What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
S&P 500 futures rallied 0.7% after a weak Tuesday’s session in a strong signal that the market remains upbeat about growth prospects and inflation cooling. US equities are still stuck in an odd range with moving averages of different lengths pointing in all directions. The key trading focus is tomorrow’s CPI report and whether the market dares to extend momentum into the report. Tuesday’s intraday high in S&P 500 futures at 3,973 is naturally the hard resistance level on the upside.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIF3) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
The Hang Seng Index resumed its uptrend to make a new recent high to trade above 21600, up more than 1% from yesterday and a level last seen in July last year. China’s Lunar New Year travel season started last Saturday 7 January with 9,454 flights or a 2.3% growth from the first day of the same travel season last year. The number of daily flights increased to 10,123 on 8 January, a 13.7% increase from the same period last year and above 10,000 for the first time since August 2022. Other high frequency data also showing increases in inter-city travelling. Chinese mega cap internet names led the charge higher, with Alibaba (09988:xhkg) and Tencent (00700:xhkg) gaining over 3%. Coal miner, China Shenhua Energy (01088:xhkg), rising by 5.6%, was the top winner within the Hang Seng Index. Mainland China’s CSI300 was flat. Coal mining, oil and gas exploration and development, and property management services stocks gained.
FX: USD dips on rebounding risk sentiment ahead of December CPI data Thursday
Lack of data and any relevant commentary in Fed Chair Powell’s short comments at a conference of central bankers yesterday saw the USD easing lower by this morning as risk sentiment rebounded. EURUSD was the outperformer, with better growth outlook underpinning, but it continued to find resistance at 1.0760. USDJPY is back above 132 amid higher yields, while AUDUSD rose back above 0.69 following the higher-than-expected Australian November CPI print released overnight. USDCNH also still below 6.7900. Tomorrow’s US December CPI release will prove important in confirming or rejecting the recent USD weakening move.
Crude oil (CLG3 & LCOH3) choppy amid China optimism and inventory build
Crude oil prices continue to pivot around $80 per barrel in Brent and $75 in WTI as the market remained buoyed by optimism of China demand recovery while yesterday’s European session was supported by upbeat Eurozone outlook. Meanwhile, EIA raised its forecast for demand growth in 2023 to 1.05mb/d. However, it also expects US output to rise to meet this demand, with US shale oil providing the bulk of the gains. The API report showed a strong inventory build of 14.9mn barrels in crude as against expectations of a 2.2mn draw and focus now turns to EIA figures today. Near-term futures spreads meanwhile are holding in a bearish contango structure, signalling ample supply. Resistance around the 21-day moving average in Brent at $81.50 and $76 in WTI
Gold (XAUUSD) pushed higher overnight
... supported by general metal strength amid the current focus on the reopening of the Chinese economy and pent-up seasonal demand ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday. Developments that are being supported by a softer dollar and a drop in US bond yields ahead of tomorrow’s US CPI print, which is expected to show further softening, leading to speculation the FOMC may slow the pace of future rate hikes. While momentum supports technical and speculative buying, for now primarily through short covering, activity in ETF market from longer-term investors remain tepid, raising the short-term risk of a correction. The next major hurdle for gold being $1896, the 61.8% retracement of the 2022 correction, with support now at $1865 and $1830.
Copper continues to march higher
Copper continues to gain momentum as it remains buoyed by the reopening of Chinas economy and increased policy support to fuel an economic recovery to offset the economic fallout from President Xi’s failed and now abruptly abandoned covid-zero policies. Gains were further boosted by Chair Powell staying away from a pushback on easing financial conditions, and the weaker USD as a result. While the metal increasingly looks ripe for a correction, the sharply improved technical outlook and limited investor positioning may drive it higher in the short term. Overnight futures prices in London and New York managed to retrace 50% of the 2022 sell off, in HG copper at $4.0850 and LME at $8900. Support at $3.96 followed by the 200 DMA at $3.84
US Treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) edge higher, 10-year auction up today
After nearly touching 3.50% at the start of the week, the US 10-year benchmark yield rebounded above 3.60% yesterday before settling slightly lower as risk sentiment improved. An auction of 3-year treasuries saw strong demand yesterday, with a 10-year auction up later today after a string of weak auctions for longer maturity US paper in late 2022.
What is going on?
The Aussie dollar rallies after hotter than expected Australian CPI and retail data
The Aussie dollar nudged up 0.3% to 0.6906 US, with local inflation and retail sales coming in hotter than expected, reflect that the RBA can continue to tighten, as inflation remains above the RBA target. Today's data also reflects stagflation could hit the nation in 2023; with unemployment likely to rise, and real GDP to fall to 2% (consensus). The biggest contributors to inflation (housing price rises, food and transport (petrol costs)) are also sticky and are not expected to subside in the near term. (Core CPI rose from 5.3% YoY to 5.6% YoY in Nov (beating 5.5% expected). Moving to retail sales in November, which jumped 1.4%, boosted by Black Friday, also reflect Australian's are not perturbed by rate hikes. Over the medium term, the Aussie could remain supported amid China’s reopening, with GDP to also benefit from China buying Australian coal for the first time in two years.
