Markets balance tension between optimism and looming uncertainty
- October 5, 2020
Corporates | Kennett Square, PA
SummaryMarking the first monthly decline since March, September saw a 3.9% contraction in the S&P 500 index, as equity investors faced labor market weakness, impasse on further fiscal stimulus, and the specter of a contested presidential election.
At the same time, a market rally of the last two weeks of the month signaled a tide of optimism on the same issues. These opposing forces have created a tension for market participants in an economy struggling its way through the pandemic, and with one month until the election the market will now assess the ongoing health situation at the White House following the president’s contraction of COVID-19.
The labor markets
Amid such uncertainty as the backdrop, the labor market continues to remain in focus. Despite consecutive months of job growth, the labor market is facing ongoing headwinds. Non-farm payrolls were disappointing Friday morning, with 661,000 jobs added during September versus initial estimates of 859,000, suggesting a potential slowdown in the pace of recovery. On the bright side, unemployment continued to fall, decreasing half a percentage point to 7.9%, but that could merely reflect a decline in the labor force participation rate. Only about half of the jobs erased during the onset of the pandemic have been recovered to date; moreover, layoffs from major corporations during the past week, including Disney, Shell, American Airlines, and Goldman Sachs, signaled a deepening impact of COVID-19 on the jobs sector across industries.
Personal income data
Personal income data released last week also portended economic challenges ahead; after increasing modestly in July, personal incomes were reported to contract by 2.7% during the month of August, reflecting not only job cuts but also the expiry of certain government stimulus packages that had been supporting particular industries and unemployment benefits.
Interest rate markets
As markets grapple with competing headlines, rates markets remain rangebound though still subject to persistent volatility on the longer end of the curve. Highlighting this volatility, the 10-year Treasury rate climbed to an intraday high of 0.71% on October 1 as fiscal stimulus talks appeared promising, only to fall back to a 0.66% - 0.67% range as bipartisan discussions deteriorated over the course of the day. As corporations continue to take advantage of low treasury yields to support debt issuance, many companies are considering pre-issuance hedging given the low rate environment and potential for the yield curve to steepen in future periods. For example, a company can hedge a future 10-year issuance two years forward by locking in a forward-starting swap rate of about 0.834%.
(Related insight: Read “Hedging future fixed rate debt”)
Chatham Hedging Advisors, LLC (CHA) is a subsidiary of Chatham Financial Corp. and provides hedge advisory, accounting and execution services related to swap transactions in the United States. CHA is registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a commodity trading advisor and is a member of the National Futures Association (NFA); however, neither the CFTC nor the NFA have passed upon the merits of participating in any advisory services offered by CHA. For further information, please visit chathamfinancial.com/legal-notices.
Transactions in over-the-counter derivatives (or “swaps”) have significant risks, including, but not limited to, substantial risk of loss. You should consult your own business, legal, tax and accounting advisers with respect to proposed swap transaction and you should refrain from entering into any swap transaction unless you have fully understood the terms and risks of the transaction, including the extent of your potential risk of loss. This material has been prepared by a sales or trading employee or agent of Chatham Hedging Advisors and could be deemed a solicitation for entering into a derivatives transaction. This material is not a research report prepared by Chatham Hedging Advisors. If you are not an experienced user of the derivatives markets, capable of making independent trading decisions, then you should not rely solely on this communication in making trading decisions. All rights reserved.20-0389
Our featured insights
Powell discusses state of economy following latest FOMC meeting
Following last week’s FOMC meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled progress towards tapering while downplaying the impact of risks including the delta variant on the overall U.S. economic recovery. Markets reacted as U.S. GDP growth for the second quarter of 2021 missed the mark.
European Central Bank keeps stimulus torch lit as U.S. officials consider dimming the flame
Continued upward pressure on prices in the United States remains the economic theme as the Fed signaled more appetite for gradually reducing their bond buying program. This is in contrast with the European Central Bank’s continued economic stimulus.
Inflation acceleration makes Fed uncomfortable
Inflation continued to dominate conversations with elevated CPI numbers leading to tough questions for the Fed chair at his Congressional testimony. The 2-5 year treasury yields increased but long-term yields continued to fall. Meanwhile, OPEC reached a compromise with the UAE, agreeing to higher...
Volatility across all sectors as the market anticipates a slower recovery
COVID variants and disappointing economic data dominated the market this week, leading to volatility in all sectors. Treasury yields dropped before rebounding slightly to end the week. Oil hit a 6-year high on Tuesday before dropping off, and the U.S. Dollar showed continued signs of...
Market dissects confounding jobs report
The highly anticipated June jobs report delivered conflicting results with a strong beat in payroll expectations diverging from the slight increase in the unemployment rate. The dollar had another week of appreciation before cooling on Friday as interest rates dipped slightly. Oil prices neared...
"We have a deal"
Amidst rising inflation and looming fears of a Fed tapering, an exuberant President felt confident that a deal had been reached with a group of bipartisan senators paving way for a roughly $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.
Hawks begin circling the Fed
The Fed holds short-term rates steady but indicates rate hikes in 2023. The Fed’s inflation expectation revised upward to 3.4%. Equities fall, dollar strengthens, and 10-year Treasury rates are mixed. The U.S. economic recovery continues.
CPI prints at decade high while Treasury yields plummet to quarterly lows
Inflation data last week printed at the highest level since 2008 as investors weighed its transitory nature. Signaling expectation of continued dovishness by the Fed amid economic reopening, stocks hit record highs. Curiously, Treasuries also rallied as yields fell to three-month lows.