Global stocks attempted to rebound from the recent global rout Wednesday, with modest gains in Asia and improving futures in Europe, but traders remained on edge amid high volatility and climbing bonds yields that could keep markets difficult to predict in the days ahead.
Wall Street futures suggest big declines at the start of trading, with contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average marked 200 points to the downside, but investors expect that number, as well as the 23.75 point decline priced in for the S&P 500, to swing significantly over the course of the pre-market session.
The Chicago Board of Trade's Volatility Index, better known as the (VIX.X) , was marked 3.37% higher at 30.97 points in global trading hours in Chicago after spiking past the 50 mark for the first time since 2009 in Tuesday's historic session. Those moves followed the biggest one-day rise on record -- a jump of 115% on Monday -- that sent futures prices for the S&P 500 on a wild two-day ride that saw prices swing in range of 4.75%, the most extreme market movements in more than two years.
"The bounce in risk appetite yesterday in major US indices has many sounding the all clear that this was merely an episode made possible by egregiously over-leveraged short volatility market players and the algorithmic/trading robot aggravating thin liquidity," said Saxo Bank strategist John Hardy. "But overnight, the risk bounce in Asia has faltered badly, with the Nikkei weakening into the close and the major Chinese index closing at ugly new local lows. So we may not have seen the worst of this yet."
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 benchmark added 0.8% by mid-morning, but the names at the top of the leaderboard were some of the region's smaller companies, suggesting investors are still in a relatively defensive mood ahead of the start of U.S. trading. In Germany, the DAX performance index added 88 points, or 0.52%, in the opening 30 minutes while the FTSE 100 in Britain pulled back around 0.4% of the more than 2% it shed on Tuesday in the biggest single-day decline since Britain voted to leave the European Union.
The euro was marked modestly lower in early Wednesday trading, falling 0.23% against the U.S. dollar to 1.2347, following an agreement by Germany's political leaders to form a coalition government that ends four months of intense negotiations and securing a fourth term as Chancellor of Europe's biggest and most important economy for Angela Merkel.
TheStreet's top minds discuss the market pullback.
Government bond yields around the Eurozone periphery, which includes Italy, Spain and Portugal, fell sharply in the wake of the news as investors bet the deal would hasten European integration plans spearheaded by France's President, Emmanuel Macron.
Overnight in Asia, investors remained jittery after yesterday's heaving session of volatile trading on Wall Street, which saw the Dow swing by as much as 1,000 points across the whole of the trading day before ending 2.22% higher at the closing bell.
With the CBOE's benchmark gauge of volatility, the VIX, holding at multi-year levels even after a 20% decline last night, few investors were willing to extend bids into stocks, particularly given the fact that many remain uncertain as to when, or if, the billions worth of complex trades linked to it -- that could have included $8 billion in bets against a rise in volatility -- could be unwound.
Last night, Credit Suisse AG said it was shutting down one of those products, a so-called reverse volatility exchange-traded note, after it lost more than four-fifths of its value between Monday's closing bell and the start of trading Tuesday.
Bond yields, the trigger for last week's selling, continued to creep higher, with U.S. 10-year Treasury bonds were marked at 2.8% in Asia trade, after falling to as low as 2.65% during yesterday's equity market chaos, suggesting many fixed income portfolios are still wary of faster inflation -- and a U.S. Federal Reserve reaction -- in the wake of last week's January employment report reading that showed hourly wages rising at the fastest pace in more than eight years.
The region-wide MSCI Asia ex-Japan index was essentially unchanged at 568.13 points as the Wednesday session drew to a close while Japan's Nikkei 225 shrugged off a stronger yen, the region's preferred safe-have currency, to close 0.19% to the upside at 21,645.37 points.