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US earning season remains mixed, yet of the 50 companies that have reported so far, 75% have beaten expectations on the earnings per share (EPS) line and 52% on the revenue line (in line with the past 27 quarters).
US CPI saw a 0.2% decline month-on-month (MoM) and core CPI saw a 0.2% gain MoM – so it was a mixed return. Year-on-year (YoY) core inflation was 1.8%, solid but certainly not strong enough to be meeting the second mandate of the Fed. New York Fed president Bill Dudley reaffirmed his position that he believes that the Fed funds rate will rise in December despite the CPI and that mean the dot plots will be the best gauge for a December move at next week’s Fed meeting. If it is unchanged, the market will need to rebalance. The Fed funds rate futures for December did shift higher on his comments to a 30.4% from 29% chance of a rate hike. The March futures are back over 50% – a 54.5% chance of a hike from 48.6%.
Since 30 September, China has seen a 5.6% increase in margin accounts; is confidence returning? Their equity markets are certainly consolidating.
Iron ore slipped and copper shifted higher (watch RIO’s numbers today to see if it is indeed cutting copper production like Glencore). Soft commodities attracted huge amounts of attention with orange juice production plummeting YoY from weather issues in the US and the inferred meaning it has on other softs. Coffee speculation is ramping up as this year's El Nino is expected to crimp conditions in Brazil and Central-South America. Coffee prices have risen consistently on the CME this week. RIO’s production number will be all about iron ore and the Pilbara. The main point to watch is how fast is the 290 project turning into the 360 project. Based on expectations for today’s releases, it’s ahead of schedule and could even overshoot expectations by year-end.
Australian banks remain in focus on pricing power after the Westpac (WBC) shock increases. CBA is likely to be next as ANZ and NAB report full-year numbers in two weeks and will likely announce a move then too. Expectations are for the other three to follow suit; however, ANZ is looking for loan book growth keeping rates as is would create customer churn. It also raises the question: what does it mean for further rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) if the banks are moving out of cycle?
Ahead of the open, we are calling the ASX up 46 points to 5276.