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Market Insights Today: More UK U-turns, Yen intervention on watch, RBNZ rate hike bets picking up – October 18, 2022

Equities 5 minutes to read
APAC Strategy Team

Summary:  Risk sentiment was supported by more U-turns in UK fiscal policy and strong earnings from Bank of America supporting the US banks. Equities rallied and the USD declined, but the Japanese yen failed to ride on the weaker USD and continued to test the authorities’ patience on intervention. Higher NZ CPI boosted bets for RBNZ rate hikes, and the less hawkish RBA meeting minutes brought AUDNZD to fresh lows. EU meetings remain key ahead as the bloc attempts to finalize Russian price caps.

What’s happening in markets?

The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) rally after UK-policy U-turn. So far this reporting season earnings are declining

The mood was risk-on amid Monday’s rally; with the major indices charging higher with the S&P500 up 2.7%. The breadth of the rally was so strong that at one point over 99% of the companies in the S&P500 were rising, which pushed the index up away from its 200-week moving average (which it fell below last week). Meanwhile the Nasdaq 100 gained 3.5%. The rally came after the UK made $30 billion pounds worth of savings after scrapping tax cuts (see below for more). It was received well by markets and investors looking for short term relief. Bond yields fell, equities rallied and after the GBP lifted 1.6% the US dollar lost strength. But the UK is not out of the lurch with power outages likely later this year. Plus also consider, so far this US earnings season, only 38 of the S&P500 companies have reported results and earnings growth has so far declined on average by 3%. So it’s too soon to gauge if markets can sustain this rally, particularly with the Fed likely to hike rates by 75 bps later this month and next. Strong earnings from bank boosted market sentiment. Bank of America (BAC:xnys), reporting solid Q3 results with net interest income beat and a 50bp sequential improvement on CET1 capital adequacy ratio, surged 6% and was one of the most actively traded stock on the day.

U.S. treasury curve (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) steepened

Initially US treasuries traded firmer with yields declining, after taking clues from the nearly 40bps drop in long-dated U.K. gilts following the new U.K. Chancellor Hunt scrapping much of the "mini budget" tax cuts and the support for household energy bills. Some block selling in the long-end treasury curve however took 30-year yields closing 3bps cheaper and 10-year yields little changed at 4.01%. The 2-year to 5-year space finished the session richer, with yields falling around 5bps and 2-year closed at 4.44%. The market has now priced in a 5% terminal Fed fund rate in 2023 and a 100% probability for a 75bps hike in November and over 60% chance for another 75bps hike in December.

Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) lifts 1.4%; with a focus on Uranium, stocks exposed to the UK and lithium

Firstly Lithium stocks are in the spotlight after Pilbara Minerals (PLS) accepted a new sales contract to ship spodumene concentrate for lithium batteries from Mid-may, at $7,100 dmt. PLS shares are up 3.1% with other lithium stocks rising including Core Lithium (CXO) up 3.7% and Sayona Mining (SYA) up 4.7%. Secondly, shares in Uranium are focus today after Germany plans to extend the life of the countries three nuclear power plants till April, as it contends with the energy crisis. The Global Uranium ETF (URA) rose 5.9% on Monday and ASX uranium stocks are following suit like Paladin (PDN) up 2%. For a deep look at the uranium/nuclear sector, covering the stocks to perhaps watch and why read our Quarterly Outlook on the Nuclear sector here. Thirdly, amid the risk-on short term relief in markets from the UK, companies with UK exposure are rallying amid the short-term sentiment shift , including the UK’s 5th biggest bank, Virgin Money (VUK) which is listed on the ASX and trades up 5.3%. Ramsay Health Care (RHC), which is a private hospital/ health care business with presence in the UK trades up almost 2% today. Ramsay's recent full-year showed UK revenue doubled to $1.2 billion.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIV2) China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)

Stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China traded lower initially and spent the rest of the day climbing to recover all the losses, with Hang Seng Index and CSI300 finishing marginally higher. General Secretary Xi’s speech last Sunday hailed China’s “Dynamic Zero-Covid” strategy and gave no hint of shifting policy priorities toward economic growth as some investors had hoped for. Among the leading Hang Seng constituent stocks, HSBC (00005:xhkg) gained 1.5% and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (00388:xhkg), which is reporting Q3 results on Wednesday, climbed 2.3%. Chinese banks gained, with China Merchant Bank rising 2.3% and ICBC (01389) up 1.7%.  Healthcare names gained, Hansoh Pharmaceutical (03692:xhkg) surged 13.2% and Sino Biopharm (01177:xhkg) rose 3.6%. EV stocks were among the laggards, dropping from 1% to 5%. Li Ning (02331:xhkg) tumbled over 13% at one point and finished the trading day 4.3% lower following accusations on mainland social media about the sportswear company’s latest designs resembling WWII Japanese army uniforms. 

Japanese yen paying no heed to jawboning efforts

The US dollar moved lower on Monday, but that was no respite for the Japanese yen. All other G10 currencies got a boost, with sterling leading the bounce against the USD with the help of dismantling of the fiscal measures by the newest Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and the slide in UK yields. The only G10 currency that weakened further on Monday was the JPY, which continued to test the intervention limits of the authorities. USDJPY rose to 149.08, printing fresh 42-year highs. Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda will be appearing before the Japanese parliament from 9.50am Tokyo time, after some stern remarks in the morning saying that they “cannot tolerate excessive FX move driven by speculators”. While intervention expectations rose, the yen still did not budge until last check.

