Summary: US equities continued to push sharply lower yesterday as the strong US dollar is in focus as EURUSD dropped well below parity yesterday. US Treasury yields are playing their part in pressuring sentiment as the US 10-year yield benchmark rose above 3.00%. The next important event risk is this Friday’s Jackson Hole, Wyoming speech from Fed Chair Powell, as the Fed is expected to remind the market that it remains in full inflation-fighting mode, pushing back against the impression that it may be set to cut rates next year.
What is our trading focus?
Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)
S&P 500 futures extended their losses yesterday as the US 10-year yield moved above the 3% level and the Fed Funds futures curve moved lower across the whole curve (meaning less rate cuts expected next year). Markets are beginning to second-guess their aggressive bets in July on inflation cooling fast enough to warrant rate cuts next year as the galloping energy crisis makes it difficult for inflation to cool. Tangibles-driven themes such as commodities, logistics, energy storage and financials were the relative winners in yesterday’s session. S&P 500 futures are now in the support zone from before the last leg up that started on 10 August; we see the 4,100 level as the next level to watch on the downside and then the 100-day moving average at 4,085.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI.I) and China’s CSI300 (000300.I)
Hang Seng Index and CSI300 were both down about 0.6%. A Bloomberg report yesterday, citing “people familiar with the matter”, suggested the size of the central bank and other authorities’ support lending program to developers could be as large as RMB 200bn. The reaction of the share prices of Chinese Property developers were mixed, Country Garden (02007:hkg) +3.1%, Longfor (00960:xhkg) -1.4%. Postal Savings Bank of China (01658:xhkg) plunged 5.5% after the Chinese bank reported net profit miss with a 10 bps y/y fall in net interest margin to 2.27% in H1. Gross loans grew 13% y/y in H1 but at a more tepid growth of 3% q/q. Non-performing loans ratio overall was steady at 0.8% but mortgage NPL ratio climbed by 8 bps to 0.52%.
US dollar rally following through
The US dollar rally continued apace yesterday, as EURUSD traded well below parity and closed at its lowest level in nearly twenty years yesterday. GBPUSD has teased below 1.1760, its lowest level since a one-off pandemic-outbreak spike in early 2020, while other USD pairs are not yet at extremes of the cycle, including AUDUSD, still well above the sub-0.6700 lows of July, and USDJPY, which has not yet challenged the cycle high north of 139.00. There is clearly a reflexive situation at the moment in the US dollar, risk sentiment and US treasury yields.
Broad USD strength remains behind the weaker CNH in the USDCNH exchange rate as the CNH continues to rise versus, for example, the EUR, while the CNHJPY exchange rate trades near the important 20.00 area. Any more significant move in this critical exchange rate could quickly steal some of the focus away from the US dollar. The contrast between an easing PBOC (moving once again earlier this week) and tightening central banks nearly everywhere else is stark. The next important level for the pair is 7.00, with the range high of the last decade near 7.20.
Crude oil prices (CLU2 & LCOV2)
Crude oil prices made a sharp U-turn higher on Monday after the Saudi Energy Minister talked about a potential production cut after saying the futures market has become increasingly disconnected from underlying fundamental developments, a view that we share. His comment supported the market on a day where risk appetite generally took a knock from the stronger dollar and falling equity markets. A global shift from gas to oil, from Europe to Asia, has taken a deeper hold amid gas shortage fears accelerating in the wake of another upcoming maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and heatwaves in China. Diesel prices trades higher supported by refinery margins, the so-called crack spread hitting seasonal highs around the world.
Gold (XAUUSD) and Silver (XAGUSD)
Gold broke below the key $1744 support on Monday before finding support at $1729, the 61.8% retracement of the July to August bounce. Dollar strength and a run higher in US yields weighed on the shine of the yellow metal, which has seen downside pressures since last week after touching the critical $1800-level. Hawkish Fed talk this week could further weigh on the short-term prospects for Gold. Silver also dipped below the key 19 handle, erasing most of the gains seen since late July.
German year-ahead power prices hit a fresh record high
German year-ahead power prices surged to EUR 700/MWh with Dutch TTF gas prices close to EUR 300/MWh. The surge came on the back of another leg higher in natural gas prices which rose over 13% in Europe amid concerns around the next scheduled 3-day maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. It appears that demand destruction remains the most obvious but painful cure right now, along with a longer-term focus on ensuring a broad-based supply of energy from coal, gas, nuclear, solar, hydrogen, and more.
US Treasuries (TLT, IEF)
US treasury yields rose yesterday, with the 10-year benchmark closing above 3.00% for the first time in over a month yesterday. Rising yields are likely an important driver of weaker risk sentiment after the melt-up in the wake of the late July FOMC meeting, but practically, a move toward the cycle highs from June near 3.50% (in the lead-up to the FOMC meeting on June 16) is needed to seize the spotlight. The behavior of the treasury market in the wake of the Jackson Hole conference speech from fed Chair Powell this Friday is an important next step, particularly if Powell provides strong guidance on the pace or importance of the Fed’s balance sheet tightening (QT).
