APAC Daily Digest: What is happening in markets, what to consider next - September 21, 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 on tenterhooks after bond yields hit record highs, the US dollar index hits a record with markets bracing for the Fed’s jumbo hike. Shocking German PPI and Riksbank’s 100bps rate hike sets the stage for the FOMC to deliver a hawkish surprise. Ford becomes the second major company to downgrade their outlook, seeing its shares slide 12%, and sending another warning signal on the upcoming earnings season. Hang Seng rallies on the prospect of ending hotel quarantine. Russia-Ukraine tensions on a boil, sending wheat futures up 7%.
What is happening in markets?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) on tenterhooks after bond yields hit record highs
The US benchmark indices came under further pressure overnight (with the S&P500 down 1.1%, the Nasdaq 100 losing 0.9%) with investors selling equities and bonds and buying the US dollar, with markets on tenterhooks for the Fed’s jumbo rate hike on Wednesday. Added pressure came when the US 2-year bond yield hit 4% and the 10-year US bond yield hit 3.6%. Those are treasury yields’ highest levels since 2011, and they are better yields than the S&P500’s 1.7%. Meanwhile the US dollar index hit a record high as investors took shelter in the currency. Investors and traders are bracing for the Fed to boost rates to levels not seen since before the 2008 financial crisis. But is there more downside? The risk is that the Fed paves out a hawkish dot plot, or raises rates more than the 75 bps expected. That scenario will pressure equities. However, if the Fed believes inflation is rolling over, and signals this is peak hawkishness, then equities may see a knee jerk reaction and whipsaw higher. The technical indicators on the day and week chart for the S&P500 and Nasdaq imply further pressure are ahead.
Big U.S. stock movers
All 11 sectors in the S&P 500 fell on Tuesday, with Real Estate, Materials, and Consumer Discretionary falling the most, and Information Technology, Consumer Staples, and Energy relatively outperformed. Ford (F:xnys) tumbled 12.3% after the automaker said that inflation is making supplier costs USD 1 billion higher than expected in the current quarter. Gap (GPS:xnys) lost 3.2% on reports that the apparel retailer is cutting 500 corporate jobs in response to growing costs and weaker sales. Casino stocks gained as investors found optimism from relaxed Covid test requirements for passengers boarding a flight in Macao and the prospect of loosening hotel quarantine restriction in adjacent Hong Kong, through which many travelers arrive in Macao. Wynn Resorts (VYNN:xnas) gained 2.9% and Las Vegas Sands (LVS:xnys) climbed 1.2%. Apple’s (AAPL:xnas) shares rose 1.6% on Tuesday with estimates now suggesting the company’s most expensive iPhone, the iPhone 14 Pro model accounts for 60-65% of total iPhone 14 shipments, which is up from the previous estimated range of 55-60%. This means Apple could have a positive outlook when they release their next quarterly earnings in late October.
U.S. treasuries (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) were sold off again with 10-year yields reaching 3.6% intraday
The sell-off in bonds continued on Tuesday. The 5-year and 10-year segments of the treasury curve were hit most, with 10-year yields reaching a new intra-session high at 3.60% before paring and settling at 3.56%, up by 7bps from Monday. The woes in the treasury markets stared across the pond in Europe following the larger-than-expected 100bp hike by the Riksbank in Sweden and the jaw-dropping 45.8% Y/Y increase in German PPI. A solid 20-year treasury bond auction, which stopped through 1.3bps and had a low award to primary dealers (8.1%), helped treasuries stage a short-lived rally and saw yields off their session highs before being sold (yields higher) again as a block sale of 7,200 contracts in the 5-year at 108-221/4 hit the tape. The 2-year segment relatively outperformed, rising only 3bps in yield to finish the day at 3.97%, a touch below 4%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) rallied on the prospect of ending hotel quarantine
Hong Kong equities rallied on Tuesday, with Hang Seng Index rising 1.2% and Hang Seng Tech Index (HSTECH.I) climbing 2.0%. China’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said the Chinese Government supports Hong Kong’s efforts to have “close, extensive contact” with the rest of the world. It was interpreted as a nod to Hong Kong’s plan to scrap the hotel quarantine requirement. Cathay Pacific Airways (00293) rose 2.2%. Stocks in the retail space gained, with jewellers surging from 2% to 7%. Macao casino stocks rose from 3% to 15% across the board, following the enclave extending the validity of PCR tests from 48 hours to 7 days for any person boarding a flight in Macao.
