Meta Is Cutting Discretionary Spendings And Extending Its Freeze On Hiring

Meta Is Cutting Discretionary Spendings And Extending Its Freeze On Hiring

Summary:  Risk sentiment took a beating again as the midterms fever faded with a lack of a Republican wave, and focus shifted back to the crypto turmoil and continued surge in Covid cases in China. Tech layoffs also took another step up with Meta slashing 13% of its workforce. USD gained despite lower US yields as it is likely turning more risk-sensitive than yield-sensitive, but focus on US CPI will add to some caution ahead of the release. A hotter-than-expected core print will likely bring the focus back on Fed’s hawkishness.

What’s happening in markets?

The Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I) dropped on crypto selloff, earnings disappointment, lower oil prices, and midterm elections

S&P 500 plunged 2.1% and Nasdaq fell 2.4%. The sell0ff was board based with all 11 sectors of the S&P 500 in the red. The energy sector was the worst performer, falling 4.9% as crude oil prices down nearly 4% on rising US inventory levels. The collapse in crypto prices deepened, following Binance’s decision to walk away from its short-lived takeover bid for the ailing FTX. Robinhood Markets (HOOD:xnas) fell 13.8% as investors were concerned if FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried might liquidate his 7.5% stake in Robinhood. Disney (DIS:xnys) plunged 13.2% on disappointing earnings. Meta Platforms (META:xnas) gained 5.2% after the company announced to layoff 13% of its employees to cut costs.

US treasury (TLT:xnas, IEF:xnas, SHY:xnas) yields fell in a mixed session

U.S. treasuries, in particular, the frontend of the curve were supported by selloff in equities and crypto, dovish comments from Fed Evans, and strong rallies in the European bond markets, seeing 2-year yields down 7bps to 4.58%, and 10-year yields falling 3bps to 4.09%. European bond yields dropped on the news that Russia was withdrawing its troops from Kherson, a Ukrainian regional capital city annexed by Russia less than two months ago. Chicago Fed president Charles Evans, who is retiring, said in an interview that there are “benefits to adjusting the pace as soon as” the Fed can and the Fed should not keep raising rates by a large amount every time on disappointing economic data. The 10-year auction did poorly with weak demand from investors but the market managed to shrug it off and had a strong close.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIX2) China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)

The China reopening trade continued to fade on Wednesday as new domestically transmitted cases surged further to 8,176 the day before. Hang Seng Index retreated 1.2% and CSI 300 slid 0.9%. China’s CPI fell to 2.1% Y/Y and PPI declined 1.3% Y/Y in October, signaling weak domestic demand. Share prices of Chinese developers however surged, following Chinese authorities saying that they were expanding an existing credit support programme by RMB250 billion to help private enterprises, including developers, in raising debts, by providing debt insurance or bond buying. Country Garden (02007:xhkg), up 13.9%, Longfor (00960:xhkg), up 4%, were top performers in the Hang Seng Index. After trading 1% to 4% lower during the Hong Kong session, China Internet names continued to face selling pressure overnight in New York, with ADRs of Alibaba (09988), Tencent  (00700:xhkg) ,and Meituan (03690:xhkug)  each falling around 3% from their Hong Kong closing levels.

FX: USD gains return as risk sentiment deteriorates

The USD was back on the front foot on Wednesday ahead of the critical US CPI data due today. US midterms still ended in a political gridlock, even though a Republican wave was avoided. However, limited implication on policy means market focus can return to other key events, such as the crypto turmoil and further rise in China’s Covid cases. US 10-year yields dropped below 4.1% but it appears that the USD is not more risk-sensitive rather than being yield-sensitive. Geopolitics turned calmer with Russia retreating from the only Ukrainian regional capital captured, Kherson, but that brings some risk of new escalations as Putin gets desperate. Focus on US CPI however brought some weakness back in the DXY in early Asian hours with USDJPY back below 146.20. GBPUSD bounced back after a brief slide below 1.1350 and the EUR bounced back higher from parity.

