What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) - US equities tried to shift back to a positive stance yesterday in the wake of a slightly softer core CPI reading for March, but the rally was erased by the close, as attention is set to shift to earnings season which kicks off today in earnest. The Nasdaq 100 index has yet to break down through the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level at 13,831, a break of which could usher in a full test of the 12,942.5 low. The less yield-sensitive S&P 500 index is farther above its respective 61.8% retracement level (4,299) but posted a weak session to new local lows yesterday, even as sentiment has recovered again overnight.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI.I) and China’s CSI300 (000300.I) were little changed. Energy and mining stocks outperformed. China’s Ministry of Transport has issued a notice to local governments to urge the latter to keep highways in operation in areas affected by lockdowns. China is also piloting in eight cities to reduce the number of days required for quarantine from 14 days to 10 days. China reported better than expected March export data (+14.7% YoY in USD terms) while imports declined (-0.1% YoY in USD terms). Trade surplus increased to USD47.4 billion (vs consensus $21.7bln, Feb $30.6bln).
Stoxx 50 (EU50.I) – the Stoxx 50 index snapped back from new local lows yesterday –emphasizing the importance of the 3,800 area support – and is fairly sideways overnight in the futures, a somewhat better performance than the major US averages, where a rally attempt yesterday was fully wiped out. A weak euro certainly helps exporters, but energy/power prices continue to weigh on Europe’s economic outlook.
EURUSD and EUR pairs – the euro continues to trade heavily and EURUDS has nearly touched the lows for the cycle around near 1.0800. It was rather disappointing for bulls that the pair failed to get more support from a consolidation lower in US yields yesterday in the wake of the slightly cooler than expected core inflation reading (more below). The ongoing unease as Russia looks set to widen its offensive in eastern Ukraine and concerns that the ECB will remain dovish tomorrow perhaps weighing. The next major level lower is the 1.0636 level posted during the pandemic outbreak panic.
USDCAD is at pivotal levels in the 1.2650 area, about the half-way point of the recent price range and near the 200-day moving average ahead of today’s Bank of Canada meeting, which is expected to bring a 50-basis point rate hike (to take the policy rate to 1.00%), which would be the first rate hike of more than 25 bps since 2000. But with the Fed seen likely matching the Bank of Canada’s pace of tightening by year-end, the BoC may need to guide hawkish, or CAD may need to find more support from rising oil prices and improving risk sentiment broadly if it is to stage a rally against the US dollar. The technical situation certainly looks pivotal.
Gold (XAUUSD) The advance in gold prices was a bit more impressive yesterday as the move higher above the key 1,966 area stuck, though the real challenge remains a bid to retake the psychologically important 2,000 level. The dip in treasury yields yesterday and weak risk sentiment in equities provided some of the boost.
Crude oil (OILUKJUN22 & OILUSMAY22) A solid comeback for oil prices yesterday, as WTI crude joined Brent in trading back above 100/bbl ahead of weekly US crude oil and product inventories from the DoE today. China moving to ease some of the Shanghai covid lockdowns may have boosted sentiment on the demand side. And longer-term supply concerns are in clear evidence as long-dated crude for December of 2023, trades within two dollars of the highest daily close for the cycle back in early March.
US Treasuries (IEF, TLT) and European Sovereign Debt. Treasury traders took the slightest easing of the pace of core March US inflation as a signal for consolidation yesterday, as yields dropped all along the curve, and more so at the front end as the market perhaps figures that as long as the pace of inflation rises moderates, it can stop the constant upward adjustments to the perceived path of Fed policy tightening this year. A US 10-year treasury auction saw tepid demand yesterday. Today sees a 30-year T-bond auction. EU yields also eased lower yesterday from new cycle- and multi-year highs.
What is going on?
