What is our trading focus?
US equities (US500.I and USNAS100.I): Focus on China, Nvidia, and energy markets
S&P 500 futures rebounded on Friday after initially breaking below the 4,370 level, but sentiment in equities is still weak going into the new week with focus on China which today did another surprise cut to the loan prime rate to bolster the weakening economy. Nvidia’s earnings report on Wednesday will also be important for sentiment in technology stocks and especially around the outlook which in the negative scenario is driven mostly by Chinese technology companies playing catchup (no structural demand) and in the positive case is raised even further as the AI boom is real. Finally, energy markets are starting the weak on a strong note with natural gas prices on the rise in Europe which is not on central banks’ wish list.
Hong Kong & Chinese equities (HK50.I & 02846:xhkg): China's underwhelming Loan Prime Rate cut disappoints
The Hang Seng Index and the CSI300 Index dropped for the 7th consecutive day, Financials were notably weak as investors were worried about the spillover damages from the property and shadow banking sectors to commercial banks and insurance companies. The Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.5% while the CSI300 shed 0.7%. Chinese banks cut 1-year Loan Prime Rate by 10bps to 3.45%, less than the 15bp reduction anticipated. Contrary to the expectation of a 15bp cut, the 5-year Loan Prime Rate stayed unchanged.
FX: China and Jackson Hole remain in focus
There have been narrow ranges across G-10 FX in Asia today, as moves have had little follow through. The USD firmed off early session lows after China held the 5-Year LPR steady at 4.20%, a cut of 15bps had been expected. The 1-Year LPR was cut 10 bps when a cut of 15bps was expected Focus remains on JPY and CNH into the new week amid sustained intervention concerns, less so now for JPY. But the dollar trajectory could be faced with some volatility as Jackson Hole is eyed. China’s rate cuts today could add further weakness to yuan, but measures to support the currency may be ready with USDCNH still above 7.30. USDJPY is now below 145.50, and no reaction was seen to the wage increase report. GBPUSD was the only G10 currency to end in green for the week and is near 1.2740. EURUSD at 1.0870 and PMIs will be eyed this week.
Crude oil and gas: tight supply and LNG strike action in focus
Crude oil prices trade up for a third day, supported by tightness in the physical market as supply curbs from OPEC+ continue to support prices. In addition, a softer dollar has also helped offset growing demand risks in China and the US and a general loss of risk appetite as global stock markets continue to lose altitude. The focus of this week turns to PMIs and Powell’s speech at Jackson Hole on Friday. EU natural gas prices meanwhile trades back above €40/MWh as strike action at major LNG export facilities in Australia could begin as early as Sept. 2 if new talks between Woodside Energy Group Ltd. and union officials on pay and conditions fail to resolve disputes. Ballots are also taking place on potential walkouts by workers at Chevron Corp. facilities
Gold and silver: hedge funds exodus amid peak rate delay
Gold prices remain on the defensive amid recent dollar and not least yield strength as the FOMC fight against sticky inflation raise the prospect of more rate hikes to come. Spot gold dropped to a fresh five-month low overnight at $1885 with focus this week turning to Fed Chair Powell’s Jackson Hole speech on Friday. Silver meanwhile receiving a helping hand from a recovering copper price with the XAUXAG ratio falling to a two-week low. As long additional rate hikes remain the focus asset managers and other large investors will likely avoid bullion amid the current high opportunity/funding cost for holding gold relative to short-term money market products. Hedge funds cut their gold long by 38% to a six-month low in the week to August 15, while the silver net short jumped 78%.
Jackson Hole and Treasury auctions will weigh on US Treasury yields (2YYU3, 10YU3, 30YU3).
Before the anticipated Jackson Hole at the end of the week, the U.S. Treasury will sell 30-year TIPS on Wednesday and 20-year bonds on Thursdays. Both maturities are usually disliked by investors, especially the 20-year notes, which have been re-introduced recently after the pandemic. The focus is going to be on both auctions’ bidding metrics and whether demand remain strong despite an increase in supply. US Treasury yields remain in an uptrend, and as explained here, higher yields may be in the cards.
What is going on?
Japan considering large minimum wage increase
A subcommittee of Japan's Central Minimum Wages Council (an advisory body to the minister of Health, Labor, and Welfare) has decided to raise Japan’s weighted average minimum hourly wage by ¥41 in fiscal 2023 amid inflation concerns. It is the largest increase since the current method was adopted of indicating wages on an hourly basis, and is well above the ¥31 increase the previous fiscal year, bringing the minimum wage to ¥1,002
China policy response underwhelms
Chinese banks cut 1-year Loan Prime Rate by 10bps to 3.45%, less than the 15bp reduction anticipated. Contrary to the expectation of a 15bp cut, the 5-year Loan Prime Rate stayed unchanged.
Commitment of Traders on commodities
The weekly Commitment of Traders report, released last Friday with data covering the week to August 15 showed hedge fund selling extend to a third week with all sectors under pressure, led by gold, copper and WTI. Broad selling continued across the agriculture sector led by corn, soybeans and coffee. More on the web and platform later
What are we watching next?
Zoom earnings on tap today
Zoom Video reports Q2 results today after the close, and enterprise sales revenue will be key amid concerns of a slowing economy. Total revenue was up 3% in Q1 and expected to come in just 1% higher in Q2. Adjusted EPS is expected to come in at $1.05 from $0.41 Updates on AI investments will also be key.
Focus shifting to Jackson Hole this week
The Federal Reserve’s Economic Policy Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is scheduled for August 24-26. This year’s theme is "Structural Shifts in the Global Economy" and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to speak on August 25 at 10am ET. Other central bank heads will also be likely on the agenda. From recent commentaries, it appears that central bankers will keep the flexibility to hike rates further, while clearly avoiding committing to cut rates soon. Still, thoughts on economic momentum could be key and rising credit risks may warrant some dovishness
Earnings to watch
Today’s US earnings focus is Zoom Video which is expected to report FY24 Q2 (ending 31 July) revenue growth of 1% y/y and EBITDA of $434mn compared to $158mn as the tailwinds from work-from-home during the pandemic have ended.
- Today: BHP Group, KE Holdings, Zoom Video
- Tuesday: Woodside Energy, Kuaishou Technology, ANTA Sports, Lowe’s, Medtronic, Baidu
- Wednesday: Nvidia, Analog Devices, Snowflake, Autodesk, Splunk
- Thursday: Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Meituan, CRH, Intuit, NetEase, Workday, Marvell Technology
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0600 – Germany Jul PPI
- 2000 – US Crop Conditions Report