“Sea Of Red” As Global Rally Reverses; Banks Drag Europe Lower

Tuesday, February 19, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Tyler Durden
Tue, 02/19/2019

While the US was closed for President’s Day holiday, the European rally sputtered on Monday ignoring a renewed surge higher in Chinese stocks following a record credit injection, and on Tuesday a “sea of red” in global markets has returned, as US equity futures slumped dragged lower by European banks following a mixed session in Asia as investors appear unable to go for even one day without fresh “hope” on US-China trade talks, while the dollar climbed, snapping a three-day decline, and Treasuries edged up before U.S.-China trade talks resume in Washington.

Global markets were struggling for direction after a slow start to the week and with a fresh round of Sino-U.S. trade talks, this time in Washington, being held later, as stocks traders were largely happy to keep their powder dry.

Europe’s Stoxx 600 retreated after two days of gains, led lower by banks following disappointing earnings from HSBC Holdings, while weak macro data has sent increasingly dovish signals from the region’s central bank. HSBC – Europe’s biggest bank – saw its shares tumble as it missed forecasts due to slowing growth in its two home markets of China and Britain. HSBC’s U.K. shares follow their Hong Kong peers lower after worse-than-expected results, with the stock sliding as much as 4.6% and the biggest decliner on the FTSE 100 Index. The Stoxx 600 Banks index down as much as 1.7%, with banks the worst performing industry group on Tuesday.

The results spoke to a wider problem for European banks, which are struggling to return to growth after a decade of post-crisis restructuring due to a worsening global economic outlook.

In addition to poor earnings from Europe’s largest bank, the sector is facing is facing additional headwinds due to receding hopes for any quick interest-rate rise after ECB chief economist Peter Praet said officials could push back plans to raise rates as a first response against a deeper downturn

Automakers were also under pressure as the European Union vowed prompt retaliation if the U.S. imposes tariffs on imported vehicles.

Earlier in the session, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda unexpectedly told parliament the central bank would consider extra monetary easing if required, helping lift the Topix index and send the yen lower, even as shares in China were little changed as equities in Hong Kong dropped after Monday’s blockbuster gains. Japan’s Nikkei nudged up 0.1 percent after holding flat for most of the day. Australian shares climbed 0.3 percent to a 4-1/2 month peak, after gaining over 8 percent so far this year, partly on expectations the central bank could ease policy to temper pressure on growth. Chinese shares slipped into the red though after surging in the previous session, with the blue-chip index off 0.2 percent.

China Vice Premier Liu He will visit Washington for trade talks on February 21st-22nd, while there were comments from White House Press Secretary Sanders that trade meetings with China in Washington D.C. will begin today and that higher-level talks which will be led by USTR Lighthizer are to begin on Thursday. Furthermore, trade talks are said to focus on needed structural changes in China which impact trade, as well as China’s pledge to buy a substantial amount of goods and services from the US.

Despite today’s muted action, Chinese shares have risen rapidly so far this month, with MSCI’s China A shares index up 6.5%, by far the best performance among major markets despite China’s weakening economy. Additionally, investors are now seen returning to riskier asset markets after the U.S. Federal Reserve signalled earlier this year it could halt rate hikes in light of U.S. economic softness.

“In the last week, it seems like global central banks have started a possible process of monetary easing,” Bank of America-Merrill Lynch strategist Ajay Singh Kapur said in a note. “If so, this would be very positive for Asia/EM stocks,” Kapur said.

Across the Pacific, contracts on the Nasdaq, Dow and S&P 500 edged lower as traders kick their heels before the next round of trade talks between America and China. Italian bonds fell while most European notes climbed.

The Rest…HERE

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