New Zealand’s RBNZ surprises with 50-basis point hike, but guides less hawkish. The market was looking for a 25-basis point move to take the Official Cash Rate to 1.25%, but instead got 50 basis points and a 1.50% policy rate. The argument in the statement was that the bank saw it prudent to bring hiking forward to reduce the risks of rising inflation expectations. At the same time, the statement frets the slowing pace of global economic activity. After an initial spike higher on the impact of the larger than expected hike, the NZD traded lower in the wake of the decision as the 2-year NZ rate dropped some 15 basis points. AUDNZD also retains an upward bias given the demand in resource-rich Australian assets. Australia’s business data also continues to hold up for now, while New Zealand is facing deteriorating business sentiment and chronic labor shortage.
UK Mar. CPI out this morning – hotter than expected. UK March CPI hit +1.1% MoM and +7.0% YoY on the headline (vs. +0.8% /+6.7% expected) and +5.7% YoY (vs. +5.3% expected) for the core CPI reading
Crowdstrike (CRWD) rose 3.2% on a Goldman Sach upgrade to buy. Crowdstrikeis the world’s biggest cybersecurity company. The analyst community also likes Crowdstrike with 93% of analysts rating the stock as a buy. Goldman Sachs expects Crowdstrike’s shares to rise to $285 in a year.
USDJPY refuses to drop below 125. USDJPY dropped below 125 following the US CPI release overnight, focusing on the less-than-expected core print and the fall in US treasury yields. This morning, the pair is trading close to the near-20 year high of 125.86. The move was however reversed suggesting sustained weakness in the yen, which will continue until we see stronger action from the Japanese authorities and not just verbal intervention.
The prospect of stagflation remains for Germany. This is the main takeaway from the ZEW index released yesterday. The economic sentiment index decreased to minus 41.0 in April versus prior minus 39.3 while the current conditions index dropped to minus 30.8 versus prior minus 21.4. The ZEW experts are therefore pessimistic about the current economic situation, and they expect that it will continue to deteriorate. The only glimpse of hope is the decline in inflation expectations.
U.S. Inflation is still uncomfortably high. March CPI hit 8.5 % year-over-year. This is the hottest annual pace since 1981. The pace of Core CPI rises moderated a bit at +0.3% month-on-month and + 6.5% year-on-year. This is still the hottest pace since 1982. On a year-on-year basis, the sharpest increases are : fuel oil (70 %), gas (48 %), used cars (35 %), hotels (29 %), airfare (24 %) and utility gas (22 %). You can find the full list here (scroll to pdf page 9). It is clear that the U.S. Federal Reserve is behind the curve. Expect a 50-basis point interest rate hike at the May FOMC meeting.
What are we watching next?
Ukraine war developments as new Russian offensive operations are underway in eastern Ukraine and US President Biden promised a new round of $750 million in military aid and said Russian leader Putin is guilty of genocide.
Earnings Watch. The Q1 earnings season kicks off in earnest today week with US mega-bank JP Morgan Chase reporting today, but the more Main Street-oriented banks reporting in coming days, including the largest of these, Wells Fargo, tomorrow, will be interesting for a check-up on credit demand. The UK’s largest grocer Tesco is also worth watching for a sense of the impact of inflation on margins and customer behaviour as a cost-of-living crisis has hit a large portion of the UK population.
- Today: Tesco, JPMorgan Chase & Co, BlackRock, Fastenal
- Thursday: China Northern Rare Earth Group, Fast Retailing, Ericsson, UnitedHealth, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, US Bancorp, PNC Financial Services, Coinbase, State Street
- Friday: Hangzhou Hikvision Digital
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 1230 – US Mar. PPI
- 1400 – Canada Bank of Canada Rate Decision
- 1430 – US DoE Weekly Crude Oil and Product Inventories
- 1500 – Canada Bank of Canada’s Macklem press conference
- 1700 – US 30-year T-bond auction
- 2301 – UK Mar. RICS House Price Balance
- 0130 – Australia Mar. Employment Change / Unemployment Rate
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