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US equities (US500.I and USNAS100.I): the ‘ketchup effect’ in US bond yields is here
US equities continued their slide lower with S&P 500 futures making a new lower close at 3,956, the lowest level since 20 January, and this morning the index futures have continued lower trading around the 3,932 level. This suggests investors are sceptical that China’s reopening will make a significant difference for global growth in the first half. The decline also reflects that the US 10-year yield has finally pushed above the 4% level this morning trading around 4.04% which is a significant breakout and pushing interest rates to the highest level since 10 November. With S&P 500 futures breaking below many key levels over the past couple of session the 3,900 level is definitely in play now.
Hang Seng Index (HSI.I) and CSI300 (000300.I) retreated after yesterday sharp gains
Hang Sang Index slid 0.8% and CSI300 inched down 0.3%. China Internet names led the decline with Alibaba (09988:xhkg) falling 4.3%. Container liners outperformed, with Orient Overseas (00316:xhkg) rising 4.4% and COSCO Shipping (01919:xhkg) up 3.8% as yesterday’s new export orders sub-index in the PMI surveys signaled an improvement in China’s export outlook. Following the Ministry of Industry and Technology ‘s statement in a press conference that China will accelerate the rolling of 6G infrastructure, A-share telcos and communication equipment makers advanced.
FX: GBP blasted on Bailey comments, USD edges higher as sentiment wilts
The US dollar found only hesitant support in places yesterday on a fresh surge in treasury yields, where the longer portion of the yield curve finally tested a bit higher and the 10-year Treasury benchmark yield poked above 4.00% for the first time since November. But as the focus in recent days has been on hot EU inflation data and yesterday’s hot German CPI number, EU yields have led the charge higher this week, so the euro is quite firm togethe with the greenback. The JPY remains under pressure as EURJPY returned back above 145.00. Elsewhere, sterling was thrown overboard after Bank of England Governor Bailey’s noncommittal comments on inflation risks and policy tightening (see more below). GBPUSD south of 1.2000 this morning and EURGBP has now rejected its test below 0.8800 and what semed a capitulation back into the lower range, surging to nearly 0.8900.
Crude oil weighs China demand against hawkish Fed speak
Crude oil prices trade near recent highs supported by the strong signal on Chinese demand recovery from upbeat PMI data. In addition, the inventory data was also bullish signalling a recovery of demand in Asia and Europe. US commercial crude oil inventories gained less than expected last week, rising only 1.2 million barrels as US exports of crude hit a record 5.6 million barrels a day last week. However, on the other hand, US ISM data and hawkish comments from Atlanta Fed Bostic continued to highlight inflation fears are here to stay and may spark some US demand concerns. WTI futures traded just below $78/barrel while Brent touched $84.50.
Gold trades lower on ISM and Bostic comment
Financial markets, including the investment metals, have gone back to worrying about inflation, interest rates and growth after the prices paid component of the ISM index for February rose for a second month to 51.3. In addition, the Atlanta Fed’s Bostic said rates could rise to 5.25% and stay there well into 2024. Currently the market has priced a terminal rate around 5.65%. Gold gave back some of Wednesday’s strong gains after ten-year US yields topped the closely watched 4% and the dollar drifted higher. With +3 additional 25 basis point hikes priced in, the selling pressure on gold and silver have eased but for the current recovery to attract support from technical buyers, prices as a minimum need to break $1864, and silver $22 to signal an end to the current corrections.
Metals complex excited about China, but..
Copper drifted lower in Asia with profit taking emerging after futures in New York and London failed to build on yesterday’s strong China PMI-led gains. The report reignited the reopening theme but as we wrote in are recent update, the next sustained move higher is unlikely to be triggered until the second quarter or later, the timing to a certain extend depending on the economic outlook for the rest of the world and whether recession, as we believe, will be avoided. For now, the 30-cent wide downward sloping channel is providing some resistance at $4.2/lb in HG and $9115/tons in LME.
US Treasuries (TLT:Xmas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) sold off on ISM Price Paid Index
The 10-year US Treasury yield breached 4% briefly during the session and edged higher overnight following a ISM Price Paid index shooting up above the expansion/contraction threshold. The implied terminal Fed Fund rate rose above 5.5% at one point yesterday. Comments from the Fed’s Kashkari saying he is undecided between a 25bp and 50bp hike at the March FOMC and Bostic’s 5-5.25% “well into next year” remarks added fuel to the selloff. Yields on the 2-year notes rose 6bps to 4.88%, the highest level since 2007.
What is going on?
Mixed US ISM Manufacturing survey details – but steady message on inflation
The US ISM manufacturing marginally rose to 47.7 from 47.4, coming in below expectations of 48.0. New orders lifted to 47.0 (prev. 42.5), while employment fell to 49.1 (prev. 50.6), entering contractionary territory. But the message on price pressures continued to roil markets. ISM priced paid rose back into expansionary territory to 51.3, well above the prior 44.5 and the expected 45.1, re-affirming that it may be too soon to call goods inflation disinflationary.
