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China Plunge Protectors Unleash Berserk Buying Spree In Last Hour Of Trading As Fed Meeting Begins

Maybe China's Plunge Protection, aka "National", Team did not enjoy Bloomberg's poking fun of its investing "success" ("the 46 companies that reported China's Securities Finance Corp as a top 10 shareholder in the past two months lost an average 29 percent since the  announcement, versus a 21 percent drop for the Shanghai Composite Index), maybe China was just embarrassed at the biggest 2-day drop in over a month despite increasingly grotesque and entertaining (if not for the sellers) market manipulation measures, or perhaps the PBOC simply wanted to close above 3000 the day the Fed starts its "most important meeting ever", but for whatever reason starting in the last hour of trading and continuing until the close, the Shanghai Composite - after trading largely unchanged - went from red on the day to up 4.9% after hitting 5.9% minutes before the close - the biggest one day surge since March 2009 - and nearly erasing the 6.1% drop from the past two days in just about 60 minutes of trading, providing a solid hour of laughter to bystanders and observers in the process.

Some observations on the move from Bloomberg:

  • Shanghai Composite Index closes 4.9% higher, biggest gain since Aug. 27, after surging as much as 5.9% in late trading.
  • ChiNext +7.2%, biggest jump on record, as 62 of 79 stocks traded rise 10%
  • Volume remains light, with Shanghai ~47% below 100-day avg
  • More than 300 SHCOMP stks up limit 10%; Biggest index movers incl. PetroChina, CRRC Corp., China Shipbuilding
  • SHCOMP pares ytd loss to 2.6%
  • "There’s need for a technical rebound after recent declines, and investors may be expecting some favorable policies to support the market," Central China Securities strategist Zhang Gang says by phone.

“I suspect state support may be behind the sharp rally in the final hour,” said Bernard Aw, a strategist at IG Asia, referring to 5% jump. “This is huge even if the positive mood from the U.S. session helped boost risk appetite.” You don't say...

That no carbon-based trader can trade this utter mess is now beyond clear to everyone.

Other Asian markets traded mostly higher following the strong close on Wall Street where better than expected retail sales group data and upward revisions of the prior retail figures supported sentiment. ASX 200 (+1.6%) outperformed amid broad based gains across all sectors, while Nikkei 225 (+0.8%) was dictated by JPY weakness. 10yr JGBs traded lower as the risk on sentiment combined with the poor 20yr JGB auction where the tail in price widened significantly and b/c was at its lowest since May 2013.

European equities have spent the morning firmly in positive territory today (Euro Stoxx: +1.0%), with positive sentiment filtering through from the Asia session. Said otherwise, "positive sentiment" and goodwill from government manipulation on one continent now spills over everywhere else. The key driver was today's European inflation print which rose just 0.1%, below the 0.2% expected, and confirmation Europe's Q€ is also not working, thereby unleashing demands for even more Q€ which should boost stocks even higher if not the economy.

On a sector specific breakdown, materials and energy names are among the session's laggards despite the commodity complex seeing a bid this morning on the back of improved Chinese sentiment. The most notable stock specific news in Europe saw SABMiller (+20.0%) announce they expect AB Inbev (+7.5%) to make an offer, although noting that no proposal has been put forward yet, with the announcement seeing both companies rise sharply to be among the best performers in Europe . Luxury names are also among the best performers today after Richmont (+6.4%) reported better than expected sales pre market, dragging LVMH higher in tandem. In terms of US earnings today, FedEX are set to report pre market, with Oracle to report after the closing bell.

In fixed income markets Bunds reside in negative territory in tandem with strength in equities to extend on losses seen yesterday afternoon , with the German benchmark falling tandem with T-Notes on the back of the better than expected US Retail Sales Control Group (M/M 0.40% vs. Exp. 0.30%). Of note German 5/30 broke through the 121 bps resistance yesterday to now reside at their highest levels since mid-July after the 30yr auction earlier in the session.

