Biden plans bonfire of the vanities in first 10 days.
China growth picks up in Q4, retail sales soft.
News around vaccines and cases weigh on sentiment.
A sluggish start for stocks after a choppy and nervous second week of trading in 2021 highlights concerns about the trajectory of global economic recovery this year. European stock markets nudged lower as investors wait for new bullish catalysts amid renewed COVID-19 worries with cases in China on the rise and delays to vaccine rollout in Europe. Joe Biden’s $1.9tn stimulus package has now been discounted, and in Europe we are still waiting for the €750bn rescue package to be disbursed, which won’t be assisted by political upheaval in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, as Armin Laschet won the race to succeed Angela Merkel. Oil prices slackened amid the broad risk-off tone, with WTI back to a $52 handle and Brent under $55, despite economic growth in China picking up in the fourth quarter. Gold tracked a little higher around $1,830 after a test of $1,800 overnight, with US bond markets shut for the day.
Losses should be limited with US markets shut for the Martin Luther King Day holiday after closing down on Friday to end a choppy week. Indeed the DAX in Frankfurt nudged gently into the green after an hour of trading, with other major bourses paring earlier losses. On Friday, the S&P 500 declined 0.72% to 3,768, whilst the small cap Russell 2000 dropped 1.5% as the reflation-rotation trade reversed slightly as retail sales numbers disappointed. US retail sales declined by 0.7% in December from November, indicating much slower consumption growth than expected.
We’re getting lots of noise around vaccines, which is to be expected, and is likely a factor in some of the nervy price action. For example, Pfizer is temporarily cutting supply in Europe as it upgrades its Puurs facility in Belgium. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca will deliver Britain with 2m doses a week from mid-Feb, later than the end of Jan timeline envisaged. Meanwhile lockdown restrictions get tighter. All this of course is rather by-the-by, as the underlying narrative remains that vaccines will deliver a return to near-normal sometime this year. It might be a bit slower in some places, but for the market the fact it is going to happen is all that really matters.
The dollar nudged up with the WSJ reporting that Janet Yellen is expected to reaffirm the US administration’s commitment to market-determined foreign exchange rates and will not actively seek a weaker dollar. This may not matter too much, but if she were not to stress this point it could see USD weaken. GBPUSD sank to session lows at 1.35250, the lowest since Jan 12th. EURGBP also bounced off the key horizontal support at 0.8866-67, the line that has held since last June. EURUSD is testing support at the Dec 9th low around 1.2060.
China’s economy grew by 6.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, better than before the pandemic. This helped the world’s second-largest economy notch 2.3% GDP growth in 2020. But the backwards looking data is probably less important for the market right now than the fact cases are on the rise again and China has locked down 28m people to combat the spread. And consumers remain circumspect – despite the pickup in growth in Q4, retail sales in China declined by 3.9%.
Market attention will swing to the inauguration of Joe Biden this week. Violence is a concern, but the US authorities won’t allow a repeat of the Washington mob. Biden himself plans a bonfire of the vanities, with a series of executive orders in his first 10 days designed to wipe away the sinful past of the Trump era. This will also see the president take greater control of vaccinations.
We’ll also be watching the ECB meeting on Thursday for signs of concern about the pace of recovery in the Eurozone. Clearly the picture has worsened since the ECB last met, but there is not a lot more Christine Lagarde and co can do for the real economy. The central bank expanded and extended its pandemic emergency purchase programme last time and doesn’t have much ammunition left. Getting the €750bn recovery fund out to where it’s needed is proving painfully slow.
Earnings season on Wall Street hits full speed this week. Netflix (NFLX) reports tomorrow Jan 19th, with average earnings per shares (EPS) estimated at $1.40 on revenues of $6.6bn, up 20% year-on-year. Whilst the company has been a big winner from the pandemic as subscriptions leapt with consumers stuck at home, there are worries about the service going forward.
One, is it as good as it used to be? The library content is shrinking, and competition is far more intense these days. Churn is a big concern with one survey showing 32% of respondents indicating they are likely to cancel Netflix in the next three months. This is well up on previous levels and indicates perhaps a degree of subscription fatigue among consumers. Whilst Netflix remains first among equals (people with more than one VOD subscriptions almost invariably have a Netflix account), it’s facing much sterner competition from the likes of Disney, which is throwing some serious effort into new content and has the advantage of established brands and intellectual property like Star Wars.
Two, we’re heading into the other side of the massive pull-forward in demand that really drove the 2020 subscriber growth. Paid net adds hit 26m in the first half but had declined to just 2.2m in Q3. Netflix ended Q3 with 195m paid subscribers and expects a further 6m net adds in Q4 to reach 201m in total. Key will be the subscriber growth in Latin America and Asia Pacific, where growing broadband penetration rates are supportive of ongoing growth. Whilst Netflix has had some notable local-language successes, it will need to keep repeating these to keep growing – content remains king.
