What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
In its second lightest volume session of the year, U.S. equities edged modestly higher, S&P 500 +0.23%, Nasdaq 100 +0.26%. As WTI crude climbed 2.7%, rebounding back above $90, the energy space was a top gainer aside from technology. Exxon Mobil (XOM:xnys) gained 2.4%. Cisco (CSCO:xnas) surged 5.8% after reporting better-than-expected revenues. Nvidia (NVDA:xnas), +2.4% was another top contributor to the gain of the S&P 500 on Wednesday.
95% of S&P 500 companies have reported Q2 results, with about three-quarters of them managing to beat analyst estimates. On Friday there is a large number of options set to expire.
The U.S. treasury yield curve bull steepened on goldilocks hope
The U.S. 2-10-year curve steepened 7bps to -32bps, driven by a 9bp decline in the 2-year yield. In spite of hawkish Fed official comments and the August Philadelphia Fed Index bouncing back to positive territory, the market took note of the falls in the prices paid diffusion index and the prices received index from the survey and sent the short-end yields lower.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIQ2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Both Hang Seng Index and CSI300 declined about 0.8%. Tencent (00700:xhkg) rose 3.1% after reporting results that beat estimates as a result of better cost control and adverting revenues. Other China internet stocks traded lower, Bilibili (09626:xhkg) -4.2%, Baidu (09888:xhkg) -4.5%, Alibaba (09988:xhkg) -2.1%, JD.COM (09618:xhkg) -2.5%.
The surge of Covid cases in China to a three-month high and the Hainan outbreak unabated after a 2-week lockdown, pressured consumer stocks. Great Wall Motor (02333:xhkg) led the charge lower in autos, plunging near 6%. Other automakers fell 2% to 4%. Geely (00175:xhkg) fell 3.1% after reporting 1H earnings missing estimates. A share Chinese liquor names declined, Kweichow Moutai (600519:xssc) -1.2%, Wuliangye Yibin (000858:xsec) -1.6%. Chinese brewers were outliner gainers in the consumer space, China Resources Beer (00291:xhkg) +4.8%, Tsingtao Brewery (00168:xhkg) +1.9%.
Chinese property developers traded lower with Country Garden (02007:xhkg) losing the most, -5.2% , after warning that 1H earnings may have been down as much as 70%. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) is looking at the quality of real estate loan portfolios at some financial institutions.
EURUSD and GBPUSD break through key support levels
Dollar strength prevailed into the end of the week with upbeat US economic data and a continued hawkish Fedspeak which continued to suggest more Fed rate hikes remain in the pipeline compared to what the market is currently pricing in. EUR and GBP were the biggest loser, with both of them breaking below key support levels. EURUSD slid below 1.0100 handle while GBPUSD broke below 1.2000 despite a selling in EGBs and Gilts. USDJPY also broke above 136 in early Asian trading hours despite lack of a clear direction in US 10-year yields and a slide in 2-year yields. AUDUSD testing a break below 0.6900 as NZDUSD drops below 0.6240.
Crude oil prices (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Oil prices reversed their drop with WTI futures back above $90/barrel and Brent futures above $96. Upbeat US economic data has supported the demand side sentiment in recent days. Moreover, President Xi’s comment that China will continue to open up the domestic economy also aided the demand equation. Supply concerns, meanwhile, were aggravated by geopolitical tension around a potential incident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Shell hinted at reducing the capacity of Rhineland oil refinery due to the lower water level on the Rhine river and said the situation regarding supply is challenging but carefully managed.
Gold (XAUUSD) still facing mixed signals
The fate of gold has been turned lower again this week with the yellow metal facing decline of 2.5% so far in the week and breaking below the $1759 support, the 38.2% retracement of the July to August bounce. Stronger dollar, along with Fed’s continued hawkish rhetoric, weighed. Silver (XAGUSD) is also below the key support at $19.50, retracing half of its recent gains. The short-term direction has been driven by speculators reducing bullish bets, but with inflation remaining higher-for-longer, the precious metals can continue to see upside in the long run.
What to consider?
Existing home sales flags another red for the US housing market
US existing home sales fell in July for a sixth straight month to 4.81 mn from 5.11 mn, now at the slowest pace since May 2020, and beneath the expected 4.89 mn. Inventory levels again continued to be a big concern, with supply rising to 3.3 months equivalent from 2.9 in June. This continues to suggest that the weakening demand momentum and high inventory levels may weigh on construction activity.
US economic data continues to be upbeat
The Philly Fed survey outperformed expectations, with the headline index rising to +6.2 (exp. -5.0, prev. -12.3), while prices paid fell to 43.6 (prev. 52.2) and prices received dropped to 23.3 (prev. 30.3). new orders were still negative at -5.1, but considerably better than last month’s -24.8 and employment came in at 24.1 from 19.4 previously. While this may be a good signal, survey data tends to be volatile and a long-term trend is key to make any reasonable conclusions. Jobless claims also slid to 250k still suggesting that the labor market remains tight.
Fed speakers push for more rate hikes
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard flagged another 75 basis point rate hike at the September meeting and hinted at 3.75-4% Fed funds rate by the end of the year with more front-loading in 2022. Fed’s George, much like Fed’s Daly, said that last month’s inflation is not a victory and hardly comforting. Bullard and George vote in 2022. Fed’s Kahskari said that he is not sure if the Fed can avoid a recession and that there is more work to be done to bring inflation down, but noted economic fundamentals are strong. Overall, all messages remain old and eyes remain on Fed Chair Powell speaking at the Jackson Hole conference on August 25.
Japan’s inflation came in as-expected
Japan’s nationwide CPI for July accelerated to 2.6% y/y, as expected, from 2.4% y/y in June. The core measure was up 2.4% y/y from 2.2% previously, staying above the Bank of Japan’s 2% target and coming in at the strongest levels since 2008. Upside pressures remain as Japan continues to face a deeper energy crisis threat into the winter with LNG supplies possibly getting diverted to Europe for better prices. Still, Bank of Japan may continue to hold its dovish yield curve control policy unless wage inflation surprises consistently to the upside.
Cisco’s revenues came in flat, beating a previously feared decline
Cisco Systems reports July 2022 quarter revenues of USD13.1 billion, down 0.2% YoY but better than the consensus of a 3% decline. Net income came in at USD3.4 billion, -3.2% YoY but more than 1 percentage point above consensus. The fall in product order was also smaller than feared. The company guided the fiscal year 2023 revenue growth of +4% to +6%, ahead of the 3% expected and FY23 EPS of USD3.49 to USD3.56, in line with expectations as gross margin pressures are expected to offset the impact of higher sales.
NetEase’s Q2 results beat
NetEase (09999:xhkg/NTES:xnas) reported above-consensus Q2 revenues, +13% YoY, and net profit from continuing operations, +28%. PC online game revenues were above expectations, driven by Naraka Bladepoint content updates and the launch of Xbox version. Mobile game segment performance was in line.
Geely Automobile 1H earnings missed estimates on higher costs
Chinese automaker Geely reported higher-than-expected revenue growth of 29%YoY in 1H22 but a 35% YoY decline in net profit which was worse than analyst estimates. The weakness in profit was mainly a result of a 2.6 percentage point compression of gross margin to 14.6% due to higher material costs and production disruption, higher research and development costs, and the initial ramping-up of production of the Zeekr model. The company maintains its sales volume target of 1.65 million units, an growth of 24% YoY, for the full year of 2022.
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