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Asian Markets Eye Gains Amid U.S. Inflation Data Surge


Lauren Miller

May 14, 2024 - 22:52 pm


Asian Stocks Set to Follow US Tech Surge Amid Inflation Data Anticipation

Asian markets are gearing up for potential gains, taking inspiration from an upswing in U.S. technology stocks as investors await pivotal inflation data expected to influence the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decisions. Futures in the Asia-Pacific region indicate a positive opening, with notable optimism preceding the release of the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) figures.

A Positive Outlook for Asian Equities

In the lead-up to the U.S. CPI data release, equity futures point to a promising start for Japan and Australia, signaling investor confidence despite the Hong Kong market's closure due to a public holiday. Earlier movements in U.S. stocks suggest a dismissive reaction to Fed Chair Jerome Powell's hint at enduring high-interest rates, overshadowing the ambivalent producer inflation figures. This U.S. market resilience impacted bond yields and oil prices, indicating a broader anticipation of the data's implications on inflation.

Tech Giants Propel U.S. Benchmarks Ahead

A surge in mega-cap tech stocks, including industry leaders Tesla Inc. and Nvidia Corp., contributed to the rally. In a throwback to previous market trends, meme-stock enthusiasts drove up shares of GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. Subsequently, U.S. futures remained steady in the early hours of Asia trading.

The Inflation Scenario and Market Projections

Investors are bracing for what may be the first slowdown in underlying U.S. inflation in half a year. Hopes are high that the diluted pressure on prices could mark the beginning of an inflationary decline. Projections place the core CPI to ascend 3.6% compared to April of the preceding year—potentially the slightest upturn in three years but still sufficiently high to rule out interest rate reductions.

Research by 22V Research has uncovered that 49% of investors expect the market's response to the CPI report to be "risk-on," a more optimistic stance, in contrast to 27% forecasting a "risk-off" outcome. Anthony Saglimbene from Ameriprise asserts that even a marginal decline in inflation could encourage markets by affirming the existing downtrend and allaying fears of a resurgence.

Rally in S&P 500 and Trend in Yields and Commodities

The S&P 500 index experienced an upward trajectory, nearing a record peak just shy of the March 28 closing figure. On the other hand, Treasury 10-year yields saw a decline, and the dollar value softened after a three-day gain streak. Commodity markets reacted with a drop in oil prices, while gold witnessed an increase. The Nasdaq Golden Dragon Index, which tracks U.S.-listed Chinese companies, descended from its seven-month summit observed earlier.

Producer Prices Indicating Mixed Inflation Signals

April's Producer Price Index in the U.S. exceeded forecasts, albeit the principal components that the Fed uses to measure its preferred inflation index showed relative restraint. Krishna Guha of Evercore highlights that a detailed analysis of the PPI elements relevant to the personal consumption expenditures price index revealed conflicting trends, thus maintaining the spotlight on the consumer inflation.

Options market experts, including JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Andrew Tyler, speculate that the S&P 500 might experience a 1% movement in either direction following the CPI report, as indicated by the pricing of at-the-money straddles.

Chris Zaccarelli of Independent Advisor Alliance projects growth in the stock market driven by robust corporate earnings and consumer spending. However, he warns of potential surges in volatility due to the inflation data keeping the Fed on tenterhooks.

Goldman Sachs analyst David Kostin has voiced a conservative outlook, suggesting no further gains for the S&P 500 till the end of the year, and reaffirming a target of 5,200 for the index in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Stagflation Concerns Versus Rate Cut Bets

Investor optimism might face a setback if signs of "stagflation" appear, according to Michael Hartnett of Bank of America. Despite the general betting on rate cuts fueling a positive sentiment, the arrival of stagflation could destabilize stocks. This sentiment has witnessed a surge to its most elevated level since November 2021, as evident from BofA's global poll, which reflects fund managers' views on rate cuts in latter 2024.

Corporate Industry Updates

The corporate world saw several developments:

  • Oracle Corp.'s stock demonstrated buoyancy following reports of its nearing $10 billion cloud deal with Elon Musk’s AI startup xAI.
  • Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., announced the integration of AI-generated responses in its search engine, marking a major transformation in the internet’s primary portal.
  • Boeing Co. reported a reduction in monthly jet deliveries, the most modest since February 2022, attributed to a refinement of production quality for key models.
  • Home Depot Inc. continued to struggle, with sales in a downturn for the sixth consecutive quarter, reflecting a strained housing market.
  • Chinese tech giants Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. exhibited contrasting fortunes, with Tencent surprising the markets with a 62% earnings jump while Alibaba faced a profit slump.
  • Comcast Corp. plans to bundle streaming services, including Apple TV+, Netflix, and Peacock, aiming to retain subscribers as conveyed by CEO Brian Roberts.
  • Plug Power Inc. saw shares rocket after a substantial loan guarantee from the Biden administration to build new facilities.
  • Verizon expressed interest in purchasing US Cellular Corp.’s stake in its Los Angeles operations, subject to agreeable pricing.

Anticipated Key Events Affecting the Global Market

The week is charged with key events likely to sway global markets:

  • China’s central bank will announce its rate decision.
  • The Eurozone will publish industrial production and GDP statistics.
  • The U.S. is set to release a plethora of data, including CPI, retail sales, business inventories, and more.
  • Speeches from various Fed regional presidents are on the schedule.
  • Japan will report on GDP and industrial output.
  • Further U.S. data such as housing starts, initial jobless claims, and industrial production will be disclosed.
  • China will share figures on property prices, retail sales, and industrial output.
  • Eurozone CPI figures will be unveiled.
  • The U.S. Conference Board will disseminate its leading index.

Market Trends and Movements

In the latest market updates, the following changes were notable:

  • S&P/ASX 200 futures saw a 0.5% rise, while Nikkei 225 futures climbed 0.8%. Hang Seng futures remained unchanged.
  • The S&P 500 ascended by 0.5%, with minimal changes in futures.
  • The Nasdaq 100 increased by 0.7%, with its futures stable.
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index experienced a slight 0.1% fall.

Currency and Cryptocurrency Fluctuations

The Australian dollar remained steady at $0.6626. In the digital currency space, Bitcoin edged up to $61,642.24, and Ether ascended to $2,895.94, representing minor gains.

Bond Yields and Commodity Updates

Yields on 10-year Treasuries witnessed a five-basis-point dip to 4.44%. In commodities, spot gold remained unchanged, while West Texas Intermediate Crude oil increased by 0.6% to $78.47 a barrel.

This expansive report was compiled with the support of Bloomberg Automation, and additional assistance was provided by Rita Nazareth.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P. For more information, please visit Bloomberg's official site.