Major US earnings releases
RISK DISCLOSURE STATEMENT In consideration of Safecap Limited (“Safecap”) agreeing to enter into over-the-counter (“OTC”) contracts for differences (“CFDs”) and spot foreign exchange contracts (“Spot FX Contracts”) with the undersigned (hereinafter referred to as the “Customer”, “you”, “your”), Customer acknowledges, understands and agrees that: 1. Trading Is Very Speculative and Risky. Trading CFDs and Spot FX Contracts is highly speculative and is suitable only for those customers who (a) understand and are willing to assume the economic, legal and other risks involved, and (b) are financially able to assume losses significantly in excess of margin or deposits. Neither CFDs nor Spot FX Contracts are appropriate investments for retirement funds. 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Where the CFD or Spot FX Contract is settled in a currency other than your base currency, the value of your return may be affected by its conversion into the base currency. 12. One Click Trading And Immediate Execution. Safecap’s Online Trading System provide immediate transmission of Customer’s Order once Customer enters the notional amount and clicks “Buy/Sell.” This means that there is no opportunity to review the Order after clicking “Buy/Sell” and Market Orders cannot be cancelled. This feature may be different from other trading systems you have used. Customer should utilize the Demo Trading System to become familiar with the Online Trading System before actually trading online with Safecap. Customer acknowledges and agrees that by using Safecap’s Online Trading System, Customer agrees to the one-click system and accepts the risk of this immediate transmission feature. 13. Telephone Orders And Immediate Execution. 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Customer is aware of the risks inherent in trading CFDs and Spot FX Contracts and is financially able to bear such risks and withstand any losses incurred. 17. Customer May Not Be Able To Close Open Positions. Due to market conditions which may cause any unusual market price fluctuations, or other circumstances Safecap may be unable to close out Customer’s position at the price specified by Customer and Customer agrees that Safecap will bear no liability for a failure to do so. 18. Internet Trading. When Customer trades online (via the internet), Safecap shall not be liable for any claims, losses, damages, costs or expenses, caused, directly or indirectly, by any malfunction or failure of any transmission, communication system, computer facility or trading software, whether belonging to Safecap, Customer, any exchange or any settlement or clearing system. 19. Telephone Orders. 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These prevailing market prices will be the prices, which are ultimately reflected on the Customer statements. This may or may not adversely affect the Customer’s realized and unrealized gains and losses. 21. Compensation. Safecap participates in the Investor Compensation Fund for clients of Investment Firms regulated in the Republic of Cyprus. Customers will be entitled to compensation under the Investor Compensation Fund where we are unable to meet our duties and obligations arising from your claim. Any compensation provided to you by the Investor Compensation Fund shall not exceed twenty thousand Euro (20.000). This applies to your aggregate claims against us. TRADING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES 1. INTRODUCTION Safecap’s Trading Policies and Procedures are an integral part of your Customer Agreement. It is your responsibility to carefully read these Trading Policies and Procedures and to inform Safecap of any questions or objections that you may have regarding them before entering each and every Transaction. You agree, represent, warrant and certify that you understand and accept Safecap’s Trading Policies and Procedures, as set forth here and as may be amended from time to time by Safecap, in its sole discretion, and you agree to comply with Safecap’s Trading Policies and Procedures. Terms capitalized in these Trading Policies and Procedures are defined in the Glossary as found on Safecap website. 2. TRADING HOURS All references to Safecap’s hours of trading are in Greenwich Mean Time (“GMT”) using 24-hour format. Safecap normally provides access for trading CFDs and Spot FX Contracts via the Website from 21:00 GMT on Sunday to 21:00 GMT on Friday. Please refer to our “Instruments Table” for additional information. Safecap reserves the right to suspend or modify its trading hours at any time and on such an event will inform Customers in advance on a best efforts basis of any changes in its trading hours. Following submission of an Order, it is the sole responsibility of Customer to remain available for Order and Fill confirmations, and other communications regarding Customer’s Account until all open Orders are completed. Thereafter, Customer must monitor Customer’s Account frequently when Customer has Open Positions in the Account. 3. BEST EXECUTION 1. Safecap is authorized and regulated by Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. We are required to take all reasonable steps to obtain the best possible result when executing client Orders. We are required to have an execution policy and to provide our clients with appropriate information in relation to our execution policy. Where you place Orders with us, the execution factors that we consider and their relative importance is as set out below: 1. Price. The relative importance we attach is “high”. 2. Speed. The relative importance we attach is “high”. 3. Likelihood of execution and settlement. The relative importance we attach is “high”. 