Financial Markets Today: Quick Take – May 18, 2022
Saxo Strategy Team
Summary: Risk sentiment remained strong in the US yesterday, as the major indices closed strongly at a more than one-week high on a day that saw both a strong US Retail Sales report for April and largest US retailer Walmart’s stock punished by the most in a single day since 1987 on a weak profit forecast. Fed Chair Powell said that the Fed won't hesitate to raise rates above neutral if necessary, helping to lift the entire US yield curve and perhaps helping to cool sentiment overnight.
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - S&P 500 futures pushed higher yesterday closing the recent short-term selloff cycle that started last Monday but are trading a bit softer this morning around the 4,075 level. US retail sales yesterday showed that the US consumer is still alive and comments from Home Depot’s CEO suggest that the US housing market is still strong despite recent higher mortgage rates with tight supply of homes to last several years. Overall, the dynamics are still the same with tighter financial conditions ahead and hawkish comments yesterday from several Fed members suggest our defensive stance on US equities is correct.
Stoxx 50 (EU50.I) - Stoxx 50 futures closed above its 50-day moving average that we highlighted as the key focus point for the market in yesterday’s quick take. This is the first time since 20 April when technology stocks were staging a comeback with risk appetite before everything turned lower again. If Stoxx 50 futures can manage to stay above this moving average, there might be enough energy for a test of the 3,800. European car sales figures are out this morning and they are still weak which might add a bit of negative pressure among carmakers and car parts suppliers.
EURUSD – strong risk sentiment and a weaker US dollar clearly go hand in hand, as yesterday’s market action demonstrated, but the euro got an extra boost from ECB governing council member Klaas Knot saying that the ECB shouldn’t exclude 50-basis point hikes from the menu of options. This drove a strong boost in ECB rate expectations, with end-2022 now priced for a +0.45% policy rate, 10 bps higher than the previous day. EURUSD traded up through 1.0500, a bullish reversal as that was a sticking point on the way down. Still, very heavy lifting would be needed to turn the bearish tide, with next resistance at the prior pivot higher near 1.0640, while more like 1.0800-1.0850+ would be needed to suggest a structural reversal. A new sell-off in risk sentiment will test the degree to which the latest hawkish tile from a growing number of ECB members weighs on the EURUSD exchange rate.
USDJPY and JPY pairs – watching JPY crosses and USDJPY closely after US treasury yields jumped yesterday, especially at the long end of the curve, to which the JPY is traditionally most sensitive. Japan’s Q1 GDP estimate out overnight was better than anticipated as nominal GDP rose +0.1% and the economy (in real terms) contracted less than expected. In the JPY crosses, we have seen a wild ride on the recent swings in risk sentiment that now have pairs like EURJPY, AUDJPY and GBPJPY back near important retracement levels after steep sell-offs last week. These will likely tilt lower if bond yields stay calm and we see renewed risk aversion. Otherwise, the Bank of Japan will likely only come under fresh pressure to alter its policy if the USDJPY rate jumps to strong new highs and, for example, if global oil prices do likewise, increasing cost-of-living in Japan, etc.
Gold (XAUUSD) trades lower after Fed chair Powell said the Fed will keep raising rates until inflation is brought under control. His comments helped lift inflation adjusted US Treasury yields with the 10-year real yield rising to 0.25%. The weaker dollar yesterday also helped boost risk appetite with stocks being the main recipients of these flows. For now, the bears remain in control, especially after the rejection yesterday at $1838, the 200-day moving average on XAUUSD. Silver (XAGUSD) meanwhile enjoyed some tailwind from recovering industrial metals with the XAUXAG falling to 83.90 after hitting a 22-month high of 88.5 last week.
Crude oil (OILUKJUL22 & OILUSJUN22) tried but failed to break higher on Tuesday after the tailwind from a potential pickup in Chinese demand, as lockdowns begin to lift, was being offset by hawkish comments on interest rates from Fed chair Powell, and news that the US may ease some economic sanctions on Venezuela, a 2m b/d producer in 2017 reduced to just 0.7m b/d at present. The bid, however, returned late in the day when the API published a bullish inventory report that pointed to a continued and worsening tightness in the US crude and gasoline market after they saw stocks falling by 2.4m barrels and 5.1m barrels, respectively. The EIA will release its official report later Wednesday.
