USA: People Are Not Interested In Buying New Houses! Equities Are Still Trading High As The Hopes For Iran Nuclear Deal Are Still Alive

USA: People Are Not Interested In Buying New Houses! Equities Are Still Trading High As The Hopes For Iran Nuclear Deal Are Still Alive

Summary:  Equities traded higher still yesterday as treasury yields fell further back into the recent range and on hopes that an Iran nuclear deal will cement yesterday’s steep drop in oil prices. The latest data out of the US was certainly nothing to celebrate as the July US Homebuilder survey showed a further sharp drop in new housing interest and a collapse in the first regional US manufacturing survey for August, the New York Fed’s Empire Manufacturing.


What is our trading focus?

Nasdaq 100 (USNAS100.I) and S&P 500 (US500.I)

S&P 500 futures extended their gains yesterday getting closer to the 200-day moving average sitting around the 4,322 level. The US 10-year yield seems well anchored below 3% and financial conditions indicate that S&P 500 futures could in theory trade around 4,350. The news flow is light but earnings from Walmart later today could impact US equities should the largest US retailer lower their outlook for the US consumer.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HSI.I) and China’s CSI300 (000300.I)

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese equities were mixed. CSI300 was flat, with electric equipment, wind power, solar and auto names gained. Hang Seng Index declined 0.5%. Energy stocks fell on lower oil price. Technology names were weak overall, Hang Seng TECH Index (HSTECH.I) declined 0.9%. Sunny Optical (02382:xhkg) reported worse than expected 1H22 results, revenues -14.4% YoY, net profits -49.5%, citing weakening component demand from the smartphone industry globally. The company’s gross margin plunged to 20.8% from 24.9%. Li Auto’s (02015:xhkg/LI:xnas) Q2 results were in line with expectations but Q3 guidance disappointed. The launch L9 seems cannibalizing Li ONE sales.

USD: strength despite weak US data and falling treasury yields and strong risk sentiment

Yesterday, the JPY tried to make hay on China cutting rates and as global yields eased back lower, with crude oil marked several dollars lower on hopes for an Iran nuclear deal. But the move didn’t stick well in USDJPY, which shrugged off these developments as the USD firmed further across the board, despite treasury yields easing lower, weak data and still strong risk sentiment/easy financial conditions. A strong US dollar is in and of itself is a tightening of financial conditions, however, and yesterday’s action has cemented a bullish reversal in some pairs, especially EURUSD and GBPUSD, where the next important levels pointing to a test of the cycle lows are 1.0100 and 1.2000, respectively. Elsewhere, USDJPY remains in limbo (strong surge above 135.00 needed to suggest upside threat), USDCAD has posted a bullish reversal but needs 1.3000 for confirmation, and AUDUSD is teetering, but needs a close back below 0.7000 to suggest a resurgent US dollar and perhaps widening concerns that a Chinese recession will temper interest in the Aussie.

Crude oil

Crude oil (CLU2 & LCOV2) trades lower following Monday’s sharp drop that was driven by a combination softer economic data from China and the US, the world’s top consumers of oil, and after Iran signaled a nuclear deal could be reached soon, raising the prospect of more Iranian crude reaching the market. The latest developments potentially reducing demand while adding supply forced recently established longs to bail and short sellers are once again in control. Brent needs to hold support at $93 in order to avoid further weakness towards $90. Focus on Iran news.


Copper (COPPERUSSEP22) led the metals pack lower, without breaking any key technical levels to the downside, after China’s domestic activity weakened in July. Meanwhile, supply side issues in Europe also cannot be ignored with surging power prices putting economic pressure on smelters, and many of them running at a loss. HG copper jumped 19% during the past month and yesterday’s setback did not challenge any key support level with the first being around $3.50/lb. BHP, the world’s top miner meanwhile hit record profits while saying that China is likely to offer a “tail wind” to global growth (see below).

EU power prices hit record high on continued surge in gas prices

... threatening a deeper plunge into recession. The latest surge being driven by low water levels on Europe’s rivers obstructing the normal passage for diesel, coal, and other fuel products, thereby forcing utilities to use more gas European Dutch TTF benchmark gas futures (TTFMU2) has opened 5% higher at €231/MWh, around 15 times higher than the long-term average, suggesting more pain ahead for European utility companies. Next-year electricity rates in Germany (DEBYF3) closed 3.7% higher to 477.50 euros ($487) a megawatt-hour on the European Energy Exchange AG. That is almost six times as much as this time last year, with the price doubling in the past two months alone. UK power prices were also seen touching record highs.

US Treasuries (IEF, TLT) see long-end yields surging.

Yields dipped back lower on weak US economic data, including a very weak Empire Manufacturing Survey (more below) and another sharp plunge in the NAHB survey of US home builders, suggesting a rapid slowdown in the housing market. The survey has historically proven a leading indicator on prices as well. The 10-year benchmark dipped back further into the range after threatening to break up higher last week. The choppy range extends down to 2.50% before a drop in yields becomes a more notable development, but tomorrow’s US Retail Sales and FOMC minutes offer the next test of sentiment.

What is going on?

Weak Empire State manufacturing survey and NAHB Index

Although a niche and volatile measure, the United States NY Empire State Manufacturing Index, compiled by the New York Federal Reserve, fell to -31.3 from 11.1 in July, its lowest level since May 2020 and its sharpest monthly drop since the early days of the pandemic. New orders and shipments plunged, and unfilled orders also declined, albeit less sharply. Other key areas of concern were the rise in inventories and a decline in average hours worked. This further weighed on the sentiment after weak China data had already cast concerns of a global growth slowdown earlier. Meanwhile, the US NAHB housing market index also saw its eighth consecutive monthly decline as it slid 6 points to 49 in August. July housing starts and building permits are scheduled to be reported later today, and these will likely continue to signal a cooling demand amid the rising mortgage rates as well as overbuilding.

