Global growth to slow, markets brace for higher rate hikes. Traders return to oil, grains, iron ore and affiliated APAC stocks
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: Global growth to slow says the World Bank, Earnings estimates are weaker and markets brace for more rate hikes. So, Traders turn to commodities again. Oil continues its climb from last week, as global mobility picks up while supply remains cut off from Libya. Broad Asian markets are mixed, yet stocks shine in power generation and Ag. While down under in Australia, their share market inches toward its record all time high, beefed up iron ore, oil and fertilizer stocks.
Co-written by Market Strategists Jessica Amir in Australia, Redmond Wong in Hong Kong. Charu Chanana in Singapore.
What’s happening in equites that you need to know?
The major US indices brace for weakness: The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I), S&P 500 (US500.I) are on the back foot, trading under their 50-day moving averages. Q1 earnings expectations are the weakest since March 2020, plus results so far are showing profit erosion and rising input costs. Traders are digesting World Bank estimates of slower growth for the year, and bracing for more rate hike hints Thursday. Meanwhile, oil giants remain favored, Occidental (OXY) shares trade up 112% this year, Halliburton (HAL) trades up 82% YTD, Marathon Oil (MRO) up 63% YTD, with oil companies likely to see the strongest earnings growth this year.
Asian markets are mixed: The MSCI Asia Pacific, ex Japan Index (FMASM2) is lower. Singapore’s STI Index (ES3) up 0.7% led by power generation firm Sembcorp (S51), travel stocks such as Genting Singapore (G13) and Singapore Airlines (C6L) as well as agriculture stock Wilmar (F34) and banks UOB (U11) and DBS (D05). Japan’s Nikkei (NI225.I) was trading flat, supported mainly by gains in base metals but dragged by Fast Retailing (9983). MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan was lower after US stocks closed in the red overnight and gains in oil prices continued.
HK equities retreat. Hang Seng Index (HSI.I) retreated by 2.8% after coming back from the 4-day long holiday weekend. Investors found the 25 basis point reserve requirement ratio cut by the People’s Bank of China last Friday disappointing as they had been expecting a more typical 50 bp reduction and a 10 bp cut in the policy Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF) rate as well. Bilibili (09626) lost 11% on rumor that the company was laying off staff in its live streaming department. E-commerce names declined on report that the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation had asked e-commerce companies to a meeting and called on the latter to improve on practices on pricing and delivery of necessities to consumers during the lockdown. Alibaba (09988) and Meituan (03690) fell 4% to 6%. China Merchant Bank (03968) fell 11% following the abrupt departure of the Chinese bank’s president. CSI300 (000300.I) declined modestly. Coal miners and fertilizer producers gained.
The Australian share market is nearing a record all time high. The (ASX200)is up 0.5% on Tuesday, up for the third day and is now just 0.3% away from hitting its record high. The RBA meeting minutes showed that quicker inflation and a pick up in wages growth will bring forward the timing of the RBA’s first rate hike, however that’s not spooking the ASX, as most sectors trade higher. Gold stocks are leading the market today, like Ramelius (RMU) up 5%, Perseus (PRU) up 4% as investors back the safe haven asset as it traditionally rallies when interest rates rise. While shares in fertizlier and explosive company Incitec Pivot (IPL) are up 4%, to their highest level since 2018 after announcing production will kick off again at its ammonia plant. Elsewhere, oil and coal shares are pushing up while, shares in Australia’s biggest iron ore companies, BHP, FMG and RIO trade higher as iron ore sets 2.5 months highs.
Crude oil (OILUKJUN22 & OILUSMAY22) continues to move up, extending its uptrend from last week, WTI oil back at $108, Brent up $113.39 as Libya oilfield outage cut off half a million barrels a day, adding to lack of supply from the war in Ukraine. PLUS, global mobility is rising. For example, Moody's (rating agency) expects travel to be back to normality in 12-18 months. More imminently, China Eastern Airlines resumed flying Boeing 737-800 jets from last weekend following the deadly crash
Grain prices surge again. Wheat prices (futures) up 3.6% to $11.28 a bushel, forming another uptrend on lack of supply fears, as colder weather (snow) is tipped to slow planting in Canada. Plus, Wheat planting in US is growing slower than last year. USDA’s springs wheat seedings crop progress report shows 8% of the expected area was planted, compared to 18% last year. Wheat is likely to head higher due to warmer summers, colder winters, meaning soil temps in Canada and US are not ideal, so slimmer supply is ahead, which is supporting wheat prices. Meanwhile Corn prices near a record high. And International Rice Research institute forecasts rice yields may drop 10% in the next season - that is 36mn tons. This will continue to get worse if the war continues.
