What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
US equities are scratching around after the enormous sell-off triggered by the hot US CPI release on Tuesday. Some of the scale of the volatility on Tuesday could be due to options exposures, as options of trillions of dollars on notional equities and futures expire on Friday. If the US August Retail Sales release today leads to even higher yields, stocks could find themselves under renewed pressure. The technical focus is on the recent pivot lower just below 3,900 in the S&P 500 and the 12,000 area low in the Nasdaq 100 index.
USD strength continues, threatens cycle highs
A bit of consolidation yesterday in USD pairs after the huge comeback strengthening move in the US dollar in the wake of the Tuesday US August CPI release, but the USD rallied anew from late yesterday and overnight, with the action pinned near the cycle highs in some USD pairs, such as USDSEK, USDNOK and NZDUSD, but elsewhere with a bit of range left to play with. The August Retail Sales release today should garner attention as a strong number could underline the risk of higher US yields and a Fed tightening cycle that extends longer and higher than currently expected if US consumers are getting a second wind after the shock of higher gasoline prices has eased notably since the beginning of the summer. USDJPY has rebounded from yesterday’s lows as traders treat JPY crosses with care, knowing that new highs in the key USDJPY pair are likely to bring actual market intervention from the Bank of Japan/Ministry of Finance.
Gold trades below $1700 and close to an area around $1680 that has provided support on several occasions during the past two years. The yellow metal turned lower after Tuesday’s CPI shocker raised the prospect of a one percent rate hike next week and a terminal Fed Funds target rate around 4.5% (up 2% from the current level) before March next year. Developments and speculation that continue to underpin the dollar while undermining dollar denominated commodities, such as precious and industrial metals.
Crude oil (CLV2 & LCOX2)
Crude oil trades sideways with the stronger dollar and expectations for higher US rates hurting the prospect for future demand being offset by news that China’s Chengdu, locked down for weeks, plans to ease measures. The impact of China’s zero-Covid tolerance strategy this year has led to the biggest drop in oil demand in more than three decades according to the IEA. In their latest monthly oil market report, they predicted a continued slowdown in global demand ahead of year-end before accelerating to rise by 2.7 million barrels a day in 2023. Oil market tightness at the beginning of 2023 would be led by a potential 1.9 million barrels Year on year drop in Russian production by February due to sanctions.
US natural gas
US natural gas trades back above $9 per MMBtu and up 13% on the week as a looming rail strike (see below) would reduce supplies of coal, forcing power generators to rely more heavily on natural gas at a time where demand for cooling remains elevated due to expectations for hotter-than-normal weather across the Midwest and Eastern parts of the US.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF)
US 10-year yields are now pinned at the highs for the cycle near 3.50% ahead of today’s US August Retail Sales release. Interesting to see how the market treats a strong data point – with a deepening inversion as the market prices a more aggressive Fed (as happened on the surprisingly strong CPI release Tuesday) or with the entire curve lifting. Exceptionally weak data would also be interesting as it would challenge the rising yields trend/narrative.
What is going on?
U.S. inflation remains broad-based
The producer price index (PPI) dipped 0.1 % month-over-month in August. This reflects cheaper gasoline prices (minus 13 % in August compared to July) and to a lesser extent lower freight costs. However, less volatile elements of the index rose more than expected. The core price index was up 0.4 % on a monthly basis. The numbers like those seen in Tuesday’s US CPI report confirm that U.S. inflation is still broad-based and inflation pressures are unbroken. This opens the door to a new interest rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve next week. The majority of the market expects a 75 basis point hike but a minority (between 10 % and 20 % of market participants depending on which indicators we monitor) bet on a 100 basis point hike in the cards.
Chinese cities move to boost housing demand
Local governments across China have moved to encourage property demand after the Chinese central government called for measures to ease the crisis. Some 120 have loosened restrictions on funds for property purchases. This news supported beleaguered Chinese developers’ stocks in trading on Thursday.
The second-largest cryptocurrency, Ethereum, is very close to its expected Merge, scheduled to be within the next hour. Ethereum will go through a major upgrade which fundamentally changes the way that transactions are validated on the blockchain, and it will reduce the energy consumption for running the network with around 99.95%.
What are we watching next?
Looming rail worker strike in the United States
The two largest railroad trade unions said they will strike if the ongoing negotiations with employers about higher salaries and better work conditions fail. The strike could start as early as tomorrow and could have a very negative impact on the U.S. economy. Estimates suggest this could cost the economy nearly $2bn per day. In the United States, rail freight represents almost a third of the total domestic freight.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting today and tomorrow
This is the first time since 2019 that Asian leaders are meeting in person in a bigger strategic forum. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are officially joining the summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and India’s Modi is expected to join as well. Given the recent Ukrainian military success against Russia, the pressures are mounting on Russia and Putin, which will test a Russian-China "friendship” that at a meeting of Xi and Putin during the Beijing Olympics and just ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was declared to be “entering a new era” and “without limits”.
Earnings to watch
Today, focus is firmly on Adobe’s earnings report today after the close. The company has seen a wild ride in recent years, pumped to remarkable heights by late 2021 due to its steady solid growth and high profitability with a backdrop of seemingly ever falling yields, only to see the share price crushed in half since its 2021 peak, first due to the seismic shift higher in yields, but compounded by faltering growth rates for the company starting two quarters ago.
- Today: Polestar Automotive, Adobe
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0900 – Eurozone Jul. Trade Balance
- 0915 – ECB's Guindos to speak
- 1230 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims
- 1230 – US Sep. Empire Manufacturing
- 1230 – US Aug. Retail Sales
- 1430 – EIA's Natural Gas Storage Change
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