What the ECB Decision Means for Markets (Slightly Disappointing)

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • What the Slightly Disappointing ECB Decision Means for Markets

Futures are modestly higher thanks to better than expected earnings.

Earnings after Thursday’s close were solid as GOOGL, INTC and SBUX all beat estimates and rallied after hours.  The results are offsetting Wednesday’s underwhelming results.

There were no notable economic reports overnight and no new U.S./China trade news, so markets are continuing to digest a slightly disappointing ECB meeting and focus has now turned to the Fed meting this coming Wednesday.

Today there is only one economic report, Initial Q2 GDP (E: 1.9%), which might have more of an impact on markets than usual given Wednesday’s Fed meeting, especially if it’s a big surprise in either direction (very strong or very weak).  If it’s a strong number, that will weaken the case for sustained Fed easing (which the market has priced in) and if it’s a weak number, it’ll strengthen the case for sustained Fed easing (so stocks will likely rally on a “bad is good” reaction).

Why The Dovish ECB Isn’t Good For Stocks

What’s in Today’s Report:

  • Why The Dovish ECB Decision Isn’t Good for Stocks

Futures are modestly lower following more disappointing economic data.

Chinese exports badly missed expectations at –20.7% vs. (E) -6.5%, although that number was likely skewed by the Lunar New Year, so it’s not as bad as it looks.  German Manufacturers’ Orders also missed (-2.6% vs. (E) 0.5%).  So, the data overnight is just adding to the growth worries that came from the ECB projections yesterday and that’s why stocks are down again.

Today the key will be the Employment Situation Report.  Estimates are:  Jobs: 178K, UE: 3.9%, Wages: 3.4% yoy), and thankfully the range for a “Just Right” number is wide, as we said in our Jobs Report Preview.  But, given the recent soft global economic data, while the range for a “Just Right” number is wide, the penalty for a number being “Too Cold” and causing growth concerns or “Too Hot” and resulting in a hawkish Fed will be extreme, and if either one of those outcomes occur, it’ll likely be a painful day in stocks.

Outside of the jobs report we also get Housing Starts (E: 1.17M) and two Fed Speakers:  Daly (10:00 a.m. ET) and Powell (10:00 p.m. ET).

European Central Bank (ECB) Interest Rate Preview, September 6, 2017

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The ECB is expected to signal it will begin to taper its QE program sometime in 2018 at tomorrow’s meeting; however, the details regarding that tapering announcement remain unclear.

Why It Matters: The dollar. The falling dollar, which is down more than 10% year to date, has been an under-appreciated tailwind on the stock market (a weaker dollar boosts exports and corporate profits). If the ECB is more hawkish than expected tomorrow, that will cause a potentially big reversal in the dollar. I say that, because “long euro/short dollar” is a very crowded trade at the moment, and if it reverses, it could be violent.

The reason this meeting will punch above its weight from a market standpoint is because the ECB commentary on tapering will be (correctly) taken as implicit commentary on the strength of the euro.

The market assumes that the ECB is not concerned about current euro strength. If the ECB fails to announce tapering intentions tomorrow, or is very vague about those intentions, the market will infer that the ECB thinks the euro is too high. If that happens, the euro will drop, hard, and the dollar will soar—and that will likely be a headwind on US stocks, and a (big) tailwind on European stocks (so HEDJ will begin to rally again).

Meeting Expectations If: ECB President Draghi confirms, at the press conference, that the ECB Governing Council intends to taper QE in 2018, and that it will reveal details of that plan at a future ECB meeting. So, Draghi announces tapering is coming, but doesn’t give any details.

Dovish If: Draghi does not announce the intention to being tapering QE sometime in 2018. This is a remote possibility, but given the strength in the euro I don’t want to completely rule it out.

Mildly Dovish If: Draghi announces that the ECB intends to taper QE, and that it will announce the details at the December meeting, at earliest. Draghi likely won’t single out December, but he won’t say details will be revealed at the “next” meeting, which would be October.

Hawkish If: Draghi announces that the ECB intends to taper QE, and says the details of the taper will be revealed at the “next” meeting. That’s the key phrase to watch for. If that’s the case, look for the euro to modestly rally as there is not clear consensus on an October reveal, and that would be taken to interpret urgency on the part of the ECB, and a disregard for the strength in the euro. It’s the latter point that would cause the euro to rally.

Finally, I don’t want to say that something is impossible, but it’s incredibly unlikely that Draghi and the ECB will reveal detailed plans regarding the tapering of QE tomorrow. The wide consensus will only be to announce they want to start tapering QE.

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