FOMC meeting: Can the Fed still surprise hawkish?
The FOMC is expected to hike rates by another 25bps this week, but the key question revolves around whether this will be the last rate hike of the cycle. Data has remained mixed with inflation trends softening but labor market remains tight suggesting that the pace of disinflation may remain short of expectations. Market is still not pricing in another rate hike that the Fed signalled in its dot plot, which if reaffirmed could be a hawkish surprise. Still, inflation is slowing broadly and the uncertainty of monetary policy transmission lags would make it difficult for the Fed to surprise hawkish. Stress in the regional banking sector also remains, as signalled by the disappointing earnings form banks like Comerica and Regions Financials. Dovish shifts in the statement could come from job gains not being characterized at “robust” or growth risks seen to be increasing, and these could mean further pressure on the dollar. A clear signal of a September skip could however loosen financial condition further.
US economic data: No landing theme on test
There is also a host of interesting economic data on tap in the US this week. July Consumer Confidence survey is up first on Tuesday after the June survey saw the best Present Situation reading since January of 2022 (normally correlated with labor market sentiment) and a solid jump in Expectations. We’ll also see the first estimate of Q2 GDP on Thursday and June PCE inflation data on Friday, which is more interesting than usual as a material drop in the PCE core is expected on a Y/Y basis, to 4.2% after six consecutive months of 4.6-7% core inflation readings.
Potential disappointment from China’s Politburo meeting may present buying opportunities
The much-awaited Politburo meeting that has a focused economic agenda to review the performance of the economy in the first half and adjust, if necessary, the strategies for the second half of the year is expected to take place towards the end of this week. Last year, the meeting was held on July 28. After several months of eager anticipations to bazooka stimulus policies and disappointments by a long series of piece-meal measures, investors have adjusted down but not written off their expectations for a forceful and comprehensive stimulus package.
At Saxo, we believe that it is unlikely for China to launch an aggressive package as China’s long-term trend growth declined to around 6% before the pandemic. With 5.5% real GDP growth in the first half of the year, the Chinese leadership is unlikely to put long-term financial stability at risk to expand fiscal spending massively and print money. It is important to note that China has been in two important campaigns. First, to deleverage the economy. Second, to transform into a new development paradigm that aims at bringing about higher-quality growth through an increase in productivity and advances in technological innovation. However, the Chinese economy is in a cyclical growth upturn, though it is slow. Positions are light and sentiments are poor so the bar is low for the setting up of a strong rally through Q3 after some initial disappointments from the Politburo meeting.
ECB meeting: A more pronounced dovish shift could weaken EUR
The European Central Bank is widely expected to deliver another 25bps rate hike at its upcoming meeting on Thursday and that would take the deposit rate to 3.75%. However, ECB members have started to turn somewhat cautious in their outlook beyond the July rate hike. But market has been pricing in another rate hike almost fully for this year. The June meeting encompassed comments like there was still “more ground to cover” and the ECB is “not done” on rate hikes from President Lagarde. Absence of such statements may mean a clear dovish shift and lead to market repricing the ECB path lower. Since the prior meeting, headline inflation has cooled to 5.5% from 6.1%, however, the super-core metric ticked higher to 5.5% from 5.3%. Two more inflation readings for July and August will be out before the September meeting so a data-dependent approach may be highlighted, which will trigger the market to expect that we are nearing the end of the ECB tightening cycle. Weak data, particularly a further drop in services PMIs which have so far been holding up the economy, could also weaken the case for more rate hikes from the ECB and weigh on EUR. A close below 1.10 in EURUSD could mean a stronger EUR reversal may be in the cards.
Bank of Japan meeting: How much longer can a YCC tweak be postponed?
