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Global Market Quick Take: Asia – March 8, 2023

Macro 7 minutes to read
APAC Research

Summary:  Equities tumbled as 2-year Treasury yields surged above 5% and dollar reached its YTD high on Powell opening the door for a bigger rate hike and a higher terminal rate. As risk sentiment deteriorated, AUD was a notable underperformer with RBA also going for a dovish hike. CAD in focus today with Bank of Canada expected to pause. China import data also remained mixed, and oil prices slumped by over 3% while Copper broke below the key $4 mark.

What’s happening in markets?

S&P fell below 4000 after Powell’s testimony

The Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) retreated following Jerome Powell’s testimony to the Senate. Powell warned that the FOMC would probably hike rates more and possibly faster than previously anticipated, given the latest data has come in stronger than expected. The S&P 500 fell 1.50% to 3986, below the 4000-handle and the benchmark’s 50-day moving average, while the Nasdaq 100 lost 1.2%.

Rivian (RIVN:xnas) plunged 14.6% after the EV maker announced a private offering of USD1.3 billion convertible notes. Tesla (TSLA:xnas) shares fell over 3.2% and Apple (AAPL:xnas) lost 1.5%. Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms (META:xnas) closed almost steady after it was reported the social media giant plans another round of layoffs that could affect thousands of workers. Meanwhile, in Europe, stock markets also closed in the red - the benchmark Euro Stoxx 600 fell 0.8% with Santander being one of the worst performers, losing 2.4% most despite the business moving to target institutional clients.

2-year US Treasury yield jumped above 5%, for the first time since July 2007

Following Fed Chair Powell opening the door for a 50bp rate hike at the March FOMC meeting, investors sold the front-end of the Treasury curve and saw the 2-year finishing the session at 5.01%, the highest level since July 2007. The longer end of the curve, however, recovered from their intraday lows with the 10-year yield closing only 1bp cheaper at 3.96% and the 30-year yield 2bps richer at 3.87%. The 2-10-year yield curve flattened to -105bps, the deepest inversion since September 1981. The interest rate futures are pricing an over 60% chance for a 50bp rate hike at the next FOMC and a terminal rate at around 5.64% by September this year. The USD 40 billion 3-year auction went well with strong demand.

Hang Seng Index and China’s CSI 300 dropped as SOE telcos rally faded to reverse lower

After the follow-through rally, n central-government-owned enterprises in Hong Kong and mainland bourses in the telecommunication space lost steam, and the Hang Seng Index and CSI 300 dropped 0.3% and 1.5%.

China Telecom (00728:xhkg) slid 4% and China Mobile (00941:xhkg) retreated 2.7%. China Tower came down 2.1%, paring some of the strong gains yesterday. On the other hand, SOE oil and gas giants managed to sustain gains and finish Tuesday higher with PetroChina (00857:xhkg) up 4.4%, Sinopec (00386:xhkg) up 4.2%, and CNOOC (00883:xhkg) up 3.3%, Chow Tai Fook (01929:xhkg) plunged 6% following the departure of the jeweller’s mainland operation chief. SJM (00880:xhkg) slid 4.1% after the loss widened to HKD7.8 billion in FY22.

Australian equities slide after Powell’s comments

Despite the RBA today suggesting it is at a closer point of pausing rate hikes, the Australian share market’s benchmark, the ASX200 has fallen 0.93% - taking it below its 50-day moving average. The pressure on Aussie market comes after Fed Chair Powell gave hawkish remarks to the US Senate – the FOMC would possibly hike rates faster than previously anticipated. Some of the day’s laggard on the ASX include Woodside (WDS) which has fallen 1.8% after going ex-dividend. BHP and Rio Tinto down by 0.5% ahead of going ex-dividend tomorrow. For what ex-dividend means for investors and traders, click here for possible implications. Despite the overall tone being negative today – as set by the Fed - the best performing companies are those that are benefiting and are likely to continue to benefit from China’s reopening  - with Qantas and Webjet trading over 1.4% higher, with Webjet hitting a 52-week high of $7.01.

US dollar notches its biggest gain in a month. The Aussie dollar sinks over 2%

After Powell said the US central bank is likely to raise rates higher than previously thought, the US dollar index surged to a fresh cycle high, moving back to levels not seen since December. That resulted in the Aussie dollar tumbling over 2%. Compounding on the AUD pressure, the RBA Governor said today, it is closer to where it's appropriate to pause rate rises. This comes just a day after Australia’s central Bank hiked interest rates for the 10th straight meeting, taking the cash rate to 3.6%. The RBA said monthly inflation had ‘peaked’, goods prices were expected to moderate in the months ahead, and the Bank alluded to services inflation being only temporary. Futures markets now suggest Australia’s cash rate could peak at 4% in September. The Aussie dollar against the US (AUDUSD) trades at 0.6585. Further declines could see the pair move to the next support level, at perhaps the 0.649 level.

FX: JPY descent continues; CAD in focus

With Powell’s hawkish remarks, 2-year Treasury yields jumped over 5% after a 12bps gain and the USD was pushed to fresh YTD highs. AUD and NZD were hurt by the deterioration in risk sentiment, with the former also pressured by a dovish turn from the RBA. Widening yield differential between US and Japan weighed on the yen, and USDJPY was seen testing 137.50 in the Asian morning session despite volatility risks from the Bank of Japan meeting scheduled on Friday. GBPUSD broke below the 200DMA to reach YTD lows, with BOE’s Mann commenting that sterling could weaken further. EURUSD dropped below 1.06 paring some of the hawkish ECB Holzmann reaction earlier in the week. CAD could be in focus today with a potential pause coming from BOC (read below), with USDCAD likely to take a look at 1.38+ levels.