Iron ore (SCOA) trading above $155 for first time in 2.5 months. Iron ore likely to continue uptrend and also potentially spike if China cuts interest rate again. This is supporting stocks like BHP, RIO FMG.
USDJPY pays no heed to Japanese authorities’ verbal intervention, and rightly so given the monetary policy divergence between the Fed and the BOJ widens the yield differential. USDJPY surged to fresh 20-year highs of 127.55 this morning and the next level to watch is 128 but many are calling for 130 in the days to come. After some warnings from BoJ’s Kuroda yesterday, Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki expressed concerns about the sharp drop in the yen today.
Bitcoin dropped to lowest level in a months, as risk appetite is dropping like a stone. Bitcoin fell below key level of support, so watch positions and also in stocks like Block (SQ, SQ2), that make 75% of revenue from BTC
What you need to consider
World Bank downgrades global growth estimates. The World Bank cut its 2022 outlook to 3.2% from 4.1%, dragged down by Europe and Central Asia amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. World Bank Chief Economist Carmen Reinhart said there is “exceptional uncertainty” in global markets and further downgrades cannot be ruled out.
The Australian dollar is rising back up (AUDUSD) as iron ore and oil prices lift. The AUDUSD not only pushed higher ahead of RBA Meeting Minutes, but also as the Iron Ore price hit its highest level in 2.5 months, while oil rose to its highest in 4 weeks (these are two of Australia’s largest exports). And finally, the AUD is also being supported higher as Australian tourism is picking up, with the First cruise ship docking in Sydney Harbour since covid ban two years ago.
Brace for more hawkish Fed talk this week. We had James Bullard on the wires yesterday, and he planted the seeds of a 75-basis points rate hike given that the Fed needs to get to neutral rate very soon. Base case for the May meeting is still a 50-basis points rate hike, and a final word on that should be watched from Fed Chair Powell on Thursday as he speaks at the IMF conference. Still, brace for more volatility in yields and further gains in the US dollar as Fed continues to raise the bar of its hawkishness.
Trading ideas to consider
Asian agriculture stocks are on watch. For reasons mentioned above, it could be worth watching grain stocks like Australia's GrainCorp (GNC), Elders (ELD), or ag chemical company Nufarm (NUF), or Incitec Pivot (IPL), or food processing company Wilmar (WIL) listed in Singapore, or Japan's Yamazaki Baking (2212) may be of interest.
Singapore reopening theme in focus into the summer. Singapore Airlines (C6L) has seen a big jump in passenger volumes this year. Air passenger traffic has reached 31% of pre-covid levels last week up from 18% a month ago. That bodes very well with our reopening theme, and stocks to watch will be Singapore Airlines, SATS (S58) and Genting Singapore (G13). Singapore Airlines and SATS are adapting big technology changes to avoid getting trapped in labour shortages, but also still hiring in a big way in anticipation of a rebound in summer travel.
US Earnings to watch. Bank of America (BAC) surged on better-than-expected Q1 results but BNY Mellon (BK) slumped. Focus now on mid-tier financial services earnings like Fifth-third (FITB) and Citizens Financial (CFG). Also on watch will be J&J (JNJ), Netflix (NFLX), Lockheed Martin (LMT), IBM (IBM), Halliburton (HAL) and others. Key issues to consider will be inflation and Fed’s aggressive tightening, but also how supply chains and consumer demand recovery is shaping up.
Key APAC economic releases this week:
Tue, Apr 19: Japan industrial production
Wed, Apr 20: Japan March trade, China 1-year and 5-year loan prime rates
Thu, Apr 21: HK March unemployment rate
Fri, Apr 22: HK March CPI, RBI meeting minutes
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