What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
S&P 500 futures erased all of their gains in yesterday’s session, declining 1.5% from the intraday highs. The culprit was Fed member Mary Daly’s comments that she expects the policy rate to move to 5% or a bit above. Despite these comments, the US 10-year yield declined downplaying the comments from Daly suggesting the market keeps betting that the Fed will pivot before reaching the 5% level. S&P 500 futures are trading lower again this morning hovering just above the 3,900 level taking the futures back into the upper part of the trading range established since mid-December. The next important event for US equities is the December CPI report on Thursday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIF3) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hong Kong and Chinese equities retraced after a strong start in the new year. Hang Seng Index edged down 0.3% and CSI300 was nearly flat as of writing. China is exempting value-added tax (VAT) among small businesses till the end of 2023 and is considering a record special debt quota and a wider budget deficit. The news stirred little excitement among investors as expectations for stimulus measures are already high. Chinese leading EV maker, BYD (01211:xhkg) slid 2% following Berkshire Hathaway reduced its stake to 13.97% from 14.06%.
FX: Currencies swing with risk sentiment, USDCNH rejects new lows after huge slide
The US dollar found support late yesterday after an extension of its recent sell-off on a squeeze higher in equities. EURUSD spilled over to a new high since last June, posting a 1.0761 high water market before easing back as risk sentiment weakened late in the US yesterday, supporting the greenback. A good portion of the EURUSD upside was on a firmer euro, as other USD pairs remain within recent trading ranges, including USDJPY, trading mid-range this morning just below 132.00. Elsewhere, USDCNH extended its remarkable run lower in the Asian session but was quickly gathered up after hitting new lows since last August at 6.76. Several central bankers are out speaking at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden today, while the market awaits the next major US macro event risk, Thursday’s December CPI release.
Crude oil (CLG3 & LCOH3) trades steady with Brent hovering around $80
Gains being driven by excitement over a rapid reopening in China with the upcoming Lunar New Year driving a pickup in demand for travel. Near-term weakness in demand will be discussed when the OPEC+ monitoring committee (JMMC) meets on February 1 and despite a drop in Russian exports, due to sanctions, forcing the price of its flagship Urals below $40 per barrel last Friday, the committee could still spring a surprise and recommend another production cut. China meanwhile issued another generous quota for crude imports that will allow 44 non-state-owned refiners to import a total 132 million tons compared with 109 this time last year. Brent trades within a small uptrend with resistance being the 21-day moving average, today at $81.30 and support at $78.
Gold (XAUUSD) holds onto its gains
Supported by a weaker dollar and softer yields despite comments on Monday from two Fed officials that rates may rise above 5% before pausing and holding for some time. The metal has also been buoyed by the reopening in China with pictures of very crowded gold markets seeing pre-Lunar demand and the PBoC announcing it bought 62 tons of gold during the last two months of the year. However, following two back-to-back weeks of ETF buying, total holdings dropped slightly on Monday as some investors remained cautious. Focus this week on Thursday’s US CPI print with the next major hurdle for gold being $1896, the 61.8% retracement of the 2022 correction, with support now at $1830.
HG Copper breaks higher on China demand optimism
With the China government considering CNY3.81trn of local government bond issuance in 2023, there is expectations of a further push to infrastructure spending which will continue to bump up industrial metals' prices. Beijing may also bump the budget deficit to 3% of GDP, up from 2.8% last year. Meanwhile, copper inventories for immediate withdrawal from LME warehouses fell 2.8%, the most since 8 December. That leaves stockpiles at just above a 17-year low. HG copper reached $4.05 on Monday with the 50% retracement of the 2022 correction now offering resistance at $4.0850, with support being the 200-day moving average at $3.84.
US Treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) yields ease lower, 10-year close to 3.50%
Ahead of three days of treasury auctions starting with today’s auction of 3-year notes, US treasury yields dropped a few basis points all along the curve. The two-year yield is nearing the range low since last September just below 4.15%, while the 10-year benchmark yield has another 10 basis points of range to work with into the cycle low near 3.40%. A 10-year auction is up tomorrow and 30-year T-bond auction on Thursday, with prior auctions for those maturities rather weak.
What is going on?
The labour market remains tight in the Eurozone
The Eurostat figures for Eurozone unemployment were out at 6.5 % in November and at 6.0 % for the EU. The figures are stable compared to October. Within the EU, Spain scores the highest official unemployment rate (12.4 %) and Germany and Poland the lowest one (3.0 %). In a working paper published yesterday, ECB economists pointed out the risk of high wage growth in the coming quarters – way above historical patterns. “This reflects robust labour markets that so far have not been substantially affected by the slowing of the economy, increases in national minimum wages and some catch-up between wages and high rates of inflation”. We tend to disagree with this assessment. Wage growth is of course fuelling inflation in the CEE area. But this is clearly not the case in Western Europe. The likelihood that wages will increase significantly, thus becoming an issue regarding the fight against inflation, is rather low in our view. The United Kingdom is certainly the only European country which may potentially face a wage-price spiral this year.
