Scream Correction

US crude plummeted 4% yesterday and sank below the $70pb mark and Brent slipped below $75pb. Momentum traders and falling volumes worsened crude’s recent plunge while OPEC’s latest announcement of output cuts and Saudi’s additional threats that they will extend their solo cut beyond Q1 went totally unheard. Worse, as the bears saw that investors ignored the supply cuts and threats, they feel more confident to increase their bets against crude. And indeed, the cartel’s shrinking share of global output and frictions among members regarding the supply cut strategy mean that either the supply cuts don’t make much difference, or further action will be difficult and perhaps too costly. Add the global slowdown woes into that mix, the dwindling falling interest and algorithmic trades’ lack of emotion regarding the OPEC news, you understand why the barrel of crude is below $70pb and not above $100pb this December, as many banks had forecasted at the start of the year. And if a more than 4.5mio barrel fall in the US oil reserves last week couldn’t halt yesterday’s oil selloff, it is because the most recent number was blurred by a big margin error, the biggest on record – or the bulls just couldn’t find the energy to swim against such a strong tide.

The question on the back of everyone’s mind is: could crude oil extend losses? At the current levels, crude oil is trading near oversold market territory, therefore your algorithmic models based on market metrics should take than into account and slow selling. As such, we shall see a certain rebound at the current levels. Yet any price recovery could remain limited at $75/78 range, including the minor 23.6% Fibonacci retracement and the 200-DMA, and once the time is right, we could see this negative move extent to $65/67 region.

Remains the question of US strategic reserves that the US is said to consider refilling between $67/72 region. Yes, that will certainly help slow the downside pressure at this range but keep in mind that these buybacks are limited to about 3 mio barrels per month due to physical constraints and won’t reverse the tide.

Now that OPEC risk is out of the way, the biggest upside risk for oil is Middle East tensions.

Too dovish

Falling energy prices help softening global inflation expectations and keep the central bank doves in charge of the market, along with sufficiently soft economic data that points at the end of the global monetary policy campaign. This week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Bank of Canada (BoC) kept rates unchanged – although the RBA said that they could hike again if home-grown inflation doesn’t slow. But overall, the Federal Reserve (Fed) is expected to cut as soon as in May next year, and the European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to announce six 25 basis point cuts next year. If that’s the case, the ECB should start cutting before the Fed, sometime in Q1. It sounds overstretched to me.

Data released earlier this week showed that French industrial production fell unexpectedly for the 3rd straight month in October, Spanish output declined, and German factory orders fell 3.7% in October versus a 0.2% increase penciled in by analysts. The slowing European economies and falling inflation help building a case in favour of an ECB rate cut, but I don’t see the ECB cutting rates anytime in the H1. Remember, economic slowdown is the natural response that the ECB was looking for to slow inflation. Now that it happens, the bank won’t leave the battlefield before making sure that inflation shows no sign of life. But the EURUSD is understandable extending its losses within the bearish consolidation zone, as the German 10-year yield sinks below the 2.20% level. The EURUSD is now testing the 100-DMA to the downside. Trend and momentum indicators are comfortably bearish and the RSI hints that we are not yet dealing with oversold market conditions. Therefore, the selloff could deepen toward the 1.07/1.730 region.

The direction of the EURUSD is of course also dependent on what the USD leg of the pair will do. We see the dollar index recover this week despite the falling yields driven lower by a soft set of US jobs data released so far this week. The JOLTS data showed a significant fall in job openings in October, while yesterday’s ADP print revealed around 100K new private job additions last month, much less than 130K penciled in by analysts. There is no apparent correlation between this data and Friday’s official NFP read, but the fact that independent data point at further loosening in the US jobs market comforts the Fed doves in the idea that, yes, the US jobs market is finally giving in. On the yields front, the US 2-year yield remains steady near 4.60%/4.65% region, while the 10-year yield fell to 4.10% yesterday, from above 5% by end of October. This is a big, big decline, and it means that investors are now ramping up the US slowdown bets. That’s also why we don’t see the US stocks react to the further fall in yields. The S&P500 and Nasdaq both fell yesterday, while their European peers extended gains regardless of the overbought conditions. The Stoxx 600 closed yesterday’s session above the 470 level. The softening ECB expectations are certainly the major driver of the European stocks toward the ytd highs; German stocks hit an ATH yesterday despite the undoubtedly morose economic outlook. Actual levels scream correction.

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Swissquote Bank SA
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