APAC Daily Digest: What is happening in markets and what to consider next – September 16, 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: U.S. equity markets declined again on the economic good news which added to investors’ worries about more and for longer rate hikes from the Fed. The Chinese Yuan weakened and broke the 7-handle. China's August activity data is scheduled to release today.
What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) face further pressure as US eco news brightens
US equities closed lower on Thursday with the S&P500 losing 1.1% taking its weekly loss to almost 4%, while the Nasdaq fell 1.4%, losing 4.6% across the week, with both major indices eroding last week’s gain. Investors are growing cautious, as new economic data gives the Fed room to raise rates, and keep them higher for longer to control inflation. Retail sales unexpectedly rose in August, showing consumer spending is far from collapsing and jobless claims fell for the fifth straight week, suggesting employers worker demand remains healthy despite an uncertain outlook. For the market to turn around, it will need to see earnings multiples expand, as that supports share price growth. And we need to see earnings per share move up from a decline, to growth. But if the Fed keeps hiking rates, and the energy crisis continues, this scenario means tech stock earnings multiples are likely to see earnings per share (EPS) growth pressure. On the flip side, EPS in energy continues to gain momentum.
Big movers in US shares
Adobe shares fell 17%, weighing on the Nasdaq and S&P 500 after the software giant announced $20 billion deal to buy design start up Figma. The weakness flowed through to other tech stocks, with Apple shedding 1.9% and Salesforce sliding 3.4%. Meanwhile oil stocks also copped selling after the WTI oil price fell below $86 after the US announced it would restock oil reserves but without a trigger price. Bank stocks were a bright spot, with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan rising more than 1% apiece.
U.S. treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
The U.S. short-end yields continued to charge higher, 2-year yields up 7bps to finish the session at 3.86%, flattening the 2-10 year curve to -42bps, as the 10-year yields up 5bps to 3.44%. The 30-year yields, however remained well anchored at 3.47%, up only 1bp and not far from the pre-CPI release levels.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.4%, helped by the rise in Chinese developers, while the CSI 300 dropped by 0.9%. Securities Times reported that more than 120 cities have relaxed providence fund policies to boost the local property markets and other media reported that a large number of cities had loosened home purchase restrictions. Country Garden (02007:xhkg) surged by 8.7% followed by Guangzhou R&F (02777:xhkg) up 8.6%, CIFI (00884:xhkg) up 7%, China Resources Land (01109:xhkg) up 4.9%, and China Overseas Land & Investment (00688:xhkg) up 4%. Catering names gained on news that Chengdu was relaxing its lockdown, Xiabuxiabu (00520:xhkg) up 5.5%. Li Auto (02015:xhkg) fell 2.3% as the President of the company reduced his shareholding. EV names overall were also pressured by the news that China’s ambassador to the U.S. warned against the potential risks of the US trying to cut China off the EV supply chains. Solar names were down following reports about the European Union was going to ban manufactured goods with forced labour in them and raised concerns about much of China’s solar products originated from Xinjiang.
The ASX200 is on tracking lower this week, after losing 0.7% Monday to Thursday with the technical indicators suggesting the market is likely to head lower from here and it could retest the lows set in June. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. We saw commodity stocks march up this week, with coal companies Coronado Global rising 13%, New Hope up 5%. It’s also worth noting these are some of this year’s best performing stocks on the ASX, with Coronado up 82%, New Hope up 182%, while the coal giant Whitehaven is up 266% YTD, supported by the coal price hitting new highs this week, as well as the coal futures price. Meanwhile, with crop prices likely to go higher amid La Nina, Agri business Elders rose 4%. Elsewhere, technical buying picked up in oil and gas companies including Woodside, supporting its shares rise ~4%, with Beach Energy following.
USDCNH breaks above 7 handle
USDCNH broke 7.00 and the markets is expecting little reactions from the PBOC given the latest state-owned media’s effort to downplay the importance of the 7-handle.
Crude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Crude oil prices slumped overnight as demand concerns came back into the focus. The International Energy Agency said that China faces its biggest annual drop in demand in more than three decades as COVID-19 lockdowns weigh on growth. Oil demand could fall by 420kb/d, or 2.7% this year. This led to the IEA trimming its estimate of global demand. It now sees consumption rising by only 2mb/d. Further, supply situation also seemed to fluctuate with the US Department of Energy walking back on its SPR refill stance by saying that it didn’t include a strike price (that was said to be around $80/barrel) and it isn’t likely to occur until after fiscal 2023. WTI futures fell below $85/barrel while Brent futures touched lows of $90/barrel.
