Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Wednesday Watch

Evening Headlines

  • Chinese Stocks Extend Monthly Rout as Energy Producers Decline. Chinese stocks dropped, extending last month’s rout, as traders unwound bullish bets and plunging oil prices weighed on energy producers. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.2 percent to 2,717.03 at 10:33 a.m., extending its slide this year to 23 percent. PetroChina Co. slid to a one week-low, leading energy companies lower. Developers eked out gains after the central bank lowered mortgage down payments for first-home buyers. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index tumbled 3 percent, heading for its lowest close since March 2009.
  • China survey shows consumers pessimistic for first time. China's eternally optimistic consumers have turned pessimistic, joining bankers and entrepreneurs. An index of "future income confidence" based on a quarterly survey of consumers by the central bank fell below the mid-point of 50 for the first time ever in December. A separate sentiment gauge for entrepreneurs by the the People's Bank of China fell into pessimistic territory for the first time since 2009, and now is at a record low, while a survey of bankers shows they've been getting more pessimistic for five straight quarters. 
  • Yuan Options Most Bearish in Asia as Traders Ready to Fight PBOC. (video) Traders are paying more to bet on a yuan decline with options than they do for any other Asian currency, suggesting bears are regrouping after being thwarted by the central bank last month. The extra cost for three-month options to sell the yuan against the dollar in the Hong Kong market over contracts to buy jumped in January by the most since 2011, approaching the record seen after its Aug. 11 devaluation. The value of contracts carrying the right to sell the yuan at or beyond 7 per dollar -- 5.5 percent weaker than the current spot rate -- surged more than 50 percent last month.
  • Aussie Woes as China Slows Seen in Record Trade Deficit: Chart. As China switches gears away from heavy investment and toward consumption, the reverberations are being felt Down Under. Prices for Australia’s biggest export, iron ore, have slumped and the country’s trade position has steadily deteriorated, culminating in a record A$32.7 billion ($22.9 billion) deficit in 2015, according to data dating back to 1971.
  • Hong Kong Property Stock Gloom Seen Deepening in Options Market. (graph) As Hong Kong property prices slump with real estate stocks, investors are looking to the options market for protection. Traders paid the most in four years in January to hedge against losses on Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. versus the cost of bullish bets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A similar pattern emerged in options on Wharf Holdings Ltd. A measure of the city’s property stocks is down 33 percent in the past year, with losses accelerating in January as the Hong Kong dollar weakened and real-estate sales fell to the lowest in at least 25 years. “Pressure on share prices in the sector will persist," said Alfred Lau, analyst at Bocom International Holdings Co. “Investors’ concern is deepening on faster-than-expected Hong Kong capital outflow."
  • Hong Kong's Last Property Slump Saw Prices Fall by 70%: Chart.
  • Won Declines to Two-Week Low With Stocks as Bonds Extend Rally. South Korea’swon fell to a two-week low and stocks joined a rout in Asian equities as an overnight drop in oil prices deterred risk-taking. Downside risks for South Korea’s exports may increase as China’s economy and oil prices are unlikely to recover in the short term, Trade Minister Joo Hyung Hwan said in a statement Wednesday. Crude retreated below $30 a barrel in New York and is down about 20 percent this year as increasing U.S. stockpiles exacerbate a global glut. Sovereign bonds rallied, pushing the yields to fresh lows, as investors sought the relative safety of government debt. North Korea said it will launch a long-range rocket between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25 to put a satellite in orbit, following its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The won dropped 0.5 percent to 1,212.80 a dollar as of 10:12 a.m. in Seoul, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
  • Yen Loses Half Post-BOJ Slide as Japan Yield Drops to G-7 Record. Negative Japanese policy rates have pushed the yield on the nation’s benchmark bond to the lowest among Group-of-Seven economies, but it’s not working its magic on the yen or domestic stocks, which are reversing course as a renewed selloff in crude oil makes investors risk-averse.
  • Stock Rout Deepens in Asia as Oil Slumps Below $30; Yen Climbs. Asian stocks tumbled for a second day as Nomura Holdings Inc. reported disappointing earnings and oil’s slump below $30 a barrel eroded investor confidence in global economic growth. Demand for the safest assets boosted the yen and government bonds.Japan’s Topix index sank the most in two weeks as Nomura plunged 12 percent, the biggest decline since 2011. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index retreated 2.3 percent as of 10:36 a.m. Hong Kong time, with more than 17 stocks falling for each one that rose. Nomura, which reported a 49 percent drop in third-quarter profit, was among the biggest drags on the regional index and helped send the Topix to a 3.3 percent slump. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies in Hong Kong sank 3 percent, despite a move by the central bank late Tuesday to prop up the Chinese real estate sector.
  • Oil Extends Slide Below $30 as U.S. Supplies Seen Expanding Glut. Oil extended its decline below $30 a barrel after the biggest two-day drop in almost seven years as U.S. industry data showed crude stockpiles increased, exacerbating a global surplus. Futures decreased as much as 0.7 percent in New York after falling 11 percent the previous two sessions, the most since March 2009. Inventories expanded by 3.8 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute was said to report Tuesday. A government report Wednesday is forecast to show supplies climbed by 4 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg survey. Exxon Mobil Corp. is cutting its drilling budget to a 10-year low amid the price slump.
