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Markets Today: US yields at fresh highs; FOMC minutes ahead – 22 February 2023

Equities 7 minutes to read
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Summary:  Volatility charged higher as economic data continued to push for an upward repricing of the Fed path. US yields surged to fresh YTD highs, pushing S&P500 to close below 4,000 and NASDAQ 100 approaching 12,000. Fed’s terminal rate is now priced in at 5.37%, and dollar pushed higher with geopolitical concerns also still in play. Consumer stock earnings from Walmart and Home Depot sent margin pressure warnings. FOMC minutes will be dated, but may provide cues on what to expect from the March dot plot.

MI 22 Feb 2023

What’s happening in markets?

The major US indices, the Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) fell ~2% while bond yields rose to new 2023 highs

The risk off tone was set by geopolitical tensions picking up, as well as economic prints showing the US services and manufacturing PMIs improved more than expected – with swaps now projecting the Fed can keep pushing rates higher — with the market indicating 25-basis-point hikes are coming at the March, May and June meetings.  Sentiment was also weighed by downbeat outlooks from consumer spending bellwethers – Walmart (WMT) and Home Depot (HD). All while investors await Wednesday's Fed minutes release. Also ahead are earnings results from mining giant Rio Tinto (RIO), tourism and casino giant Ceazers Entertainment (CZR) and smartwatch and gadget business Garmin (GRMN). The three major indices shed at least 2%, with the Dow erasing 2023’s gains. On the weekly chart - the S&P500’s fell below its 50-day moving average –indicating there are more sellers than buyers – while also possibly indicating the market is likely to pull back to a cycle low. Pressuring sentiment - bond yields hit new 2023 cycle highs - with the 10-year note up 14 bps, while the dollar strengthened.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HIG3) fell amid intensifying competition among China’s eCommerce platforms

Hong Kong stocks slipped on Tuesday amid signs that Chinese eCommerce platforms are heating up in competition for business. JD.com (09618:xhkg) plunged 8.5% following the eCommerce giant launching an RMB10 billion subsidy campaign to compete with rival Pinduoduo (PDD:xnas). Meituan (03690:xhkg) dropped more than 4.1% after the mainland food delivery giant announced hiring had started in Hong Kong, paying as much as HKD35,000 a month for delivery riders to prepare for an expansion to Hong Kong. Alibaba (09988:xhkg) and Tencent (00700:xhkg) also fell over 4%.

HSBC (00005:xhkg) pared initial gains from an earning beat and special dividend as investors sold the shares of the banking giant citing concerns about a softer 2023 profit guidance and saw the shares down nearly 2% during Hong Kong trading hours. Meanwhile, Hang Seng Bank (00011:xhkg) rose 3.3% despite an earnings miss due to a jump in loan loss provision for mainland property loans.

In mainland China, the CSI300 edged up 0.3%. Non-ferrous metals, coal, steel, and auto gained while beauty care, media, food and beverage, and retailing declined.

Australia equities (ASXSP200.I) also seem pressured by the RBA’s fresh hawkishness

The Australian share market has fallen about 3.5% from its new cycle high that it hit on Feb 3. Pressure on the ASX200 comes after the RBA indicated it has more work to do to keep inflation and wage pressure in order. The ASX200 now appears to be pulling back, with Saxo’s Technical Analyst reinforcing the technical indicators suggest the ASX200 could drop further. However, if the ASX200 closes above 7,477, the uptrend can resume. Today, Origin Energy (ORG) is the best performer in large caps, up 13% after receiving a revised takeover offer from the Brookfield Asset Management-led group following months of due diligence. Meanwhile Domino’s (DMP) is the worst performer down 19% on reporting weaker than expected half year results. Meanwhile, BHP (BHP) shares are up slighted after reporting a stronger outlook yesterday. For more on the world’s biggest mining company, and BHP’s expectations for stronger fundamentals this and next year click here – also note BHP remains in a technical uptrend. Ahead are earnings from Rio Tinto (RIO).

FX: Yields and risk sentiment in play

The US dollar was modestly higher as US 10-year yields reached a YTD high and in close sight of the key 4% mark, closing at 3.95%. Higher-than-expected PMIs in the US further faded recession concerns, bringing the market expectations of Fed terminal rate to a new high of 5.37%. USD gains were more restrained in that view, which also got a push higher from escalating geopolitical tensions as Putin suspended the Nuke deal with the US.

GBP was the outperformer after very strong UK Flash PMIs, which suggested falling near-term recession concerns and pushed higher the odds of a 25bps rate hike from the BOE in March. GBPUSD touched highs of 1.2147 from 1.1987. AUDUSD was hurt by falling risk sentiment despite hawkish RBA minutes out yesterday and fell to 0.6848. AUDNZD still held up above 1.10 with the RBNZ expected to take a dovish turn today. USDJPY again testing 135 with FOMC minutes on tap, while EURUSD unable to sustainably break below 1.0650.

Crude oil (CLH3 & LCOJ3) still pressured lower

Crude oil prices dipped further with dollar strength in play as the expectations of rate hikes from the Fed continued to ramp up. WTI crude traded close to $76/barrel while Brent was below $83. Geopolitical concerns still running high this week, potentially providing a floor to oil prices. Meanwhile, an expected pickup in Chinese demand is also supporting. Overall, the oil market remains rangebound, in Brent between $80 and $89 and WTI between $73 and $82, as the market weighs the impact of rising demand in China and India versus a potential slowdown elsewhere.


What to consider?

