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Market Insights Today: Fed messenger calling for higher-for-longer rates; Russia ready to halt grain exports – 31 October 2022

Equities 6 minutes to read
APAC Strategy Team

Summary:  Equities closed higher on Friday on the Wall Street, sending a bid tone to Asian stocks to start the new week. However a host of risks ahead including the Fed meeting which will see another jumbo rate hike but focus is also whether the members send out signals of a downshift in rate hike path. WSJ Timiraos has now hinted at higher for longer interest rates in his latest article, and this has helped a bid tone in US dollar to return in early Asian trading hours. Geopolitics also took an ugly turn with Russia backing off from grain export deal, threatening food crisis again.

What is happening in markets?

Need to know

Asian stocks look to build on last week's US gains, though investors may be cautious ahead of the FOMC meeting. The S&P 500 jumped 2.5% on Friday in another turbulent session, buoyed by tech shares and some modestly positive economic data. Treasuries snapped a three-day rally, with 10-year yields rising back to around 4%, while the dollar inched up. Russia pulls out of the agreement to allow Ukrainian crop shipments, meaning its ready to halt Ukraine Wheat exports. Chinese President Xi Jinping will host a flurry of foreign leaders this week, making a return to the world stage after China's Covid Zero restrictions. On Thursday some Chinese cities ramped up COVID-19 restrictions and the IMF downgraded China’s growth expectations to 3.2%, after a 8.1% rise in 2021. Oil and gold both retreated.

The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) & S&P 500 (US500.I) trade near 6-week highs

Apple (AAPL) shares rocked up 7.6% after it reported mostly better than expected results last week, and the sentiment buoyed technology shares, helping the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq 100 notch their longest weekly rising streak since August. Plus, economic data showed small signs of improvement in the battle against inflation. This week, the most prominent companies to report quarterly results include; Exxon Mobil, Berkshire Hathaway, Advanced Micro Devices, Qualcomm, UBER, PayPal, and Starbucks. If you are looking for inspiration this week, here is the Five Stocks To Watch video.

Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) futures suggest a bullish 1.3% rise on Monday AM

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday is expected to deliver a 2nd straight quarter of 0.25% hikes on Tuesday’s meeting, according to Bloomberg. Australia’s corporate bond market is showing signs of succumbing to the global volatility in fixed income, unleashed by central bank tightening. And this is causing Australian tech stocks to remain pressured. Focus today is on earnings from Nickel Mines (NIC), Origin Energy(ORG), and coal company Corando Global (CRN). Elsewhere, pressure will likely be on iron ore giants, which might expect their selling rout after China increased covid-19 restrictions. Focus will be on Fortescue Metal, BHP and Rio Tinto which are all trading under their 200-day moving average.

Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOZ2) trades at $88. Iron ore (SOCA) erases 3-years of gains

Oil fell on Friday with WTI (CLX2 & LCOZ2) settling near $88 but posting a 3.4% weekly gain, despite the biggest crude importer, China, widening its COVID-19 curbs. This week; OPEC unveils its 2022 World Oil Outlook at the ADIPEC conference Monday. Plus, there is a swathe of energy ministers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Nigeria will also weigh in, as well as CEOs from BP and Occidental. Meanwhile, Iron ore (SCOA) now trades at its lowest level since 2019, US$78.40 after China confirmed it will maintain its covid-19 policies.

Markets, businesses, commodities with high exposure to China see heavy selling this week. Will it continue? 

Assets with exposure to China are being heavily penalized as it seems investors are realigning their portfolios somewhat with the priorities of President Xi and his policy on stronger state control over the economy, which means markets could be challenged for years. Xi confirmed this stance on Sunday 24 October, and on top of that China increased covid-19 curbs, which is why Hong Kong’s Heng Seng suffered at 8.3%, drop last week, while the iron ore (SCOA, SCOX2) price fell ~15% last week, and now traded at $78.40 its lowest level since Feb 2019, on concerns that the biggest iron ore consumer will further slow demand, all while iron ore seems oversupplied. The biggest pure play iron ore company in the southern hemisphere, Fortescue (FMG) shares fell 10% last week, plus what added to the selling was that Fortescue affirmed it is increasing its spending, while its margins are tightening. Fortescue says it will ramp up iron ore production at its expanded facility in March, instead of June. Meaning, this could likely further push the iron ore market into greater oversupply. Some investors are concerned Fortescue Metals technical indicators show that perhaps more selling could be ahead, despite the stock trading somewhat in oversold territory.

