RBA Surprises with a Quarter-Point Hike

Overview: A combination of a surprisingly strong prices paid component to the US manufacturing PMI, corporate supply, and US debt woes spurred an almost 15 bp spike in the US 10-year yield and 13 bp jump in the two-year yield. The rise in US rates appeared to lend the dollar support. The greenback's gains have been extended today, but a surprise hike by the Reserve Bank of Australia is seeing the Australian dollar (and New Zealand dollar) traded higher. Emerging market currencies are also mostly lower today, central European currencies, led by the Polish zloty are posting small gains, as its the South African rand. 

Asia Pacific equities were mostly firmer as most markets re-opened from yesterday's holiday. Tokyo was narrowly mixed and the almost 1% loss in Australia are notable exceptions. Europe's Stoxx 600 is ending a three-day rally with real estate and energy sectors the hardest hit today. US futures little changed. European 10-year bond yields are 6-7 bp higher, while the US benchmark is about 3.5 bp lower near 3.53%. Gold tried but failed to sustain a move above the $2000-level yesterday and settled near $1982.50. It is trading quietly in around a $4 range around yesterday's close. For the second consecutive session, June WTI is trading within last Friday's broad range (~$74-$77). It struggled to rise above $76 today and is testing the $75 area.

Asia Pacific

The Reserve Bank of Australia surprised the market by hiking the overnight cash target rate by 25 bp to 3.85% after pausing last month. The slowing of Q1 CPI, including the underling measures dashed whatever lingering speculation there may have been for a hike. However, the central bank added a new phrase about achieving its inflation target in a "reasonable timeframe." Governor Low warned of "some" further tightening, and the markets responded accordingly. This spurred the markets to price in the risk of another hike. As one would expect from the surprise move and hawkish statement, the Australian dollar rallied and interest rates jumped, while the ASX200 equity index fell by almost 1%. 

Japan's markets will be closed for the remainder of the week due to various holidays over the next three sessions. The apparent lack of urgency to adjust monetary policy by the new leadership of the BOJ last week sent the 10-year yield a little through 0.40% yesterday from almost 0.49% before the BOJ meeting. It edged a little higher today. Although the 30-bond yield is not targeted, it has been capped around 1.40% since mid-March. It held above 1.20% yesterday and has not traded below there since mid-March. The BOJ meets next on June 16. Surveys suggest that despite the endorsement of the current monetary policy setting by Governor Ueda, many still expect the Yield Curve Control policy to be modified or eliminated as early as next month.

The dollar pushed slightly above JPY137.75 before sellers emerged to knock it back to JPY137.30. The sharp gains since the BOJ meeting have the greenback above the upper Bollinger Band, set two standard deviations above the 20-day moving average. It is found near JPY137.15 today. The JPY136.75-JPY137.00 band offers support. The Australian dollar had approached the year's low before the weekend, recording a low near $0.6575. It recovered yesterday and today was briefly bid through $0.6715 on the back of the surprise rate hike. Note that there are almost A$1 bln in options that expire today between $0.6700 and $0.6705. It stalled at the (61.8%) retracement of the decline from the high on April 14 when it last traded above $0.6800. The 200-day moving average is near $0.6735. Initial support is seen in the $0.6670-$0.6680 area. The US dollar made a marginal new high against the offshore yuan (~CNH6.9645), its best level since March 10, before succumbing to selling pressure, which knocked it back to around CNH6.9465. The next chart support may be near CNH6.94. Mainland markets re-open Thursday. When they closed at the end of last week, the greenback settled at about CNH6.9270.


Inflation in the eurozone ticked up in April to 7.0% from 6.9%. It is the first increase since last October. The month-over month increase of 0.7% puts the annualized pace in the first four months of the year at a little north of 6.6%. In the Jan-April period last year, the aggregate CPI rose by more than 12.5% at an annualized pace. It serves to reinforce the hawkish outlook the swaps market is discounting. Of the next four ECB meetings through the end of Q3, the market sees three quarter-point hikes. Separately, the ECB's bank lending survey showed that credit standards "tighten further substantially" in Q1, and more than had been anticipated in the previous survey. The swaps market also has nearly 75 bp hikes by the Bank of England before the end of Q3. In contrast, the market is very sure of one Fed hike (tomorrow) and has begun to take more seriously (~30% chance) of a June hike. 