4. Size. The relative importance we attach is “high”. 2. We are the principal to every Order you place with us and therefore we are the only execution venue. 4. ORDERS 1. Orders Placement. All Orders must be placed through the Safecap Online Trading System or by telephone to the Safecap Trading Desk. Telephone Orders are accepted in the sole discretion of Safecap. 2. Types of Orders Accepted. Some of the types of Orders Safecap accepts include, but are not limited to: 1. Good till Canceled (“GTC”) - An Order (other than a Market Order), that by its terms is effective until filled or canceled by Customer. GTC Orders do not automatically cancel at the end of the Business Day on which they are placed. 2. Limit - An Order (other than a Market Order) to buy or sell the identified market at a specified price. A Limit Order to buy generally will be executed when the Ask Price equals or falls below the Bid Price that you specify in the Limit Order. A Limit Order to sell generally will be executed when the Bid Price equals or exceeds the As Price that you specify in the Limit Order. 3. Market - An Order to buy or sell the identified market at the current market price that Safecap provides either via the Online Trading System or over the telephone through one of the dealers. An Order to buy is executed at the current market Ask Price and an Order to sell is executed at the current market Bid Price. 4. One Cancels the Other (“OCO”)- An Order that is linked to another Order. If one of the Orders is executed, the other will be automatically cancelled. 5. Stop Loss - A Stop Loss Order is an instruction to buy or sell a market at a price which is worse than the opening price of an open position (or worse than the prevailing price when applying the Stop Loss Order to an already open position). It can be used to help protect against losses. Please note that because of market gapping, the best available price that may be achieved could be materially different to the price set on the Stop Loss Order and as such, Stop Loss Orders are not guaranteed to take effect at the price for which they are set. 6. Trailing Stop - A Trailing Stop is the same as a Stop Loss Order with the only difference being that, instead of setting a price at which the Order is activated, the Trailing Stop Order is activated at a fixed distance from the market price. For example, if Customer has purchased a long open position and the market Ask Price increases, the Trailing Stop price will also increase and will trail behind the market Ask Price at the fixed distance set by Customer. If the market Ask Price then decreases, the Trailing Stop price will remain fixed at its last position and if the market Ask Price reaches the Trailing Stop price, the Order will be executed. Please note that because of market gapping, the best available price that may be achieved could be materially different to the price set on the Trailing Stop Order and as such, Trailing Stop Orders are not guaranteed to take effect at the fixed distance for which they are set. 3. One Click Order Entry/One Click Execution of Market Orders. 1. Electronic Order entry for Market Orders equals Order execution. To enter an online Order, Customer must access the Markets window, then click on “BUY/SELL” for the relevant market. A new window will appear in which the Customer enters the price and lot size. The Order is filled shortly after the Customer hits the OK button provided the Customer has sufficient funds in his Account. Orders may fail for several reasons including changing dealer prices, insufficient margin, unspecified lot size or unanticipated technical difficulties. 2. One-Click Trading. To use one-click trading, Customer must go to the “Settings” menu and choose “View and Edit”. Customer should check the “One-Click Trading” box. To enter an online Order with one-click trading, the Customer must access the Markets window and enter the price and lot size. The Order is filled shortly after the Customer clicks the BUY/SELL button provided the Customer has sufficient funds in his Account. Orders may fail for several reasons including changing dealer prices, insufficient margin, unspecified lot size or unanticipated technical difficulties. One-Click Trading can also be used when closing positions. 3. Immediate Execution of Orders Through the Safecap Trading Desk. Orders executed over the telephone with the Safecap Trading Desk are completed when the Safecap telephone operator says “deal” or “done.” At that point Customer has bought or sold and cannot cancel the Order. When placing Orders through the Safecap Trading Desk, Customer acknowledges and agrees to such immediate execution and accepts the risk of trading in this way. 4. Order Cancellation. Non-Market Orders may be cancelled via the Safecap Online Trading System. However, there is no guarantee that Customer will be able to cancel an Order before it has been executed and Safecap shall have no liability for any claims, losses, damages, costs or expenses, including legal fees, arising directly or indirectly out of the failure of such Order to be cancelled. 4. Terms of Acceptance for Orders - It is Customer’s sole responsibility to clearly indicate the terms of an Order when entered, whether it is a Market Order, Limit Order, Stop Loss Order or any other type of Order, including the relevant price and lot size. Customer acknowledges and agrees that, despite our best efforts, the price at which execution occurs may be materially different to the price specified in your Order. This may result from sudden price movements in the underlying market that are beyond our control. Safecap shall have no liability for failure to execute Orders. Safecap shall have the right, but not the obligation, to reject any Order in whole or in part prior to execution, or to cancel any Order, where Customer’s Account contains Margin that is insufficient to support the entire Order or where such Order is illegal or otherwise improper. 