Mainland state-owned media continued to publish articles with a positive tone to boost investor confidence. The latest was Securities Daily’s op-ed claiming that investors should have confidence in China’s long-term growth as the Government has launched quite a number of stimulus measures. CCTV says President Xi is committed to ensuring the stability of industrial and supply chains.
The China internet pace gained and Alibaba (09988:xhkg), Baidu (09888:xhkg), Meituan (03690:xhkg), JD.COM (09618:xhkg), and Netease (09999:xhkg) surged 2% to 4%. EV stocks rebounded, with XPeng (09868:xhkg) soaring nearly 9%, NIO (09866:xhkg), and Li Auto (02015:xhkg) rising around 5%.
CSI300 Index was little changed, with solar power, energy storage, and auto outperforming.
Australia’s ASX200 to unwind yesterday’s rally. But watch for green and gold shoots in agricultural stocks
The futures imply the ASX200 could unwind yesterday’s rally and rally 1.1% following US equites. However bright sparks might be seen in the soft commodity space with Wheat prices jumping 7.6% overnight as undersupply fears grip the market. It could be worth watching GrainCorp (GNC) and Elders (ELD).
Australian dollar against the NZ Dollar scales to 7-year highs
The Aussie dollar against the kiwi dollar, the AUDNZD leaped to new highs, clearing the 1.1344 level. What supports this currency pair moving is the large divergence between Australia’s exports rising (Australia’s trade surplus rising), versus New Zealand’s imports increasing due to higher costs of energy products (and its trade deficit rising). If this continues, this supports AUDNZD. Want to know more? Australia’s trade account surplus trades near a record high, as Australia is exporting a record amount of coal and LNG. Inversely, the New Zealand economy is trading at a deficit for the second month in a row, as its heavily reliant on energy imports, which have increased significantly in price. What to watch if you are trading this pair? On Thursday September 22, NZ releases its Balance of Trade data. If there is another large deficit, we could see the AUDNZD leap up again. The next focus is perhaps 1.1516, the high of 2015.
USDJPY range-bound despite the surge in US yields
USDJPY saw some gains on Tuesday but the cap at 144 still prevailed despite the US 10-year yields making a fresh high. The verbal intervention from the Japanese authorities in the last few weeks, and the rate-check from last week, has helped to calm yen traders. However, if the FOMC delivers a hawkish surprise this week and Bank of Japan maintains its dovish policy, further pressure on the yen cannot be ignored. That may prompt another round of intervention from the Japanese authorities, spooking 2-way volatility, but still throwing up some potential trading opportunities as discussed here.
Crude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2) suffers on the back of a stronger USD
Crude oil prices were lower on Tuesday following the Riksbank’s hawkish surprise and a run higher in US Treasury yields as well as the US dollar. The fresh release announcement from the US strategic reserves scheduled through November also added to the downside. API inventories also saw crude stocks rising for the third straight week, and there were inventory builds across the board. WTI futures dipped below $84/barrel while Brent futures dipped below $91. This comes despite rising war tensions in Ukraine (see below) as the focus has shifted to the massive monetary policy tightening being delivered this week.
What to consider?
