What’s happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) plummeted on Fed follow-through and hawkish ECB
Nasdaq 100 tumbled 3.2% and S&P 500 declined by 2.5% on Thursday, as a rate hike plus hawkish comments from the ECT, and follow-through from a higher terminal rate on the Fed’s projection dot plot the day before weighed on equities. The decline in stocks was broad-based and all 11 sectors of the S&P 500 fell. The decline was led by the communication series, information technology, and materials sectors. Alphabet (GOOGL:xnas) declined 4.4%. Netflix (NFLX:xnas) tumbled 8.6%, following a media report saying the streaming giant is refunding advertisers because it missed viewership guarantees. Lennar (LEN:xnys) gained 3% and was among the top gainers in the S&P 500 on Thursday after the home builder said the cancellation rate for new homes had peaked in October and declined significantly in November. Adobe (ADBE:xnas) surged 4.7% in extended-hour trading on earnings beat.
US Treasury yield curve (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) turned more inverted on hawkish central banks and weak data
Following a hawkish rate path dot plot from the Fed the day and hawkish remarks from ECB President Lagarde and pull-forward of QT by the ECB on Thursday but a weak U.S retail sales report, the Treasury yield curve flattened. The 2-year yield rose 3bps to 4.24% while the 10-year yield shed 3bps to 3.45%, bringing the 2-10-year inversion to more negative to -79bps. After Lagarde pledged Eurozone “interest rates will still have to rise significantly higher at a steady pace”, the German 2-year yields jumped as much as 30bps and closed 24bps higher at 2.36%, a 14-year high. The Treasury Department announced a USD12 billion 20-year auction and a USD19 billion 5-year TIPS auction next week. In the futures pit in Chicago, large-size curve flattening trades were seen on selling the five-year contracts versus buying the ultra-10-year contracts. The money market curve is pricing a terminal rate of 4.9% in 2023, significantly lower than the Fed’s dot plot of 5.1%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIZ2) retreated on Fed rate hike; China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) little changed
Hong Kong opened sharply lower after the U.S. Fed raised the target Fed Fund rate the day overnight and traded sideways throughout the day to finish 1.6% lower. HSBC (00005:xhkg), down 1.8%, raised its prime rate by 25bps to 5.625%, and Standard Chartered (02888:xhkg), down 1.4%, lifted its prime rate by 25bps to 5.875%. Other leading banks in Hong Kong also raised their prime rates by 25bps. Shenzhou (02313:xhkg), Wuxi (02269:xhkg), Baidu (09888:xhkg), and Alibaba (09988:xhkg), each declining more than 4%, were the top losers with the benchmark. China’s industrial production, retail sales, and fixed asset investments all came in worse than expected and pointed to Covid containment restrictions’ severe disruption to the economy in November. Investors tend to look beyond the weakness in November as the Chinese authorities have eased the pandemic containment practices substantially in December. China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) was little changed on Thursday. Semiconductor and new energy names gained.
FX: Dollar strength returned amid weakness in risk sentiment
After the markets reacting in a limited way after the hawkish shift of the dot plot by the FOMC on Wednesday, the USD strength returned the following day. Concerns that Fed will be hiking into a recession gathered pace as US economic data deteriorated further but labor market resilience prevailed. Money market pricing for the Fed has still not budged to catch up with the dot plot, suggesting that it is likely the risk sentiment weakness that led to the dollar surge. AUDUSD was the biggest loser on the G10 board, sliding lower to 0.67 from 0.6850+ as weak China activity data offset the impact from positive employment numbers in Australia yesterday. GBPUSD also plunged below 1.22 and EURGBP rose above 0.87 amid relative ECB hawkishness. USDJPY touched 138 again despite a lower in US yields.
Crude oil (CLF3 & LCOG3) prices dip on global rate hikes and partial restart of Keystone pipeline
Crude oil prices fell on Thursday after the fed’s hawkish tilt was followed by a slew of other G10m central banks especially the ECB which highlighted the struggle to get inflation under control and hinted at more rate hikes and QT was to come. Along with that, a partial restart of the Keystone Pipeline after last week’s oil spill eased some supply concerns. WTI futures tested the $76/barrel support while moved towards $81. However, there are tentative signs that key Russian oil exports from a port in Asia are dipping following G7 sanctions, and this may impede the supply relief, but demand weakness concerns still continue to remain the biggest worry as of now with China’s full reopening demand also likely to be delayed due to the vast spread of infections.
Gold (XAUUSD) back below 1800 on central banks hawkishness
The return of the strength of the US dollar on Thursday meant weakness in gold. Fed’s message from a day before finally seemed to have been understood by the markets, and hawkishness from other central banks, especially the ECB, further sounded the alarm on rates remaining higher for longer globally. Gold broke below the 1800-mark in the Asian session on Thursday, and the lows extended further to sub-1780 in the European/NY hours. Silver plunged as well to move back towards $23.
