What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
The market initially took the hawkish FOMC rate and inflation projections at face value last night, plunging sharply, if briefly, before rebounding slightly into the close. The trading ranges for the main indices are generally sandwiched in a narrow zone between important support and resistance. In the case of the S&P 500, the upside range high is clearly marked at just above 4,100, while the downside support level comes in the 3,900-20 area.
FX: The USD merely churned around with little conviction on latest hawkish Fed blast
The new FOMC monetary policy statement and economic and policy projections (more below) were hawkish as the Fed raised the median policy forecast for the end of next year to above 5%, but after a volatile reaction, traders decided they were unimpressed and the US dollar largely fell back to where it was trading ahead of the meeting as only the shortest part of the yield curve was marked slightly higher in recognition of the Fed’s hawkishness and risk sentiment stabilized. If the market is willing to ignore Fed guidance, what should we expect from the market’s treatment of today’s central bank meetings? Watching USDJPY cycle lows and the 200-day moving average where the pair is sticky (currently near 135.65) and the cycle top in EURUSD just ahead of 1.0700 after yesterday’s stab at posting new highs.
Crude oil (CLF3 & LCOG3)
Crude oil trades softer ahead of the reopening of a key pipeline in the US and following a strong session on Wednesday where prices found support after the IEA warned that prices may rise next year as sanctions squeeze Russian exports. It expects its output will fall by 14% by the end of the first quarter. It also increased estimates for global demand by 300kb/d, in a nod to China’s reopening and more gas-to-oil switching. Overall crude consumption is expected to rise 1.7mb/d next year to average 101.6mb/d. China’s reopening and a weaker US dollar despite the Fed’s hawkish shift in the dot plot also underpinned prices, while the unexpectedly large 10mb increase in US inventories and signs of slowing demand for gasoline and diesel were shrugged off. Both Brent and WTI are now facing resistance at the 21-day average, at $83.25/b and $77.80/b respectively.
Gold (XAUUSD) was little changed after the FOMC raised its terminal rate forecast
... and Fed Chair Powell said the central bank isn’t close to ending its battle against inflation. Supported by ten-year US yields holding steady around 3.5%, the most inverted yield curve in four decades on recession angst and the dollar trading near a six-month low. However, following a 180-dollar rally during the past five weeks and after struggling to break resistance around $1808 this week, the metal increasingly looks ripe for a period of consolidation which may see it drift lower towards $1745, the 38.2% retracement of the run up since early November. A correction of this magnitude may setup an eventual and potential healthier and robust attempt to break higher.
US treasury yields underwhelmed by FOMC meeting (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas)
The FOMC accompanying projection materials saw the Fed projecting significantly higher inflation for 2023 than expected, and a higher median Fed Funds rate projection just north of 5%. This sparked a sharp reaction in Treasury yields, with the 2-year rising more than 10 basis points briefly before sawing that move in half, while the 10-year yield only rose about 5 bps before wilting back just below 3.50%. Incoming data will set to the tone from here as the market was largely unmoved by the Fed’s rather bold rate projections of its policy rate and inflation for 2023 in last night’s FOMC meeting.
What is going on?
FOMC sets the terminal rate forecast at 5.1%, above market expectations
The Fed voted unanimously to lift the Federal Funds Rate target by 50bps to 4.25-4.50%, as expected, downshifting the pace of rate hikes. While the statement was broadly unchanged, the updated economic projections showed Fed Funds at 5.125% by December 2023 and core PCE still at 3.5% by that time. That implies 75bps of more tightening in this cycle, which will be seen in 2023, but the markets are still pricing in a peak rate of 4.87%. After that point, the dot plot is far more distributed, but the median projects the Federal Funds Rate target at 4.1% by the end of 2024, suggesting 100bps of rate cuts. Equities did see a negative reaction to the upside surprise in terminal rate projections, but this may remain short-lived as markets remain focused on incoming data. Bond markets had little reaction to the Fed’s updated dot plot. The dollar fell.
