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Market Insights Today: U.S. Stocks and bonds sold off on a solid ISM Services print – 6 December 2022

Equities 6 minutes to read
APAC Strategy Team

Summary:  U.S. stocks and bonds sold off on Monday. On the back of the wage inflation in the job report released last Friday, the ISM Services Index and its employment and price-paid sub-indices on Monday increased the uncertainty of the Fed’s interest path in 2023 as officials would now need to think twice before slowing the pace of rate hikes. China and Hong Kong stocks surged on more signs of China loosening Covid restrictions.


What’s happening in markets?

Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) sold off on a solid ISM Services report

After an unexpectedly strong ISM Services, U.S. equities sold off. S&P 500 dropped by 1.8% and Nasdaq 100 lost 1.7%. The selloff was broad-based as all 11 sectors within the S&P 500 pulled back, with consumer discretionary, energy, and financials being the top losers. Within the financial sector, regional banks were the worst performers.

Telsa (TSLA:xnas) plunged 6.4% on reports that the EV maker plans to cut production in its Shanghai factory. VF Corp (VFC:xnys) dropped by 11.1% after the maker of the North Face and Vans brands, cut revenue and earnings outlooks and announced the retirement of its Chairman and CEO. United Airlines shares gained 2.6% after a leading U.S. investment bank upgraded the airliner on expecting 2023 travel to be a ’goldilocks’ year with earnings to pick up. 

US treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) sold off with yields higher on a hot ISM Service Index

U.S. treasuries sold off and yields surged after a strong ISM Service Index that came in with a rise in the headline to 56.5 and the employment sub-index back to expansion while price-paid moderating only slightly and remaining in strong expansion territory. Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos, who is considered by market participants of the Fed’ media mouthpiece, said in his latest article that “ elevated wage pressures could lead [the Fed officials] to continue lifting [the Fed fund target] to higher levels than investors currently expect”. The 2-year yield surged 12bps to 4.39% and the 10-year yield climbed 9bps to 3.57%. The 2-10 year curve further inverted to minus 81bps.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIZ2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) rallied strongly on the loosening of Covid-restrictions

Hong Kong and China equity markets surged on yet more signs of the easing of Covid-related restriction measures in mainland China. Hang Seng Index gained 4.5% and CSI 300 climbed 2%. Hang Seng TECH Index soared 9.3%. Technology names, online healthcare platforms, EV makers, and Chinese developers led the charge higher.  Bilibili (09626:xhkg) jumped nearly 29%. Alibaba (09988:xhkg) surged 9.3% and Tencent (00700:xhkg) climbed 7.1%. Tech hardware names performed strongly, with Sunny Optical (02382:xhkg) up 10.1% and Xiaomi (01810:xhkg) rising 13.6%. EV maker XPeng (09868:xhkg) soared more than 26%, followed by Nio (09866:xhkg) up 14.9% and Li Auto (02015:xhkg) up 12.2%. Online healthcare platforms were among the top gainers, with Alibaba Health (00241:xhkg) surging nearly 20% and JD Health (06618:xhkg) advancing 15%. Shares of leading Chinese developers gained. Longfor (00960:xhkg) rose 17.1% and CIFI (00884:xhkg) jumped nearly 24%. Macau casino shares soared by 15%-20%. In A shares, infrastructures and financials were among the top performers.

Australia’s share market rally halts, metal prices head lower, coal stocks surge. RBA decision ahead 

The Australian benchmark index, the ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) today is lower on Tuesday, following global markets; with selling in oil, gas, and gold stocks dragging down the market. As a result, the ASX200 stumbled from its seven-month high on expectations the Fed might keep rates higher for longer, which is also why interest rate sensitive stocks such as Block (SQ2) are in the loser board, down 5.3%, taking its year to date loss to 51%. While on the upside, coal stocks such as New Hope Corp (NHC) are up 2% with Whitehaven (WHC) up 1.2% supported higher by the coal Newcastle futures price heading back toward its record all-time high, on expectations coal demand will peak up. 

FX and Commodities

Oil pulled back 3.8% and gold plunged 1.6% as the US dollar rallied and bond yield rose. Iron ore (SCOA) fell 1.7% but held onto near its fresh highs of $106.50. USDJPY bounced 1.6% to 136.43. The Chinese renminbi strengthened versus the dollar to 6.9560 on more signs of China reopening from Covid restrictions.

 

What to consider?

U.S. ISM Services Index unexpectedly rose by 2.1pp to 56.5

The U.S.’ November ISM Services Index came in at 56.5, which is 2.1 percentage points higher than October’s 54.4 and is way above the consensus estimate of 53.5. The business activity sub-index jumped 9pp to 64.7, the higher level since last December. The employment sub-index bounced to 51.5, back to the expansion territory, from 49.1 in October. The price paid sub-index remained at an elevated level of 70, down only modestly from 70.7 in October.

China may roll out 10 additional measures to loosen Covid restrictions

Reuters, citing “sources with knowledge of the matter”, reports that China “may announce 10 new COVID-19 easing measures as early as Wednesday” and downgrade the containment of COVID-19 to Category B management or even Category C, which are less stringent. Category A covers highly transmissible and deadly diseases such as bubonic plague and cholera. Category B includes SARS, anthrax, and AIDS while Category C has diseases such as influenza, leprosy, and mumps.

The major focus in Australia is on the outcome of the RBA meeting today  

At 2.30 pm Sydney time, Australia’s central bank is expected to hike rates by a quarter-point (0.25%) for the third straight month, which will take the cash rate from 2.85% to 3.1%. The focus will be on RBA commentary potentially ending its rate hike cycle, given that Australian households have the highest debt-to-income ratios in the world; with indebted households highly vulnerable to tightening, with loan arrears and insolvencies increasing. Look for color in the RBA statement that may allude to the RBA pausing rate hikes in early 2023. Lenders in Australia, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), ANZ (ANZ), Westpac (WBC), and National Australia Bank (NAB), as well as Suncorp (SUN) and Bank of Queensland (BOQ) will be on watch as they have been experiencing smaller profits as the property market is at breaking point with mortgage holders under stress. However, insurance companies are continuing to benefit from higher rates and are worth watching. Insurance company QBE Insurance (QBE) is trading up 9.2% this year and is a buy side analyst favorite. For more Australian buy-side analyst favouities, click here. If the RBA mentions a potential rate hike pause, you could expect banks to rally as well as REITs. For a list of Australian REITs, refer to Saxo’s Australian REIT stock basket.

Caixin Services PMI slid further into contraction

China’s services sector shrank deeper into contraction in November according to the Caixin Services PMI, which came in at 46.7 below both the consensus estimate (48.0) and the prior month (48.4). Covid containment measures weighed on business operations and consumer demand.

China’s Xi is attending a China-Arab summit this week in Saudi Arabia

China President Xi Jinping is expected to fly to Saudi Arabia on Dec 9 to attend a China-Arab summit. Saudi Arabia is the largest supplier of crude oil to China. China has been pursuing a grand strategy to move westward to secure ties with countries in Central Asia and the Middle East.

 

For our look ahead at markets this week – Read/listen to our Saxo Spotlight.

For a global look at markets – tune into our Podcast.

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