What is our trading focus?
US equities (US500.I and USNAS100.I): be wary of the short-term celebration
A busy weekend in the US for regulators have ended with a backstop of all insured and uninsured deposits of SVB Financial and Signature Bank including a new “Bank Term Funding Program” that will offer 1-year loans to banks on easier terms than normal. The Fed is also relaxing terms for lending through its discount window. US equity futures are rallying this morning with S&P 500 futures up 1.4% trading around the 3,955 level (just above the 200-day moving average), but our stance is that investors should be extremely cautious of celebrating too early. The lessons from the Great Financial Crisis and the Euro Crisis are that the early cracks and the first rescue attempt by regulators are often not enough as these events to not happen in vacuum. At this point we simply do not have enough information to guess the secondary effects from this event so investors should remain cautious. Investors should monitor money market spreads, yield curve shape, flows in USD etc., instead of equities this week for information what is happening in the system.
Chinese equities (HK50.I and 02846:xhkg): Rally as US backstops depositors
Hong Kong and Chinese stocks rallied as U.S. regulators rolled out plans to prevent the woes in Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank to turn into systemic risks. Hang Seng Index jumped 1.8% and CSI300 rallied 0.6%. China’s Two Sessions concluded this morning. President Xi secured a third term and his ally Li Qiang took the position of Premier, both being widely expected. The People’s Bank of China’s Yi Qang unexpectedly remains as the central bank’s governor. Nonetheless, his appointment is likely to be transitory pending the establishment of the National Financial Supervision Bureau. Energy, consumer, and internet stocks led the advance of the Hang Seng Index. In A-shares, SOE telcos outperformed. Belt-and-Road-Initiative-related stocks were well bid.
FX: Dollar on the backfoot as Fed rate hike expectations recede on financial risks
The dollar trades sharply lower following the Sunday announcement from the US authorities that it will backstop bank deposits to avert a deepening crisis after the SVB collapse. With short-end US yields collapsing and the market pricing just one rate hike before a December cut, the dollar index has dropped to a near a one-month low while the euro after finding firm support around €1.035 last week has rallied back above €1.07. AUDUSD pushed back above 0.66 to highs of 0.6672 in Asian session amid a recovery in sentiment. NZDUSD also pierced above the 200DMA to reach 0.62. GBPUSD rose above the 1.21 handle again with this week’s focus being the Spring budget and the labor market data. ECB’s hike remains in focus, and EURUSD taking another look above 1.07 as risk sentiment improved this morning in Asia.
Crude oil prices bounce as risk sentiment improves but economic outlook still weighing
Crude oil prices continue to ebb and flow with the general level of risk sentiment and prices are higher overnight after US authorities stepped in over the weekend to restrain the SVB contagion. The result being a commodity supportive drop in the dollar as interest rates collapse and rate hikes are being priced out of the market. However, the risk of a US recession has strengthened on the back of these developments and with that in mind the short-term outlook points to continued range bound trading. Meanwhile, the spread between Brent and Dubai narrowed to USD2.70/bbl, as Dubai crude gained against the global benchmark, suggesting robust Asian demand. Both Brent and WTI will be facing resistance at their 21- and 50-DMA levels, both currently meeting at 83.75 and 77.70 respectively. Also, in focus this week are monthly oil market reports from OPEC and IEA
Gold making a fresh stride higher despite easing banking sector crisis concerns
Gold together with US government bonds have seen strong safe-haven demand since Friday as the SVB fallout has led to concerns about contagion in the banking sector. Two of gold’s main engines, the dollar and treasury yields have both seen a sharp drop since Friday and together with technical levels being broken and hedge funds holding a much-reduced long position, the market briefly managed to touch $1890 overnight. Despite the Sunday announcement from the US authorities, gold will likely benefit from continued worries about the financial system, increased recession worries and a swap market now pricing in just one rate hike ahead of a December cut. Support at $1871 and $1858 while a break above $1900 is needed to signal a reversal of the February correction.
Treasury yields plunged on safe-haven bids amid banking woes and Fed speculation
The Silicon Valley Bank Incident has since Friday driven continued safe-haven demand for bonds while the swap market is now pricing in just one more 25 bps rate hike, down from four since Thursday, with the first cut now priced in for December as recession worries and financial stability takes centre stage. Prices of Treasuries climbed, and yields fell sharply, with the 2-year yield falling to 4.4% after briefly trading above 5% last week. Traders are now speculating whether the contagion of the crisis to other banks, and the widening of credit spreads will sway the Fed in favour of keeping the next hike at a modest 25bps, or even pausing earlier than expected. These speculations are supported by the slight 0.2% month-over-month or 4.6% year-over-year increase in average hourly earnings, and an increase in the labor force participation rate to 62.5% in February. Given the package rolled out by the regulators will backstop depositors but not unsecured creditors and the Fed may downshift, the front end of the Treasury curve is likely to remain in high demand.
What is going on?
US authorities step in to restrain the SVB contagion – what to watch from here?