What to consider?
Bank of England followed the Fed with a 50bps hike, likewise for SNB and Norges Bank
The Bank of England opted to step down the pace of its rate hiking cycle to 50bps from 75bps, taking the Base Rate to 3.5%. The decision to move on rates was not a unanimous one with two dovish dissenters and one hawkish dissenter. The markets are pricing in a peak for the BOE at 4.25% in H1 2023, as inflation continues to cool. The MPC is of the view that CPI inflation has reached a peak, but is expected to remain high in the coming months. The Norges Bank and SNB also hiked 50bps, in-line with expectations.
ECB surprises with a hawkish tilt
The European Central Bank (ECB), much in line with the Fed and the BOE, stepped back from its 75bps rate hike trajectory and announced an increase of 50bps, taking the Deposit rate to 2.0%. It was reported that a third of the Governing Council favored a 75bps increase, and Christine Lagarde warned investors to expect more 50bps moves and not to see this as a ‘pivot’. The commentary was hawkish saying that "interest rates will still have to rise significantly at a steady pace to reach levels that are sufficiently restrictive". Moreover, the bank announced a start of QT in the first quarter of 2023, even though with a small amount. The APP portfolio will decline at an average pace of EUR 15bln per month until the end of Q2 with its subsequent pace to be determined over time. The inflation forecast also came as a surprise, with 2023 HICP raised to 6.3% from 5.5%, and 2024 and 2025 seen at 3.4% and 2.3% respectively and therefore indicative that further tightening will be required to bring inflation back to target over the medium term. On the growth front, 2022 GDP was upgraded to 3.4% from 3.1% and 2023 now seen at just 0.5% (prev. 0.9%) with the upcoming recession likely to be shallow and short-lived.
US economic slowdown concerns continue to be offset by a strong labor market
Several economic indicators in the US pointed to concerns of an economic slowdown. Headline retail sales declined 0.6% in November, deeper than the 0.1% expectation and paring from October's gain of 1.3%. The December NY Fed Manufacturing survey fell into contractionary territory at -11.2, deeper than the expected -1.0 from the prior +4.5. US manufacturing output fell -0.6% in November, well beneath the expected 0.1% decline and against October's rise of 0.3%, which was upwardly revised from +0.1%. However, labor market resilience was confirmed by jobless claims unexpectedly dropping to 211k from a revised 231k last week, well below the expected 230k.
PCAOB concluded its inspection and removed the delisting risks of Chinese ADRs for now
The Public Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) announced on Thursday that the U.S, accounting regulatory body has “conducted inspection field work and investigative testimony” of the audit work of KPMG Huazhen LLP in mainland China and PwC in Hong Kong on eight Chinese ADR issuers, “in a manner fully consistent with the PCAOB’s methodology and approach to inspections and investigations in the U.S. and globally.” The PCAOB was satisfied that its “investors and investigators were able to view complete audit work papers with all information included, and the PCAOB was able to retain information as needed” without consultation with, or input from Chinese authorities. The PCAOB’s conclusion removes the risk of forced delisting of Chinese ADRs for now. The PCAOB will continue to do regular inspections starting in early 2023.
China’s retail sales, industrial production, and fixed asset investment were weak in November
November activity data in China came in worse than the already low expectations. Retail sales shrank by 5.9% Y/Y in November (Consensus: -4.0%; Oct: -0.5%). The weakness partly reflected the high base last year and mostly as a result of the outbreaks of Covids and the relevant containment restrictions then were still the modus operandi. Revenue growth tumbled to -6% Y/Y for merchandise, -4.2% Y/Y for auto, and -8.4% Y/Y for catering. Industrial production growth slowed to 2.2% Y/Y in November (consensus: 3.5%; Oct: 5.0%). The manufacturing and utility sectors were weak while the mining sector improved in growth. Smartphone volume shrank by 19.8% Y/Y in November as Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou experienced disruption from Covid restrictions and labor unrest. The growth of fixed asset investment plummeted to 0.8% Y/Y in November from 5.0% Y/Y in October. The weakness of fixed asset investment was mainly in the manufacturing and property sectors. Infrastructure fixed asset investment climbed to 13.9% Y/Y in November from 12.8% in October.
Adobe delivered earnings and guidance beating expectations
Adobe (ADBE:xnas) reported a fiscal Q4 net income of USD1.176 billion, a 4.6% increase from last year and above the USD1.158 billion expected by analysts. Adjusted earnings per share came in at USD3.60, beating the USD3.50 consensus forecast. Revenues increased 10% from a year ago to USD4.525 billion, in line with expectations. The software giant gave an upbeat fiscal Q1 EPS guidance of USD3.65 to USD3.70 on revenue of USD4.60 to USD4.64 billion, above analysts’ estimates of USD3.64 on revenue of USD4.26 billion.