Dutch TTF benchmark gas (TTFMM2) remains rangebound within a €85 to €110 range despite the fact Europe's gas inventories are rebuilding at the fastest rate on record as the region's buyers outbid competitors from Asia to acquire as much gas as possible at any price. According to Gas Infrastructure Europe total stocks have since the March low climbed by 202 TWh to 446 TWh, and at this rate will surpass the five-year average within the next few weeks. Asia’s LNG buyers have been less active than normal, driven by a combination of stocks being allowed to run down due to soaring prices and lower Chinese demand as its coronavirus outbreaks and lockdowns take its toll on demand for gas.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF) - sold off yesterday and took the 10-year Treasury benchmark yield sharply back higher toward 3.00% in the wake of strong US Retail Sales data and amidst positive risk sentiment. If the 10-year yield continues higher after yesterday’s 10 basis point jump, it is worth nothing that the recent top of 3.2% was within a few basis points of the 2018 high for the cycle at 3.26%. Meanwhile, the 30-year T-bond yield closed at 3.185, the second-highest daily close for the cycle, with an intraday cycle high of 3.31%. The US Treasury is set to auction 20-year T-notes later today.
What is going on?
Fed Chair Powell says “won’t hesitate at all” to take Fed Funds rate above neutral after saying that “what we need to see is inflation coming down in a clear and convincing way, and we’re going to keep pushing until we see that.” Powell admitted that taking levels above neutral could bring some pain and a rise in the unemployment rate. End-2022 Fed expectations rose about 10 basis points yesterday and sit at 2.82”, just shy of the 2.88% cycle highs from before the May 4 FOMC meeting, at which Powell discouraged the idea of hiking more than 50 basis points at a time.
UK Apr. CPI out this morning in line with expectations. The headline year-on-year reading was 9.0% vs. 9.1% expected and 7.0% in March, while the Core CPI was 6.2% as expected and vs.5.7% in Mar. The month-on-month headline CPI was 2.5% vs. 2.6% expected and 1.1% in March.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, suffers worst single-day price drop since 1987 as it cut its profit forecast, citing margin pressure concerns due to inflation, and the CEO vowing that “price leadership is especially important right now.”
Home Depot gains on strong Q1 and better than expected Q2 outlook. The US home improvement retailer gained yesterday on a surprise Q1 comp sales of +2.2% y/y vs est. -2.4% y/y and saying on the conference call that Q2 was off to a strong start; the company says it is not seeing the consumer holding back and sees tight housing inventory lasting for five years.
Japan Q1 GDP contracted less than expected. Japan’s Q1 GDP showed a contraction of 1% q/q sa following a 3.8% expansion in Q4, but it was still better than expected. The omicron wave and supply drags created pressures, but the outlook for Q2 is appears to be improving as the economy reopens and pent-up demand boosts consumer spending.
UK unemployment drops to a 50-year low of 3.7%. For the first time since records, job openings (1.3 million) outnumber those out of work. In addition, the number of payrolled employees grew by 121,000 between March and April, to 29.5 million. A lot of people have chosen salaried employment over self-employment due to fear of recession and higher cost of living. Wages continue to move upward. But this is not enough to cope with inflation. Pay, excluding bonuses, rose by 4.2 % between January and March while cost of living was at 7 % in March and is expected to jump to 9 % in April. The situation is becoming unbearable for many households. We believe that the Bank of England will have no other choice but to speed up the interest rate hike cycle before pausing perhaps after the summer.
As expected, U.S. April retail sales show the U.S. domestic economy is very resilient. Retail sales were out at 0.9 % versus the expected 1 %. After adjusting for monthly inflation, it was at 0.6 %. This is still very solid. There is no sign of imminent recession in the United States when we look at the U.S. consumer.
Peloton sees twice the demand for its $750 bond offering. The struggling health company has seen strong demand for its bonds in a sign that risk appetite is still intact in the high yield debt market in the US.
Australian wage growth in Q1 slightly softer than expected. The report showed Australian wages rising only +0.7% QoQ and +2.4% YoY vs. +0.8%/+2.5% expected, respectively and vs. +2.3% YoY in Q4.
What are we watching next?
Earnings Watch. Today’s focus is Tencent given the latest support from the Chinese government including comments yesterday from the Vice Premier signaling support for platform companies. Consensus is looking for Q1 revenue of CNY 141.1bn up 4% y/y and EPS of CNY 2.77 down 5% y/y. SQM is also reporting today and is one of the world’s leading lithium miners earning 41% of its profits from lithium and 59% from fertilizers and plant nutrients including potassium, and as well as other agricultural sector products. Both lithium and fertilizers are seeing high prices due to tight supply-demand situation.
- Today: Tencent, Experian, Burberry, Singapore Airlines, Cisco, Lowe’s, Target, Analog Devices, TJX, Synopsys, Copart, Trip.com, SQM
- Thursday: Xiaomi, Generali, National Grid, Applied Materials, Palo Alto Networks, Ross Stores, DiDi Global
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0800 – South Africa
- 1230 – US Apr. Housing Starts and Building Permits
- 1230 – Canada Apr. CPI
- 1230 – Canada Apr. Home Price Index
- 1430 – EIA's Weekly Crude and Fuel Stock Report
- 2000 – US Fed’ Harker (Non-voter) to speak
- 2350 – Japan Apr. Trade Balance
- 0130 – Australia Apr. Employment Data
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