Marketmind: Banks calm the horses

Published: Apr 17, 2023, 10:19 UTC

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE in New York

A look at the day ahead in U.S. and global markets from Mike Dolan.

As U.S. banking giants calm the horses, global investors are now concentrated on world growth and earnings signals more than interest rate rises for direction – with an assumption the latter are near an end anyway.

Sending its stock price surging 7.5% for its biggest daily gain in more than two years and best results-day jump in 20 years, JPMorgan on Friday led other U.S. banking giants in brushing off the March regional bank crisis with first-quarter profit beats that showed larger banks winning out.

Somewhat relieved analysts marginally brightened their dim outlook for first-quarter U.S. results compared with a week ago.

Although on aggregate S&P500 earnings are still on course for their second straight quarterly contraction, consensus forecasts for Q1 were pared back to a 4.8% decline from a year ago versus a 5.2% drop a year earlier.

State Street and Charles Schwab on Monday kick off a busy earnings week for more big banking names as well as readouts from the likes of Netflix, IBM and Tesla.

With the U.S. diary pretty thin on Monday, attention shifts to Tuesday’s monthly data dump in China – where first quarter GDP is forecast to have accelerated to an annual 4.0% from 2.9% in the final three months of last year and retail and industrial numbers are expected to have sped up in March too.

Given last week’s report of a blowout March for Chinese exports and imports, the risk to those numbers may well be to the upside.

And so with the banking stress ebbing and world growth picture holding up impressively so far – despite the mixed picture stateside – interest rate markets seem confident in pricing one final hike from the Federal Reserve next month.

Futures markets now see a more than 80% chance the Fed will execute one final quarter point rate rise next month – reversing it by September. That rate rise would bring the real Fed policy rate – adjusted by headline consumer price inflation – into positive territory for the first time in three years.

Two-year Treasury yield clung to 4% meantime.

But stocks seem relaxed with the whole prospect, the VIX volatility gauge closing at its lowest on Friday since January 2022 and Treasury volatility back down to February levels.

Asia bourses were up smartly and Europe more mixed, Wall St futures were higher going into the open. The dollar extended Friday’s rebound as the May rate rise pricing hardened.

With three-month Treasury bill rates elevated due to simmering U.S. debt ceiling concerns that are due to come to a boil this summer, there was background trepidation.

Geopolitical tensions between the United States and China also rankle. The U.S. warship USS Milius sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, in what the U.S. Navy described on Monday as a “routine” transit, just days after China ended its latest war games around the island.

In a sign of how the deterioration in relations between the two superpowers is starting to affect corporate planning, there was interest in a Financial Times report that said one of China’s biggest water-heater manufacturers Vanward New Electric claimed its U.S. clients had demanded it move production out of China in response to the rising tension.

It was a much better weekend in the world of mergers and acquisitions.

Merck said on Sunday it will buy California-based biotechnology firm Prometheus Biosciences for about $10.8 billion, which at $200 per share represents a 75% premium to the $114.01 closing price for Prometheus shares on Friday.

Merck’s move sees it pick up a promising experimental treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and builds its presence in immunology.

Shares of Rovio rose 17.8% after Japan’s Sega agreed to launch a 706 million euro offer for Angry Birds maker.

Elsewhere in banking, the BOE is considering a major overhaul of its deposit guarantee scheme, including boosting the amount covered for businesses and forcing banks to pre-fund the system to a greater extent to ensure faster access to cash when a lender collapses, the FT reported on Sunday.

Key developments that may provide direction to U.S. markets later on Monday:

* U.S. April NAHB housing market index, NY Fed April manufacturing survey, Feb TIC data on Treasury holdings

* Richmond Federal Reserve President Thomas Barkin speaks, Bank of England Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe speaks

* U.S. corporate earnings: State Street, Charles Schwab, M&T Bank, JB Hunt Transport

JPMorgan eclipses rivals with Q1 deposits growth,

Deposits to loans in U.S. banking system,

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U.S./China Tech R&D gap,

(By Mike Dolan, Twitter: @reutersMikeD. Editing by Ed Osmond)

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