What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
S&P 500 futures bounced back a bit yesterday potentially impacted by the July US retail sales showing that the consumer is holding up in nominal terms. The key market to watch for equity investors is the US Treasury market as the US 10-year yield seems to be on a trajectory to hit 3%. In this case we would expect a drop in S&P 500 futures to test the 4,200 level and if we get pushed higher in VIX above the 20 level then US equities could accelerate to the downside. Fed’s Bullard comments that he is leaning towards a 75 basis point rate hike at the September meeting should also negatively equities here relative to the expectations.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI.I) and China’s CSI300 (000300.I)
Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.4% and CSI300 was little changed. As WTI Crude bounced back above $90/brl, energy stocks outperformed, rising 2-4%. Technology names in Hong Kong gained with Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) up 0.6%. Investors are expecting Chinese banks to cut loan prime rates on Monday, following the central bank’s rate cut earlier this week. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) is looking at the quality of real estate loan portfolios and reviewing lending practices at some Chinese banks. The shares of NetEase (09999:xhkg/NTES:xnas) dropped more than 3% despite reporting above-consensus Q2 revenue up 13% y/y, and net profit from continuing operations up 28%. PC online game revenue was above expectations, driven by Naraka Bladepoint content updates and the launch of Xbox version. Mobile game segment performance was in line.
USD pairs as the USD rally intensifies
The US dollar rally is finding its legs after follow up action yesterday that took EURUSD below the key range low of 1.0100, setting up a run at the psychologically pivotal parity, while GBPUSD slipped well south of the key 1.2000 and USDJPY ripped up through 135.50 resistance. An accelerator of that move may be applied if US long treasury yields pull come further unmoored from the recent range and pull toward 3.00%+. A complete sweep of USD strength would arrive with a significant USDCNH move as discussed below, and the US dollar “wrecking ball” will likely become a key focus and driver of risk sentiment as it is the premiere measure of global liquidity. The next key event risk for the US dollar arrives with next Friday’s Jackson Hole symposium speech from Fed Chair Powell.
The exchange rate is trading at the highs of the cycle this morning, and all traders should keep an eye out here for whether China allows a significant move in the exchange rate toward 7.00, and particularly whether CNH weakness more than mirrors USD strength (in other words, if CNH is trading lower versus a basket of currencies), which would point to a more determined devaluation move that could spook risk sentiment globally, something we have seen in the past when China shows signs of shifting its exchange rate regime from passive management versus the USD.
Crude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2) remains on track for a weekly loss with talks of an Iran nuclear deal and global demand concerns being partly offset by signs of robust demand for fuel products. Not least diesel which is seeing increasing demand from energy consumers switching from punitively expensive gas. Earlier in the week Dutch TTF benchmark gas at one point traded above $400 per barrel crude oil equivalent. So far this month the EU diesel crack spread, the margin refineries achieve when turning crude into diesel, has jumped by more than 40% while stateside, the equivalent spread is up around 25%, both pointing to a crude-supportive strength in demand.
US natural gas
US natural gas (NGU2) ended a touch lower on Thursday after trading within a 7% range. It almost reached a fresh multi-year high at $9.66/MMBtu after spiking on a lower-than-expected stock build before attention turned to production which is currently up 4.8% y/y and cooler temperatures across the country lowering what until recently had driven very strong demand from utilities. LNG shipments out of Freeport, the stricken export plant may suffer further delays, thereby keeping more gas at home. Stockpiles trail the 5-yr avg. by 13%.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF)
The focus on US Treasury yields may be set to intensify if the 10-year treasury benchmark yield, trading near 2.90% this morning, comes unmoored from its recent range and trades toward 3.00%, possibly on the Fed’s increase in the pace of its quantitative tightening and/or on US economic data in the coming week(s). Yesterday’s US jobless claims data was better than expected and the August Philadelphia Fed’s business survey was far more positive than expected, suggesting expansion after the volatile Empire Fed survey a few days earlier posted a negative reading.
