What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
US equities exploded higher yesterday after Fed Chair Powell’s speech failed to push back against easing financial conditions and as US yields dropped further. This gives the impression that further soft data from the US (see preview below) that takes yields lower still will see an extension of this market squeeze higher, despite the implications from softer data that a recession draws nearer. The Nasdaq 100 index closed clear of the important 12,000 level for the first time since September yesterday and may extend its rally to the 200-day moving average, currently near 12,550 for the cash index. The S&P 500 spiked to new highs since September as well and cleared its 200-day moving average at 4,050, closing at 4,080 on the day. This is the first time that moving average has fallen since the March-April time frame. THe next major resistance there is the pivot high near 4,325 from August.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HISX2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hang Seng Index climbed 1.7% and CSI300 Index gained 1.5% following the less-hawkish-than-feared speech from the U.S. Fed Chair Powell overnight and China’s Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who oversees containing the spread of Covid-19, acknowledged in a pandemic control export workshop that the Omicron variant is less deadly. Mega-cap China internet stocks surged 4-5%. EV maker XPeng (09868:xhkg) jumped 13% after reporting Q3 earnings. Caixin China PMI Manufacturing came in at 49.4 in November, above the consensus estimate of 48.9 and October’s 49.2.
USD blasted after Fed Chair Powell’s speech craters US treasury yields, sparks risk-on rally
Fed Chair Powell failed to make any notable pushback against easing financial conditions in his speech yesterday (more below), and US Treasury yields downshifted sharply all along the curve after he confirmed the likely downshift to a 50-basis point hike at the December FOMC meeting, with weak US data also pushing US yields lower. The US dollar was lower across the board: EURUSD rushed back higher, and trades this morning not far below the pivotal 1.0500 area, which could open up for 1.0600+, while the action in US yields was a particular tailwind for USDJPY bears, as that pair fell to new local lows well south of the former 137.50 low water mark, hitting 136.21 overnight and possibly on its way for a test of the 200-day moving average near 134.50.
Gold trades higher supported by a breakout in silver
Silver’s impressive 16% rally last month extended overnight following Powell’s speech in which he signaled a slowdown in the pace of future rate hikes. It trades around $22.25, the 50% retracement of the March to September selloff, and a close above could see it challenge $23.35 next. In addition, the recent dollar and yield slump, the metal has also been supported by improved supply and demand fundamentals. Gold has built on last month's impressive 8% gain and has now returned to challenging a key area of resistance between $1788 and $1808. Focus on the dollar and incoming US data starting with today’s ISM and Friday’s job report.
Crude oil (CLF3 & LCOF3) supported by weaker USD and lower US inventories
Crude oil’s three-day recovery has been supported by a weaker dollar and traders assessing signals that China may soften its Covid Zero policy after China’s Vice Premier in charge of fighting Covid acknowledged the Omicron variant is less deadly. Developments that have forced a reduction in recently established short positions ahead of Sunday’s OPEC+ meeting. A meeting that is likely to be strong on words but low on actions, not least considering the unclear impact of an EU embargo on Russian oil starting next week. In addition, US crude stocks fell by 12.6mbbl last week, the biggest decline since June 2019, while the net crude and product export hit a record, highlighting continued strong demand amid Russian sanctions.
US treasury yields recovered after dip to local lows. (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
With Fed Chair Powell confirming a likely downshift to a smaller hike in December and not pushing back against easing financial conditions, the entire US Treasury yield curve fell sharply yesterday, with treasury buying also encouraged by weak US data, including a terrible Chicago PMI and weak ADP private payrolls growth number. The 10-year treasury yield benchmark hit a new local low near 3.60% and is now only 10 basis points above the pivotal 3.50% area, which was the major pivot high from June.
What is going on?
Jerome Powell sticks to the script
Fed Chair Powell repeated his comments from the November FOMC and what we have heard more generally from the Fed speakers over the course of the month. He said it makes sense to moderate the pace of interest rate hikes and the time to moderate the pace of hikes may come as soon as December, while he added it seems likely that rates must ultimately go somewhat higher than what was thought in the September FOMC projections. Powell also said they have made substantial progress towards sufficiently restrictive policy but have more ground to cover and they will likely need to hold policy at a restrictive level for some time. While his comments still tilted towards the hawkish side, there was no specific hawkish pushback against the markets pricing of significant rate cuts in 2024 that the markets feared. His comment that he does not want to over-tighten but cutting rates is not something to do soon was a slight contrast to his earlier acceptance that risk of tightening insufficiently is greater than the risk over-tightening. The Fed's Cook (voter) also said it is prudent for the Fed to hike in smaller steps as it moves forward and how far the Fed goes with hikes depends on how the economy responds, overall sticking to the consensus.