Putin suspends Nuclear pact with the US, threatens to push war in Ukraine

Putin, in his State of the Nation address, announced a suspension of participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the US. This was the last accord limiting their nuclear arsenals. He also vowed to press on with his faltering invasion of Ukraine. This has spurred the next leg of escalation concerns, invoking a response from President Biden in Poland saying that Russia will never win the war and pledging more support to Ukraine. The focus is now on China which needs to back up its peace treaty words with action after being accused of supplying arms to Russia. Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi is now visiting Russia and there are reports that President Xi could be visiting Moscow to meet with Putin in April or May.

US S&P PMIs topped expectations, fading recession concerns

Flash S&P PMIs for the US were better than expected, with services returning to an expansion territory of 50+. Manufacturing PMI also picked up traction coming in higher at 47.8 from 46.9 previously while Services and Composite both rose back into expansionary territory to 50.5 (exp. 47.2, prev. 46.8) and 50.2 (exp. 47.5, prev. 46.8), respectively. The report further pointed to fading recession concerns, while input price pressures also eased despite a shaper rise in output prices.

Australian wage growth and construction data to keep the RBA on its hiking path for now

With the RBA now being more hawkish and data dependent, today’s wage growth data and construction work done seemingly validate Australia’s central Bank, can keep on its hiking path for now. Australian wage growth grew 3.3% YoY, up from the revised higher read of 3.2% YoY prior. Despite wage growth growing less than 3.5% expected  - construction work done began to roll over  - falling 0.4% in Q4 – marking a slight fall the prior quarter’s revised jump of 3.7%. So despite both reads being softer than expected – we still need more data to validate core inflation could slow – especially as it’s still well above the RBA’s target. Money markets softened to imply a peak cash rate of 4.2% in August 2023 (down from 4.3%). The next data the RBA will look at - will be next week’s release of retail sales, private sector credit and net exports of GPD.

More green shoots in the EZ data but…

The EZ February PMIs are quite good at first glance. The French PMI composite was out at 51.6 versus prior 49.1 – this is a 7-month high and the first expansion above the 50 threshold since October 2022. The German PMI composite is in the expansion zone too (at 51.1). But if we dig beneath the surface, this is not as good as expected. In France, the PMI report contains a warning about new export orders: “Overall, this marked a twelfth successive monthly decline in new export orders. Notably, manufacturers recorded the steepest slump since the first COVID-19 lockdown period in the first half of 2020”.

We see a similar weakness in German data with a stagnation of exports to non EU countries in January. Basically, in both cases, the order book and the manufacturing side look challenged while the services are the main drivers of the PMI composite. We still expect the eurozone will avoid a recession this year. Overall PMI for the bloc was also pushed higher by services sector outperformance which recorded a PMI of 53.0 (vs. 50.8 last month and 51.0 exp) while manufacturing lagged at 48.5 (vs. 48.8 last and 49.3 exp).

Baidu (09888:xhkg) announces Q4 results

Baidu is scheduled to announce its Q4 results on Wednesday. Investors are prepared for weaker advertising revenues, slower growth in its cloud business, and some margin compression. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg are expecting adjusted EPS to fall by 22.4%.

Walmart and Home Depot send margin pressure warnings

Despite an earnings beat, Walmart’s profit forecast for this year fell short of analyst estimates and a cautious outlook suggested a lingering impact from the inventory buildup of last year as well as shifting consumer demand patterns in light of the higher inflation and interest rates. Meanwhile, home improvement retailer Home Depot missed expectations and gave a dull operating margin guidance – expecting FY operating margin at ~14.5% due to the extra wage costs, compared to an estimate of 15.1%. The results send a warning for other retailers like Target and Lowe’s due to report on March 1.

Pizza chain Domino’s Pizza reports weaker than expected earnings amid inflationary pressures

In the Australia session today, Domino’s reported underlying EBIT fell 21% Y/Y to A$113.9 million in the HY - with sales growth coming in weaker than expected and inflation also affecting earnings. Its European operations faced significant geopolitical disruptions, and the highest inflation levels across its business- while Asian sales were materially stronger than pre-Covid- but EBIT was lower. All in all, Domino’s financial metrics were down Y/Y, except its store count rose 16% Y/Y to 3,736 stores. The company also cut its half year dividend to A$0.674 per share. As for its - outlook that also disappointed - as customer counts have not met expectations since December - especially in Europe and Asia  - which is lowering store profitability. New store openings will continue to grow in FY23 - but could be below Domino’s medium-term outlook for +8-10% growth. This implies there is less franchisee demand to open stores. That said, management is confident it will return to positive same store sales growth once customer demand increases. Domino’s Pizza (DMP) shares in gapped down in Australia , erasing 2023’s gains – taking DMP to A$57.97 – November 2022 levels. We will also be watching Domino’s in the US – DPZ, as well the London listed business – DOM.

The Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee to hold a plenary session next week

The Chinese Communist Party’s Politburo held a meeting on Tuesday and announced after the meeting to hold a Central Committee plenary session from Feb 26 to 28 to decide on key issues in preparation for the “two sessions” meeting of the government scheduled t commence on March 4.

FOMC minutes on tap today

The minutes of the February 1st Fed meeting will be out later today (3am SGT), and will be key for the cues on inflation expectations and terminal rate forecasts as a gauge for what to expect in the dot plot in March. Still, the hotter than expected inflation print for January (both CPI and PPI) were released after the FOMC meeting and that has shifted the narrative to a hawkish. The criteria for a pause may be on the lookout, and whether that is any push to driving the market’s rate cut expectations further out.


For what to watch in the markets this week – read or watch our Saxo Spotlight.

For a global look at markets – tune into our Podcast.


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