  • Oil Industry's Plan to Keep Investors Happy: Borrow More Money. The world’s largest oil companies have a plan to weather the worst market in over a decade: borrow more money. Major oil companies faced with the lowest crude prices since 2003, capital spending budgets with little left to cut and strong commitments to their dividends will have to take on billions in debt this year as they await a market rebound. Take BP Plc, whose net debt rose by almost $5 billion in 2015. After reporting a record annual loss on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said he would borrow billions more if it was needed to sustain investor dividends.
  • If You're Wondering How Low U.S. Gas Can Go, Check the Rig Count. (graph) U.S. natural gas just fell below $2 per million British thermal units for the third time in three months and futures are at the lowest level for this time of year since 1999. For an idea of how long this rout will last, consider the 121 rigs left drilling for the fuel in the U.S. That’s the lowest count since 1987, down from a peak of 1,606. And yet, the U.S. government’s latest monthly data show production continues to rise.
  • Exxon(XOM) Faces First Downgrade Since Depression as Oil Rout Worsens. Exxon Mobil Corp., one of three U.S. companies with Standard & Poor’s highest rating, is facing its first downgrade in 86 years as the worst crude-market collapse in a generation strangles oil producers of cash. For Exxon, that would be a historic event: the global explorer that traces its roots to the 19th century and John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust has been rated AAA by S&P since 1930. The oil giant was placed on credit watch with negative implications because its credit measures probably will remain weak through 2018, S&P said Tuesday. “We get value from our AAA credit rating in our business,” Exxon’s Vice President of Investor Relations Jeffrey Woodbury said during a conference call with analysts before the credit review was announced. “Whether it be access to financial markets or access to resources, there is a benefit that we get from it, and we see it as being important.” The world’s five largest oil explorers had their credit ratings cut or threatened with downgrade as the market crash undermines their ability to pay debts, dividends and rig leases. For most of the oil industry, slashing drilling budgets and other cost-cutting “are insufficient to stem the meaningful deterioration expected in credit measures over the next few years,” S&P said. 
  • Credit Market Fear Gauge Jumps as Oil Plunge Renews Global Rout. Credit markets were ensnared in the global equities selloff Tuesday, with measures of corporate default risk in the U.S. jumping to a two-week high. The risk premium on the Markit CDX North American High Yield Index, a credit-default swaps benchmark tied to the debt of 100 speculative-grade companies, jumped 26 basis points to 536 basis points at 4:32 p.m. in New York. A similar index for investment-grade debt jumped 4.6 basis points to 108.652, also a two-week high. Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasuries dropped to the lowest in almost 10 months Tuesday, as declines in stocks and oil again darkened outlook for global growth. Amid the worst commodities rout in a generation, Standard & Poor’s downgraded some of the biggest U.S. explorers, including Chevron Corp., Hess Corp., Continental Resources Inc. and Devon Energy Corp. “Growth concerns are still wreaking havoc, fundamentals have deteriorated, default rates are increasing and there is a huge influx of fallen angels which has everyone running for the hills,” said Michael Collins, a portfolio manager at Prudential Investment Management Inc. 
  • Goldman(GS) Says Iron Ore Faces Extra Pressure From China Steel Cuts. Iron ore prices that have been battered by global oversupply may face additional pressure as China’s central government steps up efforts to cut back steel capacity in the world’s top producer, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The State Council’s plan to reduce the industry’s capacity by 100 million to 150 million metric tons may result in actual steel output dropping by 55 million to 95 million tons, the bank said in an e-mailed report. That lost output represents 90 million to 150 million tons of iron ore, or as much as 15 percent of the seaborne market, the bank estimated.
  • Rio Tinto(RTP) Drops to Lowest Since March '09 as Mining Rout Deepens. BHP Billiton Ltd.(BHP) slumped and Rio Tinto Group slid to the lowest in almost seven years as fears about a slowdown in China’s demand and the threat of credit downgrades added to pressure on the mining sector. BHP fell as much as 5 percent to A$14.17 in Sydney, while Rio dropped as much as 2.7 percent to the lowest since March 2009. Miners are being hammered after Standard & Poor’s this week downgraded BHP amid a global slide in equities and continued concern that a weakening Chinese economy was hurting demand for commodities. Copper in London slipped 0.5 percent, while zinc lost 1.1 percent.
  • Bank Bear Market Gets Worse as Goldman(GS), Citi(C) Sell Off Again. (graph) The 2016 financial stock rout worsened Tuesday as the country’s biggest investment banks plunged almost 5 percent amid a gathering storm of economic and financial threats. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sank the most since November 2012 to lead the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a 295-point loss, while Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and Morgan Stanley slid 4.7 percent or more. The KBW Bank Index declined 3.2 percent to extend its bear-market plunge since July to 23 percent.
