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Commentary: Energy in focus as US holiday approaches
00:00, 27 November 2013
Today is getaway day with US traders travelling home for the Thanksgiving holiday. We have three days of economic numbers crammed into this morning, after which things go quiet stateside except for football scores and Black Friday trading anecdotes. After mixed Asia Pacific trading, stock markets have resumed their upward course in Europe, bouncing back from recent corrections, while US indices have been consolidating yesterday’s breakouts. So far today, positive jobless claims have been offset by soft durable goods orders. Perhaps the most interesting of yesterday’s breakouts was the rally by the NASDAQ Composite (not the 100 that we trade) through the 4,000 big number barrier since late 2000. It’s interesting to look back and see just how much has changed since then. While some of the previous market leaders are still kicking around like Microsoft, Intel and Cisco, others have been obliterated like Motorola, Palm and Nokia. Technology now is being led by a whole new generation of companies that were private in 2000 like Google, or hadn’t been formed yet like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. Energy markets could be active later in the morning with oil, gasoline and natural gas storage numbers all on the way. The energy sector has been quite mixed this morning with WTI and natural gas trading lower while Brent and gasoline climb. What is most interesting about this is how much the Brent-WTI spread has widened when one would have expected it to narrow after the Iran nuclear deal. This indicates that the street does not expect this short-term stopgap deal to have any impact on supply. Brent may also be capturing a halo effect from improving sentiment toward the UK economy. Sterling is at the top of the FX majors standings again today as it breaks out over $1.6300 as UK GDP met expectations, confirming that the UK economy has accelerated in recent months. This has raised the prospects for growing resource demand in the UK and that the Bank of England may start cutting back QE or raising interest rates sooner than had previously expected. EUR also remains strong today. Although the Eurozone economy remains sluggish, news of a coalition government deal in Germany overnight has boosted spirits. EUR also continues to benefit from the stealth taper that the ECB has been running for over a year. Remember the LTRO offerings the ECB made in the depths of the sovereign debt crisis to stabilize the banking system? Ever since then, banks have been paying the loans back to the tune of a few billion dollars a week. All of this has added up to real money. In the last year, the ECB’s balance sheet has contracted by 24.3% while the Fed’s QE3 program as expanded its balance sheet by 36.9%. This also helps to explain why gold has been in a relentless downtrend for over a year; the money that had gone from Europe into gold during the debt crisis has quietly been going back. Gold and silver have bounced back a bit today in normal trading. With traders in the US more interested in looking for deals in the stores than in the stock market at the moment, trading may remain quiet in north America for the rest of the week. Overseas markets may remain active, particularly in the Asia Pacific region where a number of economic releases are due from Japan over the next two days. Economic News Significant economic announcements released yesterday afternoon and overnight include: US jobless claims 316K vs street 330K US durable goods (2.0%) as expected US Chicago Fed (0.18) vs street 0.10 NZ trade balance ($168M) vs street ($350M) Spain retail sales (0.6%) vs previous 2.2% UK GDP 1.5% as expected Economic reports due later today include: 9:45 am EST US Chicago PMI street 60.0 vs previous 65.9 9:55 am EST US UoM consumer confidence street 73.1 10:00 am EST US leading index street 0.0% vs previuos 0.7% 10:30 am EST US crude oil inventories street 0.75 mmbbls 10:30 am EST US gasoline inventories street 0.50 mmbbls 12:00 pm EST US natural gas storage street (14 BCF) TBA Brazil interest rate 50 bps increase to 10.0% widely expected