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Market Insights Today: All eyes on US CPI today – 14 February 2023

Equities 6 minutes to read
APAC Research

Summary:  Today is the U.S. CPI day which may set the near-term directions of the stock, bond, and forex market. Investors are cautious about the additional uncertainties from the impact of the new CPI compilation methodology and seasonality. U.S. equities rallied and bond yields slipped modestly. Oil prices were lower as US announced plans to sell more crude from its strategic reserves. Japanese Yen extends weakness awaiting the official announcement of the nomination of Ueda as the new BOJ governor. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was dragged by rights offering from Link REIT.


What’s happening in markets?

US equities (US500.I and USNAS100.I) rallied as inflation expectations dropped

After S&P500 made its biggest weekly drop in 2023 last week, US stocks started the week in positive territory, with the S&P500 gaining 1.1% and Nasdaq 100 advancing 1.6%, supported by the New York Fed Survey of Consumer Expectations that showed expectations for household income expectations falling from 4.6% to 3.3%. That’s the largest one-month drop in the nearly 10-year history of the series.

We’ve seen investors cautious ahead of US inflation data being released on Tuesday and that may be hotter than expected, with a new CPI weighting being used. All but energy within the 11 S&P 500 sectors gained on Monday, led by information technology, consumer discretionary, and consumer staple. Microsoft was one of the best performers, up 3% on Monday as analysts were upbeat on the tech giant’s growth potential. Twilio gained 2.1% following the announcement to cut 17% of its workforce.

Tesla flashes red signals after a record rally; meaning some of its gains could be unwound

Tesla was one of the weakest in mega caps on Monday, while suffering its biggest two-day fall since January, losing 6.1%. Tesla shares have been bouncing off their lows and were up as much as 100% from their January 2023 lows, but now investors are trimming gains and Tesla is trading 93% above its low. The market believes the Fed will pause rate hikes in Q2 which supported buying in Tesla, while the company pledged to roll-ahead with scaling up production targets.

Consensus believes in 2023 Tesla’s revenue will grow 28% to a new record, with EBITDA expected to swell 20% also to a new record, with 12.5% EPS growth. But, from a technical perspective, Tesla’s relative strength index (RSI) is showing the stock is now in the overbought territory - that could signal a potential reversal. The last time Tesla was this overbought was in November 2021 amid tech enthusiasm.

The long end of US Treasuries (TLT:Xmas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) was well bid

In a quiet and choppy session, yields on the 2-year finished unchanged while yields on the 10-year were 3bps richer. The terminal Fed Fund rate, as being priced in by the market, edged up to 5.23%. Fed Governor Michelle Bowman said the Fed is “still far from achieving price stability” and she expects that “it will be necessary to further tighten monetary policy”.  Traders are cautiously waiting for the much-anticipated CPI report today.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIG3) pared losses and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) gained on consumer stock strength

Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1%, as shares of Hong Kong local property developers tumbled across the board dragged by a 12.8% collapse in Link REIT (00823:xhkg). The largest REIT in Hong Kong that operates shopping centers and real estate retail spaces announced a rights offering for HKD19.3 billion at a 30% discount to its previous close. New World Development (00017:xhkg) plunged 6.7%; Henderson Land Development (00012:xhkg) declined 4.8%; Wharf Real Estate (01997:xhkg) lost 2.9%.

The benchmark index clawed back most losses as Chinese consumer names rallied, with China Resources Beer (00291:xhkg) up 4.9%, Haidilao (06862:xhkg) up 4.7%, Budweiser Brewing ( 01876:xhkg) up 3%, and Li Ning (02331:xhkg) up 2.4%, China Mengniu (02319:xhkg) up 2.2%. Chinese hotpot restaurant chain, Xiabuxiabu (00520:xhkg) surged 8.6%.

In A-shares, CSI300 advanced by 0.9% led by Chinese white liquor, beverage, beauty care, marine equipment, and construction materials. Kweichow Moutai (600519:xssc) gained 2.6%.

FX: Yen weakness extends despite yields cooling off, commodity currencies gain

Dollar gains cooled off slightly on Monday as traders positioned for US CPI release due today, and risk assets rallied with gains in US yields cooling off after the recent run higher. Michelle Bowman added to the Fed chorus insisting on more rate increases to rein in inflation, saying "we are still far from achieving price stability. But the Japanese yen was still pressured lower, and USDJPY took a look above 132.50 as expectations of BOJ governor candidate Ueda altering the policy stance retreated.

Upbeat risk sentiment lifted NZDUSD to 0.6360 from sub-0.63 levels earlier in the day, while AUDUSD drifted towards the key 0.70 level as well but calls for RBA governor Lowe’s resignation may keep the gains in check. GBPUSD back higher to 1.2150 and labor market data is on tap today. EURUSD back above 1.0720.