Commodities supported on optimism over a speedy reopening in China
China will return to “normal” growth soon as Beijing steps up support for households and businesses, according to party secretary of the China’s central bank. That adds to hopes that the government will expand measures to steady the economy and potentially roll out more infrastructure spending that could support industrial metals prices. The HG copper price rose over $4 at on one point, for the first time in six months, with demand likely to rise while inventory stockpiles remain near 17-year lows while the Iron ore (SCOA) price surged 2.4% to a new six month high, $119.80 on expectations for a seasonal post-Lunar new year ramp up in demand.
China reopening, authorities are anxious the nation could run out of power
China’s National Development and Reform Commission has issued three notices urging parties to secure and speed up the process of locking in medium and long-term supply deals, to ensure China does not run out of power. China had banned imports of Australian coal for over two years, however, yesterday reports suggested BHP struck a deal and sold two shipments of met coal to China. This highlights that trade relations are improving but also means the price of coal is likely to remain supported as demand is increasing.
Japan’s December Tokyo CPI touched the 4% mark
Tokyo CPI for December was released this morning, with the headline coming in at 4.0% YoY as expected from a revised 3.7% YoY in November, suggesting price pressures in Japan haven’t started to cool off yet. Tokyo core CPI (ex-food) was higher than expected at 4.0% YoY from 3.6% YoY previously while the core-core measure (ex-food and energy) was also higher at 2.7% YoY from a revised 2.4% YoY in Nov. With Tokyo CPI numbers leading the broader print, there are clear signs that further upside pressures are likely to stay and continue to keep a policy tweak option alive for the BOJ.
Russian crude exports coming under pressure
Russia’s Urals grade, a far bigger export stream than any other crude that Russia sells, was $37.80 a barrel at the Baltic Sea port of Primorsk on Friday, according to data provided by Argus Media. Global benchmark Brent settled at $78.57 on the same day. Combined flows to China, India and Turkey hit the lowest last week since October, suggesting sanctions and EU embargo may be impacting Russia’s key exports.
Microsoft considers $10bn investment into OpenAI
The recently published ChatGPT has surprised the world by being quite good at answering all sorts of questions whether they are simple or complex. ChatGPT reached a 1mn users in just one week of beta testing. There have been serious talks about that ChatGPT might be something that could one day upend Google’s classic and very profitable search engine business. This might be the exact opportunity Microsoft is pursuing.
What are we watching next?
US December CPI up on Thursday
The latest CPI data out of the US is the next important test for global markets, which have grown perhaps over-confident that the Fed will not only halt its policy tightening soon after perhaps 50 basis points of further tightening, but will be signalling rate cuts by year-end. The US CPI releases have triggered considerable volatility in recent months, particularly in equity markets on aggressive trading in very short-dated options. The market expects that inflation will actually fall month on month by –0.1% and only rise 6.5% year-on-year versus +7.1% in November. The core, ex Food and Energy number is expected to rise +0.3% MoM and +5.7% YoY vs. +6.0% YoY in November and a peak rate of 6.6% in September.
Earnings to watch
The Q4 earnings season kicks off this Friday with banking earnings from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup with consensus expecting earnings to continue contracting among US banks before coming back to growth this year. The key uncertainty is credit quality in 2023 as it is linked to the degree of a recession or maybe no recession at all in the US economy. With higher interest rates level expectations are that banking revenue will slowly begin to accelerate and if high interest rates persist for an extended period, the longer-term growth for banks could be quite attractive. Overall, the Q4 earnings season is likely going to see an extension of value and tangible companies performing better than intangible-driven companies.
- Today: Albertsons
- Thursday: Fast Retailing, Seven & I
- Friday: DiDi Global, Aeon, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, UnitedHealth, BlackRock, Delta Air Lines, First Republic
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 1000 – Sweden Riskbank Governor Thedeen to speak
- 1010 – Bank of England Governor Bailey, Bank of Canada Governor Macklem, ECB’s Schnabel speak Stockholm
- 1100 – US Dec. NFIB Small Business Optimism
- 1400 – US Fed Chair Powell to speak at Riksbank even in Stockholm
- 1535 – ECB's de Cos, Knot to speak in Stockholm
- 1700 – EIA's Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO)
- 1800 – US 3-year Treasury Auction
- 2130 – API's Weekly US Oil and Fuel Inventory Report
- 0030 – Australia Nov. Retail Sales
- 0030 – Australia Nov. CPI
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