Europe buys into 'sell in May' mantra

<html xmlns=""><head><title>LIVE MARKETS-Europe buys into 'sell in May' mantra</title></head><body>

Main U.S. indexes sharply lower: S&P 500 down ~1.75%

All S&P 500 sectors red: energy weakest group, down ~5%

KBW regional banking index slides ~6%

Dollar edges down; crude off >4%; gold, bitcoin gain

U.S. 10-Year Treasury yield tumbles to 3.42%

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European shares have begun the month on the back foot with declines for all the major indexes, led lower by the energy .SXEP and media .SXMP sectors, with investors cautious ahead of the Fed meeting on Wednesday.

The STOXX 600 .STOXX ended the session down 1.3%, while Germany's DAX .GDAXI, France's CAC 40 .FCHI and Britain's FTSE 100 .FTSE were all down between 1.2%-1.5%.

"Last week saw risk appetite revive on better earnings from tech giants, but a host of worries about interest rates, further bank crises, the US debt ceiling and of course pre-Fed nerves have conspired to prompt a reversal in equity markets," says Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

"European and US indices are down sharply, as investors' nerves get the better of them."

Pearson, down 15%, fell in tandem with U.S. peer Chegg after the education services provider said viral chatbot ChatGPT was pressuring subscriber growth, weighing on the media sector.

Shares in oil giant BP fell over 8.6%, the biggest daily fall since the early days of the COVID pandemic in March 2020, after it slowed the pace of its share buyback programme.

Meanwhile, the Euro STOXX volatility .V2TX index rose 3.139 points, closing above 20 for the first time since March 29.

(Samuel Indyk)



JOLTS and factory orders data released on Tuesday gave Powell & Co something to chew on as they convene for their two-day policy palaver.

The number of unfilled jobs in the United States fell by 3.9% in March to a still-elevated 9.59 million, fewer than the 9.775 million consensus.

It marked the third consecutive decline, which is happy news for Fed watchers, as high job openings combined with a low unemployment rate is a toxic combination that puts upward pressure on wage growth - a major driver of inflation and one of the Fed's top concerns.

Job openings have dropped 20.3% from the all-time record high reached in the year-ago month, but remain 37.1% above the pre-pandemic level of February 2020.

Those elevated numbers keep upward pressure on wage growth, a major driver of core inflation and one of the Fed's top concerns.

"Before the pandemic, the highest number of US unfilled positions per unemployed worker was 1.25," says Ronald Temple, chief market strategist at Lazard. "Less than a year ago, this ratio peaked at 2 open jobs per unemployed worker and now stands at 1.64."

"The Fed should gain some comfort from the gradual decline in this ratio, but also is likely to see this data as reaffirming the need for another rate hike tomorrow," Temple adds.

This Friday, in the April payroll report, analysts see average hourly earnings growth of 4.2% year-over-year, repeating March's print.

Beneath that headline, the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) USJOLT=ECI, showed new hires were little changed, while involuntary separations - firings and layoffs - crept higher.

Voluntary separations - otherwise known as quits - held steady 3.9 million, or about 2.5% of the workforce.

The quit rate is often seen as a gauge of consumer sentiment, as workers are unlikely to walk away from a gig in times of economic uncertainty.

But when the labor market is tight, employers find themselves sweetening the pot to entice workers to switch jobs.

Quits remain about 10% higher than the pre-pandemic level.

Separately, new orders for goods manufactured at U.S. Factories USFORD=ECI increased by 0.9% in March in a partial rebound from February's downwardly revised 1.1% drop, according to the Commerce Department.

The increase, which was largely attributable to a jump in commercial aircraft orders, fell just a hair shy of the 1% gain analysts expected, and mirrors the improving manufacturing PMI data released by the Institution of Supply Managers and S&P Global's purchasing managers indexes (PMI) released on Monday.

New orders for core capital goods - which excludes defense and aircraft and is considered an indicator of corporate capex intentions - were revised down, to -0.6% from -0.4% echoing the theme of economic uncertainty heard in many companies' quarterly earnings calls.

Wall Street has veered sharply into the red in morning trading as investors await an expected rate hike from the Fed on Wednesday, with the accompanying statement and subsequent Q&A.

The looming potential for default amid contentious debt ceiling negotiations is also working investors' nerves.

(Stephen Culp)



Talks on a U.N-brokered deal that allows the safe Black Sea export of Ukrainian grain are scheduled for Wednesday, with all sides in the negotiations involved, said a senior Ukrainian source.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, used to supply around 45 million tonnes of grain to the global market every year before the Russian invasion last year.

A drop in Ukrainian shipments was one of the major catalysts for the global food price crisis last year, with poorer emerging markets that are among the largest global importers of wheat bearing the brunt and still reeling from its impact.

