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Ahead of the game: 09 February 2024

Your weekly financial calendar for market insights and key economic indicators.

Source: Bloomberg

US equity markets have continued their strong upward trajectory, bolstered by solid corporate earnings, successful US Treasury bond auctions, and the anticipation of interest rate cuts.

In Australia, after an initial period of volatility, the ASX 200 has stabilised, maintaining levels near recent record highs. This comes in anticipation of earnings reports due next week from leading companies including CSL, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Telstra, Wesfarmers, Origin Energy, and Whitehaven Coal.

  • On CBS's 60 Minutes, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated that a March rate cut isn't on his agend
  • In the US, the ISM services PMI rebounded from 50.5 to 53.4 in January, for the most robust service sector expansion in four months
  • The RBA's first Board Meeting of 2024 was, at the margin, more hawkish than expected.
  • While the RBA held its official cash rate at 4.35%, it retained a weak tightening bias
  • Chinese CPI in January fell -0.8% YoY, reinforcing the need for Chinese authorities to step up and provide more substantial stimulus to prevent the deflationary spiral from gaining further traction
  • In China, the Caixin Service PMI inched lower to 52.7 in January from a five-month high of 52.9
  • Crude Oil surged 5.5% this week to $76.22. The bulk of the move came after Israel rejected a Hamas cease-fire proposal
  • Gold traded flat on the week at $2035, needing a fresh catalyst to move outside the $2000 - $2060 range it has spent the past six weeks trading between
  • Wall Street's gauge of fear, the Volatility (VIX) index, fell to 12.80, edging closer to the recent 11.80 low.
  • AU: Westpac Consumer Confidence (Tuesday, February 13th at 10:30 am AEDT)
  • AU: NAB Business Confidence (Tuesday, February 13th at 11:30 am AEDT)
  • AU: Employment (Thursday, February 15th at 11:30 am AEDT)
  • JP: GDP Q4 (Thursday, February 15th at 10:50 am AEDT)
  • CH: New Yuan Loans (Friday, February 16th AEDT)
  • US: Inflation (Wednesday, February 14th at 12:30 am AEDT)
  • US: Retail Sales (Friday, February 16th at 12:30 am AEDT)
  • US: Building Permits and PPI (Saturday, February 17th at 12:30 am AEDT)
  • US: Michigan Consumer Sentiment (Saturday, February 17th at 2:00 am AEDT)
  • UK: Unemployment Rate (Tuesday, February 13th at 6:00 pm AEDT)
  • GE: ZEW Economic Sentiment (Tuesday, February 13th at 9:00 pm AEDT)
  • UK: Inflation (Wednesday, February 14th at 6:00 pm AEDT)
  • UK: GDP Q4 (Thursday, February 15th at 6:00 pm AEDT)
  • UK: Retail Sales (Friday, February 16th at 6:00 pm AEDT)
Source: Bloomberg
  • US

US consumer price index (CPI)

Date: Wednesday, 14 February at 12.30am AEDT

A strong run-up in US economic data (robust job numbers, higher wage growth, and stronger-than-expected services activities) has called for some recalibration in Fed rate expectations lately, with the odds of a March rate cut shrinking to a mere 16% compared to the 63% priced just a month ago.

Faced with a still-hot US economy, markets will be keeping a close eye on whether stronger economic conditions will hinder the inflation fight. Thus far, policymakers have stuck to their cautious stance, indicating that they are in no rush to cut rates. However, with markets still looking for five rate cuts through 2024 versus the three cuts guided by the Fed, further inflation progress will be on watch to provide the justification for the more dovish market pricing.

Ahead, expectations are for US headline inflation to come in at 2.9% year-on-year versus the previous 3.4%, while the core aspect may ease to 3.7% from the previous 3.9%. Month-on-month, the headline CPI is expected to soften to 0.2% from the previous 0.3%, while the core reading is expected to stay unchanged at 0.3%.

US core and headline CPI % YoY

Source: Refinitiv
  • UK

UK inflation report

Date: Wednesday, 14 February at 6.00pm AEDT

In December, the annual headline inflation rate in the UK unexpectedly rose to 4%, up from 3.9% in November, surpassing the consensus expectations which anticipated a decrease to 3.8%.

This marked the first increase in inflation in ten months and played a pivotal role in the outcome of the last Bank of England (BoE) interest rate meeting, which adopted a more hawkish stance than anticipated, highlighted by:

  • Two policymakers advocating for an additional 25 basis point (bp) rate hike.
  • The BoE's revised inflation forecasts indicating inflation rates above the target throughout the second half of 2024 and into 2025.
  • A reaffirmation by the BoE that "monetary policy will need to remain restrictive for sufficiently long to return inflation to the 2% target," tempering expectations for near-term rate reductions.

For this month, the consensus currently predicts the annual headline inflation to increase further to 4.3% year-on-year (YoY) in January. However, this forecast may be adjusted as more bank forecasts become available next week.

UK inflation chart

Source: TradingEconomics
  • AU

Employment data

Date: Thursday, 15 February at 11.30am AEDT

Last month, the Australian economy shed a significant 65.1k jobs in December, contrary to the expected 15k gain. The unemployment rate remained steady at 3.9%, attributed to a notable decrease in the participation rate from 67.1% to 66.8%.

David Taylor, ABS head of labour statistics, stated, 'The fall in employment in December followed larger than usual employment growth in October and November, a combined increase of 117,000 people, with the employment-to-population ratio and participation rate both at record highs in November."

This month, the market anticipates the economy will add 37.5k jobs and the participation rate to edge up to 66.9%. This scenario would see the unemployment rate climb to 4.0%, the highest since February 2022. It also supports our projection of two 25 basis point (bp) rate cuts in 2024, with the first in August.

AU unemployment rate chart

Source: TradingEconomics
  • JP

Japan’s preliminary Q4 gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate

Date: Thursday, 15 February at 10.50am AEDT

US equity markets extended their unrelenting grind higher, supported by robust corporate earnings, a series of well-digested US Treasury bond auctions, and expectations of rate cuts.

In Australia, after a rocky start, the ASX 200 stabilised and consolidated near recent record highs ahead of earnings reports next week from companies including CSL, CBA, Telstra, Wesfarmers, Origin Energy, and Whitehaven.

Previously, Japan's 3Q GDP had shrunk more than expected at an annualised pace of 2.9%, marking its first contraction in four quarters. This reflects the fragility in the Japanese economy, as weaker-than-expected private consumption and corporate investment proved to be a drag.

That said, conditions are set for a modest bounce in 4Q, with expectations in place for Japan's preliminary Q4 GDP to revert to year-on-year expansion at 1.4% versus the previous 2.9% contraction. Quarter-on-quarter, Q4 GDP is expected to grow 0.3%, improving from the previous -0.7%.

With Japanese policymakers mulling the possibility of exiting its negative interest rate policies this year, a weaker-than-expected GDP print may not provide the conviction that conditions are ready for a raise in policy rate just yet, and that may preclude Japanese policymakers from delivering any major policy changes in its March meeting.

Chart Japanese GDP QoQ

Source: TradingView

US Q4 earnings season

US Q4 earnings season continues this week with reports scheduled from companies including Coca-Cola, Airbnb, Lyft, Cisco, Robin Hood, AMD, Dropbox and Coinbase.

Source: Refinitiv

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