What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
The market continues to lick its wounds following hawkish central bank messages across the US, UK, and Euro area with S&P 500 futures extending the declines since the late Wednesday to a close of 3,927 which is just below the 100-day moving average. Nasdaq 100 futures are under more pressure following the latest central bank messages, being more sensitive to the interest rate level and direction. Nasdaq 100 futures are trading around the 11,444 level this morning which is a critical level and the lower bound of the trading range since the US October inflation report on 10 November.
Euro STOXX 50 (EU50.I)
Ugly session yesterday following ECB’s hawkish outlook on the policy rate surprising most market participants. Stoxx 50 futures declined 3.6% to close at 3,835 erasing all the gains since the rally following the US October inflation report on 10 November. Today’s trading will be a key test of the market’s belief in ECB’s forecast.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIZ2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hong Kong and mainland Chinese stocks had a choppy morning session. Hang Seng Index opened lower on the back of tumbling overseas markets overnight despite the positive news from the US accounting regulatory body removing the delisting risk of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. bourses for now. Stocks had a brief rally on market chatter of reopening of the border between Hong Kong and the mainland earliest next month before the gains waned and the Hang Seng Index was flat by noon. The front page editorial at the mouthpiece People’s Daily this morning is upbeat about growth in China but it does not catch much attention from investors. Leading Chinese property developers were the top gaining stocks, with Longfor (00960:xhkg) and Country Garden (02007:xhkg) each gaining around 3.7%. In A-shares, CSI300 was modestly lower, driven by profit-taking in semiconductor names and weaknesses in autos. Real estate and educational services outperformed.
FX: Dollar strength returned amid weakness in risk sentiment
USD strength returned, and in a big way yesterday after the markets hardly registered the hawkish shift of the dot plot by the FOMC on Wednesday. Concerns that Fed will be hiking into a recession gathered pace as US economic data deteriorated further but labor market resilience prevailed. Money market pricing for the Fed has still not budged to catch up with the dot plot, suggesting that it is likely the risk sentiment weakness that drove the dollar surge. AUDUSD was the biggest loser on the G10 board, sliding lower to 0.67 from 0.6850+ as weak China activity data offset the impact from positive employment numbers in Australia yesterday. GBPUSD also plunged below 1.22 on a dovish Bank of England and EURGBP rose above 0.87 amid relative ECB hawkishness. The ECB meeting saw EURUSD relatively unchanged on the day after a rally, while EURJPY was two figures higher on the day on the ECB impact on EU Yields. USDJPY touched 138 again despite a drop in US yields.
Crude oil (CLF3 & LCOG3) trades lower as risk sentiment takes a fresh hit
Crude oil traded sharply lower on Thursday, thereby reversing some of the strong gains seen earlier in the week, after the Fed’s hawkish tilt was followed by a slew of other G10 central banks, especially the ECB which highlighted the struggle to get inflation under control. However, there are tentative signs that Russian oil exports to Asia are dipping because of the price cap, a development that may support the 2023 outlook for tight supply, especially when China gets through a period of surging virus cases that my cloud the short-term outlook for demand. Given the current focus on recession potentially hurting demand, a supply side struggle may not positively impact prices until the second quarter, and with that in mind, the price of Brent may settle into a range below $90 until then.
Gold (XAUUSD) continues to find support
... as the combination of a hawkish Fed and a steeply inverted yield curve points to an increased risk the FOMC will be hiking into a recession. This focus gathered pace on Thursday, the day after the hawkish shift of the dot plot by the FOMC, after weak US economic data supported the dollar as risk sentiment deteriorated across markets, not least the stock market, and bond yields softened. Gold looks ripe for a period of consolidation with some end of year profit taking emerging following the +200-dollar surge since the November 3 low and after the price got rejected above $1800. However, the prospect for a recession and the FOMC joining other central hiking into economic weakness – potentially without succeeding getting inflation under control - continues to strengthen the upside risk for investment metals in 2023.
US Treasury yield curve (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) turned more inverted on hawkish central banks and weak data
Following a hawkish rate path dot plot from the Fed on Wednesday, hawkish remarks from ECB President Lagarde on Thursday, and a weak U.S retail sales report, the Treasury yield curve flattened. The 2-year yield rose 3bps to 4.24% while the 10-year yield shed 3bps to 3.45%, bringing the 2-10-year inversion to more negative to -79bps. After Lagarde pledged Eurozone “interest rates will still have to rise significantly higher at a steady pace”, the German 2-year yields jumped as much as 30bps and closed 24bps higher at 2.36%, a 14-year high. The Treasury Department announced a USD12 billion 20-year auction and a USD19 billion 5-year TIPS auction next week. In the futures pit in Chicago, large-size curve flattening trades were seen on selling the five-year contracts versus buying the ultra-10-year contracts. The money market curve is pricing a terminal rate of 4.9% in 2023, significantly lower than the Fed’s dot plot of 5.1%.
What is going on?
