Financial Markets Today: Quick Take – September 20, 2022
Saxo Strategy Team
Summary: Equity markets consolidated some of the recent losses yesterday as traders mull a cavalcade of central bank meetings this week, topped by the FOMC meeting tomorrow. The market has been burned in its attempts at pricing “peak Fed” in recent months and now Fed rate expectations are running steadily higher into tomorrow’s meeting. Can the Fed deliver on the hawkish side of a market that has finally begun to respect what this Fed is all about?
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
Yesterday US equities touched new lows intraday for the cycle lower that started on 17 August, but despite weak sentiment and downward momentum the market turned around rallying into gains. S&P 500 futures rallied 1.9% from its lows to the close and the positive momentum is continuing this morning with the index futures trading around the 3,929 level. The US 10-year yield is still sitting just below 3.5% and any meaningful push above the 3.5% level will likely renew the headwinds for equities. The rally in US equities was driven by no news so the setup feels almost like the rally ahead of the Jackson Hole event and the recent US CPI report. The market wants good news and a positive surprise, but the question is whether the FOMC will deliver that tomorrow. We doubt it believing the Fed will rather fail being too hawkish than being too dovish.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hong Kong equities rallied, with Hang Seng Index rising 1.3% and Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) climbing 2.3%. Alibaba (09988:xhkg), Meituan (03690:xhkg), JD.COM (09618:xhkg), and Netease (09999:xhkg) surged 3% to 4%. EV stocks rebounded, with XPeng (09868:xhkg) soaring nearly 9%, NIO (09866:xhkg), and Li Auto (02015:xhkg) rising nearly 6%. Macao casino stocks were among the outperformers, rising from 3% to 6% across the board. CSI300 Index was little changed, with solar power, energy storage, and auto outperforming. Major Chinese banks fixed their 1-year and 5-year Loan Prime Rates unchanged this morning.
USD traders mull FOMC meeting this Wednesday
The US dollar slightly on its backfoot yesterday and overnight as EURUSD criss-crosses parity and USDJPY is locked in a tight range ahead of tomorrow’s FOMC meeting. The degree to which the Fed is able to surprise the market on the hawkish side and trigger another rise in US treasury yields (possibly it as important to see longer US yields rising, not just an adjustment at the front-end of the US yield curve to absorb, for example, a higher than expected Fed “dot plot” forecast for next year) will determine whether the US dollar is set for another significant surge to cycle highs in the wake of the meeting.
AUDNZD breaks higher through major level
Despite a nominally dovish set of RBA minutes overnight, AUDNZD leaped to a new six-year high overnight, clearing the 1.1300 level. The diverging current account developments in recent quarters are likely a key driver as Australia features a formidable commodity portfolio and has become a current account surplus nation at a time when New Zealand’s reliance on energy imports has taken a toll on its trade balance, which has gone into a steep deficit. The next focus is perhaps 1.1430, the high from 2015 and highest since AUDNZD traded in a range north of 1.2500 for much of the 2008-2012 time frame.
Gold putting in a higher low compared with Friday was the takeaway from Monday’s price action. The yellow metal has settled into a 20-dollar range near a two-year low ahead of Wednesday’s FOMC meeting and while the risk of a 1% hike cannot be ruled out, the market seems the be settling for another 75 bp hike, a development that may ease some of the recent selling pressure which has seen speculators flip their positions back to a net short, a relatively rare occurrence. Today’s price action is likely to be just noise ahead of Wednesday with algo-driven strategies likely to be in the driving seat, given the dollar and yield movements the overall say on the direction. Below $1854, last week's low in gold, the market may target the 50% retracement of the 2018 to 2020 rally at $1618.
Crude oil (CLV2 & LCOX2)
The best that can be said about Monday’s price action in energy is that traders don’t currently know which leg to stand on, a situation made worse by thin liquidity. With another interest rate hike looming and with global growth slowing there are good reasons to call for lower prices. Lower prices were also sought in response to news China may grant export permissions for excess fuel supplies, and the US announcing it will offer an additional 10 million barrels from its strategic reserves. Against these a softer dollar and recovering equity markets and continued worries about Russian supply once the EU embargo begins in early December helped sent Brent and WTI back in black following a near seven-dollar round trip. More of the same can be expected until a clearer picture emerges.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF)
US treasury yields continue to trade near the peak of the cycle as the market wonders whether the 10-year can explore new territory for the cycle above 3.50% the cycle high from back in June, as well as whether any adjustment higher in Fed rate hike expectations will be entirely felt at the front end of the yield curve, as the inversion has fallen close to the cycle extreme near –0.50% for the 2-10 yield spread as the 2-year rate pushed close to 4.00%.
What is going on?
The euro area looks set to enter a recession
According to Bloomberg, economists see an 80 % chance of a recession in the euro area in the next twelve months. This now looks inevitable. Last week, Barclays downgraded its 2023 growth forecast for France to minus 0.7 %. The Bank of France also published its three main scenarios for the French economy for next year. A recession is one of them (expected drop in GDP of minus 0.5 %). This is not its baseline, though. The length and amplitude of the recession in the eurozone will highly depend on the evolution of the energy crisis and on the risk of energy rationing. This is a bit too early to know exactly how much GDP will drop next year. Economists also expect that the European Central Bank (ECB) will continue to tighten monetary conditions (financial conditions are still loose in the euro area based on the latest credit growth data). More than half consider a second 75 basis-point rate hike is likely in October. This is only the beginning. It is likely the ECB will continue until early next year (when the recession might be officially announced).