Australia employment report better-than-expected
Australia’s November employment rose 64k, higher than the +19k estimate and more than the revised +43k gains for October. The jobless rate was steady at 3.4% and participation rate came out higher to return to the record highs of 66.8% (vs. estimate 66.6%). The strength in the labor market will continue to provide room to the Reserve Bank of Australia to continue with its modest rate hikes, after it has already downshifted to a smaller rate hike trajectory.
New Zealand Q3 GDP comes in above expectations
A big positive surprise in NZ Q3 GDP which came in at 2.0% Q/Q sa vs expectations of 0.9% and higher than last quarter’s revised 1.9%. With the possibility of a recession in 2023 highlighted yesterday, this print suggests that there is a substantial amount of work left to be done by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to dampen demand in order to curb inflation.
What are we watching next?
The Bank of England may remain more divided than the other major central banks
The Bank of England is also expected to follow the Fed and the ECB and downshift to a smaller rate hike this week, but the decision will likely see a split vote. A host of key data, including GDP, employment and inflation will be due this week in the run up to the BOE decision, and significant positive surprises could tilt the market pricing more in favour of a larger move which also creates a bigger risk of disappointment from the central bank. Headline annualised inflation advanced to 11.1% Y/Y in October, while the core rate remained at an elevated level of 6.5%. Consensus expects inflation to cool slightly to 10.9% Y/Y in November, but the core to remain unchanged at 6.5% Y/Y. Wage pressures are also likely to be sustained, and the cooling in the labor market will remain gradual.
ECB is also likely to downshift to a smaller rate hike
The European Central Bank (ECB) is also expected to slow down its pace of rate hikes to a 50bps increase this week. Headline inflation eased slightly in November, coming in at 10.0% YoY (exp. 10.4%) but was overshadowed by an unexpected rise in core inflation of 6.6% YoY (exp. 6.3%, prev. 6.4%). While there is likely to remain some split in ECB members at this week’s meeting, the central bank’s Chief Economist Lane remains inclined to take into account the scale of tightening done so far. There is also uncertainty on the announcement of quantitative tightening.
Bank of Japan policy review speculation gathers further pace
Some reports suggested that the BOJ could review policy next year, after pay growth and any slowdown in the global economy are closely examined. The results of spring wage negotiations come in mid-March, after Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's final policy meeting, so an assessment would probably be done after he departs. The review could reaffirm the existing ultra-loose framework, but possibility of some tweaks to the yield curve control policy remains as inflationary pressures remain a concern.
Norges Bank and Swiss National Bank also up this morning
The Swiss National Bank is expected to hike another 50 basis points, taking its policy rate to 1.00%, with little anticipation of pointed guidance coming into this meeting as Swiss inflation has peaked at 3.50% for the cycle and was 3.0% for the most recent print. The Norges Bank, meanwhile, seems more interested in signaling that policy tightening is set to cease and may indicate that today’s expected 25 basis point hike to 2.75% could be the last for now as it is concerned about weakness in the “mainland” (non-oil & gas) economy after the worst Regions Survey outlook since the global financial crisis.
Earnings to watch
The big name reporting today is Adobe Inc., the former high-flyer that trade north of 700 before rolling over to below 300 on the rise in interest rates and as its steady pace of top-line growth decelerated in recent quarters. The stock closed yesterday at 339. Many highly-valued growth stocks have been extremely sensitive to both execution for the current quarter and revenue expectations for the coming quarter, so traders should brace for this earnings report after market hours today.
- Today: Adobe
- Friday: Accenture, Darden Restaurants
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0830 – Switzerland SNB Policy Rate Announcement
- 0900 – Switzerland SNB press conference
- 0900 – Norway Norges Bank Deposit Rate announcement
- 1200 – UK Bank of England Rate Announcement
- 1315 – Eurozone ECB Rate Announcement
- 1315 – Canada Nov. Housing Starts
- 1330 – US Dec. Empire Manufacturing
- 1330 – US Nov. Retail Sales
- 1330 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims
- 1330 – US Dec. Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook
- 1345 – Eurozone ECB Press Conference
- 1415 – US Nov. Industrial Production
- 1530 – EIA's Natural Gas Storage Change
- 1900 – Mexico Rate Announcement
- 0001 – UK Dec. GfK Consumer Confidence
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