US futures hover near record highs as investors nervously await key US inflation data

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Wall Street awaited US inflation data on Tuesday.

Futures contracts for the major US stock indices were mixed on Tuesday, hovering near record highs as investors awaited key inflation data from the world’s biggest economy.

S&P 500 futures were edged 0.05% higher after the index finished 0.02% lower on Monday, taking it narrowly below Friday’s all-time high. Dow Jones futures rose 0.1% and Nasdaq 100 futures were roughly flat.

Asian stocks moved broadly higher overnight after data showed Chinese imports and exports rebounded in March. Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.72%, but China’s CSI 300 index slipped 0.16% as a spike in yields on the debt of a major asset manager unnerved investors.

In Europe, the continent-wide Stoxx 600 index rose 0.25%. The UK’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.04% despite data showing the country’s GDP rose 0.4% in February.

Meanwhile, bitcoin soared to an all time high of above $62,000 ahead of crypto exchange Coinbase’s IPO, with renewed institutional interest powering the latest leg higher.

The main event on investors’ radar on Tuesday will be US consumer price index inflation data, due at 8.30 a.m. ET.

Predictions of higher growth and inflation have already caused a spike in bond yields, which have in turn weighed on the fast-growing parts of the stock market like technology shares, which look relatively less attractive when yields rise.

Analysts expect Tuesday’s data to show US CPI inflation rose to 2.5% in March from 1.7% in February.

Inflation “has emerged as a key focal point for markets given the debates surrounding inflation and its implications for monetary policy moving forward,” strategist Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank said.

“Indeed, part of the reason that markets have brought forward their expectations for Fed rate hikes is based around rising inflation expectations that they think the Fed might have to rein in.”

Karen Ward, JPMorgan Asset Management’s chief European strategist, has said she thinks inflation could average 3% over the next 10 years, thanks in part to huge amounts of pent-up savings.

However, Goldman Sachs chief economist Jan Hatzius predicted in a note that underlying US inflation would remain “well below the Fed’s 2% target, consistent with an economy that remains well below full employment.”

Bond yields climbed on Tuesday morning, with the yield on the key 10-year US Treasury note rising 1.5 basis points to 1.691%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Investors will also be keeping an eye on 30-year US Treasury auctions, after 3- and 10-year sales attracted solid demand.

Oil prices edged higher, with Brent crude up 0.4% to $63.54 a barrel and WTI crude 0.3% higher to $59.87 a barrel.

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US futures and global stocks slip as investors brace for key inflation data and company earnings

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Asian stocks fell overnight as investors prepared for a busy week.

US futures slipped on Monday, as investors braced themselves for a busy week of economic data, company earnings and government bond sales, and digested Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments that the US economy is at an “inflection point.”

Futures for the S&P 500 index were down 0.25%, while Dow Jones futures were 0.33% lower. Nasdaq 100 futures had fallen 0.15%.

Shares fell in Asia overnight, with China’s CSI 300 down 1.74% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 0.77% lower.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index slipped 0.43%. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.81%, despite England reopening shops, gyms and pubs.

US stocks rose solidly in the week to Friday as bond yields fell, with the S&P 500 climbing 2.71% as tech stocks got a boost. Lower yields, which move inversely to prices, have helped the US’s giant tech stocks look like attractive investments during the COVID-19 crisis.

But analysts say bond yields have the potential to kick higher over the coming days in the wake of consumer inflation data due on Tuesday and three US bond auctions across the week.

Consumer price index inflation data is due on Tuesday, with economists polled by Reuters expecting a jump to 2.5% from 1.7% year on year in February.

Producer price inflation rose at the fastest rate in more than 9 years in March, data showed Friday, hitting 4.2% year on year.

The sale of 3-, 10-, and 30-year US government bonds could also unnerve the market if demand is low.

“I have suspected that the US yield story had not gone away,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda said. “This week’s data calendar will give plenty of ammunition to prove me right or wrong.”

Bond yields slipped on Monday, however, with the key 10-year US Treasury note yield down 1.1 basis points to 1.655%.

The dollar index was up 0.09% to 92.25.

Investors were also weighing up Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s latest comments.

The head of the world’s most powerful central bank said in an interview with CBS, which aired on Sunday, that the US is at an “inflection point” and is likely to see a boom in growth and hiring, but still faces threats from COVID-19.

