What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
The U.S. equity markets bounced off from the trough of the post-Jackson Hole decline and snapped a 7-day losing streak to finish Wednesday decisively higher, S&P500 +1.8%, Nasdaq 100 +2.1%. The move higher was largely driven by a confluence of macro factors: lower bond yields, and announcing new products at the company’s annual event. lower US dollar, and lower crude oil price plus short covering and call option delta hedging. With a 5.7% decline in crude price, the energy space was the only sector in the S&P 500 that fell. Twitter (TWTR:xnys) surged 6.6% following a Delaware court rejected Elon Musk’s request to delay a trial into the reclination of his offer to acquire Twitter. Snap (SNAP:xnys) jumped 6.4% after the Verge magazine cited an internal memo from CEO Spiegel stating the company’s goals to grow its user base by 30% and bring up revenue by 20% by the end of 2022. Apple (AAPL:xnas) gained 1.4% after a new line of products at its annual event. Apple did not raise prices for its new iPhone 14 series.
U.S. treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
Nick Timiraos at the Wall Street Journal (who is believed to be the Fed’s mouthpiece to guide market expectations) suggested that Fed Chair Powell’s “public pledge to reduce inflation even if it increases unemployment appears to have put the central bank on a path to raise interests by 0.75 percentage point rather than 0.50 point this month”. Fed Vice Chair Brainard pledged to fight against inflation “for as long as it takes” but also mentioned risks that might potentially be caused by over-tightening. The money market curve is pricing in a 78% chance a 75bp hike at the September FOMC. Treasury yields however fell across the curve as crude oil price went sharpy lower, 2-year yields -7bps, 10-year yield -8bps.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hong Kong stocks notably underperformed their mainland counterparts second day in a row. Hang Seng Index lost 0.8% and Hang Seng Tech Index dropped 1.3% while CSI300 was little changed. Heavyweight financial names HSBC (00005:xhkg) and AIA Group (01299:xhkg) tumbled about 2%. The short video and live streaming names dragged on the China Internet space, Kuaishou (01024:xhkg) -3.7%, Bilibili (09626:xhkg) -4.2%. U.S. House Representative Dusty Johnson (Republican, South Dakota) introduced the Block the Tok Act, a bill that would if enacted, prohibit Tik Tok from accessing U.S. citizen’s user data from within China and block Tik Tok’s apps on U.S. government devices. Tencent (00700:xhkg) is increasing its stake in French video game developer Ubisoft (UBIP:xpar) but the latter’s founder retaining majority control.
Following President Xi Jinping stressing China’s determination to “mobilize resources nationwide to achieve breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields” in a high-level reform planning meeting on Tuesday, semiconductor leader SMIC (00981:xhkg) gained 1.2%. China developer Soho China (00410:xhkg) jumped 11% after Chairman Pan Shiyi and CEO Pan Zhangxin Marita resigned.
The Covid-19-related lockdowns, a weakening yuan, the disappointing August trade data from China, and the rise in U.S. interest rates continued to pressure the sentiment of the stock market.
USDJPY holding up despite softer yields
USDJPY eased after hitting highs of 145, but still remained above 144 in early Asian hours on Thursday despite softer US yields overnight. The threat of intervention remains as Japan’s final Q2 GDP released this morning suggests markets may continue to test the Bank of Japan’s resolve to keep an accommodative policy. Q2 GDP was revised higher to 3.5% q/q annualized from 2.2% earlier. 10Y JGB yields are also at 2-month highs and in close sights of the 0.25% cap. Verbal intervention has had little effect, and real intervention will need a coordinated effort and will only increase the volatility as long as the US yields are on the rise. The only real scope of a yen recovery will be seen if US economic data starts to deteriorate or Bank of Japan tweaks policy.
Crude oil prices (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Oil prices steadied in the Asian morning after steep declines in the last few days amid demand concerns especially with China pushing further with its zero Covid policy. Chengdu extended a lockdown in most of its downturn areas, raising concerns the restrictions will hurt oil consumption. A stronger dollar, despite softer yields, also weighed on investor appetite. Supply issues made little impact, even as EIA lowered its annual oil production targets, with domestic production now expected to reach 12.6mb/d, and raised its demand outlook, with annual petroleum usage rising 2mb/d through next year. The likelihood of an Iran nuclear deal in the near term is also fading.
What to consider?
Fed speakers, and another possible WSJ leak?
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Brainard noted rates will need to rise further and policy will need to be restrictive for some time. She needs to see several months of low inflation readings to be confident inflation is moving down to 2% but how long it takes to get back to target will depend on a combination of continued easing in supply constraints, slower demand growth, and lower markups, against the backdrop of anchored expectations. Mester (2022 voter) reaffirmed that she is not yet convinced about inflation peaking yet, and she also spoke on the August jobs report, where she said they are beginning to see some moderations but labour market conditions remain strong. Besides, WSJ's Nic Timiraos wrote: "The Federal Reserve appears to be on a path to raise interest rates by another 0.75 percentage point this month in the wake of Chairman Jerome Powell’s public pledge to reduce inflation even if it increases unemployment." While the Fed is not yet in a blackout period, with Chair Powell set to be on the wires later today, there is little chance this could be a leak like last time. Still, money market pricing of a 75bps rate hike at the September meeting has picked up from 68% on Tuesday to 81% now.