Wall Street Journal:
  • New Risks for Trump After Iowa Loss. Ted Cruz has more financial firepower than recent Iowa GOP winners; Marco Rubio also on upswing. Beaten in Iowa but unbowed, Republican Donald Trump returned Tuesday to the state that has served as his campaign home base facing a new set of challenges in what is likely to be a must-win primary.
  • Rubio’s Rise Amid Trump’s Slump. The Donald’s loss was more significant than Ted Cruz’s win as the GOP’s political world finally starts to make sense. So, it turns out that you can’t call Iowa voters “stupid,” skip a debate in Des Moines because you don’t like the moderators and still expect to prevail in the state’s caucuses. Who knew? 
  • Behind Hillary’s Iowa Scare. The state’s Democrats are significantly more liberal than they were when she ran in 2008. Hillary Clinton’s third-place finish in the 2008 Iowa caucuses upended her candidacy. By contrast, she scored a narrow victory Monday night. Beyond her having a much-improved campaign organization, what changed over those eight years, and what does it teach us about the current state of the Democratic Party?
Zero Hedge:
Business Insider:
  • Gilead(GILD) hepatitis C drug sales beat estimates, but growth stalls. Gilead Sciences Inc's hepatitis C drug sales edged past Wall Street estimates in the fourth quarter, helped by strong sales in Japan, but U.S. results were weaker than expected. The company, which faces growing competition in the lucrative hepatitis C market, projected total 2016 product sales of $30 billion to $31 billion, in line with the average Wall Street estimate of $30.68 billion as compiled by ISI Evercore. Gilead said it will continue to seek growth through partnerships and acquisitions. The company also increased its dividend by 10 percent, and said it would buy back an additional $12 billion of its stock. 
  • 3M(MMM) to buy back up to $10 bln shares, raises dividend. 3M Co, the maker of Scotch tape and Post-it notes, said it would buy back up to $10 billion worth of shares and also raised its quarterly dividend. The company raised its quarterly dividend to $1.11 per share from $1.025 per share. At Tuesday's close of 147.87, the company would be able to buy back about 67.6 million, or 11 percent, of its total outstanding shares.
  • Poroshenko Sees Growing Danger of Open War With Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tells Bild in interview that Russia hasn't implemented a single one of the agreed on points in Minsk accord. 8,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine under Russian commanders, new military bases on the border, permanent militia training. Calls for more support for Ukraine, more weapons to defend the country.
Night Trading 
  • Asian equity indices are -2.25% to -1.25% on average.
  • Asia Ex-Japan Investment Grade CDS Index 154.0 +2.75 basis points.
  • Asia Pacific Sovereign CDS Index 81.75 +3.25 basis points.
  • Bloomberg Emerging Markets Currency Index 67.42 -.23%.
  • S&P 500 futures -.47%.
  • NASDAQ 100 futures -.68%.

Earnings of Note 
  • (ABB)/.32
  • (ALXN)/1.10
  • (ADP)/.72
  • (BDX)/1.84
  • (CNG)/.79
  • (CBOE)/.55
  • (CMCSA)/.82
  • (ETN)/1.10
  • (GM)/1.20
  • (IP)/.82
  • (JEC)/.69
  • (JLL)/4.78
  • (KLIC)/-.10
  • (MAN)/1.52
  •  (MRK)/.91
  • (MDLZ)/.48
  • (ALL)/1.34
  • (AVB)/1.98
  • (BWLD)/1.48
  • (GPRO)/.03
  • (MET)/1.36
  • (MCHP)/.62
  • (RGLD)/.24
  • (WFT)/-.19
  • (WYNN)/.78
  • (YUM)/.66 
Economic Releases
8:15 am EST
  • ADP Employment Change for January is estimated at 193K versus 257K in December.
9:45 am EST
  • Final Markit US Services PMI for March is estimated at 53.7 versus a 53.7 prior estimate.
10:00 am EST:
  • ISM Non-Manufacturing Composite for January is estimated to fall to 55.1 versus 55.3 in December.
10:30 am EST
  • Bloomberg consensus estimates call for a weekly crude oil inventory gain of +3,745,910 barrels versus a +8,383,000 barrel increase the prior week. Gasoline supplies are estimated to rise by +2,022,730 barrels versus a +3,464,000 barrel gain prior. Distillate inventories are estimated to fall by -1,036,360 barrels versus a -4,057,000 barrel decline prior. Finally, Refinery Utilization is estimated to fall by -.78% versus a -3.2% decline prior.
Upcoming Splits
  • (AFSI) 2-for-1
  • (FRO) 1-for-5
Other Potential Market Movers
  • The Eurozone Services PMI, Eurozone retail sales report, weekly MBA mortgage applications report and the Cowen Aerospace/Defense Conference could also impact trading today.
BOTTOM LINE: Asian indices are lower, weighed down by industrial and financial shares in the region. I expect US stocks to open modestly lower and to maintain losses into the afternoon. The Portfolio is 25% net long heading into the day.

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