US economic data broadly weaker, focus now on PCE prices and ISM manufacturing
The private ADP jobs report showed US payrolls rose 127,000 this month, the slowest pace in nearly two years, as wage gains moderated. Job openings also fell in October to 10.334mln from September's 10.687mln, reversing a surprise jump in the prior month but remaining elevated, according to the JOLTS report. The biggest downside surprise came in Chicago PMI for November which came in at 37.2 against an expected 47.0, falling from a prior 45.2. While monthly surveys can be noisy, but this one is now flirting with pandemic lows and puts the focus on ISM manufacturing due today. The only ray of positive news came from the Q3 GDP release which was upwardly revised by to 2.9% from 2.6% previously.
Softer EU CPI weakens hawkish ECB bets
Euro inflation slowed for the first time in 1.5 years to 10% in November from 10.6% YoY in October. ECB officials have highlighted the data will be key for their next rate decision, suggesting lower chance of another 75bps rate hike at the December 15 meeting. Still, it remains hard to say that inflation in the Eurozone has peaked. ECB members also remain broadly hawkish and suggest that the commitment to bring inflation back to target will stay
Guangzhou lifted the lockdown of several districts as a sign of easing restrictions even as new cases at elevated levels Guangzhou, the third largest city in China and the capital of the southern province of Guangdong, removed the “temporary control areas” restrictions of several districts even though the city’s daily new cases of Covid-19 stayed at nearly 7,000. It was an encouraging sign pointing to China’s willingness to continue the fine-tuning measures that it had recently started despite the surge in new cases across the country.
China’s Vice Premier in charge of fighting Covid acknowledged the Omicron variant is less deadly
Speaking at a pandemic control policy workshop, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan emphasized the optimization measures of the pandemic control were supported by a lower fatality rate caused by the Omicron variant, an increasing vaccination rate, and the accumulation of experience in containing the spread of the virus. She called for the acceleration of vaccination and preparation of therapeutic drugs and the news report did not quote her mentioning the dynamic zero-Covid policy
What are we watching next?
Melt-up in risk if US data remains tepid or worse?
The reaction to Fed Chair Powell’s speech yesterday and soft US data comes ahead of a string of US data through tomorrow’s November US jobs report. If the data is in-line or especially if it is a bit softer than expected, the market may continue to celebrate the implications of a lower peak for the Fed policy rate, as well as for the impact on valuations if longer US treasury yields also continue falling. Despite Chair Powell specifically indicating that peak Fed rates next year are likely set to rise above the Fed’s own forecasts from the September FOMC meeting, the market dropped its forecast for peak rates yesterday by several basis points in the wake of his speech. Eventually, market may begin to fret the impact of an incoming recession on asset valuations, but for now, the one-dimensional focus on the monetary policy outlook and rates persists. For the risk-on to continue, we would likely need to see a benign PCE Core inflation data point today, in-line or below expectations of +0.3% MoM and +5.0% YoY (vs. +5.1% in September and Feb. peak of 5.4%). The ISM Manufacturing survey today (expected: 49.7, which would be first sub-50 reading since 2020) is less important than Monday’s ISM Services, but the jobs report tomorrow is important, as a slackening US jobs market will be a key ingredient to confirm a slowdown (and the weekly jobless claims usually give off a warning for many weeks before the evidence shows up in the monthly report – the latest weekly number is up today and it will take some time for this indicator to point to weakness in the US jobs market. The market will be in for significant churn if we get a hotter core inflation reading and a strong jobs report.
Earnings to watch
A heavy focus on Canadian banks today, as three are reporting, including the largest of them all, Toronto-Dominion. Marvell Technology is a significant semiconductor company with 5G solutions and has been on the comeback trail, up some 30% from its lows ahead of today’s report after the market close, as will Veeva Systems.
- Today: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Bank of Montreal, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Marvell Technology, Veeva Systems, Ulta Beauty, Zscaler, Dollar General, Kroger
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
0815-0900 – Eurozone Final November Manufacturing PMI
0930 – UK Final November Manufacturing PMI
1000 – Eurozone Oct. Unemployment Rate
1230 – US Nov. Challenger Job Cuts
1330 – US Oct. PCE Inflation
1330 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims
1420 – US Fed’s Logan (Voter 2023) to speak
1500 – US Nov. ISM Manufacturing
1530 – US Weekly Natural Gas Storage Change
1645 – ECB Chief Economist Lane to speak
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