China’s exports in August slowed
In U.S. dollar terms, China’s exports in August come in much weaker at +7.1% YoY (Bloomberg consensus: +13% YoY; July: +18.0% YoY). Once adjusting the data with export price inflation, the real growth of exports may have turned negative in August YoY.
Export growth decelerated across destinations, except Russia (having risen to 26.4% YoY in August from 21.4% in July). The growth of export to the U.S. was particularly weak, having turned to minus 4.2% YoY in August from a growth of 10.9% in July.
Imports growth was also slower than expected, coming in at +0.3% YoY (Bloomberg consensus +1.1% YoY; July: +2.3%). The weakness in import growth tends to indicate weak domestic demand. The growth of imports from the U.S. slowed to -7.5% YoY in August from -4.3% YoY in July. Import volume growth for crude oil was negative at -9.4% YoY in August, little changed from -9.5% in July but import volume of coal bounced to a growth of 5.0% YoY in August from -22.1% in July. Import volume of iron ore declined to -1.3% YoY in August from a growth 3.1% in July. The import volume of copper, however, increased to +26.4% YoY in August from 9.3% in July.
Australia’s economy grew stronger than expected YoY vindicating more rapid hikes are coming
Australia’s A$2.2 trillion economy grew at 0.9% q/q in the second quarter (beating Bloomberg estimates), while growing 3.6% y/y also beating the 3.4% expected. Australia’s economic firepower came from record high commodity exports, with exports now accounting for 1% of GPD YoY. The data also showed the economy strengthened by a boost in retail sales with department store sales at record pace. Services and economic earnings were also able to offset the pull back in savings rates, which fell for the third straight quarter to 8.7%, as households are having to dive into their bank accounts to pay record high energy prices.
AUDUSD vulnerable of another pull back
The USD against the Aussie popped to its highest level since June 2020, after a Wall Street Journal article suggested Fed Chair Powell is committed to reducing inflation with a 0.75% hike likely in September. What also supports this is that stronger than expected US economic data continues to come through (with the most recent data showing the US services sector is healthy), validating the Fed has room to rise rates. Basically, the market is thinking the Fed has room to be more aggressive, while the RBA’s hikes are more subdued. Bottom line, you can’t fight the Fed. The technical indicators suggest the AUDUSD could also retest its lows, while the USDAUD could touch its April 2020 high.
Australia assures its Asian customers it will remain a reliable LNG supplier; but it won’t guarantee anything
Australia’s Minister for resources has again been called on to ‘pull the trigger’ and limit gas exports given the projections show Australia will have an energy shortage next year. The Minster said although it has the matter under control, it cannot guarantee it won’t be limiting exports. Japan imported A$17 billion of the fossil fuel from Australia last year. As such Japan says it’s watching the situation closely.
Bank of Canada raised rates
As expected, Bank of Canada hiked rates by 75bps bringing the rate to 3.25% into restrictive territory, given the central bank’s estimate of neutral rate is 2-3%. The tone remained hawkish, but lacked clear guidance as it reiterated that further hikes will be necessary to bring inflation to target, implying the BoC is not done yet and will move even further into restrictive territory. While growth is slowing and housing prices are down 18% since February, but short-term inflation expectations remain high, signalling a risk that elevated inflation becomes entrenched.
Chinese EV maker NIO (NIO:xnys/09866:xhkg) reported better-than-expected revenue of RMB 9.57 billion due to pent-up demand. The company delivered 25,059 vehicles in Q2, a 14.4% growth from last year. Gross margins, however, decreased to 16.7% from 18.1% in Q1 this year and 20.3% in Q2 last year. Management’s guidance for Q3 delivery was 31,000 to 33,000 vehicles, below analyst expectations.
ECB rate hike in focus; what could it mean for EURUSD?
The European Central Bank meeting will be in focus after plenty of chatter around front-loading rate hikes in the last few days. Most members have come out in support of a 75 basis point rate hike for the September, and the market pricing suggests 125 basis points between September and October meetings (so one 75bps and one 50bps). Only Philip Lane seemed to strike a different tone, saying that he would prefer step-by-step hikes to make sure the financial markets have time to absorb the tightening in a measured manner. August inflation for the Euro area, reported last week, also suggested further price pressures with a 9.1% YoY print from 8.9% YoY previously.
Market pricing suggests a 67bps rate hike today, and a cumulative hike of 129bps by October or 157bps by year-end. With a 75bps rate hike not fully priced in for September, such a move along with commitment to do more front-loading could be positive for EURUSD in a knee-jerk. Still, with energy crisis in focus and EU emergency meeting scheduled for tomorrow, it may remain hard for EURUSD to stay above parity. Only a 100bps rate hike will really count as a hawkish surprise. If ECB decides to go for 50bps, we could see EURUSD test the cycle lows.
New dockers strike in the United Kingdom (UK)
The UK has been facing recurring transport disruptions over the past few years. This is related to Brexit, Covid and now higher cost of living. A dockers strike at Felixstowe port (the country’s first container port) ended a few days ago. But a new one is looming at the port of Liverpool. The dockers trade union is calling for a strike from 19 September to 3 October (at least) after negotiations to raise salary failed. This matters a lot. The port of Liverpool is a key hub for transatlantic sea transport. If inflation continues to rise (which is likely), expect much more strikes to come and not only in the transport industry. Social tensions will probably increase sharply in the coming months.
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