Summary: US equities traded a bit lower yesterday after the S&P 500 challenged the 200-day moving average from below the prior day for the first time since April in the steep comeback from the June lows. Sentiment was not buoyed by the FOMC minutes of the July meeting suggesting the Fed would like to slow the pace of tightening at some point. Crude oil rose from a six-month low on bullish news from the US and OPEC.
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
S&P 500 futures rolled over yesterday wiping out the gains from the two previous sessions and the index futures are continuing lower this morning trading around the 4,270 level. US retail sales for July were weak and added to worries of the economic slowdown in real terms in the US. The 10-year yield is slowing crawling back towards the 3% level sitting at 2.87% this morning. A move to 3% and potentially beyond would be negative for equities. The next levels to watch on the downside in S&P 500 futures are 4,249 and then 4,200
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI.I) and China’s CSI300 (000300.I)
Shares in the Hong Kong and mainland China markets declined. China internet stocks were weak across the board with Tencent (00700:xhkg) +2.7% and Meituan (03690:xhkg) +1%, being the positive outliers. Tencent reported a revenue decline of 3% y/y in Q2, weak, but in line with market expectations. Non-GAAP operating profit was down 14% y/y to RMB 36.7bn, and EPS fell 17% y/y to RMB 2.90 but beating analyst estimates. Revenues from advertising at -18% y/y were better than expected. In the game segment, weaker mobile game revenues were offset by stronger PC game revenues. Beer makers outperformed China Resources Beer (00291:xhkg) +3.8%, Tsingtao Brewery (00168:xhkg) +1.7%. COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation (01138:xhkg) made a new high at the open on strong crude oil tanker freight rates before giving back some gains.
USD pairs as the USD rally intensifiesThe US dollar rally broadened out yesterday, as USDJPY retook the 135.00 area, but needs to follow through above 135.50-136.00 to take the momentum back higher. Elsewhere, AUDUSD has broken down again on the move down through 0.7000 and USDCAD has posted a bullish reversal, needing 1.3000 for more upside confirmation. The GBPUSD pair looks heavy despite a massive reset higher in UK rates in the wake of recent UK inflation data, with a close below 1.2000 indicating a possible run on the sub-1.1800 lows, while EURUSD is rather stuck tactically, as price has remained bottled up above the 1.0100 range low. USDCNH, as discussed below, may be a key pair for whether the USD rally broadens out even more aggressively, and long US treasury yields and risk sentiment are other factors in the mix that could support the greenback, should the 10-year US treasury benchmark move higher toward 3.00% again or sentiment roll over for whatever reason. Certainly, tightening USD liquidity could prove a concern for sentiment as the Fed turns up the pace of quantitative tightening – something it seems behind schedule in doing if we look at the latest weekly Fed balance sheet data.
USDCNHThe exchange rate edged higher again to above 6.80 overnight after a brief spike higher earlier this week as China’s PBOC moved to stimulate with a small 10-basis point rate cut of the key lending rate. There is no real drama in the exchange rate yet after the significant rally this spring from below 6.40 to 6.80+, but traders should keep an eye on this very important exchange rate for larger volatility and significant break above 6.83, as China’s exchange rate policy shifts can provoke significant volatility across markets.
Crude oilCrude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2) bounced from a six-month low on Wednesday in response to a bullish US inventory report that saw big declines in gasoline and crude oil stocks as demand from US motorist climbed to the highest this year while crude exports reached a record $5 million barrels per day. The prospect for an Iran nuclear deal continues to weigh while OPEC’s new Secretary-General said spare capacity was becoming scarce. US strategic reserves are now at the lowest level since 1985 and the government has by now sold around 90% of what was initially offered in order to bring down prices. While demand concerns remain a key driver for macroeconomic focused funds selling crude oil as a hedge we notice a renewed surge in refinery margins, especially diesel, supported by increased demand from gas-to-fuel switching
Gold and silver
Gold has so far managed to find support at $1759, the 38.2% retracement of the July to August bounce, after trading weaker in response to a stronger dollar and rising yields. Silver (XAGUSD) meanwhile has almost retraced half of its recent strong gains with focus now on support at $19.50. The latest driver being the FOMC minutes which signaled ongoing interest-rate hikes and eventually at a slower pace than the current. The short-term direction has been driven by speculators reducing bullish bets following a two-week buying spree in the weeks to August 9 which lifted the net by 63k lots, the strongest pace of buying in six months. ETF holdings meanwhile have slumped to a six-month low, an indication investor, for now, trusts the FOMC’s ability to bring down inflation within a relatively short timeframe
What is going on?
Financial conditions are tightening, if modestly. Recent days have brough a rise in short US treasury yields, but more importantly it looks as though some of the risk indicators like corporate credit spreads may have bottomed out here after a sharp retreat from early July highs – one Bloomberg high yield credit spreads to US treasuries peaked out above 5.75% and was as low as 4.08% earlier this week before rising to 4.19% yesterday, with high yield bond ETFs like HYG and JNK suffering a sharp mark-down yesterday of over a percent. Factors that could further aggravate financial conditions include a significant CNH weakening, higher US long treasury yields (10-year yield moving back toward 3.00%, for example) or further USD strength.
