Morning Report: Stocks down on travel ban

Vital Statistics:

 

Last Change
S&P futures 2601 -139.25
Oil (WTI) 31.12 -1.89
10 year government bond yield 0.70%
30 year fixed rate mortgage 3.5%

 

Stocks are lower after Trump announced a 30 day travel ban from Europe. Bonds and MBS are up.

 

Initial Jobless Claims came in at 211,000 last week, below expectations. If Coronavirus is going to cause a recession, this will be the first place you see it. So far, it looks like companies are hanging on to their workers. This is key to preventing a recession.

 

Credit spreads are beginning to widen, however. The banks have been crushed YTD, with Wells down something like 40%, JPM down 30%. We are nowhere near 2008 levels (and probably aren’t heading there), but widening credit spreads are the canary in the coal mine.

 

Speaking of widening spreads, mortgage backed security spreads are widening. The difference between the implied yield of mortgage backed securities and treasuries is about 150 basis points right now. It was about 110 at the end of February. In a nutshell, this means that mortgage rates right now are about the same as they were when the 10 year was yielding 1%.  If all you watch is the 10 year bond yield indicator on CNBC. It isn’t telling the whole story.

 

We are entering “oh crap” season, where companies that are going to miss their first quarter earnings expectations disclose it to the market. This could be an opportunity for companies to “kitchen sink” a lot of things as Coronavirus provides an opportunity for them to build in cushion for future earnings releases. In other words, if the Street expects you to make $1.16 in your first quarter earnings, and you are going to come in around $1.12 – $1.13, you might disclose that you will make only $1.10 and take the opportunity to write down a whole bunch of assets and doubtful accounts to create some cushion to make sure they make their numbers going forward. Companies aren’t supposed to do this, but they do. Certainly look for airlines, hotels, banks, consumer discretionaries, and energy to warn on Q1.

 

Inflation at the wholesale level fell 0.6% MOM in February, and is up 1.3% on a YOY basis. Ex-food and energy it is down 0.3% MOM and up 1.4% YOY. Again, inflation no longer matters to the Fed.

 

The Fed Funds futures are now predicting a 60% chance cut of 75 bps next week and a 40% chance of a 100 bp cut. Note that the CME indicates that the inter-meeting cut has screwed up the probability graphs, but they don’t quantify it. Oh, by the way, the CME is suspending all open-outcry trading until further notice starting Friday.

 

Fed funds futures Mar 20

 

 

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