Hawkish Fed talk brings 10-year yields to top 4%
Fed member Kashkari (voter) signaled an openness for a 50bps hike at the March meeting, saying he is open to both 25bps and 50bps. Still, he emphasized that the terminal rate is more important than the size of rate hikes, where also he hinted that it could be revised higher from December. Another member Bostic (non-voter) maintained his view that the Fed policy rate needs to rise to 5.00-5.25% range, but said that the rate should be left there “until well into 2024”. 10-year Treasury yields rose above the key 4% mark for the first time since November, sending another warning signal to equities.
Hot German inflation print creates further pressure for the ECB
Coming on the heels of hotter than expected inflation prints in France and Spain for February, German CPI print was also hotter than expected at 9.3% YoY (vs. +9.0% exp and +9.2% prior). The message on disinflation has therefore continued to weaken, and both Fed and ECB are likewise pressured to do more on policy tightening to ensure the inflation comes back to target. The aggregate Eurozone print is out today and expectations of a softening to 8.3% from 8.6% last month may be tested.
Bank of England Governor Bailey comments pound sterling
The Bank of England governor preferred to keep in question whether the Bank of England will continue to tighten policy or pause here, which looks especially dovish at a time when especially ECB expectations are ratcheting higher on hot inflation data for February released this week. “I would caution against suggesting either that we are done with increasing Bank Rate, or that we will inevitably need to do more....nothing is decided.” EURGBP rallied hard from the lows since January near 0.8750 to nearly 0.8900 yesterday.
Tesla shares down 5% on Investor Day presentation
There was little for Elon Musk to present. No new magic around boring tunnels or making robots run or thinking. It felt empty all along and shareholders agreed sending shares down 5%. The only real new news, which had already been leaked, was the new EV manufacturing plant in Mexico which would increase Tesla’s production capacity. At the very end of the presentation Elon Musk talked about the need for a significant increase in renewable energy production without sacrificing economics, but that was as concrete as it could get this time. A more detailed plan would be announced later. For all the showman Elon Musk is, there was a lot to support the grandiose show.
Earnings recap: First Solar, Salesforce, and Snowflake
First Solar shares surged about 16% to its highest since 2009 after the panel maker’s backlog of orders look like they will take the second half of the decade to fill. The surging demand comes as the company is benefiting from the Inflation Reduction Act, signed last year by President Joe Biden. The software giant Salesforce gave a surprisingly upbeat forecast for the year ahead - and plans to step up share buybacks to $20bn, which is positive vs its $167bn market cap. Operating margins will be about 27% in FY24 exceeding Bloomberg consensus estimates of 22.4%. This eases pressures Salesforce faces from a group of activist investors. Salesforce shares rose 14% in post market trade, after closing at $167.35 in normal trade. Snowflake shares fell 6% in extended trading following Q1 revenue guidance fell short of expectations and the fiscal year guidance on revenue was $2.7bn vs est. $2.8bn as companies are cutting down on their cloud spending.
What are we watching next?
China’s “two sessions” in focus
Following on from Wednesday’s stronger than expected PMI which supported the view that China’s economy is picking up steam, focus now turns to the Chinese government and what they will do to further help along a post-lockdown economic recovery. The first session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will begin on March 4 and followed up the following day by the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC. During what is collectively known as the “two sessions”, Chinese officials will release a set of social and economic development goals and various policy measures to achieve them.
Earnings to watch
Today’s key US earnings releases are Dell Technologies and Broadcom both reporting after the close. Analysts expect Dell to report FY23 Q3 revenue growth of -16% y/y and EBITDA of $2.39bn down from $4bn a year ago as declining technology spending is hitting technology providers such as Dell hard. Analysts expect Broadcom to report FY23 Q1 (ending 31 Jan) revenue growth of 16% y/y and EBITDA of $5.6bn up from $4.4bn a year ago.
- Thursday: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Argenx, Yunnan Energy New Material, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Fortum, Veolia Environment, Merck, Hapag-Lloyd, CRH, London Stock Exchange, Haleon, Flutter Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Broadcom, Costco, VMware, Marvell Technology, Dell Technologies
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
1000 – Italy Feb. Preliminary CPI
1000 – Eurozone Feb. Preliminary CPI
1230 – ECB Meeting Minutes of Feb. ECB meeting
1330 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims
1500 – UK Bank of England Chief Economist Huw Pill to speak
1530 – EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Change
1900 – US Fed’s Waller (Voter) to discuss economic outlook
2100 – New Zealand Consumer Confidence Survey
2300 – US Fed’s Kashkari (Voter 2023) to speak
2330 – Japan Tokyo Feb. CPI0145 – China Feb. Caixin Services PMI