Capital Markets are Calm though Anxiety Continues to Run High

Overview: The risk that the war in Israel spreads remains palatable, and several observers have warned of the greatest risks of a world war in a generation. Still, the capital markets remain relatively calm. The US dollar is softer after closing last week firmly. The only G10 currency unable to post corrective upticks today is the Swiss franc. Among emerging market currencies, the Polish zloty has been boosted by the pro-EU election results, and the Mexican peso lead the complex. Gold, which rallied 3.4% at the end of last week, is seeing its gains pared by nearly 0.9% today and the yellow metal is straddling the $1916 area. December WTI rallied 5.5% before the weekend to settle at $86.35. It saw a little follow-through buying today before slipping back $85.65 today. It is near $86.20 in the European morning.

Equities are trading heavily. Weak Japanese industrial production data took local indices down by 1.5%-2.0%. China's CSI 300 was off nearly 1%, and nearly all the bourses in the region fell. Last week, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index snapped a three-week slide of more than 4% and closed 1.5% higher. Europe's Stoxx 600 is marginally lower after losing nearly 1% before the weekend. It too snapped a three-week down draft last week (~-3.7%) and closed up almost 1%. US index futures are firm. The S&P 500 and NASDAQ closed lower last week, while the Dow Industrials eked out a small gain. Bond markets are under pressure. Benchmark 10-year yields in Europe are up 3-6 bp and the 10-year US Treasury yield is up seven basis points to 4.68%. The yield had fallen 19 bp net-net last week.

Asia Pacific

There are three developments in China to note. First, the PBOC kept the benchmark one-year Medium-Term Lending Facility rate unchanged at 2.50%. Banks will set the loan prime rates at the end of the week and have not fully passed through the last hike in the MLF. The PBOC stepped up its liquidity provision at the facility to CNY789 bln from CNY591 bln last month. Second, China's sovereign wealth fund bought bank shares last week. Third, mainland brokers were discouraged from opening new offshore accounts for domestic investors. Third, a key standing committee of the National People's Congress will meet October 2-24. Reportedly under consideration are a new equity stabilization fund (CNY1 trillion, or ~$137 bln) that has been discussed for some time, and a proposal to boost local government borrowing ahead of the new quotas typically issued in January-February.

Japan showed weaker August industrial output than preliminary estimate. Rather than flat month-over-month, Japanese industrial production fell by 0.7%, which dragged the year-over-year rate down to -4.4% (not -3.8%) after a -2.3% pace in July. The extraordinary Diet session begins on October 20 and two byelections will be held on October 22. The chief purpose is to agree to a new supplemental budget. There are strains in the governing coalition and the recent cabinet reshuffle did little to bolster public opinion in the government. The chances of a snap-election this year appear to be fading. Meanwhile, before the weekend, Finance Minister Suzuki told reporters what told to the G20, namely that "excessive moves are undesirable" and that there will be times that an "appropriate response" is required in the foreign exchange market. Still one-week implied volatility finished last week near 6.6%, the lowest since February 2022. Three-month implied volatility reached nearly 8.8% at the end of last week, the lowest since the year's low was set slightly lower in mid-June. In terms of a one-way market, which may also be objectionable, note that coming into today the yen has weakened in six of the past ten trading sessions.

As widely expected, the center-right won the New Zealand election and the National Party's leader Luxon will be the new prime minister, ending six years of Labour Party governance. The National Party garners 39% of the vote, meaning it will have to negotiate with the libertarian ACT (9% of the vote) and the New Zealand First (6.5%). The National Party and ACT may have enough to form a parliamentary majority, but it is vulnerable to special and overseas votes that will not be published until November 3. Labour's share of the vote was nearly halved to 27% from 50% in the last election three years ago. Its alliance partner, the Green Party, took key districts from Labour as it received almost 11% of the vote from a little less than 8% in 2020. Separately, Australian's rejected the government-backed bid to boost the representation of the Indigenous Australians, including the creation of an advisory committee to parliament. The be approved the referendum needed a "double majority"--a majority of states and voters. It secured neither.

The dollar was confined to a narrow range of less than 40 pips against the yen ahead of the weekend. It settled near the session low of about JPY149.45. It slipped to almost JPY149.30 today. Last week's low was slightly below JPY148.20. There are options for around $1.10 bln at JPY148.00 that expire tomorrow. There no longer appears to be much near-term optionality around JPY150. The Australian dollar posted its lowest settlement of the year at the end of last week (~$0.6295). It has recovered slightly through $0.6330 today to approach the pre-weekend higher $0.6335. Last week's high was closer to $0.6445. The New Zealand dollar is also trading firmer but is also holding below the high from the end of last week (~$0.5935). For the fourth consecutive session, the greenback has risen above the previous session high against the Chinese yuan. Today's high near CNY7.3130 is the best since late September, before the early October extended holiday. The PBOC set the dollar's reference rate at CNY7.1798, above the previous day's for the first time in weeks. The average in Bloomberg's survey was for CNY7.3095.