Oil technical levels to watch
For traders and investors, for WTI to reverse its downtrend, it needs to close above resistance at $97.66, which is what our technical analyst pointed out here. So the next level for you to watch, is if it breaks above $90.40, it would signal an uptrend, for this to occur, the market will need good news, perhaps even bright news from China, the biggest oil consumer. Regardless, right now, oil is in a bear trend and if it closes below $81.20 the bear run-lower could be extend to $78.48-$74.27.
The yellow metal saw a drop to $1,660/oz down more than 2% to over 2-year lows, amid expectations of more aggressive rate hikes by the Fed as strong US economic data underpinned. Markets are now pricing in a more than 75bps rate hike by the Fed at the September meeting, and a terminal rate of ~4.5%.
What to consider?
Mixed US data, but further upward pricing of the Fed rate path
US retail sales saw the headline rising 0.3% m/m in August (exp -0.1%, prev -0.4%) but the core retail sales print was weaker than expected at -0.3% m/m (exp 0%, prev 0.0%). The slower retail spending does reflect the current slowdown in goods spending despite services remining strong and supporting the overall consumer strength in the US. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims were lower than expected at 213K (exp 226K, prev 218K). That is the lowest since early June and the 5th consecutive decline (the high reached 262K), suggesting that labor markets still remain tight.
Regional Fed indices offset each other
The regional Fed indices on manufacturing gave contrasting signals with the Philly Fed index falling -9.9 vs +2.8, but the Empire improving markedly to -1.5 vs -13.0 estimate. For both indices, the prices paid components did fall and has moved markedly lower over the last few months, but still remains with a positive number (i.e., more businesses reporting higher prices vs lower prices). For the Philly Fed, the price paid came in at 29.8 v 43.6. For the Empire, the prices paid came in at 39.6 vs 55.5.
Australia’s latest economic news shows employment growth is slowing with the jobless rate rising for the first time in 10 months; giving the RBA less room to hike rates
Australia’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose in August, rising from 3.4% to 3.5% with less jobs being added to economy than expected (33,500 instead of the 35,000). Given employment has fallen from its 50-year peak, and job growth is slowing, the RBA effectively has a solid barrier in its way preventing it from rapidly rising rates over the coming months, with room of a 0.5% hike being taken off the table. For equity investors, this supports risk-appetite slightly increasing in the banking sector, given employment nears its peak and credit might not be squeezed as hard as feared, thus property price growth also might not continue to fall as rapidly as forecast. For currency traders, the AUDUSD sharply fell from its intraday high (0.6769) and now faces pressure back to two-year lows, where support is at 0.61358, implying it may fall 10%. Further to that, the currency pair faces downside simply as the market is pricing in 0.25% RBA hike next month, versus the more aggressive US Fed Reserve’s hike potentially being 100bps (or 1%) next week.
Slower export growth, power shortage, and pandemic controls would probably have taken their toll on China’s August activity data
China’s activity data for August, scheduled to release today, would probably be at risk of missing the median forecasts in the Bloomberg survey, which has industrial production at 3.8% YoY in August (vs 3.8% YoY in July), retail sales at 3.2% YoY in August (vs 2.7% YoY in July), and fixed asset investment year-to-date 5.5% YoY (vs 5.7% YoY). The heatwave-induced power shortage caused disruption to industrial production in Sichuan. The heatwave might have also caused delays in infrastructure construction which was largely outdoor and offset some of the positive impacts of accelerated credit extension. The pandemic control measures affected the manufacturing and export hub of the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province in August. The much weaker expected export growth data for August released last week and the continuously weak data in the property market also pointed to potentially downside surprises to these forecasts. While a favourable base effect and stronger auto sales in August could have boosted retail sales, tightened pandemic control measures might have damped catering and other services and dragged down retail sales growth.
Russian President Putin said he appreciated China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine
President Xi and President Putin met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit held in Uzbekistan. The Russian president said he values China’s “balanced position” on Ukraine and he backs the latter’s “One China” principle and opposes “provocations” by the U.S. on the issue of Taiwan. On the other hand, the readout released by China only did not touch on Ukraine. As in the readout, Xi told Putin that “China is ready to work with Russia in extending strong support to each other on issues concerning their respective core interests”.
China’s State Council reiterated support for the economy and opening up trade and investment
In a meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, China’s State Council rolled out an additional RMB200 billion relending quota to support key industries in the real economy and pledged to support international trade and open up to foreign investment.
Ethereum Merge – a new chapter in crypto
Yesterday, the second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum successfully underwent its merge from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. From consuming around 0.2% of the world’s electricity, Ethereum now consumes a fraction of that. Our Crypto analyst calls it a new chapter not only for Ethereum but crypto in general. Read more here.
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