What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
Further weakness in US equities with the S&P 500 futures posting a new lower close for the cycle and continuing down this morning trading around the 3,770 level. The next big level to watch on the downside is 3,740 in S&P 500 futures which was the big support level multiple times back in July. US equities are naturally being dragged lower from the US bond yields pushing higher with the US 10-year yield rallying to 3.71% the highest since early 2010. In addition, the US leading indicators for August were weakening further with the y/y index pushing into the most negative level since the Great Financial Crisis excluding the dip during the pandemic suggesting the US economy could slip into a recession within the next 6-9 months.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was at 11-year lows yesterday amid the massive global tightening as well as rising geopolitical tensions. HSI later recovered some of the losses to end the day down 1.6%. Hong Kong's de facto central bank mirrored the tightening and raised its base lending rate by 75 basis points to 3.5% with immediate effect. Hong Kong’s banks have waited through five rounds of rate hikes this year before moving. More pain is in store for Hong Kong’s borrowers, as the HKMA has been conducting its monetary policy in lockstep with the Fed since 1983 to maintain the local currency’s peg to the US dollar. EV shares tumbled with XPeng down 11.6% and Nio falling 7.5%. The property sector continued to show weakness, with NWD down 3.4%. Meanwhile, CSI300 ended the day down 0.9%.
USDJPY volatile on BoJ intervention
Japan’s first market intervention to support the yen in over two decades came right after a hawkish FOMC and a steady policy decision by the Bank of Japan, with the widening yield differential between the US and Japan continuing to weigh on the Japanese yen. The intervention announcement came as USDJPY surged above 145 – the level that has been the line in the sand for last several weeks – and pair dropped to 140.36 over the next few hours. But as with most unilateral interventions, the effect was short-lived and USDJPY returned to 142+ levels subsequently, just as we had expected here. More steps remain likely, and the US Treasury said it understood Tokyo's move, but stopped short of endorsing it.
EURCHF ignored the intervention warnings
EURCHF surged to 0.9700+ levels from 0.9465 after the SNB’s 75bps rate hike remained short of market’s expectation of a 100bps move. USDCHF also moved higher to touch 0.9850 from sub-0.9650 levels, but that was helped by a weaker US dollar following Japan’s intervention to defend the yen. With higher inflation forecasts, one can argue that there will be more room for the SNB to raise rates, and the CHF’s haven status could also come to its rescue as the case for economic slowdown gets stronger with the massive global tightening being delivered.
Gold (XAUUSD) holding up despite the dollar and yield strength
Gold has held up well despite multiple rate hikes and the dollar reaching multi-year highs against several major currencies. By continuing to raise interest rates while also raising expectations for lower growth and rising unemployment the FOMC is signaling a recession is a price worth paying for getting inflation under control. Putin’s increasingly desperate measures and threats regarding his war in Ukraine has helped support gold and shield it from losses but geopolitical support aside, the yellow metal may struggle as long yields continue to rise and the market continues to price inflation sub 3% in a year from now. Resistance has moved to $1690 while below $1654, last week's low, the market may target the 50% retracement of the 2018 to 2020 rally at $1618.
Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOX2)
Crude oil remains stuck near the lower end of its recent tight range with the Powell versus Putin battle (demand versus supply) not having a clear winner so far. Brent and WTI are nevertheless both heading for a small fourth weekly loss as the global economic outlook grows darker following a week where central banks around the world, led by the US Fed continued to apply the brakes through rate hikes in order to curb runaway inflation. A difficult and potentially volatile quarter awaits with multiple and contradictory uncertainties having their say in the direction. WTI support at $82 and $87.50 in Brent.
Wheat futures jump driven by Ukraine and weather concerns
Chicago and Paris wheat futures, two of the best performing commodities markets this week, trade at a two-month high supported by risks of a deepening conflict in Ukraine putting the UN supported grain export corridor at risk, and dry weather in crop areas of Argentina and the U.S. Plains. This despite a forecast from the International Grains Council pointing to an increased 2022/23 global wheat production. Paris Milling wheat (EBMZ2) reached €350 per ton on Thursday with support now the previous triple top at €340 per ton. In Chicago the December wheat contract (ZWZ2) reached a $9.22 per bushel high but for a second day in a row failed to close above the 200-day moving average at $9.16 per bushel.
US treasuries (TLT, IEF)
A key day for longer US treasuries yesterday, with the US 10-year treasury benchmark closing nearly 20 basis points higher yesterday to a prominent new cycle high above 3.70%. Perhaps the most interesting development was that the move sharply steepened the US yield curve, with the 2-10 slope rising to -41 bps from below -50 bps the day before. Are markets concerned the Fed cycle will extend for longer, that more treasury supply will be coming from the Fed’s QT picking up pace or from the Bank of Japan selling treasuries to fund intervention, that the US growth outlook is actually more positive than previously thought or all of the above? Whatever the cause, US long treasury yields are likely to prove a key driver across markets as long as they continue to rise to new cycle highs.
