Equities: New extremes and a challenging opportunity set
Discover insights on the future of equity markets in Q1 2024 and navigate the potential recession with strategic investment choices.
Summary: Some respite in US equities last night, amid bottom hunting and a cooler US PPI report. UK CPI also eased from record highs, but there is nothing that could change the downtrend that remains in place globally. The USD remained steady despite threats of direct intervention by the Bank of Japan and downplaying of the 7-handle by Chinese authorities. Oil prices jumped on hopes of easing restrictions in parts of China. Focus today on Australia’s jobs report which could guide the path of rate hikes from here, but also key to watch will be the Xi-Putin meeting and how the geopolitical situation develops.
US equity markets rebounded in late trade on Wednesday after an intraday sell off. The S&P 500 ended up 0.3%, Nasdaq 100 up 0.8%. Hedge funds did some buying in the technology space, but it wasn’t enough the significantly move the needle. The most gains were seen in the Oil and Gas sector with Energy stocks rising the most after the crude oil price rebounded 2%. The Consumer discretionary followed higher. The bearish tone remains in equities with the market toying with the idea that the Fed will raise rates by 100bps (1%). In fact there is a 25% chance the Fed will raise rates by 1% at their meeting next week. Regardless of how high they hike, 0.75% or 1%, the technical picture looks bearish as well. The S&P 500 may head back to test support at around 3,738 and June lows at 3,636.
Moderna (MRNA:xnas) gained 6.2% after the company said it is open to selling Covid vaccines to China. Starbucks (SBUX:xnas) rose 5.5% after the company raised its sales and profit outlook, expecting 7%-9% p.a. comparable sales growth and 15-20% earnings growth over the next three years. Twilio (TWLO:xnys) jumped 10% after announcing a plan to cut 11% of its workforce. Shares of railroad operators dropped on probable labor strike, Union Pacific (UNP:xnys) -3.7%, CSX (CSX:xnas) -1%.
The flattening went on for a second day in a row as traders took to their hearts that the Fed would be hawkish for the rest of the year and the odds for cracking the economy down the road increased. While 2-year to 10-year yields climbed 2 to 4 basis points, the yield of the 30-year long bond continued to slide and finished the session 6bps lower at 3.45%.
Shares traded in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen declined on the back of the U.S. stocks’ worst day in more than two years, Hang Seng Index -2.5%, CSI 300 -1.1%. Industrials, semiconductors, and healthcare were among the top losers, Techtronic Industries (00669:xhkg) -10.0%, Hua Hong Semiconductor (01347:xhkg) -5.7%, Wuxi Biologics (02269:xhkg) -4.9%, BeiGene (06160:xhkg) -4.5%. Tech hardware stocks declined following a 31.2% YoY falls in China’s smartphone shipments in July, Sunny Optical (02382:xhkg) -4.2%, Xiaomi (01810:xhkg) -3.3%. China internet stocks traded weak, Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) -2.8%, Bilibili (09626:xhkg) -5.2%, Baidu (09888:xhkg) -5.7%, JD.COM (09618:xhkg) -4.2%, Alibaba (09988:xhkg) -4.1%. Fosun (00656:xhkg) tumbled 6.9% on unconfirmed reports claiming that a couple of Chinese regulators had told investors to review their equity and credit exposures to Fosun.
Even as the USD stayed firm overnight, USDJPY retreated from near-145 levels to 143 amid fears of potential FX intervention by Japanese authorities. On Wednesday, the BOJ conducted a so-called rate check in the market, asking for an indicative price at which it could buy yen, a move widely seen as a precursor to intervention. Both the finance minister and the nation’s top currency official also warned that all options were on the table. Japan last intervened to buy the yen in 1998.The 145-level is becoming the tolerance limit for Japanese authorities, but real intervention lack so far and only volatility goes up as threats ramp up. Yen lacks conviction for strength due to fundamental weakness stemming from yield differential with the US.