What is going on?
Global wheat prices continue to tumble
... with a record Russian crop, continued flows of Ukrainian grain and the stronger dollar pushing down prices. The recently opened corridor from Ukraine has so far this month seen more than 500,000 tons of crops being shipped, and while it's still far below the normal pace it has nevertheless provided some relief at a time where troubled weather has created a mixed picture elsewhere. The Chicago wheat (ZWZ2) futures contract touch a January on Thursday after breaking $7.75/bu support while the Paris Milling (EBMZ2) wheat traded near the lowest since March.
Existing home sales flags another red for the US housing market while other US economic data continues to be upbeat
US existing home sales fell in July for a sixth straight month to 4.81 mn from 5.11 mn, now at the slowest pace since May 2020, and beneath the expected 4.89 mn. Inventory levels again continued to be a big concern, with supply rising to 3.3 months equivalent from 2.9 in June. This continues to suggest that the weakening demand momentum and high inventory levels may weigh on construction activity. The Philly Fed survey meanwhile outperformed expectations, with the headline index rising to +6.2 (exp. -5.0, prev. -12.3), while prices paid fell to 43.6 (prev. 52.2) and prices received dropped to 23.3 (prev. 30.3). New orders were still negative at -5.1, but considerably better than last month’s -24.8 and employment came in at 24.1 from 19.4 previously
Fed speakers push for more rate hikes
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard 2.6% with more front-loading in 2022. Fed’s George, much like Fed’s Daly, said that last month’s inflation is not a victory and hardly comforting. Bullard and George vote in 2022. Fed’s Kashkari said that he is not sure if the Fed can avoid a recession and that there is more work to be done to bring inflation down, but noted economic fundamentals are strong. Overall, all messages remain old and eyes remain on Fed Chair Powell speaking at the Jackson Hole conference on August 26, next Friday.
Japan’s inflation came in as expected
Japan’s nationwide CPI for July accelerated to 2.6% y/y, as expected, from 2.4% y/y in June. The core measure was up 2.4% y/y from 2.2% previously, staying above the Bank of Japan’s 2% target and coming in at the strongest levels since 2008. Upside pressures remain as Japan continues to face a deeper energy crisis threat into the winter with LNG supplies possibly getting diverted to Europe for better prices. Still, Bank of Japan may continue to hold its dovish yield curve control policy unless wage inflation surprises consistently to the upside.
What are we watching next?
Strong US dollar to unsettle markets – and Jackson Hole Fed conference next week?
The US dollar continues to pull higher here, threatening the cycle highs versus sterling, the euro and on the comeback trail against the Japanese yen as well. The US dollar is a barometer of global liquidity, and a continued rise would eventually snuff out the improvement in financial conditions we have seen since the June lows in equity markets, particularly if longer US treasury yields are also unmoored from their recent range and rise back to 3.00% or higher. The focus on the strong US dollar will intensify should the USDCNH exchange rate, which has pulled to the highs of the cycle above 6.80, lurch toward 7.00 in coming sessions as it would indicate that China is unwilling to allow its currency to track USD direction. As well, the Fed seems bent on pushing back against market expectations for Fed rate cuts next year and may have to spell this out a bit more forcefully at next week’s Jackson Hole conference starting on Thursday (Fed Chair Powell to speak Friday).
Earnings to watch
The two earnings releases to watch today are from Xiaomi and Deere. The Chinese consumer is challenged over falling real estate prices and input cost pressures on food and energy, and as a result consumer stocks have been doing bad this year. Xiaomi is one the biggest sellers of smartphones in China and is expected to report a 20% drop in revenue compared to last year. Deere sits in the booming agricultural sector, being one of the biggest manufacturers of farming equipment, and analysts expect a 12% gain in revenue in FY22 Q3 (ending 31 July).
- Today: China Merchants Bank, CNOOC, Shenzhen Mindray, Xiaomi, Deere
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
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