In Poland, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) received the most votes but was shy of a majority and this gives Tusk's Civic Coalition an opportunity to build a wider coalition. This will likely lead to the reforms that will free up billions of euros in Recovery Funds for Poland. The Polish zloty was trending higher against the euro over the last couple of weeks. The euro has fallen by about 2.3% since September 28 and is off another 1% in the European morning, have fallen by nearly 2% in the immediate reaction to the election news.

The eurozone's trade balance has not returned to levels seen prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine or pre-Covid levels, but it is healing. The seasonally adjusted August trade surplus was 11.9 bln euros. That brings the average in the first eight months to a surplus 1.365 bln euros. The average in the Jan-Aug 2022 period was a deficit of 30 bln euros. In the first eight months of 2019, the eurozone's average monthly seasonally adjusted trade surplus was 16.23 bln euros.

The US and EU meet at the end of the week. Three topics seem to dominate: Russia/Ukraine, Middle East, and China. For discussion are the price caps on Russian oil and the use of the profits from Russia's frozen assets to be turned over to Ukraine, timing, and mechanisms still to be worked out. This is a compromise solution between those who want to use all the confiscated assets to rebuild Ukraine and those who are wary of setting a dangerous precedent. US Treasury Secretary Yellen appears to have endorsed "repurposing" the profits and expressed concern that the oil price cap is not effective. Second, there is a real danger that the war in Israel expands. The US has sent two carrier groups into the region to deter Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. At the same time, the US has warned that Azerbaijan and Armenian hostilities are poised to escalate. Third, the US and EU may try to coordinate positions on China, and in particular the excess capacity (and carbon emissions) in steel and aluminum. This may help resolve the dispute since 2018 between the US and EU over tariffs. There may also be an attempt to strike a deal on rare earths ("critical minerals") to allow EU to qualify for some assistance under the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.

After posting an outside down day after the US CPI, the euro headed further south ahead of the weekend to slip a little through $1.05, though managed to close back above it. It has risen to almost $1.0545 today. Resistance is seen in the $1.0560-70 area. A break of $1.0490 signals a retest of the year's low set earlier this month slightly below $1.0450. Sterling was sold to new lows for the week last Friday a little below $1.2125. It enjoys a firmer bias today and reached almost $1.2180. Nearby resistance is seen in the $1.2200-15 area. There may be some support near $1.2100 but October 3 low was closer to $1.2035. 


On top of the firmer than expected US PPI and CPI last week, the University of Michigan reported a jump in inflation expectations at the end of last week. Its preliminary results for October showed the one-year inflation expectation jumped to 3.8%, a five-month high, from 3.2% in September. The 5–10-year inflation expectation rose to 3.0% from 2.8% in September. It stuck at 3% in the previous three months. Sentiment itself fell to 63.0 from 68.1. It is the third consecutive decline and the largest fall since June 2022. Still, expectations for the last two FOMC meetings of the year are at a low ebb: less than 8% for November, down from around 30% after the employment report on October 6. The odds of hike before the end of the year are near 33%. It was slightly below 50% on October 13. 

On today's economic agenda, the US sees the NY State manufacturing survey, where the diffusion index is expected to retreat into negative territory, and the September budget statement. If the September deficit is about $150 bln, that would bring the 12-month shortfall to around $1.68 trillion. In the 12-months through September 2022, the deficit was closer to $1.38 trillion. It puts the shortfall near 5.9% of GDP. It was 4.7% in 2019. US continues to sell bills and will sell $143 bln today of 3- and 6-month bills followed by $75 mln cash management bill tomorrow and 4- and 8-week bills on Thursday. Coupon offerings are limited this week to $13 bln of the 20-year bond that is re-opened, and $22 bln in five-year TIPS. However, it is another busy week for Fed speakers. No fewer than 13 different officials speak with Chair Powell speech at the Economic Club of New York on Thursday being the highlight.

Canada has a busy data week as well. Today's wholesale and manufacturing sales are more for economists that the market. But the market will likely take notice of the Bank of Canada's survey of the business outlook. The quarterly reading has declined for the past six consecutive quarters and fell below zero in Q1 23. Still, tomorrow's CPI report is more important for policy expectations. The market sees a better chance that the Bank of Canada hikes when it meets on October 25 than the Fed hikes on November 1. The swaps market is discounting about a 38% chance of a hike this month and slightly more than a 60% chance of a move before the end of the year.

After jumping up to CAD1.3700 after the US CPI report, the greenback stalled and pulled back to almost CAD1.3635 at the end of last week before settling at CAD1.3660. The US dollar did trade slightly below the pre-weekend low and is trading quietly in the European morning below CAD1.3650. Initial support may be near CAD1.3620. There are options for about $695 mln at CAD1.37 that expire today and $640 mln at CAD1.36 that expire on Wednesday. The greenback posted an outside up day against the Mexican peso last Thursday and follow-through buying lifted it to almost MXN18.11 before the weekend, a three-day high. The US dollar is better offered today, falling to about MXN17.93. A break of MXN17.75-77 may be needed to confirm a nearby top is in place. 


Capital Markets are Calm though Anxiety Continues to Run High Capital Markets are Calm though Anxiety Continues to Run High Reviewed by Marc Chandler on October 16, 2023 Rating: 5
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