Market Insights Today: China’s fine-tuning of pandemic controls adds fuel to weak CPI optimism, fueling equities and commodities – 14 November 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: China released a set of 20-item guidelines on Friday to fine-tune the country’s pandemic control measures aiming at minimizing disruption to people’s livelihood and the economy. The move added fuel to the post-US CPI risk-on sentiments and saw Hong Kong and China stock soaring with Hang Seng Index up 7.7% and commodities prices higher. S&P 500 rallied another 0.9% on Friday and finished the week nearly 6% higher. Over the weekend, China’s financial regulators rolled out a 16-point plan to boost the property sector.
What’s happening in markets?
The S&P 500 (ESZ2) and Nasdaq 100 (NQZ2) extended post-CPI gains
US stocks rallied for the second day, adding to the dramatic surge after the softer CPI prints on Thursday. S&P 500 gained 0.9% and Nasdaq 100 climbed 1.9%. The energy sector, up 3.1%, was the top performer in the S&P 500 as WTI crude oil price bounced 2.8% on China’s easing of pandemic control measures despite a rise in the number of new Covid cases. Gaming and casino stocks and consumer discretionary names also gained from optimism about China’s fine-tuning of Covid policies. FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday and its CEO and founder resigned. Coinbase (COIN:xnas), the largest US crypto exchange, bounced 12.8% on Friday after being dragged down by the FTX fiasco earlier in the week. Robinhood (HOOD:xnas), in which FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried has a 7.5% stake, surged 12.9% after steep declines on Tuesday and Wednesday. Over the week, S&P 500 gained 5.9% higher and NASDAQ 100 surged 8.8%.
US treasury (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) markets were closed for holiday
The US treasury cash markets, after the massive 25bp-30bp post-CPI drops in yields on Thursday, took a break to observe the Veterans’ Day holiday on Friday. Treasury note and bond futures were little-changed.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIX2) China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) soared on China’s fine-tuning of pandemic control measures
Hang Seng Index soared 7.7% on the post-CPI rally in the U.S. stock market and the easing of pandemic control measures in China. Following a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s new Politburo Standing Committee on Thursday, China’s health authorities issued 20 new measures on Friday to fine-tune pandemic control policies including relaxing quarantine and PCR testing requirements and prohibiting excessive lockdowns. China Internet stocks soared, with Alibaba (09988:xhkg) up 12.4%, Tencent (00700:xhkg) up 11.7%, Meituan (03690:xhkg) up 12.5%, JD.Com (09618:xhkg) up 16.1%, and Kuaishou (01024:xhkg) up 17.5%. EV maker NIO (09866:xhkg) jumped 20.4% despite missing Q3 earnings. XPeng (09868:xhkg) surged 16%. Macao casino stocks gained 8% to 9%. China consumption names also climbed on China’s easing of pandemic control. Share prices of China property developers were squeezed massively higher, with Country Garden (02007) soaring 35% and Longfor (00960 ) jumping 29%. The debt-laden CIFI (00884:xhkg) soared 72.2%. Subsequently, Bloomberg ran a couple of news reports saying China is rolling out a 16-point rescue plan to boost the ailing property markets and struggling developers. CSI300 gained 2.8%/
Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) rises ~4% last week. Stock poised to extend rally on China’s property measures
All eyes will be on Australia tech stocks following the stellar run in the US, however Aussie tech stock gains may not shoot the lights be muted today after Australia’s 10-year bond yield rose seven basis points to 3.72%. However, Commodity stocks will be a focus; on Covid hopes, with the Copper price up 4.1%, while precious metals are higher and aluminum had its best day since 2009. In New York BHP rose 3.6%, gapping up and rising above its 200-day moving average which could be seen as bullish sign, and also means local listed counterpart will likely follow. Lithium stocks will also be in the spotlight, with Australia’s biggest Allkem (AKE) and Pilbara (PLS) a focus with sentiment picking up and the stocks already trading in record-high territory ahead of China reopening.
FX: the US Dollar continued to plunge in the aftermath of a softer CPI
The US dollar index plunged 1.7% on Friday, bringing the weekly loss to 4%. After falling the post-CPI decline of 3.8% on Thursday, USDJPY fell another 1.5% to 138.81 on Friday. Over the week, USDJPY fell from 1.4662 to 138.81, a 5.3% decline. EURUSD surged 1.4% on Friday, bringing its weekly gain to nearly 4%. The Chinese renminbi strengthened further against the US dollar, benefiting from China’s easing of pandemic control in addition to the impact in the aftermath of the US CPI. USDCNH declined from 7.15 to 7.09 on Friday.
