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Bitcoin and Ethereum gain, stocks teeter ahead of a big batch of labor and retail data

September 16, 2021, 9:30 AM UTC

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Good morning.

Other than Europe, stocks are under pressure again. U.S. futures too are flat ahead of a big day of data.

Later today, we get jobless claims and retail sales, two more puzzle pieces that will tell us about the health of the labor market and the consumer.

Crypto bulls are pushing up Bitcoin, Ethereum and other alt-coins. Over here in Europe, we’re watching closely natural gas and electricity prices as the region faces an energy crisis ahead of the home-heating season. Yes, autumn is less than a week away.

Let’s spin the globe and see what else is moving the markets.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes are awash in red with the Hang Seng down 1.5% in afternoon trading, hitting a 10-month low.
  • What’s driving the losses? For a second straight day, Hong Kong-listed casino stocks.
  • We talk a lot about the companies hit hard by the global chips shortage. Here’s a little known Taiwanese firm that’s crushing it in these uncertain times. Its stock is up more than 1,200% in the past three years.


  • The European bourses were solidly higher out of the gates with the Stoxx Europe 600 up nearly 0.7% in the first hour of trading. Wednesday’s close saw the benchmark hit its lowest level since July.
  • Auto stocks are gaining despite crummy car sales data. New car registrations in August slumped by 18% year-on-year as the chips crisis socks supply.


  • The U.S. futures have been trading lower throughout the morning. The S&P 500 gained 37.65 points, +0.85%, on Wednesday’s, its best performance in two weeks with energy stocks leading the way. The benchmark is still down for the month.
  • Shares in Moderna were up 0.7% in pre-market this morning after the biotech firm released a batch of new COVID-19 data that it believes supports the case for a booster vaccine.
  • Two big bits of economic data come out today: retail sales and jobless claims. For the latter, economists forecast that 320,000 Americans filed for unemployment in the past week. As for retail sales, economists believe Americans cut back on spending last month.


  • Gold is sinking again. It trades this morning below $1,790/ounce.
  • The dollar is up.
  • Crude is down a touch. But after its recent rally, Brent trades above $75/barrel again.
  • Bitcoin is gaining, trading above $48,000.



Winter’s a coming


Europe’s natural gas prices 🚀🚀🚀

The Dutch Title Transfer Facility, or TTF, may sound like a dull government office building. It’s hardly that. It’s a trading hub that gives us the benchmark future contract for Europe’s natural gas market. The TTF continue to hit record after record during Europe’s energy crisis.


If you strip out energy and food prices, there’s hardly any inflation at all

See, my daughters would point out, a €95 lunch with friends doesn’t count in your dumb inflation definition, dad. (Between us, restaurant dining is part of core CPI, another reason to eat lunch at home.)


Could U.S. finally be reaching the peak?



Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner

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Market candy

Quiz time

Which S&P 500 stock sector has been the best performer year-to-date and in the past calendar year? Is it:

  • A) Financials
  • B) Tech
  • C) Materials
  • D) Energy

The answer is D, energy, up 53.4% over the past 12 months. It's also the leader over the past week as the energy market remains as volatile as ever.

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