China's CATL plans to build its second battery factory in Europe

CATL unveiled plans to build a renewable energy-powered factory for car battery cells and modules in Hungary. It will invest EUR 7.34 billion (USD 7.5bn) on the 100-GWh facility, which will be its second one in Europe. To power the facility CATL will use electricity from renewable energy source, such as solar power. At present, CATL is in the process of commissioning its German battery production plant, which is expected to roll out its first cells and modules by the end of 2022.

Disney (DIS) shares rise on activist investor interest

Daniel Loeb of Third Point announced a significant new stake in Disney yesterday, helping to send the shares some 2.2% higher in yesterday’s session. The activist investor recommended that the company spin off its ESPN business to reduce debt and take full ownership of the Hulu streaming service, among other moves.

Elliott exits SoftBank Group

The US activist fund sold its stake in SoftBank earlier this year in a sign that large investors are scaling back on their investments in technology growth companies with long time to break-even. In a recent comment, SoftBank’s founder Masayoshi Son used more cautious words regarding the investment company’s future investments in growth companies.

BHP reports its highest ever profit, bolstered by coal

BHP posted a record profit of $21.3bn supported by considerable gains in coal, nickel and copper prices during the fiscal year ending 30 June 2022. Profits jumped 26% compared to last year’s result. The biggest driver was a 271% jump in the thermal coal price, and a 43% spike in the nickel price. The world’s biggest miner sees commodity demand improving in 2023, while it also sees China emerging as a source of stable commodity demand in the year ahead. BHP sees supply covering demand in the near-term for copper and nickel. According to the company iron ore will likely remain in surplus through 2023. In an interview Chief Executive Officer Mike Henry said: Long-term outlook for copper, nickel and potash is really strong because of “unstoppable global trends: decarbonization, electrification, population growth, increasing standards of living,”

What are we watching next?

Australia Q2 Wage Index tonight to determine future RBA rate hike size?

The RBA Minutes out overnight showed a central bank that is trying to navigate a “narrow path” for keeping the Australian economy on an “even keel”. The RBA has often singled out wages as an important risk for whether inflation risks becoming more embedded and on that note, tonight sees the release of the Q2 Wage Index, expected to come in at 2.7% year-on-year after 2.4% in Q1. A softer data point may have the market pulling back expectations for another 50 basis point rate hike at the next RBA meeting after the three consecutive moves of that size. The market is about 50-50 on the size of the RBA hike in September, pricing a 35 bps move.

RBNZ set to decelerate its guidance after another 50 basis point move tonight?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is expected to hike its official cash rate another 50 basis points tonight, taking the policy rate to 3.00%. With business and consumer sentiment surveys in the dumps in New Zealand and oil prices retreating sharply the RBNZ, one of the earliest among developed economies to tighten monetary policy starting late last year, may be set for more cautious forward guidance and a wait and see attitude, although wages did rise in Q2 at their second fastest pace (+2.3% QoQ) in decades. The market is uncertain on the future course of RBNZ policy, pricing 44 bps for the October meeting after tonight’s 50 bps hike and another 36 bps for the November meeting.

US retailer earnings eyed

After disappointing results last quarter, focus is on Walmart and Home Depot earnings later today. These will put the focus entirely on the US consumer after the jobs data this month highlighted a still-tight labor market while the inflation picture saw price pressures may have peaked. It would also be interesting to look at the inventory situation at these retailers, and any updated reports on the status of the global supply chains.


Earnings to watch

Today’s US earnings focus is Walmart and Home Depot with analysts expecting Walmart to report 7% revenue growth y/y and 8% decline y/y in EPS as the US retailer is facing difficulties passing on rising input costs. Home Depot is expected to report 6% growth y/y in revenue and 10% growth y/y in EPS as the US housing market is still robust driving demand for home improvement products. Sea Ltd, the fast-growing e-commerce and gaming company, is expected to report revenue growth of 30% y/y in Q2 but worsening EBITDA margin at -16.2%. The previous winning company is facing headwinds in its gaming division and cash flow from operations have gone from positive $318mn in Q1 2021 to negative $724mn in Q1 2022.

  • Today: China Telecom, Walmart, Agilent Technologies, Home Depot, Sea Ltd
  • Wednesday: Tencent, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, Analog Devices, Cisco Systems, Synopsys, Lowe’s, CSL, Target, TJX, Coloplast, Carlsberg, Wolfspeed
  • Thursday: 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)

  • 0900 – Germany Aug. ZEW Survey
  • 0900 – Eurozone Jun. Trade Balance
  • 1200 – Poland Jul. Core CPI
  • 1215 – Canada Jul. Housing Starts
  • 1230 – US Jul. Housing Starts and Building Permits
  • 1230 – Canada Jul. CPI
  • 2030 – API Weekly Report on US Oil Inventories
  • 2350 – Japan Jul. Trade Balance
  • 0130 – Australia Q2 Wage Index
  • 0200 – New Zealand RBNZ Official Cash Rate announcement
  • 0300 – New Zealand RBNZ Governor Orr Press Conference 

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Source: Financial Markets Today: Quick Take – August 16, 2022