Covid vaccine related stocks tumble on Biden declaring pandemic over
Shares in Moderna and BioNTech fell 7% and 9% respectively as the Biden administration declared the pandemic for over. The designation follows other countries and will lower the alertness among health care regulators and likely lower the demand for Covid vaccines as only the very high-risk people in the population will get a vaccine and booster shoots. This is worse than expected news for Covid vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna and BioNTech that are now forced to expand their product portfolio to offset this weakness.
US NAHB declines for ninth month in a row
NAHB Housing Market Index reported its ninth consecutive decline to 46.0, beneath the prior 49.0 and expected 47.0. Save for two panicky months during the early 2020 pandemic break-out, this is the lowest levels cine 2014, but for perspective, the indicator was sub-20 for most of 2008 through 2011. The weaker-than-expected data highlighted the pessimism hitting the US housing market due to the rising mortgage rates, and housing starts may be set to cool further in the coming months.
Japan CPI hits a 31-year high
Japan’s August CPI touched the dreaded 3% YoY mark from 2.6% previously, coming in at the strongest levels in over three decades and significantly above the Bank of Japan’s 2% target level. The core measure, which excludes fresh food and energy, also come in higher-than-expected at 1.6% YoY. With wage growth remaining restrained, this may mean nothing for Bank of Japan, which remains committed to maintaining its yield curve control policy. However, the markets may start to test the BoJ’s resolve once again, especially with US 10-year yields also touching 3.5% overnight while JGB yields remain capped by BoJ YCC policy at 0.25%.
Grains trade mixed but remains in an uptrend
The Bloomberg Grains Index continues its steady ascent after hitting a low point two months ago with global weather concerns, dwindling stockpiles and uncertainty about the Ukraine grain deal being the focus. Chicago wheat nevertheless fell on Monday on an expected increase in Russia’s crop that will compete with US exports already challenged by a strong dollar. Soybeans was supported by Chinese export demand while corn traded sideways but finding support at its 21-day moving average.
Lithium prices and stocks back at records
Lithium equities are back in focus as the lithium price hits a fresh record after tripling in the past year fuelled by electric vehicle demand. Recently the IEA forecast lithium demand to accelerate more than 40 times over the next two decades. The lithium carbonate price has also had an extraordinary run, up 1,000% from its covid low as supply remains a concern. Shares in Albemarle Corp (ALB:xnys), the world’s biggest lithium company and its neighbour Livent (LTHM:xnys), as well as SQM (SQM:xnys), the world’s second biggest lithium producer are on watch with their shares trading near their peaks.
US President Biden wows support for Taiwan
When being asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview whether the U.S. would send forces to defend Taiwan in case of military actions from mainland China, President Biden replied: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.” In answering a follow-up question about if the U.S, unlike in Ukraine, would send forces men and women to defend Taiwan, Biden said: “Yes”.
China’s Emerging Industries PMI slightly improved
Emerging Industries PMI (EPMI) in China climbed slightly to 48.8 in September from 48.5 in August. The modest improvement was below market expectations and the 48.8 print was the lowest September figure (EMPI is not seasonally adjusted) since 2014 when the survey first started, suggesting weak growth momentum.
What are we watching next?
Sweden’s Riksbank set for largest hike in decades today
The market is divided on whether the Riksbank hikes 75 basis points or a full 100 basis points, either of which would be the largest hike in nearly 30 years. One factor possibly tilting the odds in favour of a larger move is the exchange rate, as EURSEK trades near the range high of 10.90 since 2020, and USDSEK is less than three percent from its all-time high, which was just above 11.00 back in 2001. SEK is traditionally very sensitive to risk sentiment, so a larger hike may only impress beyond a knee-jerk reaction if broader sentiment and the outlook for Europe improves.
FOMC meeting tomorrow
Many headlines discuss whether the Fed is set to hike 75 or 100 basis points tomorrow. The Fed generally doesn’t like to surprise markets too much, so arguably it is safe in “only” hiking another 75 basis points as the 100-basis point odds are priced rather low. The more likely hawkish surprise scenario is one in which the Fed sets the “dot plot” of Fed policy forecasts for 2023 higher than the market currently expects – possibly as high as 5.00% for the median expectation. Another item to watch is the Fed’s forecast of PCE inflation for 2023 and 2024, together with where it places the first forecasts for inflation in its first set of forecasts for 2025.
Earnings calendar this week
This week our earnings focus is on Lennar on Wednesday as US homebuilders are facing multiple headwinds from still elevated materials prices and rapidly rising interest rates impacting forward demand. Later during this week, we will watch Carnival earnings as forward outlook on cruise demand is a good indicator of the impact on consumption from tighter financial conditions.
- Today: Haleon
- Wednesday: Lennar, Trip.com, General Mills
- Thursday: Costco Wholesale, Accenture, FactSet Research Systems, Darden Restaurants
- Friday: Carnival
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0730 – Sweden Riksbank Interest Rate Announcement
- 0800 – ECB's Muller to speak
- 1230 – Canada Aug. Teranet/National Bank Home Price Index
- 1230 – US Aug. Housing Starts & Building Permits
- 1230 – Canada Aug. CPI
- 1700 – ECB President Lagarde to speak
- 2030 – API's Weekly Crude and Fuel Stock Report
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