Crude oil prices gained momentum overnight and remained steady in early Asian hours amid reports of the White House looking at refilling its strategic reserves at around $80/barrel. EIA’s weekly inventory report was mixed, with a large build in crude oil and a fall in gasoline. WTI futures rose above $88/barrel while Brent was above $94. Demand side factors also saw a modest improvement with Chinese city of Chengdu looking at easing restrictions from today. However, a looming rail strike in the US is likely to cause some disruption in the commodity markets.
US August PPI relieved some of the pressures seen from the CPI report a day earlier with the headline still in negative territory at -0.1% m/m (exp. -0.1%; prev. -0.4%) and slightly softer on a y/y basis at 8.7% (exp. +8.8%; prev. +9.8%). Core measure however beat expectations at 0.4% m/m (exp. +0.3%; prev. +0.3%) and 7.3% y/y (exp. +7.1%; prev. +7.7%). Lower energy prices helped to cool the headline print, and this may mean somewhat softer CPI prints in the coming months, but still inflation remains uncomfortably higher than the Fed’s 2% target.
UK inflation eased slightly to come in at 9.9% y/y (prev. 10.1%, exp. 10.0%) and 0.5% m/m (prev. 0.6%, exp. 0.6%), but it isn’t enough to call for a peak in inflation yet. Prime Minister Liz Truss announced plans to freeze an increase in energy bills due to hit in October, a move economists say will reduce the severity of a further spike in prices this winter. Even with those measures, inflation will remain above the BOE’s 2% goal well into next year.
On the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit held in Uzbekistan today and tomorrow, President Xi and President Putin are expected to meet up for the first time after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Analysts are expecting the two leaders to discuss the sale of Russian oil and natural gas to China and the use of the rubble and the renminbi to settle bilateral trade, in addition to their positions regarding the respective core interest of each side, i.e. Ukraine and Taiwan.
A Reuters story citing an anonymous source suggests that the U.S. is considering options for a sanctions package against China as part of its attempts to deter China from taking military actions against Taiwan. The story further says that the European Union is under pressure to follow suit.
State-owned China Securities Journal downplayed the importance of whether the renminbi breaks 7 the figure or not and says that there is no basis for the renminbi to depreciate in the long run.
Today’s employment data is expected to show Australia’s unemployment rate remained at 50-year lows, at 3.4% in August. The RBA will also be watching to see how much employment changed in August. In July employment fell from its record high, with 41,000 jobs lost. As for today’s figures to watch; Bloomberg’s survey of economists expect 35,000 jobs to have been added last month. If more jobs are added than expected, you may see a selloff in growth sectors, such as technology, consumer discretionary and property as the RBA will have more room to hike rates. Inversely, employment falls and or unemployment rises, the RBA will have less room to hike and as such you may see an equity rally. Currently RBA interest rate futures expect rates to rise by 0.25% next month. For those watching currency markets, keep in mind the AUDUSD is being pressured to 2-year lows. However if data is stronger than expected, you may see a short lived-knee jerk rally the AUDUSD.
For a week-ahead look at markets – tune into our Saxo Spotlight.
For a global look at markets – tune into our Podcast.
What happened to the future?
What happened to the future?
Mitigate risks by emphasizing high-quality sovereign bonds and exploring potential opportunities in corporate bonds.
Uncover the shifting focus in 2024's FX markets towards growth resilience and relativity, away from bond yields and inflation stories.
Embrace the metal revolution on the commodity market in the coming year, with a focus on gold, silver, platinum, copper, and aluminum.
The gloominess of geopolitical conflicts and the repetitive nature of political agendas. What else does 2024 hold in store for us?
The disheartening cycle of unresolved geopolitical conflicts, the rise of polarizing political parties, and the stagnation of productivity.
Understand China's political landscape in Q4 2023 and the impact on counter-cyclical initiatives, with a focus on the pivotal Q1 2024.
Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
- Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-gb/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)