FX markets have seen an unwind of safe haven bids given the upbeat Chinese sentiment and as such weakness has gone through EUR and JPY, while commodity currencies have benefitted from the aforementioned strength in commodities , with the likes of CAD, AUD and RUB all experiencing a bout of strength in early trade. Following the S&P downgrade of Japan, the USDJPY has broken to the upside - for now the S&P futures correlation algos have forgotten to follow its surge higher.

In terms of notable data, the UK employment data today saw GBP/USD breaking out of a tight range and above the 1.5400 handle in an immediate reaction to the substantial beat on weekly earnings as well as the unexpected fall in ILO unemployment. Elsewhere, today has seen the final reading of Eurozone CPI, which showed a fall in Y/Y reading (0.10% vs. Exp. 0.20%) and as such saw further weakness go through EUR.

Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Hatzius said it is not out of the realm of the possibility that the Fed will not hike rates until 2016. (BBG TV) Of note, Goldman Sachs are expecting the Fed to remain on hold at Thursday's rate decision and Chief Economist Hatzius expects the Fed to hike rates in December.

Looking at commodities, Oil prices trade higher heading into the US open as yesteday's API inventories showed a draw-down of 3100K and ahead of today's DoE inventories (Exp. 1750k, Prey. 2570k). Strength in energy comes in tandem with strength within the metals complex, which comes alongside the aforementioned boost in sentiment from China, with silver, nickel and copper among the best performers.

Looking ahead, today's highlights include US real average weekly earnings and CPI as well as New Zealand GDP, but the main event of the week is the FOMC "first rate hike in 9 years" rate decision, which starts today and concludes tomorrow.

In summary: Europe’s Stoxx 600 rises 1.2% as of 11:50 am U.K. time on volume that is ~112% of the 30-day average at this time of day, with VStoxx volatility index tumbling to a near 4-week low as Fed set to begin 2-day rate meeting. Beverage stocks soar on SABMiller/AB InBev deal talks. Richemont’s revenue beat sparks relief rally in luxury stocks. China stocks jump in last hour of trading. Japan cut to A+ from AA- by S&P; outlook stable.

Market Wrap

  • Equities: S&P 500 futures -0.2% at 1965.8, Shanghai Composite +4.9%, CAC 40 +1.2%,
  • VStoxx Index -7.3% at 27.77, lowest since Aug. 21
  • Equity indexes: FTSE 100 up 0.8%, CAC 40 up 1.2%, DAX up 0.5%, IBEX 35 up 1.2%, FTSE MIB up 0.9%, Euro Stoxx 50 up 1.2%
  • 18 out of 19 Stoxx 600 sectors rise; food & beverage is the most active, +4.5% on 228% 30-day avg. vol., boosted by SABMiller/AB InBev deal talks
  • Bonds: German 10yr yield +2bps to 0.76%, Greek 10yr yield -7bps to 8.56%, Portugal 10yr yield -3bps to 2.68%
  • Credit: iTraxx Main down 0.5 bp to 71.53, iTraxx Crossover down 4.5 bps to 326.26
  • FX: EUR/GBP +0.8%, Sterling spot +0.5%, Euro spot -0.3% at 1.1235, dollar index up 0.1% at 95.707
  • Commodities: WTI Futures +1.8%, LME 3m Nickel +1.6%, Brent crude up 1.6% at $48.53/bbl, Gold up 0.3% at $1109.03/oz, Copper up 0.6% at $5380/MT
  • AB InBev Confirms Made M&A Approach to SABMiller’s Board
  • Glencore Sells $2.5 Billion in Stock to Reduce Debt Load

