Market Insights Today: Dovish BOE rate hike, NFP on tap today – 4 November 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: While the Fed surprised hawkish this week, most other central banks have been surprising dovish, with the latest being Bank of England which tried to cool down the aggressive market pricing for their terminal rate. Meanwhile, Norges Bank also took the less hawkish path, and this has made USD the king again with sterling suffering the heaviest blow. US stocks and bonds were lower, and oil prices, as well as precious metals, also suffered in the aftermath of Fed’s hawkish tilt. Focus turns to NFP today which should continue to suggest a tight labor market.
What is happening in markets?
The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) continued to slide on hawkish Fed and weaker outlook
U.S. stocks continued to adjust for the second day to the increased prospect of interest rates being higher for longer following Powell’s pushback to the market’s speculation for Fed pivot on Wednesday, with S&P falling 1.06% and Nasdaq 100 down 2%. For a discussion on the implication of Powell’s hawkish comments on equities, please refer to Peter Garnry’s article here. Information technology, falling 3%, was the worst-performing sector in the S&P 500 while energy, up 2%, and industrials, up 1% were the outperformers. Announcements of hiring or headcount freezes from Amazon (AMZN:xnas), Apple (AAPL:xnas), Lyft (LYFT:xnas), and Morgan Stanley stirred concerns among investors about the outlook of the economy and corporate earnings. After closing, Starbucks (SBUX:xnas) reported above expectations revenues and earnings while a number of software companies, including Atlassian (TEAM:xnas), Twilio (TWLO:xnys), Appian (APPN:xnas), missed revenues guidance.
10-year U.S. treasury yields (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
The U.S. yield curve bear flattened as the 2-year yield jumped to as high as 4.74%, before finishing the session at 4.71%, the highest level since 2007. It brought the 2-10 year spread to was wide as -58 and close at -56, the most inverted level in 40 years. The market has brought another 75bp hike in December back to the table, pricing in a slightly more than 50-50 chance.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIX2) China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Being hit by the double whammy of the reiteration from China’s National Health Commission that dynamic zero-Covid is the primary pandemic control strategy and a hawkish Fed Chair Powell hinting at higher terminal rates, Hang Seng Index tumbled 3.06% and the Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) dropped 3.8% on Thursday. China Internet, EV, healthcare and property stocks dragged the benchmark indices lower. Following the hike by the U.S. Fed overnight, five leading commercial banks in Hong Kong raised their prime rates by 25bps. On the data front, Caixin China PMI Services came in at 48.4 in October (consensus: 49.0; Sep: 49.3), falling further into contractionary territory. CSI300 performed relatively more resilient and pared some losses in the afternoon to finish the day losing only 0.8%. Semiconductors, defence and basic chemicals gained. Buying emerged overnight in the U.S. hours, Nasdaq China Golden Dragon Index jumped more than 3% and Hang Seng futures were nearly 1.5% higher from Hong Kong closing.
FX: GBPUSD suffered on BOE-Fed differential
The USD is seeing another leg higher not just on the back of Powell’s hawkishness this week, but also with the other central banks taking the less hawkish path. Both Norges Bank and BOE surprised dovish yesterday, in continuation of the trend that we have seen from Reserve Bank of Australia, Bank of Canada and the ECB earlier. GBPUSD fell over 2% to sub-1.12 on the announcement that BOE thinks market’s current pricing is too aggressive. December pricing is still at another 50bps rate hike but it won’t be a surprise if it is pulled lower after we had two dovish dissenters on Thursday. NOK saw a selloff as well, while USDJPY continues to find trouble to overcome 148.50 despite the fresh surge in US yields.
Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOZ2) worried about demand
After a hawkish FOMC, commodity markets have once again started to focus on demand weakness that could come as a result of Fed’s rapid tightening pace. Meanwhile, any hopes of a recovery in Chinese demand have also been crushed for now with authorities still standing by their zero Covid strategy. WTI futures traded close to $88/barrel while Brent futures were below $95. Supply outlook remains challenged however going into the winter, with OPEC+ having announced production cuts followed by EU sanctions on Russian crude flows from December.
Gold (XAUUSD) and Silver (XAGUSD) to face short-term pressures
Our Head of Commodity Strategy Ole Hansen wrote yesterday on how gold and silver turned sharply lower yesterday after Fed Chair Powell delivered a hammer-blow to sentiment across markets as he managed to both pull off the idea of the Fed may indeed soon pivot to a slower pace of rate hikes, but that any talk of a pause is “very premature”. Gold touched sub-1620 levels yesterday before a slight recovery later in the session while Silver took a look below $19. There is likely to be more pressure in the short term, but as yields get closer to a peak or as the possibility of central bank policy mistake increases, while inflation continues to run higher, the outlook for the precious metals could revert to being positive.
What to consider?
Bank of England’s dovish hike
The BOE hiked by 75bps to 3%, as expected by the consensus, but strongly pushed back against expectations for the scale of future moves, saying that the terminal rate priced in currently by the markets would induce a two-year recession. There were also two dovish dissenters at the meeting, one calling for 50bps rate hike and another for a mere 25bps. New forecasts were also released, which gave a particularly grim outlook for the economy, looking for a GDP print of -0.5% QoQ in Q3 2022 vs -0.1% expected in September. The inflation forecast now shows a peak around 11% in Q4, which is marginally hotter than the prior meeting’s projection.
US weekly jobless claims tick lower, ISM services softened
There was a slight decline in initial jobless claims to 217k from previous 218k, coming in marginally below the expected at 220k. Still, labor market remains tight despite some signs of cooling and continues to provide room to the Fed to continue its tightening cycle. Meanwhile, the ISM services index fell more than expected to 54.4 in October from 56.7 previously, however the prices paid gauge increased by 2% pts to 70.7 and remains elevated.
Norges Bank hiked by 25bps
With expectations split between a 25 or 50bps rate hike, Norges Bank took the dovish path as well despite a deteriorating inflation outlook. However, the Committee continues to place emphasis on the growth situation writing "there are signs that some areas of the economy are cooling down" and acknowledging the tightening effect that the higher policy rate is beginning to have. For the December gathering, the Committee points to a further hike being likely.
Australia to double its Royal Australian Airforce cargo fleet in a $10 billion US military deal
US officials are looking to approve the sale of $10 billion of iconic cargo aircraft, including 24 Hercules planes, to Australia. The US Defence Security Co-operation Agency says Australia is one of its most important allies in the western Pacific and its location and economic power ‘contributes significantly to ensuring peace and economic stability in the region’. Australia has operated the Hercules aircraft for decades, with the aircraft playing a major role in moving troops and equipment in and out of war zones and evacuating civilians after the fall of Kabul last year. It has also performed countless missions flying humanitarian supplies to countries hit by natural disasters.
Australia trade surplus swells on surging energy exports
Australia’s trade surplus swelled to $12.4 billion in September, smashing expectation of a $8.75 billion surplus. It comes as exports rose far than expected, up 7% vs the 1% consensus expected thanks to greater demand for mineral fuels for energy, while iron ore exports also rose. Imports remained unchanged month on month.
Multiple reports of hiring freezes emphasizing margin pressures
Apple paused all hiring for roles outside research and development. Amazon will pause new incremental hires in its corporate workforce, citing an "uncertain" economy and its recent hiring boom. Lyft will eliminate 13% of staff, or around 683 people.
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