Summary: The USD weakened sharply overnight, led by a tumbling USDJPY on comments from Bank of Japan governor Kuroda after he met with Prime Minister Kishida. Risk sentiment was buoyant yesterday and overnight on the weaker US dollar and after the ECB hiked by 75 basis points as most expected, the most in the central bank’s history. EURUSD has backed up well above parity again ahead of an EU Summit that will attempt to outline a common approach to soaring power/gas prices amidst limited supplies ahead of winter.
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
US equities continued to rally yesterday with S&P 500 futures pushing above the 4,000 level to close at 4,005, and even more impressively momentum is extending this morning in early European trading hours. The rally still seems to be mostly technically driven, but there was some support for US equities in yesterday’s initial jobless claims data showing little negative pressures in the US labour market. After the US market close, DocuSign shares rose 17% as the technology company delivered a strong result and raised its outlook breathing some fresh optimism into the technology sector. The next big event for US equities is the US August CPI report on Tuesday.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSIU2) and China’s CSI300 (03188:xhkg)
Hang Seng Index soared 2.6% today, snapping a six-day losing streak, following August inflation data in China surprised on the downside and raised hope for more monetary easing to come from the Chinese policymakers. Mega-cap internet stocks strongly, Meituan (03690:xhkg) +5.5%, Netease (0999:xhkg) +4.8%, Baidu (09888:xhkg)+3.6%, Alibaba (09988:xhkg) +3.1%, Tencent (00700:xhkg) +1.7%. One notable underperformance in the internet space was Bilibli (09626:xhkg/BILI:xnas) which plunged nearly 17% after reporting a larger than expected loss in 2Q2022 on the deterioration of gross and operating margins. Ahead of the mid-autumn festival, catering stocks gains, Jiumaojiu (09922:xhkg) +6.7%, Haidilao (06862:xhkg) +2.6%. Chinese property names rallied, led by Country Garden (02007:xhkg) which jumped 14%. CSI 300 climbed 1.3%, led by property names, financials and dental services.
USD broadly weaker after ECB meeting and USDJPY correction overnight
Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda commented on the undesirability of sharp JPY moves in comments overnight after meeting with PM Kishida. This took USDJPY back below 143.00 two days after it nearly touched 145 in its latest surge higher. The threat of intervention may not hold the JPY higher for long if global yields continue higher again. Elsewhere, the USD was sharply lower despite a solid bounce-back in US treasury yields and EURUSD traded well north of parity again after an initially choppy reception of the expected 75-basis point hike from the ECB and President Lagarde’s press conference. The action took EURUSD back to the cusp of important resistance in the 1.0100 area, which has been the resistance of note for more some three weeks. The move was supported by surging European short yields, although the energy/power situation will remain the focus for the euro.
Crude oil (CLV2 & LCOX2)
The oil price weakness seen this week following the break below $91.5 and $85 in Brent and WTI may still end up being a temporary development with the dollar weakness seen overnight, especially against the yen and euro, adding a bid back into the market. Dr. Copper meanwhile is recovering as demand from China show signs of improving. Potentially a signal to the energy market of not getting too carried away by a temporary lockdown related slowdown in Chinese demand. However, with US implied gasoline demand falling below 2020 levels last week, a potential recovery above the mentioned level is likely to be muted. Focus on Putin and his threat to cut supply to nations backing the US-led price cap on crude sales and OPEC+ which may intervene should price weakness persist.
Copper trades higher with the futures market signaling increased tightness, primarily due to a pickup in Chinese demand and imports, which despite lockdowns has seen the infrastructure push ramping up. In addition, a lower-than-expected August CPI and PPI may give the PBoC more room to ease conditions. Exchange monitored inventory levels has dropped to an 8-month low at a time where mining companies struggle to meet their production targets with top producer Chile seeing its exports slump to a 19-month low due to water restrictions and lower ore quality. Speculators have increased short positions in recent weeks as a hedge against recession and China weakness, and they are now increasingly exposed. Support at $3.54 and for a real upside and trend reversal to occur the price needs to break above $3.78/lb.
