APAC Daily Digest: What is happening in markets and what to consider next – August 11, 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: Risk on mode activated with a softer US CPI print, both on the headline and core measures. Equities rallied but the Treasury market reaction faded amid the hawkish Fedspeak. The market pricing of Fed expectations also tilted more in favor of a 50 basis points rate hike for September immediately after the CPI release, but this will remain volatile with more data and Fed speakers on tap ahead of the next meeting. Commodities, including oil and base metals, surged higher as the dollar weakened and demand outlook brightened but the gains appeared to be fragile. Gold unable to hold gains above the $1800 level.
What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
U.S. equities surged after the CPI prints that came in at more moderate level than market expectations. Nasdaq 100 jumped 2.9% and S&P500 gained 2.1%. Technology and consumer discretionary stocks led the market higher. Helped by the fall in treasury yields and better-than-feared corporate earnings in the past weeks, the Nasdaq 100 has risen 21% from its intraday low on June 16 this year and may technically be considered in a new bull market. The U.S. IPO market has reportedly become active again this week and more activities in the pipeline. Tesla (TSLA:xnas) climbed nearly 4% on news that Elon Musk sold USD6.9 billion of Tesla shares to avoid fire sale if having to pay for Twitter. Walt Disney (DIS:xnys) jumped 7% in after-hours trading on better-than-expected results.
U.S. yields plunged immediately post CPI but recouped most of the decline during the US session
The yields of the front-end of the U.S. treasury curve collapsed initially after the weaker-than-expected CPI data, almost immediately after the CPI release, 2-year yields tumbled as much as 20bps to 3.07% and 10-year yield fell as much as 11bps to 2.67%. Treasury yields then spent the day gradually climbing higher. At the close, 2-year yields were only 6bps at 3.21% and the 10-year ended the day at 2.78% unchanged from its previous close. The 2-10 yield curve steepened by 6bps to -44bps. Hawkish Fedspeak contributed to some of the reversal in the front-end from the post-CPI lows. At the close, the market is pricing in 60bps (i.e. 100% chance of at least a 50bps hike and about 40% chance of a 75bps rate hike) for the September FOMC after having come down to pricing in just about 50bps during the initial post-CPI plunge in yields.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIQ2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hang Sang Index declined nearly 2% and CSI300 was down 1.1% on Wednesday. Shares of Chinese property developers plunged. Longfor (00960) collapsed 16.4% as there was a story widely circulated in market speculating that the company had commercial paper being overdue. In addition, UBS downgraded the Longor together with Country Garden, citing negative free cash flows in the first half of 2022. Country Garden (02007) fell 7.2%. After market close, the management held a meeting with investors and said that all commercial papers matured had been duly repaid.
China High Speed Transmission Equipment (00658) tumbled 19% after releasing negative profit warnings. The company expects a loss of up to RMB80 million for first half of 2022.
Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical (00874) declined 4.1% after the company filed to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong that the National Healthcare Security Administration was investigating the three subsidiaries of the company for allegedly “obtaining funds by ways of increasing the prices of pharmaceutical products falsely”.
Wuxi Biologics (02269) dropped 9.3% as investors worrying its removal from the U.S. unverified list may be delayed in the midst of deterioration of relationship between China and the U.S.
Oversized USD reaction on US CPI
The US dollar suffered a heavy blow from the softer US CPI print, with the market pricing for September FOMC getting back closer to 50 basis points just after the release. As we noted yesterday, the July CPI print is merely noise with another batch of US job and inflation numbers due ahead of the September meeting. USD took out some key support levels nonetheless, with USDJPY breaking below the 133.50 support to lows of 132.10. Next key support at 131.50 but there possibly needs to be stronger evidence of an economic slowdown to get there. EURUSD broke above 1.0300 to its highest levels since July 5 but remains at risk of reversal given the frothy equity strength.
Crude oil prices (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Oil prices were relieved amid the risk on tone in the markets as softer US CPI and subsequent weakness in the dollar underpinned. WTI futures rose towards $91.50/barrel while Brent futures were at $97.40. EIA data also suggested improvement in demand. US gasoline inventories fell 4,978kbbl last week, which helped push gasoline supplied (a proxy for demand) up 582kb/d to 9.12mb/d. This was slightly tempered by a strong gain in US crude oil inventories, which rose 5,457kbbl last week. Supply concerns eased after Transneft resumed gas supplies to three central European countries which were earlier cut off due to payment issues.