Adyen sees margin squeeze. One of Europe’s largest payment companies reports first-half revenue of €609mn vs est. €615mn despite processed volume came significantly above estimates at €346bn suggesting the payments industry is experiencing pricing pressures.
Cisco outlook surprises. The US manufacturer of networking equipment surprised to the upside on both revenue and earnings in its fiscal Q4 (ending 30 July), but more importantly, the company is guiding revenue growth in the current fiscal quarter of 2-4% vs est. -0.2% and revenue growth for the current fiscal year of 4-6% vs est. 3.3%. Cisco said that supply constraints are beginning to ease and that customer cancellations are running below pre-pandemic levels, and that the company’s growth will be a function of availability.
Stale FOMC minutes hint at sustained restrictive policy, but caution on pace of tightening. Fed’s meeting minutes from the July meeting were released last night, and officials agreed to move to restrictive policy, with some noting that restrictive rates will have to be maintained for some time to bring inflation back to the 2% target. Still, there was also talk of slowing the pace of rate hikes ‘at some point’, despite pushing back against easing expectations for next year. The minutes were broadly in-line with the market’s thinking, and lacked fresh impetus needed to bring up the pricing of Fed’s rate hikes. Chairman Powell’s speech at the Jackson Hole Symposium next week will be keenly watched for further inputs.
US retail sales were a mixed bag. July US retail sales were a little softer at the headline level than the market expected (0% growth versus the +0.1% consensus) but the ex-auto came in stronger at 0.4% (vs. -0.1% expected). June’s growth was revised down to 0.8% from 1%. The mixed data confirmed that the US consumers are feeling the pinch from higher prices, but have remained resilient so far and that could give the Fed more room to continue with its aggressive rate hikes. Lower pump prices and further improvements in supply chain could further lift up retail spending in August.
The iron ore miners are resilient despite price pressures
Despite China planning more fiscal stimulus to fund infrastructure investment, the iron ore (SCOA, SCOU2) price paired back 8% this week, retreating to its lowest equal level in five weeks at $101.65, a level the iron ore price was last at in December 2021. Since March, the iron ore price has retreated 37%, with the most recent pull back being fueled by concerns China’s Covid cases are surging again with cases at a three-month high, as the outbreak worsens in the tropical Hainan province. Despite iron ore pulling back, shares in iron ore majors like BHP, remain elevated, up off their lows, with BHP’s shares trading 14% up of its July low, and moving further above its 200-day moving average, on hopes of commodity demand picking up.
What are we watching next?
Norway’s central bank guidance on further tightening. The Norges Bank is expected to hike 50 basis points today to take the policy rate to 1.75% despite an indication from the bank in June that the bank would prefer to shift back to hiking rates by 25 basis points, as a tight labour market and soaring inflation weigh. The path of tightening for the central bank has been an odd one, as it was the first G10 bank to actually hike rates in 2021, but finds itself with a far lower policy rate than the US, for example, which started much later with a faster pace of hikes. But NOK may react more to the direction in risk sentiment rather than guidance from the Norges Bank from here, assuming no major surprises. The EURNOK downtrend has slowed of late – focusing on 10.00 if the price action continues to back up.
Japan’s inflation will surge further. Japan’s nationwide CPI for July is due on Friday. July producer prices came in slightly above expectations at 8.6% y/y (vs. estimates of 8.4% y/y) while the m/m figure was as expected at 0.4%. The continued surge reflects that Japanese businesses are grappling with high input price pressures, and these are likely to get passed on to the consumers, suggesting further increases in CPI remain likely. More government relief measures are likely to be announced, while signs of any Bank of Japan pivot away from its low rates and yield-curve-control policy are lacking. Bloomberg consensus estimates are calling for Japan’s CPI to accelerate to 2.6% y/y from 2.4% previously, with the ex-fresh food number seen at 2.4% y/y vs. 2.2% earlier.
Earnings to watch
In Europe this morning, the key earnings focus is Adyen which has already reported (see review above) and Estee Lauder which is deliver a significant slowdown in figures and increased margin pressure due to rising input costs. Today’s US earnings to watch are Applied Materials and NetEase, with the former potentially delivering an upside surprise like Cisco yesterday on improved supply chains. NetEase, one of China’s largest gaming companies, is expected to deliver Q2 revenue growth of 12% y/y as growth continues to slow down for companies in China.
- Today: Applied Materials, Estee Lauder, NetEase, Adyen, Nibe Industrier, Geberit
- Friday: China Merchants Bank, CNOOC, Shenzhen Mindray, Xiaomi, Deere
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0800 – Norway Deposit Rates
- 0900 – Eurozone Final Jul. CPI
- 1100 – Turkey Rate Announcement
- 1230 – US Weekly Initial Jobless Claims
- 1230 – Canada Jul. Teranet/National Bank Home Price Index
- 1230 – US Philadelphia Fed Survey
- 1400 – US Jul. Existing Home Sales
- 1430 – EIAs Weekly Natural Gas Storage Change
- 1720 – US Fed’s George (Voter) to speak
- 1745 – US Fed’s Kashkari (Non-voter) to speak
- 2301 – UK Aug. GfK Consumer Confidence
- 2330 – Japan Jul. National CPI
Follow SaxoStrats on the daily Saxo Markets Call on your favorite podcast app:
Source: Financial Markets Today: Quick Take – August 18, 2022