What is going on?
US jobless claims suggest a resilient labor market
Initial jobless claims marginally rose to 213k from the revised lower 208k but it was beneath the expected 218k. Meanwhile, continued claims fell to 1.379mn (prev. 1.401mn), also lower than the consensus 1.4mln, and dipped beneath 1.4mln for the first time since mid-July. While the strength in the labor market remains intact given the large number of open positions in the American job market, some moderation can be expected in the coming months with the rapid pace of tightening and still-strained supply chains affecting output. However, as the Fed noted yesterday, the pace of rate hikes is set to continue despite some economic and labor market pain.
SNB delivers a 75bps rate hike
The 75 bps rate hike by the Swiss National Bank lifted the policy rate out of NIRP to 0.50% but disappointed the markets which had started to look for a 100bps rate hike. Guidance that additional rate hikes cannot be ruled out was also accompanied by repeating guidance that they are willing to intervene in FX markets as necessary with Chairman Jordan subsequently stressing, they are ready to step in to prevent excessive weakening or strengthening of the Franc.
Bank of England goes for a dovish 50bps as recession concerns imminent
While the consensus was looking for a 50bps rate hike from the Bank of England, market had started to price in a case for 75bps rate hike as well and so the decision to hike rates by 50bps was a slight disappointment. More so, the decision was not unanimous with three members supporting a 75bps move and one calling for a smaller 25bps move. However, the BoE confirmed that they are going to reduce their holdings of government bonds by GBP 80bln over the next 12 months, although the schedule remains open to amendments. Additionally, the BoE retained its guidance that they will continue to “respond forcefully” as necessary to inflation and while the peak forecast was reduced vs August’s update, it remains elevated and well above target. Finally, the Bank has downgraded its view on the UK economy in the near-term, Q3 2022 is now expected to see GDP declining by 0.1% (vs August projection of +0.4%), for a second quarter of contraction; a forecast which, if confirmed by the ONS release, implies the economy is already in a technical recession.
Global container shipping rates are in free fall
The collapse in global container shipping rates is gathering pace with the Drewry Composite down 10% on the week to $4,472 per 40 feet box, and lowest since Dec 2020. Down 57% from the Sept 21 peak but still three times higher than the pre-pandemic average, suggesting further downside as the global economy continues to lose steam. All the major China to US and EU routes have slumped.
Costco earnings are strong
Costco reported fourth quarter earnings results that beat average analysts' forecast, with total revenue hitting $72bn vs est. $70.3bn. It comes as fourth quarter membership fees rose 7.5% y/y to $1.33bn and accounted for 2% of the retailer's revenue. Although the company typically raises membership fees every five to six years (with its last fee increase in June 2017), Costco held off on rising fees “at this time”. Costco flagged that it sees some beginnings in the inflation situation improving, while it also expects to sell an overstock of holiday goods this season, which was left over from last year. The retailer said that the biggest cost pressures were now in labour expenses.
General Mills, the best performer in the S&P500 this week
The US biggest wheat producer General Mills has outperformed the S&P500 this week and risen 7.4% due to a much better than expected earnings release and strong wheat prices recently related to Russia’s escalation in its war in Ukraine.
AUDNZD hit a new high after NZ trade balance disappointed again
AUDNZD rallied to fresh 9-year high at 1.1371 with the next potential target in focus being the 2015 high at 1.1430. The uptrend continued after NZ reported its trade balance worsened in August trade data after NZ’s imports accelerated while exports have declined. The deficit in NZ Trade Balance widened further to -$12.28B vs. the prior release of -$11.97B on an annual basis. This is a stark contrast to Australia, which is reporting record surpluses in its trade balance, due to exporting record amounts of coal.
What are we watching next?
Eurozone PMIs on the card to gauge how hawkish ECB can get
Eurozone PMIs are likely to dip further into contractionary territory as energy price hikes weigh on spending and business plans. Manufacturing PMIs are likely to ease to 48.8 in September from 49.6 previously, and services are expected to fall to 49.1 from 49.8, according to Bloomberg consensus estimates. A weaker-than-expected number could temper the hawkish ECB bets for the October meeting.
Chicago Fed National Activity Index and US financial conditions
With US leading indicators y/y dipping into the most negative territory since the Great Financial Crisis excluding the dip during the pandemic, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index and US financial conditions updates for August and latest week respectively are important to watch for equity sentiment.
Earnings calendar this week
Today’s earnings focus is Carnival reporting FY22 Q3 results (ending 31 August) with revenue expected to rise 800% y/y to $4.9bn as the cruise line industry is coming back from years of subdued demand due to the pandemic.
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0715-0800 France, Germany, Eurozone Flash September Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 0830 - UK Sep. Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 1230 - Canada Jul. Retail Sales
- 1345 – US Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 1800 - US Fed Chair Powell to speak at event
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