Equities: New extremes and a challenging opportunity set
Discover insights on the future of equity markets in Q1 2024 and navigate the potential recession with strategic investment choices.
Summary: Another downside surprise in US inflation in the wake of lower energy prices lifted the equity markets initially overnight. However, sustained hawkishness from Fed speakers brought the yields higher, weighing on equities which closed nearly flat in the US. Crude oil prices made a strong recovery with the IEA boosting the global growth forecast for this year. EURUSD stayed above 1.0300 and will be eying the University of Michigan report today along with UK’s Q2 GDP.
After rising well over 1% in early trading amid the weaker-than-expected PPI prints, U.S. equities wiped out gains and closed lower, S&P 500 -0.07%, Nasdaq 100 -0.65%. Energy stocks were biggest gainers, benefiting from a 2.6% rally in the price of WTI crude, Devon Energy (DVN:xnys) +7.3%, Marathon Oil (MRO:xnys) +7%, Schlumberger (SLB:xnys) +5.7%. Consumer discretionary and technology were the biggest decliners on Thursday. Chinese ADRs gained, Nasdaq Golden Dragon Index climbed 2.6%.
In spite of weaker-than-expected PPI data, U.S. long-end treasury yields soared, 10-year yields +10bps to 2.89%, 30-year yields +14bps to 3.17%. The rise in long-end yields were initially driven by large blocks of selling in the T-bond and Ultra-long contracts and exacerbated in the afternoon after a poor 30-year auction. The yield of 2-year treasury notes was unchanged and the 2-10-year yield curve steepened 10bps to minus 33bps.
Hong Kong and mainland Chinese equities surged, Hang Seng Index +2.4%, CSI300 Index +2.0%. Northbound inflows into A shares jumped to a 2-month high of USD1.9 billion.
In anticipation of a 15% rise in the average selling price of Apple’s iPhone 14 as conjectured by analysts, iPhone parts supplier stocks soared in both Hong Kong and mainland exchanges, Q Technology (01478:xhkg) +17.7%, Sunny Optical (02382:xhkg) +9%, Cowell E (01415:xhkg) +4%, Lingyi iTech (002600:xsec) +10%. China internet names rebounded, Alibaba (09988:xhkg) +4.3%, Tencent (00700:xhkg) +2.7%, Meituan (03690:xhkkg) +4.0%, Baidu (09888:xhkg) +5.2%.
Power tool and floor care manufacturer, Techtronic Industries (00669:xhkg) soared nearly 11% after reporting a 10% year-on-year growth in both revenues and net profits in 1H22. The company rolled out a new generation of drill drivers that have embedded with machine learning algorithm.
After collapsing 16% in share price yesterday, Longfor (00960) managed to stabilize and recover 5.7% following the company’s refutation of market speculation that it had failed to repay commercial papers due.
EURUSD reclaimed the key 1.0300 on Thursday amid a softer dollar, and printed highs of 1.0364. While weaker-than-expected inflation prints in the US this week have curtailed dollar strength, it is hard for EURUSD to sustain gains amid the energy crisis and European recession concerns. A break below 1.0250 would be needed for EURUSD to reverse the trend, however. AUDUSD, likewise, trades above 0.7100 amid the risk on tone, but a turn lower in equities could reverse the trend. GBPUSD has been more range-bound around 1.2200 ahead of the Q2 GDP data scheduled to be released today, and EURGBP may be ready to break above 0.8470 resistance if the numbers come out weaker-than-expected.
Crude oil prices gained further on Thursday amid signs of softer inflation, weaker dollar and improving demand. The International Energy Agency (IEA) lifted its consumption estimate by 380 kb/d, saying soaring gas prices amid strong demand for electricity is driving utilities to switch to oil. This could be aided by lower gasoline prices, which have dented demand during the US driving season. Prices fell below USD4/gallon for the first time since March. Meanwhile, OPEC may struggle to raise output in coming months due to limited spare capacity. WTI futures touched $94/barrel while Brent futures rose towards the 100-mark.
US July PPI dipped into negative territory to come in at -0.5% MoM, much cooler than 1% last month or the +0.2% expected. But on a YoY basis, PPI remains up a shocking 9.8%. Core PPI rose 0.4% MoM, which means on a YoY basis core producer prices are up 7.6% (lower than June's +8.2% but still near record highs). Goods PPI fell 1.8%, dominated by a 9.0% drop in energy. Meanwhile, services PPI was up 0.1% in July. Despite the slowdown in both PPI and CPI this week, PPI is still 1.3% points above CPI, suggesting margin pressures and a possible earnings recession. Fed’s Daly said she will be open to a 75bps rate hike at the September meeting.
US initial jobless claims 262K vs 265K estimate, notably higher than the 248k the prior week and the highest since November 2021. The 4-week moving average of initial jobless claims increased to 252K vs 247.5K last week, but still below 350k levels that can cause an alarm. The modest pickup in claims suggests that turnover at weaker firms is increasing. Key data to watch today is the preliminary University of Michigan survey for August, where expectations are for a modest improvement given lower gasoline prices.
In its 2nd quarter monetary policy report released on Wednesday, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) expects the CPI being at around 3% for the full year of 2022 and at times exceeding 3%. The release of pend-up demand from pandemic restrictions, the upturn of the hog-cycle, and imported inflation, in particular energy, are expected to drive consumer price inflation higher for the rest of the year in China but overall within the range acceptable by the central bank. The PBOC expects the recent downtrend of the PPI to continue and the gap between the CPI and PPI growth rates to narrow. The PBOC reiterates that it will avoid excessive money printing to spur growth so as to safeguard against inflation.
The Guardian reports that President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Saudi Arabia on an invitation extended from Riyadh in March. China has been eager to secure its oil supply and explore the possibility of getting its sellers to accept the renminbi to settle oil trade. While relying on the United States for security in a volatile region and supplies of weapons, Saudi Arabia with Prince Mohammed being in charge is looking for leverage in the kingdom’s relationship with the United States.
The Q2 GDP in the UK is likely to show a contraction after April was down 0.2% and May up 0.5%. June GDP is likely to have seen a larger contraction given less working days in the month, as well as constrained household spending as inflation surged to a fresh record high. While there may be a growth recovery in the near-term, the Bank of England clearly outlined a recession scenario from Q4 2022 and that would last for five quarters. Our Macro Strategist Chris Dembik has painted a rather pessimistic picture of the UK economy.
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