Super Thursday! Massive earnings day, US GDP, ECB raises rates, FX, crypto momentum stalls

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US stocks are struggling for direction after a mixed bag of earnings was accompanied by economic data that supports the idea that the economy is weakening. It looks like the economy is still headed for a recession, but that might reinforce Fed pivot calls which still seems to be driving some inflows back into equities. ​ ​ ​

Super Thursday will resume after the close when Apple and Amazon report after the bell. ​ ​ This is peak earnings season and at the end of the day, we will know if investors are going to shun tech stocks for a little while longer. ​

Facebook takes a hit

Mark Zuckerberg is looking reckless here. Meta shares plunged after revenue collapsed and they decided to nearly double their CAPEX. ​ It looks like Sheryl Sandberg’s departure was well-timed as this ship is clearly sinking. ​ Artificial Intelligence (AI) investment was boosted and now everyone is expecting Meta to have a free cash flow problem.

Caterpillar

Caterpillar did not disappoint this earnings season. ​ The heavy-equipment maker did everything right last quarter. ​ Caterpillar posted a strong earnings beat, trimmed their CAPEX budget a little, signaled demand is strong and that highlighted that margins momentum will continue next quarter. ​ Caterpillar also noted ‘some pockets’ of supply chain improvement. What was also very positive is that Asia/Pacific sales were little changed despite the slowdowns that have hit that part of the world.

ECB

The ECB delivered a third major consecutive rate increase across all three key rates. ​ The 75-basis point hike was well-telegraphed and the comment that “inflation remains far too high” indicates more massive rate increases could be warranted.

They signaled they expect to raise rates further and markets are still convinced that they could raise rates by 75bp again in December. It seems the market is convinced that the ECB’s hiking cycle won’t have to be as aggressive next year and traders are now expecting rates to peak at around the 2.75% level.

TLTRO changes signals they are going to remove some of the excess liquidity and incentivize the banks to pay back cheap loans before rates go up.

US GDP and more

The US economy appears to have bounced back from those two negative GDP readings with a solid 2.6% improvement in economic activity. The strong headline number is welcome news, but when you dig into the numbers it is clear that an economic slowdown is here. The international trade component helped this quarter and that obviously won’t continue going forward. ​ Consumer spending is softening and prices are coming down quickly. ​ Business investment is clearly weakening. ​ ​

The labor market remains tight as jobless claims edged slightly higher. Hiring freezes will become a growing trend across corporate America, but layoffs still seem distant as job openings still remain healthy.

FX

Fed expectations still widely expect a 75 basis point rate increase next week and for a downshift to a half-point in December. ​ The Fed won’t want to lock itself into softening its stance against fighting inflation before the data confirms pricing relief. ​

The economy is slowing and that is sending Treasury yields lower as recession bets grow. ​ Safe-haven flows are powering both the yen and dollar today as global recession risks grow.

Oil

Crude prices are rallying after the US economy bounced back last quarter. ​ Oil’s gains are capped as the key takeaway from this morning’s swathe of economic readings is that an economic slowdown is here. ​ The dollar remains volatile but safe-haven flows should keep it supported over the short-term and possibly leading up to next week’s FOMC decision.

Gold

Gold prices aren’t doing much today after the ECB rate decision and a swathe of US data confirmed a global economic slowdown is here. ​ Global bond yields are heading lower and that is good news for bullion, but a major move seems like it might have to wait until next week’s FOMC decision.

Cryptos

Bitcoin’s rally has run out of steam. ​ Momentum from the rally above the $20,000 level has stalled out as risk appetite struggles to find solid footing post earnings and US economic data. The global crypto market cap is flirting with the $1 trillion level and that might remain a hard barrier to break away from.

Bitcoin seems likely to consolidate leading up to the FOMC decision, but it could see further strength if the dollar continues to soften. ​ If Wall Street grows more concerned with the economic outlook, rates could slide even further, which is great news for crypto. ​


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