European Dutch TTF natural gas futures (TTFMQ2)
European natural gas rallied amid concerns over Russian gas supplies and falling water levels on the key Rhine River which threatens to disrupt energy shipments. Dutch front month futures rose 6.9% to EUR 205.47/MWh as a drought amid extreme temperatures has left the river almost impassable. European countries have been filling up their gas storage, largely by factories cutting back on their usage. Further demand curbs and more imports of liquefied natural gas are likely the only option for Europe ahead of the winter.
Gold (XAUUSD) and Copper (HGc1)
Gold saw a run higher to $1800+ levels immediately after the US inflation report as Treasury yields plunged. However, the precious metal gave up much of these gains after Fed governors warned that it doesn’t change the US central bank’s path toward higher rates this year and next. With China also ceasing military drills around Taiwan, geopolitical risks remain capped for now easing the upside pressure on Gold. Copper was more buoyant as it extended gains on hopes of a stronger demand amid a fall in price pressures.
What to consider?
Softer US CPI alters Fed expectations at the margin
The US CPI print came in weaker than expected for both the headline and the core measures. The headline softness was driven by huge drops in energy prices from June levels, with the entire energy category market -4.6% lower month-on-month and gasoline down -7.7%, much of the latter on record refinery margins collapsing. The ex-Food & Energy category was up only +0.3% vs. the +0.5% expected, with soft prices month-on-month for used cars and trucks (-0.4%) and especially airfares (-7.8%) dragging the most on figure – again primarily a result of lower energy prices. While this may be an indication that US inflation has peaked, it is still at considerably high levels compared to inflation targets of ~2% and the pace of decline from here matters more than the absolute trend. Shelter costs – the biggest component of services inflation – was up 5.7% y/y, the most since 1991. Fed pricing for the September meeting has tilted towards a 50bps rate hike but that still remains prone to volatility with another set of labor market and inflation prints due ahead of the next meeting.
Fed speakers continued to be hawkish
Fed speaker Evans and Kashkari were both on the hawkish side despite being some of the most dovish members on the Fed panel. Evans again hinted that tightening will continue into 2023 as inflation remains unacceptably high despite a first sign of cooling prices. The strength of the labor market continued to support the case of a soft landing. Kashkari reaffirmed the view on inflation saying that he is happy to see a downside surprise in inflation, but it remains far from declaring victory. He suggested Fed funds rate will reach 3.9% in 2022 (vs. market pricing of 3.5%) and 4.4% in end 2023 (vs. market pricing of 3.1%).
China’s PPI inflation eased while CPI picked up in July
China’s PPI came in at 4.2% YoY in July, notably lower from June’s 6.1%). The decline was mainly a result of lower energy and material prices. The declines of PPI in the mining and processing sectors were most drastic and those in downstream industries were more moderate. CPI rose to 2.7% YoY in July from 2.5% in June, less than what the consensus predicted. Food inflation jumped to 6.3% YoY while the rise in prices of non-food items moderated to 1.9%. Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, rose 0.8% YoY in July, down from June’s 1.0%.
In its 2nd quarter monetary policy report released on Wednesday, the People’s Bank of China expects the CPI to be at around 3% for the full year of 2022 and the recent downtrend of the PPI to continue.
China issues white paper on its stance on Taiwan
China ended its military drills surrounding Taiwan on Wednesday, which lasted three days longer what had been originally announced. In a less confrontational white paper released, the Taiwan Affairs Office and the Information Office of China’s State Council reiterated China’s commitment to “work with the greatest sincerity” and exert “utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification”. The paper further says that China “will only be forced to take drastic measures” if “separatist elements or external forces” ever cross China’s red lines.
Walt Disney results beat estimates
Disney reported solid Q2 results with stronger than expected 152.1 million Disney+ subscribers, up 31% YoY and beating market expectations (148.4 million). Revenues climbed 26% YoY to USD21.5 billion and adjusted EPS came in at USD1.09 versus consensus estimates (USD0.96).
Singapore Q2 GDP revised lower
The final print of Singapore’s Q2 GDP was revised lower to 4.4% YoY from an advance estimate of 4.8% earlier, suggesting a q/q contraction of 0.2% as against gains of 0.2% q/q earlier. The forecast for annual 2022 growth was also narrowed to 3-4% from 3-5% earlier amid rising global slowdown risks. Another quarter of negative GDP growth print could now bring a technical recession in Singapore, but the officials have, for now, ruled that out and suggest a mild positive growth in Q3 and Q4.
Softbank settled presold Alibaba shares early and Alibaba let go of a large number of employees
The news that Softbank expects to post a gain of over USD34 billion from early physical settlement of prepaid forward contracts to unload its stake in Alibaba (09988:xhkg/BABA:xnas) and Alibaba laid off more than 9,000 staff between April and June this year added to the pressures over the share price of Alibaba.
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