Softer US CPI to offer mixed signals and considerable volatility
Last month’s softer US CPI report was a turning point in the markets and inflation expectations have turned markedly lower since then. Consensus is looking for another softer report in November, with headline rate expected at 7.3% YoY, 0.3% MoM (from 7.7% YoY, 0.4% MoM) while the core is expected to be steadier at 6.1% YoY, 0.3% MoM (from 6.3% YoY, 0.3% MoM). While the case for further disinflationary pressures can be built given lower energy prices, easing supply constraints and holiday discounts to clear excess inventory levels, but PPI report on Friday indicated that goods inflation could return in the months to come and wage inflation also continues to remain strong. Easing financial conditions and China’s reopening can be the other key factors to watch, which could potentially bring another leg higher in inflation especially if there is premature easing from the Fed. Shelter inflation will once again be key to watch, which means clear signs of inflation peaking out will continue to remain elusive.
Why volatility in equites could pick up this week and what we learnt from prior inflationary out outs
Will the inflation read show CPI fell to 7.3% in November as the market expects, down from 7.7% YoY? The risk is that inflation doesn’t fall as forecast, and that may likely push up bond yields and pressure equites lower. We saw this set up play out on Friday. November’s producer price index showed wholesale prices rose more than expected, which spooked markets that this week’s CPI could be bleak. As such bonds were sold off on Friday, pushing yields up; with the 10-year bond yield rising 10bps to 3.58%, while equities were pressure lower. Consider over the past six months, the S&P 500 has seen an average move of about 3% in either direction on the day US CPI has been released, according to Bloomberg. We haven’t seen these moves since 2009. Also consider, the S&P 500 has fallen on seven of the 11 CPI reporting days this year.
December FOMC and dot plot may have little new to offer, so focus remains on Powell’s press conference
The Fed is expected to lift its Federal Funds Rate target by 50bps to 4.25-4.50%, according to the consensus as well as the general commentary from Fed officials signalling a downshift in the pace of rate hikes. The updated economic projections will also be released, and are expected to show a higher terminal rate than the September projections (4.6%), as has been alluded to by Chair Powell at the November FOMC and in remarks made in December. But that means little room for market surprise as the Fed funds futures are pricing in a terminal rate of 4.96% in May 2023. Easing financial conditions and expected China stimulus could mean Fed continues to chase the inflation train from the back into the next year as well, so Powell’s press conference remains key to watch. There will have to be a lot of focus on pushing out the rate cuts of ~50bps that are priced in for next year, and emphasise that the Fed will not ease prematurely if Powell and committee want to avoid further easing of financial conditions.
China is expected to convene the Central Economic Work Conference this week
The Chinese Communist Party is expected to have its annual Central Economic Work Conference this week to formulate the macroeconomic policy framework for 2023. Investors are expecting supportive initiatives including measures to ease the stress in the ailing property sector. The conference will set out directions and blueprints but short of releasing key policy targets which will be for the National People’s Conference to be held next March.
A weak set of Chinese activity data is expected
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg are forecasting that China’s retail sales shrank sharply by 3.9% Y/Y in November. The potential weakness is likely attributed to poor performance of auto sales, dining-in activities, and sales during the “double-11” online shopping festival in the midst of Covid-19 lockdowns during the best part of November. November auto sales in China fell by 9.2 %Y/Y and by 10.5% M/M. Courier parcels processed on Nov 11 fell 20.7% Y/Y. The growth in industrial production is expected to fall to 3.7% Y/Y in November from 5% to 3.7%, following a weak November NBS manufacturing PMI and soft high-frequency data of steel production. Year-to-date fixed asset investment is expected to edge down to 5.6% from 5.8%, dragged by stringent pandemic control practices.
ECB also likely to downshift to a smaller rate hike
The European Central Bank (ECB) is also expected to slow down its pace of rate hikes to a 50bps increase this week. Headline inflation eased slightly in November, coming in at 10.0% YoY (exp. 10.4%), but was overshadowed by an unexpected rise in core inflation 6.6% YoY (exp. 6.3%, prev. 6.4%). While there is likely to remain some split in ECB members at this week’s meeting, the central bank’s Chief Economist Lane remains inclined to take into account the scale of tightening done so far. There is also uncertainty on the announcement of quantitative tightening.
Bank of England may remain more divided than the other major central banks
The Bank of England is also expected to follow the Fed and the ECB and downshift to a smaller rate hike this week, but the decision will likely see a split vote. A host of key data, including GDP, employment and inflation will be due this week in the run up to the BOE decision, and significant positive surprises could tilt the market pricing more in favour of a larger move which also creates a bigger risk of disappointment from the central bank. Headline annualised inflation advanced to 11.1% Y/Y in October, while the core rate remained at an elevated level of 6.5%. Consensus expects inflation to cool slightly to 10.9% Y/Y in November, but the core to remain unchanged at 6.5% Y/Y. Wage pressures are also likely to be sustained, and the cooling in the labor market will remain gradual.