Crude oil (CLZ2 & LCOF3)

WTI futures dipped further below $90/barrel mark, now touching the $85 handle, while Brent moved lower to sub-$93. Oil prices declined as the EIA reported US crude stocks rose by 3.9 million barrels to the highest since July 2021. This was offset by tightness in the fuel product markets. Gasoline inventories fell by 900kbbl, and distillate fuel stockpiles fell by 521kbbl. Meanwhile, sustained rise in Covid cases in China continued to take a hit on the demand outlook. New cases in Beijing jumped to the highest level in more than five months. Of particular concern was the number of infections found outside quarantine, suggesting the virus is still circulating through the community and would likely delay the easing of Zero Covid policies.

Wheat (ZWZ2) prices lower, along with Corn, after USDA report

The USDA released it’s November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, which led to mixed but mostly lower grain prices. While the overall wheat consumption outlook was raised, USDA said demand may drop in some places, including Indonesia and Sri Lanka, due to high prices. Wheat prices plunged 2.5%. The agency also lifted its soybean output and stockpiles outlook, but robust export demand lifted prices. Meanwhile, USDA expects to see the seventh-largest corn crop on record this year, with a new estimate of 13.93 billion bushels.


What to consider?

US midterms avoided a Republican wave

Even with votes still being counted and runoffs yet to come to determine the US Senate majority, the midterm election didn't bring the red wave that was expected. Republicans are inching towards control of the House, but with a far narrower margin than what was predicted. Meanwhile, Democrats are likely to keep their majority in the Senate but the outcome won’t likely be confirmed for a while as Georgia heads to a runoff on December 6. The end result is still a political gridlock, much as expected, but with far smaller market implications given lack of a firm policy direction.

US inflation to test the 8% level, watch core and stickier components

Bloomberg consensus expects US October CPI to drop below the 8% mark and come in at 7.9% YoY from 8.2% previously, but still higher at 0.6% MoM from 0.4% in September. The core measure is also expected to ease slightly to 6.5% YoY, 0.5% MoM (prev. 6.6% YoY, 0.6% MoM) but still remain elevated compared to historical levels. Key to watch also will be the drivers of inflation, particularly the stickier shelter and services costs, which if stuck higher could move the December Fed funds future pricing more towards another 75bps rate hike, resulting in another round of selloff in equities and dollar gains. However, there is another CPI report due before the next Fed meeting in December, and we are going into today’s release with a weak risk sentiment following the crypto meltdown seen this week. This suggests that even a print that matches expectations, or is above it, will likely bring another selloff in equities and further support for the dollar.

Binance walked away from FTX acquisition, another plunge in Bitcoin

The contagion in the crypto and equities we mentioned yesterday is already here, and getting worse as latest developments suggest that Binance backed away from its earlier pledge, tweeting Wednesday afternoon that it would not pursue the acquisition of FTX. It cited due diligence and a reported US investigation into the exchange. Bitcoin plunged below $16,000, , while Ether followed and dipped to its lowest price since July, barely hanging on to the $1,100 level.

China is in disinflation

China’s PPI declined 1.3% Y/Y in October due to falls in energy and materials prices and weaknesses in metal processing. CPI inflation was also weaker than expected and fell to +2.1% in October from 2.8% in September on weak consumer demand, falling residential costs, and declines in vegetable prices.

Meta to layoff 13% of its workforce

Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg announced the social platform’s plan to layoff over 11,000 employees, about 13% of its workforce. Zuckerberg also said Meta is cutting discretionary spendings and extending its freeze on hiring through Q1 2023. The company reaffirmed its Q4 revenue guidance of USD30-32.5 billion, in line with expectations. Capex for 2023, according to the Company, will be in the range of USD34-37 billion, at the low end of prior guidance of USD34-39 billion.


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Meta Is Cutting Discretionary Spendings And Extending Its Freeze On Hiring

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