What’s happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (NAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) reversed and fell over 1% on recession fears
U.S. equities opened higher initially as bond yields tumbled on a dovish Bank of Japan and much weaker than expected prints on U.S. retail sales, industrial production, and producer prices. Comments from the Fed’s Bullard in a Wall Street Journal interview about his preference of keeping the pace of rate hike at 50bps at the February FOMC triggered a reversal around mid-day and saw U.S. stocks plunge in the New York afternoon session. The weak economic data and the risk of the Fed overdoing it in rate hikes troubled equity investors. At the close of Wednesday, Nasdaq 100 fell 1.3% and S&P 500 slipped 1.6%. All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 declined, with the consumer staples sector falling the most to finish the session 2.7% lower. In the Fed’s Beige Book released on Wednesday, U.S. retailers said they were having difficulties in passing through costs increases to consumers. On individual stocks, PNC Financial Services (PNC:xnys) fell 6% on a larger-than-expected credit losses provision. Moderna (MRNA:xnas) gained 3.3% following release of positive trial results for a RSV virus vaccine.
US Treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) surged on dovish BoJ and weak economic data; the 10-year yield slid to 3.37%
Treasuries surged in price and yields collapsed on dovish outcomes from the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy meeting. The BoJ doubled down on monetary easing with an adjustment to its Funds-Supplying Operations against Pooled Collateral which enables it to lend cheaply to banks up to 10 years in maturity from only up to two years previously. Apparently, the BoJ aims at bringing down the elevated swap rates closer to the yields of JGBs. Treasury yields took a further dive in New York morning hours following the release of larger-than-expected declines in retail sales and industrial production as well as a bigger-than-expected 0.5% month-on-month fall in the Producer Price Index in December. The hawkish comments from Fed’s Bullard about keeping the February hike at 50bps did not have much of an impact on Treasuries despite being picked up as a reason to fade the rally in equities by traders. The result from the USD12 billion 20-year Treasury bond auction was strong. Treasury yields finished the Wednesday session with the 2-year 12bps richer at 4.08% and the 10-year 18bps richer at 3.37%, bringing the 2-10 curve more invested to -71bps.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIF3) ticked up and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) traded sideways
Hang Seng Index ticked up by 0.5% and CSI300 edged down by 0.2%. Online and mobile gaming names led in both the Hong Kong and mainland bourses. China released 88 new licenses of online/mobile games, including one title from Tencent (00700:xhkg), up 1.7%. and one title from NetEase (09999:xhkg), up 6.5%. Trading in other internet names, however, was mixed. Auto dealers were led lower by an 8.3% decline in Zhongseng (00881:xhkg). EV makers traded weakly, XPeng (09868”:xhkg) down 2.9%. In A-shares, food and beverage, beauty care, and construction materials led the decline while online gaming, computing, media, communication, and non-ferrous metal gained. Northbound net buying was over RMB4 billion, bringing the net buying in January to over RMB90 billion.
FX: Choppy dollar after BOJ
ECB’s Villeroy dismissed dovish ECB talks and says Lagarde guidance still valid, bumping up EUR higher but the gains were reversed later and EURUSD ended below 1.0800 again. EURGBP meanwhile testing a break below 0.8740 to near 1-month lows as UK core CPI came in hotter-than-expected. AUD and NZD were divergent with AUDNZD falling from highs of 1.0873 to lows of 1.0783. AUDUSD was slightly lower on weaker-than-expected employment data which saw unemployment rate rising to 3.5% while overall employment fell 14.6k compared to expectations of +25k, while last month’s employment gains were revised lower to 58.3k. NZDUSD however saw little reaction to reports of PM Arden’s resignation. USDJPY back below 129 after the BOJ-related volatility yesterday.
Crude oil (CLG3 & LCOH3) tumbled on sluggish US data and weak API build
Crude oil prices rose to fresh highs earlier on Wednesday before sliding in the NY hours. US data flow turned out to be grim with both retail sales and industrial production disappointing, sending recession concerns soaring. The International Energy Agency was also circumspect. It said the market faces immediate headwinds, with supply exceeding demand by about 1mb/d in Q1. Meanwhile, API reported that US crude stockpiles rose 7.6mn barrels for last week. WTI futures retreated from highs of $82+ to $79, while Brent was back below $85/barrel from highs of ~$88.
