Market Insights Today: UK’s policy U-turn, RBA rate hike ahead – October 4, 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: After a series of positive surprises on US economic data last week, the disappointment from the ISM manufacturing was a big deal for the markets. US Treasury yields slumped, with rising expectations of an earlier Fed pivot which we think may be premature. But that helped equity markets close higher, more a signal of positioning rather than expectations. UK’s tax cut U-turn instilled a fresh bid in sterling, but further impeded confidence in the government. Oil prices extended gains and Gold also reclaimed the $1700-mark. On watch today will be how the Reserve Bank of Australia transitions to a slower rate hike pace.
What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) rally over 2%
US stocks rallied for the first day of the quarter with the Nasdaq100 up almost 2.4%, and the S&P500 up about 2.6%, which is the best gain since July 27. It comes as the 10-year US Treasury yield rolled over to trade at around 3.65% (after topping 4% at one-point last week). The risk-on mood was fueled by several things; firstly, the UK government did a U-turn and will reverse plans to scrap the top rate of income tax. Secondly, the United Nations called on the Fed and other central banks to halt interest rates hikes. And thirdly, what also boosted sentiment was that two Fed speakers at the weekend, Brainard and Daly were reportedly discussing the downside of hiking too fast. And fourthly, weaker than expected US economic news came out with; US manufacturing falling for the third time in four months. As for the S&P500, the technical indicators; the MACD and the RSI also remain in oversold territory, which supports the notion that some investors believe a short-term rebound may be seen perhaps amid the risk-on mood. However, caution still remains in the air ahead of further Fed's hikes.
U.S. treasury yields (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
The US Treasury yields retreated on Monday as a subdued ISM manufacturing print led to calls of slower Fed tightening and an earlier Fed pivot, which had already been building last week as well due to the risk of wider market disruptions as things have started to break. The reversal of the UK tax cut also supported Gilts, and some pass-through was seen to the US Treasuries. 2-year yields declined over 16bps to 4.11%, while the 10-year was down 19bps to 3.63%.
Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) poised to raise 1.5% with a focus on oil stocks
Commodities will be focus on the ASX today with Oil and LNG stocks like Woodside (WDS), Santos (STO) set to see some action after the oil and gas prices jumped 5%. Other stocks to watch include Worley (WOR) who services the energy sector. Iron ore companies will be watched as well, supported higher by the iron ore price jumping 1.8% to US$94.50. So it’s worth watching if BHP, RIO and CIA can extend their short-term uptrend.
AUDUSD rallies back to 0.6516 ahead of RBA’s expected 0.5% hike
Australia’s RBA is likely to make another jumbo rate hike and take rates up by 50 bps (0.5%) to 2.85% on Tuesday (which is what consensus thinking is). And then after that, the RBA is likely to move in smaller increments, according to interest rate futures and what RBA Governor Phillip Lowe signaled he wants. With the majority of Australian mortgages at floating-rates, and wage growth being stronger, the RBA’s thinking is that most Aussies will be able to sustain the higher rates as a lot of Australian made extra mortgage repayments amid the lockdowns, as pulled back on discretionary spending. However there are about 2.5 million Aussies who have no buffer. And 9.8 million Aussies have mortgages. So we still think a property pull back might be on the cards. It’s the magnitude of the pull back that is being questioned. The technical indicator, the MACD suggests the AUDUSD could rally if the RBA proceeds with a likely 0.5% hike. However over the long term, our house view remains bearish on the AUDUSD until Fed hikes cool, and commodity demand picks up from China.
GBPUSD made a strong recovery, will it last?
Cable was seen advancing above the 1.13 handle in early Asian hours on Tuesday as it extended Monday’s gains following announcement of plans to scarp the tax cut by the UK government. A softer dollar also supported pound’s gains, amid a slide in US Treasury yields. However, more Fed tightening is still in the cards and the lack of trust in the new UK government cannot be ignored even if the tax policy has been reversed for now. Focus on the BOE meeting on November 3 where 115bps rate hike is priced in, lower than last week’s pricing of 150bps. However, a full-budget statement will be released before that and further austerity measures, if included, can bring fresh downside for the sterling. EURGBP slid below 0.8700.
Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOX2) extends gains on OPEC+ chatter
Crude oil trades higher ahead of Wednesday’s OPEC+ meeting in Vienna as the alliance is considering a production cut of more than 1 million barrels/day to support prices following a 25% slump during Q3 2022. That would be the biggest cut since the pandemic with OPEC+ slashed production by 10 million barrels/day as demand collapsed. WTI futures rose above $83/barrel while Brent was close to $90. With several OPEC+ producers, including Russia, producing below target, and only Saudi Arabia may be able to limit production without a loss in additional market share. Meanwhile, expectations of an earlier Fed pivot also stabilized demand weakness expectations.