The Bank of Japan remains the outlier of the pack, where the first tightening move in the cycle is still awaited. Expectations for a July tweak were running high until last week when some official commentary poured cold water by saying that the BOJ sees little need to tweak yield curve control at the moment. Bank of Japan announcement is scheduled for Friday, and a case for further delay remains with dollar softening and potential for EUR to follow. But headline inflation in Japan has remained above expectations and the 2% target, so even an upgrade to inflation expectations would mean that speculations for a tweak in H2 will continue. It seems that the case for further yen weakness remains.
Caution looms as big tech earnings approach; focus on Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta results
As big tech companies prepare to release their earnings reports, there is a sense of caution in the air after Tesla and Netflix reported underwhelming results. The focus is now on Alphabet, Microsoft, and Meta, with Alphabet and Microsoft reporting on Tuesday and Meta on Wednesday.
Alphabet (GOOGL:xnas) is expected to experience a 13.7% Y/Y dip in revenue at USD 60.2 billion, but an increase of 14.6% Y/Y in Adjusted EPS at USD 1.44, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. On the other hand, Microsoft (MSFT:xnas) is anticipated to register a 7% Y/Y revenue growth at USD 55.49 billion and a 13% Y/Y increase in Adj. EPS at USD 2.55. For Meta (META:xnas), analysts forecast an 8% Y/Y revenue boost at USD 31.08 billion and a 24% Y/Y surge in EPS at USD 3.06. The recovery of the US online advertising business is contributing to Meta's growth.
A notable point of interest is the competition between Microsoft and Alphabet in the AI narrative. Microsoft has taken the lead with its generative AI space and the launch of 365Copilot, an AI-enabled version of Microsoft Office 365. On the other hand, Alphabet, despite initially losing ground, has an advantage with its years of AI research and access to valuable user data to enhance its solutions. However, one concern for Meta is its comparatively less developed AI advancements. Investors will closely listen to the management call to get insights into any new developments in this area.
Given the significance of these big tech companies in the broader equity market, their earnings reports will likely have implications for the market as a whole. For a more in-depth analysis of the potential impact of these upcoming earnings on the broader equity market, you can refer to Charu Chanana’s article for further information. Additionally, the strength of the US consumer will be on test in the coming week with a host of consumer stocks reporting earnings, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, P&G, Visa, Mastercard, GM, Ford.
Commodities: Macro, China, weather and geopolitics on watch
The sentiment on commodity markets is improving recently and last week saw a rally in the Bloomberg Commodity index despite an over 1% gain in the US dollar. Energy market has started to price in the risks of a supply crunch and Brent closed above the key $80/barrel handle last week. But a macro-heavy week ahead could mean that traders could start to lock in gains. Energy stocks also in focus after Chevron reported a beat on its earnings last week and Exxon Mobil due to report this week. Meanwhile, disappointing big tech earnings could bring a rotation in equities with energy sector gaining again as growth nadir may have passed. Metals will remain focused on China announcements due this week as Politburo meeting is expected to take hold, while agricultural grains could stay focused on weather worries and geopolitics after Russia backed off from the Black Sea deal last week.
Earnings this week:
Tue Jul 25: Alphabet, Microsoft, Visa, Raytheon, Texas Instruments, General Electric, Southern Copper, 3M, Acher-Daniels-Midland, CATL, ASM Pacific, Tata Motors
Wed Jul 26: Meta Platforms, Coca-Cola, Boeing, General Dynamics, AAC,
Thu Jul 27: Intel, Mastercard, McDonalds, Comcast, Honeywell, Bristol-Myers Squibb, KLA, Budweiser Brewing (01876:xhkg), Singapore Airlines
Fri Jul 28: Exxon Mobil, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive,
Key economic events this week:
MON: EZ/UK/US Flash PMIs (Jul)
TUE: German Ifo Survey (Jul), NBH Announcement, Richmond Fed (Jul)
WED: FOMC Announcement, Australia CPI (Jun)
THU: ECB Announcement, US GDP Advance/PCE (Q2)
FRI: BoJ Announcement & Outlook Report, French Flash CPI (Jun), Spanish Flash CPI (Jun), EZ Business Confidence Survey (Jul), US PCE (Jun)