Market Insights Today: Fed meeting day, Metals push higher on China easing speculation – 2 November 2022
APAC Strategy Team
Summary: Higher-than-expected US job openings data and a still-strong ISM manufacturing print pushed the US yields higher as terminal Fed pricing topped 5% again. This saw equity markets on the backfoot ahead of the Fed meeting scheduled for later today, and mixed earnings results from AMD and Airbnb also underpinned, while Sony jumped higher as FX effects supported better than expected results and improved guidance. Shares of Asian mining companies tied to nickel and copper may move after the metals rallied on speculation Beijing will make preparations to ease China’s stringent Covid rules. NZ jobs gains may support more RBNZ rate hikes but NZD remained cautious.
What is happening in markets?
The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) & S&P 500 (US500.I) fall on solid labor market data, which supports an aggressive Fed hike path
The US major indices fell on Tuesday, with the S&P500 ending 0.4% lower, after erasing the 1% earlier gain, while the Nasdaq 100 met a similar fate before ending 0.9% lower. Two-year Treasury US yields , which are most sensitive to imminent Fed moves, topped 4.5% after sliding as much as eight basis points earlier in the day. The added volatility and risk-off mode came after US job openings unexpectedly rebounded in September amid low unemployment. This will likely fuel further wage gains (inflation), and it means the Fed will likely hike by 75-bp (0.75%). But keep in mind, any hint of a dovish pivot on Wednesday could perhaps prompt an outsized market reaction and risk on rally. Big tech weighed on equities, with Apple (AAPL) down almost 2%, and Amazon (AMZN) falling 5.5%, taking its value below $1 trillion for the first time since 2020. On the upside, investment banks did well include JP Morgan (JPM) up 1.8% and Goldman (GS) up 1.2%. While in the S&P500 Abiomed (ABMD) shares rose 50% with Johnson & Johnson, announcing it will takeover the firm for $17.3 billion, building on its portfolio of technology assisting heart function. After market, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) shares rose almost 5% after its profits beat expectations and it signaled that inroads in the server chip market will continue to bolster its finances. The Dow Jones traded near a resistance level, that saw the index halt a few rally attempts, in the past few months.
China/HK stocks surge on unofficial reports that China may be looking to exit Zero Covid
The CSI300 surged over 3.5% on Tuesday and the HSI rose by over 5% on speculation that Beijing is preparing to phase out Covid Zero policies, even as the country’s Foreign Ministry said it was unaware of such a plan. Unverified social media posts circulated online on Tuesday showed a committee was being formed to assess scenarios on how to exit Covid Zero. Internet giants Meituan and Tencent were some of the biggest gainers. While the reports may be unconfirmed for now, it gives a signal on how strong a recovery can come through if China alters its Zero Covid policy stance at some point.
Australia’s ASX200 (ASXSP200.1) futures suggest a flat start, but focus will be on copper and nickel giants, and companies with USD exposure
Focus will be on nickel and copper companies including Nickel Mines (NIC), Oz Minerals (OZL), and BHP (BHP), which are expected to gain attention and possibly move higher after the commodities prices rallied on speculation Beijing could make preparations to ease China’s stringent Covid rules, which have kept commodities prices underwater. BHP shares rose 3.7% in New York, and the listed entity in Australia is expected to likely follow. Focus will also be in Amcor (AMC) which has just reported financial results, declaring a stronger dividend that expected, stronger EPS than expected, but weaker than expected income, weighed down by the strength of the US dollar. The global packaging giant sees its full year financial results being negatively impacted by the US dollar by 5%, up from its prior 2% estimate.
NZDUSD brushes off a broadly positive employment report
NZ jobs data for Q2 was rather mixed with unemployment rate still near record lows, while rising slightly to 3.3% and wage growth of 2.6% YoY much higher than last month’s 2.3%. Employment change slowed slightly to 1.2% YoY but was far better than expectations of 0.3%, and also up 1.3% QoQ. While these numbers underscore a case for still-higher inflation and the need for further rate hikes from the RBNZ, NZD remained largely unchanged in early Asian trading hours after the release. NZDUSD eased from overnight highs of 0.5900 to trade around 0.584, while AUDNZD is testing the downside at 1.094 after breaking below 1.10 yesterday following a dovish RBA. While NZDUSD will continue to focus on what the Fed path brings, there may be more downside in store for AUDNZD amid the policy divergence of the RBA and RBNZ, unless one of the two things change: 1. RBNZ pivots to a pace of smaller rate hikes, or 2. China sends signals of opening up. This will bring the focus back on current account differentials which favour the AUD over the NZD. RBNZ’s financial stability report also highlighted some concerns from higher interest rates on consumption and new residential construction.