What is going on?
EURUSD falls below parity, eyes on 0.9500
The latest concerns on the European energy crisis weighed on the Euro which was seen sipping below parity to the US dollar. Higher US yields and gains in the US dollar also underpinned, taking EURUSD to lows in the low 0.9900’s this morning. The European recession is coming hard and fast, and the PMIs today will likely signal increasing pressure on the region. The next step for the US dollar is the Fed Chair Powell speech this Friday as discussed below.
Australia and Japan services PMIs plunged into contraction
Australia saw its services PMI drop to 49.6 in August in a flash print, from 50.9 in July. Manufacturing PMI, however, held up at 54.5, just weakening slightly from last month’s 55.7. The spate of rate hikes seen from Reserve Bank of Australia is likely taking its toll on demand and manufacturing. Meanwhile, prices remain elevated amid the persistent supply chain issues, and more rate hikes are still on the cards. Japan’s flash manufacturing PMI for August came in lower at 51.0 from 52.1 previously, nut stayed in expansion territory. Services PMI however plunged into the contraction zone below 50, coming in at 49.2 for a flash August print from 50.3 in July. The fresh COVID wave in Japan, although comes without any broad-based new restrictions, is impeding the services demand and will likely weigh on Q3 GDP growth.
Palo Alto outlook remains strong
The cyber security company reported last night Q4 revenue and EPS above estimates and Q1 outlook is slightly above estimates while the FY outlook is well above consensus estimates. Q4 networks billing growth was 44% vs est. 25% suggesting demand is accelerating and bolstering our view that the cyber security industry is a high growth and counter-cyclical industry in the years to come. Shares were up 9% in extended trading.
Zoom shares were down 8% in extended trading
The popular video conferencing software that rose to prominence during the pandemic is lowering its FY outlook relative to previous announcements. The slowdown in their business is due to slower enterprise growth which could be a function of Microsoft and other major technology companies that have entered the enterprise business for video conference.
What are we watching next?
Europe and UK PMIs may spell further caution.
The Euro-area flash composite PMI and the UK flash PMI for August are both due to be released on Tuesday. Following a slide in ZEW and Sentix indicators for July, the stage is set for a weaker outcome on the PMIs too. July composite PMI for the Euro-area dipped into contractionary territory at 49.9, while the UK measure held up at 52.1. The surge in gas and electricity prices continue to weigh on GDP growth outlook, with recession likely to hit by the end of the year.
USD and US Treasury yields as Jackson Hole Fed conference is the macro event risk of the week Friday
The US dollar and yields are setting risk sentiment on edge as EURUSD has plunged well through parity. US Treasury yields have supported the USD rally with the entire curve lifting over the last couple of weeks and longer yields closing at new one-month highs. The Fed has pushed back consistently against the market’s pricing of a Fed turnaround to easing rates next year with partial success, as expectations for rate cuts have shifted farther out the curve and from higher levels. The next focus is this Friday’s Jackson Hole symposium speech from Fed Chair Powell, who is expected to stay on message and maintain credibility on fighting inflation after the two large 75 basis point hikes at the last two meetings. The Fed’s attitude toward quantitative tightening may be a focus in the speech as well, with the pace of QT supposedly set to pick up in coming weeks to $95B/month. So far, the QT has been slow out of the gates, with the balance sheet currently only some $115B smaller than at its mid-April peak.
Earnings to watch
Today’s earnings focus is on CATL and JD.com, with especially CATL being important as the world’s largest battery manufacturer to the car industry and thus pivotal for the electrification of the transportation sector. CATL is expected to report revenue growth of 126% y/y in Q2 as EV adoption is accelerating, but key risks ahead are rising input costs across lithium and energy. JD.com is expected to report 3% revenue growth in Q2 as growth is grinding to a halt on very weak consumer confidence in China.
- Today: CATL, Intuit, Medtronic, JD.com
- Wednesday: LONGi Green Energy, Royal Bank of Canada, PetroChina, Ping An Insurance Group, Nongfu Spring, Mowi, Nvidia, Salesforce, Pinduoduo, Snowflake, Autodesk
- Thursday: South32, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Fortum, Delivery Hero, AIA Group, China Life Insurance, CNOOC, CRH, Dollar General, Vmware, Marvell Technology, Workday, Dollar Tree, Dell Technologies, NIO
- Friday: Meituan, China Shenhua Energy, China Petroleum & Chemical
Economic calendar highlights for today (times GMT)
- 0715-0800 – Eurozone Aug. Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 0830 – UK Aug. Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 1000 – UK Aug. CBI Trends in Total Orders and Selling Prices
- 1100 – ECB's Panetta to speak
- 1345 – US Aug. Flash Manufacturing and Services PMI
- 1400 – US Aug. Richmond Fed Manufacturing
- 1400 – Eurozone Aug. Flash Consumer Confidence
- 1400 – US Jul. New Home Sales
- 2300 – US Fed’s Kashkari (non-voter) to speak