Gold (XAUUSD) reclaims 1700 on lower US yields
Gold extended recent gains as yields on Treasuries continued to decline. After the 10-year yields were seen topping the 4% level at one point last week, they are now off about 40bps to end at 3.63% yesterday. Meanwhile, a softer dollar and rising geopolitical tensions have also brought back investor demand for the yellow metal. A weaker ISM manufacturing print yesterday (read below) has also increased calls for an earlier Fed pivot, which we think may be premature. But the increasing calls for a recession have meant gains for Gold which was last seen back at $1,700/oz.
What to consider?
US ISM manufacturing disappoints
The headline for September’s US ISM manufacturing came in weaker than expectations at 50.9 from the prior month’s 52.8 and expected 52.2. Both employment and new orders both dropped into contractionary territory printing 48.7 (exp. 53.0, prev. 54.2) and 47.1 (prev. 41.3), respectively. The report showed that higher interest rates are starting to weigh on business investment sentiment, at least in the interest rate sensitive sectors. Still, the inflationary gauge of prices paid declined to 51.7 (exp. 51.9, prev. 52.5) falling for the sixth straight month. Supplier delivery times suggested some easing on the supply chains, but overall the report indicated the case of a slowdown in the US economy as rapid Fed tightening continues.
UK scraps plans to cut taxes
The UK government confirmed reports it will not go ahead with the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax but they are committed to borrowing extra over the winter to help with the ongoing energy crisis. The Chancellor told BBC the proposal was "drowning out a strong package", which includes support for energy bills, cuts to the basic rate of income tax, and the scrapped increase in corporation tax. However, he saw the abolition of 45p tax rate as a distraction from the overriding mission, and thus decided to remove it. This puts water on the Bank of England’s bond-buying, and exposes further the cracks in UK policymaking, thus suggesting that the UK assets are not out of the woods. A full-budget, which has now been brought forward to before the next BOE meeting on November 3, could include more tax cuts.
Fed pushes back on an earlier pivot
Fed’s NY President John Williams repeated inflation is too high and the Fed's job is not done, also saying that the monetary policy is still not in restrictive zone, pushing back on some calls for an earlier Fed pivot. He acknowledged signs of a slowdown in the housing sector or the consumer and business investment spending, but nothing that could deter the Fed from fighting inflation. On forecasts, he sees inflation likely down to 3% by next year (median view for Core PCE 3.1%), and the US is likely to see unemployment rise to 4.5% by end of 2023 (median view 4.4%). Thomas Barkin (2024 voter) made the case for more inflation in the post-pandemic world, noting that the Fed must consider global developments, but the focus is on the US.
Japan’s Tokyo inflation accelerates further
Japan’s September Tokyo CPI came in at 2.8% YoY, a notch softer than last month’s 2.9% YoY and in-line with expectations, but the core-core (ex-fresh food and energy) print accelerated to 1.7% YoY from 1.4% YoY, also coming in ahead of expectations at 1.4% YoY. Higher global food and energy prices along with a record weak yen has brought import price pressures on Japan’s economy, and this print hints at further gains in CPI on the horizon. While the pressure on the Bank of Japan to hike rates may have eased for now as US yields are easing, but there is still more Fed tightening in the pipeline and fresh pressures cannot be ignored.
Reserve Bank of Australia may step away from moving to a slower rate hike pace
The Reserve Bank of Australia is scheduled to announce its next rate decision on Tuesday, October 4. Governor Lowe had previously signalled that the pace of rate hikes is likely to slow from here after four consecutive rate hikes of the magnitude of 50bps. However, money markets and Bloomberg consensus forecast is still calling for another 50bps rate hike at the October meeting suggesting that RBA may delay taking the foot off the pedal just yet. The recent slide in the Australian dollar and worries over a turmoil in global financial markets may prompt the policymakers to front-load more of the rate hikes while the economy is still holding up. Retail sales data last week was upbeat while the first monthly inflation data reading at 6.8% is only slightly off the 7% levels seen in the preceding month. So, even as a monthly meeting can ensure a steady pace of rate hikes even with a smaller 25bps rate move, policymakers would possibly prefer to make a larger move this week to provide some support to the AUD. Likewise, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is also expected to hike rates by another 50bps at their October 6 meeting.
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