Metals run higher on China speculation
Copper and nickel led a surge in base metals on unconfirmed speculation Beijing is preparing to ease Covid rules, even as these reports were later denied by Chinese Foreign Ministry official. This also brought the focus back on supply issues in Copper, with inventories running low on exchanges. LME Nickel was over 8% higher as well, along with Zinc and Aluminium as well. Iron ore (SCOA) moved up slightly as a result, adding 0.3% to $78.35. Gold (XAUUSD) rose back towards $1650 but higher bond yields continue to haunt especially ahead of the critical Fed meeting. Silver, enjoying a trifecta of support from rising gold and copper as well as the weaker dollar, traded up to once again challenging resistance at $20/oz. A break may bring the key $21.14 back into focus.
Crude oil (CLX2 & LCOZ2)
Oil prices also gained on the China news, while a weaker USD up until the release of the US job openings or the ISM data also supported gains in oil. OPEC+ production cuts continue to keep the supply outlook tight for the oil market, but the overall sentiment is muddled by weakening global demand concerns and also the EU sanctions on Russian crude that are set to begin in December. WTI futures were seen rising towards $89/barrel while Brent futures were close to $95.
What to consider?
US job openings and ISM manufacturing complicate Fed’s message
US job openings saw an unexpected rebound in September amid low unemployment, suggesting more wage gains could be in store. JOLTS job openings came in higher at 10.7 million in September from a revised 10.3 million in August. This likely thrashes expectations of any material downshift from the Fed after today’s widely expected 75bps increase. Meanwhile, October's ISM manufacturing index also remained in expansion at 50.2, albeit falling from last month’s 50.9. However, disinflationary trends were emphasised as the index of prices paid fell to an over 2-year low. Still, sticky shelter and services inflation remains materially high suggest still-higher interest rates remain on the horizon. Terminal rate pricing for Fed funds futures has picked up again to 5% levels, and it would be hard for the Fed to push it any higher at this point, but what it can clearly hint at today is pushing out of the rate cut expectations for next year. Read our full FOMC preview here for further insights.
Lack of insurance halted UN Black Sea shipments, but progress being made
The UN halted grain shipments from Ukraine's Black Sea ports on Wednesday, after Russia warned ships weren't safe using the route and demanded guarantees from Ukraine. However, reports suggested early on Wednesday that an agreement had been reached and ships will start to sail again from Thursday, as pressure on Russia continues to build. We continue to watch crop and fertilizer prices, as a meaningful reversal could come through if we see improving shipments across the Black Sea region.
RBA ups inflation forecasts, downgrades GPD, remains dovish. Possibly market implications if rate hikes stop early, as they have historical
The RBA hiked the cash rate by 25bps (0.25%) as expected to 2.85%, maintaining its dovish stance and bordering on restrictive, as it again acknowledged tighter financial conditions are yet to be felt in mortgage payments, but higher rates and inflation has put pressure on household budgets and caused a small amount of loan arrears and insolvencies. The RBA’s rate hike cycle since May, has been the second fastest in history and we also note the RBA was the first major central bank to under-deliver on rate hike expectations (last month). Also consider, what’s ahead. The RBA has a history of stopping rate hikes early, before CPI peaked in YoY terms. Over the last 30 years the RBA started easing ‘early’ and cut rates despite headline CPI staying above its 2-3% target. So, could the RBA replay this trend? We think so. The RBA rose its 2022 CPI forecast to around 8%, up from 7.8%. Meaning, the Q4 CPI read could print between 7.75% and 8.25%. The RBA downgraded its GDP forecasts, only expecting 3% this year and 1½ per cent in 2023 and 2024. If the RBA makes any hint of a becoming even more dovish at their next meeting, it could perhaps prompt an outsized market reaction in the ASX200 and fuel a risk on rally. Imminently, in FX, the AUDUSD is on watch ahead of the Fed’s hike on Wednesday, and could succumb to further selling if the Fed hikes by 0.75%. Another pair under pressure is the AUDNZD.
AMD earnings supported by servers despite weak PC sales
Advanced Micro Devices rose in the after-hour trading as it reported better than estimated Q3 earnings, although issuing guidance that missed analysts’ expectations. EPS came in $0.67 vs estimated $0.65, revenue $5.57B vs estimated $5.62B. Guidance suggested AMD is expecting strong growth in its server chip business in the coming quarters. Q3 results were in-line with a warning issued by AMD on October 6 which helped to reset expectations, as weak PC sales continued to underpin.
Airbnb drops on disappointing guidance
Airbnb reported its highest revenue and most profitable quarter but a muted Q4 outlook as consumer preferences are shifting back to cities which tend to have lower rates based on smaller sized spaces. Q3 revenue rose 29% to $2.88B, estimated $2.84B. Net profit rose 45.6% to $1.21B. But the company said it expected bookings to moderate after a bumper third quarter.
Sony surges on profit beat
Weak yen propped up revenues for Sony and also nudged up the fiscal year profit outlook, pushing shares higher in early trading. Q2 sales came in at 2.75tr yen, est. 2.67 tr yen while operating income was 344bn yen vs. 280.66bn yen expected. Operating profit beat was broad-based, except in games.
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