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: A return to hawkish expectations for the FOMC and risk-off from weak China data as well as possible issues in Russia-Ukraine grain deal saw markets tumble on Monday and US 10-year yields reversed back to 4.10%. Dollar strength returned as well, with gains most pronounced against the sterling and yuan. However, demand concerns returned, while oil also retreated with President Biden’s hopes of a windfall tax on profits of US energy companies weighing as well. Gold extended its downtrend with the surge in yields. Reserve Bank of Australia on watch in the day ahead, with some key Japanese names like Toyota and Sony also reporting earnings.
US stocks fell into the red on their last trading day of the month with end of month rebalancing coming into play, while stocks were also on the back foot as bond yield climbed ahead of Wednesday's Fed decision. Still the S&P500 held onto a monthly gain of 8%, but on Monday the index dropped 0.75%. The Nasdaq fell 1%, but held a 4% October gain. Most Treasury yields rose, with 10-year notes up to around 4.05%, while the dollar climbed against every G-10 partner, save the kiwi. Oil and gold both retreated. Energy shares whipsawed on news that President Joe Biden will call on Congress to consider tax penalties for oil producers accruing record profits. JPMorgan Chase Marko Kolanovic is joining strategists who believe the aggressive Fed hiking is nearing an end. He thinks the Fed will raise rates by 50 basis points in December and pause after one more 25-basis-point hike in the first quarter. Apple (AAPL) shares fell 1.5% with iPhone’s Foxconn plant in central China grappling with virus outbreak. Fertilizer giant, Archer Daniels (ADM) rose 2.2% with traders expecting higher agricultural prices amid supply concerns from added geopolitical tension.
The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to deliver its 2nd straight month of 0.25% hikes at today’s meeting, according to Bloomberg consensus, which will take the cash rate from 2.6% to 2.85%. However it will be a tough decision, with stronger-than-expected third-quarter inflation data from last week, and hot retail and credit data yesterday giving room for a potential 50-bp (0.5%) hike. This could trigger a knee jerk jump in the Aussie dollar vs the US (AUDUSD), however we maintain our bearish view of the AUDUSD given the Fed has more ammo to aggressively rise. Also note, Governor Philip Lowe has regularly wrong-footed forecasts. Still, swaps imply only a 20% chance of an outsized move, and Australian 10-year yields are a full 25 bps below similar-dated Treasuries, meaning there are expectations that RBA will take a softer line than the Fed. The RBA will last month previously noting loan arrears and insolvencies have picked up in Australia, while housing loan commitments declined - ‘demonstrating the effect of high interest rates on housing’. This demonstrates, the RBA has a tough task of rising rates to slow inflation, without compromising the health of the economy.
Dollar started the week on a firmer note as WSJ Timiraos comments turned more hawkish over the weekend after dovish Fed expectations possibly went a bit far. The worst performer was GBP, and we had raised concerns yesterday that it was pricing in all the good news so there was scope for disappointment. GBPUSD broke below 1.1500 with EURGBP also reversing back higher to 0.8620 despite EURUSD weakness to sub-0.99. USDJPY rose back above 148.50, with US 10-year Treasury yields touching 4.1% at one point. Japan’s Finance Ministry data showed a record USD 42.8bln was spent on multiple interventions in the FX market last month to attempt to cushion the Yen’s fall. The Chinese yuan continued to slide, USDCNH rose to 7.34 and the onshore spot USDCNY seen close to 15-year highs of 7.30+ at Monday’s close.
Crude oil prices were lower on Monday as concerns of weaker demand weighed on sentiment with the Fed commentary from whisperer Nick Timiraos shifting towards a hawkish stance again. Meanwhile, China’s PMIs fell below the 50 mark which separates expansion and contraction. On the other hand, OPEC’s World Oil Outlook estimates demand will climb 13% to reach 109.5mb/d in 2035, then hold around that level for another decade and secretary-general Haitham al Ghais said that the oil supply surplus was the main reason for the decision to cut output. There were also some reports suggesting that President Biden is considering a potential windfall tax on US energy companies. WTI futures slid towards $86/barrel.
Gold (XAUUSD) fell for a third consecutive day approaching the recent support area $1,625 as US dollar broadly strengthened with 10 year treasury yield touching 4.10% at one point on Monday. With the Fed poised for another 75bps rate hike this week, pressure on gold could increase, but we continue to see fundamental strength in gold especially given the higher-for-longer inflation expectation. But as a minimum gold needs to break above $1730 before an end to the month-long downtrend can be called.
The Reserve Bank of Australia meets today and is expected to continue with a smaller pace of rate hikes with 25bps priced in despite a hotter than expected Q3 CPI. Q3 CPI rose by 7.3% YoY from previous print of 6.1%, coming in higher than expectations. RBA’s preferred Trimmed Mean CPI was seen at 6.1% vs. expected 5.6% (prev. 4.9%), while PPI also accelerated in Q3 to 6.4% from 5.6% previously. There are, therefore, some calls for an outsized 50bps rate hike as well as inflation continues to inch above the central bank’s 2-3% target range. An update on the latest growth and inflation projections will also be seen along with today’s rate decision. AUDUSD will need a clearly larger than expected rate hike of 50bps, or a very hawkish commentary with a 25bps rate hike to make any substantial gains. If RBA tows the line, focus shifts to USD and the Fed meeting on Wednesday. AUDNZD is also key to watch, with the 1.1000 handle on test.
Eurozone inflation data for October YoY printed another record as it soared to 10.7% (prev. 9.9%), and well above the median Bloomberg expectation of 10.3%. Meanwhile, Q3 GDP growth slowed to 0.2% QoQ or 2.1% YoY (prev. 0.8% QoQ, 4.1% YoY). While mild whether and full storage hasn’t unleashed the full effects of energy shortages this year, the threat continues to loom and this could mean the macro story could deteriorate further.
China’s manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMI both plunged into contractionary territory in October with Covid curbs likely continuing to weigh on demand and manufacturing ahead of the CCP meeting. China's official manufacturing PMI declined to 49.2 in October after a brief rebound to 50.1 in September following a two-month decline. Meanwhile, services activity fell to 48.7 in October from 50.6 last month. Also, Hong Kong recorded its worst quarter in over two years, with Q3 GDP growth coming in at -4.5% YoY vs. expectations of -0.8%. The QoQ growth was also in negative territory at -2.6%, signalling recession concerns if such a performance continues despite the economy’s reopening.
Big Japanese names Toyota (7203) and Sony (6758) report earnings today. While high inflation and interest rates remain a key consideration to watch for consumer spending trends, the effect of a weak yen will also be key to consider. Sony will be key to watch after the US tech tumble last week, and consensus is looking for a 10% drop in its operating profit from a year ago. Toyoto will likely continue to highlight the supply chain pressures, but possible buyback announcements could support.
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