This morning Bitcoin rose the most in more than a month, surpassing the psychological $20k level and now trading at around $20.5k. This is despite a report published by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy yesterday, stating that cryptocurrencies make a significant contribution to energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and that they recommend monitoring and potential regulation. It could have a significant impact on cryptocurrencies using the proof-of-work consensus mechanism such as Bitcoin.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF)
US Treasury yields bounced back toward the top of the range after the previous day’s decline, keeping the attention on the cycle highs for the 10-year yield near 3.50%. The treasury sell-off was sparked around the time of Fed Chair Powell firm comments on fighting inflation, which sent 2-year treasury yields some 8 basis points higher. The latest weekly jobless claims figures was out around the same time and showed the lowest level of claims since late May.
What is going on?
The ECB hiked interest rates by 75 basis points
This was a unanimous decision of the ECB governing council. This is a major signal sent to the market. The move was aimed to catch up with the neutral rate (though the ECB acknowledges they don’t know where the neutral rate is). The ECB also revised upward its inflation forecasts sharply (from 6.8 % to 8.1 % this year). Growth forecasts were also revised. But the ECB still doesn't expect a recession in the eurozone (GDP growth expected at 0.9 % versus prior 2.1 % this year). During the press conference, ECB president Christine Lagarde opened the door to further interest hikes. This is no surprise. She committed to keep hiking over 2, 3 or 4 meetings (including today’s). This implies further hikes until October, December or February, followed by a pause. Forward guidance is not dead, finally. Expect a 50 basis point hike in October, in our view. The German 2-year Schatz yield rose over 20 basis points to yesterday to close at new cycle high of 1.33%.
The United Kingdom announces a massive anti-inflation plan
Yesterday, the new prime minister Liz Truss announced a major plan to fight the high cost of living related to energy prices. There are five major measures: 1) capping household bills at £2500 per month. 2) a new £40bn liquidity scheme with the Bank of England for energy firms who need it. 3) no further windfall tax (a tax levied on an unforeseen or unexpectedly large profit). 4) speeding up the deployment of clean energy but at the same time granting more oil and gas licenses for North Sea. and 5) commitment to net zero 2050. If this is successful, it means that the peak in UK inflation will certainly be lower (by 4-5 %). So far, the government believes that the peak could be between 13 and 18 %. This is a broad range. But it shows the level of uncertainty about the short-term economic outlook. Finally, Truss refused to evaluate the total cost of the new plan. Several experts believe it could be close to £150bn, over 6% of UK GDP.
DocuSign shares up 17% in extended trading
Q2 revenue was much better than expected but confirmed its fiscal year outlook on revenue which was better than the underlying consensus which was clearly below analyst estimates. The company sounded optimistic on the billing outlook, which is the key indicator for future growth, and as a result traders pushed shares 17% higher in extended trading.
Apple warned by US government against using Chinese chips
Congressional Republicans including Senator Marco Rubio of the Senate intelligence committee and Michael McCaul of the House foreign affairs committee expressed alarm at reports that Apple cited Yangtze Memory Technologies as one of its suppliers of flash memory chips used for phone storage. “Apple is playing with fire”, said Senator Rubio, threatening scrutiny of the company. Apple said it would not sell iPhones using the chips outside China.
What are we watching next?
EU Summit today on emergency intervention in power markets and possibly to cap imported Russian gas prices
The EU may be able to cap electricity prices, but this could mean a shortage of output relative to demand, i.e., forcing rationing over the winter period when demand surges. Russian leader Putin has called any plan to cap prices “another stupidity”.
Swedish election this weekend
Swedes go to the polls on Sunday, with the right populist Sweden Democrats expected to become the second-largest political party. In the past, the right-leaning main parties have been unwilling to consider alliances with the Sweden Democrats, as their positions were seen as too extreme, but this has made for very fragile left-coalitions in recent years because of the lack of a sufficient plurality in Parliament.
Earnings to watch
Today’s key earnings release is Kroger which is a large US supermarket chain with a strong competitive position in the current inflationary environment. Analysts are expecting revenue growth of 8.6% y/y in FY23 Q2 (ending 31 July) and lower operating margin expected due to rising input costs.
- Today: Kroger
Earnings releases next week:
- Monday: Oracle
- Tuesday: DiDi Global
- Wednesday: Inditex
- Thursday: Polestar Automotive, Adobe
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0930 – ECB President Lagarde to speak
- 1230 – Canada Aug. Net Change in Employment / Unemployment Rate
- 1600 – US Fed’s Waller (Voter) to speak
- 1600 – US Fed’s George (Voter) to speak
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