ECB fails to impress market after hawkish meeting
The ECB administered a hawkish broadside yesterday, raising its forecasts for headline inflation to 6.3% for next year and 3.4% for 2024 (From 5.5% and 2.4% previously, suggesting a far longer time frame with uncomfortably high inflation. The core CPI forecasts were raised to 4.2% ex food and energy for 2023 and 2.8% for 2024, versus 3.4%/2.3% in September). It also outlined its quantitative tightening plan to start rolling off EUR 15 billion of asset per month from March, with ECB President Lagarde claiming the willingness to continue to hike 50 basis points at several coming meetings if necessary, with far more rate tightening to do from here. But after an initial sprint higher that saw EURUSD trading well above 1.0700 despite relative USD firmness elsewhere, the EURUSD collapsed back toward 1.0600 before stabilizing closer to 1.0650. STill, the euro was very firm against most of the rest of G10 currencies as the German 2-year yield jumped a full 25 basis points on the day and closed the day at a cycle high (and high since 2008) of 2.39%.
Bank of England followed the Fed with a 50bps hike, likewise for SNB and Norges Bank
The Bank of England opted to step down the pace of its rate hiking cycle to 50bps from 75bps, taking the Base Rate to 3.5%. The decision to move on rates was not a unanimous one with two dovish dissenters favoring no rate hike and one hawkish dissenter. The markets are pricing in a peak for the BOE at 4.25% in H1 2023, as inflation continues to cool. The MPC is of the view that CPI inflation has reached a peak, but is expected to remain high in the coming months. The dovish expectation that inflation would return to below target in two years and guidance that further rate tightening would come in The Norges Bank and SNB also hiked 50bps, in-line with expectations.
Adobe shares rise 5% on stronger than expected profitability
FY22 Q4 revenue at $4.5bn was in line with estimates and adjusted EPS at $3.60 vs est. $3.50 was the positive surprise. The 2023 revenue outlook was $19.1-19.3bn vs est. $19.4bn and management reiterates expectations that its Figma acquisition will go through in 2023.
US economic slowdown concerns continue to be offset by a strong labor market
Several economic indicators in the US pointed to concerns of an economic slowdown. Headline retail sales declined 0.6% in November, deeper than the 0.1% expectation and paring from October's gain of 1.3%. The December NY Fed Manufacturing survey fell into contractionary territory at -11.2, deeper than the expected -1.0 from the prior +4.5. US manufacturing output fell -0.6% in November, well beneath the expected 0.1% decline and against October's rise of 0.3%, which was upwardly revised from +0.1%. However, labor market resilience was confirmed by jobless claims unexpectedly dropping to 211k from a revised 231k last week, well below the expected 230k.
US oversight board concluded its inspection and removed the delisting risks of Chinese ADRs for now
The Public Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) announced on Thursday that the U.S, accounting regulatory body has “conducted inspection field work and investigative testimony” of the audit work of KPMG Huazhen LLP in mainland China and PwC in Hong Kong on eight Chinese ADR issuers, “in a manner fully consistent with the PCAOB’s methodology and approach to inspections and investigations in the U.S. and globally.” The PCAOB was satisfied that its “investors and investigators were able to view complete audit work papers with all information included, and the PCAOB was able to retain information as needed” without consultation with, or input from Chinese authorities. The PCAOB’s conclusion removes the risk of forced delisting of Chinese ADRs for now. The PCAOB will continue to do regular inspections starting in early 2023.
China’s retail sales, industrial production, and fixed asset investment were weak in November
November activity data in China came in worse than the already low expectations. Retail sales shrank by 5.9% Y/Y in November (Consensus: -4.0%; Oct: -0.5%). The weakness partly reflected the high base last year and mostly as a result of the outbreaks of Covid and the relevant containment restrictions then were still the modus operandi. Revenue growth tumbled to -6% Y/Y for merchandise, -4.2% Y/Y for auto, and -8.4% Y/Y for catering. Industrial production growth slowed to 2.2% Y/Y in November (consensus: 3.5%; Oct: 5.0%). The manufacturing and utility sectors were weak while the mining sector improved in growth. Smartphone volume shrank by 19.8% Y/Y in November as Foxconn’s factory in Zhengzhou experienced disruption from Covid restrictions and labor unrest. The growth of fixed asset investment plummeted (FAI) to 0.8% Y/Y in November from 5.0% Y/Y in October. The weakness of FAI was mainly in the manufacturing and property sectors. Infrastructure FAI climbed to 13.9% Y/Y in November from 12.8% in October.
What are we watching next?
Enormous US options expiry today, as much as $4 trillion
Many traders hedged portfolios or engaged in directional speculation on this week’s important event risks, including the US CPI release on Tuesday and the FOMC meeting Wednesday. Short terms options trading has taken on record proportions in recent months and today, some $4 trillion in options are set to expire, with today’s “witching” or expiry of quarterly financial futures also in the mix and potentially adding to directional volatility today.
Earnings to watch
Today’s US earnings focus is Darden Restaurants which is expected to deliver 7% y/y revenue growth for the quarter that ended in November highlighting the resilience of the US consumer in some types discretionary spending.
- Today: Accenture, Darden Restaurants
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0815-0900 – Eurozone Dec. Preliminary Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 0930 – UK Dec. Preliminary Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 1000 – Eurozone Final Nov. CPI
- 1445 – US Dec. Preliminary S&P Global Manufacturing and Services PMI
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