Aussie dollar moves back toward 0.70 with commodities moving up

The Aussie moved up 0.7% after the US dollar fell back, while commodity prices rose - also supporting the Aussie dollar. Notably, metal prices have been declining for week but moved up overnight, with Copper up 1%. The next catalyst for the AUDUSD pair will be if business confidence out today, is strong expected - it could trigger more upside. Plus the market would want to see stronger than expected Australian employment data for January- on Thursday, to also support the risk-on rally. But there is a risk, AU jobs data won’t be as strong as expected by the market, given the lag interest rates effects in Australia. 20,000 jobs are forecast to have been added, with steady unemployment rate.

The Australian bond market suggest less caution is in the air, with the Australian 10-year bond yield down to 3.74% (highest levels since January). But the major catalyst will be the strength of the USD - that could change direction for the AUDUSD pair.

Crude oil (CLH3 & LCOJ3) prices choppy as supply fears ease

Crude oil prices started the day trying to move higher as traders assessed the impact of Russia’s supply cuts. However, the importance of Russia’s energy supplies has gone down over the last year as Europe has diversified its energy sources and Russia’s oil and gas has continued to flow around the world at discounts of well over 30%. This helped ease fears of a supply shock, also helped by US planning to sell 26mn barrels of oil from its strategic reserves. WTI prices dropped from over $80/barrel to ~$79 while Brent was below $87. The UAE said markets remain balanced and OPEC+ producers don't need to intervene. Elsewhere, the US shale industry remains reluctant to ramp up drilling activity despite strong cash flows.

 

What to consider?

Japan’s Q4 GDP comes in below expectations

Japan's economy grew an annualised 0.6% in the final three months of 2022, bouncing back from the previous quarter's revised contraction of -1.0% but still coming in below expectations of a 2% gain. The return of inbound tourists offset a slowdown in capital expenditure and exports. With economic momentum still weak, new BoJ governor Ueda will continue to face a challenging task in shifting away from the ultra-loose monetary policy.

US CPI on the radar - volatility risks higher with uncertain impact of new methodology

While investors firmly believe that inflation is on a downward trajectory, month-on-month variations still remain on watch. More importantly, this month brings a change in methodology, which adds further uncertainty to the release. If we take the last few month’s revisions for core CPI into account based on the new methodology, there is reason to believe that the new weights could mean an upward push to inflation. Average core CPI for the last three months of 2022 has gone up from 3.1% to 4.3% with the new seasonal factors released by the BLS. Fed whisperer Nick Timiraos, a WSJ reporter, is warning of a potential upside surprise in January US CPI data due to seasonality.

Moreover, milder weather in January compared to December, as well as an upward swing in jobs, could mean demand pressures picked up further traction. Bloomberg consensus expects headline CPI to soften to 6.2% YoY from 6.5% YoY in December, while the MoM picks up to 0.5% from a revised +0.1% previously. January CPI data will be out today at 2130 SGT.

UK labor market data due today

The Bank of England hinted at the February meeting that the 50bps rate hike may have been their last. This week’s inflation, jobs and retail sales data will however be key to determine if another hike may be seen in March. Labor data is out on Tuesday, and expected to continue to show a tight labor market. The unemployment rate over the last quarter is likely to remain unchanged at 3.7% as per Bloomberg consensus while the employment gains are expected to pick up to 43k from 27k previously. Wage pressures are also expected to sustain with average weekly earnings up 6.2% YoY in the December quarter from 6.4% before.

Singapore’s budget today may look at post-Covid fiscal strategy

Singapore’s annual budget will be presented today and measures may be taken to phase out Covid-era stimulus as the economy looks to re-balance spending towards longer-term goals. Still, inflation remains high and the low-income groups will likely continue to get support. Still, long-term focus on green transition and digitization is likely to be a key theme. This could bring companies like Sembcorp and Keppel Corp into favor due to their push to reduce carbon emissions. EV adoption push is also likely, helping ComfortDelGrow due to their increasing fleet of EVs.

Lithium giant Albemarle earnings ahead

This week, the world's biggest lithium company, Albemarle reports earnings. Given its size and scale - with it selling to most EV makers including - Toyota, Ford, Mercedes, GM, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, Tesla and Renault – we think Albemarle will be a proxy for what we can expect from lithium companies' earnings. Consensus expects operating profits to have improved and rise to $1.05 billion. EBITDA is expected to grow to $1.22 billion, while net debt is expected to drop, with adjusted EPS forecast to grow to 8.19.

Coco-Cola reports today

Investors can get more information about the state of U.S. consumers and margin trends in consumer staples from the results and management’s comments on the business outlook from Coco-Cola (KO:xnys) today.

 

For what is 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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