The Aussie dollar is gaining on the back of China's property sector rescue package. China introduced 16 property measures to address the developer liquidity crisis; from blanket debt extensions, to loosening down-payment requirements for homebuyers. On top of that that, China’s eased covid restrictions; shortening to five-day quarantines, which is aimed at reducing the economic impact of Covid Zero, rather than relaxing restrictionsThe Australian dollar jumped 1.4% on Friday and 3.7% over the week. While the market still awaits further easing developments, the market is buoyed on forward looking hopes that the AUD will continue to be bid on commodity demand picking up. The iron ore (SCOA) price is back above US$90 after rising 6% last week, the copper price lifted about 5% last week, and the lithium price is also higher, with carbonate prices up 118% year to date.
Crude oil (CLZ2 & LCOF3)
WTI crude oil gained 2.8% to finish the week at USD88.96 on China’s easing of pandemic control and a sharply lower dollar but it remained stuck inside its established trading range. In addition, as the fuel product market has been tightening in Europe and the US due to low inventories of diesel and heating oil, the crude oil price is likely to find support here and the tendency is more to the upside. OPEC issues its monthly market report on Monday so all eyes will be on that.
Copper (HGZ2) rose nearly 5% on Friday on China easing Covid policies
Benefiting from China fine-tuning Covid policies and a sharply lower US dollar, copper rose 4.7% on Friday and nearly 7% for the week to USD3.91. It is poised to challenge a key resistance zone near $4 in the near term. As noted by Ole Hansen, Saxo’s Head of Commodity Strategy, while the prospect of copper mines in Central America, South America, and Africa temporarily increasing production is significant, the outlook for copper prices remains positive since global electrification will continue to drive the demand for copper higher. Globally, especially in Europe, the need to reduce reliance on Russian-produced natural gas, oil, and the use of coal as energy sources will continue to build momentum for accelerated electrification. But enabling the grid to handle the additional baseload will require significant new copper-intensive investment in the coming years. In addition, producers such as Chile, the world's largest copper supplier, are not optimistic about their ability to increase production of copper mines in the medium and long term amid declining ore grades and water shortages. The slowdown of the Chinese economy is temporary, and the Chinese government's economic stimulus measures are focused on infrastructure and electrification, which require a lot of industrial metals, especially copper.
Gold climbed 0.9% to USD1771 on Friday, with the biggest weekly gain since March. In addition to a softer US CPI on Thursday, according to Ole Hansen, supporting the underlying improvement in sentiment was the recently published Gold Demand Trends Q3 2022 update from the World Gold Council. The update outlines how central bank demand reached a quarterly record of nearly 400 tons, thereby offsetting a 227 tons outflow from bullion-backed ETFs.
What to consider?
China issued 20 guidelines to fine-tune its dynamic zero-Covid policy measures
China’s health authorities released 20 guidelines on Friday to fine-tune the country’s pandemic control measures, a day after the Politburo Standing Committee, led by President Xi, held a meeting to discuss how to best contain the pandemic. The key measures in the guidelines include reducing the number of quarantine days for close contacts from 10 days to 8 days, relaxing some centralized quarantine to home quarantine, limiting PCR testing, prohibiting excessively extending lockdowns, promoting vaccination and treatments, and prohibiting local authorities from shutting down production, schools, and transportation without proper approval. At a press conference on Saturday, the National Health Commission emphasized the fine-tuning was optimization measures based on scientific findings but not representing a shift in the principles of dynamic zero-Covid policy.
China’s financial regulators rolled out a 16-point plan to boost the property sector
The People’s Bank of China and the Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission jointly issued a notice to financial institutions with 16 measures to address the liquidity squeeze faced by property developers through measures including the relaxation of previously imposed redlines restricting banks from lending over certain ceilings and calling for financial institutions to treat private enterprise developers equally with state-owned enterprises.
A busy week of Fedspeak kicked off by Fed Governor Waller
After the sharp easing of financial conditions after the massive asset price movements after the release of the CPI, helped by lower bond yields, higher stock prices, and lower US dollar, the market is eagerly monitoring if Fed officials will push back on pivot speculations in order to bring financial conditions back to tighter levels. Governor Waller previously proposed that the Fed should not pause until the monthly core PCE substantially falls below 3% on an annualized basis.
Biden and Xi are set to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit
U.S. President Biden and China’s President Xi will hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia on Monday. It will be the first time they meet in person since Biden took the presidential office in January 2021. The White House said the meeting could last a couple of hours.
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