix of a rate cut, an increase in QE, etc. can be announced. Amid a pause in the actions of other central banks, yesterday's announcement by Lagarde is a very hard blow for the euro. Common currency was sold much faster than expected.
As a result, a noticeable imbalance of statements in favor of the ECB is formed in the central bank policy environment. The virus activity in the US has not yet forced the Fed to announce similar easing of credit conditions, which could balance the pressure on the euro in EURUSD. Also, judging from the dynamics of the disease in the United States, no urgent statements by the Fed are expected:

The United States has already “visited” the ~ 70K daily case zone in July, so I think that the US is quite away from the critical point of depletion of healthcare reserves. Therefore, there is no need to impose tougher curbs or introduce lockdowns. This means that there is no need for the Fed to rush to ease monetary policy. Hence, the Central Bank policy imbalance will linger for some time which should be properly priced in the Euro.
I expect that the pressure on the euro will continue in November and most likely we will see a breakthrough of the September low in EURUSD (1.161) after the elections.
 

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German Government may be Preparing a Surprise for the Markets​


Increasing social restrictions in the US in response to unabated advance of coronavirus cases appears to be a convenient reason to extend stocks correction on Thursday. SPY and QQQ closed down 1.2% and 0.74% on Wednesday while decline of index futures on Thursday suggests that US markets are likely to open lower today. USD index, bouncing to the upside is an extra signal of strong risk-off mood as key bullish catalysts (Biden’s win, vaccine news) have been already reflected in prices.
The release of manufacturing activity figures from the Philly Fed, initial claims for unemployment benefits, US home sales today are expected to pass unnoticed as the focus is on the short-term impact of the new social curbs. New York's decision to move schools to distance learning was a punch to economic recovery as this may also lock at home a good part of economically active population (i.e. parents). In addition, it leaves the question open about extension of restrictions as the path to new records appears to be unchecked. Meanwhile, the daily growth in the US has renewed record this week exceeding 190K cases, while the 7-day trend remains upward:

Note that the Europe brought its epi curves under control after more or less strict restrictions were introduced. The United States will probably have to follow the same path.
It is important to keep tab on the deadlines for extension/easing of lockdowns in Europe as potential catalysts for stocks decline/rebound:

Germany decides on the current lockdown on November 30, but today the head of the Koch Institute (advising the government on the epidemic) apparently has tried to leave a room for a possible extension, stating the following:

So, on November 30, there is a chance to see a shocking announcement from German authorities and current price action in equities may reflect these concerns already.
On November 22, the decision on lockdowns is expected in Italy, the shape of the epi curve there, as well as in Germany, draws the second peak (see chart below). On this basis, we can assume that Italy decision can help to predict German’s one:

Disclaimer: The material provided is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice. The views, information, or opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not to the author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual or company.
High Risk Warning: CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75% and 72% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with Tickmill UK Ltd and Tickmill Europe Ltd respectively. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
 
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