US dollar back on the front foot in Fed week

The US dollar was seen returning to mild gains against most major currencies after Fed-pivot bets picked up last week. A turnaround in comments from Fed whisperer Nick Timiraos who is now suggesting higher-for-longer rates (read below) may be one of the reasons. The uptick in geopolitical worries with Russia pulling out of the grain deal may however also play a part in bidding safe haven flows to the dollar. Fed is expected to hike rates by another 75bps this week, and pricing for December is also close to 75bps still. This will likely revive pressure on the JPY this week, while GBP seems to have priced in all the good news for now. USDJPY heading to 148 in early Asian hours while GBPUSD testing 1.1600.

Wheat futures (ZWZ2) gap higher

Wheat futures (ZWZ2) gapped up 7% to open at $8.88/bushel after Russia pulled out of the UN brokered black sea grain deal over the weekend after Ukraine carried out an attack on Russia’s Black Sea fleet off Sevastopol. Corn has also gained 2.5% to open at $6.96/bushel.

What to consider?

US core PCE sends no clear signal to the Fed

The US core PCE, Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, remained elevated for September as expected. The core measure came in at 5.1% YoY from 4.9% previously, but remained a notch softer than expected at 5.2% YoY. On a m/m basis, gains were flat at 0.5% as expected. While the case for November’s 75bps rate hike from the Fed is still intact, it still remains hard to argue a downshift with the kind of strength we are seeing in the US economy.

WSJ Fed whisperer now signalling higher-for-longer rates

Nick Timiraos, who is seen as the Fed’s messenger, had sent shivers across markets last week with a report suggesting that the November FOMC meeting may be used to signal a downshift to smaller rate hikes. This saw equity markets extending gains while the USD was on the backfoot last week, but now he has come out with another article saying that higher savings buffers and lower interest expenses could make the Federal Reserve raise rates higher and keep them there for longer.

Russia exits Ukraine grain deal

Russia suspended its participation in the Ukraine grain export deal after a swarm of drones targeted at least one Russian warship from the Black Sea navy. This will block the passage of millions of tonnes of grain via southern Ukraine and may lead to a fresh jump in prices. The report is especially catastrophic as it comes together with massive wheat crop damage with the US crop belt seeing La Nina for its third consecutive year. Putin is getting desperate after losing ground militarily and in terms of Europe’s winter gas requirement, so he has likely gone back to using the food crisis as another tool.

Fed, BOE, RBA meet – what can you expect

The Fed and BOE and RBA are expected to hike this week, with robust labour markets defying efforts to tamp down inflation, despite predictions of a imminent recession. Companies are complaining of chronic worker shortages, and a persistent mismatch between hiring demand and supply is supporting wages and shielding consumers from slowdowns. Consensus expects the RBA to take the cash rate from 2.6% to 2.85% on Tuesday. On Wednesday the Fed meets and consensus expects to take rates up by 0.75% to 4%. All in all, Goldman Sachs raised its peak Fed rate prediction to 5% from 4.75%, citing "uncomfortably high" prices will keep rates higher for long. On Thursday the Bank of England meets, and consensus expects to take the rate from 2.25% to 3%. This means FX markets are expected to be quite volatile along with equity market, especially interest rate sensitive parts of the market, tech, consumer spending and real estate stocks.

Lula’s comeback in Brazilian presidential elections

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva claimed a victory in Brazil’s presidential election on Sunday, defeating incumbent rightwing leader Jair Bolsonaro by less than two percentage points and setting the stage for a return to leftwing governance in Latin America’s largest nation. Brazilian ETFs including such as EWZ:arcx, IBZL:xams, RIO:xpar, BRZU:arcx, or BRQ:arcx may be the ones to watch, as will be the BRL later in the day. BRL has been the best performer in the EM basket (excluding Russian rouble) against the USD so far this year. Lack of economic plans from Lula may make a case for market outperformance somewhat weaker, however.

China PMIs out today at 9:30am SGT/HKT

China’s October PMIs are due for a release today and expectations are for the manufacturing number to dip into the contractionary territory with Bloomberg consensus expecting a 49.8 print from 50.1 in September. A slowdown is also expected in the non-manufacturing print, but it still may remain in expansion.


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