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Market Insights Today: Alphabet tumbled on underwhelming Chatbot performance – 9 February 2023

Equities 7 minutes to read
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Summary:  U.S. equities pulled back by over 1%, led by a selloff in the tech space. Google’s parent Alphabet tumbled 7.7% after Google's newly introduced Chatbot Bard’s reportedly underwhelming performance. The decline in bond yields following a strong Treasury auction failed to boost the stock market. Investors are excited about the prospect of AI generative content and bid up shares related to ChatGPT-like products and on the other hand, have concerns about the potential disruption to the mega-cap technology companies.

What’s happening in markets?

US equities (US500.I and USNAS100.I) lower, dragged by tech selloff

US stocks retreated led by a selloff in the technology space on concerns about the disruption caused by the technological advancements in AI-generated content. Alphabet (GOOGL:xnas) tumbled 7.7% after reports of the underwhelming performance and erroneous responses from the company’s newly introduced Chatbot Bard. Meta (META) dropped 4.3%. Lumen Technologies (LUMN), tumbling 20.8% on well-below-expected earnings guidance for 2023, was the biggest lower within the S&P500. S&P 500 drifted down 1.1% and Nasdaq 100 plunged 1.7%. Despite the retracement, the S&P500 and Nasdaq are still in their technical uptrends for now. All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 declined, led by communication services, utilities, and information services. Hawkish comments from several Fed officials also weighed on the market sentiment. Fortinet (FINT:xnas) jumped 10.9% after the cyber security company beat revenue and earnings estimates. Uber (UBER:xnys) gained 5% continuing its uptrend since January, with Uber reporting stronger-than-expected quarterly results. Disney (DIS:xnys) rose 5.5% in extended-hour trading, after reporting earnings beating estimates and planning to cut 7,000 jobs for cost saving.

Yields on US Treasuries (TLT:Xmas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) pulled back on a strong 10-year auction

The reaction in the Treasury market was muted to the chorus of hawkish comments calling for higher for longer from Fed’s Williams, Waller, Kashkari, and Cook.  The action came in after a strong 10-year auction which awarded the notes 3bps richer than the market level at the time of auction and a strong bid-to-offer-cover at 2.66 times, increasing from 2.53 times in the previous auction. Yields on the 10-year fell 6bps to finish Friday at 3.61%.

Australian equites (ASXSP200.I): This quarter, focus will be on energy companies and companies benefiting from Chinese students returning

ASX200 futures suggest a 0.4% fall on Thursday. However, focus will be on energy companies again with oil markets moving up. In company news, Nine Entertainment (NEC): won the rights to the 2024-2032 Olympic Games so that will excite some. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is hoping its iron project in Gabon will one day rival the giant mines of Australia’s Pilbara, with the West African nation giving the go-ahead for digging to start this year. Also keep an eye on travel businesses and educational firms in the quarter ahead with at least 50,000 students from China expected to return to Australia before the start of semester  - with Beijing’s government ruling that degrees earned online will no longer be accredited.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIG3) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg) lacked of direction

Hang Seng Index was nearly flat in directionless trading as investors were waiting for more evidence of recovery in China after the initial month-long rally that had repriced equities higher to reflect the radical change in policy directions in China. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was dragged by Meituan (03690:xhkg) which tumbled 6.5% on reports that Douyin was launching a food delivery service in March. Tech stocks overall were laggards. Hang Seng TECH Index dropped 1.9%. Kuaishou (01024:xhkg) plunged 6.2% following the content-sharing and social platform company banned 500,000 accounts for breaching the company’s policies. SenseTime (00020:xhkg) dropped 6.6% as Softbank trimmed its stake in the AI and vision software maker. Baidu (09888:xhkg) retraced 3.1% to pare some recent strong gains despite southbound flow registering a net buying of HKD 671 million on Wednesday. Online knowledge-sharing platform, Zhihu (02390:xhkg) soared 39.6% on the potential of being benefited by ChatGPT application. NetEase (09999:xhkg) climbed 1.1% as the company is planning to roll out a demo online educational product similar to Chat GPT. Ganfeng Lithium (01772:xhkg) gained 5% following the EV battery maker making breakthrough in manufacturing solid-state power batteries. An EV SUV using Ganfeng’s solid-liquid hybrid lithium-ion batter is expected to come to the market in 2023.  In A-shares, northbound flows registered net selling for the fourth day in a row. CSI300 drifted 0.4%. Media, communication, and defense stocks led the decline. Real estate, transportation, and pharmaceutical names outperformed.

FX: Aussie gains stall; sterling outperforms

After a strong run higher post-RBA, AUDUSD turned lower overnight on hawkish Fed speak. Pair reversed from 0.6996 highs to 0.6920 and will need either a turn in sentiment or another leg higher in commodity prices to sustain this week’s rally. USDCAD also returned back above 1.3400 despite the surge in oil prices. Sterling bounced off 1.2000 support and bounced back to 1.2100 but still staying below the 38.2% Fibo retracement at 1.2120. UK GDP for Q4 will be released tomorrow.