In Australia, this week the focus will be on consumer confidence and employment data
There are a couple of economic read outs that could move the market needle, the ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) this week. Weakening confidence is expected; starting with Consumer Confidence for December (released on Tuesday), followed by Business Confidence for November. Employment reports are due on Thursday for November, and likely to show employment fell; 17,000 jobs are expected to be added, down from the 32,200 that were added in October. So focus will be on the AUD and a potential pull back if the data is weaker than expected.
Iron ore equites to see volatility China reopening talk vs shut downs pre lunar new year
The iron ore (SCOA) trading at four month highs $110.80 rallying as China has been easing restrictions, plus there are whispers Chinese property developers could get more support, which would support demand for iron ore rising. However we mentioned on Friday, why iron ore could pull back, as buying volume appears slowing. So be mindful of potential pull back in iron ore pricing and mining equities. Secondly, consider seasonable halts of Chinese steel plants ahead of the Lunar New year holiday. Restocking typically occurs 5-8 weeks before the holiday, but plants could be closed earlier, due to poor profits and weaker demand. This could cause volatility in iron ore and iron ore equities. So, keep an eye on iron ore majors, Vale, Fortescue Metals, Champion Iron, BHP and Rio as they could see profit taking after rallying ~25-55% from October.
China’s new aggregate financing and RMB loans are expected to have bounced in November
Market economists, as surveyed by Bloomberg, are expecting China’s new aggregate financing to bounce to RMB 2,100 billion in November from RMB 907.9 billion in October and new RMB loans to rise to RMB 1,400 billion in November from RMB 615.2 billion as People’s Bank of China urged banks to extend credits to support private enterprises including property developers. Less bond issuance by local governments and corporate and weak loan demand however might have weighed on the pace of credit expansion in November.
Key earnings to watch: Adobe (ADBE:xnas), Trip.com (TCOM:xnas)
In his note for key earnings this week, Peter Garnry highlights Adobe and Trip.com. The past five earnings releases have all led to a negative price reaction in Adobe shares as growth has come down while the cost of capital has gone up. Can Adobe buck the trend next when the company reports earnings? Another question investors will be asking is an update on the company’s $20bn acquisition of the industry challenger Figma, which was delayed due to a US Department of Justice investigation of the deal. Adobe reports FY22 Q4 (ending 30 November) earnings on Thursday with revenue growth expected at 10% y/y and EPS of $3.50 up 36% y/y as cost-cutting exercises are expected to improve profitability. Adobe is expected to end the fiscal year with revenue of $17.6bn and strong free cash flow generation of $7.3bn which translates into 5% free cash flow yield.
Recently the Chinese government has chosen to move ahead with reopening the economy taking on the associated Covid risks and this could be good for the outlook for travel activity and thus Trip.com. The Chinese online travel agency platform is expected to report earnings on Wednesday with analysts expecting revenue growth of 22% y/y. Analysts expect revenue to increase 50% y/y in 2023 to CNY 29.6bn.
• Monday: Oracle
• Tuesday: DiDi Global
• Wednesday: Lennar, Trip.com, Nordson, Inditex
• Thursday: Adobe
• Friday: Accenture, Darden Restaurants
Key economic releases & central bank meetings this week
Monday 12 December
United Kingdom monthly GDP, incl. Manufacturing, Services and Construction Output (Oct)
United Kingdom Goods Trade Balance (Oct)
India CPI and Industrial Output (Nov)
China (Mainland) M2, New Yuan Loans, Loan Growth (Nov)
Tuesday 13 December
Germany CPI (Nov, final)
United Kingdom Labour Market Report (Oct)
Hong Kong Industrial Production, PPI (Q3)
Germany ZEW Economic Sentiment (Dec)
United States CPI (Nov)
Wednesday 14 December
Japan Tankan Survey (Q4)
United Kingdom Inflation (Nov)
Eurozone Industrial Production (Oct)
United States Fed Funds Target Rate (14 Dec)
Thursday 15 December
New Zealand GDP (Q3)
Japan Trade Balance (Nov)
South Korea Export and Import Growth (Nov)
Australia Employment (Nov)
China (Mainland) Industrial Output, Retail Sales, Urban Investment (Nov)
Philippines Policy Interest Rate (15 Dec)
Switzerland SNB Policy Rate (Q4)
Norway Key Policy Rate (15 Dec)
United Kingdom BOE Bank Rate (Dec)
Eurozone ECB Deposit and Refinancing Rate (Dec)
United States Initial Jobless Claims
United States Retail Sales and Industrial Production (Nov)
Taiwan Discount Rate (Q4)
Friday 16 December
Australia Judo Bank Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
Japan au Jibun Bank Flash Manufacturing PMI
UK S&P Global/CIPS Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
Germany S&P Global Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
France S&P Global Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
Eurozone S&P Global Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
US S&P Global Flash PMI, Manufacturing & Services
United Kingdom GfK Consumer Confidence (Dec)
Singapore Non-Oil Exports (Nov)
United Kingdom Retail Sales (Nov)
Eurozone Total Trade Balance (Oct)
Eurozone HICP (Nov, final)
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