The story is shifting on Europe
Softer energy prices, the lack of black-out and resilient hard data (notably in Germany) is pushing forecasters to review their 2023 recession calls. Goldman Sachs is the first international bank to drastically revise its growth forecasts upward, from minus 0.1 % in 2023 to 0.6 %. Said differently, the U.S. based bank does not expect a recession in the eurozone this year anymore. Early Q4 indications are out this Friday with the preliminary 2022 FY growth estimate. This should certainly confirm a milder-then-expected economic downturn. A mild recession (meaning drop in GDP of 0.1 or 0.2 %) is still our baseline this year. But we agree that the economy is surprisingly resilient. We also believe there will be no extreme macro and market events in 2023 – which could be positive from a growth perspective. If the economy performs much better, this will however give ECB policymakers more confidence in hiking rates as laid out in December by Christine Lagarde.
China’s aggregate financing slowed to 9.6% y/y while loans to corporate picked up
In December, the growth of outstanding aggregate financing, the broad measure of credit in China, decelerated to 9.6% y/y from 10.0% y/y in November. New aggregate financing declined to RMB1,310bn in December (below consensus RMB1,850bn) from RMB1,987bn in November, dragged by a decline in new bond issuance from local governments and a net bond redemption by corporate. New RMB loans rose to RMB1,400bn (above consensus RMB1,200 billion) from RMB 1,214bn in November and were also above RMB1,130bn in December 2021. The growth of RMB loans picked up to 11.1% y/y in December from 11.0% in November. The better-than-expected growth in RMB loans was driven by new loans to the corporate sector which rose to RMB1,264bn in December from RMB884bn in November and above RMB 662bn a year ago, as the Chinese authorities had asked banks to extend credits to support the housing market and other key industries. New loans to households came in weak, falling to RMB175bn in December from RMB263bn in November and RMB372bn in December a year ago.
Apple aims to start using own screens by 2024 replacing Samsung
Apple is accelerating its vertical integration with the news yesterday that it plans to replace Broadcom chips by 2025 and today it is aiming to replace screens from Samsung by 2024. It is a classic move for a big company increase profit margins by insourcing parts of the value chain, but the key risk long-term is the potential loss of innovation and lower prices. The alternative to integrating components is to let a competitive market supplying what you need as Samsung and LG do today in fierce competition.
French labor unions call for strike to start Jan 19 on Macron pension plan
French president Macron unveiled a plan to raise France’s minimum retirement age to 64 by 2030 from the current level of 62. France has one of the highest pension costs as a percentage of GDP in the EU (nearly 14%) and the ranks of the retired are set to grow for at least another 15 years if no changes are made.
Iron ore price above $120
The iron ore futures traded in Singapore reached a 5-month high overnight, underpinned by China reopening and stimulus for the property sector. Look for a reversal as China had warned of tightening the supervision on iron ore pricing on Friday to crack down on speculators. Supply outlook is also relatively better, with an estimated 40 million tons of additional supply in 2023, while demand will likely be suppressed due to constraints on crude steel production in China.
Wages set to rise in Japan?
The fast-fashion Japanese retailer Uniqlo is set to hike pay for many full-time staff in Japan by as much as 40% and will raise the salary for newly hired graduates by over 17%. Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda has long stated that inflation is only rising sustainably if Japanese wages also begin to rise in line with commodity- and other input costs.
What are we watching next?
US December CPI up on Thursday
The latest CPI data out of the US is the next important test for global markets, which seem confident that the Fed will not only halt its policy tightening soon after perhaps 50 basis points of further tightening but will even be signalling rate cuts by year-end. The US CPI releases have triggered considerable volatility in recent months, particularly in equity markets on aggressive trading in very short-dated options. The market expects that inflation will actually fall month on month by –0.1% and only rise 6.5% year-on-year versus +7.1% in November. The core, ex Food and Energy number is expected to rise +0.3% MoM and +5.7% YoY vs. +6.0% YoY in November and a peak rate of 6.6% in September.
Earnings to watch
The Q4 earnings season kicks off this Friday with banking earnings from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup with consensus expecting earnings to continue contracting among US banks before coming back to growth this year. The key uncertainty is credit quality in 2023 as it is linked to the degree of a recession or maybe no recession at all in the US economy. With higher interest rates level expectations are that banking revenue will slowly begin to accelerate and if high interest rates persist for an extended period, the longer-term growth for banks could be quite attractive. Overall, the Q4 earnings season is likely going to see an extension of value and tangible companies performing better than intangible-driven companies.
- Thursday: Fast Retailing, Seven & I
- Friday: DiDi Global, Aeon, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, UnitedHealth, BlackRock, Delta Air Lines, First Republic
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0800 – Czech Dec. CPI
- 1530 – EIA’s Weekly Crude and Fuel Stock Report
- 2350 – Japan Nov. Current Account data
- 0030 – Australia Nov. Trade Balance
- 0130 – China Dec. PPI, CPI
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