The final manufacturing PMI was reported earlier today. The aggregate reading for the euro area was raised to 45.8 from the flash reading of 45.5, recouping a small part of the decline from 47.3 in March, despite disappointingly weak readings from Spain and Italy. The last time it was above 50 was June 2022. Germany's final reading of the manufacturing PMI was 44.5, up from the initial 44.0 estimate (from 44.7 in March). It has not been this low since May 2020. Recall that last week, it reported that the economy stagnated in Q1 after contracting by 0.5% in Q4 22. France's manufacturing PMI fell to 45.6, slightly less than the 45.5 initial estimate (from 47.3 in March). It briefly popped above 50 in January after spending the last four months of 2022 below it but returned to sub-50 levels for the past three months. Turning to Spain, the manufacturing PMI had been above 50 in February and March, after spending the preceding seven month below it. It slipped back to 49.0 last month from 51.3 in March. Italy's manufacturing PMI was consistently below 50 in H2 22 but spent Q1 above it. In April, it collapsed to 46.8. This is the weakest since last October. Separately, German retail sales slid 2.4% in March. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey was for a 0.4% gain. The sting was hardly softened by the revision that took the February decline of 1.3% to only -0.3%. The eurozone's aggregate March retail sales will be reported at the end of the week, and they look softer than the 0.1% decline expected.

In the UK, Nationwide reported that April house prices unexpectedly snapped a seven-month slide and rose by 0.5%. Still, the year-over-year rate fell for the third consecutive month (-2.7%). The UK also saw its final April manufacturing PMI. It was improved to 47.8 from the flash reading of 46.6. It was at 47.9 in March. It was last above 50 in July 2022. GDP for Q1 23 will be reported on May 11. The median forecast in Bloomberg's monthly survey sees a 0.1% contraction. The risk seems to be on for a small increase after the monthly GDP showed 0.4% growth in January and a flat February.

The euro briefly traded below its 20-day moving average yesterday for the first time since March 17 though it failed to close below it. Its losses have been extended to slightly below $1.0950 today. The 20-day moving average is found near $1.0970 today. There are options for 1.22 bln euros at $1.0960 that expire today and another set at $1.0940 that roll off Thursday. The technical tone appears to be weakening, but the euro is still mired in a consolidative phase. It may need to fall below $1.09 to shake out some of the late longs. Sterling reached its highest level since last June before the weekend (~$1.2585) and pulled back by a little more than a cent yesterday. The losses were extended to about $1.2455 today, which is where its 20-day moving average is found. The pre-weekend low was slightly closer to $1.2445. A break could signal a test on last week's low (~$1.2385). Resistance now is seen in the $1.2485-$1.2500 area.


There were two important developments on the fiscal front yesterday. First, Treasury Secretary Yellen warned that federal government could run out of cash and exhaust extraordinary measures as early as June 1. After the latest tax revenue figures, some had pushed the X-date out toward late July. Second, the US Treasury also surprised the market with a huge jump in Q2 borrowing ($726 bln vs. expectations for around $600 bln). Of course, it assumes that Congress will raise or suspend the debt cap, but it also reflects the projection of less revenue and more spending by $117 bln. At the same time, the market is pricing in slightly greater odds of a June hike. In the middle of last week, the market saw practically no chance of a June move and now it is slightly better than a 20% probability. 

The US has a busy economic diary ahead of tomorrow's FOMC meeting. The JOLTS report should show a further easing of the labor market. Job openings are seen falling for the third consecutive month in March and to their lowest level since April 2021. Factory orders, like durable goods orders, was likely inflation by aircraft and defense orders. March durable goods orders fell by 0.4% when defense and aircraft orders were excluded. April auto sales will be reported throughout the day. The median forecast in Bloomberg's survey has auto sales rising to 15.10 mln seasonally adjusted annual rate from 14.82 in March. US vehicle sales average 15.15 mln a month in the first quarter. They averaged 14.15 mln in Q1 22. A rise in auto sales may also have a positive knock-on effect on retail sales, which fell by 0.6% in March (-0.4% excluding autos).

Mexico reports IMEF survey data and the manufacturing PMI. Mexico's economy surprised on the upside in Q1, growing 1.1% (quarter-over-quarter) and was helped by record exports in March. Rather than report a March trade deficit of $900 mln, like the median projection in Bloomberg's survey anticipated, Mexico recorded a strong surplus of $1.17 bln. In March 22, Mexico's trade surplus was almost $104.5 mln. Mexico also reports March worker remittances today. This has become an important source of capital inflows. It was worth about $58.5 bln in 2022 and $51.6 bln in 2021. In 2019, worker remittances were almost $36.5 bln. If March's remittances come in as expected (~$4.975 bln), it would bring the Q1 total to about $13.7 bln compared with $12.5 bln in Q1 22. 

The greenback initially extended its pullback against the Canadian dollar, recording a five-day low slightly below CAD1.3530 today. It posted a potential key reversal from almost CAD1.3670 before the weekend. However, the broad gains in the US dollar have lifted it back to yesterday's high, a little above CAD1.3580. Nearby resistance is seen in the  the CAD1.3600-15 area. The greenback came within a couple of hundredths of a peso from the multi-year low set on March 9 near MXN17.8980. It caught a bid and recovered to almost MXN17.97 in Europe. Additional gains run into resistance near MXN18.00.


RBA Surprises with a Quarter-Point Hike RBA Surprises with a Quarter-Point Hike Reviewed by Marc Chandler on May 02, 2023 Rating: 5
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