Crude oil (CLH3 & LCOJ3) jumps again despite hawkish Fed and inventory build

Oil prices rose 1.7% with WTI to $78.50 and Brent above $85 despite a hawkish rhetoric from Fed members as well as higher inventory levels as demand outlook remains upbeat. The EIA reported US crude stocks building 2.4mln bbls in the latest week, contrasting the private data that indicated a draw of a similar magnitude. On the demand side, TotalEnergies sees oil demand will rise to a record this year, in line with the IEA’s messaging. The International Energy Agency expects oil processing will rise to a record 14.4mb/d over the course of the year. That compares with 13.6mb/d in 2022.


What to consider?

Fed speakers call for higher rates

A slew of Fed speakers were on the wires yesterday. While a broad chorus on higher rates was maintained, much of which has been the Fed’s message throughout, markets perceived the messages as hawkish primarily as the January jobs report is still keeping investors concerned. Importantly, all the four speakers last night are voting this year. Christopher Waller said rates may have to stay higher for longer. John Williams called the December dot plot a good guide, adding that rates are "barely into restrictive" territory. He also hinted at a slightly higher terminal rate of 5.0-5.5%. Lisa Cook said "we are not done yet." Neel Kashkari expects the peak to rise above 5% this year as services side of the economy is still hot. Market pricing of the Fed path still pretty much unchanged, with terminal rate priced in at just over 5.1%.

European companies outperformed in earnings growth

Saxo’s Head of Equity, Peter Garnry, mentioned in his latest notes that European companies are the big winner in the Q4 earnings season with 4.8% earnings growth Q/Q and the highest growth rate in revenue Q/Q compared to US and Chinese companies. European earnings are actually ahead of S&P 500 earnings since Q3 2019. As Peter writes in Saxo’s Q1 Outlook, the comeback to the physical world is also a comeback to European equities. The Q4 earnings season also show that earnings are holding up better than we expected despite margin pressures are still an ongoing theme and could intensify during the year.

Maersk guided a downbeat 2023 outlook

A.P. Moller-Maersk (MAERSKb:xcse) reported lower than estimated Q4 revenue and in-line EBITDA, but the FY23 outlook on EBITDA of $8-11bn vs est. $13.5bn is a big miss and maybe a bit too conservative if the cyclical upturn gathers steam. Maersk’s guidance for global container trade in 2023 at -2.5% to +0.5% again is at odds with the market’s cyclical growth bet. Maersk’s CEO says that a significant inventory adjustment is taking place and that the world is generally moving to a more normal world.

Vestas signals weakness in the wind turbine business

Vestas Wind System (VWS:xcse) reported a FY23 outlook that signaled further challenges and weakness in the wind turbine business with FY23 revenue outlook at €14-15.5bn vs est. €14.8bn and adjusted EBIT margin of –2% to +3%. If the cyclical upturn continues, it will most likely put more pressure on industrial metals making it difficult for Vestas to expand its operating margin in 2023. The outlook is at odds with the narrative that Europe is undergoing a boom in green energy as the revenue in 2023 is expected to be the same as in 2020. Judging from analyst estimates, it seems that growth is expected to pick up in 2024 with revenue growing to €17.9bn. One thing is for sure, the lack of great headlines coming out of wind turbine makers will add steam to the movement and support for nuclear power which seems inevitable as part of the solution toward net zero carbon in 2050.

Cybersecurity company Fortinet beat estimates

Fortinet (FINT:xnas), one of the largest cyber security companies on revenue, reported Q4 revenue and EPS that beat estimates and the FY23 outlook on operating margins and revenue were in line with analyst estimates. It was clear that investors had lowered their expectations below that of analysts as the FY23 outlook hitting estimates led to a rally in extended trading. The outlook on operating margin also confirms that cyber security companies are experiencing little margin pressure.

Auto companies Toyota, Honda and Volvo report earnings

A bevy of EV and motor companies report today including Toyota Motor, Honda Motor and Volvo Car. We think there could be a risk they report weaker than expected results, similar to Ford; which sent Ford shares 8% lower on Friday. Ford is struggling to make money on its EV business and blamed supply shortages. Metal commodities are a large contributor to car manufacturers costs. And we’ve seen components of EVs rise significantly in price, amid limited supply vs the expectation China will increase demand.  For example consider the average EV needs about 83 kilos of copper- and its price is up 26%, 250 kilos of aluminium are needed - and its price is up 20% from its low. These are some headwinds EV makers are facing, in a market where consumer demand is restricted amid rising interest rates.  

Adani prepays bridge loans, earnings support sentiment

The Adani Group plans to prepay a $500mn bridge loan due next month, in order to avoid a refinancing at higher rate after the recent sell-off. The effort to deleverage also appears to be a response to banks that had started to step away from lending against Adani debt or a measure to avoid a potential rating downgrade. Recent earnings from Adani companies have also hinted at slower inorganic growth to avoid the need for fresh borrowing, and this is helping to rebuild investor confidence. Markets will wait to see some more such confidence-boosting measures from Adani before we can comfortably put a floor to the allegation-driven declines. MSCI’s quarterly review today will be key for any risks of exclusion.


For what is ahead at markets this week – Read/listen to our Saxo Spotlight.

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