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Takeaway: Widening yield spreads and falling commodity prices are bullish, while falling Chinese steel pxs and dropping junk bond prices are bearish.

Current Best Ideas:

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Key Callouts:

* 2-10 Spread – Last week the 2-10 spread widened to 205 bps, 10 bps wider than a week ago. 

* Chinese Steel – Steel prices in China are now down almost 5% month-over-month and dropped 1.0% last week to 2974 yuan/ton. Big picture, Chinese steel prices are down almost by half in the past ~3 years. We use Chinese steel rebar prices to gauge Chinese construction activity, and, by extension, the health of the Chinese economy.

* CRB Commodity Price Index – The CRB index fell -2.9%, ending the week at 282 versus 290 the prior week. As compared with the prior month, commodity prices have decreased -2.4% We generally regard changes in commodity prices on the margin as having meaningful consumption implications.

* High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates rose 22.0 bps last week, ending the week at 5.88% versus 5.66% the prior week.

Financial Risk Monitor Summary

 • Short-term(WoW): Negative / 3 of 12 improved / 4 out of 12 worsened / 5 of 12 unchanged

 • Intermediate-term(WoW): Positive / 7 of 12 improved / 3 out of 12 worsened / 2 of 12 unchanged

 • Long-term(WoW): Negative / 2 of 12 improved / 3 out of 12 worsened / 7 of 12 unchanged

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1. U.S. Financial CDS -  Swaps widened for 23 out of 27 domestic financial institutions. The sharpest increases came from mortgage insurers (MTG & RDN) and guarantors (AGO & MBI).

Tightened the most WoW: MMC, WFC, BAC

Widened the most WoW: TRV, AGO, XL

Tightened the most WoW: WFC, ACE, CB

Widened the most/ tightened the least MoM: MS, GS, AXP

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2. European Financial CDS - Swaps mostly widened in Europe last week (28 of 38). The tide of short-term momentum around EU QE-Lite appears to be receding as swaps were down on average across the EU banks complex.

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3. Asian Financial CDS - Swaps were modestly wider across the Asian banking complex. Swaps rose by a median 2 bps. Only Mizuho (-4 bps w/w) and Sumitomo (-3 bps w/w) were tighter.

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4. Sovereign CDS – Sovereign swaps continue to drop on a month-over-month basis. Irish sovereign swaps tightened by -3.9% (-2 bps to 50 ) and Spanish sovereign swaps widened by 7.8% (4 bps to 61).

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5. High Yield (YTM) Monitor – High Yield rates rose 22.0 bps last week, ending the week at 5.88% versus 5.66% the prior week.

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6. Leveraged Loan Index Monitor – The Leveraged Loan Index rose 5.0 points last week, ending at 1876.

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7. TED Spread Monitor – The TED spread rose 1.8 basis points last week, ending the week at 22.2 bps this week versus last week’s print of 20.4 bps.

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8. CRB Commodity Price Index – The CRB index fell -2.9%, ending the week at 282 versus 290 the prior week. As compared with the prior month, commodity prices have decreased -2.4% We generally regard changes in commodity prices on the margin as having meaningful consumption implications.

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9. Euribor-OIS Spread – The Euribor-OIS spread (the difference between the euro interbank lending rate and overnight indexed swaps) measures bank counterparty risk in the Eurozone. The OIS is analogous to the effective Fed Funds rate in the United States.  Banks lending at the OIS do not swap principal, so counterparty risk in the OIS is minimal.  By contrast, the Euribor rate is the rate offered for unsecured interbank lending.  Thus, the spread between the two isolates counterparty risk. The Euribor-OIS spread tightened by 3 bps to 14 bps.

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10. Chinese Interbank Rate (Shifon Index) –  The Shifon Index rose 5 basis points last week, ending the week at 2.859% versus last week’s print of 2.807%. The Shifon Index measures banks’ overnight lending rates to one another, a gauge of systemic stress in the Chinese banking system.

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11. Chinese Steel – Steel prices in China are now down almost 5% month-over-month and dropped 1.0% last week to 2974 yuan/ton. Big picture, Chinese steel prices are down almost by half in the past ~3 years. We use Chinese steel rebar prices to gauge Chinese construction activity, and, by extension, the health of the Chinese economy.

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12. 2-10 Spread – Last week the 2-10 spread widened to 205 bps, 10 bps wider than a week ago. We track the 2-10 spread as an indicator of bank margin pressure.

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13. XLF Macro Quantitative Setup – Our Macro team’s quantitative setup in the XLF shows 0.7% upside to TRADE resistance and 0.8% downside to TRADE support.

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Joshua Steiner, CFA

Jonathan Casteleyn, CFA, CMT