5. Confirmation of Execution - Transactions executed online will be confirmed online in the Open Positions window and Deal Blotter in the dealing console, which is updated online as each Transaction is executed. Telephone Orders are confirmed orally and online in the Deal Blotter and Open Positions window immediately once the Order is executed. Confirmation of execution and statements of Accounts for Customer shall be deemed correct, conclusive and binding upon Customer if not objected to immediately by email if Orders were placed through Safecap’s Online Trading System or by telephone to the Safecap Trading Desk if Orders were placed by telephone, and such objection must be confirmed in writing within five (5) days after the day on which such objection was first raised. In cases where the prevailing market represents prices different from the prices posted by Safecap, Safecap will attempt, on a best efforts basis and in good faith, to execute Market Orders on or close to the prevailing market prices. This may or may not adversely affect Customer’s Realized and Unrealized Gains and Losses. 5. CUSTOMER ACCOUNTS AND INITIAL DEPOSITS 1. Documents. Before you can place an Order with Safecap, you must read and accept the Customer Agreement, including the Risk Disclosure Statement and these Trading Policies and Procedures and all applicable addenda, you must deposit sufficient clear funds in your Account and your Customer Registration Form and all accompanying documents must be approved by Safecap. Upon the approval of your registration, you will be notified by e-mail. Safecap may, in its sole discretion, request that in addition to online acceptance of the Customer Agreement, Customer must complete and submit any signed documents so required by Safecap, including but not limited to the Customer Agreement and Risk Disclosure Statement. 2. Currency of Accounts. All Account balances will be calculated and reported only in U.S. Dollars. 6. MARGIN REQUIREMENTS Customer shall provide and maintain Margin in accordance with the terms of the Customer Agreement to secure Customer’s obligations to Safecap. Margin includes Required Margin for Open Positions, which is based on (i) the Opening Margin Requirement; (ii) the Minimum Margin Requirement; (iii) the market value of Open Positions; and (iv) any additional amount as Safecap, in its sole discretion, believes is prudent to require. Customer must maintain the Minimum Margin Requirement on their Open Positions at all times. Safecap has the right to liquidate any or all Open Positions whenever the Minimum Margin Requirement is not maintained. 7. MARGIN CALLS Safecap maintains the right to liquidate Customer positions as set out above and is under no obligation to make calls for margin. However, Customer will receive an automatic margin call notification when logged in to the Online Trading System if the Account Equity in the Online Trading System equals to or falls below 100% of the minimum margin needed to open the position(s) held (the minimum margin needed to open position(s) is referred to in the Online Trading System as ‘Used Margin’). In addition, Safecap may contact Customer and request that Customer deposit additional Collateral to secure Customer’s obligations to Safecap. Any call for additional margin without exercising the rights to liquidate Customer positions shall not be deemed precedent for future calls act as a waiver of liquidation rights by Safecap. Safecap may allow the Customer to maintain Open Positions even if the Customer has not met one or more Margin payment which is/ are due, in Safecap’s sole discretion and upon approval by the Risk Committee. 8. LIQUIDATION LEVEL Subject to all additional rights of Safecap under the Customer Agreement, in the event that the liquid funds in the Customer Account should, at any time equal or fall below 20% of the Used Margin for Customer’s Account in the aggregate, Safecap will have the right but not the obligation to close any part of or all of Customer’s Open Positions. Any failure by Safecap to enforce its rights hereunder shall not be deemed as a waiver of such rights by Safecap. Safecap may contact the Customer via the means designated by the Customer to make a call for Margin in order to secure Customer’s obligations to Safecap but is not obliged to do so. Any call for Margin without exercising the rights to liquidate Customer positions shall not be deemed a precedent for future conduct and Safecap maintains the right to liquidate Customer Positions without calling Margin. 9. WITHDRAWALS Payments from a Customer Account require a withdrawal request form signed by all required account holders and submitted in writing to Safecap. The withdrawal process requires a minimum of three (3) Business Days from receipt of the withdrawal request to the issuance of payment. Safecap will transfer any funds owing to you to your nominated bank account. Only funds owing to you and not being utilized for margin purposes or any other obligations to Safecap may be withdrawn. If a withdrawal request is for funds in excess of those funds that are available for withdrawal, Safecap will not comply with the request and the Customer will be notified accordingly. I / WE HAVE READ, UNDERSTOOD AND AGREE TO THE RISK DISCLOSURE STATEMENT AND THE TRADING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES SET OUT ABOVE