For instance, Egypt a major importer of basic commodities such as wheat and vegetable oil has suffered a foreign currency crunch that pushed its pound down by nearly 50% against the dollar, suppressed imports and pushed official headline inflation to 32.7% in March, just shy of an all-time record.

Since the July deal, global food prices have fallen and were down 20.5% in March from a record high hit one year ago.

"An end to this deal obviously risks a new price spike, once any excess inventory depletes," said Hasnain Malik, head of equity research at Tellimer Research.

"This implies inflation, current account balance, and, where there are subsidies, fiscal deficit risks in the poorer emerging markets that are among the largest global importers of wheat, eg Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Philippines, and Vietnam."

However, Russia has repeatedly signaled there will be no extension after May 18 unless the West removes obstacles to the export of Russian grain and fertilizers, including the reconnection of Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank) to the SWIFT payment system.

"The US and EU are very unlikely to yield on those sanctions," added Malik.

"The Black Sea deal has always been fragile and its collapse would increase expectation of a ramp up in hostilities on the battlefield this spring."

(Bansari Mayur Kamdar)



Wall Street is trading lower early on Tuesday as investors await one more day to see whether the Federal Reserve pauses its monetary tightening or keeps the door open for further rate hikes to brake worrisome wage growth and other signs of inflation.

Heath care .SPXHC/Industrials .SPLRCI are leading the 11 S&P 500 .SPX sectors higher, while energy .SPNY is the biggest decliner.

Semiconductors .SOX are up as the Dow Transports .DJT and small caps .RUT are lower. Growth .IGX is declining less than value .IVX.

A 25-basis-point increase in the federal funds rate is expected when a two-day policy meeting ends on Wednesday, while chances of a quarter-point hike on June 14 rose to 32.1% from 27.7% on Monday, according to CME Group's FedWatch Tool.

While there is likely to be a further reduction in forward guidance from the Fed on Wednesday, the statement and comment from Chair Jerome Powell should keep open the possibility of further hikes, Macquarie economists in Canada said.

Further labor market deterioration is likely, "but based on current data this is not yet a foregone conclusion. This dynamic contributes to the argument that the FOMC is likely to keep its subsequent policy options open," economists David Doyle and Neil Shankar said in a note prepared for sales and trading personnel.

Incoming data will continue to deteriorate with the U.S. economy entering a recession in 3Q23, the pair said. "This informs our view that this week's rate hike is likely to be the final one for the cycle," they said.

The following is a snapshot of market prices in early trading:

(Herbert Lash)



In luxury, big is better. Take LVMH LVMH.PA which has seen its market cap rise seven fold over the last decade to become Europe's biggest company by market value.

But it's not only LVMH, or just a matter of market cap.

"Over the past ten years, luxury conglomerates have outperformed their mono-brand competitors on most metrics: taken together, LVMH, Richemont and Kering revenues grew twice as fast, margins expanded 10ppt more, and share prices outperformed by >200%," BofA Global Research says.

So, based on that, the U.S. bank is floating the idea of an Italian luxury champion reaping the benefits of larger scale, whereas now mono-brands are the rule.

"Overall, we think organic growth will, and should, remain the priority for these Italian groups. However, given the very strong brand momentum and financial performance some Italian groups currently experience, and the clear advantages multi-brand groups come with, inorganic growth and combinations could now be considered again," write BofA analysts.

"It is also interesting to note that several family-owned Italian luxury groups are in a management transition phase, with a new generation of the family taking more important responsibilities - which could lead to changes in growth strategy and cooperation," they add.

The market cap of LVMH, Kering PRTP.PA and Richemont CFR.S combined is up over 250% since 2014, while the Italian names - Prada 1913.HK, Moncler MONC.MI, Cucinelli BCU.MI and Ferragamo SFER.MI - have grown less than 50%, per BofA.

(Danilo Masoni)



Like the S&P 500 index .SPX, the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC is bumping up against levels that have proven to be especially strong resistance:

In September of last year, the Composite put in a high at 12,270.189. After hitting new lows later in the year, the IXIC then rallied into an early February 2023 high at 12,269.555.

Thus, the Composite stalled less than one point from its September high, before then suffering another sharp setback into mid-March.

A subsequent recovery continues to be capped by the September 2022 high.

Over the past five weeks or so, strength has continued to peter out on an approach of the September ceiling. The weekly highs have been 12,228, 12,225, 12,206, 12,245, and 12,228. On Monday, the Composite's high was at 12,261.318 before it settled back to end at 12,212.598.

Given that this week will bring the results of a critical FOMC meeting, Apple's AAPL.O quarterly results and the latest non-farm payroll report, traders will be focused on whether the Composite can break through the ceiling, potentially clearing the way for further gains, or if it will once again fail, putting the index at risk for another downdraft.

(Terence Gabriel)





56.4% of the commodities through the Black Sea grain deal go to developing nations

Early market prices

Wage growth and job openings


Factory orders

Core capital goods

(Terence Gabriel is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own)


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