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Market Insights Today: S&P500 down 2.8% on a decline in the U.S. unemployment rate – October 10, 2022

APAC Research

Summary:  S&P 500 plunged 2.8% following a decline of U.S. unemployment to 3.5% in September, signing a tight labor market and providing cover for the Fed to front-load larger rate hikes. U.S. treasury yields and the dollar continued to charge higher. The AUD dollar fell to a 2.5-year low. WTI crude jumped 5.4% as the OPEC+ production quota cut continued to linger. The U.S. tightened its restrictions on the export of semiconductor technology to China. Putin called an emergency meeting with his Security Council.

What is happening in markets?

Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) retreated on a hot labour market

After a stronger-than-expected payroll report and a decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5%, U.S. stocks slid throughout the session and managed only to bounce slightly from the lows toward the market close.  S&P 500 plunged 2.8%, with all 11 sectors of the benchmark declining.  The information technology and consumer discretionary sectors fell the most, down 4.1% and 3.5% respectively. On the back of a 5.4% jump in crude oil prices during the day, the energy sector was the best performer, losing only 0.7%. Nasdaq 100 tumbled 3.9%.  Advanced Micro Devices (AMD:xnas) fell the most among the NDX constituents, down 13.9%, following slashing over USD1 billion from its revenue guidance for Q3. Close behind was another semiconductor name, Marvel Technology, falling 11.7%. Intel (INTC:xnas) and NVIDIA (NVDA:xnas) plunged 5.4% and 8% respectively.  The Biden administration issued new rules to restrict American companies from exporting advanced chip equipment to China.  CVS Health (CVS:xnys) plunged 10.5% after being downgraded to a worse-than-average quality rating from Medicare Advantage’s Star Ratings and on its plan to acquire Cano Health (CANO:xnys).  Trading desk talks suggested large short-selling initiated in financials while short-covering was prevailing in the energy space. This week could be another pivotal moment for markets with the U.S. earnings season kicking off, the September FOMC minutes, and the US CPI.

U.S. treasury yields (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) climbed from 5bps to 7bps across the curve on the fall in the unemployment rate to 3.5%

U.S. treasuries sold off on the larger-than-expected +263K print of the non-farm payrolls and the 3.5% unemployment rate (vs 3.7% expected), with the belly of the curve being hit most.  5-year yields jumped 7bps to 4.14%, while 2-year yields climbed 5bps to 4.31% and 10-year yields moved up 6pbs to 3.88%.  The money market curve now prices in a 75bp hike almost a done deal for the November FOMC. The cash treasury bond market is closed on Monday for Columbus Day (but U.S. stock exchanges are open). 

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) fell in light volume with China property and EV stocks underperforming

Hang Seng Index sank for the second day in a row after the sharp rally on Wednesday, falling 1.5%. Chinese EV stocks tanked, with Li Auto (02015:xhkg) tumbling 14.8%, Nio (09866:xhkg) plunging 10.5%, and XPeng (09868:xhkg) moving down 6%. The collapse of EV stock prices contributed significantly to the 3.3% decline of the Hang Sent Tech Index (HSTECH.I).  Investors were concerned about the severe competition in the EV industry with new entrants to the market and rising battery costs.  China developer names plunged from 2% to 9% across the board as sentiment was clouded by CIFI’s (00884:xhkg) discussion with banks about posting an interest payment and a 2-notch downgrade to B3 (long-term rating) and Caa1 (senior unsecured debts) by Moody’s. CIFI and Longfor (00960:xhkg), each tumbled over 8%.  Turnover in the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong hit a new 2022 low at HKD57 billion. Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges were closed for the National Day holiday the whole last week and are returning today.  

Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) tipped to open the week lower, while focus remains on commodities

The ASX200 charged 4.5% last week outperforming global markets, with the rally being supported by commodity prices moving higher, including iron ore. On Monday the Futures indicate the market could fall 0.9% following Wall Street. Trading screens will likely be in the green (black) in the commodity sector, after the oil price rallied 4.7% to $92.62. A focus will also be on iron ore companies as after China’s markets reopen after a weeklong holiday, and China is the largest buyer of iron ore. It’s also worth noting the US listed BHP closed just 0.8% lower on Friday, outperforming US equites. Other stocks to watch might include; Karoon Energy (KAR), after Brazil agreed to lower the royalty rate on the company’s Bauna project. Core Lithium (CXO) and NRW Holdings (NWH) will also be in focus after NRW’s Primero won a contract for Core Lithium’s plant. And Tabcorp (TAH) will also be in view for traders, after investing $33 million for a 20% equity stake in Dabble Sports. 

