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APAC Daily Digest: What is happening in markets, what to consider next; big tech and lithium stocks rally - September 20, 2022

Equities 7 minutes to read
APAC Research

Summary:  Ahead of the Fed’s interest rates decision with rates expected to rise by 0.75%, the price of the 10-year yield rose to 3.5% for the first time since 2011. Normally this puts equities in a precarious position, however, investors looked past this as a big red flag. The most buying overnight in US equities was in the Materials sector after commodity prices rallied, while sizeable moves were also in big tech names. Sentiment flowed to the ASX, with lithium and coal stocks being bid the most, after their commodity prices hit new record highs. And as such, the risk-on mood is set to flow through the Asia-Pacific today. Ahead, all eyes are on Australia's RBA meeting minutes and the reaction to Japan's CPI hitting a 31-year high. For the latest in markets and what to consider next, read today's APAC DD.

What is happening in markets?

Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)

Ahead of the Fed’s Wednesday interest rates decision with rates expected to rise by 0.75%, the price of the 10-year yield rose to 3.5% for the first time since 2011 and the 2-year note popped to a 15-year high of 3.96%. Normally this would put equities on the back foot and in a precarious position. As such this remains a big red flag for equities that are interest rate sensitive (tech, property, consumer spending). However, overnight equities looked past the noise and ended on a high note. But indeed, it was a volatile session. The S&P500 was down 1% earlier in the day, but marched higher in the final hour, supported by strong moves in big tech names. The S&P500 not only wiped out the day’s earlier loss but Friday’s fall too, closing up 0.7%. We saw 9 of the 11 sectors rise, led my Materials, Consumer Discretionary, and Industrials, while Heath Care was a laggard. Nasdaq 100 gained 0.8%.

Big US stock movers

Tesla (TSLA:xnas) gained about 2% on plans to increase the price of its supercharger stations in Europe. Apple (AAPL:xnas) rose 2.5% on news of Apple planning to fix the shaking iPhone 14  camera. Nike (NKE:xnys) gained 3% with investors betting their results later this week might not be as bad as feared. We think there could also be an upside scenario in 2023 for Nike if mainland China strengthens with its easing of lockdowns over the next 12 months, which would likely boost sportswear sales and margins. Afterhours Ford (F:xnys) warned that inflation had caused supplier costs to rise by $1 billion in the current quarter, joining a chorus of major companies experiencing the same macro challenges ripping through the economy. Ford shares fell 4.4% after hours, suggesting they will open lower when normal trading resumes. Moderna (MRNA:xnas), BioNTech(BNTX:xnas), and Novavax (NVAX:xnas) fell 7% to 8% after President Biden said in a CBS 60 Minutes interview that “the Covid pandemic is over”.

U.S. treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) hit new highs

The 10-year yield briefly exceeded 3.5% to 3.52% intraday for the first time since 2011, in an otherwise quiet session with the cash treasuries market being closed in London and Tokyo for holiday. The 10-year notes managed to pare some of their losses and finished the day at 3.49%, up 4bps from last Friday. The short end of the curve underperformed ahead of Wednesday’s FOMC, with 2-year yields climbing 7bps to a new closing high at 3.94%. 

Australia’s ASX200 hits a two-day high, supported by Lithium and Coal stocks

Today the Australian share market opened 1% higher in the first 10 minutes of trade, following Wall Street’s rally. Some of the biggest moves are in lithium and coal. Lithium companies are surging after the lithium price rallied to a brand-new record high, with the lithium carbonate price hitting a new record of $73,315 a ton in China (according to Asia Metal Inc). Core Lithium (CXO) is a stock to watch after it agreed with Tesla (TSLA) to extend the termination date for its binding offtake (sales) agreement to October 26. The extension allows the companies to negotiate a full form binding offtake agreement. Other lithium stocks to watch include Pilbara Minerals (PLS) after its shares rallied 3.6% in early trade, to a brand new record high of A$4.80. Elsewhere, Fortescue (FMG) rose about 1% on plans to decarbonize its business with a A$6.2 billion plan. Also, keep an eye on Oz Minerals (OZ) with the copper miner seeking a $10 billion potential sale to BHP (BHP). Speaking of BHP (BHP), its shares are up 1.8% after the NYSE listed BHP rallied overnight amid the risk-on mood.

