What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - US equities and particularly tech stocks consolidated a significant chunk of the sharp gains from earlier this week, with speculative sectors getting the worst of it on the day, although most stocks were down on the day. A high US November CPI release today could spook investors as it would raise the anticipation of an even more hawkish FOMC meeting next week.
EURUSD – The EURUSD rally attempt from Wednesday faltered in what now looks a mere tactical squeeze ahead of today’s US November CPI report (more below). Given that the slide in EURUSD has largely tracked with the rise in Fed expectations, the degree to which those expectations are adjusted higher or lower in the wake of today’s US CPI data and then next week in the wake of the FOMC meeting Wednesday and ECB meeting Thursday will likely correlate with EURUSD direction, where the focus is on the cycle lows just below 1.1200 for a possible run at 1.1000 on a break lower and the tactical pivot high near 1.1380.
USDJPY and JPY crosses – the omicron variant news of some two weeks ago triggered a huge slide in USDJPY just after it was trying to engineer a break above multi-year highs near 114-50. Similar to developments in crude oil and longer US yields, USDJPY has failed to get back to the upper reaches of the recent range since that sell-off, which bottomed out near the 112.50 area – the current trigger zone for a possible further sell-off wave (most like in a scenario of cratering risk sentiment and US treasuries serving as a safe-haven) that could poke at the important 111.00-50 downside pivot zone. Elsewhere, JPY crosses backed up very sharply this week on hopes that the omicron variant will prove mild and won’t impact the growth outlook, but the scale of the rally or squeeze has been modest relative to the prior sell-off. Watching areas like 127.50-128.00 in EURJPY and 79.00 in AUDJPY in coming sessions for whether another wave of JPY strength is in the cards.
Crude oil’s (OILUKFEB22 & OILUSJAN22) week-long rally hit the buffers yesterday with Brent and WTI retracing back towards support at their 200-day moving averages at $73 and $69.80 respectively. A study finding the omicron variant is 4.2 times more transmissible than the delta combined with new restrictions among several nations helped weaken the sentiment, and with end of year approaching many traders are increasingly becoming more risk adverse, potentially leading to more fluctuations. Focus today on omicron news, US inflation data and whether the mentioned support level can be maintained.
Wheat (WHEATMAR22 & ZWH2) trades near five-week low following three days of losses which accelerated yesterday after the USDA raised its outlook for global stocks. The 3% drop in Chicago also helped drag down the recent highflyers futures for Kansas and Paris milling wheat. Global stock levels at the end of the 2022-23 season received a boost from production upgrades in Russian (1mt) and Australian (2.5mt) while US export slowed with high prices curbing demand.
US Treasuries (TLH, TLT). Yesterday’s 30-year auction showed that the market is not willing to buy long-term US Treasuries at current low yields. The 30-year auction was priced with a high yield of 1.895%, tailing by 3.2bps. Although the tail was smaller than last month’s 5.2bps, it would have been enough to cause a selloff in long-term Treasuries. However, covid distortions kept yields compressed, hence volatility in rates was avoided. Today’s CPI numbers are in focus as a high number is likely to contribute to more upward pressure in the yield curve.
What is going on?
The US White House was already out attempting damage control on inflation before today’s CPI release. A White House official, economic adviser Brian Deese, was out late yesterday saying that today’s US November CPI release won’t reflect recent drops in the price of key commodities, especially gasoline and natural gas as it is “backward looking”.
China property developers formally declared to have defaulted - as Fitch Ratings noted missed interest payments on Evergrande and Kaisa Group Holdings USD bonds as it downgraded these issues to restricted default.
USDCNY and USDCNH bounce sharply a day after posting new low for the year - China fixed the USDCNY level at a far weaker level than expected and announced an FX reserve ratio increase to 9%, forcing domestic banks to maintain higher reserves of foreign currencies. These are rather obvious signals that China would like to avoid a further rise in its currency after a powerful and broad rally that saw both the offshore and onshore yuan posting new highs for the US dollar for the year just this Wednesday.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies close sharply lower – with Bitcoin closing at its lowest levels on a weekday since September. Technically, the 40-45k zone looks important for avoiding a more significant capitulation lower after the recent weekend meltdown that took the price some 20% lower to below 43k before support was found. According to coinmarketcap.com, the market cap of the nearly 15.5k cryptocurrencies is currently near $2.26 trillion after peaking near $2.93 trillion in November, a drawdown of over 22%.
What are we watching next?
US November CPI data release today, expected at 6.8% year-on-year for the headline number and 4.9% at the core, both of which would be the highest readings in decades. Given that expectations are so high, would a slightly hotter than expected number move the needle on a Friday ahead of next week’s important FOMC meeting? A significant beat to the upside just might make a difference, given that the Fed has clearly made a shift toward fighting inflation and would probably need to bring a March 2022 rate hike possibility into its forward guidance. Fed rate expectations for next year are poised near the high for the cycle, suggesting a 0.8% Fed Funds rate (vs. currently 0-0.25%) is priced in through the December 2022 Fed meeting.
The EU is set to decide by December 22 whether investments in gas and nuclear energy should be labelled climate friendly. The design of the EU green investment classification system is closely watched by investors worldwide and could potentially attract billions of euros in private finance to help the green transition, especially given the need to reduce the usage of coal, the biggest polluter.
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
0905 – ECB President Lagarde, others speaking at panel discussion
1300 - Poland National Bank of Poland meeting minutes
1330 – US Nov. CPI
1500 – US Dec. Preliminary University of Michigan Sentiment
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