Bulletin Headline Summary from Bloomberg and RanSquawk

  • Equities trade in the green while JPY and EUR see weakness on the back of a positive Chinese close
  • GBP/USD broke above the 1.5400 handle in an immediate reaction to higher than expected weekly earnings as well as the unexpected fall in ILO unemployment
  • Looking ahead, today's highlights include US real average weekly earnings and CPI as well as New Zealand GDP
  • Treasuries higher despite rallies in Asian and European stocks before Fed’s two-day meeting begins; market remains split on prospect of 1st rate increase in more than 9 yrs, based on published research.
  • China’s stocks surged after the Shanghai Composite Index slid below the key 3,000 level, with gains coming in the last hour of trading in a pattern that’s become associated with state support
  • Euro area consumer prices rose 0.1% in August, lowest in four months and below expectations, after +0.2% increase in July, according to the EU’s statistics office
  • S&P cut Japan’s credit rating to A+ from AA-, says govt’s strategy to revive economic growth and end deflation appears unlikely to reverse deterioration in the next two to three years
  • U.K. wages grew at their fastest pace in more than six years and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell, suggesting inflationary pressures are building in the labor market
  • Sovereign 10Y bond yields mostly higher. Asian stocks higher, European stocks gain, U.S. equity-index futures decline. Crude oil, gold and copper gain

US Event Calendar

  • 7:00am: MBA Mortgage Applications, Sept. 11 (prior -6.2%)
  • 8:30am: CPI m/m, Aug., -0.1% (prior 0.1%)
    • CPI Ex Food and Energy m/m, Aug., est. 0.1% (prior 0.1%)
    • CPI y/y, Aug., est. 0.2% (prior 0.2%)
    • CPI Ex Food and Energy y/y, Aug., est. 1.9% (prior 1.8%)
    • CPI Index NSA, Aug., est. 238.418 (prior 238.654)
    • CPI Core Index SA, Aug., est. 242.805 (prior 242.513)
    • Real Avg Weekly Earnings y/y, Aug., (prior 2.2%, revised 2%)
  • 10:00am: NAHB Housing Market Index, Sept., est. 61 (prior 61)
  • 4:00pm: Net Long-term TIC Flows, July (prior $103.1b)
  • Total Net TIC Flows, July (prior -$110.3b)

DB completes the overnight recap

There’s plenty of ebbing and flowing in markets at the moment which is unsurprising with the commencement of the FOMC meeting today and the hotly anticipated decision due in just 36 hours. Yesterday was a reasonably decent day all round for equity markets, although low volumes, which was again the case yesterday, are helping to exaggerate some of these swings. The S&P 500 closed up +1.28% and back to its highest level since August 28th, albeit on volumes nearly 20% below the three-month average. European markets also had a decent session with the Stoxx 600 up 0.79%. This was despite more steep declines in Chinese equities yesterday and rather the better tone being attributed to some positive signs from yesterdays US retail sales report which more than made up for soft data elsewhere. Curiously, some of the more material moves were in the bond market where we saw 10y Treasury yields close up over 10bps (to 2.288%) in the aftermath of the data, while 2y yields (+7.7bps) rose to the highest level since April 2011 at 0.804%. The data has only helped to nudge expectations of a Fed hike tomorrow slightly, priced at 32% which is up a tad from 28% this time yesterday. More on the Fed and yesterday’s data shortly, but firstly to the latest in Asia this morning.

Bourses are generally on a firmer footing in Asia, following much of the lead from the US yesterday. The material gain has come from the Kospi which is up 2.02% as we go to print, while the Hang Seng (+1.01%) and ASX (+1.41%) are also seeing decent strength. The Nikkei is up 0.55% while China is generally underperforming the wider region although there were still modest gains for the Shanghai Comp (+0.15%) and CSI 300 (+0.14%) at the midday break. Elsewhere, S&P 500 futures are point to a slightly softer start, down 0.2%, while Treasuries have made up for some of yesterday’s losses with the 10y yield 2.3bps lower.

Back to China briefly. Yesterday our China Chief Economist Zhiwei Zhang noted that fiscal expenditure grew by 25.9% yoy in August (24.1% in July), much faster that the 11.8% we saw in H1. Importantly, Zhiwei sees this as another strong signal of policy easing, with the acceleration of fiscal spending a reflection of the policy stance shift from tightening to stimulus that took place mid-way through this year, rather than one driven by seasonal patterns. Zhiwei also points out that a broader concept of government expenditure which covers both the fiscal budget and government funds also showed similar acceleration. On the other hand, growth of government revenue remains weak, but Zhiwei is optimistic that we will see improvement in Q4 though as we have already seen a strong pickup in land sales in recent months.