What to consider?
BOJ maintains policy unchanged, launches new tool to support bond market
The Bank of Japan left its policy levers unchanged at the January meeting, defying heavy market speculation of another tweak after the surprise in December. The announcement saw the yen plunge by over 2%, as the central bank said it would continue large-scale purchases of government bonds and increase it on a flexible basis as needed. The central bank, in a new measure to maintain yield control policy, also extended a loan offer to banks for funds of up to 10 years against collateral for both fixed- and variable-rate loans. Meanwhile, the BOJ still sees inflation getting back to sub-2% range this year. Core CPI estimate for FY2022 was only slightly raised to 3.0% for 2.9% previously, while the FY2023 estimate of 1.6% was maintained. In the press conference, BoJ Governor Kuroda said that the sustainable inflation goal is not yet in sight, suggesting low odds that he will declare victory on bringing back inflation before his exit in April.
Bad economic news is now bad news for the markets
US PPI fell 0.5% M/M in December, a deeper fall than the expected 0.1% decline, while the prior was downwardly revised to +0.2%; PPI Y/Y rose 6.2%, a big fall from the prior (downwardly revised) +7.3%, beneath the expected +6.8%. While slowing inflation continues to be a positive for the markets, concerns around slowing economic growth have started to bite as well. December US retail sales fell 1.1% M/M, deeper than the consensus 0.8% decline with a sizable downward revision for the prior to -1.0% from -0.6%. Industrial production fell 0.7% M/M in December, deeper than the consensus -0.1%, with the prior downwardly revised to -0.6% from -0.2%. Manufacturing output also declined by a larger 1.3%, deeper than expected -0.3% and the prior revised to -1.1% from -0.6%.
Fed speakers continue to be mixed, with the non-voters staying hawkish
Fed’s Bullard (non-voter) said his dot plot forecast for 2023 is just above the Fed's median of 5.1% at 5.25-5.50% and that Fed policy is not quite in restrictive territory, reiterating it needs to be over 5% at least. Bullard added the Fed should move as rapidly as it can to get over 5% and then react to data, noting his preference is for a 50bps hike at the next meeting (against the consensus 25bps). Loretta Mester (non-voter) said further rate hikes are still needed to decisively crush inflation and we are not at 5% yet, nor above it, which she thinks is going to be needed given her economic projections. She believes the Fed's key rate should rise a "little bit" above the 5.00-5.25% range that the Fed median implies. Harker (voter) said Fed needs to get FFR above 5%, but its good to approach the terminal rate slowly. Dallas President Lorie Logan (voter) spoke later as well, and also hinted at a slower pace of rate hikes. She said she wants a 25bp rate hike, not 50, at the February 1 FOMC meeting. She said if slower rate hike pace eases financial conditions, then the Fed can offset that by gradually raising rates to a higher level than previously expected.
UK CPI softens for a second straight month
UK Dec. CPI out this morning and slightly hotter than expectations as the headline rose +0.4% MoM and +10.5% year-on-year vs. +0.3%/+10.5% expected, respectively while the core CPI level rose +6.3% YoY vs. +6.2% expected and +6.3% in November. Sterling traded slightly firmer after the data.
P&G and Netflix report earnings today
On the earnings front, results from Procter & Gamble (PG:xnys) and Netflix (NFLX:xnas) will shed some light on global consumer strength. P&G reports Q4 earnings on Thursday before the market opens with analysts expecting revenue growth of -1.1% y/y and EPS of $1.59 down 4% y/y suggesting that volumes are being hit by inflation and that analysts expect P&G to see their operating margin decline q/q. The potential upside for P&G on its outlook is the reopening of China.
Netflix reports Q4 earnings on Thursday after the market close with analysts expecting revenue growth of 1.7% y/y as streaming services are still facing headwinds post the pandemic. EPS is expected at $0.51 down 67% y/y. The things to focus on for investors are user growth, updates on its advertising business, and user engagement figures relative to recent content launches.
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