APAC Daily Digest: What is happening in markets and what to consider next – September 6, 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: While the US markets were closed overnight for Labor Day, the futures this morning in Asia are indicating some respite after weeks of red. The US dollar was also softer in early Asian hours, while the focus remains on the European energy crisis and the EU emergency meeting scheduled for Friday. A token cut by OPEC+ and diminishing hope of a revival of the Iran nuclear deal supported oil prices, although China’s tightening restrictions continue to pose demand concerns. Sterling made a sharp recovery after new UK PM Liz Truss announced plans to freeze energy bills, easing some short-term concerns. Consensus expects another 50 basis points rate hike from Reserve Bank of Australia today, and US ISM services will be on the radar later.
What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
U.S. stock markets were closed for Labor Day.
U.S. treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
The treasury market was closed for Labor Day.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hang Seng TECH Index (HSTECH.I) plunged 1.9% as a Bloomberg story, citing people familiar with the matter, said that the Biden administration is considering imposing restrictions on US investments in Chinese technology companies, Bilibili (09626:xhkg) -3.2%, JD.COM (09618:xhkg) -3.0%, Tencent (00700:xhkg) -2.9%, Alibaba (09988:xhkg) -2.4%. Hang Seng Index fell 1.2%.
Chengdu, the largest city in western China, extended its pandemic control lockdown for another three days. The spread of Covid-19 cases and pandemic control measures fueled risk-off sentiment in the market. Over the weekend, the U.S. Trade Representative said that it received requests from more than 350 American companies to plead for keeping the “Section 301” tariff on goods imported from China, and the Biden administration will remain in place during the review. BYD (01211:xhkg) fell 5.9%, as exchange filing showed that Berkshire Hathaway continued to off-load its stake in BYD. Other car makers lost as well, Geely (00175) -7%, NIO -6,9, Li Auto 02.3(August).
Thermal coal prices surged in China, following the news that Russia’s Gazprom suspended the supply of natural gas to Germany on the Nord Stream pipeline. Share prices of coal miners gained, Yancoal Australia (03668:xhkg) +6.6%, Yankuan (01171:xhkg) +12.2%, China Coal (01898:xhkg) +8.3%.
Caixin China Services PMI came in at 55.0, edging down slightly from 55.5 in July but above market expectations. CSI300 spent the day in range-bound trading.
GBPUSD falls to fresh lows, EUR in focus this week
The USD lost some ground early in Asia on Tuesday with GBPUSD making the most gains to rise towards 1.1600 as the appointment of new Prime Minister and her plan to freeze energy bills spelled some short-term relief. EURUSD saw a brief drop to 20-year lows below 0.99 yesterday but rose back to 0.9960+ levels in early Asian trading. EURGBP seen sliding slower to 0.8600 but downside may be limited if ECB decides to go for a 75bps rate hike today. But the energy situation and the EU summit on Friday certainly garners more attention with some tough decision ahead. USDJPY retreated from Friday’s 24-year highs of 140.80 to 140.30-levels with Japan’s household spending underperforming expectations at 3.4% y/y vs. expectations of 4.6% y/y. Wage pressures, which remain a key focus for Bank of Japan, also eased with labor cash earnings up 1.8% y/y from last month’s 2.0% y/y.
Crude oil prices (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Crude oil prices rose on Monday as OPEC+ announced an output cut of 100k bpd in October (more details below). The intention appears to be to keep Brent prices capped at $100/barrels. WTI futures rose to $89/barrel while Brent was above $95/barrel. Price action was also supported by a diminishing hope of a revival of the Iran nuclear deal. US and Iranian positions have diverged in recent days, and it is now expected that the negotiations could stretch beyond the US midterm elections in November. Still, it is key to watch the demand concerns picking up as well, particularly as China lockdowns were extended and will likely remain strict ahead of the CCP meeting on October 16.
What to consider?
OPEC+ announced a production cut by 100k bpd
A token cut by OPEC+ last night of 100k barrels per day just reverses the output increase agreed to last month. The decision was ‘symbolic’, with the new quotas taking effect for October. The amount is significantly small compared to a 100 million bpd market but it shows that OPEC+ wants to set a floor near $100/barrel in Brent. Saudi Arabian oil minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman had warned last week that a cut was a possibility given what he said was a disconnect between financial and physical oil markets.