Risk-on mood setting up in Asian trade today

Despite expectations of massive tightening moves being delivered globally this week and the surge in US 10-year yields above 3.5% overnight, the Asia session kicked off with risk-on sentiment. US equity futures extended gains and the USD was weaker, with the Japanese yen stronger at 143 despite CPI touching 3% in August. GBPUSD surged higher to 1.1460 while EURUSD extended gains to get close to 1.0050 levels amid ECB’s hawkishness and some relief on gas prices as well.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)

Yesterday the Hang Seng Index dropped 1%, dragged down by technology and China property stocks. Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) declining 2.1 % with Alibaba (09988:xhkg) down 3.6%, Bilibili (09626:xhkg) down 5.6%.  In the China property space, Longfor (00960:xhkg) dropped 6.1% and Country Garden (02007:xhkg) slid 3.3%.  EV makers underperformed, with NIO (09866:xhkg), Li Auto (02015:xhkg), and Xpeng (09868:xhkg) plunging from 4% to 6%. U.S. President Joe Biden’s affirmative response to the question about sending U.S. forces to fend Taiwan off Chinese military actions added to investors’ concerns about an escalation in Sino-American tension. 

Following the news that the Hong Kong Government is reviewing and considering plans to end the hotel quarantine requirements for inbound travelers, Hong Kong tourism and retail stocks rallied, Cathay Pacific Airways (00293:xhkg) up nearly 1%, travel agency EGL (06882:xhkg) soaring 11.5%, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery (01929:xhkg) rising 6.2%.  In mainland bourses, the approaching of the National Day golden week holiday and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s public consultation on promoting cross-border tourism pushed up tourism, catering, and beverage stocks. Coal mining stocks also gained. Solar power, semiconductors, and beauty care stocks dropped. CSI300 finished the day little changed. 

Crude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2)

Some support was seen to crude oil demand on Monday despite the risks of massive central bank tightening this week. A somewhat softer USD as well hoped of easing movement restrictions in China helped crude oil eke out a modest gain, despite the potential for increased supply. The US announced that it will offer an additional 10mbbl from its strategic reserve. Only last week it was reported that the Department of Energy was looking at plans to start replenishing the stockpile. UAE also said it was accelerating its plan to produce 5mb/d of crude oil by 2025. WTI futures rose back towards $86/barrel while Brent futures were above $92.

What to consider?

US NAHB in its ninth month of decline

NAHB Housing Market Index reported its ninth consecutive decline to 46.0, beneath the prior 49.0 and expected 47.0. The weaker-than-expected data highlighted the pessimism hitting the US housing market due to the rising mortgage rates, and housing starts may be set to cool further in the coming months. However, no systemic risks are seen as the housing market remains a lagged indicator.

Australia’s RBA expected to increase inflation expectations as coal pushes up and La Nina hits

The RBA meeting minutes released today at 11.30am Sydney time, will be dissected for clues that the RBA will be increasing its inflationary expectations. Particularly as the coal price, where Australia gets the majority of its energy from, hit another record high (and coal is not in peak demand season yet). On top of that the RBA will probably allude to La Nina’s threat on Australia. We think the RBA may touch on wheat prices picking up again, given they are up 16% from August. Frost and rain in South America has impacted their wheat supply, dryness in the US will reduce their supply, plus heavy rains are headed for Australia for the third year in a row. So global wheat supply is expected to be short again and push up inflationary pressures. The AUDUSD might see a knee jerk reaction higher if the RBA alludes to this. However, we expect the AUDUSD to come under pressure, as the magnitude of the Fed’s hike supports the favoured currency, the USD moving up.

Japan CPI hits a 31-year high

Japan’s August CPI touched the dreaded 3% YoY mark from 2.6% previously, coming in at the strongest levels in over three decades and significantly above the Bank of Japan’s 2% target level. The core measure, which excludes fresh food and energy, also come in higher-than-expected at 1.6% YoY. With the wage growth remaining restrained, this may mean nothing for Bank of Japan which remains committed to maintaining its yield curve control policy. However, the markets may start to test the BoJ’s resolve once again, especially with US 10-year yields also touching 3.5% overnight while JGB yields remain capped at 0.25%.

Hong Kong’s unemployment rate came in at 4.1%

Hong Kong released the city’s unemployment rate which came in at 4,1% for the June to August period, 0.2 percentage points lower from last the May to July period. The underemployment rate fell to 2.0% from 2.2%. 

U.S. President Joe Biden gave an affirmative response regarding sending forces to fend Taiwan off from mainland China

When being asked in a CBS 60 Minutes interview whether the U.S. would send forces to defend Taiwan in case of military actions from mainland China, President Biden replied: “Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack.”  In answering a follow-up question about if the U.S, unlike in Ukraine, would send forces men and women to defend Taiwan, Biden said: “Yes.”

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