The US authorities have stepped in with a liquidity backstop of uninsured deposits and announced a new lending program for banks to prevent the risks of contagion from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on Friday. Fed pause bets for March are increasing, but the authorities’ response on containing the financial risks suggests that the room to fight against inflation has been maintained. Risks to inflation also tilt further to the upside with the added liquidity measures, and the long-run impact on US tech sector innovation will remain key to consider in portfolios. Read more here.
HSBC acquires SVB’s UK unit
HSBC has announced to acquire SVB’s UK unit after meetings over the weekend highlighted the importance of SVB UK in relation to the UK’s VC and startup ecosystem risking wider economic implications if a plan to safeguard deposits was not found.
Signature Bank closed by US regulators
Yesterday, US regulators closed Signature Bank which was another smaller US bank that came under pressure Thursday and Friday last week. The bank is less connected to the startup ecosystem but has connections to the cryptocurrency industry which was rattled with the liquidation of Silvergate Capital last week. Signature Bank’s insured and uninsured deposits will be accessible to customers on the same basis and under the emergency process as with SVB Financial.
ECB monetary policy meeting on Thursday
There is little doubt the ECB will hike interest rates by 50-basis point this week, to 3 %. The uncertainty about the magnitude of the monetary policy tightening beyond the March meeting is high, however. Our baseline is that the ECB will certainly signal another 50-basis point hike in May and give no real guidance after that. There is another possibility: the ECB could confirm it will continue hiking rates by 50-basis point in the coming meetings and could open the door to a faster reduction of holdings after June. This would be a hawkish scenario, in theory good for the euro. But we think the likelihood it will happen is small. Ahead of Thursday's meeting, the money market forecasts that the terminal rate in the eurozone will be slightly above 4 %. Nomura is currently the most hawkish bank. Its economists call for 50-basis point hikes in March, May, June followed by 25-basis points in July, leaving the terminal rate at 4.25 %.
US nonfarm payrolls remained elevated in February
Nonfarm payrolls in the US rose by 311k last month, less than the January's blowout print of 504k (revised down from an initially stated 517k) but remaining elevated and above consensus expectations of 215k. While the headline continued to reaffirm a tight labor market, other indicators from the report were weak. Average hourly earnings rose +0.2% MoM in February, lower than the expected and last month’s +0.3% MoM. The annual rate of average hourly earnings rose from +4.4% in January to +4.6% YoY, a touch short of the 4.7% that the market was expecting. The unemployment also picked up by 0.2% pts to 3.6% against market expectations of no change, as participation rose 0.1% pt to 62.5%. The data remained short of cementing a 50bps rate hike possibility for March, also given the recent concerns on the US banking sector from the SVB collapse. Focus now turns to CPI release on Tuesday to further shape Fed expectations.
China's February aggregate financing surged beyond expectations with 9.9% y/y Growth
China's aggregate financing growth in February was much better than expected, reaching RMB 3160 billion, far above the RMB2300 consensus estimate. The outstanding aggregate financing growth also accelerated to 9.9% year-on-year (Y/Y) in February, up from 9.4% Y/Y in January. Furthermore, M2 increased at a faster pace in February, growing 12.9% Y/Y, up from January's 12.6%.
What are we watching next?
US inflation figures
Tomorrow, the first estimate of the US February CPI will be released followed on Wednesday by the February PPI. The CPI is certainly the most important data point to focus on this week. This is the latest major US data release before the FOMC March meeting of 21-22 March. The Cleveland Fed produces nowcasts of inflation based on recent publicly observable price moves. According to their latest forecast, the monthly inflation will come in at a similar level to January for February. If so, that is not encouraging. A 50-basis point interest rate hike is certainly not a done-deal in March. But this is a clear possibility.
Credit and money markets
Besides the focus on US inflation figures this week, we will be watching financial conditions in the financial markets with a key focus on credit and money market rates and spreads to gauge risks in the banking system. In addition, Bitcoin will be monitored for understanding risks in the wider cryptocurrency system as this part of the market is where the highest marginal risk-taking takes place. Finally , June and December Fed Funds Rate futures should be monitored for assessing the market’s pricing of monetary policy off this event.
Earnings to watch
This week’s key earnings are Volkswagen, BMW, Adobe, and FedEx with tomorrow’s focus on Volkswagen where everything is about the EV outlook as it is increasingly looking like VW is having difficulties to keep up with the production ramp up at Tesla and BYD. Analysts expect FY23 revenue growth of 2% y/y for Volkswagen which if realized will prove to low to satisfy investors when the leading EV-makers such as Tesla and BYD are growing much faster. Later this week we will focus on Adobe and FedEx.
- Tuesday: Foxconn, Volkswagen, Generali
- Wednesday: Constellation Software, BMW, E.ON, Ping An Insurance, Prudential, Inditex, Adobe, Lennar
- Thursday: Verbund, Rheinmetall, KE Holdings, Enel, FedEx, Dollar General
- Friday: Vonovia
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)No major releases today