NZD rose on higher New Zealand CPI boosting RBNZ tightening bets

Another surprisingly strong inflation print from New Zealand, with Q3 CPI easing only a notch to 7.2% y/y from 7.3% y/y against consensus expectations of 6.5% y/y and an estimate of 6.4% from the RBNZ at the August meeting. The q/q rate rose to 2.2% from 1.7% in Q2 and way above expectations of 1.5%. This has prompted expectations of more aggressive tightening from the RBNZ with a close to 75bps hike priced in for the Nov 23 meeting vs. ~60bps earlier, and the peak in overnight cash rate at over 5.3% from ~5% previously. NZDUSD rose to 0.5660 with the AUDNZD down to over 1-month lows of 1.1120 with RBA minutes due today as well for the October meeting when the central bank announced a smaller than expected rate hike of 25bps.

Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOZ2)

Crude oil prices stabilized in early Asian hours on Tuesday after a slight decline yesterday, despite a weaker dollar and an upbeat risk sentiment. WTI futures rose towards $86/barrel while Brent was above $91. Chinese demand concerns however weighed on the commodities complex coming out of the weekend CCP announcements. On the OPEC front, Algeria's Energy Minister echoed familiar rhetoric from the group that the decision to reduce output is a purely technical response to the world economic circumstances.


What to consider?

UK need to know: Policy U-Turn provides shorter term risk-on rally, but long-term headwinds remain, UK holds talks to avoid power shutdowns

New British chancellor Jeremy Hunt reversed almost all of PM Liz Truss’ mini-budget. Initially Truss’ plans sent markets into a tailspin - whereby the pound hit record lows and the Bank of England was forced to intervene. However, after Hunt virtually scrapped all of the announced tax cuts, and cut back support for household energy bills, saving $32 billion pounds, then risk sentiment improved and the pound gained strength. But, the issue is, firstly; there are still almost $40 billion pounds worth of savings to be made to close the fiscal gap; meaning more government spending cuts will come and possibly tax hikes. This is probably why new UK finance chief, Hunt, declined to rule out a windfall profit tax. Nevertheless, the U-turn was received well by markets for the short term, bond yields fell, equities rallies and the pound sterling (GPBUSD) rose 1.6% against the USD with the US dollar losing strength. And the second reason the UK is not out of the lurch is that the fundamentals haven’t changed; the UK energy crisis is not resolved – yesterday in the UK government officials met major data centers discussing the need to use diesel as backup if the power grid goes down in the coming months. Amazon.com and Microsoft run data centers in the UK. Earlier this month, National Grid also warned some UK customers they could face 3-hour power cuts on cold days. The Bank of England is expected to downgrade its rate hike expectations.   

NY Fed manufacturing headline lower on mixed components

The NY Fed manufacturing survey for October fell to -9.1, contracting for a third consecutive month and coming in below the expected -4.0 and the prior -1.5. While survey data remains hard to trust to decipher economic trends, given a small sample size and questioning techniques impacting results, it is worth noting that more factories are turning downbeat about future business conditions which fell 10 points to -1.8 and was the second weakest since 2009. Also, the prices paid measure rose for the first time since June, echoing similar results as seen from the University of Michigan survey. Fed speakers ahead today include Bostic and Kashkari and terminal rate expectations remain on watch after they are touching close to 5%.

La Nina is underway in Australia; floods decimate some wheat crops

In the Australian state of Victoria at the weekend, floods decimated some wheat crops, which has resulted in the price of Wheat futures contracts for March and May 2023 lifting in anticipation that supply issues will worsen. The Australian Federal Emergency Management Minister said parts of Australia face ‘some serious flooding’ with more rain forecast later this week, with 34,000 homes in Victoria potentially expected to be inundated or isolated. The Bureau of Meteorology forecasts the La Lina event to peak in spring that’s underway in the Southern Hemisphere, before turning to neural conditions early next year. La Nina is not only disastrous to lives, homes and businesses, but the extra rainfall usually brings about lot of regrowth when rain eases. The risk is, if El Nino hits Australia in 2023 for instance, bringing diminished rainfall and dryness, then there is a greater risk of grassfires and bushfires. Investors will be watching insurance companies like Insurance Australia Group, QBE. As well as companies that produce wheat, including GrainCorp and Elders on the ASX and General Mills in the US.

RBA Meeting Minutes out – AUDUSD climbs of lows, up 1.7%

The Aussie dollar rose 1.7% off its low after the USD lost strength when the UK re winded some tax cuts. The AUDUSD will be in focus with the RBA Meeting Minutes released, highlighted why the RBA rose interest rates by just 0.25% this month, moving from a hawkish to dovish stance. The RBA previously highlighted it sees unemployment rising next year, and sees inflation beginning to normalize next year, which in our view, implies the RBA will likely pause with rate hikes after December, after progressively making hikes of 25bps (0.25%). Still the Australian dollar against the US (AUDUSD) remains pressured over the medium term, given the Fed’s expected heavy-pace of hikes, while China’s commodity buying-power is restricted with President Xi maintaining a covid zero policy. As such, the AUD's rally might be questioned unless something fundamentally changes.

China delays the release of Q3 GDP and September activity data

Chin’s National Bureau of Statistics delays the release of Q3 GDP, September industrial production, retail sales, and fixed asset investment data that were scheduled to come on Tuesday without providing a reason or a new schedule.


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