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Market Insights Today: Positive surprise from US and EU PMIs; Tesla earnings ahead – 25 January 2023

APAC Research

Summary:  US equities struggled to find a direction on Tuesday following a technical glitch on the NYSE at the open. US and EU PMIs were better than expected although the UK print was weaker than expected. Earnings results continued to disappoint especially with gloomy guidance from Verizon, 3M and Lockheed Martin, while Microsoft posted solid cloud sales. Tesla is up next on the investors’ radar, leading into the full set of tech earnings next week. Australia CPI came in stronger than expected, boosting AUD. Bank of Canada decision due today and the last rate hike of the cycle appears to be on the cards.

What’s happening in markets?

Equity markets lose steam and trade cautiously ahead of the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge

US equity markets were a bit dull on Tuesday investors weighing up mostly stronger than expected Microsoft earnings results, vs a weaker than expected earnings from chipmaker giant, Texas Instruments. The S&P500 (US500.I) fell 0.1% but closed above it 200-day average for the second day (a sign there are more bulls in the market than bear), while the Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) lost 0.2%. Still markets are waiting for the next major catalysts; Tesla’s results on Wednesday, then later in the week, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) price index for December; to also gauge if the Nasdaq’s rally of 11% from its low can be sustained, especially as the PE for the Nasdaq is about 54.6 times earnings; meaning tech stocks are still quite expensive compared to their averages. The risk is if Core PCE doesn’t fall as expected from 4.7% QoQ to 3.9%, then we could see a selloff in equity markets, while the US dollar would be bought. However, the S&P500 is seemingly bullish for now, until the next tests (some of which we mentioned), click for an in depth Technical Analysis on what the next levels could be for the S&P500.

Mixed Microsoft (MSFT) result has shareholders a relieved as cloud sales rise more than forecast; a sign the business could stand tall amid the murky year ahead

After hours Microsoft (MSFT) shares gained 4.3% with investors relieved its revenue in constant currency rose 7% in the quarter, versus the 6.59% estimate. Microsoft’s closely watched Azure cloud-computing business, sales gained 38%, compared with predictions for a 37% increase, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations. This underscores Azure’s ability to help drive the company, even as sales of Windows software to PC makers plummeted amid a slumping market. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $2.32, slightly better than the $2.30  estimate, thanks to the cost cutting. Capital expenditure was $6.27 billion, less than Bloomberg estimated ($6.63 billion), while revenue slightly missed expectations hitting $52.75 billion vs the $52.93 billion estimate.

FX: AUDUSD boosted by hotter-than-expected CPI

A mixed day for the US dollar on Tuesday as it broadly ended the day unchanged after the tech issues with the US equity open and broadly firmer US PMIs. The move lower in yields however dragged on the USD, and Japanese yen was the biggest gainer on the G10 board. USDJPY reversed from 131 back to 130 levels at US close but seeing upward pressure again this morning in Asia. NZDUSD hovers around key resistance level of 0.65 as NZ 4Q CPI came in stronger than expected at 7.2% vs estimate of 7.1%, while Chris Hipkins was sworn in as the 41st prime minister. AUDUSD hit fresh highs of 0.7080 after the Australia CPI release came in above expectations at 7.8% YoY and 1.9% QoQ (exp 7.6% YoY and 1.6% QoQ). Meanwhile, EURUSD stays close to 1.0900 with stronger than expected Eurozone PMIs and mixed ECB speakers underpinning. Villeroy suggested the ECB will reach peak rates by the summer, although Simkus said this may be unlikely but the ECB should continue with 50bp hikes. Nagel said the ECB is not done on inflation that remains far too high, and Panetta said the ECB should not commit to any specific policy move beyond February.

Crude oil (CLG3 & LCOH3) prices drop

Oil prices dropped on Tuesday amid risk off tone broadly across markets amid a mixed set of earnings results. WTI prices fell 1.8% below $81/barrel while Brent was down 2.3% to sub-$86.50. OPEC+ are expected to keep oil production unchanged when they meet next week as they await clarity on Chinese demand and the impact of EU’s ban on Russian supply (from Feb 5). Meanwhile, API inventories suggested a still-tight oil market with US crude inventories rising 3.38mm barrels last week and focus will be on the official data due today. Gasoline inventories rose by 620,000 barrels after last week’s API data showed the fuel inventories rising by 2.8 million barrels last week. Distillates fell 1.929 million barrels after falling by 1.8 million bpd in the week prior.

Metals see red on profit taking, while gold nudges up on the cusp of a bull market

Copper declined 0.2% with investors booking profits after the copper prices have gained 32% from its low. Traders bought into Wheat, lifting Wheat up 2% as its trades at year-lows. While Gold nudged up 0.3% taking its rally off its low to 19.5%, meaning that gold is on the cusp of a bull market.


What to consider?

US PMIs held up stronger than expected

US flash PMIs for January surpassed expectations, as services rose to 46.6, above the expected 45.0 and the prior 44.7, while manufacturing lifted to 46.8 from 46.2 (exp. 46.0), which comes ahead of ISM on February 1st. The composite rose to 46.6 from 45.0, and this will probably further boost the calls in favor of a soft landing rather than a deep recession as has been the case since the start of the year due to faster-than-expected China reopening and stronger Eurozone outlook. Still, activity is in contraction and job growth is cooling, but the January print also pointed to a re-acceleration in the input cost inflation.

Eurozone composite PMI returns to expansion

Eurozone PMI rose to 50.2 in January from 49.3 in December and 49.8 expected, suggesting that the region may be able to skirt a recession due to a less harsh winter this season which has given room to the ECB to continue to focus on fighting underlying inflationary pressures. Manufacturing PMI was just below the key 50-mark at 48.8 but better than last month’s 47.8, while the rise of services PMI to 50.7 drove most of the gains. UK services PMI, on the other hand, fell to 48 from 49.9 in December, while manufacturing gained slightly to 46.7 in January from 45.3 previously but still remained in contraction. This suggests further signs of UK being in a recession in early 2023 and possibly a sooner pause for the BOE than the ECB.

Bank of Canada decision due today, most see a 25-basis point hike tomorrow followed by a pause

Most observers are looking for the Bank of Canada to hike one last time for this cycle today to take the policy rate to 4.50% and to indicate a pause to assess inflationary and labor market conditions before deciding on next steps. The Bank of Canada hiked rapidly in 2022 in an attempt to catch up with galloping inflation but has contrasted with the Fed in signalling a pause in the hike cycle before the Fed, which has been slow to signal that peak rates may be nearing.

Tesla earnings on watch for margin pressure from price cuts

Analysts expect revenue growth of 36% y/y and EPS of $1.12 up 64% y/y. Analysts are still very bullish on revenue growth for 2023 with expectations at 30% growth despite the recent slip in deliveries and three quarters of growing difference between production and deliveries. This is also reflected in the consensus price target at $190 vs the current price of $144. Traders and investors are also expressing a bullish take on Tesla with the put-call ratio on volume being 0.79 and the put-call open interest ratio at 0.65. The key thing to watch will be the comments on recent price cuts for several models, and how that impacts the bottom line, and whether the demand response is big enough to offset the price reduction to see the bottom line grow this year.


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