What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
The US 10-year yield has opened today’s trading session at a new low for the month trading around the 3.65% level. This is naturally adding tailwind for US equities with S&P 500 futures likely attempting today to break above the 200-day moving average around the 4,058 level. The index futures flirted with the moving average back in August when equities rallied on Fed pivot talk and easing inflation. There are no major earnings or macro releases scheduled for today so we expect a quiet session going into the weekend.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HISX2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Daily new Covid cases surged to yet another record high at 32,695, including 1,444 cases in Beijing. Beijing imposed district-level lockdowns and suspended food delivery. Alibaba (09988:xhkg), Tencent (00700:xhkg), and Meituan (03690:xhkg) lost 2% - 3%. China developers, Chinese banks, Chinese telco giants, and China Aluminum (02068:xhkg) gained. Hang Seng Index declined by 0.8% while CSI 300 climbed 0.5%.
USD hits new lows even with US markets closed for holiday yesterday
The US dollar’s losses extended on Thursday after the FOMC minutes reported late Wednesday encouraged the view that the Fed is on course to decelerate its tightening regime starting with the December meeting (and further forward, the late 2024 and beyond projections of Fed policy suggest the market believes a recession will trigger a sharp Fed easing of policy beyond the end of next year. The US dollar index is flirting with the 200-day moving average for the first time since crossing above the indicator since June of 2021, while EURUSD has made a feint at the cycle highs above 1.0450, easing back a bit overnight. Hotter than expected November Tokyo CPI data reported overnight (more below) saw USDJPY heavy overnight, trading near 138.00 before bouncing slightly. Next week looks important for incoming US data, with the October PCE inflation data up on Thursday and the November jobs report next Friday.
Crude oil (CLF3 & LCOF3)
Crude oil trades lower for a third consecutive week as demand fears, especially from an increasingly locked down China, weigh on sentiment. A G7-sponsored price-cap plan on Russian oil looks dead in the water with EU countries struggling to agree on a level, the result being either no cap or a level so high that it will not have any meaningful impact on supply. The 12-month futures spread in WTI and Brent have both weakened to the lowest backwardation since last December, reflecting a market concerned about recession and a seasonal slowdown in demand hurting the front month contracts.
Gold trades small up on the week in response to weaker US economic data and after the FOMC minutes talked about moderating the pace of interest rate hike soon. Having found support in the $1735 area a further extension will likely require further declines in the yields and the dollar or some other catalyst that sees a run to safety. A break above $1765 may signal a return to key resistance at $1788, but lack of ETF buying still makes it hard to confirm a major change in direction.
US treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) yields fell after the Fed minutes
The FOMC minutes late Wednesday confirmed the deceleration in the Fed’s tightening path and the market has become increasingly confident that, while the Fed may hold rates quite high next year, the path of easing policy will eventually prove quite steep, presumably on the combination of lower inflation and a recession. US 10-year yields eased to new lows below the recent low of 3.67% overnight ahead of an important period of incoming data before the December 14 FOMC meeting, with 3.50% the next technical level of note (psychological as well as a major pivot high from June).
What is going on?
Not many insights in the ECB minutes
Yesterday, the minutes of the ECB’s October meeting were released. On the key point of the monetary policy pivot, there was nothing new. According to the minutes, there had been no discussion on a potential slowdown in the pace of rate hike. This is certainly a bit too early. But many participants pointed out risks related to the recession, especially in the housing market and in the labour market. On fiscal policy, the ECB has basically reiterated its long-term view: there is a « risk that fiscal compensation packages would turn out to be bigger than warranted ». Finally, a large majority of participants considered that the best option, in the short-term, is to implement a new 75 basis point interest rate increase at the next meeting scheduled for 15 December. Only a majority expressed a different position (in favor of a 50-basis point hike). This was not a market mover, obviously.
Apple’s iPhone output at jeopardy in China
The worker unrest at Foxconn’s (Apple’s manufacturing supplier in China) Zhengzhou manufacturing plant could cut production of iPhones of up to 30% according to Reuters. This is a growing risk for Apple’s stock price as the company is moving into its best-selling month during the year.
Sweden’s Riksbank hiked 75bps, more in the pipeline
The Riksbank’s 75-bp rate hike took the policy rate to 2.50% and was larger than the 50-bp signalled at the September meeting, although markets were priced for a move of at least that magnitude. EURSEK fell after a kneejerk rally and trades this morning in the middle of the range since September. The worsening inflation outlook in Sweden, with October’s inflation at 9.3% amidst signs of wage pressures as well, suggests more rate hikes potentially remain in the pipeline. The anticipated peak rate is closer to 3% now, but the bank showed an alternate scenario where persistent inflation above 3.5% could prompt the peak rate move higher from 2.84% to 4.65%.
Japan’s Tokyo CPI above expectations again, more pressures to come
Japan’s Tokyo inflation for November rose to its highest level in 40 years, suggesting that price pressures have not peaked yet. Tokyo CPI came in at 3.8% YoY from 3.5% previously, while the ex-food was at 3.6% YoY (prev 3.4%) and ex-food and energy was at 2.5% YoY (prev 2.2%). Meanwhile, Asia LNG prices are rising again, as colder temperatures in Europe heat up the competition to secure LNG cargoes again. This suggests price pressures will likely continue, and Bank of Japan could still likely consider tweaking its yield curve control policy.
Mixed week for commodities
The Bloomberg Commodity Index is showing a small gain of 1.3% with overall support being provided by the softer dollar and lower bond yields. This despite a darkening, but temporary, Covid cloud hanging over the Chinese economy and the bond market increasingly pricing in the risk of a recession hitting some of the major economies next year. Gas prices in Europe and the US leading the gains on cold weather demand followed by coffee on short covering and silver supported by a bouncing gold price. At the bottom we find wheat, US diesel, sugar and crude oil.
What are we watching next?
An important week ahead for incoming US data
Markets have generally celebrated the downward shift in Fed tightening expectations and hopes for an eventual opening up of China’s economy, notwithstanding the ramping of the case count there. Next week will offer an interesting test for markets, including the US dollar, which trades at pivotal levels, as we have a look at the next important data macro data points out of the US, especially the Friday November jobs report. As well, we’ll have a look at the ISM Manufacturing survey for the month on Thursday. The question for the run-up into the December 14 FOMC meeting and in the month or so beyond is how long the market can continue to celebrate the Fed easing off the accelerator, when the reason it is doing so is that economic slowing and an eventual recession threaten. Normally, a recession is associated with poor market performance as profits fall and credit risks mount.
Earnings to watch
Today’s earnings focus is Meituan and Pinduoduo. Chinese earnings in Q3 have been mixed and the technology sector continues to experience headwinds from both the economy and regulation. Analysts expect Pinduoduo, which has so far navigated the environment flawlessly, to deliver revenue growth of 44% y/y and EPS of CNY 4.75 up 288% y/y.
- Today: Meituan, Pinduoduo
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- US equity markets close three hours early at 1300 local time in NY.
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