The RBA meets today, and is expected to raise rates to 2.35% regardless of the property market strugglingConsensus expects the RBA to hike rates by 0.5% which will take Australia’s official interest rate to 2.35%. That will be the highest rate since 2015. However, interest rates futures are pricing in a smaller hike, of just 0.4%. The RBA will likely then proceed to rise rates over the rest of 2022 and then continue to rise rates into the 2023, in a bid to stave off inflation. The issue is, the RBA only has one tool to fight inflation, which is rising rates. But the property market is already struggling to absorb the 1.75% in hikes from May, with property prices falling at their quickest pace since the 80s and construction seeing its biggest decline since 2016. This has seen banks margins (profits) be squeezed, and they face a further squeeze. Why? Australia has one of the highest debt levels in the world (Debt to GPD is 126%). So if the RBA keeps rising rates to slow inflation, it could cause a credit issue and debt to income levels are at risk of hitting GFC highs.
RBA outcomes for investors, traders and the macro landscape
We highlighted sectors to watch and why yesterday in the Saxo Spotlight. That's worth a quick read. Today, we will be watching what the RBA estimates inflation to be, at the end of the year, remembering the RBA previously said it expects inflation to peak at under 8%. But consider, we traditionally see peak energy (coal) demand later this year, which is likely to support coal prices higher. As such, we think the RBA will rise its inflation target and may allude to commentary about keeping rates higher. For investors and traders, we will be watching energy stocks, which will likely get extra bids today and see momentum rise (not only because of the energy crisis in Europe), but also because Australian energy prices (coal) remains supported, with Australian energy reserves expected to also run out next year. For traders, the currency pair that we are watching is the AUDEUR for an extension to the upside, on the basis that Europe will need to increase energy imports and its balance of trade will likely continue to worsen, vs the Australian balance of trade, likely to hit another record high, with Australian LNG and coal exports to see a lift in demand.
PBOC cuts FX deposit reserve requirement ratio by 200 bps to restrain yuan weakness
The PBoC announced that the central bank is cutting the reserve requirement ratio for foreign exchange deposits (the “FX RRR”) to 6% from 8%, effective September 15. The cut is expected to release about USD19 billion (2% of the USD954 billion FX deposits outstanding) in FX liquidity for banks to make loans in foreign currencies. The PBoC last cut the FX RRR to 8% from 9% on May 15, in an attempt to send a signal to the market to put a pause to the depreciation of the USDCNY which had weakened from 6.40 to 6.80 in one month (April 15 to May 13, 2022). After the surge of the USDCNY from 6.75 to above 6.90 in about half a month since Aug 15, the PBoC apparently wants to send a signal again to the market to slow the speed of the renminbi depreciation against the U.S. dollar.
Liz Truss won the contest to become the next UK Prime Minister
In the UK, the Conservative party has voted for Liz Truss as the new party leader, making her the UK’s next Prime Minister. Her promises range from quick action on energy security to alleviating the cost-of-living crisis for the hardest hit by price rises, all while cutting corporate and other taxes. She has announced a GBP 130bn plan to freeze energy bills, a recipe for ballooning fiscal deficits, an issue that is already an ingredient in sterling’s steep fall this year, so an even steeper recession is in the wings. This could come either from a drop in real GDP due to soaring inflation aggravated by further sterling declines or as demand is crushed by a steep recession due to the need for the Bank of England to accelerate its pace of rate hikes or more likely a combination of the two. Longer term, investments in fracking shale gas and new North Sea exploration could pay dividends.
Russia makes a clear case of weaponizing gas supplies
While the Kremlin had earlier said that they were halting gas supplies on Nord Stream 1 for a technical fault, it has now clearly said that gas supplies to Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume in full until the “collective west” lifts sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. Russia is still supplying gas to Europe via Soviet-era pipelines through Ukraine that have remained open despite the invasion, as well as the South Stream pipeline via Turkey. But supplies along the northern pipeline routes, including Nord Stream 1 and the pipelines through Ukraine, have fallen by more than 90% since September last year. Higher supplies from Norway, the UK, north Africa and increased imports of LNG have helped to an extent offset the loss of Russian supplies.
Energy summit in EU on Friday
EU leaders will meet this Friday to discuss a cap on energy prices across EU countries to limit the disruptions from soaring and illiquid pricing markets, although given limits on generation capacity, much of them due to Russia’s cutting off of gas supplies - possibly semi-permanently in the case of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline – some sort of rationing plan may be required. See our colleague Christopher Dembik’s piece on at the difficult choices Europe faces on this issue here.
US ISM services PMI due today
With the services sector of the US economy slowing, there are expectations of a slight retreat in August US ISM services, but it should still remain above the 50-mark which differentiates between expansion and contraction. The S&P services PMI for August had also shown a slight decline to 44.1, with the payroll data hinting at still-strong labor market conditions in the services economy.
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