Riksbank goes for a 100bps rate hike, setting the stage for FOMC
The Swedish Riksbank surprised yesterday with a 100-basis point hike to take the rate to 1.75%, a move only a minority were looking for. This, in addition to guidance that the Riksbank would look to continue hiking rates, took Swedish yields higher, but didn’t do much for the currency. The decision to hike by 1% was unanimous, prompted by the highest level of CPIF inflation since 1991 and the negative implication it could have on the upcoming wage negotiation which will lock in pay growth for the next three years. However, with global tightening wave turning more hawkish that expectations after ECB’s 75bps rate hike and Riksbank’s 100bps, the stage is being set for the FOMC to deliver above expectations as well.
Shocking August German PPI
According to the German statistics office Destatis, the PPI rose by 7.9% month-on-month in August. This is much higher than the consensus (2.4%). This shows that forecasting in the current macroeconomic environment is more challenging than ever. On a year-over-year basis, the increase is at 45.8%. This is an historical record. The continued jump is explained by higher energy prices (+139% year-over-year). But not only. Actually, inflation is broad-based. Prices for intermediate goods, for capital goods and for non-durable consumer goods are much higher too. This will probably get worse in the short-term. In the eurozone, it is unlikely the peak in inflation has been reached (contrary to the situation in the United States).
Russia-Ukraine tensions heat up
Russia is trying to stage a referendum on annexing the regions of Ukraine its forces still control. There were heightened geopolitical tensions regarding Russia and Ukraine where the separatists are to hold a referendum in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporozhye on September 23rd-27th, although Ukraine and its allies have denounced the referendums as illegal and few countries are likely to recognize the results. An update from Putin on the matter is being awaited, where there have been some suggestions that he is considering introducing martial law and full mobilisation of the Russian army - the speech has now reportedly been delayed until 06:00BST/01:00EDT Wednesday. The move threatens to escalate the conflict even further, potentially giving Putin the formal legal basis to use nuclear weapons to defend what Moscow would consider Russian territory.
China’s Emerging Industries PMI slightly improved
Emerging Industries PMI (EPMI) in China climbed slightly to 48.8 in September from 48.5 in August. The modest improvement was below market expectations and the 48.8 print was the lowest September figure (EMPI is not seasonally adjusted) since 2014 when the survey first started, suggesting weak growth momentum.
Reserve Bank of Australia minutes hint at more, but slower, rate hikes
RBA minutes from the September 6 meeting suggested that there is more room for interest rates to go up, but there is no pre-set path given the uncertainties surrounding the growth/inflation outlook. After a 50bps rate hike announced at the September meeting, and with global tightening race picking up to make a 75bps as the new 25bps, expectations for further RBA rate hikes of that magnitude could have potentially gained traction. However, the RBA has said that it will consider either 25bps or 50bps for the upcoming meetings. While another 50bps can still be expected in October, given that inflation reached 6.1% (vs. target of -3%), the pace of tightening is set to slow from there.
Chinese banks kept Loan Prime Rates unchanged
China’s leading banks fixed the 1-year and 5-year loan prime rates unchanged at 3.65% and 4.30% respectively, as expected.
Ford, the second major company to downgrade their outlook
Investors have been hit with the second major company downgrade in two weeks, with Ford (F) joining FedEx (FDX) in guiding of a challenging economic environment ahead. As mentioned yesterday, Ford warned inflation will cost its business $1 billion in the quarter, sending Ford shares down 12%, which is the stocks biggest loss in over 10 years. The automakers expect EBIT to range between $1.4b -$1.7 billion when it reports results next month.
Lennar’s results may provide some insights into the U.S. housing market
With 30-year fixed rate mortgage interest rates jumping above 6% for the first time in 14 years, since Sept 2008 and home affordability has fallen to historically low levels, investors are concerned about the state of the U.S. housing markets. Results from a leading home builder Lennar (LEN:xnys) this Wednesday after market close will give a good opportunity for investors to gauge the latest market conditions in the U.S. housing market. Analysts, as per the survey by Bloomberg, are estimating revenue growth of 30% Y/Y and 8.3% Y/Y EPS growth in the quarter ending Aug 31, 2022. Investors, however, will focus on the management’s comments and forward guidance.
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