Crude oil drops over 3% on hawkish Powell

After touching the top of the recent range, crude oil prices slid on Tuesday as Powell hinted at bigger and longer rate hikes, raising concerns of demand weakness. This comes along with a weaker-than-expected growth target from China for this year which continues to limit the optimism on Chinese demand recovery. Meanwhile, short-term supply concerns are subdued. OPEC Chief Haitham Al-Ghais also said that slowing oil consumption is US and Europe poses a concerns for the market, despite strong growth from Asia. EIA also released its short-term energy outlook and lowered its crude oil production forecasts for US supply for both this year and next amid signs of subdued growth and higher costs. WTI prices touched lows of $77 while Brent was back at $83 from $86+ earlier.

Copper broke below $4 mark

Base metals were broadly pushed lower on Tuesday as dollar surged to fresh YTD highs on remarks from Powell’s testimony opening the door for a bigger hike in March and a higher terminal Fed funds rate. China import data also gave mixed signals on the first two months of the year, with mined copper ore imports increasing but inflows of refined copper declining. Supply constraints from Peru also seemed to ease as the Peruvian government expects shipments of copper and zinc will normalise with days, following months of social unrest prompted by the impeachment of former President Pedro Castillo. Copper prices fell 2.8% to close below the $4 mark, bringing last week’s low of $3.93 and the 100DMA at $3.86 into focus.

What to consider?

Powell’s testimony opens the door to a 50bps rate hike in March

Fed Chair Powell, in his prepared remarks to Congress, said if incoming data indicates faster tightening is required, the Fed is prepared to increase the pace of rate hikes, warning that the ultimate level of interest rates is likely to be higher than previously anticipated given the string of hot January data. This is another signal that March dot plot could see an upward shift. Not just that, but Powell has also opened the door to a 50bps rate hike in March and market pricing has shifted more in favor of a bigger hike on March 22. Terminal rate expectations have shifted higher to 5.63% from 5.48% previously. Remarks brought the 2-year yields above 5% and the deepest inversion in the 2-10 year yield curve.

China’s exports and imports dropped further in February

China’s exports fell 6.8% Y/Y and imports dropped 10.2% in February. The larger-than-expected decline in imports was partially due to the fall in commodity prices while commodity import volume grew.

China to establish the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Data Bureau

At the National People’s Congress, China announced the establishment of the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote innovation in technology, the National Financial Regulation Bureau to replace the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) and take over from the People’s Bank of China the regulation of financial holding companies and from the China Securities Regulatory Commission investor protection, and the National Data Bureau to promote the development of the digital economy. The overhaul of the financial regulatory authorities, as we noted in our Two Sessions preview, is to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership in the institutional setup, the division of functions, governance.

China’s Foreign Minister reaffirmed the strategic partnership with Russia

In a press conference on the side-line of the Two Sessions, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang reiterated the “China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era” and downplayed Russia’s invasion into Ukraine to that the “Ukraine cries has complex historical fabrics and practical reasons with the underlying nature being the eruption of the conflicts in the security governance of Europe”. The pro-Russian stance, as opposed to the more conciliatory-leaning stance in recent months toward the West, added to investors’ concern over the Sino-American relationship.

The Bank of England (BoE) worries about core inflation

Yesterday, BoE’s Catherine Mann, former Global Chief Economist at Citibank, expressed concerns about the persistence of core inflation in the United Kingdom. It is currently running at 5.80% year-over-year versus a long-term average of 1.84%. Mann embraced a hawkish tone, highlighting the need for further interest rate hikes. She indicated that the terminal rate is beyond forecast horizon now. The monetary market forecasts it will be at 4.75 %. This implies three consecutive hikes of 25 bp in March, May and June. She also mentioned that the evolution of the sterling plays a very important role for monetary policy due to the high levels of imports. Despite worries about the state of the UK economy, the sterling has been rather resilient this year. It is down only 0.47% against the euro YTD. Most economists still expect the UK economy will go through a period of recession in 2023 (drop of GDP estimated at 0.6%). But a minority of them even expect the UK economy could avoid a recession if the decrease in energy prices continues. This is quite a change compared to forecasts initially released at the end of 2022.

Iron ore price steady ahead of peak Chinese construction season

Iron ore  - the steel-ingredient is trading slightly lower today, down 0.2% at $126.75, but holds around 2023 highs, after its price rose 2.1% yesterday. China is expected to increase demand - as it usually does ahead of China’s peak construction season. Around this time of year, steel mills typically start restocking iron ore, ahead of building work ramping up amid supportive weather. Adding to sentiment, yesterday Rio Tinto (RIO) said it’s seeing good demand from China - with the country shaking off pandemic restrictions. BHP and Rio go ex-dividend tomorrow, March 9. For implications of ex-dividends click here.  

Bank of Canada meets next

After RBA’s dovish hike, the stage is set for the Bank of Canada to pause on its tightening cycle at the meeting today. In light of the weaker-than-expected data and BOC’s signal from the January meeting, market is not expecting any rate hikes today although the message is likely to convey policy flexibility. Read our full preview here to know what it means for the CAD as the divergence of BOC to the Fed widens.

Investing with a Gender Lens

Gender Lens Investing is a strategy which puts weight on gender-based considerations in your investment decisions, so you can in some way contribute towards efforts to close the “gender gap”. As today is the International Women’s Day, we explore why and how we can invest with a gender lens in this video. We also look at some ETFs and Saxo's Women in Leadership equity theme basket which can help you get exposure to this theme. Here’s wishing everyone a very happy International Women’s Day from Saxo


For what to watch in the markets this week – read or watch our Saxo Spotlight.

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