The U.S. dollar climbed modestly on higher bond yields

Higher bond yields lifted the dollar, seeing DXY 0.4% higher to 112.795.  USDJPY hovered above 145 but is yet to make a decisive upward move again to test the resolve of Japan’s Ministry of Finance.  EURUSD weakened -.5% to 0.9744 and GBPUSD declined 0.7% to 1.1089.

The Australian dollar (AUDUSD) fell to a 2.5-year low, as the Fed gained more ammunition to hike

The AUD/USD fell 0.7% to 0.6361, which is its lowest level since April 2020. This follows the US jobs report coming out on Friday, which gives the Fed more ammunition to rise rates. Keep in mind, a currency generally appreciates when its central bank rises rates. This is in deeded one of the key reasons why the USD is marching up. And when you compare the Fed’s hawkishness to the RBA’s fresh dovish tone, it makes this currency pair an interesting one to watch, particularly with this week’s US economic data and Fed speeches on tap. On the weekly chart it could worth watching the support level at perhaps 0.61670.  

Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOX2) surged more than 5%

The front-month contract of WTI crude gained 5.4% to USD92.64 despite a modestly higher U.S. dollar. The production quota cut last Wednesday continued to provide support to crude prices.  Since OPEC+ announced the production quota cut, WTI crude oil prices have risen 7.7%.  While many news headlines say it is a production cut of 2 million barrels, we want to clarify here that the 2 million barrels number is referring to the quota, not production.  However, 15 out of the 23 oil-producing countries involved produced below their current levels of allocated quotas in September 2022. 13 of these oil-producing countries produced less oil in the last month than the reduced quotas to be implemented in November.  In other words, the reduced quotas will cut oil production in 10 countries if they adhere to cap the quota.  Having said that, the cut will still be about 1.3 million barrels a day effectively and it is still substantial, from Saudi Arabia (552,000 barrels), UAE (171,000 barrels), Iran (150,000 barrels), Kuwait (144,000 barrels), Libya (100,000 barrels), Iraq (69,000 barrels), Algeria (43,000 barrels), Gabon (28,000 barrels), South Sudan (21,000 barrels, and Oman (21,000 barrels).


What to consider?

US Unemployment Rate fell 0.2 percentage points to 3.5%

Nonfarm payroll growth lowered to +263K in September, down from August’s +315K but slightly above the median forecast of +255K of Bloomberg’s survey.  Major areas of strength in the establishment report (i.e. payrolls) were healthcare, leisure, and hospitality while trade and transportation employment was weak. The market moving part in the cluster of data was the 0.2pp decline in the unemployment rate to 3.5% in September from 3.7% in August which the market had expected unchanged at 3.7%.  Part of the fall in the unemployment rate was attributed to a 0.1pp decline in the labor force participation rate to 62.3% from 62.4%. Investors and trades are concerned about the inability of the participation rate to sustain its rally toward 63 or higher so as to dampen upward pressure on wages. Average hourly earnings came in as expected at +0.3% M/M and +5% Y/Y. 

FedEx’s ground delivery unit expects a slower volume ahead

FedEx Ground, the ground delivery unit of FedEx (FDX:xnys) said in a statement that they are expecting “weakening macroeconomic conditions are causing volume softness. The unit is working with its customers on the latter’s projected shipping needs and making adjustments. 

The U.S. tightened restrictions on exporting semiconductor equipment, components, and high-end chips to China

The U.S. Department of Commerce rolled out new regulations last Friday to prohibit American companies from exporting to Chinese companies advanced semiconductor equipment and components that can be used to make equipment without first applying for a license from the Department of Commerce effective immediately. The Department of Commerce’s new rules bans U.S. persons from providing support to the development or production of semiconductors at Chinese semiconductor facilities without a license from the Department of Commerce.  The Department of Commerce also tightened the Foreign Direct Product Rule to restrict China from obtaining advanced microchips that can be used in supercomputers and artificial intelligence applications from American companies as well as foreign companies that rely on American technologies.

Tourism data was weak for the National Day Golden Week holiday in China

According to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, domestic trips and revenues for the period from Oct 1 to 7 were 18.2% and 26.2% lower than those in the same period last year respectively.  According to estimates from the Ministry of Transport, the aggregate number of passenger trips via roads, railways, waterways and aviation from Oct 1 to 7 was 255.5 million trips or 36.5 million trips per day on average, which was 36.4% lower than that in 2021.

Putin is chairing a meeting with his Security Council on Monday

Russian President Putin is going to chair a meeting with the permanent members of the Russian Security Council today. It was apparently in response to the explosion two days ago that seriously damaged the Kerch bridge which links Crimea with Russia.  

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