SVB contagion limited by authorities, but risks could remain
As risks of a contagion from the US bank SVB’s collapse rose last week, authorities have stepped in to contain the risks and prevent a broader impact on the financial sector. Equity futures have responded positively to the news of a backstop funding, but Treasury yields continued to slide and the US dollar weakness also extended further. The headlines around this will continue to be key to watch this week as there may be lingering fears for depositors for not just the SVB but also more broadly in the US banking sector. President Biden’s address on Monday morning will be key to watch.
The development has also complicated the Fed’s monetary policy outlook further, and March rate hike expectations have reversed back from 50bps to now 25bps again with calls for a pause also gaining traction and financial stability concerns arise. However, the Fed’s response to the situation asserts that financial risks remain under control, while the inflation risks may continue to be an issue, suggesting potential yield curve bull steepening.
Investors should remain on guard after the SVB fallout spread to Signature Bank. Market to search for concentration risk clues
We all know the US’ 16th largest bank, SVB, on Friday was taken over by the FDIC. Then regulators took control of another bank, Signature Bank. We know the Fed offered an emergency bank term funding program, to SVB depositors, so they can access money from Monday, while authorities suggest Signature Bank depositors would also be supported. This is not only the biggest bank failure since the 2008 financial crisis, but also, risk still remains. Now investors and option holders may be forced to take risk off the table for those assets that are embroiled in the saga.
Secondly - it’s really vital to consider the ripple effects of the banking fallout. With Continuous Disclosure obligations for listed companies, we expect companies involved with SVB or Signature bank to disclose their exposure and or relationship over the coming days. This has already started to occur in Australia- with companies on the ASX such as Xero (XRO) revealing they have a 1% of their cash and cash equivalents with SVB.
Thirdly – consider the market will be searching for opportunity to de risk – perhaps selling out of firms that are prone to concentration risk or could potentially be under financial duress. That may include financial institutions that have concentrated (not diversified) client's books and revenue streams. Or those companies that have lent money to high-risk technology companies or starts ups. For the investor, it could be worth considering reviewing your portfolio, to ensure the company’s asset quality and clientele are not at risk.
Upside in US CPI is also unlikely to make Fed go for 50bps in March
US inflation has been the talk of town for several months now, although the focus has lately turned to financial contagion risks that may stop the Fed from switching back to a higher rate hike path trajectory. Still, February CPI – due to be released on Tuesday – will be a big test after last month’s print reversed the disinflation narrative that the markets had started to accept, and continued to point at sticky services inflation. Headline consumer prices are expected to rise +0.4% MoM in February, cooling slightly vs the +0.5% in January, with the annual rate seen easing to 6.0% YoY from 6.4% previously. Core CPI is expected to rise +0.4% MoM in February, matching the January pace, though the annual rate is likely to fall to 5.5% YoY from 5.6% in January. Overall message is likely to remain that inflation remains stubbornly high, especially after tough weather conditions in California, but the risk of a 50bps rate hike from the Fed in March remains low as the central bank becomes wary of “something breaking”.
Other US data of note this week includes PPI and retail sales for February, both of which are expected to show a modest cooling but still remain high. Consensus expectations are for February producer prices to rise by +0.3% MoM (prev. +0.7%) or 5.4% YoY (prev. 6.0%). Retail sales are expected to cool from January jump of 3.0% MoM on warmer weather and expected to come in cooler at +0.2% MoM. If the January outperformance in US data is not repeated, and the contagion fears continue, we could see Fed expectations being pulled back significantly this week as the market is in panic mode.
China retail sales are expected to bounce strongly
China is scheduled to release retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment this Wednesday. Investors will focus on the retail sales data for a gauge of the strength of the recovery of consumption after the economy reopened. Consensus estimates expects retail sales to bounce strongly to a growth of year-on-year growth of 3.5% in the first two months of the year, after declining 0.2% in January. Industrial production is expected to come in at +2.5% Y/Y year-to-date.
European Central Bank to go for another 50bps rate hike this week
The ECB is still expected to hike the deposit rate by 50bps to 3.0% at the March 16 announcement, given what was said in the February meeting and recent commentaries. Focus will be on the guidance for the path of interest rates from here, as well as on the comments around the risks of a financial contagion spreading from the SVB collapse. Recent data such as an upside surprise in core inflation has prompted ECB pricing to shift to a terminal rate of 4% by July, suggesting a lot of room for give back if financial risks broaden. If the central banks stays away from guiding for another 50bps in May, that could come as a dovish surprise for markets. The latest inflation forecasts will also be key, with core inflation expectations likely to be revised higher for 2023 after strong reads in January and February.
UK budget on watch for growth and fiscal picture; jobs data key for BOE
The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt will be delivering the spring budget on March 15, which will be a key watch especially after the market turmoil in September when Hunt's predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng and former Prime Minister Liz Truss unveiled lavish tax cuts roiling the markets. Expectations are for the Hunt to prioritize keeping public finances steady, announce less near-term borrowing but only a marginally improved medium-term fiscal outlook. Lower energy prices will also likely boost the short-term growth outlook, helping recession fears recede, although longer-term growth may remain marred with low labor force participation and weak productivity growth.
Before the focus turns to UK budget on Wednesday, the UK labor market data will be released on Tuesday and investors will be scrambling to gauge how much room does the BOE have to tighten further. Bloomberg consensus expects the unemployment rate to rise to 3.8% in the three months to January from 3.7% previously, with headline jobs growth likely to ease to 60k from 102k in January. However, even with a slightly softer jobs report, the BOE is expected to continue its hiking cycle in March as activity data has been stronger than expected, but the trend in labor market from here will be key to see where BOE could pause its tightening cycle.
Australian pulse checks: business and consumer confidence and jobs numbers
Australia business and consumer confidence, numbers released on Tuesday will give a gauge of how the economy is feeling after the RBA made its 10th rate hike, with businesses and consumers likely to lean into the RBA’s comments that it could pause rate hikes soon. Later in the week on Thursday, the all-important unemployment rate will be released for February – with Bloomberg’s consensus suggesting the jobless rate will fall from 3.7 to 3.6%, with 50,000 jobs expected to be added last month. If the data shows employment is rising, contrary to what the RBA expects, then the Australian dollar would likely gain pace, as the RBA would gain power to keep rising rates by 0.25% for the next few months, with the market expecting hikes can made till September.
Macro data on watch this week:
Monday 13 March
Tuesday 14 March
- US CPI & Core CPI (Feb)
- U.K. Employment (Jan) & Payrolls (Feb)
- Australian consumer and business confidence
Wednesday 15 March
- US Retail sales (Feb)
- US PPI & Core PPI (Feb)
- Eurozone Industrial production (Jan)
- UK Budget
- Japan BoJ monetary policy meeting minutes (17-18 Jan)
- China Retail sales, industrial production, & fixed asset investment (Feb)
Thursday 16 March
- US Housing starts & building permits (Feb)
- US Initial jobless claims
- Australian employment data – jobless rate (Feb)
- ECB policy rate decision
- Japan exports (Feb)
- Japan Machinery orders (Jan)
Friday 17 March
- US Industrial production (Feb)
- US university of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey (Feb)
- UK BoE/Ipsos Inflation next 12 months (Feb)
- Japan Tertiary industry activity (Jan)
Earnings on watch this week:
- Tuesday: Volkswagen, Lennar, Foxconn
- Wednesday: Adobe, Constellation Software, BMW, E.ON, Ping An Insurance, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc
- Thursday: FedEx, Dollar General, Enel, Li Ning
- Friday: Vonovia, Longfor, CMOC Group Lt