Moving on and back to the data yesterday where, as we mentioned, much was made of the August US retail sales report in particular. Headline retail sales missed (+0.2% mom vs. +0.3% expected) last month, as did the ex auto and gas reading (+0.3% mom vs. +0.4% expected), however it was the details which took up much of the focus with a one-tenth and three-tenths upward revision to each respectively in July. The control group reading (which goes into the national accounts) was also supportive, printing at +0.4% mom (vs. +0.3% expected) and also benefiting from a three-tenths upward revision to July’s report.

The data was however followed by some fairly soft factory sector reports. Both industrial (-0.4% mom vs. -0.2% expected) and manufacturing production (-0.5% mom vs. -0.3% expected) printed below market, while capacity utilization dropped down 0.4pps to 77.6% (vs. 77.8% expected). Also soft was the NY Fed empire manufacturing reading for September which while improving a very modest 0.2pts to -14.7, came in well below hopes for a rebound to -0.5, while a six-month outlook measure dropped to the lowest level since January 2013. Finally business inventories printed in-line for July at +0.1% mom. The Atlanta Fed has kept their Q3 GDP forecast unchanged relative to the September 3rd estimate at 1.5% saar. Having declined for much of last week, the Dollar caught a bid yesterday with the Dollar index closing up 0.38% while Oil had a better day with both WTI (+0.96%) and Brent (+0.84%) firming.

So as we look ahead tomorrow’s big event, DB’s Peter Hooper has given a rundown on what he expects from the meeting. While Peter still expects a very close call, he notes that the most compelling change in view from they will to they won’t, was driven by a succession of centrist and even hawkish members and participants of the FOMC backing away or softening their view on September liftoff in the wake of market turmoil, touched off by events in China. Market stress has since remained elevated and market expectations of liftoff tomorrow have slipped, while the Fed has provided no guidance to suggest that the market was reading things wrong which Peter sees as an important signal. The mitigate to this and what makes it a close call in Peter’s mind is that the economic case for beginning normalization is compelling, including labour market momentum, inflation restrained by transitory factors and extremely easy monetary policy. Peter suggests that the committee could decide at this meeting that the data warrant a move even if the market is not expecting one. In terms of the dot plots, Peter expects the median dot to edge lower by 25bps at the end of this year, next year and in the LT. If they choose not to hike, they should signal for a rate increase by year end. In terms of the message that Yellen delivers, Peter expects it to be hawkish if they do not go and dovish if they do. In choosing to stand pat this time, he notes that she will likely emphasize that October is very much on the table if conditions warrant. If they do go, he expects the message to be that they will want to be patient and see how the markets and the economy react before deciding on the next move.

Back to the rest of markets yesterday. In Europe we saw some fairly material moves higher across DM sovereign bond yields also, led by the moves in Treasuries. 10y Bunds finished 8.8bps higher at 0.742% which was representative of most of the DM economy moves. This was despite some mixed data out of the region. The German ZEW current situations survey printed at 67.5 which was up 1.8pts from August and above expectations of a fall to 64. However, the expectations survey was less positive, with the 12.1 reading (vs. 18.3 expected) down 12.9pts from last month and to the lowest since November last year. Meanwhile, in the UK we got the latest inflation readings for the month of August. An in-line +0.2% mom reading at the headline was enough to nudge the annualized rate down one-tenth to 0.0% yoy, while the core also declined, down two-tenths to 1.0% yoy which was also in line with expectations. DB’s George Buckley noted that with upstream prices also soft last month (input prices down 2.4%, output down 0.4% and core output flat) there seems to be little evidence of underlying inflationary pressure as yet. George, however, expects CPI to rise as base effects drop out in the coming months, but argues that the BoE has room to wait before hiking rates.

Turning over to today’s calendar now, this morning’s focus in Europe is set to be on the release of UK employment indicators and the final reading of Euro area CPI. Over in the US this afternoon, the focus will on the August CPI reading where the market consensus is for a -0.1% mom headline reading and +0.1% mom core print, with our US colleagues slightly higher than this, forecasting for an unchanged and +0.2% reading respectively. Real average weekly earnings data is also due to be released along with the NAHB housing market index.