“The outlook has brightened substantially,” he told CBS’s “60 minutes.” Yet he said there was a risk that coronavirus starts spreading again.

Another round of major company earnings is also set to begin, with Wall Street titans Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Wells Fargo due to report on Wednesday.

Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note they expect S&P 500 earnings to come in 7.5% above consensus. That would be lower than the last 3 quarters, but still well above the historical average of a 4% beat.

The prospect of a busy week of data and earnings did little to oil prices. Brent crude was 0.43% higher at $63.23 a barrel on Monday, while WTI crude was up 0.32% at $59.48 a barrel.

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US stocks fall after a $30 billion wave of selling tied to hedge-fund Archegos rattles traders

NYSE trader worried
  • US stocks fell on Monday as traders braced for the after-effects of a selling-spree tied to hedge fund Archegos.
  • Archegos is the family office of former Tiger Management trader Bill Hwang.
  • Nomura and Credit Suisse shares tumbled after the banks warned of large losses linked to the fire-sale.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US futures edged lower on Monday after an extraordinary $30 billion selling-spree by the hedge fund of Tiger Management trader Bill Hwang rattled investors around the world, while the refloating of a giant container ship stuck in the Suez Canal weighed on oil.

Futures on the Dow Jones, S&P 500, and Nasdaq fell between 0.4% and 0.6%, suggesting a lower open for US indices at the start of trading later in the day.

The sell-off appears to have been caused by Archegos Capital, run by the South Korean billionaire Hwang, which uses a long-short equity strategy that reduces exposure to movements in the overall market.

Typically under such a strategy, if long positions decline in value by more than the shorts, this puts them in a risky situation because they won’t have enough money to cover their shorts. The fund’s brokers, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, realized this was about to happen, and so initiated margin calls. When Archegos couldn’t make them, the banks then forcibly sold off large holdings in the fund to stop the bleed.

Archegos had large long positions in Chinese and US stocks, including media firm ViacomCBS and Discovery. Both stocks saw their largest-ever daily declines on Friday, with each falling by more than 27%. Traders are now scrambling to figure out whether these fire-sales are over and seeing how much more the hedge fund has to offload.

A number of banking stocks tumbled after Nomura and Credit Suisse warned of large losses following Archegos’ extraordinary fire-sale. Nomura fell 16%, Credit Suisse fell 9.5%, Deutsche Bank fell 5%, and UBS fell 4%.

Wall Street’s VIX Index – popularly known as the ‘fear gauge’ – rose 10% to 20.78 on Monday, signalling a rise in the market’s expectations of volatility in the coming 30 days. The higher the index, the more nervousness is in the market.

Separately in the US, President Joe Biden is due to deliver a speech on Wednesday unveiling his new $3 trillion infrastructure plan that is part of his “Build Back Better” agenda.

Investors are still worried over concerns of rising number of COVID-19 cases in multiple regions in Europe, raising the prospect of further restrictions and curbs on economic activity. The continent is faced with a potential third wave driven by new variants. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a Sunday interview she would use federal law to take control of the pandemic response.

Lockdown restrictions in the UK have now eased slightly as groups of up to six people are allowed to meet outdoors. But markets displayed a lack of enthusiasm. “This early reticence may be tied to the Archegos Capital situation,” Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said. It remains to be seen which companies might be the next to announce they too have been stung, he said.

The UK’s FTSE 100 fell 0.4%, the Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.1%, and Germany’s DAX rose 0.2%. The VDAX-New, the German equivalent of the VIX, was last up nearly 6% on the day.

Oil prices fell after the Ever Given container ship blocking the Suez Canal was successfully refloated, according to Inchcape Shipping Services. The ship, which has been stuck for almost a week, is currently being secured. Brent crude futures fell 0.6% to $63.99, while West Texas Intermediate dropped 1.2% to $60.27. The vessel, which is said to be longer than the Eiffel Tower, had obstructed the canal – one of the world’s most important shipping passages – since Tuesday.

Asian equity markets rose despite Chinese geopolitical worries and the forced liquidations on Wall Street, perhaps from the boost that the container ship has been refloated. Roughly 12% of total global trade passes through the canal, a large portion of that is from Asia’s big exporters to their customers in Europe. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.5%, Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.7%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was about flat.

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