It’s been another session of China watching, with no one the wiser on whether Beijing’s latest efforts to rescue the stock market will succeed.
Indeed, it’s not even clear if some of these efforts are real or just theatre. While stocks rallied on Tuesday in part on a Bloomberg News report that President Xi Jinping would discuss the market with financial regulators, there’s no evidence he has or will.
A man sits in front of an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China December 3, 2018. REUTERS
Regulators have announced further curbs on short sellingand state investors said they were expanding their stock buying plans. Then again, threatening to jail malicious short sellers may not be the best way to win investor hearts and minds.
The common refrain from analysts is that investors have little faith in the authorities after months of failed measures, and the stock market won’t be fixed until the economy is.
So far on Wednesday, China’s blue chip index is up a restrained 0.4%, while Shanghai has added 0.9%. Note that Beijing likes to spring new steps on markets late in their trading day, so there’s still time for a surprise.
Over in the United States, the chorus of Federal Reserve speakers rolls on with a single refrain of “hurry up and wait”.
Fed Presidents Loretta Mester and Neel Kashkari welcomed the progress on inflation but signalled there was more work to do before any rate cuts. Fed Philadelphia President Patrick Harker was more upbeat on achieving an economic soft landing and noted they were making “real progress” on inflation.
Later on Wednesday we’ll get guidance from Fed Governors Adriana Kugler and Michelle Bowman, along with Presidents Thomas Barkin and Susan Collins.
Fed fund futures found buyers on the dip and since early Tuesday have restored about 9 basis points to total easing expected by December.
The chance of a cut as early as May stands somewhere between 65% and 80% depending on what calculation method is used. As an aside, it would be really helpful for probability fans if the Fed returned to setting a single funds rate target and not a range like the current 5.25-5.50%.
The middle of that range is 5.375%, but futures contracts are priced off the effective funds rate which is trading at 5.31/33%. It makes calculating probabilities a headache.
Anyway, futures imply around 123 basis points of easing for all of 2024, compared with 145 basis points late last week.
As for corporate results, of S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 81% have beaten the Street and earnings look like being up 8% on the same quarter a year ago.
Companies reporting earnings on Wednesday include Uber, News Corp, PayPal and Walt Disney. Expectations for Disney are for flat revenue and a dip in earnings, but the stock still bounced 2.7% overnight.
The banking sector remains a concern after Moody’s downgraded New York Community Bancorp to junk, citing pressure on its funding and liquidity. The stock sank 22% on Tuesday and is down 60% since it reported a loss last week.
Key developments that could influence markets on Wednesday:
Bank of England Deputy Governor Breeden speaks
German Dec industrial output, U.S. trade balance for Dec
Fed speakers include Governors Kugler and Bowman, Presidents Collins and Barkin
Riksbank and Bank of Canada publish minutes from last policy meetings
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